Sunday, July 31, 2005

The Power of Blogs

Here's a great post on why blogs matter -- Memo to Dell - Jeff Jarvis does matter. (Jeff Jarvis is a prominent blogger who wrote about the problems he was having with Dell, which you can read here.)

Via Hugh.

Saturday, July 30, 2005


A rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything, is the sub-title of the book Freakonomics. I'd heard about Freakonomics a couple of times on blogs and on best-seller lists, but I forgot about it, till I was in Premiere bookstore and someone asked for it. I asked for a copy too, just to take a look. It was intriguing enough, so I bought it.

Freakonomics is a really interesting book. The authors (Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner) tell you in the beginning that the book has no unifying theme and in a sense it doesn't. It's a series of answers to questions that Steven Levitt asked. He's an economist, but an unusual one. He asks questions about parenting, about the Klu Klux Klan, about baby names, about cheating by teachers, by sumo wrestlers, and he answers them in the book.

The book's fairly easy to read, except in one or two parts where the statistics might seem a little too much. No problem, just skim over those parts. The arguments are compelling and you'll be impressed by the mind of Steven Levitt for sure. The book explains stuff beautifully and in a simple language. That for me is good writing and part of the reason that I liked the book.

Freakonomics has a website you can visit. They have a blog there and articles too, so go read all that and if you like what you read, take a look at the book.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Friday Night Jazz at Fusion 9

Fusion 9 is a lovely restaurant in Hyderabad that has a jazz band playing live every Friday night. (Sorry Bangalore folks, we ain't got one over here.) I went there a couple of weeks ago, primarily because I'm a sucker for live music.

It was raining heavily in Hyderabad and was the worst day to go out, but I still went. The traffic was all clogged and my friend was late, so I sat at the bar. It's been a while since I sat at the bar, and so it was fun to watch the bartender mix drinks, moving quickly to pour a beer, some whiskey, create a cocktail, etc. The bar area was right in the middle of the restaurant and around it were the tables and the place was pretty full. I've never seen so many foreigners in one place in Hyderabad, so I guess the place is popular with the expats. The restaurant is easy on the eyes and is a nice place to spend an evening.

The jazz band that I'd gone to see, they were on a break, which lasted about half an hour. They took a half an hour break later as well. The band had four people--a tall American guy playing the trumpet, a guy with a long beard playing the guitar, a drummer, and a bassist. They played well, and the pieces were long and they improvised. I'm not a big jazz fan but the music was good and for me, live jazz is easier to listen to. I am still not happy about the half an hour breaks though. If Satriani don't take breaks, if Knopfler don't take breaks, nobody else should take breaks. Then again, they don't play in bars.

The food at Fusion 9 was really good. They serve bread that you can have with Olive oil and crushed peppers. We had the Cajun potatoes for starters and I had a chicken pepper steak (or whatever it was called), which was really good. My friend told me that they have a buffet lunch on Sunday which is about 450 to 500 bucks and really good. Add to that the fact that you can drink any number of vodka-based drinks, and you set yourself up for a really lazy, languorous Sunday.

If you're in Hyderabad, you might want to check this place out. Fusion 9 is in Banjara Hills and if you want to eat Oriental food instead, it has another restaurant above called Cinnabar Red, which serves pretty decent food too.

But, this is about Fusion 9, so go there first. You can try Cinnabar Red some other time.

Watching foreign language films

It's been a while since I watched a foreign language film. I used to love watching foreign language films, especially the ones that won Oscars. (Just to clarify, I'm not counting English as a foreign language.)

I think that the first Oscar-winning foreign language film that I saw was Cinema Paradiso, a lovely Italian film. It's one of my favourite movies. I love the two characters, the old man and the little boy, and the backdrop of using a movie theatre to tell a story. It's such a beautiful story too, if you haven't watched it, go rent the DVD.

Il Postino, a story about a postman, is another masterpiece. Of course, Life is Beautiful, another Italian classic got a lot of publicity as well. Well deserved too. Roberto Benigni, even used humour to tell a story set in the holocaust. Life is Beautiful was a brilliant film.

Another Oscar winner that I loved was Kolya, a Czech movie about a little boy and his step-father, a superb film.

I saw all these movies with sub-titles. In India, they usually dub the movies with English instead of sub-titles and I think that it takes a lot out of the movie. So much of a movie is dialogue and if you lose the native tongue, it's not the same. A movie like The Passion of the Christ was made even more powerful by the use of Aramaic.

