Wednesday, August 30, 2006

State of Fear by Michael Crichton

State of Fear by Michael Crichton (Kindle e-book, Flipkart)

The book is like other Cricton novels in that it is eminently readable, fast paced, and the focus more on the plot and action than the characters. Some of the characters are not that well etched out, and stand out as near superhuman—like Sarah, Jennifer, or the NSIA agent plus MIT professor plus 007 on duty dude who is also upto date on every known and knowable fact on global warming (or climate change as you choose). 
The book also makes the claim, backed by copious footnotes, facts, and references provided at the end of the book, that the whole theory and crescendo of near-paranoia surrounding global warming and the impact that it is having on climate change, does not seem to be borne of facts or scientific observations made over several decades. It does make a person pause for thought. Especially when towards the end of the book, a character conveniently placed for the sake of providing some context to the name of the book - State of Fear - describes that the modern Industrial Military complex needs to create a state of fear with which to control society.

The book seems to be tailor written for conversion into a $150 million summer blockbuster screenplay - wonder whether one is not already in the works...

The New Orleans flooding last year, tsunami in India and sout east Asia in 2004, and other events in the last few years - do suggest that the climate is changing. How much of it is human influenced is something to study more, I guess.

© 2006, Abhinav Agarwal. All rights reserved. Reposted to this blog Nov 2011

Monday, August 14, 2006

Barista Koramangala

Barista in Koramangala - combine a fairly quiet environment for coffee, a newly acquired digital camera and the realization that the marginal cost of taking photos is close to zero, and you have lots of shots of coffee cups, with coffee.

A zoom lens would have made me happier - I tend to obsess over that a lot in my blog postings I think.. Hmm...

I find it fascinating how they make these nice looking patterns with the cream. The moment you add sugar and stir it is gone. If you stir your coffee it's gone. Why have this pattern then?

Brown sugar is better than refined sugar. No sugar is even better. Though seeing the teanspoonfuls of sugar that people put in their coffee makes you wonder if maybe sugar was not going out of fashion, or maybe drinking coffee was really a very roundabout way of ingesting sugar.

© 2006, Abhinav Agarwal (अभिनव अग्रवाल). All rights reserved. Re-posted to this blog 2013.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

No Nuisance Here

"Please do not commit nuisance here" - prudishness meets well.... you can see for yourself.

Nuisance kind of keeps it vague and can include acts not quite intended by the sign.... btw - this is near the Ranka Colony on Bannerghatta Road.

© 2006, Abhinav Agarwal (अभिनव अग्रवाल). All rights reserved. Reposted to this blog, April, 2013

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Amazon Pricing

As many, many surveys have revealed - people do not mind paying a little more at a store as long as they feel that everyone else is paying that much more at the store. If a store, surreptitiously, charges some less and some more, that pisses off people no end.

A couple of months back (I am trying to clear off some posts that have been sitting in my drafts folder for a long time) I was quite stunned to see display two different prices for the same item, within 5 seconds of each other, the higher price on a browser where I was logged in with my "Amazon Prime" account, and the lower price on a browser where I was not logged in.

Refreshing the page to clear any cache related issues did not help.
You have to start thinking just where else has Amazon shafted me...

See for yourself:

On Firefox, and on Internet Explorer - same machine, within 5 seconds of each other.
Repeated on another machine, not logged in. Lower price displayed for the same URL.

© 2006, Abhinav Agarwal (अभिनव अग्रवाल). All rights reserved. Re-posted to this blog June 2013

Five Point Someone by Chetan Bhagat

Five Point Someone: What Not to Do at IIT by Chetan Bhagat
(Buy Five Point Someone: What Not To Do At IIT from, Kindle e-book)

3 stars
Finished reading "Five Point Someone" in June. This book is acquiring somewhat of a neo-cult following among some sections of the urban educated class in India, partly because this happens to be possibly the first work of fiction set in the campus setting of an IIT.

The book is fairly readable, owing partly to the fact that it is less than 300 pages long. Also the fact that it has a sprinkling of most ingredients one expects to find in a pulp-fiction thriller. For someone looking for an insight into the secret sauce of IITs and the amazing success that it students have chalked up over the decades, this is not the book. It will disappoint. The book however does, should, strike a chord with most students or near pre or post college years in India. The ending is a bit hokey, with the Hari's dream downright melodramatic, as if the author realized he really did not have a proper ending to the book, and therefore had to resort to this stunt. Otherwise, you shall find a bit of everything in the novel - friendship, rivalry, intrigue, suspense, love, sex, proper Hindi movie style family melodrama, and most other ingredients that one would find in a Hindi potboiler.

If you read some of the reviews on you may feel the book is a lot worse than it is - and that is probably because people are either taking the book or themselves too seriously. And yes, the book does also take a dig at some of the bookworms, the "muggus" - which also may not sit too well with some "muggu" brethren. To be fair, these "ghota-totas" are also some of the same people who make it big in life, so to portray them as people-without-a-life is a tad unfair, bit that is a liberty the author takes - grant him that creative license.

In the end, take the bookwithout any tags attached to it - read it in 3 hours or less and be done with it.

Here is the synopsis of the book and author fromthe book site:
Set in IIT, in the early '90s, Five Point Someone portrays the lives of the protagonist Hari and his two friends Ryan and Alok. It explores the darker side of IIT, one in which students- having worked for years to make it into the institute-struggle to maintain their grades, keep their friends and have some kind of life outside studies.
Funny, dark and non-stop, Five Point Someone is the story of three friends whose measly five-point something GPAs come in the way of everything-their friendship, their love life, their future. Will they make it?
Chetan Bhagat graduated from IIT, Delhi in 1995. He then did an MBA at IIM, Ahmedabad, from where he graduated in 1997. Bhagat currently lives in Hong Kong and works at a prominent US investment bank. Apart from writing, Bhagat also has a keen interest in yoga.

© 2011, Abhinav Agarwal. All rights reserved.