Saturday, December 17, 2011

Weekend Photo and Comment - Abbi Falls, Coorg

Found it slightly hyped. If you're from Maharashtra, then you've seen plenty of falls like these in the ghat section (Khandala, Lonavala, Matheran etc.). We visited on a Saturday so there was the usual weekend crowd. But most of all, tons of school students. And harried teachers mouthing 'discipline' gibberish; "walk straight" was one such strong missive to a perfectly (in my mind) well behaved student by one her dictatorial teachers. Education, they call it.

I am told the falls actually fall in a private estate but the owner has given an okay to the government to give the public access. The falls are barricaded (apparently a favourite suicide point) so if you want to get wet under/near a waterfall you'll have to go elsewhere.



Saturday, November 26, 2011

Elephants at Dubare

We visited Dubare Elephant Park, Coorg recently. The park is run by the Government of Karnataka and is on the banks of the Cauvery. You take a short boat ride (ETT - 3 minutes) from one end of the bank to the camp for Rs. 20 a head.
(click on the images below for a bigger picture)


The elephants for the famous Mysore Dassara celebrations used to be trained here. Elephants were also trained for to take part in logging operations - something that's now done by machines, forcing the elephants to take iVRS and spending their time here. 

The trip was slightly disappointing due to the promise-delivery difference. For example, they charge for "elephant bathing" - but you'd be disappointed if you thought they'll give you a chance to do that. They just allow you to see it. But you'll bump into people telling you with a proud smile that they bathed the elephants, lopped coconut shells and all. Maybe it's dependent on the crowd. To be fair their website doesn't claim that you can bathe the elephants but the guys at the counter do.

Similarly "elephant feeding" doesn't mean you get to feed them. You just get to see the cart-loads they gulp down. The obedient elephants won't even accept a banana from you if you don't go through the keeper! The best part is that the bananas are given by the department themselves for you to feed - only to be rejected by the elephant. Didn't the elephants like us? Anyway, we ended up gulping the bananas down. The elephant rides had a waiting queue of at least 45 minutes and we didn't have that kind of time. So we spent about 1.5 hours and exited.

On the bright side, the trip gave us a great chance to see elephants up-close. As in, cageless touch-feel distance.


And also enough to wonder at Mother nature's design. As in:

1) The elephant's trunk contains 100,000 individual muscles (not skeletal muscles). Damn! Damn! Yes, two damns! And the trunk is sensitive enough to pick up a pin. You bet. With 100,000 muscles.

2) The trunk can hold about 8 litres of water at once.

3) They have a total of 26 teeth (not two! - the tusks are like the human incisors) and unlike humans, they have about 6 cycles of dentition. 


4) They weigh about about 3000 kgs; 150 kgs of food and 80 litres of water a day keeps an elephant the giant it is.

5) They sleep for just about two hours a day. Why? Because they spend about 18 hours a day looking for and chomping their veggies.

6) To supplement their diet, they dig up soil for salt and minerals. Entire hills have been carved out due to this action! More about that here.

7) The skin feels tough to touch (the word pachyderm means thick skin) but it has so many nerve endings that it makes it sensitive enough to detect even a fly sitting on it. The pink coloration that you see in the snap below is due to depigmentation - characteristic of Asian elephants.

8) Elephants don't perspire. So they use their ears as fans which cools the blood near the ears by as much as 6 degrees Celsius which is then circulated to the rest of  the body

9)  They swim well but cannot jump or gallop; They need to have at least one foot on the ground.
10) They have a gestation period of 22 months. And here i was thinking 9 months was tough. 

11) They live in matriarchal groups led by (mostly) the oldest/largest female

So much for one animal. Great Mother Nature. What also amazes me is the courage of that first human group to have thought to domesticate this great animal.
----------------------------------------------

...and oh, the wonders of the internet. There's a page that gives you tips on keeping your very own pet elephant! Best part:

Prevent the elephant from getting chilly after a shower

----------------------------------------------
Facts and figures given above pertain to the Indian Asian Elephant (elephas maximus indicus). For difference between the African and Asian elephant see here. They even belong to different genera ! (loxodonta and elephas for African and Asian respectively. That seemed surprising to me as a layman but Wikipedia also says that there are no hard and fast rules for genus classification. Before this gets any more confusing, am going to stop.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Arunachala


ऒम् नमो भगवते रुद्राय !

