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Showing posts from February, 2018

Criticism of Obama is (not) based on Racism

Stephen Colbert said it best : "Any time a racist criticizes the president someone cries racism" "What better way to prove you're not a racist than by highlighting a fellow critic's race" "I wish more African Americans were like the President - raised by white people" "Before the next time you accuse the president of having a secret plan of taking white people's money and giving it to black people or broadcast chuck and jive imitations of African American leaders, just put on a little blackwashing" Amen! [Originally posted on my personal blog at, September 25, 2009]

Do Something

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing" -Edmund Burke "Well then, do something, don't just complain about it" - You Obama did something - he ran against evil, against history - and triumphed! He gave everyone all over the world *HOPE* - and he delivered. By winning. By "doing something about it". People on the side of "the evil" should be eating crow. All others - including the silent majority - can "do something". Rejoice in the "triumph of good". And Peace. . [Originally posted on my personal blog at, October 11, 2009]

BP and US Government Regulators were Accomplices

The following are excerpts from  a news story that details a laundry list of facts  that show BP and US Government Regulators acting as accomplices in a series of safety violations that combined to reach a tipping point, leading to the worst oil spill in history and a thoroughly incompetent response to it: [Originally posted on my personal blog at, June 06, 2010]

Mariage Insurance

I have often spoken with my friends about a business plan to sell "marriage insurance". It would make getting a divorce as automatic and simple as getting your car insurance company to handle a collision claim. It would also focus on making getting married at least as difficult as getting a driving license (indicative of knowing the rules & having the minimum qualification) and as much a responsibility to maintain in good standing as a car insurance policy (indicative of a good "record".) In other words, we need to educate and counsel couples before they get married - and periodically during it - rather than what's common practice today, doing it when a marriage is already troubled and couples are more likely to fail at it and divorce rather than successfully work it out. The idea is to give people who choose to marry the tools to increase the chances of making their marriages work, and likewise allow them the dignity of a quick & relatively

Sehwag going down the Ganguly way

I wish I had written this 3 weeks ago; actually I wish someone with influence over Virender Sehwag had. Being a huge Sehwag fan and of Gambhir to a lesser extent, I cannot understand what possessed Delhi/Gambhir to break up Sehwag-Gambhir opening pair that won them so many matches in IPL, leave alone the small matter that it's the best opening combination in the world today and in the history of Indian cricket in all three forms of the game. They deserved to lose today for not acknowledging & addressing this problem in time - they have had enough failures at the top to know. That said, Sehwag has to take personal responsibility and grow up. It is great that he has all this talent, mental strength & unselfish attitude, but he has to understand that it's all about winning - not just about not believing  "in wasting balls"  as he said recently. Also, asked about his tendency to get out playing risky shots, he correctly pointed out that a risky sh

Criticism of Obama is (not) based on Racism

Stephen Colbert said it best : "Any time a racist criticizes the president someone cries racism" "What better way to prove you're not a racist than by highlighting a fellow critic's race" "I wish more African Americans were like the President - raised by white people" "Before the next time you accuse the president of having a secret plan of taking white people's money and giving it to black people or broadcast chuck and jive imitations of African American leaders, just put on a little blackwashing" Amen! [Originally posted on my personal blog at, September 25, 2009]

Adhoori Kavita

I came up with the first stanza of this poem over 20 years ago, but have never been able to finish it. I'm posting it online here in the hope that inspiration may strike me again and allow me to finish it. Or someone who is lost on the internet and stumbles upon my blog and this note may be able to help me finish it! Note that it's part Hindi and part English - Hinglish, if you will! Here goes: Adhoori Kavita Hum Ne Jab Dil Diya ... Maloom tha ki aage Uphill Task hai Pyar karna Skill aur Strong Will ki baat hai Pyar mein Success Thrill hai, To Failure ek Bitter Pill hai Phir Bhi Humne Dil Diya ... ... ??? ------ Help! [Originally posted on my personal blog at, August 25, 2009]

My Experience (a kid's poem)

Here's a poem I wrote when I was in 8th grade in school My Experience Once upon a time, I had a little donkey Whom I very lovingly, used to call Pinky But in fact, he was very brown And making a fine pair, I looked like a clown Whatever we looked like, that does not matter My story begins, as I grew fatter Allow me to tell you, for your information At that time, was I, a very poor washerman One day, on Pinky, I loaded a huge clothes bunch And on the top I settled, with my heavy paunch Due to the mighty weight, his bones crunched And the next minute, into the air I was launched As I fell on earth, I started groans and moans Nevertheless, the next thing I did was to check my bones My limbs ached, and I felt very sick Later on, I learned that the cause was Pinky's kick After that experience so dim I decided to become slim And hence I advise you, never to become plump For you too, as me, may receive many a bump! [Originally posted on my personal blog a

