I argued with a machine. The automated program that deleted my entry because it thought I was selling something !
And won !!!
The link to my travel blah blah is now up. Here it is again.
13 February, 2014
12 February, 2014
For a few days, this blogger is giving this blog a well deserved (?) rest and is instead going to be blogging at a new place. If you go there, you'll make out why. Will be back here of course, but after a little while.
Hopefully, you'll journey with me and leave your kind comments there too.
Hopefully, you'll journey with me and leave your kind comments there too.
07 February, 2014
Spare a thought for Shiva Kesavan, Nadeem Iqbal and Himanshu Thakur. Who ? you might ask. A luger, a cross country skier and an alpine skier respectively. They are three Indians who will be at the Sochi Winter Olympics that start today. But for the next eighteen days they are not allowed to be Indians. What a shame.
This is because India is currently suspended from the Olympic movement. The Indian Olympic Association's membership of the International Olympic Committee stands suspended. IOA officials have been accused of corruption and criminal charges are pending. Yet one continues to hold his post in the IOA, which is against the Olympic charter. The IOC gave time for the IOA to hold fresh elections and reconstitute the IOA. The IOA did not do it . Consequently India stands suspended from the Olympics.
Shiva Keshavan is a five time Olympian. He will lead the contingent of three in today's opening ceremony. But they will march under the IOC flag, representing as individuals and not as Indians. The Indian flag is banned. They cannot sport the Indian emblem on their uniforms. They cannot call themselves Indians. The word India has actually become a four letter word.
"There is more politics in sports than in politics,” says sports historian K. Arumugam. Nothing could be truer. Every sports federation in India is full of politicians. Some have stayed on in their jobs for decades although they are even beyond geriatrics. Corruption and disgusting politics is endemic in Indian sport. The scum that run the IOA don't even care for the shame on the country by seeing the three Indians march under the Olympic flag - they are only interested in their own positions. If there is one field in which I am ashamed to be an Indian, this is it. And I am a sports nut, in case you didn't know.
Sure, India has no history of any sort in the Winter Olympics. For the most part, India is a hot country with no tradition of winter sport. That is what makes the achievement of Shiva, Iqbal and Thakur, all the more creditable. They shine in a sport that is utterly alien to the country. There is absolutely no money in these sports - they raise their own and thankfully the government of India came forward to help them get to Sochi. They are extremely unlikely to win anything (never say never in sport). But the fact that they have gone to Sochi makes me extremely proud of them.
Sack all the administrators of every sports organisation in India. Ban them for life from even approaching a sports field. Only an Indian who has represented India in the sport and who has held no office at all in any sports administrative body ever should be asked to run the sports organisation. As for the lot currently in the IOA, can we all collectively clear our throats and spit on them.
I cringe to be an Indian today. But during the opening ceremony march past I am going to lustily cheer with tears in the eyes for Shiva, Iqbal and Thakur.
31 January, 2014
One of the great degrading experiences in life is to be without a job, apply hopefully for one, and not even get a response. The sense of emptiness, the feeling of no hope, is a low point in life. If you are in a position of being able to hire, at least send a rejection note politely worded and pointing out why they didn't fit your requirements. Call as many as possible for an interview (just the mere fact of being called is a climb out of the pit of despair) . Treat them fairly even if you are not going to hire them. Please.
When there is a clear discrimination against you, it becomes even worse, and really hard to bear. All through the past, gender discrimination was a big issue. It's now still there, but has at least reduced, so much so that its not the biggest discriminating factor I believe. Two other categories suffer worse discrimination
- The "old". If you are above 45, you have no hope of getting a new job if you have lost your current one
- Those with a gap in their CV - either because they lost a job and couldn't get another one for some time or , for women, for taking a career break for children.
The former will be the subject matter of a future post, but this time I want to highlight the plight of those who have been unemployed for some time. A month or two is OK. When it crosses six months, then you virtually have lost all chance of getting another job. This is especially acute in Europe and the US - research after research has shown that those unemployed for 6 months or more don't even get called for interviews even if overqualified for the job.
Obama has struck a deal with US companies who are agreeing to review their hiring practices to eliminate this discrimination. This is a good move in a country where post the financial crisis, many people lost their jobs and have had great difficulty in finding another one.
My argument has long been that companies should actively seek out such people rather than discriminate against them. Other things being equal, people to whom life has dealt a blow, are invariably better workers than those who have had a smooth time. When you have faced the bitter experience of unemployment, you will value the job much more. You work diligently and try your best to keep it rather than go on strike. You have a rounded attitude to life - you are likely to treat colleagues and business partners with more regard and respect. You are likely to take a more long term view. All extremely desirable qualities in employees. My experience in my working life has invariably been this - people who have struggled to get jobs, or who faced personal tragedies or who suffered on some account or the other were, almost without exception, better performers pound for pound. So much so that I started to positively discriminate in favour of them !!
So here is a plea. Treat those applying for a job with greater sensitivity and care. Even if there are 1000 applications for every job. And do not discriminate against the unemployed. Its a small cost to do this and it's the human thing to do. Especially if you mouth inanities as "people are my greatest asset" and crap like that. HR types - are you listening .
Its also a smart thing to do, for you never know when you would be on the other side of this equation.
