Vamshidhar Kommineni

May 7, 2007

Blog All You Want

Filed under: Miscellany — Vamshi @ 12:53 pm

From Bugbash :) 

Blog All You Want

Bugbash used to be an MS internal comic by Hans Bjordahl and was the highlight (for me anyway) of our internal newsletter. Perfect comics, many of them tailored for and mocking general engineering practices and customs (our version of Dilbert). It was refreshing that the irreverence was tolerated and most people I know at MS are huge fans of Bugbash. Unfortunately, the author decided to take a break from doing the comic. But we get to enjoy them again as he releases the archive on the web, one comic each week

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January 24, 2007

The Inner Life of a Cell

Filed under: Miscellany — Vamshi @ 10:36 am

One of my friends forwarded me this beautiful video yesterday:

The Inner Life of a Cell

Very cool, and nice use of animation to illustrate a biological process. The site the video comes from has an explanation of the video. From there:

"…the animation illustrates unseen molecular mechanisms and the ones they trigger, specifically how white blood cells sense and respond to their surroundings and external stimuli…"

And about the accuracy of the animation:

"…that meant sacrificing literal accuracy for visual effect. “What we did in some cases, with the full support of the Harvard team, was subtly change the way things work,” Liebler says. “The reality is that all that stuff that’s going on in each cell is so tightly packed together that if we were to put every detail into every shot, you wouldn’t be able to see the forest for the trees or know what you were even looking at. One of the most common things we did, then, was to strip it apart and add space where there isn’t really that much space…”

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December 31, 2006

The appropriateness of posting certain content on a blog

Filed under: Miscellany — Vamshi @ 11:57 am

Dare has an interesting post entitled "The Year the blog died" about the tradeoffs and decisions you have to face when you chose to speak your mind about both personal issues and work related stuff. I’ve only been writing on this blog for a few months  and about 50 posts, but I’ve already run into some of the same issues internally (thankfully nobody reads the blog, so I haven’t had to face any external criticism). Granted, I’ll probably never face the same pressure Dare faces in his personal postings (he’s the son of Olesegun Obasanjo, the current President of Nigeria), nor in his professional posts (having no readership helps in that regard :), but this spurred me to talk about some of the guidelines I apply (or should apply) for myself with the blog:

  • The blog is primarily a personal one rather than a Microsoft focused one (hence not hosted on msdn)
  • Certain personal issues that I might regret making public are best left unsaid. This is a bit of a tight rope act since I have no idea ahead of time what’s harmful (I might think something isn’t harmful, but my extended family might disagree)
  • Personally or professionally, don’t use the blog for venting. That is best left to a group of close friends rather than a public forum which might be taken out of context much later
  • Don’t be too harshly critical of people or products unless it will actually lead to constructive change. This is an issue I have outside the blog as well. I speak the truth somewhat bluntly at times and it tends to put people off. If it isn’t going to change anything, I have nothing to gain by burning a bridge
  • I will blog about technology and Microsoft since they are big parts of my life, but have to do so with some discretion
  • Specifically for Microsoft (or any other company that I might work at), surface glaring product issues to the internal feedback forum or my internal corpnet blog, where things might get attended to. I certainly know certain groups at Microsoft are pretty badly broken, but at the same time, it does the groups and individuals that do care about their product and respond a disservice not to give them the opportunity to fix their issues.
  • Write the blog for myself rather than an audience, but at the same time keep intensely personal topics inside my head or in a private journal

It’s a tough act in many ways, especially if you’re trying to maintain your integrity and always be honest. As the quote Dare attributes to Jeff Simmermon says:

"Writing under family-friendly corporate constraints is a necessary but curious clusterfuck in the best conditions. Sometimes it’s like reaching deep within your soul and pulling out a basket of kittens, then quietly drowning it in a river."

