On Arvind Kejriwal going after corruption

Arvind Kejriwal has been in the news recently. First DLF and Robert Vadra, then Salman Khurshid and Nitin Gadkari. Just today was the latest:

“It appears that Mukesh Ambani and not the PM runs the country,” Mr Kejriwal said, wearing his trademark cap inscribed with main aam admi hoon (I am the common man). “The PM’s heart beats for Reliance and not the people of India,” he declared.

This is what Mulayam Singh Yadav said recently about Kejriwal:

“Let him enter politics and fight elections. He will understand how things work. There is no need to give him so much of attention. He has not left out anyone and believes that everyone is corrupt. Let him continue to do what he does, he will soon exhaust himself.”

On the one hand, this is the quiet confidence of an experienced man. Let the new guy be here for a bit; he won’t stay honest for long. He’ll toe everyone else’s line soon enough.

On the other, I can’t but read this as a veiled threat—Toe the line, mister, or your new-fangled political party won’t find the oxygen it needs to survive.

For India and its anti-corruption campaign, the hope is that Yadav is wrong; that Kejriwal won’t change his ways. But what happens when every corrupt politician in India gets tired of his antics and decides to band together and come after him?

The fact that these guys have all been defending themselves says one thing, though—Kejriwal doesn’t have many skeletons in his closet. Good on you, sir.

I just hope he takes care of himself in the shark infested waters he’s waded into.

On selling ‘clean chits’

Robert Vadra recently received a clean chit for his transactions with DLF.

Faking News has more on it:

It’s not yet clear if Vadra would be selling his clean chit, but experts say that the son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi would be advised to encash this opportunity.

“Till the time he is the son-in-law of the first family, getting another clean chit shouldn’t be a problem, so he may as well sell it to DLF and make quick money,” Arvind, an expert said.

Faking News is quickly becoming as great in India as The Onion is in the USA.

Also, the spate of scandals recently in Indian governance is seriously disgusting; the only hope is that public reaction reaches a tipping point and leads to something seriously groundbreaking.

Can Arvind Kejriwal make enough of a difference? He’s going to need help, once every other politician starts to come after him.

Sourav Ganguly retires from all cricket

From The Times of India:

Sourav Ganguly confirmed on Sunday that the IPL match between Pune Warriors and Kolkata Knight Riders on May 19, 2012, was his last competitive match in domestic cricket.

It’s about time.

Understandably, he wanted to leave IPL the way he left international cricket, on the back of strong performances and a personal high. (He recommends repeatedly that that’s the way to retire). That he wasn’t originally selected for IPL4 came in the way of those plans, and I have a feeling that he had to commit to playing IPL5 just in order to get back into the IPL fold, with Pune Warriors in the latter parts of IPL4.

I have a feeling he wouldn’t even have played IPL5 if he was originally selected in the IPL4 auctions.

It’s now close to four years since he stopped playing international cricket, and his IPL performances have steadily and visibly deteriorated over the past couple of years. He’s been a great player for India, but it certainly is time for him to move on.

Hopefully he’ll stick around in a coaching / mentoring capacity, though. His is one of the finest cricketing brains in the country, and Pune will do well to keep his services.

Congratulations, Dada, and best wishes for the future.

‘Look at the stats’

Indian opening batsman Gautam Gambhir, on the dwindling form of him and his opening partner Virender Sehwag:

“As an opening pair, you average 50 per inning and if you are giving 50 runs start in every innings, you can’t do more and if people talk about not contributing, I will suggest them to look at the stats.”

Rule of thumb, Gautam: if you have to resort to pulling your statistics page to justify your position, you’re probably not doing justice to your position. (If you were, you wouldn’t need your stats.)

Good luck for the England series. Yes, a ’50 run start in every innings’ would indeed shut everyone up. And make everyone watch your cricket instead of your stats.

Jaspal Bhatti dead!

Killed in a road accident.

Bhatti’s car collided with a tree along the highway while he was on his way to Jalandhar for the promotion of his latest film “Power Cut”. Police said that the accident happened around 3 a.m. while Bhatti was on his way to Jalandhar from Bathinda.

Sad, and a huge loss to Indian satire. He was one of the pioneers of political satire in Indian television, and made simple yet powerful shows about the ills and corruptions prevalent in society.

Hindustan times also reported on the incident. Ironically, they chose to uphold perfect journalistic integrity by lifting, verbatim, a profile of Bhatti’s career from his wikipedia page. Without attribution. Including a “[1]” which indicated a wikipedia reference. And, ending their article with: “The cartoonist, humorist, actor and filmmaker is focusing on acting as he is getting numerous offers from Bollywood producers as a comedian.” Guess they trusted Wikipedia to update the article before they copied from there!

HT article screenshot

See what I mean when I say Bhatti’s death is a huge loss? That’s something Bhatti would come up with–as parody–in one of his shows.

Rest In Peace, sir.

 

Update on the Amazon ebooks fiasco

Me, from a few hours ago:

Came across this account of a Kindle user’s ebook library being wiped, and Amazon account cancelled by Amazon. Worse, she wasn’t explained why this happened, and what she could do to remedy the situation.

[…]

Respond better, please, Amazon? I’ll be reminded of this every time I think of hitting ‘Buy’, and perhaps use Apple’s iBooks more often instead. (I don’t know that Apple’s terms are better, but they certainly can’t be worse!)

Since then, there have been some updates.