We were blessed to be at Tiruvannamalai last month. Here are six pictures taken - was quite happy with the images coming from a cellphone!

The verses are those of the Arunachala Pancharatnam composed by Sri Ramana Himself. Have tried a loose translation - apologies for mistakes, if any. See here for more detail.


करुणापूर्णे सुधाब्धे कबलितघनविश्वरूप किरणावल्या
अरुणाचल परमात्मनरुणो भव चित्तकञसुविकासाय || 1 ||

O, one who is overflowing with compassion!
 O, ocean of nectar! By whose rays the dense universe is swallowed.
O Supreme Self Arunachala! Be thou the sun that fully blossoms my mind lotus!



त्वय्यरुणाचल सर्वम् भूत्वास्थित्वा प्रलीनमेतच्चित्रम्
हृद्यहमित्यात्मतया नृत्यसि भोः ते वदन्ति हृदयन्नाम || 2 ||

In you, O Arunachala, does this picture come into being, exists and is destroyed.
The Self-essence in the form of ‘I’ are you who dances in the heart!
They say ‘heart’ is your name. 

 
 

अहमिति कुतः आयातीत्यन्विष्यान्तः प्रविष्टयात्यमलधिया
अवगम्यस्वम्रूपम् शाम्यत्यरुणाचल त्वयि नदीवब्धौ || 3 ||

A very pure mind having entered within by inquiring “From where does this ‘I’ come”, and having known one’s own Self, becomes still.
In you, O Arunachala, like a river in the ocean!


त्यक्त्वा विषयम् बाह्यम् रुद्धप्राणेन रुद्धमनसान्तस्त्वाम्
ध्यायन्पश्यति योगी दीधितिम् अरुणाचल त्वयि महीयम् ते || 4 ||

Meditating on you after rejecting externalities by means of a restrained breath and mind, the yogi sees Light, O Arunachala!
They are exalted in you.



त्वय्यर्पितमनसा त्वाम् पश्यन् सर्वम् तवाकृतितया सततम्
भजते अनन्य प्रीत्या सा जयत्यरुणाचल त्वयि सुखे मग्नः || 5 ||

O Arunachala! Seeing you by means of a mind surrendered to you, he triumphs, O Arunachala, who always worships everything as your form with undistracted love!
He drowns in happiness in you.

श्रीमद्रमणमहार्षेर् दर्शनमरुणाचलस्य देवगिरा
पञकमार्यागितौ रत्नम् त्विदमौपनषदम् हि || 6 ||

These five verses in the Arya meter on the holy hill of Arunachala are revealed by Sri Ramana Maharishi. They are indeed Upanishadic gems.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

False Idolatory and Role Models

Blogpost summary: 8.3/10 on the rant scale.

I. Epic Stuff:
Jobs was outraged and summoned Gates from Seattle to Apple’s Silicon Valley headquarters. “They met in Jobs’s conference room, where Gates found himself surrounded by ten Apple employees who were eager to watch their boss assail him,” [...]
‘You’re ripping us off!’ he shouted. ‘I trusted you, and now you’re stealing from us!’ ” 

Gates looked back at Jobs calmly. Everyone knew where the windows and the icons came from. “Well, Steve,” Gates responded. “I think there’s more than one way of looking at it. I think it’s more like we both had this rich neighbor named Xerox and I broke into his house to steal the TV set and found out that you had already stolen it.”

Jobs was someone who took other people’s ideas and changed them. But he did not like it when the same thing was done to him.
And read this for a better background (and also here)

II. i loved his presentation skills. i learnt a lot from his Stanford Speech. There are detractors (this too) but overall, i agree with what Jobs says in the speech. Jobs' tenacity, passion and legendary attention to detail are also obviously worth emulating. 

But what i cannot understand is the blind idolisation of the man by certain sections of the public and media. He clearly had his share of negatives. For example, along with his attention to detail came a nasty impatience with colleagues. 
In the coming months, many employees developed a fear of encountering Jobs while riding in the elevator, "afraid that they might not have a job when the doors opened...
(See here and here)
His arrogance and sharp tongue are probably as legendary as his products. I'm also uncomfortable with some of his personal decisions:
For two years, though already wealthy, he (Steve Jobs) denied paternity while Lisa's mother went on welfare. At one point Jobs even swore in a signed court document that he couldn't be Lisa's father because he was "sterile and infertile, and as a result thereof, did not have the physical capacity to procreate a child." He later acknowledged paternity of Lisa [...]

