Category Archives: Uncategorized

Camels Crossing the Sahara

You might have seen this picture. This amazing photograph was taken by George Steinmetz. Do notice the shadows! Click photo for more information. Courtesy: National Geographic


We’ve Got Something for Everyone

Is that you? If so, congratulations! You are normal and just like everyone else. This is called The Forer Effect. Wikipedia says that it “is the observation that individuals will give high accuracy ratings to descriptions of their personality that supposedly are tailored specifically for them, but are in fact vague and general enough to apply to a wide range of people.” This is also called theĀ Barnum Effect, named after the famous P. T. Barnum, showman, entertainer and founder of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. He was also quoted as saying “We’ve got something for everyone!”

The Forer Effect describes a set of characteristics which a person thinks is attributed to him uniquely. But this thought is thought by everyone else. The above paragraph is a set of general characteristics thought by any individual who has done even a little bit of introspection or has some emotional quotient. This is also how astrology works. So, if you wonder how stars and planets are connected to your well-being, well, they are not.

The Dark Knight Falls Flat: My Top 10 Reasons Why It Didn’t Really Rise.

So I watched The Dark Knight Rises. I was hopped up on all the madness, but the movie turned out, well, read on….

My top 10 reasons why TDKR was such a snoozefest:

  1. Bane’s big idea of bankrupting Bruce Wayne by “attacking” the stock market and doing some computing magic. If that’s what it takes to bankrupt a millionaire, then I’m game to swindle the Ambanis!
  2. Bane. The previousĀ villain, The Joker,Ā was amazing. Bane was masked up the entire movie and I wasn’t able to make out half of what he was saying. More scenes sans mask would have been interesting.
  3. The airplane scene in the beginning. It looked too Inception-ey; it felt like Nolan is paying homage to his own film. The actors were also quite stoic. The Dark Knight, on the other hand, had a kick-ass intro. Even the bank manager had pitched in.
  4. The Batplane. Sure it looked cool and was loud and all. But it somehow reminded me of a Transformer banished from Cybertron.
  5. TheĀ reticenceĀ and reclusivenessĀ of Bruce Wayne. Why is he so sulky in all three Nolan’s Batman films?
  6. Catwoman. She should have remained badass even in the end. It was a really good role, but Catwoman ending up in a relationship-of-sorts with Batman?!
  7. A prison inside a well where there is actually a person designated to help you escape. They should have put Morgan Freeman there and make him relive his Shawshank Redemption days.
  8. Bane’s takeover of Gotham for five months. Five months! What’ll he do there for that long? Do the lecture circuit?
  9. The mysterious and finally evil Miranda what’s-her-name played by Marion Cotillard. That’s bad casting, right there. She has played sweet roles throughout her career and she just couldn’t play evil hag role convincingly.
  10. Finally, Batman’s freaking identity is known to half the people in the movie! Catwoman knows it. Blake the cop knows it. The commissioner almost guesses it.Ā Bane and ALL his henchmen know it (through that ridiculous melee scene where Bane characteristically rips off Batman’s mask).

So, it’s a two thumbs down for the movie. Maybe one can watch it just to complete the trilogy. But to live the Dark Knight experience again? Meh.


UPDATE: Here’s another list I just found dissing The Dark Knight Rises, just to make you guys mad šŸ˜€Ā


A couple of days ago, TIME magazine billed Our Dear Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh an “Underachiever.” They put it right on the cover of their Asia edition. But we Indians were not mad. We were already quite ticked off at the old incumbent for keeping mum through all the scandals during UPA’s reign.


Well, not all of us. Some people in Chennai who were said to be members of the Youth Congress tore pages of Times of India in front of the US Consulate. I don’t blame them for tearing up TOI. The quality of its articles is going down: no unbiased articles, continuous coverage of the sordid lives of celebrities, and Chetan Bhagat. They give him chance to write the editorials about once in a week or two. He should honestly be stopped from writing anything anymore (‘The man who made india read,’ my foot!). Anyway, those poor Congress workers confused TIME with Times of India! They do sound the same, but as mentioned, the quality is at two ends of the scale. Maybe they shouldn’t have torn it. But hey, it’s a free country! I could think of at least one other use for that newspaper.

But I digress. Bashing TOI is a favorite topic of mine! I am a recent TOI apostate; I switched to The Hindu a month ago. Manmohan Singh might be an ineffectual Prime Minister, it is ignominious to label him in such a way and put that on the cover of a widely read magazine like TIME Asia. And, it is too late! If this was done after UPA-1, maybe that would have touched a nerve and given him impetus to govern better. But I doubt it again, as he has received his fair share of criticism all through UPA’s rule without the desired result, and it is high time the whole lot is voted out. No protests, no paper-tearings, no media-led accusations, but just the cool power of democracy.

In retaliation to TIME’s portrayal of our PM, Outlook is going to put a picture of Obama with the same caption on its cover. This is just what MAD Magazine would have done, not Outlook! MAD has done this many times with its iconic Alfred E. Neuman caricaturing many famous personalities. But Outlook! It will probably be another hastily written feature on Obama’s shortcomings with another caption saying “No, we can’t.” They could have at least been discreet about the fact they are in the pocket of Congress. Maybe the same poster of Manmohan Singh saying “AS PROMISED? A look at Singh’s achievements and failures.” Maybe we should just stop reading magazines and go back to reading Champak or Tinkle.


Husband Banned from Target: A Funny Story

Check out this story I found somewhere. Probably a hoax but very funny šŸ™‚

Husband Banned from TargetĀ 

After I retired, my wife insisted that I accompany her on her trips to Target. Unfortunately, like most men, I found shopping boring and preferred to get in and get out. Equally unfortunate, my wife is like most women – she loves to browse.

