Monday, November 29, 2010

Has Wikileaks gone too far?

I am not saying it has - but I am wondering.

For good or bad, whatever they have disclosed thus for hasn't been surprising to me. I sort of expected this from US albeit in a slightly toned down fashion. But this last disclosure is more like icing on the cake with no consequential relevance. Putin isn't going to be impressed, but in a closed setting people are normally more open in stating what they really feel. Unless there are stark lies in what has been disclosed, we should let it pass. To me, it is just another reinforcement of US arrogance.

The other question to consider is - has Wikileaks gone too far? How far is too far? Should everything be disclosed just because it is available and can be disclosed? Right now, for the most part, the receiving end has been the US. It may be just that tomorrow other nations might be - depending on who is blowing the whistle. What if nations get together and shutdown Wikileaks? Australia has already offered its support to the US.

Wikileaks is serving a need. It is taking an extreme standpoint, almost suggesting a stand off, but the truth is that all the deviousness and cruelty under the guise of "classification" wouldn't have come to light if not for those disclosures. Nothing much has changed as a result of these disclosures save shedding light on the true color of certain things going on under covers. The sad truth will be that if Wikileaks goes away, there is nothing to take its place.

But mainly - I think it is a great demonstration of what a great flattener the Internet is. Something like this would have never been possible two or three decades ago. I really wish people take this as a call to transparency - especially with Governments. With these disclosures rubbing off in the wrong way, that should be the last thing to expect!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Downfall - Hitler's outburst

Downfall is a German movie that depicts the final period of Hitler's regime, when his failure in WWII became inevitable. There is one awesome tense scene (the only one I have watched in the movie) that ironically became the funniest one. The context is different because this scene got picked for parodies.

I actually got introduced to this scene when one employee of a large MNC made a video mocking its policies. Eventually, the video became so popular that it was removed from YouTube [management intervention I suppose]. It appears to be back now. Don't be surprised if you don't see it though!

There are other parodies of it too. One where Hitler reacts to iPad not supporting Flash. And the most classic twist of all? It is one where Hitler comes to know about the Downfall parodies themselves!

Here is the entire suite of the parodies!

I find it really amusing that this very well enacted scene about a terror-maker is generating so much laughs! God's final joke!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The one with the 1000th post

I don't exactly recall when I started loving writing. I used to store a lot of what I used to write in a word document and share it with just a select set of folks. Once I discovered blogging, I realized that it naturally fit with what I was doing. This was Dec 2004 I think.

This post is the 1000th post in the ED "blog umbrella". One quote which fascinates me a lot is "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step". Even when I read it, without realizing the stature of the person who mentioned it, I knew it was a divinely inspired quote. I never had 1000 posts as a goal but here now it is because it was "one post at a time". If anything, I probably should use it to remind me that patience yields returns.

Over this period, there were few posts for which I spent an inordinate amount of time because the post required it. There were some posts that happened because of a burst of inspiration. Some posts were an intersection of both. I have marked them as "passionate". Duh!

Though I did not target 1000 posts, I do not know what to do from here. Some one reminded me today that my posts are full of "opinions". I can't disagree. I also read some time back that opinion directly translates to self importance. In some way, I think blogging in itself is narcissistic in nature. See - another opinion! There are always exceptions - people who have something genuinely valuable to share. I don't think I fall into that category!

I can't stop writing yet, but I want to pause and think - "What is the point of all this anyway?". It is a good "opinion" checkpoint!

[Ironically, I remember talking to another blogger a long time ago and telling that person - "What a highly opinionated blog you have!". LOL]

Tweetposts - 16th Nov 2010, Tuesday

I find it amusing that there has been no major uproar against the new TSA policy – invasive scanners (which take naked pictures through x-ray) and/or “enhanced pat downs” (euphemism for groping!). Security is a concern alright – but at what cost? Before it gets implemented at rest of the world I hope the public uproar there in US would set a precedent. I am also (selfishly) happy that I am not at the US at this time. In any case, I would have preferred to drive under the circumstances! The larger question is, why is it difficult to come up with a sensible solution to the problem of security? Can we go to any length in the name of security?

