Thursday, October 28, 2004

One of those days!

Today was a tough day off work!!
Firstly there was a scheduled power cut between 10:30AM to 5:30PM which kept me unwired for the better part of the day. I had to use the gas-stove to cook my meal and for a person who hates cooking, it can be quite an ordeal. At around 4:30 PM, the tax consultant came down to my place and started coaxing me into taking a Jeevan Anand policy. According to his calculations I would have Rs 588,000/- at the end of the term of this policy which would obviously be, when I turned 50!! As it turns out, I may probably decide to pay taxes rather than go in for investments that give me a pittiance considering an inflation rate of at least 6.5% every year. A quick calculation would tell you that the value of that amount would be close to Rs 100,000/-. Taxes can sure give a person sleepless nights!!



I just preordered Suse 9.2 from LinuxCD.org. It costs me a pretty penny considering its Linux and while being mukt, can be muft as well! If someone is willing to split the costs with me, I guess I could burn a set for him. Kapil offered to split a part of the costs with me. Thanx d00d. I guess we could do with a couple more contributors.




I happened to stumble upon a nice piece of work this evening though, thanks to a posting on the PLUG mailing list, by Kedar K Koppikar. Its Geexbox!! Geexbox is a standalone bootable media player. It comes as a (believe it or not!) 6.5 MB download, which consists of a Linux kernel and minimal software needed to run Mplayer. Sadly the disc kept exiting with an error, on my notebook, but ran like a dream on my desktop. The project seems to be quite similar to Movix with the only difference being the eyecandy of the Geexbox environment. However the developers havent yet released an eMoviX kind of release, wherin users can create bootable discs from their multimedia files or a MoviX2 which would run Mplayer on X, instead of running it via framebuffer. I have yet to tinker with it much. Hope to do so as soon as I have the time ... Let's hope that's soon enough.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11 -- Kicking up the mercury

Today Vijay, Paul and I went to watch Fahrenheit 9/11. After having watched almost 2 and a half hours of Bush bashing, I came to the conclusion that the film was more of a Democrat election campaign than an unbiased documentary. Over the last five years, George W Bush has been the butt of many jokes. Dubyaman has been the favorite caricature of many newspapers and Bush having been a president who has had to take many tough decisions after being in the firing line isnt exactly every American's pin up boy. I am no fan of Dubya myself, and I believe that he like his father has the tendency to be a war-monger. But I believe that at some point of time one needs to give the devil his due. Firstly I think most people who understand the Indian economy well enough would realise the advantages of having Bush at the helm of things for the next five years or so. Our economy is so very dependent on how the American economy takes to the outsourcing phenomenon, post the Nov 2 presidential elections. Now as John Kerry himself would agree, he cant stop outsourcing. But he does have a pretty neat strategy to ensure that India ceases to remain the preferred destination for outsourcing in the near future. His plans of giving a tax benefit to companies that keep jobs in America, is a surefire formula for disaster for the outsourcing industry in India. When companies need to cope with the obvious loss in profits when Kerry introduces his scheme, they would want to cap these losses by moving their operations to countries that provide the same services that India is capable of providing, at a fraction of the cost. Now which would these destinations be? Mauritius, Malaysia,Phillipines and the biggest of them all,China! Skilled labour is cheaper in these countries. Infrastructure can be set up at marginal costs and more importantly these destinations are turning out to be a rich source of English speaking professionals. So it wouldnt take much guessing to realise where the outsourcing industry would move to, if and when John Kerry gets voted to power and starts fulfilling his promises as far as outsourcing goes.






Coming back to the movie, one is confronted by the issues raised by Michael Moore. First is the one concerning Bush's own alleged corporate links with a certain Shaukat Bin Ladin, who is believed to be Osama's half brother. I fail to see what could percieved as an act of anti-nationalism in this. Does the name Bin Ladin, disqualify someone to lead a normal life, or another to collaborate with him in a field that is absolutely unrelated to national security? Does being President, ex-President or a future president disqualify him from conducting business with a man that shares his name with a man that is wanted by law? This very assumption belittles the fact that we are in fact talking about one of the world's greatest democracies here. Would an average American stop doing business with a man called McVeigh just on basis of what Timothy McVeigh did in Oklahoma? I am afraid not. Then why would there be such a bias against the name Bin Ladin? Is it because of the fact that we fancy all that is white skinned? Or is it because there is a presidential election round the corner!? Almost every Democrat in the Senate including Kerry himself believed that Afghanistan was the place where US forces needed to be. But Afghanistan's had a reputation for being an invaders' graveyard. Bush had to play it safe there, for the simple reason that he needed to minimise American casualties considering that already many American lives had been lost in wake of 9/11. I for one was one of the few people who was against bombing Afghanistan, because I believe that this world is a much better place without war and bloodshed. Violence is not an answer to violence. But that is a different issue altogether. The fact remains that the whole of America was united in the decision to invade Afghanistan and no amount of criticism on Bush's decision can change that.



