November 27, 2005

So I begin…

  • Confirm the time-table … check.
  • Buy stationary … in progress.
  • Create some groovy playlists to listen to while studying … check.
  • Put links & news feeds at Bloglines on hold … check.
  • Actually open the text-books … check.
  • Get well stocked on coffee … check.
  • Start panicking … trying.
  • Implement my plan for world dominion … on hold for now.
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November 22, 2005

God’s Debris

I just spent around 90 minutes reading God’s Debris by Scott Adams. Now I’ve gotta stop & digest all that I’ve read. Brilliant, and thought provoking. Go read it if you “enjoy having your brain spun around inside your skull”…

“So according to you, no one believes anything that they say they believe.”
“The best any human can do is to pick a delusion that helps him get through the day. This is why people of different religions can generally live in peace. At some level, we all suspect that other people don’t believe their own religion any more than we believe ours.”

“We like to believe that other people have the same level of urges as we do, despite all evidence to the contrary. We convince ourselves that people differ only in their degree of morality or willpower, or a combination of the two. But urges are real, and they differ wildly for every individual. Morality and willpower are illusions. For any human being, the highest urge always wins and willpower never enters into it. Willpower is a delusion.”

“There are two types of people in the world, my young friend. One type is people-oriented. When they make conversation, it is about people—what people are doing, what someone said, how someone feels. The other group is idea-oriented. When they make conversation, they talk about ideas and concepts and objects.”

November 21, 2005

Three new shows to check out

Arrested Development

I know that I’m late on the bandwagon, but I love . Star World just started airing the show a couple of months ago; and ’coz my life’s so good, the moment I start liking the show I hear that Fox has cancelled it in its third season. Worst channel ever.

If you’ve seen the ads for Arrested Development on TV, you’ve probably thought that the show would suck. I know I did. I’ve got Sunil to thank for continuously bugging me ’bout how great the show is.

You’ve got to check this show out. Those with good net connections just download a couple of episodes and see. You’ve got my guarantee that you’ll love it.

Numb3rs

Then there’s . The ads tell that it’s “A Beautiful Mind meets CSI”, which is exactly what it is. I’ve just seen the first couple of episodes, but so far it’s worth watching. I can almost tell that it’s gonna get repetitive soon, but am hoping that I’ll be wrong.

You have a mathematician using equations and such to help his brother (in the FBI) solve crimes. I know, it sounds weird. But watching it is fun, and it gives me hope for my math skillz [sic]. I’ve always wanted to like math, and to a certain extent I do like it; but the way I’ve been taught to use it makes me pathologically averse to it.

Go watch it if it’s your cup of tea.

Life As We Know It

Which brings me to . Always save the hardest for last. It’s the most clichéd show you’ll see that manages to be as original as can be.

I’ve almost given up trying to explain the stuff I like, so I’ll just give the IMDb tagline for the show here: “A show about sex, school, and growing up (not necessarily in that order).”

Once again, you’ll never guess how good the show is if you watch it’s ads. In fact, the ads almost generate a negative impression about the show. If you’ve seen them, then try to forget ’bout ’em and just watch the show with fresh eyes. Marketing people suck big time, they haven’t a clue about how to advertise something this good.

OK, if you just check out one of these shows I’m pimping here, then go with the last one. Just because Arrested Development runs till three seasons while this’ll be your only chance to watch Life As We Know It.

On a related note, I’ve almost begun my studies. Exams start on the 29th, and I studied for a whole 10 minutes yesterday! (This is progress, seriously.)

November 20, 2005

The Goblet of Fire is…

The best Harry Potter movie till date.

Just wanted to say that, am going away now…

November 14, 2005

Searching

I’d turned on Google Search History, now called Google Personalized Search (I think) a while ago. On the 21st of April this year to be exact. I was not too worried about the privacy concerns, and some of the Personalized results I’ve got are really useful.

Today I see that I’ve got 2888 searches in my history. That’s a lot: 2888 items since when I began averages to around 14 searches per day. Not counting the days I’d inadvertently logged out of Google. It’s really a lot.

Anyone else been keeping track?

(People should be able to tell by the glut of posts recently that I’m even more bored than usual.)

Information overload

It happens to everyone; I’m no different. I’ve finally began to feel the the pain, and now I’m looking for ways to manage it. I confess: I’m an information junkie. I’m an information addict.

I’ve always been this way. Get to data first, and knowledge will surely follow. I’ve never been impatient with not understanding stuff—never expected to understand everything. My strategy to the world has always been to just read/listen/watch whatever’s going on, even if I don’t understand what the hell is going on.

An analogy to make this clear: I’ve got lyrics of hundreds of songs memorized in my head here. I can’t remember them at will of course; I’m not a robot or something. But everytime I hear a song I like, I can sing along (OK, not really sing along … I’ve got a terrible voice). Most of the times I haven’t a clue ’bout what these lyrics mean, but that’s never stopped me.

