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Showing posts from June, 2013

Delhi University Cut Offs

For as long as I can remember reading newspapers ... which has been a pretty long time by now, like 20 years, I remember this annual summer ' tamasha ' called 'Delhi University cut off.' And 10 or 20 years ago, I was NOT living in Delhi but Delhi news sort of gets transmitted all over India. This was probably more true years back when newspapers did not have so many 'city' editions. But let's talk about this 'cut off' business. What does this tell us? I think the fact that the 'cut off' is 95 or 97 or 99 or even 100% says that the exams in which these students scored that much are more or less farcical. So, how come CBSE exams have come to this sorry pass. I believe the reason is that in India, all sorts of competitive exams have been converted into multiple-choice type exams. Thus, Indian students are mostly good at cramming information for exams and then regurgitating those. The reason why we have multiple-choice type exams is of cou

The Pursuit of Happiness

Happiness, it seems to me, is both more difficult and easier to attain in the modern age. As educated people, Americans and Europeans are expected to know all the 'basics' ... such as the fact that money can't/doesn't buy you happiness. And yet survey after survey seem to point to the fact that people in less developed nations such as India tend to be happier. What gives? I think the difference lies in what one's life goals are, what one is striving for, what one chooses to measure one's life by. The 'BIG' "Meaning of Life" question. We take our cues from our parents, family, society, surroundings, and so on. The horizons of someone who lives in a village in India or China is limited. He/She sees folks grow up, pursue the same activities as his or her parents, then get married and have kids and slowly grow old. The cycle of life tends to repeat itself. The 'desires' tend to be basic and simple and easily obtained. Hence, happi

Michael Hastings

I am afraid we'll soon forget his shocking death. Frankly, not being from the journalistic fraternity, I was not much familiar with the biographical details of Mr. Hastings. I would not have been able to tell before today if asked to name who the author of that damning story about General McChrystal in Rolling Stone magazine was. And today I read Mr. Hastings obituaries and about his wife complaining about the NYT obituary . The LA Times reported about the accident and that the 'body' was so badly burnt that the coroner's office had yet to determine that the body belonged to Michael Hastings. This story about the crash embeds a video of the burning car and we can see how bad it really was. The Guardian article  has some comments in which the commentators have posted relevant links. What a fearless sort of a short life he lived where he already lost a  fiancĂ©e covering the Iraq war. He wrote three books too already! What an eventful life.

So Many Magic Tricks

There are so many magic tricks that magicians perform. However, in this day and age, how can magic survive when all their secret "tricks" are nicely explained in YouTube videos? Once you know the trick that explains how that woman who is sawed into half is not actually sawed into half, clearly you would lose interest. May be magic is for kids and they will continue to watch magicians with their kiddy mouths wide open.

Google Is Great

No, no. This is not about the 'morality' of Google's business practices and all that stuff. I just want to point out a few neat stuff about Google that you might or might not be familiar with. I learned from someone a few years back that to learn the meaning of a word, you have to ask Google to 'define:AnyWord'. I use that trick once in a while. Also, I love to check out the city temperatures in various top cities of the world during the peak of summer or the depths of winter. You just have to Google Delhi Temp or NYC temp or Moscow temp and so on. Now, here's the Google search result for ' Google search tricks ' Here's the link to the Google page where they list their search tips & tricks. One more Google page which lists their search tips & tricks. Oh no!! Did you see that right at the top, they say you can see an entire 'history' of your Google searches by going to Now, is that exhilarating or

Glow Fish

Science does come up with neat stuff like these glow fish. Kids would be just fascinated if you had these in the fish tank at home.

A Bucket List Item and Other Random Notes

I must make a bike trip to Rohtang Pass or some other adventurous place like Manali or Dehra Dun on a bike before I kick the bucket. These guys have went to Lahaul-Spiti and Anuranjan Pegu has done a fabulous job of documenting the trip on his blog. This is about table manners in restaurants; specifically, to be kind to the waiter . I guess the same can be said about India too though here the class barriers are higher. People don't normally go from being waiters to actors or writers and so on in India. I think I have seen some misbehavior with waiters in restaurants but then I don't frequent restaurants. The MOOCs are on the march of course. And lazy institutions who are not part of this revolution will inevitably fall behind.

Global Nuclear Weapons Stockpiles

This graphic from The Economist gives the entire picture. Read the news release from SIPRI .