The Oscars
The nominees have been announced and I was a little disappointed not see 'In America' nominated. I was most impressed with the film. BAsed on Jim Sheridans own experiences as an illegal immigrant in New York in the 80s. Though Jim Sheridan(original screenplay), the ravishingly beautiful Samantha Morton(Best Actress) and Djimon Honsou(Supporting Actor) were nominated I wonder why the real attraction of the movie, the Bolger sisters, were passed over. I guess only if you are acting it counts. They were being themselves. Jim Sheridan definitely deserved a nominated in the Best Director category.
Not that would help his chances much, or anybody's for that matter. This time its Peter Jackson and the LOTR Party at the Oscars. So I predict. They have to. I was not too impressed with Master and Commander. It was okay! Seabiscuit was a good movie, but has a small chance of winning. Another pick is Diane Keaton for being a survivor. Oscars love these survivors and starting a new trend in movies of older heroines and heros. There are a lot of old people out there. haha!
Surprisingly this year's films did not have any characters that have some serious kind of psychological, physical problem, social problem that they have to surmount and the emotional upheaval.(eg: Brody, Crowe, Nicholson) It's a weird Oscar year.

'The Big Six 'Game
You are allowed two predictions 'a' and 'b'
(+1 for 'a' winning , +.5 for 'b' winning)

'3.0 +' is good I suppose.

1. Best Picture: a) "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King"
b)"Lost in Translation"

2. Actor: a)Bill Murray, "Lost in Translation"
b)Sean Penn, "Mystic River."

3. Actress: a)Diane Keaton, "Something's Gotta Give"
b) Samantha Morton, "In America"

4. Supporting Actor: a)Benicio Del Toro, "21 Grams"
b)Ken Watanabe, "The Last Samurai."

5. Supporting Actress: (wild guesses here)
a)Marcia Gay Harden, "Mystic River"
b) Holly Hunter, "thirteen"

6. Director:a)Peter Jackson, "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King";
b)Peter Weir, "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World";

Any takers for the competition? Let's see in a couple of weeks

Google Update
Seems like I should change the title of this periodic news flash called 'google update' to 'latest on the MSN versus Google'. Now MSN is jumping in the toolbar fray with their own version of the search bar. Seems like it will soon be another nasty part of the IE package.
Googlebar still rules. Beside its got the blogger button.

The Future of Entertainment
For the last 5 years we had not had a TV in our house. Never felt the need to. I loved watching movies which I usually caught in the theatres or brought the VCD home. This article ( WSJ story ) makes an observation that people with the internet at home spend less time watching TV. Which was the case with me back home and more so now with the permanent ethernet link in my room. Internet is like oxygen. Its not only a necessity but I might die without if I lose connection for more than 5 minutes.

Another interesting thing to note was that radio is increasing in popularity. Why? Because it can consumed on the go. As the article notes people now has less time and want to pack more in their day and hence listen to music, radio and at the same time are doing some other things too.
Of course normal broadcast TV however hard it tries cannot match the increasingly diverging tastes and still hope to cater to everyone in this era of specialization.
The article then talks about a new term called 'co-viewing'. A show that more than one person watches. Such shows are reducing and the savvy ad men are now moving to other avenues of advertising. Maybe video games will be interrupted with ads in the future. You never know.
Major Flaws
This graph shows that the time spent reading has dropped a bit, rather was not much to begin with. I think this is flaw in their definition of what reading is. It does not tell the complete story. What about the amount of reading people do online ? I mean every magazine, newspaper is online. I bet that the weekly average will be much higher than what is shown on the graph. As you can see that the internet time has increased to 3 hours. So despite all the smut on the net, there is lots to read too.
To complicate matters they put donwloading in the internet category. Now if you leave you computer connected for hours at end to download. Was that counted? Also what about the case if you are listening to music and reading somebody's blog.
It would nice to have another graph showing two activites carried out simultaneously. In a case like running on the treadmill and listening to your i-Pod.

We, the people..

"We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic and to secure to all its citizens :
JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;
and to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;
In our consituent assembly this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do hereby adopt, enact and give to ourselves this constitution."

- Preamble to the Constitution of India.

This piece was a result of reading inGeorge's blog about the vandalism of the historical Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in my home town, Pune. TOI Story. The pictures in eSakal (If you can read Marathi the Sakal editorial.)
When you read all this stuff, first you felt outraged. Then you feel helpless. Sometimes more so, since you are so far away. Then you write..

Three Questions

Who's doing this?
We won't ever get rid of these fanatics, hooligans and cultural terrorists. There is atleast one in every crowd. I was enraged at first at the fact that priceless documents and books were destroyed and stolen. How senseless and stupid people are. Could they not have found a better way to show their anger, however unfounded it may have been?
Then maybe they were stark raving mad or were stupid and were easily misguided. What stinks more is the unrepentant explanation given by the government and other leaders. Atleast one assumes that they have sense. This Sambhaji Brigade should have been given a public flogging. Like every issue in our country, this one too got coloured with political overtones and vote bank politics. This time to appease the Marathas.

Who's to stop them?
I am sick of these frequent hijackings in the name of religion, culture, unions, swadeshi of our life and peace. Every gang pursues their own minority, slanted, titled agenda with impunity. They can rest assured some political bigwig will see this as a 'opportunity'. The BJP has tied its hands with the Hindu fanatics, the Congress with everyone else. The other coalations seems to running their own fiefdoms. If that is not ebough. Every local MLA and wannabe politician is playing his own 'little game'. What is this Sambhaji Brigade? How many members does have? Some maverick politicians 'political debut' or part of a bigger right-wing conspiracy?