From what i've seen, members of his hard-core supporter group (HCSG) just don't acknowledge all this. (I guess that is why they are called 'hard-core'). What is also curious is that the HCSG also tries to justify some of his personal decisions. Take charity, for example. It is widely believed that Jobs was not particularly philanthropically inclined

Even as a non-member of the HCSG, i don't mind that Jobs didn't give. It was his money. As long as it was legally earned and taxes paid, it's none of my business to crib about his lack of giving - not counting the fact that his charity may well have been private. 

But why do we see poor justifications like this? This article almost looks like Steve Jobs' sole objective in making an iPhone was to make the world a happier place to live in! Or if an organisation made a great product, they don't have to care about philanthropy.

Also, while i don't mind Jobs' non-giving, i do mind him talking badly about those who do  give. Jobs on Gates
"Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he's more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology.
Uh!


III. This entire thing serves to reinforce in myself some of what i try to follow about public role-models (PRMs):

i. They are not meant to be copied to the last atom of their personalities. It is essential to selectively emulate. A negative attribute (arrogance, aggression, cheating etc.) is negative even if it exists in famous CEO of XYZ, also a person who gives tremendously to charity.

Many of these people have double lives - a flashy testosterone-driven 'cool' life in front of the cameras and a depressed shadow life behind the scenes.They ain't all that cool when you get to know them really well.

ii. Content not Covering. Great presentation skills, looks that can kill, smart dressing, power exuding from his armpits etc: Keep all that aside. What is the life s/he's leading? What's s/he saying? There have been umpteen instances where i've come back from a presentation or talk by a PMR where he's spoken nonsense but look all around and you'll find eyes popping out of sockets among a big fan-following going ga-ga over...over what? Don't know. Just the personality, i guess.

iv. PRMs don't operate alone. They have a team working for them. Next time you hear an exceptional speech by a PRM, applaud it but consider that it may have come from a very good speech writer. So don't feel bad for yourself :)

v. Respect but do not be in jaw-dropping awe of PRM. For one, it indicates a lack of confidence in yourself as a unique human being.


vi. Be objective. You are not obliged to - and in fact, shouldn't - defend your PRM for every thing s/he thinks/says/does.


vii. A role model is not equivalent to a mentor. Getting a good mentor is one of the best things that can happen to one's life and career. A PRM is dispensable.
----------------------------
1. Sorry for the link loading but here's another good link.
2. For all the hoopla, look what's happening to the market share.
3. Couldn't resist another link

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A 64 year old banality

i'm tired. i hope my fellow countrymen are too.

He said, "We shall continue to fight the casteist, corrupt and criminal forces in the state and work for peace, social harmony and development."
But hey, what happened to "communal"! He missed the most important word in today's politics.

Anyway, apart from working for development, harmony and all that, also expect free electricity, TV sets, reservations, potatoes or whatever before the next polls.

related cartoon

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Life


Flower in the stream
This too my lovely life
Must end, another flower
To fall and float away
-          Uejima Onitsura
  

Friday, September 09, 2011

What is 850 x 77.1 ?

If you're in front of your computer you may most likely reach for Microsoft Excel and calculate this.
...and be surprised at the answer (if you have Excel 2007 or earlier versions).

See this link for a discussion.
i came across this while reading this excellent article.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Nandi Hills


(Click to enlarge)

Nice place to go to. Very well maintained by the Horticulture Department of the Govt. of Karnataka. Only issue is nuisance tourists (a minority) who insist on drinking even when there is an explicit prohibition against alcohol on the sacred hills.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Dealing with the Ganeshotsav noise

i wanted to earlier title this post as "Dealing with the Ganeshotsav menace" but wiser counsel prevailed.

