everyday epiphanies treated to overanalysis. plus techno-social-cultural babble from a 3rd world point of view.
Wednesday, December 31, 2003
My new year revelation
i am now convinced that america is a terorist state. i finally had the opportunity to go through some Chomsky texts, the unabomber's manifesto and other selected works.
by now, some of u have made their minds on me as another anarchist freak. its easy to make generalizations but i implore everyone to go through the links which have brought me to this conclusion. click here to read some of chomsky's works.. i am posting some extracts too.
When a state is committed to such policies, it must somehow find a way to divert the population, to keep them from seeing what's happening around them. There are not many ways to do this. The standard ones are to inspire fear of terrible enemies about to overwhelm us, and awe for our grand leaders who rescue us from disaster in the nick of time.
That has been the pattern right through the 1980s, requiring no little ingenuity as the standard device, the Soviet threat, became harder to take seriously. So the threat to our existence has been Qaddafi and his hordes of international terrorists, Grenada and its ominous air base, Sandinistas marching on Texas, Hispanic narcotraffickers led by the arch-maniac Noriega, and crazed Arabs generally. Most recently it's Saddam Hussein, after he committed his sole crime — the crime of disobedience — in August 1990. It has become more necessary to recognize what has always been true: that the prime enemy is the Third World, which threatens to get "out of control."
The close correlation between the drug racket and international terrorism (sometimes called "counterinsurgency", "low intensity conflict" or some other euphemism) is not surprising. Clandestine operations need plenty of money, which should be undetectable. And they need criminal operatives as well. The rest follows.
(the strange part is that one of my friends told me to watch 'the tailor of panama' and see the similarities as to how you can create a war, referring to the current Iraq invasion)
And yet, when Noriega was finally indicted in Miami in 1988, all the charges except one were related to activities that took place before 1984 — back when he was our boy, helping with the US war against Nicaragua, stealing elections with US approval and generally serving US interests satisfactorily. It had nothing to do with suddenly discovering that he was a gangster and a drug-peddler — that was known all along.
It's all quite predictable, as study after study shows. A brutal tyrant crosses the line from admirable friend to "villain" and "scum" when he commits the crime of independence. One common mistake is to go beyond robbing the poor — which is just fine — and to start interfering with the privileged, eliciting opposition from business leaders.
By the mid 1980s, Noriega was guilty of these crimes. Among other things, he seems to have been dragging his feet about helping the US in the contra war. His independence also threatened our interests in the Panama Canal. On January 1, 1990, most of the administration of the Canal was due to go over to Panama — in the year 2000, it goes completely to them. We had to make sure that Panama was in the hands of people we could control before that date.
secondly i went through the unanbomber's manifesto. this doesn't exactly fall in the evidence category but it is a nice read. for ignorants, the unabomber was a prodigy in maths and music who went on to become a professor and then left the whole western civilization thing to reside in a shack in wilderness without water and electricity. from there, he sent out mailbombs to leading scientists for the next 17 years killing 2, disfiguring and maiming a lot and even stopping the airlines in 1995 with a bomb scare. he promised to stop this after his manifesto would be published in the papers. the washington post and the new york times took the responsibility and his brother identified him by his style of writing. as is widely quoted, his conditions in jail were better than how he was living by himself in the shack.
the reason he did all this was basically what is called these days as being a 'luddite'. he was opposed to technological growth at such a fast pace that society could not handle it responisibily. genetic research and nanotechnology is heading us down a road where atomic, chemical and bio warfare seems as lam3 as kevin mitnick would have been after years of being internet deprived.
i am not saying that his means justified his ends. what he did was wrong. he had no other way of getting his message across. as i have pointed out again and again, more relevant than Orwell is Aldous Huxley these days. the 'brave new world' scenario is here. in this sea of uselss information, everything is trivia and people have to go extraordinary lengths to excite and inform passively free public at large.
in an ironic twist, i did discover the unabomber in a big web of usless writings.
