August 31, 2005

American athletes lose fan following in 'US Open'

Humility is a forgotten trait amongst us Americans. This becomes more obvious and annoying in the field of sports when commentators trash the non American newcomer athletes. For instance, yesterday when Andy Roddick the US tennis sensation was to play agaist Muller, a German youngster from Luxembourg, the commentators had a field day making fun of this young player and his game profile. It was embarrassing for me, an american to listen to those supercilious comments made by McEnroe and the other commentator. It's one thing to praise ones own, but it's definitely pompous and in poor taste to disclaim a competitor without giving him a chance to prove himself. Ironically, this nobody from Luxembourg was responsible for the biggest upset at the US Open when he defeated the American favorite Andy Roddick in a most convincing three set match. The commentators looked sheepish at the end and were speechless after what had happened. Pride doth have a fall...especially when it's misplaced and unfounded.

I had every intention of rooting for Andy Roddick when I switched on the TV yesterday. However, within the first ten minutes of listening to the commentators eulogize Andy Roddick and his serve, I became a die hard fan of Muller, the underdog, who was being mocked and written off even as the two players were warming up for the game. I suddenly found myself hating Andy Roddick for no real reason! I think the commentators and their irresponsible talk may end up in many American athletes losing fans (like me) across the world. We need some lessons in humility from the likes of Federer and Muller who were all but praise for their opponents and also the American crowds. More importantly, our commentators, besides curtailing the amount they talk during the game, need to listen to the British commentators during the Wimbledon and the Cricket world cup. in order to learn what it entails to be a professional commentator.

Competing is healthy and also enjoyable when both sides are given a fair chance to prove themselves. Besides, you cannot always win; and the times when you lose, you have to be able to "stand by the side of the road and cheer as the winner goes by"!

August 26, 2005

The Constant Gardner

This novel of John Le Carre starts really well. It has the reader hooked, wanting to race to the hundreth page to find out what happens. The first half of the novel is very gripping and racy at the same time. The characters in their social interplay arouse reader curiosity and have the reader guessing their next move; the guess usually being incorrect. Africa, mostly Kenya is the setting that comes dangerously alive as a shocked and bereaved British diplomat tries to make sense of a violent crime involving his wife and a black doctor.

The theme is especially interesting because it delves into the ethics of the pharmaceutical world, a current hot topic. The plot revolves around the validity of clinical trials that have become the sole launching pads for new drugs. However, if clinical trials go awry, as in the novel, then " Who shall complain? Third world doctors and medical workers who are making money from the trials? The distributor who is making money from marketing the drug.............. How about the patients? Most of the patients are in undemocratic countries with very corrupt systems.........their signatures are on the consent forms even if they cannot read what they have signed...........also they are afraid...........their children will receive no more medicines from America and their men will go to prison."

This novel though first published in 2001, foresaw the turbulence that was to rock the pharma world shortly! Definitely worth reading; if possible, before watching the movie.

August 22, 2005

A Renaissance in Advertising

The world of advertising has to find new ways of reaching out to the public in order to find new victims /users. No one wants to be bothered by those faceless telemarketing calls anymore. All you have to do is sign up to remove your name from the telemarketer list and you're saved. The advertisers having lost ground on that one, then targeted the internet users and you had those irritating and random pop ups that show up relentlessly! Over a period of time the web surfers learned how to evade those too. Now where does that leave the persevering die hard marketeers? Will they target the blogs next? That is if they haven't done it already! Are we on the brink of a renaissance in advertising?

August 20, 2005

Afro Asia Cup - 'Cricket-sans-borders'

The Afro Asian Cricket Cup hosted in South Africa is doing what even a United Nations initiative couldn't. It has brought age-old arch rivals India and Pakistan together to play as the Asian team along with Sri Lanka against the African team comprising of nations such as Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. It is a feat of no small measure to see the flags of India and Pakistan hoisted together to cheer for every run that was scored by the Asian team. Pre-partition brotherhood prevails as a Shoaib Akhtar exchanges bowling strategies with a Nehra, all the while with an arm flung around his team mates shoulder. Who needs a UN when there's cricket around!

Cricket, a sport introduced in the Indian sub continent by the British during the colonial era, is literally the pulse beat of both Pakistan and India. Ironically, it is this legacy of the British colonists, who were responsible for the India Pakistan partition in 1947, that is today creating new bonds between the two warring nations that not long ago were on the brink of a nuclear war.

