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Absurd on-screen

i was watching ICE AGE 3 the other day and some furry creatures suddenly fell into a pit of bubbling tar. Thats not the absurd bit, that kind of stuff probably took place all the time in prehistoric times. They probably had a mother of a public awareness campaign to stop it.

Even the floating bubbles were not that absurd. While the non physcs academia/ professional (i.e. the layman) may not find the concept of a bubble of gas lighter than air emanating from such a pit absurd, what he will find absurd (provided he is not stoned out of his mind) is the presence of a heavier than air squirrel with sharp claws floating a few feet off the ground inside said bubble.

I was not stoned out of my mind at that moment. So i noticed this. This blatant insult to all human knowledge physical. This violent thrust at the very guts of Isaac Newton himself. This, this... i cannot continue, i am spluttering too much.

Well not really. I am familiar with cartoon-esque absurdities you know, i grew up from 2 feet tall watching woody and road runner achieve mass feats of practical impossibility over and over again. But at that moment, as everyone around me crashed around laughing, i felt strangely disconnected.

Humans have a fascination with the fantastic. Yet they try and remove almost every element of it they possbly can from their daily lives. Instead, they reserve their hours of recreation to dreams of impossibility; helping to spawn and maintain a whole stand-alone industry.

Links 21/08/09 - Playstations, Mervyn Silva and happy Sri Lankans

The case for Small Software, A paradigm shift (or a structural change) in software business models brought on by Apple's App Store..

Playstation 3 cuts prices Purely of interest from a business perspective. Its largely irrelevant to us Sri Lankans from a consumers persepective cos of the lack of opportunity for cough*piracy*cough and other various reasons.

More international discourse on Sri Lanka, devolution and reconciliation

Happy Sri Lankans; polls show we are a happy nation, so stop worrying. Thanks to DeaneJ for the pointer

End of America; Pick you apocalypse Pick and choose how you think Amercia will end. Heads up to Freakonomics for the pointer. Im going for obesity myself.

Five Thirty Eight; Ambiguous Afghan Elections and we wonder why no one on twitter is screaming 'free Afghanistan'? it may have something to do with who's winning.

Mervyn Silva talks (mostly crap) on hotseat, really, do you need to me to add anything else to this? go watch the video.

The Economist; Tigers not for nothing; And no not the human variety for a change. A review on why the Asian economies are leaping (relatively) like tigers; post crisis.

First we begged for money, now we're gloating a bit. How Sri Lanka ended up with way mopre foreign reserves than expected.

Brazil is rising and asserting itself; a great lesson on the importance of leadership for a successful economy. We can also see the Economist try its hand at giving some self-righteous (and slightly vomit inducing) advocacy at the end.

Media Ethics Epic Fail

 Flattering art by The Puppeteer

'The Media and the Government is Bigger than you or me' is a ridiculously defeatist statement. A budding journalist once told me this. Are they all this brainwashed? What is our worth as human beings if we continuously bow down to the way things are and never question accepted norms and their irrationality?

Some of you out there may be system puppets, dancing on the strings of 'everything they tell you'; but I believe most people, when mentally able, are free thinkers; capable of removing themselves from the bog of the present and looking at humanity's historical footprint.

The world has always been doing only one thing; consolidating. And what have they been consolidating? Power. Democracy as a concept is insanely awesome. Democracy as a practice is a shit pile. Yes, even in the US of A. its home.

Media ethics, at a fundamental level, ties itself down to the side of the government. The truth will not be told if a country's 'defence' is compromised. The truth will always bow down to the primal human instinct of consolidation. The truth will always be biased to power and not to the people. That would be fine if in reality the people were in power, but the modern nature of democracy largely makes that impossible. Therefore This fundamental media ethic mostly serves the purpose of the subversiveness of governments.

The truth will not be told if the media deems it sensitive to taste (the WTF ethic). Like images of human flesh blown into pieces and blood splattered walls are 'sensitive'. In other words, the media imagines the public to be wussies. The war reporter has balls, because he's a foreign correspondent, but they'll be strung up beneath the butt hole of Great A'tuin if the average Joe can take it.

Saying; 'a few people died..' is less impactful than showing the full brunt of war; the dying and screaming and horribly deformed children etc. The public may start feeling slightly differently about the war if such was the case. But screw public opinion; this is a democracy. The public can't think. The masses are asses.

