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Shockingly poor technique

August 3, 2011 1 comment

I happened to watch a bit of Indian batting in the ongoing India-England test series, but it was just a series of cringe-worthy moments one after the other. Mukund, Raina, Yuvraj and Dhoni – these guys just have no clue about batting technique at all. They don’t even know the basics of batting in test cricket. I don’t know if it is the ODIs or the T20s that have ruined these guys, but if this is what mainstream Indian batting is going to look like when Dravid, Laxman and Tendulkar retire, then India would be lucky to be rated in Top 5 test teams, leave alone being the best.

Consider the Terrorist

June 21, 2010 Leave a comment

It turns out that terrorists may be nitwits. Sample these:

… it’s fair to say that the Taliban employ the world’s worst suicide bombers [in Afghanistan]: one in two manages to kill only himself. And this success rate hasn’t improved at all in the five years they’ve been using suicide bombers, despite the experience of hundreds of attacks—or attempted attacks. In Afghanistan, as in many cultures, a manly embrace is a time-honored tradition for warriors before they go off to face death. Thus, many suicide bombers never even make it out of their training camp or safe house, as the pressure from these group hugs triggers the explosives in suicide vests. [The Atlantic]

Of course, a bullet fired from a nitwit’s gun would be just as deadly as one from (say) Sheldon Cooper’s gun.

Categories: Links, Random Thoughts

Tendulkar Reaches IPL Semifinals

April 12, 2010 8 comments

Really, how else would you describe the event of Mumbai Indians (MI) becoming the first team to confirm a place in the IPL 2010 semifinal lineup?

He has scored about 27% of the runs scored by MI, and is the highest run scorer in the tournament so far (512, strike rate 139.5). In 11 outings, he has been Player of the Match 4 times. And while he is leading the tally in the number of 4s hit (71), he has only hit 3 sixes (2 of them came in the last over of the 11th match).

The numbers are amazing enough but, what is really astounding is that he shows no sign whatsoever of the slightest dip in his hunger for more.

On April 24, he will turn 37. And 2010 is turning out to be one of his best years. Except for winning an ODI World Cup, he has no other real milestone left to cross. So, what is it that not only keeps him going but going like this?

I don’t have an answer to that, of course. Perhaps, as he has said several times, it is simply his love for the game. I just hope that this love stays exactly as it is.

Categories: Random Thoughts Tags: , ,

Things People Write on Currency Notes

February 1, 2010 2 comments

I am not sure if this is a global thing, but the practice of writing stuff down on currency notes is rather widespread in India. If you are reading this post in India, check your wallet right now. I am sure that half the notes would have something scribbled on them.

The most common thing is the count of notes. Usually, when people are making stacks of 100 notes, they mark the count on the topmost note. In my wallet right now, I have 7, 49, 84 and 100 marked on notes. Another common thing is names and/or phone numbers.

But it is a rare note that is blessed by a poetic verse or a shopping list. I got this one as change a couple of days ago:

I didn’t even know there was such a deodorant on the market!

I have edited out the mobile number scribbled on the note. Also check out the serial number – a pretty good hand to hold while playing Liar’s Poker.

Now, what do you have in your wallet right now?

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Categories: Humour, Random Thoughts Tags: ,

Bugging Me

January 27, 2010 4 comments

I interrupt my holiday to bring you this bug from your nightmares:

Now, my question is: what the heck is it called? Can someone point me to a Wikipedia entry on this creature? The only other information I can give you is that this thing is about the size of a housefly (Musca domestica). They have been invading our house for several days now, and not knowing their identity is bugging me a lot.

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Categories: Random Thoughts

How I Became a Cricket Fan

October 31, 2009 3 comments

Over at Smoke Signals, Prem Panicker has published an American’s account of becoming a Cricket fan. Prem adds:

On Cricinfo Gopal Rangachary talks of how he became a cricket fan. Strikes me, though we are all fans of the game, each of us acquired our fanboy status in different ways. Chikodi and Gopal have their stories; what’s yours? [Smoke Signals]

It reminded me of of my own entry into Cricket-fandom.

