December 31, 2006

2006 in Review

No time for a detailed review of various things that transpired in 2006... but here is a quick compilation of links on various topics of interest.

General Reviews:
Slide Show via IHT
Reuters' Review of 2006

Books & Literature:
NY Times Book Review's list of The 10 Best Books of 2006

2006 - The year in sports
Cricket - 2006 Calendar Year Statistics
Ian Chappell, Michael Holding and Tony Greig look back at 2006
Osman Samiuddin reviews the highs and lows of cricket in 2006

The best (and worst) films of the year - CNN
A. O. Scott of NY Times picks the Best & the Worst Movie Minutes of 2006

NY Times 25 Most E-Mailed Travel Articles of 2006

2006 comes to a nice warm end here in Boston, with record-breaking temperatures in December, which is fine by me though obviously many people who grew up with the idea of a white Christmas were not that happy. The year ended in joy, in happiness, with long-awaited goals reached, with big promotions, or with a touch or whallop of good-luck for some people... and not so well for others.

And before I go, lets remember those who have left us in 2006...

But here's hoping to a great year ahead for everyone for 2007...

APPY NEW YEAR and Good tidings to all the readers of this blog (if any!) for 2007!

December 30, 2006

The joy of reading

If only I could write like this...
Alone, perhaps, they each could have explored the city with pleasure, followed whims, dispensed with destinations and so enjoyed or ignored being lost. There was much to wonder at here, one needed only to be alert and attend. But they knew each other much as they knew themselves, and their intimacy, rather like too many suitcases, was a matter of perpetual concern; together they moved slowly, clumsily, effecting lugubrious compromises, attending to delicate shifts of mood, repairing breaches. As individuals they did not easily take offense; but together they managed to offend each other in surprising, unexpected ways; then the offender -- it had happened twice since their arrival-- became irritated by the cloying susceptibilities of the other, and they would continue to explore the twisting alleyways and sudden squares in silence, and with each step the city would recede as they locked tighter into each other's presence.-- Excerpt from Ian McEwan's The Comfort of Strangers.

Life's little compromises

On March 6-8, 2007

Where I want to be:
The Malian minstry of culture has recently announced that a homage will be paid to Ali Farka Touré in Bamako and Niafunke on March 6, 7 and 8 2007. Activities include conferences, debates and a mega concert in a football stadium attended by the likes of Toumani Diabate, Oumou Sangare, Manu Dibango, Youssou N'dour, Alpha Blondy, Bembeya Jazz, Ry Cooder, Marcus James, Bonnie Raitt, Peter Gabriel, Ramata Diakité, Boubacar Traoré(Kar Kar), Habib Koité, Salif Keita, Baaba Maal, Tiken Jah Fakoly, Carlos Santana, Tracy Chapman [ref].

Where I most likely will be:
At work!
Update: Turns out, I was working on these days but not at work. I was in dismal Lehigh at a conference - though the conference itself was enjoyable and productive, the place was really depressing!

Vieux Farka Toure

After the passing of Ali Farka Toure, the future is in good hands... heady stuff here from his son, Vieux Farka Toure

Just listen to him casually strum the guitar sitting in his backyard in Bamako, Mali.Genius..I tell you, the kid's got the dad's genes, no doubt!





Pandora's box

Welcome to, a great internet resource to listen to new music. Take a musical journey and develop your own playlists, which evolve over time (with your feedback) to suit your tastes, while simultaneously exposing you to new groups and music.

Wikipedia enlightens me that Pandora's box opened and released evil and misfortune into the world and in "modern times, Pandora's Box has become a metaphor for the unanticipated consequences of technical and scientific development.", the title doesn't really work - unless you did not expect the bountiful new amazing world opened up and made available to everyone by the internet or if you think the devil has the best tunes :). To my ears (and soul), music can be a soothing balm, a refuge, a life-sustaining force...

In any case, even as you listen to music - in my case, first Ry Cooder and then Stevie Ray Vaughn strumming - go enlighten yourself some more about the
legend of Prometheus & Pandora's box or her jar, if you will!

December 26, 2006

RIP - James Brown

James Brown died Xmas day...Tributes pour in as fans and fellow artists celebrate the life of 'Godfather of Soul'..

Enjoy these videos of him in performance,
via Boingboing:
Eyesight, Super Bad, I Feel Good, It's A Man's World, Please Please, Sex Machine, at the Olympia, Soul Power, on the Ed Sullivan show, and an unusual TV interview he did when he was in a chemically altered state of consciousness after having been released from jail.

Incidentally, James Brown holds the record for the artist who has charted the most singles on the Billboard Hot 100 without ever hitting number one on that chart.[ref]

Charlie Gillett bids farewell to other artists who died over the last 12 months on his great show on BBC Radio.

