Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Wikipedia Controversy

A recent online phenomenon has been Wikipedia: the free online wiki/encyclopedia. What makes Wikipedia different from all other online encyclopedias is the fact that it is also a wiki i.e. users can edit entries and add new entries whenever they find that the information currently displayed is inadequate.

As a result of this user-generated content Wikipedia is the number 1 online encyclopedia with over 4 million articles in over 200 languages (including most of the Indian languages). If you need specific information about any topic, Wikipedia is where you go to. I personally use Wikipedia much more than Google or any other search engine. (Well actually answers.com which gives me Wikipedia+other results).

There has been a recent controversy over a certain article by John Seigenthaler Sr., an American journalist who's Wikipedia entry had some erroneous and potentially damaging information. All this controversy raised the issue about the "correctness" of Wikipedia & whether it should be banned.

I think that this controversy is pretty stupid. User-generated content is what gives Wikipedia its depth, its flexibility, its sheer volume of information about every conceivable topic on the planet. It you take away the power of editing content from the users, then that will be the end of Wikipedia as we know it. In fact a recent study by the journal Nature concluded that Wikipedia is as accurate as Encyclopedia Britannica. The errors in the entries seem to be the exception rather than the rule.

Of course all this raises the issue of how do we define "correctness" and what do you mean by "true". But I'll reserve that controversy for some other day :), the caveat here being whatever controversy we raise up always ends up with an unanswerable question at the end.

P.S.: I'm off to San Diego on a holiday, so no entry for a while :(

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Da Vinci Code

Following up on the geekiest review of the book possible, the Da Vinci Code movie trailer is out. Coming from Ron Howard & starring Tom Hanks & Ian McKellen, this one will be good. The trailer looks great, but then most trailers look great. The plot of the story begged for a movie and here it is. Here is the movie site which is cool too.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Boy, you just dropped the World Cup

Finally, Steve Waugh admits that he never said these very famous words to Herschelle Gibbs when he dropped Waugh's catch at short mid-wicket.

Here is the text from the Inside Cricket interview with Steve:
Did you actually say to Herschelle Gibbs "You just dropped the World Cup" in 1999?
No, I wasn't quite that clever. I wish I could claim that and the myth is sort of perpetuated and I'm going to break it a bit but it wasn't quite that, I just said: "Look, do you realise you've just cost your team the game." We were having a battle at the time and Herschelle is a fantastic player. I gave him a bit of stick when he was batting and of course he got 120. When you've done that you've got to cop it when you get back in and he gave me a gob full all the way through and I got to 56 and he dropped the catch and he walked past me at the end of the over and . . . well we had to say something.

Finally this will end the countless arguments I had with my friends that he never could have said these words (even a born sledger like Waugh) in that situation (semis of the World Cup with Aussies on the backfoot). So anyone who argued with me, I TOLD YOU SO :P

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Music Links

A cool video clip where all the four members of Pink Floyd talk about their Dark Side of the Moon album (courtesy brain-damage.co.uk). It's been nearly 25 years since John Lennon was murdered (Dec 8th, 1980). Here is a nice article about the legend that was John Lennon. Also here's an insightful interview of U2's Bono.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

O God, where at thou?

What is God? Does there exist an all powerful entity, who controls everything that happens? What came first - Man or God?

Well, look around you. Do you see anything in your immediate vicinity that seems to be divinely controlled? Does anything that you hear in the news seem to be a doing of a superbeing? Or is it just human activities influenced by the laws of nature acting the way they should act. Most so called "miracles" are either coincidences or flukes. Somewhere on the edges of a (0,1) range of mathematical probabilities for all possible occurrences. There can never be a 0 nor a perfect 1. Most of our everyday events lie in the middle of this range & so are not attributed as miracles.

So does this mean that there is no such thing as god, is there no superbeing influencing our lives? But as Carl Sagan has said "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence".

So if there exists a superbeing, what exactly does he do? Does he go about sowing seeds of life on different planets and then watches them grow into thinking beings? Or does he create universes as points in a hyperdimensional plane and allows them to wax & wane. Does this superbeing have his own theories of god? Are there multiple levels of superbeings, each god having his own god. If so, who's the ultimate god? And who created that ultimate god? Was it just chance, some random occurrence?

I like to think the inherent randomness in everything, the chaos, as superpowerful, as god. It is what creates all our miracles and all our mundane. It is what drives evolution, thus it is what drives life as we know it. It is what leaves questions unanswered, which compels us to think, which drives us to progress.

All said and done, I like to imagine some being on some planet far, far away searching for this own god, making theories no one of us can even imagine............

P.S. Comments, opinions, counterarguments welcome.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Australian Pink Floyd (Clips uploaded....)

Went for an Aussie Pink Floyd concert at Seattle Center yesterday. It is a Pink Floyd tribute band acclaimed for their honest reproductions of Pink Floyd numbers.

