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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Ultimate waste of time !! Asteriod shooting scriptlet.

Amazing way to kill time and let out your frustration. Just remember ! Do not make this a habit.

Have fun !!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Jeans care - Uber style. Read on

Interesting article about caring for your favorite pair/pairs of denim.

After reading the article, I would admit it is a very novel way of caring for your denim from the director of brand concepts and special projects at Levis Strauss co., the founder of the denim culture.

Here is a small extract from the article :


After six months of wearing a pair of jeans, Mr. Chiara does a comprehensive cleaning; his method could also be used by those who like to wash their jeans more often. Usually, he fills a bathtub to about six inches with room-temperature water and adds two tablespoons of Dr. Bronner's Magic Liquid Soap, which he likes because it is mild. Then, he immerses the jeans in the tub, laying them flat.

Sometimes, with dark jeans, he'll add 1/8 cup of white vinegar to the water. "The vinegar sets the indigo and keeps it from fading," he says.


CWG 2010 - India amazingly shameless

In the never ending stream of woeful spats and infrastructure issues, this piece of news is just sh*t hitting the fan. Literally, the phrase fits what is going on with the CWG 2010 which commences in Delhi in another week.

Any major sports meet in India should be taken with a grain of salt ( for the participants ) and quick trip to the bank ( for the contractors and the ministry / local government ) involved. “India Incredible” is a phrase which is sometimes better suited to be limited to the hoardings in foreign airports and websites and mostly in the hearts of ever forgiving Indians, who tend to forget every wrong within few moments, even if they are repeatedly subject to it.

With the inauguration of one of the most awaited events in India coming close, all sorts of creatures came out of the closet of the organizers and the government. While the key government officials, including the venerable minister who handles the sports guarantee a world class experience to the participants, the situation on the ground is far from it, so far that we have a great chance that this meet might not happen at all. so much for planning which started 7 years ago and looks like they just woke up to realize the deadline is right over their head.

First there was bickering over quality of construction and passing off the buck for the delays which have already been doing rounds in national and international press. Then came the blasts, which have become a precursor to any big event in Indian cities.

The collapse of the walkway near the main stadium was just the kind of boost the reluctant participants and commonwealth members needed to strengthen their case for opting out of these games with proof of unlivable conditions.

The government and the organizers seem to have the least regard for the visiting sportspersons by the way the complaints and news have been propagating around the event’s athlete village. Otherwise, why should a minister issue denial statements contrary to the proof and experience being reported from the site. It would be wise of them to speed up the finishing of the works which are lagging behind to ensure a proper inauguration and conduct of the game.

Mudslinging and endless inquiries can be initiated once your prime objective of conducting the games in a secure and health environment is achieved, which currently looks rather depressing. What should have been a showcase of organization from “rising power” instead has become another feather in the distinguished and miserable screw-up cap which the officials of Indian ruling party and other accomplices are happy to wear in lieu of loads of money being passed around for their personal gains.

Coming to the link to the title of the post, it is simply unbelievable, but YES, it can happen in India. When the home ministry can taxi a CEO of a company to safe havens, even if it killed thousands of its citizen with deadly gas leak, what wrong a stray animal “accommodating” itself in the athlete’s bed in Delhi’s monsoon time has done, hey at least it did not kill any human in the process.

But as they say, “The show must go on”, and all I pray is “Let the games begin”. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Capitalism meets Socialism - Here in US

Desperate times need desperate measures. Guess, the Feds and Congress started to realize that and have scurried over the past couple of years to bring Mahatma Gandhi's idea back to help their swindling economy and unemployment under control.

Once a free market, US now has started resembling a state which seems to recognize its irreversible dependency on its trading nations for everything from a needle to planes being imported. So in name of job creation, the free market advocate is trying to bring a new wave of protectionist measure which it so vehemently opposed and opposes in other global markets such as China.

The “Buy America” or the “Made in America” resembles the result of the Satyagraha which Mahatma Gandhi undertook reduce Indian dependence on cloth and other commodities imported from overseas, this not only led to business in Britain taking a hit, but also bolstered the local industry in India empowering them to be more assertive and strengthen the growing need to be independent from British in rule and economy.

Now, how does it help US is something which has been debated on both sides. The current generation of americans never had the dire need to fight for a job until recently, with close to 6 million jobs that have vanished, the government seems searching for answer. The cause, somebody in the well running private economy machinery fooled the system so bad, that the spokes of the economic wheel nearly collapsed.

Take an example of how well the money flows in a daily situation :

Healthcare for example : You sign up for insurance and pay X dollars for premium. When you visit a medical provider, the insurance pays part of your high bill to the hospital, the insurance also pays for your costly medicines to the pharmaceutical companies, the pharmaceutical companies use part of this money to lobby at the Capitol Hill for research subsidies and keep the market in flow by pushing for higher insurance costs, which being mandatory doesn’t leave much choice for the common man. Get the drift ??