From Simon Phipps’ article:

Update @ 23:55 – Linn just contacted me to say her account has been mysteriously re-activated and she’s busily downloading her books. Hopefully Amazon will have more news for us all soon. Even positive arbitrary actions disclose how much Kindle customers read only with the grace of Amazon, of course…

Update @ 00:30 – Amazon PR just wrote to say: “We would like to clarify our policy on this topic. Account status should not affect any customer’s ability to access their library. If any customer has trouble accessing their content, he or she should contact customer service for help. Thank you for your interest in Kindle.”

Note that the Amazon PR quote still makes no attempt at explaining what happened, or whether the whole thing was a simple mistake. The person concerned was in contact with Amazon, was she not? Very reassuring, indeed.

At least she’s got her content back. The worrying thing is, that may have been due to the publicity this received. What would have happened otherwise?

On the same topic, Coyote Tracks writes:

Open or even de facto standards like RTF, MP3, MP4 and EPUB-when kept free from DRM-are what we need to be strongly advocating for. The music industry has mostly given up on DRM; it’s time for the publishing and video industries to follow their lead. (You’d think that merely knowing the RIAA was, in any way, more progressive than you are would be enough to shame you into action, but sadly not.) Some DRM is worse than others-Apple’s tends to be better at staying out of your way than most and, as far as I know, wouldn’t let Apple do what Amazon did here even if they wanted to […].

Seriously, why can’t I own my ebooks the same way I own my paper books?

Asimov on privacy

“It seems to me that the advance of civilization is nothing but an exercise in the limiting of privacy.”

Isaac Asimov, through the character of Janov Pelorat, in the Foundation Series.


I find Asimov to be the Jules Verne of this century—and not at all because Asimov writes science fiction and describes technology and feats of the future. Looking back, he has incredible foresight with respect to human society, and that forms the basis of his fiction. Sociology and Political Science, not science fiction. Sure, his novels are set in the future, and span distance- and time- scales that are ‘science-fictiony’, but how does that matter to a social narrative?

All that Asimov describes in his Foundation series, is what Man has been talking about and experiencing—without identification.

Tractor beam built from rings of laser light

Tractor beam built from rings of laser light

It is well known that light can push on objects – this is the basis for using solar sails to propel a spacecraft. But getting light to pull on something is a bit trickier.

[…]

The new tractor beam might be useful for collecting small dust or atmosphere samples from other worlds and delivering the particles to a robot for analysis.

“NASA contacted us,” says Ruffner. “They were wondering, can we put this on a space probe and get dust from a comet?” It is possible, he says, but not any time soon. “This is still very much in its infancy.”

On the one hand, science fiction looks more like science fact with each passing day. On the other, anyone in the 1970s and 1980s would have predicted that we’d already have achieved much cooler stuff than even tractor beams by the time the second decade of the new millennium came along!

But… this is way too cool. 🙂 I think this is the second big usage of photons for thrust, after solar sails, right?

Amazon and its vague ebook policies

Came across this account of a Kindle user’s ebook library being wiped, and Amazon account cancelled by Amazon. Worse, she wasn’t explained why this happened, and what she could do to remedy the situation.

Did she violate any terms? Amazon will not tell. Perhaps by accident? Amazon does not care. The conclusion so far is clear: Amazon closed her account, wiped her Kindle and refuses to tell her why. End of discussion.

That’s not very reassuring from a fellow Kindle user and someone who often buys ebooks from Amazon. Indeed, over the past few years I’ve mostly read ebooks, and almost no paper books at all.

Respond better, please, Amazon? I’ll be reminded of this every time I think of hitting ‘Buy’, and perhaps use Apple’s iBooks more often instead. (I don’t know that Apple’s terms are better, but they certainly can’t be worse!)

Also, as Marco comments, does the lady get all her money back that she spent in buying her books?

[via Marco Arment and John Gruber]

Recipe: Tandoori style baked chicken

I know, most other people would call it ‘Tandoori Chicken’ or ‘Chicken Tikka’ or some such. But the fact is, I’m not actually using a tandoori oven. I’m using the oven in my kitchen, and so it’s only a tandoori-style chicken. Anyway, here goes.

  • Cut the chicken into fairly large pieces (as an estimate, ‘proper’ tandoori chicken often involves leg quarters).
  • Make a marinade out of yogurt, ginger and garlic paste, cumin powder, coriander powder, garam masala, red chilli powder, salt and bit of sugar. Mix well, and coat the chicken pieces thoroughly. Let the marinated chicken sit for a half hour.
  • You’ll need a baking tray of sorts. It needs to have a flat bottom, and it needs to be large enough to accomodate your chicken pieces. I often use the disposable aluminum cookie baking sheets!
  • Use a little bit of cooking oil (a teaspoon is more than enough) to coat the bottom of the baking tray. This is to ensure that the chicken pieces don’t stick to the bottom on the tray!
  • Arrange the chicken pieces on the tray. Make sure the pieces don’t end up one on top of another.
  • Use excess marinade to coat the chicken pieces. However, make sure that there isn’t too much excess marinade in the baking tray. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a watery tray by the time you’re done cooking, and the tandoori effect won’t appear.
  • Bake at 350F for about 45-50 minutes. Chicken should be fully cooked; please check before removing from the oven.
  • Remove chichen pieces from the oven. If there’s a bit of gravy remaining in the baking tray, you can use this as a glazing over the chicken pieces. If the gravy is too watery, let it stay inside the oven for a few more minutes until it thickens.

Your tandoori style chicken is ready!

Note that instead of cumin, coriander, garam masala, etc, you can certainly use other spice mixtures. Whatever flavour you want to have in your chicken, can be used as a spice. So can some herbs (basil, parsley). Experiment!

And Bon Appetit.Image