Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Wal-Mart Goes Desi

Check this story. Do I think it's OK to have Wal-Mart in India? No.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Ashes Blognotes: Excuses

The blog is going to be irregular, as if it matters. Likely there won't be any posting this week, perhaps a couple next week, and hopefully another round of Ashes blognotes, before I lose interest. To think of it, I haven't posted any of our email exchanges so far, but I'm trying.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Ashes Blognotes: Preamble

Well, a quick look at the first two days of an well-hyped Ashes surely points out to something, which is, there hasn't been a single element of surprise except that Ashley Giles MBE turned out to be England's second best bowler on day one.

So far, the script is executed to its last detail.

I have been exchanging emails with two good friends, one is an Aussie and at Brisbane, and of course, my other friend is English, who's also proud of his strong cricket heritage (I won't tell you why, but my friend wears his pride in his strides)--so we are having a good time, relatively speaking.

The blognotes that I plan to post will also feature the emails that we exchange, and other delicious stuffs I can find from the web.

I am hoping I'd fall in love

with Performancing for Firefox if it lives up to the PROMISE: "a full featured FREE Blog Editor built right into your browser".

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Marriage Should Go--Right Now

Nowadays you can hardly talk about marriage and not feel the dark insecurity of the vast majority of men and women, many of whom would go a long way, only short of death, to hold on to their tightly guarded paranoia that marriage has everything to do with a man and a woman. The rest of us who suggest otherwise could take a blipping vacation at Guantanamo.

Little wonder why in a party last week, a good ol' fashioned conversation with a friend quickly turned into an exchange of politely thrown cynical jabs as soon as the usual suspects showed up. The suspects, as I feared, were not Jack and Jill and Dr. Phil.

Instead, they were Adam and Adam and Eve and Eve - the same sex couples, same sex cohabitants, or simply people who enjoy companionship and take part in bedroom activities with the like-minded ones of same sex.

Our talking point wasn't, of course, how same-sex people have sex with each other. Even by my friend's standard that would be dumb, although he detests the entire "homosexual" thing with utmost sincerity (he says he can't bring himself to imagine how guy-guy or girl-girl things actually happen, so I asked him to surf the web with a more open mind).

We talked about the rights of homosexuals to marry, to call themselves married, and to call themselves a family, all of which now only applies to men married to women and women married to men.

The questions we asked ourselves were: Should homosexuals marry? More precisely, should we let them marry? (I know, putting it this way sounds offensive, almost degrading them to second class citizens, but that's the current reality) and should they adopt and raise children and call themselves a family?

My answer was 'yes.' I am not a homosexual; not even remotely, platonically, or by any other conceivable or imaginary way you could call yourself one. My friend's answer was 'no,' a thumping negative, all the while hoping he would get his point across the fence and stick it inside my bone head. Unfortunately, his twisted logic (I told that on his face and he turned bloody red) wasn't any better than what the Vatican offers in the press releases, turning his efforts into a total waste.

I told him he's an ass; and I can tell you it's good to have friends who don't mind being called an ass.

We agreed on something. Assuming same sex couples someday get their due right to marry, which they should get without further delay, we agreed the Vatican could considerably clean up its image by FedEx-ing their blessings overnight. This has the potential of becoming the masterstroke of Benedict XXX, should he decide to strike again after so callously quoting from obscure texts from the Middle Ages to insult Muslims. Methinks the Pope still kinda "lives" in the Middle Ages, so he is probably more comfortable with the medieval texts and ideas. Enough digression.

Same sex marriage is not a popular thing. It's not even an acceptable idea among many heterosexuals who are moderate and are usually open to listening to what others have to say (like my friend). Many of these good, decent folks couldn't come up with a single good reason why they are opposed to same sex marriage. Instead, they keep repeating the pathetic moral AIDS logic, strongly advocated by the Vatican (where time is frozen, and God skates on the frozen time) and other religions.

The Vatican had previously said gay marriage is "gravely immoral," a "threat to families," and is "harmful to the proper development of human society." While declaring marriage is "holy" (gasp), the Vatican said, "homosexual acts go against the natural moral law." Ouch!!!

If you think they sound a lot more like the cave dwellers living in a doghouse and a lot less like someone living in a 21st century society practicing equality, freedom, and liberty for everyone, then congratulations, you are right!

The problem is in their premise of objection, which is equating morality with the laws of Mother Nature. Nothing could be further from the truth and it doesn't make sense at all. If they had said we don't endorse gay marriage because we don't know how a man does a man or a woman does a woman, I would have personally sent a thank-you note to the Pope for their collective ignorance. Instead they talk about morality, and I don't see what morality has to do with the preference. I can agree that it could be a matter of taste, but calling it moral or immoral? Never.

