Support UNICEF's relief efforts in Myanmar

Friday, May 20, 2005

Mr. Bush, you just don't get it!

Mr. Bush, you just don't get it!

Mr. President,

For the last 5 months I have refrained from writing about the illegal war waged by you in Iraq in the name of democracy. And in this period alone hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed, a "Government" has been appointed, some of the war criminals easily let off... the sad list goes on. Each and every one of your steps in a way adds to the list of war crimes committed by the coalition and their violations of the Geneva conventions. Yesterday's *release* of a photo of Saddam in his underwear was no different.

Your military released these pictures assuming that it would break the back of the Iraqi Resistance when they see "their" leader in his underwear. Now that confounds me. The USA is considered to have a smart, efficient and effective military; but it doesn't even understand what drives the people they are trying so hard to subjugate. A photo such as this does not break spirits, it only forges them. Here is what you had to say to the media about the photo:
""I don't think a photo inspires murderers. I think they're inspired by an ideology that's so barbaric and backwards that it's hard for many in the Western world to comprehend how they think."

Mr. Bush, it is because of this inability of yours to respect other nations that the US is hated as much as it is. It is this attitude of considering everyone else who is not towing the line of the US as backward and sometimes barbaric that is causing you so much grief. Different regions and different cultures have a different perspective of life and their behavior is directed by their beliefs. Saddam may be a villain to you (though the USA had no inhibitions in providing him with tons of weaponry and money in the past), but to the Iraqis and people in the region he is still a leader - a bad one may be, but still a leader. They may hate him, but they will not tolerate an outsider insulting him. An insult to one of their own is considered an insult against them. And the people in that region (as everywhere else) do not take insults lightly. And should they be insulted, they will lash back even if it is at the cost of their lives.

Don't forget that when US mercenaries were brutally killed in Fallujah, American public outcry increased only when they saw the photographs of the burning bodies and body parts of the US mercenaries hanging from bridges. Those photographs sealed the fate of Fallujah and its citizens who were mercilessly massacred. It was those photos, I must say to your credit, effectively used by your Administration, that “justified” the havoc your military unleashed in Fallujah. To a lot of people, the American response was considered barbaric because it targeted innocent civilians for the acts of the Resistance.

So now what in your infinite wisdom gives you the confidence that these insulting photographs of Saddam will not fuel the Resistance? They may not, in themselves, but add to that the reports on the way the US Military and Intelligence handled the Quran, the recent minimum sentences to your scapegoats from the infamous Abu Ghraib prison, the caught-on-tape point-blank shootings of Iraqis sometimes under the guise of mercy-killing, the lack of basic amenities, the continued siphoning of Iraqi resources and you will see why the insurgency is only growing and not declining as you hoped and continue to predict.

You just don't get it Mr. Bush. And neither does the West. Samuel P. Huntington correctly said in his book "The Clash of Civilizations": "The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do."

It is about time you understand this. And about time your people realize that the Iraqi Resistance is not fighting to restore Saddam on the throne (they don't like him much either), but to rid the illegal occupiers off their land. You said yesterday "'s hard for many in the Western world to comprehend...". If it is so difficult for you to comprehend their acts, why don’t you just leave the Iraqis alone. They will find their destiny. They have for 5000+ years. Leave them in peace. They do not deserve this misery (Photographs at this link are gruesome but real) you are inflicting on them in the guise of democracy.

And a closing word of advice. If it is peace that you really seek, first stop your illegal wars – both overt and covert. Close your military bases across the world. It does nothing – as we saw in Uzbekistan. Then revisit your foreign policy. And stop striving for global dominance.

Peace is achieved not by exerting superiority; but by mutual co-existence. Peace be with you.

Amma's grip - firm as ever!

Amma's grip - firm as ever!

Everyone I have spoken to from Tamil Nadu or knowledgeable in TN politics always criticize Jayalalitha. I hear stories about long-delayed projects, corruption, favoritism, sycophantism, etc. But these don't seem to have made any impacts on the minds of the people in Kancheepuram and Gummidipoondi. When it was time to vote, they swept in the AIADMK, notwithstanding the recent controversy at the Kanchi Mutt and the arrests of the Shankaracharyas.

I enjoy reading T.V.R. Shenoy's articles and respect his political acumen. So this quote from him surprised me:
Jayalalitha is probably one of the finest administrators in India today. Whether it is maintaining law and order or prodding the bureaucracy to ensure civic services, Chennai is a nicer place to live than, say, Mumbai, Delhi, or perhaps even Bangalore. And the fact is that her government did a better job of relief and rehabilitation in the wake of the tsunami than neighbouring Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, and anyone who speaks of 'bungling' in Tamil Nadu should take a good hard look at its neighbours."

That should score him more than a few brownie points with Amma. Either he is completely out of touch with reality or I am talking to the wrong people about TN politics! I suspect it is less of the first (what can I say, I am a TVR fan) and more of the latter. I guess her victory can be attributed to her sincerity. Or her shrewdness in pulling in the sympathy vote. Smart administrator or not, she sure is a astute politician. It is not easy to beat an allinace with the likes of DMK, Congress, MDMK, PMK... in it!! Read the full article here.

