Comparing Beijing and London through the eyes of Olympics

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Now that the London Olympics is over, I was reflecting on the Olympics that just finished and comparing them to those four years ago in Beijing. Although I am generally not a follower of sports (and I personally myself at terrible at any sports), I always find the Olympics really enjoyable. This time I almost became addicted to watching the Olympics daily, and as it was Japan time for me, it meant I was going to bad only at 5am or 6am every day.

I personally remember every Olympics from Moscow. At that time I remember sitting with my dad in a small kitchen watching on a tiny black and white television. Every Olympics is somehow a reflection of the country, its society, and culture. Thus I particularly remember through the Olympics, Korea as a great celebration of new found democracy by an enthusiastic people, Spain as a greatly artistic European country, Los Angeles as a showcase of pop culture, Greece as a historic and ancient society.

For the Beijing Olympics, my first impression was when I was trying to get a visa to China a few months before the Olympics. I was living in Singapore at the time and normally it was a formality, I could receive a multiple entry visa very quickly. However suddenly getting a visa proved extremely difficult. One had to submit a lot of paper work. I was wondering why, when someone told me “Olympics”. I suddenly understood. Instead of welcoming the world to their city, the Chinese were locking down. They didn’t want anyone who was going to ruin their “party” their way. It seemed opposite of what the Olympic spirit should be. I remember there was some hope when Beijing was offered the Olympics that it would signify China opening up to the world, but I am sure many people realized around that time that was hopeless optimism. The Chinese were going to use the Olympics to stamp their power on the world.

I won’t discuss about the actual sports in Beijing and London. In the sports aspect both Olympics were excellent, with many brilliant performances by athletes, and excellent facilities. Finally the athletes are the stars. However I must saw, from a viewer perspective it was much more exciting to see the historic sights of London in events such as the marathon.

The opening and closing ceremonies really are the showcase from the socio-political perspective. Here is where we can compare the spirit and philosophy of the two Olympics. In Beijing sure, the opening was spectacular. The fireworks were incredible and the performance of the 2008 drummers playing in synchronicity was mesmerizing and spectacular. However upon consideration, what did we see here? We saw faceless drummers (who were almost all military recruits) all playing exactly to the same beat. It was the drumming of an iron fist. This scene exemplifies the society and politics in China. Conform to the leaders commands. The individual is subsumed and controller by the aims of the political leaders.

We had the other scene in Beijing of the very cute girl who was singing the song of another girl who was not deemed cute enough. Again this shows that individual authenticity is of no concern in China. You will bend to the leaders demands. 

In contrast let us examine the London Olympic opening. Individual faces were seen in focus throughout the ceremony. You can compare the video of both ceremonies and the London Olympics was much more personal. We saw the British people playing individual roles. The tongue in cheek humor was a great reflection of British society. They are mature enough that they can laugh at themselves. The scene that the actual queen played with “James Bond” and flying out of a helicopter was delightful. Can you imagine any of the top Chinese leaders letting themselves be portrayed so “disrespectfully”? We also had the humorous scene with Rowan Atkinson playing with the London orchestra. This was truly funny. It was no demand to prove anything, it was just fun.

In both the opening and closing ceremony we had an incredible show of youth culture and individual’s creativity. In the opening ceremony we had punk rockers. In the closing ceremony we had children singing John Lennon’s “Imagine”. We had George Michael singing “Freedom” with huge letters in lights spelling “Freedom” in the stadium. Have a look again at the lyrics of Imagine:

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace

You, you may say 
I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

The fact that these songs are played when the whole world is looking shows the spirit of London. A celebration of a mature, civil, democratic society. A party where all are welcome. Rebels are not only allowed but are on center stage. Can you imagine “We will rock you” being played in front of the Chinese leaders, as it was in London?

Beijing Olympics was a showcase of raw power and steel. It was the kind of party where you party their way, or no way. I am sure London could do the same drumming and fireworks if they really wanted to, but the point is, they don’t need to show such hard line power. The comparison to Beijing is not really London. It is really the Berlin Olympics in 1936. That was another example of Olympics being used to show raw power and steel. An event in which there was only one way to party, and that was the absolute leaders way. 

I congratulate London for their fine Olympics, and more importantly for showing us that the 21st century is not necessarily going to be in the model of the totalitarianism state-capitalistic style. We hope and pray for freedom and the rights of individuals all over the world.

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Conducting a life audit. All human systems tilt towards messiness. In the same way that our desks get cluttered without us ever trying to make them cluttered, so our lives get cluttered as well-intended ideas from the past pile up. Most of these efforts didn’t come with an expiration date. Once adopted, they live on in perpetuity. Figure out which ideas from the past are important and pursue those. Throw out the rest.

