Monday, October 26, 2009


We had a special Critical Mass last Saturday to commemorate the International Day of Climate Action. S-man beat me to it when it came to posting about it. I'll do the smart thing here and just link to his account. Personally, I was a little disappointed with the turnout. However, what we lacked in numbers we made up for in charisma, thanks to the awesomeness of these two siblings. Watching them furiously pedal at their small diameter wheels, ride along undaunted in the sea of towering cyclists around them was a joy. Anybody who saw these kids and didn't feel a momentary urge to pick up a bicycle is probably clinically dead.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Annotated guide to an awesome debate (updated)

The recently released book Superfreakonomics has a chapter on Global Warming that has sparked off one of the most engaging debates that I've witnessed. The premise of that chapter, to paraphrase it (very)loosely, is that geo-engineering (read spraying sulphur or something into the atmosphere to cut off sunlight!) is better than improving efficiency of our current systems and conservation in general.

First the authors of the book got an ass-whipping by Paul Krugman. A lot of other experts got in on the fun as well. The authors, Levitt and Dubner, then did some defensive back-tracking. Krugman was relentless. Then Dubner did some underdog posturing in trying to explain himself. Then Myhrvold(the smartest guy in the world according to Bill Gates), who is an advocate of geo-engineering wrote a beautiful piece on how environmentalism has become political, almost a religion even. I admit that I agree with him a lot. This piece was a lot more persuasive than the one that the other fake-scientist, Michael Crichton, spat out. Anyway, I'm waiting for someone to point out to Myhrvold how he conveniently changed his stance from "Geo-engineering is a better solution" to "Geo-engineering is the last resort" in such a short time and still tries to claim sympathy by posing as a victim of a witch-hunt. This debate is not over I'm sure and I can't wait for more.

One more Krugman swipe.
The Levitt defence/defiance.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day

Apparently the Arctic will be an open ice-less sea in 10 years. I'm putting this down so that I can come back and check in 2019.

October 15th was the Blog Action day to raise awareness about Global Warming. It took me a long time to be convinced that global warming is a man-made phenomenon, and even now when I read material that tries to prove otherwise, I must admit that I'm forced to rethink my stand. Moreover, I think Global Warming as an issue hogs a disproportionately large portion of our attention. There are so many other issues that are so freakin' easy to prove and so bloody ominous- such as habitat destruction, plundering of our resources, species extinction, and the way we are crowding our planet like rodents.

I believe everything we do - live, eat, travel, trade, earn- needs an overhaul. It becomes daunting if you keep the whole laundry list in front of you all the time. Sometimes focus is good. In that respect, I must admit Global Warming has been a very useful flagship issue to point out everything wrong with our civilization's relationship with its home. So here's my voice in the chorus.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Deppe reccommends "Inglourious Basterds"

I remember reading Ebert's critique of Pulp Fiction in which he says that after the first viewing of the movie he couldn't decide whether it was the best movie of that year or the worst. You only come away knowing that you witnessed something indescribable that defied most expectations you had from movies in general. That feeling was missing for me after Kill Bill. The magic is back in Inglourious Basterds. The outrageous liberties that Tarantino takes with history provide one of the most gratifying endings ever. Watch it. Twice at least.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Do** of the month - Sri Ramachandra Gowda

It's heartrending to watch the aerial shots of the flood-hit areas in north karnataka played over and over again on the 24-hr news channels. You've heard all sorts of explanations on why something like this could happen; from bad karma to ill-managed large dams to climate change. But what do the plebians understand! Our ministers, on the other hand, are on top of it. Our dear minister Sri. Ramachandra Gowda proved it when he succinctly expressed who has to be blamed for this calamity. I'm not making this up, but he really insists that our astrologers got us into this mess by not predicting it!

I tried to dig up dirt from this dude's past. He seems to have started flubbing rather early in life. When he was leading a Goan liberation movement, they asked him to coin a snappy little chantable slogan and he came up with one that romped into the wordsmith hall of fame: "Nehruji Ab kya kare – Police lekar Goa chalo". He was later rewarded for his wonderful scientific temper when he was handed over the Ministry of Science and Technology! Which, I'm guessing, he promptly handed over to his court astrologer. Sleep well folks, this country is in safe hands.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Delhi trip

Last weekend, I witnessed a bonafide world-wonder; a taxi driver who didn't honk once over a 30km ride! I'm not sure if the holidays had something to do with it, but the whole traffic situation was heartening. I must say I came away with a very good impression of the Metro too. Can't wait to have that in Bangalore.

Of course, I finally saw the Taj too. I thought it couldn't surprise me, after having seen it in so many times in print and film, it still got me nodding in absolute admiration. I was imagining what it must have looked like 350 yrs ago, with none of the tourists and the clamour around and with an unpolluted Yamuna flowing by its side, and the marble still sparkling clean. Must have been some sight!

What's with Agra though? Do they deliberately keep the city in the 18th century so that the firangs can come here and say things like "India attacks all your senses!"?

The highlight of the trip was my visit to the Bharatpur bird sanctuary which was nothing short of birdwatching nirvana. Even more heartening than the enormous diversity of birdlife is the knowledge of the rickshaw drivers here!

Pratap Singh, the rickshaw driver we hired could identify every goddamn bird that we saw. He won himself a tip of Rs. 10 for every new entry into my bird blog.

Besides that, the weekend was a heady mix of soaking in awesome northie humour and effortless hospitality, conjuring liquor parties out of thin air, a lot of driving and a little wallowing in existential angst.