Tag: 上海夜网论坛

HHS budget proposal cuts state preparedness, boosts food safety

first_imgFeb 4, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – The Bush administration today unveiled a $3.1 trillion budget for the 2009 fiscal year that cuts a number of public health initiatives but includes an increase for the Food and Drug Adminstration’s (FDA’s) food safety efforts.The proposed spending plan would take effect in October 2008, the start of the next fiscal year. Details of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) component of the budget were announced at a press conference today by HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt. “We have crafted a fiscally responsible budget at a very challenging time,” he said.The HHS share of the budget is $737 billion, an increase of $29 billion from 2008, HHS said in press release today. However, the amount decreases discretionary spending by $2.2 billion.Proposed cuts for CDCTrust for America’s Health, a nonprofit health advocacy group based in Washington, DC, expressed concern over what it described as an overall 7% cut for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The cutback, TFAH said in a press release today, represents a 6-year low for discretionary funding for the agency.”At a time when healthcare costs are skyrocketing, we should be investing more to keep Americans healthy instead of cutting funds for disease prevention,” said Jeff Levi, PhD, executive director of TFAH, in the press release.The cuts would impair state and local preparedness efforts, TFAH said. Cuts of $97.2 million from the Prevention Health and Health Services Block Grant program would dry up funding that states use to run disease prevention programs, the group said. The new budget would cut $136.7 million from state and local bioterrorism and emergency preparedness efforts and reduce hospital emergency preparedness programs by $61.9 million, according to TFAH.”The administration has cut these programs over the past 5 years, reducing the funding level by one-third,” said TAFH in its press release.More for FDA food monitoringThe budget proposal includes a $42 million increase for food safety initiatives announced by the FDA in November 2007, raising total FDA food safety spending to $662 million, according to HHS. The initiatives were spurred by recent cases of tainted imports as well as contamination in domestic food products, such as Salmonella in peanut butter and Escherichia coli in fresh produce. The funding would expand staffing and resources at food production and handling sites, the FDA said today in a press release. The budget provisions would increase the total number of full-time FDA staff by 526.At a press conference today, budget officials from the FDA said the proposal would establish an FDA food safety office in China.The proposed budget provides $29.5 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support research. But TFAH said the administration’s plan would “flat-fund” biomedical research at the NIH.The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), in a 29-page budget briefing today, reported that funds for biodefense and emerging infectious disease research would drop by $7.5 million. The agency said it would move funds in those research areas from research and development contracts to the intramural research program to partially offset projected increased operating costs for new biodefense containment facilities that will be opening in Ft Detrick, Md., and Hamilton, Mont.For bioterrorism preparedness, the budget allocation of $4.3 billion includes $250 million for developing medical countermeasures for the national stockpile. It also sets aside $53 million to establish five new international quarantine stations and fully staff all 20 domestic stations, according to the HHS press release. Also, the budget includes $30 million to expand, train, exercise, and coordinate medical emergency teams, including two Commissioned Corps Health and Medical Response (HAMR) teams designed to respond to real or potential threats, HHS said.Pandemic preparedness fundsThe budget contains $507 million for the next phase of the administration’s influenza pandemic preparedness plan, including funds to expand egg-based vaccine capacity and buy medical countermeasures and supplies for HHS employees and patients, according to HHS. In addition, $313 million is proposed for ongoing pandemic preparedness efforts at the CDC, FDA, NIH, and the Office of the HHS Secretary.In a 120-page budget briefing today, HHS said Congress did not appropriate $870 million requested by the president last year to implement the nation’s pandemic preparedness plan. “The Administration is still considering options regarding this funding, and will reach out to Congress soon,” HHS said.The 2008 omnibus spending bill passed by Congress in December earmarked only $76 million for influenza pandemic preparedness funding, far below the Bush administration’s $870 million request. The House and Senate appropriations committees had said their reason for cutting the 2008 pandemic budget was that $1.2 billion was left over from previous appropriations, according to previous media reports. However, Rich Hamburg, director of governmental relations for TFAH, said at the time that the $1.2 billion represented one-time funding that was mostly intended for buying vaccines and antiviral medications.At the press conference, Leavitt said the budget proposal provides for an initiative to improve the nation’s inadequate supply of ventilators, which he said cost from $8,000 to $10,000 apiece and require highly trained operators. He said the budget includes $25 million to develop a new generation of ventilator that will be portable, will cost 90% less, and will not require specialized training to operate.”This effort will help fill the gap to ensure our nation has an adequate number of ventilators in the event of a public health emergency,” HHS said in its press release.See also:Feb 4 HHS press releaseFeb 4 TFAH press releaseDec 20, 2007, CIDRAP News story “Congress slashes pandemic preparedness funding”last_img read more

