Monday, August 21, 2017

A Spammer in the Works

It's been a long time since my last post. I was too busy clearing spam from my mailbox. 

Contrary to what some people think, email is not redundant. It's become THE means for spam to self-actualize and realize its full pulse-quickening, temper-raising and lifespan-lowering potential. 

If you ever feel guilty about feeling good, get spam. It'll have you feeling terrible in no time at all.

Yeah, 'guilty about feeling good' is nonsense but it sounded like something out of a junk mail headline so I had no qualms about saying it. See,that's just the sort of bad influence these spammers- who have zilch qualms about anything  - have on you. 

Spam is like that thingummy that has several heads and each time you chop one, two others appear in its place. Hydra is what it's called I think although do NOT google unless you want to be spammed.

Ever tried unsubscribing ? They make you select from various options of reasons to make absolutely sure that you do want to unsubscribe and didn't click Unsubscribe because,like, you do not want to unsubscribe. Hmm, yeah, I suppose wanting not to receive unsolicited mail is an exceptionally rare thing. Among the options is "I no longer want to receive these mails" which is funny considering you can't remember asking to receive them in the first place.

I know that's quite a lot about spamming. I bet you've never thought about spammers before. And that is mutual. Spammers don't think about you either. All they think about is email ids. Emotions and the rest of it  can go to hell (or, better still, to a mailbox). The way other people marry for love or money, spammers probably marry for email ids.

Now the author braces himself for a spate of matrimony-related spam to plague his life.

Monday, February 27, 2017

La La Lift

"What ho!" I said
"What ho!" said Motty.
"What ho! What ho!"
"What ho! What ho! What ho!"
After that it seemed rather difficult to go on with the conversation.
- P.G.Wodehouse, My Man Jeeves

So okay. Today was the big Oscars fiasco when they mistakenly announced La La Land instead of Moonlight as Best Picture. With Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty at the helm there, it was quite a case of Bonnie and Clyde stealing the show !  

But hey,big deal. These things happen. (For example, there's the Miss Universe screw up in 2015)  

It can get so much worse.

Like when your world turns upside down in a moment - or at least between the beginning and the ending of a sentence.

You're in a lift. Another guy walks in. There are several things you could do. Keeping quiet is not only about the best but also something you'd normally do anyway. However, in this unpredictable and deterministic world that is so devoid of freewill, unseen forces propel you towards epic brain failure and you go  "Hey Long time ! New look, I see?"

Before realizing you've never met this guy before.

The good part is that you reach your floor before he can go beyond a well disguised " Oh good thanks and how have you been?" The bad part is realizing that he works in your building and you'll be seeing him around a fair bit. 

What Faye Dunawaye must have felt would be a walk in the park in comparison. The perils of living in La La Land ! 

Monday, February 20, 2017

On Minding My Ps and Eating my Qs

I'm unsure if the name  'Ptolemy'
Is said intact with the 'p'.
Takes a mental toll on me
That's just my psychology.

Happily  'Psychology'  is no mess
It's clearly said with an 's' ! 
Also clear are 'Pluto' , 'Plural', 'Penal' and 'Polly'
But what sets the clock back - by golly ! - 
Are words like 'Psephology'  and 'Psyche'
Which always arouse a 'Christ !' or a  'Crickey !'

Also I'll surely stand in queue
If they ever teach a class on 'q' : 
A confused letter that you can say
Either with  a 'Q' or with  a 'K'
The name Qantas and the word Quill
Can't be told - behold ! -
From the name Kansas and the word Kill

But what is a really smooth sail 
Is : Don't bother with 'Quail'.
I am glad  to state
That it's on my plate
Plate - the P intact and cool
Now that my mouth is full.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

All Spaced Out (If It Ain't Broke It Ain't Me)

As usual the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) quietly went about doing a stellar job. This time it was launching 104 satellites in orbit from one single rocket mission. 104 ! Staggering achievement, what stars these guys are ! 

Now a rocket ejecting 104 little satellites is compelling visual imagery. You can just picture these several many little eggs hatching in rapid succession from out of a rocket belly in the blackness of space. Rather reminds you of those periods when life launches a million problems  at you all at the same time. "What! You have only ten problems?! Here's a hundred more - BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG !"

Sigh, if only it ever worked the other way. You know, if only life launched a hundred big sums of money at you. "Here's your first million dollars. Next 99 coming up in a hour." But of course that doesn't happen does it. Your bank balance is a vacuum that'd make outer space look like a wind tunnel. Getting rich would be rocket science if only it were a bit easier.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

My Phony Valentine

It was Valentine's day.

