Friday, September 28, 2007

GRAVEL AT DARTMOUTH DEBATE: "WE'RE STARTING A WAR RIGHT NOW"


Senator Mike Gravel, appearing in the Democratic presidential debate on Sept. 27 in Hanover, N.H., wasted no time laying out his plan to force an end to the Iraq War.

When asked by moderator Tim Russert how Senator Gravel would overcome the deadlock on passing legislation to end the war, he responded: "You stop the debate [over ending the war] by voting every single day on cloture. Twenty days, and you'll overcome cloture. The president vetoes the law. It comes back to the Congress. And in the House at noon every single day you vote to override the president's veto. You tell me that the votes aren't there-you go get them by the scruff of the neck, that's what you do. You make them vote."

Questioned by Russert if he was suggesting that the candidates suspend their campaigns to end the war, Senator Gravel responded: "If it stops the killing-my God, yes-do it."

The Senator then turned his attention to a vote that New York Senator Hillary Clinton had cast earlier in the day on a nonbinding resolution, known as the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, which sanctions a U.S. attack on Iran.

"We're just starting a war right today," said Senator Gravel. "There was a vote in the Senate today. Joe Lieberman, who authored the Iraq resolution, has offered another resolution, and it is essentially a fig leaf to let George Bush go to war with Iran. I want to congratulate Biden for voting against it, Dodd for voting against it. And I am ashamed of you, Hillary, for voting for it."

The topic turned to immigration and whether the candidates would allow safe havens or "sanctuary cities" for undocumented aliens.

"We're scapegoating the Latinos of our society because we as a society are failing in education, we're failing in healthcare, we're failing in our crumbling infrastructure, and we're failing by invading countries and spending our treasure," said Senator Gravel. "That's what's wrong. And so I'm ashamed as an American to be building a fence on our southern border. That's not the America that I fought for."

Gravel was the only candidate to respond affirmatively to Russert's question concerning lowering the drinking age to 18.

"I think we should lower it so anybody that could go fight and die for this country should be able to drink," answered Senator Gravel.

Later, Senator Gravel pushed his plan for a carbon tax to wean America off its addiction to oil.

"We can get off the gasoline in five years, and we can get off of carbon in 10 years. All we have to do is want to do it," said Senator Gravel. "[If] we put a tax on gasoline, [this] permits politicians and bureaucrats to play favorites. You do it right at the lump of coal, and you do it at the gas, and you do it at the oil, and then that filters through the system properly."

When asked if he supported nuclear power, Senator Gravel responded emphatically: "Not at all. The solution, obviously, is wind power. If we manufactured 5 million of these 2.5 meg windmills across the country, we could electrify the entire nation-the entire nation."

Russert closed the debate by questioning the candidates on their favorite Bible verse. The Senator responded: "The most important thing in life is love. That's what empowers courage, and courage implements the rest of our virtues."

Source: www.gravel2008.us

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Brr.... its winter.

Summer is fun where I live. Tons of outdoor activities; hiking, trekking, mountain climbing, rafting and such. This place turned me into an outdoor person. I was having fun with my hiking and trekking and here comes winter, bringing all my activities to a screeching halt. My friends have promised to take me cross-country skiing (regular skiing passes are outrageously expensive, about 700$ dollars for the season) this winter, let's see how far I go with it!!!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

KUCINICH FOR PRESIDENT!!!!


http://www.dennis4president.com/

I watched the democratic debate this morning. Wow, was blown away by Dennis Kucinich. He is EXACTLY the kind of person I would vote for. When asked if he would be willing to work for a minimum wage, he said "I still live in the same house I bought in the 70's for 22, 500$, I would definitely increase the minimum wage so that my neighbors can lead a comfortable life just as I." Check out the video here.There was this question where one viewer asked "Look at the candidate on your left and honestly mention one virtue you like and one virtue you dislike about the person". When it came to Kucinich's turn, he was the last person in line and there was no one he could talk about and Anderson Cooper said "You know why that is Kucinich, we couldn't find anyone to the left of you!" Anyway, Kucinich ended up talking about Mike Gravel, my other favorite candidate and said "Sir, you are one of the most courageous men here. You opposed the Vietnam war and brought the truth out. I thank you for that and for being here today!" Check out the video here.When on the issue of energy and alternative sources, Anderson Cooper threatened the candidates with the question, "How many of you took the private jet to this debate?" And guess who were the only two people not to raise their hands? Obviously Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel. Mike Gravel said "I took the train and then the bus. KUDOS to him. Who ever takes the train and then the bus, especially in SOUTH CAROLINA!!! This wasn't even San Francisco and this gentleman chose public transportation over an easy and comfortable jet!! I for one didn't even know you could take a train to South Carolina. One viewer was 'concerned' about gun control. He asked, "I want to know your views on gun control, I want to know if my baby will be safe in this country." He then took out his automatic weapon and said "This is my baby, is it safe?" This question was posed to Bill Richardson who apparently has the highest ratings with the NRA and he said something like, "The only concern is about the mentally deranged and criminals getting hold of these weapons. I would advocate an instant background check" (like these things EVER work!!) Joe Biden when faced with the same question said, "Honestly, if that's his baby, he needs help!! These are exactly the kind of people who should not possess weapons. I am not even sure if he is mentally balanced enough to ask this question" HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHHA... loved it... totally loved the debate. GO DEMOCRATS!!!!!
For all the amazing, amazing you tube questions to the candidates, search for 'you tube debate' on you tube! For the full debate, watch cnn.Have fun viewing the videos!!!
CORRECTION: Senator Joe Biden also chose public transportation over private jets.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

