The Joy of Prejudice

April 13, 2009

It is very gratifying to have your irrational prejudices validated. Happily, this has been happening a lot recently.

The first of my prejudices to be validated was the one I bore against ghazals. This isn’t anything to do with their Moslem origin. After all, Islam has also brought us excellent things like qawaalis, kebabs, and Islamic banking (which generates jobs for TamBrahms).

I started out with mere indifference towards ghazals. Then Seashell on Residency Road had the bright idea of keeping a very bad ghazal party to sing and take requests from diners. I hate live music during food. The music distracts from the food and the food distracts from the music. And bad ghazals distracting from really great Mangalore fish curry is particularly annoying. Since then, I have borne an animus against the genre as a whole.

So Jagjit Singh’s recent WTF antics and puking on first Adnan Sami and then A R Rahman and Gulzar are pleasing. I shall use them forevermore to point out that ghazals are beastly and no good can come out of anything or anybody associated with them.

Next, we have vegetarians. I had already blogged about P G Wodehouse’s quote on vegetarianism souring the disposition, and how this could explain the tendency of Gujews to go out and slaughter each other. Now we have further evidence in the form of Varun Gandhi. Maneka Gandhi not only brought him up vegetarian, she cut off his milk supply. Is it surprising then that he gets his jollies from cutting off peoples’ hands?

Now, I am eagerly awaiting the results of the Lok Sabha elections. If the Samajwadi Party wins any significant amount of seats after releasing their Talibanesque anti-computer and anti-English manifesto, I will use it as ammunition for my dismissal of UP types as uneducated wankers determined to pull themselves and everyone else down into mediocrity. Such joy.

When Doves Invade

March 16, 2009

So this morning, a little bird decided to fly through the open window into our living room. Once inside, it perched on our cordless phone’s base station.

 Dove Perching on Phone

It eventually decided it didn’t like the phone, so it went on to the network hard disk. Over here, I got off a shot which shows off its blue feathers.

 Dove Perching on Hard Disk

By this time, I was squeezing off lots of shots and the bird got nervous. So it crapped on the hard disk and flew away.

Nice bit of weirdness to start the day.

Czech Chutzpah

January 27, 2009

This story hasn’t appeared in the Indian press as far as I know, which is a shame. It’s one of the most awesome practical jokes/ pranks/ hoaxes ever devised. So I’m summarising it for your reading pleasure.

OK, the European Union has a rotating presidency which passes between the member-countries. France just handed the presidency over to the Czech Republic. The Czech government decided to commemerate the occasion with a piece of sculpture about Europe. A Czech artist called David Cerny said that he would get artists from all the 27 member countries to contribute to the piece. This was nicely symbolic and he got the job.

So here’s where things get interesting. What Cerny finally produced was a giant map in which each country was depicted in a joyously stereotypical manner. France was just a metal outline with a Strike! banner across it. Italy was a football field where the players were all assaulting each other. Germany was a dull grey map with autobahns at right angles stretching across it. You get the picture. You actually get the picture over here (Spiegel Online slideshow). Cerny got the contract and used it to yank the European Union’s chain in a delightful manner. Even better, he charged 373,000 Euros to do this.

OK, but things don’t end there. First Cerny revealed that he had done the whole thing as a joke, causing shock and horror in the EU bureaucracy that people could actually make fun of them. Then, to make things worse, he revealed that the twenty-seven artists from each EU country did not actually exist. He had cooked them up. To add even more masala to the mix, he had also submitted tongue-in-cheek descriptions of the sculpture by these fake artists (PDF download). 5.7 MB, but do download and read, it’s well worth it.

This of course would be awesome enough in itself. But there’s something even better to come. Since the whole thing is about national stereotypes, Bulgaria was shown as a bunch of squatter-potties. This is apparently because they used to be ruled by the Ottoman Empire, who introduced Turkish toilets there, and they’re still over there. The Bulgarians have taken grave offence to being depicted as a nation of commodes, and have now summoned the Czech ambassador to demand an explanation.

