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Just Shoot Me

Bala, 28, Gordon Gekko in the making, pseudo-intellectual, cynic, bibliophile, obsessive compulsive ranter...

Women in Combat

June 30, 2006

This Anne Zaidi Post brought up the memory of reading about west african all-female combat units a long time ago. I did some googling and found The Amazons of Dahomey. To anyone who says, women in combat is a bad idea, i recommend reading about the women regiments of Dahomey

There are lots of people who use the physical strength argument for barring women from combat. Once upon a time there was this conventional wisdom that massive strength armoured in iron will sweep weak commoners out of battle. It sounds pretty logical - the ones with more physical strength will win. But then this happened. So proponents of "bar-women-from-combat-because-they-are-weak" school of thought, think again.
posted by Bala, 5:50 PM | link | 0 comments |

Books for July

Harry Turtledove - Sentry peak, Marching through Peachtree, Advance and Retreat
posted by Bala, 4:27 PM | link | 1 comments |

Pecha Kuraida dei

June 28, 2006

Nothing good comes out of too much talk. Just see how The Chronicles of Riddick fared at the box office. The movie is actually a good one - it has a great prequel to "sequelize" upon and its basic premise is enough to draw enough action fans. But they made Riddick mouth so many punch dialogues that it turned out to be a dud. Alas, now only poor B Movie afficianados like me are left to appreciate the movie.
posted by Bala, 5:06 PM | link | 1 comments |

A confederacy of Dunces

June 22, 2006

is how i would describe those who write for, those who edit and those who read Reader's Digest.
posted by Bala, 4:05 PM | link | 0 comments |

Thozhil Ragasiyam

June 20, 2006

Markets went down 30% between May 12 and Jun 14. The bulls were slaughtered left and right and the bears were whipsawed savagely by the extreme volatility. So How does one make money in such a market?.. The answer is simple - use the volatility.

The Buy Straddle is a strategy tailor made for the conditions witnessed in Indian Stock Markets for the past 30 days. And the rewards are modest. A Nifty call and put option bought at the strike of 3200 (on 29th May) would have cost around 260 Rs per lot. (100 X 260 = 26000 cost price). Enter the straddle and let the volatility take care of the rest. Two weeks later the combined prices of 3200 call and put were trading at 400 Rs. (100 x 400 = 40000) - A cool 50% return. A more prudent approach would be to cash in the profits once the profit percentage reaches 20% and migrate to a straddle at different strike.

The downside risk in this strategy is something called time value erosion - since markets are highly volatile, the time value erosion doesnt kick in till the 3 week of the month. So that risk is capped and the trader is safe. So instead of bitching about the markets one sees good profits at lesser risk.

PS : There are only seven trading sessions left to settlement for this month. So dont try this now and get a bloody nose - time value erosion has already set it and is moving fast.
posted by Bala, 3:54 PM | link | 2 comments |

What is Karan Thapar smoking these days?

June 16, 2006

There is something seriously wrong with Karan Thapar - In an interview with P Chidambaram he makes this ridiculous claim that "Quality of education in TN Govt institutions has collapsed due to reservation" (via National Highway)

His logic seems thus :

Reservation is bad
Reservation is in TN Colleges
TN colleges are bad.

He sees the fact that there are so many minority run educational institutions in TN and says, they were opened because there is reservation in TN. ROTFL… If he had bothered to do some basic research on the Tamil Nadu educational scenario he would have found out the truth - The minority institutions are there because govt colleges can not meet the demand / govt doesnt have money to open more. In fact running engg and medical colleges is seen as a lucarative business - Thus the presence of a huge number of self financing institutions.

If Thapar’s logic is correct then TN students must be shunning the government colleges and rushing toward the minority institutions where there is no reservation. A cursory glance at the single window system (SWS) admission data for engineering, medical streams in TN would reveal that Govt run colleges and some of the better self financing institutions (where is there is this BAD BAD reservation) are the first choice for any student (OC, BC, MBC, SC/ST anyone). Govt college seats get filled up with the toppers in the state in the first sessions of admission counselling. Now if std of education has “collapsed” as Thapar claims then all those toppers must be stupid for running after govt run colleges and other self financing institutions with reservation. Further how many TN students do you see going out of state for education? - a very tiny percentage.

