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Urbanomics has a rather interesting post titled, Why the 1 lakh car is not smart economics? It argues that the costs for soceity as a whole will be much greater than the benefits for the individuals.

But I have a few issues with a couple of claims that Gulzar makes in his post. He states that with a car as cheap as this customers
will be encouraged to swap their more fuel efficient two wheelers for the status conferring, but more fuel consuming cars.

Social status does depend on scarcity. If every moma and papa is going to go around with this car then it looses its social status conferring abilities. Moreover the question is between a bike which at about 60k will be fairly high and a car that is right at the bottom of the ladder. Which will be a higher denominator for status. probably the car, but there is huge room for skeptics.

One more issue that this car will face is that if they are targeting the budget conscious customer, then that individual is not just worried about the costs of the vehicle, gasoline prices will be inevitably be considered too. A car is not going to be half as economical as a bike.

I can't be sure if these factors will be enough to counter the kind of price that has been set by the company, but one can always hope.
Aussies bashing teams off the field is as much of a bore as what they do to them on the field. The problem, is that nobody has anything credible to say anything against them. How can you diss somebody who kicks your ass every time you face him?

The answer was to discard the hate and show them some gandhigiri, desi ishtyle. And jay Ram Reddy showed us how its done.

Reddy, after winning an auction for Ponting's picture, went forward and landed a kiss on his cheek. Here is the video:

When asked for the reason he said:
He is a great captain - and our Indian culture is to kiss him.
After the screams were abated and the saliva sank in, Ponting realized what lay in store for him. The better you perform Mr. Ponting, greater will be the proof of your greatness. Mr. Reddy is already salivating.
The sun reports on the formula for perfect boobs[NSFW]. Its goes like this:
The ideal is a 45 to 55 per cent proportion — that is, the nipple sits not at the halfway mark down the breast, but about 45 per cent from the top — and the nipple is pointing slightly skyward.

All this is very good as long as nobody comes with formulas for the penis, the horror will be unbearable.

Leher Kala, has an article in IE on how parents are finding it difficult to get their toddlers into schools. She states that the reason is scarcity:

Delhi has approximately 2000 private schools, which receive an astounding 3000 plus applications per year, all competing for just 200 seats.

Umm.. sounds fishy no? 2000 private schools and 200 seats? Every school has 0.1 seats? WTF?

In a rather scary story, a child in China was diagonised as having grass growing in her heart. The explanation being offered is:
The baby must have inhaled some grass seed into her lungs. The seed, finding the environment suitable, started to grow.

Doesn’t sound true at all, grass needs sunlight to grow and lungs are not the sunniest places around. But then, my expertise in such matters is rather limited.

Head over to FT for a neat flash animation on the housing mortgage problems in the U.S. One of the simplest explanations around. (Via Urbanomics)

Want more forest cover? Fuck for it. Totally NSFW. Probably the most satisfying idea to save the enviornment. Ever. (Via The Madhat)

Posting has been very slow on the blog because my net connection was down since a week. Why? Because a bunch of monkeys ripped off the cables. Twice. Seriously.
In the current scenario when people are increasingly turning ad blind, it is imperative for companies that they devise novel methods to advertise their wares. And the single biggest tool they use these days is the media. If effectively used then you can get advertising worth millions for free. The key point is to be remarkable, to be newsworthy. To deliberately do stuff so that you catch the media’s eye.

I saw a rather wonderful example of that today. Harrod’s has hired an Egyptian cobra to protect a pair of ruby- sapphire- and diamond-encrusted Rene Caovilla sandals. Totally frivolous you say, so what? Almost every single newspaper seems to have that story. And that’s publicity worth lakhs for a few hundred bucks...

The one advice every single self help book in the world seems to have is this: Imagine you are at your funeral. All the people who were important in your life have gathered together. One by one each of them gets up to speak a few lines about you. Now what would you like to hear them say? Now consider your actions. Are they good enough to elicit paeans of praise from everybody? And then we are advised to plan our life so that people will say what we would like them to say.

But if newspaper obituaries are anything to go by, then this is one thing that people shouldn’t worry about. Nobody seems to see anything negative in anybody once they die. All their sins seem to be washed off or are just hinted at. Qualities which they never possessed are bestowed on them.

