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Mdeii Life - Anand Krishnamoorthi's blog

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tamil Cinema Flasafy

There is a general fear among sound mixers in Tamil cinema that the dialogue track might not be intelligible unless it is significantly louder than anything else. This means subtlety and any sort of voice dynamic acting suffers.

I have a feeling that it is not just the lack of standards in theatre audio that is the problem.

Tamil cinema works this way:
Most people are averse to any kind of innovation be it technical or aesthetic.
Most films do not succeed.

Consequently a film's failure is attributed to that innovation and then is promptly killed. If on the other hand a film succeeds then that innovation becomes fashionable enough to become the new dogma.

If a very subtly mixed track happens to feature in a hit film... my future is made.

6:20 pm


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Monday, March 30, 2009

Privacy, innovation, the credit crunch, and free-speech, via Hirschman

Chandrachoodan has has speculated that the clamour for privacy stifles innovation in web companies.

In many respects I agree with him that as a voluntary subscriber of a service, one does tacitly agree to the potential risks that come with an innovative product. What if they steal my credit card number? What if they know how large my penis is? Well, bulk ordering condoms online does have such risks attached, but it is so much more convenient no? And who ever asked these people to buy those houses?

Yet, there are certain things in his argument that don't cut it for me; and C being the nice chap he is had a brisk chat with me this morning so that I could clarify my arguments and write this here.

His primary case is for hitherto undiscovered and gloriously beneficial uses of mined data. Now come on, what if there is conclusive proof that those whose visits to the Savita Bhabhi website consistently lasts more than 7.5 minutes everyday have erectile dysfunction? A strategically placed advertisement could save many relationships.

Granted, mindless activism stifles innovation in the name of keeping the best interests of the consumer in mind. But dear Chandru comes up with an equally audacious Orwellian claim to highlight his point: "information about you is essential to safeguard you".

For being respectable proud Capitalists, we tend to be extremely vary of any and every Commie trick.


The market is self correcting, the market is perfect, and the market is good... and that is where we fuck up. For all this to be true, one needs to do two things: have a defined idea of what 'the market' is, and believe that optimum solutions are best solutions. i.e. make a value judgement (always positive in case of Capitalists and negative if your persuasion is Commie) of the 'market product'.

In my continually evolving understanding, neither does the 'market' exist with finite definition, nor is it wise to call it 'good' (or bad). Any high-school nerd who reads Shaiva siddhantha via popular quantum mechanics will tell you that what we desire to understand just is... neither wave not particle. Well, the market is a process, an emergent process, and like the Shiva lingam... just is!

So to attribute values to the outcome of a market process is dubious, more dubious is to assume positive externalities and enforce our limited understanding of the Market/Shivam to define and conserve it.

As a result we believe that "information about you is essential to safeguard you". Why not? We did tell that guy who saw his bank taking up them securitized mortgages, "What on earth you complainin' about, you risk-averse commie nitwit? Don't you know this is the Market? If we sell a duff product, it is rejected. Plus look at what the credit agencies are saying?"

Albert O Hirschman spoke about ‘exit’ and ‘voice’. Basically, as a consumer when you have the option to exit you do. When you have the option to voice, likewise. When exiting is difficult you voice, and when voicing is difficult you bloody well try and exit.

In politics we call ‘voice’ free-speech. And that is because not all nations have open borders that somehow glorious market competition and consumer ‘exit’ will ensure freedom and justice. Unqualified free-speech is essential in the absence/limits of exit (or entry) options.

Therefore, dissent is very much part of that emergent market process. If we think that dissent kills innovation, we must also remember that if there is money to be made of an innovative product, at-least the next bloody inventor will tailor his product to minimise consumer resistance or opposition. Therefore you have innovation as well as safeguards. And products evolve until we get extremely interesting things such as securitized mortgages. This belated, and therefore harder market correction is going to make that innovative product just that bit better.

So it is not just wonky incentives, and copy-cat mentality that perpetuates stupid and risky products or web services. It is also the really dim understanding that Shivaroopam is Shivam. That if it looks like the Market, it is perfect and needs no correction. The Commie cannot kill Capitalism, but can surely thrive on its carcass! As a result you have more regulation, less innovation, and are well on your way on the road to serfdom.

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11:40 am


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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fundae putting and news roundup

Q: What do we usually say when we sign off?
Ans: Tata

Q: What does Mork say when he signs off?
Ans: Nano Nano!

See, we are getting somewhere on this already. But wait, not yet done.

Q: What does Mork mean in Rhyming Slang?
Ans: Windy

Q: What is name of the wind god?
Ans: Vaayu

Stay with me... this is taking us somewhere proper.

Q: What is the name of Vaayu's son?
Ans: Hanuman

So there! That is Tata already telling Maruti, "Who's your daddy? I'm your daddy!"

Q: But who is the real father of Maruti?
Ans: Sanjay Gandhi

Which makes Varun Gandhi the half-brother of Hanuman, (who headed the "Ram Sena"). See... now that explains why Varun hates muslims. But hang on, there is more.