They started off with Breathe, then played a lot of PF numbers ending with Run Like Hell. They even played some relatively less popular songs like Fletcher Memorial Home and Have a Cigar, which was good. Here is the list of songs they played (though not in the original order. I may have missed a couple):
  • breathe
  • time
  • money
  • astronomy domine
  • us and them
  • learning to fly
  • shine on...
  • wish u were
  • pigs (3 different ones)
  • another brick in the wall
  • comfortably numb
  • have a cigar
  • fletcher memorial
  • brain damage
  • run like hell

They had visual effects like the circular visual display showing weird (read subtle :) ) videos and they also had props like the inflatable pig and the inflatable rabbit, like the original PF. All in all a pretty amazing experience, the closest you can get to hearing the actual Pink Floyd in concert. Wondering if any Pink Floyd tribute band can perform Careful with that axe, Eugene. Now that would be a real tribute band.

Here's the link to the pictures, and I took some clips from my camera which are here, here, here and here. (I was sitting at the right side of the auditorium so the view is real crappy :( ).

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Total cricket???

India thrashed Sri Lanka 6-1 in cricket, one of the most comprehensive series victories for the Indian team in the recent past. Also one of the very few series I was able to watch live in the past 2 years.

What was noticable was the amount of experimentation that the coach Greg Chappell did. The batting lineup was different for every match. For e.g. we had 5 different players coming in at no. 3 - Pathan, JP Yadav, Dhoni, Yuvraj and Sehwag. The question is - Is this experimentation a means of finding the best player for a spot, or Is there some sort of a permenance to this unpredictability.

Isn't this akin to 'total football'? Total football was a strategy implemented by the Dutch football (soccer) team in the 70s in which every player was capable of playing (and played) in every position on the field (barring the goalie :) ). It was a huge success, as the team reached unprecedented heights, reaching the World Cup finals twice consecutively in 74 & 78 (they never reached the finals before or after that).

'Total cricket' would be something very refreshing, something which the stale game of One day cricket desperately needs....

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Soft’war’s??

With Yahoo releasing the new Yahoo maps, it seems like a three horse race for the dominance of the web. Microsoft vs. Yahoo vs. Google. All 3 are developing similar applications looking for more and more people to use their products. Here are my preferences in various categories they are feuding:

1. Search Engines: Google wins hands down. Both MSN & Yahoo claim to be developing “Google-beaters”.
2. Maps/Local Search: The new Yahoo Maps (Beta) is just kickass. But I couldn’t find where the satellite map is. Anyways it’s bye bye Google Maps for the time being. MSN Virtual Earth comes a distant third.
3. Email: Gmail seems to be the best right now. (I still use Yahoo though :) ). But from what I have heard both the new Windows Live Mail and the new Yahoo mail (both almost ready) are far more better. Look out for them very very soon.
4. Instant Messenger/Chat Client: MSN messenger is the one I use the most. MSN & Yahoo are going to collaborate for a common IM mid-2006. Then what is Windows Live Messenger? I’ve never used Google Talk so can’t really comment.
5. Windows Live seems to be much sleeker than either My Yahoo or Google Reader in the race for the best start-page/RSS aggregator. But we’ll have to wait and see how it shapes up when it goes fully functional.

There are rumors about Google Office and how cool that is gonna be. Also both Google & Microsoft are serious about the book search. So the question is fairly unresolved. WHO WILL WIN THE WEB?

BTW, LIVE is opposite of EVIL. Hence Microsoft = Google. ;)

That’s my geeky post for the day. Adios…..

Monday, October 31, 2005

Seven and Oh

“A win is a win. A loss is a loss.
But no matter what, you better come with it or don't come at all,
Because it's 90 feet to first no matter where home is.”


Ended the fall cricket league yesterday, undefeated - seven wins no losses. We literally dominated the rest of the teams, and I ended up as the top scorer for the team :). Of course, it helps having a good team in a sub-standard league ;).

India on fire, "three and O" and Pathan and Dhoni have come good up the order. Great going.... Gibbs and Boje pull out of the Indian tour. This really sucks. I thought that I would get to watch Herschelle Gibbs bat after a really long time, but it wasn't to be. Gibbs is one of the most amazing players to watch when in flow, and the balance he has when he plays his shots is simply unsurpassed. He rates very highly among my "very watchable" list of batsmen, others being Damien Martyn, Sachin, Ponting, and lately Graeme Smith and Andrew Strauss.

Delhi bomb blasts. Sad... When is this going to end.... Terrorism is hurting Pakistan much more than India. Hope they realize this sooner rather than later. Of course I might be misinformed or biased when I say this.........

A nice link - The world according to Jose Mourinho, the manager of Chelsea and the self-proclaimed "The Chosen One".

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Underdogs

The "second team" from the "second city" are the champions of baseball. Today the Chicago White Sox took the World Series 4-0, by defeating Houston Astros. After years of being overshadowed by the more popular Chicago Cubs, they have finally achieved the ultimate.