Also notice the use of such charming phrases like "threat to families," to which I say Amen! How could you notice the perceived (and imaginary) threat of same-sex couples to marriage and not notice a good fraction of families are surprisingly efficient in self-destruction?

Married folks don't quite mind abusing their divine bond. About one third (this is arguable, because different studies quote different percentages, but lowest you get is about a quarter) of married couples drop their underwear outside their bedrooms.

Again, it's the heterosexuals who engage in frequent, messy, and obscene court battles over custody, infidelity, and everything they cook up to stink an entire courtroom. I don't care if they don't want to stay with each other, but why can't they just get it done amicably? Why do social resources have to be wasted over lengthy courtroom battles?

The Vatican is not the only insane representative of religions. Islam, its ever-fighting brother, is not far behind. They don't grab the headlines because Islamic societies, cultures, and countries are usually very hush-hush. But someone called Sheikha advises on the Aljazeera website, "The reason why gay marriage or homosexual behavior is prohibited in Islam and thus banned in Arab and Muslim states is the devastating effect and chaos it'd inflict on the moral and social fabric of society. Same-sex marriage is reversal of the natural order, it's a moral disorder. It's violation of the limits prescribed by God."

When it comes to allowing the homosexuals to marry, the torchbearers of Jesus, Muhammad, and Vishnu share the same bed, eat from the same plate, and quote the same God. They don't want the word 'marriage' to come even remotely close to the homosexuals, but they don't mind killing each other with their God's approval (arguably).

Religious connotations aside, the most appalling part of the entire debate is the continued endorsement of "marriage-not-for-homosexuals" by a broad section of the Jacks and Jills climbing down the divorce hill. The only explanation is that it is not about principle, if ever there was one. It is all about power — the existing hegemony over marriage and divorce — the existing social supremacy.

Sad and equally bad.

Here is a reasonable way out. It's a "cut and run" solution based on the following propositions.

1. Marriage, as it stands now, is a deep perversion of the equality principle. We are generally opposed to specific groups enjoying specific favors and enjoying them forever. I use the term "favor" loosely, and it could be anything from having quotas in jobs, admission in universities, political stuffs, to marriage for heterosexuals and heaven for Christians or Muslims or Hindus (but not for all of them mind you). We should all be truly equal under all social norms.

2. We need our institutions to be lean and slim - not obese, like marriage, which enjoys no extra benefit from the existing and perfectly acceptable legal civil union. Since legally we are already on a sound platform, all we have to do is to extend the premise of union from "man and woman" to "any Homo sapiens and any Homo sapiens with valid identities." It's not that difficult.

3. Marriage, not including the legal binding, only validates the religious and social approval to fuck and suck. We don't need religious and social approval to do what we choose to do in our own privacy, and with whom.

4. Society won't look any different if we abolish the institution of marriage and move on like it was never there in the first place.

5. Everyone needs a second chance. So do the divorce lawyers (send them to Sudan).

The only way I can satisfy all the above propositions is by suggesting marriage should go. Right now. It never made sense then and it doesn't make sense now. Period.

I have my friends in Adam and Eve. They never got married. There wasn't any Priest or Mullah, or Pundit available. And they did just fine.


Friday, November 10, 2006

Rumsfeld's Departure

"Both those men (Cheney and Rumsfeld) are doing fantastic jobs and I strongly support them," Bush said in an interview with The Associated Press and others, only a week ago.

Now one of them, Don Rumsfeld is gone.

A lot of people are saying it was about time. I don't agree with them. If anything, it's two years too late. He should have been allowed to resign when the Abu Ghraib scandal surfaced (he offered but Bush declined).

But don't expect any radical shift in the White House policy. Rumsfeld's exit from the Pentagon, is, as a matter of fact, only symbolic--a perfect political play, a swift damage control move--flashy and without substance.

This isn't out of concern. This is out of compulsion.


Learn Magic, Trick Thieves

Read here how magician David Copperfield tricked REAL robbers in REAL time in REAL life.

If you are wondering whether or not it was just a big publicity stunt, then you should also know this : the robbers got REAL jail time.

Although DC tricked his way out, his assistants weren't so lucky. According to the report:
The assistants handed over money and a cellphone, but the illusionist turned his pockets inside out to reveal nothing, although he was carrying his passport, wallet and cell phone.
There are several morals to this story. Two of them are below.

1. Don't ever be an assistant--you will, always, without fail, get your ass handed to you on a silver plate.

2. If you are with a magician don't expect him to get you out of trouble because he would be too busy getting himself out first.

