Thenkachi ko Swaminathan

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Thenkachi ko Swaminathan is no more. I quite vividly remember listening to his 'Indru oru Thagaval' on All India Radio. The messages and humor said in his inimitable style was thoughtful and mornings were never complete without hearing him. I am sure his demise has come as a shocker to all his followers
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PBS voice is perfect. Rajkumar's performance measured. Good Lyrics. Everything in place. Song on par with 'Malarndhum Malaradha' song from the movie Pasamalar.

Flowers At lalbagh

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Dawkins' Next!

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Richard Dawkins is one of my favorite authors. The passion with which he writes on evolution and defends it against any religious body deriding its significance cannot be missed. It is not just Richard’s writing that is fascinating and enlightening but his lectures and talks too are equally interesting. I am now eagerly awaiting his next book The Greatest Show on Earth. I expect it to be better than his masterpiece, The Selfish Gene. I am confident it would be.

Tube Curse

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I have always observed that when browsing the channels on TV, at times I would come across a particularly interesting piece of program. However what I would get to see with disappointment is the program in its conclusion phase. Recently I experienced such a frustration. I landed on a channel in which a western classical concert was in progress. Listening to the music was pure bliss. But it lasted just few minutes. The loss was more painful, just to wonder what had been missed, to see the audience give the composer standing ovation, with ceaseless applause.

The Rakhi Sawant Swayamwar ‘reality’ show on NDTV Imagine. Totally inane.

How True!

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source : http://xkcd.com/

This and That

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Baaski is one of my favorite humorist. Sample the following from VPL which had me in splits: (non Tamil readers please excuse. Translation won't help)

On the topic of traffic woes:

நேயர் : இனிமேல் எங்கேயும் நடந்துதான்
போகணும் சார் !

பாஸ்கி : நடக்குற கதையா பேசுங்க
சார்!

G.V Prakash seems to have drawn a lot of ‘inspiration’ from various sources for creating Ayirathil Oruvan. Its lack of originality has made me become tired of it!

I am keen to watch Pasanga. Of what ever I have seen of it on TV it appears to be promising.

As much as I love listening to Ilayaraaja's masterpieces, I try not listening to him speak in interviews and events. Most of the time its nonsense. Recent case was in the audio release of Valmiki.

Keith Barry does brain magic at TED. Watch it and be astonished!

I am currently reading The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture and Coolness. My black iPod appears much cooler now!

Guns, Germs and Steel

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Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond tries to answer a fundamental question: Why did history unfold differently on different continents. In dismissing any racial superiority of humans of one region over the other the author takes up the challenge of explaining the root cause of the difference that we find today. Since the end of the last ice age about 13,000 years ago different parts of the world have evolved in a very contrasting ways. From being hunter gatherers humans in some parts of the world evolved to non literate farming societies and in some other parts progressed into literate industrialized communities with metal tools. Some remained hunter gatherers. The book tackles in very engaging way the question of why and how peoples of Eurasia had the head start in the race of human progress and went on to conquer and dominate regions like Africa, Americas and Aboriginal Australia.

The book which has the subtitle, “a short history of everybody for the last 13,000 years”, tries to seek by means of rigorous analysis the ultimate factors that gave rise to proximate causes which in turn affected the course of history. It establishes that the environmental differences were the ultimate factor responsible for the diversification of the continents. The geography of Eurasia was such that it aided plant and animal domestication and farming. A community which starts food production rapidly evolves into a community of large, dense, sedentary, stratified societies. Owing to east/west orientation of continental axis of Eurasia the developments spread easier and rapidly as environmental conditions are more or less the same across the continent. Contrasting this with north/south orientation of Americas and Africa we find that variation in the geography hinders the spread of species and skills developed in one region to spread to other easily. Large population has the advantages that it can develop technology like guns and steel much more easily than distributed and isolated societies. Political organization and writing is the later logical outcome of it. There is also the other factor of germs having evolved from domesticated animals in Eurasia and its population over the years gaining immunity to those. And hence Eurasians armed with their guns, germs and steel went on to conquer other less blessed continents. Guns were no match to stone and primitive tools, germs carried by Eurasians unleashed epidemic of great proportions which resulted in disappearance of native communities in other continents in a limited time span. Steel and technology enabled Eurasians to establish their rule in new world in quick time and oppress the disadvantaged easily.

