Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cannes festival

After days of speculation, the results are out. Surprisingly , ( and I'm happy about it) most of the prestigeous awards are gone to the lesser known movies, directors and actors.

Of late, Cannes festival has also been hijacked by the hollywood bigwigs and those movies get the majority of the media coverage leaving the upcoming movies and directors far behind. In the process, some of the best movies are forgotten and not recognised appropriately.

Now, I need to get hold of these movies....

The results can be viewed here...

By the way, what are these Indian movie folks doing over there ?

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Roaring Nineties - Joseph Stiglitz

I have just finished reading this amazing book on the economics of the nineties and the new millenium by Joseph Stiglitz. Stiglitz is the winner of Nobel Prize for economics and have been involved in the direction and policy decisions of the Clinton administration and have the real insiders view of the things that shaped up.

Stiglitz looks at all the things that helped America to witness one of the strongest decade in the history in terms of Economic growth and looks at the underlying factors of this phenomenal growth. The decade after the initial recession, have shown the robust growth through out all parameters in the America , in terms of GDP , unemployment, revenue deficit.

The book examines in detail the rele of federal govt and the federal agencies in the economy and how does the policy decisions and plans helps the industry and the econimics of the country.

He is also critical of the follow up Governments and their popular tax cut, and how it had helped the rich to manipulate the system and reap money out of the investors pocket. He examines the events after the 2000, and teh collapse of the stock market , including the manipulation by the CEOs and the directors of the corporate , cheating the investors.

There is detailed analysis on the collapse of market and the industry with the example of Enron case study and tells us how , corporate greed , de-regulation, globalisation , corrput accounting practices can erase the lifetime savings of the workers and investors.

Stiglitz is also critical about America's policy abroad on globalisation. He sites examples on how America preaches to the world and does the opposite at home. The advantage America had as the only superpower in terms of Economy and Military streangth , used to create a unipolar world advocating the capitalist economy as practiced US -style. History gives us enought examples on how these have gone wrong in multiple countries and how the confidence of a US-led economy is eroding in the developing countries. Examples of Mexico, Argentina in the latin Americas, Korea , Thailand , Indonesia and Malaysia in the East, Russia and other commuist coutries in the Europe are there fopr all to see.

We have seen most of the post communist countries have elected the erstwhile communist back to power, the entire Latin America is now being ruled by leftist governments are giving us the indication that the US led globalisation policies are not being acceptable to many around the world.

While this is a book on US Economics and associated development around the world, it gives us enough insight on the different parameters of the financial matters. This biook is not written for the economic elite or students. This is meant for the common man and for someone who is keen to have a basic knowledge on the economics at the higher level.

I would say this book has enhanced my knowledge on the economics and the learning I had will defeintely improve my understanding of the global economics and politics to a significant amount.

The roaring Nineties
by Joseph Stiglitz
Penguin Books
346 pages

Friday, May 04, 2007

A short history of Myth - Karen Armstrong

I have picked this book up from Hyderabad Airport as I was waiting for the boarding announcement. A small book with a very catching name. As I briefed through the pages to see what is being discussed, grew interested and picked it up.

It is amazing to know how the myths are created and being created even now. What is the role of myths in human life and how they are important. Myths are ways of connecting our mortal lifes to the unknown or are they the imaginations of our forefathers. What do they teach us ?

The book is written in seven chronologically seperated chapters

The Paleolithic Period: The Mythology of the Hunters' (c. 20000 to 8000 BCE);
The Neolithic Period: The Mythology of the Farmers' (c. 8000 to 4000 BCE);
The Early Civilizations' (c. 4000 to 800 BCE);
The Axial Age' (c. 800 to 200 BCE);
The Post-Axial Period' (c. 200 BCE to c. 1500 CD);
The Great Western Transformation' (c. 1500 to 2000 CE).

As the chapters indicate, the creation and the progression of myths as the human race has developed in this world are described amazingly. Myths are created in this world because they are your connection to the world of unknown , the world where there are no explanation. In the early ages, where hunting was the only job, most of the myths ( as you see in the cave drawings etc) are related to that. As we progress through the ages, it is interesting to see how the myths and the religion have changed and how newer versions of the myths are created. She spends ample pages discussing the clash of 'mythos' versus 'logos' toward the later part of the Christ Era ( 15 th to 20th century ) where for western philosophers and scientist wanted to know the truth and how the world order has changed. This has made quantum jump in the scientific world and the important of myths started to take a back seat.

On the other hand it is the history of the human race through the myths. From the hunters to farmers to traders and to the latest information age, the human race had travelled a long way and dropped few old myths and embarked newer ones to the changing spiritual , religious order.
A very clear thoughts and writing has made this a compelling read and her experience as a religious history writer helps her in getting to the discussion with ease. Except in the end pages, where the future is discussed with respect to the western civilisation (which I find unconvincing) , the book is very well researched and informative.

Before I end, I would like to quote the following paragraph from the book:

" We need myths that will help us to identify with all our fellow being, not simply with those who belong to our ethnic, national or ideologic tribe. We need myhts that help us to realise the importance of compassion, which is not always regarded as sufficiently productive or efficient in our pragmatic, rational world. We need myths that help us to create a spiritual attitude, to see beyond our immediate requirements, and enable us to experience a transcendent value that challenges our solipsistic selfishness. We need myths that help us to venerate the earth as sacred once again, instead of merely using it as a resource. It is crucial, because unless there is some kind of spiritual revolution that is able to keep abreast of our technological genius, we will not save our planet."

A short history of Myths
by Karen Armstrong
Penguin Books
Rs 225