Sri Lankan blogger’s 1000th rhythmic post

My spies (they ARE everywhere) inform me that a well known Sri Lankan blogger on a cold wet island off Europe will/has hit the 1000 post mark after a mere 3+ years of blogging (having pumped out a prolific 200+ posts annually). According to my analysts, he beats the drums at a similarly frantic pace. They have had to replace the hidden mikes in the drum kit repeatedly. It is a pace most of use lesser blogger can dream of acquiring.

I have been getting a generous amount of traffic off the guy’s blogroll. This little public service announcement is the least I can do.

I’ll avoid a sycophantic ramble about how his rhythmicness has made a mark on the Sri Lankan blogosphere (Lankonsphere) . The scope, the variety, and the history are a sprawl of Siberian proportions. Covering it all is harder than playing the collected works of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky (in reverse) on a Rabana. You are better off reading it all on the man’s own blog.

My spies will be carrying out a global upgrade of hidden cameras (HD with stereo sound) and wish to apologise in advance for the imminent intrusions.

First 200000 hits

According to the stats, my blog passed the 200000 visitor mark some time yesterday. I guess I can safely bet that all the hits can’t all be from me. Interestingly its just over a year ago since I made the six digit mark. Far cry from timid days of my first blog post. This sort of mulling around over numbers understandably comes off as gloating. Perhaps it is. I’m surprised how I’ve kept it up. The voices in my header aren’t ;)

If the numbers mean anything it is that there are people out there who feel that my keyboard pecks – despite my endless typos and jerky style are worth their time. THAT a very humbling thought.

Thank you – for reading and your insightful comments :D

Source of good book recommendations

I have never been disappointed by a book reviewed by The Economist magazine. Now I find myself turning to the books and arts section when I get each week’s edition. It is a weekly map to buried treasures.

My first spectacular find (many years ago) was Michela Wrong’s book about Mobutu Sese Seko’s Zaire In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz: Living on the Brink of Disaster in Mobutu’s Congo. The review fascinated as it gave an insightful overview of what I might learn by reading the book. It took a while to find the book and order it online. The result was worth the search. The gave me countless personal realisations about third world politics in general and Sri Lanka in particular.

The book itself never even discussed Sri Lanka. Yet the calibre of its contents promoted understanding beyond its covers. A quality common to the diversity of books reviewed by The Economist. I have of course not read every book reviewed nor have I found every review fascinating enough to shell out for hard currency purchase. However of the books I have sort out via the reviews have yet to disappoint me (yes yes I’ll say it again).

There are two other additional benefits built into reviews in the Economist. I suspect that reviews in the Economist might be written with these goals in mind.

  1. An overview of what you might gain from reading the book
  2. A summery (from the Economist’s point of view) of the book’s central thesis along with a concisely useful analysis of the book’s main arguments.

I have taken for granted that The Economist won’t bother with unreadable, dull, irrelevant tomes. Consequently it is rare to see a book getting panned. The worst that can happen is that the faults in the book’s arguments will be will be put on display. “Disappointing” is a word they rarely use but when they do the reasons are clearly stated.

A peripheral benefit are the references to other interesting books and authors I have never heard about. Through these I have discovered, among others the WW2 spy novels of, Alan Furst, contemporary thrillers of Henry Potter, and the historical fiction of Robert Harris (who has a new book out on my favourite Roman Cicero).

Outside the book review section, there’s each issues’ obituary. This one pager profiles a prominent person and the context of their life’s work. When the economist decides to focus on a writer, looking up his or her books will be generally rewarding. I got hooked onto writers such as Ryszard Kapuscinski and I think Wilfred Thesiger (though I think it might have also been a book review) through the Economist’s obituary page.

There are many who mistake The Economist pro free market stand to dismiss it as a neo conservative rag sheet. Others would denousnce it with equal swiftness as colonial snobery mascarading as journalism. The Economist is far more nuance for such easy blurby dismissals. Admittedly it is a publication that will not suite many.

I am not a member of the publication’s desired target audience. I don’t preside over a military to consider purchasing Lockheed martin products. I am certainly not in a position to consider submitting tenders for various governments. Even if I did visit Shanghai I won’t be camped out at the Mandarin Oriental. I don’t read it to show off that I’m some sort of high flying global capitalist. In fact I don’t read it for the book reviews. The subscription has dented the book budget quite savagely. Yet I feel its worth it. Finding out about interesting books (among other things) has almost become as good as reading them.