This is the second home-coming for the erstwhile actress, the first being the 1998 polls after Rajni's famous words "Even God cannot save Tamil Nadu if Jayalalitha is voted back to power" sealed her fate in the 1996 Assembly polls. Politics sure is a funny game! Who would have imagined Rajni and Jayalalitha on the same stage. :D

Rajni's daughter marries and see who the guest is Nov 18, 2004

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Google Personalized... But I am not biting!

Google Personalized... But I am not biting!

Google launched the personalized Home Page today. Google users can now decide what they would like to see on their Home Page - Gmail, BBC News, NYT, Weather, Stock, Quotes, etc.

TECH - Google Personalized

I tried it to see what it gives me, but only for the duration of this post. As with the now discontinued Google Web Accelerator, I don't want Google to know what I am looking up on the web.

This is just another way for Google to gather rich data on query patterns tied to specific users. IMHO, they are reworking their Web Accelerator ploy here but restricting the info-gathering to the content presented on the Home Page. Google will now know the searches a specific user makes, the type of news articles, stocks, etc they are interested in. Also the data sources of interest, the preferred priority to each of these, etc. That is a lot of clickographic and demographic data. Good try Google, but I am not biting! Of course, this does not stop them from co-relating from my Gmail cookies, but I don't plan on making it any easier for them! :D

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

DDLJ - Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge

DDLJ - Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge

I didn't realise this movie was still playing in the theatres! One of my favorite Bollywood movies. And I must sheepishly admit I saw it about 10 times (sometimes I had no option - the day after we saw it in the theatres, the movie was played again on a long-distance bus! :)). I wouldn't mind watching it again. This movie had everything working for it: Kajol, Shah Rukh, Kajol, Anupam Kher, Kajol; the music; excellent photography; tight screenplay; good direction and Kajol :D.

DDLJ Merge 1

The movie is now into its 500th week in a theatre in Mumbai - Maratha Mandir theatre. And they claim the movie runs to packed houses on weekends and at 60% capacity on weekdays! That is phenomenal for a movie playing for the 10th year without a break. The location (near Mumbai Central and MSRTC) may have something to do with it; but the credit really goes to the magical team that created this wonderful movie. It had all the essential ingredients for a super-hit: songs, dances, comedy, dishum-dishum, tears... Go watch it again folks!

Update: Here is a recent review on Rediff.

Friday, May 06, 2005

When policies must be relaxed.

When policies must be relaxed.

I am a stickler for processes and policies. But every policy and process must have some leeways. The process/policy and hence the system is respected when reasonable. But I think it is unfair to suspend a kid from school for 10 days for answering his cellphone during school hours. The enforcers didn't seem to care that the person calling him was his mom who is a soldier stationed in Iraq. And didn't care that he answered the call during the lunch hour! What does he say - "Sorry mom, can't talk to you now, I am chomping on a large burger. You can tell me how you escaped the mortar attack when I talk to you this weekend."? This is plain ridiculous. Well, on the bright side, the enforcers suspended him in lieu of an arrest for disorderly conduct!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

35 times Lossless Compression

35 times Lossless Compression

A young Indian, Arvind Thiagarajan, has developed an algorithm that can provide much superior compression than existing methods. His approach supposedly reduces the source image by 35 times and the compression is lossless too. Compare that with JPEG compressions on similar source images - Lossy compression and down to only 5 times the original size!

Arvind's approach uses a binary index to store the locations of the pixel instead of applying any transformations to it. Reads very simple. And it must work given that products based on this algorithm have been developed by his company and are being used in hospitals to store images such as echo cardiograms. They have also come out with a product for document imaging.

The Adobes of the world must be at his door by now to incorporate his methods in their imaging software. He has the distinction of winning the Junior Scientist award from Dr.Abdul Kalam.

Related links:

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Zip thru the web... - No thanks!

Zip thru the web... - No thanks!

After a long hiatus, I am back - for now. Plenty of links in my bookmark folder that I plan on posting - someday! :)

Anyways, today's big buzz (at least in Geekville) is Google's latest offering - a web accelerator for broadband connections. And though I religiously try everyone of their offerings, this is one that I am going to pass (though I did install it for the kicks but quickly uninstalled after trying a couple news sites). And the reason I am not very excited about it is cause Google uses its servers as the broker to serve content on the sites I visit. So essentially, they know the sites I am visiting. And that does not make me feel very comfortable. Also, I don't know how distinctly separate the gmail cookies would be from the accelerator cookies. So the chances of them connecting dots is even more with this. This, for the first time, makes me feel that Google is on a path to breaking its philosophy "Do no evil"!

Google Web Accelerator

Note: Instead of using the Google-sponsored Firefox as the example in the snapshot, they have used IE! About time the Mozilla foundation flexed its marketing muscle a little. :)

   Copyright 2005
Subscribe to Passing Clouds on your cell phone