Of course, I don't need to learn tricks. I trust my good fortune.


Monday, November 06, 2006

Welcome To The 2006-07 NBA Season

It's a humble experience for every sports fan recuperating from the the greatly depressing World Series between the Cardinals and the Tigers, but your misery is officially over. You can now sit back, relax, and enjoy LeBron, Kobe, and Dwyane.

By the way, if you are voting tomorrow, leave a note that you want David Stern in 2008. Trust me, I have my reasons.

Well, we are now a week (a week!) into the 2006-2007 NBA season, and if you are not watching the games, then shame on you. You have already squandered the opportunity to witness what could be the highlight of the regular season — the defending champions Miami Heat losing their opener to the Chicago Bulls by (put your guess here and then look below).

Not just lost. Beat. By 42 points! That's four times ten plus two, folks. That's an achievement which is insured against all odds, even the acts of terrorism (and by the way I was going through my new home insurance policy and I noticed something that I didn't notice before; which is, my apartment is not insured against terrorism or anything related or remotely related to it and the insurer gave a damn fine definition of terrorism too — but that's a different post altogether).

Kudos to Pat Riley and his boys, because not always you can end your previous season and begin your new one poles apart from one another.

At this point you can almost start feeling sorry for those hapless (and whining) Dallas Mavericks fans who took the pain to watch the Heat-Bulls game and felt the pinch one more time. It's one thing to watch the Bulls dismantling the Heat — and it's another thing to watch the Bulls dismantling the Heat and realize that the Bulls' game is clearly where the Mavs' are ostensibly better.

Yes, the Mavs came close to winning it all, but the truth be told, (if you missed it last year), the Heat were clearly the better team (for the record I picked Heat in six) in the 2006 finals.

The Los Angeles Lakers — the glamor boys of the NBA — currently hold a 3-1 record. Which is good at first glance, but once you break it up it's even better.

The Lakers won their first two games back to back — without Kobe. The first one was at home against the Phoenix Suns (the same Suns who dispatched them after falling behind 1-3 in the first round of Western Conference playoffs), the next one on the road against the Golden State, — yes, they did somehow show up without Kobe.

Makes you wonder why they didn't show up when Kobe didn't show up during the Game 7 at Phoenix in the first round of the playoffs last year.

In their next two games, with Kobe, they are a mediocre .500 team at 1-1. I know, I know, two games and a 1-1 record doesn't make for a strong case about a team being statistically mediocre on the road, but don't blame me because I am only using the available data!

So, trade Kobe. Send him to Minnesota (a lot less attention will do him a lot more good) in exchange for Kevin Garnett (he deserves the attention he never got in land of forgotten prairies). This is probably not going to happen — but if it does, just remember you heard me say it first.

New arguing rules

Like every new year, there's a new Stern rule in place. Briefly, the rule is this: if you whine at Bob Delaney, you are T'd up. If you cough at Joey Crawford, you are T'd. If you bitch at Dick Bavetta, you are T'd, and I suspect if you cringe from Violet Palmer, you get a T as well.

The conspiracy theorists say the rule is aimed at Rasheed Wallace and hopes to slow, rather calm, him down. But Rasheed is simply the sideshow. In effect, and without fail, the new rule is going to cut the crap down almost universally and that's where the game will start looking more and more different.

And here I beg to differ with everyone who thinks the rule is welcome. Once you start taking the human elements away from the game, it also takes away the fun elements. I know bitching is a universal problem but handing out T's like sweet candies is a bit too much.

My suggestion: fine them heavily. If money talks, then money can spank too. Since they can't feed their family with their millions as Sprewell once famously said, making their wallets a bit lighter wouldn't be so bad.

On a similar disciplinary note, Mark Cuban promises to be in his best behavior. Really — this is not a joke. There's a new rule for the owners which allows Stern to suspend any owner who behaves and handles himself like Mark Cuban of yesteryear. Needless to say, we will miss Mark Cuban when he used to be Mark Cuban.

That's why I think David Stern is simply not fit for the NBA. I mean, he's just too good to stick around in the NBA 'til someone starts building a pyramid for him. He should be more ambitious — daring, if you will — and instead of schooling Ron Artest, Stephen Jackson, and the Mark Cubans for the rest of his life he should set the bar high. Yes, he should run for higher offices and he can forge partnership with Stu Jackson (senior VP of Basketball operations). This looks very promising. Believe me.

What about the Knicks?

Only one more thing remains to be said, which brings me to the Mecca of basketball (Madison Square Garden) currently the haunted home of the laughingstock of the league.

