Sunday, November 30, 2008

No - Its not!

I took a skeptical peek at the markets expecting the Sensex to open lower (again) today! I was glad that the so called "experts" who were claiming that the recent terror strike in Bombay will be disastrous for the markets (read it here, here and here) have been proved wrong.

The Sensex opened strong - markets are up 2% and unless there is bad news from some other area, they should continue to hold the gains. The terror strike is not going to change the way business is being conducted in Bombay or in rest of India. People will continue to work with the same gusto as they did prior to the attacks - even those who narrowly missed dying!

Being the optimist that I am - I'm glad to see that Its business as usual at Dalal Street!

Now, things WOULD be different for the Sensex if we had a plan to go after the terrorists and their bases! And in the interest of long term peace and safety - that would not be such a bad thing to do.

On a different note, people are protesting to stand against terrorism by wearing black today! I am not that kinda person - I'd rather wear white to stand FOR the NSG commandos who were ready to take a bullet to end the siege.

Has anyone come up with an action plan to give them a raise and medals for their bravado? Or will we continue to honor our Men in Uniform only posthumously?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What a week!

The Dow Jones index breaks a 4 day losing streak in the week by finishing up with a strong rally of 490+ points. In the same week, the big 3 of American auto industry go to the senate in corporate jets for funds to stay afloat and prevent bankruptcy. That's like begging with a golden bowl! The senate does the right thing by turning them down and asking them to come back with a concrete plan on how they will use the tax payer's money. The episode reminded me of the Roman empire and their wasteful ways during their hey-days.

Watched Madagascar - Escape 2 Africa - the movie is so darn funny! The best sequence in the movie was the way those penguins steal the jeep from humans. A word of advise - so much happens in that sequence, don't blink! The granny is crazy cool! It is funnier than the 1st one. Watch it! - my score - 4/5

Also watched Twilight - This is strictly a date movie ... Its about a vampire falling for a human. The movie was refreshing as far as vampire movies go. The concept was a little hard to believe, but then it was done nicely. It also ousted Quantum of Solace for the No. 1 spot in its opening week. Chemistry between the lead pair of Bella (Kirsten Stewart) and Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) was very good. Watch it with a date that's into vampire movies and some "biting" ;-) - I give it a rating of 2.5/5. For the ladies, Pattinson was voted the sexiest vampire beating the likes of Brad Pitt and Antonio Banderas.

Here's what not to do when you are drunk - Don't drive a car - let other drunk friends do it for you, don't say bad things about your ex in front of friends, don't show your pole dancing skills after 2 long islands, 2 beers and a divorce. But hey, theres nothing like the company of friends who love you unconditionally - even if you do any or all of these things, make a complete ass of yourself after a divorce - good times! Carpe Diem! Oh, and that spot you left on the pillow from ur slobber, dont worry about it - Its taken care of :-)

The next week will see me trying my hand with a dish made with a Butternut Squash for Thanksgiving. If everyone survives the dish, I may post a blog about it.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Obama won - Now what?

It has been noted across the world and in the history books, that President-elect Barack Obama is the 1st Black president of the United States of America. But how united really is the US? As this history was made, there was another statistic dramatically on the rise and it is marked by a strong current of racism. There have been numerous death-threats by white supremacist to assassinate Obama!

It was announced on CNN after the election that the FBI had noted that the increase in number of death threats spiked each time the Republican GOP VP candidate Sarah Palin held a rally during the election campaign. These rallies frequently were associated with white people shouting slogans of "terrorist" and "kill him" - (see it here). The tone of her campaign was so vicious and negative, it even drew sharp criticism from the McCain camp and Palin was asked to tone down her rallies - which were nothing short of provoking racism. Even while this was happening at Palin rallies, many people were asking McCain in town hall meetings "How come Obama is ahead? How is this happening?". It is clear from these questions that no republican expected Obama to really win the election because of his colour. Right before election day, there were talks of a "surprise" election outcome from the McCain camp. These were based on hopes that on election day, white voters registered as Democrats would go and vote for McCain because they would be "uncomfortable" voting a black man for President. (After the election, it seems like the opposite happened as white people who would never openly admit voting for a black man went and cast their votes for Obama - because of his policies and his promise of change.) It is no doubt that this will severely anger white fanatics who still believe they are a superior race. It is not surprising to see an increase in KKK activity in recent times.

In a meeting between the US President Bush and President-elect Obama, Bush's choice of words for Obama was very interesting. Pay careful attention to the last para of this article, Do you think I am reading too much into things? Bush has held the most powerful chair in the world for 8 years and while his intelligence can be easily questioned, the man has to be adept at the art of conversation simply because he has to meet with leaders from a diverse background from across the globe. At that level, what you say, how you say it, even what don't you say and what words you use to convey a message is put under a microscope! I strongly suspect that Bush's choice of words when talking to Obama was a mere coincidence. I think Bush was sending a message on behalf of the Republicans.

