Friday, May 21, 2010

LOST Finale - The Al Gore Version

Well, as the finale episode(s) of LOST is going to be aired soon, zillions of fans across the world (including me) are waiting with bated breath. Of course one man has been consistent with his predictions for the climax of LOST, and he is Al Gore.

Between bites of his Burger King's Whopper and IHOP's Pancake combo he managed to tell me how he thinks LOST will end...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Evil villain from Bond movie comes to life...

For all of you who ever rolled your eyes thinking that the villains in James Bond movies were over the top, unrealistic and comical here is proof that they do exist.

All Kim Jong Il has to do is remove his hands from the pockets of his mink coat, flick a switch, adjust a couple of dials and pull a lever... and VoilĂ ! the floor will open and you will fall into a pool filled with piranhas or something, while deadly nuclear missiles will be launched targeting every capital city in the world!

One might make a mistake of saying 'Look how happy he is, he couldn't hurt a fly', but let me tell you ladies, never ever trust a bond villain, especially this one. Do you know his codename?

It is KjIl and the j is just a distraction...

(for more pictures of this bond villain, go here)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

No smoke without fire

The Falklands War between Britain and Argentina happened in the year 1982. I was born in that year and my only knowledge about this conflict comes from the various History Channel documentaries I have seen.

But this post is not about the Falklands War; its about how seemingly unrelated pieces of information from unrelated sources always has some some connection! There is definitely no smoke without fire!

This past Saturday, I read in the Mint Lounge (according to me, the best weekend English read) a travelougue by Wendell Rodricks titled "You need visa power: Ahead of a 51-day cruise around South America, the merry-go-round begins at home"

It was a good read which described both the awesome nature of such a journey and the idiosyncrasies of all the visa related hassles. But here is the thing, it had this one small piece of information about visa problems for visiting Falklands Islands.

Meanwhile, Argentina was throwing a fit: “Your ship is going to the Falklands. We don’t recognize that name. Reapply with ‘Islas Malvinas’.” I curse the Falklands War and reapply with newly attested fingerprints and affidavit.

I remember thinking about the Falklands War as I read this and wondering if there was some new conflict brewing these days.

Lo! And behold I read in the Times,UK today about rising rhetoric and tension about the Falklands! Here is an excerpt from 'Troubled Waters'

Britain is sensibly playing down talk of a new war with Argentina. Since the Falklands conflict in 1982, London has slowly but steadily rebuilt its relations with Buenos Aires, now an important trading and political partner. But the Government has made it quite clear that the islands and access to them are, and will be, defended in the face of any new threat from the mainland.

Argentina’s declaration that it will do all it can to prevent the drilling for oil in Falklands waters must be dismissed for what it is: foolish bluster, provoked by dreams of oil wealth under the seas and intended to divert Argentine public opinion from the failings of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s floundering administration

I am having immense (for lack of a better term) sense of deja vu about this. This smoke and fire quotation makes too much sense!

Also, the power of travelogues is immense, don't you think?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Horsing around...

I recently got the opportunity to witness the Mahalakshmi Derby, out here in Mumbai, thanks to a friend who got passes to the event.

But more than seeing the horses and the race, it was the crowd which was fascinating. Here are the three typical characters.

#1, Major-ly into the betting, I-Have-To-Pee-Like-A-Horse-But-Need-To-See-The-Results types

#2, Hot chicas, Wonder-If-There-Is-Someone-With-A-Shorter-Skirt-Than-Mine types,

(BTW, Oh yes there were; this lady above was actually wearing the longest of skirts)

#3, Mr. RichDude Punter, I-Am-Rich-And-I-Don't-Care-If-The-Horse-Loses type

A good fun outing, I must say. Especially, if the filly you bet Rs. 10 to WIN has good odds, and you get back Rs. 50!

Jacqueline did win, although I did feel bad for Onassis - who like his name sake could not keep up with the foxy lady! :)

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Razzies nominations have been announced...

(Click on picture to enlarge)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Giddy heights...

My fascination for climbing tall building and looking down at the land and people below is an old one. I was already fascinated by buildings and had tried to reach the highest floor of tall buildings in my hometown of Bangalore, when I read the romantic interpretation of the skyscraper as an epitome of human achievement in Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead and I was hooked. There is something about a tall building that is surreal - it literally and figuratively takes you above and beyond the mundane and the trite.

