Monday, February 27, 2006

TV Review: The Apprentice Returns, And So Does The Donald

Perhaps one doesn't watch enough television, but one almost missed the premiere of the new season of Donald Trump's Apprentice. Were it not for Wal-Mart's in-store television network, one might have been hunting torrent sites and the ilk to sample the wares of the latest crop of corporate climbers, many of whom, if past seasons are any guide, would barely last in the halls of corporate America. Then again, were one to apply Peter's Principle, they might end up as successful vice presidents.

The new season has moved to Monday, and goes up against Fox's "24", ergo a DVR is essential for fans of both. Given the repetitive nature of "24" (Previously on...), that show is next on the line-up while we bore The Apprentice in near-real time.

This season features contestants that are apparently international, although there's not much discernible variety apart from 'the Russian' and a couple more 'diversity candidates,' as goes the phrase. The structure, at least in this episode was the same as before - two teams, "Gold Rush" and "Synergy" go head to head on a task that is little more than a fifteen minute advertisement for the product du jour, in this case, a Sam's Club Preferred Membership, which perhaps explains the Wal-Mart in-store advertising.

Neither team spent much effort on segmentation analysis or lead generation, preferring to go for straight in-store teasers and give-aways to induce existing customers to upgrade their membership. Well, one of the teams did explore lead generation, although the sum total of this involved a single call to a restaurant during the dinner rush asking if they were interested in the product offer. Fat chance!

The highlight of the evening was the scheming and plotting within the losing team after the results, and the resultant sniping in the boardroom. The Donald seems to have no love lost for people who interrupt his tirades, as the contesants would have known had they bothered to watch prior seasons (why didn't they?), thus, a more likely candidate was spared to excise another, who deserved expulsion perhaps equally, if not more. The episode wrapped up with the promise of further fireworks in coming weeks, although it's too early to tell who might survive the numerous shake-outs, screw-ups, dysfunctional tasks and who will trump the rest in this season of The Apprentice.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Peace At What Cost?

The Iraqi Conflict continues to spiral beyond manageability. Sanity prevails, but only in niche segments of the world, and a prayer that 'The Russians love their children too' might go unanswered today.

Juan Cole reports that Muqtada al-Sadr has called for peace, but in a veiled threat-laden manner.

Muqtada said, "The leaders of Friday prayers throughout Iraq, from the north to the south and from east to west, must call for this peaceful demonstration among all sections of the Iraqi population, who much not be divided as to battle cry. The Iraqi people is one, from north to south."

Muqtada also called for holding "joint Friday communal prayers with both Sunnis and Shiites in the mosques," affirming that "there are no Sunni or Shiite mosques; you are a single people." He added, "We want the Occupation forces out, even if on their own timetable, in an objective fashion, as they say." He said, "Our Iraq is passing through a big crisis, insofar as enemies are entering among brethren, and spreading turmoil among you."

RJ Elliott, in a culpatory piece, admits the war-mongers might have got things wrong, but asks 'What next?' and finds no easy answers.

What it was about, instead, was taking the public's post-9/11 rage,
massaging it a bit, and then channeling it into support for the
invasion and occupation of a weak, isolated anti-American regime in the
heart of the Middle East. It was an idealistic Wilsonian attempt to
re-make the entire world as safe for liberal democracy, while
destroying Islamic terrorism in the process.

And it didn't work.


It's been almost three years since the start of "Operation Iraqi
Freedom" and things are arguably getting worse, not better. If we leave
now, civil war is a given, and al-Qaeda is guaranteed to have a
safe-haven in the western part of Iraq from which to attack our allies
and possibly even our homeland. But if we stay, we will continue to
bleed young lives and throw billions of dollars into an endeavor that
has failed to meet any of its major stated goals.

What to do from here? I don't know. All I know is this: It Didn't Work.


Fear itself. - One Month Old

It's been a month since we launched, a busy month, work-wise and DC-wise. I've been getting used to sleeping not before midnight, so posts get published in the new day.

It's been a pretty good month, far better than one expected when we conceived of as an online magazine delivering quality news and opinion on all things South Asian with a global focus. Conceived by Eric Berlin as an extension of the successful paradigm established by Blogcritics publisher, Eric Olsen, and technically powered by Phillip Winn, I've been honored to do my part in creating a new reality, closer to the heart.