However, Race is merely a weapon used by the wealthy to manipulate to masses for their personal benefit. There are other reasons for which I suspect that Obama could be assassinated. Obama is a natural leader. He has been elected on a campaign of "change". The economic situation is grim in the US. The US market is in a severe recession and a large number of people are losing their jobs. Those who still have jobs, do not know how long they can keep them. The sentiment of the common person in US is very bad. A vast majority are depressed and angry at the way the "leaders" have put the US in debt and have then gone ahead and bailed out Wall Street - with their hard earned money of Main street. The average person is also appalled at the way the CEOs have continued to mint money while the companies bled and employees were rendered jobless.

Even as he joins the office, Obama has his work cut out for him. He will have to turn things around and he will have to do that quickly. He will have to find a way to finance his promise of change by increasing taxes on the rich and giving a break to the common man. The problem is that change will not be easy to come by - the rich hold a lot of power. If change is ushered in too quick, it will be easy for the wealthy to manipulate the angry, unemployed masses, give them a racist cause and stick a pitch-fork in their hands.

What Obama needs to do is to tactfully please these two groups and bring them together. He needs to ensure that the United States are really united and that there is no division of people along racial, economic or along any line as America goes thru economic stagnation/recession and deflation. He needs to emerge as a leader that gives the people a sense of direction - a La John F. Kennedy! This is why Americans are sold on Obama - because they believe this man is a better leader than John McCain. Americans have done their part - Now the ball is in Obama's court. I hope he delivers on his election promises!

Comments and brickbats welcome - Just don't bring a pitch-fork please.

Monday, November 10, 2008

They still got it!

Once I found out they were playing in town, it was almost certain I'd go. This was the band who I grew up listening to. This was my first taste of Metal and boy oh boy, did I savour it! The name "Metallica" brought back memories of late nights spent solving derivative and integration problems at 2 am in the night, trying to break the neighbour's window with miniature 'rockets' made out of ballpoint pen tips, listening to "Enter Sandman" blaring from the stereo while sipping Old Monk.... Good times!

The concert comprised of 3 bands

Sword - The youngest band of the trio, they played first for about 30 minutes. It was clear this band was there just to warm up the crowd - there was no way they could sell out a concert by themselves. They were just about OK and they knew it from the lukewarm response of the crowd. I went out to grab a few beers while they were performing :-)

Down - With 2 of its 5 members from the erstwhile band "Pantera", they were certainly not new to a live show (they are as old as Metallica)! Their show started with words like Motherfuckers and Cocksuckers - it was clear this was a serious heavy metal band with loads of in-your-face attitude! "Get off the seats, you fat ass motherfuckers" said Phil Anselmo to the crowd - A few fans responded with chants of "Pantera!" and almost everyone was on their feet. Their music and performance was much much better than Sword's and I admit, at one time I thought with skepticism "Can Metallica better this?". These guys were good and they knew it. By the time they left the stage, 50 minutes after getting on it, I was all pumped up and completely into the concert.

Time for the last Beer break!

Everyone knew it was time for the main performance - This is what the crowd had come to see - the covers came off the biggest drum set on the stage while simultaneously, ladders dropped down from the top and a few operators climbed up on them to take control of the coffin shaped lights symbolizing the Band's recently released album Death Magnetic (September 12, 2008)

I had a light buzz going on - I was ready for Metallica!

The crowd went wild as Kirk, Ulrich, James and Robert took stage! Knowing they don't need any intro, the band did not waste any time and immediately started belting out the first of many songs... During the next hour and a half, I was in a trance-like state at least 3 times and could not believe I was actually headbanging to a Metallica performance, LIVE! I had never thought I'd get a chance to witness this band perform live from so close! For those who are wondering whats the big deal... Watch this and you'll know the power this band exudes on its fans.

At one point, James tells the crowd - "Answer honestly and raise your hand if this is your 1st live Metallica concert." Quite a few hands go up. Then he asks "Who has been to a live Metallica concert more than once?" About 70% of the hands go up. "We have to teach the new fans how we do it Metallica style. We all sing the songs together even if we don't know the lyrics to them. And yes, welcome to the family". Such modesty from the World's most influential Metal band was refreshing - they know it is the fans that have made them what they are! No wonder the band is a favourite of other Rockers and has inspired and influenced multitude of rock bands around the world.

The crowd was so pumped up and loud - at times their singing drowned out the band and that is no small feat in a Metal concert. This was the complete experience with Strobes, lights on Metal Coffins, Lasers, multi-coloured Pyrotechnics - the works! Ulrich even managed to break one of the drums that he quickly replaced while the show was still going on! It was in one of those moments that I had to pinch myself to believe I was there too and this was not on MTV! The concert was certainly one of life's unexpected pleasant surprises!

27 years since inception, with songs like "Whiplash" · "Jump in the Fire" · "Seek & Destroy" · "Fade to Black" · "For Whom the Bell Tolls" · "Master of Puppets" · "Battery" · "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" · "Harvester of Sorrow" · "…And Justice for All" · "One" · "Enter Sandman" · "Don't Tread on Me" · "The Unforgiven" · "Nothing Else Matters" · "Wherever I May Roam" · "Sad but True" · "The Memory Remains" · "The Unforgiven II" · "Fuel" · "Cyanide" under their belt, the band sure knows how to pack a punch - With people coming from neighbouring states to see them perform, the youngest fan at the concert was only 10/11 years old and he was standing upfront, right next to the stage - Metallica still seems to be doing everything right - THEY SIMPLY ROCK!!!!!