Who's to blame?
I feel quite ashamed of the fact that I had to come so many thousand miles from home to realise what I saw almost daily in front of my eyes. What I could have done and what I didn't do. I am ashamed of the fact that I never stood up to these vandals of our nation in their many guises. Ashamed of my shyness to confront them. Of my passivity and my attitude to accept. Curiously to accept what I would consider unacceptable personally.

To accept that the old man next to me would throw his garbage from the window of the train.
To accept that friends would pay touts to get a license.
To accept the 'dadagiri' of the 6-seater rickshawalas who polluted the city, why because we all accepted the horrible PCMT bus service and demanded nothing better.
To accept that the HOD siphoned off funds from an event and we kept quiet.
To accept that people ran the 'red light'
To accept coercion of Ganesh Mandals and see them drink and smoke the 'dengi' away
To accept that people would spit 'paan'
To accept that people would not know the National Anthem or even respect It when It was playing.

Answer to all the above: We, the people.

We the people who agreed to adopt, enact and give ourselves the Constitution but reneged on our promise. To paraphrase Pink Floyd, 'We have become comfortably numb'. We break these little laws, be irresponsible citizens of the largest democracy, lack basic civic sense and accept all the bullshit going around us. And yet firmly believe that we still maintain those ' values enshrined in our constitution' : JUSTICE, LIBERTY, EQUALITY , FRATERNITY , whatever that jazz is.
Mera Bharat Mahan.

America is a like...
I found this on my random walks through the blogspace which lead me here.
America is a like...a zookeeper. The whole series of articles is worth reading. Paul Theroux the most famous name on the list writes about his time as a sexual prisioner during his time in Africa. Its uncanny how he realises how he is the mini-America in his arrogant behavior, doing something in the heat of the moment which he regrets later. Echoes of attack on Iraq?

Expand your mind
One of the things that I want to do this year is explore as many 'other' blogs I do manage to explore. I shall post updates once a month. If I still remain sane after reading the 'new-age' evangelists, weirdos, self proclaimed critics, social historians and thos finally found a way of being whatever-you- wanted-to-be-but-were-not-sure-to.
Welcome to the Blogs on the Wild Side!

Wild Blogs 1

Mr. Knight in Shining Armour is someone who loves weapons, physics and making song parodies. I recently forwarded this link to a cousin and he can't get the dirty lyrics out of his head for his favourite song.

More coming..

A New Attribute -- The Top Business Schools:
In the recent article on the Top Business Schools, recruiters were asked what they considered the most important qualities they were looking for. There were the usual suspects
"Communication and interpersonal skills 90%
Ability to work well within a team 87%
Analytical and problem-solving skills 85%
Personal ethics and integrity (1) 84%"
The "(1)" on the last attribute indicates that the was a new attribute this year. Not surprising. The scandals that rocked corporate America in the past few months clearly showed the missing component in the nation's top CEOs and managers. Ethics and Integrity. So
the new age man should also have what Raymond Chandler described,

"Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. … He is the hero, he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor, by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world."

Google Update - Google Expands Search Features: "Google Inc. expanded the types of information that Internet users can search for on its Web site to include such things as area codes, product codes, flight information, vehicle identification numbers and U.S. Postal Service tracking numbers"
Another cool feature is you type in the area code and it will show the map of that region.

HP and Apple
Seems like I was following some sort of trend the past few days. Close on the heels of Thursday's story was the today's announcement of HP,Mac & Ipod This seems to be a season of having strange bed-fellows.
I think I shall wait a few more months. I-Pods will become still cheaper. Just wait!

To Steal or not to Steal?

"To steal, or not to steal--that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler to share and to offer
The Kazaa's and e-Mules the outrageous good fortune
Or to take arms against the RIAA of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die, to hear--
No more--and by a sleep to say we end
The music, and all the thousand free softwares
That every user is heir to. "
-Hirak Parikh
(With due apologies to the Bard)

I-pod which is unarguably the best portable MP3 player produced a new baby a few days ago called the I-Pod mini. Priced at $249 which tempts people like me to buy an i-pod finally.
A few days ago Archos, an obscure French company made news with the introduction of a portable DVD player. This gave the film industry a few shivers, as this might increase the already rampant movie rips to the mp3 proportions.

These two recent events brings up the question. To steal or not to steal? I heard someone proclaim to me a while ago the he never downloaded music because he respected the artist too much and those that loved music ended up buying music anyway. I agree with the latter.
What we see is quite a contradictory technological development. On one hand we have manufacturers making CD writers, DVD writers, I-Pos and the Archos cheaper and cheaper which DEFINITELY increase the temptation to "Burn rather than buy" and efforts by others (Sony, et al) to make discs that are playable only. Already there are people in the docket for downloading files thanks to the RIAA. Despite the fact that records sales grew, despite the numerous Kazaa's around.
My opinion is that regardless of what companies might try to do there will be many maverick 'Napsters' out there ready to make/break the system. What people get for free they won't want to pay. Take email for instance.

Pop Quiz
Ob Q:What is the prize money awarded to the winner of the

My blogoscope being quite narrow, I don't think I can even be a conscientious voter. A few week ago I was randomly searching and found a blog that whose only theme is: "Why Ann Arbor sucks!" or "Why the City of Ann Arbor is overrated"

Ob Ans: See comment for answer.

Google Update
Yahoo is going to remove the Google Search Engine from its site and start using its own engine. They have already revamped the Shopping section of the yahoo site. Check the difference between the two. The new Yahoo search is what some may call "shamless commercialization" ie. yahoo is going to earn revenue from its business partners for showing them up in the searches. This will increase their revenue, but what about credibility?