10/31/2006

White and Nerdy by 'Weird Al'

Check out this "White and Nerdy" by Weird Al. According to CNN, it hit top 10 in Billboard 200.



Here are the lyrics taken from www.lyricsdir.com.
They see me mowin'
My front lawn
I know they're all thinking
I'm so White N' nerdy

Think I'm just too white n' nerdy
Think I'm just too white n' nerdy
Can't you see I'm white n' nerdy
Look at me I'm white n' nerdy!
I wanna roll with-
The gangsters
But so far they all think
I'm too white n' nerdy
Think I'm just too white n' nerdy
Think I'm just too white n' nerdy
I'm just too white n' nerdy
We really white n' nerdy

First in my class here at M.I.T.
Got skills I'm a
Champion of DND
MC Escher that's
My favorite MC
Keep your 40
I'll just have an Earl Grey tea
My rims never spin to the contrary
You'll find they're quite stationary
All of my action figures
and cherries
I got Steven Hawkings in my library
My MySpace page is all totally pimped out
I got people begging for my top 8 spaces
Yo i got pie out of thousand places
Ain't got no grills but I still wear braces
I order all of my sandwiches with mayonnaise
I'm a whiz at minesweeper I can play for days
Once you see my sweet moves you're gonna stay amazed, my fingers movin' so fast I'll set the place ablaze
There's no killer rap I haven't run
A past gal well I'm number 1
I play with calcules just for fun
I ain't got a get but I gotta soldering gun
Happy days is my favourite theme song
I can sure kick your butt in a game of ping pong
I'll ace any trivia quiz you bring on
I'm fluent in Java Script as well as Klingon

They see me roll on, my sagway!
I know in my heart they think I'm
white n' nerdy!
Think I'm just too white n' nerdy
Think I'm just too white n' nerdy
Can't you see I'm white n' nerdy
Look at me I'm white n' nerdy
I'd like to roll with-
The gangsters
Although it's apparent I'm too
White n' nerdy
Think I'm just too white n' nerdy
I'm just too white n' nerdy
How'd I get so white n' nerdy?

I've been browsing, inspectin'
X-men comics you know I collect 'em
The pens in my pocket
I must protect 'em
all my ergonomic keyboard
Shopping online for deals on some writable media
I edit Wikipedia
I memorized holy grail
Really well
I can recite it right now have you
ROTFLOL
I got a business doing websites
When my friends need some code who do they call?
I do HTML do for them all
Even make a homepage for my dog!
Got myself a fanny pack
they were having a sale down at the GAP
Spend my nights with a roll of bubble wrap
POP POP! Hope no one sees me get freaky!

I'm nerdy in the extreme and whiter than sour creme
I was in AP club and Glee club and even the chess team!
Only question I ever thought was hard
Was do I like Kirk or do I like Piccard?
I spend every weekend
at the renaissance fair
I got my name on my under wear!

They see me strollin'
They laughin'
And rollin' their eyes 'cause
I'm so white n' nerdy
Just because I'm white n' nerdy
Just because I'm white n' nerdy
All because I'm white n' nerdy
Holy cow I'm white n' nerdy
I wanna bowl with-
the gangsters
but oh well it's obvious I'm
white n' nerdy
Think I'm just too white n' nerdy
Think I'm just too white n' nerdy
I'm just too white n' nerdy
Look at me I'm white n' nerdy!

10/30/2006

Indians bribe most!

May not be very surprising but atleast we can quantify these. Check out Economic Times article on the 2006 BPI released by Transparency International.
NEW DELHI: In a global recognition of a different kind, India has been ranked as the worst performer by Transparency International on its global Bribe Payers Index, which is based on the propensity of companies from the world’s 30 leading exporting countries in bribing abroad.
The complete ranking can be obtained here. I am listing it below for convenience. India shows up last in the list just behind China and Russia. Lets wait and see where India will be when the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) and Global Corruption Barometer are released.

Stay tuned for the 6 November launch of TI’s flagship Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), which ranks over 150 countries on the basis of perceived levels of domestic corruption, and the 7 December launch of the Global Corruption Barometer, measuring popular perceptions of corruption in domestic institutions such as the police, judiciary and the executive.