Start reading HHS budget proposal cuts state preparedness, boosts food safety

PM Johnson back to work as UK virus problems mount

first_imgTopics : British Prime Minister Boris Johnson returns to work on Monday more than three weeks after being hospitalized for the coronavirus and spending three days in intensive care.Johnson, one of the highest-profile people to have contracted the virus, returned to 10 Downing Street on Sunday evening and will chair a meeting on Monday morning of the coronavirus “war cabinet”, his colleagues confirmed.Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary who has deputized in Johnson’s absence, told the BBC on Sunday that his return would be a “boost for the government and a boost for the country”. In a video message after leaving hospital, Johnson thanked “Jenny from New Zealand and Luis from Portugal” for helping him recover.On medical advice, he has not been doing official government work during his convalescence but has spoken to Queen Elizabeth and US President Donald Trump on the phone.The British leader was diagnosed with the virus late last month but initially stayed at Downing Street and was filmed taking part in a round of applause for health workers in the days before he went to hospital. Raab also claimed the prime minister was “raring to go”.Johnson, 55, was admitted to hospital on April 5 suffering from “persistent symptoms” of the deadly disease. His condition worsened and he later admitted after being put in intensive care that “things could have gone either way”.He was discharged on April 12 and has been recuperating at his official residence, west of London. Back but facing problems Some critics have described the government as being rudderless in his absence.Britain has been one of the countries worst affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, with the number of deaths reaching 20,732 in the days before Johnson’s return.The actual toll could be much higher when deaths in the community are taken into account, particularly at care homes.The rise in fatalities put the spotlight on the government’s approach and led to questions about shortages in protective equipment and a lack of widespread testing, particularly for frontline health staff.One major decision Johnson will face is whether or not to relax strict social distancing rules which he introduced on March 23.This was extended on April 16 and a review is due on May 7, with pressure building from political allies and foes for the government to make clear its intentions over extending or relaxing the lockdown.On Sunday, Raab said lockdown rules would “be with us for some time” and were the “new normal”, adding that ministers could not “allow the coronavirus to get a grip back on the country”.Johnson faces calls from within his own party to ease restrictions and will also find a letter in his in-tray from new opposition Labor party leader Keir Starmer asking for details on a potential lifting of the lockdown.And he will be confronted with a political row over the role played by his chief adviser Dominic Cummings after it emerged he attended meetings of a supposedly independent scientific group advising ministers on the coronavirus. last_img read more

Start reading PM Johnson back to work as UK virus problems mount

4th of July festivities being cancelled will have economic impact on Clear Lake (AUDIO)

first_imgCLEAR LAKE — The cancellation of the 4th of July festivities and other events planned for Clear Lake this summer will have a financial impact on the community.Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Stacy Doughan says the decision not only has a financial impact on her organization but the regional economy as well.  “It’s the largest fundraiser for the Chamber. The carnival proceeds are a huge chunk of our budget, so it’s devastating to us as an organization to have to make that decision. It’s about a $10 million economic impact to the community that’s been estimated in past years. We didn’t take the decision lightly when it came to making this particular call.”Doughan encourages everyone to “shop local” in an effort to make up for some of that lost revenue coming into the community. “I would just absolutely encourage everybody who lives in this area to patron your local restaurants and to shop local at your local retailers just to help keep these businesses that are so critical to our Main Street alive.”Doughan says while many of the events that take place in City Park this summer won’t happen, she anticipates people coming to Clear Lake for other recreational opportunities. “Summer is just going to look different here in Clear Lake, but I will say I’m so grateful for that lake, because that lake will provide a great recreation opportunity for anyone who chooses to come visit here. We ask that you do it safely, and it’s a great asset for those who live here. It’s going to look different, it’s going to be more of a rec focused summer versus an event-focused summer.”Doughan made her comments during the “Ask the Mayor” program on AM-1300 KGLO earlier today. You can listen back to today’s program via the audio player below KGLO News · Ask the Mayor — May 27, 2020 — Clear Lake 4th of July/Chamber CEO Stacy Doughanlast_img read more

