Editorialising

I like my news to be news. For opinions, there are hundreds of blogs – each with no less credibility than some random journalist. I couldn’t care less. Sometimes I just want news, tell me what happened, be dry, be real. Don’t editorialize. I don’t want to hear what you think, you are not important. Honestly. I can form my own opinion, my mind is capable of thought, and I don’t like being told what to think. Really, neutral reporting and interesting reporting aren’t mutually exclusive. If something is exciting, it will be.

Let’s see, I get three newspapers, so I got to see how different they are. Three headlines (and lets leave out any talk about lack of originality), The Hindu reported that Benazir Bhutto had been killed, The New Indian Express and Deccan Chronicle had their headlines telling me that a hope had died. Sloppy, that tells me nothing until I read the article. Matter of fact, the former has more impact. It’s a problem with Indian newspapers, TNIE can’t describe the BJP or the CPI(M) without making it an opinion piece, DC likes celebrities too much and The Hindu has real trouble relaying bad news about the so-called Left parties.

See, I have nothing against editorialising per se, but why mark an editorial as news? You have those center pages, marked Editorial, or those other pages marked Opinion. Put everything there. Call everything an editorial. Let’s have some honesty please. And while you’re about it, those Opinion pieces, try to write some good ones. The only interesting opinion pieces in a newspaper here are a few in The Hindu and the ones taken from the NYT or the Guardian or some other foreign newspaper. TNIE thinks inflammatory articles must be good, by default, so they print utter rubbish with little facts and lots of errors. And most of The Hindu articles have this air of I’m-the-venerable-old-colonel all over them — stuck-up.

Really, I’m beginning to think that those people who read only the comics, they’re the smart ones.

Are we really so sensible?

A few days ago, when Bhutto was assassinated, I mentioned how there were countries worse off than us. The conversation veered to how Indians in general consider their culture rather great and illustrious. Adithya said,
Only the politicians and the press claim that we are upcoming super powers. Ordinary citizens like you and me know that it is not so.

Maybe, though I doubt it, but there’s more to it than just that. The majority of Indians I have met have an abnormal sense of pride in their country, and in its so-called ‘culture’. It’s almost unhealthy, the way people go around talking about how the Vedas contain so much information, or about how Indian culture is so much superior to other culture. I always suspected that this is not normal behaviour, and is endemic to India, and now the statistics seem to support that claim. The Pew Research Centre’s Pew Global Attitudes Project did a nice big survey over some 47 nations asking, among other questions, whether the respondents thought that their culture was superior to others. It’s hardly surprising that the people who you’d expect to be insecure score highest (click for all the results, the values are percentages, going left to right from completely agree to completely disagree)

Pew - Is your culture superior - survey - thumbnail

Such self-importance is unbecoming of ‘one of the oldest civilisations in the world’. It’s not surprising that there is so much fundamentalism in this country, such belief in superiority reinforces any nationalist tendencies these people may have. Really now, the only reason one should wish to support one’s country is the desire to defend the way of life that one wishes to have; emotional attachment to an arbitrarily demarcated piece of land and the people there is a throwback to tribal ways. One would hope that civilised society has passed that stage, but then, are we civilised at all?

It’s no surprise that the poorest of countries are also the ones who chose to believe that their ‘culture’ is superior to other countries’, Tanzania, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh. Nationalistic spirit seems to be a substitute for real development, the soul of soulless circumstances, to borrow a nice phrase. Unsurprisingly, these superior cultures are also the ones that seem to be in most danger of being overrun by unwashed philistines. The smart people at Pew wanted to know how many believed that their way of life needed to be protected, and guess what?

I’m not very surprised, though I am rather disappointed in those 2000 odd people who answered for us.

Update: Should’ve linked to the study straight. Here you go.

Benazir Bhutto assassinated

Benazir BhuttoAnd boy did they do a full job of the whole thing, two guys with ak47s shot her and then a suicide bomb was detonated near her car. They didn’t take any chances. I sent Marc a message asking for confirmation because I was at a wedding when I heard and it turns out it was true. Saw the rest of the story on the TV in the lobby, that Musharraf dude’s a live wire, you can’t just let him hold power. He’s dangerous, and not just to his own country. Pakistan’s one of those few countries worse off than us religion-wise, politics-wise…Heck! They’re just worse off than us. I feel sorry for the Pakistanis, but they’ve really let the religious fundies take over. Sucks to be them.

Here’s the BBC article on the assassination: Benazir Bhutto killed in attack.
A set of pictures they have: Life in Pictures

Playing Counterstrike Condition Zero over Hamachi through a router

Marc’s got his collegemates to join him for a nightly match of Counterstrike:Condition Zero by linking them all on a VPN using Hamachi. I joined them for a couple of days, it was quite a lot of fun, but after a while things got repetitive and I don’t feel like playing CS anymore, maybe another game, maybe Team Fortress Classic or Q3F, now that can be fun with a lot of people and there are more than 10 players now and then on the server. Or maybe we could all play an MMORPG. I don’t know, there’s not much to do stuck here at home. Them docs don’t even let me drive.

