Sunday, March 21, 2010

This...IS...the Spartan!

Every College or University in America has a mascot (or so it seems).  For a long time we did not have one.  Recently, to the great joy of the students, Leonidas was introduced to them.  The identity of the (wo)man inside the costume is a closely guarded secret.  

A couple of weeks ago, Leonidas visited the Biology department.  The students were taking an exam so if the reception seems a bit subdued, it is because of that.  Watch till the end...I promise it will be worth it.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Crap-e diem - part deux

Blessed are the meek
for they shall inherit the earth
- Matthew 5:5

(My previous Crap-e diem post can be read by clicking here).

At the drinks break after the first hour of play in the Bangladesh-England Test match, the hosts were at a mind-boggling 95 for 1, chiefly because of Tamim Iqbal, who had scythed his way to 74 runs in just 48 balls, with 13 fours and a six.

Read that again: 95 for 1 in 14 overs, Tamim on 74, 13 fours, 1 six.

Graeme Swann and James Tredwell were bowling with 5 men on the fence and no close-in fielders. The sound you did not hear was the distinct lack of chirping from the fielders when Tamim was at the crease. In the next 21 balls he faced, Tamim scored 3 two's and 5 singles. However the shot he chose for many of those was the sweep, always a trickier shot to an off-spinner (for a left-hander, as Tamim is). By then Tamim looked like a fellow who was going to nurdle his way to a 100. He was done in by a dodgy umpiring decision but that does not take away from the fact that he let matters reach a point where his continued presence at the crease was in someone else's hands.

Let's step away for a minute and go across the globe to the Australia-New Zealand Test series. Australia had declared shortly after crossing 450. The Kiwi batsmen inspire no confidence in their captain and once again showed why, quickly falling to 31 for 3, with Ross Taylor and Martin Guptill at the crease. Taylor is a fellow more in the Sehwagian than the Dravidian mold of batting and, initially, was looking for runs, reaching 20 in 24 balls. Guptill is an enigma. I have seen the fellow sock the leather off the ball and also treat it with the reverence associated with grenades lacking a pin, so it was a question of which batsman would show up. The grenade-fearing one showed up and New Zealand was temporarily doomed.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The story in each of us

Yesterday, on Prem Panicker's blog he mentioned that Aakash Chopra was coming in for a live chat on Yahoo! India's cricket page. On a lark, I sent Panicker a question to pass along to Chopra. Wonder of wonder, just minutes into the chat today, Prem dropped in my question.

Unfortunately, Aakash did not answer it directly, so it did not register. I think. Foiled! But I will not rest till I get through.

I am attaching a screen shot of the chat (click on it to enlarge).

(Disclosure: A few months ago, I emailed Aakash Chopra asking him (roughly) the same question. He replied in a generic manner, thanking me for writing the note, telling me that he had not thought about a book on those series, and that he may consider it in the future, politely dismissing me. *Sigh*)

From here to eternity

Someone with a lot of time on his hands and a great deal of imagination came up with a new Periodic Table. This one is for fans of science-fiction movies.

I present it to you, sans any comment. The whole Table speaks for itself.

Hard hat area: Men at work

The NCAA men's basketball tournament (March Madness to some) is in full swing. After an exhilarating Day 1, Day 2 is playing more true to form. Watching the video feed from the matches on a computer is a lot more fun than on TV, as you get to pick and choose which games to follow.

Let's say you are at work (as some of us are) and you are watching the game when your supervisor walks in on you. What do you do? Well, look closely. Do you see that Boss Button? Simply click on it...

And voilà! Just like that the screen turns into:

The air up there

This one's for you, AV/BRB. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

360 degrees of jointness

ML sent me a link and told me to simply click on it and enjoy the show! Take a look at some of the natural wonders of Utah, as you have never seen them before.

I wish someone would do this with the night sky in some remote location of the earth.

(Use the mouse and scroll around. Warning: it may cause dizzyness!)

Surf's up!

Trolling through the web I often come across things that I file away for future (posting) reference. Today is one of those days when I collate them and regurgitate the ones that still seem interesting enough to pass on to you.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

At his feet

When you are 23 years old, the world is your oyster. Or at least that's how your ghost writer feels. In the midst of writing a review of Aakash Chopra's autobiography for this blog (post to come up in a day or two) I googled autobiographies. Imagine my surprise when I came across this one!

Storm front

We live on a little blue marble that floats around in the solar system, tethered by invisible strings to the sun. It is not often that you get this particular perspective of the globe, with the Indian subcontinent front and center. From afar it looks like a serene little thing. Yet, if you go closer to the surface there are stirrings aplenty.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Update: Foot-in-the-mouth fault

(Monday PM: See update after the video)

Andre Agassi has been in the news a lot lately, mostly for the soul-searching autobiography he wrote. Over the past few months even as he lost some fans he made many, many more with the candor in his book and the honesty with which he talked about his own foibles.

