Archive for 07/01/2012 - 08/01/2012

London Olympics 2012, the Night Danny Boyle and the British made Rest of the World Feeling Cheated and Green Eyed.

What secret mission can be more daring for James Bond than whisking the Queen and dropping her in to the Olympics opening Ceremony from the sky? If anyone ever doubted whether the British Monarchy is in touch with the common man, is there any better proof than a Monarch willing to amuse the whole world, for the sake of her country, in such a down to earth appearance? The daring Royal entry in to the Olympics alone has redeemed the pride of the British who have suffered a series of mishaps and international doubts about their ability to stage the London 2012 Olympics, by their sheer sense of humour and ingenuity.

The truth is the world is dazzled and jealous how the British pulled off a magical night as their own with characters that in fact belonged to the whole world. The London Olympics opening event is slowly getting its shower of praises after not so flattering and sarcastic remarks from foreign media.

There were some early cringe-worthy scenes of pre-industrial Britain: maypole dancers, thatched cottages, mustachioed beekeepers, and a hirsute Kenneth Branagh dressed up as British engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel orating from Shakespeare's The Tempest.
At times quixotic, the Opening Ceremonies were immediately accused by some of being simply too British, laced as they were with obscure references to the National Health Service and English club music

Despite being fantastic eye catching events, many people can hardly remember anything from the 2008 Olympics in Beijing or several others before, which were telecast to the whole world.

From Chincha Alta (Peru) to Siem Reap (Cambodia), who doesn't hold a little corner of their heart with some affection for many of the characters who enlivened the evening? Starting with the Queen, several living and fictional characters like Mr Bean, Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, James Bond, Harry Potter, Paul McCartney, David Beckham and many others have left indelible marks on human memory and will continue to do for centuries.

Is there anyone fortunate to have a basic education who is not taught of the Industrial revolution? Is there anyone who whish they didn't have a universal health assurance epitomised by the British NHS, except perhaps the Americans who think it is a crazy idea?

Of course one could argue that going back further in history, to Shakespeare and Henry VIII; you could be really English and British. Though that would have been more 'Greek' to the rest of the world, there would still be some universality about it.

The reality is, it is almost impossible to conceive a 'totally British' Olympics 2012 opening ceremonylike the one presented by Danny Boyle without having a universal appeal. That is because there was hardly a 'British' character in the whole show that didn't belong to the whole world.

Yet, the London Olympics opening spectacle of Danny Boyle, with the Bond-Queen séance and Mr Bean's version of Chariots of fire, both of which have gone viral on the social web, is already being etched in to the human psyche.

If the British characters have become the world's own, you can't blame the British for it. Neither can you blame the English Language. It is the genuinely human appeal each of these British born or conceived heroes evoke in human minds which make Macbeth to Slumdog Millionaire endearing to human minds, something no other nation has been successful at.

That is the quintessential Brutishness evinced by Danny Boyle's wonderful and ingenious production the British can be really proud of. In fact a celebration of the freedom of spirit and mind engrained in the British social values, and in the ultimate British sense of humour.

As the IOC president Jacques Rogge reminded in his opening speech, London is home to the Olympics games in many ways, by establishing many of the ground rules in the 1948 games and proceedings. Danny Boyle and his team can be proud that the 2012 Olympics Opening Gala will make it even more so by establishing the standard and benchmark for future opening events.

That sheer regimentation, pyrotechnics and robotics, at the cost of millions of dollars just for showmanship and the grandeur of any event have come to the end of their limits, is shown by the Beijing Olympics. That the way forward, in the real world beset with economic crisis, is the ingenious use of imagination and modern technological innovations in media and imagery is shown by the London 2012 ceremony.

Yet it will be almost impossible to better what was seen on the night of the 2012 Olympics opening night in London in the imaginable future, because Danny Boyle has already pulled out the best of everything.

Whether you like it or not the British have done it again. No point being jealous about it.

Will the Indomitable British Spirit Still Save the London Olympics From a Fiasco?


The Brits, as a nation, get pretty excited even at the drop of a royal hat. Anything remotely British like mere thought of winning a Wimbledon or World cup which were last won decades ago can turn the national pride and spirit a notch or two.

