I am not Ken Bone

It sure speaks something about the good old United States of America that one of its presidential nominees (of the two major parties) is a debauchee-in-chief already. 

Even more upsetting is the fact that a fat, half-bald, half-conservative, white-pizza-delivery-boy, who claims once to have committed a felony, became an internet hero – for all of a week or so.  And his name is appropriate, Ken Bone.  I am sure that Bill Maher will have a field day with it.

Just google for Ken Bone images, and you will surely find the 6th or the nth one, showing Ken Bone in all his finesse – almost man-spreading in grandeur, and with crossed legs earlier (if you can’t, links at the end).

Just to show that India, the largest democracy, is not so dissimilar with America, the most powerful democracy, here is a snapshot of a white boy, stately with crossed legs, lying on the roadside, today morning.


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Ken Bone man-spreading [http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/ken-bone-sells-starts-working-uber-pitchman-article-1.2829376]

Ken Bone crossed legs [http://qz.com/808907/ken-bones-hustle-shows-how-fast-internet-celebrities-are-cashing-in/]
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Cat loses her Nine Lives

She was a beautiful cat.  White, marvelous coat with splashes of black, Her pure amber eyes were mystical, and the fluffy, striped tail was something I had seen only in pure breeds.  She wandered into the neighbourhood after the Chennai floods, and took up residence here and there, lurking in the nooks and crannies in the apartments around.

With such a beauty, the nights became the haunts of the Donald Trumps of the cat world.  After much caterwauling, she had her first litter a couple of weeks ago.  People who have seen the litter say they are as lovely as their mother.

Today morning, about quarter-to-six, I was fetching milk.  As it often happens, a trader starting his day, and the watchman of a nearby complex was about, and we engaged in small talk.  Early in the mornings, it is normal to see the strays, the semi-feral cats, an owl, a woodpecker or two, an even a Besra (of Hawk family) scooting around.  The cats often rush across the street, returning from their early morning scavenge-hunt.

Then came the maroon Honda City, not over speeding, but a little too fast at 40 kph or so.  The beauty, being young, and even though metro-born, acted like a typical country-bumpkin.  Instead of scooting straight across, she took off in a tangent, and the far (left) wheel caught her on her back.

Before we could rush the fifty feet or so to her aid, she sort of crabbed around in wide circles.  I could see her back was broken, and was trying to pull off my t-shirt to smother her to keep her still so that we can get her to the Blue Cross hospital.

But by the time we reached her, she was gone.  Even more sadly, I could not locate the litter even after searching for a couple of hours.

Such a crappy start to the day.


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Kaine versus Pence is the future of America

Less than 12 hours from now, the two Vice-President hopefuls Tim Kaine of the Democrats, and the Republican Mike Pence will duel in what will be truly the first VP debate of the internet age.  Back in 2008, Sarah Palin sideshow did not have the full benefit of Twitter or Facebook, while the Trump dumps of 03:20 AM (on Twitter) are infamous today.

The media is of course on the bandwagon, with articles on the debate – what to expect (Vox), what to watch for (CNN, NYT), what to look at (Fox), why to watch (BBC, Guardian), what to know (USAToday), and battle of the normals (WP, Politico).

I think they have all missed the point.  This debate of the Veeps will probably turn out to be one of the most important in the modern history of America.  That’s because whoever becomes POTUS Trump or Hilary, the gut feeling is they would be One-Term President.

[edit at 21:00 IST - Only WIRED have speculated, as I just found out, that Pence might become/act as a behind the scenes US President, because Trump might rely on Pence w.r.t. Domestic Policy - assuming President Trump is fully conversant in Foreign Policy]

First a look at the GOP.  If Donald Trump wins, he would do so through Electoral College vote, and not through Popular Vote.  And I have a feeling that Mike Pence, the Veep would become POTUS sooner rather than later, in this case.  Within 2 years, the actions of Trump would be so absurd (echoes of Spiro Agnew?), the establishment Republicans would intervene to ease out Trump, elevate Pence, and probably make Paul Ryan the Veep.

Of the Democrats, they are the proverbial frog in boiling water situation, and have not realised it.  Only the wimpy reaction or the scared cat unwillingness of the establishment Republicans to Dump Trump has helped the Donkeys in 2016. 

The first strategic mistake was committed in 2008, when just like the GOP of 2016, the DNC failed to convince Barack Obama into a Hilary-Obama ticket.  That would have ensured a 16 year Democratic lock-in on the White House.

Now look at their mess.  After Barack Obama, who is 55 this year, they are going back to a 68 year old, whose Veep at 58 is older than the current President.  If he runs as a Presidential candidate after a two term Hilary administration, he would be then just two years younger at 66, than she is today.

Confronting them in 2024 will be Scott Walker (56), Paul Ryan (54), Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal (53), Nicky Haley (52), and Tom Cotton (47), to speculate about a few.  On the side of the Democrats, who will be there? Only Cory Booker (55), I guess!

You may ask why am I obsessed with the potential candidates and their age in 2024.  It is because the Millennials and post-millennials will form most of the electorate from now on.  This might probably be the last election where pre-millennial out-vote the post.

