Tagged: Entertainment

Three Great Wines for Christmas


My wine recommendations are closely watched? Ha Ha Ha……..Not yet…………..

Here are my three suggestions (I have added a “bonus” suggestion as well – look for it!):

  1. Peccavi No Regrets Cabernet Merlot 2014 – Australia
  2. Penley Estate Phoenix Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 – Australia
  3. Clos Apalta Limited Release 2012 – Chile

And, the “bonus” recommendation is Glacomo Montresor Amarone della Valpolicella – Italy.

I elected to select all red wines this time as I continue to diversify into more reds (my choices earlier were dominated by Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc, probably also because I like to drink chilled drinks with some “hot” snacks!).

Let us first look at Peccavi from the Margaret River region of South West Australia. Not an expensive wine (which in my parlance means that it is around SGD 20 thereabouts), it demonstrates how a smooth, easy-drinking and fruity wine can create new interest in anyone. I felt this was almost a full-bodied wine with some nice acidity with a spiciness that I liked. That did not dilute its fruitiness. I also like it when the wine is ruby red in colour and slithers down the wide-bottomed red wine glass along the sides with a stickiness demonstrating the good quality of the wine. I would strongly recommend this wine for white wine drinkers who would like to try out some mildly complex red wines which are easy to drink. This is my choice when it comes to entertaining guests at the beginning of the conversation (!).

The Penley Estate produces some outstanding wines from Coonawarra, Australia. The Phoenix Cabernet Sauvigon from Penley Estate is more expensive in the range of SGD 30 to 40, so it is outside of my normal range for good value wines. However, this being the Christmas season, I decided to include it having recently tried this wine. I should say I was “floored” by the goodness of this Cabernet Sauvignon. Given its complexity and sophistication, I would suggest you unleash this on friends with some wine-drinking experience who usually go for red wines. It has dark, inky fruit with a flavourful delivery which you will enjoy. I am amazed at its sophistication in the price range it comes in (please note that this wine is available in Australia for around AUD 20 – lucky guys down under!).

Clos Apalta Limited Release 2012 from the Apalta region of the Colchagua Valley of Chile,  is among top 1% of all wines in the world. It is VERY expensive, more than SGD 170. I happened to taste and enjoy it in a business meeting at The American Club of Singapore, and completely fell for it, though I haven’t had the chance to look for it or again try it, given its unaffordable price. This is a very sophisticated world-class Bordeaux-style blended wine with strong aromas of blueberry, very juicy and ripe wine. It is a full-bodied wine with a rich long finish. Great wine to be recommended to business associates or at a special family function. Why not Christmas? This is an elegant wine from Chile – if only they can offer it at half the price, then it would be worth importing it.

Now, let me come to my “bonus” suggestion for Christmas – this one is with a long name from where else, Italy, Glacomo Montresor Amarone della Valpolicella. This is in the range of SGD 30, so not very expensive. I do not usually go for Italian wines, but this time I was again “floored”. This is an amazing blended red wine, intense ruby red in colour, with juicy cherry flavours. It is easy-drinking which is a surprise for Italian wines I have tried in the past. It is smooth with a nice finish. I thoroughly enjoyed this wine. Again, I would recommend this as a starting wine for a friends’ get-together. Overall, a lovely wine at a not too expensive price for a festive occasion.

All these wines are amazing, and I would highly recommend to anyone wanting to try out. Of course, there is no shortage of excellent wines, the issue has always been the price-to-value ratio. I also found my usual run-of-the-mill wines on special offer this weekend, and I bought a couple of bottle. Lest you think that I am always thinking about wines and drinking them, please rest assured that I am yet to open my latest bottle of red wine bought yesterday (so I cannot write about it!).

Drink responsibly, and do not drive while under alcohol influence. The police are everywhere looking for drunk driving dudes, and it is better to save lives while saving oneself, and not get jailed during this festive season.

WISH YOU ALL A MERRY CHRISTMAS 2017!