Accordint to TI,
"The results draw from the responses of more than 11,000 business people in 125 countries polled in the World Economic Forum’s Executive Opinion Survey 2006. A score of 10 indicates a perception of no corruption, while zero means corruption is seen as rampant. Leading the ranking is Switzerland, but even its score of 7.8 is far from perfect. The message: there may be variations here but there are no real winners. "

Rank

Country/ territory

Average score
(0-10)

Percentage of global exports (2005)

Ratification of OECD convention

Ratification of UNCAC

1

Switzerland

7.81

1.2

X


2

Sweden

7.62

1.3

X


3

Australia

7.59

1.0

X

X

4

Austria

7.50

0.5

X

X

5

Canada

7.46

3.5

X


6

UK

7.39

3.6

X

X

7

Gemany

7.34

9.5

X


8

Netherlands

7.28

3.4

X


9

Belgium

7.22

3.3

X



US

7.22

8.9

X


11

Japan

7.10

5.8

X


12

Singapore

6.78

2.2



13

Spain

6.63

1.9

X

X

14

UAE

6.62

1.1



15

France

6.50

4.3

X

X

16

Portugal

6.47

0.3

X


17

Mexico

6.45

2.1

X

X

18

Hong Kong

6.01

2.8


X*


Israel

6.01

0.4



20

Italy

5.94

3.6

X


21

South Korea

5.83

2.8

X


22

Saudi Arabia

5.75

1.8



23

Brazil

5.65

1.2

X

X

24

South Africa

5.61

0.5


X

25

Malaysia

5.59

1.4



26

Taiwan

5.41

1.9


**

27

Turkey

5.23

0.7

X


28

Russia

5.16

2.4


X

29

China

4.94

5.5


X

30

India

4.62

0.9

10/24/2006

Anti-interracial marriage act and homophobia.

"Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix."
These were the words opined by Judge Leon Bazile in a 1967 case when he sentenced to jail an interracial couple for commiting the "crime" of marrying. Yeah, whites marrying non-whites were made crimes supposedly to retain white "purity". The 1996 movie Mr. & Mrs. Loving is based on this infamous Loving v. Virginia case. Though this case was overturned by the United States Supreme Court, many states continued to carry on anti-interracial marriage acts. In fact, Alabama was the last state to abolish such laws in November 2000. As of now, no state in USA has any more of these miscegenation laws.

Dont we see similar sentiments in denying the right to marry to homosexuals ? The arguments used to deny homosexuals marriage rights all come from fundamentalist religious hardliners, just as it was for interracial marriages. Click here for a list of 1049 benefits which a heterosexual couple can enjoy and which are discriminately denied to homosexual couple.

Sodomy laws in many states in USA were used until very recently to harass gays and lesbians. The 2003 Lawrence v. Texas case made unconstitutional, the criminalization of homosexuality (though it doesn't put it on an equal protection ground). The US military has a "Don't ask, don't tell" policy, where a gay or lesbian can be expelled if they disclose their sexual orientation. Quoting www.religioustolerance.org

A soldier can travel to Massachusetts or Canada, marry the same-sex fiancé to whom he or she has made a lifetime commitment, return to base, and be expelled for having sex with his spouse.
India too has its own way of harassing homosexual. The infamous section 377 of Indian Penal Code. It reads
377. Unnatural offences

Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Explanation- Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offence described in this section.

By the way, in victorian times of 1862 when the IPC was written, "order of nature" meant sexual intercourse only to procreate and that too if I am not mistaken only in a missionary position! In that context, using contraception should be a crime. Vikram Seth wrote an open letter recently asking for repealing section 377 and Amartya Sen has released a statement in support of it along with signatures many many other prominent people. The letter by Vikram Seth and the follow up by Amartya Sen can be read at www.openletter377.com . There is also an articel by Vir Sanghvi at Hindustan Times. The arguments used by Indian "culture protectors" or rather "ignorant Indians protecting Victorian culture and morals" to criminalize homosexuality are completely debunked one by one in the Vir Sanghvi article. Here are some excerpts.

Most popular is the paedophilia argument: if homosexuality is legalised, then dirty old men will rape children. This is nonsense. There are several laws already in existence to protect children and to guard against all kinds of rape. And, in any case, most instances of paedophilia in India involve heterosexual sex. If this is an argument for anything, it is an argument for banning heterosexuality.......

Then there is the society-is-not-ready argument. This states that India is a deeply conservative society and harmless law-abiding heterosexuals will be deeply offended by the knowledge that somewhere, two consenting adults are performing homosexual acts in private. I don’t think this even needs a rebuttal......