The Indian express published an obituary of Namdeo Salubai Dhasal today. It ends with these lines: To this day the imagery he introduced into Marathi poetry remains path-breaking. How about an example of his imagery? Here you go:

These great intellectuals are roaming with blazing torches in their hands/ through lanes and bylanes, chawls and chawls/ claiming that they understand the darkness in our huts, where even rats die of hunger/ they are great like horny whores/ those who don’t know that there is darkness under their arses/ can exhibit coquettish excellence with ease.

Darkness under their arses. Heh. Such imagery.

The single most frequently used tool by our media to prove a point is sensationalism. Pick up a story or a fact, knead it, buttress it, bake it until it rises up to occupy a volume much greater than the original. Let us take the example of farmer suicides which for most newspapers is damning proof of the government’s failure to provide for them.

When a headline screams: Gujarat Police admit 366 farmers’ suicides; the obvious reaction is one of dismay at the government’s apathy towards its citizens. After reading that headline most people would dismiss it with a weary sigh. But if you are one of the few who do make the effort to read it, then you come to know something totally contrary to your pre conceived notions: Only 16 of these have been classified as having committed suicide over crop failure or financial reasons.

“Government figures!” you scream. They certainly have an incentive to under report suicide figures, but even if the real figures came out, I doubt if they will be earth shatteringly terrible.

There are two myths that are repeated in all these farmers and suicides stories:

1. A huge number of farmers commit suicide. Not so. Approximately 50% of India’s populace is involved in agriculture, its obvious to expect the suicide rates to be heavily skewed towards farmers. But a look at this Chart proves that this is clearly not the case:

2. Almost all farmers take their lives for financial reasons. Probably false again. Let us have a look at the major reasons for suicide:

  • Family conflicts, domestic violence, academic failures, and unfulfilled romantic ideals.
  • Voracious appetite for high-end consumer goods spurred by moneylenders and hire-purchase schemes.
  • The wide gap between people's aspirations and actual capabilities.
  • The disintegration of traditional social support mechanisms as was prevalent in joint families.Emergence of a trend towards nuclear families, alcohol abuse, financial instability and family dysfunction.
  • A growing population of the aged.
  • Failure of crops, huge debt burdens, growing costs of cultivation, and shrinking yield. [Link]

Aren't there equal chances of a farmer taking his own life for any of the reasons mentioned above? Then why should it be the financial reason alone?

This article is not an attempt to state that farmers are well off and that they do not need any assistance. I am just trying to prove that suicides rates are one of the worst metrics for an analysis of their situation.

(The image is via Maithri)

Ever since the day I got an internet connection at my place, I have been hooked to the blogosphere. My feed reader has had about 75 feeds for the last six months. As is to be expected, a large number of them are some of the biggest blogs around. Seeing their success, I often ask myself: Is this for real? Is it possible to be a top notch blogger even if I start now? Is the kind of traffic that the John Chows and Darren Rowses boast of possible without investing a buckteload of money? And last but not the least, can blogging earn me money?

Tomorrow I will start an experiment to try and get answers to these questions. Its duration will be three months. Within these three months, my aim will be to have 100 feed subscribers, an average daily traffic of 300 – 400 visitors and monthly revenue of $100 or above.

What will I do to reach this target? For starters I will post a minimum of three posts everyday. Each of these posts will be of 200 words or more. Link exchanges will be conducted with other willing bloggers on a regular basis. If and when an idea strikes, linkbaits will be prepared too. I will also make it a habit to comment on all the major blogs that I follow. Apart from the occasional link back, they can be good sources of traffic.

Revenues for the time being will be through two contextual ad programs: Google Adsense and Kontera Text Links. The ads will be optimized for maximum revenue potential. I am deliberately leaving ads off my front page in order to make it a better reading experience for my regular readers.

My current short term target is to have an average traffic of 100 readers per day by the first week of October. I also aim to reach the target of 40 feed readers by October the 7th. No monetary targets will be set for this month as it is too short a time frame to expect anything substantial. Weekly updates will be given on my progress.