Valentine woke up and checked his phone. The "Happy You Day" messages in it made Valentine quite happy indeed. Valentine spent some time with his phone before getting ready for work which he did while staring at his phone. Then he left for work and,because he was driving, he didn't stare at his phone except only occasionally. That's not all that rare - I once saw a man who was not staring at his phone. Not for around five minutes anyway. 

The security guard in the office building looked up from his phone to wish Valentine on his special day. In the lift , people nodded at him without looking away from their phones - nodded at Valentine that is, not the security guard who was not in the lift and whose day it was not anyway !

At the office Val's colleagues who were all on their phones sent him You Day messages. Valentine's boss looked up from his phone to wish Valentine and to say that he - Valentine that is, not the boss- could take the day off. Valentine's boss , who didn't take the day off, then went back to staring at his phone.

Valentine treated himself to a movie on his phone. And he did so over a nice  meal which he ordered on his phone. It took a bit longer than usual as the delivery man had an accident while staring at his phone when he bumped into a man who was also staring at his phone -  his own phone , that is , not the delivery man's. It was clearly not their day.

Valentine went to bed very pleased at how splendidly the day had turned out. It would wouldn't it , it was his own day after all ! Then Valentine spent some time with his phone - who knows, perhaps reading the older Valentine posts on this silly blog ? He found them here and so can you.

Although, sorry, the day is still not yours. It's Valentine's. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Reinventing the Wheel

History is written by the winners - or, at any rate, by the winners of elections.

There is apparently a history revisionist project of sorts under way in India.The latest episode is the overturning of the entire outcome of a historical battle.The guy you thought had lost ? Guess what, turns out he'd actually won ! (Read here)

For all the criticism against it, I think revisionism is a good thing. Quite apart from the inventiveness and creativity it fosters, it must be such fun ! Who invented the wheel? Who invented the steam engine ? Who discovered Antarctica? Who discovered a sense of humour? Who won this war? Who won that battle? Who built this monument? Who destroyed that one? 

The answer to all of them is,why,anybody you care to name ! Who could prove she didn't ? 

Always reassuring to know you can change the past. "It's never too late to have a happy childhood" wrote Tom Robbins. I was going to say something original but,hey, why reinvent the wheel.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Doctor , I think I have Midlife !

One way or another, midlife isn't all it's cracked out to be.It's probably not as bad as they say it is. Or it's possibly worse. Who can tell ? You're not cocksure about anything anymore. 

Not that that stops you from spouting philosophy anyway.

Somebody says a casual Hi How Are You and you're quite prone to go : " Life is short. And beautiful. I'm enjoying each day" or something like that. If the stars happen to be really aligned against your popularity, you may also add something about your chronic tummy ache.     

Thing is, after the doctor has ruled out cancer of around twenty different organs, has assured you the chest pains are from coffee and cigarettes and pretty much shouted out the fact that you are not diabetic and after you have then spent several late nights on WebMD, you discover that hypochondria is incurable. 

The other problem is that people are constantly telling you how much you now resemble your dad. I love my father to a fault - great guy! - but can't people say George Clooney or something for once?  

Monday, January 9, 2017

Lunch in a Lingerie Bag : The Inside Story

I started carrying homemade lunch to work around a year ago and have since reaped the weight loss benefits that go with it. I'm afraid , however ,the benefits stops there.

Now people - invariably men -  often ask how I could bear to be seen lugging a lunch box to work. That's easy. You don't care about such things by the time you are my age. Not even when you unwittingly end up carrying it in what turns out be a lingerie brand shopping bag (" A downmarket Victoria's Secret" giggling young colleagues inform me gleefully). Big deal !

No. Underwear , inexpensive or otherwise, is entirely inconsequential when you have to worry about what awaits you during the lunch break :  the flood of dourness, the squall of staidness, the blizzard of boredom, the apocalypse of dullness, the perfect storm of doom and destruction packed in plastic.

That's harsh, I know. The ladies who prepare my lunch are wonderful people and are very good cooks too otherwise. And to be fair, around half the time give or take - well, okay, more give ! -  their packed lunch is pretty good too.

No, it's more the philosophy of it, the feeling that life with all the promising bang of its fits and furies has come to an end in the whimper of chapattis and dal. This is how religions must have begun. Tied to a spouse, a house and a job is one thing, tied to a lunch source quite another. God is in the retail , the Good News on a menu , Nirvana in the promiscuity of food options. Lord , why have you forsaken me ? And also, Lord, why cauliflower again ?

Now excuse me while I go heat up today's. Rice and dal if you must know. Dessert : yogurt.

The absolute end.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Fashionably Never

The last time I wore skinny green pants, orange tee and spotless white leather sneakers the missus woke me up. Apparently I had been snoring. Phew ! Saved by apnea but I confess it still shook me. 

