Friday, September 30, 2005


Is Freddie a liar?

Glamorgan's Chariman, Paul Russell, says "Ganguly is an outstanding professional".

"... (Ganguly) settled into the team and worked hard on and off the field. He always came to team practice on time and did whatever he was told to do. He was very regular for training. I personally drove him to the gym when he had joined us."

Russell was surprised by Flintoff's take on Ganguly in his autobiography, Being Freddie. "There was never any attitude problem and he was very positive... There was no hint of anything of what Flintoff has said. He was very friendly with the other team members and used to often go out with them for dinner."

So is the Ashes hero lying?


Opium of the masses?

If you want an idea of how much cricket exercises the imagination of Indians, check out this message board, Is Ganguly unfit to lead?, on At last count, there were close to 2500 user posts.

Thursday, September 29, 2005


Gender bender

Ruth Walker, a language columnist with Christian Science Monitor, has an interesting article on the uses of gender.

A few things I learned:

1. Bengali does not have gender-specific pronouns.
2. "The Algonquian languages divide nouns into "animate" and "inanimate" – and they consider raspberries to be animate and strawberries inanimate."
3. Aboriginal languages of Australia have four classes: men and animate things; women, fire, and dangerous things; edible fruits and vegetables; and miscellaneous things. Airplane, by the way, gets the vegetable gender.


Freddie fingers Ganguly

In a scathing attack on Ganguly, the star of England's cricketing revival, Freddie Flintoff, has said in his autobiography: "He turned up as if he was royalty -- it was like having Prince Charles on your side."

Prince Charles may not be particularly pleased with the analogy!

Anyone know what Flintoff means when he says: "There were rumours he was asking people to carry his coffin for him, although he never asked me." Coffin or coffee, I wonder? (Update: Coffin, I am told, refers to the trunk in which cricketers carry their kit)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Visions of Science

The top 10 science pictures of the year, according to the BBC.

Link via Fark

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Going legit!

BitTorrent, the makers of the software used by milliions to download movies, music and games, has raised $8.75 million in venture capital and plans to create a marketplace for dispensing digital goods.


Would you buy any of these?

Cnet has a list of the Top 10 worst products

Sunday, September 25, 2005


Cricket ennui

I am tired of reading about the bickerings of a cricket team on the front pages of all newspapers. Aren't you?

In a cricket-crazy country like India, I admit anything affecting the cricket team is important news. But for the spat between the coach and captain to dominate the front pages of newspapers for three days in succession, to the exclusion of all else is certainly over the top. Isn't there anything more important happening in the country and world?

As an aside: newspapers reported that Chappell said in his e-mail that Ganguly was physically and mentally unfit to be captain. I have read his e-mail, and I don't find those exact words anywhere in the e-mail. Though there are enough hints to that effect, is the media justified in putting words in the mouth of Chappell.

The media's recent reporting on the stock markets is another example of irresponsiblity.

Shouldn't the media put in place some mechanism to regulate itself?

Saturday, September 24, 2005


Don't say the B-word!

A man misses boarding call for his flight, after his bag had gone on board. Asks the gate agent: "What if there was a bomb in my bag?" Gets arrested. And an interesting thread of discussion follows over at

Thursday, September 22, 2005


What's Full TP got to do with this?

Some of the more unusual keywords by which some good folks visited this site from search engines:

matka numbers
alex perry's birthday
shop for beedis
"principal's skeleton"
"what does a sub-editor
"This new knowledge has all to do with honour and country"

Sunday, September 18, 2005


All bets off!

Amit Varma recommends legalising betting as a way to end match-fixing.

This is what I wrote to him in response to the article.

"I agree completely that we must legalise betting on cricket. But I don't agree that it will make match-fixing go away.

"My stand is simple: Allowing betting in one form and not allowing it in another is discriminatory. Period.

"I also agree that legalising betting may bring in more regulation. But it's not the mere fact of regulation that will make match-fixing go away but the quality of regulation. And we all know how good governments can be at regulation.