When Ganesh Chaturthi approaches, i am filled with irritation - due to the impending noise pollution i have to put up with. Several buildings nowadays in Mumbai have their own Ganeshotsav to flaunt. i say flaunt because keeping a Ganapati idol and worshiping it doesn't seem to be the main purpose of inviting the Lord. The event is mainly a social one and to flaunt one's wealth ("my idol bigger than yours"). Even this is okay with me - after all i am not affected. What i cannot stand is the NOISE. Blaring louspeakers playing stupid songs full of apasvara. (though i must confess when Lataji's bhajans are on, my irritation coefficient is low). Irritation build further when a call to a resident of one of the offending (and offensive) buildings met with a "C'mon - it's just 10 days in a year". can't these people understand that there may be infants, old people, sick people around. Or simply  people who want to be just left in peace?

Lord Ganapati is a symbol of omkara. Contemplation on this can happen only in silence. But obviously, circumstances are not in our control. The police will not help. And like demonstrated above, the neighbors don't care a dam for your peace of mind. So what does one do? I wish i were away in an ashram in the himalayas, i think. And at this juncture, great advice comes in. From: "Zen: Meeting of East and West" by Philip Kapleau:
"In my experience, there was little solitude or "peace and quiet" at monasteries and meditation centers where the training was rigorous. Only in romantic novels about the East, or in their movie counterparts, are monasteries set i lush valleys aglow with heavenly peace, the white-bearded sage with flowing robes, his staff in hand, gently saying "My sons..." to the sweet-faced disciples gathered round him while gems of wisdom tumble from his lips and a magnificent sun sinks into the horizon behind him. The reality, believe me, is far less romantic."
 (p. 44. emphasis mine)

And then Roshi Kapleau goes on to give his experience in Burma and Japan. In the former case, meditation students had to share their huts with packs of dogs who kept fighting. These dogs found their way to monasteries to escape death from the government who had declared a no-canine policy. In the Japan case (dogs again), dogs used to be left abandoned in the monasteries by villagers. Invariably during meditation time, the place...
"...erupted into a cacophony of yelps, yaps, howls, growls, barks, snarls, whines, meows and hisses [...]. With a strengthening of concentration, after two or three months of zazen, this jam session, surprinsingly, often acted as a spur instead of a hindrance, for the strong effort to transcend the disturbance unlocked energies not usually available. When one succeeded in focusing on one's practice, the clamor, through some mysterious alchemy, became a harmonious chord."
 (p 45. emphasis mine)
So basically, if i want peace i have to find it right here, right now. Can't wait for ideal conditions. In my case, what compounded the issue was the irritation caused in thinking "why can't these people be sensitive to others" or "what is the mentality of the public".  This is of course my problem - a problem of expectation. Here's another great excerpt on this account:
"Would you get upset at a small tree in the forest for not being tall and straight like some of the others? This is silly. Don't judge other people. There are all varieties. No need to carry the burden of wishing to change them all."
Ven.Ajahn Chah quoted in Living Dharma, Teachings of Twelve Buddhist Masters (p.48) by Jack Kornfield

This Ganesa Chaturthi, i promise Lord Ganapati that i will try and implement the above pieces of advice.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Perverted Secularism

As a superb example of the perversion of thought in the current Indian mind, TOI's front-page says:
Ramlila Maidan was first associated with the fine fabric of communal harmony when the Mughal emperors allotted this space to the Hindu population to celebrate Dussehra
Before we proceed, note that today's Hindu population in ~80% of India. i'm guessing here, but five hundred years ago, this might have been 90%. So 90% of the population were allotted a piece of land to celebrate their festival. Wowie!

Apparently, the fine fabric of communal harmony is further made up of the following elements of humiliation.

Exhibit 1
During his reign, tens of thousands of temples were desecrated: their facades and interiors were defaced and their murtis (divine images) looted. In many cases, temples were destroyed entirely; in numerous instances mosques were built on their foundations, sometimes using the same stones.  
Exhibit 2
In India, Islamic rulers imposed jizya starting in the 11th century.
Oh but that's okay. After subjugating and humiliating the people of the land, they gave them a piece of land to celebrate. That's what is important.

This is the kind of reporting that leads the Hindu to feel that she is being continuously taken for a fool. And stokes anger. "Fine fabric of communal harmony"? Who buys that kind of an argument? And in the information age where facts can be easily verified.

