< January 2010 >
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Fri, 22 Jan 2010:

Censorship is bad, mmkay?

Free speech is not any different just because there's the internet involved. And any country attempting to close its internet borders in the name of censorship should be defeated, for the fear of setting a precedent. Censorship anywhere is a threat to freedom everywhere.

Otherwise very soon, the internet will turn into a series of █████ which will only be used by █████████████, unless ██ take action and stop the █████████.

So, visit ███████████████████ to learn more about what's going on.

Censorship reflects a society's lack of confidence in itself.
    -- Potter Stewart

posted at: 22:20 | path: /misc | permalink | Tags: ,

Tue, 12 Jan 2010:

I run. Out on the road, as each stride drags me ahead, my mind is truly free. Free of this world, free of troubles and free from everything else, but the next footfall. Distances blur out, time stretches out, pain becomes a companion and your body falls into a rhythm which you dare not break.

found somewhere on tumblr, not mine

About three years ago, I started to run. I never really had a reason for it. I ran everywhere and ran back as well, if I could. But then people started to pop up in my life who couldn't keep up. And I stopped ... for a while.

But just like everything important, it came about from a random conversation over coffee. There we were, me & @teemus, sitting in Java city, checking out all the upcoming concerts. Right in the middle of everything from jazz to house, was a bright red poster telling us to run (and eat sunfeast biscuits).

For the good part of two weeks, I lived a very disciplined life. Ate right, slept right and spent an hour or more in the gym. Racing each other on the treadmill, steadily upping the distance, speed. Finally one morning, stretching up in Kanteerva stadium, drinking redbull mixed with orange juice, I knew I'd always wanted to run long distance.

10 Km: Ran the Sunfeast 10k. Running slowly became more of a mental challenge than a physical challenge. To actually cross the line of discomfort to actually hit the limit of pain was more of a mental barrier than I thought. It was just too easy to just quit, stop by the side and take a breather.

The physical barriers were there. They were definitely a huge challenge all by themselves. But even when I could run 5km without falling over, the urge to give up does not fade. To actually gag and silence that part of your mind which keeps whispering "quit now, there will be cake".

heh, was that too obvious?

It was all in your head.

You could stop anytime you wanted. But it took all my vanity and ego, to keep me running. To see others vanish ahead, lit a fire that would burn me through the miles and miles ahead of me.

faster: The Nike+ Human Race was the next one. The last 400 metres were run at blistering pace with me and @balajijegan running together. Adrenaline pumping through my veins, Nicotine blasting in my headphones and out of breath, I crossed that finish line. 10 Km was turning into a race than a test.

25 km: Finally, it was time to play with the big boys. The Bangalore Ultra was looking like too big a challenge to actually pull off. The track was all ups and downs. I ran the first 18km in complete zen, in under two hours. The safety pins holding my bib to my chest had started to cut into my chest and I had cuts on my chest from the friction. I had to stop after the 20th km to get medical attention. After barely six or seven minutes of standing still, I had cramps.

last mile: The pain was getting to me. 21st to the 23rd was a sheer exercise in masochism, all the way uphill and through slippery mud. After that, it was just a test of sheer willpower. I knew that I would just fall over if I stopped running. Running along on empty, in pain, with my face showing it - you'd wonder why I was doing it. You have to be a runner to know why - there was no way out of that agony other than that finish line. I don't think I left myself any options.

21 more: The next half-marathon had significantly less training behind it. The weeks preceding it was mostly spent on FOSS.in and almost everything going wrong with that conf was my fault. The Times of India midnight marathon was a lot of fun to run, because it was flat, late in the night and I had my personal cheerleader waiting at the finish line. I ran that at my best time, ever.

Running will change your life. I'm running out of reasons to explain why I run, but it's changed my life around and made me a happier person overall.

One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure its worth watching.

posted at: 00:09 | path: /me | permalink | Tags: , ,

Mon, 11 Jan 2010:

Avatar is Pocahontas set in Fern Gully, except with Smurfs who are Thundercats. And hero's plugged in from somewhere, with a smattering of a messiah complex thrown in (and a pity, they'll never make any sequels ... *ssh*).

