Jan 31, 2007

Current tunes:
Robert Plant: Mighty Rearranger
System of a Down: Hypnotize/Mesmerize
Nelly Furtado: "Onde Estas"

I'm amazed at how much music there is in the world, and how little of it I'll truly get to listen to and learn. I'm also somewhat concerned that my attention span for new music is going downhill. It used to be that I'd get a new album and I'd learn it over time. With my ability to share music and listen to new stuff online growing exponentially (and I've stopped the file-sharing programs ever since my computer last died), I'm not letting the stuff sink in. I still have discs I've ripped or bought that I haven't listened to thoroughly.

I'm still listening to a lot of music, but I'm not listening to it in album form as often - more likely to just hit shuffle and let the good times roll. Has the iPod/iTunes phenomenon effectively killed the album? And I don't even own an iPod. But I think the long car ride, the long ride home on the train, and even the casual walk outside offer the opportunity to listen to full albums. I just have to remember that it's not so much that I listen to and rank every song in my iTunes library as it is that I make sure I let the music sink in.

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Jan 30, 2007

Shut Up.

There's one person in my program who is incredibly full of herself, self-promoting, a brown-noser, and ridiculously insecure (or at least that's how I read into her unending name-dropping).

I can't stand people like this. And it doesn't help that she's about 10 years older than me. Can you please give it a rest? Are you really that in need of affirmation from the rest of us mere mortals about your awesome law school career? It's been the same from the beginning "well, I turned down X and Y school to come here."

Shit man, you did those mofos a favor.

I just can't deal with this shite. Generally, people aren't so self-congratulatory. I'm just shocked that someone who's not 21 (and is much more likely twice that) is not self-aware.

Though I'm trying not to burn bridges when unnecessary, I feel like a comeuppance is unavoidable. *smack!*

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Jan 29, 2007

Apple revenues could catch Microsoft by 2010

Okay, so this is just a pipe dream that the fanatic fan base who buy everything that Apple offers are probably drooling over, but I just found this story amusing:

Apple revenues could catch Microsoft by 2010

Apple Inc. has a decent shot of outgrowing Microsoft Corp. within the next five years if it can keep churning out hit wonders, an extrapolation of revenue data from the two industry heavyweights has revealed. [whole story]

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Jan 28, 2007


Last night, I had the chance to go out with some folks who I haven't seen for quite some time. The night was full of beer and a few heavy conversations. I'm very much of the mind that we don't have to agree with our friends and our peers all the time - I don't want to live in an echo chamber.

But I've long felt that the vital exchange of opinions, passions, and ideals should happen as much over dinner and drinks as in the board room or on a conference call. Not that we, the relatively privileged, should be talking about the movement as we are the ones who will lead it, but it's cool for us to debate and dialogue, no? And it's a wonderful way, sometimes, to learn more about what drives people in the work that they do.

So I got into such a discussion with a good friend, with the way paved smooth by about the equivalent of a pitcher of beer each. The dialogue stretched across a few things, of which I had limited knowledge, but strong convictions on a point related to what my friend was talking about (vague, I know - but if I start down the path of the content of the discussion, I'm not going to have a short post).

The point is - it's easy when talking about shit that you actually care about, to screw up a dialogue by speaking in your personal shorthand about one thing or another. And as I meet and build rapport with new friends, it's a reminder to me that I have to start from the trust-building position, even with new friends with whom I feel connected quickly. This is probably why we make fewer close friends as we get older (though this is another reason why our parents' generation is so amazing - given how they had to make a whole new set of friends when they came here in their thirties and forties, and think about how close they are to those uncles and aunties).

Anyway, the context is everything, I guess, and alcohol and a deep conversation about community make me forget that I'm speaking with someone new who could take my strong statements and intensity to mean that my position is intractable, my heart unmovable. It's been a long time. But given that I'm in whiter spaces than I've been in for many years through school, it's nice to take a break from that once in a while again - to kick back and consider the nation that we are hoping to help build...

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Jan 23, 2007

Men's Psychology (or How I Found a Pristine Bathroom Stall at 3 in the Afternoon)

Disclaimer: Though this won't qualify as TMI about me, and I'll stay away from the toilet humor (har har), this is not particular to desi people. Who the hell cares, though, right?

