Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Winds of Change

Usually I write when I start to fall asleep in my cube, when I want to clarify thoughts or when I want to log down some experiences and ideas. Now I write because I am bored and my mind is a bit agitated, jumping from one thought to another. I read this morning an article in WIRED on the future of GPS. A lot of interesting ideas with topics that are relevant in today’s high technology world. Previously I thought that once should read TIME or NEWSWEEK to be aware of current events. Now the information from this type of magazines is easily available in CNN, BBC, FOX new or MSNBC. There is also the intranet where everything is available.

Now I think specialized news is hard to come by and the complex and high technology world require one to be aware of these developments. So these days I think the magazine that are indispensable to read are: WIRED, FORTUNE, ECONOMIST and VANITY FAIR. I included VANITY FAIR because there are a lot of good articles on powerful people and social relationships that influence a lot of events. Hence, it provides an insider view not accessible to the mainstream press. I have been reading a lot of blogs but I think it should be more for entertainment than to know the latest trends. These magazines have the high quality focus that is lacking in blogs. Of course one gets a more immediate and personal flavor than from the general media.

Since coming here, I have been into a mad rush to catch up and learn all I can about the local history, economic, social and technological culture. But I guess reading these magazines updates one into an advanced mode of awareness. At the end of the day, ordinary folk don’t read these magazines though I am glad they are readily available in the library. I have gone through a lot of books, magazines, DVDs since coming here and 2 major works stick to my mind. Firstly, Herman Wouk’s ‘The Winds of War’ and ‘War and Remembrance’ and secondly, Dorothy Kearns Goodwin’s ‘A Team of Rivals.’ Both provide an incredible breadth and scope to their subject.

I watched the mini series based on Herman Wouk’s work and it’s the most factual that I have ever seen on the war. The locations from Singapore, Philippines, Poland, Washington, London, Moscow, Pearl Harbor and Berlin seem to depict the real scope of events that transpired in history. The actors and dialogues are great and one in the lifetime achievement. Perhaps it rivals Leo Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’. The scenes in the Philippines and Singapore are spot on based on my own readings and experience. So I feel the other scenes in the book where researched well so I like the series and I wonder why I missed it when it was first shown long ago. I still have to see the remaining 6 episodes and I can’t wait to borrow it from the library.

‘Team of Rivals’ is a great book - one of the best historical works I have read or listened to as an audio work. It captures the greatness and humanity of Abraham Lincoln and the other important people in his team: Seward, Chase, Welles, Stanton, Blair, Grant and so on. It captures the underestimation of Lincoln’s rivals to his capacity and ability. One cannot help but make comparisons between Obama and Lincoln. There is a wisdom there as mentioned by Obama when asked about the book. I guess Obama and his team of rivals is reading this book closely to learn about Lincoln and the way he had managed and led his team during the period of civil war. There is a magnificence that one feels about Lincoln when reading about him and what his contemporaries say about him. I wonder why I had missed reading him in my youth as the only thing I could recall at that time was his rise from the poor prairie to the presidency and his overcoming of great obstacles and defeats.

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