Book Review "Bawdy Language" (X - Rated??)
I can't put it better than one of the other reviewers have put it.
A dirty mind is a terrible thing to waste. If you love words and erotica, you must read this punographic masterpiece.
—Richard Lederer, Wordsmith, Author of The Cunning Linguist

If you caught the pun in the previous line, the book(Link to the Book) is definitely for you. Unfortunately or fortunately the book is not available for sale in bookstores and available only online. Though it was great to read some excerpts from the book. If if you are the squemish, prudish sort it would be 'enlightening' to read atleast one excerpt.
What is the borderline between 'pornography' and 'erotica'? Between 'erotica' and 'high-art'? Is whatever masquerades as genuine appreciation simply a 'primal, animal urge' that has acquired a veneer of respectability? I don't know the answer. Does coming from a nation of a billion-strong(getting stronger), quantitavely and the 'land of Kama Sutra', qualitatively speaking, automatically qualify me?
In the early 60s the mini skirt was a rage because of shock effect. Later the medi-skirt became a rage because of not what it revealed but what it concealed. There is a partial scientific explanation of this effect in the Reith lectures(see The Artful Brain). Perhaps then the apple-kissing and wet sari of Hindi cinema is just as effective if not more. It's all in the head, perhaps and hence I liked the book above. Yet I am to reconcile the view of the 'mini vs medi' viewpoint.
Pornography is the attempt to insult sex, to do dirt on it.
D. H. Lawrence

Washington D.C.
Was in Washington this Wednesday for a Project Review(DARPA meeting). Being more of a business trip rather than a junket, I did not see much of DC. Except floated about in Old Town Alexandria. Saw the Capitol and the Washington monument from a distance.(Quite like the photo below). I think that less than 5 days is not doing justice to place like DC. Perhaps some other time. Also the advantage of being in DC is that you could be wearing anything from a business suit to sandals and shorts you would not look out of place. At least on the street.

It has well preserved wood structures, relics from the 19th century and has a colonial look to it. Most of the Old Town is antique shops and the yuppie Banana Republic shop despite the old facade looks a little out of place. It was great to hang out with all the guys at the hotel pub called Annabelles. It was fun playing Trivia blitz with a playmaker device. Some of the questions of course I had no clue. A cultural bias of sorts. Then again how many guys there would know who Barthomelow Dias was?

50s style diners
On the trip back there were no stops at famous Pennsylvania diners. On the way to DC we stopped at one in Somerset, PA. It was great with a jukebox from the 50's i think. Each table had this small jukebox. Ours had one speaker cover fallen off and large silver colored plastic buttons to select. It had a cute little handle to flick the pages. It was incredibly retro. Despite the retro look it has selections from Christina Aguilera and J. Lo. Which I think was so darned heart breaking. Atleast Tim had the sense to play an old country song. Imagine that. You are eating at this amazing 50's style diner with synthetic leather upholstery and have to hear some chick belt out Latino hits. Yuck! There should be a law against this. Would have spoiled the meal. What was the owner thinking?

The Second Law of Thermodynamics

There should be a name for this phenomenon of
"Unexplained re-occurence of a a reference to an event,book, fact.." My suggestion is:
wiedertreffen- Ger. meet again (In case anyone knows the word for it or has a better idea lemme know)

I was listening to Vilaynur Ramachandran's excellent Reith lecture series on the brain. In one lecture he referred to C.P. Snow's celebrated Rede lecture on the Two Cultures where Snow cites the Second Law as an example of the gulf between Science and Humanities. Today I was reading Robert Lucky's excellent last page article in this month's Spectrum ( if you know what IEEE Spectrum is and not know Robert W. Lucky then please electrocute yourself.)
He talks about his granddaughter, who is a living, house-messer extraordinaire. Keeps the Second Law happy. Reading further he says
" ...order can be achieved locally at the expense of disorder elsewhere. I think engineers are like this too. While our work seems to involve the creation and imposition of structure, our environment often disintegrates spontaneously around us.."
Reading further ahead and then observing the mess of papers and books and three day old coffee on my table, I realise how true his observations are. Perhaps I should forward this article to my mom. Who will typically disagree and who has spent almost all her life battling the Second Law. A fun site if you wish to see more insight into "Zen and the Art of the Second Law"

Politics and Protest
NPR has become a latest fixation and the Prairie Home Companion on it another. I found this parody of the Pete Seeger's Where Have All the Flowers Gone.Perhaps more apt in todays world, especially in America.
Where are All the Democrats?

