Thursday, January 26, 2006

Hail to the Republic ...

We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a sovereign socialist secular democratic Republic and to secure to all its citizens:

JUSTICE, social, economic and political; .....

Republic Day Parade

The Republic of India celebrated the 57th anniversary of its formation today. The celebrations were at its ceremonial best in the annual Republic Day parade along Raj Path in New Delhi, with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia as the guest of honor a day. Yet, the news headlines were full of the heavy security arrangements, the looming threat of terrorist violence, and Maoist attacks in the north-east of the country. An unfortunate fact of life in modern India. And yet, a day of great pride for all Indians, to remember the fallen heroes, to take heart in the future, reflect on the year gone by, and to plan for a glorious one ahead. Hail to the Republic of India ...

Republic Day Parade
Mumbai Police lowering the swords as the National Anthem is played at the parade at the Shivaji Park in Mumbai, Maharashtra (26 January, 2004)

I was in India last year on Republic Day, and thoroughly enjoyed watching the Rajpath parade from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate and on the the Red Fort, during the telecast on TV - I have always been fascinated by it, ever since I was a kid ... the tank columns rumbling down past the President as they lower their guns in salute, the marching columns of the services in their ceremonial pomp and glory, the Presidential bodyguards (राष्ट्रपती अंगरक्षक) offering the 21 gun salute as the band plays the National Anthem ... the decorated landmarks in Delhi at night, the Beating the Retreat ceremony in the evening. From the point of view of a nation like India, it sometimes might seem like a waste of money, a splurge, but I think considering the pride you feel when you see the military might, the cultural sights and the ceremonial bright (well a cheap attempt at ryhyming gone awry there) .... it seems to be al worth it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Shotspot schematic

ESPN uses Shotspot to determine a particular ball landed in or out. For one, i have my reservations about how well they can even predict the trajectory of the ball - accurate enough to make a judgement on the line call? I dont think so.

But all that aside, when a ball lands like this (right of the line being "OUT", they claim that it has actually landed on the line, simply becuase in the top view, it overlaps with the line. Yet, considering that the ball contacts the court only at a tiny area, id say they are wrong and grossly misleading the public about close line calls. I am not a professional, but i have played enough USTA sanctioned tennis games to say that in a game, this ball would most likely be called out simply because you can clearly see daylight between the line and the contact area of the ball with the court (which is really tiny) ... Espn should offer an explanation about their shotspot technology - its really misleading I think!

Shotspot is actually a version of Hawkeye - the one used in cricket, where really the accuracy needed is a lot lesser. maybe some of the cricket gurus can throw light on this one ...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

One for the thumb

One for the thumb

This scene will be seen all over the country if the Steelers win their fifth Superbowl in Detroit in two weeks ...

Monday, January 23, 2006

Steel Curtain drops ...

The Steel Curtain dropped on Jake Plummer - and turned him into Jake the Snake of old ... two interceptions, and two lost fumbles coupled with some clever playcalling (Ken Wisenhunt's stock is on the rise!), and some accurate passing by Big Ben - means that the Pittsburgh Steelers are Super Bowl bound ... and shall meet the Seattle Seahawks who had a stellar game as they beat the Carolina Panthers at home.

I almost got the score prediction right ... i had picked 31-18, while it ended up being 34-17, with Ben passing for two and running for another score. Now, you can go to Pittsburgh, stop by Primanti's on Forbes Ave., and ask for a double quarter pounder Roethlisburger (with a veggie soy patty please, we are desis!) without any shame whatsoever. They will serve it up for you with a biggie sized fries and deliver it in a Bus ... which will probably get decommisioned after Super Bowl Sunday in a couple of weeks ... yeah at least all indications point to Jerome Bettis retiring after the Super Bowl this year, and would be certainly a rather cool way to finish a career (esp. after almost turning the goat on the fumble against Indianapolis!)

Some interesting tidbits about Championship Sunday (though not all about the Championship games necessarily):
* Seattle was ranked #1, and Pittsburgh ranked #6
* Pittsburgh - first #6 team to reach the Super Bowl
* Pittsburgh beat #1 Indy, #2 Denver, and #3 Cincinnati - all on the road to reach the SuperBowl
* Both Seattle and Pittsburgh scored 34 points
* Microsoft's Paul Allen owns the Seahawks ... (and the Portland Trailblazers, why is this relevant - to be revealed in a few moments)
* Lost in the din of the Seahawks win - Seattle Supersonics beat the Phoenix Suns 152-149. If they had infact beaten the Trailblazers, then Paul Allen's Seattle team would have won and his basketball team would have lost to Seattle - both on the same day!
* The collision between Nick Goings and Lofa Tutupu - that left Goings rather woosy and shaken up ... certainly the type that can do some serious brain damage!!
* Another point lost - Kobe scored 81!! RIDICULOUS!
* All 3 unbeatens in college basketball (Pitt, Duke and Florida) lost on the same day (against St. Johns., Georgetown and Tennessee respectively)
* Rahul Dravid hits back to back centuries - if only the butthead Saurav had agreed to open, he might have been the one takking the laurels instead
* Last but not the least, the Orissa Steelers (yeah thats right, there are steel plants in Orissa too, you know!) won the Premier Hockey League (Div I), finishing ahead of the second place Chennai Veerans! Rediff says - "New entrants Orissa showed nerves of steel to come back from 2-1 arrears and brush aside the challenge of Imphal Rangers 3-2 in the last league match on Sunday." - how very true - nerves of steel indeed :)

And last, but not the least are the results of the ESPN SportsNation poll about the Super Bowl:

