Ground Control to Major Tom

We will soon be able to evaluate the truth — at least half of it — behind the statement that men are from Mars and women are from Venus.

Here are two marvelous assets about the extraordinary voyage of Curiosity to the planet Mars. Who would have thought that we would witness this day? Not only was this a multinational adventure, it was a second giant step for mankind.

Was it worth it?  Are we after the return on investment again?  As wine man, Gary Vaynerchuk says, then tell me the ROI of my mother!  Herewith a great graphic from I F***ing Love Science (FB Page), comparing the cost of the 2012 London Olympics versus the cost of sending Curiosity to Mars (stats from Forbes and New York Times).

Olympics versus Mars Investment, Myndset Digital Marketing

And an animated video posted on YouTube last year that shows the journey, the sophistication of the landing and of the scientific kit with which the Curiosity rover is decked out.

You can find more coverage from the JPL NASA Youtube page here.  In a tidbit of information from the Wikipedia entry, the rover has a specific tire pattern or tread mark.  ”That pattern is used by on-board cameras to judge the distance traveled. The pattern itself is Morse code for “JPL” (·— ·–· ·-··).”  How crazy is that?  And, what does JPL stand for: Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  Some engineer (as opposed to a brand marketer) was thinking through the whole thing?  Had it been a marketer, what message might you have wanted to inscribe in morse code?

GCMT: Ground Control to Major Tom?

Your ideas or submissions!!

Why I find professional football (aka soccer) so unfortunate?

I am mortified when I see the values of the highest paid and most watched football players and managers.  It’s a disgrace.  Watching the most recent Euro 2012 tournament which winds up tonight, I have been reminded about the way professional football is just not good for society.

Professional Sports a Source of Inspiration

At a professional level, sports are entertainment, an industry vying for attention and consumer dollars. Sports provide an outlet for unbridled testosterone. They buffer empty spaces and minds with conversation topics. They fill the minds of the youth with dreams. And, more importantly, provide role models to inspire us mere mortals and amateurs.

Professional Football a Source of Deep Frustration

It is for this last reason that I tolerate little professional football (aka soccer), especially since it is the single most popular sport in the world and, certainly, the most mediatized. On the positive side, you have to admire how national football matches can galvanize a nation and help override internal tensions (maybe the USA would do better to play in more shared international team sports as opposed to the insular American Football and Baseball which are extremely inward looking, albeit with some Canadian teams here and there). And national tournaments have a way of crystallizing the state of a nation, as witnessed by the display of ego-laden individualism in the French team in Euro 2012.

My Top ten list

Herewith, meanwhile, are the top ten things (from least to most) that irritate me in professional football:

  1. When the ball goes out, both sides immediately shoot up their arm to claim the ball, even when the call is perfectly obvious.
  2. No one ever throws in the ball where it went out.  It seems that there is a lax acceptance of 5 extra meters.
  3. When a free kick or a throw-in is awarded, the penalized team often holds on to the ball or throws it away disparagingly.
  4. formation football 4-4-2, The Myndset Digital Marketing & MediaWhen a free kick is given, the defenders are never 10 yards away and, right after the referee measures out the 10 yards, they mechanically creep up toward the ball.
  5. People and managers still pay attention to the formations (4-4-2 or 4-1-3-2…) whereas such stated formations have no resemblance to what actually happens on the pitch. Formations are a charade.
  6. There is no way to go take a break midway through a half without a risk of missing THE single goal of the match.  Ok, I’ll admit this is not going to be a big deal once I have TIVO installed.
  7. Any time physical contact is made or might be made, far too often the player will dive onto the ground and claim a free kick, with the hand going up even as they fall, and with the look of horror on the face that would make a B class actor proud.
  8. The pain and writhing of a player that has been or claims to have been tripped lasts as long as the referee is potentially thought to be looking in his direction.

    mario-balotelli, On the Myndset Brand leadership and digital marketing

    Mario Balotelli – doing his job alone

  9. Despite being the most lucrative sport in the world, there is still no goal line camera technology.
  10. And the winner is: When a goal scorer scores, his first reaction is to take off his shirt (if only it were to hide his name) and run from his team mates to self-promote. Never mind that he only accomplished that for which he is paid.  Your job is to score.  I say, well done for doing your job.  Punto.  Mario Balotelli’s display, so symptomatic, in the Euro semi-final match against Germany is not what team sports are made of.

