A Facebook friend had a link on her page to this article on the brave holdouts that have resisted the pressure to succumb and get a cellphone like everyone else. So I thought I'd post a link to it here too. While I must confess to owning a cellphone myself and am grateful for some of the conveniences it offers, my sympathies are entirely with those that that are offended by their obnoxious overuse and misuse. For these refuseniks (as the NY Times article refers to them) that have found ingenious ways of leading wholesome and productive lives bereft of these pocket and purse monkeys, I have nothing but the sincerest admiration and awe. Carpe Diem!

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Nicholas Kristof has a very compelling op ed piece in the NYT suggesting that more schools as opposed to more US troops in Afghanistan are what are really needed. The most telling statistic in the article is the one that points out that For the cost of a single additional soldier stationed in Afghanistan for one year, we could build roughly 20 schools there.

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The Libertine Bar in Dallas had a pumpkin-carving contest Wednesday evening. Against my better judgement, I decided to participate. Fortunately, the trusty Michelle showed up and helped me salvage what would've otherwise been an unmitigated disaster. The image left represents our endeavour which I've decided to name "Doubting Thomas". I'll post images of the decidedly better carvings later.

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The Sun Sentinel amongst other news outlets has a story about a Home Depot employee that was fired for his insistence on wearing a "One Nation Under God" button. The exact details of how and exactly why he was fired are a matter of some dispute.

Now the employee's motivation for wearing the button is quite explicit - he is a very devout Christian and openly admits that it was a show of his Christian faith. What I find quite baffling is why Home Depot would want to get involved in such an issue, particularly in a manner that is guaranteed to generate them unfavourable publicity. As silly as I find most buttons, religious or otherwise - it would require some really redeeming comedic value to constitute an exception - I cant help feeling that Home Depot might have overplayed its hand here. The question arises as to who they feel would possibly be offended by the button which featured the phrase "One nation under God, indivisible" from the Pledge of Allegiance. While in the mind of the employee, the "God" clearly is the god mentioned in the Bible, logic (ironic as its invoking is, in a religious context!) would dictate that both Muslims and Jews should not have an issue with this, since their holy books refer to the same "invisible man in the sky" (to borrow from the late brilliant George Carlin) as does the Bible, albeit by different names. Even a polytheistic Hindu is entirely unlikely to take offense at the button, and neither would the odd acolyte of L Ron. This pretty much leaves Buddhists (who are supposedly ambivalent about the formal existence of a supreme being) and atheists who are decidedly less ambivalent! I cannot speak for the former, but as a lifelong atheist, I can assure you that no self-respecting non-believer would give a rodent's derrière about a hardware store employee's flair for religious-themed flair! In fact the goofier the button, the merrier as far as I'm concerned. All I care about is whether the employee can help me locate a 30 inch Groundmaster Post System. As long as he/she can accomplish that, they could display a button that read "Those who don't accept Jesus will burn in hell" and apart from a good silent chuckle, I would otherwise remain completely unaffected.

Now I'm open to the possibility that there are actually strong compelling reasons for an organisation to prescribe what an employee might or might not wear while at work. Patently offensive and inappropriate apparel are obviously not protected by any reasonable interpretation of personal freedom in the workplace. But if there is a case to be made justifying Home Depot's decision in the aforementioned matter of the button, I'd like to know.

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If at first you feel ashamed to belong to the species homo sapiens after reading this article in the New York Review of Books, as you read towards the end, you will find that personal redemption (if not that of humankind) is indeed possible. Here are links to the organisations mentioned in the article, presented with the express caveat that you should always exercise due diligence before contributing time, money and resources to any charitable outfit, including reputed ones, because of possible changes in management and mission objectives.

Kiva.org
SavetheChildren.org
Grameen Foundation

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Huffington Post has a list of the Most Ridiculous Rap Lyrics of all time. I wonder if they compiled the lyrics just by listening to CDs or if they made an attempt to get the original scores and read the lyrics from the sheet music.

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The perils of well-intentioned but unfortunately irresponsible parenting are documented here and in Nell Minow(Movie Mom)'s excellent analysis here.


My cousin Geetha has some beautiful examples of her oil on canvas paintings on her website.


If someone has any other ideas on how we could make money off of these paranoid right wing idiots without actually putting weapons in their hands, I'm all for it!