click here for the manifesto and
click here for the complete information on the trials and the timeline of the unabomber.
after a long time, i went through a decent thriller. John FX Sunderman's 'act of the apostles' is available online and is by far, one of the best books i have read. this is not related directly to the american condemantion but yes, all these have influenced me in to believing that nano and genetic warfare is indeed coming and is very close.
click here for the author's website/blog and
click here for the wired article which started this all.
and now for the clincher. a guy named john titor poped up on a forum in nov 2000 and kept posting till march 2001. he claimed that he was a guy from 2036 and had come back to get a old IBM computer. he then went on to discuss his life and other issues till march.
what convinced me that he was the real deal was his demenaor. there was no wild posts decrying everyone, there was no propaganda, and no trolling. he was not forcing anyone to believe him. he was not making predictions. if anyone had a bone with him and responded like normal trollz, he did not respond. he did not want anyone to believe him. but he answered to questions very lucidly and on asking even posted xeroxs of the instruction manual and photos of the timetravelling device.
he described a very different world in 2036. he stated the existence of multiverses which enable the functioning of the time travelling device. america was to go into a civil war by 2008 and existence of a police state would seem apparent by 2005. over 3 billion people would be wiped out in the ensuing chaos. bear in mind that when he posted this, 9/11 did not happen and all of this would seem a load of crap opposed to now when it is a reality. he also made some side comments on china launching a man into orbit and how mad cow disease would be the main scrouge.
its always bad to believe such anonymous people. but the proof would start coming by 2005 and well, due to multiple universes, it is possible for us to chnage the predicted outcome. but as such this new year is foreboding disaster and i would request all indians to probably return now that all the jobs have been shifted to gurgaon from silicon valley, san fransisco.
click here for the complete posts and info on john titor.
Saturday, December 27, 2003
update. i just got 3 new games today :-
1. shadow of destiny - a almost anime but set in some european town graphical adventure. it even has dated graphics but the story is good enough to go on. damn those konami guys. well the story is that u r sent back in time by about an hour so u can avert ur death. as cheesy as it sounds, its really good.
the other two are simpsons -hit and run which needs no introduction. the best game i have played this year. although i have to find the no-cd crack tonight. the last one is chasers. i have no info on this one. anyone knows?
go check out gamespot right now. they r rounding up the best games of the years, and are also giving some dubious awards as well as rounding up the news.
Monday, December 22, 2003
Listening to: Guttermouth - Gorgeous
I have radically changed my musical gears in the past few months. My interest in nu-metal and rap music has gone from stellar proportions to a complete zero. Suddenly, the whole locking-into-a-groove thingy is a thing of a past and that too synchronized with the music industry. Over the past half a year or so, every music magazine and website worth its underground fan base has derided nu-metal from its mantle and replaced it with emo. Punk bands with emo influences like Finch, the used, and even that spitefully bad simple plan have these amazing 'straight from the heart' deliveries. Its a bit too much to handle so many broken hearts at one go. I am wondering if feminists consider eminem still misogynist.
A lot of these trends seem to be simply the corporatization of music and the genrefication thereof. It seems a bit too much to me that the same bands can go years playing the same music. I don't know about others but I would definitely get bored of playing the same 100 times over or so without changing it even by a beat. I hear Bob Dylan used to perform a song differently every time according to his mood. On the opposite side, what about Linkin Park who may have crossed over to pop mainstream but still perform like a rock band. They are not like a rock band in the purist sense considering their habits of recording separately and then mixing into one fine tuned song. I thought bands used to jam together and well, their overproduced music is hard to reproduce live too.
The most interesting thing to notice is modern rock. People like nickelback, etc are popular no matter what trend is catching on or going away.
