Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Ann Arbor Spring - ahhhhh.....

curse that date print coming on one of the petals on the left...sorry for ruining the beauty....if you noticed :)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Vile VP's quote on reservations/Mandal II

We all know V P Singh is going senile. Yet our former Prime Minister wants to make himself heard. Look at his insane comments - the underlined phrase (below) makes absolutely no sense. According to vile VP, Mandal effected 'a great power shift' but 'there's been no benefit so far'. uh?
Sorry Sir, can you repeat that 283 times more - maybe it'll start making sense then.

God! This makes it worse. Complete junk.

(story from

Friday, May 19, 2006

Spring-Summer in Ann Arbor :Tulip Time

No. These are not artificial.
...and just to spoil the fun, what do you think would have been left of these if some pucca desis were left loose here...yes! pluck, pluck, pluck!
All said and done, when it comes to tulips, nothing to beat this

Thursday, May 18, 2006


Some pertinent points have been made by members of the discerning public about the new joint gold medalist:

1) If the horse slid down the truck, as it did, was Chiranjeev's leg underneath the horse? If so, it would have positively been subject to some dastardly disfigurement. However, the hero shows no trace of pain on his angry face. How come?

Response from the judges:
a. This is a movie, idiot

b. It is difficult, even when viewed in slow motion, to see whether Chiranjeev's leg was under or over the horse. However, all this is beside the point. What matters is that the horse slid down the truck

c. The member conveniently suggests, without any justification, that the emotion on Chiranjeev's face is that of anger. We claim it is extreme pain or a potent mix of 5 parts pain + 3 parts anger.

2) A certain Mr. Sandeep Bhasin asks "If the jeep can jump over the truck, why couldn't the horse"
Everyone expects horses to jump - but how many horses do we know that slide down trucks? This was a marvellous attempt by the director to showcase hitherto-hidden equine talents. Good question, however.

3) Was there a race going on between the guy in the jeep and Chiranjeev? They seem to be rushing towards some imaginary finishing line.

Response from the judges:
This is a mischievous attempt to divert attention away from the heroics displayed so prominently. What has this got to do with the award? We refuse to answer such frivolous questions.

3) So how did the horse slide under the truck? If it fell at one place, abundant assistance from Newton's first law suggests that the direction of the momentum vector would prevent it from sliding under the truck.

Response from the judges:
a. The member is asked to see point a of the answer to the first question.
b. How can you rule out divine providence? There is ample evidence, (see for example the joint gold medalist) to suggest that divine providence is always in play.
So what's the fuss?

4) Does this scene have anything to do with 'True Lies' - where Arnold Schwarzenegger is all over the hotel on the horse.

Response from the judges:
a. Finally, a worthy question
b. In fact, it was after seeing this only (sic) memorable scene that James Cameron sir decided to do the ghoda scene in True Lies. The only thing no sir, is that the ghodas in USA are not used to doing stunts no, so the ghoda in True Lies refuses to leap over. But look at our braveheart! (no pun intended)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


The judges for this have issued an unconditional apology. They messed it up. The first prize was actually a joint first prize. - shown below.


Jt. GOLD MEDAL (sponsored by JBGA - Juhu beach Ghoda-gadi* Association)

*Ghoda-gadi : horse-cart in Hindi

Monday, May 15, 2006


/Seriously...any time you're low just watch these videos...guaranteed to make you was the worth the hour i spent searching on 'You tube'

Gold Medal sponsored by Indian Railways goes to:
(with a special commendation from Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources)

Silver Medal sponsored by Deccan Airways:

Bronze Medal sponsored by Tom Cruise and the MI2 crew:
(Special commendation by PETA)

Consolation prizes:

More tummy journalism

Is this a conspiracy to irritate me? Barely a week there's another story of a tummy upset! In case you missed the earlier example of glorious journalism here it is.
And the newsletter i subscribe to again classifies it as a 'Newsbreaker'.

This story too gives all the gory details - see the underlined phrases in the print-screen below:
1) Where she puked (yikes!)
2) How she feels terrible eating Khichdi (a plain rice dish)

And very creative sub-headings like 'Chaat Chatka'. For additional fun read the caption of the snap - translates as 'Till when shall i continue having Khichdi? Man.

