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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Obama is a Cult: Stalking the US Presidential Exit Polls

Posted by fifthdimension on February 14, 2008

If you expect me to say that Obama is going to be the US President, I will hugely disappoint you! But over the past few days, I have some exciting and positive observations, which could be common with many of you.

Whether Obama will win the race for nomination or not is not my area of interest. For me, the most bewildering part is the kind of following that Obama has succeeded to generate!  Young Americans constitute a majority of his followers. His campaigns leave behind a trail of energy and excitement, which is very rare in the history of US elections. His inroads into Mrs Clinton’s fortresses, i.e. Virginia and Maryland, are significant.

I see Obama as a Panzer dancing behind the enemy lines, headed for the target with lightning speed! Obama is emerging as a new cult in the United States. In this case, his mission, among many others,  is to bring an end the mindset that led to the Iraq war.

Will the new president restore faith in the United States? Will the world’s powerhouse get an able leader, who can align the country with the interests of the rest of the world? The new President’s policies will impact a number of broader global issues like climate change, terrorism and poverty.       

Posted in News, Perceptions, Politics, Reviews, Society | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Travel 2.0: Musings on the Long Tail in Travel

Posted by fifthdimension on November 7, 2007

While Travel 1.0 is headed for its sunset, the Web 2.0 has enabled the Travel industry to integrate new features, enhance user experience and differentiate themselves in the highly competitive travel market. So, here comes Travel 2.0.

Unlike Travel 1.0, where companies were in control, in Travel 2.0, corporates must allow travelers to take control, plan and find or design the perfect trip. So, the concept of lowest airfares or the cheapest trip do not hold much water anymore.

Has anybody noticed the social networking phenoma? You do not belong to the Internet generation if you have not! The most interesting aspect is that this kicked off the Long Tail economy. If you want to be in business, you must concentrate on niches and the smaller products. This is because all the smaller numbers taken together, by far,  will out number the larger product. 

Before going further, I’d like to remind you that you can’t ignore customer complaints. They are communicating with each other and eavesdropping in social sites. It takes just a day to ruin your reputation, which matters most while selling products.

Alright. The Long Tail almost rang the death knell for the Pareto Principle . In wake of Web 2.0, you can’t even imagine banking on the 80/20 law or “the law of the vital few”.  

Recently, Phocuswright released their five predictions on the future of the long tail in travel. Here’s a summary of their report:

  • The little guy’s (product, channel, site, business) influence is significant
  • The sum of the niches is embraced
  • The 80/20 rule is debunked (“law of the vital few”)
  • The size of your reputation matters more than the size of your marketing budget
  • Distressed, “out of print” or discontinued product now has value

The first four definitely looks very vital for the Travel Industry, which will guide all future strategies on products, pricing, marketing and branding.

Posted in Airlines, Media and Culture, News, Perceptions, Reviews, Society, Travel | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Sepultura Live in India: One Metal Act, Three Cities

Posted by fifthdimension on October 30, 2007

Loyalists of Max and Igor might regret the absence of Cavelra Brothers, but for the average metal head, Sepultura’s XXI concert in New Delhi, India was one hell of a show. However, I’m surprised with the audience response in India’s capital city. Unlike other jam-packed Sep concerts, the concert venue gave the appearance of a run-of-the-mill local show. Not more than 2000 rivet heads turned up!!     

But those who did were the lucky ones to savor every classic and new track laid bare. After an amateurish and sluggish performance by local opening band Metakix, the demi-gods were received with thundering applause throughout the concert venue. 

Derrick Green did his job quite well, although I dearly missed the Man- yes, Max Cavelra. I’m excited about their Shillong concert. Shillong just beat Kansas City to enter the Guiness Book of Records for the largest ensemble of guitarists in the world when 1730 guitar players came together to play “Knockin on Heaven’s Door” as a tribute to Bob Dylan. Earlier, it was the KYYS in Mission, Kansas City, which brought together 1683 guitarists who played Deppe Purples epic “Smoke on the Water” in 1994.

Posted in Life, Music, News, Perceptions, Reviews, Society | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

US Honor to Dalai Lama Adds to China’s Woes!

Posted by fifthdimension on October 17, 2007

Finally, the US-China bilateral relationship is headed for a snafu. As the US prepares to honor Tibetan Dalai Lama with the Congressional Gold Medal, the situation has turned quite amusing, especially in wake of China’s reaction to the US senate’s decision.

For China, Dalai Lama is a fugitive. But the US decision to honor him with such a Top Civilian award has made things clear that US is not going to buy China’s verdict on the Dalai Lama. Did the US congress ever listen to anyone? I have serious doubts!

