Thursday, January 28, 2010

Post Elections

So it's all done now. Mr. Rajapakse is in for another 6 years whether you like it or not. Regardless of who won the elections there's a few things that should be done.

The first is having strong ties with the United States, which is arguably the most influential nation on the planet. Sarath Fonseka was said to be a US puppet by some and may have been better in this regard. Still the same can be capitalized by the current government as well. China is all well and good but we really need some finesse in the Foreign Service in terms of negotiating the best settlement for our country. Really we need to balance our benefactors...

Education should really be revamped in a major way. There is a growing trend in Sri Lanka whereby people don't want to do menial work anymore. I heard firsthand from a tea estate owner that the future of the tea industry in the country was very bleak. Namely because finding people willing to work on tea estates was difficult. People wanted more skilled jobs that paid better. The opportunity to capitalize on such things has always been there. To some extent Sri Lanka has expanded its IT and other outsourcing but there is still a long way to go. We really need to move away from the age old plantation economy. Lack of English is a major obstacle for development...

Whether you voted for Mr. Rajapakse or not there's no real point opposing the Government. Better to make the best out of the current situation. Furthermore it would seem that the toughest part is ahead of the current President with a load of promises to deliver upon.
Should he fail to do so his name and reputation for winning the war will be tarnished in the annals of history.

It is my belief that a significant majority of the country wanted this outcome in the Election. If one is to believe the allegations of vote rigging it is highly likely that the result would have been closer but most likely the same. If this wasn't the case... we'll most likely never know.

Lastly about the campaigns themselves... Mr. Fonseka was greatly lacking in terms of his charisma. His speeches were quite dull compared to Mr. Rajapakses and his campaign lacked a certain punch in terms of personality. It seemed somewhat similar to the race between Bush and Kerry with Kerry claiming he was a military man with a Purple Heart and other medals. That wasn't enough to win the election. He lost to Bush...

I guess we all have to wait and see what the future holds... but it may not be as bleak as some people are making it out to be.

As always if you object to any of the above... feel free to challenge.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Procrastinator

Do you tend to leave things to the last minute? Wasting loads of excess time idling and then blazing through a task at the last possible second? Well it turns out there is a reason for this and the answer is in your brain.

According to a research conducted by a US research group using video games, it was found that certain players took to playing better. The reason it was found was that certain parts of their brain were larger, namely a part connected with rewards.

A long story short, people who have a larger part of their brain connected with the reward mechanism are prone to wanting immediate gratification rather than long term rewards. So tasks such as studying or exercising where the benefit is not immediate tend to be forgone in exchange for those that bring immediate rewards.

So it's not your fault really that you wait till the last second, it's just that when the deadline is near you know the end goal and work accordingly. However the same research goes on to say that you can overcome this though. No excuse for an easy way out sadly.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Voting Tips

Apparently even some really educated people are unsure of how to vote at the coming elections, so I was privy to a small explanation that went something like this.

If there are 5 candidates they'll be listed as follows:


If you're voting for only one candidate simply put an 'X' next to their name. If you are however going to do preferential votes then you need to stick to numbers. So '1' next to the guy you really want to vote for and then '2' and '3' next to your second and third choices respectively. You can't put a X and numbers or your vote becomes invalid.

This is so that if there is no clear winner preference votes will be added to the last two standing. However apparently preferential votes have never been used in an election in Sri Lanka with the winner always being quite clear cut.

Another obvious one is not to write anything on your voting card like comments on the candidates. This will also invalidate your vote. Apparently this is also done sometimes but probably not by the English speaking crowd.

Happy Voting (assuming you are actually voting)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Circus on Video

Well this time we've got the crowds caught on camera. I'm not really sure how we can have a democracy when this is how a significant majority of the voters behave. I mean how can you have a meaningful campaign when the electorate is mostly uneducated?

I seem to recall based on some reading that the British wished to bring Democracy to Sri Lanka. At the time a few of our local politicians objected arguing that the country wasn't ready due to a lack of education throughout the island. These were defeated with the help of other local politicians. I think they were right though. Just dumping democracy isn't a good idea. Watch the video and judge for yourselves.

Have to commend the guys running the barricade though for doing their best though the mob is a little too much.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Man on the Street

I recently went to get my running shoes patched up since they had begun to fall apart. The shoes originally cost around 6000 bucks and a new pair would be a somewhat similar story. So deciding to skimp and be more reasonable I went to find one of those guys who patches shoes up for cheap.

I found this guy in Slave Island who seemed to have a lot of business and I showed him my shoes. He looked at them and said he'd fix them for Rs. 250. I agreed and he proceeded to work on it.

The guy sits there with a partner who also patches up shoes and together they dump their earnings in to a box beside them. Located all around are the tools they use including sewing needles and thread, polish, a tooth brush and more.

Anyway as I was watching this guy sewing my shoe up I was somewhat impressed by his speed and dexterity. He moved with a complete assuredness that he knew what he was doing. This is somewhat of a contrast from a lot of the white collar places in Colombo where employees have no clue what their doing (I'm thinking IT here - particularly IT repair) and just try to BS their way out.

