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Date:2010-10-11 13:12
Subject:Today's Question CMVXX

The new alphabet or is it?

Answers in a day.

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Date:2008-04-04 09:29
Subject:Where's the Fed Express headed?
Mood: anxious

How do you explain frequent visits to homepages of ATP tennis tournaments other than the Slams?

It's what I've now begun to call "Fed anxiety".

Last year was a dream with the Wimbledon record along with the other titles (the French is currently not counted as a title in a Fed fan's books), the signs of the competition getting closer were showing up. Rafael ran Roger really close at Wimbledon and names such as Canas, Nalbandian, Ferrer and now Djokovic were pushing him to previously unchartered territory - tie-breaks, two sets down and the like.

This year has been nothing short of uncharacteristically disastrous for Roger Federer. Roger came with little preparation to the Australian and fought off some close calls to justify a place in the semi finals. Djokovic did the inevitable when he ended a rusty Fed's misery at the tournament. Even the most optimistic fan could tell that there was a let down in the intensity and focus on Fed's side. The mental preparation was definitely short, but Federer's ability and consistency to stay in long baseline rallies was also called under question in that match.

If one could ignore the Australian Open loss as a mere blip on an otherwise incredible career, there are more signs. Last month, Roger did well to make it to the semis of the Indian Wells, a tournament he hasn't won in 2 years. This time it was Mardy Fish who made a statement. Well, it was more a statement of Federer's decline rather than Fish's upsurge. Fish plays well but he went on to a fighting loss to Djokovic in the finals of the same tournament.

And now, Andy Roddick, of all people, decides it's time to puncture a flagging ego. Federer has not lost to Roddick in their last 11 meetings and this loss definitely has a story to tell. While Fed hasn't exactly looked ragged on court, he is probably feeling the heat of not winning much more now than ever.

Writing off the champ is no good. Atleast, I'll wait till the end of the year A couple of changes in strategy might be welcome

a. Serve and volley?
Fed's not winning the French with the kind of form he is in. He might as well try out more of serve and volley on his first serves to revive a dying art on hard courts. His job is made all the more difficult with slower hard court surfaces, but it would be worth a gamble at a time when baseliners are killing him with longer rallies.

b. Serve technique
The second serve's getting oddly predictable. I wonder if Fed's got a coach now since he parted with Tony Roche. Surely, there's room to reinvent himself so opponents do not start taking that second serve for granted.

c. Consistency
One notices a distinct lack of consistency and depth on the groundstrokes. In any case, a back to basics approach with a comparative of how his game used to be at its peak and changes to it now may bring out interesting information.

I'll resist the urge to ask the question "Is this the beginning of the end" and leave that to more 'knowledgeable' newspapers. The year to follow will tell which way Federer's career is headed. 15 career slams is a goal that's easily talked about but it may yet prove to be Roger Federer's biggest challenge. And if that happens against the kind of odds he is up against, the champion will ensure his fightback will be more talked of than the rest of his career.

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Date:2008-03-27 17:22
Subject:Boredom - 2

Somebody, who happens to have a really strong Tamil gene, told me that he's happy Chennai is having a Test Match at MAC after all the rained out games in the last year.

Now that 2 days of this supremely boring run-fest are done, I can safely pray for the rain to end the tortue.

No, I'm not interested in seeing Sehwag, Jaffer or even Sachin score a meaningless century on a dead pitch. The only fair result is the Indians contrive to lose this match and the BCCI, in its tradition of inexplicable behaviour, decides we need sporting wickets for all the wrong reasons.

One cribs about T20 destroying Test cricket's legacy and then such wickets ensure that the nail goes deeper into the coffin.

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Date:2008-03-23 00:14

Because fugney asked me to write something with the topic: "Boredom: Working in a low-paying job". I was bored while writing this and expect you to be bored while reading this. I've succeeded if you don't finish this. Don't bother cursing me. Am too bored.

BoredomCollapse )

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Date:2008-03-19 11:30
Mood: contemplative

Dave Bowman has left the building. It's a sad day in terms of loss to the sci-fi community. Lately, the man was restricted in his writings and chose to make his presence felt by sombre pleas for intelligent life, peace and environmental preservation.

I do not consider myself an ardent fan of any of Clarke's works but 2001. But for creating a timeless world of HAL, monoliths and Bowman's journeys, Clarke shall be remembered. And missed. Rest in peace.

A friend mentioned that Clarke's death culminates as the loss of the big 3 of the sci-fi writing world - Asimov and Heinlein being the other two. Another friend gave it an even more pessimistic twist saying that a lot of DNA has not got passed on. Do their kids write or show any comparable talent?

Atleast Pratchett's alive, I commented. Apparently, he's got early onset Alzheimer's or some such. No Vonnegut as well. So who's taking over the mantle - Stephen Baxter? Orson Scott Card? Ursula Le Guin?

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Date:2008-03-17 14:23
Subject:John Gray on delusions.
Mood: amused

One reads something and considers it an interesting perspective on a balance between theism and atheism.