I do believe Desicritics, Blogcritics, and the ilk are the harbingers of Media 2.0, a citizens' response to big media, embodying the best of blogs as a personal communication medium, and the power of the collaborative, interactive paradigm. The paradigm reflects South Asia, the world's perceptions of the region, and vice versa through the blogosphere's ability to diffract news via opinion, delivering something more than news and opinion.

Eric Olsen commented once on the concept behind Blogcritics,
It's a place to the advantage of both the writers and the readers - they can interact - because we have open comments. You as the reader can participate in the ongoing discussion: you can agree, you can disagree, you can bring in new facts, you can reference materials that you think are important. I think that's something that sets us apart from the traditional media.

The exceedingly fine writers on Desicritics have consistently delivered a delightful variety of news and information on topics ranging from Rang De Basanti to the Cartoon protests. We've covered Arcelor, and joisted on the Indian Army in Kashmir. We've been noticed by the media and the blogosphere as well, and our regular readership continues to grow daily.

One month on, we've got over 160 writers, 100,000+ page views, we added on two more editors (temporal & Sujatha) and we're only just beginning.

Desicritics come from Pakistan and from Australia, from Bangladesh, Toronto, and Bangalore. If you'd like to be a Desicritic, mail us

Friday, February 24, 2006

Spiderman 3 - 2007

Spiderman 3

That's not black and white:)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Worth reading: Make money writing online

Interesting article on why writing for print is not important any more

Web writing has a few obvious advantages over print. Aside from
interactivity—instant feedback and comments from readers—web content
has a lot of staying power. Where a short magazine article may fade
into the ether a few months later, an article on the web will pretty
much always available on search engines, with your name attached.

Articles on the web also get distribution to a wider audience than
might normally read your work in print. Writing about a charged topic
in a women's mag, for example, won't be read by most men (who would be
unlikely to buy the title), but on the web the same article can
circulate among blogs and get linked all over the web, creating a much
larger forum. "Bloggers can triple the traffic to your article," notes Slate
columnist and NYU journalism professor Adam Penenberg. "Sure, the web
and particularly bloggers can be a highly vitriolic culture, but if
your ideas are good, your work can endure in a way that it never could
in the past."

Writing for Blogcritics and Desicritics has not been remunerative financially, but immensely satisfying to see readers comment and the volume of attention grows the better your approach and writing, so there's encouragement to write better.

Attack on Shia Shrine In Iraq

Monday, February 20, 2006

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Worth Noting - the veiled animosity of the NYT

Need to link to more of the fine posts on Desicritics - in less than a month, we're up to almost 500 posts, 160 writers, and much great stuff.

Two posts were appreciable today, a 'slow' news day:

Monday, February 13, 2006


Originally uploaded by Hanafan.
Doggy love is the best kind!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Madrasas - Learning Or Terror?

Tell me this hook is not enough for you to read this interesting piece on Bengal's Madrasas

Do you know 5,700 of the 10,000 teachers in West Bengal’s madrasas are
Hindus? If you thought madrasas breed terror, think again. In West
Bengal, the madrasas are secular centres of learning.

Foreign Policy magazine had a similar report dispelling some of the preconceived notions we carry about madrasas

The History of Firefox

Read and marvel at the genesis of Firefox- any genesis is special and to be admired - a fight against the dark.

Netscape made two mistakes. They did not publish enough product management
information to enable the community to help them achieve their goals. They
did not even consistently communicate what these goals were. The
cohabitation of engineers and PMs did not contribute to open dissemination
of information as it was easier to communicate with your immediate team than
those on the outside. Without understanding the importance of publicly
available documentation to effective community development, the extra steps
to publish the results of internal discussions were not always taken.

The other mistake was not having a clear vision for product development.
For the folks working in Client Product Development (CPD — the browser/mail
software division at Netscape), the idea was to rebuild and improve upon the
Communicator suite using the newly selected layout engine. The goal
was to make a better browser and mail reader.[1]


Monday, February 06, 2006

DineAville Motel Postcard

DineAville Motel Postcard
Originally uploaded by Neato Coolville.
I want to visit!

Ref: Boingboing

Web 2.0 Innovators: Mapping the New Stars

Is there a Web 2.0 - will it last, are we past the peak?