So, don’t forget to watch the debate, or if you miss (or even if you watch) it, do not forget to read my take here.

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Google celebrates 18th birthday with a doodle

Google is a star, and at least in its birthday date, it is a Bollywood star or even a Gen. V.K. Singh, former Chief of Army Staff.  It is so because, as late as 2013 Google itself admitted that it is not exactly sure of its birthdate, but will stick to 27 September for record,

As such, Google has celebrated its birthday on at least four days in September: the 7th, the 8th, the 26th and the 27th.  That is not counting when the Google.com domain itself was registered which was more an year earlier, on 16 Sep 1997.  .Or its first Doodle which appeared on 30 Aug 1998.

But officially, Google has adopted 27 Sep as its birthday and so has released a Doodle for its 18th one.  So, Google is an adult, and hopefully will not censor anymore adult content in blogs, YouTube, or its other services.

Here is the Doodle celebrating Google’s 18th birthday.  It is an animated GIF.

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Sydney saved Madras from Emden of Qingdao

Today 22 September marks the 102 anniversary of an incident which reads like an Alistair MacLean maritime-world war novel.  It happened during The Great War or World War I as was called later.

On 22 Sep 1914, the German Light Cruiser SMS Emden let loose a barrage on the City of Madras.  She fired 130 rounds with her 105 mm (4.1 in) naval guns, targeting the Oil Tanks in the Port of Madras, and the old Light House which was situated at the present site of Madras High Court.

The Bombardment of Madras shook the then population, and many evacuated from the city, fearing the return of the Emden.  The German Light Cruiser, named for the City of Emden, was laid down in 1906 and was commissioned in 1909.

In 1914, she was based at the German leased Chinese Territory around Qingdao (Tsingtau).  In August, Japan entered the WW1 in alliance with Triple Entente (later called Allied Powers), against the Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire.  The German East Asia Squadron withdrew from Qingdao to attempt a breakthrough to Germany via South America, but Emden was detached to act as independent raider.

Thus, SMS Emden was let loose in the Bay of Bengal and adjoining Indian Ocean.  In her 3 month career as raider, SMS Emden accounted for more than 70,000 GRT of shipping, cruising over 30,000 nautical miles (56,000 km).  She single handed brought down the exports from the Bay of Bengal region by more than 60%.

On 9 Nov 1914, SMS Emden met her match in HMAS Sydney at the Battle of Cocos. HMAS Sydney let loose 670 rounds with her 152 mm (6 in) naval guns, scoring over 100 hits.  SMS Emden was forced to breach to save her crew, and ended the terror of the people of Madras.

Thus we have the Tale of Three Cities stretched across 3 continents, and a very small monument pointed out by my father in 1977-78 in the walls of Madras High Court. 

Interestingly, today, in 2016, there are no naval ships named after Emden or Sydney.  The last Emden was the Bremen class frigate F210, decommissioned in 2013.  The last Sydney was the Adelaide class frigate decommissioned in 2015. 

But there is the INS Chennai, a Kolkata class destroyer, the first ship to be named after Chennai, and set to be commissioned later this year.  There is also Qingdao, a Luhu class destroyer of the PLAN.

Another interesting thought is that the present INS Chennai or the future namesakes of Chennai, Emden, and Sydney meet, they will do so as a part of combined Allied Battle Group and hunt the present or future Quindao.

Since there are no go decent images of INS Chennai, here is instead a photo of ICGS flotilla based in Chennai.  The OPVs have been identified by their Pennant Numbers.  Image from Indian Coast Guard website. Some interesting pictures from the archives of The Hindu [http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/discovered-pictures-of-madras-after-emden-struck/article3804481.ece]


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Wish everyone a Happy Onam

Though on the eve of Kerala’s most important festival, the BJP president’s greeting has people in the state up in arms, it is time to wish everyone, especially the people of Kerala, a Happy Onam.

Onam is a major festival in Kerala commemorating the homecoming of the mythological figure Mahabali. Mahabali, also known as Maveli, was an Asura king, under whose rule, according to the dominant belief connected with the festival, the people lived in utmost prosperity and were treated equally. The success of Mahabali as a good and powerful ruler made even the ‘Devas’ envious of him, prompting Vishnu taking on the form of Vamana, a Brahmin boy, one of his avatars, and approaching Mahabali. The mythological story says Vamana cunningly ended the rule of Mahabali, a King the people loved. But it is believed that the King would come from the nether world to visit his people annually. So people make their best preparations to receive their beloved King, according to the popular belief. Interestingly, though connected to Hindu mythology, Onam is observed and celebrated by a section of Christians and Muslims in the state. Flower carpet and Onam special lunch are some of the most popular and secular forms of Onam celebrations in which Keralites, irrespective of their faith, often participate. (this para shamelessly copied from thewire.in article on the subject).

Leaving aside the controversies, for which the BJP is famous for, what does one do, when wakes up early in the morning and cannot go back to sleep.  Such was today, when I woke up at around 04:00 AM and could not go back to sleep.

Then the brainwave.  A poo-kolam or kolam with flowers on the occasion of Onam.  Here is the snapshot of the first amateur try at poo-kolam.


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