The Patriot act is the civilized, American version of what POTA should ideally be. And while one of my idols, Richard Stallman, believes that this has been an infringement of freedom, security and privacy of the American people, I think that in the wake of the ever increasing threat of terrorism, countries like America,India and Israel have no options but to enact such laws for the benefit of their own people. Homeland security was an issue Michael Moore touched upon very briefly during the course of the film, but what people would fail to notice would be the increased allocation of funds towards Homeland Security, in the recent US budget. As it turns out Bush gets none of the credit for this, and the fact is conveniently ignored.





Moore tries to take advantage of the disaster that Iraq has turned out to be, owing to a failure on part of American Intelligence and tries to place the blame wholely and solely on Dubya. A captain is just as good as his team. I agree that the war in Iraq was at the wrong time, more for political reasons than reasons that would pertain to foreign policy. John Kerry himself had said not long ago that the world would be a much better place with Saddam not in power. He also believes that the war was necessary and has gone on record, saying this live on TV. He however claims that he would have done it without alienating their allies. And I second that. But give Bush the benefit of doubt. His intelligence team had him believe that Saddam had WMDs. Saddam refused to have UN inspectors come inspect his premises. What was Bush to have done then? North Korea was already a threat with a nuclear arsenal that was looking down on major American cities. Was he to sit down and wait till Iraq gained similar capability? He needed to nip the evil in the bud and I guess he took the tough and unpopular decision to do just that. Sometimes leaders need to make decisions that wouldnt exactly win them a popularity contest. The test of a real leader is to stand by that decision of his and the conviction that drives him to it. Bush has the courage to do that and that's why I admire him despite all his projected vices. He believes that he was part of the right war, at the right time, at the right place and that is all that matters.




Bush is an unpopular man because he is the first American president to lose jobs; a point that the film hints at, in a subtle manner. What one doesnt care to see is that he was handed an economy that was already in a state of recession. Will Kerry create jobs? He doesnt have a plan to do so! He promises to give people a tax cut, while he has been a Senator who in 20 years, has voted 98 times in favor of increasing taxes!! He promises to limit outsourcing, which is ironic, coming from the man who is the boss of Heinz!! American foreign policy is going to be an issue that would be a deciding factor in this Presidential Election. And Fahrenheit 9/11 couldnt have come at a better time. The movie has its obvious Democratic leanings and is an inflamatory attack on George W. In the theatre the dumb (but beautiful) girl sitting beside me, was reduced to tears by the movie. "Bast**d" and "Mother F**ker" were some of the choice expletives she used to refer to Bush towards the dying moments of the film. I wonder how much this movie would affect the average American if it could so deeply affect a foreigner at the other end of the globe, who apparently knows nothing about American foreign policy. Which begs the question -- Is Fahrenheit 9/11 political rhetoric of a Democrat inspired reporter, or is it a piece of unbiased journalism? Different people will share different views about this. What do I say? Watch the movie and decide for yourself!

Saturday, October 02, 2004

I am a Visionary Philosopher!!

I just took an IQ test at www.tickle.com and this is what the result of the test said


Congratulations, Sumeet!

Your IQ score is 131




This number is based on a scientific formula that compares how many questions you answered correctly on the Classic IQ Test relative to others.


Your Intellectual Type is Visionary Philosopher. This means you are highly intelligent and have a powerful mix of skills and insight that can be applied in a variety of different ways. Like Plato, your exceptional math and verbal skills make you very adept at explaining things to others — and at anticipating and predicting patterns. And that's just some of what we know about you from your IQ results.


Like Plato, your mind's strengths allow you to think ahead of the game — to imagine or anticipate what should come next in just about any situation. Because you're equally skilled in the numerical and verbal universes of the brain, you can draw from multiple sources of information to come up with great ideas.


Somehow I told you so, just did'nt quite say it !!
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