December 30, 2006

The New York Times: The Good, The Bad, and the hope for the future

Filed under: Miscellany — Vamshi @ 12:01 pm

Let me start this off by saying that I’m a little biased because I love the New York Times. It is one of the few remaining bastions of quality unbiased reporting and thoughtful op-ed pieces. I’ve gotten the paper version of the New York Times on the weekends for a couple of years now and read the newspaper on the web for more than 8 years. That said, I have a few opinions on where the newspaper does a good job and where it can improve:

The Good

  • As mentioned earlier, great reporting. It’s a newspaper that’s actually a pleasure to read and not filled with regionally focused human interest drivel. Good coverage of international issues as well
  • Great op-ed pieces. Most of the opinion writers (Frank Rich, Friedman, David Brooks, Paul Krugman, and yes even Maureen Dowd) have something interesting to say.
  • The Week in Review and the NY Times Magazine on Sunday. The former is a nice summary of events of significance, both national and international and the latter has a great selection of articles that I look forward to each weekend.
  • They are trying to make their web front-end better. Some of my problems are with it, but at least they are trying and deserve some credit for it.
  • The Times Reader. If you haven’t tried, it’s an awesome product. Free while it’s in Beta (and I hope it stays that way). Requires the Windows Presentation Foundation (included by default on Vista and can be downloaded for XP). Makes reading the newspaper on a PC much more practical. This is what I use to read the paper from Monday to Friday

The Bad

  • Web frontend to the newspaper, while decent, can be much better. Layout can be improved and articles made more discoverable.
  • The Times Reader can be improved. Let me access "yesterday’s newspaper" to make a more newspaper like experience. I hope this will continue to be improved since it is in Beta and under active development
  • The Alerts system. It may have a limited set of user scenarios, but I think it’s mostly useless for the rest of the population.
  • The notion of requiring a login to read most articles. I’ve been resigned to it for many years, but it turns most people off using the site regularly. Doesn’t work that well in multi-PC scenarios as well (reading the Times from kiosks while traveling for instance)
  • The whole "Times Select" concept is broken. Related to my next point. I’d love to see numbers on how many people have Times Select subscriptions without the dead tree newspaper delivery option and what percentage of the dead tree subscribers actually bother to use the features of Times Select. I suspect both numbers are rather low relative to the investment made by the newspaper on this feature
  • And my biggest gripe: Creating a walled garden of content. Everything in the NYT archive is not accessible unless you pay for it (Times Select customers get to read 100 articles for free each month). Once again I think the alternative (described in the next section) will provide more revenue than the ridiculous notion that casual readers will pay $3.95 per article (last time I checked). The non-discoverability of the rich archive behind this pay-per-article scheme only hurts the New York Times business.

The Hope for the Future

My fundamental thesis is that the New York Times is all about content. Rich reporting and editorial content. And under the current asinine system, probably 98% of that content is hidden behind their paid article walled garden. The revenue loss from opening up this archive will be more than offset by monetization through advertising on the dramatically increased page views. Given that, my suggestions for improvement (if anyone is even listening) would be:

  • Get rid of the login for reading articles. This just reduces the number of visitors to the site and any user data being mined behind the login is probably not being put to that much use anyway.
  • Stop charging for articles and open up the NYT archive to public reading. This will encourage the rest of the Web to link to the New York Times in the secure knowledge that the articles will always be available. Incidentally this will also improve incoming links to the site from Live Search, Google, Yahoo, etc. since the Times will now be an authoritative source of information on search terms.
  • Create a community of users around articles ala Amazon with ratings, favorite articles, user created collections of good articles on a topic, etc. Again this is enabled when you don’t have a walled garden. This user community will be fanatically devoted to the site and will drive more readers to it.
  • Give dead tree and "Select" subscribers meaningful value add-ons like "Save this article" (not unlike me saving a clipping from a newspaper). No walled garden = valuable collections of articles for subscribers that they will cherish and hang on to. Other features might be "Save a copy of this article as PDF", "Email the full text to a friend", etc.
  • Simplify the web site navigation with a well laid out and navigable tree of sections. Use RSS feeds aggressively on the sections to enable people to create their own "Alerts" in a simpler way
  • Continue investing in the Times Reader and alternative newspaper delivery mechanisms (to mobile devices for instance). This is the future of the New York Times (and every other newspaper). They’ve made a great first step, and they need to continue working on things. As I hope they’ve realized, they don’t need to compromise on advertising delivery in the new mediums (the Times Reader has a great way of displaying ads natively in the reader in a way that doesn’t annoy me).
  • Take more risks in the technology space. The BBC is a stellar example of a stodgy, old company that is using the web in creative ways including providing episodes online, value added commentary, etc. PBS does an excellent job as well. Learn from these sites and push the envelope.

