Thursday, July 02, 2009

The semis

Roddick-Murray
This one is easy to pick. Once Murray returns Roddick's serve and keeps it in play, he will have the edge. And Murray is a great returner, on par with Federer, so he will put a lot of balls in play. Roddick doesn't have the ground game to match Murray. Murray is like a newer and better version of Hewitt. Roddick's strategy should be simple. Big serve, big forehand, the 1-2 punch. I feel like he is not using his forehand as he used to. Earlier, he used to go for broke on his forehand because he didn't want to rally on his backhand. Now that his backhand improved a bit, he feels like he can rally on that side, and so doesn't go for broke on the forehand. Well, he needs to go back to his old style tomorrow. The only weak part of Murray's game is his 2nd serve. It's ridiculous. Roddick needs to attack that a lot even though his own return game is suspect. He is serving great and if some how he can take this to a 5th set, the overwhelming pressure on Murray and Murray's suspect stamina can win him the game. But I doubt that's going to happen. I would love to see Roddick win. But even a Murray win is going to be great. Think of it, a Brit against Federer (if Federer wins) in the Wimbledon final. That's massive. Murray will beat Roddick in 4 sets.

Federer-Haas
This is the better of the two semis. Haas has been a revelation this whole tournament. He is volleying great. He almost beat Federer at the French and has troubled him in the past. At the Frech, I thought he played an extremely intelligent game. He did not try to do any thing special. He just tried to stay with Federer and let Federer make the mistakes at key moments in the 1st 2 sets. He will do more of that this time. He is playing better than ever and has no real weaknesses in his game. He is serving and volleying, which is rare these days. It's a game Federer or any one else is not used to facing. He will serve to Federer's backhand and attack the net. But the problem for Haas is that Federer is an impeccable passer from both wings. Federer will have a chance in a lot of Haas' service games. Federer himself is serving great and it will be tough for Haas to break him. Haas will keep the sets close but I think Federer will win in 4.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Wimbledon quarters preview

Even without the world's best player in the draw, the quarters at Wimbledon have turned out great. As a tennis fan, you couldn't have asked for any thing better.

Federer-Karlovic
This is probably Federer's toughest match this year. Against the other guys, the game is on Federer's racquet. If he plays well, he can beat every one else here. Against Karlovic, Federer could play his absoulte best and still end up losing in 3 tie breakers! It's entirely a question of whether or not Karlovic will play some loose points in the tie breakers. It's more likely that he will. Federer already had a big test in the 4th round against Soderling but won that quite comfortably. The one thing I noticed is that Karlovic has been serving fewer aces as the tournament went by. I hope he doesn't serve 60 aces tomorrow just to prove that statment wrong! And I hope it doesn't rain. It will be even tougher indoors to break his serve. The problem is not just the aces. He's serving over 70% and even his 2nd serves are better than most players' 1st serves. Federer has a 8-1 record against Karlovic and beat him once before at Wimbledon. The odds makers have Karlovic at 13/2 to win this and I think that's stupid. He has a far better chance than that. Federer is probably the best returner of big servers in the world but I will be shocked if he breaks Karlovic more than once the whole match. I am picking Federer in 4 tiebreaks.

Murray-Ferrero
I thought Murray was a sure shot to reach the finals this year with a decent chance of winning as well. That is, until I saw his game against Wawarinka in the 4th round. He played pathetic in that match. If Federer and Murray both reach the final, there is no way on planet earth Murray can beat Federer if he plays like that. He needs to play much better than he did against Wawarinka. Ferrero may be a surprise quarter finalist to many. But he made the quarters in 2007 and took a set against Federer. Not many can claim that. Murray will win this match but don't write off Ferrero completely. Murray in 4.

