Saturday, November 08, 2008

A Change is gonna come

USA finally elected an African-American president. Even if the pre-election polls virtually guaranteed an Obama victory, I was afraid of the so-called Bradley effect coming into play. It's the theory that "some voters tend to tell pollsters that they are undecided or likely to vote for a black candidate, and yet, on election day, vote for his white opponent.". Thankfully it never happened. Maybe it is a sign of the changing America.

At the same time I'm still surprised that after 8 years of Bush, after such a negative campaign run by the McCain camp and such a poor running mate choice of Sarah Palin, 46% of popular vote still went to the McCain-Palin ticket.

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Losing my Religion: A brilliant piece in Cricinfo about the beginning of the end of era in cricket. For all of us who grew up watching Sachin and Kumble and Dada and Dravid, cricket truly is never going to be the same. Change is happening in cricket too, a slightly sad one.

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Finally a word on the global financial meltdowns. Some say this is the death of the free-market ideology. Some say this is further proof that we need totally unregulated free markets. There a whole bunch of "I told you so" opinionating, and very less rational thinking. It should be interesting to see how the Obama government handles this. If more regulations indeed fixes the mess, does that mean the free-market experiment is over? I hope not, but would not be surprised if we come out on the other side with a completely different way of running the economy.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Nexus



Another cool data visualization tool. This one graphs out your friend network from Facebook. Here's my friend graph. It's is pretty cool how neat clusters are formed between different sets of your friends, like your old school buddies, undergrad/grad school friends, work friends/colleagues etc. And how some people act as "Connectors" across multiple groups. Studying social graphs has been around for a while now, and it is nice to have simple visualization apps which everyone can use easily.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Wordle



Here is a list of the most commonly used words on my blog, courtesy the cool app "Wordle". Looks like I talk a lot about Federer and science fiction and winning. Who would have thought....

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Xenophobia

But a fair-minded person can look around and see that it really is too crowded. Somebody needs to go. But who? Well, you start with the poorest. Or the newest. Or the one farthest away from yourself, however you define yourself. Immigrants hope, ultimately, to be in a position where they have the right to keep out new immigrants, to tell the next person to get off the train in your city that he must go back, he can't stay. That's when you know you're truly native.

From Maximum City by Suketu Mehta

So true for Mumbai or any other community/city/country in the world. This kind of xenophobia is a natural instinct, honed by generations of human evolution. Can we triumph over this instinct?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Wimbledon's gonna be fun...

We have 3 people who have a very good chance of winning at Wimbledon. We got Novak Djokovic, a great all-court player, the Aussie open champion and arguably the next world no. 1. We got Rafael Nadal, who is on cruise control right now, blowing past Federer in the French Open and then running though the draw on the grass courts at Queens. And then we got Roger Federer, the 5 time defending champion, one of the best tennis players of all time.

Going by current form, I would not bet against Nadal actually winning Wimbledon. He is playing the best tennis of life, even on grass, where he beat Roddick and Djokovic back-to-back at Queens. Federer, on the other hand had a horrible start to the year, but is playing much better now having made it to the French Open finals and winning the Gerry Weber Open on grass. Is this going to be the year Federer is finally toppled at Wimbledon? Or is Federer going to turn around the year, with his 6th consecutive victory at his favorite venue?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

RIP Arthur C. Clarke

One of my favorite science fiction authors, Arthur C. Clarke passed away yesterday. Back in my school days, his book 2001: A Space Odyssey (the book, not the movie) was probably the first book which had a major impact on me, challenging my preconceived notions about the universe, god, religion etc. It also got me hooked on science fiction books: the smart ones (Clarke, Asimov, Niven etc.), not the Star Wars/Star Trek types. I believe good science fiction is probably the only genre which lets you 'stretch your imagination' beyond what you thought was possible.

I leave you with a video he broadcasted on his 90th birthday, just 3 months ago, in which he talks about the past, present and especially the future. Great stuff.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Ring, meet Youtube

Another one from xkcd. Click to expand:

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I am not running for vice-president

I hate politicians and their doublespeak and false promises. Unfortunately, they are a necessary evil in today's world. I couldn't help posting this brilliant reply by Barack Obama to some cheap tactics Hillary Clinton employed to get one-up with the voters.



First seen here

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Gamesmanship... or cheating?

In today's ultra-competitive world of pro-sports, gamesmanship is becoming a bigger and bigger factor in the outcome of games. Here are some things which tread the fine line between gamesmanship and cheating:

1. Sledging (or trash talking) is rampant in cricket. The motive is most often to disturb the concentration of the batsman.
2. In tennis, players grunt loudly when hitting the ball, wear squeaky shoes or annoy the opponent by varying the number of times they bounce the ball before serving.
3. In NFL and college football, coaches routinely take a time-out just a split second before the opposing kicker is going to kick a game winning field goal, thus making him kick again.
4. In basketball, fouls are an integral part of the game plan, especially during the closing seconds.
5. In soccer, players fake or amplify injuries, to pressure the referee to penalize the opposing player.

I'm sure there are many other such instances in other sports too.

So, whats the solution? On one hand, we could have stricter rules to prevent these things from happening. Or we could adhere to the principle: If you can't take it, you don't deserve to be there. I think there is no simple solution to this problem. Making rules stricter would take the fun and emotions (and ultimately spectators) away from sports, while keeping them unchanged would lead to more and more players finding inventive ways of gamesmanship.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The African question

Here is a TED talk by Andrew Mwenda, about how the well-intentioned aid to African countries, in the long run, is actually hurting the people it is supposed to help. The solution, he proposes is to enable measures to boost entrepreneurship, rather than simply provide people with food and medicines. A thought-provoking talk, which at first might sound counterintuitive to many.



P.S.: For some reason the video does not show up in a feed reader, so view the post to view the video.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Sydney test

All hail Mr. Jonny Fairplay, Ricky Ponting :) :



The Sydney cricket test between India and Australia had some really shoddy umpiring. 7 decisions went against India, and one against Australia. Why does this happen to every touring team in Australia? Isn't it time for cricket to come out of its stone age 'gentleman's game' era and embrace the fiercely competitive world that professional cricket is?