Saturday, August 30, 2008

still awesome.

just a friendly reminder on how awesome Dark Knight was. seriously.

especially this scene:

Friday, August 29, 2008

America's hat?

so, after 2+ weeks on the road, i concluded my trip in Toronto, working with my counterparts in our Canadian office. i hadn't been back for a couple of years, and had a GREAT time in + out of the office catching up with old colleagues and making new friends. there's a reason Toronto gets pretty close to the top of list of the "10 North American cities Raman would love to live in" (making the mother country much more so than a hat, but i still find the above image to be hilarious + appropriate given the context of today's post).

and then, in the car to the airport, i picked up a somewhat recent issue of
Macleans (one of the bigger news magazine of Canada). the cover article struck me as interesting, so i continued to read it on the flight back to the US. i've decided to repost it here for your entertainment/perusal.

the broad theme of the article? in recent years, Canada has begun to supercede America. while we in the US are obsessed with the pursuit of happiness, our friends up north have achieved such happiness. read the article (follow the links into a deeper dive on each area they are apparantly excelling at), and you might understand why i might eventually have to move further up north if my boy
Barry doesn't "take the power back":

Special Canada Day Report: How Canada stole the American Dream

The numbers are in. Compared to the U.S., we work less, live longer, enjoy better health and have more sex. And get this: now we're wealthier too.

| DUNCAN HOOD | June 25, 2008 |

To be an American is to be the best. Every American believes this. Their sports champions are not U.S. champions, they're world champions. Their corporations aren't the largest in the States, they're the largest on the planet. Their armies don't defend just America, they defend freedom.

Like the perpetual little brother, Canadians have always lived in the shadow of our American neighbours. We mock them for their uncultured ways, their brash talk and their insularity, but it's always been the thin laughter of the insecure. After all, says University of Lethbridge sociologist Reginald Bibby, a leading tracker of social trends, "Americans grow up with the sincere belief that their nation is a nation that is unique and special, literally called by something greater to be blessed and to be a blessing to people around the globe." Canadians can't compete with that.

But it turns out that while they've been out conquering the world, here in Canada we've been quietly working away at building better lives. While they've been pursuing happiness, we've been achieving it.

How do we know? You just have to look at the numbers. For our Canada Day special issue this year, Maclean's compared Canadians and Americans in every facet of our lives. We scoured census reports, polls, surveys, scientific studies, policy papers and consumer databases. We looked at who lives longer, who works more, who spends more time with friends, who travels more and who has more sex. We even found out who eats more vegetables. After digging through the data, here's what we found: the staid, underpaid Canadian is dead. Believe it or not, we now have more wealth than Americans, even though we work shorter hours. We drink more often, but we live longer and have fewer diseases. We have more sex, more sex partners and we're more adventurous in bed, but we have fewer teen pregnancies and fewer sexually transmitted diseases. We spend more time with family and friends, and more time exploring the world. Even in crime we come out ahead: we're just as prone to break the law, but when we do it, we don't get shot. Most of the time, we don't even go to jail.

The data shows that it's the Canadians who are living it up, while Americans toil away, working longer hours to pay their mounting bills.

The wealth numbers, in particular, are shocking. As of 2005, the median family in Canada was worth US$122,600, according to Statistics Canada, while the U.S. Federal Reserve pegged the median American family at US$93,100 in 2004. Those figures, the most recent available, already include an adjustment for our higher prices, and thanks to the rising loonie Canadians are likely even further ahead today. We're ahead mainly because Americans carry far more debt than we do, and it means that the median Canadian family is a full 30 per cent wealthier than the median American family. "The fact that we're now richer is a big reversal," says Jack Mintz, former president of the C.D. Howe Institute and the current Palmer Chair in public policy at the University of Calgary. "It's a huge change in the way we view the world."

Mintz points out that it wasn't all that long ago that we were much poorer than the Americans. Just think back to the 1980s when our dollar was worth 69 American cents, inflation was raging, our real wages were dropping and our productivity was . . . well it was just embarrassing. "From 1987 to 1997 in particular, we had terrible economic growth," says Mintz. "By the time we reached 1999, we were way behind the U.S. in per capita incomes and everything else." Back then, he notes, the newspapers were packed with dire warnings of brain drain. Canadian incomes were so low compared to Americans, our best and brightest were fleeing the country.

Today, it's the reverse, and families such as Eric Nay, his wife, Polly, and their son are moving the other way. Nay, who's 41 and now works as associate dean at the Ontario College of Art & Design in Toronto, says he packed his bags and left his home in tony Monterey, Calif., for a new life in Canada two years ago. And get this: he did it for a bigger paycheque. "The academic salaries here are much higher," he says. "When I was working as an assistant professor in California, I was making $55,000, but in Canada, that magically becomes $70,000."

How did this happen? Canada often comes out ahead when you look at squishy things like quality of life. But since when were we richer? Mintz credits the rising loonie, the boom in commodities, and better public policy. He says that over the past decade productivity growth in the U.S. has slowed, while we've been hacking away at our government debt and lowering taxes. In short, as a nation, we've been doing everything right, while the U.S. has been doing everything wrong.

When you look at how individual Canadian and American families make and spend their money, it gets even more interesting. The numbers show that our median household incomes are about the same, or at least they were back in 2005 when the most recent figures came out. That year the median household income in Canada was about US$44,300, after you adjust it for the exchange rate and our lower purchasing power, while the American median was US$46,300. Since then, the loonie has gained on the U.S. dollar, so we've likely narrowed the gap. But while our incomes may be similar to American incomes, we're still much wealthier because we have less debt. What you make isn't a good measure of how rich you are — to figure out your true wealth you should add up everything you have and subtract what you owe. And Americans owe more. A lot more. Here in Canada the average amount of personal debt per person is US$23,460. In the U.S. it's a whopping US$40,250. And all those numbers are from 2005, just before their housing market slipped into a sinkhole. If you looked at the numbers now, you'd find that Americans are even further behind, because their largest asset — their home — is worth less. "There has been a lot of destruction of wealth in the U.S. over the past few years," says Mintz, "and that would affect the net worth figures significantly. I would suspect that they would be even worse off today."

Certainly Canadians who venture down to live in the U.S. say there's a huge difference in how the two countries approach spending and debt. Gerry Van Boven grew up in southern Ontario but moved to the U.S. in 1985. Now he's 57 and living in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He says his American friends seem genuinely puzzled by his reluctance to load on huge piles of debt so he can buy a big luxury car and a monster home. "Most of the people that I know who were born and raised here are a lot farther in hock than I am, and they think that's quite normal," he says. "They're like, 'Can't afford it? I'll just put it on plastic.' Whereas I was brought up to believe that if you can't afford to buy it in cash, you can't afford it."