So I have a tough time with public bathrooms. I would never use them while growing up (and this may be somehow linked, I think, to how I wouldn't change for gym in front of the other boys - opting either to have my gym shorts underneath, or taking a non-participation mark until I got past it in high school). Ah, the joys of growing up different in small town America.

Men's bathrooms are interesting places, as it is. You don't talk to other guys in the bathroom, you stare at the wall in front of you at a urinal, and you try really hard to touch as little as possible. As it stands, they are incredibly non-social places, and remind me again and again of why I hate most men. I tend to do what I have to do - i.e. nothing involving contact with any surface - quickly and without any delay. But the worst is opening a stall and confronting whatever the schmuck before you left there with no courtesy or consideration for the next guy or the staff that has to clean up his mess.

Anyway, so at my school, which is already bulging at the seams, the custodial staff does its best to clean up after the idiots who go here, but it gets pretty nasty by the last couple of hours before afternoon cleaning. The bathrooms have three toilets and one urinal each, and there's one on the first floor, and generally 2 on each of the 4 other floors. But with ~600 men in the building on any given day, that's not a lot of places to do what you have to do.

The first floor bathroom is one of the worst. It always has people in it - and there's inevitably some kind of mess because people tend to be in a hurry. The top floor is too close to the cafeteria, which is generally not a good scene, not to mention that it's busy. And 2 of the other floors have large classrooms, which tend to have long classes with hyped-on-caffeine students who run out and in with no concern for the next guy (see the theme here?).

But today, I figured out what I'd been trying to assess for the whole time. The best bathroom to use where there won't be a lot of traffic because there are only small classrooms and faculty offices (and it's right near the Dean's office, no less). So it was clean today at 3 PM.

And what's even better is that, when I looked at the stalls, I finally figured out how to get the least used stall when I need some privacy: guys hate to be near other guys. So the handicap accessible stall, which is the most roomy, and my personal choice when I have to make a choice, is probably the most popular. On top of that, I think that guys probably do the quick "if I'm on one side of the other of the three stalls, I have a chance of not being near another guy because he'll choose the farther one."

So that takes out the stall on the far end from the accessible one. So I thought - I wonder about the middle stall. Because that one gives people the sense of claustrophobia, and the highest chance of having to be near another guy. Sure enough, the stall was clean, and the TP roll indicated that it had not been used since the last cleaning. Woah. That's unheard of.

It's the little things in life that really make things worthwhile.

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Jan 21, 2007

Ill-advised Publicity Campaign.

This just in from our correspondents in Europe... Hindus about to launch a campaign to "take back the swastika." This is one of those cliches that folks in the know about the pet peeves of Hindu and Jain enthusiasts' (I didn't know that this concerned Buddhism as well): it burns up the folks that care about these things that the Nazis took a perfectly lovely and useful icon of faith and philosophy and killed a lot of folks in its name. So apparently, the folks in Europe, maybe as another chapter in the "recognize us because we're not the bad guys" playbook, have decided to come out loud and proud about the millenia of swastik use throughout the ancient world.

Sanjay Mistry, of the Hindu Forum of Britain, says: "There was an attempt to extend the ban on swastikas throughout Europe in 2005. The UK government opposed that and we hope it will do so again. Outside areas with a large Hindu population, people do not know it as anything other than a Nazi symbol and we have been running workshops to make them aware of the history."

In Hinduism, facing right, it represents the evolution of the universe, and, facing left, it represents the involution of the universe: the two forms representing the two forms of the creator god, Brahma. [more]

I don't know - while I think it's fascinating that this ancient shape and icon, which clearly has mystical and deeper meanings attached to it as evidenced by the many cultures that have used it over the centuries, I'm too much of a realist to think that this is worth the time, energy, and effort that people are putting into it. Do you really think that people are going to want to hear about the other histories of this symbol, when in Europe, the scars in the German psyche, not to mention the French, British, and Russian, is pretty intense? The funny thing is - if these are Indian neo-nationalists of the BJP variety, and this campaign takes on some steam that is supported by the motherland, could this blow up in their face as they continue to try to cozy up to Israel, stating that "we're in the same boat against terrorism"? What trumps - the anti-Islamism of the radical elements of both national fronts, or the wariness of possible Anti-Semitism that sparks vibrant outbursts by the reactionaries in the Jewish diaspora?