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

24th December 2017

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Balanced Media Reporting and the Fake News Phenomenon


Just 20 months – that’s all it takes to badly damage the fabric of society and the news media. Today in the U.S. we have very polarized and ugly societal wars between the Left and the Right. That has in turn spawned very ugly and damaging wars between news media which continue to report in their long-established, traditional manner, and the media which has gone berserk towards the extreme right end of the political spectrum. The neutral media was always considered to be, ever so slightly, tilting to the left, and we all know that there is nothing that is absolutely neutral in this world. Everyone has an opinion, whether he or she voices it or not. We also know that when the silent majority does not voice its dissent on any matter, the country or the world is “in” for a major battle. When they do express their dissent, we can expect transformative change.

I have consistently followed both the “left” and the “right” media, to derive a real sense of where the world is heading. While many a time the neutral or “left-tilting” media is right, I have also seen instances when the “rightist” media gets it right for a change.

Achieving a balanced reporting stance is a hard thing to accomplish in today’s heavily polarized world. Couple of examples come to my mind: one is “BBC News” and the other is “CNN”. There are other excellent examples which I do follow such as “The NewYork Times” and “The Washington Post”, but sometimes they do take a harsh view of the right. I continue to enjoy their incisive analyses and opinion pieces, however. I also occasionally look at the “HuffPost” and “MSN News” – they are great alternatives, though clearly on the left.

On the right, my favourite is “Fox News” – there are rather interesting pieces of journalism that I read almost everyday, pretty captivating episodes, and well-intentioned, yet clearly manipulated headlines. There are many media channels on the right, of course, but I find more time for Fox News everyday.

I also follow two rather unconventional media diligently every day. These are “Aljazeera English” edition and “Russia Today (RT) News”. While Aljazeera is relatively new for me, RT News has been a staple for at least couple of years. I believe that both these “alternative media” provide a dose of reality as seen from their respective perches. I have seen wonderful and balanced coverage and analyses in both, and I am now of the firm opinion that the day is not complete without reading the headlines of both media.

I recently eliminated “The Hindu” and “The Guardian” apps from my iPhone – “The Hindu” being the oldest, yet running English language newspaper from South India and “The Guardian” from the U.K. I occasionally see their full web versions, and sometimes my research takes me to their archives. Nothing wrong with either one of their apps, however I felt they were a bit slow on news coverage and their analyses, and sometimes unnecessarily critical of the establishment.

From all of the above, you may come to the quick conclusion that I spend most of my morning hours reading these apps, looking for angles to write about in my blog! That is not true, my intent is to keep myself constantly updated on what is going on around the world, while uncovering some learning from the actions or inactions of global leaders.

With all this stuff, it unnerved me when I heard that some of what we read from global news media could be “fake” – what U.S. President Donald Trump has termed as “Fake News”. It has always been a possibility that some of what we hear could be wrong, or incorrect, but then responsible broadcast media make amends and apologize for any inadvertent errors on their part. That is pretty normal, because people do make mistakes.

But “Fake” news? Is that not a deliberate attempt to replace the correct news with deception to suit the political orientation of the media owners or editors? Yes, it is. But then who practices it? If you go by what Mr Trump says, almost all major news media – CNN, MSN, CBS, ABC, AP, and others who report on what he says, and what he does, are reporting “fake news” every day. Not that Americans are running away from these long-established broadcast media – most of them have grown up with these media, and they control the airwaves for the most part. It would be interesting to see the results of a survey which measures Americans’ responses to Trump’s fake news allegations.

Whatever it is, in my opinion the “fake news” phenomenon does not exist in the way it has been described. There is only one news, and most of us get it right every morning. Some of these could be incorrect, but that inaccuracy lasts only for a few hours before it is replaced with the correct content we should have seen.

There is a lot of satire by the U.S. late night shows on Trump, his tweets and his fake news. If the news as reported in the major news media is not as per his expectations, then that becomes fake news, and this “expectation” of Trump has smeared his presidential reputation to no end.

In a nutshell, we have to see both sides of the same coin. Balance is eventually achieved in our head because we are trained to see the right from the wrong. Our brains are hard-wired, and so sometimes we tend to fall on the side of the news that we really like to see. But then brain realizes its mistake and brings itself back to neutrality.

Enjoy your news via newspapers if you still get one. I get most of mine via the news apps, while still subscribing to The Straits Times which I never finish reading.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

2nd December 2017

Great Truths


1. In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm and three or more is a congress.

John Adams

2. If you don’t read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed.

— Mark Twain 

3. Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But then I repeat myself.

