Elections: Free, fair and fun.

NEW DELHI: In an effort to promote free and fair elections, the Supreme Court has just discarded the secret ballot system in favour of a much more intuitive process: the game of rock-paper-scissors. All future contests for a seat in Parliament shall now enjoy the transparency of the popular diversion.

The court's decision was made public on Sunday, when the Chief Justice spoke to a select group of reporters, the Loony Bean's political correspondent among them. When questioned about the rationale behind the move, he said:

"Elections in this country are rarely free and never fair. It's not the country's fault - it's the system. People can't be trusted to vote. Period. Most people vote at random anyway. Half of 'em don't even know who they're voting for.

"The average voter arrives at the polling booth, and thinks 'Well, I've got the ink on my finger anyway, let's have some fun now. What kind of a name is Jedediah Fariskiller? I'd rather have Prakash Goldsmith in office. At least he doesn't sound like a homicidal maniac. And I like his election symbol - the chainsaw.'

"So you see, all we're really doing is making their decision for them. The net impact cancels out and we get the exact same results anyway. It's much cheaper and it saves a hell of a lot of trouble. If we're looking for equality, then randomness is the way to go - and what simpler way to decide than rock-paper-scissors?"

For readers unfamiliar with the concept, rock-paper-scissors is a game of chance (and arguably, reflexes) played using hand-gestures. The Chief Justice claimed to have heard of the game from his grandson (who learnt it in pre-school) and was immediately enamoured by it. Speaking to the Loony Bean, he claimed that on losing seven games in a row, he had been struck by the unbiased nature of the contest. Authorities from the pre-school refrained from comment, though the judge's grandson was far from reticent on the rules of the game.

"Rocky beat scissors! If you get scissors, Rocky punches. And paper beat rocky! But don't mess with scissors! See? No? You're stoopid."

When quizzed about how the system would actually be implemented, another judge from the panel said, "We haven't worked out all the details yet, but the elections are likely to proceed in a knock-out fashion, so that anyone who loses a match can wait for another five years to compete. The individual matches may be best-of-three, though."

"This will mark the end of vote-bank politics. No more will the people of India be subject to empty promises. You can't be tricked if you can't vote. It's democracy at its finest."

The court ruling has sent shockwaves around the country. Several prominent politicians responded to the ruling by exhibiting their own personal hand-gestures, not all of them part of the original game specification. The public, however, has largely applauded the move as the time saved by not voting will allow them to speculate about more vital issues such as the connubial lives of their favourite Bollywood icons.

(Disclaimer: You know the drill. No offence, no responsibility... yada, yada, yada)

The Great Ride of China

BEIJING: The Chinese government has constructed the world's longest yet cheapest roller-coaster ride using the Great Wall as the underlying structure. Stretched out over more than 6,500 kilometres (or 4,000 miles), the Great Ride of China is expected to become a major tourist attraction in the near future.

The President of the People's Republic of China officially inaugurated the Ride on Monday in Beijing. In the press conference that followed, he cited the general lack of interest worldwide in China's cultural heritage as the primary reason for the move.

"People simply don't appreciate how much of a big deal the Great Wall really is. They don't get why it's one of the seven wonders of the world. Oh, they can gawk at the Taj Mahal all right and ramble on for hours about how it's a monument to love and so forth, but when they hear of the Great Wall, they're like, 'It's a wall. I have a wall around my house. So it's a really long wall. Pass the ketchup.'

"Well, that's going to change now. We expect tourism to soar once the world discovers the value for money that we offer. We have appointed trained guides on every coaster car to explain China's rich and diverse history in exquisite detail to tourists as they enjoy the ride of their lives. Who says education can't be fun?"

The Great Ride also promises to be an efficient and fast public transportation system. The Wall connects the eastern part of the country with the west, passing near the city of Beijing. The chief engineer in charge of the project said:

"The true genius of this venture lies in its cost-effectiveness. We incurred none of the pointless expenses that laying rails across the country would have involved. We didn't have to acquire land or turn millions of peasants homeless. The infrastructure was just lying there and it's been there for a thousand years. And like all things economical, it will proudly bear the tag 'Made in China'."

The inaugural ride was taken by a group of Buddhist monks who maintained that they had just been liberated from their vows of silence and been given a well-deserved break from the monastery. Unconfirmed reports state that following the ride, the same monks claimed to have attained nirvana and professed their newfound belief that the Buddha was a silver-tongued hypocrite of bovine descent.