But this is not about LP. This is about a more general thought taking this country and its scene for example. We don't have the same social conditions (dysfunctional families and alienation in abundance on a middle class level) so it is still as hard to identify with a song from staind, as it was earlier with hair metal shittiness. This is a big reason why there is no punk/hardcore scene in India while metal goes from strength to strength. English music has filtered here in broadly two categories in urban India. One category contains all music popularized by Mtv and [v]. This also contains music passed from a social order quite established in schools and colleges and encompasses all pop and quite a bit of rock. The second category contains hardcore listeners who ferret out all the good stuff (hehe, I am home). This contains all kind of Extreme metal to jazz and whatever lies in between.
Also the general attitude to music can explain a lot of things. The majority of Indian music is passive and reflective intent on distilling life into memorable lyrics. Vocals are important and instruments are just supportive. This vocal predominance I suppose comes from classical music. Orchestra and a lot of instrumentation was introduced very late in the movie scene
Where most of the music still comes from. The Indian pop scene is one endless list of band remixes and bhangra newbies. Every time there is a good yield of crop, some new bhangra stars appear on the scene. Not that I have missed rap music's newfound fascination for Indian sounds. Damn niggas. I just hope it doesn't become a novelty act and goes on to become a whole movement like reggae.
By music directors. Western pop/rock music is a lot more active and punk can be cheesily rhetorical. Case in point, 'fuck the authority' by pennywise. Nowadays, I see a lot of movie music trying to take the active route but somebody should stop before they embarrass themselves completely.
So its pretty strange that I am right now listening to a lot of hardcore and emo. Let me use Dillinger Escape Plan's explanation for this. While listening to nu-metal and their brethren, I could never get the personal vibe. It never seemed heartfelt. It was more like a frat rock party. And well, face it. Limpbizkit is pretty nice to bounce to. But in all these metal sub genres, the energy seems pretty contrived. You can paint your face and do elaborate rituals. You can be a Goth, black or death metal enthusiast but it always seems more to shock and to impress with skills then a song to be remembered. Like DEP says, hardcore has an air of honest energy around it. That is what made me do the transition with nu-metal bordering hardcore bands like nonpoint to a whole lot of underground music. Also their disregard for traditional song structures and excessively long pauses. Along with them, I am now deep into a bed of cheeky, in-your-face punk and 3rd wave ska revivalists. Vandals, guttermouth, mad caddies, voodoo glow skulls, and a lot of others.
A short note on the dance scene. It is right now on a peak I suppose away from the ignorant eyes of the government. In and around goa and Bombay, the trance scene is very hot and almost synonymous with drugs.
Thursday, December 18, 2003
Listening to: The Strokes - Is this it?
Sometimes I wonder if phone lines and electricity are all I have to rant about. Due to said timeouts, all entries are written some days before then their actual posting date. Then again, I don't think I will ever take the time to sit down and start writing if not for breaks.
This time its my phone line. Tomorrow is going to be the 4th day without contact and the same routine has been followed. Phase I: things start to be really good. This time, it was TEOTI's new server and my renewed vow to be more regular on it. Finally the cable guy fixed transmission problems and I was getting very clear signals giving me incentive to sleep early. What happened earlier was that the national TV signal would overlap with their Tower being right over my house. So the only good watching time was 12 am to 6 am. (If I was lucky, mom would switch on her TV and then magically all cross-cultural clashes between American sitcoms and programmes targeting Indian farmers would recede) now I can catch repeats in the morning and thus have more time in the night to surf to my luxury. I had just recharged my time for another 200 hours with another 100 hours free. Add to that free surfing from 11 pm to 8 am. W00t!
Thats when phase II enters when a part of basic infrastructure gives away thus prolonging my wait for the good times for a week or so. And the crankiness residing deep inside me surfaces. I get lazy, my schedule goes haywire, and the need to study vanishes. If the situation is not rectified in 3-4 days, I enter phase III. A deep funk transcends day and time and lingers over me. This is when activity becomes a motion and all thought and brain processes are given up. No amount of idiocy stimulates me. Specially idiocy because other human events or activities don't happen in my home.