Start reading 4th of July festivities being cancelled will have economic impact on Clear Lake (AUDIO)

State smashes daily cases record with 5,511

first_imgThe numbers of coronavirus cases in Florida continue to rise.Florida reported 5,511 cases in one day, shattering the record for most in a day by 1,462, as deaths rose by 54 to 3,281, the Florida Department of Health announced Wednesday.Testing has also gone up in the state. The state reported 15.91 percent of people who tested for the first time were positive. Two weeks ago, the percentage was 5.54. Of all results reported by labs, the positive rate was 18.43 percent of the 36,339 tests compared with 7.31 percent among 31,415 tests two week ago.The overall positive rate is 6.5 percent, which is up one-tenth of 1 percent, compared with 5.3 percent one week ago and 10 percent several weeks ago.The state cases reported Wednesday were 2,225 more than Tuesday’s total of 3,286. The record was 4,049 set Saturday. Earlier increases were a previous mark of 3,822 Friday after a 3,207 record Thursday. In addition, there was a record 2,783 one week ago Tuesday.Until recently, the increased cases daily were often under 1,000.last_img read more

Start reading State smashes daily cases record with 5,511

Four counties chosen for project to grow junior golf

first_img Each of the four counties will have a bespoke plan which recognises their particular challenges and targets, including the need to involve and train volunteers. They’ll be supported by Lee Dolby and the England Golf network of club support offers and regional managers.  Cheshire, Durham, Lincolnshire and Somerset are joining the pilot project which aims to get more under-18s playing and joining clubs.  “I am very much looking forward to working with them over the next couple of years to see how much of an impact we can have and how we can inspire a love of golf to last a lifetime.” This will include offering access to research, workshops and educational resources and help with marketing to a younger audience.  This will include offering access to research, workshops and educational resources and help with marketing to a younger audience.  2 Aug 2017 Four counties chosen for project to grow junior golf The latest England Golf Club Questionnaire, which is carried out every two years and tracks trends, shows a decline in junior membership. On average, each club lost three boy members between 2014 and 2016 and altogether juniors account for just seven per cent of club members.  Each of the four counties will have a bespoke plan which recognises their particular challenges and targets, including the need to involve and train volunteers. They’ll be supported by Lee Dolby and the England Golf network of club support offers and regional managers.  Four counties chosen for project to grow junior golf The latest England Golf Club Questionnaire, which is carried out every two years and tracks trends, shows a decline in junior membership. On average, each club lost three boy members between 2014 and 2016 and altogether juniors account for just seven per cent of club members.  Four counties have been selected to work in partnership with England Golf over the next two years to get more juniors involved in the sport.  Cheshire, Durham, Lincolnshire and Somerset are joining the pilot project which aims to get more under-18s playing and joining clubs.  Lee Dolby, England Golf’s Young People Manager, commented: “It’s vital that we address the challenges facing junior golf. These four counties have enormous commitment and enthusiasm for developing junior golf and involving more young people.  Four counties have been selected to work in partnership with England Golf over the next two years to get more juniors involved in the sport.  “I am very much looking forward to working with them over the next couple of years to see how much of an impact we can have and how we can inspire a love of golf to last a lifetime.” Lee Dolby added: “By working closely with counties, rather than individual clubs, we can look at wider solutions which, eventually, we can share across the country.”  Lee Dolby, England Golf’s Young People Manager, commented: “It’s vital that we address the challenges facing junior golf. These four counties have enormous commitment and enthusiasm for developing junior golf and involving more young people.  Lee Dolby added: “By working closely with counties, rather than individual clubs, we can look at wider solutions which, eventually, we can share across the country.”last_img read more

