Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Earthquake Relief Day

Click hereA couple of weeks ago, on the 8th of October, people in areas comprising parts of Pakistan and the disputed area called Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, were the unfortunate and unwilling receiptant of an act of God (for the non-believer, an earthquake caused by tectonic plate movement).

And this was around the same time when the Indian blogosphere (as the world seems to call us) was standing united behind Rashmi and Gaurav. Caught as we were in the whole maelstorm, it seems that we were unware of the enormity of the ordeals faced by the unfortunates in our own backyard. But soon we realized that we had been unwittingly brought together in time to be used for much bigger causes as well.

There is a line of thought that the world has been hit by so many such disasters in the span of a year (the Tsunami, the hurricanes in the US, the rains in different parts of India and now this earthquake) that people have started feeling what has been termed "disaster fatigue" and that is one more reason why any additional help to pass the message along would be appreciated.

We have been inspired by international blogs like Instapundit that raised a lot of money for Katrina relief efforts. The spark was lit by Anna at Sepia Mutiny who highlighted the contribution to the earthquake victims made by the Tsunami survivors in the Andamans. Ash and Desipundit have taken it forward and have called for today to be observed as Blog Quake Day - a coming together again, this time to raise money for the people affected by the earthquake on the 8th of October. Desipundit has a list of aid organizations that you can donate to. As Ash says, every single dollar contributed, will go a long way in helping these people rebuild their lives.

So today is Blog Quake Day. If you are a blogger, please post a similar message on your blog. If you don't have one, pass the message along over your company bulletin boards or mailing lists. And more importantly, please do contribute to the cause.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Subs with a stranger

Another of those 55 word shorties..

Sitting two seats away in the departure lounge, he felt threatened as she told him, a complete stranger, all about her trip.

Then she mentioned her “husband and two kids”.

At ease, he soon warmed up to her over foot-longs and soda.

He had concluded that a married desi woman would never hit on strangers.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Three Hi-Fives to IMDb.com

One of my favorite websites, IMDb turned 15 yesterday (thanx to BB for the pointer). And I can't think of commemorating the 15th birthday of a trivia quizzer's delight with anything other a small trivia quiz. Feel free to use IMDb.com (and NOT Google) to find the answers. That is what it is there for. And since I have disabled comments on this post, do email me the answers if you want to. I shall post the answers anyways in a few days along with your scores too.

Updates: Answers added under each question and comments enabled!


The (Three) Hi-Fives to IMDb.com Trivia Quiz

1. On the 12th of January, 1992, Bret "the Hitman" Hart & The Legion Of Doom defeated The Mountie & The Natural Disasters in a 6-Man Tag-Team Match. Later the same day, Bret "the Hitman" Hart defeated The Mountie to retain the WWF Intercontinental Championship. But's thats all WWF trivia and though I hate the WWF/WWE, the trivia was solely included to catch the attention of a certain Tired Mind! This has nothing to do with the actual question, which is - What came to life at a plant in Urbana, Illinois on this very same day, i.e. the 12th of January, 1992?
Ans: HAL, the computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey

2. This actress won her only Oscar so far in the Best Actress Best Supporting Actress category beating the likes of Judy Davis and Vanessa Redgrave, leading to the spread of an urban legend that she was given the award in error after the presenter misread the winner's name on the card. Name this actress who won the Oscar for the Best Actress Best Supporting Actress, playing a car crazy expert witness for the defence in a first degree murder case. (Thanks for the correction George. Dunno how I muffed that one up!)
Ans: Marissa Tomei. My Cousin Vinny, the movie that she won the Oscar was a RIOT!

3. In 1993, the law firm of Masry & Vititoe filed a class-action lawsuit against Pacific Gas & Electric Company, resulting in a $333 million dollar settlement and after some years, an acclaimed movie. Name the movie.
Ans: Erin Brockovich

4. In 1966, a mongrel named Pickles found the Jules Rimet Trophy that had been stolen earlier. I don't know if Pickles got a lifetime's supply of doggie treats, but Willie Fulgear did get rewards for a similar deed. The 61 year old salvage worker received $50,000, two event tickets and a invitation to a post-event party. So, 34 years after Pickle's discovery, what did Willie Fulgear find?
Ans: He "found" all but 3 of the 55 Oscar statuettes that were stolen from the loading dock of the shipping firm contracted to ship them from Chicago to LA. He later claimed that most the reward was stolen from his apartment!


Source: Matt Slocum/AP
(Source: Matt Slocum/AP, via msnbc.com)

5. In 1977, the man in the picture above had been working as an orderly at London’s King’s College Hospital when he was featured in a newspaper article about men with large feet, which caught the eye of the producer of the movie “Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger” who cast him for the role of the Minotaur. But just about a year later, he became more famous after playing a 8 foot tall, 200 year-old interplanetary traveller (who later finds refuge in a planet inhabited by 2 foot tall natives). You don't need to name the guy. Just name the character, whose name seems to have been inspired by the Russian word for dog.
Ans: Chewbacca from Star Wars! The guy in the picture is Peter Mayhew. The picture was taken in October when he finally became an American citizen, a few days before this quiz was originally posted.

Friday, October 14, 2005

LMB Watch

Dev is a good friend of mine from undergrad. He's been on my blogroll for a long time now, but its only today that this link on his side bar caught my eye. Unbeknownst to me, he has been maintaining this blog since March and the subject is hilarious.

Ads such as this and this would look familiar to most of us and are the subjects of Dev's Lower My Bills Ad Watch (LMB Ad Watch!). His motivation? Go to the blog. It's definitely worth a few laughs. Is it a coincidence that the only commenters on this blog seem to be the spammers?