Yesterday my dear wife received the following letter from our local Target.

Dear Mrs. Samsel,

Over the past six months, your husband has caused quite a commotion in our store.. We cannot tolerate this behavior and have been forced to ban both of you from the store. Our complaints against your husband, Mr. Samsel, are listed below and are documented by our video surveillance cameras.

1. June 15: Took 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in other people’s carts when they weren’t looking.

2. July 2: Set all the alarm clocks in House wares to go off at 5-minute intervals.

3. July 7: He made a trail of tomato juice on the floor leading to the women’s restroom.

4. July 19: Walked up to an employee and told her in an official voice, ‘Code 3 in House wares. Get on it right away’. This caused the employee to leave her assigned station and receive a reprimand from her Supervisor that in turn resulted with a union grievance, causing management to lose time and costing the company money.

5. August 4: Went to the Service Desk and tried to put a bag of M&Ms on layaway.

6. August 14: Moved a ‘CAUTION – WET FLOOR’ sign to a carpeted area.

7. August 15: Set up a tent in the camping department and told the children shoppers he would invite them in if they would bring pillows and blankets from the bedding department to which twenty children obliged.

8. August 23: When a clerk asked if they could help him he began crying and screamed, ‘Why can’t you people just leave me alone?’ EMTs were called..

9. September 4: Looked right into the security camera and used it as a mirror while he picked his nose.

10. September 10: While handling guns in the hunting department, he asked the clerk where the antidepressants were.

11. October 3: Darted around the store suspiciously while loudly humming the ‘Mission Impossible’ theme.

12. October 6: In the auto department, he practiced his ‘Madonna look’ by using different sizes of funnels.

13. October 18: Hid in a clothing rack and when people browsed through, yelled ‘PICK ME! PICK ME!’

14. October 21: When an announcement came over the loud speaker, he assumed a fetal position and screamed ‘OH NO! IT’S THOSE VOICES AGAIN!’

And last, but not least:

15. October 23: Went into a fitting room, shut the door, waited awhile, and then yelled very loudly, ‘Hey! There’s no toilet paper in here.’ One of the clerks passed out.


As Queer as a Clockwork Orange

Here is my review of A Clockwork Orange, a book by Anthony Burgess. I read the book a couple of years ago. I was (and still am) a member of a library called Indian Institute of World Culture. It is probably a very underrated, under-visited library in Bangalore. And all I could see when I used to go there was old people reading newspapers and fortnightly journals. But there were thousands of varied books. I once requested The Satanic Verses, to which the librarian told me it was banned and I could not get it! Now I realize it is rightly so because Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children was an absolute bore. But what I could find was this book by Burgess. There was actually a seal on the first blank page saying ‘WITHDRAWN,’ which made me want it even more. Luckily, the librarian didn’t notice it, and so I took it home. So here’s the review.

A Clockwork Orange is the queerest of books. It is written in an argot called nadsat most of whose words no English-speaking person can understand. Apparently, it’s a mixture of Russian, cockney slang and who knows what else. Burgess probably made up the words as he went along, like Shakespeare did. The novella itself is about a posse of 4 who goes around doing random acts of “ultraviolence.” That word, by itself, sounds very unsettling, bringing into one’s mind pictures Burgess wanted you to picture when you read his book. Formally, there are 3 acts in the book, the delinquency bit, the indictment and reform bit, and the aftermath bit. There is a sort of character growth one sees in the protagonist. But for me, this flow was against my will. I wanted the protagonist (Alex) to continue doing what he did in the first act; pillaging, demolishing, fighting, and venturing all the way into the most heinous of crimes. But I guess an author does want a book to show an all round development of the main character and the reformation provides that. In spite of all these formalities, I loved this book. I read it at an early age for a book of this sort; in my mid-teens. This was when I could not understand criminality of the highest order, which Alex and his “droogs” perform so… symphonically. I especially liked all the funny words used in the book to describe everything from common things to actions to emotions. It sounded very funny when Alex used those words, but probably to describe something very gruesome.


You’ll find less mellow book covers when you search for them!

Now, coming to the words used in the book. At the first reading (or even up to the fifth), you can not make out what it means. Sometimes, I used to get scared that I would not read a just-read word again in the rest of the book and I would lose it forever! But as you read along, you somehow end up guessing the meanings of the words.Take the word ‘glazzies.’ Alex says something like, “It hurt my glazzies” when a corrections doctor flicks his nose during his controversial reformation process. Now, what could it mean? Look at the word. Glazzies. Sounds like glass. Spectacles? You wear it on your eyes. So glazzies could mean ‘eyes!’ So this is how I figured out the meanings of some of the words. For the others, I gave up and actually consulted the Internet to provide me with a translation from Russian or Cockney slang to English. And I enjoyed every bit of it!

But in recommending this book to others, I would enforce a strict age-limit. If you are smart but in your teens, I would say you wait till your twenties to read this book. As an adult fiction novel, I recommend you read it once (twice, if you don’t get the language). It is one of the most frequently challenged books for a reason!

And there’s a movie implementation too. This is probably what made the book even more famous. It was made in 1971 by Stanley Kubrick, a legendary filmmaker. But the movie, unlike the book, was very disconcerting as it translated what mostly could not be understood from the book into the easily understandable form of visual media. And the ending has had its own share of controversies because it is very different from the book. But hey, if you like Cinema of the Unsettling, go ahead and knock yourself out!


A lovely minimalist poster made much after the film.