Every once in a while, I suddenly remember a song I’ve not heard for a while, and it makes perfect sense. Almost as if I’ve written it myself. Every once in a while, I get moments of such clarity that makes all the useless junk sitting in my head worthwhile. These moments never last long enough for me to quantify them (fancy term). They’re always fleeting, always on the edge of understanding. But that’s what makes me go.

You would not believe all the shit I’ve got stored in my head. I’ve got a great memory for ideas, concepts, plots, outlines, et cetera. I almost never remember specifics though—for example I usually have to read half-way through a book to even begin remembering all the character names. And sometimes these ideas just click.

But lately even I’ve been feeling overloaded. I’m high on data, and lately none of it is making much sense. It seems to me that I’ve stopped understanding it all, and just play along. I’ve become hyperactive. I can’t go a few hours without checking my mail, without checking for new stuff on my subscriptions.

There’s way too much data out there, and sadly my strategy won’t cut it in the internet era. I’ve begun to reject broader & broader pieces of data, and am afraid that pretty soon I’ll reject almost everything being offered to me. That’s my worst nightmare: I become like all the people out there who never think about stuff and never change their minds.

I just don’t know how to deal with the mess I’ve drawn myself into, but given time I’m sure I’ll manage somehow.

It’s the curse of getting stuff too easily, I’m sure of it. Remember: you can always stand on the shoulders of giants to look even farther away, but none of it is not gonna make any sense if you don’t work at it.

November 13, 2005

del.icio.us Tagrolls

For all those who don’t see my links:

Another cool feature added by del.icio.us. Lately it seems that I’ve spent more time posting links than actual posts. But links are fun *winks*.

November 12, 2005

Books I want.

Note: Not the obvious ones.

I want the but it’s too damn expensive. Strand has it at Rs. 525, and I’m already broke as it is. I hear it’s the oldest written ‘heroic fantasy’ … so can’t really resist it.

I want and by Matt Stover. I want every book written by him, but don’t think there’s a single copy of either of these books in the whole of India. Amazon also does not have ’em in stock, which is a tragedy. I could not pay for the shipping costs to India anyway.

I want to read some decent editions of all the ancient Indian myths—from the to the to even the and all that. I’ve got the inkling that these could well be some of the best fantasy works I’ll ever read. I can’t really find ‘literary’ version of ’em; plus I don’t want to be seen as a religious zealot by anyone—people might start taking what I say seriously then! I tell ya, Indian myth and religion are hopelessly mixed up. Maybe these are for when I’m a little more ‘secure’…

I want to check out some cool comic books ahem graphic novels, but haven’t seen any of them in Mumbai so far. Any suggestions?

Plus there are a whole lot more. I’ll just name the authors, you go look them up. I can’t be doing all the work around here: George RR Martin, China Miéville, Gene Wolfe, Charles Bukowski, Bertrand Russell, and so on.

November 10, 2005

Comic strips

I’ve discovered some comic strips online—now I don’t just read Dilbert and Calvin & Hobbes.

Frazz is my new love. I caught up with it when I heard that the character of Frazz is considered to be grown-up version of Calvin, and some people have a theory that Bill Watterson is actually drawing the strip! Not true of course, but it made me check out the strip anyway. Anyone who’s not read this, and I’m especially talking about Calvin & Hobbes buffs, is missing out on a lot. Nothing can compare to Watterson’s strip of course, but so far this one comes close.

Speaking of which, Sify has the complete Calvin & Hobbes at a measly price of Rs. 5523. Will this year never end? I want to start the job today.

And speaking of Dilbert, Scott Adams’ new blog rocks! Best non-tech blog ever. The man somehow reminds me of Douglas Adams, and it’s all good.

Back to comic strips. There was a recent thread of Metafilter on online comics—wherein I discovered Achewood and The Perry Bible Fellowship. Both good strips to enjoy, though I’ve not read enough of ‘em to really give you the details. Check ‘em out and see for yourself.

The only decent way to read all this is through RSS feeds of course. Check out the ‘comics’ folder of my Bloglines subscriptions.

November 09, 2005

Bored now.

OK, I know I haven’t posted something here for a while. My college exams start on 29th November, and I’ve been waiting for two weeks. Three more to go. I of course won’t study till it’s absolutely necessary, hence I’ve got a lot of free time to play around with.

Free time and me are not friends. I can’t handle it—nothing seems too much fun when you’ve got all the time in the world. I’ve cut back on my reading, not written more of this crap here, not done anything actually for the last few days.

Deadlines are fun: everything else seems so much better when you’re on a schedule.

November 05, 2005

Serenity

Can't Stop the Signal

This was not the hardest post for me to write, but it’s close up there.

What can you say about a movie you loved every minute of, and know that almost no one else is gonna watch it? I want to help some others find serenity in watching this movie, but can’t do that without sounding like an overbearing zealot. That the whole ’verse built around Firefly/Serenity is way too complex to explain in a short paragraph a factor in delaying this post. That the movie seems like it’s not gonna show up in India anytime soon is another factor.

