Word of the Week #116:

Pivot

Now, before you get your hopes too high, let me just clarify that this is not a Ross Geller appreciation post.

Although, now that I think about it, that too is long overdue…

No, today we talk about this one trick that politicians and their spokespersons use when asked a difficult question.

The truly inept ones will start by lying, and end up looking foolishly out of depth. Of course, for some individuals, this is their go-to move.

The skilled ones, however, will follow a simple routine to dance around the discussion until the interviewer and the audience are too confounded to carry on.

I could teach you how to do it, if you’d like…

Step #0: Catch the interviewer, or the camera, in a dead eye stare. Establish a position of benevolent dominance.

Step #1: Catch a keyword, or a phrase, from the question and shoot off into an unrelated tangent. This way, it looks like you have answered the question, but you have not.

Now, most interviewers, either trying to seem polite or adhering to a strict timeline, will let the question go. Some reporters, however, are more tenacious than others, and will keep repeating the question. What do you do now?

Step #1 (a): As a novice, you might try to dodge the specifics and continue to move farther and faster on the tangent. This may exasperated the interviewer enough to lose balance, or simply leave the audience too disinterested to care.

Step #1 (b): Once you are experienced enough, you will be able to take this chance to paint the interviewer as a biased, and rude, opponent, instead of being a neutral observer. This is meant to sow seeds of mistrust towards the media, and will usually polarise the audience.

Step #2: Blame it on the opposition. This is, of course, the most basic tactic but its efficacy is almost alarming. Irrespective of whether this blame is justified, the audience will be distracted from the facts.

Step #3: Equate the interviewer with the opposition. Firmly establish a bias against yourself. YOU are the real victim here.

Step #4: Counter. Since you have already established that the media is the opposition and the opposition is guilty, you can now force your interviewer on the defensive with some sharp questions and allegations of your own.

  • If he tries to dissociate himself from your allegations, he undercuts your opponents in the process.
  • If he tries to justify your opponents’ actions, he further consolidates the perception of bias.
  • If he tries to dodge the questions or deny the allegations, he seems evasive and unreliable.

In any of the above, you are the winner.

Step #5: Accept your victory, and assure the audience that things are better with you in charge of the situation.

See. Simple, right?

Of course, don’t blame me if you try this on your college professor and get into trouble, okay?

Class dismissed.

Advertisements

Word of the Week #115:

Dejection

Did you watch the NBA Finals, last week? I did.

And if you did not watch the actual games, you might take a look at the results and assumed that what transpired was exactly what everyone expected, going into the series: The Warriors were far too superior, and the Cavs had no chance whatsoever

Well, of course, you would be gravely mistaken.

The first thing to take away from this series was that th ere are no forgone conclusions in sports. Or even in life, for that matter.

But it was the second thing I learned that really resonated with me: Not every loss is the same.

See, it is one thing to play badly and lose. That happens to the best of us. Sometimes the opponent is just too strong, and sometimes we just have a bad day. It happens, and it is okay. You can still come back, play better, and hope to win.

But there are times when you clearly have a historically great game against a historically great team and you drag your historically mediocre crew to within inches of victory, and what happens?

You have one teammate missing a clutch free throw, another who has no idea of the score, and a head coach who does not know you have a time out left.

I believe this response sum up your feelings perfectly.

IMG_0623.GIF

No wonder it ended up being the meme of the week.

When you do everything you need to, in order to win, but you still fall short, what do you do? What can you do? How can you not break from a loss like this?

Cleveland did. They showed no fight for the rest of the series. And now that the season is over, and LeBron is, in all probability, going to walk away the first chance he gets, it is highly likely that they will never fully recover.

And LeBron? Well, he might take a moment, but I think he will be just fine.

Word of the Week #114:

Scourge

Have you heard of Murphy’s law?

I have mentioned it once before on this blog, so I would expect that you have…

The precise wording still remains unclear, but the general interpretation is that everything that can go wrong, does.

Now, I generally stay as meticulous as I possibly can, and try to keep the margin for error so slim that the consequences do not pile up.

However, all it takes is one jolt to put everything way out of order.

I cannot quite trace where this sequence began, but I have been feeling that these days, whenever I try to do something, whatever can go wrong just does.

For instance, every afternoon, I go to play basketball at court significantly far from my home, and between the extreme heat all afternoon and the kids’ training all evening, I get precisely an hour to play.

Now, as it is, my margin for error is already not great. But what can go wrong? Well, apparently, quite a lot…

Sometimes, I will get dressed, put on my socks, and be half a dozen steps from the door, when splash! I step into a pool of fresh, warm pee.

Yeah, our kids are not entirely trained, yet. Have I talked about them earlier? I should.

Now, cleaning it up, then washing my foot, luckily not feet, and changing the socks takes up roughly a quarter of the hour. Significant.

Sometimes when I do not step into pee, my vehicle just refuses to start.

