Thursday, September 27, 2007

Rage Against the Machine

"What have you contributed to the world ? Anything of real substance? Nothing. Apart from brutal might and power... and your sickening culture that is as hollow and as empty as you are."

What about that computer you are using madam, personal computing was an American idea, surely a good one, wouldn't you agree? As was the Internet, a bonafide American idea, and what's more, it was a military application at first! Also your blogger account, it was provided to you for free by Google.

We understand you are emotional but please control your feelings. How can you say American culture is hollow and empty? I present to you the dragonball z - bon jovi mashup, a pinnacle of cultural Japanese-American syncretism. Are you not entertained by this?

There is no pleasing you is there? In one wild insensitive stroke, you have dismissed the love and adoration of a million Transformers fans across the world. We fans, who enjoy cartoons, comic books, graphic novels, video games, science fiction and fantasy produced by the mythological-industrial complex.

American culture is empty? Just look at the sheer wordcount dedicated to just one character, Optimus Prime on Wikipedia. And while a million monkeys cannot produce a Shakespeare, they are free to edit Wikipedia articles about Megatron. I count this participatory mythology as a victory to democracy, and a blow to the Hindu caste system. Even Dalits can produce transformers fanfiction, would you know!

You weep for a pithy Sumerian artifact? American culture produces mythology that is millions of years old!

Optimus Prime began his life as a robot named Orion Pax, a mostly defenseless dock worker during the Golden Age of Cybertron nine million years ago, with a girlfriend named Ariel, and a best friend named Dion.

And before you rage against me, read this.

A forty foot (12.2 meter) statue of Optimus Prime has been found in Yunnan Province, China. It is located near several automobile dealerships. The Transformers cartoon was broadcast in China (PRC) from 1990 onwards and had a large following among youths of that generation.

Hundreds of years from now, this will be a UNESCO World Heritage site. May the heroic ideals of Optimus Prime and the other Autobots never be forgotten! Glory to Optimus Prime!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

In The End, Cricket Was The Winner :-P

This was to be my canned response to my Pakistani co-workers next day. I started practicing it when Umar Gul scalped Yuvraj, Dhoni, and Gambhir. When Arafat came in, with a single agenda of bowling yorker after yorker, things were starting to look bleak for us. We practiced our lines:

"It was a good day for Cricket."

"At least this cup has come to Asia."

"Anyone but Australia."

"Or South Africa."

"In the end, cricket was the winner."

With 19.2 overs left, Rohit Sharma slammed a slower ball down midwicket, almost into the hands of Hafeez who bungled it, helping the ball on its way to a six.

"Yeh Sixer unko bhaari padega." ("This six will prove to be decisive.")

It was.

157 runs on the board. We needed our bowlers to strike the opposition out. RP Singh provided the first breakthrough for India, Sreesanth provided Pakistan theirs, with 21 runs of his first over. If Imran Nazir had played for 5 more overs, I would have been blogging about quantum physics, and how ephemeral reality is, how every atom spins its own tangled web. Fortunately, Uthappa's throw overpowered Nazir's weak legs, Younis Khan mis-hit a hit-me ball from Joginder Sharma, and Pathan tilted the scales in our favour, when Shoaib Malik and Afridi were dismissed cheaply.

At 77/6, it looked like we'd choke them with an escalating run-rate, But Mizbah Ul Haq had other plans. He hit Harbhajan for three sixes, Tanvir hit Sreesanth for two, and in the final over, Pakistan needed just 13 of 6 balls.

For Harbhajan, it was too much. He had given practically nothing in the previous matches, but his yorkers weren't spearing in like before. With Mizbah on strike, the ball went to Joginder Sharma, our sacrificial lamb, a junior medium pacer who surprisingly had been spared until then, in spite of some pathetic outside-the-line-of-the-off-stump bowling.

That ball must have been real burden, a deadweight heavy enough to sink reputations, condemn the bowler to a life of ridicule and ignominy. Chetan Sharma never got a chance to coach the team, redeem himself in a 3 hour fantasy like Kabir Khan. Last I knew, he provides languid post-match analysis for Doordarshan, the lowest totem pole for cricket presenters.

The first ball went for a wide, the second was almost a wide. Third ball was a six. Mizbah skied Joginder's dolly and the ball flew and flew, all the way to the boundary. 6 runs of four balls.

And then Sreesanth's email to god was answered. God, in his all his infinite magnanimity bestowed him with a sitter. But first, God made Sreesanth realise that all glory is fleeting. God made us lose the ODI World Cup. God made Sreesanth's overs fly to all parts of the stadium in the final. Just to fuck with him. To show him who's boss. He's got a wicked sense of humour. But he's also democratic. There were a billion Indians, praying to their various gods, and then Allah and Vishnu and Jesus and Ganesha played a dirty game of coalition vote bank politics, and made that scoop shot fall into Sreesanth's hands.

We won. We did? You and me? Good on ya mate. Yeah it was your maiden over to Mizbah that made all the difference. That hatrick you bowled.

We like winners. We're all winners. Champion swimmers. But let's give credit where credit is due.

RP Singh: Devastatingly accurate, lethal pace, swing, and highly conservative in giving runs. He was the pillar of our bowling attack. Took wickets in each game, bowled well in the death overs, troubled all batsmen.

