Tag Archives: 2010

Raise a glass to Douglas Adams on ’42’ day

I was in Malta recently talking to some government representatives and they mentioned how a big new IT park is opening in Malta on October 10th. I asked them why they would have the big launch party on a Sunday.

“10/10/10 – it’s binary, IT, understand!” they replied.

I understood the connection, and it’s a nice little idea to launch an IT venture on this date, just a shame it’s the weekend as journalists are hard enough to coax from their office, let alone from the pub during Sunday lunch.

But, I immediately converted the binary to denary and I realised it’s 42. So I replied to the business people talking about the IT park:

“You should make something of the fact that 42 is the answer to life, the universe and everything according to Douglas Adams in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy…

They didn’t understand me, or clearly have less enthusiasm for British science-fiction.

I thought I was the only one who had noticed this interesting little quirk of numbers, but when I googled it, I found that a few others have commented online – but not many. It still seems that there is not much awareness of the significance of this date.

I can vividly recall hearing that Douglas Adams had died in 2001 because I was in a bookstore in Bangalore and the manager of the shop rushed to tell me – just because I was the only English person in the store. I was back in there a couple of days later and we were talking about RK Narayan, who died that day. I thought that if I kept on returning to that bookstore I might kill off some more authors so I left it for a while before shopping there again.

How about raising a glass in memory of Douglas Adams on Sunday and toasting 42 on the Douglas Adams ‘binary’ day?

Douglas Adams - The Salmon of Doubt

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India’s shame

I’ve visited India many times. I’ve spent time in hotels and offices that could be anywhere in the world, yet I have also seen how the slums sit cheek by jowl with the new hi-tech India. There is often a sense of chaos in India and a relaxed attitude to time reflected in the often-repeated joke that IST really means ‘Indian Stretchable Time.’

But in all my experience of India, I have found that world-class companies offering first-rate goods and services really do exist. And why not? India is one of the BRICs… the countries that will lead the 21st century. So who can explain the disaster of the build up to the Commonwealth Games?

Teams are arriving to find they can’t live in the accommodation provided because it’s flooded or unfinished. The bridge linking the main stadium to a car park just collapsed, seriously injuring several labourers. Athletes are already pulling out citing security risks.

India can do far better than this in the world of business, where Indian companies compete with the best. So is the failure to organise the games because of endemic corruption and favouritism in the political classes? The local media in Delhi is reporting that vast sums of money allocated to the games has just vanished.

Where did it all go? Who is going to answer for the chaos? And when will India allow competence to rise above nepotism when managing major events such as this?

One look back at China in 2008 shows how a major athletics meeting can be run with precision and efficiency – I expect London 2012 to be a bit more relaxed than China, but if I was Indian today I’d be filled with shame because the world is watching and waiting as disaster reigns.
Ellora caves, Maharashtra, India

Live blogging for Reuters

During key parts of the general election I’m going to be blogging live for Reuters on their UK politics homepage. Do take a look later for the leaders debate to see what is being blogged in advance of the event, as it happens on TV, and after for the analysis… look forward to seeing you there. I’ll be pushing a lot of my comments on Reuters out to my Twitter feed too.