Among other things (Random thoughts and links)
I tend to think of Recurring Decimals….. as that sleepy little town/village with a railway station consisting of a solitary building, a few benches, the single squealing hand-cranked tube-well pump and an enormous banyan tree. On first glance, one among many ubiquitous stops dotting the hinterlands, where express trains whiz through without an after-thought. Few passenger trains make a reluctant stop, their engines grinding to halt with a deep sigh. Some curious passengers, perhaps woken from their slumber by the lack of rocking motion or glancing up from their magazines, look out through the window and consider the limited activities of the soulful resident cow.
Still, the station-master maintains his domain scrupulously, hoping someday this sedentary stop will become a bustling junction.
There are the odd visitors. There is this one point of interest in the town – perhaps an old temple – a crumbling structure with vines growing on the sides – some eons ago, the deity was responsible for curing an incurable disease. Some people hear about it, and visit. Few others are more regular – they simply love the atmosphere of the place. The occasional visitor even sits down for some tea with the station-master.
Every once in a while though, something happens in the town that attracts attention and way more visitors than usual stop by. Most simply drop in – satisfy a curiosity and move on. Some explore and decide to be regulars. Some obviously don’t like what they see…..and vehemently express their anger.
Before I get too carried away by the metaphor – here are some random thoughts and links to stuff that caught my eye over the last week.
* To start off – over at the Guardian blog, Comment is Free, Andrew Brown examines why internet users are so rude to each other in chat rooms, message boards, blog-comments etc (via). Pretty relevant considering the verbal jousting with one of the commenter in the previous post. I used to think that anonymity was the principal reason for the behavior of these people, but the article (and the ensuing comments) discusses various possibilities.
* Pirates of the Caribbean : Dead Man’s Chest – A thoroughly entertaining way to spend two and a half hours (especially when temperature outside has soared to 100F). Great action (I specially loved the three-way fight on a giant wheel), wonderful special effects – punctuated timely by witty humor. Keira Knightley looks like a million dollars. The best part of Pirates part one was Johnny Depp’s channeling of Keith Richards in his role as the suave pirate, Capt Jack Sparrow. He is a little more subdued in the sequel – but enjoyable nevertheless.
Btw, Keith Richards is scheduled to make a cameo appearance in the concluding part of the trilogy, as Jack Sparrow’s father.
* Scene at the local desi restaurant as ten of us arrive for a lunch buffet. Previously, on the phone we have been assured that there is more than enough room to accommodate everyone and reservations would be unnecessary. Turns out – they were either rather immodest about their seating capacity or overly modest about their Friday afternoon lunch crowd. Anyway, we are prepared to wait. One desi dude comes and tells us – ‘we have a table ready for eight people’. ‘But we are ten‘ I point out, politely. I can see he is disappointed. He throws an anguished look at me like trying to say ‘look – can’t you just ditch the two most unpopular guys and seat them at a different table ?!’. I consider this for a brief moment. But I have an inferiority complex – maybe they will make me sit out. So I insist – ‘ten people – we will wait till a table opens up’. The dude disappears, grumbling. After a couple of minutes, desi guy at the counter states rather wistfully – as if talking to the air – you know we do have a table ready for seven people. Given that they have rectangular tables, I dunno how he got the figure seven – but man, we already told you – we can wait. Why the insistence on separating the group ?
* This Slashdot link rather promisingly states that researchers at the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) have found a vaccine against the dreaded bird-flu disease. But, if you read the actual story carefully (and the comments section), ICAR has developed only an indigenous version and mostly likely one for birds only.
* The space-shuttle Discovery made its way to and back from the Space Station, safely. Kudos to NASA and the astronauts.
* Slightly old news – but a study is linking the effects of air-conditioning to obesity. Anything to shift the blame from people’s irresponsible eating habits !
* And finally: the big news around the Indian blogosphere – are certain ISPs in India blocking blogspot and typepad addresses, possibly at the behest of the government ? Follow the story here.