Archive for the ‘Rants & Cribs’ Category

It’s taken a while to get to this. A while hoping that I would be able to get my thoughts in order to offer a structured incisive analysis but hey, who am I kidding? The events of last week just adds on to some of these similarly disquieting events over the past few months and all I have to offer are pop culture references and some bad jokes. If the post sounds even more incoherent and rambling than usual, we blame it all on Thanos

 

The detached sense is really from being an outsider. Not my country, not my problem right? But then, is that really true. The look on Obama’s face as he addressed the country the next day was the one that will truly stand out. A decent man looking at a shattered legacy. A man looking at his country that had let him down. Obama’s term has been marked by his powerlessness at times with opposition for the sake of opposition and he now foresees the corpse of his vision and achievement trampled under the gilded feet of a country and society that instead of looking to the future wants to relive the past

 

obama-trump

When it truly begins to sink in…..

 

But I really think the greater sense of sadness is how the vision of a world that is interconnected, global, open, tolerant and all the good things that we read about in books just seems to belong right there. Between Brexit and this election, one thing that clearly comes out is we are increasingly set for a world that is going to be inward looking to a greater extent. Isolationalism is pretty much going to be the core message and with elections due next year in Germany and France where the inward looking parties now emboldened by the success of bluster, rhetoric, half-truths and outright lies, can afford to dream of similar such results.

 

Of course, what everyone really failed to consider is the feelings of those people who voted for Brexit and Trump. These are people who have seen their way of life not improving much or even being bypassed by the nature of things around them and even worse, finding themselves being ridiculed and ignored. Their cause being driven by anger, their votes being their weapons, their voice has been found and it’s proven to be deafening

 

The importance of tech and growing automation is going to make this scenario repeat globally. Low skill jobs are vanishing, there is no stopping progress. To correct what I said, the value of low skill jobs is going down. There will always be someone to do it at a lower cost than what the job is actually worth but to that person, even that lower cost represents something more valuable when they have very little until technology reduces that cost even further. What however is undeniable is, people have to evolve and get more skilled. How does that work unless you get trained or study further. But college education is expensive, the debts are crippling and it’s hard. Why would anyone want to do that? Wouldn’t one rather have the government place a premium on ensuring that it’s citizens are well educated and subsidize education? But no, that requires for a courage to change the status quo, seeks consensus, build bridges and a lot of political will. Hence, the easier route is taken, pander to the lower common denominator since it’s easy and a decision that can be passed on the next generation

 

But as Dr. Ian Malcolm says in Jurassic Park – “the history of evolution has taught us it’s that life will not be contained. Life breaks free, it expands to new territories and crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously, I’m simply saying that life, uh… finds a way”. I would like to think that he meant that from a societal evolution as well. We will face bumps on the way, we may even appear to go backward but hopefully we will progress.

 

ian-malcolm

 

With regards to Trump, I would like to present one of my favorite comic book panels of all time where a comic book was used to make an in-joke on George W Bush

 

wolverine-spidey

The most politically meta comic panel of all time

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What’s with Christopher Nolan and his love/ penchant for quoting from classics. If it was Charles Dickens “A Tale of 2 Cities” that served as inspiration for The Dark Knight Rises, this above mentioned quote seems to be the inspiration for the latest Nolan pic, Interstellar. Not much is known about Interstellar. Shrouded in secrecy until the 2nd trailer that came out recently, especially in this age of the leaking of pics of initial scenes to build out the hype (yes, I am looking at Zack Snyder), the details that we know about the movie pretty much talk about the how earth cannot survive and a teary Mathew McConaughey heading out on his way for interstellar travel. With a November time slot for release, Nolan is playing well outside the typical summer blockbuster release window paving the way for hope that this might turn out to be a more balanced, human drama with a good story rather than a smorgasbord of special effects and cringe inducing dialogs.And not to be forget suitably operatic score by Hans Zimmer as usual

 

One business that seems to be gently heading into the night is specialty book stores. Over the last couple of weeks, I have been getting SMSs on massive discounts at Landmark. This seemed to be in line with the rumors that Landmark was shutting down. And lo, when I visited Landmark at Citi Center over the weekend, it was a grim sight. In the words of Matt Farrell in Die Hard 4 – “That’s why they call it a fire sale, because everything must go”. Everything was gone or going. Insane discounts – 80% off on most of the books. Vast empty shelves lining up the walls with a few books on the central displays being aggressively hunted by the few people who wanted to make the most of it (including yours truly), it reminded me of a corpse being pecked away by a group of vultures.

