Politicians normally try to keep their private lives separate from their public personas. And the media generally respect this separation, unless any probing can be justified as being in the public interest.
But some politicians purposely ventilate aspects of their private lives when they feel that it will help them in their jobs.
Listening to the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speak is a painful experience. The man does not seem to know when to stop, even when he is answering pointed questions; he just waffles on and on, giving one the impression that he is trying to exhaust the time available to keep the questions to a minimum.
His verbal acrobatics take him from topic to unrelated topic and the whole thing sometimes makes no sense.
What came to mind while I was forced to listen to one of his media conferences — I was driving — was the description, in Mark Twain’s 1883 classic Life on the Mississippi, of the pilots who guided steamers down that river during those years.
These men needed to know the river intimately, every swell and literally every rock, in order to avoid getting stuck on a sandbank, or, worse, hitting an obstacle and sinking. They had to develop extremely good memories.
As the US marks the 20th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Centre, a theory, that can only be classified as unadulterated BS, has been advanced: the event led to the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq which in turn led to the emergence of Donald Trump.
Such a narrative sits nicely with Democrats: the election of the worst US president, a Republican, was caused by the actions of another Republican president, George W. Bush.
Part of this logic — if you can call it that — is that Trump’s opposition to the wars launched by Bush put paid to the chances of his brother, Jeb, gaining the Republican nomination.
There’s a common element to much, if not most, of the news that flits across the TV screens: lies.
People attempt to add a touch of sophistry to lying, by trying to create classes of lies, but in the end it all adds up to the same thing: saying one thing when knowing that the opposite was correct.
One well-known example: the current president of the United States, Joe Biden, came to office promising a US$15 minimum wage for the country. He also promised to provide medical services for all and forgive at least a part of the billions in student debt.
Last month, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, a taxpayer-funded entity, made several people redundant, due to a cut in funding by the Federal Government. Among them was Emma Alberici, a presenter who has been lionised a great deal as someone with great talents, but who is actually a mediocre hack who lacks ability.
What marked Alberici out is the fact that she had the glorious title of chief economics correspondent at the ABC, but was never seen on any TV show giving her opinion about anything to do with economics. Over the last two years, China and the US have been engaged in an almighty stoush; Australia, as a country that considers the US as its main ally and has China as its major trading partner, has naturally been of interest too.
Back in 1976. the Indian Government, for whom my father, Ipe Samuel Varghese, worked in Colombo, cheated him of Rs 13,500 – the gratuity that he was supposed to be paid when he was dismissed from the Indian High Commission (the equivalent of the embassy) in Colombo.
But he was not paid this amount because the embassy said he had contravened rules by working at a second job, something which everyone at the embassy was doing, because what people were paid was basically a starvation wage. My father had rubbed against powerful interests in the embassy who were making money by taking bribes from poor Sri Lankan Tamils who were applying for Indian passports to return to India. Continue reading “The Indian Government cheated my late father of Rs 332,775”
The ninth edition of Australia’s annual 20-over cricket tournament, the Big Bash League, ended on a rather downbeat note, with the final reduced to a 12-over-a-side affair, though the fact that it would rain on the day was known well in advance.
Despite that, the Sydney Sixers, a finalist and the eventual winner, did not want the game shifted to Melbourne due to the home ground advantage that it claimed it would have.
The other finalist, the Melbourne Stars, would not have minded moving the game so that the full 20 overs could be played, but moving it to the MCG, which was the alternative venue, would have afforded the Stars home-ground advantage. Shouldn’t professional teams be able to play at any venue and win? Continue reading “The BBL is going downhill slowly, but surely”
How many mistakes should one accept in a book before it is pulled from sale? In the normal course, when a book is accepted for publication by a recognised publishing company, there are experienced editors who go through the text, correct it and ensure that there are no major bloopers.
Then there are fact-checkers who ensure that what is stated within the book is, at least, mostly aligned with public versions of events from reliable sources.
How do you evaluate a book before buying? If it were from a traditional bookshop, then one scans some pages at least. The art master in my secondary school told his students of a method he had: read page 15 or 16, then flip to page 150 and read that. If the book interests you, then buy it.
But when it’s online buying, what happens? Not every book you buy is from a known author and many online booksellers do not offer the chance to flip through even a few pages. At times, this ends with the buyer getting a dud.
One book I bought recently proved to be a dud. I am interested in the outcome of the civil war in Sri Lanka where I grew up. Given that, I picked up the first book about the ending of the war, written in 2011 by Australian Gordon Weiss, a former UN official. This is an excellent account of the whole conflict, one that also gives a considerable portion of the history of the island and the events that led to the rise of tensions between the Sinhalese and the Tamils. Continue reading “The Rise and Fall of the Tamil Tigers is a third-rate book. Don’t waste your money buying it”