No, I have nothing against skinny green pants, orange tees  and spotless white leather sneakers. They'd look good on someone younger (and ,well,  perhaps female ?). It's the 45 year old boys wearing them that always makes me feel like it's late Sunday afternoon with a nasty Monday ahead, i.e. depressing - which makes it different from over-the-top entertaining that,say, a fish walking about on the beach in those clothes would make it.

I mean, why would you want to look like a rainbow ? Or 21 ? Have you forgotten how it was to be broke , stupid , awkward , clueless and - the difference between then and now - not knowing it ?

Hmm. Takes all sorts I suppose. Speaking for myself, I have never cottoned on to trends.  It has been a case not so much of being fashionably late as never. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Food for Thought / The DisContent Revolution

It's all quite simple really. 

National Geographic People is about food, Travel Channel is about food and around half the other channels on TV are about food. The other half are news channels that are either hysterical or wrong with their poll forecasts or both. (The History Channel is a bit different though. It's easier to tell what it is not about - history - than what it is about.)  

The word 'Content' (yes, upper case C) is as ubiquitous as food shows on TV. You don't know where it came from but suddenly it is everywhere - including on this Piece of Content (upper case P again,yes). More than the internet or smartphones, the word 'Content' is the defining hallmark that really sets our era apart. I mean can you imagine people like Shakespeare using it ? 

The following conversation is as inconceivable as a TV channel not airing a food show :
" William , thy meat is ready, thou art awaited".
" Get thee gone ! I'm working on a Piece of Content" 

Or Gutenberg saying this : " My printing press will produce Content !" 

Or Goebbels holding this designation : 'Chief Content Officer - Third Reich' 

And so on. Doesn't stack up, does it.  

The really nasty bit of business though is when food and Content come together  too often  on TV.  

Don't get me wrong. I love food. I also enjoy food shows - up to a point. It's only when a grill and a basket of fresh ingredients pop into the scene moments into a show about a destination that Content turns into some serious discontent. 

Oh well. Happy new year anyway  ! Hope 2017 leaves you very content indeed. Lower case. Why, upper case too if that's your thing. 

And of course, thanks for Consuming this Piece of Content.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Look Before You Leak - But It's A Lot To Look At !

Heard of Mossack Fonseca ?  Good. That makes it two of us.

In all fairness, Mossack Fonseca would have barely heard of themselves above the din of all that money talking. Well, they are a Panama-based law firm that helps set up offshore, tax-exempt companies.

Panama ? Okay. Panama is not a hat. It is also not , if you are an Indian of a certain age , a brand of cheap filterless cigarettes. And it is certainly not where Pan Am airline used to be based. It is admittedly a nice Van Halen song but what Panama really is is a country , i.e. a place whose leaders have money stashed away somewhere)   

Turns out Mossack Fonseca helped many very important people stash away their money. That includes heads of states, , businessmen, actors, sportsmen, even a 'life coach',... all those sorts of people.

What's intriguing is the investigation that revealed all of this.(read).

While look before you leak is a routine rule in journalism , this case begs the question how. 

I mean, 2.6 terabytes of data in 11 million documents ? Wow !

Stop. I know what you're thinking.

Yes, so  2.6 TB is a lot of Torrent movies and music but consider the larger question. Where would so much information fit ?

I bet Panama isn't big enough to hold it all. Why, for that matter, I bet Mr.Trump's mouth wouldn't be either. And even with 100 participating publications , it must have put everybody through plenty of stress and strife.

Can you begin to imagine, for example, the domestic discord ? ("Honey...." "Not tonight.I have a headache" "Oh ,er, good. I was only going to say I have these documents to go through ?")

And of course it was bound to have put their eyes through considerable strain.

This whole spectacle must have been quite the light of the lens maker's eye. Next up : an orgy of ophthalmologists stashing  their money away.

All of which begs the question why people stash their money away instead of spending it on having an insanely great time.

Nobody's talking though. They've all  gone into a shell company.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Mile Hi(jack) Club Selfie

Ben Innes has it all figured out. When you see a hijacker you shoot.

A selfie.

(read here)

And you shoot without consideration for the havoc it could wreak on said hijacker's psyche  - assuming that more havoc could be wreaked on hijackers' psyches than they already come wreaked with.

Take Mr. Innes' subject. This is one hijacker who must be reevaluating his hijacking career in very critical light. The things they must be saying about him at the Hijacker Club or wherever it is that these people meet for  R& R !

Or, far worse, the You-Can't-Do-A-Thing-Right that he must be subjected to by his estranged wife - to impress whom he had committed this criminal act in the first place !

And considering how Ben and his selfie have stolen so much of the limelight , Mr. Mustafa must feel at least as hijacked against as hijacking. 

