Blogger Template by Blogcrowds

I first heard MJ when Dangerous was making the rounds. Most people remember "Black or White" when they think of Dangerous; it was MJ's biggest hit since 1982's "Billie Jean". I don't remember it making a great impression upon me. Sure, I liked the morphing towards the end of the song. But I didn't understand what drew people to MJ. Entertainment then revolved around Doordarshan and its inane soaps. But I hardly realized that my ignorance of MJ meant a life of ignorance of music.

A few years later, I caught "Billie Jean" on MTV and I remember my jaw dropping at MJ's moves. Shortly after though, I forgot all about MJ . Those were the days of Mohra, Muqala Muqabla, Urvasi Take it Easy etc. And I could appreciate those easily enough. Ironically, I was appreciating countless artists and moves inspired by MJ, but not recognizing the man himself.

It wasn't till I went to Dartmouth and my roommate from Pakistan mentioned his taste for Prabhu Deva when I realized the source of this wonderful form of entertainment. Today, countless artists like Prabhu Deva, knowingly or unknowingly, dance inspired by that great talent. I wonder how many children grow up today, appreciating the music and dance of his legacy without realizing the source.

Here is to the man who changed the face of music, entertained millions and will continue to inspire plenty more....

Sometimes the most interesting part of a newspaper is the Letters to the Editors section. BBC News has collected the views of some ordinary Indians (or extra-ordinary now that their views are public) on how they would lead the country here. I love these surveys because they offer insight into what people are thinking.

Of course, most of the insights are fairly predictable (provide electricity, education etc), but some stand out in originality. I was drawn to what Chandra Deep Yerra, a customer service agent, had to say:

"There are a lot of things I could do if I were the prime minister even for a single day. Instead of assigning ministries to my own party members, I would see who had performed well in that position in the previous term and hand it over to that person.

I would start a new division which would continuously monitor my ministers and other members and score them at the end of every week or month. This division would also educate the ministers on where they went wrong and where they could improve. "

It's no coincidence that Chandra is in customer service. And after all, isn't that what we need more from our government: service? Imagine the ramifications of outsourcing public-facing functions to BPOs in India. It's already being done by some Indian about doing that in the motherland?

I've never had a great history with traveling to Mumbai. This time doesn't seem to be different. I'm sitting at a friend's place in Byculla, relatively isolated from the incidents of yesterday and today, but tense nevertheless.

The standoff has not progressed much. The army and NSG still surround the Trident and Oberoi. We're getting conflicting reports on Taj. 24/7 media is beginning to wear on me; I can't pull my eyes away and yet, the repeating images and obnoxious reporters are straining my nerves.

Worried about the long-term repurcussions. We are a soft nation. One of the liabilities of being an open society. But, we could do better with our security measures. And yet, we cannot do much about the underlying problems. Surrounded as we are by basketcases, we neither want to take on the cauldron of problems that is Pakistan nor can we ignore it.

I believe this won't be like the last times. Many more Indians are vested in Mumbai than in the past. Yet, I can't help feeling we are culturally flawed as well. We are too complacent. Too exhausted. Too weared down by something.

I was in the Atrium mall in Worli the other day. The guards asked me to open my bag; I opened the central pocket and the guard waved me inside. Never mind the metal detector had gone off. Never mind my bag had more than one pocket.

Sab chalega has traded places with kuche nahi chalega. When are we going to learn?

"At a moment of obvious peril, America decided to place its fate in the hands of a man who had been born to an idealistic white teenage mother and the charismatic African grad student who abandoned them — a man who grew up without money, talked his way into good schools, worked his way up through the pitiless world of Chicago politics to the U.S. Senate and now the White House in a stunningly short period. That achievement, compared with those of the Bushes or the Kennedys or the Roosevelts or the Adamses or any of the other American princes who were born into power or bred to it, represents such a radical departure from the norm that it finally brings meaning to the promise taught from kindergarten: "Anyone can grow up to be President." Time Magazine

There is some unearthly talent there. And we're unlikely to see something so historic in the U.S. in our lifetime again.