Start reading Four counties chosen for project to grow junior golf

Mallard’s Team of the Week — Nelson Youth Soccer U14 Girl’s Selects

first_imgIt’s never easy for staff at Mallard’s Source for sports to choose the Team of the Week recipient during Rep Soccer Playdown season.That’s because Nelson Youth Soccer fields so many good teams. However, following a close look at the winners heading off to the BC Soccer Provincial B Championships, Mallard’s staff settled on the Nelson U14 Girl’s Selects as the Team of the Week winner.The squad posted a 4-1 victory over Kootenay East from Cranbrook in the Kootenay Final to advance to the BC Soccer Provincial B Championships July 7-10 in Penticton.Ella Peloso held off the Kootenay East charge in goal while Farrah Marzicola, with a pair of goals and Abby Teasdale and Aube Jolicoeur scored for the Nelson-based cluub.Sydney Benson, Anna Bakas, Abby Teasdale, Aube Jolicoeur, Ivie Lock-Luttmer, Abby Jackson, Teigan Barnhart, Ruby Linnen, Nicola Anderson, Isabel Curiston. Front, Freya Holman, Phoenix Tailleur, Alexis Dyck, Semegn Atkinson, Ella Peloso, Farrah Marzicola and Addis Atkinson.Coaches are Clive Jackson and Darren Peloso.last_img read more

Start reading Mallard’s Team of the Week — Nelson Youth Soccer U14 Girl’s Selects

Cheetahs Prospered in North America

first_img(Visited 38 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 If evolutionists can say cheetahs migrated over continents, why can’t Biblical creationists say the same?Here’s a cat’s tale: cheetahs evolved in North America. Some of them crossed over the Bering Strait into east Asia. They gradually made their way all the way across Asia to the Middle East and down into Africa, where they remain exclusively today. This all happened in the last 100,000 years. Any takers?Cat GeneThat’s the story being seriously told by Science Daily and PhysOrg. Evidence? Genome studies. Russian geneticists claim there were two genetic bottlenecks, leaving today’s cheetahs severely inbred, despite their world-champion status as runners and hunters. But how much can be inferred from the genes of a living cat, especially one from Namibia named Chewbacca? The scientists discern the face of Darwin in the genetic crystal ball. Look at the story they built out of it: “This gave further insight into the species evolutionary history and the breadth of genome impoverishment, which elevates juvenile mortality, causes extreme abnormalities in sperm development and increases vulnerability to infectious disease outbreaks.”American cheetahs may have been more like pumas before they started their global evolutionary trek. So the story goes; the article treats this as scientific fact, without mentioning that the puma-parent hypothesis is doubted by some evolutionists.  Wikipedia mentions a possible reverse hypothesis with cheetahs evolving in the Old World first. Or, maybe it was some kind of “convergent evolution.” Can that account for the specialized traits that allow cheetahs to be the fastest runners in the world? Some have been clocked at 75 mph.Dog ToothWhen there’s controversy, it behooves reporters to mention other possibilities rather than to present one hypothesis as gospel truth. Another article on North American mammals at PhysOrg talks about hyena-toothed evolutionary ecology, based on some limb bones found in Wyoming. That article shows an inkling of humility, quoting a paleontologist saying the fossil provides “an indication that there is still a lot to learn about hyaenodontid evolution.” Could it be possible to learn that they didn’t evolve? Extinction, remember, is not evolution. Evidence from the teeth suggests they were successful in several different habitats.Evolutionists mock creation explanations for their theories of animal migration after the Flood. They forget that their own theories face similar challenges. Evolutionists have even proposed that blind “worm lizards” that live underground, found on every continent, rode rafts of vegetation across the oceans, as did some mammals (4/27/15). So no more mocking. Creationists believe cheetahs spread across continents, too, but they don’t think it took 100,000 years for the cats to do it. They are fast runners, aren’t they? The challenge for evolutionists should be, why did it take so long?last_img read more