I was a voracious reader from an early age, and reading a newspaper was part of my daily routine by the time I was 7-8 years old. At the time, it was just the regional Hindi newspaper. I especially liked to read the op-ed page and the serialized comic-strip that this paper published. A lot of this reading was beyond my intellectual grasp, but I read it all anyway because there was something new to read every day – something that was not possible with books, though they had their own place in my reading scheme.

It must have been either around the time Tendulkar and Kambli created a new world record, or when Tendulkar played his first series in Pakistan (or was selected for it – my memory is fuzzy on the exact details). There was a newspaper article about Tendulkar, and what a phenomenal talent he was at such an early age. The article also carried a photo of Tendulkar.

It was that photo that made me think – if that young kid (just a few years older than me) can do it, then so can I. Parents were urged to purchase a bat and a ball, cousin sister was recruited to play against me (“one more thing for you to better me at“), stumps were drawn on a wall with a piece of red brick, and a new Cricket fan was born.

A few years down the line, and I was setting 3:00 AM alarms to watch the action in Australia (also triggering my English-learning in order to understand the commentary). A while later, I bunked school for the first (and last, I swear) time to watch a game, which turned out to be the game in which Tendulkar hit his first ODI century.

I could go on and on, but perhaps this should be kept to a personal story about one’s initiation to the game. The longer story of being obsessed with Cricket (going to the extent of watching Bangladesh-Zimbabwe Test matches) is for another day.

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Say ‘No’ to Paper Audit Trail for EVMs

September 9, 2009 3 comments

The controversy over Indian EVMs seems to have been taken out of the hands of loonies, but is far from over. Writing in Indian Express, Coomi Kapoor demands creation of a paper trail for EVM votes. The article is all over the place, and full of ill-considered comparisons of EVMs (thankfully, not with American EVMs, though Microsoft has been quoted). Here is the money-shot recommendation made by an unnamed “Election Watch body in Andhra Pradesh”:

The best solution is a combination of technology and paper. Most of our population will never ever be comfortable with technology. So no matter what security experts may say about the security of EVMs, the vast majority of our citizens will have a lingering doubt. Hence, we believe that each time we cast our vote, a small printer connected to the EVM also prints out the vote, not the name of the candidate but the number of the candidate in different languages. This would make the design of the system much simpler as the EVM per se does not know the name of the candidate. The person who is voting can obtain a physical confirmation that the machine printed the number of the button he or she pressed and then this ballot paper can be placed in the ballot box and sealed. A physical counting of votes can only be ordered by a court of law. This process may increase the cost of the election process, waste more paper, be environment unfriendly but we believe it will set all nay sayers to rest. [Indian Express]

So, what happens when a Congress supporter in LK Advani’s constituency casts his vote for BJP, and then waves the printed receipt in front of election officials and journalists saying that the EVM has been hacked by Advani’s supporters (by Gujarati NRIs, who seem to have a great deal of experience in hacking EVMs in the great nation of USA)?

Feel free to change the names of parties/candidates in the example above to suit your political inclinations.

How would you deal with this? Would you videotape everyone’s vote, and then keep the tape secret? But if your entire premise is that EVMs can be hacked, how can you be sure that video cameras (which are far more complicated than EVMs) would not be hacked? If you already suspect that the secure storage of EVMs is not secure enough, how would you convince yourself that the video tapes have not been tampered with during storage?

Or, would you just abandon the EVMs and go back to the days of paper ballots?

I have a feeling that that is precisely what objections to the EVMs are about.

That is what Amrinder Singh (of Congress, please note) wanted in 2001. And if you take away all the fluff, that is what some losers are demanding in 2009.

To be fair, some commentators perhaps have a genuine fear of technology. The Election Commission must do everything in its power to demonstrate the credibility of EVMs to the electorate on a periodic basis. It should allow whichever party wants to inspect the EVMs, even if sometimes they don’t even turn up. It should also consider using EVMs for elections right down to the Panchayat level (is that done already?) to build trust among people. Remember, the smaller the electorate, the easier it is for individual voters to confirm their mental calculations about the victors and the margin of victory, and be satisfied about the EVMs.

And as I have said before, the Election Commission must release the source code of the embedded software in public domain.

But it must make no compromises on the use of EVMs. If our democracy has to remain healthy, the EVMs must continue to be used. A return to the paper-based system is a return to the days of goons, violence, needless deaths and yes, rigged elections.

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