After all - a swastika may have meant a lot of things to a lot of people, but does recent history mean nothing? It's not like the rest of the world has happy memories of the swastika from before the time when it became a symbol of genocide - that's just Eastern (and other) mysticism. Who the hell knew about it then besides the Nazis seeking an appropriate icon to brand on themselves and perhaps even link them to their imagined Aryan antecedents.

Anyway, this was interesting. Who knows. Had Nazi Germany not taken the swastika, maybe it would have found its way to the center of the Indian flag, though it's not seen as a secular image. Wouldn't that have been interesting?

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Jan 18, 2007

I go to a lawschool in which a small group that I'm stuck with in one of my classes reveals an aspiring public defender, a future community lawyer, someone interested in human rights law, and someone who's not clear but isn't anti-public interest. But even here, I get annoyed at people now, over and over again. I guess I'm getting tired of hearing the same voices in many of my classes, especially the people who are not really very bright, but can put their thoughts to words more quickly than I can.

I have smaller classes this semester, and I'm speaking up more often, but my points have been met with generally blank, and occasionally bored, looks from the professor. Great. I may be a cliché in this school, and the more conservative my perspective, the more "interesting point" responses I'd garner. But then I have to think "why do I care to be recognized for brilliance by my professor?" Am I looking for validation of my views from my professor? What sense does that make, given that in esesnce, I'm already getting that by taking classes taught by professors with a public interest/social justice perspective?

Whatever. I just figured I should get some props for raising my voice in class sometimes. But I'm not giving up. I'm going to keep doing it until I finally feel like I'm adding something. Screw that - I'm adding something by BEING in the classroom, mofos. You better rec'nize!!

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Jan 16, 2007

ReMastered: Maybe, no thank you.

In our economy and society of "bigger! faster! more!" we seldom stop to think whether any of these things = "better". I've been following the post-Mac World discussion about whether Steve Jobs dropped some pretty obvious hints that Apple, Inc. has made a deal with Apple Corps (home of the Beatles catalogue) to finally bring the long-coveted Beatles albums to the digital century. As part of that discussion, there was mention that this deal would likely include the delay in release of remastered versions of each album. While I and others are likely very excited about remastered albums (I have copies of many of the Beatles albums, but I own nary a one, unless you include my Dad's LP of Abbey Road), I have been turned onto thinking about the way that record companies cash in on old classics without giving the level of performance that we should expect from a newly packaged, and likely highly priced re-release of an old favorite.

This short video gives some indication of what happens when companies "compress" the audio after making everything "louder." For the casual listener, the difference may not be noticeable, but considering how much time artists and their producers spend to get the sound right, it doesn't make sense for that to be distorted in an end product that's marketed as a high-fidelity (or at least higher-fidelity) release. So I'm a little concerned, and my reluctance to buy things digitally may just fall to the wayside with this revelation.

Besides, I think I'm losing my hearing.

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Jan 10, 2007

Goodbye, Car.

There's something about saying goodbye that's just so difficult for me. Today, we signed away our old car, selling it for a pittance because we were in a pinch and it gave up on us in the eleventh hour.

The story can be condensed (but since I like to tell a tall tale, probably won't): basically, the car's been "ours" (more precisely, "hers") from the showroom in 1995 to today. It's been through a lot, and it's seen better days, especially better than the last year or so. We bought a new car, not a luxury model or anything, mind you, but something that we could depend on for the longer road trips, and were managing for a couple of months with both vehicles and the idea that before the registration ran out on the old one, we'd find a way to get rid of it.

Being conscious folks, we thought we could actually donate it somewhere and get a tax break while helping a worthy cause. Of course, then finals happened, and we ended up in a rush to try to dispose of the car before the registration ran out, because who wants to pay for a new registration on a car you're going to get rid of imminently, and they definitely check vehicle registration in our neighborhood.