Haas-Djokovic
If at all there is one guy in the entire tennis world who deserves some luck, it's Tommy Haas. The guy was no.2 in the world for some time and certainly looked capable of winning a slam, but he had some incredible set backs. It's great to see him back playing well, probably for the last time. He has a great allround game but the one problem with Haas is that for an experienced player, he gets too tight in crunch situations. I saw the 1st 2 games of Djokovic and he did not play well at all. He improved since then but then again, he did not have to play any one good. Djokovic is capable of playing great but he makes a lot of errors. It's surprising that he makes so many errors because he has a solid technique. His serve is the key to this match. Haas beat him in the tune up tournament at Halle, a week before Wimbledon. And I think Haas will give a tougher fight to Federer in the semis than Djokovic. I am picking Haas to beat Djokovic in 5 sets.

Roddick-Hewitt
This, I think is the best match of all. If Hewitt is not bothered by the hip like he was in the 4th round, this could be the match of the tournament. Both are former Grandslam champions, and world number 1s. I think Roddick is very witty & honest, while Hewitt is an inspiration for his competitiveness. They have a history with each other and if not for Mr. Federer, would have won a couple of more slams each. Even their games are opposite in that Roddick is the aggresor and Hewitt the counter puncher. This match deserved to be on the Centre Court. They could have put the Federer-Karlovic game on Court No.1 instead. It's possible that NBC asked for a late game so it could be the 10'o clock game here in the US. And since the Brits want to have Murray's game late in the day as well, they put this game on court no.1. That's my guess. The other could be that they respect Federer so much that they don't want to make him play any where but Centre Court. Roddick beat Hewitt in a close game at Queens a week before Wimbledon. The last time I did not watch a single live game at Wimbledon was in 2002. Hewitt won that. It's possible that I end up not watching a single game live this year as well. That's a good sign for Hewitt. But I am picking Roddick in 5.

By the time you read this, it's entirely possible that the exact opposite to what I predicted happens! I will not be shocked if that happens. That's why these are some great games.

Friday, June 26, 2009

A tormented genius

The phrase tormented genius applies more to Michael Jackson than to any other person in history. Both “tormented” and “genius” are understatements in his case. For a long time, I believed in the allegations against him. I thought that if they were true, he was unpardonable. In my view, what he was accused of was worse than a murder. I was talking about that with a friend once and she simply said a guy who wrote songs like ‘Heal the World’, ‘Man in the Mirror’ and ‘Black or White’, just couldn't be a pedophile. But that was precisely my point. A person can easily say one thing in public and do some thing else. People shouldn't blindly believe that just cos a person writes or says beautiful things, that person is incapable of doing horrible things.

But, what is hard to believe is that a complete weirdo like him was suave enough to cover up a huge issue like that, no matter how rich he was. It's easier to believe that he was framed than it is to believe that he was suave enough to cover it up. A South Park episode about MJ makes the exact same point. Children did testify against him but they could easily be influenced by parents. Remember, there are people who can stoop down to any level for money. It is just as wrong to accuse some one of some thing so horrible when they are not guilty. In the end he was acquitted and I gave him the benefit of the doubt. And going by all the tweets I got yesterday from a wide range of people (from my friends to Roddick to Jack Welch), I think most people did the same.

There will always be questions about him as a person. On what there can be no question is that he is a genius. To me, he is by far the greatest entertainer ever. No one comes even remotely close. People can talk all they want about Elvis and the Beatles but no artist ever had as wide an influence as MJ did during the 80s. He had impersonators in small towns in India at a time when satellite television had yet to come to India. Plenty of kids wanted to dance just like him. For many people he was synonymous with Western music and dance. Countless movies and actors tried to adapt his songs and dances in India. He was a truly global icon, with fans every where, from Asia to South America. Sorry, but the Beatles and Elvis just don't compare. They attracted predominantly western audience. MJ was much more global. When people refer to artists who have transcended race, religion and nationality, they generally hype it. In his case, every bit of it is true. He is not just one of the most influential artists in history. He is THE most influential artist in history. For a while, I think he was the most recognizable person on the planet. Even my grand mother could recognize him!

