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Monday, November 30, 2009

Porn Stories Prove Newsom Right: Locals Don't Hold a Candle to Indian Students

Posted By on Mon, Nov 30, 2009 at 12:29 PM

click to enlarge Brilliance we cannot match...
  • Brilliance we cannot match...
Now that he's safely off the continent, Mayor Gavin Newsom has started Tweeting incessantly once again. His latest statement: Our publicly educated locals pale in comparison to the denizens of their Indian sister city: 

Spent time at Indian Institute Of Science in Bangalore- a wake up call- we better get our act together in public education-math/science-
He's right, of course. I've had the good luck to meet a number of local products of India's best engineering schools -- imagine the MITs and CITs in a nation of 1 billion residents and change. And their stories demonstrate a tenacity and ingeniousness sadly lacking in local students when it comes to that most important of schoolboy endeavors -- obtaining pornography.

In the age of the Internet, it is now easily possible to unintentionally stumble across pornography. Imagine explaining this to the schoolchildren of 20 years ago; for them the only way to stumble across porn was to do so literally, in the bushes or dumpsters. Our societal porn saturation belies the ingenuity that used to be required to obtain free, lascivious material. This manner of genius and know-how is lacking here. But not elsewhere.

One graduate of what is arguably India's top technical school  -- we'll simply call him "the engineer" gives us an example of this sort of brilliance in short supply stateside today. Rather than pay for cable individually, the engineering dormitory invested in a single satellite dish. That alone was a huge cost-saver. But it led to unexpected benefits. Most satellites are geosynchronous -- they orbit the earth at a constant speed and are always in the exact location relative to the surface. Point your dish at the same place, in other words, and you'll always get the signal. Yet the engineer's colleagues soon learned of another satellite -- a Russian craft that was not geosynchronous. Russian TV was largely not desirable fare. Yet on Saturdays from 2 to 4 a.m., everything changed. That's when the Russian Playboy show came on the airwaves. And that's when the ingeniousness was unleashed.

A Ph.D student using God knows what data was available in the largely pre-Internet Pleistocene that was 1997 charted the trajectory of the extra-terrestrial giver-of-porn. He even figured what days of the month the students should tilt their satellite dish at his prescribed angles -- and left this data for posterity like a modern-day Kepler (but motivated by distinctly terrestrial fare).

"So, we had the data," said the engineer. "Normally, the dish was facing the Indian satellite. But on Saturdays we had people assigned to turn the thing and make it face the angle of the Russian satellite. We didn't have cell phones in those days, so we formed a human chian of communication six people long."

The engineer himself starred in the next tale of ingenuity. Around a dozen years ago, his school put strict Internet restrictions to sites of an obviously lascivious nature. But necessity is the mother of invention, and the engineer eluded these restrictions with aplomb.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Bio:
Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

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