The auditory equivalent of the solitary tulip

This is at Andheri station, should hear him play... and oh, he's visually challenged
same sentiment as the earlier does it matter for the soul whether it is Ann Arbor or Andheri...
(sorry for the bad pic. quality...this was taken from my mobile last year)

TN election special

Man, what a loser!
- It seems he lost to Ko Si Mani, whoever she/he/that is (almost a statistical name - sounded like Cauchy Mani* )
- Man, it takes guts taking a vow like that after losing twice earlier. Now he's gotta wait for 5 years.
- The opening line of the article is great - 'a double blow' it seems.

*See for a review of the Cauchy distribution

A single tulip can be my garden

Wish i could be like this. Calm, Composed, Simple and Elegant in the midst of all the mess.

Ann Arbor Spring (contd.)

Some of the flora are yet to catch up...of course, these snaps are about a fortnight old, so will check the latest status out tomorrow...the trees outside my apartment have more or less caught up with the spring mood...

Glorious Journalism

A newspaper covering a matter of great interest to the city and nation.

Some Shweta person (some actress, i guess) had a bad tummy upset and couldn't continue shooting for some film/serial/whatever. Ok fine. But 300 words spent on covering it! And gets into real nitty-grities...sample (no pun intended) the stuff i've put in the red block above with the sub-heading as 'Khane mein gadbad' lit. 'Something's wrong with the food'. Even writing about it makes me feel miserable. Why does anyone have to know that she had 'Corn methi malai sabzi' (and over the weekend, may i add).

Then we are fed (again, no pun intended) the gory details - that she puked the next day, unbearable just keeps going on an' on, man.

In the last part of the article, Ms. Shweta bravely proclaims to the world at large that 'Stomach problems have become a part of her life' - under the creative sub-heading 'Weak Tummy'. Interesting. What else is part of your interesting life?

Also to note is that 'My mother lives in Thane and has been getting very paranoid about my health'. hmmm. If she had lived in Lokhandwala, she wouldn't have been worried about Ms. Shweta's health.
best part is that I chanced upon this when going through the 'Today's newsbreakers' section of a daily online media newsletter i subscribe to. This is a newsbreaker? Kaliyuga indeed.

Average of 2 numbers

What's the average of 10 and 350? 180? Wrong.
a) You don't need to be a stat/math person to figure this out
b) see 'Avoiding Statistical Pitfalls' - Christopher Chatfield. Statistical Science, Vol 6, No.2 (Aug., 1991), pg. 242
c) Send me an e-mail or drop a comment here

Ann Arbor Spring: An apple a day...

Haven't stepped out since the last few days ...been catching up on today's installment of spring snaps are a few days old.
(click on images for larger size)

These snaps are those of pyrus coronaria now referred to as malus coronaria - the blossom of the apple tree. By a nice coincidence, these snaps were taken on 27th April almost exactly 109 years after the flower was declared the state flower of Michigan (28th April 1897). The legislation does not refer to pyrus coronaria specifically but refers to the apple tree blossom in general.
Also just learnt that Michigan ranks 3rd in the US in apple production after Washington and New York.

Now, why is the title of the post thus? Because, apparently the saying is not nutritionally true! So next time someone offers you an apple and starts with 'An Ap..' stop her/him immediately and tell the person that apples are rich in flavor, sugar and starch but poorer in vitamins than other common foods. However, be warned that this link has info that dates to 1968.

As for the 'latest' resarch - apparently they discovered in 2003 that apples (especially in their skins - so don't peel the skin while having apples) contain 16 different biologic polyphenols - and also components that fight cancer and cardiovascular disease.

But then, there is also data on hand that tells us that apples are one of the most pesticide-contaminated fruits (ranks third with peaches and strawberries before it).

So as usual the scientists have confused we don't know net net whether its good to have apples or should we have something for me, if i feel like having an apple, i'll just have it! Why think so much?

And lastly, who coined "An Apple a day..."? Benjamin Franklin.