With the money rotation gone, the grim reality that dawned was that most of the money which was being rotated now either had ended in bad investment or gone overseas. Apart from printing more money, which obviously has not done any good, the government now wants to do the thing which they should have done a long long time back, maintain basic economic independence.

The new acts represent a step in that direction, but what they also are doing is, going against the principles of free trade by disallowing certain segments of the markets to be closed to outsiders, which cannot be justified in terms of quality or cost issues. After all, outsourcing and local manufacturing strategies were meant to enhance quality and reduce cost.

Rather than going globally competitive, which is what had been their advantage during after WWII, the administration was doing “if it aint broke, don't fix it” approach. Now when it really broke, the fix attempts are nowhere a quick fix affair due to various situations like, long wars being fought at an exorbitant cost which never actually helped the US economy, poor education levels in the populations, rise of high skilled resources and and shipping out of low cost jobs to other developing countries.

Indulging in a bit of Socialism seems to be their bandage solution, until couple of the above issues are addressed, which will take years of planning and commitment from the businesses and the government.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The best business ever - Arms forever

Whoever says violence and economy growth do not go hand in hand would be either completely naive or brought up in a jungle.
Here’s an excellent article which not only tell us how the US has been paying nations to buy weapons from them, but also gives you an idea of how well oiled the whole “supply arms which can be used later to justify use of more arms against them” framework is. Check out the familiar story below :
  1. Enter into a zone where 2 neighbours are fighting, supply one with arms and financial aid ( which is used by the receiver to buy more arms to continue the struggle in hope of winning ).
  2. If the receiver is well oiled (yes “oiled”) then you grow your contracting business to keep the money spinning, else you now have a say in their foreign strategy by way of bullying and arm twisting.
  3. If your ally does win, then you crown yourself as the conflict solver. Else, you supply even more arms to covertly continue to stoke the tinder till they result in another theatre of conflict.
  4. If the ally goes rogue, even more reason to come on your own to clean the mess with an aim of “stabilizing” the peace equilibrium in the region.
We have seen repeat of this in various parts of world with unfailing accuracy which has become now a “Bhasmasura’s hand” for the world’s largest weapons industry. As they say in India, no effort of yours goes unrewarded; depending on the intention. All the years of ensuring that every nation stays at the  shooting edge of weapon technologies, US has armed pretty much the world and accumulated $$$ which every weapon maker will be proud of. But the tide seems to be turning.
How else do you understand, escalation and threats of action against the state of IRAN which was couple of decades ago the friendly nation to which fighter jets and other armaments were provided readily. The same story has been played for a long time now in Af-Pak region.
Now how does it work in growing your economy is pretty interesting. For the unwashed masses, more sales and big contract means, more manufacturing jobs and more employment, which can never be wrong for any economy. More money inbound definitely would mean more buying power. But, is the money really helping their economy or being channeled by the corporations to keep their business running through various means, whether ethical or not.
Not many people are aware of the way the generous aid which the US offers to strife-ridden countries like Pakistan is used. A little search of the official documents reveals the discomforting truth of the money being supplied for humanitarian use being used to secure more ammunition and defense systems which are top priority for a nation struggling to keep its old enemies at bay and new ones from threatening it. This means that US basically has its aid money being returned to itself for its arms sale, so much for the aid. This tactic has assured the continuous flow of arms for a long time. This also means that the taxpayers dollars are used to keep other nations armed, in the end, the Lockheeds and the Boeings are the ones laughing away to the bank at the taxpayer’s expense.
US had the money and power to buy allies with its weapons and/or financial aid due to its technological advantage and rising manufacturing efficiency which was incomparable anywhere in the world except the Russians who axed their own future with the dissolution of the USSR.
With the emergence of locale specific militant activities which sometimes have been targeted US itself has forced them to promote peace and vindicate their stand by slowing down the arms export which till the Cold war era was a justification for its own protection.
However, with the recent economic crisis, measures are being taken at various fronts to identify how to increase jobs, and the recent news of selling $60 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia could not have come at a better time. Its time to start doing the same thing which was being done till recently at a higher pace, but does it truly help the economy if the money that comes in through these sale goes out as aid which usually is never paid back and finally ends up in the corporate coffers.
After all being the “Lord of the War” does come with its own benefits, even if you sometimes are shot at with your own ammunition.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

TV Journalism - from news reporting to news creation

I happened to read a pretty *interesting* article by a news blogger on the recent Peepli Live movie which lampooned media journalism and the current way news is dished out on television. As the author mentions, gone are the days when news was reported with programs like "The World this week" of which I was an religious follower and credit my simple understanding of global events to it.

Current News channels are more like reality shows. You can choose from watching the crappiest of news when a celebrity joins twitter to the biggest environmental accident unfolding on the other side of the world.

I did consider news channels in India worthy of news till 2006, after which I came face to face with the more sophisticated and organized media houses of the US. Here is what I have understood and learnt so far.

US news channels have known alignments - whether left or right and the rest sway depending on the story or the issue. There are also identified channels for the individuals who prefer about celebrities, shopping and so forth.