Considering deleting my face book account. I don’t like their sense of entitlement towards users’ data. Only thing is FB is really useful in some aspects. I couldn’t have gotten in touch with some of my old friends if not for it. Also looking at some pictures of friends who wouldn’t email them “to you” otherwise! Things just “show up” automatically and its really nice! It’s a question of benefit vs untrustworthiness of the site. Want an example? You have X friends on face book. You know their email addresses – if not you can go to their profile and look that up [your friends are willingly sharing it with you]. But you cannot download their email addresses in bulk. FB’s reason is that you don’t own their data. But Yahoo and Microsoft are allowed access to your friends’ email addresses through your profile (in bulk after you authorize). More than policy, it just appears it is just equivocation for convenience!
Note: Seen "The Social Network"? It adds an interesting perspective to the personality of the owner in light of whats going on now. Other thing is the Google vs FB standoff! Interesting times :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Born Free

Many years ago, I was watching a documentary on Tarantulas. One expert (my term for someone who spent a lot of time with them) mentioned that they knew "familiar" hands. So when then crawled on those hands, they did not bite. A new hand will receive a painful, though non poisonous bite!

I was thinking that this is a rudimentary form of reptiles/insects responding to love [in this case, it is in the gross physical level]. As species evolve, I think they all respond to love. Dogs are a classic example.

Here it is a lion. It is an extraordinary true story! A couple adopt three lion cubs owing to circumstance and nurture them to their adulthood. They see that once their age is such that they cannot be had at home, send two to a zoo while the third one they continue to keep - because the lady is so strongly attached to Elsa. Eventually, how the nurture her and let her into the wild because she was "born free" forms the story. Later, an year later, they come in search of her, only to find Elsa come back in search of them with her three cubs!

This can be a good story - but I like to think that love moves everything on this planet! May be, if we humans responded from that place together, a lot of things happening on this planet will not happen!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The story of electronics

The lady doesn't fail to impress. It takes a lot of courage to keep pressing on relentlessly like this. I dare say, if she was fighting Indian politics and policymakers, she'd be dead by now!

I am one of the guilty ones when it comes to electronics. It's a direct callback to how I drool at new gizmos. I still use my (10y+ old) 4MP camera though! Should every single thing that is tempting be either bad for the environment or for another set of people at a different part of the globe? Anything we touch seems to be screwed up!

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the independent modules that make up electronic components - chargers, batteries, heck memory cards!! are all different - not just across company products, but across different versions of the same company's products. The attractive packaging blurs the obvious - and these "modules" are part of a larger glossily furnished product. For instance, how hard would it be to make a processor a removable component? So later, when a new [faster] one comes across, just detach and reattach! Its surprising not one company has done this. Coincidence?

Our collective will at fighting back against these practices is still very weak!

Tweetposts - 10th Nov 2010, Wednesday

Trust has become scarce material today. Actually, if we look at all the problems we have today facing us, we can tie this back to the list of "lies" - gross and subtle that are lurking underneath. The reason is that, without these lies, the problems will not be alive for long. The situation is such that, with anyone speaking on anything - instead of trusting them by default, we will need to distrust them by default. Only people who have worked long and hard to establish this trust have any sort of credibility like that. So, on a mass scale, how many people can we actually count on today?

I recently wrote about the difference in perspectives [read:inclusion] of people. Read this for example. I am paraphrasing (I may also be misquoting the numbers, figures etc - but the message is clear). The context is whether ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) should be opened up for oil drilling. Reading this, you can imagine what that would do to the ecosystem. Or will it?

Someone representing US congress: We absolutely should open up ANWR for drilling. Of 20 million acres, we will just be taking up 2000 acres. (Other supporting talk)

A professor (sorry, don't remember name): Opening up ANWR for oil drilling will not be a criminal act. It is the closest thing you can do to come near performing a criminal act.

My take: How can you even begin considering something like this when you have no knowledge (yes, not an iota of it) or care (yes, not an iota of it) of the complexities of disrupting an ecosystem like that? Insensitive people shouldn't be sitting on the Government. But the way democracies are setup [cut throat rise to top!], only that kind comes to power!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

A Time to Kill

Whenever a movie attempts to deal with some kind of disharmony or a divide – be it racial tension, violence, internal strife, it is beneficial only if it ends up blurring the disharmony or the divide it attempted to portray in the first place.