Between the lack of goal-line camera, only one referee on the pitch and no TV review, there is a gaping opportunity for corruption and manipulated results in professional football. As has been covered recently in English professional football, there is widespread gambling and corruption (run by the Chinese it seems) even down in the lower divisions.  Corruption is rampant around the world in a game that attracts too much money, and too many low levels.

My take:  Professional football should concern itself more with its image, values and sportsmanship.  What do you think?  Does it deserve to be the most watched sport in the world?

POST SCRIPTUM 6 JULY 2012:

I just read that the English Premiership is looking at implementing goal line technology for the 2012-2013 season.  A revolution is at hand?  See the BBC report.

Male concern for {tennis} balls – Rafa versus Djokovic 2012

Having just spent some mindless hours watching various Roland Garros 2012 tennis matches on the television, there are two things that drive me bonkers. The first are Rafa Nadal’s incessant superstitious ticks.  The hair tuck, the nose wipe, the shirt tuck, the jock strap fix and the ball bouncing.  It’s bad on the 1st serve.  It’s OTT on the second serve.

Ticks of Nadal, The Myndset Digital Marketing Strategy

The second issue I have is a more generalized habit of dropping balls by ALL the men on the tennis pro tour.  In case you [general public] didn’t know, the balls are renewed every seven games (16 new balls at a time, at least on the ATP).  Granted they hit the ball hard, but that’s pretty good service.  That said, you know that the habit of selecting the most lively balls has gone overboard when the players  do the same farcical act with the brand new balls as well.  Below, we have (literally) a screen grab of Rafa playing Djokovic in the Roland Garros 2012 finals.

Rafael Nadal, Three balls, The Myndset Brand Strategy

The thing that got me riled up is that the first service percentage for both players in the men’s final was near or below 50%; so the real impact of the “best” ball was absolutely negligible.  But, the second thought was that the women — even in Sharapova’s noisy and historic final — do not go through the same song and dance of selecting the best ball before every service.  They just get on with the game.  Hurray.

I would like to ban this ridiculous, petulant, if not arrogant, selecting of the best balls.  After all, once the ball is in play, it’s the same for both players.  Secondly, I would wish the voodoo of ticks were less indicative of success!

Oh, and a final hat tip to Djoko for his sportsmanlike conduct when he acknowledged that a ball was miscalled out and over-ruled the “rules” to allow the point to be awarded to Nadal (in the 2nd set).  Wish we could see more sportsmanship like that (and forget the racquet throwing!).

Putting a smile on your face

I just love this short video. It has not become a viral success per se, but I think it deserves more! The quality of the film, the story and the inspiration are noteworthy. For some of us, we get caught up in our “little” problems all too easily. The attaching part of this video for me was that, at first, I thought that the golf swing was the problem. Little did I know.

Talk about finding a good reason to put a smile back on the face. Enjoy.

Roger Federer is William Tell. Just amazing!

Roger rogered this one...twice.

If you needed any extra proof that there is talent behind those hard hitting, charming chestnut brown eyes, you need to see this. Whether or not you play tennis, you will appreciate the unedited skill. Note that he is NOT wearing a tie.  Still, I don’t think that suit can feel like a Nike outfit.  Posted on Eurosport’s site, there has been a grand total of two views of this video since being posted mid August… Bizarre.  Presumably, Eurosports’ settings are off.  In any event, imagine this, he is just the third best player in the world (although he’s still number 1 in my eyes).

I certainly hope there will be a few more views herewith!

Beautiful, no?

Funny Video: Have Glass, Will Squash. Remi Gaillard the prankster

Mario Kart a la Remi Gaillard

Not heard of Rémi Gaillard? If so, the chances are that is because you still only believe in mainstream media (MSM), i.e. you watch television, read newspapers and surf only the established sources on line.

