Thursday, March 30, 2006

John McGahern

Sad to hear that the Irish writer John McGahern has just died.

Sunday, March 26, 2006


Went to see the film “Transamerica” yesterday and enjoyed it a lot. A lot more than I thought I would to be honest. Listened a bit too much to the people who talked about the movie in terms of its calculated storyline. This film had humor and heart - and yes it has to be said a good dollop of Hollywood story archery. But it did its job and told its story well, made you feel it. Interesting too that its soundtrack is American country music something it shares with “Brokeback Mountain”. Another interesting feature of “Transamerica” is that it uses the type of song and lyric one would usually associate with the Christian right. It gives another whole new meaning to the term “born again” and this was probably the intention. A movie that’s braver and more original than might at first appear.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

life on earth

just read this item, which puts us , our worries and our short little time spans in perspective:

KOLKATA, India -- A giant aldabra tortoise thought to be around 250 years old has died in the Kolkata zoo of liver failure, authorities said on Thursday.

The tortoise had been the pet of Robert Clive, the famous British military officer in colonial India around the middle of the 18th century, a local minister in West Bengal state said.

Local authorities say the tortoise, named "Addwaitya," meaning the "The One and Only" in Bengali, was the oldest tortoise in the world but they have not presented scientific proof to back up their claim.

"Historical records show he was a pet of British general Robert Clive of the East India Company and had spent several years in his sprawling estate before he was brought to the zoo about 130 years ago," West Bengal Forest Minister Jogesh Barman said.

"We have documents to prove that he was more than 150 years old, but we have pieced together other evidence like statements from authentic sources and it seems that he is more than 250 years old," he said.

The minister said details about Addwaitya's early life showed that British sailors had brought him from the Seychelles islands and presented him to Clive, who was rising fast in the East India Company's military hierarchy.

On Thursday, the tortoise's enclosure wore a deserted look.

"This is a sad day for us. We will miss him very much," a zoo keeper said.

Wild Aldabra tortoises are found in the Aldabra island in the Indian Ocean Seychelles islands. They average about 120 kg. It is believed that tortoises are the longest lived of all animals, with life spans often surpassing 100 years.

Can we be too Green?

Can we be too Green? interesting line of thought here about how "....humans should take off their hair shirts, and enjoy the lifestyles which progress has created.

Monday, March 20, 2006

i grew up in europe....

funny quote of the day from Eddie Izzard

"I grew up in Europe, where the history comes from."
- Eddie Izzard

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Hope in TIME

this article, from this week's TIME magazine is one of the most hopeful and inspring pieces I have read in a long time. In the spirit of what it is about , I hope they don't mind me pasting it in full here :

The Next Big Thing Is Us

Big, bold ideas used to come from small groups of experts. Now they come from you as well. Here's our annual look at what's new and innovative--from politics to movies, medicine to fashion, sports to tech

It goes against everybody's inner cynic to read (or for that matter to write) a sentence like the following: We are on the verge of the greatest age of creativity and innovation the world has ever known. It smacks of treacly dotcomism. It smacks of I Love the '90s. My inner cynic is a tiny bit queasy right now. But lately it's a conclusion I've had a hard time avoiding. Consider the following idea. Things, broadly speaking, used to be invented by a small, shadowy élite. This mysterious group might be called the People Who Happened to Be in the Room at the Time. These people might have been engineers, or sitcom writers, or chefs. They were probably very nice and might have even been very, very smart. But however smart they were, they're almost certainly no match for a less élite but much, much larger group: All the People Outside the Room.

Historically, that latter group hasn't had much to do with innovation. These people buy and consume whatever gets invented inside the room, but that's it. The arrow points just the one way. Until now it's been kind of awkward getting them involved in the innovation process at all, because they're not getting paid; plus it's a pain to set up the conference call.

But that's changing. The authorship of innovation is shifting from the Few to the Many. Take as an example something called the open-source movement. The basic idea is that while most software is produced by the aforementioned People in the Room, open-source software is offered to the entire world as a collaborative project. Somebody posts a piece of software on the Internet and then throws the joint wide open. It's like American Idol for software. In the open-source model, innovation comes from hundreds of thousands of people, not just a handful of engineers and a six-pack of Code Red. One open-source program, the truly excellent Web browser Firefox, has been downloaded 150 million times. a website that coordinates open-source work, is currently host to almost 15,000 projects. Internet behemoth AOL, which shares a corporate parent with this magazine, open-sourced its instant-messaging service just last week.

The idea that lots of people, potentially everybody, can be involved in the process of innovation is both obvious and utterly transformative, and once you look for examples you start seeing them everywhere. When Apple launched iTunes and the iPod it had no idea that podcasting would be a big deal. It took the rest of us to tell Apple what its product was for. Companies as diverse as Lego, Ikea and BMW are getting in on this action. And it exists in the cultural realm too. Look at websites like YouTube, or Google Video. Anybody anywhere can upload his or her little three-minute movies, and the best ones bubble to the top. Who knows what unheralded, unagented Soderbergh will come crawling out of that primordial tide pool? Granted, some of the movies are of people falling off jungle gyms. But some of them are brilliant. Some of them are both.