The numbers confirm that Americans like to spend big. They have bigger homes than we do, averaging about 2,500 sq. feet, compared to only 2,000 sq. feet in Canada. They spend about 34 per cent of their annual household expenditure on their homes, compared to just 19 per cent here. They also love big cars. In the U.S., luxury cars and SUVs make up 21 per cent of the market, whereas in Canada, they make up only 11 per cent. The most popular model overall in the U.S. is the more upscale Toyota Camry, whereas we prefer the basic Honda Civic. "They like the big SUVs here especially," says Van Boven, "or at least they did. A good friend of mine went out and bought one of those big GMC Yukons a while back, but now gas is at $4 a gallon. I saw him the other day and asked when he was going to get rid of it. 'I can't,' he said. 'I don't own it yet.' "

Bibby, the sociologist, says the great American debt load is a direct result of their relentless quest for the best. "American culture is more consumer-oriented due to a more intense and more vigorous marketplace," he says. "My sense is that more dollars are spent per capita on advertising, for example. Little wonder then that per capita debt is considerably higher in the U.S. than in Canada. It is largely a function of the aggressive and successful marketing efforts of American companies." Health care, too, is helping to keep Americans in a state of owe, and for all the same reasons. In the U.S., as long as you have a good insurance plan, you have access to the best health care in the world. MRI machines are available on an hour's notice, there's plenty of staff, and the specialists are the finest there are. But all of that comes at a cost, says Van Boven, and every American feels it. "The absolute biggest difference, financially, that I noticed was the cost of health insurance," he says. "When my wife got laid off, we found out that you could keep the insurance you got through work for a while as long as you paid for it. But it cost $5,000 a year, and that was back in 1986. We couldn't afford that. So since then I've had no health insurance." Eric Nay, who moved to Toronto from California, says that even Americans with good insurance feel the pinch. "When I taught for the state of California, I had the best health coverage on the planet," he reports. "But when my son was born — and it was totally by the book, no complications — my insurance only covered the first $10,000 of the hospital costs. The remaining $8,000 came out of my pocket. And that's with full coverage."

Meanwhile in Canada, not only are we wealthier, but we don't even have to work as hard to make that wealth. In 2004, the average Canadian worker put in 35 hours of work per week, while our American counterparts put in 38. Only 30 per cent of Canadians work 45 hours a week or more, compared to 38 per cent of Americans. We also get — and take — much more vacation time. Employed adults in Canada get about 17 vacation days a year, and we take 16 of those days, leaving just one on the table. In the U.S., they get 14 days of vacation, but they only take 11, making them the world leader in yet another category: the working drudge.

Because we have more time off, Canadians tend to have a lot more fun. We spend more time with friends than Americans do, and we're much more likely to have a sit-down dinner with the family at home each night. We also tend to drink alcohol more often, with 27 per cent of us having a drink at least a few times a week, compared to 19 per cent of Americans. Nay says that our richer social lives were one of the biggest differences he noticed when he moved to Toronto. "It was only in Canada that I found myself going to the pub with friends and colleagues," he says. "I spend more time in pubs here than I have in any other place that I've lived. It's partly the culture, and partly because the quality of beer is fantastic."

Christian Lander is another Canadian living among Americans. He grew up in Toronto, but the 29-year-old moved to Los Angeles 2½ years ago where he runs the popular Stuff White People Like website, and he's publishing a book under the same name on July 1. He also finds that Americans like to do things big, but that doesn't always mean better. "The expectations here are just different," he says. "There's more ambition. More ambition to acquire more in terms of money and career. Whereas Canadians seem to be more European in that we care more about enjoying life." He's lived all over the country and says that it's very difficult to sum up the differences between Americans and Canadians because Americans are so diverse. The gaps between rich and poor, or black and white within the confines of the U.S. are much deeper and wider than the gap between the two countries. And within that mix, he says there's a subset of Americans who are just like Canadians. "Left-wing urban Americans," he says. "Canada is just a country of left-wing urban Americans." Still, he says that the relentless zeal, the private schools, the long work hours, not to mention the fact that everyone in L.A. seems to carry a gun, well, it all gets him down sometimes. His wife, who's American, is pushing to move back to Toronto, he says. "And yeah, we probably will."

Reginald Bibby notes the irony of the situation. The U.S. is a country that aggressively pursues happiness, but Canada seems to have just stumbled onto it. While Americans are putting in overtime to pursue the American dream, we're at the pub having a few pints with friends. They may have bigger cars and bigger homes, but they're living under a mountain of debt. They look richer, but the numbers prove that they're not. The truth is that all of that competition, all of that keeping up with the Joneses, can take its toll. Getting ahead can be a lot easier when everyone is moving in the same direction. "The pursuit of happiness is ingrained in Americans as part of what it means to be an American," Bibby says. "But in Canada, happiness is almost something of a by-product of coexisting peacefully."

Be it sports, health care, business or wealth, Americans are still competing to be the best. And it's true that the best in the U.S. is the best you'll find on the planet. But when you look at the medians and the averages, their accomplishment pales. As the hard numbers in this report show, Americans have shorter lives, poorer health, less sex, more divorces, and more violent crime. Which may mean that perhaps America isn't the greatest nation on earth. After all, you can't judge a nation by the best it produces, you have to judge it by the success of the average Joe. And the average Joe in Canada is having a way better time.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

"this is not about me, this is about US."

now i know what you're expecting. more gushing about my boy Barry's acceptance speech at the finale of the DNC (don't worry, we'll find a way to get to that later, but the title of this post WAS my favorite line of the night's speech).

but since i'm still WAITING for the transcript/video of the speech (which met, no exceeded expectations), to be posted SOMEWHERE (anywhere!) online (
here are the best excerpts i could find), i figured tonight i'd INSTEAD post this gem, which my roommate Jason JUST shared with me from that other guy:

my guess? genuine (though there was a hint of snark at 0:14, "how perfect, that your nomination would come on this historic day"). but probably the best (and only) way to respond the numerous aggressive, confrontational (and rightful) remarks my boy Barry put on Johnny Mac during his acceptance speech earlier tonight. regardless, this is classy. reallll classy.
and just for more context, it was on the HOMEPAGE of (but they didn't send an email). i am pretty sure it won't be live tomorrow: i'm Raman Sehgal, and i approved this message.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

personal archetypes.

sure, we've all got friends, but what does that actually MEAN? surely (hopefully?) it's more than just someone to go see a movie with.

