Almost Perfect: Umbrella by Rihanna

The greatest love songs and poems are all hymns to Ishtar.  Popular love songs often use blunt psychological manipulation also (appeals to pleasant emotions, desire to be loved, etc.) but at their core they have one single universal theme.  The beauty is in expressing the theme indirectly, ambiguously, and hypnotically.

The song “Umbrella” by Rihanna is just about as perfect a hymn to Ishtar as I’ve ever seen.  Rihanna channels Ishtar from the ancient past to the glorious present, as if to prove that she never dies.  There is no way she wrote the lyrics; they are beautiful and universal.  And the imagery in the music video is very well-done — whoever put in the triangles knew what they were doing.

As a poem and song, the lyrics and musical pacing will stand the test of time.  The video, while excellent, has three slight flaws:

  • Jay-Z is a moron.  The imagery in the original song; of rain, deluge, and sparking downpour is powerful.  Trust Jay-Z to completely miss the symbolism and make up some assinine line about “stacking chips for a rainy day” to demonstrates just how clueless he is.  WTF is this, a poem about farming?  Someone shut him up.  Thank God the dance remix running on Energy 92.7 doesn’t have his stupid blathering on it.
  • Rihanna’s hair is wrong.  She has a great face (beauty that comes from being not too remarkarble or “unique”).  And her hair is pretty in a contemporary way.  But this is ancient imagery, and she should have long, straight hair if she wants to strike directly to the heart.
  • The very tail end, where she’s singing “come into me”, should show the camera moving through a blue arch.  That would be just right.

The sweetest lines (I put … in place of the lines that are nonessential for the symbolism):

And we’ll never be worlds apart

Baby cause in the dark

that’s when you need me there

You’re part of my entity, here for Infinity
When the war has took it’s part
When the world has dealt it’s cards
If the hand is hard, together …

When the sun shines, we’ll shine together
Told you I’ll be here forever

Now that it’s raining more than ever
Know that we’ll still have each other
You can stand under my umbrella

You can run into my arms
It’s okay don’t be alarmed
Come into me
There’s no distance in between our love
So go on and let the rain pour
I’ll be all you need and more

It’s raining
Ooh baby it’s raining
Baby come into me
Come into me
It’s raining
Oh baby it’s raining

H1-B Visa Politics

Senators Durban and Grassley are now sounding the alarm over H1-B Visa applications, claiming that big evil Indian outsourcing firms are scamming the system to move American jobs overseas.

Sorry, but I don’t buy their reasoning.  The facts are laid out in the most prejudiced manner possible, and even then the numbers don’t add up to alarm.  Basically, we find that Wipro and Infosys “rotate” about 1,000 people from U.S. back to India per year.  That’s all.  That’s the whole story.

For starters, we’re talking about a pool of 65,000 visas that disappears in just 2 days.  If Grassley is worried that 1,000 of those visas could have gone to people who are more likely to put down roots in America, he should just vote to up the quota.  The demand so completely outweighs supply that it’s pointless to argue about 1,000 visas.

Next, the idea that people given H1-B Visas shouldn’t be permitted to go back to their country of origin is absurd.  Many outright citizens are going back to China and India to resettle and do business, why would it be different for H1-B visa holders?  Perhaps if the number were something like 50%, that would be a different story, but where do you draw the line?  Is 1 of 65 really a “scam”?

Finally, they seem concerned that Wipro and Infosys are “foreign-owned”.  Who cares?  If an American company bought Infosys, would that make everything suddenly better?  The fact is, the entire American industry depends on these two companies, and whether we decide to purchase them outright is a simple business decision that has nothing to do with politics.  These two companies have higher ratios of rotation, but that’s due to the nature of their business.  The senators seem to think that rotation should be evenly distributed across all companies, which makes no sense.  And the moment you admit that rotation will be distributed unevenly, you have a factor that can be used by alarmist senators to pick out and victimize some companies.

Of course, to the extent that these companies are using rotation to keep employees in virtual indentured servitude, we have reason to complain.  That is, if there is a significant portion of rotated employees who would rather stay in the U.S. and put down roots, the H1-B visa system should apply pressure to make that possible.  But I don’t see the senators investigating that, and in fact the alarmist and isolationist policies are largely to blame for the fact that skilled workers are being driven to leave the U.S. after getting experience.

Lessons Learned from Truemors Failure

Truemors launched yesterday, and the blogosphere is already analyzing “what went wrong”.  Although the name sounds like a combination between “tumors” and “tremors”, it’s too early to declare it a failure.  The world needs another place to leak Apple secrets, and the voting feature will help moderate impact of hoaxes like the Engadget “scoop” yesterday.  Let’s give it a chance.

Flowers from America

If anyone ever asks you to send them flowers from America, because “if it’s from America it is more special”, don’t do it.  The idea that flowers can be more special based on some “branding” goes against 2000 years of tradition.  Flowers are special because they are beautiful and then they die.  Sticking in a flower in a shipping container so that you can open it just in time to see it die is just wrong.  I’ve heard that half the roses in America come from Chile anyway, and that’s bad enough.  Now you want to drop-ship flowers from Chile to China?  Don’t even think of it.

The tradition comes from at least the first century B.C.  In the Book of Wisdom, pseudo Solomon chastises the unwise for saying (2:7-8) “let no flower of the spring pass by us.  Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds, before they be withered.”  The original context, where rosebud-gathering was seen as bad, endured 1700 years until Robert Herrick penned the famous words Gather ye Rosebuds while ye may.

Of course, poets have been writing about fleeting youth and beauty for a long time.  For example, Sappho’s melancholy poem from 630BC.  But the two examples given above are the definitive “roses and fleeting beauty” references.

So that’s why you give roses — to symbolize that you’re so smitten by beauty that you couldn’t care less about the future.  You don’t give roses to symbolize that you have discriminating taste or brand buying power.