Who would have put money on the White Sox at the beginning of the season? They came out of relative obscurity to win the World Series. That said, this has been the year of the underdogs, the unknowns. Who would have put money on Liverpool to win the Champions league? On England winning the Ashes? On Alonso winning the F1 drivers championship? On MSN search beating Google? (Oops, that one's for the future :) )

Anyway, here's a clip of how the gods deliver. And Graeme Smith's Super Series tour diary spoof (Part 1 & Part 2) make for a real funny read.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Asha for education

Asha for education is a charity for the education of underprivileged children in rural India. A friend of mine, Pravin is running a marathon for Team Asha in New Jersey. I urge everyone to help the noble cause. Here is the info about the marathon and here's Pravin's page regarding the same. Of course you can donate to any of the runners taking part in the event. And if you work for any of these companies, your employer will match your contribution penny to penny. Pravin has a blog on the marathon here, but I'd suggest he write more about the charity & the cause rather than his daily running log.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Grand Prix

Why MotoGP kicks F1's ass:
..coz there is more action happening on the track
..coz there are more overtaking maneuvers happening every lap than the 2/3 maneuvers which happen in an entire F1 race
..coz bikes are much cooler than cars
..coz the "doctor" Valentino Rossi is much more clinical than any Schumacher/Räikkönen /Alonso
..coz it is infinitely more edge-of-the-seat thrill than F1
..coz the driver’s skill is a more important factor than which car you drive
..coz it is much cleaner environmentally

Then why is F1 more popular around the world? Is it cause people are inherently stupid & just watch what the networks promote more?

P.S. - I am writing this while watching Chinese GP, so yeah, I do watch F1 occasionally.

And good luck George Weah (football great/world footballer of the year 1995), a nation turns its lonely eyes to you. You are a true winner.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Where do we go from here?

"We know what we are, but know not what we may become"

- William Shakespeare



Ray Kurzweil:
Yesterday I attended a talk by Ray Kurzweil, a visionary in the field of Artificial Intelligence and a pioneer in technologies for speech and character recognition. The talk was about his new book, The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. The guy made some pretty interesting claims about where we are headed in terms of AI. He believes around 2030, we will be successful in building machines which will be able to replicate all the possible aspects of a human brain (will pass the Turing test too) and pretty soon go past it. No, this is not a trashy sci-fi movie story. His findings are based on very convincing arguments about the exponential growth of complexity and intelligence since the evolution of life. A very exciting and scary concept.

I am halfway through his earlier book, The Age of Spiritual Machines and I must say it is really overwhelming. None of his extrapolations seem out of hand. They seem to be simple extensions to the technological progress made so far. The book is pretty complete and exhaustive in a scientific perspective. I remember being similarly awed when I read Carl Sagan's Cosmos (which is an absolute must read for anyone and everyone who has cleared 12th grade. If you haven't read it yet, all I can say that is you haven't yet looked at life the way it is meant to be looked at.)

Stephan Wolfram:
On the topic of REALLY smart guys, I remember another talk I attended back at Rutgers, that of Stephen Wolfram, about his New Kind of Science. In the book, Wolfram proposes his fundamentally new theory explaining the Universe (or God, whichever way you see it). The main theme of his theory is that everything in the Universe - the matter, the energy, the forces, evolution, life, the transience, all can be explained using a very few number of simple patterns. A few simple patterns arranged differently lead to immensely complex systems. A parallel theory is an entirely more courageous and difficult thing to propose, but Wolfram does it with amazing lucidity. I don't believe his theory is widely accepted among traditional physicists, but then it could very well be the case of a genius not being recognized in his time.

Kudos to those brilliant minds who dare to dream.....

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Where have the bowlers gone?

It stuck me the other day. Where have all the classy bowlers gone?

Compared to the mid-90s, consider the number of match-winning bowlers the top 7 teams in the world now have:

Australia:
Then: McDermott, McGrath, Warne
Now: (Still) McGrath, Warne

SA:
Then: Donald, DeVilliers, A young fast Pollock
Now: A clearly underperforming Pollock

India:
Then: Kumble, (Srinath ??)
Now: (Pathan ??)

SL:
Then: Murali, Vaas
Now: Murali, Vaas

WI:
Then: Ambrose, Walsh
Now: none

Pak:
Then: Wasim, Waqar, Mushtaq, Saqlain
Now: Shoaib (Chucker)

England:
Then: Gough, Caddick
Now: Harmison, Flintoff (Flash in the pan types)

Most teams either have their old stars still chugging it out or have lost their bowling strengths completely (esp. SA & WI). I believe one-day cricket with its flat pitches, obsession with 300+ scores and a overall batsman oriented approach is the main reason for this decline. Good young bowlers are being smashed all over the park by mediocre batsmen. ICC will have to take definite steps to remedy this problem, which would seriously affect cricket enthusiasm in the long run.

