I get email… from the distant past!

The library at JNCASR has an email-reminder system that tells you when books you’ve checked out are due to be returned. It also tells you what books have just been issued to you (if you think this is pointless, ask people at IITM if they’d prefer that this be implemented).

This time, though, the library have outdone themselves. They’ve predicted what book I would take out today, and predicted it forty years ago! Here’s the header from the email:

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From : LIBRARY CIRCULATION
Subject : ISSUE SLIP
Date : 01-01-1970 5:30
To : croor{at}jncasr[dot]ac[dot]in

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(Yes, that’s my official email address.) See, they’ve predicted two decades before I was born, heck, two decades before there was even a JNCASR, what books I’d be taking out as an R&D assistant at the Engineering Mechanics Unit. (They’re also early risers, but that’s peanuts compared to the other feat!)

I should probably tell them to fix the date on their email server, no?

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The five-second rule

Wikipedia may not always be the most accurate source of information. (I wouldn’t blame you for rolling your  eyes at this point.) But because Wikipedia is user-generated, even obscure cultural references are written up into proper posts.

The five second rule is NOT an obscure cultural reference. It is, in fact, a life food saver. But never mind that. The article is way too well-worded for something like the five-second rule. Compare this to the Urban Dictionary entry for the Five Second Rule, which is more colloquial.

At any rate, the Wikipedia article also includes this cartoon, which I thought was funny:

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Why am I writing about the five-second rule? I’m a bit swamped with work today. No time to write about what I really wanted to write about, which I think will have to wait till the weekend.

Ravikrishnan Croorchandran Sivaramasingh

People who’ve known me for more than ten minutes, and bothered to ask me what my name is, know that I prefer going by Croor Singh (people who know me a little better also know that I’m also quite specific about the spelling). The most important reason for this seems to be some sort of vanity – it’s a fair enough conversation starter.

I’ve told so many people my name’s Croor, in fact, that I’m quite certain that people who know me as Croor far outnumber people who know my given name. It’s quite possible that Chandrakanta could make a comeback on TV just because of the number of people watching to see if my hair matches that of the villain. Profs call me croor (as I’m sure everybody who knows me has heard me say many many times). The latest in the line is one of my advisors at JNC. I am, of course, perfectly happy being called Croor.

I mention all this because there might be some utility as well to having this (second) identity: there’s a second guy named “Ravichandran S” at JNCASR. I was a little shocked to see my name on the mess bill for June, which is how I found out about this second guy. In light of this, I’ve told the mess they can call me croor singh on their bill, but I’m not very hopeful they will.

Should I ask them to call me Ravichandran C.S., perhaps? How about Ravichandran Singh? Or Croor-chandran? I think it was MG’s suggestion that I be called Croorchandran Sivaramasingh, but I don’t think the mess will quite go for that! They could always call me the far less fun (and less accurate) ‘Ravichandran Sivaramakrishnan’, but what happens if the other guy’s father is called Sivaramakrishnan too? I can’t wait to find out!

The Earth, the Sun, and one more revolution.

Thursday was my birthday; whatever that means. If you didn’t know this, it’s probably because my Facebook page no longer displays the date. I wrote this down on Thursday, but decided against posting it then, to avoid seeming like I was asking for hugs and pats on my blog, instead of on Facebook. Three days is enough grace-period, right? I mean, Christ died and came back in three days, didn’t he? Didn’t he?! His thing was in fact Friday-to-Sunday. I’m doing you one better than Christ*.

House asks Cameron, in an episode, if he should be celebrating the fact that the Earth, the little planet that could, beat all odds and circled the Sun one more time. House may be a misanthropist, but he has a point.

Which is this: I don’t care for special days. I don’t have a problem with it if my friends do, and I will, insofar as I can, wish friends on the days they think are important to them. I do this because I care about the people, and they care about their birthdays. I’ve been known to even buy presents for people on their birthdays. Again, I would’ve been perfectly happy buying them presents on a randomly generated date from the calendar (I don’t mean like this), but apparently that’s not done, or not expected, or some combination thereof.

My judgement of somebody isn’t coloured by whether or not they happened to remember a date from the calendar, and I mean this both ways. I don’t think any worse of someone for not having greeted me; Nor do I think better of someone just because they did. The only reason I can think of to celebrate one’s birthday (or any other special day) is that it gives people a reason to talk to each other.

Which means one or two things: a) I don’t beat myself up too much if I forget somebody’s birthday. I forgot the birthdays of my brother, and two friends, and all of them were the same day (I did manage to talk to all of them within the day). b) If you didn’t happen to wish me on Thursday, and don’t bring it up when I next talk to you, neither will I. Mostly because I won’t remember. c) If you think these things are important, and did wish me, I was glad for you talking to me, and I thank you.

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* With any sort of rational search, of course, the whole Christ myth comes crashing down. Go here for a wonderful exposition of this matter. Brian Flemming used to offer free DVDs to anyone who would blaspheme against the holy spirit on YouTube. I don’t know if he still does. Do watch the documentary if you can.

Sunday Afternoon’s Musings

1) I saw Spain play Paraguay yesterday. I also saw Germany destroy Argentina, but the Spain-Paraguay match was so much better. Paraguay were Rafael Nadal to Spain’s Roger Federer, if the venue was the Wimbledon final. Paraguay ran after everything, and played out of their skins. Even with my knowledge of football, I could tell that they were matching the better skill of Spain by putting their bodies on the line.

