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Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Angst of Choosing A Good Point and Shoot

I didn’t know it was this hard to look for a point and shoot camera.  It’s been three days since I first decided that I couldn’t do without it, and now I’m stuck; there are so many models to choose from, I am beginning to think that somebody could start a reality show based on the whole thing. 
 Soon as I decided that I finally made my choice, there’s this annoying little voice inside my head that says, “Wait. Are YOU sure the Canon A3000 is what you need? Check out first this Panasonic Lumix, they’re in the same price range, and it has Leica lens! Or what about the Pentax Optio…and you’re forgetting the Nikon Coolpix series!”  and so on.

Thing is, I only want a camera because I want to take better pictures of my dogs, and maybe a few other things. I don’t intend to take “art” pictures with it (what a ridiculous thought) and I don't need a pricier point and shoot.
 So I probably need just the most basic point and shoot, just a step higher from my crappy phone camera (that reminds me; my phone finally conked out).
At least that was the plan, before I Googled (this is helpful, btw) and got bombarded with megapixels, image stabilization, ISO, purple fringing, optical and digital zoom, and somehow I no longer need just a basic point and shoot; I wanted something higher, faster, and prettier! Before I knew it, I succeeded in introducing into my life a whole new field to bitch about.  
 It’s uncanny how in these modern times a man easily finds something to be frustrated about. Especially the ones you can't afford.
It occurred to me that there are a slew of yet undiscovered disappointments out there; they are virtually at the tip of one’s fingers, just waiting for the unwary!  What a scary thought.
I guess Buddha and other wise men were right after all.
And I still don’t know yet which camera to get.
Or maybe I should get a new phone instead.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dead At 27

Amy Winehouse was found dead at her London home yesterday. Cause of death was not immediately known. She was only 27.

Media described her as "troubled," what with her drugs and alcohol induced problems hounding her throughout her short musical career.
Such a waste, she was a truly talented singer/songwriter; she had the potential to be even greater.
And now she joins rock music's "27 Club."
Robert Johnson (the legendary bluesman of "Crossroads" fame who reportedly sold his soul to the devil), Brian Jones (the Rolling Stones guitarist), Jimi Hendrix (rock guitarist who set the standard for later generations of rock guitarists), Janis Joplin (bluesy rock vocalist), Jim Morrison, (lead singer of The Doors), and of course Kurt Cobain, the Nirvana front man--these artists are the more famous members of that infamous club.
I'm sure she did not set out on her career aspiring to be a member of this club, but she sure did try her best to join when success comes rolling around.
She was diagnosed with emphysema some time ago, which did not surprise those close to her. With all those gunk she had inhaled and snorted, it was inevitable that her lungs would be messed up.
I saw her rousing live performance on the 2008 Grammy performance (where she won five Grammys), a performance where a lot of people expected Amy to somehow mess up; there had been lots of times where she showed up in her concerts too drunk to even walk.
But that night, Amy Winehouse showed the world why she deserved to win. Many people really thought that Amy Winehouse would be cleaning up her act after that; but it was not to be.
Fame is a bitch, and success kills.

Well at least I'm safe from either.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Neil Gaiman and The Dark Fantastic

I just read from Neil Gaiman’s blog that he was nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award.  This piqued my interest, as I wasn’t aware that there was a Shirley Jackson Award
The Shirley Jackson Award, it turns out, was “established for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic.”

Yes, dark fantastic is right.

Shirley Jackson wrote, among other things, the classic short story “The Lottery,” which I read in high school. The experience gave me many moments of staring blankly and thinking about Tessie Hutchinson.  

Anyway, Mr. Gaiman mentions in his blog that “The Library of the Americas recently brought out a Shirley Jackson book edited by Joyce Carol Oates with 21 stories and several of the novels in it, so you do not have to go and hunt for them in dusty second-hand bookshops any longer. Although you can if you like. There are more than 21 stories, after all.”

Right there is my next mission. But I really hope I’d find a Kindle edition, as there aren't many dusty second-hand bookshops in my corner of the world.

Oh, by the way, Neil Gaiman was nominated for STORIES as Best Anthology, and for "The Truth Is A Cave In The Black Mountains" as Best Novelette. Both entries won in their respective categories.
Neil Gaiman, the rock star of the literary world, has won many awards and recognitions for his works, and now he has two more.

No surprise there, really.
After all, Neil Gaiman is the logical choice for the dark fantastic award.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The British East India Company in South Asia

For more than 200 years, a private company virtually governed India and the entire South Asia. Granted a Royal Charter on December 31,1600 by Elizabeth I of Great Britain for trading privileges in India, the British East India Company grew from a trading corporation to a virtual government entity as it acquired not only governmental but military powers as well.