Getting Hamachi to work through a router:

Simple enough. First setting the Hamachi side:

  • Hit the gears icon to open the settings.
  • On the first screen there, you’ll see a ‘Detailed Configuration‘ button.
  • Hit that to get a screen which allows you to set which ports Hamachi uses.
  • Ask it to use a particular UDP port, say 13000. Then just save the settings.

Now to set up the router:

  • First go to the router’s setup page. Usually located at http://192.168.1.1/
  • Find your port forwarding page.
  • Set up a port-forwarding rule with the following settings:
    • Start Port: 13000
    • End Port: 13000
    • IP: Set this to your IP, my computer is 192.168.1.5 so I set it to that
    • Check Enable
  • Now go disable your firewall. Don’t forget to enable it again once you’re done.

Now all you have to do is restart Hamachi and try connecting again.

After that, it’s best you follow Marc’s HowTo.

Stats:

We also have a couple of stats programs running. Here’s how the StatsMe plugin looks like in-game:

And post-game, the PsychoStats program compiles the statistics into a MySql database to view at http://ampli5.org/stats

Boxing Day Disasters

There’s something about Boxing Day and disasters: In 2003, it was the Bam Earthquake; in 2004, it was the Indian Ocean Tsunami and; last year, it was the Hengchun quake in Taiwan. There’s fodder for those claiming some significance. I remember having to write something about the Second Coming of the Messiah a while ago, my essay was a work of art I tell you, a work of art.

I remember we were at the beach near Nikhil’s place in Thiruvanmiyur the day before the tsunami playing football. If it weren’t for the classes that they had that Sunday we might have gone there again. Funny. A moment of silence…

Tsunami hitting Marina Beach

Indus Creed – An Amazing Indian Rock Band

Indus Creed - Formerly Rock MachineI was just reading Chetan’s blog the other day when I came upon his old list of Indian Rock Music. So I went straight for a band that I’d heard a bit about a long long time ago, Indus Creed, and man was I blown away or what! These guys were so damn amazing, it’s no surprise that people are still talking about them years after the band broke up. I just know that some of their songs are going to be eternal favourites.

They’ve got the good old classic rock feeling going with most of their songs, with a very Indian touch in some with the percussion and flute. It’s not just the music that gets me with this band, it’s the insight and meaning in their lyrics:
Take “Die for your country” for instance, it speaks of war and how those who start it never end up actually fighting it and how the so-called leaders get men to join the army with the nationalistic slogans and mottos, calling for people to “die for their country”. Super. Rock ‘n’ Roll Renegade seems to be about how people claim that rock musicians in the country are spoiling “the Indian Way of Life”.

It’s a shame the band’s no longer around, they deserve to be real famous.

So I wish I’d insured my foot

My foot - bandagedSo it turns out that I twisted my foot while I was playing yesterday. The funny bit was that it didn’t hurt till I got home; I must have hurt myself again on the stairs because it hurt like nothing on Earth. I couldn’t even go to sleep. Now it’s in a gauze bandage and feels much better, so I can actually walk around for Christmas.

My dad’s a doc, so I hear stories about people who actually hurt themselves pretty bad; sometimes, they fall under trains, and lose their legs and shit. It’s some scary stuff, and they usually can’t do their job anymore because they’re disabled. Thank god I don’t have to worry about stuff like that.

Football on the beach

I went to play football today with my old classmates from school. It was fun, but I learnt that I’m hopelessly out of shape. Less than 30 minutes of running and I was completely out of breath, not to mention I was starting to get a headache. I’m middle-aged at 19! I’d also like to complain about buses and the way they don’t like to show up on a Besant Nagar bound route for more than half an hour, no good sirs, that’s simply no good.

In any case, Karthik dropped me home. I don’t know if I could’ve made it back by bus, I was so tired. Anyway, my phone camera is useless for anything but daylight photographs. The moon was so low today, it was like it had come closer to Earth or something and it was reflected in the water so brightly it seemed like there were floodlights on the water. Amazing sight. Simply amazing.

In other news, it’s John Thanky’s birthday today. I met him on the way there. Wish him :)

How To Win Elections

Narendra Modi Master Modi says,
Think to the future. Kill anyone who won’t vote for you.

Well, apparently it worked. The guy’s won the Gujarat elections, even though the main BJP didn’t even support his campaign. You’ve got to give it to the Congress, they’re the equivalent of the USA’s Democratic Party, only slightly less bad than the alternative, with the potential to make some really good decisions except that they manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Talented buggers, only they can make the impossible a habit.

I hope no one ever forgets that this guy presided over the worst communal riots in India this side of the century. Some figures say that nearly two thousand people were killed. Well done sir. A job well done.