 

Everything Must Go!!!!! photo 2

This being the 2nd such fire sale of a large book store chain that I have witnessed (the first being Borders in NYC, a huge store in downtown where literally everything had to go, even book shelves at $50 and books at 50 cents) begets the thought on why are things in such a state. It is easy and convenient to blame a variety of factors. Disruptive innovation in the medium of sales through the likes of Amazon, Flipkart et al. Disruptive innovation in technology through the proliferation of ebooks, the convenience of which makes life infinitely easier. A general decline in reading habits and time (sheesh, I sound like an oldie but sadly, its true) is definitely another key factor. Also, the fact that it’s easier to watch a movie based on a book rather than read the book itself. An avid reader as myself, I have also been guilty of the first two. Its been ages since I went into a bookstore and from a purely convenience reason, of the 30 odd books I have read this year, just 2 have been hard copies. (To be entirely honest, I do end up buying hard copies of books that I really loved in the year as e-books, mostly the first book in a series)

That being all said and done, isn’t the purpose of a business in staying relevant in current times, linked to adjusting itself to market dynamics? With nimbleness being the order of the day for e-retailers, to mangle and mash what Louis Gerstner said, can the modern day elephants of book shops really dance? Staying true to my profession, the answer of course is, it depends and for more details, I would need a charge code :). Maybe the day of the large specialty book store is really done and the way forward is to

1) Potentially co-exist with other retailers (like what Crosswords has done).

2) Embrace concept of online book stores and formats and price accordingly given that a few controllable cost elements can be levered. After all, customer needs and whom they buy for are more often than not tied to prices

3) Aggressively open up smaller stores in airports and railway stations, after all those are the places for impulse purchases especially when you dont want to make conversation 😛

If nothing, book publishers and authors should be all the more concerned on how fast things are going down and the current situation involving Amazon and Hachette. Without taking sides in that battle, at the end of the day, it is a situation of one powerful entity trying to impose what it feels best for the customers (apparently) on an erstwhile powerful entity who is defending its position as being the best for authors (again, apparently). While there is truth on both sides, ultimately this protracted battle’s victims are reading customers and authors. A sad state of affairs indeed.

 

On a happier note, my scavenging efforts yielded 3 books

photo

 

1) Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons – A sequel to what is the best Science Fiction book I have read

2) Dust of Dreams by Steven Erikson, Malazan Book 9 – Now that after 4 tries and 2 years, I have gotten done with Malazan Book 1, I feel myself strangely ambitious in completing what is at times the most frustrating, challenging and complex read I have ever had

3) The City’s Son by Tom Pollock – London. Underworld. Urban Fantasy. All checked

For books costing Rs. 1200, I got all of these for a cool 120 bucks. 90% off. Insane

A (Not-so) Random Rant

Posted: May 30, 2011 in Rants & Cribs

I have, on a few occasions, some adjectives thrown in my direction, frequently alternating between careless, sloppy, indifferent, whimsical, disorganized, messy, fragile, irresponsible, profane, class-less and other similar meaning words, if you get my drift. To a large part, I tend to remain indifferent(ha!) to those nice big sounding adjectives. In fact, until it really affects me, I prefer things to remain as they are. This might seem to indicate that I have a fairly high tolerance while the truth is I simply don’t care or prefer to spend time thinking about these things.

However, I would tend to disagree on a few adjectives especially around the disorganization part. I am not disorganized, I am just uniquely organized(!). My room often presents the appearance of a bombed out WWII shelter but ask me where things that I use are located & I can locate that before you could say “The Eternal Sledgehammer of Truth & Justice”. In fact, the most complaints I have got is when people copy stuff from my hard disk (especially music & books) & end up whining “Its not organized”. (Thats actually the part that surprises me a lot, since the closest I get to conventional ordering & organizing sense is with my books & music collection :D).

Coming back to the point of being careless, again it really depends on what is important to me. For instance, my electronics collection of laptops, ipods, kindle, hard disks, speaker systems, camera, headphones et al will always not look great (in fact, might have a layer of dust in some cases) but they have NEVER been roughly handled by me. Simple fact: Dirt & Dust are temporary but Cracks & Bumps stay on forever.