On a similar note, check out Iqbal, a refreshingly nice movie directed by Nagesh Kukunoor. A great Hindi movie, for a change. Guess what? It is about a bowler.

(Too many blog entries on cricket......But I thought this one was worth it)

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Another One Bites The Dust

On the occasion of a special day.........

Another One Bites The Dust (Queen)


Steve walks warily down the street,
with the brim pulled way down low
Ain't no sound but the sound of his feet,
machine guns ready to go

Are you ready,
Are you ready for this
Are you hanging on the edge of your seat
Out of the doorway the bullets rip
To the sound of the beat

Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
And another one gone, and another one gone
Another one bites the dust
Hey, I'm gonna get you too
Another one bites the dust

How do you think I'm going to get along,
without you, when you're gone
You took me for everything that I had,
and kicked me out on my own

Are you happy, are you satisfied
How long can you stand the heat
Out of the doorway the bullets rip
To the sound of the beat

Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
There are plenty of ways you can hurt a man
And bring him to the ground
You can beat him
You can cheat him
you can treat him bad and leave him
When he's down
But I'm ready, yes I'm ready for you
I'm standing on my own two feet
Out of the doorway the bullets rip
repeating the sound of the beat

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

And they lived happily ever after.....

Ganguly & Chappell finally decided that they must bury their differences "in the interests of Indian cricket". This is a historic moment for Indian cricket, the chronicles of which should be etched in gold.

Now we have a team which will definitely win the World Cup 2007. We have a captain who is in tremendous batting form, the mere mention of whom strikes terror in the heart of pace bowlers around the world. We have a team packed with consistent performers, with amazing fitness levels. And we have a coach who has an unprecedented success rate in his previous coaching assignments. There are no egos, and every member puts his team before his individual opinions and who will support the coach and captain come what may.

And of course we have a very efficient and supportive board, with no infighting, and which only cares about taking Indian cricket to unprecedented heights.

All hail the champions of the world!!!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Chappell-Ganguly saga

Lots has been said about the rift between the coach & captain. So it seems one of the two has to pack his bags before we can actually start playing.

Personally I would love to see Ganguly go. I never thought he was a good captain, and of late he was batting pathetically; he didn't even merit a place in a Ranji side. Ganguly sprang into popularity as an extremely talented batsman, an off-side god, and had an amazing one-day and test run. It took some time for other teams to find his weak spots, but once they did they just latched on to them. And Ganguly crumbled....

He was a bad example as a captain. He was by far the worst fielder in the team. Not only was he unfit, he also lacked the commmitment to fielding that a captain should have. I firmly believe the reason India did well under his captaincy was more due to the emergence of a new breed of young talented players (Sehwag, Pathan, Kaif, Khan etc.) than his captaincy skills. I believe with Dravid as captain, we could have reached even greater heights.

If you think the problem lies with Chappell, read this to check out the problems John Wright had lately with the Ganguly camp. Any rationally thinking player would have agreed with Chappell's suggestion that the best XI does not feature a certain India player whose test average in the past year and half (before the Zim tour) is 33.84, one-day average is 29.66 and without a century in either form of the game.

Of course we will have to accept whatever decision the corrupt BCCI takes in this matter....

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Global warming

A storm hit the east coast of India & Bangladesh. Check out the news on BBC and Times of India. Also a fresh storm threatens New Orleans, stalling the ongoing relief efforts. Every other day there is a new storm wreaking havoc somewhere in the world. Tsunamis, Mumbai floods, Katrina.... the list goes on.

It seems that the number & intensity of natural disasters has increased steadily over the past 35 years. Many scientists argue that it is due to global warming caused by an increased greenhouse effect - a byproduct of the human "civilization". Check this article out.

Greenhouse effect is what maintains the temperature of the earth at steady levels. The presence of water vapour and gases like Carbon dioxide, methane & Nitrous oxide in the earth's atmosphere, traps the outgoing heat reflected off the earth's surface. Without the greenhouse gases, the earth would have been another Mars - cold and lifeless. But the recent human pollutants have lead to an increase in the greenhouse gases, leading to global warming and threatening the ecological balance. If it's true, expect the rate of natural disasters to escalate in the coming years making life tougher for us.

Our lives are so intricately dependent on the cause of these pollutants (cars, industries, daily luxuries), that we cannot stop the emissions but for a drastic change in our everyday life. With the world being ruled by major corporations in a cutthroat competition with each other, I don't see much chance. Tough times lie ahead for the future generations, unless the people act quicker.

Agent Smith to Morpheus (The Matrix):
"Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You are a plague, and we are the cure."

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Bodyline


I stumbled upon the famous television series back when I was a kid - Bodyline : It's just not cricket. Yup, the serial about the infamous 1932/33 Bodyline series between England and Australia. The story of 3 individuals: The greatest batsman of all time - Don Bradman, the fastest bowler in the world - Harold Larwood and most importantly about the most hated man in cricket, the infamous English captain Douglas Jardine.