The government has also announced plans to construct a themed amusement park to go with the Ride. The venture promises to provide lucrative opportunities to thousands of unemployed Chinese clowns and anyone willing to dress up as a Pokémon character in general.

But the Chinese Ministry of Tourism has even more plans in store for the refurbished Wall. Taking advantage of the fact that the Great Wall of China is the only artificial structure visible from the moon, the ministry wants to attract potential tourists from outer space. A representative of the ministry spoke to the Loony Bean:

"Have you seen the Earth from space? There's an austere, lifeless look about the place. It doesn't look like somewhere I'd want to land and have a beer with the locals if I were an extra-terrestrial on an inter-galactic quest. We need to reveal our fun side to the little green critters. And we have just the thing. Think neon signs, only on a planetary scale."

While the initial views on the Ride have been largely optimistic, only time will tell whether the project shall succeed in attaining its rather lofty goals. For though the Wall has survived more than a millennium of punishment from beyond Chinese borders, it remains to be tested against mortification from within.

(Après-post: I'm sorry if I've hurt Chinese or Buddhist sentiments in this post. You guys need to learn to laugh at yourselves. And yes, I know Pokémon isn't Chinese.

Credits: The inspiration for this post was an insightful discussion I had with my friend Shalini about how you could walk from one mountain to another along the Great Wall. She's planning to go to China later this year. Wish her all the best, folks :)

In case you're wondering about the pretty new badge, I earned it by revealing one of my darkest secrets in the PostSecrets project on this excellent blog. Not for the faint of heart. )

Caveman files patent for the Wheel

STOCKHOLM: A 50,000-year old caveman recently found embedded in ice has filed a patent application for the wheel. He claims that he invented the ubiquitous device fifty millennia ago while chasing a squirrel down a hill. When he was defrosted in early April of 2008, biologists around the world were stunned by the fact that the caveman was still breathing, let alone aware of his rights and willing to pursue legal recourse to defend them.

The obviously resourceful cave-dweller, christened 'Leslie' by the admiring research team assigned to him, astonished the world further by mastering the intricacies of speech in just over a year. His first words were reportedly 'Me go by Grok. Leslie gay'. However, the oldest living human being had another thunderbolt up his sleeve.

On Monday, the newly reborn troglodyte, in a press conference, demanded intellectual property rights for his supposed invention of the wheel. Grok stated that during his short trips outside the laboratory that had become his temporary lodging, he had noticed countless unauthorised uses of his invention. He professed himself deeply hurt by the experience. However, he declared, he was not hurt enough to forget and forgive. In a move that has left the world flabbergasted, Grok, with the help of a team of lawyers assigned by his lab, filed a patent application for the invention of 'the Whirling Hand-made Equipment for Elliptical Locomotion', or the WHEEL.

Meanwhile, policy-makers and businessmen have called the revelation outrageous and denied the possibility that Grok would ever be granted the patent.

When asked to make a statement, the CEO of General Motors said, "It's a farce worthy of those Area 51 morons. That's the last time I laughed as hard as this". Observers reported that the vein protruding from his left temple as he said this did indicate that he had been laughing rather explosively.

In an exclusive interview with the Loony Bean, our celebrity caveman asserted that he had made the future-altering discovery while in pursuit of a rodent of the genus Sciurus whom he labelled 'exceedingly pesky' down a hill at the age of 32. We quizzed him about the exact circumstances of the find. A transcript of the interview is included here:

Interviewer: Could you introduce yourself for our readers, please?

Grok: Me Grok. Me make wheel.

Interviewer: Mr. Grok, let's get straight to business. Your claim is nothing less than sensational. The wheel, as I'm sure you've been informed, has become an indispensable tool for the survival of mankind. Several would-be celebrities have already made similar attempts to patent the coveted invention. All of their claims have been discredited. What makes you think your application will be accepted?

Grok: Grok come from cave. Wheel come from cave.

Interviewer: A valid point, Mr. Grok, but how do you propose to convince the world of the veracity of your statements?

Grok: Grok speak logic. Grok beg judge. Then Grok get club. Work with mammoth, work with man.

Interviewer: Erm, yes. Could you tell us about your moment of inspiration?

Grok: Grok chase Chippa down big hill. Me not see bad tree-trunk in way. Grok step on trunk and rrroooollll (Draws a circle in the air). Grok no catch Chippa. Grok break bones, but Grok learn.

