Friday, November 30, 2007

Tim Berners Lee @ USC's Annenberg School of Communication

Even those among the general populace who are not computer geeks might have come across the name of Tim Berners Lee. He is often called the inventor of the Internet. He was the first who came up with the HTTP and wrote the first web browser and server during his stay at CERN (Center for European Nuclear Research) located on the Swiss/French border in 1989. While there, he also developed HTML in a bid to unify all the various scientific document formats plaguing CERN at the time. The particle accelerator facility is a huge melting pot of cultures, languages, people, computer hardware and software. Mr. Lee now leads the w3 consortium which overlooks the development of the world wide web and in certain cases perhaps even predict what new technologies might come up and what societal impacts such technologies will have on world. Needless to say that Mr. Lee has won many awards in the past. In 2004, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth of England.

Now when such a person's talk, whose ideas have made such an impact to our lives is announced the night before, I can't help but wonder that there's something wrong with USC's public relations network. First of all I was surprised that Mr. Lee was being hosted by the Annenberg School and second of all I did not recognize room 207 as an auditorium. The talk was scheduled for noon and I arrived at Annenberg half an hour earlier. People decided to have food before the talk rather than after and before I knew it, it was noon and there was not a seat to be had in the tiny 207 room. It was literally a fire hazard. I was squeezed into a couch with four other people next to me. There were way too many people at the entrance and in the narrow passage ways between the few chairs that were arranged in the room. I could see very few of my colleagues and I was able to count only two professors from the computer science department.

Later in the evening I asked one of the professors if we could ask Mr. Lee to give a talk in the computer science department and he said that he had already asked the Annenberg people and they had declined. Apparently Mr. Lee is at USC for another week and the Annenberg folks are unwilling to give us two hours of his time. I think that's quite selfish, immature and goes against the spirit of learning and academics.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

For You

My pink-striped un-ironed shirt,buttoned,
ruffled collar, creasessome deep,
some lightremind me of a network of canals
dug above and beneath a Martian landscape.
My sleeves rolled upwith pockets of space
that I wish I could sketch
with chunky black vine charcoal.
My trembling, iron-skillet fingers
undo the sleeves, unbutton
my shirt and one breaks, and falls.
A gaping hole in the middle
that no masterful tucking can hide.
With a needle between your index and thumb
and ivory thread in another,
with four strokes and a knot,
I walk with a beaming smile.

- M.M.

Ghazal 147

This past weekend I was able to do some work with a dear friend of mine on some poetry translation. Here's a sneak preview!

چشمِ خوباں خامشی میں بھی نوا پرداز ہے
سرمہ تو کہوے کہ دودِ شعلۂ آواز ہے

Even in silence the eyes of the beloved speak
Antimony from her eyes sings like flaming smoke

یکرِ عشّاق سازِ طالعِ نا ساز ہے
نالہ گویا گردشِ سیّارہ کی آواز ہے

The lovers’ form sings the chord of discordant fate
The lovers’ plaint sings like the revolving planets.

دست گاۂ دیدۂ خوں بارِ مجنوں دیکھنا
یک بیاباں جلوۂ گل فرشِ پا انداز ہے

See the power of Majnun’s blood-filled eyes:
They conjure roses to carpet the wilderness.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Claressinka Anderson at Bergamot

I had a fantastic time this past Sunday evening admiring all sorts of different art-work at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica. I was invited by one of my dearest friends to check out Claressinka Anderson's work, entitled "Through Your Ghosts, Darkly" at the Tarryn Teresa Gallery. The work chronicles the artist's mother's life during communist Czechoslovakia and connects the latter's past with her present through juxtaposed photographs on some beautiful art - a series of 40 in x 40 in photographs. Personally, I found it rather morbid, melancholic, eerie, and yet I came away with a sense of beauty.

There was a huge opening in one of the bigger galleries entitled, "Artists for Human Rights". There were many unique pieces from a variety of artists from all parts of the world championing the thirty articles outlined in the International Human Rights Commission manifesto. The energy of the crowd in that gallery was scintillating!

The evening ended with some grape-flavored hookah and sheesh kebobs at Cafe Dahab.