Obama was right - Cambridge Police did act "Stupidly"

I'm sure you know about the  arrest of the Harvard Professor, Henry Louis Gates , in his own house! After the initial strong reactions, including  one from President Obama , people by and large seem to have settled down to accepting the incident as an unfortunate one, with no one to blame but the situation itself. And history - of race in America. And also perceptions - of black and white about each other. Here's an  AP article  that does a fairly good job of analyzing the incident. Still, as a brown guy from India who is neither white nor black, and having lived in the US for more than 18 years, I have no hesitation in agreeing with the initial reaction of President Obama. The issue is pretty simple, really. A police officer gets a call about a possible break-in, and while investigating, makes a few errors in judgment, overreacting and aggravating the situation. He should have given Mr. Gates the benefit of doubt, while continuing to verify his identity and his side

Hanky Panky, Social Norms and Brainwashing by Marketing

As I wiped my hands on my  handkerchief  after I stepped out of the restroom, my friend's teenage daughter turned to me and said,  "that right there is a major turnoff for women, if you ever plan to date women, don't ever use it" . Startled and a little puzzled, I asked her why she would say such a thing about an object of hygiene. She said,  "Have you heard of Kleenex?"  And what if I don't have one handy when I have to wipe my hands or face or worse, have to sneeze or blow my nose?  "Use your hands and wash them later" , she replied without hesitation, and added, the only person she knew who uses that (referring to my guilty hanky) is her grandma! Her reply was eye-opening - she was hinting at social cluelessness defined by a generation gap, but it also gave me the missing clue to a  similar comment on TechCrunch last week  by someone who said he blows his nose into his elbow joint! (Remember that ladies, the next time someone holds his el

Credit Cards - Past, Present & Future

Credit Cards 101, 201, 301 & 401! Credit Card Industry Aims to Profit From Sterling Payers Dealing Consumers a New Hand in Credit Cards By  RON LIEBER Published: May 19, 2009 " If you don’t like the new fees and other things that banks will soon be testing as they grapple with their new economic reality, then make some noise. Send a note to me at , so I can write about the latest foolishness — or consumer-friendly twist. At the very least, all of our complaints to the higher-ups at the banks may help persuade the companies to head in another direction.  " What Does Your Credit-Card Company Know About You? [Originally posted on my personal blog at, May 19, 2009]

It's a slow economy- Let's talk about handshakes & picking up chicks

You know it's a rough economy when Guy Kawasaki is tweeting about  picking up chicks  and TechCrunch is blogging about  handshakes & social etiquette  and  beating up dead horses . But shouldn't these guys be talking about my friend's company that just got funded to do  DNA computation in the cloud  - or something like that? [Originally posted on my personal blog at, May 09, 2009]

Bugs in the American Legal System

As an immigrant from India, I have always been very impressed with the American legal system. In over 17 years, I have not encountered grassroots corruption, have been treated courteously by those in power, and have seen the system work overall in favor of the individual. In particular, I've always seen the punitive damages system as a counter-balancing force that puts the "fear of God" in the minds of the rich & powerful corporations that would otherwise tend to trample the average citizen. I'm not so sure any more after I heard this program on NPR's Fresh Air today:  Reporter Explores America's Unique Take on Justice It discusses the news series in New York Times, by Adam Liptak, called  American Exceptions . The highlights of the series so far are: Inmate Count in U.S. Dwarfs Other Nations’ The U.S. has less than 5 percent of the world’s population but almost a quarter of its prisoners. Foreign Courts Wary of U.S. Punitive Damages For

Sex, Rape, and God

There's an interesting  article in Washington Post  that discusses the nuances and history of Mormon polygamy. I found the comments below it sufficiently compelling to respond. I'm reproducing here what I said there: All this talk about what the religion or the sect says is a red herring in my view. The only issue is what is legal, and what should be illegal. The core problem with this incident and others before it isn't whether polygamy is or should be legal. * The problem is adults having sex with children * * The problem is _systemic_ RAPE of children. * No society should condone in any form sex with children. Polygamy, Polyandry, Polyamory, Bigamy and any kind of sexual union between *consenting adults* is not the issue, and shouldn't be illegal in the first place. The problem is that laws exist on books in several US states that make these various kinds of sexual activity illegal - including fellatio and sodomy - even between consenting adults. Upd