Guess who plays Jardine? Hugo Weaving. Yup Agent Smith from the Matrix trilogy (if you ask me, the real show stealer of the movie. He also played Elrond, the elf king in LOTR trilogy).

For the uninitiated, bodyline was a tactic devised by Jardine where the bowler bowled short and on the batsman's body. The fielders were then concentrated close to the batsman on the leg-side. With a really quick bowler like Larwood, it is virtually impossible to hit the ball on the off-side. Many of the batsmen ended up getting injured, being hit on the body. Most of the Aussie batsmen had no answer to this tactic. Even the great Bradman had a much lower batting average compared to his lofty standards (56.57 compared to his overall average of 99.94). Back in those days this aggressive tactic was "just not cricket".

The TV series is not technically sound (The wicketkeeper is shown standing up to Larwood, the pace bowlers bowl slow, flighted deliveries and a lot of similar bloopers) but still makes for a great watch, just to know the way the game was played back then.

More info on bodyline here.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Living legends...... (on the losing side, sadly)

So Federer got Agassi in 4. 1 set more than I had predicted. Thanks to an amazing fighting effort by the 35 year old Agassi. Agassi played for his life in the 2nd and 3rd sets, but still fell short of THE GOD.

Agassi might probably retire at the end of the year. What a ride it has been for him. After turning pro in 1986 he played in the big league for 20 years. In a sport where an average player's career lasts for 10 odd years, 20 years is just mind-boggling. I remember the first time I heard about Agassi was back in 90 French Open finals. Andre Agassi vs Andres Gomez. Agassi lost that one. Then again one year later to Jim Courier. Then in 92 he defeated Goran Ivanisevic in an epic 5-set Wimbledon final and really burst into the real big league.

One of the reasons why Agassi did not win more Grand Slams (8), is the fact that he was in the same era as the great Pete Sampras. Agassi was good, but Sampras was even better. At the peak of his career he had to encounter the booming game of Pistol Pete. Their rivarly was legendary. I guess Agassi must be the guy with the most number of Grand Slam final appearances.

Hats off to the great Andre Agassi. Hope he retires now, when he is at the top....

----------------------------------------

An even bigger legend in terms of impact on the sport is Shane Warne. True, England finally won the Ashes and deserve all the accolades showered upon them. But at age 36, Warne took 40 wickets at an average of 19.92 to extend his lead as the greatest wicket-taker of all times. To put things into perspective, the next highest wicket-taker on either side was Andy Flintoff with 24 wickets. Simply put, Warne is the greatest spinner I have ever seen. He is single-handedly responsible for reviving the lost art of leg-spin bowling and giving faith to spinners all over the world that it is not all about bowling fast.

Now there is news that he might retire. End to another amazing roller-coaster career. The "ball of the century" to dismiss Mike Gatting, his problems with weight, his escapades, his steroid related ban, his amazing comeback and his race with Murali for the world's highest wicket taker, it has all been just one hell of a ride for him. If you ask me he was the number one reason for the Australian dominance in both test and one-day cricket the past few years(McGrath was 2 & Steve Waugh 3)

As Gilli oft says - Bowling Shane...........

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Tennis updates

So it's gonna be Federer vs. Agassi for the US open. Federer won against Hewitt today in 4 sets. That's the 1st time he has lost a set against Hewitt in 5 matches. This makes it 9 successive wins over Hewitt for him dating back as far as Australian open 2003.

Do you know against which other player does Federer have a long winning streak? Andre Agassi. Federer has a 7 game winning streak against Agassi, dating back even further: 2002. Yup, Agassi hasn't beaten Federer since 2002.

Today Agassi metioned during commentry: "One of the strengths of Federer which not many people are aware of, is his return of serve. He just gets a lot of those balls back in". True, not many people are aware of it....

Agassi has played 3 back to back 5-setters and a tough 4-setter before that. This at 35 should really have taken its toll on him. So tomorrow technically it should be a whitewash. But we cannot forget one important factor: crowd support. The Yanks will be totally supporting Andre, especially considering the fact that this may be his last year here.

Anyways, all said and done, I predict Federer wins tomorrow in 3 sets...

Also today, Kim Clijsters won her 1st US open and her 1st grand slam destroying Mary Pierce 6-3. 6-1 in an hour. Sweet victory for Clijsters who had earlier lost in the finals of 4 grand slam tournaments (FR 01, 03, US 03, AUS 05).

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Se(a)ttling

I finally got internet at home after three weeks here. That explains the relative high delay between my blogs (or serves as a nice excuse).