The sane thing to do is present facts. Or if you don't want to do that, at least please don't not wring history's neck the way it's done in this example article. The day our education, political intellectual, historical systems are honest, that day we will see things changing for the better.

All of this doesn't mean for a second that i support anger or violence citing historical wrong-doing. "They demolished our temple 632 years ago, now we want revenge". That's plain wrong.

The ideal setting is for an honest acknowledgement from the above systems that wrongs were committed in the past in the name of religion (and is still being done)- without nonsense like "oh, ______ Mughal ruler did it only for commercial reasons and not religious reasons". And on the other side to please let go, stop wasting time and move on in life.

Ganapati Bappa Morya

With Ganesh Chaturthi 'round the corner, it is time to pray for those people who publish things like this:
To Ganesh for removing obstacles, a good way to start any project or ritual:
Ganapati Bappa Morya
Pudhachya Varshi Lovkar Yaa
Link

The meaning of this actually is: O Lord Ganapati, please come soon next year.

Hey Bhagavan.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Why would i buy this book?

Was buying some books from the National Geographic site.

Came across a book's cover page:

link

Anyone in the Indian subcontinent will be surprised by the lack of synchronicity between the book title and the cover. The bindi is not at all an Islamic symbol. In fact, Islam prohibits wearing the bindi.

At this deep level of ignorance, why would i even consider buying the book?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Friendly only if you know English

Yesterday's DNA reports
Although peons are an integral part of a school, often they are unable to strike camaraderie with the students or parents as they are unable to speak in English.

Now, to set things right, many schools are sending their peons to night schools for English lessons.
(emphasis mine)
This is revolting but there's more:
“A school peon is the first person parents turn to for help. He knows the school inside out. But many a times, peons do not know any other language besides Hindi and their native tongue. Parents also tend to disregard them. English lessons will help them in communicating with students and parents alike,” said Sister Rani Anthony, principal, Villa Theresa School, Peddar Road.
i wonder if the good Sister even knows how decidedly ridiculous "does not know any other language besides Hindi and their native tongue" means. Native tongue indeed.

The problem is not with the poor peons. It is with the nouveau crowd who is ignorant about any Indian language. In fact, it is a fashionable statement to say so.  These are the same set of people brought up on Baa Baa Black Sheep and who then go on to consume large amounts of English media, prefer to speak to each other only in English all the while completely ignorant about their own fantastic linguistic heritage lying in their backyard.

In fact, the above quote should be "it is a real pity that parents do not know any Indian language well. They only know (imperfect) English of the type spoken in American serials and reality shows and just about a smattering of their native tongue. We have now decided to burden the poor peons due to the ignorant parents." 
Another mistake here is to confuse good communication skills with communication in English. If anything, the peons will be left worse-off by forcing them to communicate their thoughts  in an alien language. Why not a course on good communication skills per se?

This story is a great example that demonstrates symptoms of a country in a state of rot. Why else would a country with 100s of languages each with incredible depth of expression look to "set right things" since a poor peon cannot speak in communicate in an alien language? Beats me.

--------------------
P.S: Thanks to Sandeep who in his comment below reminds me of Becoming Indian by Pavan K. Varma. Highly Recommended.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Woh to Dilliwaala hai

Post prelude: All Delhi lovers: Please forgive me for not liking your beloved city and it's denizens. But these are my genuine feelings.
----------------------------
Really enjoyed reading this piece by Sandeep.

To be very honest, i get a bad feeling every single time i land in Delhi. The vibe is that of everyone wanting to cheat you -and have no qualms about it. In fact, the bad feeling starts when i am in the airport among a group of seeming Dilliwaalas waiting to get into the shuttle bus. I've often asked myself why? Some example hypotheses i had were:
1) That i am from the South and find myself in a culture i am not familiar with
2) That I associate hold Delhi, being the premier centre of the government of India, responsible for the sorry state of our nation
3) The language issue; while i speak fairly fluent Hindi i don't have the Panju twang so maybe that makes me uncomfortable

Over the years i've come to realize that my discomfort is certainly a cultural one. Sandeep points those out in his post. I think he is in a great position to write about this issue - he's a Panju born and brought up in aamchi-Mumbai and has been living in Delhi for the last three years.

