Monday, August 27, 2007

Filter coffee please!

Despite my crappy schedule and work load, and in between working in the weeks and weekends, I’ve managed to squeeze some 'life' out for myself. In the process, I come across another great book [The Weather Makers], a great movie [The Transformers], the very-definition-of-shitty movie [The Host], and some marriages interspersed here and there.

And oh! – add some nice blogs to the list too. The one below is good. The next time the guy/gal with you tells s/he likes a little stronger Americano with extra sugar and a little salt, you tell him you love Café Latte, but one that is not formed in the regular way but the one formed by mixing equal amounts of Flat White and Cappucino.

P.S: I like all these coffees, but just think they could do something more. Read my earlier argument how the modern Cafe's can actually make much more money by serving just one additional item to their menu - a strong and nice filter coffee, at their own rates of course.

Hat-tip: IndiaUncut.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The tipping point of sanity

We notice odd things once in a while with people, and generally let it pass - mostly coz we are nobody to judge others or to decide what they should do or look like, unless, of course, you are the Taliban.

But here are some amazing (or should I take the liberty once, just for once, to say 'insane') people who've permanently modified their bodies (with permanent tattoos, piercings, surgical body implants and all the other things from Mars) to look, well, you see and decide. And yes, these people are very real.

If you want more of this, here you go: Top 10 physically modded people.

I initially thought it's ultra-cool to do something like this - and come in style for say one of the retro-parties, but permanently looking this way? Excusez moi, I'm outta here!

Hat-tip: BoingBoing

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I'm just one in a 100 million

That's right. The official count of blogs all over the world crossed 100 million sometime in the last couple of days.

Technorati reads:
Currently tracking 100.1 million blogs and over 250 million pieces of tagged social media.

The World Live Web is incredibly active, and according to Technorati data, there are over 175,000 new blogs (that’s just blogs) every day. Bloggers update their blogs regularly to the tune of over 1.6 million posts per day, or over 18 updates a second.
Another milestone in evolution?

Hat-tip: Instapundit.

Diet Coke is 99% water

Says the new Diet Coke ad, according to the Freakonomics blog.

You might ask why you would drink it then, if it is almost the same as water. The argument is that it is tastier, not so unhealthy (unlike plain Coke) since it's mostly water, and is actually cheaper than bottled water in the U.S.

So why do we drink it in India paying a hefty premium? I think it's because Indians think drinking Coke is cool, pretty much like what we think about most things (and even people) from the west.

[Image Courtesy: 1to10reviews]

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Stumbled on Happiness!

Now, now, this is how fast things can go when you don’t quite plan for it. When I wrote about the book “Stumbling on Happiness”, I did not know a lot of things about the book – including its price. But then, I stumbled on the book yesterday during one of the unplanned visits (where unplanned expenditures warrant you to look beyond the wads of cash you’ve got into your credit cards, but that’s another story) to Landmark in the only true mall that Chennai’s got. And I ended up picking the book.

I first read about the book in the Freakonomics blog. I found later that the book has also won the Science Prize for 2007, and been for about 20 weeks on the New York Tims best seller list. That’s something, and is testimonies enough to make you pick the book. Unlike what you might think, the book is not a sweet shortcut to make you lurch into happy Disneyland. Instead, the author uses a combination of science and psychology to analyze the phenomenon that this whole elusive business called happiness is.

This is how it starts:
“Some people would wag their fingers in your direction and tell you sternly that you should live every minute of your life as though it were your last, which only goes to say that some people would spend their final ten minutes giving dumb advice to other people”.
That’s smart, and you can’t go wrong with a start like that. The author carries on at this pace for the rest of the book and makes you look, scientifically, at minute aspects of human behavior and how it affects happiness.

I wouldn’t say the book is a ‘must read’, but it’s an interesting and entertaining read. If you loved the likes of Freakonomics, Blink etc, you know what I’m talking about. And I’m positive you’ll hear more about it in the coming days. Overall Rating: Just about 4 on 5, or may be a shade less.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

How about Stumbling on Happiness?

There are different ways to find good books. I normally scan the best-seller lists in the internet and the front-alleys of the major book stores - Landmark, Odyssey, Crossword etc - to find the latest hot ones in the market.

The other sources include blogs, newspapers etc, but the risk with most of these is you'd end up getting familiar with lot of 'popular' books as opposed to good ones that suit your taste. For example, Hindu tells me that the self-help (Shiv Khera and likes) and motivational (Paulo Coelho etc) books sell the most (they, apparently, are timeless; and sales volume is about 25% of total) - and keep the cash registers ringing. Nothing wrong with that per-se, but that is stuff I do not like. And again, fiction always sells like hot cakes, but that is something I'm trying hard to refrain from, because, Fiction has started to sound a little pointless, and I want to make sure I read good books in the limit time I have.

All said, the most credible source of good-books information come from friends, colleagues and other avid book readers you know, particularly ones with similar taste.

For picking up Science related books, I generally go by the Aventis Science Prize winners list. This list is considered the Booker prize for Science books. And my personal experience reading these books ("Short History of Nearly Everything", and "Guns, Germs and Steel" that I'm currently immersed with, to quote two of them) have been awesome. Looking at that list, and coming to the point, has anyone read "Stumbling on Happiness", that has been listed as the winner in 2007? I remember seeing the book in New York Times Bestseller list too, and reviews say the book is off-beat, but just want to hear from people who've read it...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

That's the title of a book [from Bill Bryson] that I just closed. It's about life and times in America in the years of transformation - 1950's and 60's, and actually one of those light harmless reads, but one of the lines was particularly poignant.

"By closing years of 1950s most people had pretty much everything they had dreamed of...

... Soon millions of people were caught in a spiral in which they worked harder and harder to buy labor-saving devices that they wouldn't have needed if they hadn't been working so hard in the first place".

How disturbingly true. I guess that explains development, as we know it, in a single sentence.

Friday, August 10, 2007

India has only 31.5 million taxpayers

That's the news item that I came across. Interesting. Just 3% of people pay tax. Isn't that great? We are what we are with just 3% of us paying tax?

However, I think they missed the closing lines: "India has only 31.5 million taxpayers. But they get badly milked."