— Mark Twain

4. I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.

— Winston Churchill 

5. A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.

— George Bernard Shaw

6. A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to payoff with your money.

— G. Gordon Liddy 

7. Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.

— James Bovard, Civil Libertarian (1994)

8. Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries.

— Douglas Casey, Classmate of Bill Clinton at Georgetown University 

9. Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.

— P.J. O’Rourke, Civil Libertarian

10. Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else. 

— Frederic Bastiat, French economist (1801-1850)

11. Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.

— Ronald Reagan(1986) 

12. I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.

— Will Rogers

13. If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free!

— P.J. O’Rourke 

14. In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.

— Voltaire(1764)

15. Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you!

— Pericles (430B.C.) 

16. No man’s life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session.

— Mark Twain (1866)

17. Talk is cheap…except when Congress does it.

–Anonymous 

18. The government is like a baby’s alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.

— Ronald Reagan

19. The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.

— Winston Churchill 

20. The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin.

— Mark Twain

21. The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.

— Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903) 

22. There is no distinctly Native American criminal class…save Congress.

— Mark Twain

23. What this country needs are more unemployed politicians.

— Edward Langley, Artist (1928-1995) 

24. A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.

— Thomas Jefferson

25. We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.

— Aesop

FIVE BEST SENTENCES

1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity, by legislating the wealth out of prosperity.

2.What one person receives without working for…another person must work for without receiving.

3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. 

4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.

5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work, because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work, because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation!

I think there are some good truths in the above sentences. It is funny that many of these truths are in play today in nations big and small. I thought this is a good education for my blog readers. Enjoy but also think about these truths. Aren’t these relevant even today?

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

16th September 2017

 

Welcome 2017


2017 promises to offer non-stop entertainment from a geo-political perspective. I believe it will be a great year with new surprises being sprung upon a rather unsuspecting (is that correct anymore?) proletariat almost every other week. Fabulous, to say the least. All over the world, people are probably gearing up for revolutionary thinking and changes in political and social ideologies, don’t you think so?

Unless you have lived in Mars for the past few months, you will tend to believe what I am saying now – the world is being turned topsy turvy and most people who matter (meaning those who are less than 30 years of age) are cheering, they may not have assessed the outcomes carefully however!!!

2017 brings along a variety of new topics to the table – whether that table is at whichever country around the world, these topics are going to matter. The foremost topic will be the demeanour and behaviour of the new President of the United States, arguably the most important country in the world (China begs to differ, however!). President Donald Trump is already shaking up (though he is only a “President-Elect” as of now) established norms of diplomacy and economic fundamentals, and as usual, is using his Twitter account to deliver policy prescriptions and comments on world affairs and the people that he either likes or dislikes.

The other major thing in world politics and economics is Britain’s Brexit phenomenon, which is shaking up the European Union (EU). British Citizens voted to get out of the EU, but still would like to retain some major benefits of staying in the Union. The British Government is going around saying that it would win major concessions from the EU, which are not going to be granted given the dismay that the other major countries have over Britain’s exit from the EU.

Of course, European coverage will be deficit if we do not mention the aspirations of Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, who retained his title as the “mover and shaker” of geo-politics. He grabbed Crimea, ensured the defeat of the rebels opposed to President Assad of Syria, and allegedly helped Donald Trump win the U.S. Presidential Elections (according to the CIA and the FBI, as well as President Obama) by hacking and leaking out thousands of emails and documents detrimental to the Democratic Party of the U.S. Who can beat that record?

On the Asian side of world affairs, we would be remiss if we do not mention the North Korean exploits with launching missiles and threatening to explode yet another atomic device very soon. Kim Jong Un is excellent in annoying even his best supporter, which happens to be China. Since he is totally unpredictable, one can only wonder what he has in store for the New Year (should we send him an e-greeting at least?). He does not like any other country in the world, especially the U.S., South Korea and Japan, and is going to continue pushing the limit of intolerable behaviour.