From the public reception the Olympic torch received around the UK, braving heavy rains, floods and even attempts to snatch it, the British are determined to make it a brilliant success by all means.
Yet judging from the sparse and lukewarm and evennegative coverage of the much expected event and its preparations during the week before the event in the media, the London Olympics seems to inspire no one, even the British. With the proposed strike of the border security and London trains Is it heading towards the greatest fiasco of the new century?
One reason for the global lack of enthusiasm no doubt is the paucity of adrenaline which has dried up in the wake the excitement over several recent sporting events like the Euro cup, Wimbledon and others.
Perhaps it Is the unpleasant reality, that at the end of the day, when the flags come down and the visitors go back, no jobs, only the bricks and mortar of the shiny infra structure in London will remain, which douse the Olympics spirit? You have examples of Olympics and Commonwealth games of the past to prove that claims of these expensive international sporting events paving way to economicgrowth haven't been substantiated by economic growth in the past.
There is a sense of imminent disaster in the air with  men in military uniforms controlling movement and security around the game venues and advice being given to Londoners to stay locked inside their homes. Is it the over regimentation, which makes it look as if the Olympics games are being held in Pyongyang by the North Korean President Kim Jong-un rather than by the most democratic nation in the world, which fail to enthuse the crowds?

Is it the sponsorship mania which has killed the goose before it can lay any eggs? Each day more and more dictats are being issued about phones, cameras, tee shirts and shoes and food you can take to the games which makes you wonder what you can wear and take to the games and what you will be left with when you come back?
In fact there was great euphoria and excitement eight years back when the United Kingdom won the rights to stage the 2012 Olympics. Perhaps that was the greatest moment for the UK for this Olympics. A series of controversies around the games have overshadowed most of the preparations towards the games.
The Olympics 2012 Logo itself came to be criticised for being various things other than an inspiring symbol of the planned games.
The Orbit, a commemorative structure, which looked like a heap of scrap and eye sore reminiscent of its sponsor rather than sports came to be much criticised.
Now the mascots of the Olympics 2012 are under similar scrutiny for being something no one can judge.
The British weather, particularly unkind this year, with heavy rains and floods coming in the way of the Olympic torch hasn't helped.
It is amazing how very often these international events create international anxiety by reports arising out of unfinished preparations or snags during trials, raising questions about the success of the events. Yet once the inaugural ceremony is over and the games get under way, the world is mesmerised by the new heights of human physical prowess and endurance displayed by the athletes.
Despite the snags, the reported problems of traffic chaos and the imminent strikes of border staff and London bus drivers, the British spirit, hopefully will render the much awaited Olympics 2012 a memorable event of the new century. If there must be a reason to be British and feel British it will no doubt be in plenty in the coming days. David Beckham has already shown that.

Can The Kiss Cam Make The Olympics 2012 Games in London More Romantic?


All of a sudden, the Kiss Cam has become the best idea to come out of the United States since Coca Cola. By sealing with a kiss for the first lady on the Kiss Cam in Washington D.C., President Obama has finally approved it for release to the world.

The Kiss Cam has become the romantic idea of the 21st century much like the Valentine's Day and the Mistletoe which have come to signify special moments of expression of love and romance in human life. These wonderful social concepts, adapted from centuries old traditions not only let people express their feelings freely and in public but also render such genuine human behaviour socially acceptable.
If no one outside the U S had ever heard of the Kiss Cam before, now the media is abuzz with the news and debate about the presidential Kiss projected on the giant jumbotron at the Verizon Center during a friendly Basketball match.
In an election year everything about the U S president and the presidential candidates can be under intense scrutiny. So the debate about the Presidential Kiss Cam Kiss has attracted intense media interest in the US and abroad. The event has also brought the American Kiss Cam form of entertainment to the world's attention. It is only a matter of time before the Kiss Cam gets the same enthusiastic attention around the world.
In fact the Presidential Kiss has even demonstrated the power of this new social phenomenon by expressing disapproval of the behaviour of even a U S president intuitively and openly by booing and persuading him to comply with common expectations of social and finer human values expected of a leader.
Since its introduction in the US way back in 1982, the Kiss Cam has evolved much with different stadiums and operators establishing their own norms and best operating practices to avoid hurting people. But in a country known for its dry sense of humour and sportsmanship, no one has seriously objected to the simple entertainment and joy of Kiss Cam which millions of people now take for granted.
As per a report in The Bladder in fact Kiss Cam is already going to the 'next level' in the U S.

