The Predicate

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Thursday, 28.02.08

Sujatha - Life at the age of 70

Sujatha wrote this article in Vikatan when he turned 70. It shows the essence of what the man was and what he achieved. Re-reading it at this time seems to be apt. It has all of Sujatha's swagger and humor (read the part about his preference of going to hell instead of heaven). At 70, Sujatha was contented, had achieved all he wanted in life and had moved on to the last phase of his life in peace and tranquility.

Thanks to Hari for digging this out.

Read the article below.

- Balaji.

[read more]

balaji - pencil 04:26:00 - General - pencil permalink - [15.03.08 22:31]

Wednesday, 27.02.08

Writer Sujatha

I just heard that writer Sujatha passed away a while back today.


(From flickr).

எத்தனையோ புத்தகங்கள் இருந்‍தாலும், ஒரு நாள் சிறிது நேரம் அமைதியாக படிக்க நான் எடுப்பது சுஜாதாவின் புத்தகங்கள் தான். போன வாரம் கூட ஒரு பொது இடத்தில் காத்திருக்கையில் "ஸ்ரீரங்கத்து கதைகள்" தொகுப்பை திரும்ப படித்துக்கொண்டிருந்‍தேன். அப்போது அங்கேயும் ஒரு தமிழர் அதைப் பார்த்து என்னுடன் சுஜாதாவைப் பற்றி பேசிக்கொண்டிருந்‍தார்.

சிறுகதைகளில் அவர் அளவிற்கு தாக்கத்தை ஏற்படுத்தியவர் வேறு யாருமில்லை. தனது கட்டுரைகளின் மூலம் எத்தனையோ விஷயங்களை எளிமையாக எழுதினார். இலக்கிய உலகில் ஒரு சூப்பர் ஸ்டாராகவே இருந்‍‍தார், பலருக்கு எரிச்சல் வருமளவிற்கு.

இனி மெக்ஸிகோ சலவைக்காரி ஜோக் என்ன என்பது தெரியாமலே போய்விடும்!

balaji - pencil 01:01:00 - General - pencil permalink - [11.03.08 17:33]

Sunday, 24.02.08

Pakistan vs Youtube

In a bizarre turn of events, Pakistan "banned" Youtube. This was because Youtube apparently contained "blasphemous content", specifically the reproduction of the Danish cartoons showing Prophet Mohammed. The story turns interesting in the way Pakistan's ISP chose to impose the "ban".

So an ISP in Pakistan decided to announce a route that would re-direct anyone trying to get to YouTube to some other site that probably hosted a warning about the blasphemous content. Results were predictable. YouTube itself disapeared from the Internet, And, I suspect that most of Pakistan is experiencing performance issues as they are receiving ALL of the YouTube requests from around the world. By 2:30 the Internet watch guards had alerted the backbone provider for Pakistan to filter out those malicious route announcements and alerted YouTube to announce more granular routes that would supercede the Pakistani routes, at least in the US.

Someone in PieNet didn't understand BGP and ended up hijacking the IPs of Youtube instead! This results in enormous amount of traffic through Pakistan and as a result, Pakistan itself is hosed from the internet.

The telecom company that carries most of Pakistan’s traffic, PCCW, has found it necessary to shut Pakistan off from the Internet while they filter out the malicious routes that a Pakistani ISP, PieNet, announced earlier today. Evidently PieNet took this step to enforce a decree from the Pakistani government that ISP’s must block access to YouTube because it was a source of blasphemous content.

So what was happened was that the Pakistani ISP started advertising a different IP address for Youtube (to divert their traffic to a different address). But due to the way BGP works, the address change percolated all the ay through and as a result, Youtube's IPs were effectively hijacked. This led to a downtime of more than an hour for Youtube. The traffic through Pakistan was enough to overwhelm its pipes and as a result, most of the traffic to Pakistan was cut off.

I wonder if Google has a case in its hands for getting its IPs hijacked by the pakistani ISP, leading to its website being down for more than an hour worldwide.

On the higher level, One, it is a bad sign if a government can cause such disruption to the internet. Two, the cartoons have been available on the net for a long time. By doing a high profile ban of Youtube (and angering its citizens), the Pakistan government may be trying to take the spotlight away from the election results and its aftermath and the increasing pressure on Musharaf.

Click here for the latest news on this incident.

Update:

1. Renesys Blog has the technical details. Apparently, the new IP prefixes propagated in less than two minutes.

2. According to All Things Pakistan, the censoring was political rather than religious. The videos in question may be those related to election rigging in the recent elections.

balaji - pencil 15:13:00 - General - pencil permalink - [27.02.08 01:30]

Friday, 22.02.08

2008 Oscars – II

See here for the first part:

6. Best Picture: This year is slim pickings in this category. “No Country for Old Men” does not have much competition from the other nominees. “Michael Clayton” seems to have some late momentum, but it is not a better movie than the Coen brothers flick. I can’t seem to think of any movies that got missed out in the nominations either, except for the three below.

“Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” was as long as its title, and its slow pace offsets some of its director’s brilliant handling of the key scenes. As I wrote earlier, the acting was very polished, Casey Affleck in particular, but overall, the movie left me unsatisfied.