So I am slowly settling down in Seattle. Job is fine, no hard work so far, hardly anything of a commute; the weather is simply beautiful with sporadic but pleasant rain. It is quite a slow, laid-back kind of atmosphere in this place, which suits me just well so far :)

I watched the great Indian hope, Sania Mirza, in action for the first time today. Against the cutest babe to ever play tennis - Maria Sharapova. Sania fought in the first few games of the first set, even managed to break Maria's serve, but then simply caved in. Sania has what you call a "hit-or-miss" game. Very powerful strokes, especially the forehand, but then a very high unforced error rate too. Also a very weak second serve which Maria feasted upon (only 20% second serve pts won). She will have to be much more consistent to break into the big league. But at the same time, it felt nice to see an Indian doing as well as Sania is doing.

Following which I saw THE GOD, Federer, dispose Olivier Rochus in straight sets. Can anyone stop him from winning the US Open? Agassi? In your dreams......

Ashes had another amazing test where England outplayed Australia for most of the test. Australia mounted one of their ever amazing comebacks in the last couple of days, but then they fell just short... again. So its ENG 2-1 and they just need a draw in the final test to regain the Ashes after 20 or something years.

On the topic of Mumbai floods and the recent hurricane Katrina; a point worth raising is - How much of these recent disasters can you attribute to the escalating global warming? The Tsunamis, the Mumbai floods, hurricane Katrina, all could be the result of distorted weather patterns due the increased green house effect resulting from human activity. It is time we put our foot down and take heed. Or is it already too late?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The big shift

So finally I shifted to Seattle and the last few days here have been hectic searching for apartments, roommates, getting done with the formalities etc. The place I stay - Bellevue (which is derived from a French term for "beautiful view"), is like a suburb of Seattle, a beautiful place with nice weather. None of the "Seattle rain" so far.

2 years since I came to this country. 2 years since my last big shift. I don't have a clue what's next. How long am I gonna be here? Job starts next week. My first foray into the corporate world ;-) Right now I have decided to just take everything as it comes and not worry about long term plans.

Listening to some rockin' Led Zep - Kashmir, Stairway to Heaven, Misty Mountain Hop, Whole Lotta Love, Rock and Roll etc. Simply heavenly....

--------

The most amazing Ashes series of the past some years is taking place in England. After the first test was won by Australia, England won the 2nd by 2 runs and Australia managed to draw the 3rd one with the last wicket pair of McGrath & Lee holding on for 4 overs. The over-reliance of the Aussies on McGrath and Warne to win tests for them is being exposed int the series. The worst part is that I am not able to watch any of this action. One of the many things you miss in this country....

Then again football (American) starts in September 1st week. Though now I have to cheer for the Seattle Seahawks, it still remains the game to watch in the US.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Sports literature

Sports books is a genre of literature that isn't very popular among people. Or at least among the people I know. Even die-hard sport fanatics would not have read sports literature beyond some magazine or the daily columns on some website. The main reason for this, I suppose is that people expect sports books to be some sort of a boring almanac, with details about games a particular player or team has played.

Even though my foray into sports literature has been limited to cricket, I have found cricket books a real fun to read. I have read autobiographies of players like Ian Chappel, Imran Khan, Sunil Gavaskar, Dennis Lillie and biographies of other greats like Viv Richards and Don Bradman. These books are refreshingly less about the matches played and the centuries scored and more about the person behind the name and what it took for them to reach the dizzy heights of stardom. These books are inspirational, entertaining and at the same time talk about something you really love.

Even more interesting reads are books which have cricket or sports as their main theme, but in reality tell us about the socio-political impact of the game during the era. Especially worth mentioning is 'The Corner of a Foriegn Field' by Ramachandra Guha, which takes us through the origins of cricket in India, to its impact on the entire social and political fabric of the nation in the suceeding years. Amazing read for anyone interested in knowing India as it was a century ago, even if you aren't a cricket fan. Another book along similar lines is 'Beyond the Boundary' by C.L.R. James which talks about cricket and its impact on the people of the Caribbean.

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Some amazing clips you must check out:

Friday, July 15, 2005

Vegas and So Cal

(LA & SD pics uploaded. Sorry for the delay. 3 sets in all: LA&SD, Universal, Vegas)

I was at Las Vegas for a couple of days last week. Temperatures were freaking hot, with highs of 46 C (115 F) in the day and lows of 31 C (87 F) in the night. Thats hotter than New Delhi or Nagpur, and with the hot desert winds blowing you couldn't remain outside for more than 5 minutes.

There are a number of hotels/casinos on "The Strip", with each one based on a different theme. Thus Excalibur is based on the Medieval Knights, Luxor on Ancient Egypt, Treasure Island on Pirates and seas, New York New York on well... uh, New York city. It is fun going to different hotels and checking them out. Check my pics here.

One thing I still don't understand why people are attracted to slots. The card games like poker and blackjack atleast have some (debatable) element of skill and fun, but slots??? All you do is pull the lever & hope that some combination of symbols appear in a line. Just pure luck, no spirit of competition, still we find most of the people playing it. Very odd!!!!!!

