musings on music and life

July 5, 2018

social media fame (or infamy)

Filed under: Internet craziness, Life — sankirnam @ 5:24 pm

Another interesting development that happened during my hiatus from blogging was that I was named a “Top Writer for 2018” in the Q&A social media site Quora.screenshot_20180226-220002

I have talked about this before, and I have mentioned the importance of having a social media presence in this day and age. I honestly don’t know how I feel about this recognition – this isn’t necessarily something you can put on a resume (“HEY GUYS I’M AN AWESOME WRITER ON THIS SOCIAL MEDIA SITE HIRE ME PLZZ!!!!”), so I don’t know how much this necessarily contributes to my credibility or cachet. What I’ve learned is that demonstrations of credibility are pretty specific to an industry – if you’re in tech or web development, then social media is pretty important, but in a more traditional field like mine (chemistry), it is irrelevant. In R&D especially, your abilities are demonstrated through peer-reviewed publications, patents, and other measures of intellectual productivity.

As Groucho Marx said, “I don’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as one of its members“. I don’t think of myself as a very good writer – I consistently got C’s in English in high school, and that has done a number on my psyche and confidence. Thus, getting this recognition was a bit of a surprise. In addition, Quora has not been doing too well lately, as a lot of well-known writers who were driving traffic to the site were banned for rather random reasons. Most of these people migrated to other sites, such as Medium, where they have the added benefit of being able to monetize their writing.


August 17, 2016

The next Theranos

Filed under: Internet craziness — sankirnam @ 11:22 am

I’m calling it right now: Biocellection is going to be the next Theranos.

The “depolymerization” of polymers is a massive, unsolved problem in chemistry, because it essentially involves the reversal of thermodynamics; for instance, “depolymerizing” polyethylene involves converting strong C-C sigma bonds to C-C pi bonds. This is a problem that many millions of man-hours have been spent on by some of the smartest people on the planet, with little luck. I’m highly skeptical that two girls just out of college with little experience doing serious scientific research would be able to solve this long-standing challenge.

In any case, breaking down plastics into carbon dioxide (as shown in the TED talk on Biocellection’s website where they talk about bacteria backing down phthalates into CO2 via aerobic respiration) by conventional methods is not difficult.

The comments at Chemjobber are particularly enlightening, and I had the idea for this being the “next Theranos” before that commenter did!


April 25, 2016

Congratulations, HomeUnion!

Filed under: Internet craziness — sankirnam @ 9:08 am

Congratulations to HomeUnion (my father’s company) for being featured in TechCrunch!

March 3, 2016


Filed under: education, Internet craziness — sankirnam @ 3:17 pm

Well, this just made my day:

Thanks to this, I now have journal access again! I cannot overstate the importance of this in my life; just like how most people read the newspaper or news websites regularly to know what is going on around them, so too do practicing, serious scientists read journals in their field in order to keep up with the latest developments. Not having journal access is like being disconnected from the scientific world or community at large, and that is no fun at all. In my case, it’s especially important, as interviewers can sometimes ask, “So, what have you read lately that caught your eye, and why is it significant or interesting?”. Being able to answer with references to the primary literature sends a positive signal that you do take the initiative on your own time to stay abreast of the field.

July 11, 2014

potato salad, anyone?

Filed under: Internet craziness — sankirnam @ 9:17 am

The internet is a strange and wonderful place, where fortunes are made, memes come and go, and people are willing to pay obscene amounts of money for potato salad!?!?

potato salad

(It was up to $70K a few days ago. Note that there are still 21 days left, so the total could potentially go even higher).

The collective stupidity of the people in this country baffles me. I mean, if there are really this many idiots lying around with extra cash to throw away…

A couple of years of austerity wouldn’t hurt, and would help the populace find its soul again.

January 9, 2013

internet fame

Filed under: Carnatic Music, Internet craziness — Tags: — sankirnam @ 9:36 am

Well, not really. But someone did add my name to the list of “current mridangam players” in wikipedia (as of January 6, 2013)


I’m flattered that it comes under Tiruvarur Bhaktavatsalam’s name too. This is just to set the record straight that I did not add my name! I’m not that narcissistic…

Also, my dream of getting in a shot edgewise during a Jaya TV program was realized last year:

(see between 2:45-2:50).


