Thursday, May 31, 2007

How the Russians Influenced Hollywood

We have all seen the disclaimer in Hollywood movies, "All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.".

Ever wondered from where this statement came into being? You will be surprised to know that a Russian; infact a Tsarist era nobleman is the driving force behind this.

Read about the nobleman and the origins of the disclaimer.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Abel Prize 2007

This year's Abel Prize has been awarded to Prof. Srinivasa S. R. Varadhan of the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York:

for his fundamental contributions to probability theory and in particular
for creating a unified theory of large deviations.

The citation released by the prize committee reads

Probability theory is the mathematical tool for analyzing situations
governed by chance. The law of large numbers, discovered by Jacob Bernoulli in
the eighteenth century, shows that the average outcome of a long sequence of
coin tosses is usually close to the expected value. Yet the unexpected happens,
and the question is: how? The theory of large deviations studies the occurrence
of rare events. This subject has concrete applications to fields as diverse as
physics, biology, economics, statistics, computer science, and engineering.

You can also read the citation in Hindi. Read this article to know more about Dr. Varadhan.

Apart from Calculus, probability has been one of the most fascinating branches of mathematics. Countless frustrating hours have been spent in solving problems on probability from The Challenge and Thrill of Pre-College Mathematics. In hindsight, the effort has been completely useful. It has taught me the art of sitting at my desk for long hours while trying to solve a tough problem. Going further, it really made my job during engineering really easy. The confidence to tackle problems out of the comfort zone was also sown by those solving sessions.

An earlier article I wrote on the Abel Prize.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Tale of Two Newspapers

Shashi Tharoor, India's most famous modern day international diplomat writes for two different newspapers on Sundays: The Sunday Times of India and The Magazine, Hindu. His column in STOI is called 'Shashi on Sunday' and the one in The Hindu is simply called 'The Shashi Tharoor Column'.

Names and position-wise (he's on the op-ed page in the STOI and on page 3 of The Magazine) apart, the quality of articles in the two newspapers is as different as nectar and poison. No prizes for guessing where you are more likely to find nectar or where you might end up choking yourself with one of your own pair of shoelaces!!!

The STOI column I have so far managed to follow has contained a reciprocal praise-heaping article on Jug Suraiya and of late is redefining the alphabet for the modern Indian, with a nauseating listing of everything that defines "Indian" in alphabetical order.

On the other hand, in The Hindu we find a world class diplomat showcasing us his talent. Brilliant incisive articles; which invite debate; stir thoughts are the staple diet. No shameless India-centric-chest-thumping. Infact, there have also been many subtle articles about his Malayali origins. But, not once has there been an article like

A: Acchan (Dad), Ammai (mom)
C: Chechi (sis), Chettan (bro)
P: patti (dog)

No, never!!!

Pray Shashi, why does this rubbish get reflected in the STOI? My feeling is that Shashi knows what the TOI is worth and this sub-consciously shows in his articles. Sir, kindly stop writing for this stupid tabloid; you are doing yourself no good. Leave the TOI to the likes of Jug/Mug/Bug or whatever..............

Monday, May 14, 2007

Criticising the CPI (M)

This blog always stands by the socialist principle of equal development for all and equal distribution of wealth. But where socialism and communism have failed is in fathoming that human tendency of self-improvement far out-shines the tendency of social development. In spite of this, socialism is a respected way of thought.

In spite of its noble intentions, the whole principle of socialism, according to me, has received a bad name in India due to the actions of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). Going by numbers and legal status (the Maoists have a greater number of followers, but are an illegal group); the CPI(M) is the automatic leader of the communists in India. It is a known fact that any group is judged by the behaviour of its leader. The group is defined by the leader.

The CPI (M) has come out with its take on the recently concluded UP elections. Have a look at their statement here. Done?? Now please turn your attention to this graph illustrating the party positions in the UP assembly.

picture courtesy: CNN IBN website

Whoever has drafted this press release seems to have been waiting for the second paragraph to start wherein they take on their blood rivals, the BJP and defend their bosom buddies the SP. Please note comrades, the communal card was never flashed during the elections. It was only for that one day when they were caught and had to withdraw the CD. Apart from that, isn't the SP communal? With ministers issuing death rewards to the Mohammad cartoonists etc. What does the "esteemed" left have to say about it?