And, finally, there is the what-does-it-matter argument. The law against homosexuality is not rigorously enforced. We all know homosexuals who are clearly not celibate. And yet, nobody puts them in jail. So, even if there is a Raj-era law on the statute books, why make such a fuss about it?.....
Nice read overall.

10/23/2006

Modi's speech after Mumbai blasts


Video google has a speech by Modi after the Mumbai blasts. Some of his lines included belittling United Nations, comparing Manmohan Singh to a coward drunkard and accusing him for givin up on POTA, bashing five star foreign activists (probably referring to foreign returned activists) and as expected Pakistan and Jihadi terrorism.

He starts off with a very lifeless and robotic "Bharat Mata Ki" with the audience flock responding with "Jai" and then

for i = 1 to 4

Modi_prompt ("Vande");
Audience_respond ("Mataram");
i = i + 1;

end

The audience mostly consists of middle and upper class people (the flashy sarees and kurta suits speaks out) and some swamis. Its quite amazing to see how he captivates his audience. They definitely seem to be enjoying it and you can see applauses every now and then. They also seem to be enjoying his jokes. Actually, even I enjoyed some. One of his first jokes is

Sardar sardar mein bhi pharak hein...

which he uses to compare Sardar Patel with our Prime Minister and convince the audience that Patelji was much better Sardar than Manmohan. Another one is when he compares metal detector at the security check point to a puja arti. Most of what he said sounded pretty dumb and beaten to death cliches to me and looked as though it was coming straight out of his Southern stomach through his vocal cord rather than his Northern brain. (No, I am not implying that Southies are dumber than Northies :). But I think thats exactly he is captivating. I myselves would fall asleep when Manmohan speaks :)

Anyway, I am reminded of the old saying: The tongue speaks, but the head doesn't know.

10/21/2006

Want to be a millionaire ? Go Vote!

Just the other day (Oct 18, 2006 to be more precise), I was having a discussion on American politics with some of my American friends. And no such discussion can end without mentioning voter turnout in America. The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance has released a ranking of 172 countries by their voter turnout percentages since 1945. Click here for the report.

Some (obvious) omissions are Cuba, Saudi Arabia, China and Iraq. Some interesting observation are for example, women still cannot vote in Bahrain and (USA's close friend) Kuwait and that Switzerland included women in the franchise as late as 1971. India (60.7%) ranks 105th and USA (48.3%) ranks 139th whereas Palestine (75.4%)is at 52nd and Iran (67.6%) at 80th positions respectively. Also, I dont understand why Australia is at 16th position even though it has a compulsory voting system. Click here for a list of nations which have some form of compulsory voting.

Anyway, coming back to USA, I suggested to my friend that it might be a good idea to give a tax break incentive to get Americans to go out and vote :) It turns out that there is something even better proposed by Arizonian political activist Mark Osterloh. Click here for the official version from Arizona State Legislature website. Named the Arizona Voter Reward Act, the description reads
Proposition 200 would establish a drawing every 2 years for prizes to be awarded to individuals who voted in the statewide primary or general election. Subject to the availability of funds, first prize is $1 million with the potential for more second prizes. The $1 million first prize would be adjusted for inflation. Prize winners would be randomly drawn from lists of voters who cast valid ballots in the primary or general elections.
Sounds really funny, doesnt it :) 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Go Vote!' For more, visit the campaign website at www.voterrewards.org

The Christian Science Monitor also has a very interesting article on this issue.

10/20/2006

Kim Jong conveys Happy Diwali

I really can't understand the world obsession with Kim Jong II. This poor underprivileged kid wanted to celebrate Diwali with some lights and the world is going boo boo over it. I managed to get in tough with North Korean officials to check what other plans they had. To my surprise, they sent me this official Diwali greetings which Kim has been planning to send to world leaders.





This picture is very symbolic. The sunglasses that Kim is wearing symbolises darkness or untruth or Ravana or Saddam or Satan. He can't see objects of truth because of this and keeps stumbling here and there. Hence, he needs to flare up some light to remove the darkness due to his sunglasses and see light or truth for himself. The yellow and orange colors next to him denotes exactly this. Once the lights are up, he can see everything. Victory of good over evil, truth over untruth, Rama over Ravana, Bush over Saddam, Jesus over Satan. What better occasion than Diwali to spread this philosophy ?

10/17/2006

Yau-Perelman affair and Kaavya Vishwanathan

It all starts with the elusive proof of Poincare conjecture posted in a set of three papers by Perelman.