The media reserves the right to decide what fantasy is and what it’s not. If they percieve that some neo radical thinker will create turmoil by messing up the norms and by endangering the interests of their stakeholders, this ethic gives them room to deem it 'fantasy' and call the guy who said the world was a ball an ignoramus.

The media shall not invade privacy, even though it may conflict strongly with freedom of expression.

The overriding absurdity should be plainly obvious to anyone reading these sets of ethics. On what moral background do they base concepts like 'sensitivity', 'taste', 'privacy' and 'public interest'? Is the media the apostle of God to know what is Right for its Fellow Man?

Nope. The concepts that Media Ethics are based on are subjective beyond belief. For example, something that is 'sensitive' for an American voter will be exactly what the father of the suffering kid with no leg and a ripped off midsection breathing his last breaths in Iraq will want them to see. Confronted with this 'dilemma', the media takes a side; objectivity goes into the dustbin.

These are the core values of the media. Every journalist gets them drilled into their brains when they train. From such subjective and hazy guidelines, can an objective truth ever arise? Can the 'media' in its current form ever not fail epically or otherwise? The media and journalism isn’t about truth. Its ethics have let it make the truth anything it wants it to be. The danger of media ethics is that it leaves ample room for non ethical activity.


Moving on to Better Things

And on to what the morphology (yes, do look it up) of the media is; it is that branch of journalism that is governed by this set of easily adaptable ethics. It is like a fill in the blanks bible (and there aint no saints out there to save you), it is that industry that sells 'truth' influenced by external interest making it nothing much more than propaganda and advertising.

The media needs a makeover, it is good to see new media coming in ever more strongly to take its place. I hope this is the beginning of a change for the better. The old establishment media is failing as an industry. Its myopic view of itself as the pinnacle of integrity cannot last much longer. It must change and yeild to a new wave of creative destruction* hitting it (and its set of wtf ethics). Or die and let the world move on to better things.

*A good paper on creative destruction from an industry point of view is Theodore Levitt's Marketing Myopia (a very interesting read no matter what your background). Also check out the work of Joseph Schumpeter.

The Truth About Kavindi

A mail I recieved from a credible source claiming to be written by Kavindi's best friend's mom. I'll leave it upto you to judge its authenticity.

Dear All,

I am the best friend of Mrs. Sandhya Kumari Jayawardene, the mother of Anuththara Kavindi Jayawardene, the 14-year old girl who is said to have hung herself with her school tie on 22nd July 2009 . Kavindi's mother and I are best friends since August 2000 and Kavindi was a dear friend of my daughter, who was two years younger to her. I have known Kavindi quite closely since she was in Montessori with my daughter.

Her father is a professional/graduate Accountant and her mother too was in the accountancy field before she gave up her job upon marriage. Her mother is from Kegalle, an innocent, down-to-earth, virtuous woman who was a devout Buddhist. Kavindi was an only child, extraordinarily beautiful and was very shy. She was a studious girl whose report cards received from school always described her as a "Siyalu Dena Samaga Sahayogayen Kriya Karana, Vineetha, Keekaru, Sisuwiyeki". Anyone can take a look at her school books and report cards and see if she seems a disturbed or disobedient girl.

Kavindi’s mother was the kind of woman who even went to the extent of having a Bodhi Poojawa for my daughter who was a non-Buddhist, when she was sitting for her 5th Grade Scholarship exam, thinking of someone else’s child as her own.

It is so saddening to hear that Kavindi's name has been tarnished by the school making her look like a girl who was into porn, boyfriends and similar stuff whereas in actual sense she was a girl who did not even collect pictures of movie stars, cricketers or any such thing that a teenager of today would do but was always getting good grades at school and excelling in studies.

In fact, Kavindi was the pillar of strength to her mother during their family ordeal of Kavindi’s father going through a kidney transplant about two years ago. Athula, her father was not the “STRICT” father as depicted in the media. He in fact would return home and keep Kavindi on his lap and ask her what happened at school or joke with her about things on TV. Even after Kavindi attained age and showed all signs of a beautiful young lady, Athula petted her like a little girl.

She was very close to her mother, and till her death Kavindi's world and after school activities involved playing with her little cousins next door and helping her mother with housework. She even knew how to cook, something only a handful of 14-year-olds today would know.