Remember when DD was the only channel and they played national award-winning films every week with sub-titles. Some of those movies were superb as well. Does anyone watch DD now-a-days in cities?

Maybe some channel can start picking up Oscar-winning and award-winning movies and start showing them consistently. With sub-titles of course.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Sharpening the saw

If you're a carpenter, you have to spend some time in sharpening your tools. If you don't, the tools will get blunt and you won't be able to do your job effectively. After a point, you won't be able to do your job at all. (Yeah, I know you're not a carpenter.)

Sharpening the saw is a metaphor used by Stephen Covey (I read it in the book First Things First) to describe the preparatory activities, the learning activities that we need to spend time on. Covey et al write:
We often get so busy "sawing" (producing results) that we forget to "sharpen our saw" (maintain or increase our capacity to produce results in the future).
They go on to talk about what happens when we neglect one or more of the four areas (physical, mental, social/emotional, spiritual) in our life.
If we fail to build our personal capacity in these areas, we quickly become "dulled", and worn out from the imbalance.
I've noticed that many people I know don't devote time to sharpening the saw and then they end up being overwhelmed as newer challenges crop up. I find that I'm always facing newer challenges that need different techniques from the ones I've learnt before. So, right now, I'm currently reading (and trying to implement) Getting Things Done (GTD) by David Allen.

Do you take time out to sharpen your saw?

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

War of the Worlds

The special effects are superb. Tom Cruise, for all his medical knowledge (or lack thereof), is good in his role as the not-so-good parent. Dakota Fanning, as Cruise's daughter, probably could've mailed this performance in--it wasn't much of a challenge for her. The story is gripping and you keep wondering what's going to happen and suddenly at the end, the movie ends.

I've not read the book War of the Worlds, so I don't know what the exact story is and the deviation from the book but I was disappointed in the end.

Maybe I expect more from Steven Spielberg.

On postpartum depression

Whatever Tom Cruise says about post-partum depression, he's never given birth (duh!) nor has he experienced post-partum depression. Laurie Fox, a Dallas Morning News writer, has and she wrote it here.
This is a painful discussion. Many women may never experience postpartum depression at all. Some have more moderate or even severe problems and may choose to take drugs until they even out emotionally. ...

As far as the media debate, I find myself regarding Ms. Shields as a kindred spirit and tuning out Mr. Cruise.

And I hope other new mothers do the same.
Amen to that.

Brooke Shields too responded to Tom Cruise's rant.

PS: You may need to read the articles. I say may because sometimes I can access the articles without registration, other times I can't. Go figure.

Obituary: The surgeon you never heard of

From The Economist, via Clarke Ching:
Mr Naki was not meant to touch this body. The young woman, Denise Darvall, was white, and he was black. The rules of the hospital, and indeed the apartheid laws of the land, forbade him to enter a white operating theatre, cut white flesh, or have dealings with white blood...
The chief transplant surgeon, the young, handsome, famously temperamental Christiaan Barnard, had asked to have him on his team.
An inspirational story of an unrecognised surgical pioneer. You can read the full story here.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Live 8! Where were you?

I don't know if you were part of the three billion or so (that's what was announced on TV while I was watching) people who tuned into Live 8 at some point yesterday.

I would've checked out the whole show except that I way too tired after a presentation yesterday. I did get see U2, Coldplay, Dido, and a few other bands.

The one that I absolutely loved was Green Day. They played in Berlin and rocked Deutschland. I'm not a Green Day fan but the energy that they generated, I could feel it watching on TV. Live, they must have been amazing. They played their own stuff and also played Queen's We Are The Champions. I can't think of many bands that use the Green Day combination of high speed rhythms and stops (breaks) within songs. It's uniquely Green Day and yesterday, it rocked.

And, here's what Live 8 is about.

Every single day, 30,000 children die, needlessly, of extreme poverty.

On July 6th, we finally have the opportunity to stop that shameful statistic.

8 world leaders, gathered in Scotland for the G8 summit, will be presented with a workable plan to double aid, drop the debt and make the trade laws fair. If these 8 men agree, then we will become the generation that made poverty history.

But they'll only do it if enough people tell them to.

That's why we're staging LIVE 8. 10 concerts, 100 artists, a million spectators, 2 billion viewers, and 1 message... To get those 8 men, in that 1 room, to stop 30,000 children dying every single day of extreme poverty.

We don't want your money - we want you!
If that works for you, go add your name to the list. You can also check out the ONE Campaign, the campaign to make poverty history.