Opinions
  • Exhibit A is an international sportsman at the very peak of his career. Exhibit B is a middle-class man who's been dealt a series of cruel blows, and is beginning to feel that life is not worth living. The sportsman attracts multi-million-dollar endorsements and makes it to the cover of several magazines, including the one he most covets, Sports Illustrated. The middle-class man considers slashing his wrists, but has too many responsibilities to give up so easily. So he makes a journey to an acclaimed godman, whose blessings alone have been known to turn lives around. Sure enough, things take a turn for the better. Meanwhile, the sportsman's career starts going downhill.

    What do these two stories have in common? Plenty. They are, in a statistical sense, the same story. Let me explain.

    The sportsman is a victim of The Sports Illustrated Jinx. This is an urban legend based on the observation that a disproportionate number of individuals and teams who appear on the cover of Sports

    Read More »from The Godman’s Blessing and the Sportsman’s Curse
  • India’s Inflation Kool-Aid

    India's economic growth is measured in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as reduced by Inflation. So we grew — according to the recent CSO release — a whopping 20% on GDP last year (2010-11), and because inflation was, well, pretty high, we grew a only a "real" 8.6% in 2011. How can you grow 20%  but only really grow 8.6%? Inflation eats up the rest — and in a way "deflates" the GDP.

    This year, the GDP deflator is at 11%+. We have had only six higher figures in the past since 1961, and this year is the highest since 1991 (13.73%). But can you really rely on it?

    The GDP deflator is calculated in a complex way, but according to Deepak Mohanty, Executive Director at RBI, much of that is based on inflation of the WPI — or the Wholesale Price Index. This is the measure of Wholesale prices of commodities and manufactured goods across the country, released monthly.

    There are multiple price indexes in India: The WPI and four different indexes of Consumer Price Inflation (CPI). This is

    Read More »from India’s Inflation Kool-Aid
  • The Case Against The Bhushans

    Less than a fortnight after the opening meeting of the Lok Pal Bill joint committee, three trends have become visible.

    First, the UPA government is doing its best to muddy the waters, to discredit the civil society activists and to further the impression that corruption is a universal phenomenon and not one that can be pinned on the Congress-led administration alone.

    Corporate and political interests have coalesced here. For instance, the clumsy attempt to "fix" the Bhushans — father Shanti Bhushan and son Prashant Bhushan — with a mysterious CD that appears to play doctored conversation is a typical dirty tricks operation. No laboratory, other than one run by the Union government, has authenticated the CD as genuine. That aside, various versions of the CD seem to be doing the rounds of New Delhi.

    As is well known, the CD makes it seem the Bhushans offered to bribe a judge on behalf of Mulayam Singh Yadav, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister, and his then man Friday, Amar Singh. The

    Read More »from The Case Against The Bhushans
  • Fast Food and Smoking Guns

    When Ronald Reagan was wheeled into surgery after being shot in March 1981, he was minutes from death, but hadn't been bled of his sense of humour. Addressing the assembled team of doctors he said he hoped they were Republicans. The surgeon who would save the President's life, a liberal democrat named Joseph Giordano, replied, "We are all Republicans today". The formula 'We are all X today' is now commonly used to signify identification with a group in crisis. 2011 has thus far proved a prime year for deploying the phrase. In early January, we were all Tunisians; later that month, we were Egyptians, standing in spirit with protestors in Tahrir Square. In early February, Yemen briefly commanded our attention, but Libya soon took over the headlines. The Japanese earthquake and tsunami drew our gaze eastward in March before the World Cup's knockout stage brought it home. Anna Hazare cannily postponed his fast to preempt a clash with the infinitely more compelling drama of the India - Sri Read More »from Fast Food and Smoking Guns

  • It makes me really sad that there are so many people in the world today who find it fashionable to go against our culture. They go in for surgery and allopathic medicine instead of ayurveda, eat rotis and rice instead of traditional Indian grains, and some people don't even wear pottus.

    All these are passive ways of abandoning our culture. But some people go even further and criticise and mock it. For example, there are some who claim that astrology has no scientific basis and doesn't work.

    This is nonsense. If astrology didn't work, why have we been using it for six thousand years? And if it has no scientific validity, why is it so accurate?

    And besides, the scientific concept behind astrology is quite clear. All the heavenly bodies emit rays which fall on the earth and affect us. Gravity is part of the same rays which is why the earth goes around the sun and the moon causes tides. Obviously planets that are even larger than the moon will have an even bigger effect on us.

    But people

    Read More »from The Homoeopathic Basis of Astrology
  • A few days ago I saw an old Alfred Hitchcock interview in a documentary titled "The Men who Made the Movies" (you can watch it here). Among other things, the Master discusses his method of preparing such sequences as the shower killing — made up of 70 "pieces of film" — in Psycho.

    "It has to be written out on paper," he says, "You can't just walk on to the set ... well, you can if you want to..." (disdainful shrug) "... but I prefer to do it this way. However tiny and however short the pieces of film are, they should be written down just in the same way as a composer writes down those little black dots from which we get beautiful sound."

    As you can tell, Hitchcock was fussy about getting a film ready long before the actual shoot took place — which makes sense of his famous remark that he never felt the need to look into the camera on the sets, and that he often felt bored and distracted during the actual filming. "I almost wish I didn't have to go to the set and shoot the film, because

    Read More »from “An essential moment, beyond all the formal planning”

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