Company Flag (1801)
At the beginning, other countries like France and Portugal tried to muscle in on the lucrative India trade. Robert Clive, an employee of the company, led a military expedition in 1757 and defeated an army of natives led by Siraj Ud Daulah, an official of the Mughal Empire, and backed by the French. This battle effectively established British supremacy in India, but it led to a break in the relationship between the company and the Mughal Empire, which was then ruling India. A Mughal Emperor in 1615, Jahangir, granted the company exclusive rights to trade in some areas of India. By the 16th century, the Mughal Empire was in decline and the Indian Empire was breaking up into different enclaves ruled by various local rulers. It was here during this time that the policy of divide and conquer was used with deadly efficiency by the British. One by one, the company’s army defeated various resistances from the local rulers

Not content with trade, the British East India Company gradually started to takeover the administration of regions in the subcontinent. By the 18th century, the company was the uncontested master of almost the entire region. The company’s stockholders became fabulously wealthy, and the wealth derived from the India trade also contributed considerably to the growth of the British Empire. A legendary diamond taken by the British from the Mughal Empire, called the Koh-i-noor, is now part of the British Crown Jewels.

As the wealth and power of the company and its officials grew, some members of the English Parliament became concerned with the increasingly despotic nature of the company’s rule in the region. A prominent member of parliament, Charles James Fox, called the tyranny of the British East India an “abominable despotism,” for it was just that, and more: it was an enslavement of thirty million people for the profit of a few handfuls of men.

In 1773, the English Parliament passed an Act in an effort to control the company’s functions in the region. The Crown appointed Warren Hastings as the first Governor-General of India, but the company was still allowed complete monopoly over trade and a large degree of control over the administration of the region. However, little by little, through various laws and other events, the company began to decline. The Sepoy Rebellion (a rebellion of the Company’s Indian soldiers) in 1857 finally ended the company’s administrative functions; control of the administration of India went to the British Government and India then became a formal Crown Colony. The British East India Company was finally dissolved on January 1, 1874.

After the company’s demise, an English newspaper stated, “It accomplished a work such as in the whole history of the human race no other company ever attempted and as such is ever likely to attempt in the years to come.”
True. For the degree of greed and exploitation shown by the British East India Company not only in India but also in the whole Asian continent is unequalled in history.

Many tried to equal it, though.

Friday, July 1, 2011

At A Loss For Words

Is there a word for staring blankly at the blinking cursor on a screen? Well, there should be. Many writers I’m sure are familiar with this activity. I suggest slarble—staring blankly at a blinking cursor on a computer screen, unable to write down coherent thoughts. 

(“Hey, busy tonight?” “Not really. Just slarbling.”)

Speaking of words yet to be invented, I was surprised to find out that there is a real word for having hairy buttocks. According to Mrs.Byrne’s Dictionary, having hirsute ass is actually called dasypygal, and that gynotikolobomassophile is somebody who likes to nibble on women’s earlobes. Qualtagh is the first person seen after leaving a house. Now that is a strange word to invent.  Stranger still is thwertnick—entertaining a sheriff for three nights. I can’t think of any circumstance why anybody would entertain a sheriff for three nights. And how would anybody entertain a sheriff? Do you dance and sing or present a musical for him?
Seriously, who thought up that word? Somebody sure jargogled (to befuddle or mess up).
Neil Gaiman, in his book “Don’t Panic…,” writes that Douglas Adams (author of the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”) once said that there are "huge wodges of human experiences" that are not recognized by dictionaries. I agree.
 For example, when you stand in a kitchen wondering why the hell did you go there in the first place? It’s called “woking,” according to Mr. Adams. Also, that vaguely uncomfortable feeling you get from sitting on a seat that has just been warmed by somebody else’s bottom? That is “shoeburyness,” said the creator of Marvin the Paranoid Android.
What about those furtive glances you shoot around you to check if somebody is within hearing distance from you when you’re walking on the street and you suddenly feel flatulent? Could somebody suggest a word for those?
Which reminds me of an article I read in The Straight Dope. A reader wrote to Cecil Adams (purportedly the world’s smartest human) asking what word is used to refer to the “peculiar encounter with an oncoming stroller characterized by dance-like and indecisive movements from side to side, as each participant helplessly fences with the other in an effort to avoid a head-on collision.”  Apparently, that sidewalk two-step is called shuggleftulation. But feel free to think up a better substitute; shuggleftulation is a cumbersome and unwieldy word, not to mention ridiculous.
Other useful word I read in that article is elecelleration—the mistaken belief that the more you press an elevator button, the faster it will arrive. Many of us are guilty of elecelleration.
Cecil Adams’ source for these words is a book by Rich Hall called Sniglets, which means “any word that doesn't appear in the dictionary, but should.”
I imagine there are a myriad of words out there waiting to be invented
After all, language evolves. Right?
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