I ended phase II with one last effort. I traveled the whole length from my house to the Exchange (local hub of telephones in LAN terms). There were mechanics working midway. It seems a lot of telephone connections are down and a general overhaul was in progress. They asked me to get a particular number rating a dependency from the Exchange, which they refused stating that such information was out of bounds for subscribers. Mutherfuckers. Don't want to do their job and go home early. Anyway, I just gave up hope and came back home and converted to Christianity so that I could pray to Jesus or any other saint who takes electricity under its wings, this being the only religion officially and seriously taking miracles as evidence for canonification.
Ok I made up the last statement. But a very interesting thing happened to the phone when it was still sputtering. I sat down in the night with all preparation for surfing time (and believe me, its more elaborate than a dishonored samurai doing the whole dance before his disemboweling ritual). First thing I noticed was the excessive voltage in the dialtone which was looping in half sine waves reaching the peak and then crashing to initial value instead of a gradual descent. On pressing any number, this Nepali/North-Eastern (definitely Mongoloid) voice would leap up to tell me that I should try later. It rectified late night automatically but I am still suspicious. What do you guys think?
grandma's funeral pt. II
Listening to: Anti Flag - Die for the government
Thankfully the funeral proceedings are over now. When I last left you, I still had to go to my grandfather's place for the function. Running late because my other grandma was held up - very predictably - in a train from Delhi, we left anyway. Its strange how granddad can be so angry but still not be physical about it. His eyes seem have to have the sole function of emoting for him now that he is almost 80% blind.
To make it clear, this is my mom's mother who has died. My mom has 2 brothers and the eldest one took part in all the rituals. He had been sitting from 6 am when it is still dark (the only sign that winters is here. I am still in my t-shirts and things will only get hotter from here. damn!) performing 'pooja' with the priest and when I arrived at 3 pm he was wrapping up. This particular part is called the 'pagdi' (turban) ritual where the turban is wrapped around the eldest son's head signifying his succession to the head of the family. The priest tells him his responsibilities putting in anecdotes from ancient times and invocates the required gods (from a race of 330 million) to bless him.
People don't suddenly start praying and chanting on the 13th day. The whole family has been involved and making preparations for some time before it. Relatives who haven't migrated to cities come from our family village. According to traditions, enough stuff to build a home has been handed out to random people from the priest caste for the past 3 days. And no, microwaves are still not in vogue. On this particular day, tents are set up and free meals are also met out to the poor lot. Family and friends are also invited. Tradition requires them to bring along some money and 'dhoti', a piece of cloth wrapped around the waist and a favorite of Indian Politicians. Don't bother with the style of wearing it considering the amount of regional variations.
Trying to appease my grandfather into forgiving me, I started helping out as soon as I reached there. Lunch had to be laid out for the undernourished lot who had come for the free meal (they had some tricks up their sleeve too). The plates are basically banana leaves (or whichever plant is cheap and sturdy in the region) folded into shape. So after serving around 50 people, I stood back to see my fruit of labor. Goddamn those bastards. They took out pieces of cloth seemingly out of nowhere and skillfully put the food in it folded with plates without spilling one drop. At least you have to give them points for dexterity.
You could never gauge that this was a funeral people were attending. They are always happy to meet other friends and relatives that have been out of contact for a couple of years. Kids are tortured again and again as an endless stream of aunties exclaim out too loud about their size. Yes lady, your kids are not the only one allowed to grow. The hosts are always worrying and constantly managing the whole circus. And in all this, the outpouring of grief is missing although I am not sure anymore if it is important too in such a happy gathering.