The concert got over at 11:30 pm - I was back home by 12 - so pumped up that I could not sleep till 4 am coz the concert was still playing in my head!

Thank you Metallica! I had a BLAST!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Whos really to blame for accidents - Men or Women!

I just finished reading a blog by "Angel's Flight", and while I was tickled by the post, it also did something amazing! It made me think!! Now let me warn you that this sort of event happens only once or twice in an year so all of you who read this are actually reading something rare and therefore - amazing! Before I start digressing and forget the reason for writing this blog, let me share my take on the blog.

Angel states the following reasons why she thinks men are bad drivers and women are good drivers. Let me tell you why I beg to differ!

1. About twice as many men as women are killed each year in crashes. Even though Men tend to drive more miles....not twice as much...but just a little more.

My Take: The reason for this is simple. Everyone knows that men and women are opposites - and it is the law of nature that, opposites attract. All the men killed in road accidents are therefore being killed by women drivers. Thus, a higher death of males automatically indicates that there are more bad women drivers on the street!

2. More men tend to have the condition Sleep Apnea, and Drivers with this problem are FIVE times more likely to be in an car accident.

My Take: While I am not going to question the authenticity of these facts, it is important to know how these men got sleep problems in the first place. Women Nag! Men who get nagged by women hardly get time to sleep. This is why they get sleep apnea and sleep deprivation. Thus, the real cause of accidents happening due to this reason are women!

3. A National Safety Council analysis found that men account for 81% of all drivers with blood alcohol concentration .08 or greater who are involved in fatal crashes.

My Take: To avoid being nagged, men go out and get drunk. Then they get a call from the woman who asks the poor drunk guy to get home ASAP! This causes men to get in an accident while being drunk. It is completely unfair to blame men for accidents caused from this scenario.
There is also another theory that could very well be true - Women like free drinks and readily accept them from men. Problem is - like their driving, they don't know when to stop! These drunk women then get into cars - and as we know, opposites attract - they go out and kill more men on the road. Some of these now dead men simply happen to have blood alcohol concentration .08 or greater. The important point to note is - the accident was the woman's fault.

4. Men are more likely to speed.

My Take: Men only speed because they are trying not to be late for a date with their GFs or they are trying to keep up with an appointment with their wives! After all, a smart man would any day risk the possibility of an accident over the certainty of being nagged if he is late!

5. The actual number of men killed in car crashes has declined from the year 1997 to 2007 (48/million to 45/million). This decrease can be attributed to *drum roll please* The number of WOMEN driving has increased!!

My Take: I disagree with this reasoning. I think the number of men killed by women in road accidents only decreased because a higher % of women have become lesbians in recent times. According to the theory of "accidents caused due to attraction" - these women would now target other women instead of men. Thus, the number of men being killed has automatically dropped.

Did you know that the rear-view mirror (no pun intended) was invented by a woman? Now this can be a good thing for driving, but it is important to note how it was invented. A woman, who was applying makeup while she was driving, just happened to accidentally see the road behind her. Thus was born the rear-view mirror.

No wonder manufacturers have started putting vanity mirrors behind sun-visors these days!

To further illustrate why women and makeup can be dangerous, I'll tell you a true story.

A truck driver was trying to pass a mini-van on a hilly road.

The driver encountered a plain stretch of road and it was ok for him to pass the van. He starts to pull alongside to make the pass when a hand darts out of the van and signals the truck to stop. The driver gets back into his lane but does not see any vehicles from the opposite side that would make it unsafe for him to pass.

Thinking that he may have missed seeing something, he waits till he comes upon another stretch of open road. As soon as he starts to make the pass, the hand darts out again to stop him. This frustrates the driver a little bit and he starts smoking a cigarette to regain his composure. He awaits another open stretch of road but no sooner than he starts to make the pass, the hand darts out again to stop him. This happens for another 7 times!

The flustered driver follows the mini-van when it pulls up into a parking spot. The truck driver is angry and demands an explanation from the driver of the mini-van and asks why was he signalled 10 times while trying to pass the van on a clear road?

The WOMAN in the van calmly replies - "oh! Did I stop you from overtaking? I was merely drying the nail polish on my fingers!"

Fascinating! Isn't, it! While you are still reading, let me tell you that the use of makeup by women can also cause accidents on the road when women are not driving. How many men reading this have almost been in an accident because they were busy watching a hottie - wearing makeup - on the street! Women go to great lengths to ensure shorter life span of the male species. Men on the other hand don't bother about their appearance too much! This automatically reduces death among women who drive.

Bottomline - Women are unsafe and dangerous - not only inside, outside but also on top of motorised vehicles - and are still the number 1 reasons for causing accidents on the road. But you don't have to take my word for it. Simply see these video and trust your own eyes...