Sunday, 20 November 2005

Mousetrap - 28

By all that’s holy
The Internet Sacred Text Archive
I’m not big on religion, but this site’s first lines hooked me: “This is a quiet place in cyberspace devoted to religious tolerance and scholarship.” Not a rant in sight, just texts (mostly in English translation, but some with in the original language too) from just about every religion, tradition and belief that produced texts that we know of, from African religions to Zoroastrianism. The archive pulls together material from a huge variety of sources: scans from books and articles, material from early internet FTP archives and BBSes, even transcripts and retellings from religions with an oral tradition. It has over 45,000 files, some of them unique. For instance, comprehensive translations of the Upanishads and the Rig Veda that are unavailable online elsewhere. Amen.

And some ketchup
Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster
You’ve heard about the whole battle being waged by Dubya & disciples to have “Intelligent Design” taught in schools in the US, right? (Of course we wouldn’t dream of doing the same in this great and free land of many thousands of years of culture, right?) Anyway. A chap called Bobby Henderson wrote to the Kansas School Board, tongue firmly in cheek, demanding not only that ID be taught, but that his theory of ID be taught as well: that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. Read the rest on the site, and follow the, er, evolution of this “religion” and its “splinter” groups, each funnier than the last (they include Pastafarians, Linguinists, Pirations and Ninjaists), all poking fun at religion in general. Another great source for lots of links is the Uncyclopedia page on the cult.

Where knowledge is free
National Portal of India
The Indian Government’s very own portal. A much overdue, and for those of us used to making fun of government offerings, surprisingly good site. Its aim is to provide “single window access to the information and services being provided by the Indian Government for the citizens and other stakeholders.” It has sections aimed at citizens, business interests and overseas readers, listings of people in government, voluminous directories, important documents, downloads of forms searchable by state, tenders, maps (disappointing geographically speaking, considering what’s available online totally free, but compensates with maps you wouldn’t find easily elsewhere, like demographic info) and links to other government sites. The design and the interface are a bit grotty, in my arrogant opinion, but they do promise continue the “enhancement and enrichment” of the site, so there is hope. Into that heaven of freedom, my father...

Ego scraping
A neat little gimmick that uses search results from Google to amusing effect. Pick a name, a place, an object or even days, dates and events, and let Googlism loose. Based on the search engine’s results, the page gives you a series of statements that are “what thinks of you.” For more fun, check out the links just below the search box (Who is, What is, Where is, When is) for the top searches and the results thereof.


Blog of the week

No, really!
That’s the wonderful thing about the web. You can take your pet peeve and devote an entire blog to it. And if it’s a word that’s misused as often as “literally” is, hey, there’s a lot to blog about. Here, you get examples from the media and elsewhere of the word’s incorrect and unnecessary usage, and, just to be fair, its proper use too. Good fun. Literally.

Reader suggestions welcome, and will be acknowledged. Go to for past columns, and to comment, or mail The writer blogs at

Published in the Times of India, Mumbai edition, 20th November, 2005.

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