So I met a lot of people too. My mom's brother's wife's dad was pretty interesting, the sort of old guard who have seen and done enough. I always feel this strange feeling of contentment around them. A relaxed peace with the surroundings. Anyway, my mom's brother's wife's dad is from a different region and they have different traditions altogether. So he was telling me about their side. In big cities like the capital this whole function happens on the 4th day. People shortening and compressing such occasions to fit into their fast paced lives does not particularly impress me. Why the facade? Just give up the whole thing and electrically cremate. Get on with your life. And like all elders in this country, he has his own theory on the nation.
theory on constitution #7219: THE ELITIST VOTE
The biggest mistake in forming this country was made by Nehru at the time of our independence. He wanted to be prime minister/president and thus divided the nation for Jinnah to get a Muslim Pakistan. But the bigger blooper was giving one man one vote. According to my mom's brother's wife's dad, it would have been better to keep a minimum literate level for voting. The reason being that we have been slaves for a lot of time. For over 300 years we have been ruled in turns by mughals, Britishers, and regional kings in between. We are the obeying lot and in 50 years, democracy and the necessary amount of maturity to go with it won't develop.
(Ed. - this may sound elitist but he is right about the slave mentality. a lot of people here are still not literate enough to think for themselves and others just don't)
And as usual, I met a girl. This is not such a safe city and women don't generally dare to get out all by themselves. So the only place to see good-looking females is at such family gatherings. So when I first saw her, I had to make sure she wasn't family (in a close sense). When I asked her, she told me she was poonam's (my mom's cousin sister) elder sister's daughter. Damn. Anyway we talked about her college and how she hated it. Thats when it hit me. She was my mom's older brother's wife's (who shared the same name) older sister's daughter. That is pretty safe territory.
The funny thing is I met her mom 13 days ago on the day my grandma died. She was talking to me about higher studies outside the city. They did not allow their daughter to pursue micro biotech at a college in Pune. So I placed it all together and had a good laugh. She showed me photos from her college's recent annual day function. Mmmm.... NICE.
I challenged myself to see if I returned home and still wanted to talk to her further. And well, I just don't see how to include her in a very comforting but busy life of TV, games and studies.
grandma's funeral pt. I
Listening to: Madball - for my enemies
My grandma died 13 days ago.
I had promised to write something about it to myself and get it off my chest. But the procrastinator's creed that has now become my religion gave me enough reasons to postpone it.
Now seems to be a good time. My brother has gone to his school to submit his fees with my Dad who also has some work around that part of the city. He took an overnight bus from a village/mining location in the hilly parts of this state where he was transferred this year. The funny thing is I woke up when he tried to noiselessly get inside the house. My sleep disorders are still threatening my scheduled life. My other grandma hasn't arrived from Delhi as yet although her train has supposedly arrived here 3 hours ago. And after all of us converge, we intend to leave for the function today.
Hindu Funeral 101. My grandma died in the morning at around 10 am. She had gone into a coma 2 days ago and my granddad had called up to say that chances of recovery were not in the picture. Corpses undergo cremation although now a lot of people opt for electric cremation which is faster and more cost-effective.
A note on the abject poverty. I went for rafting 3 times on the rivers making up the biggest river of the nation - 'Ganga'. That is another story. Our point of interest here is that we saw floating dead dudes many times on the river. People believe spreading the ashes in the river causes the soul to be cleansed. What actually happens is that most people are too poor to burn off the body completely and take the other option. It isn't a lot of fun while bodysurfing in grade 1-2 rapids and discovering your mate isn't animated anymore.
On a side note, on of my friends convinced a group of English speaking-clueless rich types that a passing sadhu - ascetic - was an aghori (cannibalistic) and convinced them into handing out of some their possessions or they would be served for lunch. Hehe
Most of the cities are based on rivers and on parts of their beaches - designated 'ghats' - where people burn the bodies before 5 pm (or sunset). The sons of the dead shave their heads off after a funeral. It is usually the responsibility of the eldest to light the pyre. For a long time daughters weren't allowed to do it but it has taken some time and now is accepted widely except for the internal regions. After 13 days (today) a ritual is held where 5-6 hours of hymns, chanting and then serving the priest class takes place.
I know a lot of people are wondering about my sense of objectivity writing here. But spare me your psychobabble about denial and hear me out. This event finally allowed me to do one of the things on 'the list' - stuff I have to do before I die. I had a practice exam the same day my grandma died in the morning and when the institute called up to inquire, I was dying with glee to tell them, 'my grandma died!' yes. Finally, after boarding school where such a lie would have been an elaborate exercise for nothing, I got an opportunity. Now I have to convince the teacher that I am in love with him and spare me of the test/homework/whatever.
