Saturday, December 17, 2005


Gambhir got out to a short ball, a couple of minutes after my last post. Predictable.


The effect of stats and computers on cricket is obvious. Bowlers are well-prepared and so are the batsmen. This is day 1 of the India-Sri Lanka test, and every ball to Gambhir so far has been short of length (he's uncomfortable against that kind of bowling). Every ball to Sehwag has been on or outside the off-stump, leaving him, a known area of weakness.

That's why surprises - like Pathan's promotion in the batting line-up in Delhi - make a big difference. And that's why pitches tailor-made for your team's strengths are important, and that's why sides don't lose too often at home.

Cricketers are trained to bat straight, and bowl line and length. Individuals - especially Pakistanis - come up with ideas from time to time: the reverse swing, the reverse sweep, the slower ball...

But teams don't seem to be coming up with too many creative 'plays'. Can't cricket have plays and counter-plays like real team sports (basketball, soccer or American football)?

BJP vs Congress - Who Has the Better Bench Strength

If you read between the lines, it seems like what remains of RSS is a pretty small bunch of old hands, a handful of sadhus etc. and not much else. The best right-wing talent is with the BJP, and the BJP is basically Advani, Vajpayee and, in Gujarat, Modi. There are folks like Arun Jaitley, Pramod Mahajan, Uma Bharti, Govindacharya etc who form the second line of leadership. There does not seem to be much more bench strength in the party.

At this point, both Congress and BJP seem out of leadership stock. There's no concerted attempt on either side to cultivate the 'next generation'. No Barack Obama's on their horizon either.

The politically-active NGO sector has no shortage of top-quality talent - people like Aruna Roy of the Right to Information fame, Magsaysay award winner Sandeep Pandey and hundreds of other charismatic, grassroots-trained activists whom either party would be smart to co-opt.

How the Legislative Process Affects Us

There's been a retrogression in the greencard process just when it seemed it was getting close for me. Now some Senators have a recapture clause (8001 - to make more visas available and counter the effects of retrogression) to the Senate Budget Bill, but the House did not pass that measure. A conference committee will work on the bill and try to hammer out a compromise.

Indians, usually quite oblivious to the nitty-gritty of the US political process, have suddenly gotten very very active and are lobbying lawmakers actively. There's a webfax website set up and the level of activity on immigration-related forums remains high.

Whether this effort succeeds or fails, it is already educating desi techies in the workings of Washington: I had no idea how conference committees worked - now I do; I had no idea who is on the House Judiciary Committee - now I do...

Some of the guys leading this campaign are bound to become lawmakers and lobbyists in the coming years.

Selling for Dummies

Awesome book - the tape I got from the library is pretty bad. I am going to borrow the book soon. I wonder if business schools have courses in sales. They should.

White Teeth

I've started listening to Zadie Smith's 'White Teeth' and it is living up to its promise. Rollicking fun... and I haven't even finished listening to one full side of the 16 tapes.

Delhi is huge!

There are so many townships and enclaves and nagars around Delhi, it's unbelievable. Look at this news item. I now know where Patel Nagar is, but Chittaranjan Park? Kohat Enclave? I doubt if there are very many living souls who've been to all of Delhi's different appendages.


Seems like the cool 'bird's eye' views at Microsoft's are from Pictometry. Microsoft has a 5-year exlusive contract with them and Pictometry is busy criss-crossing the country these days. They take 3 passes over a particular place with cameras obliquely positioned. Very powerful technology.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

It's a strange book. I had tried reading it a couple of times in the past, but had never made much headway with it. This time I got an audiobook version, and managed to complete it. The narrator was very good, and it was probably an abridged version that he was narrating. I confess I didn't get a whole lot out of this book. The author focuses on the concept of 'quality' - how quality separate the objective assessment of objects from a subjective assessment. That much I understood. There were sections on Aristotle vs Plato and rhetoric vs dialectic that completely went over my head.

I've been reading up on the Internet today, and it seems like this was an autobiographical book. I had no idea!

Was this book written to counter the anti-materialism of the '60s? It seems like an attempt at bringing a synthesis of materialism and anti-materialism through 'quality'. Is that the idea?

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