Friday, 26 July 2019

Robert Mueller takes the stand on his Report July 24, 2019

Most of America if not most of world waited for his spoken words. Would they be Trump's undoing or would he crawl out and escape once again? Today was the long awaited pronouncement detailing Donald J. Trump's complicity regarding Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential Election in the USA. The warm up to this ground breaking testimony was palpable. Every news Chanel was on point when Mueller was sworn in by Congressional stalwarts, and my PVR was set to bring me the eight hours of enlightenment.
I watched the first two hours and left for my Wednesday golf game at BGC. When I returned and visited the news/opinion broadcasts that evening my concerns/suspicion were well-founded. Mueller's performance was not explosive; it was not dynamic and did not sway the public; it was truthful just as the report was intended when written over a period of two and a half years and presented in its redacted form two months ago.
Robert Mueller is 74 years of age and deliberate in his speech; he asked many questions to be repeated before his carefully worded and sometime stuttered reply was given. (His appearance was the direct opposite to Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court rant last winter... which is not relevant here.)
The professional writers who weighed in were many but the majority really wanted Mueller's candid everyman - instead he used words like exculpation - response to Congressional questions, and got none of it. The following is the work of one of these pundits:

""Is it any wonder they were exultant over at the White House?

The congressional testimony Wednesday by former special counsel Robert Mueller was a six-hour bore-athon, an old-news rehash served up by an inexcusably evasive witness who repeatedly let President Donald Trump off the hook.
Democrats had hopes the Mueller testimony would be a Hindenburg moment for incriminating the overweening Oval Office gasbag. And with some sharply incriminating testimony on obstruction of justice, Mr. Mueller could have ignited impeachment proceedings.
But as a witness, Mr. Mueller showed no such fortitude. Rather than injecting new force into his report, he sucked the remaining lifeblood out of it, stonewalling from start to finish.
Pussyfooting Democratic interrogators let him do so. Instead of reminding him he was a witness under subpoena, instead of pressing him hard and demanding answers, they patted him on the back. They thanked him for his service in Vietnam as if that had anything to do with anything.
Mr. Mueller had complained that Attorney-General William Barr’s mild summary of his report didn’t capture “the context, nature and substance" of it. The Democratic fanboys didn’t even bother to badger him on why that was so.
While doddering and forgetful, Mr. Mueller was at least emphatic in warning about the ongoing Russian menace to the electoral system. But it was a point he had made before. He seemed more concerned about this than whether the President was a lawbreaker.
After the underwhelming testimony, some Democrats were still claiming that they wanted to move ahead on impeachment. But that’s a pipe dream now. More likely, this story has run its course. More likely, it’s the Democrats who could be running for cover.
As Republican committee members reminded everyone, the Justice Department is probing the origins of the Russia investigation, looking at how law enforcement agencies during the Obama administration were allegedly spying on the Trump campaign and also at how the Democrats funded research for the Steele dossier, a document chock-full of unsubstantiated allegations about Mr. Trump’s Russia ties.
Asked about the dossier, Mr. Mueller wouldn’t even say if he had read it. He said he was “not familiar” with Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that was behind it. That was a stupefying response, but Democrats didn’t follow up.
The critical question was on obstruction of justice. Mr. Mueller reiterated that Justice Department policy held that a sitting president could not be indicted. But Democrats didn’t go after him on whether he would have indicted Mr. Trump if not for that policy. This despite Mr. Mueller having said after the release of his report, “If we had confidence the President did not commit a crime, we would have said that.”
He had in fact warned that in his testimony he would be sticking to what was said in his report. Republicans hoped he would follow through on that promise – and they got their wish.
There was no crystallizing soundbite. Mr. Mueller’s harshest words concerned the extent of co-operation of some on the Trump team with the Russians. He was asked about Mr. Trump’s past praise for WikiLeaks, which was used by the Russians as a conduit for their meddling. He said that to call the praise problematic "is an understatement.” He agreed when asked by Democrat Adam Schiff, whom Mr. Trump derides as a “pencil neck,” if the Trump campaigners lied to cover up the contacts. “Generally, that’s true,” Mr. Mueller responded.
But voters don’t appear to be overly worked up about the Russian threat. Republicans certainly aren’t. If the Russians helped them win the election, why would they be? Also to be considered is whether the whining Democrats would have taken dirt from the Russians on Republicans if offered. It’s very possible.
Following the hearings, Mr. Trump was predictably vindictive. “This was a devastating day for the Democrats,” he said, adding, “The Democrats had nothing. And now they have less than nothing. And I think they are going to lose the 2020 election very big, including congressional elections.”
Of the overall impact of Mr. Mueller’s testimony, Mr. Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said, “It’s not going to move any needles.”
He was right. A day that was supposed to be momentous turned out to be a dud. Donald Trump was in a jam and, as per usual, got away.""