Tonight will be spent on tweaking Adsense completing my blogroll so that I am all set to roll by tomorrow. To receive updates on my blogging project, grab my feed. Wish me luck.
Proof that we learn nothing from history. Heh:


Star in Your Own JibJab! It's Free!
Everybody, and I mean literally everybody has been making a fuss over the study that supposedly discovered the evolutionary reason behind men liking blue and women having a pink fetish. I declined making comments on this believing that discussing anything as silly as that would be giving it undeserved mindspace. But when every newspaper is running that load of bullshit, you just have to bring your pooper scooper out.

The first question that we have to address is: Does any such gender specific preference exist? From what i have observed the answer is a no. When pink shirts became a new fashion statement, the men who adopted them were variously branded as metrosexual or gay in the west. But when that happened in India, the media - except for some parts of the English media - was largely silent. The men took to it like people take to any new trend; some liked it some didn't. My point is that if at all there is a bias, then its largely a result of social conditioning. People tell you that guys are not supposed to like pink, the media tells you that pink is girly. Who wants to stand out? Everybody would rather blend in.

Also note this quote from the study:
The Chinese students showed a marked preference for red. As red symbolises luck and happiness in China, this indicates that cultural norms are also involved.

See? It is culture that is playing the major role here. Not genes.

Now for the rest of the claims that the story makes:

“The explanation might date back to humans’ hunter-gatherer days, when women were the primary gatherers and would have benefited from an ability to home in on ripe, red fruits.”
Flawed. The study just proves that women like pink. It says nothing about their ability to detect pink. By the very same logic why do men prefer blue? Were they delegated the task of looking for blueberries?

The second supposed 'reason':
Pinks are also involved in showing changes in emotional states, and might be picked up preferentially by women. “Again, females may have honed these adaptations for their roles as care-givers and ‘empathisers’,” the researchers said.
Blushing and other instances of the skin getting a shade of pink are evident only among people with pale skin. In a person with a darker skin tone such effects won't be visible. This supposed explanation thus conveniently ignores huge parts of humanity.

Its amazing that studies such as these receive funding. Mind boggling actually.

Update: Bad Science has a post on the same topic. Here is a quote from their article:
Back in the days when ladies had a home journal (in 1918) the Ladies Home Journal wrote: “There has been a great diversity of opinion on the subject, but the generally accepted rule is pink for the boy and blue for the girl. The reason is that pink being a more decided and stronger color is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.”

The Sunday Sentinel in 1914 told American mothers: “If you like the color note on the little one’s garments, use pink for the boy and blue for the girl, if you are a follower of convention.” Some sources suggest it wasn’t until the 1940s that the modern gender associations of girly pink became universally accepted.


Disclaimer: This critique is based totally on the Times Online version of the study. You have to pay up if you want the original research paper. Even if i had the money, it would go to a hosting plan for my blog and a box of ferrero rochers for me. No supporting researchers who waste money on stuff like that.

More: Joe Paoletti on Dressing For The Sexes.
Indiaholic will be going through a few design changes. Posting will be on a hold for a while.
The only valid censorship of ideas is the right of people not to listen.

-Tommy Smothers
Sonia Gandhi has been ranked 6th in the Forbes list of the most powerful women in the world. While she certainly deserves her place there, the reasons that Forbes gives for her selection are amusing:
Lawmakers recently elected Gandhi's choice for president, Pratibha Patil, in a historic vote seen as a step forward for India's women and girls who endure daily discrimination.

Do your research people. Pratibha was not even considered when negotiations between the Left and the Congress began. But when the Left rejected every single candidate proposed by the Congress, Ms Patil was brought in. Why? Because the Left wouldn't dare oppose her candidature: Anybody anti Patil can very easily be branded as anti women.

She was not Sonia's choice for the post of the President, she was Sonia's way to avoid a confrontation with the left. The claim that all of this has anything to do with women's empowerment is of course a load of monkey poop.

Sonia is the among the most powerful women in the world because she runs the government of the world's biggest democracy. Thats it. Nothing more, nothing less.
All those little kids in N.Y who are looking forward to one more year of dropped erasers, and the accidental views of panties as you bent down to pick them up are in for a rude surprise: Peeping into women's clothing may soon be banned.