India's national language


Being an Indian residing in a foreign country, I am sick and tired of being asked why I don't speak Hindi. I am not really annoyed with non-Indians asking me this question, but mostly with 'North Indians' who go on and on about why everyone in India needs to learn Hindi. And their ill-informed reason that Hindi is our national language drives me crazy. Now, lets set the record straight once and for all. Hindi is NOT our national language and if that is your argument then tell me, should we all be learning all the 22 or so official languages? Utter bull crap. Oh, and "life will be a lot easier if you learn Hindi, you can communicate with people from other states." Oh really? Why don't you travel to the south for a change and try to converse in Hindi, lets see how far that takes you. If these people are half as patriotic as they claim, they should all learn one South Indian language (like someone suggested). Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are also part of India, just in case you didn't know. Those of you who still are in this dream world where everything Indian is Bollywood, please read this .

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Hike at Jemez




It's been a while since I blogged, but here I am after a LONG break. Some of us hiked at the Jemez Springs this morning, near the East fork river, it was FUN. One of those hikes where you get to walk in water and on logs across streams. While today we just went half-way, a couple of weeks later, we plan to do the entire trail in which we will have to swim a bit too. Sounds like it is going to be fun and I am eagerly looking forward to it.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Women should work


I, like many of my friends, firmly believe that it is extremely important for a woman to be independent, she should contribute financially to a family. Some women choose to stay at home to take care of children and elders, I totally respect that but also think that at any given time, she should be prepared to go find a job if need be, she should have worked at some point in her life. Women are extremely talented and it is such a shame to let all that talent go waste. I have some friends who are smart and talented but are forced to stay home because their husbands don't find the necessity to send their wives to work. If the decision is jointly made by the couple there is no point of contention, but if it is the husband or the parents-in-law making the decision, it a totally different situation altogether and should be strongly opposed. We have but one life, and should try to achieve as much as possible in this short time. One thing I have noticed is that working mothers are able to instill a higher level of confidence in their female children. I definitely do not have any kind of research backing my statement, it is just a mere observation.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A love-hate relationship


Today was a very busy day, lots of work but I also had the opportunity to discuss religion with a very learned person. I complained to him "I just recently read this book about a religion and am appalled by the so called prophet who had all these wives, some as young as 13. He forced these women into 'holy' matrimony, how can so many people respect him? Beats me." As I uttered these sentences, the person who came to my mind was Lord Krishna! Lord Krishna did almost everything this prophet did, and yet, those actions never seemed blasphemous to me. But today, I question my religion, the religion I have been so fond of, the religion I knew had shortcomings, but I also thought possessed some redeeming qualities. But after this 2 hour discussion and reading some excerpts from Manusmriti, I must say, I am a bit ashamed. I definitely disagree with many of Hinduism's principles. If Hinduism procalims that all men are not equal, I don't need Hinduism anymore, if it has the audacity to state that God willed it that way, and if God indeed did, I am not sure I want that God either. I'd rather sin and not go to heaven then ill-treat fellow humans in the name of the almighty. Makes me wonder, how can we be so sure that these Gods we pray to, if they did exist, were indeed good beings?? Reading the satanic verses does make me wonder.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Prison conditions

I was watching this show on prisoners yesterday. It was eye-opening, the kind of torture these people are subjected to in prison is depressing. They are purposely kept in unsanitary conditions. I know that prisons are not meant to be comfortable. I realize convicts are not in prison for doing a good deed but for taking someone's life or property. But death sentences in general just don't seem right. How can we take a life to compensate for an already departed soul? How many times have we seen the blood covered cadaver of a terrorist and felt sorry for him? I can definitely say that no matter how cruel a life a person has lead, when I see his motionless body, tears run down my cheek. No one has the right to take another's life, irrespective of the kind of crime committed by him/her. In these prisons, prisoners are not allowed to read novels, they cannot write to their victims, they cannot play games like chess, they are not allowed to have romantic relationships with other inmates. It beats me to know that they are not allowed to do anything to improve their life. What is the point in putting them behind bars if the are not given an opportunity to better themselves? What annoys me most is that, most of those who claim to be 'pro life' are for capital punishment.