The only saving grace was that thankfully no lives were lost. Now if only all shootings  in the world were like this.

Ben only fired , as it were , in the air. 

(This is obviously on a VERY light note )

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Space VERY Oddity (or, We know Major Tom's a wino)

Ground Control to Major Tom Collins
Ground Control to Major Tom Collins
Take your senses out  and put your ice cubes in
Ground Control to Major Tom Collins (Ten, Nine , etc)
Commencing counting , that's ten tonic and gins
Check ignition and may God's aspirin be with you (Two,One,Liftoff)

This is Ground Control to Major Tom Collins
You’ve really made the grape
And there's booze stains  on the shirts you wear
Now it’s time to leave the bar stool if you dare

This is Major Tom Collins to Ground Control
I’m stepping through the door
And I’m floating in the most peculiar way
And the bars look very different today
For here am I sitting with my gin Man
Far above the world
Planet Earth is Blue Curacoa
And there’s nothing I can do a doacoa

Though I am past one hundred thousand drinks
I’m feeling thirsty still
And I think my car knows which bar next to go
Tell them I love their Gimlet , they know
Ground Control to Major Tom Collins
Your circuit's  dead , there's something wrong
That's beer number three , Major Tom  !
That's beer number three , Major Tom  !
That's beer number three , Major Tom !
That's beer number --- For here am I sitting with my gin Man
Far above the world
Planet Earth is Blue Curacoa
And there’s nothing I can do a doacoa

(Idea by my friend Vandu)

Sunday, March 6, 2016

What Goes Up Comes Down - But Very Slowly

Lifts - or elevators if that's what you call them (though, even if you're American, why?) -  can cause a good deal of pain and suffering. It's not through any fault of theirs - I mean , okay, so lifts are drab places that you wouldn't spend your holidays in but is that even relevant ? It's what some people do with them. Consider these situations from hottest hell :

(1)  People rush in before you have gotten out.
They also then do not hear your sarcastic one liner (e.g., " in a hurry ! ") because they're already busy pressing their buttons. 
(2)  People press the wrong button 
You're taking the lift down and running very late. The lift stops at some random floor where some woman asks if it's going up. I wouldn't trust her judgement at gunpoint.
(3)  People have pressed all the buttons 
Children and ultra-demented adults have often been known to press all the buttons in a lift to make it stop at every floor. 
(4) People hold you captive with some really boring talk  
You're stuck listening to the guy in the building who may have bored the dinosaurs into extinction. And to make sure you're paying attention he never takes his eyes off yours for a second 
(5)  People hold you captive with some really boring talk about their children 
That same guy talking about his kids ? Enough said. 
(6) People don't keep the door open for you
You've come in needing to use the bathroom. The lift is just about to go up .The person who's seen you rushing makes no attempt to keep the door open as he stares clean past you. What could he have been thinking of ? His own stupidity you hope. 
(7)  People can't  keep the door open for you 
Ditto the previous situation but this time you spot someone in it who you know. BUT this person is so busy smiling and waving at you that they forget to press the Open button. 

So there you are ,  stuck like hell with a bursting bladder , waiting for the damn lift to come down again. What goes up must come down , sure. But  it comes down all too slowly. 

Because on the way there must be a woman who's pressed the wrong button and held the lift up or some ridiculously irritating little kid who're pressed all the buttons on it or that life-threatening bore holding everybody off with kid-talk ?

Oh , hang on , not that guy.  Because here he is now , freshly arrived and  by your side , waiting to give you company through the  longest ever ride to the loo in your whole sorry life. And guess what. He's waving his kid's school report cards at you. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Philosopher's Stoned

Cogito Ergo Sum  - "I think, therefore I am" - said the philosopher Rene Descartes whose name is pronounced very differently. Why not write De-Cart ? Typical !

What Descartes left out was this : think what exactly ? Was he being stylish, mysterious or just careless ? We'll never know - and thank goodness.  Philosophy would have  lost some serious  shine had that line been,say, "I think of shopping therefore I am in the mall."

I wish I'd known about the philosopher Immanuel  Kant's Critique of Pure Reason when I found out that critique and criticism weren't the same. It would have both lessened the shock and illustrated the difference. For Kant's critique is apparently all praise for pure reason.

I think pure reason has its limits though.  It's the lifeblood of civilization and all that of course but not particularly effective in such situations as when confronting a raging large man who has it in for you or a raging little ultra-nationalist who has it in for your views.

I'm inclined most towards the philosopher David Hume. Hume is known for empiricism and skepticism. I have no idea what empiricism is - nothing to do,I'm told, with umpiring or even empire -but I'm  skeptical enough to never go anywhere near philosophy. Which is why I should stop here.