Also visited Los Angeles and San Diego (pics). Worth mentioning are the Universal Studios theme park (pics) and Hollywood in LA. Los Angeles is a crowded, dirty city, while San Diego in contrast in a nice, clean, sleepy place. Still the year-long moderate temperatures make Southern California the perfect place to live all year long.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Mt. Washington, New Hampshire


Mount Washington is, at 6,288 feet the highest peak in the northeastern US. It is also known to be the windiest place in the US with winds upto 231 mph (372 km/h) recorded here. Mount Washington is also the peak which I climbed on Sunday, the 3rd, on the Independence day weekend. Here are the pics.

We took the Tuckerman Ravine Path while climbing up and the Lions Head path while climbing down, both of which are 4.2 miles long and have an elevation gain of 4300 feet. The trail started off being pretty easy with a gentle but steady upslope. Midway through the trail at the Tuckerman Ravine, there were pathes where there was snow even now (July), with some people getting their kicks skiing on it. Check out this clip for one of the skiers in action. The last one thirds of the hike was mostly a steep climb on rocky terrain. Of course there was an amazing panorama which we could view from the top. On a clear day, it is said that views extend beyond New Hampshire as far as 130 miles to Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, Maine, Quebec, and the Atlantic Ocean.

The sad part is that they have a cog-railway and road which goes to the summit. The cog railway runs along a steep, 3.1 mile long trestle whose maximum gradient is over 37%, making it the second steepest mountain climbing train in the world, second only to the Pilatus Bahn in Switzerland. While being a wonder on its own, the existence of a railway and a road results in thousands of vistors coming to the summit and spoiling the ambience of the place. Typical American commercialization of a natural wonder....

It was a memorable experience since it was the first time I had climbed such an arduos trail. A definite must-do for people interested in a challenging hike.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

In Dire Straits, and out of it.


I went to a Mark Knopfler concert yesterday the the Radio City Auditorium in NY city. Amazing fun!!! Check out my pics at Yahoo photos. And the clips I could manage to capture on my camera (more on my camera later) - Clip 1, Clip 2, Clip 3. (Please dont sue me...). For the ones interested in more details ones check out dalal's blog entry. Its was some "dream come true" moment for him. The last time he had a "dream come true" moment, we had 14 cars backing out and just 6 cars racing on the Indianapolis speedway. So I was really really wary going in there.

The ambience was good, the music was great, though the place seemed too formal for a rock concert. He played famous numbers like Romeo and Juliet, Sultans of Swing, So Far Away, Telegraph Road, Money for Nothing with the exception of Tunnel of Love. Had a nice dinner at Bubba-Gump Shrimp at Times Square on the way back. It's a nice place set in Forrest Gump style with all of Forrest's and Bubba's and Lieutenant Dan's and Jenny's and Mom's favorite drinks and dishes. A real nice marketing strategy. And it works too...

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Tennis update: Federer killed Gonzalez in 3......
Prediction: Semis, Federer kills Hewitt. Finals, Federer kills Roddick playing at 75% of his usual self. 3rd Wimbledon in a row. Then US open.... then French within the next 3 years......then 15 Grand Slams in all, within the next 6/7 years. The only one who can stop Roger is Roger himself.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Ekki - The Indian magician


The great Indian cricket player of the 70s Eknath Solkar passed away yesterday at the age of 57. He was the only Indian player I know of, who was known more for his fielding ability than anything else. He was the Jonty Rhodes of the 70s, at a time when specialized fielders was a concept unheard of in cricket. His catch to dismiss Alan Knott, which he took diving full stretch forward, in The Oval Test in 1971 is one of greatest fielding pieces ever, which helped India turn the match around and then go on to win its first test series in England. Needless to say, he was a pakka Mumbai-ite like yours truly and a fighter to the core. He was the son of the groundsman at the PJ Hindu Gymkhana. He later went on to play for the Gymkhana, the then Bombay (Mumbai) Ranji trophy team and finally for the national side.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

You talking to me???


On every street in every city, there's a nobody who dreams of being a somebody. He's a lonely forgotten man desperate to prove that he's alive.

Another classic, another Martin Scorcese-Robert DeNiro combo, Taxi Driver. A darkish movie about a loner taxi driver from the mean streets of New York city. It features 14 year old Jodie Foster in her film debut as a 12 and 1/2 year old prostitute . It recieved Oscars for the best picture, best actor(DeNiro), best supporting actress (Foster) and best original music score. Nothing more to say. Must see, but not for the mushy types.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Raging Bull

I remember those cheers
They still ring in my ears
And for years they'll remain in my thoughts
Cuz one night I took off my robe
And what'd I do
I forgot to wear shorts.
I recall every fall, every hook, every jab
The worst way a guy could get rid of his flab
As you know, my life was a jab...
Though I'd rather hear you cheer
When I delve into Shakespeare
"A Horse, a Horse, my Kingdom for a Horse,"
I haven't had a winner in six months...
I know I'm no Olivier
But if he fought Sugar Ray
He would say
That the thing ain't the ring
It's the play.
So gimme a stage
Where this bull here can rage
And though I can fight
I'd much rather recite
That's entertainment!
That's entertainment.


