Tuesday, August 21, 2007


When did "passion-for-tamil" become synonymous with writing-tamil-fallaciously? I have recently seen the following words in a poster that invites people to attend some conference organized by self-professed only-tamil-correct-or-not people.
The words are ஆகத்து (aagaththu) and புத்துணற்சி (puththuNaRchi).
The first word is Tamil equivalent(?!!) for August and the second word is supposed to be புத்துணர்ச்சி which means "refreshing feelings", "new perception", etc.

True Sense - Root - Etymon

When I was searching for an online etymology dictionary, I got this link. It is surprising to know that Anaconda can be traced (one of the branches) to a Tamil word. Do visit this page to know more about it. It was also not mentioned in this article of my friend where he wrote about few words that have travelled from Tamil to other languages.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Chomsky's Thesis Draft

Noam Chomsky's thesis draft, "The Logical Structure of Linguistic Theory" is available here. You have to register to download. The file size is quite big - full version: 436MB, zipped version: 380MB.

Noam Chomsky's website

Friday, August 10, 2007

Gian-Carlo Rota's 10 lessons

Kovailputhalvan has sent me this link to Gian-Carlo Rota's 10 lessons of an MIT Education. Thanks Kovaiputhalvan.
Few snippets from those 10 lessons:
--- Students join forces on the problem sets, and some students benefit more than others from these weekly collective efforts. The most brilliant students will invariably work out all the problems and let other students copy, and I pretend to be annoyed when I learn that this has happened. But I know that by making the effort to understand the solution of a truly difficult problem discovered by one of their peers, students learn more than they would by working out some less demanding exercise.
--- Half a century ago, the philosopher Gilbert Ryle discussed the difference between "knowing how" courses are those in mathematics, the exact sciences, engineering, playing a musical instrument, even sports. "Knowing what" courses are those in the social sciences, the creative arts, the humanities, and those aspects of a discipline that are described as having social value.
--- It is my theory that "knowing how" is revered because it can be tested.
(This knowing-how-and-knowing-what reminds me of Snow's Two Cultures!! Imprinting such "divisive" ideas on human psyche may not be good for education.)
--- The idea of genius elaborated during the Romantic Age (late 18th and 19th centuries) has done harm to education. It is demoralizing to give a young person role models of Beethoven, Einstein, and Feynman, presented as saintly figures who moved from insight to insight without a misstep. Scientific biographies often fail to give a realistic description of personality, and thereby create a false idea of scientific work.

--- Young people will correct any fantasies they have about genius. As they start doing research with their professors they learn another healthy lesson, namely, a professor may well behave like a fumbling idiot.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Spreading Film-making to Villages

"After we screened the famous Bicycle Thieves to a group of farm labourers in a village near Thanjavur, a young boy, in response to our request for feedbacks, said the movie was never shot in the set, which is true." - says P.Thirunavukkarasu of the Tamil Nadu Documentary and Short Film Creators’ Association.

The Association teaches villagers the ABC of cinema - from cinematography to acting to editing to lighting. "We have conducted the five-day course in Tiruchi, Karur, Coimbatore, Ramanathapuram and Krishnagiri districts," he says.

But why? "Every village has a story to narrate, which is told best in visual medium. For, it helps the villagers, more comfortable with hand-held digicams than bigger gadgets, convey messages in their language and style, free of fear, inhibition, etc.," says Mr. Thirunavukkarasu.

He adds: "And, such documentation is cent per cent people’s history because they decide what, when and how to document. People tell their history and that too through a mass medium, which in this case is mass in every sense of the term."

(To read more, visit this page)

It is quite interesting to know that such courses have been conducted in villages. The association might also act as a facilitator to disseminate the works of people who attend their courses. But I could not find even the website of the association!!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Freedom To Create

Ingmar Bergman says:

"Freedom under which we work is the basis. Nobody can come to me and say "do that"...I am my own master...These are our work. We must feel proud...The actors, the technicians, the cameraman...We all discuss.. All are involved..."


What would he do if someone came, and said, "this movie won't make money unless you put so and so in it instead of someone else."

"I'd ask him to go very quickly out of the studio... perhaps I would go."

(From this YouTube video)

Friday, August 03, 2007

Carnatic Concerts in Chennai

For carnatic concerts' schedule in Chennai, listed for every month till January 2008, visit this page now, and then regularly to see the updates.


Kovaiputhalvan told me about this web service on a rainy day. When I asked him to write the link, he immediately said, "One minute, I will send an SMS." We heartily laughed at our dependence on "new technology" while wiping few pleasant driblets of rain from our faces.