That brings us finally to China, which has proved to be a conundrum as it is struggling to emerge as a well-accepted global military and economic power, much like the U.S. But, China is failing miserably in its efforts to do so. It is doing all the wrong things on its way to super power and market economy status. China needs to understand that people around the world do not care about hard power anymore. The U.S. and Russia have been the world’s super powers for the past six decades, and that is not going to change much in the coming decade. China needs to work on developing its soft power and project its influence in a positive manner around the world, instead of threatening every nation around the South China Sea, moving military equipment and missiles to disputed reefs, and illegally enter the exclusive economic zones of the maritime countries around in the guise of its claim over the sovereignty of the South China Sea. It is losing its image on the world scene.

Nevertheless, the global citizens can enjoy the antics ot the President of the Philippines, who has kept the global media entertained over the past six months or so. He is no friend of the U.S. or the UN. His people seem to like him, and that’s all he cares about – a very unique character who appears to have no respect for justice or rule of law. But then, what can ASEAN countries do? Nothing whatsoever.

Given the situation around the world, the one country which seems to be going about doing its business purposefully is India, right? The Prime Minister of India has gone after black money and corruption in a big way what with his demonetization of large currency notes which was a very brave move. The rural population have suffered heavily over the past seven weeks due to lack of cash, as rural India is largely a cash-based economy. Corruption is still prevalent in most places in India (can you register a property in India without such help?), and it will now shift to the new currency notes. It has been a tough time for over a billion Indian citizens in India, but the Prime Minister thinks that this could be a great way to move India to a digital economy with cashless transactions driving it. Great idea but infrastructure is simply not there to ensure a cashless economy does indeed come into operation in short order – it is going to take at least two to three years before things work out in the way the Prime Minister has envisioned.

No shortage of entertainment, right? There are many other things happening around the world, and one has to just keep in touch with the fast moving media coverage. I hope you are all doing that.

In the meanwhile, here’s Wishing all of you and your families a Wonderful New Year ahead in 2017.

Take care,

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

1st January 2017

 

The Big Bang Theory


I started seeing this CBS TV Serial some 3 months ago only.

Now I am kind of addicted for those 30 minutes.

This is easily the best TV sitcom that I have ever seen (that’s not to say much though !), which sees me asking for more. The cast of the serial is just amazing, there is a lot to be said about the extremely careful selection process. All the main characters – Leonard, Sheldon, Howard, Raj, Penny, Bernadette and Amy – keep delivering outstanding performances.

The best things that I like about The Big Bang Theory are its scientific, mathematical and physics orientation (which is a rarity in TV serials), combined with amazing interpolation of quick-hitting catch-phrases and sentences from the main characters (with a hint of mischievous humour on most occasions). One has to be really fast to follow the dialogues as sometimes these dialogues are tainted with some heavy physics or mathematical analogies. Not that one is going to learn anything about physics or advanced mathematics, but the feel of the show is that the four guys are real nerds working for one of the most advanced institutes in the world (Caltech, I guess).

I keep laughing continuously especially with the quick repartees from Sheldon, and the quaint, surprised look which comes often in the face of Leonard.

The female participation has been well leveraged, but I regret the exit of the character Leslie (who is almost a better physicist than Sheldon and often challenges him) from the series. Amy, while a good nerdy match to Sheldon, is not able to compete with Sheldon on actual physics theories !

All in all, The Big Bang Theory is easily the best TV sitcom out there that is continuously entertaining and thought-provoking in a silly manner. The cast is probably the best one can assemble for such a serial, and they seem to be keeping the flame burning bright as the serial proceeds through the current season (which is Season 5 in India). I think that this is eminently relaxing and entertaining, though sometimes I feel a bit awkward having my son watching it along with me !

Try seeing this serial and you will see what I mean apart from the scientific impact !!

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan
4th August 2012
Mumbai

Amazing Win !


Last evening (Sunday 6th May), I went to see the IPL (Indian Premier League) Cricket Match between the teams of Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. Both my son and myself were mighty thrilled to be able to first get couple of tickets to the event and then make it to the Stadium well in advance of the huge crowds thronging the place.

Disclosure: My son is a supporter of CSK (Chennai Super Kings) team and I am a supporter of MI (Mumbai Indians) team !!