In a match whose storyline wouldn’t have been out of place in a WWE ring, including the referee’s not-so-uninfluential call to replay a penalty kick, the heroes have to be said to be Casillas and Villar, the goalkeepers of the two sides. That Villar finally let one through while Casillas kept his goal safe is only incidental. They were fantastic.

2) Speaking of Nadal and Federer, Nadal is playing Federer’s killer at Centre-court at Wimbledon later this afternoon. Somehow, I think the English crowd at Wimbledon is going to be confused as to whom they support in this match. (Has anybody else noticed how little support Nadal gets, whoever the opponent? The same’s true of Berdych, now that he’s become the Federer-killer).

3) Serena Williams thrashed Vera Zvonareva in the Ladies final at Wimbledon yesterday, in a match that lasted all of one hour. It makes you think, sometimes, whether people who say women’s tournaments shouldn’t carry the same prize money as men’s tournaments have a point… Of course, with only a little more thought, one realises that criticizing women for playing matches that last fewer hours is like berating men for not bearing children; that these things are ultimately spectator events, and that if spectators want to watch women play tennis as much as they want to watch men play tennis, there is no reason to pay the women any less.

4) Speaking of Women’s tennis, there seem to be yet more Russian tennis-players-who-wouldn’t-be-out-of-place-in-a-photoshoot / models-who-can-play-tennis. The latest one I’ve seen is called Elena Vesnina. Damn.

5) Delhi and India have added to the IGI airport a new terminal, this one claimed to be the third largest in area worldwide, with much fanfare and space for shopping and so forth. ‘Delhi’s Airport, India’s Pride’ says a newspaper headline. I don’t feel particularly overawed that a country of 1.3 billion built themselves an airport. Sure, we didn’t mess it up like we did the Bangalore airport. So? Is it chest-thump worthy that the second most populous country in the world has the fifth biggest airport? Oh, the airport is also ‘world-class’, did I mention, whatever that means.

6)  The internet connection here at home is  a BSNL limited bandwidth line, and my being from IITM, even with its LAN cuts means that I’ve managed to use up all the allotted monthly bandwidth in three days. And since there is no way to change usage plans midway through the month, my internet usage will have to be severely throttled if I don’t want the telephone bill running into five digits. Dang it.

One more languid afternoon

1) There’s this place just outside IITM, called Ascendas, which houses many IT offices and has a half decent food-court;  it’s become quite the haunt for bored IITians who’d eat anything other than mess food. About a year ago, Ascendas started requiring people to deposit valid ID cards, collect badges from a counter and produce these badges for entry into the compound. To the complete bafflement and pique of everybody concerned. What the heck is the point of collecting IDs? Is somebody who is really up to trouble going to forget to create a false ID? If they do, are they going to not create trouble because you caught them without their IDs? ‘Oh, right, I have this suitcase with a bomb in it, but I’m not going to blow up your nice building here because I’ve forgotten my ID’?

It gets worse. The idiots collecting ID cards and handing out badges will accept more than one ID of the same person. ‘Here, Sir, we’re ten people who’ve come here to cause mayhem (but we’re not really telling you), and you can let us in because we have these ten ID cards of a Mr. Aviral Roy. He’s not here, but I’m sure he doesn’t mind that you’re letting us in on his ID’. The stupid. It burns.

2) I happened to watch the India-Pakistan match yesterday. Holy crap! How is it that the insipid Indian cricket team that lost to Zimbabwe, twice, managed to pull this match off? And it wasn’t India’s usual one-man effort, either. Everybody played a part. I saw Suresh Raina jump ten feet to try and avoid getting run out when he must have known it was improbable that he would make it. I saw Harbhajan and Shoaib Akhtar taunt each other in Punjabi. Well, OK, Harbhajan taunts everybody in Punjabi, so maybe this one isn’t that different from usual; this was a different Indian team to the one that played Zimbabwe not two weeks ago.

A languid afternoon

Some thoughts:

1) The fastest supercomputers that are built are usually special purpose supercomputers, i.e., they sacrifice generality for speed. I remember reading about one which could compute how a protein created from a certain strand of DNA with millions of base-pairs would fold over itself. The loss of generality also means, however, that these specific-purpose supercomputers aren’t classified as the fastest supercomputers that have been built (Wikipedia says the ruling body makes its adjudications based on how fast the machine can LU-factorise a large matrix).

On a related note, my mp3 player can handle even video files, but ask it to shuffle when it’s playing and it slows to a crawl – calculating which number to go to after 27 must be tough indeed – the stupid thing. I’ll have to burn a shuffled playlist into it in the first place.

2) How is it that Chennai allows the screening of Sex and the City? I thought people here were the kind of folks who sue a well-known actress for daring to suggest that premarital sex may not be all that despicable in the 21st century. (Just so one doesn’t think I’m overdoing it, I’ll add that the case against Khusboo went to the Supreme Court of India because the Madras High Court refused to grant her relief from the cases against her. ) [ UPDATE: Also, see this and the comments therein. Anna University wants students in colleges here under constant video surveillance.]

The resolution, as far as us bunch of tam-junta at my lab can work out, is that Khusboo was talking specifically about Indian women – she said men in India should get used to the idea that their wives may have had other relationships before marriage. And this was considered an affront to the modesty of all Indian women, and Tam women in particular (why every Indian woman is required to be modest is something nobody has bothered to ask) – we pride ourselves on being prudes of the highest strictures, you see. But when it comes to women of other countries talking about sex (which is the same as men here watching fair-skinned women talk about sex) there’s no problem; those people have already been assumed to be less civilised than us (and the men here can do whatever they want), it’s our women we want to keep from becoming immodest.