Rémi happens to be the most watched humorist in the world — and that is ONLY on line. A comedian-hooligan-prankster from Montpellier, France, Rémi is a rampantly anti-mainstream media comedian.   But, he definitely has the internet working for him. Continue reading

Cricket Twenty20 : Afghanistan versus United States in 2010 WCQ

Cricket Team USA on front of WCQ Brochure

Cricket Team USA on front of WCQ Brochure

Cricket: Afghanistan versus United States in 2010” Who would have ever thought that these words could be strung together? I was alerted to this potentially potent sporting event coming up next week via an article in the London Times, entitled, “Afghanistan get ready to take on US and insist that it’s ‘just another match’ (from the TIMES on Friday February 5 2010).

Over time, many people have written about the diplomatic, assuaging qualities of a dignified cricket match between rival nations. All you need to do is google “cricket diplomacy” and you will 26K+ hits.

So, in the fine heritage of cricket diplomacy, Afghanistan will confront the US cricket team in the 2010 World Twenty20 qualifying tournament in Dubai on Thursday, Feburary 11.

Nowroz Mangal, the Afghani captain said about the game with the US that “this is just another game.” But, I would think this might be a good game to consider as encompassing a bigger cause. “Every sport should be about peace” said Kabir Khan, Afghanistan’s head coach and a Pakistani born former Test cricketer. For Afghanistan, it is an opportunity for the country to get back some national pride on a playing field. It should be noted that all sports had been banned in Afghanistan by the Taliban up until 2000 when cricket was allowed “because it had intervals for prayer breaks,” Kabir said.

Obama's drive a little hesitant!

Obama's drive a little hesitant!

There are 8 teams in all in the WCQ 2010 tournament. Two teams will graduate from this qualifier to the bigger World Cup tournament. Afghanistan (#6), USA (#8), Ireland (#1) and Scotland (#3) are pooled together in Group A. Here is the official USA cricket team site, announcing their arrival in the UAE.

The US team, which lies third in World Cricket League Division 5 (down in the basement basically speaking) is managed by Imran Khan, not to be mistaken as the mega cricket personality; it is Saratoga resident, Imran Khan Suddahazai. After having gone through many rough patches, the US currently has 2 million registered cricket players, a national stadium in Florida and developing structure. You can find out something about the history of cricket in the US here on their own site or on wikipedia, where you can see how important Philadelphia has been for sustaining cricket in the States.

Predictions for the outcome of the tournament? Predictions for the match between Afghanistan and USA? I’d rather not see a draw, but who knows, that might also be the closest equivalent to a peaceful resolution!

V for Victory or V for V Painful? Obama and Michelle see things differently….

Obama and Michelle watching Judo at White House 2009

This photograph from the UK’s Guardian newspaper (17 Sept 2009) caught my attention initially for the curious position, in the foreground, of the unfortunate person on the receiving end of a flip in a judo exhibition. Then I zeroed in on President Obama and Michelle Obama’s expressions, framed between the outstretched legs.

The photo is a jewel for those of us observing the difference between the archetypal feminine and masculine reaction to an event. You have Obama’s smile juxtaposed against his wife’s aghast expression. On the one hand, you have a man appreciating the athletic effort of the ‘victor,’ while, on the other, the woman is feeling the effects of the loser landing on his head. Is it V for Victory or V for Very Painful? In either case, watching sports brings out our emotions and, per this photo at least, the experience is very different according to your point of view (and I’m not just talking the team you support).

Do you have another view on this photo? And how different is the experience for men and women (or the masculine and feminine viewpoint) when observing the same sporting event?

US Open Tennis 2009 Winners

In a slew of late-in-the-tournament rain delays, the US Tennis Open 2009 provided two shocking winners for both the men and women’s tournament. Both sides produced what I might describe as wonder kids (or if you prefer wunderkinder), but with a twist.