Start reading Cheetahs Prospered in North America

CFAES announces new director of government affairs

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Adam WardThe Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences’ new director of government affairs comes not only with rich experience in the state legislature, executive branch of state government, and in an advocacy role for policy and funding at the state and national levels, he also agricultural roots from a childhood growing up on a corn, soybean and hog farm in Champaign County.Adam Ward, executive director of the Ohio Soybean Association, is expected to begin his new position March 6.“I have dedicated my career to advocating for Ohio’s farmers, and there is no better place to do that than at The Ohio State University,” Ward said. “The College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences has touched my life from a very young age. I look forward to working with the college and university to strengthen the role CFAES plays in developing generations of food, agricultural and environmental professionals in Ohio and the world beyond.”At the Ohio Soybean Association, Ward managed a membership-driven advocacy organization by implementing the strategic vision of its 20-member board and directed an advocacy team at the Ohio Statehouse. Ward also served as director of marketing and outreach for the Ohio Soybean Council.Prior to that, Ward served as an assistant to the Governor’s Energy Advisor at the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority, as legislative director and acting deputy director at the Ohio Department of Agriculture, and as a legislative aide at the Ohio House of Representatives. He received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Capital University.“Adam will be a great addition to the CFAES leadership team,” said Lonnie King, interim vice president for agricultural administration and interim dean of CFAES. “As an experienced policy advocate for the agriculture community, he will work with the university’s advocacy team to ensure CFAES’s place as a leader in the integration of cutting-edge research, teaching excellence and innovative outreach programs.”As government affairs director, Ward will develop and strengthen relationships with public officials at all levels of government, university advocates, agencies, university leadership when appropriate, and related staff for these groups to positively impact the college and advance the university’s agenda. He will serve as a member of The Ohio State University Government Affairs Team; will monitor legislation and governmental issues; will execute lobbying efforts, appropriation requests and preparation; and will participate in strategy development.“Adam’s background in government affairs and agricultural policy makes him a great fit for Ohio State,” said Blake Thompson, vice president of government affairs and secretary of Ohio State’s Board of Trustees. “His broad experience will advance the college and the university agenda in all 88 counties, at the statehouse and in the halls of congress. We’re excited for him to join our team.”Ward will play a key role in advocating on behalf of the college before the Ohio General Assembly and executive branch on the biennial state appropriations that support the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center and Ohio State University Extension, which are CFAES’s research and outreach arms. He also will work with OSU Extension and local elected officials to continue their financial support for county Extension offices.last_img read more