Are Indians better spellers?
"They spell it Vinci and pronounce it Vinchy; foreigners always spell better than they pronounce."
Mark Twain

From the Herald-Dispatch
"Sai Gunturi’s victory in this year’s national spelling bee was a personal triumph -- his first championship after three previous trips to the event.
But for Indian-American students as a group, the win was just one more in a recent string of top honors at prestigious academic competitions.
Gunturi is the fourth Indian-American student in the last five years to capture the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee championship. George Thampy, a St. Louis teen whose parents are from India, placed second in the National Geographic Bee in May 2000 -- a week before he went on to win the national spelling bee title."
For full story..

The 4th of July
I find it easier to do something 'constructive' on big days. This was a special day. Today I went cycling to the Sailing Club on Baseline Lake ( some 27 kms away). It was searingly hot when I left then it got cooler as I entered the mico-climate of the scenic Huron River Drive. The Huron River Drive is a great place to bike. Many cyclists, few cars. A route that runs parallel to a train track and the Huron River. I was looking a little anachronistic with my bike with the white-wall tires and conservative handlebar, compared to the lycra-clad, 17-Speed, orange-juice can toting "Super-cyclists".
Suddenly a dust storm blows up and light drizzle. The sunny sky turns murky, grey in nanoseconds ( I am not kidding!) and then it starts to pour. Thanks to great American design, mudguards are not considered a vital accesory. In minutes , I am splattered with the mud. My backpack turns from black to brown. The bike was blue when I last remembered... I HAD GREAT FUN!!
Then I stopped under a tree and wondered..Yeah this is what a good monsoon rain is like. Here I was standing in the middle of nowhere, on a dirt road looking at how the rain soaked the green fields in front of me. The map in my bag getting wet. (older readers may note that I had changed to my sandals and kept my socks DRY in the bag. See old post on Soggy Socks Suck!)
I wondered why I was so damn happy. loved every moment. Getting wet..stopping.. Maybe it was all things together.
A- I had no time pressure
B- No entry in the What-the-well-dressed-man-is-wearing-nowadays
C- No bickering companions who cannot appreciate a good soak
and most importantly ..
D- I was excited about the trip, the journey and not the destination.
Its another thing about the great day I had sailing and then again riding back all those miles. Most of the best times in life are the little ones. The small and seemingly insignificant. The ones that SOMEONE else would wonder. Did that make that much of a difference? I think they do. Those moments which are pointless and happened unplanned.... Like this one somewhere on Huron Drive, 2 miles from the destination. Getting soaked in the rain through a potholed dirt road. Wet, aching muscles, sore hands, alone and as happy as can be.

Independence Day
Tomorrow is the 4th of July. Late at night the National Public Radio(NPR)(the only perhaps 'free' media enterprise in the US) broadcasts the BBC World Service. There was a discussion on the American flag and what it meant to Americans. The American flag appears on bikinis, doormats, hats, toilet rolls. People have burned the flag and it was declared constitutional under the
First Ammendment:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
That's America. There was a reporter who said that displaying the flag was no longer done in New York but he claims that in the heartland there are still people who do that and think it patriotic. I was still in the car passing houses where the Star-Spangled Banner was on doorways as I heard him speak on, "...that is a bellicose kind of partriotism that we see that says that we Americans are right and you are wrong..". The BBC commentator went on to say that on this Independence day America stands divided on political and economic issues.
Yesterday at the BBQ I heard a comment that "Smoking was no longer considered fashionable." Currently the flavour of the month is that in many..err most parts of the world its no longer fashionable to say, " We are Americans. We are here to save you."
Interesting sidelight in the comments.