From Wikipedia:

The website del.icio.us (pronounced as "delicious") is a social bookmarking web service for storing, sharing, and discovering web bookmarks. The site was founded by Joshua Schachter in late 2003, and is now part of Yahoo!.

From the website:

del.icio.us is a collection of favorites - yours and everyone else's. You can use del.icio.us to:
  • Keep links to your favorite articles, blogs, music, reviews, recipes, and more, and access them from any computer on the web.
  • Share favorites with friends, family, coworkers, and the del.icio.us community.
  • Discover new things. Everything on del.icio.us is someone's favorite -- they've already done the work of finding it. So del.icio.us is full of bookmarks about technology, entertainment, useful information, and more. Explore and enjoy.


Sruti is India's leading monthly magazine, started in 1983, devoted to Indian classical music and dance.

Contact details:

The Sruti Foundation,
9, Cathedral Road,
Chennai - 600086, India.

Subscription details:

One year - Rs.360 (including postages) - in India.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Present Quandary

From a Times of India article whose abridged version is available here. The print edition article has something more. The title of the article in the print edition is also different: Future Funda

Skewed wealth distribution: “The richest 1% of all adults own 40% of all global assets. The richest 2% own 51% of all the assets in the world. And the richest 10% own 85%. The bottom half own barely 1% of the global assets.”

What about technology? What is the next big thing there? Frey feels that tomorrow’s cutting edge technology is most likely already there today. “For really revolutionary, cutting-edge technologies, the next big thing was invented 25 years ago. It takes long for people to adjust their lives and start using these revolutionary technologies,” he says. Look at the internet which was invented in 1969, 38 years ago. Or the cellphone which was invented in 1973. And ATM machines which were invented in 1939.

Auditing and Public Finance

Himanshu Upadhyaya reviews the book:

Government Accountability and Public Audit: Re-engineering the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, B P Mathur; Eastern Book Corporation, Rs.495.
He says the book tackles the question,

Public audit of an organisation or individual by a statutory authority is proven to give teeth to enforcement. Why then has India's CAG failed to instill fear in the various government departments and enterprises it monitors?
From the review,
...Mathur goes into some history of public audit in India. Like other institutions of governance in India, the structure of Indian Audit and Accounts Department (IAAD) also has the colonial legacy stretching as back as 1858, when the East India company administration was taken over by the British government. Two years after that, the independent accounting offices of Bengal, Madras and Bombay presidencies were amalgamated into what came to be known as Auditor General. The subsequent Government of India Acts of 1919 and 1935 enhanced the position of Auditor General, whose stature and independence was equated to a judge of a Federal Court...
...Such indifference to audit queries, objections and Inspection Reports emanate from the crippling constraint that audit officers do not have powers to summon officials to depose and adjudicate, writes Mathur. He cites the example of audit of the Westland Helicopter deal (1989-'90, where for audit officials to get the files related to the deal was a herculean task. Mathur's view is that if powers analogous to a Commission of Enquiry Act were extended to the CAG, it will give it more teeth and help in carrying out its investigations...
...Although, the final outcome of public audit - CAG's audit reports – are presented in legislature for discussions and Public Accounts Committee – as well as Committee on Public Undertakings – are constituted with an express purpose of follow up on them to ensure parliamentary financial controls, the relationship of CAG and Parliament itself has remained rather ambiguous. Enough parliamentary backing hasn't come forth in event of attacks from vested interests who find the audit reports unpalatable...
The issues become complex here. Power should not be vested with a group of government institutions - dependent or independent of functions of Parliament. Monitoring agencies are also accountable. The psychology of correcting others is so dominant that we conveniently forget, and ignore the thought, to correct ourselves. This is applicable to institutions and individuals.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


I got to know about this movie from The Sydney Morning Herald while browsing Australian sites to know what they write about Dr. Haneef.

From New York Times:

Though of royal lineage, Selima (Enakashi Rama Rao) was an infant foundling raised by a kind potter and her adoptive brother, Shiraz (Himansu Rai). She is kidnapped and sold as a slave to Prince Khurram, who would later become Emperor Shah Jehan (Charu Roy). The prince falls for his beautiful slave girl, much to the consternation to dark-hearted schemer Dalia (Seeta Devi) who has her own plans for the prince. When Shiraz tracks down her beloved sibling, their tearful reunion ends after Shiraz is thrown in prison and sentenced to die. Only a pendant -- which proves Selima's royalty -- saves Shiraz's live. Selima marries Emperor Shah Jehan, becoming Empress Mumtaz Mahal. When she dies, the Emperor builds the Taj Mahal in her memory. ~ Jonathan Crow, All Movie Guide


Himansu Rai
Franz Osten