"But Frederico de Mayo, head of the advertising agency that developed the concept, said this was just the start for 'Kiss Cam'.
"Everyone who has seen it knows how it works," he said. "Before the game we have 'Smile Cam', where we get people in the crowd to smile at each other for the cameras.
"At quarter time we look for people to hug ¬ that's 'Hug Cam'. At half time we look for people to kiss. Smile-Hug-Kiss. Pretty obviously there is a natural progression there.
"Three quarter time is a natural window there waiting to be filled. And we hope to fill it soon with 'Shag Cam'. That will really get the crowd going."
Mr de Mayo said their exhaustive research had shown that fans got easily bored before, during and after footy games, so they needed to be entertained, preferably as noisily as possible."
What about the right to privacy and violation of human rights by projecting unsuspecting spectators on the screen which implies them to engage in a kiss? According to experts:
"You have to be careful when you do the Kiss Cam,", "it's kind of a dangerous feature."
Apparently even President Obama and his wife were unaware of the Kiss Cam etiquette until they were appraised by their daughter who accompanied them to the game.
Will it be a feature of the Olympics 2012 games in London? Though well prepared with an array of high tech equipment and features to capture every moment of the games and project on giant screens, The BBC has not yet declared that the thousands of spectators will be offered the wonderful new fun of Kiss Cam. There is of course still time for them to take note and catch up with the new century.

Why The British Pubs Can Offer a More Romantic Experience Than the Olympics 2012 Games


If you ask me, the British country pubs can offer some of the best romantic experience of your life. Not theLondon pubs where you may have to jostle with a crowd for your pint of beer and then get in to a brawl with the barman over its head. Not even the Vic, where high drama of "EastEnders" plays out incessantly, not far from the Olympics venue.

If you are visiting the Olympics 2012 with the love of your heart, make sure to take some time out for a day or two to prom the British hinder land and stop by some of the numerous romantic pubs dotting its countryside. Who knows, you might even discover what love can truly feel like.
Imagine a sultry, wet and lingering afternoon in July in England when everywhere else the sun is shining. Hardly a time for romance. Yet if you walk in to a quiet country pub, you may be surprised how the ambience can be full of life and romance.
There is nothing unusual if you see a couple in their late forties or fifties enjoying the most loving of romantic moments, something you might have never seen in the best movies you can remember. The gentleman has turned his chair sideways and is sitting close to the lady, beholding her with the most ardent feelings of love he has ever felt. He is indeed oblivious of everything around him, even the glass of beer in his hand. The lady is quietly fondling his collar, ear or neck while still speaking some sweet nothing to him.
You may notice how the lady partner of a couple sitting across the table next to you, deep in some wild intimate conversation, ardently reach out to touch and affectionately fondle the forearm of her partner. You may feel yourself falling in to a romantic spell watching a younger couple on a corner sofa quietly stealing a smooch now and then in between gulps of their drinks. You may even be surprised how people in their eighties and nineties can still wear a lovelorn look.
Scenes, you might think, hardly ever to be seen outside the privacy of a living room. Scenes you won't certainly find in any American diner with their bus like seating style, often the background for famous movie episodes. Scenes far from the embarrassing and intimate sharing of 'huitre' and champagne in the crowded bistros of Paris, where you can find tourists who almost shout 'we don't care, we are on top of the world' while a female companion sucks out of an oyster shell held out by her lover.
It is difficult to say what makes the British country pubs so uniquely romantic. Perhaps it is the tradition of the pubs being managed by "land Lords" who also tend to play some pivotal role in the British social fabric. Often, the friendly and hospitable nature of the land lords and serving staff makes you feel at home, something which you definitely miss in the McDonald's or the restaurants of chain hotels attended by bearers in stiff uniforms.
The pub buildings themselves, most of which are preserved in original exteriors, in scenic settings, definitely help to build the ambience. But it is probably the interiors with their nooks and corners, and old style furnishing which break the monotonous ambience of large halls and offer some privacy, which must be appealing to most people. Though they weren't originally meant as meeting place for families, they are now the favourite places for a meal out with family and friends, especially with the gardens and play pens for children.
Quite a few of the country pubs also have acquired gastronomic and culinary status. In fact manye of the Michelin star restaurants in the UK are famous pubs.
In a land where Pubs are as much used as landmarks while giving directions as churches, they are part of the daily life without which life will seem almost impossible. But for visitors to Olympics 2012 games a visit to a old countryside pub can offer an experience they may not forget in life.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Posted by Sreedhar Pillai