Of course, my vehicle is ancient, so I tend to include a buffer for that. But when it is so broken that I have to go to a mechanic, as I already have twice this week, that is more than 25 minutes easily.

If my vehicle does start after the first few tries, and I get to the court right on time, I should get an entire hour to play, right?

Well, not if it starts to rain with little to no warning. Not enough to actually cool down the scorching streets, of course. No, it will only rain enough to leave the court unplayable for just about an hour.

And, if I do not step in pee, manage to get there on time, and it does not rain, what happens?

Well, a guy manages to jump onto my leg, breaking my knee and leaving me bedridden for over a week.

Now, on the days that a guy does not break my knee, and of course also the day that he does, I will come home drenched in sweat, longing for a nice shower. That is not too much to ask, right?

Considering how often I have stood under the shower with not water raining down on me but the realisation that, well, the tanks are empty, apparently it is.

When the tanks are not empty, I go into the shower, let the water wash over my skin, and just as I am starting to work up a decent lather, the door bell rings. Repeatedly. Incessantly.

Having washed myself as much and as fast as I could have, I come running down the stairs, only to realise that my Dad is indeed home, and has answered it already.

And if this does not happen, my shower is completed without any incident, what happens?

I come out of the shower, a towel draped over my head, leisurely wiping my hair, when I suddenly realise that those are not droplets  of water that I feel creeping down my shoulder.

I am, however, a moment too late, as  I sense a dozen successive bites across my shoulders and back.

Freaking ants! Sounds ridiculous, right? I mean, what are even the odds?

Already a couple of days have passed since that particular incident, and I still have no clues how those ants ended up in my towel.

Now, in the face of such odds, it would be understandable if one were to grow dejected.

However, I have found that the uplifting words of a great man, one Dr. Ken Jeong, always get me up and running.

Not today, kind sir. Not today.


PS: I have been trying to take a shower for the past 4 hours. It would appear that the odds are against us, tonight… 

Word of the Week #113:

Nostalgia

I don’t often take vacations. The kind of work that I do and the kind of life that I live just does not afford me that kind of luxury.

Of course, one could argue that, given how flexible and balanced my life already is, I might not really need a vacation.

Well, there is some merit to that premise, but there are several more details to consider.

Firstly, balanced may be a term you can use to describe my work schedule now, but that was far from true till the last summer.

Secondly, no matter how much you love something, fatigue does eventually set in. Taking no real breaks for a span of four years can be strenuous for even the most tenacious of us.

So, when I hurt my knee while playing basketball last week—a severe strain to the lateral ligaments—and the orthopaedist asked me to rest, I decided to take a break from work as well. Just take a week to relax…

Seeing how I tend to overwork throughout the monsoon, as there is little else to do, the timing could not have been better.

It is still a forced vacation, as each one I take tends to be, but it has been quite fun nonetheless.

I finally got to take my old PlayStation out of its box; the first time in several months. As it would turn out, NFS Most Wanted is still as fun as it was almost a decade ago, though the races somehow seems slightly more difficult than I can remember. Also, the way my shoulders and lower back start aching after just a couple of hours is an entirely new experience.

I often draw some flak for calling myself old, but the truth is, I do feel older. Things do change, as we grow older, and we often do not realise just how much.

One of the things I have noticed is that people seem to stop doing what they used to love doing as kids. I cannot think of any reasonable explanations for it, to be honest. Excuses, perhaps, but no explanations.

If you stop having fun, what is even the point of being alive, right? If you know something is fun, why postpone doing it? It is not like we have forever to wait…

So, this week, I plan to have some fun. Perhaps a little extra, just to compensate for the entire year.

Replaying NFS was fun, but now my thumbs feel weird, so I have to stop. Perhaps I will rewatch an old movie I love. Or perhaps I shall reread an old Agatha Christie that I have not touched for a few years.

There is just a different pleasure to redoing things you love, right?

My room is cosy and my heart is happy. This is going to be a good week.

Word of the Week #112:

Ammunition

People who know me would know that I don’t drive. Well, to be very honest, I can’t.

Of course, I’m talking about driving a car, or anything larger than that.

I’m quite fine with a moped, actually.

And on the basketball court? Just get the ball on the right wing, crossover to the left, drive and score!

Ain’t nobody that can guard me, Boy! 

However, I cannot drive a car.

In our society, I hardly see the need for one, to be honest.

Sure, there are moments when I wish I had car. It would, in an ideal world, make things so much easier. But in the real world, it is just not worth the trouble.

For one, it just seems like a huge responsibility, you know. When you possess a car, you are responsible not just for your own safety, but also for all the people around you.

Not to mention, it is just not an easy thing to do. The driving courses are not nearly as thorough as you would hope, nor are the tests as stringent.

And, apart from just driving, maintenance is also a headache. A badly maintained car could, quite literally, blow up in your face with little to no warning.

There are very few things you can encounter on your way home that are as dangerous as an irresponsible, inept individual with a big, fast car.