like any of us, a number of people have been a part of my life through the years. some more than others. but, in some form or fashion, i choose to carry their example with me.
what i've learned is that what appeals to me about every single one of them is that they each represent an aspect of me to which i aspire. these are things that they each uniquely own (to me), but also that which i hope to learn + better myself from.

it's similar to racing with
one whom you cannot beat. you might not win, but it keeps things interesting, and in the end, you're better for it. i chose not to list any names, and i'm pretty sure, even if you THINK you find yourself on this list, you probably won't know who the rest are. it doesn't really matter though, as with most things i write here, they are for me, not you :)


younger than many of us (it surprises me how much so), has been through more in life than most, and yet still finds a way to see that the world can do better (to an ALMOST annoying degree :)...not to be confused with optimism. he is willing to make the right choice/bear the appropriate penance (by a standard larger than him or us), to do
the thing that is right + just (which most of US willfully choose to neglect, because it's easier). though he can often tend to live in his own bubble, he does struggle every day with the inequities of the systems in which we live. he has the ability to achieve more than most can dream, if he just realizes his role and responsibility in the world, and lets himself act.

THE EGO/ACHIEVER: (s.y./d.k.)
two people fit here for me, but unfairly so, because i don't know them as well as i should like. i honestly find them more
intimidating than i probably should, and i actually use a healthy reproach/snark to keep me comfortable around them. to call them visionaries would only fuel the swelling egos they both (sometimes) successfully keep in check, but they are certainly both (seemingly?) intelligent and capable to a ridiculous degree, willing to take far more risks/spend far more time on things that i am far too lazy for. if they don't acheive big things, it will only be because they chose not to embrace the modesty which must balance their hubris.


i regretfully continue to lose my connection here, but every time i check back in here, i am continuously astounded with the choices this person has made
that are clearly moving the world towards a more positive light. has embraced art more than i ever could/chose to, without making any excuses of why or why not. has pursued his study to the degree of a practical, positive pursuit. it has taken him around the world and back, with a single intent in mind. oh, and he moved back to where it seems everyone left (never to return) to become a teacher. and along the way, has even helped cultivate a new term (locavore)

despite the moniker, this is NOT who you might think. i will always bear the regret of not having realized early enough that the weight of the world ran so deep here. pleasing others/the world always meant more, even though it ultimately (likely) brought about their own undoing in a moment of self-convinced conviction. the smartest person i know, period. no one i've ever met holds a candle. this is not fond reflection, but the truth. there are those who work hard for their intellect, and those who are have in innate intelligence that escapes the rest of us. then there are those that have both. the result is staggering. despite it all, this is someone who took any situation and turns it on its head for a quick laugh. whether it be playing marco polo in a grocery store or eating paper (rather than taking notes on it).


someone i met late in my academic life, but struck an instant connection of interests with (comics, fiction, music), that would be maintained
over distances easily traveled afar (+ surprisingly often), and later more difficultly near (+ not often enough). similar to the creator/conserver, he represented an ideal of the world, but more in view than consistent practice, but an inspiration nonetheless. despite aspirations that were only limited by his choices, i always expected him to always do the right thing until a single choice brought him down to be as flawed as any of us. was it done of the right reasons? that is not my place to say, but it is something he will always bare, and a lesson i will always remember. while i am now unsure if he can escape the underlying mistaken tendencies, i hope he will, because then i can still have hope for any of us.

able to get to anyone, anywhere, to smile, more than anyone else i know. more easily accomplished individually, in person, rather than on life's stage. it is here though, that the world provides his living, for fodder and finance. much was given up to take such a risk and chase a dream, but he will have far fewer regrets when older than i. like to the ego/achiever,
he could definitely enjoy the occasional slice of humble pie (rather than becoming complacent in how he imbibes life), but UNLIKE them, he makes no illusions of what he does not know. he's rather just make fun. his friendship is a loyal, but difficult one. one could easily question if it is worth it, but that misses the point. the fun is the occasional journey along the way rather than the destination, so i just sit back and enjoy the ride (show?).


attuned to the limits of his own wisdom (something many of us are not), but wanting just a bit more (for him and his surroundings, this is this is someone who i honestly believe IS going to save the world (even if it doesn't know it should be), or die trying. whether he becomes a local politician, or opens a small community cinema, he will crusade for justice and happiness until we turn around and realize he's changed us too. i've never met someone as (pro)active, and count myself lucky to have. he probably got this way from reading so many comic books. and no, this is neither me, or who i think i am. it is someone i am proud to
know, and i want to be when i grow up.

Friday, August 22, 2008

hotel truths

as i'm BACK on the road (and spending my first night in a hotel in awhile, incidentally, i thought i'd share what i've observed to be some universal truths of hotel life for the lonely traveller:

it's not home: no matter how nice your heavenly bed/shower/ironing board are, it just doesn't matter. it's a lonely hotel room you likely wouldn't pay for out of pocket if the company wasn't footing the bill. nothing beats sitting around + watching TV with a loved one, or sleeping on a friend's lumpy couch. it's not a cheapness thing, it's comfort (warmth) thing.

room number: i am HORRIBLE with keeping random numbers in my head. but for some reason, for the duration of my stay, the hotel room # is BURNED in my memory. i guess it's so when you come back from the hotel dinner after having imbibed a BIT too much, you know where to go.

the darkness: NOTHING beats this. hotel rooms always have those drapes that can COMPLETLEY block out a supernova (or more simply, all outside light). it's a brilliant thing to fall asleep to, a disturbing thing to wake up in the middle of the night ("where am i?" i have teetered on the brink of insanity some mornings when my eyes open and there is completely dark, "oh no! i've gone blind!"), and makes it extremely hard to WANT to get up in the morning. which leads me the last "hotel truth"...

the wake up call: this is BRILLIANT. i, like 93% of the human population, am a perpetual (and habitual) snoozer, no matter where the alarm clock is strategically positioned (i have yet to test my waking mettle against clocky...birthday present hint hint). but for some reason, a wake up call signals the immediate expectations of others, even though it is probably an (automated) stranger, which you HAVE to get up for. to make it worse, i usually wake up about 6 minutes before the wake up call + stare at the phone in trepidation.

and those are my hotel truths. did i miss anything?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

we are not ALL jerks.

to make thinigs EVEN BETTER, i just found this shirt:

...and i was happy once and for all (hint hint for an upcoming birthday present).


jean-luc makes raman happy. so does fareed.

and if that's not enough to put a smile on your face (you cold, heartless, bastard), read this Newsweek excerpt from Fareed Zakeria's recent book, the Post American World. it cheered up my glum on the current state of the world. though i feel it a BIT reaching and optimistic, it made me see that maybe the glass is half full...even though we're still in for a sh*t few years. read for yourself + see (thanks to my buddy Rajiv for sharing first):
The Rise of the Rest
It's true China is booming, Russia is growing more assertive, terrorism is a threat. But if America is losing the ability to dictate to this new world, it has not lost the ability to lead.