Country: Mali
Title: Gambari Didi
Artist: Ali Farka Toure
CD Title: Savane
Label: World Circuit
Cat. Number: WCD075

Country: Jamaica
Title: Israelites
Artist: Desmond Dekker
CD Title: Desmond Dekker: Definitive
Label: Trojan
Cat. Number: TJDDD239

Country: USA
Title: Tequila
Artist: The Champs
CD Title: Teen Beat
Label: Ace
Cat. Number: CDCHD 406

Country: USA
Title: El Watusi
Artist: Ray Barretto
CD Title: Rock Instrumental Classics Vol 4: Soul
Label: Rhino
Cat. Number: E2 71604

Country: USA
Title: Viejos Amigos
Artist: Freddie Fender
CD Title: Canciones di mi Barrio
Label: Arhoolie
Cat. Number: CD 366

Country: Algeria
Title: Hak Hak
Artist: Cheikha Rimitti
CD Title: Nouar
Label: Sono
Cat. Number: CDS 7396

Country: Romania
Title: Caravan
Artist: Fanfare Ciocarflia [Ioan Ivancea]
CD Title: Gili Garabdi
Label: Asphalt Tango
Cat. Number: CD-ATR 0605

Country: Egypt
Title: Nabra
Artist: Hamza El Din
CD Title: Rough Guide to the Music of Egypt
Label: World Music Network
Cat. Number: RGNET 1114 CD

December 17, 2006


You are 'Person of the Year'

You are Time magazine's "Person of the Year" for the explosive growth and influence of user-generated Internet sites such as YouTube, Facebook and MySpace. You were chosen over Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, North Korea's Kim Jong Il and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Congratulations.

Ok...whatever - though I am a big fan of user-generated tv ( and to some extent of YouTube.

Blaah.... what a come-down from last year's Persons of the year - Bill Melinda Gates and Bono of U2 - people who actually are making a difference in the world.

December 12, 2006

Two quotes

“People who live the most fulfilling lives are the ones who are always rejoicing at what they have.” - Richard Carlson

True.. that quote rings very true to me as it reflects my philosophy in life. But sometimes I wonder if it is crap like this that keeps me from getting somewhere. Perhaps, I rejoice too prematurely in what I have or rather I am satisfied and content with what I have and in doing so get too complacent, thereby lacking the drive, the attitude, the chutzpah to go get something tougher to attain.

Update: Damn... I tried to find who Richard Carlson is... if I have the right guy, it turns out he died on December 13, 2006 - the day after I posted the above quote here. R
ichard, age 45, died of a cardiac arrest while enroute from California to a television appearance in New York. Richard Carlson was an author of the "Don't Sweat" series of motivational/self-help book, which included the bestseller, Don't Sweat the Small Stuff--and it's all small stuff, which I remember seeing in a bookstore or at the library some time back and still remember the title of that book as a quotable quote. By the way, the above quote is from his book, Shortcut through Therapy.

Also, I learned that there was an actor called Richard Carlson, that I had never heard of.

Festering in bad moods is a bad habit of mine...and so comes obvious advice from someone called Brenda Anderson:

“Bad moods become bad days, which become bad weeks, which become bad months and years. Before you know it, you’re living an unhappy life and you probably think this is ‘normal’. It’s a shame, because life can and should be wonderful. You can transcend the circumstances that are pulling you down … you need only to learn how.”

How... indeed...How....that is the million $ question.

Ms Moneypenny

Oh.. Ms. Moneypenny!

A long and happy life

Elizabeth "Lizzie" Bolden, the world's oldest woman dies at age 116.... Everyone wishes for a long and happy life. Hopefully hers was a happy life. One thing is for sure - she will be missed by many. She had "40 grandchildren, 75 great-grandchildren, 150 great-great-grandchildren, 220 great-great-great grandchildren and 75 great-great-great-great grandchildren." She was born on August 15, 1890. Incidentally, she became the world's oldest person earlier this year after Maria Ester de Capovilla of Ecuador, the last documented person to be born in the 1880s (born in 1889), died. Imagine that... Nehru or Charlie Chaplin or Hitler could have been still alive!