Stat PJ

Why do bad jokes strike me in the dead of the night?
Well, here goes:

Q: Why do you call a statistician who can't fit a non-parametric model?
A: A splineless fellow
This link above is the math 'intro' to splines.
The word spline is of East Anglican origin.
Dictionary meaning: spline n. A flexible piece of wood, hard rubber, or metal used in drawing curves.

Overheard 1 : Value of meetings

Opening line of a telephonic conversation with a client: "Are you in a meeting or are you busy?"
(Thanks to Mangesh Kulkarni for this)

Ann Arbor Spring: Michigan Mallige

Following up on this.
Sorry for the corny post title. The original term is Mysore Mallige. Mysore is a city in India that's known for 'Mallige' (that's Jasmine in the Kannada language). Apparently (some say even now) the city used to be permeated with the fragrance of jasmine. The Michigan variety is pretty heady too. Almost got unconscious standing near this tree waiting for the bus. (click for larger images)

Ann Arbor Spring : Can you get the fragrance?


No. Not Princeton as in Princeton, NJ, USA. This is about Princeton Academy Mumbai II . Yes, 'Princeton Academy Mumbai II' as opposed to 'Princeton Academy Mumbai I'.
The said academy honoured me be sending me an unsolicited (read - 'spam') mail. Was pure entertainment. Starts off on a very philosphical note: "Time. There's never enough of it". True.
Then go on to check the last line in the print-screen above: 'Have you ever worked your tail off?". No. I have sometimes worked my ass off. But never my tail.

Second gem: the last line below:
After attending this workshop, your manager "Will keep the Main Thing the Main Thing". We always wanted to keep the 'Main Thing' the 'Main Thing'. Useful stuff.
Third set of gems:
1) They cover the 'Paretoes's principle'. As opposed to Parefingers' principle. Also, can someone sponsor these guys for an English course? [The actual principle is the Pareto's principle - the familiar 80:20 rule (eg. 80% of the consequences stem from 20% of the actions) named after economist Vilfredo Pareto]
2) We'll also learn how to 'use less time putting out fires each day'. Maybe they also teach us to fires?.
3) Also in the agenda is 'Discarding the majority of paper that crosses your desk'. Is this just bad English?
4) Lastly, their claim to fame: "a time management workshop that's actually worth everyone's time!". Well, if it can keep me as entertained as reading this , am willing to pay the Rs. 4,300/- they've asked for.
Yea, you heard right- 4300 quid. I don't know why we slog it out rather than do stuff like this. There are enough geezers willing to sign up for such courses. Can you imagine 4300 greenbacks (or Gandhibacks) from even 100 individuals. That's 430,000 bucks. And am sure we can do MUCH better than Princeton Academy Mumbai II.

Ann Arbor: More Early Spring

Some more pics on popular demand after this
I'll try posting a few pics a day till i run out! Have four snaps today: (click to enlarge):
check the dudes on the right - leather look and all

Look at the glistening leaves! So fresh! Saying all this reminds me of an old Zen tale. I forget who the monks in question were but the story runs that a Zen monk and his master went out for their customary daily walk. The student had just had a mystical experience and as it happens with these experiences, your senses just open up completely - in a sublime way. So the student kept exulting at every thing he saw on the way. And he just couldn't understand why the master wasn't appreciating the beauty:"Sir, don't you think these flowers are a sheer delight".

The reply: "Yes. But what a pity to say so". Isn't that an amazing insight! Participate, Experience, IMMERSE.
Well, i'm like that student in the story right now - so bear with me!

Quote of the day

This was two days back from Sharath Reddy, my flat-mate : "If you want, i'll have tea". Once again in case you missed it: "If *you* want, *i'll* have tea. Translation: "I'm feeling really lazy to go and boil some water, so please....and can you also put a tea bag in the cup, pour the boiling water on it, add some milk, then some sugar (only a spoon please). And if you can get this to where i'm sitting right now, that'll be fine". Slight improvement yesterday:"I don't mind having tea if you are having it as well".

Facing Life

What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: 'This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more' ... Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: 'You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.'

- Friedrich Nietzsche

What do you call a statistics blog?

A slog!
(got this from Shravan Vasishth's statistics blog)


This is in response to Sandeep's message on the previous post. This is our very own Juhu beach in Bombay! Sorry for the bad quality but this was taken from a mobile phone (sometime last year).