Then came the surprise that Perelman plans to reject the Fields Medal and everyone starts putting up their own conjectures as to why he declined. One such attempt to "explain" is a New Yorker article by Silvia Nasar. Click here to read an online version of the article or click here to download a scanned copy of the print version in pdf format. Do check out the cartoon on the second page of the print version. Among many things, the Nasar article points out that Yau is probably the main reason as to why Perelman rejected the Fields Medal and why he is unhappy with the mathematics community in general.


An obviously infuriated Yau starts his website campaign at www.doctoryau.com.
In a letter, Dr. Yau’s attorney has demanded that the New Yorker and Nasar make a prominent correction of the errors in the article, and apologize for an insulting illustration that accompanied it.




Yau claims that his reputation in China has been vastly tarnished because of Nasar's article. Surprisingly, New York Times now has an article titled
Scientist at Work: Shing-Tung Yau. The Emperor of Math, probably a step towards rebuilding Yau's reputation.

Another paper at the center of all this is one by Cao-Zhu, which Yau is being accused of promoting too much in Nasar's article and also of "pressurising" Asian Journal of Mathematics to publish it at a short notice. This is a 328 page paper, was submitted to AJM on December 12, 2005 and published on April 16, 2006, apparently after the editorial board received an email from Yau on April 13, 2006 stating that they had three days to comment on the paper. No wonder many feel it was not reviewed well to begin with.

Anyway, Nasar might feel a bit relaxed on learning that a flaw has been found in the Cao-Zhu paper. One of the arguments that the authors used to fill in Dr. Perelman’s proof is identical to one posted on the internet in June 2003 by Bruce Kleiner and John Lott. The thing I find totally shady is the erratum by Cao and Zhu which reads
In an erratum to run in The Asian Journal of Mathematics, Dr. Cao and Dr. Zhu acknowledge the mistake, saying they had forgotten that they studied and incorporated that material into their notes three years ago.
Does it ring a huge Kaavya Vishwanathan bell ?

10/13/2006

Christians find Slayer "offensive"


BBC's South Asian section reports that EMI had to recall Christ Illusion after some Christians protested.

Joseph Dias, of Mumbai's Catholic Secular Forum, said the album was "offensive and in very bad taste".

Firstly, "Catholic Secular" is as oxymoronic as it can get. Second, if I were ever to meet Joseph Dias, I would tell him that I find the first Catholic Commandment in the bible "extremely offensive and in extremely bad taste". Here is how it reads:

  1. "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments."

You can read the remaining commandments here. I am quite convinced that our "secular" Joseph Dias will not even consider my proposition to censor the bible a sane one, let alone act on it. Getting back to the issue, I dont know if there was any political pressure to censor the album, but if there was, its plain pseudo-secularism at its best and the Hindu fundamentalist will be right to point it out :)

And what about the rights of people who want to buy and listen to the album ? Makes me think that westerners should be proud of themselves. They are lucky to live in a society where some stupid people (minority or otherwise) dont dictate what others should watch or buy or read or listen or do in their private lives.

10/12/2006

Caltech Physicists Split The Bill

A funny article by the Science and Technology team at The Onion. It describes in great details how a group of eight Caltech physicists successfully split their bill at a Cheesecake factory in Pasadena. Here is a sample. Visit their website for the complete news. Its a nice funny read after half a day's work!

The team of physicists decided to test Dreyfuss's Pay For What You Ordered Algorithm, which hypothesized that it was possible to determine what each individual owed by defining variables such as the cost of one's entrée, the total number of beverages one consumed, one's percentage of the sum ingestion of the component parts of the Firecracker Salmon Rolls and Buffalo Blasts, and "six bucks toward the birthday boy's meal."

The process, however, was hindered by Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, as group members failed to document how many drinks they ordered, and those sitting in the vicinity of graduate student in particle physics Susan Politzer suspected that she deliberately falsified her findings regarding the resonant frequency with which she consumed the $7.95 El Diablo margaritas.

10/11/2006

Russell's Teapot and Church of Flying Spaghetti Monster

Many of us have heard of the "Barber's paradox" introduced by one of the most influential logician and mathematician in recent times, Bertrand Russell, to demonstrate a logically impossible scenario and contradictions in set theories prevalent in his times. But there is another interesting construction by Russell called the "Russell's teapot". Here is its statement:

If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.

In other words, argument from ignorance is a logical fallacy.

Similar but more funnier recent construct is the church of Flying Spaghetti Monster , of which the members are called Pastafarians. Please do read the open letter by the FSM church members to Kansas School Board on teaching all "theories" along with evolution. In addition, Pastafarians also has a huge collection of evidence and endorsements from academicians to support their theory.