My observations about dilliwaalas:
1) It's all about power, money and who you 'know'.
2) For the upper class, please add faux-intellectualism to the above. As in winter evening India center talks where a firang will come and lecture to a group of bandh-gallas and worn-to-attract sarees about the renaissance that the Buddha created 2000 years ago and the ill effects of the Vedic religion.
3) For the non-upper class, add faux-spirituality to 1). As in attend सतसंग and then illegally extend your apartment for the puja room
4) Brash masculinity. Refined behavior is seen as a sign of weakness.
5) Generally disrespectful towards women
6) Dilli is my world - unless we're talking Southhall or Toronto.
7) Corrolory to 6): All people below MP are मदरासीs and what a bloody funny lot they are.
8) I can do no wrong
9) Corruption is completely okay. After all it's कलियग.
10) Bending and breaking the rules - from traffic lights to more serious ones - are a sign of your power. Getting caught is even better - it's more fun to use bribe or connections to free yourself and tell everyone how you made one call to Girhotra-ji and the hawaldar was quaking.

Top lines from a dilliwalla...and experiences usually are in this sequence:
1) करवा देँगे
2) समझलो आपका काम हो गया। घर जा करके भाभ्जी को कह देना...
3) वो अब तक आया नही? उसे तो मैँने चार घंटे पहले ही भेज दिया
4) Boss,वो एक problem आगई है...खन्ना ओर पैसे माँग रहा है...
5) काम तो आपका हो जायेगा...बस थोडा wait करना पडेगा...
6) अरे! मैं आपको help कर रहा हूँ और आप...मैँ कहाँ कोई भागके जा रहा हूँ क्या?
7) वो deposit तो मिलना मुशकिल है पर...

For long i felt i alone had this impression about Delhi. Until in a sales meeting many years ago, when an executive claimed that there were going to a lot of orders next month from client X, a manager said "कोई भरोसो नही...वो दिल्लीवाला है"

------------
More reading

Friday, January 28, 2011

Myths and Misconceptions in Survey Sampling - 2 (SRS is the "safest" sampling scheme)


In the first of this series, we looked at what SRS is. It certainly is the simplest sampling scheme. But not the safest.

Think of a population of 100 people made up of 50 girls and 50 boys. Your task is to sample 10 persons. You go ahead and take a SRS sample expecting that you'll anyway get a "representative sample" expecting 5 girls and 5 boys. But do not be very surprised if you get 3 girls and 7 boys. Why? Chance. For the same reason that you do not always get one head and one tail exactly when you toss a coin twice. Best way to understand this is to conduct a small simulation in R:

#create a population of boys, girls and total  
pb <-  rep("B", 50)                             
pg <- rep("G", 50)                           
pt <-  c(pg, pb)
 
#create an empty list to store results of sampling
s1 <-- rep(list(rep("NA",10)),1000) 
 
#take 1000 samples of 10 persons each (with replacement)
for (i in 1:1000) {
     s1[[i]] <- sample(pt, 10)
}
 
#calculate % of boys selected in each sample of 10 and plot results  
s2 <- sapply(s1, function(x) length(x[x=="B"])*10)
hist(s2)
Created by Pretty R at inside-R.org

Of course, practically we would do this exercise just once and not 1000 times. But the above histogram illustrates that there is a chance (though small) that you can end up having even 2 boys in a sample of 10 individuals. A better approach in this case is to stratify the population into girls and boys and choose 5 out of 50 from each.
Bottomline: SRS is not the safest sampling scheme. Stratification is an insurance against chance.

Yet, there are times when you might need to use SRS:
1) You have nothing but a list of elements but no extra information on them. e.g drawing a sample from a list of voters in an area
2) When being correct might weaken your case (such is life). Sharon Lohr in her book gives the example of a legal case where a complicated sampling scheme might seem like "you are making the number up".

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Myths and Misconceptions in Survey Sampling - 1 (SRS , EPSEM and Self-weighting samples)

1. Misconception 1: SRS , EPSEM and Self-weighting samples are interchangeable terms
Many use these terms interchangeably in conversation or writing. But, for example:
"Similarly we must avoid the common confusion of epsem with simple random sampling (srs). Probably most  survey samples are epsem but very few are srs (outside academic writing)

In fact, even Wikipedia makes that mistake!
"A self-weighting sample, also known as an EPSEM (Equal Probability of Selection Method) sample...