Interviewer: Remarkable. I'm afraid we're rather pressed for screen space. Mr. Grok, would you care to send our readers a message?

Grok: Keep read Loony-bee. It have good shit.

Interviewer: Thank you, Mr Grok. We at the Loony Bean wish you success in your search for scientific justice.

The potential ramifications of Grok's application, if accepted, may well plunge the world into yet another economic crisis. There is hardly an industry today that does not use the wheel in some form or another, and if the patent is accepted, they'd all owe the caveman royalties. Grok, on the other hand, is all-set to lead a highly comfortable second life.

(Disclaimer: Any actual laws related to this have been happily disregarded in this post. I don't know the first thing about patent law, and I don't intend to learn :P)

Evolution of a post

(Disclaimer: The Loony Bean shall in no way be held responsible for any damage to internal or external organs, regurgitation, bleeding or apoplexy caused by the perusal of this post. Incompetence in poetry is not a punishable offence and as such, may not be used to bring criminal charges against the poet. Please contact my lawyer for further details.)

"He blogs, therefore he is"
    - A philosopher's remark
Posted in ignorant bliss
    Provokes a ponderous spark.

Yesterday's anxiety
    Born of matters mundane,
Is in a moment of clarity,
    Rendered strikingly inane.

"Think", I implore the neurons
    "How might one save the day?
Deliver a swift response.
    Annihilate delay!"

Years they seem, the minutes.
    Another hopeless cause?
Naught crosses the limits...
    A lightbulb ends the pause

"Morality one must banish.
    It guards the path to success.
Knowledge pure must vanish -
    A twisted plan, I profess

"But crucial is the gain.
    Under these lines of rhyme,
Disguise a vacant brain.
    Surely a scheme sublime?"

Words that bear no essence
    Ever the blogger's aid,
Rhyme in joyful pretence,
    Effecting a masquerade

My, it's almost done...
    A task hardly uphill,
I post with sorrows none.
    Now the beans must spill!

Smiley Suicidal


Whoever's in charge
Yahoo! Inc.
Sunnyvale, California

6th July, 2009

Dear Whoever,

I would like to bring to your notice a certain issue (of no minor importance) concerning your Messenger instant messaging application, that has plagued me for several days now.

The smiley on the Yahoo! logo is simply too happy. In fact, as I will demonstrate shortly, it is happy to the point of being suicidal. I first noticed this abnormality a week ago while signing into my account. Something about the Messenger window struck me as odd. On further investigation, I realised that the smiley in question had its mouth too far wide open. It is impossible for a human face to assume the overjoyed expression displayed by this yellow monster.

However, I had to be sure my instincts were right before I reached a conclusion. I conducted a study therefore, regarding how wide a human being may open his/her mouth without lasting damage to his/her jawbones. The results were shocking. My study uses the ratio of the height of the upper portion of the head (from the mouth upwards) to that of the fully open mouth as a measure to compare any two faces.

As the image above shows clearly, the fully open mouth of the Yahoo! smiley is actually wider than its upper head. Out of my human test subjects, not one managed to replicate this feat.

As you can see, the subjects I chose differed in gender, background, ethnicity and even historical era.

Intrigued by the potential consequences of my find, I spoke to Dr. Fonee Skimask of Make Faces, Not War (a non-profit organisation founded with the laudable objective of finding facial expressions that were previously unknown to man). Dr. Skimask confirmed my suspicions. The expression on the Yahoo! smiley's face, if worn by a human, would crack his/her skull, leading to a nearly spontaneous death.

Considering the popularity of Yahoo! Messenger and the average IQ of its users, it is not inconceivable that a user may attempt to copy the murderous smiley's expression, fracturing his/her skull in the process. I would strongly recommend that a warning message be displayed on the Yahoo! sign-in window, as illustrated.

I am confident that Yahoo! Inc. shall rectify the situation as soon as possible, perhaps restricting the smiley's obvious joy to reasonable limits. However, until you do, I shall not be available on Yahoo! - I find that I cannot look at your logo without a sense of foreboding any more...

A concerned citizen of the Loony Bean

(All right, I admit it - I didn't actually send this letter. But I just might - if I get any more bored :| )

About this nutcase

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A thoroughly confused blogger with imagined Multiple Personality Disorder and delusions of usefulness. Yeah, he has issues.