This fascination for reaching the top floors of tall buildings continued, and when I was in Singapore, I remember pestering my friends to accompany me in trying to get to the top of some random skyscraper. One hilarious incident took place when I forcefully took a bunch of friends up the elevators of a tall building in the Raffles area of Singapore. We ended up on the topmost floor accessible through the elevator only to find that there was no view to be had, as this was the lobby of one of the offices in the building. Although, I was mildly disappointed that there was no 'view from the top' to be had, it filled me with excitement to feel my ears pop at the altitude! But, this of course did not satiate my need to 'reach the top' and towards the end of my stay in Singapore, my friend and I did manage to go up to the 71st floor of the Swisotel building, Singapore's tallest, to the New Asia Bar, and my glee was visible!

Another experience in heights was when I visited Kuala Lumpur and went up the Menara Kuala Lumpur, or KL tower. Although, shorter in height than the Petronas Towers, which I could not climb due to unavailability of tickets, it was nevertheless a tall building and I enjoyed every moment of being on top of it.

People who know me, clearly know my dislike for Dubai as a city. It is, according to me, very pretentious and tries very hard at being a tourist friendly place, but it is not. For a skyscraper enthusiast though, there can be no going around the fact that the tallest building in the world is now in Dubai and I am itching to go see it - from the top. I remember going to the base of the construction site of the Burj Khalifa in early 2009, when it was still being constructed and being awestruck at its height.

My inherent fascination for tall buildings, combined with this inspiring comparison about the Burj Khalifa's design being inspired from Frank Lloyd Wright's unbuilt Mile-High Illinois makes it irresistible to my skyscraper fetish. (Frank Lloyd Wright, who it has been noted by Ayn Rand herself, as being the inspiration for the character of Howard Roark in The Fountainhead, adds compelling incentive)

The Burj is American in another way. Most of the coverage of the Dubai tower has focussed on its height and its location, but it is also an interesting design. The form is not a minaret, like the Petronas Towers, or a stylized spire, like the Taipei Financial Center. Smith (who is no longer with SOM) and Baker have not produced an elongated cluster of shoe boxes like the Sears Tower, a high-tech-construction like Norman Foster's Hearst Tower, or a twisty sculpture a la Santiago Calatrava. Instead, they have opted for a distinctly unfashionable organic form, a sort of stalagmite. Many observers have noted the similarities between the Burj and Frank Lloyd Wright's unbuilt 1956 proposal for a 528-story state office building for Chicago's lakefront, which he christened the Mile-High Illinois. Wright's design is twice as high as the Burj, but there are distinct parallels. Both buildings are constructed of reinforced concrete; both have floor plates that reduce in area as the building rises, producing a stepped-back silhouette; both have a treelike central core that rises the full height of the building to become a spire. And both use a tripod design: The Mile High is triangular in plan, and the Burj has three wings that act as buttresses.

I'm not sure if the famously prickly Wright would have considered imitation the sincerest form of flattery, but he would have been pleased to see a version of his conception take shape in the Middle East, which was the site of one of his most spectacular unbuilt projects. In 1956, the government of the young king of Iraq, Faysal II, aiming to modernize the city of Baghdad, commissioned a number of leading Western architects: Walter Gropius for a new university, Alvar Aalto for the national gallery, and Le Corbusier for a stadium and sports complex. Wright was invited to build the opera house. The Old Wizard, as his biographer Brendan Gill called him, produced an astonishing interpretation of Scheherazade on the Tigris, a circular opera house surrounded by colonnades and water gardens, and topped by an open spire containing a statue of Aladdin and the wonderful lamp. Shortly after the design was completed, King Faysal and his family were murdered in a military coup, and the new regime abandoned the project. Fanciful proposals, such as the Baghdad Opera House and the Mile-High Illinois, are usually regarded as slightly off-key, the day dreams of a master in his dotage. The Burj suggests that the Wiz still has lessons to teach us.

(Read the complete article here)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Terrorist paragliders?