Who Needs Tony Blair for British P M Any Way?

In the olden days, not so long ago, heads of states used to look older, wiser, indomitable and even formidable. These days a G8 summit photo has many baby faces of leaders who don't have a clue of not only how to deal with the Euro crisis but even of the price of milk they still drink. Gone are the days when the British voices of Churchill, Wilson and Thatcher were carried along as far as the waves of Britannia reached.

If France's Sarkozy shuns extending a hand or Germany's Angela Merkel throws a disapproving glance, at a British Prime Minister, only we, the voters who put too much confidence in young blood, disregarding the need for time and experience for human development, are to be blamed.

Unfortunately, the British don't have much of a choice. All they have to show the world is another dour young face which shows no intention to put on a smile in the near future. The poor taste the leader of the Labour party has shown in challenging his brother didn't hold much promise as no one needs a potential sibling rivalry in the Downing Street, hurting national interest. By failing to disprove the skeptics by pulling out any signs of a spectacular leadership, the Labour leader has already lost hismagic.

The recent candid admission of Tony Blair, that he will accept the post of the Prime Minister again if offered, raises the question if the British don't have an alternative. However, judging from the avalanche of abusive comments and reactions Tony receives to his posts in the Huff post, one would agree with him that he has only fat hopes of that ever happening.

Our memory is getting easier to erase and rewrite than the fastest micro chip, especially when instant self gratification is the only thing everyone seems to want anymore. Who does bother to reflect on a decade which passed by in which the British pride came across as tolerable to the rest of the world because it was backed by an appearance of leadership, stability, achievement and a feel good factor in the British Isles ?

For example, we have forgotten the Euphoria of winning the rights to hold the 2012 Olympics making the French very sore indeed and how Tony Blair, David Beckham and Prince Charles and others won that for us. If we failed in translating the hard won victory in to a much bigger fame, prosperity and throbbing flow of enthusiastic tourists to London, we can of course blame the British weather.

No one remembers how the bombs of Omagh were doused slowly but surely thanks to the determination of a British Prime Minister and parliament aided by a helping hand of a U.S. president. Thankfully those who had to fight the war on terror no longer had to face a pointing finger at them and a decade later hands could be held out to forgive and forget.

When we whisk through the widened motor ways and newly built bridges from Land's End to John o' Groats, we tend to forget the long road works and delays which took a decade and meant nothing but investment and employment under stable and equitable governance.

When we drive in to the suburbs more and more towns all over the United Kingdom and reminded of London with big signs of prosperity like the bill boards of supermarkets and other commercial outlets, we know wealth and development indeed has arrived in the remote corners during the last decade.
Lying on a hospital bed waiting for a heart procedure in modern Heart Lung centres and other advanced facilities across the country, many people wonder how lucky they are to receive the type of care they get, but forget where it came from.

For those who left the country in the middle of the miner's strike and returned, a decade without strikes and disruptions must have made the UK an unreal land. With happier, nurses, teachers and police men and women and numerous other public sector staff, no wonder life in the UK appeared better and easier with a smashing housing boom as poof of the pudding.

Who can forget the Spice Girls, David Beckham and Manchester united and many other feel good contributions all of which add to the icing on the cake of three labour governments, which in many ways turned the eyes of the world on the UK with the respect it deserved.