In the off-season the New York Knicks fired Larry Brown after a 23-59 season and refused to pay him a dime on what was left in his contract (about $50 million).

My question is, why all the divorces, especially when one party is Larry Brown is always messy (remember his fall out with the Pistons was equally bad)? Clearly Larry and his "playing the right way" approach works on the court (didn't work with the Knicks, although you can make solid arguments why he should have been retained) but it's a no-brainer that he's still searching the right way to play off the court.

Stern stepped in and the next thing you know, both sides are riding back home smiling pretty. Again, how can you not root for Stern in 2008?

To make matters worse — or fun, depending on how you look at it — Isiah is back as the coach of the Knicks after screwing up immensely in the front office.

The good news is Isiah now has the opportunity to find out first hand how badly he actually screwed up. The bad news is Knicks will remain as bad as before. (I always thought the billionaire businessmen are smart people — they value money and all that and they make smart business decisions, so it's inexplicable how and why Isiah continues to feature within the Knicks in some way or the other).

Finally, Nellieball is back. Don Nelson is again coaching the Golden State Warriors. Does he have the right ingredients? No. But will the Warriors be more fun to watch? You bet.

With all that said, here are my predictions for the season. Just remember I actually predicted once upon a time that Miami would win in six (for that matter I also predicted Lakers to win over the Suns, but little did I know Kobe had other plans).

The NBA Finals Champion: San Antonio Spurs

Eastern Conference Champion: Miami Heat (I trust D-Wade but can his teammates earn his trust?)

The MVP: LeBron James. (Enough sin had been committed by giving the award twice, and back to back to that guy Steve Nash from Canada).

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Friday, November 03, 2006

A Big Botched Joke And A Bloody Mess

Okay. John Kerry is not Jay Leno. He gets an F- when it comes to cutting jokes — although in his most recent "mission botched", perhaps the most significant after his 2004 presidential campaign, it was very much apparent, once you take the pain to interpret the ill-fated words in the context of the speech, that he was referring to President Bush and not the troops.

John Kerry's aides say the Senator mistakenly dropped the word "us" from his prepared speech which of course, created the entire controversy. What should have been "... you get us stuck in Iraq," came out as "... you get stuck in Iraq."

Either way, it's clear who's the target of the four-term Senator from Massachusetts. However, by dropping the innocuous two-letter "us" Kerry left his jab open to interpretations and misrepresentations — and the Republicans, who are virtually running the campaign on an empty platter, and are on the verge of losing both houses, grabbed the opportunity with all four limbs.

Of course the people who are taking digs at Kerry are the same people who continue to insist that everything is fine and dandy despite the catastrophic consequences of the "stay the course" policy in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And the list also includes Senators Clinton and McCain, the Democratic and Republican front-runners of 2008. It's a shame that they lined themselves up in the same category as George Bush and Dick Cheney.

If they think Kerry should apologize for his slip, how many apologies do they think President Bush owes to America?

To err is human, and every reasonable person understands that John Kerry slipped big time. And I also agree with everyone, smart, dumb, and lazy, who suggested he should just shut up and go away, and Obama willing, never return. I've always maintained Kerry would make a poor president, poorer if you watch him with your Clinton glasses on, but - and here's a big but - compared to President Bush, he'd have been an angel.

Look, in the worst case scenario, some jokes, when lamely delivered like this one, can be in poor taste, but they are harmless and they don't cost you a penny and they don't cost American lives. And Kerry has apologized. So, let's move on and focus on the reality — and the facts.

Bush's botched policies are expensive — the Iraq war itself is currently tagged at more than $300 billion, and counting.

Think what you could have done with a judicious use of $300 billion if you were asked to spend it for your country. You would have certainly figured out ways to improve the current state of education, health care, the infrastructure, national security, and going after the real bad guys. You would certainly not help make the already fat corporations like Halliburton fatter.

Bush's botched policies have led to the death of almost 3,000 Americans and 40,000 more have been wounded. Many of the wounded ones will never be able to recover to have a healthy, productive, and normal life like you and me.

Think what you could have done for your country if you had 40,000 healthy Americans at your disposal, at your command. You would have found better ways to make use of their services.

George Bush, his vice-president, and their chosen band of losers, who never served in the army, think they are doing their patriotic duty by wasting billions of dollars and bringing death to American soldiers everyday in the minefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.

It's time to tell them to back off.

And if the Republicans are hoping that they could wash away their bloody mess in Iraq and Afghanistan with a botched joke, they are indeed, as John Kerry noted in his ill-fated speech, living in the state of denial.


from QbiT