I don't recall...... :)

Attorney General, firing of US attorneys, God! This is the only discussion that takes place on C-SPAN these days. People asking the AG over and over again what the specific reason for firing the attorneys were and him confessing "I do not recall the exact reason sir, but I accept full responsibility for my actions". Please give the guy a break. For heaven's sake, he has no clue as to what happened, why it happened or even whose decision it was. Even if he does, it doesn't look like he is going to disclose the reasons. Just leave the poor guy alone. He is a republican appointee, you can't blame him for being ignorant! It is really amusing to hear the Republicans and the Democrats speak on this issue. While the democrats take the accusative route, accusing him and drilling him with questions on the firings, the Republicans keep thanking him profusely for the GREAT job he's done. Wow, what a comedy show. For all those as ignorant as I am on what exactly an Attorney General does, here is what Wikipedia says, "In most common law jurisdictions, the Attorney General or Attorney-General is the main legal adviser to the government, and in some jurisdictions may in addition have executive responsibility for law enforcement or responsibility for public prosecutions". More on the AG here. The good thing about this situation is that, there are still channels like C-SPAN that deem such issues important, as compared to some TV channels that ceaselessly debate the paternity of Anna Nicole Smith's baby while never even attempting to discuss the genocide at Darfur.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Cheese cake yummy!!




I baked a cheese cake yesterday!!! My very own cake for the first time!! Yipeeee! It was for a friend's party and it came out really well. In fact, I must say that it was probably the best cheesecake I've had. With orange zest and vanilla essence, wow was it delicious!!! I wanted to post the original picture of the cake, but the people cleaned up the plate in a jiffy!!! The cake did have a mango topping like the one in the picture, just without the strawberries. Now I have to find vegan egg substitute to bake one for my husband who has been pestering me for a while to bake a vegan cake. My first ever baking experience was with cranberry-walnut bread. That did turn out good but it had a crispy crust, while I wanted it soft.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

An obsession

OK, I vow not to bore some of my friends with my political beliefs. I was totally unaware of how much politics I have been discussing off-late until yesterday when one of my very good friends walked into my office to take a break from work. She walked in all enthusiastic to talk to me and there I had to go again about my favorite candidates. Within 5 minutes she said, "OK, I better get back to work". I had certainly bored her with my monologue. Before leaving she said, "But you don't even VOTE!!" I replied, "Yeah, sure can't for now but I at least have the power to influence people!!" I must say, my addiction to politics happens right before election time and some of my friends think I get too emotionally attached to the democratic party. For example, after the last elections, I was crying bitterly much to the astonishment of my roommates. OK, there goes my vow again, Les, Ray and everyone else, I'm sorry!!!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

True liberals

I watched the democratic debate last week. I mostly watched to hear what the front-runners had to say, but to my utter disbelief was let down by my favorite candidate when he claimed that lethal force needs to be used on countries that violate the NPT. I was also pleasantly surprised by two men who made so much more sense and proved that they are true liberals. Congressman Dennis Kucinich and Senator Mike Gravel. Kucinich is my man, anti-war, pro-choice, he won the Mahatma Gandhi peace prize, is VEGAN and it just gets better, he thinks of drugs as a medical issue and not a criminal issue and seems like he is for making pot LEGAL!! My God, finally someone who thinks that if smoking can be justified (by doing which you are actually forcing tobacco smoke down other peoples throats), then what's the logic in preventing drugs!!! He represents the true liberals, is a man of conscience. I have begun to respect him and pray to God that he wins the primaries. Senator Mike Gravel is a lot like Kucinich in his views and thoughts but seemed to be annoyed with everyone and everything happening around him. I don't blame him, I feel that way too. Sometimes, by being too vocal, I think I get offensive. My intolerance for conservatives seems to be turning me into the person I so don't want to be; a preacher. Mike Gravel is anti-war, is pro-choice and I love the things he said during the debate. I only wish the media would give him more air-time. Like he himself mentioned, he did look like a potted plant standing in the corner and was probably asked like 5 questions on the whole. I really want to get to know him and wish him all the best for the primaries. If you wish to hear the debate, visit http://www.msnbc.msn.com/ .