Also, after Bolden's death, a man, Emiliano Mercado del Toro of Puerto Rico, born August 21, 1891, is the world's oldest person. This ends a streak of 16 women in a row holding the title of the oldest person, with the last male to hold the title being Shigechiyo Izumi in 1986, although his longevity has long been disputed. In fact, nine of the top ten oldest persons are female, with the grand-mommy of oldest of all being Jeanne Louise Calment of France, who lived from Feb 21, 1875 to August 4, 1997, with the longest confirmed lifespan in history of 122 years and 164 days. According to wikipedia, 'her lifespan has been thoroughly documented by scientific study; more records have been produced to verify her age than for any other case.' The wiki entry also has this interesting tidbit about her life...
In 1965, aged 90, with no living heirs, Jeanne Calment signed a deal, common in France, to sell her condominium apartment en viager to lawyer François Raffray. Raffray, then aged 47, agreed to pay a monthly sum until she died, an agreement sometimes called a "reverse mortgage". At the time of the deal the value of the apartment was equal to ten years of payments. Unfortunately for Raffray, not only did she survive more than thirty years, but he died first, in December 1995, of cancer, at the age of 77. His widow had to continue the payments.
Talk about an unexpected turn of events! :)

December 10, 2006

Human Rights Day

Human Rights Day today... the theme this year is.. "Fighting Poverty - An Obligation, not Charity"

Today, poverty prevails as the gravest human rights challenge in the world. Combating poverty, deprivation and exclusion is not a matter of charity, and it does not depend on how rich a country is. By tackling poverty as a matter of human rights obligation, the world will have a better chance of abolishing this scourge in our lifetime...Poverty eradication is an achievable goal. -Louise Arbour, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

December 7, 2006


Cold front brewing across the US...with the.cold front extending all the way to Texas, with lows below freezing forecast as far south as New Orleans & Jacksonville, Florida. Apparently, even today, Even today morning, Duluth, MN woke up to frigid temperatures of 28 degrees below zero with windchill! Also the above report says that ..with "he front packed strong winds as well as cold temperatures, and "feels-like," or wind chill, temperatures were expected to plummet by 50 degrees in some places.

Where I am, the predictions are for

AM Snow Showers
AM Snow Showers

Chance of Precipitation: 50%
Snow flurries and snow showers possible before noon. Becoming sunny later. High 29F. Winds NW at 20 to 30 mph. Chance of snow 50%. About one inch of snow expected. Winds could occasionally gust over 40 mph.

Looks like the first snow of the year is here. Brrr... stay warm!

December 1, 2006

India - a news update

Wow...a lots happening in India this week ... like this blogger wrote:

Nowhere in this world can so many things happen in two days. A cricketer returns. A murder case gets closer to being solved. A minister is convicted of murder. A popular film actor is arrested. A bomb hoax in the country's ministerial den. And a certain class of people riot around the nation.
Indeed.. first Sanjubaba gets indicted (yet again, I wondered!) for his role in the 1993 Bombay bomb blast case (the verdic this time being that he is 'guilty but not a terrorist!)

And today, comes news that BJP MP and former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu is found guilty of causing a Patiala resident's death during a fight over parking in December 1988.
A lower court had acquitted Sidhu in 1999, but on Friday that order was overruled. Sidhu, who played 51 Tests and 136 ODIs, faces a maximum prison sentence of 10 years in the case.
Maybe this is a case of justice finally done... for there is little doubt about Sidhu's involvement in the fracas that led to the death of the poor guy as we had all dismissed this 18 years ago as being yet another case of a famous man getting away with murder (figuratively and literally.) Afterall, Sidhu was a popular opener for the Indian cricket side in 1988 and his popularity has only increased since then through his stint as a commentator (with his one-liners, popularly known as Sidhuisms) leading more recently to him even winning the Amritsar seat in Parliament in 2004, based on this popularity he gained via cricket. But, to the cynic in me, this verdict seems politically motivated - why would the case suddenly be opened after all these years.

Meanwhile, the people are rioting in the streets yet again.. but instead of worrying about the recurring rioting at the slightest pretext, people are getting their panties/lungis/langots in a bunch over inanities like this...!!
Rajasthan Chief Minister, Vasundhara Raje Scindia has come in for scathing criticism from several quarters for posing with Biocon's Kiran Majumdar Shaw in a "lip lock" position at the India Economic Submit in New Delhi.
And guess what...its not the holier-than-thou moralistic right-wing forces (BJP, Shiv Sena, VHP) that are causing this rucus - its the Congress. The reason being the Rajastan CM is from the BJP party...going to show that there is no consistent logic or philosophy that a party in India holds on to and a so-called secular liberal party can also suddenly become intolerant and narrow-minded in its outlook when an opportunity provides itself to criticize the opposing party.

Meanwhile, ignoring the more pressing issues, the tabloids keep people entertained with such
'purplocity and verniness' (credit for these terms goes to Amit Varma, who has a great hilarious series on such articles in the Indian media) as:

Men eyeing Kangana's back!
Aishwarya refused me: Angry fan!
Good smell leads to good sex! and
Yana's navel ring hooks Aftab!