Not that all of these were achieved by Tony Blair alone, but he was the Prime Minister and leader, despite the unfortunate circumstances he had to turn away from a fourth term.

For those who believe he let us down in his decision to go after WMD, what are we to do with another dictator in another country who flaunts another pile of those after a decade?

Tony Blair may never be elected again to become the leader and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, but with Hollande of France, Merkel of Germany, and Obama of the United States, who are going to lead the world in this decade, there will be a gaping hole in the British chair around the table.
Article first published as Who Needs Tony Blair for British PM Any Way? on Technorati.


Sunday, July 15, 2012
Posted by Sreedhar Pillai

Was Satyendranath Bose Merely Lucky to Have the Bosons Named After Him?


Do you know who discovered Oxygen? Even though you know Oxygen is all around you and that you will die without it, you probably would have died without ever knowing who discovered it. That's because no one bothered to name the gas 'Scheelgen' after the Swedish Pharmacist Scheele, who is widely credited with its discovery. (The credit is usually shared between the Swedish pharmacist Carl Wilhelm Scheele, and the British clergyman Joseph Priestly.)

However, with a week which passed by, in which the world media was inflated with Higg's Boson, you are more likely to know the Scottish Professor who predicted the existence of the 'God Particle' which was named after him and that Boson itself is named after Satyendranath Bose of India, who predicted, nearly a century back, the existence of a group of sub atomic particles called Bosons.
While much of the media focus itself was on the 'God Particle', very little has been mentioned about the work of Satyendranath Bose, which had far reaching implications on the advancement of particle physics which has lead up to the investigation to find the Higg's Boson. If Bose hadn't postulated on this group of sub atomic particles, we might have been, in all possibility still a long way from finding the God particle.
Was Satyendranath Bose Merely Lucky to Have the Bosons Named After Him?
Though India and the Indian Government had recognised his greatness by awarding him various honours and positions while he was alive when the Nobel Committee itself had failed to acknowledge it, Bose remained a forgotten name, unknown to the new generation Indians and to the world at large, until the discovery of the God particle, announced last week.
In fact, after his death in 1974, the Indians and most of the world outside scientific community weren't aware of his contribution or achievement. A couple of generations have never heard of him. This was mainly due to the very esoteric nature of his work and contributions to science, which not everyone can understand.
It took a Genius like Albert Einstein to recognise the Genius in Bose and eventually jointly produce scientific contributions like Bose - Einstein Condensate in particle physics. Perhaps the most important of all work of Satyendranath Bose is his short paper with statistical postulations on Max Planck's quantum Mechanics, which Einstein recognised as explaining a gaping hole in the theory and which predicted the existence of sub atomic particles called Bosons, later named after him, in recognition.
Respected Sir, I have ventured to send you the accompanying article for your perusal and opinion. You will see that I have tried to deduce the coefficient .. in Planck's law independent of classical electrodynamics.
What makes Satyendranath Bose the greatest scientist India has produced is his mathematical prowess, a record not broken in the University of Kolkota where he did most of his work, which he applied to postulate his theories about the nature of a set of sub atomic particles, no one had ever seen, until after several years. His greatness, like that of Einstein and many other eminent scientists of the past, lies in the fact that most of his work was done in his own god given faculties, in a world which had no computers, software or internet, and in a country far away from Europe, where the mainstream scientific advancement was taking place.
Part of the reasons, other than the implicit difficulty to explain his work to the people, why Bose was not universally recognised or given a Nobel Prize might have been his nationality, like in the case of Mahatma Gandhi, who was never awarded the prestigious price.
Not that Satyendranath Bose and his work would have gone in to oblivion even if the Bosons weren't named after him or no one really would have searched and found the God particle. His work was undoubtedly a corner stone of modern Physics and one way or the other, if not now sometime in the future would have revealed and shown itself as future scientists would have strived for answers to the secrets of the universe.
Now that God Particle has reinvented his greatness for the world, it has become all the more important that a modern and emerging India do everything to unearth the greatness and increase the awareness of its immortal scientist to instil ambition and purpose in its youth and future generations. That only can atone a grate scientist who had the misfortune of being born an the wrong place at the wrong time.
A thousand years from now, like Oxygen, Bosons will still be around reminding everyone about Satyendranath Bose and his contribution to science, while Professor Higgs, credited with the prediction of Higg's Boson itself, the God particle everyone went gaga about, might be forgotten as it will be broken down, dissected and analysed, extending the frontiers of human knowledge.
But that is not why Bose will be remembered. His name will stand out because, if greatness is to be judged by the contribution to the advancement of scientific knowledge, Satyendranath Bose is undoubtedly, the greatest scientists India has produced in recent times.

