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August 26, 2008

DNC 2008

From former Virginia Governor Mark Warner's keynote speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention:

We delivered broadband to the most remote areas of our state, because if you can send a job to Bangalore, India, you sure as heck can send one to Danville, VA and Flint, MI, and Scranton, PA, and Peoria, IL. In a global economy, you should have to leave your home town to find a world-class job.

I wonder if that's the first time India gets a mention at a DNC convention? Regardless, the mention is in keeping with the general themes in the speeches today: high tech and clean energy job generation and outsourcing prevention.

Update: here's another, earlier, reference from Governor Ed Rendell:

It will invest $150 billion over the next decade to grow our energy supply and put 5 million Americans to work building solar and wind farms, clean coal gasification and geothermal plants, the kind of jobs that can’t be outsourced to India or China.

Same themes.

Update II: Senator and Vice Presidential nominee Joe Biden weighs in as well:

The Bush-McCain foreign policy has dug us into a very deep hole with very few friends to help us climb out. For the last seven years, this administration has failed to face the biggest forces shaping this century: the emergence of Russia, China and India as great powers; the spread of lethal weapons; the shortage of secure supplies of energy, food and water; the challenge of climate change; and the resurgence of fundamentalism in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the real central front against terrorism.

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- August 26, 2008 7:11 PM // Politics

August 12, 2008

Mocking Gurus

The Guardian's William Leith take on why The Love Guru flopped:

In The Love Guru, the main character is a new-age guru in the style of Deepak Chopra – in fact, he's the number two guru, always coming second behind Chopra himself. He's supposed to be a man of eastern mystery, meditation, and so on. (The character is actually pretending to be Indian.) Myers must have thought that this would be another rich seam to mine for dick jokes and jokes about flatulence and sex. But it's not. That's the problem. It's just not – partly because we don't know enough about the world of gurus and India and eastern mysticism, and partly because we're queasy when somebody takes the mickey out of it.

In other words, you can mock slackers, and you can mock 60s spies, but you can't mock gurus – it gives the audience a sort of shudder, as if we were watching It Ain't Half Hot, Mum, the 70s comedy set in the Raj.

Whereas I don't think Gurus/Indian spirituality are necessarily immune to humor, the approaches thus far have probably been too crude to succeed. Try this following sketch from the late lamented BBC program Goodness Gracious Me:

I think this works because:

  • The humor is gentle.
  • It's immediately apparent to both desi and non-desi audiences that this guy is in fact clueless. The humor stems from how our guru manages to continue fooling his gullible disciples.
  • Presence of elements audiences of all types can dig: brand names as pidgin Sanskrit, conflation with Star Wars and so on
  • .

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- August 12, 2008 7:13 PM // Film , Humour

August 11, 2008

Amusing Airport Codes II

Recall I recently wrote about some of the funnier airport codes? One of them, Sioux City, aka SUX, has now decided to embrace its status wholeheartedly:

Now, though, Sioux City is trying to get in on the joke. Bernstein is making T-shirts - and a lot of other stuff - emblazoned with "Fly SUX." (Remember, that's pronounced "S-U-X," not "sucks.")

It all begin as a lark last fall, when Bernstein, who sits on the airport's Board of Trustees, had about a dozen of the T-shirts printed for some local travel agents at an appreciation dinner. Soon he was deluged with requests for them, including one from the president and CEO of Northwest Airlines, Douglas Steenland.

Since then, the line of Fly SUX merchandise has grown to include caps, coffee mugs, luggage tags, and bumper stickers.

"Let's exploit it rather than let it bother us," said Luanne Lindblade, the owner of Sioux City Gifts, the company marketing the Fly SUX merchandise. "We have always believed, 'Why fight it? Why not have fun with it?' "


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- August 11, 2008 9:31 PM // General , Travel

August 7, 2008

Hollywood vs Bollywood

It's always fun to speculate how the two compare - at least in public consciousness, if not in global box office receipts. Consequently, the recent announcement of Google Insight for Search, provides a wonderful tool for tracking mindshare. By aggregating and presenting search data from over the years, Google has provided the best example yet of its ability to be our collective database of intentions. So then, what are the trends for searches, direct and related, for "Hollywood" vs "Bollywood"? Culling data from Google Insight (bollywood, hollywood, hollywood vs bollywood), we get the following data nuggets. First, an overall comparison of search volume since 2004:


Hollywood is clearly the dominant leader worldwide. However, if you look at the overall search trends plotted year by year, an interesting picture emerges (red for Bollywood, blue for Hollywood):


Search volume for Hollywood has essentially oscillated in a single band - there's no discernible trend upwards. However, Bollywood related searches, while less than half the Hollywood volume, seem to be growing. Perhaps this could be due to the increased connectivity in the subcontinent. As more people come online, their preferences correspondingly skew the search volume.

More data: here's the regional breakdown of search volume. First, Bollywood:


Not too many surprises here: the searches tend to be clustered in the subcontinent, as you'd expect. However, there's interest in Europe, Canada, Australia and USA. Brazil from South America caught me by surprise, however.

Here's the regional breakdown for Hollywood:


More coverage on the map, obviously. However, I wasn't prepared for the extensive degree of interest emanating from the subcontinent. Actually, if you list the countries in order of interest, a startling picture emerges. First, Bollywood:


I was not prepared for Pakistan and Fiji heading the list above India. Clearly, Google's measure of interest is not by search volume only, rather it's normalized by population. Still, it's odd to see India's subcontinental neighbor more obsessed by Bollywood than itself. India's remaining neighbors and Afganisthan form the remainder of the top ten. Tanzania's presence is rather a surprise too. Moving on, what's the countrywide breakdown for Hollywood?


I was stunned to see Pakistan head this list too followed by Nepal, India and Bangladesh. The US was fifth! I didn't realize the extent of entertainment obsession in the subcontinent, particularly Pakistan. No wonder Hollywood is so interested in making inroads into the subcontinental market. The phrase "get a life" comes to mind, but hey, I am tracking the compulsion, so where does that leave me? :-)

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- August 7, 2008 10:27 PM // Bollywood , Technology