Learning to be Terse

Me and my peabrain

Posted in Campus, Ethics, Personal, Society by Croor Singh on August 9, 2012

“I sometimes think”, writes Stephen Fry, “that when I die there should be two graves dug: the first would be the usual kind of size, say 2 feet by 7, but the other would be much, much larger. The gravestone should read: ME AND MY BIG MOUTH.” Fry wrote this in apologising for remarks he made about an antisemitic and homophobic political party in Poland. His remarks themself are irrelevant here.

Fry writes further that, over the course of a week and a half, he declined every opportunity to apologise. Surely they must be “mischeviously misconstruing” his remarks. After all, nobody could possibly think he had meant what he said that way. I know exactly what Stephen Fry must have gone through. My brain is nowhere near as well exercised or popular as Fry’s mouth. If you asked me right now, not even I am a fan of my brain.

Before you read on, I ask that you take a look at this print from this t-shirt:


In the morning today, friends of mine gave me this t-shirt as a going-away present. I posted a picture on Facebook. We all had a hearty laugh.

There was a ‘Women in Science’ seminar held at NCBS in the evening. Rama, my professor, and Shobhana Narasimhan, a professor at JNC — scientists and women, both — would be speaking at the seminar. NCBS is about a 20-minute cycle ride away from JNCASR. I had to rush from JNC just after another talk I had to attend.

Here’s where my peabrain comes in. “Wouldn’t it be funny if I wore the t-shirt to the ‘Women in Science’ seminar? Think of all the laughs!” I would like to think that given enough time to think, I would’ve come to the conclusion that I can sometimes be a blithering insensitive idiot. Whether or not I give myself more credit than I am worth is moot. The fact is that I didn’t think about it. I changed into the t-shirt, got a cycle and left for NCBS.

Was I right? Would it be funny and nothing else? Friends of mine — people I know to be reasonable — had found the idea of a ‘stalker t-shirt’ funny. Does the context matter at all? Was this only a bad idea because I wore it to the ‘women in science’ seminar? Or is there something wrong with this humour to begin with?

After making a fool of myself in the eyes of people I like and admire, I’ve come to realise that context does matter. The late great Molly Ivins, a humourist and a political commentator of spectacular wit and more humanity than I can claim for myself at this moment, put it best:

Satire is a weapon, and it can be quite cruel. It has historically been the weapon of powerless people aimed at the powerful. When you use satire against powerless people, […] it is not only cruel, it’s profoundly vulgar. It is like kicking a cripple.

The reason rape-jokes aren’t funny, the reason this t-shirt isn’t funny (outside of my group of friends where the butt of the joke wasn’t the stalking so much as, well, me) is because the humour is directed not at somebody powerful who can defend themselves or laugh it off, but at somebody who is already a victim.

As is usually the case when somebody points out one is wrong, I dug my heels in when first Anjali, and then Shobhana, pointed out that the t-shirt was a bad idea. They’re just being overly sensitive, surely. “Would the t-shirt be okay if the man and the woman reversed roles?” I asked Shobhana. I am aware, now, of how stupid that sounds. Shobhana, of course, pointed out that stalking isn’t funny whoever does it.

Somebody else present added that it is also never going to happen that the woman is shown stalking the man. “Molestation shouldn’t be called eve-teasing,” she said as she walked away.

Of course it shouldn’t. Why is she telling me that? You know what popped into my head next: “I’m one of the good guys.”

Even somebody in my state of mind then should realise that appealing to the argument from one’s own personal integrity is a sure sign that one has fucked up somewhere along the way. And I did. This is me admitting to fucking up. I am sorry. Thank you for reading.

The Aliens have sprouted!

Posted in Campus, Photographs by Croor Singh on December 10, 2010

I took this picture a while ago. I thought the ‘craters’ looked suspicious and everything, but didn’t do anything about it:



You see, this is what happens when you see a problem but do nothing about it. The only thing needed for aliens to start to sprout is for good people to do nothing!



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Solution to Word Morph – ‘croor’ to ‘crater’

Posted in This and That by Croor Singh on November 17, 2010

I asked if you could come up with a word-morph solution to go from ‘croor’ to ‘crater’. I promised to put up a two-step solution that I came up with. Well, here it is:

Moral: If you hit croor with a hammer, you’ll make a crater.

[End. Fini. Kaputski. Croor-Crater.]

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If this doesn’t crack you up!

Posted in This and That, Weblogs by Croor Singh on October 20, 2010

Pogo sent me these videos of a New York gubernatorial candidate from the party that calls itself “Rent is too Damn High Party”. The candidate’s name is Jimmy McMillan. Let’s just say he’s an unusual politician.

