Gifts bought have a price. Gifts made are priceless
In memory of Elizabeth Arden ;)
After the movie I stepped into Borders and made two interesting observations:
Almost every other book was a 'Now a major motion picture'. I saw 'Cold Mountain' , 'The Big Fish', 'LOTR' (of course), House of Sand and Fog, Girl With a Pear Earring. My suspicion is, that this is only all Oscar hype and hoopla.
A nagging doubt:' Is Hollywood running out of good, original screenplays, that it needs to rely on bestsellers?'
The second observation was that one third of the shelves in the front jostling with the 'books' were 'audio books'. Audio versions of all the hottest selling books. Don't people want to sit down and read anymore? Or does it reflect a change in the way people nowadays want to 'read' books? Books-on-the-go. More like coffee. Plug it in. Huh?
Posted by hirak on Sunday, February 22, 2004
Today I saw
The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons Learned from the Life of Robert S. McNamara.
(Highly recommended ****)
Errol Morris is masterful in this Oscar nominated documentary. Robert Mc Namara is definitely one of the intriguing and interesting characters of the 20th century. Phillip Glass' score is excellent. Eerie amd poignant. Morris weaves archival footage, audio tapes along with neat use of special effects as you hear McNamara talk. The use of the Morris' invention the "Interroton" does make a difference to face-to-face feel as McNamara talks.
While the director is quite a character himself (Errol Morris' website) he does not really appear to interfere apart from shouting out questions once in a while.
McNamara is both candid in his confessions. "Yeah, if we had lost the war we would have been war criminals", but also as the wily bureaucrat that he is also sidsteps difficult questions, " I'd rather not say anything. These kind of questions get me in trouble. I am damned if I do and I am damned if I don't. I'd rather be damned if I don't". The documentary moves back and forth through his life from Harvard to Ford to World War I to the Cuban missile crisis. Throughout you never lose the sense of talking to an old man both repentant and also unrepentant taking you back and forth as he remembers events.
He jokes about his middle name 'Strange'. Almost breaks into tears as he talk about the Kennedy funeral site. Was McNamara the egotistical, warmonger who kept the people and the press in the dark? or "just a President's man" as he says. McNamara does not admit his guilt after being asked by Morris but does admit that 'he made mistakes'. Morris does a great job with using the archival footage and then editing in effects and using old cutting from newspapers to create a montage of the adjectives used to describe McNamara.
I particularly liked the way he used footage showing bombs being dropped that transform into numbers from a chart from a previous scene. McNamara then explains the title. "War is such a complicated thing that one cannot take in account all the variables, hence it is always in a fog." The Gulf of Tonkin incident which he talks about is just that.
The film does not pass a judgement on McNamara and his actions. Rather leaves it the viewer to decide whether he was justified in the things that he did. What in my opinion what the movie really wants to state if it really does want to state anything is in the last quote from T.S. Eliot,
"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."
Posted by hirak on Sunday, February 22, 2004
Hand in Glove
A few months ago I had launched the Glove Challenge on my blog. I wrote about my thoughts on the sinister link between my gloves getting lost in less than three weeks of buying them.
Note:( I have been informed with people with similar talent, "Never say, 'I lost my gloves again!' Modify it to 'Someone stole my gloves again!' ". I thought it would be worthwhile to share this piece of wisdom to you guys out there. You are not alone!)
Thanks to my black tongue, I lost the gloves in two days after writing that piece. Those were really expensive Eddie Bauer gloves. It not only killed my naive hypothesis that "You take care of expensive things better."
I mulled over the lose of gloves and the New Kind of Science. Later wisely deciding that losing the digits of my fingers was a not the correct form of penance. So I went and bought new gloves. A few days later, I got another pair from my sister. (It seemed that the story had spread that I had lost my gloves and she thought that it would be a nice Christmas gift).
At the dawn of the New Year, among the many resolutions to do this and that, I reissued the 'Glove Challenge'. This time I felt that mentioning it on the blog was not auspicious, so I kept quiet and concentrated on keeping track of the gloves. It worked!
