Thursday, October 13, 2011

RCB Demolished

For a while now, I’ve been pestering my nephews to put their cricketing thoughts on (virtual) paper. I was finally able to corral my younger nephew and get him to write this post.

The Champions League T20 finals RCB VS MI was approached by all with a lot of pomp and hype. Here we were with two sides: the first, a weakened side without its captain and other stars which had made it to the finals fighting all through; the second, sailing through to the finals  chasing 200+ scores on consecutive occasions. Who did you expect would win? A MI team without Sachin Tendulkar or a in-form RCB side with Chris Gayle and Virat Kohli going really strong? I  thought RCB…but RCB didn’t win, did it? Why ?? Below are the reasons:

1. Overconfidence,  having chased down 200 and more on two occasions against better bowling attacks.

2. Maniac team selection by Dr. Vijay Mallya who choose to pay 7.5 crores for a lad who hasn’t even played 50 games for his country but wasn’t willing to pay 5.5 crores for the world’s greatest all-rounder who had performed brilliantly in the previous seasons.

3.Lack of quality cricketers: Being a professional cricketer who plays 5th division for Swastik Union, it disappoints me that I know batsmen who are only 16 and 17 who have greater talent and technique than Saurabh Tiwary and Mohd Kaif. Kaif’s  batting grip locks the wrist which disables the best shots such as the drives.  Saurabh Tiwary didn’t know he had to get onto the front foot to block a yorker. Further, any cricketer worth his name knows that the safest and the best way to score fast runs is by playing straight, i.e. in the “V”.  Chris Gayle and Virat kohli are exponents of playing straight, something that should’ve been a lesson in the nets for Tiwary and Kaif, amongst others. Effectively, RCB went into an international tournament fielding a side without a technically sound middle order!

4. To be able to slog a spinner more often than not you have to get onto the front foot to  hit him with ease. One is expected to take his left foot as sensibly close as possible to the pitch of the ball in order to gain balance, power, and control over the shot. Sadly, Mayank Agarwal got out twice trying to slog a spinner with his feet pointing in exactly the opposite direction of the pitch of the ball.

5. Lack of match practice: On most occasions, the middle order and the lower middle order hardly got to bat as Gayle and Kohli were splendid; therefore  the already useless middle order of RCB lacked the match practice as well. The complacent RCBians  didn’t play practice games so that they could strike some sort of form. Net Practice can never be a substitute for match practice.

6. Bad Captaincy : After Virat, Gayle and Dilshan, the most accomplished batsman in the team is Vettori himself. The moment Gayle and Dilshan were out, Vettori himself should have come out to bat, as on any day he is a proven better batsman than the Tiwarys of the side.

The above reasons contributed to the miserable failure of RCB in the CLT 20 finals. I hope they wont be repeated and will play better cricket in the near future.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Soothsaying and the Congress party

If recent events have shown something, it is that the Congress party is a soothsayer’s dream subject. If you want to know what the party’s response will be to any situation, you only need to go back in time a few decades and you’ll get the answer.

Let me explain. In 1977, the Congress party was out of power and the Janata party came into power. But they squabbled amongst themselves, and what did Indira Gandhi do? She encouraged Charan Singh to split away, supported him for a while, and then pulled the rug under his feet, which led to elections. Now move the clock to 1989. Rajiv Gandhi lost power, VP Singh and Chandrashekhar squabbled, and Rajiv Gandhi encouraged Chandrashekar to split, supported his government for a few months, and then withdrew support. And the same repeated in 1996.

Similarly, when faced with an upsurge of public antagonism, Indira Gandhi’s first response was to invoke the “Foreign Hand”. Rajiv Gandhi talked about vicious forces that were out to destabilize India when the Bofors scam hit. And today, Rashid Alvi accused a foreign hand (of course, those in the know, know that it is an Italian one) of trying to destabilize India. Indira Gandhi imposed the emergency and foisted all kinds of cases on the opposition; and while the India of 1985-86 wouldn’t let Rajiv Gandhi impose the emergency, he tried his best to muzzle the media by introducing the “defamation bill”. Lo and behold, today we have the “Group of Morons” who are trying to bring in a bill to regulate the media. (Maybe they’ll serve a privilege notice against me as well?)

