A minute means...

A minute is all it takes to give a second glance, pursue a germ of thought, ponder over a pending issue or just relax with six deep breaths.

A minute of thought goes into these pages, and it is designed to claim not more than a minute of an average reader's attention. Sometimes, this blog could give you stuff to think about for hours. Or just a smiling second at the end of your minute's reading.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Supporting the spirit...

Expressing support for a cause has always sought novel creative canvasses. In the recent decades, it had mostly to do with running. The human instinct to run! in the face of a problem was remarkably turned on its head by multitudes resorting to it as a medium to pronounce their support for various causes – from breast cancer awareness to gay rights. In more desperate times, like ours, measures to display support have also been desperate for novelty. Like the model who recently wanted to boost the morale of the Indian cricket team fighting for the world cup, by altruistically renouncing her clothes – an instance of the medium stealing all the attention and the message getting lost in the bargain!
And to imagine when we were kids, it used to be just the tiny flags and buttons distributed at school, to show our solidarity for a national cause.
Panning back to now, Japan has been flooded with support messages in the wake of the earthquake and Tsunami. And as one of the Japanese lingerie brands unsurprisingly found out, what canvas could be closer to the heart than a corset to showcase these generous outpours - thus consoling one’s heart every time one bends to the pressures of daily life? What better morale booster to convey universal sympathy than a product designed to boost more than just egos?
Yet, last week wasn’t the first time that the bra buckled up for a cause in the intertwined history of underwear and noble causes. The bra was indeed the legendary icon of extremist communication in the late seventies – the mythical burning of which at the stakes of feminism proclaimed freedom from a disconcerting implement that was used to buttress the subservient female ego.
With this latest canvas for graffiti, we are leaving behind the era of those T-shirts and wristbands with poignant messages. Rather, we have unbuttoned a dramatic opportunity to communicate support, perversely hoping that the message doesn’t go unnoticed after all. How much deeper, how much more impactful can it get from here onwards? May be a tattoo that pulsates with the heart, peeking out err... speaking out from beneath the underwear?
Just getting ideas, you see!

Monday, 9 May 2011

So boring, it’s inspiring!

If you thought all bored minds found baneful employment in the devil’s workshop, honing weapons or chiseling graffiti, you are wrong. In their interesting new research on Boredom and pro-social behaviour, Van Tilburg and his friends of Limerick University overthrow all those boring theories that said you could be bored to your death or others’ damage. “Bored George helps others”, they have found out.

It’s relieving to know that it isn’t often that boredom results in the pursuit of less meaningful vocations like unlocking one’s jaw from a gargantuan yawn that got frozen during an ice age of monumental boredom. (http://theoneminuteblog.blogspot.com/2011/04/whats-world-watching-yawn.html) Instead, they have found out that boredom is a sort of dark, dead end from where one would do anything to escape, scaling the formidable walls ahead to achieve heroic feats no less than donating blood, working for charity or at least maintaining a blog!

Stranded on the shores of boredom, Robinson Crusoe turned to the tedious yet tremendously fulfilling activity of shipbuilding. It was on a lazy Sunday afternoon (or was it Monday?) that boredom shoved Alice down the rabbit hole to engage her in some pro-social activity like saving the Queen of Hearts her head.

If only everyone realized this immense use of boredom, they would stop disparaging those poor souls caught in the cocoon of idleness. For those could just be seemingly endless interludes before a moment of epiphany and evolution!

The only one whose boredom doesn’t ever move him to doing anything constructive seems to be Andy Capp. He is eternally comfortable in his couch of idleness but wait a minute… he might be using up all those idle moments thinking up meaningful new excuses!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Misery loves matrimony!

Those still struggling to loosen their ankles from the quagmire of recession, better days are almost here. Proof: Divorce is in the air! Law firms are getting three new secretaries just to contain the outbreak on their switchboards. Business is booming, once again.
During the past couple of years when the world was grappling with the downward pull of the economy, divorce rates had also fallen with it – almost like the down-to-earth reality of gravity. There was a 7% drop in the split sample, which means more people likely decided to stay content just scratching each other’s 7 year itches through the bad times. Ironically, this was at loggerheads with the initial assumptions that lean times will squeeze the gel out of many marriages, the half empty cosmetic tubes they were.
So, what’s the key to now setting free those in hapless wedlock? Of course the economics of it all! The banks are beginning to hand out money again. Read alimony. Someone out there is now going to find the funds to buy out the house he or she wasn’t too happy to share so far. In fact, the house itself is another factor in breaking down the wall (or building the wall, as a matter of perspective!). So far, divorce judges couldn’t often decide if the house was an asset or a liability complicating the divorce settlement. Especially to those whom marriage was a shrewd and enterprising investment, clearly this wasn’t the time to sell their stocks! The economic wisdom that has prevailed in the conduct of marital affairs in these couple of years simply shows that marriage is indeed all about company: a limited liability company.
For those relationships destined to rebound, sweet have been the uses of adversity. A good 29% of 1192 Americans surveyed thank the testing times for a better resolve in their relationship. And for a similar number who were clinging on to each other just because the dollar wasn’t strong enough to lean on, happily, this is the end of the road for their misery. They can finally get rid of their dead stock rather than live with emotional bankruptcy!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Flying high on Wing Chun