The above suggestions have to go hand in hand with continuing to invest in what makes the newspaper great of course, i.e. investment in their reporting staff who produce the quality content. But the Times has plenty of experience here and I doubt that they will screw up in that respect.

I do recognize that the New York Times is a for profit organization. While the above suggestions might look like I’m asking them to give everything away, that’s not the reality of it. I believe that if they make effective use of advertising on the Web and mobile devices, they will make more revenue this way.

<Addressed to my readership of 0 people :)>

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December 3, 2006

TED Talks

Filed under: Miscellany — Vamshi @ 9:52 am

One last link sent by my friend (Pranava), and the most useful. Here’s what TED has to say about itself. At last check, the talks you can view and download from the site include Al Gore, Larry Brilliant, Steven Levitt, Malcolm Gladwell, Burt Rutan, Ray Kurzweil and many more. Treat yourself and spend some time watching the talks here rather than watching TV :)

http://www.ted.com/tedtalks/

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A tribute to nerdy love

Filed under: Miscellany — Vamshi @ 12:56 am

I swear I didn’t find this myself; it was emailed to me by a friend :):

Finite Simple Group (of Order Two)

This is a pretty funny song by a group called Klein four (what Klein four really is in math), that have a whole album of their songs for sale. If you understand what they’re talking about with reference to the math in the song, you might be a nerd :)

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December 1, 2006

Agassi again

Filed under: Miscellany — Vamshi @ 11:25 pm

I made an old post raving about Agassi at his retirement. One of my friends pointed out this article in the SI:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/magazine/08/30/agassi0717/index.html

It’s a great read if you like Agassi at all. Much nicer than the usual SI articles. I hope they keep it up on the site for a while.

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November 30, 2006

Legal immigrants and Green Cards

Filed under: Miscellany — Vamshi @ 12:12 am

Yahoo news has an unusually spot on article about the plight of legal immigrants applying for permanent residency:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20061129/pl_nm/usa_greencard_dc

This is a pertinent issue for every legal immigrant in this country (including me) who wants to potentially immigrate to the country. Without a green card the following things are true:

  • Switching jobs resets the process (until a late stage in the process), so this limits career mobility for people. I am lucky in that I can switch what I do completely while still under the umbrella of Microsoft, but not everyone is so lucky
  • Your spouse who may be qualified to work (teacher, social worker, etc.) but will not independently qualify for an H1-B work sponsorship will be unable to work till the green card comes through
  • Issues around out of state/in state residency for things like university tuition
  • Your are still qualified as a non-immigrant for most of this process, so you have to go through a whole stack of legal hassles to maintain your legal status.

And of course, getting a green card is the first step towards becoming a naturalized citizen of your adopted country. I’ve lived in the US for most of my adult life (been here since I was 17) and I’m still 5-7 years (depending on how this mess is sorted out) away from permanent residency and another 6 years after that from becoming a citizen. During the past 8 years, I’ve lived here, formed life long friendships, paid my taxes, social security and medicare (even though I don’t get to use the last two without being a citizen, but no matter, I consider that a worthy social burden) and for the most part come to regard the US as my second homeland.