One thing which is evident from the vote swing shown here, is that BJP and Congress have their vote shares eaten into. The SP and BSP have an increased vote share. The fact that the SP's vote share has risen is reason enough for the Left to rejoice. But the truth is comrades, a defeat is a defeat; whether you score 300 runs and lose or whether you score 100 and lose.

The last paragraph is interesting. A probable indicator of the left's future strategy?

The elections have shown the strong influence of caste appeal in the state
which has been adversely affecting the prospects of the Left. The CPI(M) and the
Left will have to take this reality into account in formulating its strategy to
project an independent platform based on the real issues affecting the

Guys, stick to economics. It yields results anyday; and more importantly in the long term; than caste based issues.

In spite of all the sarcastic feelings building up inside me after reading that article, I applaud the CPI (M) for not mentioning the Congress. Battered, shameless, leaderless parties do not need a mention. Bravo comrades, bravo!!!

Nice Thought

This appeared in today's Times of India.

Enjoy your job, make lots of money, work within the law
Choose any two

-Author Unknown

I feel that I am doing all three; but there is that voice, the voice of sixth sense which
says that I am doing ony items 2 and 3. But as Enya sang, "Who can say where the road goes,
where the day flows; Only Time!!!"

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Great Indian Novel

Shashi Tharoor, for all his literary and diplomatic talent is disliked by some; one of them
being Sharath Rao.

But, even Sharath will end up praising The Great Indian Novel which super-imposes the
Mahabharata on both pre- and post- Independence and Emergency India.

The analogies are awesome:
Mahatma Gandhi - Bheeshma
Jawaharlal Nehru - Dritharashtra
Subhash Chandra Bose - Pandu
Indira Gandhi - Duryodhana (cleverly renamed as Priya Duryodhani in this book)
Jaiprakash Narayan - Drona etc

Go get your copy folks!! Its a nice read; and as a bonus it would help you to understand
better the entity known as India.

Mungaaru Male

"Mungaaru Male" (Kannada) : "Monsoon Rain" (English)

A movie which I personally believe will resusciate the Kannada movie industry which has entered a near comatose state. The fact that this movie ran for 100 days (when I saw it) and is still running to packed houses is itself a testimony to its quality.

Its not the storyline which has made the movie great; it is the camera work in and around Coorg. One needs to view the movie to appreciate this aspect.

Way to go guys, please make such movies which will force me to go to theatres like Navrang in Bangalore; sit in the "Gandhi class" (front stalls) and come out beaming from ear to ear.

13 Tzameti

Good, European cinema somehow never releases in the Indian mainstream cinema halls. College LANs and painstakingly discovered CD/DVD stores seem to be the only source of such movies. Hence, it was a great pleasure when UTV released 13-Tzameti in the Adlabs chain of theatres.

This is a rivetting French thriller made by Gela Babluani. The first thing that strikes you is that it is a modern film made in black and white. Why modern? Well, the use of mobile phones, new Peugeots and of course, the Euro; are the sure shot indicators.

It is a story of how, in his haste to earn quick money, young 22 year old Sebastien (George Babluani) enters the murky world of betting and Russian roulette with guns. Its also a story of sacrifice, tension and quick thinking on one's feet. Beautiful camera work also adds to the gripping storyline.

One important character of the movie should be the humble ubiquitous electric bulb. How it forms the part of the story line will be understood only if one watches the movie. Go, get your DVD folks!!

I plan to catch the following movies if time permits:

1. City of God from Brazil

2. Paris, Je T'aime : a set of 20 love stories from Paris. It stars Juliette Binoche of Chocolat fame. Yippee!!!!!

Au revoir, folks!!

PS: BTW Tzameti means 13 in Georgian; the language of the director Gela. Check out the website of the movie.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

One reason.....

...for liking Nehru is this content of a letter he wrote:

"We have a Muslim minority who are so large in numbers that they cannot,
even if they want, go anywhere else. That is a basic fact about which there can
be no argument. Whatever the provocation from Pakistan and whatever the
indignities and horrors inflicted on non-Muslims there, we have got to deal with
this minority in a civilised manner. We must give them security and the rights
of citizens in a democratic State"

Read the full article and understand the significance of the statement.