Irfan Pathan: His comeback has been brilliant. He reminds me of Wasim Akram, dangerous on any pitch, because he's always got something up his sleeve. In this series, he seldom gave loose balls, took wickets all the time, altered the pace to keep the batsmen from timing their slog hits.

Rohit Sharma
: A virtual unknown, he shouldered responsibility in a crucial match vs. South Africa, and provided us with a defendable total on a dangerous pitch, tailor made for the South African pace attack. That run out of Kemp showed us what a young bunch can do. We fielded better than the South Africans! The big 3 never looked this good on the field.

Yuvraj Singh: Six sixes, a revenge hit against England, some payback it was. You don’t need to take your shirt off to prove a point, if you let your bat do the talking. He gave India the 20 run edge that made the final difference in that match. Against Australia, he turned the tide from the moment he stepped in. The faster it came, the farther it went.

Harbhajan Singh: Dhoni’s gameplan was the same for all of our last 5 matches: post a decent enough total, and let Harbhajan and Pathan choke them. In the death overs, he took on big hitters and kept bowling right on their toes. If the batsman backed up a bit and tried to make space for himself, his ball would follow. He cramped batsmen when they were itching for bit of space to swing. He cramped everyone but Mizbah in the final.

Gautam Gambhir: He looked like a positive cricketer to me, even when he had a rather subdued ODI series against England. His opening partnerships with Sehwag gave us good starts for the middle order to capitalise on.

He’s inconsistent, stark raving mad, but when he finds his rhythm, he’s a dangerous bowler. His spell against Australia was brilliant - psyched, aggressive, and accurate. The image of him punching the ground like Donkey Kong after taking Hayden's wicket is forever burnt into my memory.

Yesterday night, we went out for a drive, to seek other Indians who shared the exhilaration of believing they’d won something. What had we won? There were celebrations in the Meena Bazar, an Indian ghetto in Dubai, where thousands of Indians were out on the streets. Flags, confetti and carbonated cola was in the air. Some chanted "Ganpati Bappa Morya"; it wasn't politically correct, and didn't catch on much. I threw in my Shaivite allegiance into the ring: "Jai Bholenaath!", but that didn't catch on much either. The loudest chants were for “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”

This wasn't patriotism. Patriotism is love for the patriarchy. Love for the motherland, we can all agree upon. Yesterday, it was stronger than religion. And that's a good enough reason to cheer.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Yuvraj Singh - 6-6-6-6-6-6 Broad Bashing

What a win. India has had three dramatic wins in the last 5 matches, very close matches that we lucked out on.

In the end, Yuvraj's innings was the only thing that separated England's chase from India's total. Gambhir and Sehwag did well to rack up at 100+ partnership, scoring freely and scampering for runs whenever they had the chance, but India's performance overall was pathetic. Three missed catches, ball flying just about everywhere.

What was Nasser Hussain on about, when he assured us all that a 150 total would be defend-able? It's good we put the goalpost to 220.

It's sad that superhuman effort is the only thing that assures India a victory, when consistency could do the same for you... with more consistency.

Bhajji and Pathan were lifesavers. That turned the game for us. God save us from Sreesanth and Agarkar. Joginder Sharma turns out to be Agarkar Jr. Same height, build, and bowling style. He was belted around unlucky as he was with two missed catches, one by Yuvraj himself.

This was quite a comeback from Singh, who was smashed for 5 sixes by Macacarena in the ODI series against England.

Twenty20 is a different ballgame, the bowler at death knows that he's going to be hammered, yet, Broad had no idea what to do with Yuvraj.

If we beat South Africa, we stand a good chance of seeing Pakistan all over again. Can't wait for that.

This Twenty20 world cup is so much better than the ODI world cup at West Indies. Shorter format, lasts a fortnight, and plenty of entertainment. I've been watching all the matches. Tomorrow's match is going to be crucial. But I don't think India can take on South Africa. South Africa saves 10 extras on an average, and another 15 in the field. Their death bowlers can york at will. It seems impossible.

But then again, I like being pessimistic. Saves me a lot of heartburn. Individual superstardom can win you a match, but it never wins you a series.

This goes into my top 5 cricketing moments, #1 being this.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Imagine all the people, and double that!

Q: “What happens to the idea of the dignity of the human species if this population growth continues?”

Asimov: It’ll be completely destroyed. I like to use what I call my bathroom metaphor. If two people live in an apartment, and there are two bathrooms, then they both have freedom of the bathroom. You can go to the bathroom anytime you want, stay as long as you want, for whatever you need. And everyone believes in freedom of the bathroom. It should be right there in the constitution. But if you have twenty people in the apartment and two bathrooms, then no matter how much every person believes in freedom of the bathroom, there’s no such thing. You have to set up times for each person, you have to bang on the door, ‘Aren't you through yet?’ and so on.” And Asimov concluded with one of the most profound observations I've seen in years. He said, “In the same way, democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive overpopulation. Convenience and decency cannot survive overpopulation. As you put more and more people into the world, the value of life not only declines, it disappears. It doesn’t matter if someone dies, the more people there are, the less one individual matters.

Lecture on population and exponential arithmetic below:

A text transcript for the broadband deprived