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Code monkeys!!!!!

Been crazy busy the last few weeks. Pouring over thousands of lines of Perl code. Man, it sucks to debug amateur programmer's silly experiments. Some people write line after line without a single comment. They do things in the most obscure way and have no concern for those who have the unpleasant task of modifying the crap. Their code does not deserve any server space and they should be banned from writing anything whatsoever. I so wish people would stop hiring monkeys to write programs, code monkeys!!!!!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Color of God




Color of God
Today, I was reading this book on a religion founded in America. A religion that actually states that "polygamy is the will of God" and people who do not follow it are sinners and will never see heaven.

As I read this book, I thought of all the stupid and insane things that people do in the name of religion and under the pretext of these "holy" texts that were written thousands and thousands of years ago. Some of these scriptures even go so far as saying that the earth is only 7000 years old and man was born as he is today without evolution and that Darwin's theory is a farce. How many of us actually think about why we are Christian or Muslim or Hindu? There are so many, many good things about these religions and yet, people choose to follow only those they find convenient.

Take Hinduism for example, there are so many Gods; Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and many more. Only a year or so ago was I able to come up with a satisfying answer to why there were so many. One of my American friends, looking at a picture of Lord Krishna, asked me last month, "Hey, I see that Krishna is blue in color, does it represent anything?" And I replied "Yes Brenda, this is how I think of it. God comes in different colors. He can be dark like Shiva or fair like Brahma. He can be fat with a tummy, like Lord Ganesha or he can be handsome like Lord Vishnu. He doesn't have a single face." Why else would they choose to color a God blue. If Krishna were fair, the dark people would be discriminated against. And if he were dark, the white people would be discriminated against.

I feel so happy when I think of the good things our ancestors tried to convey and sorry when we so successfully manage to convolute even the purest of thoughts. In some religions, this is probably why they don't believe in idol worship. They don't want to think of God as possessing one single form. And this is exactly what I will teach my children, that God lives in each one of us, black or white.

Santa Fe




Just returned last week, after a 3 week vacation and
ofcourse there was a pile of work waiting for me :(

Did some interesting things on saturday though, visited Santa Fe with a couple of friends. Santa Fe is the best city I have ever been to.
Beautiful and artsy with its adobe architecture and galleries of famous artists including New Mexico's own Georgia O Keefe. It was a sunny day and we visited quite a few galleries with water color paintings. For those of you that love art, this is the place. People who visit the grand canyon always talk about Sedona being a beautiful town. If you think Sedona is beautiful, wait till you see Santa Fe!!

After gallery hopping, we went to a friend's place for dinner and ended up discussing politics as usual!!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

School related chagrin

1:
MANY of my friends from high-school agree when I say that studies was and is more important than anything else in our school. But some teachers seriously din't know where to draw the line. If a child did badly in school, they would stop smiling at her. We would wish them enthusiastically "Namaste ma'm" only to be glared at. I don't know if this is true only of the school I went to, I haven't heard similar stories from others. We were kids for heavens-sake, its not like we did badly because we were mean people. I was NEVER a good student at high-school, needless to say I was one of those unlucky few. I always ended up pondering "Am I a mean person?"

2:
OK, seriously, what's with the science is better than commerce and computer-science is better than biology attitude, especially in an educational institution. Shouldn't the teachers know better? This is how it worked where I studied and am sure in lots of other institutions.

math + science % >95% - Computer science
math + science % >90% - Engineering drawing(BTW this wasn't available for girls)
math + science % >85% - Biology
math + science % < 85% - Commerce

Now, how ridiculous can things get? Does this mean people who are incapable of memorizing a few formulae should be forced into commerce? Or that commerce is inferior in some convoluted way? Oh and if you secure low grades and if you want to be in science, too bad, you have to change schools, this institution is prestigious. Some would argue, "oh there is so much competition, how else do they select students?" A schools job is not to select the best few and churn good results. What's the schools contribution then, apart from conducting routine exams? You don't need schools to do that, you can get that from a coaching class. And the sad part is most students in such institutions including myself attended classes outside in order to perform well. Please let the students decide what they want to do. They shouldn't have to give up dreams of becoming doctors and engineers because they did badly in a stupid 10th grade exam.

I do have friends who went to other schools and while there are some with similar experiences, there are also those who love their alma mater and are proud of the kind of academic freedom they had and the kind of rapport they shared with their teachers. And these are not students who were at the top of their class. But they are just as successful now. Every single time I hear one of their stories, I feel sad and envious. Doesn't this say something about their schools?