On the Women’s side, the Belgian Kim Clijsters took full advantage of a wild card entry to sweep through 5 seeded players — not least of which both of the Williams sisters — to win in comfortable style 7-5, 6-3 against another surprise finalist, #9 seeded Caroline Wozniacki, from Denmark. Clijsters, who ‘retired’ prematurely in 2007, had taken off 2 years to have Jada, her daughter, who came on court (with father and basketballer Brian Lynch) to help her mother with the Trophy. Not since 1980, when Evonne Goolagong Cawley defeated Chris Evert at Wimbledon, has a mother won a Grand Slam title.  Along the way, Clijsters also became the first wild card entry to ever be crowned US Open champion.  The unseeded Clijsters jumped to 19th seed in the world immediately after the victory, now that she has completed her third professional tournament. A fairy tale tournament and year for Clijsters, whose father died at the beginning of the year.

In the Men’s draw, it was Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro, the 20-year-old sixth seed, who twice came back from a set down to win a monster five set match 3-6, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2 against the perennial favourite Roger Federer. Federer had been carrying a 40-match, 5 crowns-in-a-row unbeaten streak into this final. Ironically, another Argentine, David Nalbandian, was the last man to beat Federer at the US Open (in the fourth round of 2003). Del Potro joins Guillermo Vilas (1977) as the only other Argentine to have won the US Open. And it was the first time in 10 years that the final had gone to five sets. Federer was undoubtedly flustered yet again by the hawk eye, a technology that has earned Roger’s general disapproval (“I think it’s nonsense…”). So Federer will go down in history with five consecutive wins at the US Open, behind Bill Tilden’s 6 wins (each time over the feckless William Johnston) and Richard Sears (7 in a row at the end of the 19th century). Del Potro was an unlikely winner as far as I was concerned to the extent that he even managed to get beyond the high-potential Cilic in the quarters. Then he blew aside a lame #2 Nadal 6-2,6-2,6-2 in the semis.

For the doubles, on the men’s side it was the fourth seeded Leander Paes (IND) and Lukas Dlouhy (CZE) who beat third seeded Mahesh Bhupathi (IND) and Mark Knowles (BAH) in three sets 3-6,6-3,6-2, having also beaten the top seeded Bryan brothers (USA) in three sets in the semi-final.

And on the women’s side, the 4th seeded Williams sisters (USA) powered to victory over top seeded Cara Black (ZIM) and Liezel Huber (USA) by a score of 6-2,6-2, to redeem their singles performance.

Interesting fact on the men’s front: a right hander has won the title every year since 1985 (Lendl). However, from 1974 to 1984, it was a left hander who won (11 years in a row, and featuring four different players: Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Guillermo Vilas and Manuel Orantes). See more US Open Stats here.

Usain Bolt clocks 9.58 World Record in 100 meters

Usain Bolt World Record 9.58 Berlin World Championships

At 9:35pm last night (August 16), Usain Bolt (Jamaica), clocked in at 9.58, dashed Tyson Gay’s (USA) fine effort (9.71) and, along the way, dashed to a sparkling 100 metre World Record at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin. It was a marvellous race, with all the hype and high expectations more than matched by the performance. For all the bravado that Bolt demonstrated before the race, he was able to execute flawlessly, almost incredible (as in not credible). Amazingly, whenever he runs, you always feel he can do more. You can’t help but think that his wandering eyes and seemingly cocky headturns at the end of the race (to ensure he’s on top) would possibly add a couple more milliseconds! Tyson Gay etched his name in the stone as the man who is always a step behind. His excellent 9.71 time was just 0.02 behind Bolt’s Olympic World Record performance.

In a pre-race buildup on French Television, there was a small documentary on Usain Bolt, indicating that he may be ready to overtake Bob Marley as the spiritual figurehead of Jamaica. Bolt is portrayed as a down-to-earth, happy-go-lucky man. On the cusp of his 23rd birthday (he’s a fellow Leo with an August 21 birthday), he has certainly gone down some uncharted paths compared with Marley’s charts. Holding the 200 metre and 4×100 world records as well, he is taking the human race to a new level and, along the way, providing good brand love for his country.

Here’s the video courtesy of YouTube / BBC. Enjoy (it’s a 10 minute video).