From smack-bang in the middle of the bell curve

Archive for September, 2007|Monthly archive page

the Klu-Klux Klan and real-estate agents

In blah, sports, world cup on September 25, 2007 at 1:30 pm

Event 1a: Jan 22, 1973. The court rules in favour of Ms Roe (real name Norma McCorvey) in Wade v/s Roe

Event 1b: Twenty years later the crime rates in all of the United States plummeted to all time lows.

Steven Levitt (author of Freakonomics) said not only are the two events not unrelated, but that the first caused the second. The reason, the first event legalized abortion in the US.

Event 2a: Year 2007 – India wins the 20-20 world cup

Event 2b: Year 2020 (yes, the year). The venue: Helsinki, Finland. The ICC has progressed in its efforts to globalize the game. (Not much of a risk considering the expat asian population that fills the stadium). The crowd is a sea of the India tricolour and the green and white of Pakistan (The flags are now thin flexible LCDs that can be programmed to display varying flags and insignia. So, the uprooted asian can still be a part of the community and support the local team when their ‘birth country’ team isn’t involved).

The captains face up for the toss (sponsored by Pepsi). The spectators (on the ground and in their homes), watch expectantly as the coin drops with a faint thunk (toss-mike sponsored by Intex) on the grass. The Indian captain wins the toss and elects to bat. The giant screen shows “Uttam Singh – Mirpur”, picked by an instant draw who texted in ‘India – Bat’ using the code on the bottom of his Pepsi can. The prize, Hero Honda’s newest 1700 cc bike, ‘Manhood’. A commercial plays (on the giant screen and tvs worldwide), the Indian captain zooms up from the depths of a steep ravine, rescuing a ridiculously hot chick, brakes in front of the camera and says “Girls love riding on my manhood”.

The teams go back to their dugouts to await the results of the HDFC ek kadam aage process. Fans text in their preferred batting order and the exact match with the order submitted by the captain are deemed winners (who receive bright yellow caps with HDFC on the front). Instant draw picks a mega-winner and hooks him up via webcam showing a picture-in-picture of him explaining his rationale for the batting order.

The batsmen come out onto the ground to the roar of the crowd. The dynamic logos on their shirts and bats swirl and radiate as they approach the wickets. The batsman takes guard and gives the thumbs up to the umpire (on a distant building rooftop in the background, a huge glowing Thums Up ad glows brilliantly for a few seconds). Windscreens slide into place to block the light breeze running across the ground to prevent undue deviation of the ball. During change of overs, they show recorded footage depending on which side is doing worse.

The umpire signals for play to begin. Bowlers no longer exist. The fielding captain presses a button on a device, called the Bowlflex (no sponsors) and the metallic arm delivers short of length, 6″ outside off stump, at precisely 84 mph. The device allows captains to impart a degree of swing and vary speeds between 70 mph and 88 mph (for seam up bowling) and (55 – 75 mph for spin bowling) – The speeds were calibrated after analysis over a 3 year period showed that speeds out of this range were not conducive to stroke-making.

As the batsmen launch into their shots, a panel of experts consisting of past Indian captains and one surviving retired fast bowler discuss the Bowlflex settings chosen by the captain. (40% bowlers underwent intensive rehab to retrain as batsmen, the remaining committed suicide). Viewers call in to discuss their strategies with the experts. (only callers subscribing to the new Reliance ‘cricket ki lo’ plan can avail of this feature)

Shivraj Singh launches another one into the Sahara stand. The crowd roars…

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Universal Trust and Equity Inc.

In blah, email on September 22, 2007 at 10:06 am

Universal Trust and Equity Inc. <>

Dear recipient,
I am Mr. Malabo Phillips, the Accountant General of Universal Trust and Equity Inc. We are into Maritime and General Construction Insurance. I got your email address from the Internet and I am counting on your sincerity and integrity.
Engr. Gerald Hudson was my client and a foreign expatriate working for County Construction Company (C.C.C). He lived in Lagos – Nigeria and worked in Ghana, Cameroon, Togo, Republic of Benin and Nigeria as the West African Regional Head of County Construction Company (C.C.C). He has been my client for nineteen years until his death on 10th September 2006. The following equipment were secretly insured with us at Universal Trust and Equity Inc:- Caravans, Fork-Lift trucks, Back hoes, Breakdown Trucks Excavators, Bulldozers, Tractor – Trailors, Vans, Concrete Mixers, Dump Trucks and Flat Beds. Engr. Gerald Hudson and Engr. Alfredo Moore are signatories for County Construction Company. Engr. Gerald is dead and Engr. Alfredo’s appointment was terminated 6 months ago for extending his vacation without statutory approval. Presently County Construction Company has a total of US$7,500,000.00 to draw from Universal Trust and Equity Inc., after due process and service charge is paid by County Construction Company.
All the necessary documents to process the release of the US$7,500,000.00 is on my table. I will be retiring in December 2007 to relocate and join my family in Zambia. I need a credible business man or woman who will assist me execute this deal successfully and you will be adequately compensated. With my recommendation and partnership with you, the funds
will be transferred to your bank account any where in the world. Treat this message confidentially as I appeal for your maximum cooperation. This business is 100% risk free with your involvement. Please your response will be highly appreciated.
Yours faithfully,
Mr. Malabo Phillips


Dear Malabo

Hope you are keeping well. I do not ordinarily go for get-rich-quick schemes, but the fact that you found my email id on the internet fills me with confidence. It follows from your source that the recipient of an email would be sincere and integral (or better still, a man of integrity).