Americans are glum at the moment. No, I mean really glum. In April, a new poll revealed that 81 percent of the American people believe that the country is on the "wrong track." In the 25 years that pollsters have asked this question, last month's response was by far the most negative. Other polls, asking similar questions, found levels of gloom that were even more alarming, often at 30- and 40-year highs. There are reasons to be pessimistic—a financial panic and looming recession, a seemingly endless war in Iraq, and the ongoing threat of terrorism. But the facts on the ground—unemployment numbers, foreclosure rates, deaths from terror attacks—are simply not dire enough to explain the present atmosphere of malaise.

American anxiety springs from something much deeper, a sense that large and disruptive forces are coursing through the world. In almost every industry, in every aspect of life, it feels like the patterns of the past are being scrambled. "Whirl is king, having driven out Zeus," wrote Aristophanes 2,400 years ago. And—for the first time in living memory—the United States does not seem to be leading the charge. Americans see that a new world is coming into being, but fear it is one being shaped in distant lands and by foreign people.

Look around. The world's tallest building is in Taipei, and will soon be in Dubai. Its largest publicly traded company is in Beijing. Its biggest refinery is being constructed in India. Its largest passenger airplane is built in Europe. The largest investment fund on the planet is in Abu Dhabi; the biggest movie industry is Bollywood, not Hollywood. Once quintessentially American icons have been usurped by the natives. The largest Ferris wheel is in Singapore. The largest casino is in Macao, which overtook Las Vegas in gambling revenues last year. America no longer dominates even its favorite sport, shopping. The Mall of America in Minnesota once boasted that it was the largest shopping mall in the world. Today it wouldn't make the top ten. In the most recent rankings, only two of the world's ten richest people are American. These lists are arbitrary and a bit silly, but consider that only ten years ago, the United States would have serenely topped almost every one of these categories.

These factoids reflect a seismic shift in power and attitudes. It is one that I sense when I travel around the world. In America, we are still debating the nature and extent of anti-Americanism. One side says that the problem is real and worrying and that we must woo the world back. The other says this is the inevitable price of power and that many of these countries are envious—and vaguely French—so we can safely ignore their griping. But while we argue over why they hate us, "they" have moved on, and are now far more interested in other, more dynamic parts of the globe. The world has shifted from anti-Americanism to post-Americanism.

I. The End of Pax Americana
During the 1980s, when I would visit India—where I grew up—most Indians were fascinated by the United States. Their interest, I have to confess, was not in the important power players in Washington or the great intellectuals in Cambridge.

People would often ask me about … Donald Trump. He was the very symbol of the United States—brassy, rich, and modern. He symbolized the feeling that if you wanted to find the biggest and largest anything, you had to look to America. Today, outside of entertainment figures, there is no comparable interest in American personalities. If you wonder why, read India's newspapers or watch its television. There are dozens of Indian businessmen who are now wealthier than the Donald. Indians are obsessed by their own vulgar real estate billionaires. And that newfound interest in their own story is being replicated across much of the world.

How much? Well, consider this fact. In 2006 and 2007, 124 countries grew their economies at over 4 percent a year. That includes more than 30 countries in Africa. Over the last two decades, lands outside the industrialized West have been growing at rates that were once unthinkable. While there have been booms and busts, the overall trend has been unambiguously upward. Antoine van Agtmael, the fund manager who coined the term "emerging markets," has identified the 25 companies most likely to be the world's next great multinationals. His list includes four companies each from Brazil, Mexico, South Korea, and Taiwan; three from India, two from China, and one each from Argentina, Chile, Malaysia, and South Africa. This is something much broader than the much-ballyhooed rise of China or even Asia. It is the rise of the rest—the rest of the world.

We are living through the third great power shift in modern history. The first was the rise of the Western world, around the 15th century. It produced the world as we know it now—science and technology, commerce and capitalism, the industrial and agricultural revolutions. It also led to the prolonged political dominance of the nations of the Western world. The second shift, which took place in the closing years of the 19th century, was the rise of the United States. Once it industrialized, it soon became the most powerful nation in the world, stronger than any likely combination of other nations. For the last 20 years, America's superpower status in every realm has been largely unchallenged—something that's never happened before in history, at least since the Roman Empire dominated the known world 2,000 years ago. During this Pax Americana, the global economy has accelerated dramatically. And that expansion is the driver behind the third great power shift of the modern age—the rise of the rest.

At the military and political level, we still live in a unipolar world. But along every other dimension—industrial, financial, social, cultural—the distribution of power is shifting, moving away from American dominance. In terms of war and peace, economics and business, ideas and art, this will produce a landscape that is quite different from the one we have lived in until now—one defined and directed from many places and by many peoples.

The post-American world is naturally an unsettling prospect for Americans, but it should not be. This will not be a world defined by the decline of America but rather the rise of everyone else. It is the result of a series of positive trends that have been progressing over the last 20 years, trends that have created an international climate of unprecedented peace and prosperity.

I know. That's not the world that people perceive. We are told that we live in dark, dangerous times. Terrorism, rogue states, nuclear proliferation, financial panics, recession, outsourcing, and illegal immigrants all loom large in the national discourse. Al Qaeda, Iran, North Korea, China, Russia are all threats in some way or another. But just how violent is today's world, really?

A team of scholars at the University of Maryland has been tracking deaths caused by organized violence. Their data show that wars of all kinds have been declining since the mid-1980s and that we are now at the lowest levels of global violence since the 1950s. Deaths from terrorism are reported to have risen in recent years. But on closer examination, 80 percent of those casualties come from Afghanistan and Iraq, which are really war zones with ongoing insurgencies—and the overall numbers remain small. Looking at the evidence, Harvard's polymath professor Steven Pinker has ventured to speculate that we are probably living "in the most peaceful time of our species' existence."

Why does it not feel that way? Why do we think we live in scary times? Part of the problem is that as violence has been ebbing, information has been exploding. The last 20 years have produced an information revolution that brings us news and, most crucially, images from around the world all the time. The immediacy of the images and the intensity of the 24-hour news cycle combine to produce constant hype. Every weather disturbance is the "storm of the decade." Every bomb that explodes is BREAKING NEWS. Because the information revolution is so new, we—reporters, writers, readers, viewers—are all just now figuring out how to put everything in context.

