The hanging of Saddam Hussain

Politics, Zeitgeist

Today morning on YouTube — 18 of the 20 most viewed videos were about of the hanging of Saddam Hussain.


My stance on this is still a work-in-progress.

However I do have a couple of thoughts.

It is a poor-poor defence when Americans say, “It was their (incumbent Iraqis’) decision to hang him. We had nothing to do with it.” Yeah sure buddy, we believe you as much now as when you told the world that Iraq was sitting on a tranche-load of Weapons of Mass Destructions! And if going against the grain of incredulity, I were to believe you on WMDs — idiots you killed the only man who could have told you where they were hidden!!

This is the third such political execution I have seen.

The first was that of former Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu, who was executed by a shooting squad after a hasty trial in 1989. That was the Christmas on 1989. BBC says:

Two days after the death of Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, video pictures of their summary trial and execution were shown on television in Romania and around the world.

The images of their dead bodies, riddled with bullets, were broadcast and much of the unrest which continued after their deaths subsided.

The second was that of former Afghanistan President Dr. Najibullah who was publicly hanged by the Taliban in 1996 and whose body was left hanging in the open for a few days. The newspaper pictures of those hanging bodies are graphically imprinted on my mind. Especially since in India we were used to seeing him as guest of the State. In fact the rest of his family had taken shelter in India after the Taliban captured power in Afghanistan in 1996.

Somehow this time around I feel a sense of apathy seeing the visuals. Perhaps the earlier pictures where a fugitive Saddam was shown being pulled out of his hideout, had somehow prepared me for the things to come.

This gruesome link on BBC throws some light on this issue:

Releasing the normally gruesome pictures of dead leaders is a powerful gesture. It has often been used in the past to mark the end of an era.


Insurance Term Policy, Endowment Policy, Whole Life Policy


Ok, don’t get it wrong, I have no expertise on or avid interest in the subject of insurance policies! This post has been deliberately titled thus — to explore the myth about what words work for search-engines. (The Paris Hilton vs. Lindsay Lohan and Teach an old CAT new tricks: CAT 2006 posts earlier on this blog were also an attempt towards that.)

Immediate fall outs?

I did have a few days of spike in traffic owing to the contextuality of those posts, but I am also left to contend with a legacy of hundreds of spam comments! Mercifully, WordPress has provided Akismet spam filter on all its blogs, and I am highly indebted to them for that. Akismet works like a dream, totally weeding out all the spam comments. The ones it is unable to mark as outright spam it sends for moderation.

Also, lest I disappoint you beyond redemption here is the information on insurance. I really like the betting analogy.

…Term insurance works like a betting game.
You are willing to bet that you would die this year and cough up, say, Rs 2,000.
The insurance company bets that you will not die and is willing to pay your family, say, Rs 1 million if you do.
If you survive, you lose the bet. And the insurance company takes away the Rs 2,000.
If you win the bet, you know what happens!
The bet goes on over a period of 5, 10, 15, 20… whatever number of years that both you and insurance company have agreed to.
Don’t give up so quickly!
If this does not tickle your fancy, there are other options to consider…

All this is from an old article on by N Sriram ‘How much is your life worth?

Paris Hilton vs. Lindsay Lohan: The ultimate superfluous study

Humour, Media & Entertainment, Zeitgeist

It had been on my mind for quite some time. And now when I decided to write about it, I heard another part of my mind tell me, “This would be your most earth-shattering post till now.” Knowing my own mind I was skeptical yet flattered. And then I realized this was the profound part of my mind collaborating with the pun part — ‘Arth-shattering‘ post is what was implied. (Arth in Hindi/Sanskrit = ‘meaning’)

Read on at your own peril :)

Every major newspaper has city supplements — Delhi Times, HT City et al. It is in these supplements that one can see the much reviled yet keenly followed ‘page 3’ people. Two such people who you would have regularly seen are Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. Paris Hilton, one may have read about on various occasions — famous and infamous; but Lindsay Lohan? I’d never known who she was, or what she’d done in life. Yet day upon day, week upon week, month upon month — one sees some article/picture or the other on Ms. Lohan! In my media management workshops I would cite this as an example of a hyper-active PR company at work.

While sociologists would have their theories worked out on this phenomenon, with a little disposable time at hand, I decided to do my own study — which befitting its subjects, is hopelessly superfluous!

First test — assuming that there would be .com websites dedicated to both these femmes; I did a simple comparison. vs. — Alexaholics

Clearly started a few years earlier — but, its late start notwithstanding, has surged ahead in terms of traffic!

Next test — Google Trends. Where in terms of pure ‘search volume’ Paris Hilton is much ahead of Lindsay Lohan. However, as far as news reference volume goes, Lindsay Lohan puts up a good fight. This again reiterates the point I was making earlier — her PR agency is hyper-active, and therefore the higher news references!

Paris Hilton vs. Lindsay Lohan — Google Trends

Paris Hilton vs. Lindsay Lohan — Google Trends

Next test — why not do a simple comparison of these two women across some of the most popular sites currently — Google, Technorati, Yahoo, MSN Live, YouTube, Flickr, 43things, Amazon, and eBay!