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Michelle took me to hear the Dallas Symphony play selections from Prokofieff's Romoeo and Juliet suite. Maestro Jaap van Zweden is a keeper and thankfully the DSO thought so too. The French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet that played the Saint-SaŽns concerto #2 was just brilliant! I'm not a big fan of the composer himself (give me Berlioz any day) who I think mostly wrote childrens' music, but Thibaudet was mesmerising. We got to shake Jaap's hand after the concert and to chat with our friend Nick Tsolainos who is the principal bassist with the DSO. I knew he played bass with them, but he never told me that he was first chair! Thanks for the ticket Michelle, and I'll hold you to your promise of becoming this site's film critic.


The NYT has an op-ed piece recommending ignition-interlock devices on vehicles belonging to people convicted of DUI/DWI offenses that would inhibit the vehicle from starting "until the driver first blows into the device and registers an alcohol level below the legal limit". Eminently laudable as the objective is, am I the only one who sees glaringly obvious workarounds that even a thoroughly wasted lush with a few remaining functional brain-cells could easily exploit?! What I find pathetic about even well-intentioned efforts like these, is that the solutions invariably revolve around driving, which these days is apparently as inalienable a right as that of free speech and of stocking up on enough weaponry to invade Fiji. How about facilitating safe and reliable public transportation between residential areas and commercial/entertainment districts that extend into the wee hours? How about eliminating the mind-bogglingly idiotic stipulations by for example, the TABC that require a bar-owner applying for a liquor license to demonstrate sufficient parking spaces around the establishment?! But Noooo! Let's instead make sure that the drunken loudmouth who has driven 20 miles from East Mesquite doesn't have to walk more than 25 feet to his car once he leaves that bar in Dallas after his eighth Jack-n-Coke. Excellent.

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Oct 20 2009 was a sad day in the history of aviation. Air India Flight 864 from Hyderabad to Mumbai (continuing service from Jeddah) marked the very last flight of an Air India Boeing 747 - the airline has switched equipment on all 747 routes to the Boeing 777. I had suspected that such a move was on the cards ever since Air India replaced the 747-400 on North American routes earlier this year with the 777, and started operating them on routes to the Middle East instead - not exactly the most efficient use of a long-haul aircraft like the Boeing 747-400. For decades, Air India was defined by the Boeing 747 with its special "palace windows" livery. While the move certainly makes fiduciary sense - the newer 777s are less expensive to operate, I for one will certainly miss seeing this magnificent aircraft in Air India's colours again. Farewell big bird ...

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This snapshot of a leaping Iberian wolf won the photographer, Jose Luis Rodriguez, the "Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2009" award. Click on the photo to read the BBC article and to view a larger image of the wolf along with other excellent wildlife photographs.


Anyone currently in the job market must read Tom Friedman's op-ed column in the NYT. The obvious question that arises then, is that since by definition, a plurality of job seekers will always be classified as something less than "above-average", what recourse to they have?

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I can absolutely relate to most of the experiences of this Ikea shopper documented in Salon. For me personally, the best part of the Ikea store across from my office here in Frisco is the cafeteria, which always offers Gravad Lax (lightly smoked salmon) and Swedish meatballs with Lingonberry sauce, both of them, delicious. I've noticed that if I can keep my hunger in check until about 2 PM, I can avoid the soccer-mums-with-three-kids-in-tow crowd at its peak.

Also in Salon, a terrific interview with Richard Dawkins. Yes, he does take a few potshots at creationists, who of course, richly deserve them.

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I took this picture while traveling in an auto in Bangalore. While it didn't make it onto my recent travel blog, it does raise some interesting issues!

Here's a question that I hope one of the denizens of Bangalore can answer: Does the Post Office really require Mr. Haq to mention his proximity to the Fareed Masjid (mosque), even though he's supplied very detailed, specific and copious location information otherwise? What if the Fareedites decide to relocate? Does he have to change it to something like Opposite Maqbool Pasha Gents Tailorings or Opposite Abdul Ghani Halal Meats? The latter, I imagine would not sit well with B.G. Subbanna the Badam Milk drinking postman who perhaps already delivers Mr. Haq's discounted Hajj-flight mail-ads with disdain.

Note that amidst the chaotic markings that appear to extend the validity of his license (which is still a tad unclear!), the poor chap's blood group information seems to have slipped right through the cracks.

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