And entrusting my life to a random stranger is the last thing I’d do. Literally…

Now, when I say this, I do not mean to undermine the role cars have played in making our society what it is today, nor how we continue to perceive them.

A cool spy with his favourite car, with some sort of an explosion in the background, is probably the first memory I have of Hollywood movies.

After all, I was just 3, when I watched Pierce Brosnan in Tomorrow Never Dies.

So, I do get it… Cars are cool. Cars are fun. Cars make you feel powerful. And all that is fine.

However, I don’t see why you should not have to answer a few simple questions to ensure my safety, and that of everyone else who may encounter you along the way.

  1. Do you really need a car?
  2. Do you really need that car? Surely something smaller and safer should do the job, right?
  3. Are you capable of handling that car?
  4. Do you have any history of substance abuse?
  5. Mental health problems?
  6. Neurological issues?

It is not unreasonable to have these questions about cars and the people who drive them, right?

It is a matter of personal and public safety, after all.

I don’t think anybody would really disapprove.

And yet, replace ‘car’ with ‘gun’, ‘drive’ with ‘shoot’ and ‘moped’ with ‘camera’, and suddenly you get a highly controversial political statement, right?

Feels like an attack on your Second Amendment Rights, little American Idiot with an AR-15 in each hand?

At least my attacks don’t leave dozens of innocent school kids dead.

Word of the Week #110:

Chastity

Now, as most of you would already know, I tend to be a bit of a loner.

Most hours of my day are spent in the musty interiors of my room, furiously staring into a screen.

Even when I do go out, unless I am with a close friend, I will probably just sit in a corner and mind my own business. Striking up a conversation with a middle-aged man sitting at the table next to mine is usually the last thing I would do.

And yet, oddly enough, that is exactly what I did today… And, I came out of it with a few interesting thoughts.

You see, some people are just, as the kids these days call it, ‘woke’. They are conscientious enough to question this world of ours, and intelligent enough to glean some answers.

Now, to quote eden ahbez,

While we spoke of many things,
Fools and Kings,
This he said to me:

Of all sexual aberrations, chastity is the strangest.
— Anatole France

Of course, I am not quoting him verbatim, but when do I ever do that?

Essentially,  his argument was quite simple. Our society has an extremely unhealthy outlook towards sex, and that needs to be changed.

Now, obviously, nobody can quite deny that, but his candid ideas were unexpectedly refreshing.

I think I will quote him verbatim, this time:

“Is it unfair for the youth of our country to expect the freedom to cherish a candid moment with their beloved in a public place that is maintained by their own tax payments?”

Well, it is fair, right?

He was of the belief that what India needs is a more sexual revolution, presumably similar to the one that originated in America in the ’60s.

Me? I am more of a moderate. I believe society will change as we, the parents of the future, choose to mould it to our liking.

Of course, having seen this glacial change come to a halt through his lifetime, he probably thought I was naive to think things what change unless we force them.

Well, even Newton’s First and Second Laws of Mechanics seem to support him. But, on the other hand, I must cite the Third Law: Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

Nonetheless, things cannot be allowed to stand the way they currently do. Right now, far too many people have a warped understanding of sex.

As long as we keep viewing sex as something one person gives and another gets, instead of it being seen as an experience to be shared by two (or perhaps more, but let us stick with the basics for now) persons, there is no way forward.

And, as the gentleman paid his bill and rose to leave, he leaned over one last time to leave me with his parting words, “By the way, I am a big follower of Osho.”

“Ah,” I responded, as realisation dawned on me. “I see.”

 

Word of the Week #109:

Dichotomy

So, I have a simple question, tonight.

Which of the following would you consider a more important news story?

  1. A comedian is found guilty of drugging and molesting a woman.
  2. Another comedian told mean jokes.

Well, a quick look at the headlines of the day reveals what the media and the government seems to think.

 

 

 

Shall I go into the background of the situation?

Well, there is this annual event known as the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, attended by, as you can imagine, White House employees and correspondents. This year, as is tradition, a comedian was invited to make fun of the media and the government.

Now, apparently, some people took offence to some of the jokes, namely, and least surprisingly, the media and the government.

So, what were these allegedly filthy jokes?

Well, many people disapproved that she called a liar a liar. Apparently that crossed a line of some sort. She also did compliment her make up, but apparently that also offensive, these days.

So now the man who makes his living by mocking and abusing women, immigrants, foreigners, Muslims, among others, and the minions who work for him, will now tell us what is acceptable and what is not?

And the media, which claims to pride itself on speaking truth to power is suddenly too fragile to have a taste of its own medicine?

Of course, let us just not talk about Fox News… Just, no…

The silver lining of this ridiculous episode is the fact that Michelle Wolf herself has refused to apologise, and all prominent comedians stand strong in her support.

Nonetheless, it is truly a strange time when comedians are held to a higher moral standard than the President.


PS: The Correspondents’ Dinner is supposedly meant to celebrate the Freedom of Speech. The irony…