Cricket, Racism, Hypocrisy, and Context

Check out  this column  on the recent  racism row  in cricket. The 100+ comments below the article provide an excellent repost to the ill-informed, poorly written article. Sure, Indians are as capable of racism as anyone. But the article got completely side-tracked into issues of *all* discrimination, not just racial discrimination. ‘Monkey’ and ‘donkey’ are commonly used in India to call someone ‘stupid’ or ‘a fool’. Growing up in India, we used to play ‘catch’ with a ball, where each time you miss you get ‘labeled’ which a letter from one of the following sequences: ‘M’, ‘O’, ‘N’, ‘K’, ‘E’, ‘Y’ or ‘D’, ‘O’, ‘N’, ‘K’, ‘E’, ‘Y’. The bottom-line is this: what is offensive or racist is *context-sensitive*. In the US, when a non-black person calls a black person ‘nigger’, it’s racist, but when a black man calls another black man ‘nigger’, it’s not. Among Indians, friendly cussing happens in their primary language of communication. For some of my Hindi-speaking friends ‘gadhe’,

Marketplace for Sex

We learned that Bonobo monkeys use sex as  a tool for peace . Now it turns out, male Macaque  monkeys " pay " for sex  - and  market price  at that! What next? Gay gorrillas adopting and raising baby chimpanzees? You never know... [Originally posted on my personal blog at, October 14, 2009]

Cricket: Gavaskar vs. Tendulkar

I'm a huge fan of the game of Cricket. (For the average American sports fan who doesn't understand how a game can be played for a whole day in the shorter version, and upto 5 days in the longer version, I've got two metaphors for you: War and "Reality Show". I'll have more on this another time.) Too many Indian cricket fans lack historical perspective or the ability to make unbiased observations. I've been a huge fan of both Gavaskar and Tendulkar. Far too many times I've been left seething with anger and frustration by Tendulkar in the 2nd innings of India in a test match (and in ODIs, when  chasing  - especially a daunting target - like in the 2003 World Cup final). And I've seen way too much criticism of how slowly Gavaskar played that's not matched by appreciation for how often he played match-saving or match-winning innings for India. Here's an article  (just found while randomly googling for interesting articles on cricke

Protecting People from Religion

Religions make rules that are odd and arbitrary rules at best and harmful at worst. It's time to stop talking about "separation of church and state" and start talking about Protecting people from Religions all over the world! Here's just a short list: Orthodox Jews: Christianity: sex, abortion, divorce, pedophiles Mormons: polygamy - and rape of children (forced marriages) Islam: women's rights - prisoners in their own houses, rape as a punishment, family killing for honor Hinduism - caste system, child marriages, parents, family killing for honor ... (More to come.) [Originally posted on my personal blog at, October 14, 2009]

Citibank's junk mail opt-out is like jumping through hoops

I have a Citibank NRI (non-resident Indian) account which I don' t use much. But I get a ton of email from them - all marketing messages. I tried "unsubscribing" (still trying to figure out how can you unsubscribe when you didn't subscribe). The reply I got back from Citibank shows their callous attitude towards their customers and particularly regarding the issue of spam: From:  India Service [] Sent:  Wednesday, September 26, 2007 8:39 AM To:  Murali Krishna Devarakonda Subject:  RE:'Citibank=006-038-728' Unsubscribe Dear Mr.  Devarakonda , This is with reference to your email dated September 25, 2007. To withdraw the promotion mailer facility, we require the Coupon A form. The form is available in the nearest NRI centre. The list of NRI Centers are available in the 'Contact Us' under the "customer service" option in our website We assure you of our best attention at all times.

A plan to blog more often

I am a prolific writer when I set my mind to it. From 1977 to 1984, I had exchanged an unbroken chain of written letters (about half a dozen per year) with a childhood friend. I had similar, smaller chains with some of my other school friends. I read a lot too. And don't me talking - I usually have a lot to say. But trust me, I listen well too (when I shut up). So, it's like all my life I was waiting for the blog' to get invented, but when that did happen, I seem to have run out of steam to take advantage of it. I've thought about why that is and the answer is simple. I'm a whole lot busier- especially since I'm bootstrapping my startup. But there are those who should be busier than me, successfully blogging all the time. How do they do it? I don't know for sure, but I'm going to start doing the following: 1. Write short blogs, with anything that I can think of. Even a single line quote. 2. Start writing the moment I think of something t

Sex for Peace!

