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12/18/08 01:40 pm - A compilation of Malayalam Songs from late 80s and early 90s

The cohesion of visuals, music and poetry in Malayalam movie songs during the late 80s and early 90s was just plain brilliant, wasn't it? Pity our directors lost the ability somewhere.

A compilation of a few youtube videos of Malayalam songs from the 80sCollapse )

12/13/08 07:21 pm - Twitter

Twittering as appughar. Resisted the temptation for a while. But decided to give in.

12/3/08 08:31 pm - Transliteration

For Malayalee Readers :-)

11/24/08 12:48 am - Migration to Wordpress

I have moved my serious blogging to wordpress ( so point your rss feeds to http://appughar.wordpress.com ).  Having said that, I will be keeping my lj-account, mostly for commenting and also to put up the occasional external links (or youtube videos) I would like to share. In short, the bloggie posts will go to wordpress and linkie post will remain in lj.

11/9/08 09:51 am - Computer Vision - Facts and Fiction


11/5/08 08:28 am - Yippee!



I have been refreshing my browser tabs vigourosuly for the past couple of hours. Now, I can do something more productive.

11/3/08 01:08 pm - A Personal Endorsment for Barack Obama

A manifestation of extreme procrastination (and the indication that I should graduate soon as I have perfected the art and is time to move ahead for greater glory)! Anyway, the short preemptive  answer to the question "Being an Indian citizen living in India, why I am even bothered of US Election" is "I am a PhD who is supposedly writing my thesis".

Anyways, the endorsement appears at http://appughar.wordpress.com/2008/11/03/an-endorsment-for-barack-obama/

10/26/08 11:40 pm - My New Wordpress Blog

I have started to run a parallel blog at http://appughar.wordpress.com/.

The wordpress blog is meant for posting self-indulgent, incomplete and often semi-coherent ideas. However, the entries in lj will be written with the intent and belief that there is a reader base (however sparse it may be) and will be treated as a space to connect with other fellow bloggers.

ps: I am planning to migrate out of livejournal in the recent future (mainly due to the ugly ad box it is putting up). However, I am in a state of high inertia, hence deferring the actual migration for at-least couple of months.

10/26/08 11:12 pm - A critic on Blind Conservatism

"Preserve our {culture|faith|values}"

Every time this quintessential conservative and right-winged argument gets hurled into public arena, a pang of fear+concern wave rips over me. The surprising fact is that I do not have a major disagreement with a community expressing such a sentiment. In-fact, in a good number of 'specific' cases I can empathise with such a statement. `Apprehension to change things that are traditionally and historically found to be working reasonably well, providing an order, structure and support system' is a valid and an essential one. However, the problem with the typical main-stream right wing arguments are their unwillingness to specify what they need to preserve.

Whether it be the RSS/VHP's attempt to 'conserve' the Bharatiya Sanskriti (Indian Culture) or be it Islamic terrorist's attempt to wage Jihad to 'conserve' Islam or be it Raj Thackery and co trying to 'conserve' the Marathi pride or be it American right-wingers attempt to 'conserve' the American and family value; what is clearly lacking is the specification of what they are trying to 'conserve' (and why).
Let me take Sangh Parivar as a case study. The question that I want to raise is what do you mean by Indian Culture and Tradition ? (and the second question is why do you want to preserve it; however this question is irrelevant if the first is not answered). There are off-shot questions like `What constitute the act of conservation ? ', `Why should a majority remain a majority and minority a minority ?'. However, I am not going into such sub-questions.

I came to IIT around 5 years ago. Almost all of the 23 years of my pre-IIT life I lived at Kerala. So suddenly, I was thrown into a cultural and traditional landscape totally unknown to me. The belief systems, traditions, festivals that are celebrated, food habits, language dialects all were alien to me. Now isn't it natural that when someone calls for the preservation of the culture of India, I find it extremely ambiguous and confusing! Is it the culture of Kerala (if it may be defined) or is it it culture that I see around at Mumbai (if it may be defined) or some other place, say Delhi our national capital that I need to preserve!!! In fact, personally I found that I connected with a western (Australian) culture more easily than I could connected to the Mumbaya culture. In my metric (dare I generalise to upper-middle class internet age south-indian) cultural distance between South Indian culture to North Indian culture. super-seeds the cultural distance between South Indian culture to Western culture (dare I generalise again!).

But to make my argument more concrete, let's start by asking ourselves, what do you mean by the term `culture' ? Wikipedia gave me two related definition
  1. "Culture (from the Latin cultura stemming from colere, meaning "to cultivate") generally refers to patterns of human activity and the symbolic structures that give such activities significance and importance. Cultures can be "understood as systems of symbols and meanings that even their creators contest, that lack fixed boundaries, that are constantly in flux, and that interact and compete with one another''
  2. "Culture can be defined as all the ways of life including arts, beliefs and institutions of a population that are passed down from generation to generation. Culture has been called "the way of life for an entire society." As such, it includes codes of manners, dress, language, religion, rituals, norms of behavior such as law and morality, and systems of belief as well as the art."
We will take the second argument, since the first definition innately writes QED for the non-conservative argument.
Similarly, what do you mean by the term `tradition'
  • "On a basic theoretical level, tradition(s) can be seen as information or composed of information. For that which is brought into the present from the past, in a particular societal context, is information. This is even more fundamental than particular acts or practices even if repeated over a long sequence of time."
Now, the starking feature of both these definition is both these qualities, culture as well as traditional are multi-dimensional in nature. So let's break down by dimensions. Can we (or the right-wingers) defined what qualities are measured in each dimensions ? Let's for the time being assume we can. The next question is can we sort out these dimensions according to a relevance score based on amount of preservation that we need to do. Again, let's assume we can do so. What are the optimal value (positions) that we should set as bench-mark ? Note, here I am not questioning the rationale of converging to a particular value (which opens up another huge lot of moral arguments), I am merely asking to specify what is that we need to converge.

The hate-mongers does neither of these three. The lack of specification is an effective tool, in-fact it is when the extremes of two social forces meet, anarchism packaged as conservatism; nothing can be more potent that that! It is dis-heartening to recollect that how in past couple of decades our nation has ripped apart; by poisonous and under-(nil)-specified {political|religious|geographical}-bogus arguments.
ps: I wish a wikipedian order can transcend to our public political and debate space where I can express my [[citation needed]] tag freely and liberally.

7/24/08 12:00 pm - The Dark Knight

This is not a movie about 'Batman', this is a movie about 'Joker'. One of the best negative character portrayals in a film.

Dark Knight is probably one of the best, if not the best super-hero (no, super-villain) film to come out from Hollywood. One of the hard (if not an impossible) thing to do for a set of comic book created characters which were developed and produced (for public consumption) almost continuously for more than half a century is to retain their original mannerism, essence and intentions.

"Either die as a hero or live long enough to be the villain?",Similarly the comic characters gets rendered as mere cliches as the life time of the comic increase. What Christopher Nolan has achieved is to do a sensible rewind of all the unwanted and rather useless or nonsensical entities accumulated by transient trends and lack of attention (by readers and creators) and expand on the original blue-print. In my opinion this is a harder thing to do than to flesh out a new set of characters. For example, it is easier for me to imagine to be re-designing and arranging an apartment from scratch, rather than throwing of all the useless junk which you had accumulated over past years and working towards a coherent, functional and aesthetically pleasing look.

This movie might be one of the most sensible high budget Hollywood production I have seen in the recent past. And hey! It offers plenty of thrills and cool action sequences. However, as I said earlier, the highlight of the movie is none other than the Heath Ledger's portrayal of the "Joker" !
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