This is an unfortunate state of affairs both personally and I think in a larger sense for the country. For better or worse, what makes the United States so special is that it has always been a nation of immigrants working to make their lives better and in doing so benefiting the country as a whole. The fact that skilled workers from across the world want to come to the US to live and work is a huge competitive advantage. I fear that if this situation continues and working situation and opportunities improve in the largest skilled labor sources (India and China), this competitive advantage will be eroded. More people will chose to move back home or not even come to the US for higher education. That’s a not good outcome for the country.

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November 28, 2006

Microfinance and Kiva.org

Filed under: Miscellany — Vamshi @ 9:50 pm

Microfinance is the current hot topic of the day what with Mohammed Yunus winning the Nobel peace prize and all. I watched his interviews on Jon Stewart (a few weeks ago) and Charlie Rose (recently). Here’s what he had to say about Microfinance and other related topics:

  • Microfinance is loans without collateral or guarantees for the poor that cannot afford them
  • This is a social & sustainable business, i.e. not a charity but not one that earns money either
  • Grameen bank only operates in rural areas in Bangladesh since the government does not allow it in the cities
  • Poverty is created by the system and poor people only lack the opportunity to rid themselves of it (which Grameen bank and microcredit in general provides)
  • Eradication of poverty is possible. He states that Bangladesh is on track to halve poverty there from 1990-2015
  • Globalization can be good or bad. He believes it is currently bad and corporations and richer countries are taking advantage of the poorer countries ("financial colonization" is the word he used). It needs to be reformed to benefit both  parties more equally

Interesting stuff. In addition to what he said, here’s why I think microfinance can and does work better than charitable handouts:

  • It puts an onus on people to repay the loans and be responsible for them
  • Working to pay off their loans in small amounts in turn boosts their self esteem and encourages them to be ingenious. I think this is a deeply ingrained trait in most human beings regardless of race or socio-economic status
  • It educates them about money management for their future endeavors, which is the most important lesson for any small business, regardless of size
  • A prospering small business owner in turn benefits their family and people around them (the irony of trickle-down economics actually working :)
  • From a giver’s point of view, it allows the same pool of money to circulate many times and benefit many people

This isn’t to say that charity is not necessary. There are many circumstances where it is vital. Humanitarian aid in times of war, famine and natural disaster will always be needed. Emphasis on basic nutrition, healthcare and education will also have to be funded without expectation of immediate returns. But I do think microfinance is interesting and is having a big impact around the world, and will continue to do so.

Coincidentally, I watched a really cool program on Frontline World (full segment available as well) a few weeks ago about Kiva.org. These folks took the idea of microcredit and tried to establish a more direct connection between lenders and borrowers. Working with partner agencies (starting in Uganda, and now in 11 countries). Using the web, they simplified the process of lending for individuals and exposed borrowers and their aspirations to the widest possible audience. They are also very low overhead, with nothing going towards administrative charges for them (you can donate separately for this). Even PayPal chips in with free transaction processing when you lend through their site. I think this is a great idea, and it seems to be working really well. Most loan applications on Kiva seem to be filled within days, and they just crossed 1 million dollars in money lent. I do have some reservations about their system (mostly around lack of transparency), but I’ll reserve that for a different post.

The work being done by Kiva inspired me to put my money where my mouth is (that’s a first :). I lent $500 to 10 different borrowers (my Kiva page) and I’m going to see how the idea pans out. If I lose the money, I’ll regard it as a charitable contribution and leave it at that. If not, I’ll get to re-circulate the money as it is repaid. I’ll revisit the issues in a few months and if things are looking good, I’ll put more money into the system on a regular basis.

Check out Kiva, if that’s the only thing you click on in this post.