Two things make this kind of innovation possible, one obvious and one not. The obvious one is--say it with me--the Internet. The other one, the surprising one, is a curious phenomenon you could call intellectual altruism. It turns out that given the opportunity, people will donate their time and brainpower to make the world better. There's an online encyclopedia called Wikipedia written entirely by anonymous experts donating their expertise. It has the unevenness you'd expect from anything that's user-created and user-edited, but it's still the most useful reference resource anywhere on- or off-line; earlier this month Wikipedia posted its 1 millionth article.

You would think corporations would be falling all over themselves to make money off this new resource: a cheap R&D lab the approximate size of the earth's online population. In fact, they have been slow to embrace it. Admittedly, it's counterintuitive: until now the value of a piece of intellectual property has been defined by how few people possess it. In the future the value will be defined by how many people possess it. You could even imagine a future in which companies scrapped their R&D departments entirely and simply proposed questions for the global collective intelligence to mull. All that creative types like myself would have to do is sit back and harvest free, brilliant ideas from the brains of billions. Now that's an idea my inner cynic can get behind.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Great Men

Nancy Banks-Smith reviewing the Kenneth Williams biopic which was on BBC 4 television last night says : “Fantabulosa! was a drama about his (Williams) undramatic private life. It was based on Williams' lacerating diaries. He is one of the great diarists. Great diarists are never great men.” Is this true? And does this make me a great man? (since my diary is fairly pedestrian) Very annoyed with myself that I forgot to watch “Fantabulosa”, but I’m sure it will be repeated as everything is on BBC 4

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Oh to be in America tonight where the last season of "The Sopranos" starts on HBO!

Voltaire on Blogging?

quote of the day comes from Voltaire:

"The multitude of books is making us ignorant."

wonder what he'd make of the fact that a new blog is created every second?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Future Me

I’ve always liked the idea of FUTURE ME. It’s one of those very simple ideas that goes deep. You write an e-mail to yourself to be delivered at some date in the future. This could delve as deep as Samuel Beckett’s “Krapp’s Last Tape” or simple as a “to do” note yourself. It’s great fun to read the public entries. Here’s a random entry:

Dear FutureMe,
Are you out celebrating with your friends or are you stuck at home watching tv while sitting on the couch wishing you were out with your friends? So, it's 2009, the year you're going to graduate from high school and finally go to college! YAY! Well, I hope you are having a good New Years Day. You'll probably get this on the 1st, rather than the 31st because it doesn't set the particular time to send it. And plus, what the hell would I be doing at 12AM on the internet on New Year's Day. So, have you sent in your applications for colleges and scholarships? Are you on your way to being valedictorian? Are you still popular because I bet by now, people have seen your competitive side and knows you act like a bitch when you do stuff like that. Hopefully, not because I'm working on that attitude now. Are the parents still on your case and vice versa? Any boyfriends? Are you still friends with the Melissa, Kalyn, and Denise? If so, are ya'll crazy as ever since it's senior year? What about a job? Please tell me I got one and got some new clothes!!! God... how about the SAT and ACT? High scores or average? Did I find the college I wanted to go to. Well, anyways, I just wanted to say have a fun (not boring) New Year's Day!

(written Tue Dec 27, 2005, to be delivered Thu Jan 1, 2009)

Sunday, March 05, 2006

secret of life

Good Quote of the day today:

"The whole secret of life is to be interested in one thing profoundly and in a thousand things well."
- Horace Walpole

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Good Night and Good Luck

So I finally got to see “Good Night and Good Luck” yesterday afternoon. While I enjoyed it I wasn’t as fond of it as I thought I would be. I agreed with its view point and purpose but I thought it lacked feeling somehow. It was made in black and white which looked great, I just wish the screenplay itself had a bit more colour in it. Like the Johnny Cash movie, I was fascinated once again by 1950s America. Add McCarthy to that weird soup. There was so much hysteria around, good and bad. The word Atomic kept coming into my mind. Everyone (apart from the George Clooney character?) smoked in the movie. There was a fog of it all around. Cigarettes definitely worked better in black and white. I loved the interview with Liberace. Saying he would “settle down” when the right woman came along! Yes, we do live in better times. And yet, there was definitely something happening way back then…..

Rebel Rebel.

Predictably, the social commentators have jumped aboard the Dublin riot bandwagon. I think its utterly disgusting how this shower of “analysers” are always waiting to pounce and pronounce any sign of unrest as proof that society isn’t working. It’s like they spent their lives praying for a revolution.

There is something adolescent about it all. And many of these guys (most of them are guys) are no adolescents. Many of them are probably deluded enough to believe what they preach. A fantasy where the mob tears down the rotten state and starts again. In this fantasy, the mob , having destroyed the status quo will suddenly be transformed into a peace loving group living in harmony and sharing in the just society they have helped to establish. Yeah, right.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


During yesterday's Apple launch of the new apple boom box, Steve Jobs talked about it as being portable enough to take .".. out the cabana or the pool..” Lovely word , Cabana. Very pleasant word associations. Definitely designed in California. The boom box itself is , unfortunately, no new Apple icon design wise. The bigger you stretch white plastic the cheaper it begins to look?