Monday, September 27, 2004

Evolutionarily speaking...

There are more people who buy into the idea of evolution than those who don't. I think it's a neat label for a lot of what is observed, a cool lens to view the world with, but there are some things I don't understand. The mechanisms, for one...okay, the opposable thumb is useful so it has evolved in humans, but HOW?? Who gave that particular order to the genes involved? The circularity, for men are evolutionarily inclined to be attracted to women of a certain kind. Why? because those women tend to be fertile, and will bear the children for those men. So basically, this is a circular argument - we evolve certain attributes because they help us evolve?
What I REALLY don't get, is the usefulness, evolutionarily speaking, of some things. Music preference being one such thing. If you subscribe to the Bollywood school of thought, music is integral to the mate selection process. You roam the alleyways, woods (running round trees is a great catalyst), shopping malls hoping to hear the tune you're humming, sung back to you with a complete orchestra and about fifty dancers. If you do, you know you've found your partner to further the species with.
Jokes apart, what role does music have in our lives? I read a Readers Digest piece long ago called "Life's little extras" and the author had listed music, flowers, and other soppy stuff as not really being required, but as enriching our life. Well, cynical old me found a use for all those things (circle of life, if nothing else) except for music. Of course, music has therapeutic and calming, and sometimes cathartic effects, but stone age man didn't need Beethoven or Dave Mathews to calm him down or Kurt Cobain to express his angst. I don't know why and how music became such an integral part of human beings' existence. Anyone who has tried learning the theory behind Carnatic music, or tried reading orchestra music, or tried teaching a kindergarten class to sing in a co-ordinated chorus knows the crazy complex world that is music. I don't know a single person who doesn't like some kind of music. The question is never, "Do you like music?" It's always, "What kind of music do you like?"
I am not complaining, just curious...why do we need music? (Btw, here's a teaser - if anyone has read Isaac Asimov's "Jokester" they'll know what I'm worried about, as I ask this question! If you have read it, pleasssssse post a reply. If you haven't, pleassssssse read it!)

Friday, September 24, 2004

Prowling around rowling

I do apologise in advance for this and any future blogs that might concentrate on Harry Potter or Dave Mathews or any of my pet obsessions. But one of my earlier posts commented on the Nicholas Flamel connection between Da Vinci Code and the Philosopher's Stone, and evoked a response which I think deserves a special entry.
The issue is that of Americanizing the names of the Harry Potter books..Sorceror's Stone instead of Philosopher's Stone and Half-Blood Prince instead of Half Blood Prince. The latter I understand is a grammatical 'correction' that Rowling's making everywhere. The former, on the other hand, epitomizes what I hate about America - mind you, there's a lot of wonderful things this country has to offer, so why this self-centered view that the world revolves around America? Why stick to the Imperial system when the world does metric? Why the condescending air when they actually understand what I say because God knows nobody speaks English in the India they think of, with snake charmers and fakirs and the Kama Sutra ("Wow, you speak real good English!" while I'm thinking, "That's REALLY good English, moron!!"). Why change a historically significant phrase like Philosopher's Stone (referring of course, to Nicholas Flamel's supposed invention that is used to create the Elixir of Life) to Sorceror's Stone because it sounds more exciting to your video-game obsessed children who would think anything to do with philosophers is boring? At least, that's the reason I heard of for the change. Frankly, we'll never know...maybe that ridiculous change is exactly why the book/movie did so well here.
Oh well, getting back to Flamel. On J.K.Rowling's site, which had me excited for wayy too much time, there's a page you get access to if you crack one of her secrets - it's an early (eventually abandoned) draft from the first book that hints at a possible link between Harry's parents and the Philosopher's stone. Btw, if you crack these codes, you get entered into a scrap book..I have three entries so far, which, I tell you, was HARD work! Oh well, as you can see, I am slightly fact, I got into an argument with a seven year old (my department chair's son, which rubs salt into the salted wound!!) about the sixth book. Well, maybe it's time to use my time wisely, like hmm..actually earning my keep and doing some research maybe?!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Got Cat's tongue!!

Soo..the US refused to let Yusuf Islam (the erstwhile Cat Stevens) enter the country on a flight from London to DC. They derouted the plane from DC to Maine where they asked the former musician to head back. The guy has had a controversial past but honestly, without knowing any details I admit, I have a hard time imagining that someone who wrote songs called "The Wind" and "Peace Train" could be a real danger. Come ON, Homeland Security..I thought you guys believed in profiling - try this for a profile...peace loving Beat generation musician who discovered a religious calling and changed his name, giving up fame, glory, music, etc. Would he really resort to violence now, after all these years?
On to more cheerful topics...on Parth's suggestion, I tried the Veer Zaara soundtrack. I must say, it's really growing on me, especially 2-3 songs (Tum paas aa rahe ho, Tere liya, even the qavvali). I think it's an amazing idea to put together a soundtrack composed by someone who's dead. What a beautiful tribute!
That's also why I quite like the remix movement in the Indian music has introduced people like me to old melodies, which might have been lost forever. Purists might argue against the despoiling of gems but I say, I'm glad at least the despoiled versions have reached ignoramuses like me. At least we can say about old Hindi film music thank god, cat's not got their tongue!! (Haha..bad pun!)