That written and said one wonders what action will follow from news Chanels and Politicians to put DJT in his place, or pave the road to his re-election in 2020?


Sunday, 14 July 2019

Wimbledon Tennis Championships July 2019

The home of The Championships have spent 90 million pounds installing two retractable roofs on the main two courts. Why? Because it rains a lot in London, England. During the last fortnight there was nary a drop to be seen. What was in evidence was that the big three in the men's draw: Djokovic, Federer and Nadal still have what it takes to make it to the semi-finals. And the Open knew it. They were seeded one, two and three.
The Ladies Championship was contested yesterday between long-time multi-winner Serena Williams and Romanian Simona Halep who had won the Rolland Garros French Grand Slam in 2018 for her first Slam. Williams' career is in the books as perhaps the best female player of all time, and probably the most tempestuous too. On this day Williams was destroyed by Halep 6 - 2, 6 - 2 and was broken four times. Halep played like never before - she was in the zone - and she knew it by blowing shot after shot past Williams for out and out winners over the 58 minutes it took to complete the take down of the American super star. Williams was not prepared to withstand the onslaught and said so in the post match interviews with comments like, "She played out of her mind" and "I don't know if she will ever play that well again." (Serena Williams, it's sad to say, has never been a favourite of mine, can you tell?)
This morning Federer and Djokovic will play for The Championship. If Roger can bring the game that he has had in the past this should be one for the ages. His match against Nadal was worth its weight in gold with Roger winning in four sets. (This was their first meeting at Wimbledon since 2008 which was reported by the infamous John McEnroe to be the finest tennis match ever played.) I'll be watching this one on July 14, 2019 from start to finish.

Roger and Novak battled for 5 hours in perfect weather and it came down to the first time ever when the fifth set would be settled with a tie-breaker, and it started when they reached 12 all in the fifth. This shot was taken when you see the score was 4 to 2 for Novak in the fifth set tie-breaker.
My TV and a shot of the scoreboard
The palpable tension filling the stadium when Roger needed two consecutive points in the fifth to win the Gold Cup and couldn't do it, and then Novak had the same edge and couldn't get it done, is one reason why Wimbledon changed their rules and created the fifth set tie-breaker beginning at 12 all.
The final struck ball was a frame shot by Roger that flew straight up and out of play, and with that Novak claimed his 16th Major and Roger stayed with 20 Majors: the all-time Men's record in the open era.

Another day later in my favourite Canadian newspaper Cathal Kelly has written about Djokovic's 'lack of love from tennis fans' and their obvious love for Roger. Even in the Royal Box the Prince and Princess appear to show their love for Roger more than Novak. Rather than dwell on his point -- a real one that I feel as well -- it's worth adding to my post. I hope you enjoy reading this opinion which paints another picture of what's it like at the very top of sporting life and love for that expertise that brings rare individuals into or out of the hearts of sports fans world wide:

""Novak Djokovic the least-appreciated, least-loved great player in tennis history."