Start reading CFAES announces new director of government affairs

Google News Business Model Under Global Siege

first_imgMassive Non-Desk Workforce is an Opportunity fo… Related Posts Tags:#Google#international#media#Yahoo brian proffitt Cognitive Automation is the Immediate Future of…center_img Google and other search companies are under siege in various nations from news publishers and their lobbyists trying to establish more control over content. New laws and industry association walk-outs are challenging aggregators’ ability to display excerpts of news stories within search results, which could have far-reaching effects.Google’s Three-Front Battle: Germany, Brazil, FranceGermany: The latest effort to re-assert copyright control of news content is happening in Germany, where a new ancillary copyright bill, Leistungsschutzrecht für Presseverleger, is up for debate in the Bundestag legislative body. The bill, which is supported by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party, will grant publishers a year-long exclusive license for all publishers’ content – including excerpts, the kind usually displayed in Google News and Yahoo! News within search results. With that license, publishers can choose to withhold content from these results or charge Google and other search engines a fee for including the results.The Leistungsschutzrecht hit Google’s radar in August when it was first proposed, and is the subject of an online petition launched Tuesday from Google Deutschland. The site’s welcoming message warns of the Bundestag’s debate of the new copyright bill.“This would give publishers the right to prohibit search engines and other services from displaying articles within search results or else be subject to payment. For you, it would become much more difficult to find the information you are looking for on the Internet,” the site warns. A short video showing how Google Deutschland has served the German community with news and information in the past decade is also prominently featured (and even English speakers can chuckle over the how-to-spell-that-damn-Iceland-volcano’s-name gag).The official argument for the bill is safeguarding Fair Use of published content, which publishers argue Google and other aggregators are abusing. But it is also likely an attempt by German news companies to build a revenue stream in the wake of the no-paywall decisions many global news publishers made when they first put their news content online. Only a few media companies have been able to create and maintain profitable paywalls – in the U.S., the Wall Street Journal is the best example -and even fewer have been able to successfully add a paywall after initially going with free content  – the New York Times being the prime exception. (For more on the paywall issue, see Newspaper Paywalls Are A Good Thing – Here’s Why.)Brazil: The revenue issue appears to be the key. Google News, which seems to be the primary target of this bill, already has an opt-out policy for publishers who don’t want their content displayed within search results. In October, 154 Brazilian members of the Association of Newspapers opted eout en-masse when they decided that Google should have to pay them for excerpted content.The move appears to be working out for Brazil’s newspapers. The 154 papers involved comprise about 90% of Brazil’s circulation, according to PaidContent, and that could be one reason that the papers’ sites have not lost significant traffic since making the decision. This seems to rebut Google’s big argument why posting headlines and excerpts is good for content providers: that it drives traffic to the news sites.The German publishers may not trust other parties to abide by a blanket opt-out approach – leaving them to rely on legislation. Google’s response is to drum up enough public support among German voters to get the CDU and publishing lobby to back off. If that fails, of course, Google can always turn to the nuclear option: simply stop posting news site results altogether.France: That’s what Google is already doing in France. Gallic lawmakers are urging the search giant to voluntarily pay content providers for search results by the end of the year, or else the French government will consider legislation similar to Germany’s. Instead of playing the petition game, though, Google is threatening to stop posting French news results if the government gets involved. One reason for the combative approach is that France has already been playing hardball with Google by leading the European Commission’s investigation of Google’s search algorithm for possible anti-competitive practices.Playing Chicken On The Information SuperhighwayIt would seem like a no-brainer that content creators should get paid. And indeed, no one is really arguing that. All of these issues surround Fair Use arrangements that say others can use portions of content to illustrate a point or explain the broader arguments made in the original content. It’s the same thing that lets a writer like me quote another media outlet’s content. A little bit, and as long as I explicitly name the source material.But publishers object when someone builds a business model on nothing but Fair Use-derived content, which is what Google and Yahoo! appear to be doing. The publishers argue that in the aggregrate, this transcends Fair Use.But Google has scrupulously avoided directly making money with its News service. There are no ads on Google News pages, though there are ads on main Google search results pages, which can include relevant news articles. Yahoo News does include ads within its service, which bolsters the publishers’ argument.Then there’s the very model of Internet searching itself. Former Google staffer Matthew Carpenter-Arevalo outlines the point quite succinctly: The Senior Community Manager, Global Shapers Americas at the World Economic Forum, Carpenter-Arevalo calls the disagreement between the French media and Google a “high stakes game of chicken” on the information superhighway.Carpenter-Arevalo argues that the publishers’ real beef with Google and other search engines is that these services level the readership playing field in a new way. The major newspaper Le Monde, for instance, enjoys a very rich cultural and economic place in French society, right down to prim-o real estate in the newsstands on the street.“Contrast to the online world and in Google’s eyes Le Monde is but one of an innumerable and uncountable chattering voices providing information about what’s going on in France. Of course Google’s algorithm does recognize Le Monde‘s stature and rewards it accordingly and handsomely by sending millions, if not billions of clicks its way every year,” Carpenter-Arevalo writes. “Nevertheless, unlike the newsstand where the probability you buy Le Monde may be 1 in 4, on the Internet the chance you may read Le Monde may be 1 in 1000, such are the exponential ratios in the world of abundance.”In that kind of environment, he continues, Le Monde and other big players in the media world can’t help but feel threatened. This is why they believe they should be paid for the privilege of posting their content anywhere, including search results. The Loss Of NeutralityIf Google and the publishers can’t reach some kind of payment agreement, Google may indeed yank news sites’ results in the countries in question. If Brazil is any indication, that may not hurt either side in the short term. But this legistlation – and even the kerfuffle itself – could be the start of a trend where media sites content is increasingly unavailable on Google’s search results. That could make searching on Google a less rich experience and open opportunities for competitors like Yahoo and Bing grab market share by making their own licensing deals. Google’s sweet “we farm the Internet for free” days may soon come to an end.The war between news publishers and search engines could have collateral damage as well. For users, search results might no longer be truly neutral, but rather based on which media outlet was licensed to appear in which search engine’s results. It’s hard to see how that helps anyone.Image courtesy of Shutterstock. 3 Areas of Your Business that Need Tech Now IT + Project Management: A Love Affairlast_img read more