More to follow in my future posts ...............

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Bad hair day?

Man.. yesterday was one of those dreaded bad hair days. Went to get a hair cut, was wondering why this woman was praising my hair all along, "oh you've got such lovely thick hair, so long.. do you get headaches often?" I was thinking to myself "What on earth is this woman up to?" and alas I realized that she cut close to 8 inches of my hair!! My husband's hair is probably just an inch shorter than mine! But this woman kept rambling on "Oh.. that is such a cute style on you, if I had cut 1 inch more, I could have donated your hair to the local Cancer institute" Yeah right, had that happened, I would have needed hair donation myself. I look like a totally different person now, amazing how much a hair cut can change your persona! I guess all forthcoming days this month are going to be bad hair days!!!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Me, doctor??

Today was one of those days when I accompanied my husband to the university and pretended to do work while actually reading cinesouth.com, galatta.com and indiaglitz.com (my favourite website for viewing photos of tamil cine events without subscribing). I just began happily drifting away into cyberspace when all of a sudden, a pile of work landed on me by email. Apparently the format of my output was wrong, so I had to reformat stuff, parse this huge ugly file, subconsciously aware that a single parse error could change these huge gigabytes of data into garbage :( That is the bane of programming, it is scary to think how much research is built on code that may contain some tiny treacherous bug somewhere waiting to challenge your results!! :( OK.. on to some serious stuff......

A couple of days ago, during one of my routine wanderings in the parallel universe, my husband called out "hey.. I forgot that you were an engineering undergrad, help me with something, what transform do you use to represent a 2D waveform, what do you know about up sampling and down sampling?" Sampling? I only know samplers, transforms.. transforms.. that rang a bell somewhere.. Fourier, Laplace.. Z transform.. I had heard those terms somewhere.. what the f$#% did I do with them? I had no clue, this yet again brought me to a sad realization that I had wasted 4 crucial years of my life "studying" something I couldn't care less about. I was one of those students who just followed the herd. I gave up admission at a prestigious architectural school and my dream of performing surgery to enroll into an ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING program. Why? Because, only idiots study science right? Only losers spend their life researching worms and flies, and here I am today researching tinier life forms. Where does this kind of prejudice stem from? Why do people from India look down upon those who are not engineers or doctors or lawyers? A PhD in english is sadly not equivalent to a PhD in computer science. I resolve that my children would never have to choose between satisfaction and money. Just as I was voicing my opinion, my friend Ray quickly pointed out.. "hey, but didn't you mention the other day that your kids would be doctors?" Silence. "Well, all I said was [clearing throat] when they are young, I would teach them biology and make them love the subject so much that they would eventually end up choosing medicine " :)

Oh.. do we ever change?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

College sports, boon or bane?

It's amazing how sports can influence your mood and behavior. Take me for example, I was never a big sports buff nor did I ever care for it, but ever since I started following football and more recently college basketball, I seem to have developed a dual personality. People who observe me watching these sports, swear that I am a totally different person. I scream obscenities, get angry and am a nervous wreck to a point where I have to start worrying about the fitness of my heart after the game is over. Is this all worth it? Maybe not, but the adrenaline rush that comes with such involvement is probably why people throng to games and sports bars. But by watching such college sports, people like me contribute to another unfortunate mentality that sports is more important than education. Think of it this way, when the US economy is affected by war and other natural calamities, how does the government try to recuperate from the loss? By cutting down research money. NSF is the first to suffer a loss followed by NIH. This obviously affects universities that solely depend on such sources for money. But then the sports departments, that are housed in universities continue spending millions of dollars on coaches and stadiums. The highest paid people in a university are the coaches, while a humanities professor probably makes 40-50,000$ a year (lower than the average US income, I am told), doesn't this seem unfair? I think that all sports departments should be forced to contribute a significant amount of money to the university (not just a meager 1 million a year to the local library). If not why are they part of universities, doesn't the reputation of the universities help them in any way? They should just go ahead and have clubs and leagues instead of living in the universitys shadow . Think about it!

A new beginning...

After a lot of "I am not the kind who writes blogs" and "I don't have the patience" statements, here I am, writing my first blog entry. I also happen to be on vacation so that definitely contributed to this decision. I have been so out of touch with my near and dear friends that I thought this would be an awesome way to catch up with some of them and a fun way to vent my anger and share my happiness (I know you are thinking by now.. "tell us something new, this is why everyone writes blogs!!!")