"After he’d won a classic in front of a crowd that very badly did not want him to, Novak Djokovic didn’t bother celebrating.
Instead, he turned slowly and took in every section of the Wimbledon Centre Court audience. His expression might best be described as a smirk. He’d shown them.
Sunday’s men’s singles championship against Roger Federer ended in a thrilling five-set match. At 4 hours 57 minutes, it was the longest final in the tournament’s history.
The Serb proved two things over the past two weeks – that he is the least-appreciated, least-loved great player in tennis history; and that he may soon be the greatest of all.
Mr. Djokovic is a perfectly nice guy who does and says all the right things, but for whatever reason is unable to connect with people. That was evident through every part of the final.
The audience roared for Mr. Federer throughout. Not most of the audience. All of it. Even the attendees in the Royal Box, who are expected to be above sporting partisanship, were up on their feet over the course of the match.
When Mr. Djokovic double-faulted early on, there was a smattering of applause. When he tried to argue a call during the tension at the end, he was roundly jeered. Once it was done, the winner got conspicuously less of an ovation than the loser. Mr. Djokovic prevailed 7-6 (5), 1-6, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 13-12 (3).
Usually an effusive on-court presence, Mr. Djokovic’s response at the end was to fold into himself. No fist pumps; no shouts toward his box. He didn’t fall to the ground or hold his head in his hands. He walked straight over to Mr. Federer for the handshake. He looked in a hurry to leave.
“It was mentally the most demanding match I’ve ever been part of,” Mr. Djokovic said. “This was a different level. Because of everything.”
He didn’t need to explain what “everything” meant.
For all his reaction, you’d have thought it was a first-round match at Indian Wells, not his fifth Wimbledon championship, which puts him level with Bjorn Borg.
Despite the way the crowd had treated him, Mr. Djokovic tried to reach out one more time during his postmatch speech.
“This has always been the tournament for me, that I wanted to participate …” and told a story about making his own Wimbledon trophy as a child. He seemed to be either holding back tears or unsuccessfully willing himself to cry.
The crowd wasn’t moved. They were still too busy feeling sorry for Mr. Federer.
This is where you list off all the things the Swiss has and is doing that are remarkable – in a final 16 years after he first won this event; still working at an elite level at nearly 38; having to go through the two other best players in history (Rafael Nadal and Mr. Djokovic) in order to get there.
But if this match lives on in the Federer legend, it will be as his most spectacular bust. He had two consecutive championship points in the late going. He missed both.
Few pros are more gracious in defeat, but it was clear this one hurt. In his postmatch on-court interview, it was suggested to him that he’d given viewers something “we will remember forever.”
“I will try to forget,” Mr. Federer said.
He laughed as he did, but it was a little too on the nose.
Given a chance to liken the match with his 2008 Wimbledon final classic against Mr. Nadal, Mr. Federer passed.
“I’m the loser both times,” he said. “That’s the only similarity I see.”
Although tempting, there is little comparison with a decade ago. That match was a street fight. Federer v. Djokovic 2019 was more of a shoving contest. A back-and-forth tactical battle that didn’t get truly tense until the final moments.
Some contests are all over the place. This one was very reliably in one place, with Mr. Federer trying to pick his spots and Mr. Djokovic doing his human Pong routine.
As such, people won’t remember Mr. Djokovic’s victory. They’ll recall Mr. Federer’s choke.
See? Even when the Serb wins, he loses a little.
Afterward, Mr. Djokovic gave a rambling news conference. He didn’t seem happy, exactly. When he was asked about the crowd’s reaction to him, he straightened up in his chair and put both hands in his jacket pockets.
“At times, you are trying to ignore it. Which is hard,” Mr. Djokovic said. “I try to transmutate it. When the crowd is chanting ‘Roger,’ I hear ‘Novak’ …”
It was a good line and got a laugh, but he couldn’t leave it there.
“… It sounds silly, but it is like that. I try to convince myself that it’s like that.”
This poor guy just can’t help himself. Even when he’s doing his best to play it cool, he ends up trying way too hard. It’s his nature. It’s that neediness that seems to put people off Mr. Djokovic. He may never stop talking about the vegan lifestyle, but mostly he’s corny – the postmatch hands-from-the-heart routine; the grass-eating once he’s won.
There’s an irony in this. Every top tennis player has their image built from scratch by corporate backers. Just look at the gawky, pony-tailed weirdo Mr. Federer was 15 years ago, and the 007-with-a-racquet he is today. That didn’t happen because he got a subscription to GQ.
Mr. Djokovic has none of that polish. The guy you are getting is pretty obviously the real guy, including all the oddness and discomfort. But it’s his realness people hold against him.
What they can no longer ignore is his place among the Big Three, with Mr. Nadal and Mr. Federer. Mr. Djokovic is now the biggest.
He’s won four of the past five Grand Slams. He’s moved to 16 for his career, two behind Mr. Nadal and four behind Mr. Federer. After a long injury-abetted wobble a couple of years ago, he now has those targets properly triangulated. In his current form, he may top the list inside two years.

He’s already up on tennis’s Mount Rushmore. Mr. Djokovic’s search for greatness is done.
Now he can resume looking for the love that’s supposed to go with that.""