We didn't watch daily footage of the two million people who died in Indochina in the 1970s, or the million who perished in the sands of the Iran-Iraq war ten years later. We saw little of the civil war in the Congo in the 1990s, where millions died. But today any bomb that goes off, any rocket that is fired, any death that results, is documented by someone, somewhere and ricochets instantly across the world. Add to this terrorist attacks, which are random and brutal. "That could have been me," you think. Actually, your chances of being killed in a terrorist attack are tiny—for an American, smaller than drowning in your bathtub. But it doesn't feel like that.

The threats we face are real. Islamic jihadists are a nasty bunch—they do want to attack civilians everywhere. But it is increasingly clear that militants and suicide bombers make up a tiny portion of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims. They can do real damage, especially if they get their hands on nuclear weapons. But the combined efforts of the world's governments have effectively put them on the run and continue to track them and their money. Jihad persists, but the jihadists have had to scatter, work in small local cells, and use simple and undetectable weapons. They have not been able to hit big, symbolic targets, especially ones involving Americans. So they blow up bombs in cafés, marketplaces, and subway stations. The problem is that in doing so, they kill locals and alienate ordinary Muslims. Look at the polls. Support for violence of any kind has dropped dramatically over the last five years in all Muslim countries.

Militant groups have reconstituted in certain areas where they exploit a particular local issue or have support from a local ethnic group or sect, most worryingly in Pakistan and Afghanistan where Islamic radicalism has become associated with Pashtun identity politics. But as a result, these groups are becoming more local and less global. Al Qaeda in Iraq, for example, has turned into a group that is more anti-Shiite than anti-American. The bottom line is this: since 9/11, Al Qaeda Central, the gang run by Osama bin Laden, has not been able to launch a single major terror attack in the West or any Arab country—its original targets. They used to do terrorism, now they make videotapes. Of course one day they will get lucky again, but that they have been stymied for almost seven years points out that in this battle between governments and terror groups, the former need not despair.

Some point to the dangers posed by countries like Iran. These rogue states present real problems, but look at them in context. The American economy is 68 times the size of Iran's. Its military budget is 110 times that of the mullahs. Were Iran to attain a nuclear capacity, it would complicate the geopolitics of the Middle East. But none of the problems we face compare with the dangers posed by a rising Germany in the first half of the 20th century or an expansionist Soviet Union in the second half. Those were great global powers bent on world domination. If this is 1938, as some neoconservatives tell us, then Iran is Romania, not Germany.

Others paint a dark picture of a world in which dictators are on the march. China and Russia and assorted other oil potentates are surging. We must draw the battle lines now, they warn, and engage in a great Manichean struggle that will define the next century. Some of John McCain's rhetoric has suggested that he adheres to this dire, dyspeptic view. But before we all sign on for a new Cold War, let's take a deep breath and gain some perspective. Today's rising great powers are relatively benign by historical measure. In the past, when countries grew rich they've wanted to become great military powers, overturn the existing order, and create their own empires or spheres of influence. But since the rise of Japan and Germany in the 1960s and 1970s, none have done this, choosing instead to get rich within the existing international order. China and India are clearly moving in this direction. Even Russia, the most aggressive and revanchist great power today, has done little that compares with past aggressors. The fact that for the first time in history, the United States can contest Russian influence in Ukraine—a country 4,800 miles away from Washington that Russia has dominated or ruled for 350 years—tells us something about the balance of power between the West and Russia.

Compare Russia and China with where they were 35 years ago. At the time both (particularly Russia) were great power threats, actively conspiring against the United States, arming guerrilla movement across the globe, funding insurgencies and civil wars, blocking every American plan in the United Nations. Now they are more integrated into the global economy and society than at any point in at least 100 years. They occupy an uncomfortable gray zone, neither friends nor foes, cooperating with the United States and the West on some issues, obstructing others. But how large is their potential for trouble? Russia's military spending is $35 billion, or 1/20th of the Pentagon's. China has about 20 nuclear missiles that can reach the United States. We have 830 missiles, most with multiple warheads, that can reach China. Who should be worried about whom? Other rising autocracies like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states are close U.S. allies that shelter under America's military protection, buy its weapons, invest in its companies, and follow many of its diktats. With Iran's ambitions growing in the region, these countries are likely to become even closer allies, unless America gratuitously alienates them.

II. The Good News
In July 2006, I spoke with a senior member of the Israeli government, a few days after Israel's war with Hezbollah had ended. He was genuinely worried about his country's physical security. Hezbollah's rockets had reached farther into Israel than people had believed possible. The military response had clearly been ineffectual: Hezbollah launched as many rockets on the last day of the war as on the first. Then I asked him about the economy—the area in which he worked. His response was striking. "That's puzzled all of us," he said. "The stock market was higher on the last day of the war than on the first! The same with the shekel." The government was spooked, but the market wasn't.

Or consider the Iraq War, which has produced deep, lasting chaos and dysfunction in that country. Over two million refugees have crowded into neighboring lands. That would seem to be the kind of political crisis guaranteed to spill over. But as I've traveled in the Middle East over the last few years, I've been struck by how little Iraq's troubles have destabilized the region. Everywhere you go, people angrily denounce American foreign policy. But most Middle Eastern countries are booming. Iraq's neighbors—Turkey, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia—are enjoying unprecedented prosperity. The Gulf states are busy modernizing their economies and societies, asking the Louvre, New York University, and Cornell Medical School to set up remote branches in the desert. There's little evidence of chaos, instability, and rampant Islamic fundamentalism.

The underlying reality across the globe is of enormous vitality. For the first time ever, most countries around the world are practicing sensible economics. Consider inflation. Over the past 20 years hyperinflation, a problem that used to bedevil large swaths of the world from Turkey to Brazil to Indonesia, has largely vanished, tamed by successful fiscal and monetary policies. The results are clear and stunning. The share of people living on $1 a day has plummeted from 40 percent in 1981 to 18 percent in 2004 and is estimated to drop to 12 percent by 2015. Poverty is falling in countries that house 80 percent of the world's population. There remains real poverty in the world—most worryingly in 50 basket-case countries that contain 1 billion people—but the overall trend has never been more encouraging. The global economy has more than doubled in size over the last 15 years and is now approaching $54 trillion! Global trade has grown by 133 percent in the same period. The expansion of the global economic pie has been so large, with so many countries participating, that it has become the dominating force of the current era. Wars, terrorism, and civil strife cause disruptions temporarily but eventually they are overwhelmed by the waves of globalization. These circumstances may not last, but it is worth understanding what the world has looked like for the past few decades.

