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Confused employee wading through Nerd Nirvana

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Location: Hyderabad, AP, India

Program Manager Microsoft IT India

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Bajjis on the Beach

Although I, like most other Chennaites, am aware that Chennai is home to the second largest beach in the world, it's the less well known Elliots beach that I visit more frequently: in fact so often, that it' s almost like second home.

Invariably all my visits to the beach culminate in the Bajji Kadai; and although there are tons of them in the beach, my personal favourite is the one closest to the Merry-Go-Round.

Molaga bajjis are definitely the raison d'etre of this stall. It makes some of the crunciest molaga bajjis i have eaten. A word of advice, though, eating molaga bajjis is a lottery: the one we got last time contained so much spice, we had to down ice creams to really quench the stomach.

Potato bajjis are a favourite of mine ( as evidenced by my burgeoning pot-belly, whose growth rate is commensurate to that of a MNC BPO in India). But potato bajjis on the beach don't tend to be lip-smacking; they become sort of flat...definitely an area for improvement.

Next to the Molaga, it is the Onion bajjis that you must try. But they retain too much heat, and so its quite diffcult to get the real taste without scalding your mouth.

A word of caution: down with moderation -- or unfortunate side effects result the morning after :-)

Sunday, May 22, 2005

'I'd like you to meet...ME!!'

A team of researchers, led by Professor Hwang Woo-suk, announced one of the major scientific advances of the decade on Thursday in Seoul: the ability to prepare patient-specific stem cells, paving the way towards treatment of genetic diseases. The same team was the first in the world to successfully clone a human embryo, and this advance means that cloned cells can be inserted into a surrogate mother and be accepted by the human system -- put simply, human cloning can be brought from the realms of fantasy to human reality.

What, exactly, are the layman's (or lay-colleger's) views on cloning? Although its been there for a while, and has suggested several imaginative scenarios, I doubt that the consequences of cloning (whether beneficial or maleficent) have impinged themselves on the mind of the collective consciousness. I was curious to know, and so I quizzed a few people on this...

Some collegers feel (rather vaguely) that cloning is a good thing. Why? Well...uh..you know...er..well, its a hi-tech thing, you know...er, can't cloning improve genes or something...of course, it should not fall into the wrong hands, no, definitely not! So whose hands are the 'wrong hands'? Uh, well, I have no idea. Are they in the right hands now? Yeah, i guess so..

So much for the collective consciousness.

Cloning procedure Actually, I think this is because people aren't quite aware of what or how the cloning is actually done. Upto now, even I had the vague notion that you could cut off a piece of tissue, put it into some sort of thingamagic and whoosh...a new you! Of course, it isn't anything like that, as the figure on the left will show. In human terms (as quoted from the website whose link is below) : A "human clone" is a time-delayed identical twin of another person. A clone is not an exact replica of the original, but just a much younger identical twin.

So is cloning good or bad? Opinions vary. Researchers argue that human cloning could be used to combat genetic diseases (cure for cancer...), and perhaps combat the ill-effects of aging.

The problem is that scientific applications go far above the layman's head. Religious leaders cry out in outrage: "Can man play God?". One of the most famous opponents of the cloning practice is none other than George W Bush, who issued a statement against the research a few days ago. There are several compelling ethical arguments against cloning, too: objectisation of people, loss of human dignity, and so on.

So my views? Research into human cloning should definitely accelerate in the years to come...but there have to be both political and economic sanctions imposed on such research. As Prof. Woo - Suk commented it will take years for the techniques announced to start benefitting humanity. But cloning, once perfected, will, I judge, have benefits that will outweigh the costs.

And the down side! Maybe two of me. God knows I have enough problems with just the one!!

Click here for more arguments on Human cloning

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Light metal

Robots Just saw Robots on Friday, sitting in a matchbox of a theatre two seats away from the screen. We went in about 10 minutes late, and it took my deficient eyes three or four minutes to adjust to the rapid movement of screen pixels occuring 15 feet away. But the movie was good enough. The triumph of innovation and honesty over greed...same blah blah... but I liked the message immensely: You can shine no matter what you're made of . And the dominoes scene was a work of art; must have taken days to animate. If you're really really idle...it's worth watching this film.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Mumbai Express

I know this a rather late review of the movie, but Anna University examination schedules are hardly sympathetic to new film releases. But better late than never, and as of this instant I have watched both the blockbusters of the summer of '05.

First of all, the movie. For the nomenclature, there's very little of the real Mumbai in the film (except perhaps, the Dharavi garbage dump). And yet this license is not something we should be nitpicking on, because the film is wholehearted comedy, something on the lines of Panchathanthiram (although no way near that opus).

Many people would have trouble believing this to be a movie. There are no song/dance sequences, no young damselles, no action/fight sequences, and even the few chase scenes are interpersed with a modicum of comedy.

Basically, the plot is this. Avinashi, a daredevil motorcyclist, is also the brother-in-law of a habitual drunkard, who is part of a gang planning to kidnap an industrialist's son for ransom. A malevolent appendicitis leaves this drunkard helpless till he suggests the hapless machan to take his place.

Here's where the fun really starts, because, of course, the wrong boy is kidnapped, and the crooks cart away the Assistant Comissioner's son. But it's ok, because the son is actually illegitimate, and the last thing the AC wants is (ironicaly) police and publicity.

I believe the story would have done very well as a book...its almost like Wodehouse's romantic comedies of errors, but its not really for the visual medium. Manisha Koirala is extremely underused, and her character isn't deep enough. Kovai Sarala is totally unnecessary in the film. Pasupathi(Chidambaram or A), Ramesh Arvind(the LIC guy), and Nasser (Assistant Comm. S V Roy) excel. And the comedy of errors at the end of the film almost makes up for the mess made in the middle.

On the whole, worth watching once abt sums it up.