And while the faces of the henchmen, the a**lickers and the hangers on have changed, their attitudes and languages haven’t changed one bit. See the abuses showered on team Anna if you want proof.

What I’m trying to outline is that despite its dubious claims of having introduced the green revolution, the IT revolution and globalization in India, the Congress party remains a party stuck in the discourse of the 70s. What is further shameful is that the great white hope of the party doesn’t have a single original thought to offer and his family friends (what a TV channel calls ‘Young Turks’) are no better either.

There is no future for the country as long as the Congress is in power. Sadly there is no viable alternative in sight.

(Postscript: To my regular readers: thank you for your enquiries, and I promise I’ll post more regularly in the coming weeks. )

Sunday, April 24, 2011

More on freedom

If my blog were to stand for a single topic, that topic would be "Freedom". I've blogged earlier about the futility of banning skirts, jeans, music, books and so on. Over time, the bans have become more and more ridiculous - women entering a bar, or teachers being forced to wear sarees and so on. But some recent events take the cake.

For instance, Christ College (now Christ University) in Bangalore has banned a chocolate stick. Mahavir Jain college has banned male and female students from using the same set of stairs. Another college has banned standing on campus. What's hilarious is the twisted reasons one hears on why these bans are justified - the staircase ban is ostensibly because the girls' toilet is on the right side of the building and the boys' toilet on the left. Now one wonders - do students climb stairs only to go to the toilets? Or is it the college administration whose heads are in the toilet?

And we have more. The World Badminton Federation has banned women from wearing anything but mini-skirts on the court, ostensibly to popularize the sport. Don't worry about all those women who might be discouraged for the same reason! They can all go and take up knitting.

At least the WBF is honest about why they are doing it, unlike the worthies in Bangalore colleges.

Losers, all.

The joys of testing

Years ago, in the group discussion round of my first campus interview, my group was given the topic "The role of testing in the career of a software professional". I went first, making a strong case for testing professionals. I spoke about the inevitability of bugs, the economic cost, user impact and how testing was essential to maintain software sanity. I think I made a good case, becuase I was eventually hired for the job, but I knew I didn't believe a single word of what I'd said. In fact, days after the interviews, I was scared by the thought that my passionate case for testing might actually convince the company to put me in a testing role!

Over the years, I've understood the importance of sound testing. I've also realized how much of an intellectual challenge testing really is. Here you are given a piece of software - sometimes you know the code, and sometimes you don't. Sometimes it has a spec, sometimes you create the spec as you go. The software you are testing might be new or it might be tens of years old, will typically have millions of paths through the code and hundreds of thousands of states (with many thousands that could be wrong). How can you figure out how to make the software fail? How can you unearth the hidden assumptions the developer made? How can you write software so that it can be tested easily? How much of your testing effort can you automate? How do you measure the quality of your testing? How do you know you are done?

I was once the member of an interview panel, and we rejected a candidate for the developer's post. One of the managers in the company turned around and asked us "Is s(he) at least good for testing?". I didn't see how ludicrous this statement was then, but I see it now.

We live and learn.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

How the UPA is educating the public

The UPA government has done a lot for education in the country. From the landmark RTE act, which transferred onto included the private sector, responsibility of educating the poor, to the pointless landmark universities bill and continued tampering with guidance for the institutes of excellence, the UPA has been in the education sector. Of course, these pale in significance to the personal initiatives taken by UPA ministers.

First, the home minister gives us an English lesson, telling us that a consensus does not mean agreement of all concerned, but a majority of all concerned. Since the UPA is under the impression that it is ruling by the consensus of a billion people, how can you blame him?

Next, Kapil Sibal, our effervescent minister for all seasons comes in to give the people a math lesson. He has a new branch of math - let' s call it Sonia math for the lack of a better name. Here, the value of an equation depends on the side of the equation that the reader is in! According to Prof. Sibal, the total loss to the country from the 2G scam is zero! Truly, he occupies a universe of thought much different from our own.

Watch this space for more on UPA history, science and biology. But if you want to see something nice, go here: and send me your comments!