"All legal forms of betting are frequently fixed. We have seen stock market scams. Fixing allegations are a part of horse racing. The lottery is one big scam, sponsored by the government and now private companies too. Even if these were not fixed, the odds are so shameful that it would put off even the most intrepid of punters, leaving the greater fools to be suckered. Casinos in the US are not all above board despite all the regulation.

"Second, I don't think legalising betting will stop the flow of black money. Casinos in the US continue to be the preferred destination of drug and organised crime money. I won't be surprised if a lot of black money is making its way to stock markets.

"What underpins all the scams, scandals and fixing is simple human greed. More the money, greater the greed. That's something no amount of regulation can handle :)"

But, as Amit says in reply to my mail, legalising betting is the best place to start. In his words: "Remove the stagnant water and there won't be so many mosquitos. There'll be still be some, and it'll be easier for the repellents to tackle."

On another tangent: I have a theory, and I don't have any historical evidence to back it up. The better the odds offered by a form of betting (that is based on chance and not events), the more likely that it will be fixed. The house must always win: the best way to win is either by loading the dice in your favour, or loading the odds in your favour. The operators of the Playwin probably won't need to fix the results, because the odds are overwhelmingly in favour of the house.

Saturday, September 17, 2005


Apples and oranges

A CPI MP, Gurudas Das Gupta, has demanded a probe into the stock market rally.

"What gives rise to serious suspicion is that while the price earning ratio for a firm like ONGC is 9 to 10 and SAIL is 3.6 to 4, the price earning ratio for Dr Reddy's Laboratory is 67 and for Bharati Televentures it is above 122."

Perhaps some one needs to remind him that one of the main reasons why ONGC and SAIL are undervalued is because they are PSUs. The market will give PSUs higher PE multiples if they are disinvested. And the Left doesn't want that. So why complain about lower valuations.

Second, comparing a SAIL and Bharti is like comparing apples and oranges. SAIL is a PSU, a commodity stock and its business is cyclical in nature. Stock markets always give lower valuations to such stocks. May be Bharti is overvalued. But stock markets discount the future. And Bharati is at the vanguard of a telecom revolution sweeping the country. So, I am not really surprised by the difference in valuations.

I personally own SAIL and not Bharti, which I wouldn't buy at present valuations.

Friday, September 16, 2005


Curioser and curioser

Forensic lab says Salman Tapes are fake. The Hindustan Times asks five relevant questions, putting the blame squarely on the Mumbai cops. (I can't find a link to it online)
Interestingly, additional commissioner Bishnoi said that the police wouldn't investigate the role of any officer now that the tapes have been found to be fake.
Why not? There are important questions that need to be investigated.
Where did HT get the tapes from? If it got it from the police, fake or not, they must be investigated.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Brotherly love

She is 19. He is 19. According to Indian laws, they can't marry. So, she marries said he's elder brother to be able to live in the same house as her yet underage beau. The elder brother has promised a divorce after two years.

That's brotherly love for you.


No pied pipers here!

Delhi's rat-catching department hasn't caught a rat for over a decade.

Link via


News in briefs

"'You can wear someone else's blue jeans or shirt, but you need your own underwear,' said Kay Barbour who, along with Robin Nichols has organized a drive to collect the items for thousands of people who fled Louisiana or were evacuated to Houston. "


Tiny tot, big strides

He runs for 10 hours and over 48 km everyday. He is just three years old. And eyeing a Guinness record.

Monday, September 12, 2005


Sweetening the deal

As I stepped out of Big Bazaar on Sunday evening, a youth approached me with an intersting offer. A free lifetime credit card from ICICI Bank. What's the catch I asked him. No catch, sir. You don't just get a free card, you will also get a year's supply of sugar (1 kg a month), a shopping coupon worth Rs 250 and free petrol worth Rs 200.

Is this for real?

I wish HDFC would offer aata with its credit card, and Stanchart dal...

Saturday, September 10, 2005


What's the most stolen object in Mumbai?

Not mobile phones. Not jewellery. But manhole covers, says this report.

As many 1500 manhole covers are stolen in Mumbai each year. According to the report, that's Rs 75 lakh down the drain.

That translates to Rs 5000 per cover. Are they that expensive?


No such luck!

