Friday, October 28, 2005


Kidney hunters stalk quake survivors

"Hundreds of brokers working for unscrupulous private clinics are roaming in different parts of the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) to 'hunt' for potential kidney sellers."

Rediff has a special story on the kidney mafia that is stalking quake-hit regions.

"This reporter was astonished to see an ad—"Goorda Bara-e-Frokht [Kidney for Sale] outside a worn out tent in Bagh (a village in Pakistani Kashmir)."


Pizza pizzazz

Secret of the Indian team's success?

After-match pizzas with heaps of cheese.

Link via Sight Screen.


Sex I.D.

The Sex ID test is a series of visual challenges and questions used by psychologists in the BBC One television series, Secrets of the Sexes.
Here's what the test is all about:
"Get a brain sex profile and find out if you think like a man or a woman.
"See if you can gaze into someone's eyes and know what they're thinking.
"Find out why scientists are interested in the length of your fingers.
"See how your results relate to theories about brain sex."

My brain score (that is where I fall in the male-female brain continuum): Bang on zero (the score is not as bad as you think).


Picking stocks, finding duds

Here are some of the stupidest reasons to buy stocks, and some of the most common too.

I must admit, I have been stupid a few times :)

Thursday, October 27, 2005


When is a bubble a bubble?

"Anyone who bought after you bought," suggests Erin McKean, editor in chief of the Oxford American Dictionary in Chicago, "bought in a bubble."

The New York Times blows some real estate bubbles.


It's 'sumpnspicious', better have a 'planbdextrous'!

"Five hundred Washington buses and about 90 subway cars now carry advertising posters with creative dictionary definitions of made-up words urging commuters to keep an eye out for danger and respect fellow travelers on the busy "Metro" system."

Sumpnspicious is a play on the slang pronunciation of "something suspicious". It is defined as "n. (noun) unattended package or odd, unusual behavior that is reported to a bus driver, train operator ... station manager or Metro Police."

PlanBdextrous: adj. (adjective) able to plan an alternate route home in case Metro is inaccessible due to unforeseen circumstances.


Pandemic is not endemic, or an epidemic

"Words have meanings. Fancy particles from Greek or Latin need to be handled with care. Otherwise verbal confusion may become pandemic."
Ruth Walker's column in Christian Science Monitor.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Turn left, turn right, dance now, says the remote to the human

Bal Thackeray would love this.

From Fark


Hitter, with a pinch of salt

The media is going ga-ga over Irfan Pathan's pyrotechnics as a pinch-hitter. Everyone is talking about what a brilliant, innovative strategy it was.
Sure, Irfan Pathan has potential to be a great all-rounder. Sure, his elevation to one-drop succeeded like a dream.
But does one swallow a summer make? For every innovation that succeeded, many have failed gloriously.
And, I thought the experiment of Dhoni as pinch-hitter was a big success. After all, he scored a scroching 140-odd in that role. So, where does he bat now?
As I was walking out of my house on my way to work, Irfan Pathan was making his way to the middle. And I had thought I would blog a post about whether shuffling Dhoni around the order so much is a good thing. Then Pathan fired, and I had no heart to argue with success.
But too much is being made out of one fine innings (in fact, one newspaper went to the extent of suggesting that the move could prove pivotal in India's world cup campaign). Let's wait and watch.
I would be only too happy if all that the media hopes for comes true.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


The fixing fixation

Police today arrested two bookies from here [Dehra Dun] when they were allegedly fixing the Nagpur one-dayer between India and Sri Lanka.


"Allegedly fixing the Nagpur one-dayer"? How exactly were they doing that?

Let's send out a bouquet to the Dehra Dun SSP. He should be declared man of the match.


What the Rs 1-lakh car could mean

Tata Motors has promised a Rs 1-lakh car on the roads by 2008.

If the car actually hits the roads and turns out to be a success, what will it mean for a city like Mumbai?

It will mean more vehicular traffic on the roads. And, considering the state of the infrastructure, more traffic snarls, more road rage.

It will mean more vehicular pollution.

And it could well run auto-rickshaws off the road.


Too much of a free thing

An interesting battle is brewing in the mobile industry.

GSM operators are objecting to Tata Indicom's offer of a pre-paid tariff plan that allows users to receive incoming calls free for two years even after they have exhausted their talktime.

Their objections: The ''non-stop mobile'' plan allows non-revenue generating users to be included in subscriber base reported by the company. Spectrum is allocated on the basis of subscriber figures. So, Tata Indicom will get more spectrum for these non-paying subscribers. But the government will not get any additional spectrum usage charges since these subscribers generate zero revenue.

Let's see where this goes.

Monday, October 24, 2005


Theatre Of The News

Interesting what two channel bigwigs have to say about the sensationalisation of news in this Outlook article.

" "Sensationalism is the key word, it's very much out of the closet," says Siddhartha Gupta, director, Channel 7. Sharma [Rajat Sharma, editor-in-chief, India TV] concurs: "The overall news market is getting shriller, smuttier. The perception is that sex and sleaze is the way to be. That's the form all other media are taking too." "

Elsewhere: " "Such news gets mentioned in print too. Why ask this [I assume 'this' refers to responsible reporting] of news channels alone?" says Yogesh Mawani, spokesperson for Star News. "


Movies, movies, movies

Search Engine Watch has a feature on the hidden power of that popular movie resource, The Internet Movie Database.

Another useful movie resource is MRQE (Movie Review Query Engine), a superb search engine for movie reviews. I use it often, especially before I order a DVD.


What's that in a helmet?

A motorcyclist with a pillion rider in a helmet loses control, crashes. He then leaves the pillion rider and flees. Turns out, the pillion rider is a corpse, with an adhesive tape stuck on his face, a knife wound in the forehead and strangulation marks.
It's never a good time to meet with an accident. But this is really poor timing.