“Zodiac” was released in early 2007, which is always an Oscar momentum killer, but it was one of the best thrillers last year. To take a real-life story and infuse it with just enough suspense, just enough details and elevate it to a classic, the treatment of the story was done very well. Unfortunately, its DVD released early and as the awards season rolled out, it got little to no mention.

“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” succeeds in taking a very difficult subject and visualizing it as a movie. I perused through the book and was quickly able to see how it must have been a back-breaking task to make a feature film out of it. The effect is exemplified by its trailer which starts off by mentioning its director of photography.

The question though, is whether any of these three, or the other nominated four are better than “No Country for Old Men”. I don’t see an upset here. If there is an upset, it will be a travesty on the scale of “Kramer vs Kramer” winning over “Apocalypse Now” or “Shakespeare in Love” winning over “Saving Private Ryan”.

7. Best Director: Coen Brothers should win this one, though I think Julian Schnabel stands a fair bit of chance with his work in “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”. I would have preferred to see Sean Penn get a nod for “Into the Wild” instead of Paul Thomas Anderson for “There will be blood”.

Parting Shots:

- “Ratatouille” was one of the ten best movies of the year and probably deserved a place in one or more of the mainstream categories.

- “No End in Sight” may win the best documentary feature over “Sicko”, but my favorite last year was the amazing documentary “Into Great Silence”.

- The Razzies are out tomorrow, and I hope they go out of the box (no Stallone/Paris Hilton/Madonna) and select Paul Dano from “There Will Be Blood” for the worst actor. I’ve not seen an actor suck the life out of each scene that he was in since that kid who acted with Adam Sandler. Fellow Predicator Udhaya would agree.

- Joel and Ethan Coen may win the Oscar for Editing as well, as they edited the movie themselves, using a pseudonym in the credits.

- I don’t understand the foreign language Oscar nomination process. But when films like Romania’s “Four Months, Three Weeks, Two Days”, France’s “The Diving Bell and The Butterfly” and Ang Lee’s “Lust, Caution” are not nominated, I don’t give it much credibility. I expected to see Giuseppe Tornatore (Cinema Paradiso)’s latest film, The Unknown, to be nominated as well.

balaji - pencil 15:33:30 - Movies - pencil permalink -

Wednesday, 20.02.08

2008 Oscars

My quick thoughts on the Oscars:

1. Among those in Oscar contention, this year belongs to one person whose work has been incredible. Not an actor or a director. Roger Deakins, the director of photography, has two nominations, one for "No Country for Old Men" and for the one with the plot-in-the-title, "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford". What a work he has done in these two films! The intricately filmed Coen brothers flick has every shot perfectly framed and lighted. The vast open spaces (filmed in Canada) gave an epic backdrop to the Jesse James drama. Two of the best films of the year were filmed through his lens. I've liked Deakins' work in most of the previous Coen brothers’ movies. His best work was in the neo-noir thriller, "The man who wasn't there", "Shawshank Redemption" and in "Hurricane".

2. Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis is a lock for this Oscar, so it will be a huge upset if anyone else wins. I thought Clooney didn't deserve a nod for Michael Clayton and would have preferred to see Ryan Gosling for "Lars and the Real Girl" or Phillip Seymour Hoffman for "Savages". Interestingly, Clooney is getting more and more attention these days and it won't surprise me if Clooney scores an upset win (for a movie that liberals would love for its anti-corporate greed premise). Viggo Mortenson would have been in contention in any other year for his role in "Eastern Promises", but he doesn't have any buzz at all.

3. Best Actress: Haven't seen any of the nominees in this list, except for Laura Linney in "Savages" which was not exactly best actress material. Oscars favor those who play a handicapped, so Julie Christie will win this one.

4. Best Supporting Actor: Javier Bardem is a lock, I believe, for his turn as a badass merciless killer in "No Country for Old Men". That has to be a disgrace, since Casey Affleck's performance as the coward Bob Ford is much more compelling. Bardem's role is well written, but there is hardly any scope for an actor in it. The character is nothing more than a ruthless assassin with a new way to kill, and doesn't go anywhere from it. Casey Affleck, on the other hand, has the leading role in his film, and has to play an immensely complex character and touches all the right notes. Time and again, we see studios entering nominations in the wrong category, the justification being that it gives the actor the best chance to win. Casey Affleck deserved to be nominated as the lead actor, but probably doesn't stand a chance against Daniel Day-Lewis. (Brad Pitt was entered for the lead, but he didn't even score a nomination). So, putting him in the supporting category is probably not a bad idea. Casey brings out the guilt in Ford's mind before and after assassinating Jesse James, and stands out in each of his scenes with James (Pitt). His meek voice, his vacillating demeanor and his anguish as the act is carried out all stand out. It will be an utter disgrace if Bardem wins it over Casey Affleck.

5. Best Supporting Actress: How did Tilda Swinton even get nominated for her role in Michael Clayton? If that is not scraping the bottom of the barrel, I don't know what is. Cate Blanchett will win for her Bob Dylan impersonation. (She won for her Katherine Hepburn impersonation earlier).

More on best director and best picture to follow.

balaji - pencil 00:15:27 - Movies - pencil permalink -
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