In the above paragraph, I have taken the liberty to put things in very broad terms what the author has painstakingly explained in the book with scientific rigour. I request that one should read the book to find out how and why various factors had affected the human history.

I found the book very engaging. The book which had me riveted with its initial chapter progresses with lot of intricate details which at times was difficult to read through. However this isn’t a novel and I appreciate the author for his efforts in narrating the history of a long timescale effectively. If you find the title and the subtitle inviting then I say, please indulge. You will not be disappointed.

Being Free.

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Numbers in Life

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My friend Swathi tagged me to write on the significance of numbers in my life. After much thought I have figured out how some numbers have had importance.

It was fun, Swathi. Thanks!

1: No of subjects I failed in my engineering examinations. It was Analog Communications! I had secured 23 :(

2: No of books I was gifted by friends cum colleagues on my farewell day in my previous company. Those were "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" and "Guns, Germs, and Steel”. I am reading the latter and its brilliant!

3: No of languages with which I am quiet comfortable reading and writing; Tamil, Kannada and English. Also I stood third in the only essay competition that I ever participated. The essay's title was "Art for Art Sake"

4: My favorite movie of all time is comprised of four names! - "Michael Madana Kama Rajan"

5: No of my team mates at office currently!

6: My birth date! 6th of April

7: In my current company I am a grade 7 engineer!

8: No of my fans on Orkut!

9: It was in standard 9 that I was caught red-handed for indulging in examination malpractice. No, I did not try to clear the exam through short cuts but I passed on my answer sheets to my friend to help him out. That was the first and last time that I did such a thing!

10: No of unique badges that I have earned in Stackoverflow, my favourite Q&A site out there in web.

Black Is Ugly

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I heard the following conversation on a TV show in which the host of the show discusses with college students regarding all things about their institution.

Host: Oh! Why do you call that dog ‘ugly’?

Student: You see, the dog is black in colour, so we call it ugly...

I might not have reproduced the conversation verbatim but the gist is intact. I don’t know if anyone found the response insensitive, but I felt it was nauseating to say the least.

Need For Arch-Enemy

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Jeff Atwood reasons the need for an enemy : Who's Your Arch-Enemy?

Delhi 6

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I was interested in catching up with Delhi 6 for two reasons; A. R Rehman’s score and the book The Last Mughal by William Dalrymple. I was mighty impressed with OST of Delhi 6. And the book had ignited in me an interest in Old Delhi. An article in Outlook magazine which said that the film is a tribute to Old Delhi and that it leaves a strong impression by getting under viewers skin further kindled my interest. But what I experienced was in contrast to what I had expected. Delhi 6 is driven by a spineless script and weak characterization. The movie is not an ode to Old Delhi as embraced by the article in Outlook. Watching the movie was a trying experience and the ordeal ended with a finish which unintentionally is comical. Interestingly I felt that the music lacked luster when heard in conjunction with viewing the film. I didn’t find absolutely anything in Delhi 6 to recommend it and I am baffled on reading some rave reviews.

A. R Rahman's Delhi 6

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It has been quite some time that I am overwhelmed by an entire sound track of a movie. A. R. Rahman's Delhi 6 is right up there with any piece of music that is considered classic. In the same way that I get letdown when ever I hear new works of Raaja (Naan Kadavul is good ,but again, I cannot help but do the mistake of comparing it with his own lofty standards), I was dissatisfied with Rahman, with his efforts in past couple of years. I just wondered when will I get to hear another OST like Duet. Delhi 6 quenched my thirst! My pick of the album is 'Rehna Tu' sung by the man himself.

R.I.P., Nagesh

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The legend is no more. Nagesh's performance in Kathalikka Nermillai is just one of the many that stands testimony to the fact that he is one of the greatest actors to have graced Indian cinema.

Ghajini

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Watching Ghajini, the Tamil version on TV, I was left wondering what was in it that made it a block buster. More baffling is how the Hindi version is being touted as being a good thriller. Is it because it is Amir Khan’s flick the critics do not want to trash it and lap it up despite it being mediocre. I am pretty sure that if Murugadoss had not cast Amir in the lead role, his movie would have gone down with out a trace.