She encouraged her mother to do home-gardening and have plenty of vegetables grown in their 15 perch house and land, and loved seeing the produce being consumed. She was never into Facebook, computer games, hip electronic gadgets or any such thing. I was always in and out of their house as Sandhya was one of the few persons (apart from my own Mother) that I would trust to leave my daughter with whenever I had to leave my daughter with someone.

During the past 8 years, my daughter spent most of her holidays at their home where I would drop her off in the mornings and pick her up at evening and stay on for at least 1-2 hours chatting with my best friend. Whenever I called my daughter in between, Kavindi would talk to me too, and relate what they had been playing during the day and tell of their plans for evening play and I would often find Sandhya feeding both my daughter and hers, if I happen to call during lunch time. Kavindi played hide and seek, dolls, imaginary house, Lego and similar games with her mother, my daughter and her little cousins from next door and was innocent and unspoiled and a far cry from what is being told about her now.

It is sad to learn from her classmates that a Prefect from her school actually dragged her by her tie upon confronting her for having a mobile phone in her school bag (which did not even belong to her) and taken her to the Section Head's office and also made her kneel in public and humiliated her by showing her to others. This fact would now be denied by school authorities for obvious reasons but for a child who has never been reprimanded in her entire life for indiscipline just cannot bear such humiliation, harassment and public embarrassment.

The school authorities should also appoint Counsellors in schools who are qualified enough to handle these kind of situations instead of having Teachers and mere school girls (Prefect Bullies) handling situations involving human emotions.

Even when her body was discovered hanging in the toilet, the teachers or authorities of the school had not even loosened her tie around the neck or given appropriate first aid to revive her.

The only thing this school can do now is to tarnish her good name and make her look like a "bad girl" who committed suicide, thereby deviating the attention of the public to the fact that the girl was suspected, embarrassed in public, emotionally abused and mishandled by Prefects and Teachers who were not capable of understanding emotions of a 14-year old and never thought of repercussions of misjudgement, harshness, cruelty and public humiliation. She had in fact begged that it is okay to tell about the incident to her mother but never to tell her father because he was a kidney patient whom Kavindi always feared would die if he faces sadness.

Kavindi was the type of girl who was so shy that she would even nudge me and her mother in embarrassment if we ever spoke out in public in protest for small injustices such as being over-charged at stores or such similar small incidents and tell “aney randu karanna epa ammey, nikam innako ammey, etc…” and blush in embarrassment. She is the type of girl who encouraged and loved the fact that her mother was among the very few mothers at her school who only wore a simple ‘Osariya’ whenever she had to visit Kavindi’s school. She never even allowed her mother’s Saree blouses to have a deep-cut neckline and would protest against any body part of her mother being shown in public. It is this virtuous charactered Kavindi who today is being portrayed as the girl who would watch porn or pose nude for her boyfriend and allow to be photographed or filmed.

Since the Police have found out that Kavindi is not the owner of the mobile in question, there were no porn in the mobile, there were no nude photos or sms directed to Kavindi, then why isn’t the school issuing a statement about the true owners of the mobile phone or the actual contents of the mobile?

Why isn't the school ascertaining the fact that the mobile did not belong to Kavindi but to the other three students of the same school/class who had pooled and bought the mobile then slipped it into innocent and shy Kavindi's school bag when the Prefects came along, checking for mobiles in their classroom?

Why isn't the school talking about the two girls who subsequent to Kavindi's hanging body being found tried to commit suicide, one by stabbing herself with a bottle and the other by consuming some toilet detergent, when they realized what they had done to their classmate Kavindi and their guilty consciousness took the better of them?

Today, a majority of Sri Lankans know Kavindi as the “girl who watched porn on her mobile and committed suicide in shame”, or "the girl who had her nude pictures in her mobile", or "the girl who was mentally ill or depressed", or "the girl whose parents were too strict" and such ghastly impressions.

At present, my best friend is a woman who hears her only child’s voice echoing around the house, sees her face every where, a broken woman with no hope for the future and a woman who wishes she died with Kavindi. She is a well-read but simple housewife whose world was woven around her only child. She is still that devout Buddhist who forgives the media for tarnishing her precious daughter’s name, forgives the people who did not provide timely first aid to her daughter when they found her hanging, forgives the prefects who manhandled her daughter, forgives the three girls who slipped the phone in Kavindi's school bag and pushed her to death in shame, but the fact remains, Sandhya's soul died along with her only child.