September 3, 2012

The Rising Dark Knight?

Filed under: Internet craziness — sankirnam @ 11:15 am

I found this “abridged” version of the Dark Knight Rises on and thought it was worth sharing.

My favorite part:

CHRISTIAN BALE learns how to be BAT-BALE again, with the aid of a BAT-LEGBRACE for his leg and a BAT-LEGBRACE for his shoulder.

CHRISTIAN BALE: This legbrace gives me a super-powerful kick that I will never use at all, I’m not sure why we’re even showing any of this!

I remember that when I was watching the movie on July 21 I was grimacing every time Christian Bale did anything remotely strenuous on camera, because early in the movie they show an X-ray of his joints and reveal that he has basically no cartilage left. Thus, every time he ran, jumped, or got beaten up, I was like “oooh, ow!”. It’s similar to when I watch Kobe Bryant play these days; due to physical exertion over the years, he is also running out of cartilage in his joints, and so every time I see him dunk I always think “oh my god, could that be the last time I see this?!?”

I remember in 2004 that me and my friend found a hilarious fan-script written in this style on the 3rd Harry Potter movie (The Prisoner of Azkaban). It’ll take some sleuthing to find that one again…

June 15, 2012

on Harry Potter

Filed under: Internet craziness — sankirnam @ 4:57 pm

I always maintain that the ending for the 7th Harry Potter book was incredibly anticlimactic. The whole setup reeked of Deus Ex Machina and just lazy authorship. If it were up to me, in the final showdown between Harry and Voldemort, Harry should have busted out a glock at the last minute and said “Hey Voldy, DODGE THIS!! MUGGLE POWER!!!” and fired a barrage of bullets, filling the dark lord’s body with sweet sweet lead. Unfortunately, J. K. Rowling had to take the high road and make some convoluted ending based on the badass wand being able to belong to someone while that person had never laid a hand on it. I ask you, what part of that makes any sense?!?

My ending is superior for a few reasons:

1. Nobody would have been anticipating it

2. Guns are just cool. After reading 6.9 books filled with wands (anyone remember the “wang project”?), introducing a firearm would be a welcome change.

3. J. K. Rowling consistently alludes to Voldemort not taking other people/races seriously (like house-elves, Muggles, etc.). Voldemort ultimately being killed by a Muggle weapon would have been incredibly symbolic from this angle.

But then again, who am I to criticize? I’m not the internationally famous author with billions of dollars in her pocket.

Here’s what SHOULD have happened at some point in the 6th book (I found this in the SA forums years ago):

Harry shotgunned the rest of his Felix Felicis. “Tonight,” he said, wiping his mouth, “I’m gettin’ lucky.”

The next morning, Harry stumbled down into the Gryffandor common room. “Don’t talk,” he told Ron, “I got a wicked hangover. I need some Jack. No, give me the whole bottle.”

“Blimey! What happened?” asked Ron as he handed over a fifth of whiskey.

“Your sister happened,” said Harry. “Twelve times.”

Hermoine joined them moments later. “I can’t remember anything from last night,” she said rubbing her head, “And why did I wake up in your bed Harry?”

Harry winked at her. “That’d be one of the half-blood prince’s potions, babe. Roofinus Maximus.”

“Blimey!” said Ron, “That’s the darkest of dark magic! Even He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named has ever used it!”

“That’s why I can beat him,” Harry said, winking at Ron. “You see, I have the ability to love. Again, and again, and again.”

The bell rang and the girls filed out of their dorms, all slightly rosy cheeked and nodding at Harry. Harry ignored them.

“Blimey!” said Ron, “not all of them!”

“You two will be late for class,” said Professor McGonnagal as she led out Buckbeak by his mane feathers through the portal, “And I’ll see you in my office, Mr. Potter.” She disapppeared.

“What was McGonnagal doing in the Gryffandor girl’s dorms?” asked Hermoine, confused.

“Baby, the question you should be asking is: what wasn’t she doing.” said Harry.

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