Q&A for Americans

Came across this funny video that tests the general knowledge of Americans. I am quite sure that a simpleton on an Indian road would have done equally bad if not worse (that is kinda impossible). Anyways watch it for fun and not for any sadistic pleasure.

Quiz in America

Some gems if you still have second thoughts about watching it:

1. Name a country that starts with a U (no answers for this one)
2. Religion of Buddhist monks is Islam
3. Number of sides in a triangle - 4,0, 1

I won't spoil it further by revealing any more. Do explain me the "collateral damage" explanation if you get it.

it sucks

Being in IT industry for more than half a decade has sure taught me a lot of things. Not the least of them is that I just don't like it. Well, this is quite an unqualified statement and I intend to qualify it later in some other post. For now, lets take it literally to preserve its sting. There are many reasons for it, trying to list a few of them. Now, the reasons might as well apply to other professions, but I won't worry about it now. No more disclaimers, here is the list:

1. Java developers are so common in India, that we should declare Java as our national language.
2. No-one seems happy or satisfied with his work
3. Almost everyone has already attempted or intends to attempt CAT [that doesn't include me ;-)], so most (not all) of the people in technology are those who were lazy (to attempt cat) or incompetent (to qualify for an mba)
4. We all take ourselves (and our work) too seriously
5. All of us want to settle in the US or some foreign nation as long as it is not Zimbabwe.
6. White skin is always revered, because either they are clients or the revenue earners (people on client side) or the owners of the company
7. We are always worried about our next change
8. Most of us have a dim opinion about others in the community as is evident in this post
9. Most of us are ppp - poop producing programmers and we claim so, only that we exclude ourselves while making this comment
10. The maximum time spent by us in the office is on outlook

Gone with the wind

(*******Spoiler warning*******)
Finally I finished this extremely lengthy book around eight years after I first picked it up. The popularity of the book is so high that I always wanted to read it but the sheer size discouraged me every single time. The movie based on this book with the same name was released in 1939 and adjusted for inflation is the biggest ever money spinner in the history of Hollywood. Equally popular is the dialog that features in every top x dialog list - "Frankly dear, I don't give a damn".

In fact, this dialog has a wiki page dedicated to it.

This is not a full fledged review, not even sure if its a review. However, I was a little let down by the bulk and the excessive details painted in the book. But on the positive side, since it is so detailed the characters and settings are just too real for you to feel.

The story revolves around two main characters Rhett and Scarlett. The bland, self assured, composed, calculated and shrewd Rhett Butler and earthy, vivacious, stubborn, insensitive, selfish yet strong Scarlett. I would have liked to see Rhett being more present in the book. He goes off again and again only to reappear a couple of hundred pages later.

The characters are shown in an honest light. The reactions/thoughts of Scarlett are so selfish that you can't help but hate her. Deep down, however, I think a lot of us think as perversely as she does.

The book is no love story as they would like to call it. Usually love stories end with happy or sad endings but the lovers generally keep loving each other till the end. Not this one, interestingly the book ends with them (one of them) falling out of love and parting their ways even though they remain married.

Overall, if you have a really long journey on the cards, you can keep this book handy.

Work "life" balance?

Only if he could have taken his work a little less seriously.


MSPM: Smart-n-ass

Some smart people want to seize every moment and every opportunity to show that they have a point, no matter how banal it is. They feel cheated if they are not the first one to correct someone on a very obvious mistake made. Like saying we will check this tomorrow on a Friday will get smart asses all worked up (assuming its not a working weekend). Hope you got the drift. Making a point is extremely important for them, even if almost everyone except imbeciles could have made it. The race is about being the first one to point it out. Also, in the process making a point becomes more important than making it count. That explains why meeting are considered an utter waste of time, because all the smart-asses end up making points in order to get heard not really focusing on making those points count.

So, the summary of this argument is that, if at the back of our minds, we can keep the objectives clear and focus on them, rather than focusing on getting yourself brownies, which are useless for the objective, all of us at the end should be better off. This is in line with the aphorism, that if people stop caring about who gets the credit, they will do much better as a team. And if you are working with good people, in the end they should be able to give everyone his/her deserved due. However, I am not entirely sure if this is a practical thing to do. It sounds quite Utopian thing to do and may work only if there is a cooperative (as in cooperative game theory) environment.

Things can turn ugly in places where things are really cut-throat and the benign ones might just end up getting all the flak at the end without getting any credit for good things they did. In a non-benign environment there is no single objective, there are objectives and invariably most of them are in conflict with each other, so this may not really work out. However, if the smartass is in a leadership capability, then to reach to a smarter level, (s)he needs to ensure the smart-asses in his(er) team (that includes him/her also) are free from this kind of competition and thinking.

In the end, someone has to think of the forest over trees, and that is the kind of fella I would like to be and work with.

Movie Review: Unforgiven


Watch this for the climax and the after taste. This is a movie I watched 16 years too late, or may be not. It is quite possible that I would have hated this movie when it came out, partly because I wouldn't have understood it, thanks to my limited exposure to English during my growing years :-)

If someone is bored of watching the new movies or has exhausted everything else around, here is one movie you can try out.

Its a movie about a killer and it is as unglamorous as it could get for an assassin. Usually hit-man movies glorify the killer, show him as an agile, kick-ass and powerful shooter who goes on killing men like no other.

This one is different. This is about a weak and old killer well beyond his prime, who comes out of retirement because he needs money and sees a cause justified enough to kill. The most of the movie seemed like a drag until it reaches the climax. The movie labors on the point that being a good killer isn't about being faster, but about keeping your head steady in the face of a life-death situation.

The setting is old American, cowboy era with a brown and dusty look. The characters are all realistic, to the extent that the protagonist is shown to have difficulty riding his horse, and falls many times. He had a bout of illness and then a sound beating to boast of.

The last fifteen minutes of the movie however makes up for the lack of excitement throughout. What makes this movie is the memorable role by Clint Eastwood, as a killer who doesn't glorify killing a bit and goes about it as casually as you would go to your office. The complete disregard for everything else (things like not killing an unarmed man) when he is going for the kill is what gives it a realistic air.

It has a certain heaviness throughout that may stay with you even after it's over and don't miss the last 5 minutes when the credits roll for you will miss the superb, simple and serene background score.

PQRs: Platitude Quoting Rascals

I was thinking of how would corporate life be if there were no platitudes. Every time you have a gathering, things tend to circle around platitudes.

The positive ones:
  • We have done a great job
  • Things are looking up
  • We are a bunch of extremely talented people
  • What we do is extremely critical
The ones hinting on a need to improve things:
  • We need to be more creative
  • We need to know our customer better
  • We need to work as a team
  • We are extremely open and suggestions from anyone are welcome
When used out of context, they really mean nothing and that's how they are most often used. I often wonder, after a certain point, shouldn't the ones quoting them again and again should start feeling guilty for the wastage of words and time they are indulged in.

I have often found myself switched off the moment any of these kind of things are mentioned. I am in no position to claim if I don't do these things, but being aware I will try not to if I can help.

Stillness in motion

Some pictures of locals taken in Hoshangabad in Madhya Pradesh