Whatever it may be, this is a gross intrusion into China’s internal affairs. Honoring the Dalai Lama is to support the Tibetan struggle for “real autonomy”.  But again, the Dalai Lama is a spiritual leader,  as Mr. Bush sees him. Meanwhile, we know that Mr. Bush wears some strange glasses that casts images of chemical weapons and weapons of mass destruction in the deserts of Iraq.  I wonder if he’s wearing the same!

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Am I Ever Gonna Buy Lipstick For My Girlfriend?

Posted by fifthdimension on October 12, 2007

Am I ever I gonna buy lipstick for my girlfriend? No way! Because “lipsticks” are synonymous with “leadsticks”, I wont buy her one again even if she keeps insisting.

During a Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a U.S. consumer rights group found one third of the lipsticks they tested contained lead above the  US Food and Drug Administration’s 0.1 ppm limit. The samples that tested negative include popular brands like Cover Girl, L’Oreal and Christian Dior!

So, what’s the hoopla about lead? Researchers associate lead to learning, language and behavioral problems such as reduced academic performance and increased aggression. Increased aggression! That’s another reason.  Lead is particularly unsafe for pregnant women and young children as it has been linked to infertility and miscarriage.

Wouldja buy me a lipstick, honey? Always say NEVER! 

Posted in Life, News, Reviews, Society | 10 Comments »

Japan Might Resume Humanitarian Aid to N Korea

Posted by fifthdimension on August 30, 2007

Japan’s foreign minister, Nobutaka Machimura, as quoted by the Tokyo financial newspaper Nikkei, says that the government is debating on whether to lift its three-year embargo on humanitarian aid to North Korea.

In wake of the recent natural disaster and the call for help by UN and other humanitarian organizations, the country is considering options of resuming aid to the “rouge”(!!) country.  

It may be mentioned that recent flooding in North Korea has claimed over hundred lives and displaced some 300,000, in addition to  destroying a huge amount of the country’s crops.

South Korea has already promised $7.5 million in emergency food and medical supplies and another $40 million in construction and fuel aid.

Japan, it may be recalled,  has suspended humanitarian aid to the Communist state in 2004 over the issue of Japanese citizens kidnapped in the 1970s and 1980s by North Korean intelligence services.

Pyongyang has admitted to abducting at least 13 Japanese nationals, of which five were repatriated, while the remaining eight reportedly died in the interim. In sensational revelations, the released abductees said they had been forced to train North Koreans to spy against Japan.

However, Japan declined to accept North Korean assertions that the matter has been closed, insisting that many more of its citizens remain unaccounted for.

The issue is to gain prominence onec again, when the two countries meet on September 5-6 in the Ulan Bator, as part of the six-party negotiations on North Korea’s nuclear disarmament.

If Japan resumes aid, it will come as a tremendous breather for Pyongyang, who’s reeling under natural disater and continued US pressure for nuclear disarmament. The progress on the nuclear issue will be worth observing. 

Posted in Media and Culture, News, Perceptions, Politics, Reviews, Society | 1 Comment »

New Helloween Album Arriving on Stands

Posted by fifthdimension on August 24, 2007

For the German heavy metal powerhouse Helloween, the Keeper Of The Seven Keys and The Legacy world tour days are over. After a grueling run of 93 shows in 34 countries around the world, and in the post-Live On 3 Continents DVD period, the band gathered in their studio to work on their 12th album- Gambling With The Devil.

The album is scheduled to arrive US stores by October 23, 2007, in Germany by October 26, 2007 and rest of Europe by October 29, 2007. After guitarist Roland Grapow’s departure, this is the first major work with new guitarist Sascha Gerstner. Andi Deris remains on vocals, along with Michael Weikath (guitar),  Markus Grosskopf (bass) and Dani Loble (drums). Some of the songs have been written during the incredible Keeper Of The Seven Keys and The Legacy tour.

For starters, Helloween is one of the pioneers, many consider them as the founders, of Power Metal, a genre that evolved in the mid-eighties. When Kai Hansen  (guitar/vocals)  left the band after the first album Walls of Jericho, they roped in Michael Kiske to take the world by storm with their Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I and II. The rest is history! Not to forget that Helloween is one my five favorite bands of all times, equalling my love of Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force, Stratovarius, Dokken and Judas Priest. 

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Top Travel News

Posted by fifthdimension on August 7, 2007

Aer Lingus’ First Base Outside Ireland– In an attempt to expand its business further, Aer Lingus has launched its latest base in Belfast International Airport, it’s first base outside the Republic of Ireland. Initially, it will serve London Heathrow and Amsterdam Schiphol. 