A second story I read is from 9GAG. It is a heartwarming story of a man who found humanity in an animal. I’ve reproduced the story here (Click to go to the original 9GAG page):


I know exactly how ‘Mike’ feels!



The test I created is still open. I want enough votes for a statistically significant result. Do take the test!

[End. Fini. Kaputski. Funny!]

Tell a story – 1 – With a cartoon

Posted in Campus by Croor Singh on September 26, 2010

Pretty much the whole group at the engineering mechanics unit at JNC eats together. (You know this, of course, if you read this blog with any regularity!) The walk to the mess is quite leisurely, as is what usually happens when large groups herds of people meander towards the mess watering hole.

There are quite a few characters in the group here at the EMU, and I’m not just talking about myself in the third person.  This is among the more ‘visible’ people at EMU, JNCASR. This is also the first caricature I’ve tried that isn’t of myself. This is what I see on the way to lunch every day.

This, boys and girls, is Anubhab Roy!


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Posted in This and That, Weblogs by Croor Singh on September 23, 2010

Did you know Pokémon is actually a portmanteau of pocket monster(s)? There is also a grammatical nicety involved here. The plural form is also pokémon (and not pokémons).

Now, that show uses quite a few words from biology, but is actually quite hopeless when it comes to any semblance of accuracy. (I’m not saying don’t watch it!). Also, like Consti has discovered, you can have some fun making up something like this. I don’t know where you’d find an app that does this, though. I can’t find anything from Google.


By the way, if you weren’t quite sure what ‘portmanteau’ meant (I’m sure you are now, after the context told you), here’s xkcd’s take on portmanteaux (it’s a word from the French, and that’s how I’m going to spell its plural form! I don’t care if the spell-checker thinks it should be ‘s’!) and malapropisms. Randall Munroe, as usual, is brilliant (the mouseover text on xkcd is quite something, for example):



Arvind ‘Thatha’ Ajoy has done a Croor Singh and taken his birthday off Facebook. Yesterday was his birthday, apparently. Belated birthday greetings, Thatha. What did you do?

[End. Fini. Kaputski]

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That seems about right!

Posted in People, Weblogs by Croor Singh on September 21, 2010

Abstruse Goose seems to have a sensible thing or two to say about birthdays, like with quite a few other things. (Go on, see for yourself… click through.)

Oh, belated birthday greetings, Traums!

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Posted in Atheism, Society by Croor Singh on September 16, 2010

The fracas over the burning (or not burning, or burning only if a mosque is built, or not at all) of a quran by a Florida church, and ensuing condemnations from a whole bunch of Islamic states, including Jammu and Kashmir has been quite stunning. How does a Church in Florida burning a book affect somebody in Kashmir? With everything else that’s happening in Kashmir, why on Earth are they bothered about this?

This Australian attorney seems to have had the right idea about this whole affair, for example. Unfortunately, he’s going to lose his job because he smoked joints made from pages of the Bible and the Quran (he says the Bible smokes better than the Quran, if somebody’s curious). He says that if you think what happens to some pages you will never lay your eyes on, EVER, is critically important, you’re taking life too seriously. ‘Here. Smoke some’.

The artist of Jesus and Mo has a similar take on this issue. He makes the point with characteristic wit:


Jon Stewart and Co‘s take on this is clever and sane, as well. (I would’ve embedded the video here, except Comedy Central videos never embed properly.)

You are allowed to have all the delusions you want. What is objectionable is expecting other people to believe your delusions too. And asking others to ‘respect’ your beliefs isn’t much better. Nor is ‘I find that offensive’ an argument.

I think that will be the last I’ll say about this sordid affair of slow-burning Qurans and extremely-quickly offended people. Never fear, though… there are ever so many nitwits in this world, and they can never help themselves. I’m sure the next one will come along soon enough.



11:20 am – I’ve used, above, ‘he’ to refer to the anonymous artist of Jesus and Mo. I don’t know that it’s a ‘he’. I don’t even know that it’s one person and not a group of people. Apologies.

I get email… from the distant past!

Posted in Campus, Digression by Croor Singh on September 14, 2010

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:


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


(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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What I’ll say: Abracadabra!

Posted in This and That by Croor Singh on September 10, 2010

xkcd, that genius of a comic, had this, today: (click through to also check out the alternative text.)


So, from here on in, every time I say bye, I’m going to also say ‘Abracadabra’. Starting with Thatha on Monday.

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