My only appeal to you is, despite misleading information by the media and complete silence maintained by the relevant school, to think logically about Kavindi's name unduly tarnished along with her parents reputation.

Please also pass this on to everyone you know.

Thank you,

Sri Lanka Media Epic Fail


The mainstream media of Sri Lanka has failed to do its job; again and again and again. Absurdity after absurdity of the government’s actions have passed repeatedly into the public limelight only to be cast aside by the media by the means of ridiculous well-quoted statements from top government officials.

Take Dayan Jayathileke for instance. He was reduced from hero to zero when he was quoted in the media implying that the government was realistically considering implementing the 13th amendment. This to the man who according to government propaganda 'rescued us from unanimous defeat' at the hands of the Western pro-human rights anti-Sri Lankan coalition at the UN.

Where is the media outcry? if not against the sacking of DJ, at least against the implications of the actions taken by the government to the very initiation of the 13th amendment; an integral part of our constitution. The upholding of which is the duty of any free media framework in a country.

Other Epic fails include the lack of initiative in the investigating and reporting of all the dead bodies turning up everywhere even after the war, not that I think dead bodies being found while the war was on is any less justifiable, but the war is over now, and there should at least be a more rational base to justify the revelation of the goings on behind such atrocious activities to the general public. Even to a media prepared to convolute the already very bendable set of 'ethics' it is governed by.

Other epic fails include the complete lack of interest in questioning intelligently the apparent lack of power of the Sri Lankan judiciary (which is also an epic fail of its own but I’ll write about that later), the exorbitant and skewed taxing system and questionable economic policies (economic and financial critical analysis is almost unheard of except for a bit on LBO), the questions on the justification behind the implementation behind seemingly irrational laws (do i need to go into porno and mobile phones? its been well harped about in the blogosphere) and the apparent disregard to intimidation and coercion in undemocratic provincial council elections (like Jaffna for instance). And nobody even gives a rat’s behind about discussing the age old 'problem' of the executive presidency.

The media is a meek dog that barks only when the government wants it to. It is the government’s smokescreen, a tyrannical propaganda machine. Perhaps I wax too lyrical maybe? What; am I a paranoid conspiracy theorist then?

Dialog creates mobile history, again.

Press Ad
Dialog Telekom, still the market leader in a heavily contested Sri Lankan telco market, made 'history' yesterday by becoming the first mobile operator to penetrate the freshly liberated North/ East markets.

"Killinochchi and Mullaittivu were commissioned at around 11am yesterday morning followed by Mankulum, Pooneryne, Elephant Pass and Thunukkai" said a statement released by Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya, long standing CEO of Dialog Telekom.

The North Eastern markets offer big opportunities to telco providers with the prowess to invest. Its rlatively high income levels will mean almost instantaneously high revenue inflows, together with the opportunity for early entrants to consolidate power in a potentially very lucrative market. However, this will depend on regulation and other non regulatory barriers created by the government.

Airtel meanwhile, is sticking by its promise to invest some $200mn in its Sri Lankan business. Although its original timeline of 18 months to 2 years will be extended somewhat.

Both Dialog and Airtel are said to be interested in purchasing Tigo which is said to be put on the market by its parent company Millicom. Such a consolidation will essentially divide the telco market among its three largest players; Dialog, Airtel and SLT mobitel. All three have the capacity to provide a three pronged service platform of Internet, TV and Telecommunications.

Hutch, the other small player aside from Tigo, will be left with a small share of the pre-paid mobile market and will most probably be absorbed by a larger player if the sale of Tigo happens. Such consolidation is a sign of heavily contested and competitive markets, and happens when smaller firms find it increasingly unable to cope with the price squeezing and heavy competition that happens when big players fight each other head on in maturing markets.

The North East markets will provide a fresh spurt of growth to the comms industry, perhaps a good time to purchase some stock.

The Fail Whale, Clinton and Crises; Links 07/08/09

Council of Foreign Relations - Crisis guide to the economy. (Also check out the other crisis guides)

Bill Clinton to the Rescue! by Oliver Wills

Adamsmith. org; The Recession pdf

Beetroot Juice Futewuh! Boosts stamina better than excercise

Chuck Palahniuk - Guts; Read this if you can stomach it; 25 people fainted on the book tour!

Cos it wouldn't be complete without a story on KP

Economist: When the smiles die, the SL government and promises of devolution

Wall St Journal Asia; When twitter died

The Pope is a Racist

According to Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar.