Q: Who else might be violating the model code of conduct, and why?
Ans: Tata, by releasing Nano (linkthanks Ravikiran)

Q: What else got Tata'd and Nano Nano'd out of India this week?
Ans: IPL

Objection milaad! எதிர் தரப்பு வக்கீல் சம்பந்தம் இல்லாத கேள்விகளை எழுப்பி சாட்சியை குழப்புகிறார். IPLக்கும் Model Codeக்கும் என்ன சம்பந்தம்?
சம்பந்தம் இருக்கு yuvar aaner!
Objection overruled. You may proceed!

Q: Who heads the IPL?
Ans: Modi

Q: What is common between hating muslims, Tata Nano, and the name of the IPL boss?
Ans: Modi

Wait a minute, that is cleverly avoiding first names...

Q: Would anything that points to a Modi success be construed as violating the model code?
Ans: Maybe

But that is a different Modi...

Q: Where is the IPL being moved to?
Ans: South Africa

Q: Who got Tata'd and Nano Nano'd out of South Africa this week?
Ans: The Dalai Lama

Q: Who else got Tata's and Nano Nano'd in South Africa in 1893?
Ans: Gandhi

Q: Who did not do Tata or Nano Nano to Dalai Lama in 1959?
Ans: Nehru

Q: What is the Nehru family called now?
Ans: Gandhi

Q: What is common between Modi and Gandhi?
Ans: There are two different Modis, and there were two different Gandhis, but all four are Gujjew names

Q: Talking about names, what is the Nano being called?
Ans: The people's car among other things

Q: Who else called what else the people's car?
Ans: (Answer hidden due to violation of Godwin's law)

Q: Who else hates the Dalai Lama?
Ans: The people's republic

Q: The Nano was originally supposed to be manufactured in?
Ans: The people's state of West Bengal

Q: What is the state of the people of West Bengal?
Ans: Pathetic (among other Ps)

Q: Does West Bengal have an IPL team?
Ans: The Kolkata Knight Riders

Q: Do the Gujjews have an IPL team?
Ans: The Baroda Bombers... no, they do not exist

Hmm, I see a pattern here. Having an IPL team means not having a car factory...

Q: Who co-owns the Kolkata Knight Riders?
Ans: Chawla

Q: What is the name of the election commissioner?
Ans: Chawla

Q: Who likes Chawla as election commissioner?
Ans: The people's daily of Chennai

Q: Which other Tam has a spat with the IPL?
Ans: Chidambaram

Q: Which other comedian is as irritating as Chidambaram?
Ans: Robin Williams

Q: Is Chawla a Gujjew name?
Ans: No, it is a Punjew name

Q: Do the Muslims hate the Jews?
Ans: Maybe

Q: Which Indian leader is compared to the most famous Jew hater of them all?
Ans: Boderline Godwin's law violation, but Modi

But wait, if Modi hates Muslims, and Hitler hated Jews, and Muslims hate Jews, does Modi hate Hitler?

It gets more complicated... If China hates the Dalai Lama and West Bengal loves China, but West Bengal lost Nano to Modi, and Hitler hated the Communists... do the the Communists hate Robin Williams?

If N Ram loves Chawla, but hates the Dalai Lama, do the Kolkata Knight Riders love South Africa?

If Chidambaram hates Modi, and Modi moves IPL, and Tata moves Nano factory, do the Punjews love Gandhi?

If there are two Modis, two Gandhis and two Chawlas, does this explain the name of Varun's book of poems?

As you can see, everything is connected... and as you ponder the profundity... it is time for me to say tata, nano nano!

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9:32 pm


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Saturday, January 10, 2009

On why only pompous gits might read The Hindu

On the front page of today's Hindu is this classic headline:

"Order allowing plea challenging appointment of Ananth stayed" (link)

Now, unless you are Humphrey Appleby intent on throwing your interlocutor entirely out of the loop of understanding by unnecessarily, and by implication utterly callously employing a complicated syntax, thereby effacing your possibly deductible bias, while simultaneously projecting an air of informed formality and rigorous neutrality, obfuscating clarity by employing a redundant turn of phrase, and entirely out of the necessity of not creating unwanted non-negatives proving you are a pompous git, why would you write a headline such as that?

The Times of India on the other hand, spares our brains the gymnastics and says:
"HC backs Ananth as IIT-Madras head"


Can you think of other great headlines that can now be Hindufied? Here are a few. Add more in the comments.

Kurukshetra, 7th May 1040BC
Krishna clarifies stand on claims of his not referring to battle elephant while denying his lack of ignorance on the non-demise of Teacher's son

Jerusalem, 4th April 32
Pontius Pilate quashes rumours of his possible support to the alleged non-existence of the Judaen People's Front (J)

New Delhi, 30th January 1948
Paternal Parent of the Nation allegedly assaulted by possible man wielding projectile weapon resulting in no-uncertain termination of living functions of the former

Washinton DC, 20th July 1969
American President denies reports of him as not announcing possible lunar contact by humans

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10:24 am


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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Benicio del காளை

One of the charms of Indian politics is in observing the string of dead people one is allowed to invoke in posters and campaigns. I remember watching on TV a chap who put up posters for Velupillai Prabhakaran's birthday (fateful day that was). Interestingly enough, that birthday boy poster had pictures of EVR Periyar and Ambedkar in it!! I suppose anything goes in Tamil Nadu.

