Essay May 2009

Essay May 2009-89
Vivek Ranadivé is an elegant man, slender and fine-boned, with impeccable manners and a languorous walk. T., because he saw a documentary on the school and decided that it was perfect for him.His father was a pilot who was jailed by Indira Gandhi, he says, because he wouldn’t stop challenging the safety of India’s planes. This was in the nineteen-seventies, when going abroad for undergraduate study required the Indian government to authorize the release of foreign currency, and Ranadivé camped outside the office of the governor of the Reserve Bank of India until he got his way. In 1985, Ranadivé founded a software company in Silicon Valley devoted to what in the computer world is known as “real time” processing.The shift, to his mind, is one of kind, not just of degree. “You know, when you get on a plane and your bag doesn’t, they actually know right away that it’s not there.

Vivek Ranadivé is an elegant man, slender and fine-boned, with impeccable manners and a languorous walk. T., because he saw a documentary on the school and decided that it was perfect for him.His father was a pilot who was jailed by Indira Gandhi, he says, because he wouldn’t stop challenging the safety of India’s planes. This was in the nineteen-seventies, when going abroad for undergraduate study required the Indian government to authorize the release of foreign currency, and Ranadivé camped outside the office of the governor of the Reserve Bank of India until he got his way. In 1985, Ranadivé founded a software company in Silicon Valley devoted to what in the computer world is known as “real time” processing.The shift, to his mind, is one of kind, not just of degree. “You know, when you get on a plane and your bag doesn’t, they actually know right away that it’s not there.

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Lawrence decided to attack from the east instead, coming at the city from the unprotected desert, and to do that he led his men on an audacious, six-hundred-mile loop—up from the Hejaz, north into the Syrian desert, and then back down toward Aqaba.

This was in summer, through some of the most inhospitable land in the Middle East, and Lawrence tacked on a side trip to the outskirts of Damascus, in order to mislead the Turks about his intentions.

Instead of focussing his attention on Medina, he should wage war over the broadest territory possible.

The Bedouins under Lawrence’s command were not, in conventional terms, skilled troops. Sir Reginald Wingate, one of the British commanders in the region, called them “an untrained rabble, most of whom have never fired a rifle.” But they were tough and they were mobile.

He would conduct business on the basketball court, he decided, the same way he conducted business at his software firm. He would never forget the first time he saw a basketball game. Team A would score and then immediately retreat to its own end of the court. But most of the time a team defended only about twenty-four feet of that, conceding the other seventy feet.

He would speak calmly and softly, and convince the girls of the wisdom of his approach with appeals to reason and common sense. Ranadivé was puzzled by the way Americans played basketball. Team B would inbound the ball and dribble it into Team A’s end, where Team A was patiently waiting. Occasionally, teams would play a full-court press—that is, they would contest their opponent’s attempt to advance the ball up the court.The typical Bedouin soldier carried no more than a rifle, a hundred rounds of ammunition, forty-five pounds of flour, and a pint of drinking water, which meant that he could travel as much as a hundred and ten miles a day across the desert, even in summer.“Our cards were speed and time, not hitting power,” Lawrence wrote.Good teams, after all, had players who were tall and could dribble and shoot well; they could crisply execute their carefully prepared plays in their opponent’s end. But Nicky, Angela, Dani, Holly, Annika, and his own daughter, Anjali, had never played the game before. These were the daughters of computer programmers and people with graduate degrees.Why, then, did weak teams play in a way that made it easy for good teams to do the very things that made them so good? They worked on science projects, and read books, and went on ski vacations with their parents, and dreamed about growing up to be marine biologists. The political scientist Ivan Arreguín-Toft recently looked at every war fought in the past two hundred years between strong and weak combatants.Vivek Ranadivé decided to coach his daughter Anjali’s basketball team, he settled on two principles. This was National Junior Basketball—the Little League of basketball.The team was made up mostly of twelve-year-olds, and twelve-year-olds, he knew from experience, did not respond well to shouting.What happened, Arreguín-Toft wondered, when the underdogs likewise acknowledged their weakness and chose an unconventional strategy? In those cases, David’s winning percentage went from 28.5 to 63.6.When underdogs choose not to play by Goliath’s rules, they win, Arreguín-Toft concluded, “”Consider the way T. Lawrence (or, as he is better known, Lawrence of Arabia) led the revolt against the Ottoman Army occupying Arabia near the end of the First World War.Three of our men died of bites; four recovered after great fear and pain, and a swelling of the poisoned limb.Howeitat treatment was to bind up the part with snake-skin plaster and read chapters of the Koran to the sufferer until he died.

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