Paris Hilton vs. Lindsay Lohan

Clearly, Paris Hilton emerges a winner in references in all of these except Amazon – DVD search — where Lindsay Lohan beats her! But the whopper is, a zeitgeist site where people list 43 things they want to do in their lifetimes. Clearly Paris Hilton figures a far greater number of times in what people want to do in their lives. But what exactly do they want to do? Below are the top 75 mentions:

meet paris hilton
beat up paris hilton
be Paris Hilton’s friend
be Paris Hilton
paris hilton
sleep with paris hilton
stop hearing about paris hilton
be 10x richer than paris hilton
Be like paris hilton!
to be Paris Hilton
Party with Paris Hilton
punish paris hilton
Date Paris Hilton
paris hilton kiss
be as thin as paris hilton
knob paris hilton
Marry Paris Hilton
slap paris hilton
Fight Paris Hilton
see paris hilton
on in paris hilton
free paris hilton’s dog
smack Paris Hilton
hit paris hilton
look like Paris Hilton
meet paris hilton and say “thats hot”
seriously physically impair Paris Hilton
steal paris hilton’s money
french kiss paris hilton
watch paris hilton tape
party like paris hilton
Be paris hiltons worst enemie
get paris hiltons number
get rid of paris hilton
throw up on paris hilton
meet paris hilton (chad)
have BJ done by Paris Hilton
bethin like paris hilton
become friends with paris hilton
make out with paris hilton
Throw paris hilton screaming from a helicopter
Get high with Paris Hilton
Meet Paris hilton or Britney Spears
become more like paris hilton
be best friends with Paris Hilton
i wanna see paris hilton!!!!
have relations with paris hilton
see Paris Hilton go away
hit Paris Hilton in the face with a cream pie
never read another article about Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan
spend a day with Paris Hilton and go shopping
live long enough to watch paris hilton grow old and ugly
french kiss paris hilton & bite her tongue
Tell paris hilton she is ugly
Tell Paris Hilton what a loser she is
Meet Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton
show Paris Hilton how to actually dance
meet Paris Hilton and smack her. lol
treat myself with paris hilton
chop paris hilton head and spit in hole
meet and chat with Paris Hilton in a restaurant
ask paris hilton if she wants my autograph
push paris hilton down a flight of stairs
party in the hamptons with Paris Hilton
follow paris hiltons advice -_-and b ”hot”
become famous by the time i am 18 and be as beautiful as Paris Hilton
buy perfume: be delicious,hypnose,fresh linen,paris hilton
start The Global War on Paris Hilton
shave paris hilton and proove to u that she’s an ex-surfing dude
meet Paris Hilton so I can slap her for being a dumbass
really listen to paris hilton’s cd
make paris hilton(and people like her) be aware of the real world
have a reality show with Paris Hilton where I help her develop intellectually

Interesting huh?

Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you this was ‘arth-shattering’!

Famous Lost Words

Humour, Language, Zeitgeist

As a kid I swear I was really happy and gay! Now I have to say I am only happy :-( And why is that? Because through my growing up years the Americans systematically stole words from my lexicon and gave them meanings which ensured I can’t really pass them forward to the generations ahead.

Once upon a time you could tell a kid when the neighbourhood cat would come avisiting, “Look, the pussy cat is here.” Now I almost squirm uncomfortably when my 3-year old nephew points out a pussy cat to me! Or when going through his pictorial book, I can feel my tone change, as I have to point out the fowl called cock that I immediately try and deflect as Mr.Hen! And of course none of the stories I tell him can have a member of the feline species eat a rooster!

Similarly, I am afraid, in the coming years avid sportsmen would not be able to say ‘I like playing with balls’ — even if they were stating the obvious.

A lot of us had practically stopped using the idiom ‘A bird in hand is worth two in the bush’ for obvious reasons. Interestingly, this is one rare example where Americans brought back a word into ‘permissible conversation’ thanks to their political supremo — George W.Bush. Further President Bush brings the added advantage of rescuing another one of the ‘lost words’ — the ass! As far as contextual usage is concerned, mercifully this is one word that retains its in-sentence context — though its intended meaning has been corrupted too. I am sure some of you have read that ‘priest peddles his ass‘ joke.

The American influence of course permeates their entire continent. I don’t know if you have heard the Canadian slogan — if you’re a Canadian, show me your beaver!

Then there are other things in our lives where conventional words have been given new meanings making their usage even in the original context risqué.

For example, a screw helps you bond… a wooden plank with another. However, I remember a real-life incident during our architecture carpentry workshops, where this girl shouted across the room — “I want a screw.” I am sure you can guess the reaction from everyone around!

A long time ago, I also recall having seen an embroidery designer say that customers pay more for a hand job than a machine-job! Talking of designers and clothes, Tantra (the t-shirt makers) banked on another such lost word and sold quite a few t-shirts that said — ‘Rajasthan, the best place in India to look for a hump.’

However, when people profess “We can make out”, they may merely be referring to their superior ability to tell one shade of green from another! Similarly, a rueful “My husband always comes before me” could simply be a reference to the husband’s punctuality on their way back from their respective jobs!

Closer home, coming from a Kashmiri Pandit family, it was common for us to cook at home what we in Hindi call ‘keema’ (minced meat), bought from the local butcher. And towards creating the finest quality keema it was common for us at home to further beat our meat! Thank God for two things: One, in those days we never had to converse at home in English. Two, today when we do converse a lot more in English — we are vegetarians!

Reference reading for those with an academic interest in this:
Double entendre