A town in in Ireland had gained reputation as a lucky place after many residents won the lottery. A scientist has now proved with "statistical precision" that the town's luck is just a myth.

His conclusion: fortune favours the brave.

Friday, September 09, 2005


That old bogey again!

"Bookie-turned-film producer Jagdish Sodha paid Rs 8 lakh to a Lankan spin bowler in September 2004 to fix matches in the ICC Knock-Out Series tournament then on in England, said former joint commissioner, crime, Dr Satyapal Singh," reports Mumbai Mirror.

I have several questions about this:
1. Shouldn't the former joint commissioner be naming the spinner? This merely casts the net of suspicion on all Lankan spinners.
2. If he doesn't know who the spinner is shouldn't he wait till he knows for sure?
3. Would a cricket player fix a match for Rs 8 lakh?
4. Shouldn't this matter have been reported to the ICC or the Sri Lankan board?
5. Will we ever get to the bottom of the betting scandals in cricket?

Thursday, September 08, 2005


Do not go gentle into that good night!

Is the end nigh for Sourav asks Harsha.

"It is increasingly looking like a sunset for Ganguly and he will have to do something exceptional in the two tests against Zimbabwe to convince people, and especially himself, that there is another dawn. Against a lesser player the goodbye chit would be on its way already and the reason it hasn’t yet been sent is that another one-day giant hasn’t yet appeared."

He just may extend his run with a couple of big ones against a team in complete disarray. For new talent to blossom, they need sunlight, which is being blotted out by some of the big oaks.


Finding Cause

'Arafat died of AIDS, poisoning or an infection: Reports', is the headline for this article in the Hindustan Times.

The lead graf promptly contradicts the headline: "Yasser Arafat's medical records do not give conclusive results regarding what caused his death, The New York Times and Haaretz newspapers reported on Thursday..."

As if the confusion over the cause of death were not enough, the last para of the article confuses the reader even more.

"Arafat's personal doctor, Ashaf al-Kurdi, who did no treat Arafat in his final weeks, said that he knows French doctors found the AIDS virus in Arafat's blood, Haaretz reported. The virus given to Arafat by Israel was send to disguise poisoning, he said, according to the newspaper."

Go figure!


A Bunch of Chokers?

Is the Indian cricket team made up of a bunch of chokers?

The short answer is no. The Indian team is simply not good enough to win tournaments. The tag of chokers is just so much media-psycho babble. We have lost to better teams, who played better cricket consistently.

If India were to lose to weaker teams in finals, I would stomach the choker tag. But we have always lost to teams that outplayed us not just in the finals, but even in the league games.

In the just concluded series, India was beaten by New Zealand in the league match when the latter played with a full strength team. We did beat New Zealand once, but they were playing without Shane Bond and Daniel Vettori, easily their best bowlers.

Let’s consider a few past series where India lost in the finals.

The Indian Oil Series, July-August 2005 (India, Sri Lanka, West Indies)

India lost twice to Sri Lanka in the league games, before losing the final. So where’s the question of choking. It lost to a team that had already beaten it twice. And the other team in the series, West Indies, was playing without its best bat, Lara.

Asia Cup, July 2005

In the lead-up to the Asia Cup final, India lost to both Sri Lanka and Pakistan once, and beat the former once. India also beat minnows UAE and Bangladesh to qualify for the final. No surprises that it lost to Sri Lanka in the final.

Note: We also failed to qualify for a number of finals in between -- such as The ICC Champions Trophy and The Videocon Cup in Amsterdam. No question of choking there.

VB Series, January 2004

In the VB Series, India lost thrice to Australia and beat them just once in the prelims. Predictably, India lost the first two of the best-of-three finals comprehensively.

A choker is someone who, overawed by a big match situation, fails to play to potential. But does India have the potential, in the first place?


What a tangled web we weave!

Don't try this at home!

A German woman had a problem with spiders in her home. To kill them, she first tried dousing them with hairspray. When that failed, she used her cigarette lighter to set them on fire. It worked. The spiders are gone. So is her family home


Online V Print

An interesting read, from Tim Porter's blog, First Draft.

Ten reasons for reading a newspaper and ten reasons for reading a news site.

What do you prefer?

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