On globalization and outsourcing he says

You might think that the Pope would hail this as a great development for humanity. Instead he has parroted the bogus claims of the white labour aristocracy.

His encyclical says, “the so-called outsourcing of production can weaken the company’s sense of responsibility towards the stakeholders---namely the workers, the suppliers, the consumers, the natural environment, and broader society---in favour of the shareholders, who are not tied to a specific geographical area and who therefore enjoy extraordinary mobility.”

The racial implications of this leave me dumbstruck. The Pope has posed the issue as one of stakeholders versus shareholders. But are white stakeholders the only ones that matter? When IBM shifts 80,000 jobs to India, 80,000 Indian stakeholders replace American ones. Are the rights of 80,000 Indian stakeholders any less than those of the American ones they replace? When Chinese suppliers outbid American ones in supplying hardware to IBM, are the Chinese lesser stakeholders than the Americans they replace?

The Pope’s moral blunders on outsourcing (August 02, 2009)

The outsoucing debate has spread far and wide and been repeated over and over. But it hasnt curbed the wave of globalization that triggered it into somewhat of an unstoppable force. Needless to say, the pope's comments sparked intense outrage in the intellectual class of India, the worlds leading supplier of outsourcing services in the most advanced sectors.

The comments made by the pope appear somewhat misguided as he may have been only looking at the whole affair from one point of view. Whereas in business and economics there is nearly always an opposing view point. A benefit to one may be a disbenefit to another. The only way you'd be against such a thing is if you were indeed biased in some way. But that way lies the road to politics. And the Pope being theoretically in support of one united world, has come under fire for apparently 'racist' remarks.

But it took an economist to figure it out. And hey, you don't need to be an economist to get to the top of the vatican they tell me, so perhaps the pope deserves the benefit of the doubt. Another thing you don't need to be an economist to become is president.

The Hot Waitress Index

The hotter the waitresses, the weaker the economy. In flush times, there is a robust market for hotness. Selling everything from condos to premium vodka is enhanced by proximity to pretty young people (of both sexes) who get paid for providing this service. That leaves more-punishing work, like waiting tables, to those with less striking genetic gifts...

just added to kottke.org 's expanding list of odd economic indicators. Unfortunately, most our waiters being of the teenage boy variety, using that index here will get you trouble from all sorts of places. I wonder if we can come up with our own customized Sri Lankan economic indicators? like

The Kasippu index; the better off the economy, the lesser the consumption of illicit liquor.

The Bus Traffic index; The better off people are, the lesser demand for buses, the lesser amount of buses on the roads. Divisions based on routes included.

This also leads up to

The polite tuk tuk driver index; the better off the economy, the more people use tuk tuks, the lesser incentive for drivers to be polite.

The Street Food and Drink basket volume index; the better off the economy, higher the tendency for people to go out; translating into higher sales of street food items like vadai, acchaaru, king coconut, faluda, lime juice etc.

Anything else?

Change.. or opression?

There has been an influx of new rules and regulations, mostly seemingly meaningless, imposed upon the general public.

Take new motor traffic regulations. Some of the stuff I’ve heard belies all logic, like the imposition of restrictions on modifications. Let’s not even go near the banning of cell phones in schools which is obviously a badly thought out knee jerk reaction that bears almost no consequence on the actual issue. Even the 'porno rules' strike me as absurd, seeing as only a few locally visited smut sites have been removed.

But what the purpose these outcries are serving, intentionally or not, is to divert the public's attention away from the important issues. Like the political situation; is there any serious reform going to happen? What of the pro devolution and anti executive presidency lobby? It’s turned into a pro-porno one. And let’s not even talk about economic development; we can leave that in the expert hands of the government's mathematicians

What about all the dead bodies turning up, again? Sure we may say that it is a good thing because most of them are apparent gangsters. but do we seriously think that this is an idealistically motivated killing spree? I think it’s just about control. Whoever is instigating these killings, and I’m not accusing anyone, is aiming at consolidating power. The drug industry fills the coffers of a lot of people and, on a completely unrelated note, rumour has it that Potta Naufer is driven by the police to his home every night to enjoy his mothers meals.

Meanwhile, no one in power is going to stop sending their kids to school without phones; neither are they going to stop jerking off to the internet, doing drugs, dealing drugs, driving souped up cars without seatbelts and engaging in other general abuses of power.