Kiva - loans that change lives

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November 26, 2006

Frontline: Living Old

Filed under: Miscellany — Vamshi @ 2:31 am

Frontline did a great piece recently called Living Old. The program is still available online in it’s entirety in case you want to watch it or if any of the issues below touches a nerve with you. The program isn’t strong on facts or possible solutions as some of Frontline’s programs are, but it does force you to think about a set of issues that most of us have to deal with at some point. Some of the things the program talks about are:

  • ~20 % (~70 million) of the people in the US will be over the age of 65 by 2030. In 2000 that number was ~35 million
  • The number of trained geriatricians in the US is woefully small
  • Care is very expensive and going to get more expensive. An example they gave was of a physician whose children could not care for him who pays about $150,000/yr for 24/7 care
  • More than 60% of people older than 85 go to a nursing home
  • People forced to deal with their own mortality as they grow older (A touching scene of an old man with lung cancer where he cannot be operated on because of his age and has to measure his days)
  • Decisions faced by children as they struggle with making choices for their parents over years and years
  • The moral debate about giving people the choice to cease treatment and die vs prolonging life regardless of the cost to quality of living

I think this is a very important debate for all of us that have to deal with the inevitability of aging parents and some day with our own frailty. The parents issue is complicated for everyone who leads the kind of crazy lives we do and can’t take the time to care for their parents for years. Particularly for people like me who live more than 9000 miles away from home, this is a difficult and scary future to contemplate. A simple thing like visiting them regularly is not straightforward.

Even the issue of something like nursing home care isn’t cut and dry. Most families can’t afford to look after their elderly parents full time, yet the guilt of abandoning your parents to an institution is a difficult cross to bear. I’d like to think today that this is an easy choice for me to make and that I would gladly take my parents in if they ever wanted to live with me. However, this is viewed through the current prism of my life when I don’t actually have to make that decision. Thankfully, my parents are still relatively young and in good health (heck, they’re more active and in better health than I am :).

Separate to the parental issue is the one of what you would chose to do if you were ever in a state where you were so afflicted with frailty and dementia that you were completely dependent on somebody else for care. There are polar extremes to this choice which are expressed in the program ranging from not wanting to live at the point at which you cease being yourself (in some sense) to always wanting to live, no matter what and cherishing the gift of life. Once again, this is a hard issue to debate because it is too easy to reach a conclusion when you’re not facing the situation. I’ve long said that I wouldn’t want to prolong my life in this manner even if I were to reach that state at an earlier age due to injury or illness. But can I really stick to that if the circumstances were to transpire?

I would suggest watching the program, and to think about the issues that you face in this regard;I know it forced me to (of course I’m directing this at my audience of 0 :). Here are some links that are available on the PBS site as well:

Frontline programReport from the President’s council on Bioethics (long, but good)

What are we going to do with Dad? (If you’re only going to read one article, read this one)

Lingering longer, who will care?

Longer lives reveal the ties that bind us

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November 20, 2006

Battlestar Galactica

Filed under: Miscellany — Vamshi @ 11:43 pm

I’ve indicated before that Battlestar Galactica is the best sci-fi show of the decade if not one of the top few of all time. But it’s become so much more than that. It is a human drama in the guise of a sci-fi show. This season alone, the audience has had to deal with occupation by a vastly superior armed force, the morality of suicide bomber missions, the morality of possible genocide, fair punishment for war crimes, what it means to be human and so much more.

Why make this post? Because I keep running into people who don’t watch the show. Some of them because they’re old and old fashioned (I’m looking at you Ramu :), and others because they remember the old Galactica and can’t possibly imagine that the current show is better. Run, don’t walk, to your nearest Netflix and rent the mini-series and Season 1. I guarantee that you will be hooked. Here are some articles and parting words from Salon:

"Maybe you still haven’t given it a shot because you just can’t believe a show set on a spaceship could possibly engage you when you can watch the simpering narcissists of "Grey’s Anatomy" instead — in which case, you are an idiot."

Where no TV show has gone before

Darkness becomes them

Space balls

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Catching up…

Filed under: Miscellany — Vamshi @ 11:16 pm

I’ve been bad about posting to the blog thanks to the work load associated with finishing Vista and some health and other issues. Now that we have the week off for Thanksgiving, I’ll try to catch up to the articles that have piled up that I wanted to talk about.