Make love, not war ! How often have you heard people mouth platitudes about world peace? There's the beauty pageant contestant offering to use her celebrity status to secure world peace if she wins (although admittedly,  Stephen Colbert  has found out  a link between beauty pageants and middle-east peace ). Seriously, though, do you really want world peace? Did you say  yes ? Well then, that's easy- just have more sex! Scientific observation  has  revealed  that social interactions among  bonobos  are far less hostile than among common chimps. This is not to say that bonobos never fight; they just do so a lot less. Unlike common chimps (and humans, of course), bonobos have never been observed deliberately killing members of their own species. Among bonobos observed both in the wild and in captivity, sex and mutual pleasure are keys to keeping the peace, reinforcing social relations based upon the give and take of sensual, erotic pleasure rather than on pain and f

Boxers or Briefs?

I must be nuts to address this age-old question. Anyway, did you know the  source  of the popularity of this seemingly risque question? Not that I didn't ponder this question myself for years. Hmm ...  Boxers , or  Briefs ? You see, growing up, I felt that boxers were too clumsy inside the trousers and ride up your thighs - so they were never an option for me. Yet briefs grip you in a chokehold, not letting you breathe. So, I'll confess. I tried boxers a few years ago. And got hooked on to them- I liked that I can lounge around in them. But of course, as any man can tell you, boxers have, ahem,  disadvantages . And did you know that you are risking getting a  hernia  if you're running up and down stairs wearing boxers inside? Now that should scare you into giving up boxers! If you don't know what hernia is, and you didn't check the above link, take a look at this  slideshow . It certainly scared my boxers off! I'm now switching to  boxer-briefs

The Placenta Pouch- from Belly Button Corporation

Some time ago, when I was working at BBC (yes, the British Broadcasting Corporation) , a couple of my women colleagues educated me on how a baby breathes inside the mother's womb. They told me it's pretty simple- the baby gets the oxygen through the placenta. Simple? Huh? Fish are capable of breathing in water, but  humans  breathing through liquid  stuff ? I don't know why enough people aren't curious enough, and don't know what scientists are doing about it. But if I were a scientist or VC in the biotech field, I would look into it. Here's the basic idea: Figure out how the human baby is capable of breathing inside the mother's womb, getting oxygen from the placenta. Then we create a  placenta pouch  that will be connected to your belly-button (or wherever appropriate). Fill up your nostrils and lungs with water (or whatever liquid necessary) just like the human baby does, and dive into water! You can now breathe inside water! How long you c

What does it mean to be "commited" to a relationship?

Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines  Commitment  as follows: the state or an instance of being obligated or emotionally impelled Here's my take on it: You know you are committed to a relationship if you focus on your negative qualities and the other person's positive qualities. In other words, you try to  improve yourself  and accept the other person unconditionally. Chew on it! [Originally posted on my personal blog at, October 22, 2006 ]

Status of Women in India and ... Malnourished Kids

In a report the results of which really shouldn't be a surprise to anyone from India India ranks 3rd from bottom of the world on malnourished kids Consider some of the findings from a report released globally today by the Washington-based International Food Policy Institute (IFPRI). The proportion of children found underweight in India, according to the latest figures is 47.5 per cent, which makes it  worse than conflict-plagued, drought-stricken Sub-Saharan Africa. According to the report's lead author Doris Wiesmann, “ In India, women eat the last and the least , increasing the chances of anaemia,” she explained. “It has been observed that the women who have a say in the family, allocate more resources to their children’s nutritional needs. Men have other priorities,” she said. What are  you  going to  do  about it? What can you  do  about it? Simple,  treat  the women and children in your house  as  your  equals - insist that they sit down to eat with you. If it&

LAT - for a LONG marriage!

There's the carefree (or lonely) single life, there's living (pilot program for marriage) together , the blissful (or harried) married life, and then there's the amicable (or nasty) divorce. But wait, did you know there's another choice? LAT.  Living-Apart-Together . Everyone probably knows that living together before marriage is supposed to increase your chances of marrying someone sufficiently compatible with you. LAT is on the flip-side of it. It can prolong your marriage beyond a point where divorce might have been the only option given the insufficient compatibility between the couple. My suggestion is no one should consider divorce before trying LAT. And lest you believe it's a brand new western concept, gentle reader look eastwards, towards India, the land of the kama sutra. There you will find the time honored tradition of the wife retreating to her  mayke  or  puttillu  - for a temporary separation (LAT) supervised by her parents. It has worked w

Traffic "Problem"? Travel to India!