What is happening in South Africa this week is a globalizers dream come true. I am watching a cricket match between Asia and Africa being played in Durban, live and for free, on a regular TV channel in the USA, where the majority of the population recognize cricket only as an insect! Cadillac, an American company, is the local US network sponsor for the event, and Standard Chartered Bank, a British multinational is the chief sponsor in S. Africa. The African team is sporting the Sahara logo. Sahara which is an Indian conglomerate that usually sponsors the Indian national team!

Just recently, I remember reading in a US newspaper that at least three of the suspects in the terrorist bombings in London were avid cricket players. As a result many Americans recognize cricket as the sport associated with those bombing suspects. So I was pleasantly surprised today, while watching the 2nd cricket match being played at Durban, how the same game was now forging old ties and making new bonds that defied both, national boundaries and age old political differences! Cricket has great potential for soothing freyed feathers and tempering raging infernos.

Kofi Annan may want to borrow a page from the Afro Asian Cup model in order to forge ties between countries at war. For a start organize a soccer match where USA and Iraq play as one team pitched against the rest of the world! After that we may not need a Rice or a Rumsfeld to strategize the US pull out from Iraq.

Cricket-sans-borders could indeed become a model, at least in the cricket loving world, of what a globalized world would look like; a world without boundaries.

August 08, 2005

'Grokking' - Heinlein revisited

Reread Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, a Science Fiction classic from the sixties. Liked it even more as an adult than I did when I first read it in high school. This time round the novel got me thinking about what had happened in Waco Texas where David Koresh and his Dravidian Cult brought a fiery death to many in February of 1993. Many such cults emerged since the writing of this novel and that makes me a little wary of Smith and the messiah like figure that he becomes at the end of the novel. Talking of messiahs, Richard Bach of the Jonathan Livingston Seagull fame may have borrowed to quite some extent from the Heinleinian philosophy, especially for his work The Messiah's Handbook.

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Smith, the alien from Mars with the body of a man, is the chief protagonist of the novel. The novel deals with his acclimatization to planet earth where he battles with social isues and institutions such as religion, marriage, sex, and love.

Here are some interesting qotes from the novel which may pique you enough get you to read the book:

"You can analyze a culture from its language."

" A present should show that you considered that person's tastes; something he would enjoy but probably would not buy."

" By choice, spirit grows.....At this point the being sprung from human genes and shaped by Martian thought, who could never be either, completed one stage of his growth....The solitary loneliness of predestined free will was then his ......Here was 'ownership' beyond sale....owner and owned grokked inseparable. He eternally WAS the action he had taken at cusp."

" If God hated flesh, why did HE make so much of it?"

"The culture known as 'America' had a split personality....Its laws were puritanical; its covert behavior tended to be Rabelaisian; its major religions were Apollonian; its revivals were almost Dionysian."

" Abstract design is all right - for wallpaper and linoleum. But art is the process of evoking pity and terror. What modern artists do is pseudo-intellectual masturbation. Creative art is intercourse, in which the artist renders emotional his audience."

" Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own."

"The 'code' says ' Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors wife.' The result? Reluctant chastity, adultery, jealousy, bitterness, blows, and sometimes murder...Any male virile enough to sire a child has coveted many women, whether he acts or not."

"Age does not bring wisdom, but it does give perspective...and the saddest sight of all is to see, ...temptations you've resisted."

And of course this is the book that gave the fan community the word "grok," introduced the concept of the waterbed, and caused the founding of the pan-pagan Church of All Worlds. -- Tasha

August 07, 2005


Human life is not precious anymore! The mass graves of innocent soldiers along with the ordinary Iraqis in a war torn Iraq are evidence of this. As were the 54 Londoners who became the victims of bomb blasts in central London this past month. Then the seven man crew of the Russian submarine who came so close to meeting a watery grave this weekend. Not to forget the crew on board the NASA spacecraft who are, at this very moment, anxiously wondering if they will make it back to earth.

Unfortunately, in all of these scenarios there was a precedent; one from which the respective agencies should have learned their lesson. For example, both the submarine and the spacecraft belong to a previous era of engineering, and were known to have some flaws in their design, in spite of which they were the chosen carriers for a human crew! Doesn't that say something... we are willing to put human life at stake to fight foreign wars as also for scientific research!

August 05, 2005

'Beatles' Jacksonized

Michael Jackson holds publishing rights to almost all the Beatles songs! He outbid Sir Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono at an auction in Tokyo in 1985 for the publishing rights to a catalogue of almost all the Beatles songs.

An unhappy Sir Paul McCartney, who, while 'longing for yesterday', can't 'just write that ' song and make it better' anymore!.

And of course, Michael didn't really have to work his creative genius since then, thanks to the everlasting popularity of the Beatles! . Instead, he focused on children's issues on his Neverland ranch.

Beatles fans, what sayest thou?