As I watched him sewing the shoe, his partner finished around 3 or 4 customers with smaller jobs. He opened the little shared box... and there was quite a bit of cash in there. Considering it was around 12, and that these guys work almost everyday I think, and probably well in to the afternoon, they must be getting a pretty decent living. Well over a 1000 rupees a day I'm sure. There certainly wasn't a sense of desperation or eagerness for business. He seemed pretty confident and relaxed.

This guy was free to get up and go if he wanted. He had a pretty decent supply of cash and while he may not be able to afford the luxuries in life, I'm not sure he would want to. Seemed like he had it pretty good all things considered. Definitely a better way than just begging on the road, that's for sure.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Pilgrims on the way to the Palace

With the endless droves of people still coming to Temple Trees to meet the President a couple more incidents of note seem to occur.

The first was the sudden outcry of anger that could be heard on one of the days. Hearing the passionate cry one might have thought that a political showdown with supporters clashing was surely underway... but apparently not. Rather disappointing to find out then that instead the commotion was about something else entirely.

You see the lunch packets had run out on that particular day and many of the invitees went home disappointed about not receiving their free lunch. But suddenly midway during the exodus the delivery van showed up with fresh food. Naturally the people broke their lines and clamoured their way to the truck. The shouting was essentially "Deepan... Deepan!" (Sorry if this is not accurate) Anyway the guys in the truck were a little confused and afraid so they started to hand out bags of packets i.e each one had several packs inside.

The guy clamouring the loudest then proceeded to walk away with the ENTIRE bag. Others started to follow suit walking off with 5 packets each. This continued until the police intervened and got matters under control. Another issue which the police soon realized was that people were taking packets, leaving them somewhere and coming back for more. The whole thing was somewhat of a circus.

The other little story involved the motive for some of the visitors. At least one person stated that the only reason they went was because they had been summoned via a letter. They went because they were quite simply afraid to say no and decline the invitation. So fear motivated them... which is interesting in terms of what it means when it comes down to the polls come Election Day.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Keels and Prices

This is just a small note about the last post on Oreos. Apparently the price of all Oreos now is still 235 regardless of the type in every supermarket... except Keels. For some strange reason Keels supermarkets around the country have them priced at somewhere around Rs.425. If anyone can explain this mystery there's a free cookie in it... a metaphorical Oreo.

Edit: Ommitted to mention that Oreos are also actually brought down from the Philippines which happens to scratch out the Melamine theory.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Return of the Oreo

After a mysterious disappearance from just about everywhere... well actually everywhere, the illusive Oreo cookies have decided to once again make their way to Sri Lanka. Of course the sad thing is that since last December the chocolate variety have increased in price from Rs.160 to about Rs.235. Well at least that was the case last week when I suddenly noticed that they had returned.

On my last trip to the supermarket day before yesterday I suddenly noticed that the price is now Rs. 400 odd! Did a new tax kick in over the last week or something? Either way its just way to expensive... though I suppose it helps local produce, but then why bother importing it at all?

Kind sources also inform me that Oreos in the United States are far richer and tastier than the variety that are found here... which I assume are imported from Malaysia or Indonesia.

Edit: Could it be because of Melamine... but for so long?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Difference Made?

Sometime ago there was a post about voting for a Sri Lankan entrant for BBC's World Challenge. Seems the unspillable lamps for Sri Lanka won out in the end. Thanks to Darth Chavie for pointing that out. Hopefully there'll be less people suffering from oil burns as a result of lamps falling over.

This can be seen here: BBC World Challenge

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Illusions of Success

Record breaking revenues and ticket sales have become the latest trend of theatrical releases. Each year blockbusters hit screens that seem to reach landmark box office figures crushing the movies of yesteryear with staggering amounts of revenue. But the reality is a far grimmer picture.

The truth that is hidden behind a bombardment of marketing is that actual attendance figures for theatres in the United States has been in decline for quite some time now with a dip having been reached somewhere in 2005. So if less people are actually attending movie screenings how come the revenue figures for such movies is enormous?

The answer is simple... inflation. The raw revenue figures that are provided are not adjusted for the inevitable devaluing of the US dollar that is constantly taking place. This means that the current list of the top grossing movies of all time is grossly skewered, looking something like this:

But the actual ranking when adjusting for inflation (with 2009 as the base year) appears as follows:

Taken from boxofficemojo

On the adjusted list last year's heavyweight, "The Dark Knight" comes in at No.27, Shrek 2 at No. 30, Spiderman at No.34, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest at 44 and so on.

Another factor that is left out is the simple fact that ticket prices have also been rising to offset the drop in attendance. This makes the best measure of the success of each film being the actual number of tickets sold which is the basis used to calculate the gross here.

Does this mean people simply gotten tired of watching? Hardly... the number of movies being released today is higher which segments the market making it hard for a movie to have true mass appeal. Other mediums such as cable, DVD and of course downloading have reduced the number of people willing to watch in cinemas. This has made box office figures drop with rises in new markets such as DVD's, rentals and cable viewing.

Naturally the folks at Hollywood are not likely to make these facts known. Propagating images of movies with blitzkrieg like ticket sales helps build hype and keep movie goers coming.