In that sense, this movie succeeds very well. All the cards are laid out in the first 30 minutes. So it is only a matter of watching the drama unfold to its conclusion. I agree, skin color is a very strong and instinctive discriminator, mainly because it is literally in-the-face! I think it is time we as a society move forward beyond this. Enough has happened with this aspect!

On a side note [actually not, it ties directly to the movie’s story] – I think child molesters have no place in the society. All nations probably should enact a no trial policy and execute them instantly [provided it is clear they perpetrated the act in the first place]. No, I am not advocating their torture, punishment nor do I want them to go through pain to make them realize what they did was wrong etc etc. We can finish them swiftly and painlessly. It is just a way of sending a message to the rest of us that something at that level has no place in society. I remember how the word “rape” caused me to twitch uncomfortably a decade ago. Now that term has a normal place in news. Child molestation is now starting to become common place [a recent painful incident comes to mind in my city]. In places like India, trials are painfully slow. The person committing the crime sits in jail, even worse buys himself out on bail, for five-ten years till the sentence is pronounced. In countries like India, parents place their children above everything. They put their lives aside for their children’s well being. In addition to watching their child go through that dehumanizing experience, there is this added pain of watching the perpetrator walking scot free. It is a democratic country alright. But draw a line somewhere for humanity’s sake! No excuses, no leniency, no second thoughts [if someone comes and shows the perpetrators aging parents’ photograph, ask them where these parents where in his mind when he was committing the crime] – end their existence swiftly. They can come back another cycle if one exists.

Monday, November 08, 2010

To Be or Not to Be Intimidated?: That is the Question

It gives mixed feelings after reading - but one thing there is no doubt about; it is utterly fascinating! Mainly because it is the distilled essence of the life experience of a battered, bruised and eventually "very" successful real estate agent.

The book is brutal. There is no violence [in the literal sense], expletives etc, but Robert Ringer describes a world with no morals or compunction and cut throat competition using his own metaphors. Money is the only currency that has any relevance here and any means to that end is acceptable. It outlines the author's story where after getting mauled the initial few years, uses his astute analysis to come out on top.

The area where I have mixed feelings - eventually, you cannot help notice that after his success, he transforms himself from an "intimidatee" to an "intimidator"! All his efforts though seem directed to get only what "he" is due, so I guess it is fine. He also makes it very clear that our "wishes" are starkly different than "reality". Eventually, it strikes clearly that he did not contribute anything to the system as a way of improving the "process". He just uses the system to his advantage. In that sense, he aptly calls himself the "tortoise" that comes out on top all the time using the hare's unawareness. But that additional step would have transformed this book into a great one!

Another thing that amazed me: In America, laws are tight and it is a sue happy country. So when there are written agreements, everything is clear and all law points are covered, how are people still able to cheat out others on what they are due? It boggles my mind!

If this book is rewritten for India it will be a blockbuster hit! The core message of the book is on the title! It is a necessity today as we currently stand, but in a better world this book will become irrelevant.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

One line reviews...

Ravanan - I thought character development was lacking! That last scene ends very coldly - the only saving grace being the connection made between Ragini and Veera!

Notebook - Very sweet! May be they shouldn't have targeted this movie for PG-13 audience. They should have gone all the way (into "R") showing the intimacy of the characters more realistically. Just my thought.

Payback - Will they? My money? :). It wasn't THAT bad - just a pointless revenge story.

The Book of Eli - If you conclude this is a Christian propaganda movie, you got the wrong message. If you concluded that faith can create miraculous things, you got it right. If you concluded that Denzel can do nothing incorrectly, you got it right. If you concluded we as a human race are heading towards the direction pointed by this movie, you may be right - and that scares me!

Tweetposts - 3rd Nov 2010, Wednesday

Seeing a lot of painful things lately. Finding it a little difficult to handle! Don’t know if things are different or I am different – might help to reduce exposure to these things. But just that a lot of stuff “happens to come” to me!

Traffic sense here at Coimbatore is incredible [/s]. It’s a miracle that one trip happens without a collision! I am counting 5-6 hits on my car in this ~2 year period!

Cracker sounds have started! Three or four days of nightmare for dogs; but it’s nice to see happy children faces!
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