600 pound knickers

Queen Victoria’s bloomers fetched 600 pounds at auction. [Michael Jackson’s gloves fetched $45,000, so there you go. Oh, and if they are buying underwear again, the recession must be over, yes?]

The real auction story though is this one: win a dinner with Sarah Palin. Check out the ifs and buts and other clauses, beginning with your needing to pass a background check. And then there’s this:

Dinner shall last no more than four hours, but could be less, in the sole discretion of Sarah Palin.

The family values of sex

Why is it that the staunchest upholders of “family values” are the very ones to find themselves embroiled in sex scandals? And why are they so ludicrous?

Datasets, mindsets

The latest talk [Even better with the interactive transcript switched on] from one of my all-time favorite contributors to TED.

More Hans Rosling datasets here.

The halt and the lame

There is only one way to tell you this: with a straight face.

So: Gautam Gambhir, who has strained his groin, will be replaced in Sri Lanka by Virat Kohli, who has strained his shoulder.

There — and I didn’t even crack a smile. [Any speculation on whether the groin is more key to playing cricket than the shoulder is entirely up to you]

Roy and the art of brevity

The Economist recently reviewed Arundhati Roy’s Listening to Grasshoppers: Field Notes on Democracy [which, in a classic manifestation of burnt child dreading fire syndrome I haven’t worked up the courage to read yet; I’m still trying to recover from this one].

The review is 656 words.

Roy has just responded to the review.

The response is 1323 words. [That'll teach them!]

Totally unrelated [Honest! Cross my heart and hope to die from choking on my own laughter honest!]: The Bullshit Generator.

Signs of the times

Every morning, I see this sign on Sion Trombay Road, on my way to work. It says:

“HELP! BMC TO CLEAN UP MUMBAI!”

In the spirit of GK Chesterton [He once wrote an essay about how much he found to amuse himself in a train compartment; a selection of his essays here], I have spent many days amusing myself trying to unravel the thought processes of the bloke that did the sign.

When he put the whole thing in quotes, for instance, was he discreetly dissociating himself from the whole thing? Was he saying, for instance: Look, the BMC says it is going to clean up Mumbai but you know that lot! In any case, don’t blame me, I only painted the damn sign?

Or take the question of exclamation marks — the sign has two of them.

Ignore the first, and concentrate on the second. Makes sense, no? The sign painter is amazed, totally, at the fact that the BMC, which has as its operating principle the fact that the best way to hide garbage is to dump more garbage on top of it, is finally cleaning things up. Whatdoyouknow, the guy is saying, BMC TO CLEAN UP MUMBAI GLORY HALLELUJAH

Now consider the first exclamation point — a cri de coeur if I ever heard one. Help!, the sign painter says — the BMC says its going to clean Mumbai… please, for pity’s sake, stop them before they do some permanent, lasting damage.

See what I mean? That sign alone has helped me forget the tedium of the morning commute on more days than I can count.

Forgot what I was trying to say when I got side-tracked into this ramble. Ah yes, signs.

Of the -It is not good to entertain women in your room. Please use lobby for the purpose — kind. Here, amuse yourself some more.

The BJP’s Swayamvar

Back in the day, when a kingdom didn’t have a natural heir, they apparently sent an elephant to wander the streets, with a garland in its trunk — and whichever neck the noose garland went around, would be installed as the next king.

In keeping with its deep grounding in classical Hindu tradition, the BJP is sending out LK Advani [or he is setting out on his own] on a pan-India trek, complete with garland, to find talent for the party and who knows, maybe a successor to Rajnath Singh. Seriously — there’s grandstanding, and then there’s this.

To add to the mirth quotient, the RSS has asked Advani to take Rajnath Singh along!

Stop, already — my stomach hurts from laughing so much.