So far I had managed not to lose them for 31+15 days. So I boasted to my friends. A personal unbeaten best. Then the inevitable happened. At 2 am when it was -18C outside I felt around my coat for the gloves. They were missing! I recalled the boasting about the personal record a few hours earlier. I cursed me and my black tongue.
Where did they go? I am proud of the fact that I more conscious about gloves than before and I recalled they must have walked out when I was buying coffee. Damn them! At 2 am the Coffee shop was closed. I almost tried to break in to see if they were there. They were not. With a heavy heart and freezing fingers I walked back home. Me and my black tongue!
I tried to call the guy who works at the coffee shop when I got back. Perhaps he had found them and they did not fit him. I got his voicemail. Damn! First I lose my gloves then this chap is sleeping at 2 am. He is a student goddamit. Should be working on his homework!
I did call him up in the morning. He had found them. ( I assume they had not fit him too well or he did not like the colour and had given it to the info desk.) Wow!It was like a dropped catch which gives the batsman a second life.
So why I am I writing about this? This is the second installment of my New Kind of Science.
Is there a causal link between hooting about something on your blog and then that think actually happening in reverse in reality?
Posted by hirak on Tuesday, February 17, 2004
One of the recent spate of articles on the I-lost-my-job-to-an-Indian-programmer theme.
Wired Magazine 12.02: The New Face of the Silicon Age
Paraphrase of a quote I read,
"In the 80s when the blue collar workers lost their jobs to manufacturing being outsourced to China and Taiwan the white collar 'intellectuals' were not really concerned. Now that they find that their neighbours are now out of jobs they are really concerned."
The Wired article quotes the Bhagwad Gita. I wonder why every foreigner writing about India has to get some stereotype or the mystique and magic of India. This was more surprising since this was a technical article.
It makes 4 strong points and my comments on them follow.
The Four points
1. India's Answer:
Translation: We're not just cheaper, we're better.
2. The American Response:
Her solution is simple: America first. Support American firms. Put Americans back to work. And only then, after we reach full employment, will outsourcing be an acceptable option. "If we can't take care of our own first, we shouldn't be looking to take care of other people around the world," she says. "If you're a parent, you don't take care of everybody on the block before you make sure your own children have their basic needs met."
3. The Most Likely Future of Jobs in the US
White-collar jobs with any lasting potential in the US won't be classically high tech. Instead, they'll be high concept and high touch.
4. Future of India in Software
"Someday," Janish says, "another nation will take business from India." Perhaps China or the Philippines, which are already competing for IT work.
This is fact that i am most proud of. Despite the fact that is the bottom pile of work that gets outsourced. We have climbed the ladder up really quickly and at the same become globally competitive. See the graph on the wired magazine. We score highest on performance and cost. This is going to be quite unbeatable for some time.
While the Indian economy is experiencing a huge boom, here in America the economy shows signs of picking up but has not really picked up. Atleast the job market. In this election year, there could be more populist legislation that could stop the current trend of outsourcing as the example in the article. Most economist have written that this would be a step backward but does the public ever listen to reason? This issue exposes the duplicity of America. They want their cake and want to eat it too. Despite whatever legislation occurs more jobs are going to be outsourced (see 1), but not at the projected rate of growth. It won't be that dramatic. So I am skeptical of large revenues shown far out in say 2015.
The article claims in an oblique sort of way that Indians won't really develop great products or design the latest and greatest sometime in the future. I disagree. This is a period of growth. Indian companies are doing whatever is required right now. Yet I dont have concrete examples, but I suspect that companies are creatively thinking and want to develop products. If we moved up ladder so quick. America we can reach the top too!
Another reason to skeptical of forecasts is that other Asian countries will catch up in 5 years. At this time almost every Chinese is learning English with zealous passion. Phillipines which I was not aware is also quite competitive, but its a small country which might not make too much of a dent. The major competitor is still China.