All those times that I watched flight attendants rolling out safety instructions in the universal language of hand gestures, I should have seen it coming. Now, those gestures have evolved with menacing grace into an uncanny ability to tackle unruly passengers on flights. Hongkong Airlines have made it official by welcoming Wing Chun aboard their flights.
Even as the airline makes martial art training mandatory for new recruits, their flight attendants continue to be pretty. Only, now they will be pretty aggressive, too. Whether the move makes their flights safer or not, it sure makes it a lot reassuring for the hostesses. It seems, on average, the airline records three incidents of unruly passengers every week.
One can’t help wondering why take the trouble to turn airline aisles into close combat arenas. Wouldn’t it be much more subtle and unobtrusive to just serve the whims of the boorish and the boisterous with an extra drink spiked up with a strong sedative, which should take care of them throughout the rest of the journey? Unless the airline would want to add Chi Sao to the in-flight entertainment menu! Fastidious passengers unhappy with their 7-inch screens could now look forward to live entertainment in this graceful martial drill. Just wait for a co-passenger to ruffle up things a bit and there, you have “return of the dragon” playing in the gangways. The prospect of such a thing itself could soon make aisle seats sell hotter than the window ones. Why, long-haul flights could even offer parents of restive kids a chance to enrol them for Wing Chun lessons from the stewardess.
While the possibilities are many if one really wants to employ the lighter side of Wing Chun, this martial art popularised by Bruce Lee himself could come in handy when things get far out of hand. Reports say that it has already helped a petite hostess carry the weight of a sick and drunk guy twice her size. In extreme cases, Wing Chun could fly to her aid in lifting a rowdy ram and throwing him out the emergency window, with aplomb.
So careful with that extra drink you call for. And mind your language fellas, coz now those pretty airborne things can communicate their disapproval of your behaviour in clear terms, without any language barrier. Wing Chun is one language everyone understands.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Two sides of the same stamp

With one sweeping oversight, the island nation of Nieu seems to have presumed the future and nature of the much-anticipated Royal Union. The whimsical design of the se tenant stamps its postal department released to commemorate the Prince William-Kate Middleton wedding tears them apart, even before they had a chance to say their vows. With the perforation running right down the middle of the picture, the couple seem to say: “Till the New Zealand Postal department do us part!”

While these stamps are together worth 5.8 New Zealand dollars, the William half costs one dollar more than the Kate half. Going by the ability to take your parcel further, it’s obvious who the NZPD considers the "better half" in this celebrated marriage!

You can’t but wonder how did this epistolary onslaught on the sanctity of marital union, ever procure the royal seal of approval from Her Highness, the Queen herself! That’s when you try to see the other side of the coin in this apparently weird design exercise.

On a closer look, the Kate part of the stamp claims a bit of Prince William’s right shoulder and shares the exact half of the frangipani bouquet they are holding, like a “parting settlement”. Enthusiasts of positive thinking would like to believe that these stamps are indeed complementary – suggesting that neither William nor Kate would be complete without the other! So much so that, someone receiving a letter from the island of Nieu with William’s visage serving as the authentic right of passage, should right away think of Kate holding on to the other side of the posy of Frangipani.
This insight into the oversight could indeed have been the rationale used by the designers to sell this bizarre concept to the postal department and they in turn to Buckingham Palace. Whatever the truth behind that, while the rubber-stamp monarchy lives in its tabloid appeal, I hope the stamp of matrimony keeps William and Kate together.

Monday, 11 April 2011

What's the world watching (Yawn!)

What is the social network mostly watching at the moment? It’s not the nuclear aftermath of the tsunami. Neither is it a monstrous spoof about the couch that claimed Paris’s virginity. What’s got the world clicking is in fact, the ultimate aftermath of boredom.
Historically, boredom, or whose profundity the eternally blasé French have named ennui, has often resulted in great works of art. But there is a yawning gap between a work of art and what I am about to talk about. Coz what I am referring to is a gaping yawn, that took 26 lolly-sticks to fill before relieving the jaw it locked out of place. So it happens that, what has left the world enthralled recently isn’t a million dollar smile, but a million-hit yawn on you-tube. A moment of acute ennui, frozen in time, triggered by an unquestionably dispassionate academic discourse on politics!
As we all know, a yawn is contagious. Then, by all means, this one may have triggered the fastest spreading epidemic of our times, through virtual contact alone. In the coming days, if you see someone with their mouth wide open in front of their laptop, it need not mean they are torturing their souls with a boring online lecture. Chances are, the most popular post on you-tube is catching up further!
Holly is now amply famous for her yawn, taking her lecturer’s reputation along I presume – for possessing the unenviable oratorical skills that inspired the world’s most publicised yawn. But the question I bore (oops!) in mind while writing this piece is another one. If the hollow and vacant expression of boredom has been the most interesting watch of almost a million people, how bored can boredom get?

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Haiti plays a new tune

Entertainment sells most in the richest of nations, and the poorest of nations. One can afford a lot of it, and the other is in dire need of it. Perhaps why Haiti has chosen to have a popular entertainer as its next President.

Haiti happens to be not only the poorest country in the Americas but also one tossed about by political turmoil and earthquakes. The catastrophe in 2010 had the island lamenting 300,000 souls, which was almost one-third of its population. Michel Martelly, the President-elect of Haiti perhaps had this all in mind, when he addressed his first press conference since he was confirmed winner. “Things will change. For those who suffer in flesh and soul, may their spirits be renewed,” declared Martelly. And thousands of Haitians poured out into the streets of Port-au-Prince, in a celebration that almost wiped away the months-old memories of the devastated Haitian capital.

Widely known as “Sweet Mickey”, Martelly seemed to have all the makings of a maverick entertainer. He dropped out of medical school to heal his followers with his music, though much later. In between, he took flight from military training when a General’s daughter ended up carrying his love in more than just her heart. Bold and enterprising Mickey, one must say.

In the recent past, Michel Martelly, along with his able wife, did win over Haiti’s heart as an activist and Ambassador. Music can heal our hurt, and has a way of making us forget our painful past. Hope the sweet singer of Haiti can do the same for his people.