So I did some searching, and I found a place that claimed it could take the car in 24 hours. The site is called "Kars 4 Kids" and it seemed great. But then I started having doubts, and looked for information about where the money would be going. I had a very difficult time finding anything until I dug deeper, finally finding on their posted IRS filing that the organization name was J.O.Y. for Our Youth, an NJ group that used most of the money towards ministry services and programs for Jewish youth. There were still no details about what those programs were, or where the people were located, and when I called up the phone line, the person had no information either. A number of articles further enflamed my suspicion, and we decided to pass on it.

So we decided, two days before the registration was up, to try to sell it at a used car place that claimed to be hassle-free and fair. En route to the place, on a really busy street at rush hour, the car died. Luckily, we'd decided to drive both cars in the hope that we could leave the old one on the day of, so we weren't stuck high and dry. Even more luckily, we were next to a car dealership who were kind enough to give us a jump and hold the car in their lot for a day while we decided what to do. They offered a pittance to take the car off our hands, and we were in a pretty bad hole so we felt compelled to take the deal. So today, we signed over the title, pulled out the few personal effects we had left in the car, pulled the tags, and even pulled out an add-on disc changer, and said farewell to the car.

I felt more than a little choked up, even though I feel like the car was giving us the finger for abandoning it by shutting down 5 miles from the used car shop. Actually, I was of mixed mind about that too - was it flipping us off or was the shut-down the result of a broken heart? I found myself anthropomorphizing the car a lot more than I'd ever done with a vehicle, and I've only known it for about 5 1/2 years.

But that time stretches to equal the length of our relationship, and I guess, somehow, with all the moving and settling into different places, we don't have that many things left that have been with us from that time. So in some way, I've invested at least some emotional capital into this inanimate (and unanimated, at last parting) object/tool. I'm sure that some part of this is because I am generally loathe to view anything as disposable, often to the result of large amounts of "stuff" hanging out that others would have cleared away long ago. Not quite a packrat, I grow attached to things in a way that is not materialistic, but still, obviously, draws something from the material aspect of that thing I cannot let go of.

So with the car, it reminds me of our first date, of the many happy moments that comprise that early courtship (what an old-fashioned, yet appropriate word!), and even our lives together. The car had been through so much in Brooklyn, surviving the streets, the blizzards, and the illogical parking regulations. It had been towed a number of times, ticketed countless times, the subject of a few mad scrambles for registration in various offices, and made more airport runs than we care to remember. But it's taken us through so much, has been a refuge in the cold, a way to get to our parents, a safety net when all else failed, and a transporter in her different moves in different parts of the country.

Many good memories, many of which go with it to whatever final owner (or resting place) it will eventually find. I am glad to have gotten it off our hands, but I guess I can understand how folks can grow attached to their dogs and cats - I mean, look at how bent out of shape I'm feeling about this car! Yet in the end, it really is a question of safety, and knowing when a particular time has passed. And in a city like New York, the attachment to cars grows somewhat tenuous, what with the additional hassles of parking tickets, alternate side of the street parking (but not on Diwali, I guess), and the imminent threat that someone is going to want to strip your car for its airbags, stereo, or whatever else would sell.

So I'm a little bummed about losing the car, and saying goodbye remains difficult for me, perhaps because in some way, rather than let the memory remain in my brain and heart, some piece of it is bound to the item or person, and when that item or person is lost (or at least lost to me), I feel like the memories are no longer whole, and I cannot recreate them on my own. Those broken friendships, the loved ones who have passed, and even the places that I have left behind may all have that quality. And yet, we keep on keeping on. Here's to new memories.

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Jan 9, 2007


For the first time in I don't know how long, I'm really lusting for new technology. The AppleTV and iPhone announcements are very exciting, even exceeding the unending speculation leading up to today's announcements. That's it. Just thought I'd share.

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Jan 1, 2007

This new year is going to be the best ever. More attention to the work that lies ahead, to the love of my life, and to kicking ass, dancing hard, and punching out the pessimists. Let's change this world!!

Peace to my peeps.

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