III. A New Nationalism
Of course, global growth is also responsible for some of the biggest problems in the world right now. It has produced tons of money—what businesspeople call liquidity—that moves around the world. The combination of low inflation and lots of cash has meant low interest rates, which in turn have made people act greedily and/or stupidly. So we have witnessed over the last two decades a series of bubbles—in East Asian countries, technology stocks, housing, subprime mortgages, and emerging market equities. Growth also explains one of the signature events of our times—soaring commodity prices. $100 oil is just the tip of the barrel. Almost all commodities are at 200-year highs. Food, only a few decades ago in danger of price collapse, is now in the midst of a scary rise. None of this is due to dramatic fall-offs in supply. It is demand, growing global demand, that is fueling these prices. The effect of more and more people eating, drinking, washing, driving, and consuming will have seismic effects on the global system. These may be high-quality problems, but they are deep problems nonetheless.

The most immediate effect of global growth is the appearance of new economic powerhouses on the scene. It is an accident of history that for the last several centuries, the richest countries in the world have all been very small in terms of population. Denmark has 5.5 million people, the Netherlands has 16.6 million. The United States is the biggest of the bunch and has dominated the advanced industrial world. But the real giants—China, India, Brazil—have been sleeping, unable or unwilling to join the world of functioning economies. Now they are on the move and naturally, given their size, they will have a large footprint on the map of the future. Even if people in these countries remain relatively poor, as nations their total wealth will be massive. Or to put it another way, any number, no matter how small, when multiplied by 2.5 billion becomes a very big number. (2.5 billion is the population of China plus India.)

The rise of China and India is really just the most obvious manifestation of a rising world. In dozens of big countries, one can see the same set of forces at work—a growing economy, a resurgent society, a vibrant culture, and a rising sense of national pride. That pride can morph into something uglier. For me, this was vividly illustrated a few years ago when I was chatting with a young Chinese executive in an Internet café in Shanghai. He wore Western clothes, spoke fluent English, and was immersed in global pop culture. He was a product of globalization and spoke its language of bridge building and cosmopolitan values. At least, he did so until we began talking about Taiwan, Japan, and even the United States. (We did not discuss Tibet, but I'm sure had we done so, I could have added it to this list.) His responses were filled with passion, bellicosity, and intolerance. I felt as if I were in Germany in 1910, speaking to a young German professional, who would have been equally modern and yet also a staunch nationalist.

As economic fortunes rise, so inevitably does nationalism. Imagine that your country has been poor and marginal for centuries. Finally, things turn around and it becomes a symbol of economic progress and success. You would be proud, and anxious that your people win recognition and respect throughout the world.

In many countries such nationalism arises from a pent-up frustration over having to accept an entirely Western, or American, narrative of world history—one in which they are miscast or remain bit players. Russians have long chafed over the manner in which Western countries remember World War II. The American narrative is one in which the United States and Britain heroically defeat the forces of fascism. The Normandy landings are the climactic highpoint of the war—the beginning of the end. The Russians point out, however, that in fact the entire Western front was a sideshow. Three quarters of all German forces were engaged on the Eastern front fighting Russian troops, and Germany suffered 70 percent of its casualties there. The Eastern front involved more land combat than all other theaters of World War II put together.

Such divergent national perspectives always existed. But today, thanks to the information revolution, they are amplified, echoed, and disseminated. Where once there were only the narratives laid out by The New York Times, Time, Newsweek, the BBC, and CNN, there are now dozens of indigenous networks and channels—from Al Jazeera to New Delhi's NDTV to Latin America's Telesur. The result is that the "rest" are now dissecting the assumptions and narratives of the West and providing alternative views. A young Chinese diplomat told me in 2006, "When you tell us that we support a dictatorship in Sudan to have access to its oil, what I want to say is, 'And how is that different from your support of a medieval monarchy in Saudi Arabia?' We see the hypocrisy, we just don't say anything—yet."

The fact that newly rising nations are more strongly asserting their ideas and interests is inevitable in a post-American world. This raises a conundrum—how to get a world of many actors to work together. The traditional mechanisms of international cooperation are fraying. The U.N. Security Council has as its permanent members the victors of a war that ended more than 60 years ago. The G8 does not include China, India or Brazil—the three fastest-growing large economies in the world—and yet claims to represent the movers and shakers of the world economy. By tradition, the IMF is always headed by a European and the World Bank by an American. This "tradition," like the segregated customs of an old country club, might be charming to an insider. But to the majority who live outside the West, it seems bigoted. Our challenge is this: Whether the problem is a trade dispute or a human rights tragedy like Darfur or climate change, the only solutions that will work are those involving many nations. But arriving at solutions when more countries and more non-governmental players are feeling empowered will be harder than ever.

IV. The Next American Century
Many look at the vitality of this emerging world and conclude that the United States has had its day. "Globalization is striking back," Gabor Steingart, an editor at Germany's leading news magazine, Der Spiegel, writes in a best-selling book. As others prosper, he argues, the United States has lost key industries, its people have stopped saving money, and its government has become increasingly indebted to Asian central banks. The current financial crisis has only given greater force to such fears.

But take a step back. Over the last 20 years, globalization has been gaining depth and breadth. America has benefited massively from these trends. It has enjoyed unusually robust growth, low unemployment and inflation, and received hundreds of billions of dollars in investment. These are not signs of economic collapse. Its companies have entered new countries and industries with great success, using global supply chains and technology to stay in the vanguard of efficiency. U.S. exports and manufacturing have actually held their ground and services have boomed.

The United States is currently ranked as the globe's most competitive economy by the World Economic Forum. It remains dominant in many industries of the future like nanotechnology, biotechnology, and dozens of smaller high-tech fields. Its universities are the finest in the world, making up 8 of the top ten and 37 of the top fifty, according to a prominent ranking produced by Shanghai Jiao Tong University. A few years ago the National Science Foundation put out a scary and much-discussed statistic. In 2004, the group said, 950,000 engineers graduated from China and India, while only 70,000 graduated from the United States. But those numbers are wildly off the mark. If you exclude the car mechanics and repairmen—who are all counted as engineers in Chinese and Indian statistics—the numbers look quite different. Per capita, it turns out, the United States trains more engineers than either of the Asian giants.

But America's hidden secret is that most of these engineers are immigrants. Foreign students and immigrants account for almost 50 percent of all science researchers in the country. In 2006 they received 40 percent of all PhDs. By 2010, 75 percent of all science PhDs in this country will be awarded to foreign students. When these graduates settle in the country, they create economic opportunity. Half of all Silicon Valley start-ups have one founder who is an immigrant or first generation American. The potential for a new burst of American productivity depends not on our education system or R&D spending, but on our immigration policies. If these people are allowed and encouraged to stay, then innovation will happen here. If they leave, they'll take it with them.