Article first published as Was Satyendranath Bose Merely Lucky to Have the Bosons Named After Him? on Technorati.

Does Obamacare Make The Americans Mere Third World Citizens?


Americans may not see it because they may not want to. But when it comes to basic human rights at least, the world is coming to see little to differentiate the U.S. from the Taliban it wants to get rid of in Afghanistan. The Taliban thinks women shouldn't go to school; the Americans think 32 million of them shouldn't have a mandatory health cover. What is the difference?

The United States of America may be the richest country in the world without universal healthcare for all, a situation Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) will certainly change. For the rest of the world, with no easy access to facts and figures to compare and who is unaware of the historical U.S reticence towards human rights, the United States of America, which wants to challenge and repeal Obamacare is looking more like a third world country.
That is the take away from the recent Obamacare judgement by the U.S. Supreme court, the dissentand the ensuing political battle cries, all of which have brought the U.S politics and the legal system to world focus, with some disbelief. Hey, is this the America everyone looks up to?

To many foreigners, thanks to its legal system, the U.S. had been the "Never Never Land" which gives shudders down your spine, nearly the same feelings an American family, who is offered a free holiday in Iran, gets in the guts at the thought of a trip.
The general apprehension about the U.S. attitude towards human rights might not be entirely without justification:
• When an Australian citizen seeks asylum in a third world country's embassy out of fear of incrimination and death penalty from a U.S. court if extradited to the U.S.?
• When an ex president of a "friendly" nation with a population of 1.3 billion can be stopped andfrisked at the airport because of his name and racial profiling?
• When a president of the World Bank is handcuffed and thrown in the prison cell overnight withoutrecourse to any legal aid because an illegal immigrant cried foul?
• When recent cases of miscarriage of justice have sent innocent people to the death row which all civilised countries have abolished by now?
• When Guantanamo and stories of renditions are still a reality?
That is to say that there is certainly a 'disconnect' between how the Americans see their justice system from a lot of other people around the world, who are apprehensive, or at least can't understand the way Americans think.
It was not surprising that the entire world, like the President himself, had resigned to the reality and waited for the U.S. Supreme Court, with a conservative majority, to throw the Obamacare, proposed by a democratic administration, in to the bin. That would have been treated as an internal matter and the fate of the U.S citizens.
However, how one judge decided to change history by passing the law has brought the issue to the attention of the world and its scrutiny. Whether Judge Roberts acted to avoid the Supreme Court verses elected representative controversy or out of conscience and a desire to bring the United States of America in synch with the social values the rest of the developed has long since taken for granted has become immaterial.
What gives credence to the question whether the U.S. has really evolved in its human rights view is the vehement and destroying fury of the dissent by the four judges, who have chosen to ignore the human rights implication, in their fervour to uphold the U.S. constitution and the free market.
But what is even more shocking and raises the question if the U.S. indeed cares a toss to be viewed as a third world country is the intransigent politics which has turned the Obamacare, which brings the Americans closer to civilised societies, in to the bone of contention of the next presidential election, with the GOP and its candidate Romney wowing to destroy it at any cost.
Twenty five years back as an immigrant from India in France, I was shocked by a scene when a nearly paralysed lady arrived in a supermarket for her weekly shopping, flat on her back, in a stretcher, being carried by two attendants. That day I had realised what universal healthcare really means in a caring society.
Today, I wonder what would have happened to that person if she lived in the richest country after the next presidential election of the U.S.A.


Article first published as Does Obamacare Make Americans Third World Citizens? on Technorati.

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