Djokovic is upper right and Federer is lower left

Friday, 12 July 2019

Apprenticeships For Higher Learning by Sridhar Vembu July 12, 2019

Among other creative thoughts about post secondary education, this column looks at the Apprenticeship vehicle as one that solves many problems for our youth and society in general. You may find it worthwhile especially if there are young people in your life who are approaching that decisive moment in their lives. Please read on:

Sridhar Vembu is the co-founder and CEO of Zoho Corp., an India-based software development company that creates web-based business tools and information technology solutions.
A new labour market is taking shape and it’s unlike anything we’ve seen before. Advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are blurring the lines between tasks performed by humans and those performed by machines.
Should entry-level workers fear losing their jobs? Where will people go to acquire the skills that employers are looking for? How can companies upskill their staff as they introduce more technology into the organization?
Managed correctly, technological innovation can lead to an era of meaningful work, opportunities for growth and an improved quality of life for everyone. Managed poorly, advancements in AI, machine learning and robotics can displace unskilled workers, widen the skills gap and lead to greater inequalities around the globe.
As the nature of work evolves, we need to embrace non-traditional forms of education to keep pace. It’s time we upskilled workers at the bottom of the ladder to complement technological advancements across all industries. Let’s explore some educational options for workers who feel increasingly displaced by technology.

DEGREES AREN’T EVERYTHING
Until recently, having a four-year college degree was a standard requirement for all high-level positions. Thankfully, big technology companies such as Google, Apple and IBM no longer require a college degree for some of their top jobs – understanding instead that formal postsecondary education is not an option for many young people today. Potential hires now become self-taught experts in certain fields such as coding and graphic design and enter the work force that way.
Talent comes in many different forms and the internet has allowed people to acquire sought-after skills through self-taught education. Workers can gain skills on their own to reach their career goals without the need of formal degrees or accreditation.

WHITE-COLLAR APPRENTICESHIPS
Apprenticeship programs help new employees to quickly gain hands-on skills from a subject-matter expert. Tech companies are looking at apprenticeships as an alternative method to train skilled workers without requiring higher education.
The benefit of apprenticeships for white-collar jobs is that students get to earn while they learn. They avoid student loan debt and get mentored by experts while building a network of contacts. Apprenticeships also give students a chance to prove their worth within an organization.

BUILD OUT YOUR OWN PROGRAM
Companies are shaping the next generation of skilled workers by creating their own schools or collaborating with school districts to develop technology curricula. In 2016, Oracle opened Design Tech High School (d.tech), the first charter school located on a technology campus.
Design Tech teaches design thinking – a problem-solving strategy popularized by Stanford University’s design school. By learning soft skills and technical skills, Oracle is preparing students to become the next generation of workers who collaborate to solve complex problems.
Zoho University, our company’s school located in Chennai, India, provides free education and training to low-income students throughout India. The end goal is to provide a free college alternative to train the next generation of engineers and developers. Students who complete the program are automatically offered positions at Zoho Corp., but they can still look for employment elsewhere. With Zoho University, financial barriers do not prevent students from taking the opportunity to learn in-demand skills to advance their careers.

LOOK FOR EXTERNAL RESOURCES
Many workers displaced by technology have a wide variety of external resources to consider for additional training and upskilling.
LinkedIn Learning helps people discover and develop skills through curated and personalized courses. LinkedIn uses skills and job data to identify emerging trends. From this data, they create video courses taught by industry experts.
Udemy is another online learning platform aimed at professional adults looking to acquire job-related skills. Students have access to thousands of free and paid courses to learn new skills. With lifetime access to registered courses, students can find the right instructor for a particular topic and learn on their own schedule.
Traditional educational institutions are collaborating to create non-profits that provide free education. Founded by Harvard and MIT, edX is a global non-profit educational platform that removes the barrier of cost, location and access to world-class education. Students can receive professional certificate programs for free and learn in-demand skills to advance their career opportunities.

REIMAGINING EDUCATION AND TRAINING
Technology is changing the work force and widening the skills gap at breakneck speeds. Many lower-level jobs will be automated by AI, machine learning and deep neural networks. The question isn’t whether workers will be displaced by technology, it’s when, and what can we do about it. With this in mind, we need to reimagine what modern education looks like.




Dubai (UAE) to Mumbai (India) to Cape Town (South Africa) December 12, 2019 - January 24, 2020

We met a low key but effective cruise salesperson onboard Azamara Pursuit in January, 2019 who wetted our whistle for another ship board a...