More broadly, this is America's great—and potentially insurmountable—strength. It remains the most open, flexible society in the world, able to absorb other people, cultures, ideas, goods, and services. The country thrives on the hunger and energy of poor immigrants. Faced with the new technologies of foreign companies, or growing markets overseas, it adapts and adjusts. When you compare this dynamism with the closed and hierarchical nations that were once superpowers, you sense that the United States is different and may not fall into the trap of becoming rich, and fat, and lazy.

American society can adapt to this new world. But can the American government? Washington has gotten used to a world in which all roads led to its doorstep. America has rarely had to worry about benchmarking to the rest of the world—it was always so far ahead. But the natives have gotten good at capitalism and the gap is narrowing. Look at the rise of London. It's now the world's leading financial center—less because of things that the United States did badly than those London did well, like improving regulation and becoming friendlier to foreign capital. Or take the U.S. health care system, which has become a huge liability for American companies. U.S. carmakers now employ more people in Ontario, Canada, than Michigan because in Canada their health care costs are lower. Twenty years ago, the United States had the lowest corporate taxes in the world. Today they are the second-highest. It's not that ours went up. Those of others went down.

American parochialism is particularly evident in foreign policy. Economically, as other countries grow, for the most part the pie expands and everyone wins. But geopolitics is a struggle for influence: as other nations become more active internationally, they will seek greater freedom of action. This necessarily means that America's unimpeded influence will decline. But if the world that's being created has more power centers, nearly all are invested in order, stability and progress. Rather than narrowly obsessing about our own short-term interests and interest groups, our chief priority should be to bring these rising forces into the global system, to integrate them so that they in turn broaden and deepen global economic, political, and cultural ties. If China, India, Russia, Brazil all feel that they have a stake in the existing global order, there will be less danger of war, depression, panics, and breakdowns. There will be lots of problems, crisis, and tensions, but they will occur against a backdrop of systemic stability. This benefits them but also us. It's the ultimate win-win.

To bring others into this world, the United States needs to make its own commitment to the system clear. So far, America has been able to have it both ways. It is the global rule-maker but doesn't always play by the rules. And forget about standards created by others. Only three countries in the world don't use the metric system—Liberia, Myanmar, and the United States. For America to continue to lead the world, we will have to first join it.

Americans—particularly the American government—have not really understood the rise of the rest. This is one of the most thrilling stories in history. Billions of people are escaping from abject poverty. The world will be enriched and ennobled as they become consumers, producers, inventors, thinkers, dreamers, and doers. This is all happening because of American ideas and actions. For 60 years, the United States has pushed countries to open their markets, free up their politics, and embrace trade and technology. American diplomats, businessmen, and intellectuals have urged people in distant lands to be unafraid of change, to join the advanced world, to learn the secrets of our success. Yet just as they are beginning to do so, we are losing faith in such ideas. We have become suspicious of trade, openness, immigration, and investment because now it's not Americans going abroad but foreigners coming to America. Just as the world is opening up, we are closing down.

Generations from now, when historians write about these times, they might note that by the turn of the 21st century, the United States had succeeded in its great, historical mission—globalizing the world. We don't want them to write that along the way, we forgot to globalize

Fareed Zakaria
Updated: 2:24 PM ET May 3, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

[campaign] video strategies

in an effort to continue to support my boy Barry, i wanted to share a video his campaign released last week that has me wanting to go volunteer to paint a barn when i get back in town:

how much of this is propaganda? i don't know. but it sure as hell makes you feel the grassroots of it all. i'm inspired.

more importantly though, i want to show a quick contrast. here are 2 screenshots from both campaigns video advertising sections on their respective websites. take a quick glance (click to see bigger image), and tell me what you see (i've taken the courtesy of boxing the relevant parts of the McCain campaign in RED).

one campaign is going to TOWN with the attack ads that do no good other than slander and the other? oh they're just showing SPEECHES on policy (to be fair, the McCain campaign devotes a section to speeches). are there attack ads coming from the Obama campaign? yes, but the few i've seen on TV have been "counter attacks."

i guess you could say any politician HAS to play this game. but that's not what Johny Mac told Chris Matthews a few months earlier: i'm sure it did for Chris, this ran a thrill up my leg.

lastly, to keep this purely "fair and balanced," let me share one more screenshot from something i saw this morning. basically, my buddy Rajiv is part of a cable talk show ("Pan Desi," in which HE is actually pretty funny, in his own way, as usual). anyhow, i was watching him interview a Barack supporter, and look at what advertising showed up...

surprisingly good use of Google's contextual targeting capabilities by the McCain campaign, but again i question the content of the message.

that's all for now. tune in next time, when i eventually start making sense.

on asia: south VS east?

DISCLAIMER: anything written in this post represents neither my country, my company, nor any of those with whom i associate. it's just me rambling on the world (which may be found as mildly offensive, and broadly generalizing). but i would like to couch it with the fact that i think i have an above average knowledge of Asian culture, (1) being Asian, and (2) having worked + traveled extensively thru the continent. that being said, please don't fire me (yet).

so, it's been awhile, how are you? me? i've been too busy watching the Olympics + traveling. and while i'm still doing both, i find myself "working from home" with far too many distractions (why it is VERY important that Raman has an office w/ people looking over his shoulder so he feels compelled to work). but be thankful, as you are in for a good post today. onwards!

let's talk about China.
(we'll start with the obvious, and go on from there. much of this is has been stewing in my head for several months. some of it coming to the surface more recently)

the Olympics. wow. Opening Ceremonies? $300 million spent (London must be soiling their undies). CGI fireworks footprints? sure, whatever. cute(r) little girl lipsyncing, like we can talk? don't even get me started on the 2008 dudes doing Tai Chi in a mad running circle, or the boxes. holy crap. it was enough to keep a Rock Band party on hold (though we did go picture-in-picture for the Parade of Nations (pausing only to ogle at the attractive athletes, male and female alike).
am i amazed at China? yes. am i surprised? not really. on a group, government, society level, China really has proven they've got their sh*t together. after all, it's a semi-authoritarian state. when they want to get something done, all they have to do is throw (force) the people into action, and they're off. i had in Indian friend over watching the Opening Ceremonies with me, and we agreed, we would be old, old (probably dead) men before we saw an Olympic Games coming to India, much less something of the magnitude that China was attempting.