Here's why Americans need to travel more often - to countries like India. To get some perspective. Cooper Marcus of  thinks  India's traffic anarchy is a positive thing. I bet he never set foot on the roads of India! Yo dude, take a timeout. Come to India with me the next time I go there. I guarantee it will be one of the most educational and life-changing trips of your life. [Originally posted on my personal blog at, October 10, 2006 ]

The Environment - and Your Health

My friend Marc Joseph gave up a lucrative career in business to launch  Marc Joseph Nutrition  based on his very personal experience with Mercury poisoning. As with anything he does, Marc, who has a Stanford MBA, aced his Master's program in Nutrition. Check out his blog for excellent information on how your "environment" affects your health. Topics covered so far include: Without Better Prevention & Treatment, Strokes May Cost $2.2 Trillion by 2050 Ground Zero, Toxic Air, & Heavy Metal Toxicity Obesity in China Families Troubled by Health Care Costs Healthy Schools Program Calorie Restriction and Alzheimer’s Disease Adding Fat and Making Vegetables More Nutritious Skin Cancer and The Tanning Industry Iraq Veterans Exposed to Depleted Uranium Microbes Helping to Cause Obesity? [Originally posted on my personal blog at, October 10, 2006 ]

Your Conscience (Part-2) and Test-Driven-Development

... contd. from  Part -1: Your Conscience is Your Compiler Friend: Ok, got it. I used to think these are instincts. Me: Well, you can hack it, i.e. ignore your conscience, but then you're corrupting your "code" and it affects your "program" behavior. And soon, you can't fix it anymore. It's gone, unless you do major "refactoring". Or a complete rewrite- which for humans is death and rebirth... and what does anyone know about death and beyond anyway? In this life, you can only do refactoring, there's no rewrite. Friend: Nice analogy. TDD! Me: Well, TDD- Test-driven development is to ensure you are always following your conscience...But at the same time, allowing yourself the oppportunity to learn and the privilege to change your mind some day as you mature. TDD lets you easily incorporate lessons you learn as you grow and mature. It helps you change more easily than would be otherwise possible for you. It helps you easily figur

Your Conscience is Your Compiler!

Your Conscience is Your Compiler! The following is the exact transcript of an IM chat about "Conscience" I had with a friend: Friend: I follow my instincts. Me: Animals follow instincts - humans follow their conscience. It's the only God I know. Your conscience always tells you what's right or wrong. Friend: No murali, I disagree. How do you define what's right? Me: Your conscience tells you- always. If you do something you believe is wrong, you'll feel guilty. If you don't believe it's wrong, you won't feel guilty Friend: Yeah, but why do you do things? Me: Because we are human. Friend: No, it's because we want to survive. Me: It takes a lot of character to always obey your conscience, a lot of strength.We survive either way. But if you and your conscience are on good terms, you have unshakeable self-belief. Friend: Yeah Me: And you'll care about little things like pride, self-respect, principles, character, reputati

No Legal or Official Reason to Trust the Rating Agencies

I had posted this on my facebook wall some time ago, which is not easy to search through nor is it well-suited for blog-size posts. Hence reproducing here as the information is eye-opening. “they’re winning because this is not a level playing field.” The Ratings agencies (Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch): 1. have NO duty to be correct. ... 'the companies didn’t owe ... a “duty” — a legal obligation that could form the basis of a negligence claim' 2. have NO shared responsibility. 'judges have rejected the idea that the rating agencies worked so closely with the investment banks that they were essentially co-underwriters' 3. are NOT experts 'a regulation exempts rating agencies from the definition of “experts” who can be sued' 4. have NO conflict of interest - because you already know about it! 'it has been around so long and is so widely known that it isn’t a cause of action' 5. are merely expressing OPINIONS 'their grades are jus

Keep Fear Alive! Or Restore Sanity!

As I became more and more familiar with the politics and rhetoric in the US - and its history, I'm beginning to realize that none of this is new. But that's part of the greatness of the system in the US. In spite of its flaws and  ... the mean-spiritedness of various people and parties involved, this country keeps making progress overall, over a sufficiently long period - about 10 years. The society and the political system has had the resilience and character to overcome any challenge it has faced. On the flip side, nostalgia can often be misleading- there is no such thing as the "good old days". Things were almost always worse in the past. Here's one thing that absolutely symbolizes what I'm talking about: http://www.RallyToRestoreS And of course, this: http://www.KeepFearAlive.c om/ Uniquely American responses to American problems! [Originally posted on my personal blog at, September 18, 2010 ]