Monday, April 25, 2011

India always loses when Tendulkar scores a hundred

(This has also been cross posted at the Mumbai cricket blog)

It has become something of a given. People are happy that Tendulkar did not score a hundred. Because we all know that if he does, India (or Mumbai) will definitely lose the game. Entire prayers were for the world cup were based around Tendulkar not scoring a hundred in the knock-out games. The sigh of relief when he was dismissed early in the final was heard all the way in Sri Lanka, who were probably wondering whether India were trying to be more than gracious hosts.

So, how true is it? Does India really lose every time Tendulkar scores a hundred?

A quick check reveals that of the 48 ODIs that Tendulkar has scored a hundred in, India have won 33 of them and lost 15, with one tie and one no result. That means India have only lost 27% of the games in which Tendulkar has scored a hundred, which is certainly not bad. In fact, starting 2007, Tendulkar has scored 8 hundreds, and India have won 5 and tied 1 of those, with a failure rate of 25%, so discernable difference there either.

In tests, the hypothesis makes even less sense. Of the 51 tests in which Tendulkar has scored a hundred, India have won 20, drawn 20 and lost 11. The failure rate here is only 22%. In the last 5 years, the failure rate from 16 tests falls to under 19% (8 wins and 5 draws). In fact, the highest this number has ever been is 32% in 1999. The success rate (for wins) was always in the tens and twenties in the 1990s, and since 2002, has steadily gone up to almost 40%.

So, how did this urban legend of India's loss being caused by Tendular's hundreds come about? Probably due to sheer numbers. Most people score as many centuries as Tendulkar does in losing causes. Plus, some epic centuries by him resulted in losses due to the brain dead batting of the players who followed. Such things tend to stick in the memory longer. And good old confirmatory bias probably plays a part as well.

Next time, do yourself and others a favour. Stop this India loses whenever Tendulkar scores a hundred nonsense and just enjoy the game.


The recent dictatorship Lokpal bill reminded me of the following exchange between Floyd Ferris and Hank Rearden from Atlas Shrugged:

Dr. Ferris smiled. "We've waited a long time to get something on you. You honest men are such a problem and such a headache. But we knew you'd slip sooner or later—and this is just what we wanted."

"You seem to be pleased about it."

"Don't I have good reason to be?"

"But, after all, I did break one of your laws."

"Well, what do you think they're for?"

Dr. Ferris did not notice the sudden look on Rearden's face, the look of a man hit by the first vision of that which he had sought to see. Dr. Ferris was past the stage of seeing; he was intent upon delivering the last blows to an animal caught in a trap.

"Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against—then you'll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We're after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you'd better get wise to it. There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted—and you create a nation of law-breakers—and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Rearden, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with."

Now that you think about it, doesn't this sound like India?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Libertarian India?

From this article over at The New Republic on USA 2012 presidential candidate Gary Johnson:

Within moments, he's taking aim at stop signs and red lights. "I'm not opposed to the concept," he allows. "But sometimes, you know, it's 5:30 in the morning! There's nobody on the road!" Johnson laughs, turns in his seat, and fixes me with a grin. "That's the first sign you know you're a libertarian," he says. "You see the red light. You stop. You realize that there's not a car in sight. And you put your foot on the gas."

Does this mean most of India is libertarian?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Weekend Sports

This is a conversation between me and an American colleague.

Me: We're playing cricket on Saturday. You're coming.

AC: Can't make it this weekend. Besides, I am more of a golf person.

Me: What's so interesting about golf?

AC: I just love it, man.

Me: What about it?

AC: You know when you go to the course for the first time? You swing hard and miss. You miss the ball completely the first hundred times. And then the one time you hit it, it is so sweet, it is the perfect shot. That one shot makes it totally worth it.

Me: That sounds like too much effort for a little bit of pleasure.

AC: That's just the beauty of golf.

Me: Well, how about we spice this up a bit?

AC: How would you do that?

Me: Suppose that instead of just one hole, there are many holes scattered all around you, and you can choose which one to aim at.

AC: Okay, I'm with you on that.

Me: Further, suppose that the ball is not still, it is moving and you have to hit it at the right moment.

AC: Ah, interesting. Crazy, but interesting.

Me: The ball is not on rolling on the ground. It is in the air, flying around waist height, and depending on its trajectory and position, you have to choose your hole, and the precise moment to hit the ball.