Caught an old classic movie the other day - Raging Bull. It is based on the life of Jake LaMotta, "a temperamental and paranoid but tenacious boxer" who alienates himself from his friends and family. Directed by Martin Scorcese, it stars Robert DeNiro as Jake LaMotta and Joe Pesci as his brother. Brilliant direction and cast, the Italian brigade pulls off another classic.

One of my favorite actors, Robert DeNiro has five movies in the Time Magazine top 100 movies of all time - Godfather 2, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Brazil, and Goodfellas. The variety of roles he can portray is amazing. You can find his detailed bio here.

Staying on the topic of Italian-Americans, did u know that Nicolas Cage was born Nicholas Kim Coppola, and is a nephew of Francis Ford Copolla. He changed his name to make it in the film world on his own, without using his uncle's reputation.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

My man - Roger Federer

Roger Federer is, in my opinion, the best player to ever play the game of tennis. Here is a clip of a superb backhand lob against Agassi that even suprised Federer at Dubai '05. There is no point extolling his greatness or iterating his myriad records, there are thousands of sites on the net which do so. I will let four of the greatest players of all time tell you what they think of Roger:
  • "Oh, I would be honoured to even be compared to Roger. He is such an unbelievable talent, and is capable of anything. Roger could be the greatest tennis player of all time." - Rod Laver, winner of 11 Grand Slams, considered by some the greatest player to ever play the game of tennis.

  • "I think he can dominate tennis for as long as I did...We have the same temperament and like me, he makes playing look easy...He can do just about anything he wants with a racquet and he dominates everybody as I did several years before." - Pete Sampras, winner of record 14 Grand Slams. Federer beat Sampras in their only meeting - at Wimbledon in 2001.

  • "He's the most gifted player that I've ever seen in my life. I've seen a lot of people play. I've seen the (Rod) Lavers, I played against some of the great players - the Samprases, Beckers, Connors', Borgs, you name it. This guy could be the greatest of all time. That, to me, says it all." - John McEnroe, winner of 7 Grand Slams.

  • "Roger Federer is the only guy I watch for his strokes. He is just beautiful. He can hit every single shot you could ever think of. John [McEnroe] and Ilie [Nastase] were very talented but you always knew there were some shots they couldn't hit. Not with Federer. I would go and watch him practise, he's so good." - Ivan Lendl, winner of 8 Grand Slams.
Here are some of the links you can check out:
The official site
A very informative fan-blog
The omniscient Wikipedia entry
Wikiquote entry

Monday, June 13, 2005

The Godfather

Don't you think that The Godfather (Parts 1 & 2) movies are the best movies ever? The impact which the movie delivers from time to time is just unique. Amazing music to add to the effect. Every time I see the movie, I am more in awe of the genius. One of the best pieces of filmmaking ever. Hats off Mr Francis Ford Coppola.

Here are some of the impactful quotes from the movies. Writing them down is a really an injustice to their greatness. They can really only be enjoyed while watching the movies:

The Godfather (Part 1):

Some day, and that day may never come, I'll call upon you to do a service for me. Until that day, accept this justice as a gift on my daughters wedding day".
Vito Corleone

"No Sicilian can refuse any request on his daughter's wedding day".
Tom Hagan

"I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse".
Vito Corleone

"But I'm a superstitious man. And if some unlucky accident should befall him - If he should get shot in the head by a police officer, or if he should hang himself in his jail cell - or if he's struck by a bolt of lightning, them I'm going to blame some of the people in this room, and that I do not forgive. But, that aside, let me say that I swear, on the souls of my grandchildren, that I will not be the one to break the peace we've made here today."
Vito Corleone

"Sonofabitch! Do you know who I am? I'm Moe Greene! I made my bones when you were going out with cheerleaders!"
Moe Green

"Fredo. You're my older brother, and I love you. But don't ever take sides with anyone against the Family again. Ever. "
Michael Corleone

You're finished. I'm putting you on a plane to Vegas . I want you to stay there. Understand? Only don't tell me you're innocent. Because it insults my intelligence, and makes me very angry".
Michael Corleone

The Godfather (Part 2):

"Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer"
Michael Corleone

"I know it was you Fredo. You broke my heart"
Michael Corleone

"Taken care of me! You're my kid brother and you're gonna take care of me!"
Fredo Corleone

"Fredo. You're nothing to me now. You're not brother, you're not a friend. I don't wanna know you or what you do".
Michael Corleone

"If anything in this life is certain; If history has taught us anything. It say's you can kill anyone".
Michael Corleone

You can find the full listing here.