Dev, And you thought you were poking fun at them? They get you in the end, man.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Free speech and Lies in Advertising - The IIPM story

Yesterday, one of the inspirations behind this blog, Gaurav Sabnis resigned his position with a blue chip employer after facing pressure from a client of his employer to remove posts from his personal blog.

The employer - Currently irrelevant to the issue

The client - IIPM!

The posts - The fraud that is IIPM, More about IIPM

The inspiration behind the posts - The Truth About IIPM's Tall Claims

Gaurav was originally served legal summons over email from IIPM. The email claimed that it had been "judicially notarized and has been tagged to validate receipt and response". Later, IIPM seemed to indulge in some bit of arm twisting by threatening Gaurav's employers with a public burning of the laptops "provided at IIPM's cost" to its students, if the employer (who manufactures the laptops mentioned) did not convince Gaurav to back down. Gaurav took a very honorable way out and resigned rather than compromise on his beliefs and also to make sure his employer did not have to be a part of this ugliness.

And today, Varna, another blogger who had posted earlier on the free speech angle of this issue was issued with the same identically worded summons.

This matter has been taken up by the desi blogosphere with Desipundit being in the forefront. With all this buzz, Amit Varma's post on the issue was Instapundit-ed yesterday and has been taken international with a opinion piece on Global Voices and on group blogs like Sepia Mutiny.

It has been learnt that at least one overseas office of IIPM (mentioned on their website) could be a sham. And it is also well known that IIPM was taken off at least one B-School ranking study due to probable fudging of data that it made available to the agency that was doing the ranking. As a result, upon a much closer look, the fine print on their ads makes for an interesting read.

Sadly, the MSM seems to have turned a blind eye to this. Are they afraid of taking on the single largest advertiser (at least in academic sector) in the country? An acquaintance who works for a major MSM organization in India tells me that the MSM won't step in unless one of the parties involved approaches them. Essentially they would wanna protect their interests againt a possible "all is well between us and its the media that blew this up" kinda turn around from the parties involved, which would definitely not show the MSM in good light. But if at all the print media does not wanna alienate IIPM, what are the TV channels doing. Already one of them has been dragged into the scene (almost unnoticed, but anyhow). So would we see any action from them?

The least we can do is to goad the MSM into reacting. If you are a blogger and you have little or no knowledge of this issue, please go on to Desipundit and read all about the story that has brought the desi blogosphere together. And post at least a small note about the issue on your own blog. Already "IIPM" has steadily risen to the top of the Technorati search, thanks to the mentions from tens of bloggers, both in India and worldwide. It won't hurt if these numbers swell.

And even if you don't have a blog, pass on the message to everyone around you. This is ultimately an issue of free speech. And as I commented elsewhere, the dance has begun and though the first punch was thrown by IIPM, it remains to be seen if it has the legs to last the distance.

As a blogger, I have to salute Gaurav for standing up to his beliefs. Kudos dude. And kudos are due to the team at Desipundit for taking on the fight and bringing the desi blogosphere together. And Varna, we are with you too. You go gal!

And thanks are due to Rashmi and JAM Mag for throwing some light into otherwise murky waters at IIPM!

Friday, October 07, 2005

The search

My second 55 word shorty. And this one hits pretty close.

"Overqualified"!!

"Experienced candidates only"!!

"No H1s! Citizens & Green Cards only"!!

Such lines soon seemed passe.

Since he was sometimes faking, not even "Lacks communication skills" shocked him.

But "Eager & enthusiastic" ??

This time, he was speechless. Now, he had heard it all!

And at 27, the search for the elusive first paycheck continued....

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Weekend post

Just back after a weekend trip to the New England area - a 6 hour plus drive back to the First State. My buddy from undergrad, G, wanted to move his stuff from here in Delaware to his home base in Quincy, Massachusetts (wow, actually spelt it right in the first try.. well almost, not counting the two extra vowels!). On Wednesday, when he asked me if I could drive down, I agreed almost immediately, but later was in some doubt with some other issues threatening to throw cold water.

But was praying I could go, since a visit to the immediate environs of Boston, threw up some interesting possibilities, including possibly meeting a couple of bloggers (Raapi, I knew you, KSP and Badri in Shanmugha, so meeting you in Chicago did not count as a blogger meet).

And before you start asking, well, the last mentioned did not happen. An ever present worry that the fracas at the George Washington Bridge that extended our Friday night drive by atleast 4 hours would cause similar delays during our return was one major reason. Another reason was the fact that I did not do my usual "I am taking charge now and you do what I say" control freak routine that I do sometimes, particularly when it comes to organizing a trip, moving houses or packing bags! It would not have worked with G ;)

But I got to speak to two of my favorite bloggers - Megha and Gabby! And that definitely amounts to something, if not everything that I wanted to do this weekend.

So, otherwise, G and me actually did nothing. We looked at a couple of apartments for him and walked alongside the shoreline at Quincy in the evening on Saturday. And I got to look at the Boston skyline from afar. Other than that we did nothing, but laze around. Oh, I finally got to watch Cliffhanger, a flick that I have wanted to watch (for no major reason) for years now.

Anyways, we got so worried about the drive back that we decided to get out a couple of hours earlier than planned and that depending on how the drive was going to be during the first hour or so, stop at Providence for lunch and a stroll. And we managed to do just that (the George Washington bridge took just 5 minutes to cross on the return leg) and am now back in Delaware.

And this link is to atone for posting something about nothing this week!