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PowerPoint Pasta

india Updated: Apr 28, 2010 22:40 IST

Where is Osama? Why can't the US smoke him out of his rocky cubbyhole? If such questions have bothered you — and even if they didn't — we have an answer now. It's not the lack of firepower or manpower, it's just that the men who matter are busy somewhere else — in meeting rooms looking at a 'bowl of spaghetti'.

No, the 'bowl of spaghetti' has not replaced the crystal ball yet. The term was used by Gen Stanley A McChrystal, the boss of the American and Nato forces in Afghanistan, to describe a PowerPoint presentation (PPT) on the military strategy in the Tora Bora country. Many US commanders say that the charts and graphs are a waste of time for they take no account of interconnected issues and problems.

PPT-averse editorial writers like us have only sympathy for Gen McChrystal — and a suggestion. We understand his agony since we too are sometimes dragged to dark, air-conditioned rooms for 'strategy briefings' and then told to decipher black bullets and the Manhattan skylines even as a hyperactive presenter delivers a speech that sounds like mosquitoes droning overheard. But then there're ways to get even with the 'PPT rangers': ask them to elaborate on one particular bullet point. Then with glee watch them disintegrate in the face of 'friendly fire'.