A couple of days ago he got into a spat with Pete Sampras at an exhibition event. The genesis of the disagreement lies in his admission in Open the Sampras is a lousy tipper. The mood just got a little uncomfortable after that for not just the two of them but also the other fellows on the court (Federer and Nadal) and the crowd.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Déjà vu all over again

Every Hollywood movie that has ever been released in the last 30 years can be found in the following generic preview:

(If you cannot see the video below, click here for the link)

Not the way to inherit the earth

When you have spent a long time getting kicked around by everyone around you, the best way to get their attention (and then their respect) is to fight back.  You don't tiptoe up to the bully, gently tap him on the shoulder, and ask to be treated better.  When you do that you get what you deserve - a disdainful look followed by a reminder-thrashing.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

White out

Everyday I play the lottery - the weather lottery. When I wake up in the morning, I don't rush to open the blinds so by the time I walk out the front door to leave for the day I have no clue what the weather is like outside. I get my first inkling only when I step onto the porch. Some days I have to step back in to pick up an umbrella, other days I have to shed layers of clothing.

Today I hit the jackpot - it was snowing!

(C.S. Manish 2010)

Friday, March 05, 2010

TGIF: Songs to hum - 1

Every Friday afternoon, after I am done teaching the last lecture of the week, I sit in my office, put my feet up on my desk, lean back in my chair and softly hum songs to myself, unwinding and releasing the built-up tension of the week so far. Youtube is a good companion during these times and I have my own version of Chitrahaar, with the songs following some unfathomable pattern, changing per my mood and wishes.

Today's random Youtube selections have been along these lines:

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The cold dish

Another match, another verbal/physical altercation involving an Australian cricketer.

Is it me or do the Australians seem very easily provoked when things are not going their way? Surely, after years of dishing out abuse in the name of mental disintegration, they should be prepared to receive some? What was good for the goose for so long has got to be applicable to the gander, too.

Words of wisdom

"A bird foraging for food in the swamps and marshes sinks rapidly if it doesn't move. It has to keep pulling its feet out of the mire to move on, regardless of whether it has caught something or not. And the same applies to us and to our love. We have to move on, we can't stay where we are, because we'll sink."

— Milorad Pavić (Dictionary of the Khazars)

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Jess sayin'

Virender Sehwag comes across as an uncomplicated fellow. His batting is predicated on a still head, steady feet, and a whirring blade. At times, however, it seems like he is throwing away his wicket chasing low-percentage options.

Not so fast, says Mr. Sehwag. What you and I may consider low-percentage options are scoring avenues for him. It is just that his definition of what constitutes a risk differs greatly from ours.

Better than all the rest

Andy Zaltzman is awesome.

If you haven't been introduced to this fellow, consider this your personalized invitation to The Confectionery Stall.

Andy's potent mix of humor and off-the-wall stats are among my favorite time-drains on CricInfo. Here's his splendid take on Sachin Tendulkar's batting feats.
As he reached 200, Tendulkar passed the 31,054 international runs landmark. Narrowly – he’s now on 31,055, which is more than 6000 ahead of second-placed Ricky Ponting, and 31,055 more than the entire Zaltzman family combined. He also extended his lead at the top of the international centuries chart to 25 (he has 93 to Ponting’s trifling 68; next come Lara on 53 and Kallis on 50, with all Zaltzmans lagging behind morosely on 0; and no one else has even scored half as many as Tendulkar).
(Note: A previous post on Andy can be found here).


"We (IPL) are only a two-year-old league but we had close to 3.8 billion eyeballs last year. Every game last year we had 100 million eyeballs."

Thus spake Lalit Modi.

I guess this is why it is named the Eye-PL.

What do you do with all those eyeballs, Mr. Modi? Make eyeball soup and serve it to Indiana Jones?

Monday, March 01, 2010

Paradise lost

Many summers ago I was lucky enough to be able to travel extensively in the Caribbean. I went island-hopping by myself and one of the places I visited was Montserrat, an island in the Lesser Antilles region of the Caribbean. Two striking features of the island nation that caught my eye were its black sand beaches and the sulfur springs in the central mountains. The former was an indication of the past of the island while the latter was a significant hint of the future to come.

Launching a thousand ships

From the BCCI blog (no, not that organization) comes a link to some of the ads that MS Dhoni has acted in.

Quite a collection there. My favorite is still the Videocon one with Shah Rukh Khan. The Mind it one is a close second.

Is Masada the Peyton Manning of India?