But now that I've got the cliched bits out of the way, let me rave about the visual beauty of the movie. The reason this movie takes so much flak about the plot is that the CG does not jarr the suspension of disbelief required. To watch Neytri wail and definitely do the damsel in distress routine does bypass the fact that she's a giant cat-alien, into my emotional awareness. Somehow that disrupts the dehumanization of the enemies that the Colonel is under (if he had a cigar on him, I'd have had Quake3 flashbacks). The fight sequences are hardly overdone and they haven't gone bullet-time or john woo freeze-frames on it. Perhaps the brain-stem connections all animals share is probably the only thing that really stretches the imagination. But the movie goes to great lengths to illustrate that it's not really a form of direct control. There's hardly anything wrong with the movie as such - as long as you're only watching it.

There's EPIC FAIL and some glimmers of brilliance in the fauna of Pandora. Most of the animals on the planet have six limbs. This is perfectly acceptable, but if only they'd kept it consistent and extended it to the Na'avi. A bipedal/tetrapod Na'avi co-existing in parallel with hexapodal large animals sort of suggests a really un-bottlenecked evolutionary history (think of the Cambrian explosion, followed by millenia without an extinction event). Which would almost make the nerve fibre connections into a miraculous act of convergent evolution. But not all of it is bad. The lung openings on the direhorses, on their chests with a large volume intake, would've been a brilliant evolutionary jump away from a narrow trachea and probably an easier jump from book lungs & gills. Somehow the fauna is vaguely reminiscent of Nemo Ramjet's Snaiad universe. Last but not least, Turok - the flying giant in butterfly colours. I just can't get over the fact that its name is "last shadow" and the import of that.

All in all, it's a mish-mash of the noble savage, the greed of man (ah, Rousseau vs Hobbes), the modern industrial military complex and an imperfect romance. The movie is watchable, though not by any means an instant classic.

If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.
    -- Orson Welles

posted at: 20:03 | path: /movies | permalink | Tags: ,

Mon, 04 Jan 2010:

I've left too many things behind with 2009. And I'm better off for it.

It wasn't exactly a pleasant year to begin with. Betrayals seemed the theme from the start. Which I could've dealt with, except my inability to deal with betrayal was treated as some sort of personal failing on my end. As if my disappointment was some hint of immaturity I had to grow myself out of.

Anger boiled, seethed in my veins. But I held my hand, because I still believed that people would do the right thing, albeit eventually. Patience lasted exactly a month. Then it was time to blast off, blow everyone off, leave the liars and traitors behind, to cleanse myself of the grime and corruption of their world. Yes, I still don't think as my trust being misplaced ... it was betrayed.

But perhaps, adversity is a forge of character. I revved up my thunderbird, cruised along the hills and valleys of south india, in a quest for my soul, self and maybe something more. The wandering took me to places of my self where I've been loath to shine a light into, hardly tread.

20/20: Twenty meals alone. Once you're through that barrier, being alone hardly holds any terrors. Life flows around you, every face a stranger's, every smile an accident. And you're in no hurry, there's nowhere to be, no one to meet, nothing really left to do. Sitting there, as you watch the world rush about, you feel content to just be a spectator to the human race.

Rock bottom is a pretty productive place to be. Wrapping myself in a cocoon of solitude, I spent hours, nay days scribbling bits of myself into my little diary. An outpouring of self, a vignette of modern urban life, my only story, a fictional biography of someone I used to be.

Perhaps it was cathartic. Perhaps it was inspiring almost to examine myself through an honest mirror, instead of relying on the judgement of others. Brutal honesty cut through the threads of self pity tying me down. I may have had a crappy time for half a decade, but I've come out of it scarred, but smiling. And again.

Resurrection. Life's a little less serious now, I think I have most of it figured. Simple rules to live by - smile, don't give a damn about what "they" think and do what you really want. If you're good, you'll float ... else, you sink. But there's no room for pretending.

And that was 2009[1].

[1] - Wait, that was only four months? The rest of the year? A blur of fun, parties, travel and stuff that'll eventually be a footnote to such a page.

Strike me down now and I shall be more AWESOME than ever!

posted at: 03:03 | path: /me | permalink | Tags: , ,