Friday, May 30, 2014

May 29, 2014

So these are the Club of Rome predictions (via Dmitry Orlov):

I am as much of a collapse porn aficionado as the next guy, but if these predictions are an important component of the collapse story, the script needs to be rewritten. If you look at the graphs carefully, the trend predictions could have been done by a layman simply through visual inspection of the data (aka, take a ruler and just extend the lines), and you wouldn't have been too far off the mark for any of the parameters (in fact, your prediction would've been more accurate vis-a-vis food per capita). We have not reached the years corresponding to the predicted peaks yet (except maybe for per capita industrial output), so we need to go a bit easy on the hosannahs for the accuracy of the predictions so far.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

May 22, 2014

(This year's obligatory IPL post will be in the form of bilious haikus)

Kingfisher ad sucks
Celebs demeaning themselves
Yodelling eunuchs

Ex-celebs pimping
Wares in their commentary
Danny please shut up

None cares what you think
Oh random Twitter posters

Flag-waving faux fans
Long-dead purists spin in graves
Monkeys jump at fruits

Zoomi zoomi ka
Je se va ke po shi kumm
musho va
re va [*]

[*] Dead horses scream "Stop!"
Stuff that nightmares are made of
Incubus R  Us

Saturday, May 17, 2014

May 17, 2014

I've recently taken to chess again after a long hiatus. Online chess has come a long way in the last 15 years (which was when I last checked things out); I signed up at, and it's been great fun all the way. If you want to keep up with what I've been doing there, simply follow the buzz there about the mysterious stranger from India who's been making waves and giving the highly-rated old-timers a run for their money (just kidding, I'm the guy with the puppy avatar who's languishing with a tactical rating in the 1290s after briefly touching 1344).

This post is not about the cerebral aspects of the game, the strategy, the tactics, and so on, but about the emotional aspects. Consider this Daily Puzzle entry from yesterday:

It's white's turn to move, and a cursory look at the board immediately shows the danger: the white king is all alone on the right side, seemingly at the mercy of a phalanx of attackers led by the black queen. Also, the black knight is a move away from forking the white queen. All the white pieces look helpless, stuck on the wrong side of the board (with the exception of the rook on a3, who looks like he may be able to charge to the king's rescue and die heroically on the king's lap--ignoring for the moment what an elephant lying on a person's lap would mean to said person's state of health--in the process, gasping out an "Alas, I have but one life to give to my emperor"). I used the word "seemingly" upstream because, as I mentioned earlier, it's white's turn to move, which means appearances are deceptive, and there is some avenue of escape (maybe even victory?) open to white. Is it the bishop on e2 who can produce the check, ineffectual though it may be? Can the white queen somehow find the time to rush forward and cause a back-rank mate? Should the king charge forward boldly to g2 and meet the attack head-on? Would such a charge enable the other white rook to find some action on the h-file? One can cut the tension with a knife. Or considering the context, maybe I should say 'saber'.

Cerebral the game may be, but take away the emotions and the drama, and you might as well sit with paper and pencil and solve partial differential equations.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

May 15, 2014

Michelle Obama's Instagram picture backfiring spectacularly, as it rightly should. The more accurate content for her sign would have been '#Doh' (or alternately, '#I am the wife of the most powerful man in the world, and the best way I think I can help is hold a piece of paper with a hashtag and look seriously dumb').

On a related note, compare Putin's recent address to the Russian Duma with the usual hopey-changey rhetoric from Obama. And folks still wonder why Putin is held in higher esteem globally. The problem is, Mr Hopey-Changey's target audience are, to quote JimQ from Washingon's Blog: 
...the technologically entranced zombies shuffling along the sidewalks staring blankly at a tiny screen, tapping away on an itsy bitsy keypad as if whatever they are conveying is of vital importance to the future of mankind. # Give me a break.