Webjay, Streamload, Blinksale, Coverpop - you need more? What are your nominees for the best Web 2.0 innovators?

read more | digg story

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Le Petit Écolier

Love Petit Écolier the French beurre biscuits - A great review of the biscuits

Want Some?

Want Some?
Originally uploaded by KarmenRose.

The XL Superbowl And Living In America

The Game is afoot, as the Master might have said, and the entertainment, at least for non-sports fans is in the advertisements and the half-time show.

Kamla Bhatt correlates the Game of the Year to life as an immigrant in America.

Watching the Superbowl is a rite of passage for many immigrants.
Even if you don't understand the game, you are expected to watch the
game, and be able to talk about it. If you cannot talk about the game,
it is ok if you can at least mention the great advertisements and the
half-show entertainment.

I did not know the trick to watching the Superbowl when I first
watched it. I am a pro now. I can rattle off interesting little
factoids and stats that are not football related, but are related to
the Superbowl, and this is sufficient to qualify me as someone who has
been through this very American rite of passage.

The Nation reflects on how things have changed since NippleGate.

First, ABC plans to broadcast the entire Super Bowl tonight (pre-game, game, half-time show and post-game wrap-up) on a five-second tape delay.
Now I'm not much of a football fan, but the idea seems to me a
violation of the democratic ethos of sports and mass spectatorship.
Now, the privileged few who are able to cough up the lowest ticket
price of $600 will be living history, whereas the masses huddled over
nachos in their living rooms will be merely watching history.

Second, in a nod to critics, Super Bowl planners booked the Rolling
Stones for this year's half-time show. I am a huge Stones fan, and the
apparent fact that Mick and Keith now constitute clean, family-fare is
hugely disappointing

Third, Nipplegate was exactly what social conservatives needed to ramp up the culture war on indecency.

Thanks to the DVR, one can skip over the game itself, as I'm doing. My 6-month old daughter seemed to be interested in the game though. Very American.

7-3 at half-time, and the Stones are up next. Few interesting advertisements thus far.

Goodbye To Mass Media

Steven Luxenberg, Outlook editor for the Washington Post online, bids adieu to his post at the helm of the online column for the Post after 10 years in a trenchant, poignant piece that deserves to be read by every blogger.

A key graf:

My point is that as readers have splintered into millions of little audiences, it's hard
to serve both print and Web consumers with the same set of articles.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Fern unfurling

Fern unfurling
Originally uploaded by Lida Rose.
Rebirth, seems an appropriate eulogy for WingCo.

A Newspaper Is Not A Monastery

Simon Jenkins raises some interesting points in his Times column on the Danish cartoons.

A newspaper is not a monastery, its mind blind to the world and deaf
to reaction. Every inch of published print reflects the views of its
writers and the judgment of its editors. Every day newspapers decide on
the balance of boldness, offence, taste, discretion and recklessness.
They must decide who is to be allowed a voice and who not. They are
curbed by libel laws, common decency and their own sense of what is
acceptable to readers. Speech is free only on a mountain top; all else
is editing.

Despite Britons’ robust attitude to religion, no newspaper
would let a cartoonist depict Jesus Christ dropping cluster bombs, or
lampoon the Holocaust. Pictures of bodies are not carried if they are
likely to be seen by family members. Privacy and dignity are respected,
even if such restraint is usually unknown to readers. Over every page
hovers a censor, even if he is graced with the title of editor.

To imply that some great issue of censorship is raised by the
Danish cartoons is nonsense. They were offensive and inflammatory. The
best policy would have been to apologise and shut up. For Danish
journalists to demand “Europe-wide solidarity” in the cause of free
speech and to deride those who are offended as “fundamentalists . . .
who have a problem with the entire western world” comes close to racial
provocation. We do not go about punching people in the face to test
their commitment to non-violence. To be a European should not involve
initiation by religious insult.

'Wingco, Founder, KQA, Passes Away

Someone I have looked up to all my life, the founder of the Karnataka Quiz Association, Wing Commander G.R. Mulky passed at the age of 82. The funeral is on Sunday, and quizzes planned for Sunday will be held as scheduled - a fitting tribute.


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Time traveler, world traveler, book reader