Going to the Stadium, identifying which gate to enter, and finding a parking space nearby – all was adventure for us. It took one hour and 10 minutes for us to drive from the Western suburb of Andheri West to the Churchgate station in South Mumbai, via the Bandra-Worli Sea Link (which is incidentally a pleasure to drive across). It took us some time to identify the Gate assigned on our ticket on the side of the Churchgate station, and then once we did that, we found a parking slot right across from the Gate in a quiet leafy road (one had to pay of course, as almost all South Mumbai roads seem to have a parking attendant who materializes suddenly when either you are trying to park the car, or when you are trying to leave the place !).

The thrill of actually going to the match (rather than just watching it even on a big TV screen) is just great – the crowds, the shouting, the cheering, the flag-waving, etc., etc., We thoroughly enjoyed the feeling of being part of the whole scene. The security was very tight – I was surprised when they told us to throw the granola bars we had or eat the same right then and there, as food articles were not allowed. No water bottles, and no cameras……..thorough frisking first when you go to the staircase leading up to the stadium, followed by metal detector stations…….and then at every turn, they kept checking our tickets. I was wondering – what happens if the usual railway track crossers jump into the Stadium: Mumbai, as you might know, have scores of these people crossing rail tracks rather than climbing up the bridge to the other side. But I did not see anyone like that !

It was scorching hot inside the stadium – may be around 34 or 35 deg C. But since it was the first time we went for such a match at the Wankhede Stadium (earlier we had gone to the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai a couple of years ago), we reached much earlier than the start time of the match.

It was an amazingly thrilling match yesterday. Without going through a commentary, I want to say that when the match reached its last couple of overs, my son was almost celebrating – the CSK team was on the verge of winning the match. When the last over arrived, the MI team had to get 15 runs to win the match, and with tail enders batting, the Stadium was eerily silent. Of course, it was Mumbai and 90% of the crowd was from Mumbai and heavy supporters of the MI team.

But then, no body anticipated that Dwayne Smith would hit such wonderful knocks – he hit a six and a four, followed by another four. The other batsman had taken a single, so Mumbai Indians so unexpectedly won the match yesterday. It was such a thrilling close to a hard fought match, that was the reason why most of the cricket lovers love this game……..the feeling is simply to be felt to be described.

Finally, there was a feeling of deja vu…………both sides were highly capable with excellent batsmen. They must have been thinking – Oh, what a match it was, always to be remembered !

So, that’s how I saw my first cricket match at the Wankhede Stadium at Mumbai !

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

6th May 2012

Mumbai

Phoenix Market City in Mumbai


Amazing !

Yes, it is probably the biggest such retail development in the country.

The Phoenix Market City in Kurla West region of Mumbai is a huge mall, which we (family and me) visited today (Saturday). I could not believe my eyes !

Such a huge mall in the middle of the greater city of Mumbai, very close to the financial centre at BKC (Bandra Kurla Complex). How come this came up almost unannounced ?

Please see “Phoenix Market City”

Simply outstanding in terms of construction and space. For example, the parking space was so huge I could not believe I was in India. Similarly, the atrium concept was new and constructed in a huge manner – so big, that there was hardly any crowd to be seen !
We went in around 4:30 PM on a Saturday evening, and my guess is that the number of visitors inside the huge mall was a miniscule portion of what would have been expected on a weekend day.

I think the place would become very popular in the coming weeks and months, and it would easily attract some 50,000 visitors over the weekends…….it is going to be a great place. Apart from the regular brands one gets to see in upmarket malls, this mall also had some unusual brands represented in its vast expanse of space.

We walked around quite a bit and we were impressed. The “Crocs” shop for advanced footwear was impressive, but the prices were not. We were looking for anti-slip footwear, and the cost was upwards of USD 50, which I think is unaffordable for most people in India, even for the affluent. We saw some pretty good anti-slip footwear next door at the friendly Bata showroom and so picked up the necessary footwear at prices of some USD 8 and USD 5 for couple of pairs for my wife and son.

Yes, the Indian shopping crowd today is enamoured of high-end brands, but it will soon enough discover that the prices are way too high for its satisfaction.

I am recommending that you visit Phoenix Market City in the near future to get impressed. It is a great place to visit. Shops are still getting built, but the place is ready for action and ready for visitors. They have to simply make some attractive shows to draw the young and the mighty to spend at the mall.

Cheers

Vijay Srinivasan
17th March 2012
Mumbai