Now, what got me started on this rant. One Minor & one major incident.

Minor incident: Manager on one of my projects with a manic desire of keeping everything neat, clean & organized objected very strongly to the mess of papers & print-outs I had strewn all over MY place, saying it was affecting her concentration. Turned fairly nasty as I cannot work without some kind of mess around me & I had information & notes on most of the paper strewn around me, which I was trying to link. I compromised by saying that this “mess” would be cleared at the end of each day. Manager disagreed & both of us stuck to our own guns. As a last option, found a place away from her eyesight to continue working.

Major incident: Of all my possessions, I would rate my ipod as the closest to my heart. Not a day goes by when I dont use it & I am (inordinately) proud of my music collection as well as the collection I have in the ipod. The 35-40 mins walk back home with my ipod switched on is always almost the best moment in a day. It also helps that, unlike others, the ipod is not judgmental & does not really raise an eyebrow shuffling from Maha Ganapathim to Katti Pudi Katti Pudi da to Rulaka Gaya Sapna to Aati Kya Khandala back to back. To cut to the chase, one of my friends had come home the other day & that , considered by some (whose names I am not taking), as an extremely organized, conscientious, thoughtful, mature, individual, “accidentally” ( I will call it carelessly) knocks my ipod & phone off the ledge , while opening the bookcase. Now, the guy, instead of apologizing & checking up on the damage caused, does not even bother to say sorry (Not that a sorry would help) & instead giggles (yes, giggles) his way & continues to browse the titles on my bookcase, picks up a book, makes small talk & leaves. Now, when I check the ipod, I find that the headphone is very badly damaged, the screen is scratched and, the inner screen liquid has leaked. The cruelest of cruelest heartbreaks ever. It is losing a good friend especially one who has been through all kinds of shit with you & the worst thing is that the individual is not even aware of the damage he has caused. Now, who is careless & sloppy eh?

So, yes, one can guess what is my current mood right now & if I am even more biting, wicked, impatient & sarcastic, this is the reason why. I had to get this one out & I also rest easy in the fact, that the said individual does not read my blog.

Dude (you know who you are), if you are reading it, I certainly dont bear a grudge against you & I will be my usual normal self when I meet you next (I am eminently capable of acting like things are normal at any given time) but a nice pair of headphones & taking some responsibility will certainly be appreciated.

There are these days which start off bad enough, get progressively bad as the day goes and just when you think it cant get worse, it does.

Sigh, Yet another day in the life of a consultant

Dear Barack Obama (or POTUS, as I am sure your prefer to be addressed),

While one acknowledges the fact that you won a Nobel Peace Prize for being the person who replaced George Bush (one of best examples for being at the right place at the right time), it is indeed admirable that you are striving to win a similar global award for Environmental consciousness, through your visit to India.

Of course, one does admit, Diwali is indeed not a festival to be celebrated what with all the noise and pollution that it might offend your delicate American system (used to the head banging rock concerts and the bang of firearms). One certainly has to laud your drive in ensuring that atleast a part of the country is environmentally conscious. I mean, why should anyone in S Mumbai burst those offending creatures. They should all save up until they can buy the real thing.

Blockading S Mumbai is probably the best thing that you could have done. Imagine all the vehicular pollution that you would stop. Of course, the face that a lot of people would like to come down to S Mumbai has no bearing on your decision, while I am sure, that after Diwali, someone might want to travel to S Mumbai would have not cross your mind at all. I, of course, do admire your sense of the larger picture here. By preventing most people from coming down, you are proposing an innovative solution to prevent traffic jams. (Of course, I am sure you would extend the same courtesy to any head of state who visits you just after Christmas)

Of course, one is mindful of the agenda that you have in mind. Global issues dominate your very thought process and your very statements draw attention to that. American jobs, American companies, American economy, liability possibilities on American companies are of course key parts of your “global” agenda. Of course, terrorism and its after effects on India is a footnote in your agenda considering that you have signed off a $2.5B aid policy to “ensure” Pakistan’s good behavior. And how not a single dime of it “can” be used to support cross border terrorist activities. One day, after you retire, one does hope that they get a chance to understand the excellent monitoring systems that you have in place. One would like to use that in the IT companies to monitor employee activities that reduce efficiency like Facebook, Farmville, Boss-cribbing, Work-cribbing; an efficiency that is still higher than what one sees in American companies.

