Tag Archives: USA

Doomsday Scenario: Be prepared for a letdown, guys

As we creep closer to December 21, the D-date, it is but natural that we keep a sharp lookout for the tell tale signs of a buildup. A doomsday is not an everyday affair – lots of planning and moving of furniture must go into the preparations, if it is to be successfully carried out. Instead, what do we see? A mildly disrupted weather, no big Tsunami or Typhoon. Mad gunmen shooting the innocents, no big 9-11. A few Peruvian gentlemen snooping around my blog (see earlier entries in this category), no kidnapping and imprisonment (of me) in the Sun Temple in the middle of the Andes.

I know what some of you are thinking – let’s get over with it. You are thinking of Sherlock Holmes, and what he said about the dog that did not bark. You feel that the calm is deceptive, even deliberate ploy to lull the people into complacency. Maybe. But I humbly submit that an event of the order of world destruction would leave some tell tale signs.

I hate to be a prophet of doom – and I will not profit by it – but the ending of Mayan calendar is, in my book, as significant as Nostradamus’ prophecies, if not more. I am not running down the good old Nostradamus, but even his best friend would agree that his verses mean nothing until an event has already taken place – and even then, his friends have to really work hard to fit it into facts. Compare this with the Mayans – they have actually stuck their head out, giving an actual date at which time would come to a full stop for the humans.

But the Mayans are running against time. Let us, once again see where we stand, scientifically:

  1. USA has not nominated any successor for Osama, or even Saddam, and so no one in the world today is sufficiently encouraged or has the confidence to plan something big. American Presidents used to find the evil incarnate pretty fast, but Obama is such a letdown. No wonder he is facing trouble in his reelection campaign. In any case the presidential race is probably the most boring one in American history, but that cannot be taken as an evidence for anything, other than the fact that Gore, Bush, Palin and Clinton are not contesting.
  2. No standoff looms large on the superpower front. The Dragon will take another ten years to put in its bid for being ‘the’ superpower, with a nuke standoff in the South China Sea or in Korea. We cannot look forward to China to provide the fireworks this time around.
  3. Many countries in the Middle East are grappling with civil movements for regime change. No one has time for the Arab-Israel serial wars. Even an ultra-right Isreali PM is not making the headlines, and the world has again forgotten the Palestinians. Post Yassir Arafat, Time has no one from the region to put on its cover (unfortunate development this for the Indian PM, who was dubbed as ‘the underachiever’, merely because Time did not have Arafat around to be called names.)
  4. No asteroid or comet is coming hurtling towards earth. Our satellites and observatories are not reading any solar flares of unusual ferocity or any other mysterious stellar phenomena to threaten earth. No viral outbreak, no sudden global warming. No, science is calm and disciplined, working hard in the laboratories from behind its horn glasses.

And therefore, after sifting through the available evidence, I would have to reluctantly put forward my latest theory on the Mayans. It is as follows: The Mayan wise men, the calendar makers, must have got tired of making useless and endless calendars, and may have bluffed their superiors by claiming an end of time itself. That must have rid them of the need of making more calendars.

(I hope their conscience would have pricked them at playing such a dirty game on the future generations. I can very well imagine the following scene at the Andes, that morning, thousands of years ago – “Oh, well, maybe we should not have said that,” said the chief calendar maker to his assistant, full of self loathing, to which the assistant said, “Do not fret so, sire. Maybe the world would end before that date itself and our ruse would not be discovered.” The wise old man nodded pensively, just to humor the young man, though he knew that that was not true.)

Sorry guys, be prepared for a letdown. The much hyped D day is not likely to strike. And, for once, I am not sorry for being let down.

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State of the World – 2012. (Mid-year review: A spoof)

As we wait for the promised doomsday (this year it is 21st December), we are not sure how much to invest in the event. My gut feeling is, the Mayans just ran out of paper to print their eternal calendar, or got bored at this very point, and left the task unfinished. In fact I saw my boy start with the noble mission of writing down ‘all the numbers’ only to leave the task at 3,100 – significantly short of infinity I would say. So I can understand how the Mayans would have felt at 21.12.2012.

But more than that, 2012 is so supremely boring that some of the mystical effect of 2012 may also have rubbed off them, making them a little less driven and goal oriented.

I do not wish to discourage the optimists, but I would advise that it would be a waste of effort to invest in bunkers and Mars rocket schemes, just on the word of the Mayans. In fact I had higher hopes from Iran earlier this year, but then, it is that kind of an year…

US and Iran tried to build up something entertaining, but then again, their heart was not in the job. They cannot match the Israelis for dedication towards goals, and both the sole surviving superpower, and the sole surviving ‘potential-evil-incarnate’ somehow went off to an unearned Spring holiday, and the world was once again left to bide time with the mug shots of Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber. Between these two, humanity has yet to decide who is worse – it is touch and go as far as I see it.

Meanwhile, oil prices continue to rise, and the pundits continue to forecast that they are likely to rise further. The number of oil sector pundits has shot up to 60 million now (incidentally, the average sperm-count is also 60 million per milliliter, but I don’t know whether the two facts are connected in any way).

