Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pop Quiz

Which of these two news items is from The Onion?

*This* is how you do it

Their names differ just by one letter, but their career paths can't be more divergent. While one is an over-hyped and pampered underachiever whose claim to fame owes more to her tight T-shirts and short skirts, the other has been quietly flying under the radar, establishing a name for herself on the world stage.

Judicial overreach

From The Hindu:
The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Centre to file an affidavit by June 26 on the steps taken to ensure the safety and security of Indian students under racial attacks in Australia and Canada.
It's nice that there's somebody to pull the government up for its non-performance, but is this the job of the judiciary? Last time I checked, their role was to interpret the law and the constitution, nothing more.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Harish Khare appointed PM's media advisor

Looks like all the years of slanted op-eds supporting the Congress party have finally paid off.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Subramaniam Swamy on EVMs

There is an op-ed by Subramaniam Swamy on EVMs in today's Hindu . He raises a lot of pertinent points, one of which is quite damning (italics mine):
For example, the respected International Electrical & Electronics Engineering Journal (IEEE, May 2009, p.23) has published an article by two eminent professors of computer science, titled “Trustworthy Voting.” They conclude that although electronic voting machines do offer a myriad of benefits, these cannot be reaped unless nine suggested safeguards are put in place for protecting the integrity of the outcome. None of these nine safeguards, however, is in place in Indian EVMs.
I googled for this article, to confirm whether there was any merit to his allegation, but the article is behind a pay wall. Another interesting point he raises is the employment of convicted hackers by a political party just before the elections (no prizes for guessing which party):
On the eve of the 2009 elections in India, I raised the issue at a press conference in Chennai, pointing out that a political party just before the elections had recruited those who had been convicted in the U.S. for hacking bank accounts on the Internet and credit cards.
If these allegations are true, my already low level of confidence in these machines just went down another notch.

Update (May 6, 2010): Vindication from a University of Michigan study.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A fool and his money ...

Today I shelled out $5 to buy the PDF version of the Blue Book when I could have had it for free. And to think that the money could have been put to better use, like helping out Arthur Silber, for example, makes it all the more painful. Grrr.

Here's a business opportunity

From an article in the latest issue of the Communications of the ACM that analyses the reasons for the limited success of the OLPC:
... if the machine fails, it is up to the family to replace it or the child must do without.
Time for someone to step in with an insurance policy, methinks.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Tin foil hat time

Considering that Tech Mahindra is facing difficulties in dealing with the spurt in the share price of Satyam, this statement by the Satyam chairman seems suspiciously like an attempt to drive down the price to levels comparable to the open offer price. I dare say anybody in his right mind would deliberately talk down a company this way otherwise:
"It is hugely overstaffed, costs are very high, and the revenue picture in the immediate future is not that great."

Sunday, June 07, 2009

General Motors or Chevrolet?

General Motors have taken a full page ad in the newspapers to convince the world that their Indian operations are going strong, no reason to doubt their solvency, yada yada. If you look at the ad, you will find exactly one mention of 'General Motors': the line below the CEO's name and designation (well, two if you count the GM logo in a picture of one of their factories). It's 'Chevrolet' everywhere else: it's almost like they want to dissociate themselves from the G-word -- which is sort of schizophrenic, considering the intent of the ad.