DEAL:- Please accept my condolences for the death of your long-standing client from the international conglomerate with the modest name of C.C.C. The fact that your client company elevated its engineers to head continental operations shows that meritocracies not only exist, but also flourish. It speaks of his tremendous business acumen to have insured his firms equipment with your firm U.T.E. Here let me congratulate you on choosing a name that would befuddle competitors into thinking that you were in the business of investing into companies than secretly insuring their equipment with their regional heads.

I should now confess that your mention of Engr. Gerald as having being the sole signatory had roused my suspicions about the legitimacy of your deal. It is unfortunate for Engr. Alfredo to have extended his vacation and hence having forfeit, not only his position, but also C.C.C.s claim on the insurance premium paid.

COMMITTMENT:- I can also see the urgency of the matter for you considering a) you are keen to return to your loving family and b) the necessary documents are taking up valuable space on your desk. I consider myself to be a shrewd judge of character and the fact that you are looking for a business person of either sex tells me that you are a fair-minded person with a deep rooted sense of equality. There is hope for this planet yet!

It also bodes well that the funds of CCC can be transferred to any bank in the world (neither of my banks has a branch in Nigeria) and what more assurance can a person get than a “100% risk free with your involvement” from a respected member of the financial services industry.

My bank account details will be sent to your personal mail id only. Please ensure that the details are treated with utmost secrecy. I too shall count on your sincerity and integrity.

yours faithfully,


p.s : please send me the email id of your secretary so as to plan a farewell party for your impending retirement.

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20-20 ‘four’sight

In opinion, sports, world cup on September 18, 2007 at 7:42 am

Cricket’s turned a corner with its latest format involving 20 overs a side and skimpy cheerleaders. While opinions are divided about whether its the saving grace or the death knell for the game, its generally accepted that its likely to have a permanent impact.

The timeline of development of the game over time could be divided into 3 phases:

Phase I – Need for results

The accidental format played to compensate for a test match lost to rain as a way to kill time turned out to be quite an entertainer and addressed a few of the downsides of test match cricket.

  • Five days – 15 sessions – 30 hours of cricket
  • Preponderance of draws making the game look less competitive than it was
  • Emphasis on individual records than team results

Phase II – Packer, floodlit cricket and the tube

It took a while for the limited overs version to emerge from the shadow of real ‘test-match’ cricket. Games were still played in the template of tests with the result of most games being an after-thought. It took a businessman to take giant strides to unlock the potential of the game and make some key developments.

  • Tournaments involving more than 2 countries making results more significant
  • Coloured clothing and white balls, even for teams from the subcontinent (pardon the weak pun) made games more viewable for television since video cameras, in those days, weren’t good enough to track the red ball

Phase III – Handcuff the bowler

Even the instant version of the game suffered from the drawback of being about twice as long as that most yawn-inducing of sports called baseball. To compensate for the lull periods, a 30-yard circle was drawn, field restrictions were introduced and anything shaving leg-stump was deemed to be a wide.

Recent modifications have added 5 more overs of merry hitting albeit in 3 installments to total 20 overs

But, in spite of all those changes, 100 overs of cricket means periods of consolidation and the price of an entire day for those at the ground.


This format is pretty much 50-50 cricket, with the 20-40 over stages of each innings carved out. Hence, the biggest positive, for viewers, is the duration that’s comparable to a bollywood flick (75 mins/innings + 10 min changeover)

However, in its current format, it suffers from the same ills of predictability, though at a more frenetic pace. Going by past record, the game will have keep getting shortened to eliminate every shot that is not aimed at clearing the boundary.

The problem (that applies to all limited-over formats)

The bowler has been reduced to a non-entity barring the odd burst and fielding captains have nothing to do but damage-control. Every rule and development in the game is heavily loaded in favour of the batsmen, right from the power plays to the bats that clear the boundary even off thick edges, not to mention the rock hard flat pitches.

The solution

Make it an actual contest between bat and ball and not just between 2 batting line-ups. While any measure to curtail batsmen would be as daft as what has been done to bowlers, they could be made to actually earn their runs.

  1. Eliminate the french cut : Is there a more frustrating sight than to see a bowler do everything right to beat the batsman only to find the ball take the edge (inside or outside) and run away to the boundary? Sure, it was fun when the batsman was Utthappa and the bowler was Anderson, but it does not make sense to penalize the bowler for beating the bat! The area between fine leg and thirdman should be a ‘No run’ zone. This won’t eliminate too many actual shots, maybe a few dinky reverse sweeps
  2. Scoring zones decided by the fielding captain : Certain areas in the field could be deemed to offer bonus runs for 5 over periods. This would mean the fielding captain would look at his bowlers and decide where would it be most difficult for a batsman to hit it? e.g The area between deep extra cover and long off could be the zone for a 5-over period and the batsman could get 1.5 times the runs for every boundary hit through there (so no mistimed agricultural hoicks but actual middle of the bat shots)
  3. Rolling substitutions : Allow batsmen to be replaced if the batting captain feels he has a better batsman for a particular kind of bowler. This means, that both captains have the opportunity to pit their best against those of the opposition.

All said it will take more than just reducing the duration of the game to make it as viewable as most other sports.

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bear wisdom

In quote on September 7, 2007 at 9:09 am

“The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority. The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority. The first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking.” – A.A. Milne (author – Winnie the Pooh)

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