Erasing history

Not clear why this was done...

100-year old Hindu temple razed in Kuala Lampur

Keep the Promise

Today, 1st December 2006, is World AIDS Day and the theme is

'Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise'.

Established by the World Health Organization in 1988, World AIDS Day serves to focus global attention on the devastating impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Observance of this day provides an opportunity for governments, national AIDS programs, churches, community organizations and individuals to demonstrate the importance of the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Also read Ken Chaplin's great blog on Fighting Aids bad is the AIDS pandemic…

AIDS has killed more than 25 million to date and the UN
reports that somebody in the world is newly infected with HIV every 8 seconds. According to UNAIDS, about 39.5 million people are living with HIV at the moment, of whom 37.2 million are adults, and 2.3 million are children under 15. (By another count, Up to 3.5 million children are living with HIV/AIDS.) 4.3 million people have become newly infected this year so far, 65% of them in Africa, of whom 530,000 are children under 15. About 2.9 million people have died of AIDS this year so far. 63% of all adults and children living with HIV in the world today live in Sub-Saharan Africa (almost 25 million people), which is five million more than in 2004. 34% of all deaths due to AIDS occur in southern Africa. In sub-Saharan Africa, there are 24.7 million people living with HIV/AIDS. So.. it is clear that HIV/AIDS is ravaging the poorest nations of the world.

There are 5.7 million people infected with HIV/AIDS in India (pdf). And fighting the apathy & complacency about AIDS is still difficult despite the rapidly rising number of infections and wide-spread media coverage and awareness/ campaigns about the looming threat ; India having the 2nd largest number of HIV infected people after South Africa.

India - International HIV/AIDS Alliance
These major programmes are co-ordinated with other agencies contributing to Avahan, the India AIDS Initiative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Little wonder then that UNAIDS has issued a statement today saying now is the time for
a rethink on AIDS campaigns.

A lot will be said and rallies will be head and slogans will be shouted from pulpits around the globe today… lets hope all this leads to more and more emphasis on driving away ignorance and also serious policy implementation in
fighting this scourge..(links to a post where I compile articles related to the fight on HIV/AIDS).

This article has a nice summary of HOW TO HELP and I cut-n-paste for future reference:

  • Volunteer with the Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP), one of the country's most effective grassroots groups working to ensure the development of an effective range of HIV prevention options.

  • Build support for the AIDS Cure Act.

  • Download the Free Treatment for All manifesto and add your name to the campaign.

  • Echo the Global Access Project's call to urge the US government to lead a global health workforce initiative in AIDS ravaged countries.

  • Show your symbolic support by wearing a red ribbon on World AIDS Day and putting a virtual red ribbon on your site or blog.

  • Finally, talk to people. Since HIV was first identified a quarter of a century ago, it has been a stigmatized disease, resulting in silence and denial. Talking openly about HIV to your friends, family, colleagues and neighbors is the most powerful way of ending prejudice.

    In related news from today

    Good news released today, announcing that...
    ...about 1.2 million people in countries hard hit by AIDS are receiving life-extending drugs thanks to two major U.S. and international funds, double from a year ago, but many millions more need help.

    SA launches plan to combat Aids - BBC News

    Ottawa pledges $250M for AIDS - Toronto Star

    Making AIDS Drugs Available to Kids in the Developing World - Time

    45,000 walkers and 2,000 volunteers participated in the AIDS Walk in New York (a pod)

    Watch these AIDS related pods on

    World AIDS Day

    Bid 2 Beat AIDS

    25 Years of AIDS

    Aids is Killing Us

    Though not all are related, time-permitting you can also see some other pods from Current Caring


    UNAIDS: The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS

    AIDS.ORG: Educating - Raising HIV Awareness

    AIDS Education Global Information System (AEGIS)
    AEGIS is one of the largest HIV/AIDS databases in the world, includes the HIV Daily Briefing, updated hourly.

    The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource
    A comprehensive site featuring in-depth information on topics ranging from HIV prevention to state-of-the-art treatment issues

    AIDSinfo - HIV / AIDS Information
    NIH information with information about federally approved treatment guidelines for HIV and AIDS.

    AIDS – Official journal of the International AIDS Society

    World AIDS Day Resources -- 1997-2006

    Factsheets on HIV/AIDS

    Strives to increase public awareness of AIDS through the visual arts, exhibitions, publications, and by working in partnership with artists

    Not one more refugee death, by Emmy Pérez

    And just like that, my #NPM2018 celebrations end with  a poem  today by Emmy Pérez. Not one more refugee death by Emmy Pérez A r...