Two days later, I read this absolute stunner of an excerpt from a book by John Gray. I don't know what to say. At an intuitive level, much of what he says makes immense sense.

Zealous atheism renews some of the worst features of Christianity and Islam. Just as much as these religions, it is a project of universal conversion. Evangelical atheists never doubt that human life can be transformed if everyone accepts their view of things, and they are certain that one way of living - their own, suitably embellished - is right for everybody....

It is a funny sort of humanism that condemns an impulse that is peculiarly human. Yet that is what evangelical atheists do when they demonise religion.

In The God Delusion, Dawkins attempts to explain the appeal of religion in terms of the theory of memes...He recognises that, because humans have a universal tendency to religious belief, it must have had some evolutionary advantage, but today, he argues, it is perpetuated mainly through bad education....Human biology has not changed greatly over recorded history, and if religion is hardwired in the species, it is difficult to see how a different kind of education could alter this. Yet Dawkins seems convinced that if it were not inculcated in schools and families, religion would die out. This is a view that has more in common with a certain type of fundamentalist theology than with Darwinian theory...

The problem with the secular narrative is not that it assumes progress is inevitable (in many versions, it does not). It is the belief that the sort of advance that has been achieved in science can be reproduced in ethics and politics. In fact, while scientific knowledge increases cumulatively, nothing of the kind happens in society....

Belief in progress is a relic of the Christian view of history as a universal narrative, and an intellectually rigorous atheism would start by questioning it.

Powerful and I suspect that Gray may well love anything that has nothing to do with 'hope' or 'progress'. Essentially, a Cthulhu worshippper minus the zealous fanaticism. Gray shall now be sought out and consumed.

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Date:2008-03-14 09:59
Subject:Respect for belief

Interesting perspective on respect for beliefs or lack thereof. Some of the comments on the post are insightful as well.

(Link courtesy: Nilu )

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Date:2008-03-04 19:20
Subject:An opportune cricketing rant..

It's over finally. And in fitting style. A terrific match which at times seemed like Australia's game for the taking ensured that the trophy for the last edition of the CB series shall decorate Indian shelves.

For the last 2 months or so, one would have had to be a zen-like cricket fan not to have got caught in all the drama surrounding the team's tour. And to have it culminate in such a fine victory provides immense pleasure to this cricket fan. I rejoiced a little during the T20 cup win but kept reminding myself that the format could well have been like a poker game where technique, bowlers' reputations and strategy mattered little. Beating Australia in Australia in Tests still is the coup d'etat that almost happened this summer. The feelings most cricket fans had at the end of that series must have been of the kind that say "denied what was due". This CB series win in a tournament which was dear to Australia in so many ways - Gilly and Hogg's farewell, the last edition - does soothe those thoughts.

Before I lose it all in the euphoria, some thoughts on a tour that has thrown up characters out of nowhere :

The Side dishesCollapse )

And now, the main reason I even made this post.

The main courseCollapse )

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Date:2008-02-27 16:29
Subject:Journeys in Cambodia

Trafficking of girls for prostitution elicits somewhat contrasting opinions in discussion groups I've been in. The almost near-majority opinion is in favour of it being banned or some such. A minority, often radically oriented, argues that prostitution, like many economic transactions, is not necessarily forced upon the girl. It is a transaction wherein freedom of choice is available to both buyer and seller. And both work in their own self-interest. However simplistic these arguments may sound on either side, trafficking is a complex, multi-layered issue that culminates into many girls, often underage, losing innocence early and taking to a life which they soon begin believing is the best they could have.

Nicholas Kristoff, an op-ed at NYtimes, in a 5 part writeup, takes the reader through a vivid journey of his travels and experiences in rescuing prostitutes and eventually trying to analyze prostitution in Cambodia.

Part 1 starts with his meeting the girls under question.

Part 2 begins with bargaining for the sale of 2 girls from their owners. Both girls are offered the option of staying back, one which they do not choose to exercise.

Part 3 chronicles the journey home of one of the girls. Her homecoming being lukewarm at best, culminates in the promise of a new life.

Part 4 chronicles the other girl's return journey. The story does not end as well as it could have. Kristoff identifies recidivism as a strong consequence of scars inflicted by years of servitude and being conditioned to a life that one may find difficult replacing with.

Part 5 concludes with an analysis of what constitutes modern day trafficking.

Stories such as these possibly get enacted all across the world - especially in Asia-Pacific countries. I wonder if prostitution(forced or unforced) is a function of social mores and local culture in terms of sexual permissiveness. Forced prostitution appears to be a more generic symptom of societies where poverty, human rights and education are still a concern. There seems little doubt that underage trafficking should be deemed illegal, but what of prostitution in general? Does legalizing the same result in a better deal for girls (not necessarily underage)? Or is it just a question of free-will when you are old enough to make your own decisions.

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Date:2008-02-23 11:56
Subject:Lourdes of Twang.

The Lourdes of Twang.

To go wants the me.

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