  • Rising above them are channels like Fox News and others, the experience of watching couple of shows on them would lead you to question yourself about your entire education and what you have learnt in school or college. They also tend to offer a deep insight into what media feeds the "mass population" of the US to keep their opinions aligned to their own "opinions".
  • America is surely the leader in "news creation" and nowadays I fear even "History" being re-defined by the syndicated shows on these news channels. Take a quick look at Glenn Beck and likes and you would understand what I mean.

Compared to these, the Indian news business ( I really mean the "business" word ) is still in its growing stage, but it would not be long before we see near absolute erosion of the "Journalism ethics" of reporting news vs. creating the news. Where we are not on the similar stage with the US news industry is that our news channels seem to try to become “All in one” where you will find the regular news slots preceded or followed by sensationalist news bytes, which sometimes border on yellow journalism to say the least. 

Media was once known as the weapon which could expose wrongdoings in the society, but now has been used to just "poke" and have fun without any serious follow ups except couple of reporters who still carry the real journalism on their sleeves every day. Just think of the numerous sting operations and fact finding missions carried out and plastered all across the channels. What happens after the channels rake in the TRP ratings ? Well, they move on to another “developing” story. Its a rarity to see true issues being raised and the people responsible being questioned to its resolution or a conclusive end.

The movie "Rann" showcased what media coupled with businesses can do with their power to gain popularity and TRP ratings and meet selfish needs of the ones who wield the power. Of course, the corrupt politician has his hands in here as well, they have their hands everywhere where there is money, isn't it.

Its a disappointing scenario where the channels have communication have multiplied and become easier to access, the quality of information also tends to vary. Sometimes, it is for one’s good, as now you have multiple sources to verify information being consumed by you. On the other hand, if you do not exercise good judgment, you can end up making opinions and influencing decisions which sometimes are not you would like to think upon in the future.

I have really liked the idea of mainstream news reporting coupled with blogs from the same guys. This not only gives you an idea of what the person thinks like, but gives a chance to read through their previous news reporting to get an idea of how fair or biased a reporter really is. I have found couple of worthless pieces which have driven away from certain websites for ever.

In the end, I would like to say is : Whether it is good or bad, take every news with a “grain of salt” and some fact finding effort by yourself. Now time to go and track the newsmakers, the real ones. . .

Friday, August 06, 2010

How do you like your personal data ?

With millions of people boarding the Internet bandwagon for their daily communication needs, the exponential growth of data has been anything but expected.

Smart phones are becoming a way of life and so are mandatory "data plans" from the wireless providers. No longer you can have the luxury of buying a Blackberry or iPhone and use it to just make calls, send a few SMSes and listen to some music. Agreed, In India and other countries you still have this luxury, if you pay for the phone in full and then use prepaid.

The recent "leaks" of data and the request for "backdoors" to secure data centres from the government have been instances where the government with all its infrastructure seems to be lagging behind in coming up with measures to monitor this ever exploding traffic of data and sniff out bits which might be of national security interest ( that's what they say ).

With global corporations and trans continental business and communication transaction, the limits to which a country can exercise its powers of restraint and investigation are blurred. The recent example of Blackberry maker RIM coming under the radar of the Indian government and now the UAE, Saudi and Indonesian government is such an example.

Security over internet is as important having a lock over your the main door of your home. The government is allowed to open it when it thinks there is a case, but how protective would you feel if the government declares that it can barge into your house at any time for any reason without requiring a warrant and a tangible doubt over your activities.

I love Blackberry for one major reason "Security", which means, if I ever forget my phone or it is lost, I am sure that no one can access anything on my phone and will end up getting either a brick or a firmware formatted phone if possible.

With the current state security measures which feel like the government is looking for "keywords" to search out susceptible information or flow of communication, chances of a normal citizen coming under the scanner without doing anything dangerous is quite possible. This coupled with knowledge of that government is capable of reading your most personal communications would drive any person to try to cover even more of their tracks if their intentions are really destructive.

I always feel it is fair for the government to clandestinely access data about its citizens and about other people when it feels there could be a threat due to their activities. Declaring these kind of activities in open might deter some weak heart folks to drop their negative intentions, but what about people who are brainwashed and readied for martyrdom. Are they going to care whether the government will find out their activities before they accomplish their mission, I think not.

The attacks on Mumbai on the 26/11 had something very specific to "Blackberry" being used for communication. I guess that is what has led to Indian government to target that company so that future use of smart phones like Blackberry can be tapped into. I have no clue as to what other countries found so limiting in RIM's security protocols which couldn't live up to their local guidelines leading to the ban.

I think the takeaway from the "Wikileaks" and "RIM" issues for the common man are :

1. Be cognizant of what you share and what you write on anything which connects to the Internet.
2. Not everything is lost in the World wide web, the bits do keep travelling, and now the government wants to read them.
3. Segregate what portions of life are "tagged" online and what remain strictly offline.
4. Expand the cerebral storage God has given, no government can steal it from there unless the movie "Inception" becomes a reality in near future.

Happy surfing.

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