Tuesday, December 09, 2003
Listening to: Lacuna Coil - Swamped
These are particularly bad days. Since I have come back to home, I have had an emotional graph like a dead man's ECG. And nothing in comparison to those Hindi TV soap operas where the graph charts out the Himalayas and every other scene is another delight for the guy on the synthesizer, ready to tweak out bad sound effects enforcing the seriousness of the scene. Not to forget the humble contributions of the great cameraman zooming in on the badly made up noses of the actors straight from the 70s action movie school.
Its been one big predictable cycle of endless studies and TV and PC. And its slowly taking my patience away. I believed in myself and thought I could handle a year of solitude but it is straining all my calm. Not that it is not comfortable. But comfort breeds complacency and I haven't done anything new in the last some months which matter to me. Especially after the roller coaster ride of last year. And suspiciously, the emirates airlines have started airing this ad with the punchline,
"When was the last time you did something for the first time?" feels very personal whatever you say.
Every season change I get this allergic reactions beating down on me for 2-3 days. Lucky Britons. It is so nasty. Now that winter is officially here, it has been literally rubbed in my face. How I hate these days or running noses (I wonder how cocaine users endure it lifelong), heavy heads telling me to sleep on any warm surface I can find and rapid fire sneezes. To say nothing of your folks who are ready to get unnerved at a slight hint and make you feel even more like an invalid. On top of that, I have stopped playing games cause I am behind in schedule in studies and not willing to give up TV. So now I am way behind in studies and it eats you up every day. Not that the situation seems to improve any time in the near future considering a trip to Bombay for an overdue knee surgery. That will take another 10 days of my life.
By the way, I finished and started playing Postmortem which is an excellent game to be recommended. But as I have pointed out earlier, I am currently out of time to continue it. Arghhh! Reflection makes this even harder. I can't see what I am doing here.
Friday, December 05, 2003
an abridged jap(f)an
Listening to: a thorn for every heart - summer so bleak
I have an exam in 3 days and some how I have managed to get bored of a game so much that I am writing again. For the record, ONI is by far, the hardest game I have to come across. I had to cheat once and get some life back. This is a black spot for me and a very important one because I keep bugging my brother about the same habit. He has a bad attention problem and just starts using cheats from the get go in any game he starts playing. For some people that challenge is too much and there sole motivation for playing the game is fast entertainment. Just so that they could go through all those levels and start ranting again about emptiness. I have a habit of finishing a game and then going at it again with cheats and discovering Easter eggs etc. that's another bad thing about ONI. It is so unimaginably linear. There is no - absolutely no - replay value in it. No secrets, no hidden features. And forget about other difficulty settings. I heard about it on gamefaqs.com forums but you have to play it to realize the sheer amount of odds against this sole girl. Against this game, Max Payne and the rest seem like a shoe gazing concert gone acoustic. And in a sly reference to Payne, there was a dream sequence too. But the intrigue and family drama scales equal height as any other anime.
The other day I saw 'ring0: birthday' and its real good. A special mention from the long list of movies in these past months is necessary considering I am not really interested anymore. I have hit saturation point and it is all precipitating now. It gets documented here again that I am a born again horror fan. Especially of the Japanese variety. I still have to go through their culture in a separate post but more and more I am getting drawn into this weird overcrowded society. Its a real shame that there is no Japanese here at TEOTI. The original 'Ringu' wasn't so impressive and I think the American remake was a better version. But Ring 0 just blows everything out of contest. It is more of a drama then a supernatural thriller, the PC term these days. I just fell for Sadako. I don't remember the girl who played it but she rocked. And the doomed love with the sound guy. This was adapted from a short story and its a great adaptation. Setting the whole scene at a theatre group is genius. Probably for the rest of my life, every stage will remind me of the setting of the movie.
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