Carnival Cruise Carries 2.5 mn in the Caribbean– In a record-breaking season, this year Carnival Cruise Lines will carry an amazing 2.9 million passengers within the region. This is unprecedented in its 35-year history.

To meet this, Carnival will deploy 18 ships in the Caribbean, out of which, 14 will offer year-round service. Carnival is the only cruise line to offer departures from 12 convenient U.S. homeports.

CheapoAir.com Hits the Bull’s Eye Again–  New York City-based online travel site CheapoAir has made it to the Top 10 travel websites consecutively for the second time in the Hitwise Top 10 Websites Report for this quarter. CheapoAir offers cheap airfares to budget travelers from the US and Canada flying both for business and leisure.

Cheapflights Get record Number of Visitors– Online travel site cheap flights recorded 56 million visitors globally for the for the year to 30th June 2007, as cited by company sources.  The company launched its US site in may 2003.

Posted in Airlines, Media and Culture, News, Reviews, Society, Travel | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Lenses on Hunger and Poverty- Let’s Take a Look at the Stats

Posted by fifthdimension on July 25, 2007

The world hunger and poverty scenario breaks me apart. Many of us might be unaware, but statistics have touch moved me. I think it’s time to act, not just sit and look at lame stats.

   

  • Today, 854 million people across the world are hungry. A 2 million increase since last year.  
  • Every 5 seconds, one child dies from hunger related causes. The stats say that 16,000 children die from this everyday. 

Officially, hunger is the “most extreme form of poverty, where individuals or families cannot afford to meet their most basic need for food.”  It’s not just famine and starvation where hunger manifests itself. There are people who are suffering from chronic undernourishment and vitamin or mineral deficiencies, which result in stunted growth, weakness and heightened susceptibility to illness. These are all different hues of the same portrait- hunger.

Countries in which a huge portion of the population battles hunger daily are usually poor and often unable to provide the basic social safety cover that we enjoy, such as soup kitchens, food stamps, and job training programs.  Today, if I’m living in a poor country, which is unable to grow enough food or earn enough money to buy food, I have nowhere to turn for help.  

  • Today our world is home to just over 6.55 billion people.

 The developed/industrialized world, of which the US is a part, comprises of about 57 countries with a combined population of about 1 billion. This is less than 1/6th of the world’s total population. But approximately 5.1 billion people live in the developing world consisting of about 125 low and middle-income countries, where people generally have a lower standard of living and have access to fewer goods and services than people in high-income countries. The remaining 0.4 billion live in countries in transition, which include the Baltic states, eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States.  

Hunger and Poverty Stats Combined 

In 2004, almost 1 billion people lived below the international poverty line. This they earned less than $1 per day. This group of poor people had numerous problems obtaining adequate, nutritious food for themselves and their families. As such, 1 billion people in the developing remain undernourished.   

Undernourishment has negative affects on people’s health, productivity, sense of hope and overall well-being. It results in stunt growth, slow thinking, sap energy, hinder fetal development and contribute to mental retardation. From an economic standpoint, the constant search for food consumes valuable time and energy of poor people, allowing less time for work and earning income. Socially, it eats into relationships.  Click to see presentations on hunger and poverty around the world. 

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Coming up Next Airbus A 390

Posted by fifthdimension on July 20, 2007

That’s right!  A380 has just made a head start and an overwhelming majority of the frequent and not-so-frequent fliers are yet to get the real taste of this innovative carrier. But what’s buzzing everywhere in the aviation industry is the news that Airbus has initiated preliminary studies for the design and manufacture of a 2600 capacity passenger carrier.

Still on the drawing board phase, the aircraft will have ten decks—seven for passengers, three for cargo and baggage, and is to be called “Airbus A 390”. Designed for long haul flights of over 20 hours, the proposed features on this airplane include six restaurants, three duty free shops, a lounge with a discothèque, two full sized movie theatres, a 14 lane bowling alley, a swimming pool with water slides, a wedding chapel, a fully functional medical clinic, and a 11,000 volume library.

The target market for this airplane is international long distance flights of over 9,000 nautical miles (about 16,600 kilometers). It will need six Rolls-Royce turbofan engines to power this flight, with each developing thrusts of over 340,000lb. Plus it will need a passenger load of around 1750 passengers to reach the break-even point for operating, meaning it must have 1750 passengers on board in order to fly. 

But what about the environment? A 390 looks more glitzy and fascinating, but who’s going to control emission levels? 

Posted in Airlines, Environment, News, Perceptions, Reviews, Society, Travel | Leave a Comment »