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Phase 1: When we really have clarity of purpose, it leads to success. Phase 2: When we have success, it leads to more options and opportunities. Phase 3: When we have increased options and opportunities, it leads to diffused efforts. Phase 4: Diffused efforts undermine the very clarity that led to our success in the first place.

ACE 2012 Nepal Nov 3-5th: Special Issue for ACE 2012: International Journal of Creative Interfaces and Computer Graphics (IJCICG) An Official…

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ACE 2012 Nepal Nov 3-5th: Special Issue for ACE 2012: International Journal of Creative Interfaces and Computer Graphics (IJCICG) An Official…

INBOX ZERO!!! @sanebox @mailstromapp How I cleared more than 15,000 emails in a killer email week.

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Email had been totally depressing me. I felt like it was hovering over me always. Like 10000 fleas hovering over my head and biting me day and night no matter I was in the office or out or at home. And everytime I opened my inbox and saw 15,000 + unread emails it was like a huge misery to my day.

I decided that this summer I would once and for all clear all my emails.

I tried many times before using techniques from articles on the web how to use inbox zero, but franlkly speaking they never worked. I needed serious professional help for such a huge email overload.

The answer I found was a combination of two amazing apps, SaneBox and Mailstrom.

Firstly about Sanebox (@sanebox). I signed up at first for free, and I frankly was amazed how it could intelligently sort out my important emails from those which could be read later. For those of you who are thinking Gmail Priority Inbox, forget it. It just didn’t work for me, it was frankly speaking quite useless. I don’t know how Sanebox does it, but it really sorted out well all my emails, I think less that 5%, maybe less of my emails were ever mis-classified, and I could easily retrain just my moving labels. Sanebox helped me by letting me focus only on the important emails and being able to whittle these down. It took me well over three months of doing this because I had such a huge overload to start with. And I really accelerated this week when I decided to do nothing (basically not even eat or sleep, I have had another all nighter and no food last 24 hours except some salad and peanuts as I write this) except clear my email. 

After being able to focus and clear all my important emails with the help of Sanebox, next was a combination of Mailstrom and Sanebox.

Mailstrom (@mailstromapp) is another brilliant app which lets me see my email and cut and slice it from many angles (Sender, Subject, Time, Social, Lists, Size). You will be amazed that some subjects stuff up your email inbox (long and useless conversations). Mailstrom lets you see this clearly and then in one click archive or delete them all. Because I could process all my important emails using Sanebox, then it made it much easier to archive and delete using Mailstrom. I could just look at sender or subject and remove a mass amount of emails in one shot.

Another thing which was fantastic was the support of both Sanebox and Mailstrom. I received fast an detailed support for any questions, and even personal advice. Amazing service!

So finally for the first time in over three years, my inbox is totally and absolutely cleared. I reached the zen state of INBOX ZERO!!!

ACE 2012 Nepal Nov 3-5th: ACE 2012 Papers in International Journal of Arts and Technology Special Issue

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ACE 2012 Nepal Nov 3-5th: ACE 2012 Papers in International Journal of Arts and Technology Special Issue

Excellent Advice on how to handle email from Founder, Stuart Roseman of @Sanebox

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I have been using Sanebox for a few months now, and apart from the excellent application which has been an amazing tool for overcoming the tyranny of thousands of emails, the support from Sanebox is amazing. I asked Sanebox for some advice on how to overcome the thousands of emails and reminders I had and the founder Stuart Roseman personally replied with some brilliant advice:

a) If it takes less than 2 minutes, just do it.  don’t defer it.
b) Treat the email like a text message.  just your answer.  nothing more. no dear …, no signature, no nice humanity
c) No more filing.  trust gmail search.  click either “remove label” or “archive”
d) Stop putting stuff in your eye line that doesn’t deserve it.  newsletters, receipts, shipping notices, etc…  Don’t train those into your Inbox ever.  Do you get CC’ed on a lot of stuff?  

If it takes less than 2 minutes, don’t defer it.  Just do it.

X%   just do it now
Y% forward to someone else for processing
Z% decide this issue will never be that important and you aren’t going to deal with it.  So simply trash or archive it.
W%  put these off into the future **when** they **will** be the “most” important thing for you to deal with

I am doing my best to follow this advice. I can see my in box already climbing down rapidly from (seriously) 10,000+ unread emails.

Hyperconnectivity in a 168 (24X7 World)

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Hyperconnectivity breaks down the boundaries of both time and space. It brings people (and things) together from anywhere and at anytime. Its impact is both ubiquitous and unceasing. Thanks in part to hyperconnectivity we now live in a world of neo-urbanization, where the distinctions between rural and urban are decreasing. Hyperconnectivity has also given rise to a globalized “168” world (24 × 7 = 168), where the day continues around the clock.

How do you feel about our hyperconnected era. I personally find it thrilling for its possibilities for communication, and a nightmare from the implication of drowning in an unending infinite sea of information

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