Sandeep and I used to go on long walks on Juhu every other fortnight (after profuse apologizing to his wife, Anu - we used to not take her along!) discussing a lot of with any other normal human being, we never tired of watching the waves, the sky and especially the sunset.

And the sky used to broadcast special messages to its patrons - at least those who cared to watch and not hog 'bhel puri' - on this day, check the nice heart sign its made! Wonder if it was some 'healthy heart day' or that blessed Valentines day - if it was, then am sure this was just God getting sucked into the marketing cesspool.

Some more Juhu snaps follow. I like the first one of the following the best. Not for anything else, but can you see how even the bhel-puri crowd is just awestruck. Practically everyone seems to be just watching the show! There's hope for culture!

And the creme de la creme...

What is this? Its a loootttttt of people waiting patiently in a queue to go to the loo - the sole loo at Juhu beach at this entrance, not counting the unofficial ones (namely, the entire stretch of the beach) . I have never ventured inside this loo but confirmed sources tell me there are a full 5 filthy urinals inside - that's a lot given that are just about 700 people on the beach on a Sunday evening. yeah! Kudos to the govt.
But to the end this post, what i find heartening is that these folks are actually standing in the line - and might i add, in quite an orderly fashion. Sometimes i think its because of these folks that India is running.

Ann Arbor: Early Spring!

Sunshine, Budding leaves , Flowers starting to bloom, Life sprouting from every corner... What more can i say?
(Click images for a larger size. I know some of these look picture post-cardish...but what matters is that they look beautiful)

Tree Roots - UM Diag

Creative, na? This is just off the 'Diag' UM Central Campus.
(click for a larger image)

Data Misrepresentation - Population definition

Glaring example of how data is misrepresented.Check the headline out :
Did you find it as shocking as i did when i saw it? Imagine an average Indian, even if in the top 10 cities, paying 42 bills online annually! Read along, and somewhere in the second line suddenly this becomes 'upto 42 bills'. So what is it? Maximum of 42 , average of 42, what?
Of course, reporting a maximum doesn't make sense so we need to safely assume that the reporting is being done for some average. So you frantically read through the article all the time in the fear that life has completely changed in India and you were blissfully unaware of it.
And then you come across a 'tiny' detail in the article wayyyyyy down....
See the second para? 'the target audience comprised internet users...'. Right. Of course, it would have hurt to have the headline say "Average Indian internet user pays 42 bills online annually'. Note that i am not even putting the fact that the survey was done in the top 10 metros in the headline. I can imagine that making for a very unwieldly headline. But between saying 'top 10 cities' and 'internet users', i do think the latter is more important to declare upfront.
Else, this does make for a very misleading representation, especially given that it's the headline that would stick in most people's head. And hardly anyone's going to bother about searching for the population definition.


How can you have really big newspapers - one of them the largest read English daily in the world - both claiming they did exclusive interviews with George Bush. The interviews are almost word-to-word the same!

Browsing Books

If you are a bibliophile like me, chances are you go to the bookstore with the intention of buying one book and end up buying 5.Assuming you pre-decide that one book you need to buy, how do you decide on the other four? Author reputation? Signage? Promotion? Price? Sales spiel?
Maybe all of the above - but i bet you at least browse through the books. Would be interesting to see data on patterns to this browsing behavior. How do people flip through pages? Order, time spent on sections, what catches their eye etc. On the content browsing, something like this.


Well, for those unfamiliar with this word (just coined) - it's a compound between Arbor and Aranya. Quite a fusion, eh? Aranya in Sanskrit loosely means forest. The word is always associated with contemplation and images that come to mind - thanks to Amar Chirta Katha - are deer frolicking about, bearded (white beards, we must hasten to add) 'sadhus' perusing palm leaves etc. - you get the picture.
Well, what a surprise when i landed in Ann Arbor and found quite a correspondence (save for white beards - just replace that with bermuda shorts!).
This place is an Aranya! Don't believe me? Check the snaps out....(click for larger image)
Incidentally, the town is named Ann Arbor after 'Ann' - the wife of one of the founders of the city and 'Arbor' - for the abundant oak woods that were there in the 1800s.