My non-humorous attempt at coming up with something as awesome as the people at Well I can try, can I not ?

(Click picture to enlarge)

My gym guilt... sigh!

(click picture to enlarge...)

Friday, November 06, 2009

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Monday, November 02, 2009

Travel on my mind

I can by no account be called a traveler, for I have been to very few places in this world; although in my mind, I am a wanderer, a person who likes to explore and a person who knows geography - as it is shown in maps and recounted in the numerous travelogues and history books, I have read.

But more or less, since the time I last posted on this blog, my travel quotient has been higher - I have had the opportunity to go to few places, and all these have left me with richer knowledge, unforgettable experiences and above all a great sense of being!

I do not know when I will get around to writing a travelogue for all these journeys, but here are some photographs which tell the story as well -

  1. Journey in the Konkan - Ratnagiri, Guhagad, Ganapatiphule, Chiplun
  2. In Durian Land - Kuala Lumpur
  3. Amongst the Rajputs - Jaipur
  4. Rooftop of the World - Leh
  5. Beach cocktail - Goa
I came across this wonderful article by Pico Iyer (amongst many books, the author of The Global Soul; which I think is a superb book every traveler should read) about Somerset Maugham, titled The Perfect Traveler.

Here is a superb description of what I agree should be the characteristics of a perfect traveler, from this article -

The perfect traveler must be a perfect contradiction. She should be open to almost everything that comes her way, but not too ready to be taken in. He should be worldly, shrewd, his feet firmly on the ground; but he must also have the capacity to give himself over to moments of real wonder. He or she must be curious, observant, spirited and kind—ready to spin a spell-binding tale of adventure and irony at the Explorers’ Club, and then throw it all over for a crazy romance in the South Seas.

The above characteristics and an attitude as described by Robert Frost in "The Road not taken"(in its philosophical but also in its literal sense) are my prescription for a traveler!

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

If half the world were sterile...

I came across this interesting article by David Brooks in the New York Times. It talks about a scenario where one half of the entire population of the Earth, is rendered sterile due to some hypothetical, freak Solar 'incident'. What would happen in such a situation? I tend to agree with the author that the fabric of society would disintegrate - majority of the human race lives on the premise that "I am living today, to make my tomorrow better". In a situation where entire populations of a continent does not have a tomorrow, there will not be any shards of moral fabric left in them, to help them distinguish between right and wrong.

I found this particular excerpt very powerful -

Instead there would be brutal division between those with the power to possess the future and those without. If millions of immigrants were brought over, they would populate the buildings but not perpetuate the culture. They wouldn’t be like current immigrants because they wouldn’t be joining a common project, but displacing it. There would be no sense of peoplehood, none of the untaught affections of those who are part of an organic social unit that shares the same destiny.
But, of course, that’s the beauty of this odd question. There are no sterilizing sunspots. Instead, we are blessed with the disciplining power of our posterity. We rely on this strong, invisible and unacknowledged force — these millions of unborn people we will never meet but who give us the gift of our way of life.

It is in this context that we should view crackpot schemes which are usually proposed by crazy, dictator wannabes. It has been said rightly that "Power corrupts; And absolute power corrupts, absolutely". Those who are power hungry, even for the sake of the 'common good' (the main raison d'etre of most governments around the world) are easily corrupted by this very same 'common good'.

Distrust those who claim to offer these global panacea. There is a rot of corruption behind them.

Hat Tip: Marginal Revolution - where the discussion first started!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Identity politics...

(Click on Image to enlarge)

Big government?

(Click on picture to enlarge)

I am obviously not that great at pencil sketching... but metaphorically, this above sketch of mine came out right!

As Robert Samuelson rightly asks in this article, what are the consequences of this growing obesity of the government? Here is an exercpt...

The question that President Obama ought to be asking -- that we all should be asking -- is this: How big a government do we want? Without anyone much noticing, our national government is on the verge of a permanent expansion that would endure long after the present economic crisis has (presumably) passed and that would exceed anything ever experienced in peacetime. This expansion may not be good for us, but we are not contemplating the adverse consequences or how we might minimize them.

We face an unprecedented collision between Americans' desire for more government services and their almost-equal unwillingness to be taxed.

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