Sunday, September 19, 2004

As good as it gets..

There's a line in the soppy-as-hell movie "Bed of Roses" (what can u expect from a movie with a title like that?) in which Christian Slater's character says "Everyone's entitled to a little too much perfection once in a while" or something to that effect. This weekend was one of those weekends when I realized the truth in that statement.
Yesterday some friends and I went to an amazing Arts festival in Tremont (West Cleveland), I bought lovely earrings from an interesting Peruvian couple, and admired all kinds of crazy and beautiful art including a woman who carved animals in wood by burning the wood, a gourd sculpture, lots of breath-taking paintings, etc. We then sat at an open-air cafe while a musician played close by. Went to a quaint little bar where I had Strohs beer (which I have never seen sold anywhere else). Went to Udipi for a great meal, then went downtown for a bit, where we had quite an adventurous time, including almost getting into a cat-fight with this crazy lady who insisted that I had pulled her hair! Had a really nice time overall.Today, I woke up at 10:45 a.m. to a beautiful bright day, clear skies, slight fall nip in the air, still very warm, all that jazz. You know, when I was young, I'd read books or stories that start off with "It was a beautiful sunny morning". Living in Bombay, you fail to realize the beauty of sunny mornings...I mean, EVERYDAY was a sunny day (to put it mildly!) Anyway, I digress :P Soo, it was a perfect day. After a good home-cooked meal of mor kozhambu and vazhaka (typical South Indian fare), a friend called and suggested a walk in one of the many parks/trails around here that make Akron tolerable. So four of us got together and walked for a nice two hours along the river, and then went to a Thai restaurant to replenish any calories we might have carelessly burnt, and then some! Had a wonderfully satisfying meal, and came home to a really nice compliment by way of an online testimonial by a friend. Had Forrest Gump the spaniel pay me a visit - he's my current love..I have never seen a more adorable, huggable, sweet, understanding, obedient, drop dead handsome dog ever.
SOO..good food, great friends, no school work AT ALL, new love (ok, so he's a different species from homo sapiens, so what?!), great weather..what more can I ask for? This, my friends, is as good as it gets!

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

What were you thinking?!!

Just sent out my first ever submission for a conference poster. This is a huge deal for me! And the ridiculous thing is, I am reallly kicked about the title! My paper is called "What were you thinking?! Cognitive bias in applicant responding". In plain English, it's about different ways of looking at the world, which affects how you respond to tests you take when you apply for a job. My main interest is in what makes some people fake on these and others respond honestly? Does faking work?
I started out being my usual ambitious self wanting to submit three papers. One totally bombed. The other is a work-in-progress and I just have to be patient and see if it works out for next year at least. And then this one, which I had the least hope for, actually fetched some results!
Oh well, what the hell..WHAT WAS I THINKING?!!

Monday, September 13, 2004

book, line and sinker!

It's an occupational hazard of being in love with books - you start noticing things you think nobody else does, that you sincerely believe the author had written just to tease you. Case in point, my recent discovery of the Da Vinci Code. Hidden amidst all the mysterious messages and double entendres and crazy anagrams, is a mystery I thought I was sooo cool to stumble upon. It has absolutely nothing to do with the book, and the author doesn't even mention it apart from the one time.
In the list of Grand Masters of the Priory, is the name Nicolas Flamel. Ring a bell, anyone?? Think about the book Langdon's editor thought was the world's biggest best seller ever.
Another crazy thing about this same book...It has a different name in America. Why is that? Are Americans too dumb to realize the significance of the original title?
Google is a humbling reality check. I realized that others have noticed that reference to Flamel as well. No biggie..doesn't take away the thrill one bit!

Sunday, September 12, 2004

My first blog :)

Yay! Welcome me to the blogging world :)
Let's hope I'm more regular at this that I've been at other initiatives in my life. My brother-in-law ( introduced me to this..I see it as an interesting way to publicly be private. Ahh..I dig paradoxes. That's what makes this world so never know what it's going to throw at you next. It's a good way to enjoy the ride. Look out for the little mistakes the universe makes to keep you guessing. The impressive black-leather-long-haired-tattooed motorcycle driver who is writing a poem about flowers. The friendly old woman at the library who is into s&m. The guy you meet and hit it off with who's married to a perfect woman. The girl you thought was the world's biggest snob who turns out to be your best friend 3 years later. Yes..Ms.Morisette was right. It is ironic.
Which is a great way to describe's ironic that me, a technophobic, intensely private person, is opening up her life on the internet! Well..we'll see how this song ends!