First thing you catch about the ’verse is the humour. Joss Whedon is brilliant at stuff like this: he can make you laugh until you cry.

Wash: This is gonna get pretty interesting.
Mal: Define “interesting”.
Wash: [deadpan] Oh God, oh God, we’re all going to die?
Mal: [a beat, then over the ship’s intercom] This is the captain. We have a little problem with our entry sequence, so we may experience some slight… turbulence and then explosions.

Zoë: [after breaking into a practically empty bank safe] At last, we can retire and give up this life of crime.

Mal: While I’m gone, Zoë is in command. Now, if I’m not back in an hour, I want you to take this ship, take off… and you come and you rescue me!
Zoë: What? And risk my ship?

Mal: I know she meant to kill me ’fore the Doc put her to sleep, which how exactly does that work anyhow?
Simon: Safeword. The people who helped me break River out—they had intel that River and the other subjects were being embedded with behavioural conditioning. They taught me a safeword, in case… something happened.
Kaylee: Not sure I get it.
Simon: A phrase that’s encoded in her brain, that makes her fall asleep. If I speak the words, “Eta…
Jayne: Well don’t say it!
Zoë: It only works on her, Jayne.

There’s a huge cast of characters which I won’t even bother introducing. The movie does not do justice to all the talent there like a TV show would have. Nothing can. Still, this is probably one of the best SciFi movies ever. Orson Scott Card sure liked it.

Once you get to know the humour, you fall even more in love with the language. If you’re me that is. Ain’t nothin’ like it. Archaic english mixed up with slang mixed up with Chinese.

Like the classic quote:

Kaylee: Goin’ on a year now I ain’t had nothin’ twixt my nethers weren’t run on batteries!

People not familiar with the vernacular take a second and then read it again. I’ll wait with a smirk on my face.

Did I say Chinese? The people swear in Chinese instead of English, you nothing needs to be edited out. And you don’t know exactly what they’re sayin’, but can always get the gist of it.

The movie starts off with a long introductory scene that’s brilliantly done. You can watch it online if you so wish. Then it’s all fast-paced and such, leading up the the climax. There’s a space battle going on near the end that’s better than anything you’ll see in Star Wars or something.

That’s where one of my favourite characters in all fiction says:

Wash: I am a leaf on the wind—watch how I soar.

You need to know more ’bout him to get this one, sorry. But trust me the first time you see the movie this scene’s endearing. On the second viewing it’ll be heartbreaking. Haven’t watched it a third time yet, so can’t say what my reaction will be then.

The end is great. Won’t do good to give too much away now.

A not-so-subliminal message to end the post with: <hypnotic voice>go watch this movie.</hypnotic voice>

November 01, 2005

Wonderfalls

Wonderfalls is another brilliant show that never got its due. I loved watching it, but don’t think anyone I know will get to see it now.

I missed the first few episodes when it started airing on Star World; one episode was enough to get me hooked though. The final episode aired yesterday, and I was hoping Star would repeat the series as it keeps doing with so many others, but no. Next week onwards it’s The Office followed by Coupling at Wonderfalls’ time slot. Hey, at least we got to see all the episodes around here—only the first four were aired in the States.

The show is about a girl—funny how most of the shows I like recently are about female protagonists. Jaye Tyler is a philosophy degree holder, who works in a souvenir shop at Niagara Falls. And lives in a trailer park. In the words on one of the characters, she’s ‘really managed to create a stressless expectation-free zone’ for herself. But everything changes when she starts hearing voices…

Won’t do to give too much away. Needless to say, she grows a soft heart, falls in love, saves people and generally manages to be an all-around awesome person.

I love the shows humour. I haven’t laughed so hard about anything in recent times. Always off-beat, sometimes offensive and occasional touching—if you don’t love this show then you’ve got some serious taste issues.

Obligatory quotes from the last episode:

Jaye: [spying on a little boy customer] He’s eyeing the Slinky. You know, he has to steal, like, four of those for me to even get a dollar.
Wonderfalls Security Guard: Is this one of those stores that gives its employees a cash bonus when they apprehend a shoplifter?
Jaye: Ten percent of whatever they were gonna steal. One time, I “accidentally” left the watch case open and I got like 500 bucks!

Wonderfalls Security Guard: [after catching the little boy shoplifting] You have choices, life choices. This was a bad life choice. That’s why you’re in an unpleasant situation. Unpleasant situations can be avoided by making good life choices.
Jaye: I have to disagree. I make good life choices. Mostly because they’re forced on me, but I make them. And I find myself in unpleasant situations all the time. You know why? Because even if you have a choice it can and will be taken away from you. We’re all fate’s bitch. You might as well go ahead and bend over for destiny now.

I’ve added the show’s DVD to my ever-growing Amazon wishlist. Now I just need to go buy a winning lottery ticket.

Sidenote: I’m loving Star World for now. Daily BtVS! AtS season five. And shows like this. Keep it up guys.