Of course, like any true capitalist, you are all for globalization until it affects you, after which you redefine globalization. One does admire the whole goal-shifting policy and wishes if it can adapted to my year-end process too. But digressions apart, it is a very positive move. Shouting against offshoring/outsourcing while asking for India to open its markets in the same breath. Total respect, I say. That a bit like the subsidies on farming that the western countries provide but I am sure, you will say, that I am missing the point totally and that is really not on agenda for your talks this time. Afterall, protectionism of any kind is wrong isn’t it

Of course, one has to be made aware of the fact that American suppliers and vendors are never wrong and using superior manufacturing practices, can never manufacture defective products. Which is why you are all against the liability provision with regards to nuclear supplies. Of course, Bhopal happened way when you were not president and you really cant be held responsible for anything that happened before your term like the Financial crisis.

Lastly, one wishes to express total support on your decision not to visit Golden temple, at Amritsar as wearing the headgear would make you look like a Muslim and that would very strongly upset your well educated American and send a wrong message.

Regards,
A Nobel Peace prize aspirer

“Send the Army in” is not the solution to all vexing problems, including Naxals & Jammu & Kashmir. Some people would do well to remember that before they open their mouths

Working

Posted: March 10, 2010 in Arbit, Rants & Cribs

for more than 9 hours a day is seriously injurious to health.

PS: Brain-dead post

Arbit Rant

Posted: October 23, 2009 in Arbit, Rants & Cribs
Tags:

When something looks like a pig an ass, smells like a pig an ass, tastes like a pig an ass ,you call it a horse and enter horse races and hire jockeys for the same, wonder who is fooling who here?

This is just not cricket

Posted: March 4, 2009 in Rants & Cribs

Venue: Al Nazariya broadcast station.

Announcer: I regret to interrupt the regular programming  to bring to you a video recording from the group who claim responsibility for the attack on Sri Lankan cricket team

“Greetings. I am forced to address you in this heathen language as you would not understand the exalted language of the prophet. We, members of the Death-to-the-heathens are the ones responsible for the attack on the SL cricket team. You may wish to know the reasons why we have embarked on this jihad. We are morally, socially, economically, ecologically, religiously justified for this attack.

Morally justified because this is a game that is being played by just one Muslim nation

Socially justified because we believe cricket leads our youth astray. How else can you explain the fact that there are so many people chasing a ball.

Economically justified as it is India which reaps maximum benefit from matches and not Pakistan and anything that is good for India is wrong.

Ecologically justified as the pitches that were being used in this series would have caused the extinction of bowlers and it is out supreme duty to protect the rich tradition of Pakistan fast bowlers

Religiously justified as this was a game that is played by the non-believers. The Sri Lankan team was made up of non-believers and it is our supreme duty to prevent any contact with them.

Consider this  a warning. DO NOT VISIT PAKISTAN. We blame faulty American devices that it just turned out to be a warning as the grenades didn’t explode and the rocket was off target. But cricket can continue in Pakistan as long as it is played with believers, played with a ball for everyone, not televised in India. We do not care for the track as we will shell it anyways to ensure that it is a level playing field so that bowlers can thrive. And may god protect all of you.”

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While the above was meant to be light-hearted, it can in no way fully explain the feeling that coursed in me when I happened to catch the news about the attack on the SL team. I have always felt that teams were avoiding Pakistan unjustly as in a country where cricket is a religion and followed so passionately, cricketers could never really be in any danger.  It took a dozen terrorists to shatter that illusion and ensure that it would take ages for cricket to return to Pakistan.

SL attack

SL attack

While I was not even born when the Munich massacre took place in 1972, everytime I read about it, I cant help shuddering. However, there are differences. The Munich attack was an attack on Israel per se while this attack can only be described as one without any reason apart from ensuring that Pakistan becomes even more of a pariah than usual. This was a take-no-prisoners attack and utterly pointless.

Imagine the plight of the SL cricketers. They volunteer to play in Pakistan, are promised presidential level security, are given a lax security and then see their own team mates being injured. Even LTTE does not harm them. It supports the team across matches.

It is indeed a shame and the terrorists have got exactly what they wanted. Sportsman are not targets has been said often and the illusion was shattered, quite harshly. Which sports person in his right mind would want to visit Pakistan within the next 2 years? Its a shame indeed.

PS: Apologies if I have offended anyone in the 1st part of this post. No offense was intended