Friday, April 29, 2005

For a Holy "See"
It seems Dan Brown’s depiction of the drama surrounding the election of the Pope wasn’t exaggerated after all. While reading Angels and Demons, I had the feeling that Brown overdid the “media circus” bit. But, the just-concluded papal elections were an eye-opener. Not only was there blanket coverage of the goings-on in Vatican City on channels like CNN and BBC, news agencies and newspapers could not have enough of it. One premier news agency said it had started almost five years ago to plan its coverage of any such eventuality at the seat of Roman Catholicism. Not only did it rent a workspace in a hotel, run by nuns, next to the Vatican and built a TV stand-point on its roof with a close-up view of the basilica’s dome, it also mounted a satellite dish to broadcast the images. It even set up a newsroom in the basement of the hotel!
What was that about religion and opium?

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Dramatic Irony

The term “Iron Curtain” was coined by none other than Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda Dr Josef Goebbels. In an article entitled “The Year 2000”, he wrote: “If the German people surrender, the Soviets will occupy… the whole east and southeast of Europe in addition to a large part of Germany. In front of this enormous territory, including the Soviet Union, an iron curtain will go down…”
Source: The Last 100 Days By John Toland

Monday, April 25, 2005

For all those Doubting Thomases…

…who thought my earlier post was pfaff. This is from the New York Times dated April 25, 2005.
“Internet advertising has been surging in recent years as marketers follow their potential customers, who are shifting their attention from television to computer screens. Yahoo and Google have been among the primary beneficiaries of this change, and both have enjoyed rapidly growing sales and profits.”

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The second coming…
…of News over the Internet? Well, it certainly seems like it. Apparently, two of the most prestigious news providers in the US — Wall Street Journal owner Dow Jones and the publishers of The New York Times — are turning to their Internet ventures to shore up sliding profits, hit by shrinking print ad spends. Interestingly, in this quarter, Dow Jones's online operations for the first time earned more money than the flagship Wall Street Journal and Barron's, the weekly financial magazine. New York Times, on its part, said it was optimistic about, an site it acquired this year.
But, perhaps the biggest endorsement has come from the man who epitomizes the term media moghul -- Rupert Murdoch. Last week, he reportedly told newspaper editors that they cannot afford to ignore the growing popularity of the Internet and suggested some had been too slow to offer "compelling and relevant" content online.
Having been closely associated with online journalism for the greater part of my career, I for one will be standing on the sidelines cheering for a comeback. Yes, I was one of the early converts to this medium. Long before, D-O-T-C-O-M became synonymous with six-figure salaries. When I joined the online section of one of India’s biggest national daily, my then boss cautioned: if this clicks, the sky is the limit, if it doesn’t you may have to take a serious relook at your career prospects. As it turned out, he was partly right. By that time, I had moved on to a national news channel that was testing the waters of the worldwide web. It was challenging to try and build a news website from scratch. However, in all that time I was waiting for the BIG OFFER. There were some, but then I couldn’t bring myself to take the leap of faith. Pluckier colleagues, who waded into big bucks, evoked envy. However, on hindsight it seems discretion was indeed the better part of valour. Next stop: The online venture of one of the country’s most popular weekly news magazine. Here, for the first time, I felt I had arrived as an online journalist. No, they were not paying me big bucks, but it was exciting work. Whatsmore, you had all the resources at your disposal for meeting the dictates of the new medium. It was the Golden Age of Net News (that was what I thought and being part of a great team fanned the feeling). But, it was a short-lived affair. Suddenly, the imperative of making money superseded that of creating compelling content. Result: The site folded up leaving a number of colleagues without a job. That was it. It was then that I decided to kiss my HTML codes goodbye.
Later, blogs happened. And as they slowly started to make their presence felt as an alternative source of news, I silently cheered.
Though I am keeping my fingers crossed for now, for me a Return to E-nnocence seems no more possible.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Some valuable TIPS
Are you a generous tipper? Or are you the type that makes quick mental calculations before shoving those few extra notes with the restaurant bill? Maybe you are among those who wonder whether a tip reinforces the unequal relationship between the customer and the person serving you? Well, if you are one of the few people who ponder over whether 10 percent of the total bill is a fair amount to give to the waiter, here’s news for you. According to last week’s edition of the FT Weekend, tipping is a subject of serious academic scrutiny.
Etymology: According to the most widely accepted theory, “tipping became established as a social custom in 16th-century England. Brass urns with the inscription ‘To Insure Promptitude’ were placed in coffee houses and, later, in pubs. Customers tipped in advance by putting money in these urns. Another theory is that the word came from the Dutch “tippen”, which mean to tap, and refers to the sound of a coin being used to draw a waiter’s attention.”
The article throws up some interesting facts:
“Economists view tipping as anomalous behaviour that challenges fundamental assumptions about the rationality of economic man because tipping after a service has been provided cannot affect the quality of service.”
“There is only a weak relationship between the size of the tip and the quantity of service provided. It therefore makes little sense for a waiter to work harder to obtain a tip.”
“A study showed waitresses’ tips increased by 17 per cent if they wore flowers in their hair.”
“Academics who study tipping have identified 33 jobs for which remuneration includes tips.”
“In restaurants in the US, customers pay about $26 billion in tips every year.”
So, the next time you are at a restaurant, check out whether the waitress is wearing a flower before you tuck into the hors d’oeuvre.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

A friend of mine had once ended an article on Jean Luc Godard with this telling line, “Godard is in the details”. I bet he would have had the same thing to say about Satyajit Ray. Upon the nth viewing of Joy Baba Felunath, I couldn’t but marvel at the man’s eye for detail. The hotel that Feluda, Tosphe and Lalmohan Babu check into at Benares looks so typically like a “Dada-Didi’ setup meant for the ubiquitous Middleclass Bong Budget Tourist that you can almost perceive the smell of fish that usually pervades such a joint. Not only that, Ray even introduces a character who quizzes the hotel-owner about the availability of water at the hotel, the frequency at which towels are changed and even (!) the cooking medium used at the hotel’s restaurant. The character has nothing to do with the plot, its Ray’s way of poking fun at the MBBT tribe. Yes, Ray’s films may have been “universal”, but they are steeped in a Bangaliyana that envelops everything from accents to idiosyncrasies.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Did you know?
The South Indian School of Shoe Polishing is different from its north Indian counterpart in one single aspect. North of the Vindhyas, any cobbler worth his Cherry Blossom will use a black, powdery abrasive while applying shoe polish. But, down south they simply dispense with the practice.
Tridib’s believe it or not: If you Google for “How to polish my shoes”, it will take just 0.15 seconds to serve up 577,000 results for your query.
Wondering where I get such a lot of spare time, huh?

Monday, April 04, 2005

I am shedding... blog's old look (circa 2002) for a brand new one, minimalist but functional.

My take on Million Dollar Baby
The Karate Kid for an adult audience.

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