Start reading Google News Business Model Under Global Siege

Playing on a Perfect Pitch

first_imgA dying sportswriter, Karunasena, wants to make a documentary on cricketer Pradeep Mathew, who he believes to be the greatest spin bowler ever. There is a compelling mystery surrounding this cricketer. Who is he? What is his mystique? Is he alive? Did he even exist? If so, how was he erased from public memory? Will the quest that now gives meaning to the life of an otherwise inconsequential writer be realised? The plot of this engrossing mystery is easily summarised. But its literary achievement is not. Chinaman is, quite simply put, something as close to a masterpiece as anything to have come out of South Asia in recent years. Most South Asian writing in English has lived down to a genre in which critics place it. We have the “postcolonial” novel, the “Indian” novel, the “Pakistani” novel and so forth; almost as if novels were simply history by other means. In line with our tendency to engage novels by placing them in genres and limiting them, Chinaman is also being described as the Great Sri Lankan Novel or, more charitably, the Great Cricket Novel. Its achievement is that its plenitude transcends any description that seeks to confine it to a particular genre. It is, unlike much other writing in this genre, simply a great novel: a work of exquisite literary craftsmanship.What makes this novel exceptional is this. In most contemporary novels, identity dominates over individuality, history over character, argument over observation, politics over life, moralising over moral psychology. Chinaman is a class apart for several reasons. It is incredibly funny and moving at the same time. It has a lightness of touch that lesser writers can only aspire to achieve. The humour in the book resides not simply in the jokes; it is the way in which the humour gives a whole new context to the complexities of life. Its prose is crystal sharp, almost Wodehousian in its precision. It can convey in one lapidary sentence what other novels take pages to describe. The characters are memorable. Their insights on life come largely from their individuality. Karunasena, for example, achieves a kind of luminous, wry and funny clarity over his surroundings largely because of his defeatism. It is almost as if you can understand the world only if you have no stake in it.advertisementHis small circle of friends and family are memorable in their own ways. If Karunasena has the insight of detachment, his wife has the insight of affection; his son of rebellion; and his friends of a genteel sociability. There is also a rich cast of finely etched smaller characters, none of whom is wasted. The conversations amongst all the characters pull off the unbelievable feat of being both so recognisable and so funny at the same time. Many of the conversations, particularly between Karunasena and his wife Sheila, are perfect examples of what a master novelist can do.The novel deftly brings into perspective several large themes: the odd gap between talent and success, the regret of recognising a truth too late, the importance of sociability. Much of it is a wry look at the way we construct meaning. Some of Karunasena’s friends are busy searching for the meaning of life, flirting with doctrines that promise ultimate redemption. But Karunasena is more engaged with the meaning of life. “Unlike life, sports matters” will perhaps become the most often quoted of several memorable epigrams in the book. Like most humans, Karunasena constructs meaning vicariously, living through the achievements of others. What can compare with the thrill of a World Cup victory, or your son hitting a six? Sports are, in a sense, like ritual: anyone can participate in it vicariously. From an external point of view, it seems arbitrary and pointless. But the paradox is precisely that for this reason it can invest meaning in life like nothing else can.Then there is Pradeep Mathew, the elusive cricketer, whose life itself shows how talent can be hostage to the complex tides of history and fortune. His character bears the weight of ethnic relations in Sri Lanka. But what are these constructs of identity that hold his career hostage? Are they also forms of vicarious arbitrariness? The delicacy with which Karunatilaka weaves history is an object lesson in that old adage about novel writing: show, not tell. The plot has an innovative narrative structure. For cricket fans, Karunatilaka creates an entire world with extraordinary precision: from cricket history to statistics, from bookies to unruly commentators. The cricket is engrossing but never intrusive.advertisementThere are layers and layers to this novel. But it is a measure of Karunatilaka’s craftsmanship that the novel remains so thoroughly enjoyable, a sheer reading delight. Most novels try and plumb depths of history to the point of getting lost. This one does something more difficult and artful: illuminate surfaces with a depth of insight that is rare. “Wasting talent is a crime,” Graham Snow, a commentator, says in the book. “A sin”, replies the character Ari. There is no doubt that Karunatilaka has committed neither a crime nor a sin.last_img read more

Start reading Playing on a Perfect Pitch