Let's see why these terms are not interchangeable.
1) Simple Random Sampling (SRS)
The basic form of sampling similar to a draw of balls from an urn (aren't you tired of urn examples?).
"Simple Random Sampling is a method of selecting n units out of the N such that even one of the NCn distinct samples has an equal chance of being drawn. In practice a simple random sample is drawn unit by unit.

So, each population frame element has an equal chance of being selected irrespective of how many at a time the sampling is done - individually, pair-wise, three-at-a-time etc. Also,
"We shall restrict the term simple random sampling to situations where the elements are selected individually, hence the elements are also the sampling units. This differs from cluster sampling where the sampling units are clusters containing several elements.

2) EPSEM
"Sample Designs assigning equal probabilities to all individual elements of a frame population are called "epsem" for Equal Probability Selection Method
So,
1) EPSEM is not one specific sampling method but consists of many types as long as they all result in (known) equal selection probabilities
2) SRS is a type of EPSEM but every EPSEM need not be (and usually is not) an SRS. For example,  Probability Proportionate to Size (PPS) is an EPSEM design that is a type of cluster sampling (see above quote from Kish) i.e not SRS.

3) Self-weighting samples:
We collect data from samples not as an end in itself but to learn something about the population from which the samples were drawn. In this process, a weight is attached to each sample element. Why? To correct any possible imbalances that might (will) crop up in the process of implementing the design. For example, say you draw a simple random sample from a list of people. At this stage every person has an equal chance of being selected and thus the same weight.  

Now if each person that was contacted responded to the survey and there were no other survey problems (like the filled-in questionnaire getting lost!), each person would still have the same weight, which would actually be the inverse of his selection probability) . This kind of a sample would be called a self-weighting sample.  

But in practice, you find that the response rate to your survey among the upscale people is lower than the rest and you've ended up getting more responses from the non-upscale folk. This would make your results biased. To compensate for this we would calculate an apply a weight that will upweight an upscale person (and therefore downweight the rest). So what started off as an EPSEM design is no longer a self-weighting sample. In fact, this is actually what ones finds in practice and so:
"Others have used the phrase self-weighting sample, although some eschew this term, given that weighting typically involves nonresponse adjustment and some form of calibration such as ratio adjustment or raking, and these lead to unequal weights even when all elements of the sample have been selected with equal probability.
 Encyclopedia of Survey Research Methods, Ed. Paul Lavrakas. The entry "EQUAL PROBABILITY OF SELECTION"

Summary
1. SRS is an EPSEM method but not every EPSEM is SRS
2. Every SRS is self-weighting (in principle) but every self-weighting sample need not be SRS
3. EPSEM samples are self-weighting in principle but not in practice

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

This is our culture - Murder a classic!

I actually had tears in my eyes when i saw this video. After watching this video (not the entire length for God's sake but just the first 30 seconds) you may well ask why? "Isn't this a regular movie sequence? Idiotic may be but tears in your eyes? C'mon, you're overdoing it!".



Here's the reason: The song(kirtana) is originally a divine soul-touching classical composition. Please read the entire article about the kirtana's saint-composer, Sri Bhadrachala Ramadasu at the wiki-link here.

Here are the lyrics:
O, Rama! Is it that a word from your mouth is so precious and rare?
Why don’t you respond when I call you? I who have never forgotten your thoughts even in my dreams.
The kriti evokes devotional thoughts in anyone who has at least a tinge of sattva. How could they even do this? Don't they have a sense of shame? A sense of heritage, culture, pride, dignity? The scary thing for me is that i feel the overwhelming majority of people will end up liking the 'song' in this fashion. Now we know why the country is in this state.

Now after all this if you are wondering what the original is like, please hear the below video. Note that this is not really classically rendered (i for one find some elements added rather corny) but i've included it to demonstrate that while one may take some liberty, at least preserve the basic ethos of the song (this is difficult to define but i think easy to know).



And this is one way it is traditionally rendered. I've taken this video since it shows you the kind of absorption and involvement that goes into the kirtana unlike that crass video right at the top.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Truck Wisdom

 
This is the guy who coined "With friends like these who needs enemies". I have a sneaky feeling he has a lot of friends. All locked in there.