AC: That's like no golf I know, but where do I sign up?

Me: So, see you Saturday for cricket?

Friday, January 01, 2010

Vodka Price Fixing

And so the new year begins with more of the same old. As we all know, the Russian economy is heavily dependent on the production of vodka, creation of new nations from unwanted pieces of Russian land, Finland, and Rasputin related accessories. This has been especially true since the mafia went into recession due to the new capitalist regime. Therefore any effect on any of these vital industries will have deep reaching impacts on the Russian economy, and they provide the best known examples of industries that are too vital to be left to market forces. Accordingly, Russia employs millions of mathematicians and statisticians to maintain the fragile balance between supply, demand and price of these commodities.

The latest in a series of efforts is the new law mandating a minimum price on vodka. According to the new law, any 0.5 L bottle of vodka selling for under 89 rubles has been outlawed. Fake vodka has long been a major problem in Russia, and the new law is widely expected to help in the fight against counterfeit alcohol. Details are sketchy at this point on how exactly this will help, but as Russia has demonstrated for over 80 years, they do have the best economists in the world, and have shown by example the correct formulation of economic principles, leading to decades of prosperity in the country.

Fake vodka producers celebrated long and hard after the new law was implemented, and termed it the best new years gift they could have received. "We have always been hard pressed to justify our prices, and have had to sell our product at ridiculously low prices because of market forces. Now, we can finally justify charging 89 rubles for half a liter of the absolute worst you can get out there. We expect our profits to double this year as compared to last."

When we contacted the Russian minister for price fixing for comments, is response was, "As you can see, our policies are already on their way to working. With these increased profits, the fake vodka supplies will be able to build better equipment and start producing real vodka. Pretty soon, we will be rid of fake vodka from our market shelves."

Absolutely ingenious. Now, why didn't we think of that before?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Right to Intelligence

In a remarkably productive session of the parliament, the legislature has introduced a new bill which can revolutionize the country. The new bill, called the Right to Intelligence Act has been tabled close to the introduction of another bill, called the Right to Food Act. Just as the Right to Food Act is expected to end hunger in India by providing subsidized, and if required, free food to people, the Right to Intelligence Act will ensure that no man, woman or child will be left behind in the intelligence stakes.

The bill was jointly tabled at the working session of the Lok Sabha yesterday by Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, the Finance Minister, and Mr. P. Chidambaram, the Home Minister. Mr. Mukherjee hailed the bill as path-breaking and said that it will ensure that no one will ever have to face stupidity again. Mr. Chidambaram echoed the sentiments of his colleague, and further added that the constitution will be amended to make this a fundamental right of people.

According to the bill, a new Ministry of Intelligence (not to be confused with the Defence Intelligence Agency) will be set up to oversee the program. Mr. Shivraj Patil, the former Home Minister, is being widely tipped to head the new ministry. With the new act, intelligence will be made compulsary in schools and colleges.

"What we have today is that a large number of people do not possess sufficient intelligence to survive, and as a country aspiring to be among the leading nations of the world, that is just unacceptable." said Mr. Mukherjee. "Just like poverty, lack of intelligence is also a vicious circle. People who are not intelligent will always be taken advantage of by the intelligent ones, and this will further perpetuate their lack of intelligence. We will break this cycle by making intelligence easily accessible by creating an efficient distribution mechanism, especially in rural areas."

On being asked as to how exactly people will be made more intelligent, Mr. Chidambaram said, "We are suffering a crisis today. Many intelligent and not-so-intelligent people have been leaving the country for opportunities abroad. When they do that, not only are they being selfish, but they are also carrying much needed intelligence away from India. We intend to restrict the flow of intelligence outside the country, and any intelligence that is repatriated back to India will be taxed at the rate of 10%. We will also levy a modest surcharge of 2% on all intelligence that has been acquired within India to fund this program."

When asked whether the implementation of this act will be done in parallel with the implementation of the right to free and compulsory education, Chidambaram said that this will not be the case. The government is looking into setting up intelligence kiosks across the country where the needy can go and gain intelligence.