24 January, 2014
In Rendezvous with Rama, arguably the greatest science fiction book of all time, the spacecraft is called Rama. Arthur C Clarke, the legendary science fiction writer, casually throws in that since all the names of the Greek and Roman Gods had already been taken in astronomy, they had turned to Hindu names - and hence Rama. Arthur C Clarke was a great predictor of future events, although he wrote fiction. He was the predictor of geostationary satellites, long before it became a reality. So perhaps his prediction of Hindu names might come true as well.
Well, astronomical names are still monopolised by the Greeks and Romans, but at least in the field of computer engineering, Indian names have started to peep in. Kaveri, AMD's latest APU (whatever an APU means) is really the inspiration for this post. - what a nice and easy sounding name Kaveri is. Intel chips are boringly named (madam, are you listening) - Pentium, x86, Core and LGA are sleep inducing as hell. Apple is horrendous - iPhone, iPad, iPod, iTunes, and what next iWatch, iPants, iShirt, iUnderwear ?? Google, that funky company of Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, KitKat, etc etc is still strictly for kids . Android sounds so intimidating - surely a team which is led by a guy called Sundar Pichai can think of a better Indian name. In that pathetic conundrum, Kaveri stands out.
Auto guys are another interesting bunch for names. Unfortunately that's a masculine macho bunch, but still, Corolla, Accord, Sunny, Elantra, and, horribly, 3 series, 5 series - what the hell. Granted nobody will buy a car named Gina Lollobrigida, but still, can't they come up with better names ? I am forced to choose between an i10, i20, i342, 800, SX4, City, ......... Granted I wouldn't like to be seen in a Urvashi (note that the stated preposition is "in" and not "with" :)), but I wouldn't mind a Toyota Ganges.
Paradoxically, the most hilarious namers are the real estate companies in India. Take your pick on where you would like to stay - Chartered Beverly Hills, Nitesh Key Biscayne, Brigade Caladium, Brooklyn Heights and my favourite of all - Mugalivakkam Maami trying to stay in La Celeste !!!! Surely your address cannot be Flushing Meadows, Ramagondanahalli. Even more Ugh sounding are where a very obvious Indian family name is tied in to a supposedly "glamorous" name. What about Purvankara Whitehall or Salarpuria Pentagon. Yuk.
So wake up world. Anglo Saxon names are passe. French names are unpronounceable. Eastern European names won't fit into Twitter and have improbable combinations of x,z,w and q. Chinese names have no romance - surely Fang Cao Yuan doesn't sound interesting enough. African names are unknown. So where else to go ? Come to India.
How about a Brahma chipset. Or a Krishna car. Indus watches. Yamuna mobiles. Maybe comet Ganesh. And wouldn't I love to live in Kailash. Surely Uma Thurman would approve.
The only problem is if there is a Ramamritham mobike or a Rajalakshmi handbag !!!!
12 January, 2014
Next January, I am thinking of going to Las Vegas. No; not for the showgirls, but to go to the Consumer Electronics Show - the annual jamboree of the tech industry. This has been a feature for a number of years, showcasing all the new technologies that companies are working on, or the new products about to be launched. I have little interest in all this new technology (seriously, we can do with a little less technology), but I would love to ogle at the weird and wacko stuff that these geeks think of. Take a sampling of some of the crazy stuff that was displayed at the just concluded 2014 event.
Let's start with the Kolibree toothbrush that is blue tooth enabled ! Apparently it has accelerometers and gyroscopes to accurately analyse your brushing habit and then relay the results via bluetooth to a smart phone app that will then tell you how to brush your teeth better.
Would you like a Sen.se Mother ? Its apparently the controller that can sense everything that you do around the house - having coffee, snoring, whatever (I don't want to speculate any further) and then nag you like a real Mother to improve your habits !
Ladies can opt for the Touchscreen friendly Elektra nails. Apparently lovely ladies who grow their nails have a tough time tapping at smartphones. Enter Elektra nails which can be fitted on and can do the job. Apparently you can colour them in whatever nail polish colour you fancy at that moment.
I also learnt that PointGrab which creates "gesture driven interfaces" , whatever that means, has developed a new software solution that will enable you to mute your TV by saying Shhhh.
The big thing on the more serious side was the number of TV makers who were displaying curved TVs. I learn from reliable sources that seeing one will answer the question - Why on earth do we need a curved TV. One manufacturer went even better to showcase a flexible TV that can be curved and straightened. I haven't yet found if there is an explanation as to why on earth do we need a flexible TV.
What do you think of the Muse ? Its a brain sensing headband that can "calm your busy brain by seeing and hearing your brain activity". I think I need to buy that at this very instant.
You can opt for a Wifi enabled coffee mug. Not sure what this is for, but one wearable device - a belt you put around a baby will monitor breathing, etc etc of a baby and beam all this data to your Wifi enabled coffee mug.
People are obviously extremely keen to monitor their health all the time. Why else would something called Scanadu Scout be shown which can apparently detect 12 different chemical signatures in your pee by sniffing at it.
This blog is not an adults only space and so I will not elaborate on vibrating underpants that can apparently be controlled by a significant other through a smartphone app.
If you are tired by all the walking around to gaze at such wonderful devices, CES offered you free teeth widening (yes, widening and not whitening) for all delegates.
Now, do you see why I am saying Let's go to Vegas. Wanna come with me next January ?