I think a practical joke which results in diplomatic action being taken is pretty much the gold standard. David Cerny is my new hero.

Muntazer al-Zaidi Must Be Celebrated in Song and Ballad

December 17, 2008

Seriously, the man is fabulous. For the past eight years, Bush-hating activities have existed at a level that can best be summed up as “lame-ass”. There have been protest marches with bad slogans. There have been riots in Lucknow where Hindus and Muslims beat each other up (or vice versa), but Bush himself escaped unscathed. He wasn’t even anywhere near Lucknow. There’s been a persistent falase rumour about him serving plastic turkey to the troops. At a time when people were sick of him and the Iraq war, he couldn’t be defeated in an election, for crying out loud. You have to ask what the hell people have been doing.

And now, this man does with forty days of a Bush presidency to go what people couldn’t do in eight years before him: take direct action against the man himself, and hurls a pair of shoes at him. While violence is deplorable, it has to be admitted that his directness is admirable. No shilly-shallying for this man of action.

The incident also shows the declining standards in Presidential manliness. When Theodore Roosevelt was shot on the campaign trail, he just kept on giving his speech. When Hinckley shot Ronald Reagan, he took it in the lung like a man and told Nancy Reagan that he’d forgotten to duck. Bush ducked, when faced with nothing more dangerous than shoes. Deplorable. One can only hope Obama turns out less feeble.

Kim Il-Sung and Gulshan Kumar

October 11, 2008

You know who the president of North Korea is right? It’s not Kim Jong-Il. It’s his long-deceased father Kim Il-Sung. The North Korean constitution was amended to make him ‘Eternal President of the Republic‘. Kim Jong-Il is the mad dictator of North Korea, but the official position he holds is only ‘General Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea’.

This is similar to Turkmenistan, where the Presidency has passed on, but only Saparmurat Niyazov is Turkmenbashi, though he too is long gone.

This sort of thing exists in India too. All T-Series movies – Karzzzz included – are advertised as ‘Gulshan Kumar Presents…’ even though Gulshan Kumar told jai back in 1997. Which means that he’s been presenting movies in a deceased state for eleven years now. How’s that for succession planning?

A Step Up from Stealing Jobs

September 24, 2008

Raj Thackeray bitches about how bhaiyyas from the cow belt come to Mumbai, become cab drivers, and steal jobs from the Marathi Manoos. I’m not sure how he’ll react to this amazing story (TOI link. I’m sorry, but nobody else is carrying it). Here’s the summary:

  • Shop assistant steals two kilos of gold from a Bangalore jeweller and decamps to Mumbai, intending to go further to Dubai and live a life of pleasure alone
  • On getting off at Dadar, he gets into a cab being driven by a UP-wala
  • Cabbie realises that shop assistant is new to Mumbai and drives him all over town with the meter running
  • While in the cab, the thief tells the cabbie about his nefarious doings and his plans to move to Dubai
  • Cabbie tells thief that he needs to get a passport and visa first, that he has a friend who’s a visa agent, and that he’ll take thief over to meet him and get a visa and passport made
  • Cabbie drives around Mumbai with the meter running even more on the pretext of taking thief to visa agent
  • After a whole day of driving around, the thief needs to pee and gets down
  • The cabbie drives off with the two kilos of gold
  • The thief is indignant and goes to the police station to complain about the theft of the gold he’s stolen.
  • The Mumbai police check with the Bangalore police, and book him for the original theft
  • The cabbie remains at large

The whole thing is like a Saki story. I love it.

Is Justice Khetrapal related to Pyotr Periyar Pandey?

September 23, 2008

How else do you explain this?

“Such a person must be taken to be astute enough to know the difference between a Harry Potter film and another titled Hari Puttar. In my view, the cognoscenti, the intellectuals and even the pseudo-intellectuals presumably know the difference between chalk and cheese or at any rate must be presumed to know the same,” the Bench said, dismissing the plea to pass an interim stay on the release of the film with the same title.