Touched by His noodly appendages

10/07/2006

CNN India online TV for FREE

If you are an underpaid graduate student who cannot afford to have a desi cable channel, there is a nice free alternative. Go to http://www.ibnlive.com/videos/ and you land up with a page like this.

You will see a "Live Streaming" link at the location circled above. Click and enjoy. I just happend to see this week's comedy segment "The week that wasn't" hosted by Cyrus Broacha. Quite hilarious and a bit closer to Daily Show theme (which is another show I happen to view online everyday very religiously) . His fake interview with Musharaf was quite funny.


And if you are missing all the desi ads, you are in for a treat. Especially these days with lots of Diwali Festival ads.

10/04/2006

Munnabhai tips to deal with astrologer nuts.

Probably the best way to deal with astrologers is to do what Munnabhai did. Ridicule them in public by asking them to "predict" whats going to happen in the next one hour. I think Bollywood will be doing a great social service if they can get rid of peoples superstitions. Its really a shame that astrologers are able to feed themselves on peoples financial and emotional insecurities even in todays age. They will put hyenas and vultures to utter shame :)

Though astrology probably had its origins in questions related to astronomy, it is no science. Neither do they have good definitions nor do they propose experiments nor do they have empirical data. I guess if Aryabhatta were alive today, he might revoke his Indian citizenship to protest such a degraded form of astronomy.

If you dont have the balls to deal with astrologers in public, here are some tips to deal with them in private.

  • Try to extract precise statements from them and ask them for precise definitions. Astrology is full of mumbo-jumbo as far as I can tell. Realise that loose statements which can be interpreted as one likes are its plus points. One astrologer told my parents that I will become "famous" later in my life. Its about time for my midlife crisis to approach and I am still wondering why most of the humanity doesnt know me! Another example, when they ask you for your birth time, ask them what exactly is birth time ? Is it the first appearance of a child from its mothers vagina ? Is it the time when the child is completely out ? Is it the geometric mean of these two times ? What if the child is born out of C-section ? What if the child is born premature and in an incubator for a while ? At this point, if that guy is not a dumbo, he will realize that you are being a difficult person. He will start throwing shit like:
Well, its okay even if its not that accurate. As long as its within a range, it should not matter.
Well, this is quite opposite to what many astrologers will tell. Whenever they are questioned about their predictions, their usual reply is that they didnt get enough accurate data to begin with. Or that you did not follow their advice exactly. Or that you did not do the poojas he asked you to do at a temple he recommended! (Yeah, these guys have a very well established referral program with comissions). Some might try to use some crude epsilon-delta argument from freshman calculus to convince you that their predictions are robust enough and that an epsilon variation in "birth time" will only produce a delta change in their predictions :) Well, your task is to pester them into telling you what the epsilon-delta is! You wouldnt want to travel in an airlines which will drop you off at Delhi instead of Chennai because they are in a delta neighbourhood for some delta, would you ?

  • The prime reason in my opinion that astrologers get away with any bullshit is that there is no concept of accountabiliy in this field. If a doctor doesnt diagnose you correctly, his/her medical license is revoked. If your automotive safety system doesnt work as advertised, you sue the company. If your purchase item is not satisfactory, you return it. From these example, we see that there is no reason to be accountable as far as astrology is concerned. If Murli Manohar Joshi really thinks astrology is science, I would strongly urge him to make it accountable as well. Lets have a system where an astrologer can be sued if their "predictions" dont come out right. Lets have a money back guarantee (with 1500% interest) if they mumbo-jumbo doesnt work. Lets stone them in public :)

At a time when people listen to what Bollywood movies say rather then their sensibilities and rationality, at a time when sweet sewage is considered holy water and allah's miracle, at a time when hindu idols "drink" milk and images of mary appear on a highway, at a time when our scientists at ISRO have to visit dharmasthala before a shuttle launch to boost their confidence, I think the only hope is the film industry. The concluding astrology-trashing scene in Lage Raho is what is much needed in todays times.

I hope I am doing my bit to "foster" scientific temper as enshrined in our Constitution, Article 51A (h) which reads:

[FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES of every citizen of India is:] to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of enquiry and reform

10/03/2006

Deadline Deadline Deadline...

Paper deadlines... Visa paperwork.... Havent been able to blog for a while. But atleast I have a new look to my website and an updated academics link :)