All this and more is not hard to know. Any basic research is bound to dig up these facts. It seems Thapar seems desperately wants to believe the “quality will be degraded by reservation” meme and discredit Tamil Nadu education system as a whole .Admittedly there are serious problems with education in TN, but to claim that it has “collapsed” is plain idiocy. If indeed there is a "collapse", we would see an exodus of students going out of state for education. If there is a degradation of quality then we would see less and less number of TN Graduates being hired by employers - The presence of TN educated hordes in the Tech sector (or the so called "knowledge economy") is just one proof that this is not the case. If indeed there is a "collapse" it would atleast result in diminishing admissions for TN educated students in Higher educational institutions (both in India and other favorite destinations like the US).

And finally last night, he tried to make the same point with Prof Ananthakrishnan (Educationist and Ex VC of Anna Univ), by using the " Science citation index" - citations in research papers. He concludes that the number of citations from Tamil Nadu were decreasing - so quality must begoing down. Prof Ananthakrishnan pointed out that the number of citations were going down not only in TN but for India as a whole. If this indicates a problem with TN education system, then the whole country is going down the drain.

If he is going to make the argument that reservation has made TN education system collapse, Thapar has to come up with more convincing arguments that peddling such nonsense.


PS : I expanded this post from a comment i made in Shivam Vij's blog. Also please note that i am not claiming that all is well in Tamil Nadu Education scenario, just pointing out the hot air Thapar blows.
posted by Bala, 5:08 PM | link | 7 comments |

Tamil Cinema Trivia

Now a blog for Tamil Cinema Trivia !! And it Rocks!!!
posted by Bala, 11:00 AM | link | 0 comments |

Shogun - James Clavell

June 13, 2006

I just finished reading Shogun by James Clavell. I started it reading first some four years back and dropped it halfway through as i couldnt really take the verbosity of clavell. I picked it up again last week as the elective i have chosen for my second year course is "history of Japan and china(1800-1975)". I needed some amount of background to get into the mood for reading the text books and started reading Shogun again.

Set in the year 1600 it is the story of a English/Dutch sailor who finds himself in the middle of a power struggle in medieval japan. All the major characters are based on real historical persons. The novel despite its excruciatingly slow pace, paints a vivid picture of a land and people waiting for the storm to hit. I have been fascinated with civil war themes for quite some time now and was hooked on the power struggle between Toranaga (Tokugawa) and Ishido (Ishida). This book will be a great read for anyone who wants to ease his way to japanese history through fiction.
posted by Bala, 5:43 PM | link | 1 comments |

I saved a soul

June 06, 2006

I happened to witness the following conversation last saturday

Mother : "Da*v*inci code" bookula samiya pathi thappa potturukkamae...

13 yr old : Hmm... samiyae kedayadhu theriyuma... Dark Materials
book padichu paru

(Devout and superstitious mom is left speechless)

Now as the one who presented the 13yr old with Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials, I can proudly claim - I have saved a soul.


PS : on second thoughts the phrase "saving a soul" is just used metophorically here. I dont believe in souls.
posted by Bala, 5:18 PM | link | 0 comments |


June 02, 2006

Via some one in the blogosphere i tumbled upon this :

The books teach history in creative ways. There are extracts from contemporary documents, many of them of contrasting kinds: the French Declaration of the Rights of Man set beside Olympia de Gouges' feminist alternative, an official Soviet account of collectivisation alongside a letter from a peasant who hated the changes. Students are introduced to the basics of historical research: both to documents and to understanding how open-ended historical reconstruction is. Every section is accompanied by questions and suggested classroom activities, visualising creative student-teacher interaction in place of enforced rote-learning. After reading about the coming of modern agriculture in England, students are asked to look at the previous, open field system from the points of view of a rich farmer, a labourer, and a peasant woman. An activity suggested after the chapter on Nazi Germany recommends writing one-page histories of it from the points of view of a schoolchild studying there, a Jewish survivor, and a political opponent of the regime. The chapter on the Roman Empire in the Class XI book on "Themes in World History" asks students to imagine the shopping list of a city housewife in those times. Let me add, though, that books like these will require a fundamental transformation also in the pattern of setting questions in CBSE examinations, which so long have been of a so-called `objective' type, totally unsuitable at least for history, social sciences, and the humanities in general. I do hope that such changes will be brought about as quickly as possible..

This is what i would want to read. Not just a repeated litany of years, names and places. This is what makes history interesting.
posted by Bala, 4:24 PM | link | 0 comments |

Books for June

1) Shogun - James Clavell
2) American Gods - Neil Gaiman
3) Art of Intrusion - Kevin Mitnick
4) History of South India - KA Nilakanta Sastry (Since the exams are over, this is not a text book and so should be interesting :-))
posted by Bala, 4:16 PM | link | 0 comments |