[the above AMAZING photos from the Opening Ceremonies were taken from here]

and this is the perfect intro for me to go into my long stewing contrast of India + China.

again, please allow me for a bit to DISCLAIM (or skip this part):
i am Indian (sort of). i've been there a few times (most recently backpacking on my own thru temples in the south, even tho i am from the north, which comparatively, are like different countries). i've worked on marketing programs for India (so i get their consumer). i know where the best Indian places to eat are in Cincinnati and Singapore (and will argue my POV's w/ you on either city's cuisine). i pretend i can speak/understand Hindi, but i'm mostly faking it. i am dating a Chinese (sort of) girl...she's about as Chinese as i am Indian (but a far prettier, cooler, more interesting individual than i...i'm pretty sure if we have kids they will look Tibetan). i've been to China only ONCE in recent years, although thru my work/travels in SE Asia i've spent a LOT of time immersed in Chinese culture (they are everywhere). i know where the REALLY good dim sum places are in Boston + Chicago. and i've probably read more on Buddhism and Hinduism than you (but there are many who know fare more than i, and i still learn more every day). i've worked with a LOT of people of Indian + Chinese descent, and am constantly blown away by them. all this being said, my experiences are limited, and my assumptions are egregious, so please bear with, and humor me...

RAMAN's [observed] contrasts between Chinese & Indian culture:
(as my friend puts it, stereotypes exist for a reason)


South Asians (proxied by Indians, but i would argue you could include Pakistani's, Bengali's, and maybe even Middle Easterners, just for fun) are aggressive, crazy, obnoxious type A's who are mostly full of it underneath it all.

East Asians (proxied by Chinese, but feel free to throw in the Vietnamese, Japanese, and Thai) are passive, crazy, subdued, and have a fierce underbelly that will get you if you don't watch out.

US workplace: i work at a fairly large multinational corporation. we are basically split down the middle between 2 organizations. the business side (that leads most of our business + general management operations), and the technical side (research & development, plant opersation, supply chain logistics, etc). take a GUESS where you think either of the above mentioned groups fits in. here's a hint...i work in marketing, a field that is mostly BS :). did i mention my girlfriend used to be a chemical engineer in our R&D division?

but seriously, in our US organization (i discount Canada as there are a far more of Asians there, throwing off my sample set, but perhaps i'll append this post after spending next week in their office), i tend to see far more Indians excelling on the more commercial side, where i see far more Chinese on the technical side. naturally, are there exceptions, sure, but i'm commenting on a trend.

people/personality: Chinese (and most East Asian) culture values "face" - the idea that no matter what the situation, you should not allow others to see the true extremes of your emotion in a public setting. if you are upset or angry, you must maintain your calm and controlled demeanor. to make someone lose face is a huge social faux pas, and to lose your face in front of others, don't even think about it. as for Indians (and most South Asian/middle Eastern)? this concept doesn't exist. you say what you want, and you push until you get it. classic examples would be a member of my family at a restaraunt sending an order back, VS my girlfriend's just shrugging their shoulders and accepting it (limited experience here, as i've only been out to eat with her brothers, not her parents :). i'm assuming you can see how this plays out in the workforce, so i won't go any further.

populace + social order: both countries brag a HUGE citizenry (a "small town" usually sports ~1 million people), but the way these populations exist is drastically different. you land in an Indian city and are assaulted by the color, unbridled chaos, and frankly, dirtiness. a China city? cold, (mostly) colorless, and full of organized chaos. roads, trains, skyscrapers and Olympic stadiums are built in Beijing. i think they're still working on the first subway line in New Delhi, nevermind an interstate system. bribery at the highest ends of government? present in both actually, but far more prominent in India, as there are quite a few more people to bribe, VS far fewer "party bosses" in Communist China (though it should be noted that Communism is rampant in South India, and during the Cold War, India was actually more aligned w/ the USSR...their Air Force still flies Russian MIGS)

obvious similarities: there are quite a few things both Asian cultures have in common though, but i would argue it has more to do with the immigrant culture i find myself in (+ most Westerners find themselves in observation of), rather than the true nature of the local populations.

respect for elders is the biggest one. as a kid i would aspire to, but now as an adult i cringe at, the way many of my western friends interact with their parents, uncles, aunts, grandparents. for many Asians it is a foreign concept to think of putting your parents in a home, because naturally, they will come live with the children when they become old.

importance of education. i cannot even stress this one enough. i have many western friends that have excelled academically, but much of it was of their own volition (for which i find them superior to me) rather than the downwards pressure placed by my parents, who themselves used education as means to escape their country and come to mine. but i fear much this will be lost with my children, to some degree. let's hope my kids aren't TOTAL jerks.

and then there the few universal things held in common across Asian cultures. leaving your shoes at the door. white at funerals. red at weddings. sharing food (VS getting your own plate). as big a fan as i am for free refills, i think this last one is the biggest thing i find appealing when dining with others.

NET - there are some distinct differences between East & South Asian cultures. so Westerners, pay heed. because your darker-hued peers will soon be taking over, economically and politically. and thru it all? my girlfriend and i are constantly learning how much we share in common, but moreso how different we really are. and that's what makes it work.

let's get back to where we [more innocently] started, the Olympics.

the events themselves? i hesitated the first few days to get pulled in, only because i don't watch too much TV in my daily routine. but from the chatter at work, i noticed a LOT of people were getting sucked into staying up far too late watching. it was not until i got to NY to spend some quality time w/ my girlfriend that i too succumbed.

Michael Phelps? what a monster. Nastia Liukin? graceful, who in America names their child that? Chinese gymnasts? c'mon, don't tell me you think some of those girls are really 16 Jamaica running? holy crap they are fast (but Usain Bolt was a bit arrogant on his 9.69s run at the 100 metre, he totally could have had a 9.5s time).

and lastly, what the hell is up w/ the commentary? i guess NBC is using the Olympics to "introduce" Chinese culture to rest of America, but seriously, PLEASE don't talk down to us. what i find even MORE funny is the recent slew of movies where China is the centerpiece....Kung Fu Panda, and the Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (the latter of which i can picture a room full of Hollywood producers, having just done a few lines of blow, sayings "where can we set our new Mummy movie? hmmm, the Olympics are hot, why not China?!?"). here's a related article.

want to learn more about East Asian culture, forget the movies, go read a book. or for proper entertainment, go watch
Avatar: the Last Airbender ...quite possibly one of the best TV shows ever (and sadly, over)

what a great way to end this crazy bloog. agree/disagree with ANYTHING written here? comment then already!

ok, now i have to quickly make a post about Barack Obama and/or John McCain so first-time readers to my bloog don't see what i'm REALLY thinking....
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...