Laughed long and hard on these 2 videos….

NYT : David Letterman Laugh Lines

Sunday, August 27, 2006

President Bush now says he does not care about … the nuclear program, as long as they’re not developing a “nuculur” program.

FT : Solar System Downsized

Friday, August 25, 2006

Pluto’s out.  Orbit’s way too elliptical for planetdom.  Neptune’s elated at new title of farthest planet.  Star Trek science rages on.  Excerpts of the article in the Financial Times entitled “Pluto no longer planet after astronomers rejig solar system” (deliberately filed in A&E category) –

Pluto lost its official status as a planet yesterday, when the International Astronomical Union downsized the solar system from nine to eight planets.  Although there had been passionate debate at the IAU general assembly meeting in Prague about the definition of a planet – and whether Pluto met the specifications – the audience greeted the decision to exclude it with applause.  The solar system now has eight bodies – Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune – which meet the new IAU definition of a planet: “A celestial body that is in orbit around the sun, has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a nearly round shape, and has cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit.”  Pluto is disqualified not because it is considerably smaller than the eight classical planets but because it has a highly elliptical orbit.  Pluto is usually, but not always, further from the sun than Neptune.  The latter can now reclaim the undisputed title of the “outermost planet” which it lost in 1930, when Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto and immediately claimed it as a planet.  Instead Pluto becomes the prototype of a new category of “dwarf planet”.  Other members of the group include the asteroid Ceres and UB313, an icy object slightly larger than Pluto and even farther from the sun…..Pluto’s demotion will not affect the mission of the New Horizons spacecraft, which the US space agency Nasa launched this year on a nine-year journey to explore Pluto and its moons.

Reference : http://www.ft.com/cms/s/906b262a-3394-11db-981f-0000779e2340.html

Syd Barrett (1946-2006)

Friday, July 21, 2006

Have got to record this.  I was deep into rediscovering Pink Floyd the day before Syd Barrett died.  In fact, by total coincidence, I had picked lyrics from “The Dark Side Of The Moon” (I know that is the post-Barrett era, but this is a significant coincidence nonetheless in my books…on my blog…whatever) to adorn the world famous “MMM QuoteRoll” right around the time of his death (before I had heard about it anyway).  The Economist has a great tribute to Barrett.  Excerpts –

…..Syd Barrett was the very exemplar of this wild universe (the 60s).  As the leader of Pink Floyd, the highly successful psychedelic band that he christened in 1965, he wrote and sang of “lime and limpid green”, of Dan Dare, of gingerbread men and, in the band’s first hit, “Arnold Layne”, of a transvestite who stole underwear from moonlit washing lines.  His weird words and odd, simplistic melodies, sent through an echo-machine, seemed sometimes to be coming from outer space.  Yet there was also something quintessentially English and middle class about Mr Barrett.  His songs contained the essence of Cambridge, his home town: bicycles, golden robes, meadows and the river.  Startlingly, he sang his hallucinations in the perfect, almost prissy enunciation of the Home Counties.  He made it possible to do rock in English rather than American, inspiring David Bowie among others.  The band’s first album, “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn” (1967), made Mr Barrett central, plaintively calling up the new age from some distant and precarious place.

Yet the songs were already tipping over into chaos, and by January 1968 Mr Barrett was unable to compose or, almost, to function.  Dope, LSD and pills, consumed by the fistful, overwhelmed a psyche that was already fragile and could not bear the pressures of success.  At concerts he would simply play the same note over and over, or stand still in a trance.  If he played, no one knew where he was going, least of all himself.  The band did not want to part with him, but could not cope with him; so he was left behind, or left them, enduring drug terrors in a cupboard under the stairs in his London flat.  Casualties of “bad trips” usually recovered, with stark warnings for the unwary.  Mr Barrett, famously, went on too many and never came back.  Friends, especially his Pink Floyd colleagues, tried to encourage him to resurrect his career.  Their attempts were heartbreaking.  At various times in 1968 and 1969 microphones were put in front of him and he was persuaded to sing and play.  Cruelly, the recordings of his solo efforts, “The Madcap Laughs” and “Barrett” (both 1970), caught everything: the nervous coughs, the desperate riffling of pages, the cries of frustration (“Again? I’ll do it again now?”), the numbers of takes.  The sleeve of “Madcap” showed a naked girl in attendance—there had been any number of those—but Mr Barrett oblivious to her, his face masked by long hair and mascara, crouched shivering on the floor.  Cambridge, where he had learned to play banjo and had proudly covered his first guitar with mirror-discs, seemed the best place to retreat to.  He went back to live in his mother’s cellar, boarding up the windows, and returned to the painting for which he had trained at Camberwell School of Art.  Ambushing journalists were told that his head was “irregular”, and that he was “full of dust and guitars”.

Mr Barrett was now the most famous recluse in British rock.  Slight as his oeuvre had been, it proved impossible to forget.  His death, from complications of diabetes, brought an outburst of regret from rock stars and fans who were still following him.  Tom Stoppard’s play “Rock ‘n’ Roll”, which was playing at the Royal Court when he died, made him a metaphor for revolutionary music: in 1968 a Pan-figure piping liberation, in the 1990s a tired, grey man spotted in a supermarket.  His band last saw him in 1975 as they recorded, in “Shine on you Crazy Diamond”, a tribute to him that sounded like yet more encouragement.  (“Come on you raver, you seer of visions/Come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine.”) Mr Barrett wandered in, fat and shaven-headed and hardly recognisable.  As his friends sang “You shone like the sun”, he seemed to laugh sarcastically.  He stayed a while in the studio, and then went away.  On the recording, a guitar player drifting in space walks through a door and finds himself in a loud cocktail party.  Managers and promoters come up and flatter him, cajole him into working for them, but at last he escapes again.  This time, nobody can catch him.

Reference : http://www.economist.com/printedition/displayStory.cfm?story_id=7188674

Ritu Beri Fashion Show

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The High Commission of India in Singapore is organizing “Celebrating India Week In Singapore” and yesterday was the first of a series of events to kick-off the festivities.  I was rather surprised when AM seemed very keen to go but wasn’t surprised anymore when I learnt that the featured event of the evening was a presentation by fashion diva Ritu Beri showcasing the latest in the “here’s all that no-one ever wears but looks really cool on a catwalk”category.  The audience was left rather speechless by the Bollywood themed fashion show which also featured live remix music, as there was literally pin-drop silence during the change-ups.  Not one of the 500 or so present felt the need for a bio-break throughout the 30-40 min show. 

Not that I’m complaining but dude, there was a fair bit of skin on display.  In fact I believe the outfits featured all come with a standard warning : WEARING THIS COULD CAUSE SERIOUS TIFFS WITH ANY INDIAN MOTHER-IN-LAW EVEN IF SHE IS NOT YOURS.  Actually, my theory is that the models were wearing only some select parts of the entire costume and not the whole thing just to “highlight the salient parts” of the design…or the model, well both actually depending on your point of view.

It did seem to be the hot ticket in town for the evening – ministers, diplomats, and the like all graced the occasion at the posh Shangri-La ballroom.  There was lots of yaadi-yaadi-yaadaa talk by Ministers about the India-Singapore trade having doubled in the last 2 years and how the new resurgent India is young and hot and happening.  They tried very hard but the leap from wall street to high street was not convincing at all.  Kamal Nath (Indian Minister for Trade) actually came across as the event promoter and of the Ritu Beri show to follow.  Quite ugly, that part.  Food was a 4/10, should have stuck with the beer cause the wine was not exactly in the “high-90s” category either.  Lots of fun nonetheless.