From smack-bang in the middle of the bell curve

Archive for January, 2009|Monthly archive page

And to all…Great unrest!

In blah, life on January 30, 2009 at 10:07 am

Our minds love symmetry. That is evinced by how excited researchers and scientists get when they find something that no one knew was there in a place that few knew existed, that is remarkably similar to something everyone knew existed, in a place, everyone could find on google maps. Take for instance headlines like “Scientists discover a tree fungus remarkably similar to diesel…” or “NASA scientists discover methane gas on Mars…” I’m not quite sure if it applies to other discoveries like “Man finds previously unexplored region on the back of his hand”

Anyway, a team of researchers set out to draw yet another bunch of parallels and came away dumbfounded by the extent of their discovery. Like most dumbfounding discoveries however, it is the most obvious thing. Not to take away from their efforts though, a bunch of documents were recently acquired, all in very cloak and dagger fashion (which made the exercise all the more tedious, the cloak kept tripping them up and its amazing the amount of damage a free-swinging dagger on a belt can do).

The documents in question are the mission statements of some of the best-known organizations of our time. If you’re thinking Coca Cola, Google, Disney et al, you’ve obviously not been following the foremost information-disseminators of our time; namely India TV, AajTak and others of their kind.

I’m referring to the likes of Mongers of Nihilistic Schizophrenia (MNS) , Supporters of Ridiculous Schisms (SRS), reTArded Leaders In Buffoonery And Nincompoopery (TALIBAN).

Interestingly, this motley bunch of organizations has strikingly similar playbooks. Our experts have found the key tenets:

1 The more the merrier. A note to each of our CDRs (Congenitally Dimwitted Recruits). A rule of thumb while embarking on a project is to apply a ratio of 3:1. For the number of people in target area, make sure you have atleast 3 times the CDRs (table in appendix gives the multiplication table for easy reference).

2. Women and children first. Old men next. They’re usually smaller than us and bruise easy. Note that the thumb rule on resourcing still applies. The littler ones make excellent shields against glass fragments, but watch out for flailing limbs

3. Inanimate objects are our friends. They fight back even less than the ones above. On locating ones made of material that is typically breakable, go to town! Here the resourcing rule can relaxed to 2 CDRs to each object.

4 The issue is not the issue. What we mobilize for doesn’t matter. It could be about anything as long as you can apply tenets 1, 2 and 3. If religion, caste, sex cease to be issues, some suggestions: discrepancy in the number of sesame seeds on a McDonalds bun, refusal of six-sided dies to show numbers higher than 6, discrimination against all polygonal shapes in the manufacture of manhole covers. (refer best-seller by Boob Nubbin titled “2001 causes to burn cars over”

In summary, remember we advocate a return to simpler times. Preferably one where our ancestors were still swinging off trees. Any signs of having advanced from there need to be removed. Besides, windshields and educational institutions are excellent examples of 2 and 3. Great unrest to all!

This message will self-destruct in…

In blah, life, work on January 20, 2009 at 4:55 am

If most books and articles written in this century on time-management are to be believed, email is to productive and meaningful lives, what GM and Ford are to shareholder wealth. Ok, so that was a schmuck-like analogy, but it gets the point across. The panacea to the digital evil, these experts say, is to check email only twice a day, at set times and to banish your email client to the nether regions of your computer’s RAM. Of course, they make this point while glancing at their blackberry to exclaim at the latest guaranteed method that will add several inches to their you-know-what.

Its not that I have anything against people who make their money from introducing people to the arcane concepts of calendars and wrist-watches but how has no-one asked the obvious question that if email is to be used only twice a day, what of the spikes in crime-rates by rampaging white-collar workers?

That if it’s not for the promisingly bulging envelope recognizable to MS Outlook users or similarly tantalizing taskbar icons for Lotus Notes and Thunderbird users, why would I and all of my ilk, hang around our laptops? Sure there are meetings to be consummated, numbers to be ‘crunched’ and spiffy ‘decks’ to be made but does anyone honestly think marginally sane individuals can or will do that for the duration of their working days? Who will deny the sweet twinge of anticipation that accompanies the momentary change in cursor to herald the arrival of an email?

It even applies to those emails meant for specialized mailing-lists that usually have two sub-lists in them along the lines of: 1. Accountants against IFRS 2. Everyone else. Sure, they’re not quite in the same league as the surge of adrenalin and other hormones that accompanied subject lines in the days of yore, that went “Pictures of Anna Kournikova” but “hilarious one-liners…”, “Mandatory use of access cards”, “UDF for domestic passengers” all have their place in a day’s work. Not content with all the targeted communication on company email servers, some even like to register on websites to receive minute-by-minute updates of peanut prices in Eritria or better-yet, alumni email groups.

Now, those of us afflicted with elevated levels of cynicism would be feeling just that, cynical, about the role of such emails in instilling work-life balance. But take a look at this exchange not more than a few hours ago with a client.

From I to recipient: Are we on for the meeting tomorrow? (Size 2KB)

Response: Yes, confirmed for 2pm. (Size 63KB)

Interest piqued at the 30-fold increase to email size with less than double the words communicated, I scrolled. Turns out, to the innocuous question I posed, the email system had added:

XYZ allows reasonable personal use of the e-mail system. Views and opinions expressed in these communications do not necessarily represent those of XYZ.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this e-mail is confidential and may be legally privileged. It is intended solely for the addressee. Access to this e-mail by anyone else is unauthorized. If you have received this communication in error, please address with the subject heading “Received in error,” send to, then delete the e-mail and destroy any copies of it. If you are not the intended recipient, any disclosure, copying, distribution or any action taken or omitted to be taken in reliance on it, is prohibited and may be unlawful. Any opinions or advice contained in this e-mail are subject to the terms and conditions expressed in the governing XYZ client engagement letter. Opinions, conclusions and other information in this e-mail and any attachments that do not relate to the official business of the firm are neither given nor endorsed by it. XYZ cannot guarantee that e-mail communications are secure or error-free, as information could be intercepted, corrupted, amended, lost, destroyed, arrive late or incomplete, or contain viruses.

WTF?! So, let’s recap. They’re saying – we don’t know if you’re the one to have received this email. We don’t know if it’s what it’s supposed to be and if you’re not the one who was supposed to get this, our lawyers will wring all signs of life out of you. Also, let us know which idiot sent you this and we’ll lynch the sender. Not to be outdone, the recipient’s email system responded in kind with warble of its own kind.

It doesn’t take much of a stretch of the imagination to see a few exchanges to mutate into something like:

NEW (and improved) DISCLAIMER: You were not supposed to read this email. If you however have, please delete the email, destroy the computer on which it was accessed (the viruses on the email will probably render your machine as a big-ass paperweight anyway), set fire to the email-server that routed it and jump out of the nearest window. If not, you will be hunted down by crazed network administrators who will then ping you repeatedly while invalidating all your passwords and then dynamically reduce your mailbox limit to one byte less than every incoming email you receive while only letting disclaimers through. Thank you.

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