...and he is elected President. A lot sooner than I expected and by a wide margin in electoral votes. Amazing night tonight. I wish I had bought tickets to the rally in Chicago. Over a million are expected to turn up.

I wonder what is going through Obama's mind right now. And McCain's. I doubt if the former is going to have much time to celebrate. I wonder what lessons the latter will take away.

This election has brought a lot of upsets, but that reflects the times. Financial institutions, once considered the bastion of America's economic strength, have disappeared overnight. Others are adopting more conservative business models. The economy is delevering. Consumption is falling and a recession is inevitable, if it has not begun already. Have we learnt anything new about how the world works with this crisis? Not much. We've seen "irrational exuberance" before. Bubbles come and go. Investors invest irresponsibly. People consume irresponsibly.

I see Reverend Jackson cry. He ran for President himself once. This must be a vindication of some sort for him.

McCain is talking about the historic nature of this election. I think he is surprised by the turnout among blacks. I don't like his pigeonholing Obama's victory as a victory for African-Americans. His voice is visibly shaken. In another time, I would have voted for him. He is certainly a man of integrity in a way Bush could never hope to be. And the crowd appreciates it too. "We love John", they chant. There is no doubt though that his party didn't stand a chance at this election without him. He reached across party lines; his appeal to the independents went a long way to balance the lemming path Bush, Rove and co. have set his party on.

I also wonder what Bush will do tomorrow, knowing that his era is over. We cry over Fuld walking away with millions in severance. Isn't it ironic that we reelected a man responsible for trillions wasted in an escalation of committment? A democracy is much like a public financial institution these days. Ownership is diluted, responsibility is thin, and accountability is non-existent. Here's hoping to a more educated and activist democracy. I have to go - Obama is speaking.

The Wall Street Journal examines the effectiveness of the UN carbon-trading scheme today in an article debating the pros and cons of funding coal and natural gas projects in India and China. Critics of the funding claim that financing is being diverted to these projects from renewable energy projects. The trading scheme has also been accused of financing power plants and cleaner coal-burning technology that would have been constructed otherwise.

Both criticisms miss the point. If the carbon-trading scheme is a free market, renewable energy projects would find themselves being financed on their own merit. For example, current market prices, according to the WSJ article, are ~$13 per ton of carbon emissions. If solar projects can be financed and replace carbon emissions at cheaper rates, participating companies would buy them naturally.

The key is whether or not the UN scheme is a free market. Do projects of all colors and sources receive equal consideration? How good are disclosures and monitoring on these projects? When developed and developing countries get together to formulate such global markets, the quality and access to information will be key to good buyer-seller outcomes, and for us, a cleaner world.

Dear Mr. Munawwar Hasan,

You claim to represent millions of Muslims. Quite a bold claim. But not quite as reckless as your claim that:

"America is against the interests of Muslims. Muslims hate Americans. If this [India-US nuclear] deal goes through, then Americans will make a lot of money."

The logical extension of your argument would be that all kinds of trade should be prohibited with the U.S. because free trade makes money for both parties. I would like to submit the following data for your review:

U.S. Exports by Destination (2007 - in millions)
Afghanistan - $495.3
Saudi Arabia - $10,396
Indonesia - $4,235
Qatar - $2,757
Pakistan - $2,035
Iran - $145

Even countries with Muslim majorities with mostly democratic regimes (Indonesia and Afghanistan) import goods and services from the U.S. and in your words, help the "Americans make a lot of money." Iran imports from the U.S. despite their leader publicly describing the latter as their enemy.

I could include data on imports to the U.S. from these countries because Americans benefit from imports, but frankly speaking, I would need to explain consumer surplus and how goods and services are produced, which would be more than sufficient to ask you the following:

Do Muslims really hate Americans and American products?

My two cents.
1st cent: Pens don't kill; guns do.
2nd cent: If you don't have a pen, you can't write with a pen.

Older Posts