October 10, 2006

Da Bears rise from the ashes?

Filed under: Miscellany — Vamshi @ 12:19 am

I know I’m going to jinx them (along with millions of other people who are saying or thinking the same thing) by saying this, but could the Bears actually be back? I was thoroughly impressed by their defeat of Seattle last week (sorry Seattle, you will always be my second favorite football team after Chicago where I first started watching football), and after watching this past weekend’s drubbing of the Bills, I’m a believer again.

The Bears have had a stellar defense for a few years now. And it manufactured the near magical 2001 season where they finished 13-3 including two great back to back OT games, only to lose to the Eagles in the first playoff game. Even in that season though, they never had an offense capable of passing the ball. Most of their success in that season was built off the running game. What makes things possibly different this year is that the great Chicago hope, Rex Grossman is actually healthy this year. And he can throw the ball as well as anyone I’ve seen in 7 years of watching football. If he continues to stay healthy and the defense continues to utterly dominate teams the way they have these first five games, we could be looking at something truly special.

You’re not even going to understand this rant unless you’re a long suffering Chicago Bears fan. If you’re one of them, you’ll completely get this post :)

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October 7, 2006

Copyright infringement on digital content

Filed under: Miscellany — Vamshi @ 5:55 pm

Occasionally, Engadget produces a great op-ed piece like this one:The Clicker: Digital content — why the sense of entitlement?

This is a great article and somewhat relevant to my last post in that the content from television was so easy to find on YouTube hours after they were broadcast. The basic thesis of the article as applied to entertainment content (even before the Internet made it trivially easy to do) is:

"…people have no respect for goods where the marginal cost of production is zero or close to it. It doesn’t matter that work went into its production. It doesn’t matter that the sales of current goods pay for development of future goods. It seems to only matter what production costs…"

I would actually argue that this extends to any form of produced goods where the cost of production is close to zero and there is no enforceable penalty for stealing. Otherwise morally upstanding people have similarly little remorse when it comes to pirating software. Or not paying for parking when you can get away with it ("The lot is almost empty, does it really matter if I park there for a couple of hours…?" Of course, the threat of the larger fine if caught deters most people from this).

Companies or individuals that recognize this tendency and are in a business where there revenue stream depends on such goods are services are invariably vilified for trying to raise the bar of entry and/or enforce a penalty for theft of their products. The DRM debacle is only the most recent and largest example of this. As consumers, I think the only correct choice we have is to not buy products that are overpriced (in our opinion). And companies that charge prices that cannot be sustained by the market are inevitably run over by competition that is willing to charge less (it may take time, but it always happens).

September 27, 2006

National Leaders (Past and Present)

Filed under: Miscellany — Vamshi @ 2:21 am

I don’t normally care much for nor involve myself much in politics (domestic or international), but it’s been interesting to see a couple of the developments over the last few days:

1) Bill Clinton’s interview with Chris Wallace

Part 1 (from YouTube)
Part 2 (from YouTube)

It’s really fascinating to watch this interview. Being a leader out of office gives Clinton the freedom to say things he might never have said when he was worried about his image. A few things to note about this interview:

  • How much more articulate and intelligent Clinton sounds than Bush (regardless of whether you care for Bush or not). He sounds like a leader while being personable at the same time.
  • Choice quotes (all by Bill Clinton)
    • "I’m being asked this on the Fox network"
    • "That’s just a bunch of bull"
    • "I didn’t get him…but at least I tried"
    • "You did your nice little conservative hit job on me"
    • "Tell the truth Chris…Did you ever ask that question"
    • "You came to this interview under false pretenses"
    • "You people ask me questions you don’t ask the other side"
    • "We do have a government that thinks Afghanistan is only 1/7th as important as Iraq and you ask me about terror with such a dismissive attitude"
    • "You have this little smirk on your face and you think you’re so clever"
    • "For God’s sake follow the same standards for everbody and be flat and fair"
  • Clinton cites Richard Clarke’s book and sings his praises quite a few times. I should definitely get around to moving this book up on my reading list (I have the book but haven’t read it)