Holy cow!

Man tries to shoot cow. Misses. Hits passing car. Bullet pierces door, and shatters the leg of a passenger.
Why would someone want to shoot a cow on a busy road?


Carrying coals to Newcastle!

Nothing makes sense in this article in the Times of India. The headline least of all: 'Indians get lost, say angry UK staff'. There are no disappearing desis, as far as I could tell. Maybe they mean: Get lost!, angry UK staff tell Indians. But that, too, is not explicit in the article.
If any of you can figure it out, I would be glad to hear about it.


A Google in the family

A couple in Sweden name their son Oliver Google Kai, after the search engine. The dad, a Ph.D. in search engine marketing, is crazy about Google.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


The Idiot Box

What's wrong with television channels, especially news channels, these days? In the afternoon, they spend hours covering an astrologer's prediction of his own death in Madhya Pradesh. Of course, the astrologer didn't keep his date with destiny, and channels flashed the message: "Kunjilal nahin mara" (Kunjilal did not die). Later in the day, they wasted hours of prime time, covering the moon rise (with special sections on: Tu hi mera chand, chand ka deedar, etc) and interviewing women, their in-laws, their husband, children, uncle, neighbours, dogs, etc for karwa chouth.
Do these events deserve such extensive coverage? Is that what people want to watch?
Give me Fame Gurukul and reruns of Friends, any day!


TV Death Watch That Never Was

An 'astrologer' in Madhya Pradesh predicts his own death. Thousands of fools flock to see it happen. Television channels in tow. In the afternoon of October 20, TV channels covered live the event that was supposed to happen but never did. Aaj Tak even had a panel discussion.

Of course, the astrologer lived ("Bala tali"), and the TV channels told his tale.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Stranger than fiction!

A bookstore in Kandivali, Mumbai, sells fixson and non-fixson books.

Monday, October 10, 2005


Link popularity works!

No prizes for guessing what the first result for a search for slimes of india on Google, Yahoo and MSN is.


Spelling bee in the bonnet

CBSE has devised a "scientific marking pattern".: if you can't spell, we won't cut any marks.

Here's the part that's really warped: "Kumar says today's children are "extremely weak" in spelling and he blames the "change in mode of teaching at schools" for this. Spelling and dictation classes are passe and the focus is on developing communication skills. "It is, therefore, wrong to penalise kids for spelling goof-ups, if they have the right answers."

Great! Instead of improving the standards of teaching, just relax the standards of evaluation.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


Encryption with Google

An interesting encryption puzzle using Google.

I couldn't crack it. The solution is in the comments, so if you want to take a crack at it unaided, don't read too deep into the comments.

Monday, October 03, 2005


Mount Probable

Just finished reading an absorbing book called Climbing Mount Improbable by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins.

This is a book I would highly recommend to everyone, especially in the light of the intelligent design versus evolution controversy in the United States.

Even for someone as science-challenged as I, and whose taste in reading does not extend to anything more cerebral than John Grisham, it was a riveting read.

Dawkins explains the concept of natural selection lucidly. The thrust of the book is that over evolutionary time, nothing, no matter how complex it may seem today, is improbable. Natural selection is the designer and engineer, pushing species ever so gradually towards the higher reaches of the metaphorical Mount Improbable.

He explains in vivid detail the designing of the astonishing engineering marvel that is a spider’s web and the evolution of one of the most complex of organs, the eye, whose complexity has led many to believe that it could have only been designed by an unseen creator of supreme intelligence.

Dawkins reserves the best for the last. The relationship he describes between a fig and a wasp is a study in sublime partnership. The give-and-take relationship between the two is at one level mind-bogglingly complex and yet, at another, so fundamentally simple.

Read it!

Sunday, October 02, 2005


Tech that!

CNBC-TV18 has a tech show, which has a segment called Off The Web. The host was providing advice on how to use Google better.

Here are some samples:

Finding what acronyms stand for.

If you want to find what, for iinstance, LLB stands for, he recommends using the following syntax on Google.

LLB stands +for

That's hardly elegant. A better way would be to use the define syntax: define:llb

To research history, he recommends, using the following syntax:

intitle:history inurl:help

Again, not a very helpful tip. Because what you will end up getting is the help sections of sites on history.


Hung on dung

"There are no lights, fans, or modern appliances in the room. The floor is rough and has an inch-thick layer of cowdung spread evenly on a half-inch clay base. You are in a 1600 square foot flat at Malabar Hill belonging to diamond merchant Girish Shah."

Saturday, October 01, 2005


No sex please! Not even surveys about it!

Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued notices to leading weeklies India Today and Outlook for allegedly publishing obscene articles and sex surveys in their recent editions.

Here are the "obscene" surveys: Outlook | India Today (Requires subscription).


Loose talk

Silicon Valley looses jobs to India, reads an Economic Times headline.

The mistake occurs three times. On the home page, as the headline of the article, and in the title. Obviously someone doesn't know how to spell.

In the same edition, their lead headline reads: "Hey! Chennai calling u for job interviews".


Tikka masala, anyone?

The Oxford English Dictionary and the BBC have teamed up for a wordhunt.

"The OED seeks to find the earliest verifiable usage of every single word in the English language—currently 600,000 in the OED and counting—and of every separate meaning of every word...

"...The fifty words on the OED's BBC Wordhunt appeal list all have a date next to them - corresponding to the earliest evidence the dictionary currently has for that word or phrase. Can you trump that?"

Tikka masala is on the list: "Restaurant menus and reviews start to show chicken tikka masala from 1975, according to the latest research from the OED. Despite the dish's claim to be a great British national dish, the first recorded evidence comes from America. Something wrong here? Or not?"

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