(Indian Express)

Sexual Innuendo Down the Ages

August 22, 2008

Today’s wikisurfing led to this remarkable piece of information:

Early in its development, the Merlin engine’s lack of direct fuel injection meant that both Spitfires and Hurricanes, unlike the Bf 109E, were unable to simply nose down into a steep dive. This meant a Luftwaffe fighter could simply “bunt” into a high-power dive to escape an attack, leaving the Spitfire sputtering behind, as its fuel was forced by negative “g” out of the carburettor. RAF fighter pilots soon learned to “half-roll” their aircraft before diving to pursue their opponents. The use of carburettors was calculated to give a higher specific power output, due to the lower temperature, and hence the greater density, of the fuel/air mixture fed into the motor, compared to injected systems. In March 1941, a metal diaphragm with a hole in it was fitted across the float chambers. It partly cured the problem of fuel starvation in a dive, and became known as “Miss Shilling’s orifice” as it was invented by a female engineer, Beatrice “Tilly” Shilling.

This reminded me of two streets in England: Penny Lane (because of the Shilling connection), and Threadneedle Street, which was originally called Gropecunte Lane. And also of xkcd 322.

Bonnie and Clyde Fundaes

April 18, 2008

First, via Popagandhi on twitter, I discover this astonishing story:

Two lesbian lovers, one who drank blood as part of a vampire culture, were sentenced to life in prison on Friday for what an Australian judge said was the “evil” killing of a girl they bludgeoned to death with a concrete block.

Jessica Stasinowsky, 21, and Valerie Parashumti, 19, pleaded guilty to murdering 16-year-old Stacey Mitchell in Perth in western Australia in 2006 because she was annoying, reported Australian Associated Press form the court in Perth.

(International Herald Tribune)

There is no possible smartarse comment I can make about this that can match the story itself.

Next, on silklist, I discover this story about a couple fighting… over which gang their child should join:

A couple arguing about which gang their 4-year-old toddler should join caused a public disturbance that resulted in the father’s arrest, Commerce City police said Thursday, reported KMGH-TV in Denver.

His girlfriend told police that they had been arguing about the upbringing of their son and which gang he should belong to. The teen mother, who is black, told authorities she is a member of the Crips, police said. Manzanares is Hispanic and belongs to the Westside Ballers gang, the woman told police.


I will make smartarse comments about this story. We now know what would have happened if West Side Story had had a happy ending after all – five years later, Tony and Maria would be arguing about whether Tony Jr. should be a Jet or a Shark. This would be interspersed with many many songs and throwing of dishes.

Neo-Edwardianism Marches On

April 10, 2008

The Master wrote:

But I have not altogether lost hope of a sensational revival of knuttery. Already one sees signs of a coming renaissance. To take but one instance, the butler is creeping back. Extinct, it seemed, only a few short years ago, he is now repeatedly seen in his old haunts like some shy bird which, driven from its native marshes by alarums and excursions, stiffens the sinews, summons up the blood and decides to give the old home another try. True, he wants a bit more than in the golden age, but pay his price and he will buttle. In hundreds of homes there is buttling going on just as of yore. Who can say that ere long spats and knuts and all the old bung-ho-ing will not be flourish­ing again?

Now, via Chan on facebook, I discover support for another buttling renaissance:

Demand for the buttling arts is rising in London, where Russian oligarchs and hedge-fund billionaires are employing servants in displays of status unrivaled since Victorian times. Across Chelsea, Mayfair and Knightsbridge “gentlemen’s gentlemen” are decanting claret, ironing creases out of newspapers and even standing ready to pilot airplanes.

“The old-style butler and old money are both few and far between these days,” said Sarah Dawkins, who runs the Guild of Professional English Butlers. “What we’re seeing is the ranks of the super-super-rich coming through, and that is a whole different ballgame.”

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act has led to the butler revival. One hopes it will also turn Burberried chavs into spatted knuts.