Profound photograph with 3 Wheeler

Found this black and white photo of a 3 wheeler on Flickr. There’s something endlessly symbolic about. In one sense the picture has a circular feeling of being both fatalistic and hopeful – without sticking to any other. Add to that is a sense of endings and new beginnings. Perhaps I’m reading too much into images. Either way you decide and tell me what you think.

The comment box awaits your return and thoughts.

How did you find this blog?

Google searches and links from other blogs now count for more visits to my blog than the traditional source: A trend that’s been consistent since the war ended. I’m curious about how new commenters on this blog found it. If you found this blog via a source other than please let me know in the comment box.

Have a good weekend :D

Ex long haired man’s path to a hair cut

I cut off my long hair (described in the previous post) for two reasons:

  1. It was life draining to maintain.
  2. I felt it symbolised many things I did not want to be associated with.

The first point comes down to the fact the male hair is thicker, coarser and harder to control. I wasn’t in the mood to poison myself with a styling products even if I could have afforded them. Consequently I was spending up to 45 minutes a day washing and drying my hair. All the maintenance didn’t eliminate the fact that long hair is miserable in hot whether. In winter, an improperly dried pony tail would freeze giving new meaning to the term cold shoulder.

It was the day to day hassle that got to me to stumble off to the barber shop. Yet the underlying assumptions and adjectives of having long hair were already grating on me.

Most of these are it built on the hippie stereotype from the flower power days. Arty is the most prominent odorous association — expanding to some association with the visual, musical or liberal arts. If he is in the shadow of 40 there is an expectation of some kind of beard. Politically the there are links with the left but without the inconvenience of socialist regimentation. Lately it has also come to mean some sort of activism. Often of the environmental kind.

Dress and grooming are obvious critical factors for differentiating long hairs. Neat expensive suits indicate the corporate side of the spectrum. Perhaps a millionaire, an IT guru, a designer of some sort (frequently fashion/inderior). Advertising is said to be a profession where pony tails are common as it hair styling.

Dishevelment points in the other direction: a lower rung in the ladder of academia, impoverished activism, and of course The Arts. Long hair is practically a uniform of musicians and artists irrespective of success, fame or talent. It is a proclamation of a commitment to “higher” things as opposed to the superficialities such as hair cuts. At the dregs dishevelled long hair is a sign of less than harmlessly eccentricity, flaky hippiedom and insanity.

There is also a naive perception particularly among naive younger women encountered in first year drawing classes that long hair indicates a “sensitive” man. Specially if he is from the spiritual east. Like Yanni.

However long haired tough guys like Steven Seagal, David Carradine in Kung Fu, and Adrian Paul as Duncan McLeod in the Highland TV series all had the arty, mystic touch. Of course there are the Hells Angels biker, our very own “yakko”s and organised crime figure stereotypes as well. Not very positive associations that we’d rather not discuss,

To short hairs, the pony tailed/long haired man sends a subliminal announcement of arrogance, of being talented, of being better. Its is a silent arrogantly selfish fuck you to conformist, institutional culture, the traditional, the old, the authoritarian and a life of chartered accountancy. Long hair creates a subtle ripple of tension in mainstream circles. All fine and dandy if you want to declare yourself an artiste.

I have never sort such a title and actively run away from it. Consequently long hair was inventing assumptions about me that are wrong and tedious to deal with. Yet in the end what mattered to me was that with a few snips I go about 45 minutes of my life back.

Long haired days (a short tail)

I once had waist length hair. Along with it, sacks of cheap colourful hair bands that broke only at inconvenient moments and got misplaced at an alarming rate. This was of course a long long time ago on a continent far far away. During that wide eyed bout of naivety on the anvil called undergraduate life. Before the hammer first blows of reality made me marginally less dim.

My mother was appalled. “People will think he is a band master” is one of her more memorable grumbles to my father. On visits to the island I would tuck my ponytail under my shirt collar. At weddings no one seemed to notice. My father was tolerant if not supportive. He made a mission to ensure that I managed my hair properly and helpfully sent regular supplies of coconut oil. These froze to bricks in winter weather.

After 3 years of long hair I walked into a barber shop and asked for all the long hair to be chopped off. I didn’t want it in a bag. I walked out a freed slave and never looked back at my “tresses” being swept off the floor. A good thing because many years later the Mrs told me that she found men with long hair repulsive (there is a facial expression she makes when long haired men are discussed that is impossible to describe). She refuses to look at pictures from my long haired days.

Why such a change of heart from long to short hair? That’s in the next post.