However, not everyone is happy with this scheme. Mr. Prakash Karat, the general secretary of CPI (M) opposes what he believes is a fundamentalist policy. "There is a very good chance that the minorities will get discriminated against. There is currently no restriction on who intelligence will be distributed to. Essentially, the urban elite, with their advantage of superior intellect, will be able to usurp a disproportionate amount of intelligence for themselves. I have nothing against the right to intelligence act, however minorities should have the first option on intelligence, and it should be provided free to them. I am going to raise a protest against this discriminatory act, and till my these concerns are addressed, the CPI (M) will go on an intelligence strike!"

Predictably, the issue has raised the hackles of several local parties. Raj Thackerey, the leader of MNS, feels that this is a blatant attempt to subvert and destroy Marathi culture. "People of Bihar and UP are already coming in large droves and taking away jobs from local Maharashtrians here. Imagine what will happen when they come armed will intelligence!" he fumed. There were reports of violence in Borivli, a suburb of Mumbai, where a mob from MNS set fire to shops and BEST buses.

The law is revolutionary in the sense that this is the first time such an act has been tabled in any country. However, if not implemented correctly, it has the potential for misuse. While we wait and see if this act becomes a success, one thing is for sure. Even if only a section of the population benefits from this act, the average intelligence of the country will go up and India will take her rightful place amongst the leading nations of the world.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Of faces and asses...

This is the kind of research that deserves a nobel prize. This is the kind of research that will probably end up winning the ignoble prize.

Often times we have some of the most brilliant ideas and imaginations and questions as kids. Then we grow up, and spend the rest of our lives re-inventing the wheel. For example, you might have wondered about the fact that humans look different from each other, while different members of other species all look the same. You might have further wondered whether other species can recognize each other. And then you might have gone off to play cricket. And totally forgotten about it till now.

Apparently some people did not forget. Messers Waal and Pokorny, who presumably had no access to cricket games in which to forget said ruminations, based their entire careers out of that question. How do chimps recognize each other?

Hypothesis 1: They don't give a chimp's ass.

Hypothesis 2: They actually do, quite literally, and recognize each other by their asses! And faces, of course.

Mr. Waal and Mrs. Pokorny then played the children's game of match the following with some chimpanzees, with column A showing a bunch of faces, and column B showing a bunch of asses, jumbled up, of course. And the chimps passed with flying colours!

Naturally, the question then arises, can us humans win at the game too? Of matching faces and asses? Perhaps. But it is not important. Because, you see, chimps move about on fours (legs, I mean, not the other sort). So of other chimps, they see: 1) faces (when face to face), and 2) asses (when butt to face). The research thus makes perfect sense. With chimps, it makes sense to match faces and asses.

Humans, on the other hand, evolved (if you are a conservative nut, please read to the end of the post before taking any action) to move about on twos (legs again). The unfortunate consequence was that asses were no longer in the line of sight of people. Women, generally being smarter than men, evolved further, and developed breasts as a feature that would attract mates.

With this background in mind, I propose a similar "match the columns" experiment on humans. Except, in deference to evolution, asses must be replaced with breasts. For the sake of thoroughness, I also propose part two of the same experiment with asses. The fun part is that in the original experiment, both columns were featured purely by the test taking chimp's acquaintances, for very obvious reasons. Therefore, said test on humans must also feature only acquaintances of the test takers. Further, since it is the women that evolved breasts (and since no one really wants to look at a man's breasts), they will provide the pictures, while the men will take the test.

Is it sexist? You betcha. Ironically, its the women who brought this upon themselves. Is it unscientific due sample bias cutting off half the population? Maybe. But evolution is to blame for that. Testing applicants are requested to provide names of atleast ten female acquaintances.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Remembering the Busby Babes

The Busby Babes
(Click here to listen to it sung at the Stretford End)

Oh Manchester,
Manchester United,
A bunch of bouncing Busby babes,
They deserve to be knighted.

If ever they're playing in your town,
You must get to that football ground,
Take a look and you will see,
Football taught by Matt Busby.

They are the greatest team today,
If you don't believe it go see them play,
The type of football, second to none,
'Cos they're at the top of Division One!

It's the greatest thrill that you've ever seen,
They are known as a soccer machine,
They are the best, there is no doubt,
So raise a cheer and give a shout.

Down on Maine Road's greasy pastures,
Play a load of dozy bastards,
Colin Bell, the City ace,
A ruptured duck has got more pace.