A few days later I happened to be in southern AP (colloquially, an extension of northern Madras) and not to be outdone, Chiranjeevi had inducted Mother Teresa into his pantheon of duotone thumbnail mugs.

But recently, what had me cracking up was this:

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8:51 pm


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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Meandering thoughts roughly guided by UCSD, Ibn Battuta, and others

The University of California at San Diego runs this absolutely fascinating course called Making of the Modern World. Apart from a very interesting interdisciplinary (literature, history, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, political science, and the fine arts) approach to understanding the world and its history, it boasts of some utterly engrossing lectures by Prof. Matthew Herbst.

I first got to know of this when JK wrote about and linked to the MMW4 (fall semester) lectures that were being podcast. I promptly subscribed to the feed and was immediately hooked. Of course me being a slightly clumsy git, forgot to heed JK's warning, and only managed to get lectures 1 through 9 (plus 19 courtesy iTunes automation) before the podcast was killed and all its traces Stalinized. If anyone is reading this at all, I would be happy if you could help me get hold of the rest of the lectures. Thanks in advance.

The early lectures of MMW4 that I have listened to now have kindled my interest in the 13th century Islamic world. I now want to go to Morocco and follow Ibn Battuta's travels. Would even love to go take that course at Eleanor Roosevelt College if I could (Alas I need to earn my booah no?). Have been advised by the lovely Adrianna that I should go to Turkey at least. Though I think learning Arabic and smoking up with some Sufis might only be a remote possibility.

The other great history podcast I listen to is a vestige of my Radio 4 listening days in Bristol, In Our Time with Melvin Bragg. It is through this wonderful programme that I first got a deeper glance at the contributions of the medieval Islamic world. Heck, no Avicenna and Averroes, then no Thomas Aquinas, which means no Latin or Enlish Aristotle nor Plato, down to no Karl Popper even. So much so for western civilization Dr Pandey rightly calls it names! (OK that is a simplistic version of probable events, but you get the implications).

Recently I have been putting some gyan on the Satin mailing list about fractals and religion and state and law and ideas and Jefferson and Iannaccone. Once I clarify my thoughts I might even blog it, but I now have a better understanding of the 13th century Islamic world. Contrast it with how things are today, and it is sad indeed how history has turned out to be.

Meandering further on that thought, I recently finished reading William Dalrymple's The Last Mughal. The first thing that book taught me was a gentle questioning of Edward Said's critique of Orientalism, in the spirit I first encountered in Trautmann's Aryans and British India. Yet, the most important thing I took from Dalrymple's brilliant book was its Burkean warning about learning from history. And talking about books and history, Chapati Mystery has put together a mouth-watering list.

Now, trying to cleverly reconnect my bibliophilic detour back to Prof Herbst's lecture, here is an interesting book he refers to: Before European Hegemony by Janet L. Abu-Lughod. (psst, dont be put off by words like subaltern and hegemony, yes it gets quite irritating after undergrad in places like Loyola or DU, but an open mind is always good). For someone like me who likes to dabble in economics, trade, politics, and their history, this book should be a very good place to spend some time in.


(the curious punctuation above points to a general drought of any more clever ways of connecting the next random series of thoughts to the ones before)

Interestingly, today's lazy afternoon TV watching yielded via Dan Cruickshank the knowledge of a Hindu Temple in Azerbaijan. Wikipedia says that:


Inscriptions in the temple in Sanskrit (in Nagari Devanagari script) and Punjabi (in Gurmukhi script) identify the sanctity as a place of Hindu and Sikh worship. These inscriptions date from Samvat 1725 to Samvat 1873, which though unambiguous references to the Hindu calendar, cannot be precisely dated since there is more than one Samvat calendar. Samvat 1725 could thus be either c. 1646 CE or c. 1782 CE. However, "local records say that it was built by a prominent Hindu traders community living in Baku and its construction coincided with the fall of the dynasty of Shirwanshahs and annexation by Russian Empire following Russo-Iranian war [of 1722-1723]."


Who would have thunk eh?

I guess all my knowledge-gathering reflected in this post is a desperate attempt to understand and appreciate the region before something dreadful happens. Somehow recent (and protracted ancient events) have left me with ugly premonitions of the whole shithouse from the Middle-East through Central-Asia to the Indian subcontinent going up in flames. Maybe I'm just projecting my own recent anxieties on a part of the world (probably falsely) considered to be always volatile. On that note, Happy New Year!

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8:05 pm


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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

H Shridhar RIP

Not a great thing to hear on your birthday. One of the first calls I received delivered the news that the man I look up to as a role model passed away.

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7:43 pm


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