Personally to me, his music has always stood the test of time. Just last month a friend of mine was telling me her sister bought U2 concert tickets for a $1000. I told her MJ was the only guy I would even think of spending that kind of money for. His is the only music that I don't get bored with even after repeated listening. To this day, a week doesn't go by that I don't listen to Beat It & Billie Jean. He will always be the King of Pop.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Why South Park rocks

I just saw on CNN that a woman in Minnesota got fined an incredible $1.9 million for downloading songs from the internet. That's $80,000 per song. Wow! Just the other day, I was watching this South Park episode "Christian Rock Band", which addresses the exact same issue in a hilarious way. Watch it if you have time. Here's the link (no, it's not an illegal link, it's from their website).
http://www.southparkstudios.com/episodes/103772/

People who do not know any thing about South Park think it's some kids show. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, it's assigned an adult rating. The way it presents two sides to the current issues going on in America is amazing. Some times, its based on the weird issues going on. And there is some weird issue or the other going on in America all the time. Seriously, think of it. In which other country are abortions and gay marriages election issues? And some other times, it talks about serious issues like the Iraq war. That particular episode that talks about Iraq war is brilliant. Every one must watch it. These words from that episode are classical. "We go to war and protest going to war at the same time. We can go to war with whomever we wish but at the same time act like we didn't want to."
I think it's the 100th episode. Check it out here
http://www.southparkstudios.com/episodes/103621

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Twitter & Iran

There was one thing puzzling me with the reports coming from Iran. If the Iranian government can block the main stream media and websites, why can't they block twitter and texting from the phone? Should be easy to do that right? Well, Time had an article today that explains it some what.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Star Trek

I watched Star Trek last night. It was pretty good. Rotten Tomatoes has rated it 96%. It was more like a 75% movie for me. This was my first Star Trek movie and it was a perfect introduction. The Big Bang Theory is one of the big reasons why I watched it. The guys on that sitcom are the ultimate geeks in the world and are always talking about Star Trek. I previously had no idea about the story lines or the characters. In fact, I am so bad that it was only this week that I came to know that Star Trek and Star Wars are two totally unrelated series'.

The other reason why I watched it was that people always go "You haven't seen Star Trek?", like I committed a big sin. I guess I would say the same if some one told me they hadn't watched Godfather. I really don't know why I never watched one. Probably cos they started way before I was even born. But now I think I will go back and watch them all.

By the way, is time travel ever going to be possible? Is it theoritically even possible? That would have to be the last frontier for technology.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Taxes

Last month the G20 announced that the IMF would be donating over a trillion dollars to the poorer nations to help them overcome the troubled economy. Which is entirely fine by me. But what I thought was strange was that there was no hullabaloo over it in the US. I did not hear a single voice against it in the media, where as when the US financial industry was bailed out there was a huge uproar against it. Either Americans don't realize that a large share of IMFs funds come from US (that is from the taxes they paid) or they realize that US's economic future is intertwined with the rest of the world's and it's extremely important to bail them out to bail themselves. You take your pick.

Word is that Britain is contemplating increasing the highest marginal tax rate for individuals to 50%. I almost fainted when I first heard this. 50%? That's worse than China! What is happening to the world?! I really feel for those guys. I don't know what motivation any one would have to work at that rate. What do Governments think some times? If they keep this up for a long time, people will simply move out to a foreign country where it's twice as better. There are a lot of developing countries that are welcoming talented individuals and businesses. And it's a lot easier these days to move your base to a foreign country than it was say 50 years ago. Meanwhile, Mr. Obama has also announced a proposal that will eliminate the tax loop hole that US companies exploit for their international operations. I love Obama and think that by the time he finishes his 2nd term he will end up among the great visionaries of history but it seemed like that statement was made to appeal to the popular sentiment. Even Obama knows that technically that's not an advantage they enjoy but a mere avoiding of double taxation. Theoritically they shouldn't even be charged taxes twice in the 2 countries, which is what the rule is in some countries.

For a capitalistic country, US tax rates are incredibly high. I think that in a perfect capitalistic nation, the individual tax RATE should be the same at all income levels. Charging higher rates for making more money simply means you are punishing them for making more. It's entirely against the concepts of capitalism. But what am I talking about? Perfect capitalism sounds like an oxymoron these days!