Another recent interview by Clinton was on the Daily Show (which was probably the intended tone of the Chris Wallace interview before they went at it hammer and tongs) where he focused much more on his global initiative:

Daily Show interview (from YouTube)

2) Pervez Musharraf’s interview with the Daily Show

Disclaimer: I’m an Indian so take everything I say with a grain of salt :)

My reaction on hearing that Jon Stewart managed to get him on the show was "Whaa….?. How did they manage that?". I can understand Charlie Rose getting an interview (why is it that every international figure of note stops by Charlie’s interview program when they’re in the country?) with him, but not the Daily Show (guess it shows Jon’s rising stature even outside the country) It was a decent interview. Despite popular misconceptions, Musharraf comes across as fairly measured individual and a patriotic person with the demeanour of a professional soldier (which he was for much of his life).

The memoir, I’m less likely to trust if only because I wouldn’t trust the memoirs of any sitting national official (too many things that they can’t speak frankly about as well as being too close to the events). Most of the great memoirs and autobiographies I’ve read were written by people long after they left their positions of influence and were able to view events with a detached point of view.

OT: The ease with which copyrighted content is obtainable on YouTube is disturbing. I’ll have to do a post about that later.

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September 24, 2006

The end of a Tennis era

Filed under: Miscellany — Vamshi @ 6:12 pm

A little late posting this (considering the US open finished on 9/10 :)

Agassi retired at the US Open bringing the end of an era of male tennis players from the US that dominated tennis from the late 80s through the early part of this decade. The players include Sampras, Agassi, Courier, Chang and others (whether Chang deserves to be in that list is still very debatable seeing as how he won just one grand slam).

Of all the above players, Agassi was definitely the most interesting one to watch in my opinion. His style of play and his on and off court personality was always so much more enjoyable than watching Sampras play. Seeing his evolution from young, brash teenager to the mature, wise elder sportsman of tennis was a real pleasure and one that will not be easily forgotten. His marriage/life with Steffi Graf (the second greatest and easily the most under-appreciated female tennis player IMO) is an interesting twist of fate as well.

It remains to be seen how Agassi will be measured 20 years from now and whether he’ll still be remembered fondly or forgotten as many of the old greats were. And of course, all tennis legends may pale in comparison to Roger Federer if he keeps playing at his current pace for a few more years.

Here are a couple of choice quotes from Agassi that I picked out from the many glowing articles written at the end of his career (emphasis is mine). They sum up his spirit better than I could describe it:

Question: I don’t know if you’re going to take your kids out to hit tennis balls. When you look back at your father, at such a young age, instilling this game into you, some would say in a very obsessive way, do you reflect back that as hard as it was, you probably wouldn’t be sitting here today if he hadn’t?

Answer: That’s for sure. There’s no question about it. What we’ve gone through, our moments of not seeing things eye to eye, it has been his journey and it has been my journey.

The pride I take in everything I’ve experienced has to do with what I’ve poured into it, not necessarily what that experience was. I mean, I think tennis is one vehicle. I think we can find excuses in life or we can find inspirations. I’ve always tried to find inspirations. I am thankful for my father giving me this game.

Q: Andre, when you play this well, like you have this week, it leaves the rest of us wondering why you cannot or will not commit myself to playing like this your entire year?

A: I wish in many respects that I could, you know, balance more at the same time. But part of me says that’s not the way I do things … I’m trying to give all to everything in my life. And it doesn’t seem to do anything but drain you. So I’ve responded to it real simply by focusing my attention intensely at different times. … I just made a decision to work at it. You know, to start enjoying my work, getting into my work and doing it. … It has to be a commitment that transcends the hype of whether I’m back or not. But more than anything, it’s just not wanting to do anything in a mediocre fashion. It’s not easy for me. If I’ve ever given that impression, I’ve misrepresented myself because it’s been tough on me.

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