The business of oil-sector-pundits is doing well, as is that of the futurologists, but in other sectors there is gloom – the top MBA types in the West (including the bankers) are trying to survive at dollar 5 grand a year, with an assured ten percent annual increment. They predict that such a gloomy scenario is not good for the world – it is hurting the luxury yacht and casino business no end. Last heard, US President was very worried about these two sectors – he is thinking of calling a G-20 meeting on the issue.

Meanwhile, as we wait for the London Olympics, one wonders what it would mean for the city – financial ruin or revival in fortunes? (Make no mistake, Sports only mean business and entertainment now – they have lost their independent sectoral identity.) I believe that in the lethargic 2012, sportsmen would be struggling to match their own selection records, let alone beat the milestones. However one does have high hopes when it comes to WAGS (Wives and Girlfriends), Salman Rushdie and Dow Chemicals to provide some entertainment.

Some hope remains from the Femen protestors, who are working hard to make the world a better place – for males. I hope they will not be afflicted by the lethargy of 2012, and would find sufficient drive to peel off their tops and hound the eager and hard working cops of Eastern Europe. They could, I would suggest, give an annual calendar of protest to their governments, who could then use it to promote tourism in their (economically) depressed countries.

The Russian elections lived up to its promise of pure entertainment – at the cutting edge of fact and fiction – and Putin’s Russia continues to love and hate the man simultaneously. It is however the US, which is such a letdown – I promise you nobody outside of US understands a word what the 1300 Presidential candidates are saying. The fact that they all look frauds of the highest order, specially chosen by Obama to run against him, and speak on issues that may be relevant to small towns in the middle America, makes it a dull year for America watchers (approximately 50 % of the world –  the other 50%, living in poorest of conditions, does not know what America is).

Will America finally leave Afghanistan? I don’t believe that this year the soldiers would have the energy to pack the bags. Their ammunition, their porn mags, their tiffin boxes etc are scattered all over Afghanistan, and it would not be possible to pack all that in a year. Therefore there has been a call to let the wives join the GIs for a while (but with Taliban and other lechers around, it seems hardly likely that the Christian fathers would allow Obama to take that decision in an election year.)

Meanwhile, the Apple Corporation has got its priorities clear – name everything with a small ‘i’ and go for the kill while the aura of Steve Job lasts. Facebook now has more individual on it than the global population, and denies rumors of a ‘bubble’. I have heard even Mark Zuckerberg is tiring of counting his money, and had asked Bill Gates for advice. Gates, I believe told him to just ‘grin and bear it’, and that he is yet to figure out how to stop the flow. Gates was investing in real estate, I am told, hoping for a 2008 redux.

Maldives awaits a slow death, with steadily rising water levels, even as the world sympathetically reassures the Maldivians that with doomsday around the corner, the island would not face a slow oblivion. But the Maldivians are a pessimistic lot – they are not impressed, and keep on harping on cutting carbon emission levels. Theirs is a new version of ‘quit smoking’ campaign at a global level, and to the developed world, just as quirky and fetishistic.

There is little hope that the year would take off – even the Wikileaks is not leaking any more. In my present despondent state, it seems to me that we are doomed to keep on counting meaninglessly till eternity – I mean till 31st December 2012.

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Washington DC: Imperial dreams

Washington is a befitting capital of the No.1 superpower, that sometimes believes itself to be the latest successor of the Roman Empire. The association with the Roman Empire was conscious and constant in the steady development of US as a ‘super-power’. This is what Wiki writes right at the start of its brief history on making of Washington- “Pierre Charles L’Enfant designed the capital in 1790s, and Thomas Jefferson insisted that the legislative building be called the “Capitol” rather than “Congress House”. Capitol comes from Latin and is associated with the Roman temple to Jupiter on Capitoline Hill.”

Washington is a beautiful city, in a grand way. Its beauty lies in scale, harmony and dignity. The calm Potomac river, and the marble monuments that overlook it, gives a constancy and stability to the place. The city seems to reassure the visitor that the world order is in secure hands, and that there is no cause for panic. A traveler can be forgiven if he forgets, for a while, the poverty in which much of the rest of the world lives in. The placard holding protestors in front of the White House look so out of place and benign, that you laugh with them, rather than rage at the injustices of the world.

The White House, at the first sight, looks smaller that what one normally imagines – but looks are deceptive. Generally all marble buildings have this feel of lightness – and since the White House is well proportioned, it looks smaller than it really is. That is good in a sense, for again, speaking in terms of imperial and democratic need of the US, a benign and friendly icon is indeed a better idea than an imposing and threatening symbol of power.

Somehow I did not get a ‘democratic’ feel in the city – maybe because the idea of democracy for us Indians is ‘crowds, rallies, striving for rights and street-smart politicians’, and none of that was visible in Washington. Instead, the local papers were full of stories of power broking, party negotiations and lobbying. It would seem that Americans leave the day-to-day business of politics to their politicians and worry about the politics of business only. It is therefore no surprise that New York, in sharp contrast, looks very much a peoples’ city.

It came as a surprise to me that almost half the Americans have not visited Washington. (Surprised because it is an extremely beautiful city.) To an international tourist, however, I would heartily recommend a visit to the ‘Capitol’. It is not only beautiful (though expensive), it also lives up to all the Hollywood hype around it. In fact it does more – it comes close to reinventing Rome, the recurring European dream of a ‘world capital’.

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