1) Which team will win Super Bowl XL?
40.4% Steelers will win a close game
28.5% Seahawks will win a close game
23.5% Steelers will win easily
7.5% Seahawks will win easily
Total Votes: 74,008

So, almost 69% think the Steelers will win - sorry Ben, cant play the "nobody thinks we can win" card again - most people think you are talking crap anyway. Yet, its been fun watching them take down the big guns ... I think its time I put some trust in them and take them as my pick ... anyways -Go Steelers-
p.s there have been too many sports dominated posts - maybe i should call it SportsCenter :)

Placid Pitches

how bad are the pitches they have for the india-pakistan test series? the scores should tell:

First Test at Lahore:
Pakistan 679-7 (dec) - with centuries by Younis Khan (199), Md Yousuf (Youhana - 173), Afridi (103), and Akmal (102*).
India responds with 410-1 (Sehwag 254, and Dravid not out at 128)
Ofcourse - match ends in a draw

Second Test at Faisalabad:
Pakistan 588 all out - centuries by Inzamam (119) and Afridi (156)
India 441-5 (at the end of day 3) - Rahul Dravid (103), Laxman (90) and Dhoni (119*)

after all run rampage - with almost no chance of a result, who has interest left in this test except those going for betting records or infamous bowling records :) - yet i'm impressed that the Indians, batting second have managed to play out the placid pitch charade, against a good Pakistani attack ... its not unprecedented for them to collapse on perfectly good batting wickets simply because they didnt focus enough and play it out. after conceding more than 500 in both tests in the first innings, Rahul Dravid's team was virtually out of the reckoning for winning the test ... the only hope was to salvage the draws, and I must say the batting performance has quite adequate ... too bad the arrogant bengali babu was too uptight and a pain in the ass taking orders from the captain - if he had agreed to open in the first test, he could really have resurrected his test career - maybe even been called a 'true team player' or some such thing .... but that was not to be, and dravid now has back to back test centuries instead ......

Friday, January 20, 2006

How about them Steelers ... again ....

I hate to say this, but I told y'all so ... the Pittsburgh Steelers came into Indianapolis, and harassed Manning with a superb pass rush. If it were not for some pathetic officiating from the referee, and a key fumble by Bettis on the Indy goal line, the game would have been another routine upset. But then the refs did play cheats (yeah Joey Porter, you are dead right!), and The Bus did fumble, leading to a bizarre finish ... that included"The Tackle" (or should we called "The Immaculate Tackle"?) by Big Ben that saved the day for the Steelers.

Cocky Payton Manning came up with some boneheaded desperation trying to win the game, and then the 'idiot kicker' missed the field goal so badly, that it seemed like his uprights were actually in some other stadium!! So here the go the Steelers again to the AFC conference championship at Mile High in Denver. An Indian connection (after the Steelers Juggernaut!) has come up again ... in a preview to the championship column about the success of the Steelers and the Panthers, Greg Garber in his column writes:

"We came in from the back door," Steelers linebacker Joey Porter said. "They wrote us off. We weren't supposed to be here, but we like our chances in Denver.
"It's not even the fact that we struggled at home. It's just the way we come in here right now. I think it makes us focus more as a team because they're counting us out. The whole world is counting us out."

Memo to Porter: There are one billion folks in India who have no idea who (or what) the Steelers are.

Not sure where the Indian connection came in from ... but there is certainly no denying that fact - the billion people in India certainly are absolutely clueless (not that they cared a damn about it anyways!) about football - and to whom football actually refers to a game that involves kicking the ball (i.e. soccer!!). but its certainly amusing how sports writers seem to draw up weird connections to random facts.

but coming back to the game, Denver is picked to be a marginal favorite (being the home team and all), and wearing my pragmatic hat on - i am inclined to agree that Denver will win - and comfortably at that, due to the Steelers traditional malaise (turnovers by the QB!) - yeah, Big Ben who saved the day last weekend against the COlts will finally self-destruct (i mean how can there be an AFC Ch'ship game with Bill Cowher coaching where the QB does not bring the team down with interceptions!!). but again I will also put forth my pick for the game, wearing my Steelers hard hat, and waiving the terrible towel:
The Steelers defense shuts down the running game and forces Jake the Snake to scramble around and throw on the run - he does so a few times, but finally shows his true colors by throwing the interception!! Troy Polamalu runs one back and James Farrior picks up a fumble as the Steelers win 31-18 (same score that I predicted the last time around against the Colts), didnt get it right then, but this time I will.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

How about them Steelers ...

Let me talk about them before the inevitable happens this weekend ... much as I would like to believe that they are so good on defense and that the run game can pound anyone into submission, I have no illusions that the Colts will win easily. But then there is still that slight possibility of an upset ... hey, thats why they actually play the game!!

Here is what a certain Dr. Z from CNN Sportsillustrated had to say about the way Pittsburgh runs the football ... a very interesting Indian connection showed up there:

One thing puzzles me. When they load up with two tight ends on one side, and bring fullback Dan Krieder in behind them, and then pull guard Alan Faneca, who is very good at coming around the corner and blocking back to pin his man inside, and put this whole mob in front of, say, a Jerome Bettis, that's about 40,000 pounds coming at whatever is in the way.

And so many times I just see the defense outnumbered. So why doesn't it just move an equal number of guys over, into the path of this juggernaut (which is a word originating in India, by the way), matching Pittsburgh's monsters with the same amount, which would result in something like a huge mass of glue trying to fit through a small opening?

I looked up the word juggernaut in the dictionary, and sure enough it has Indian origins. Here is the explanation:

juggernaut (noun)
1. Something, such as a belief or institution, that elicits blind and destructive devotion or to which people are ruthlessly sacrificed.
2. An overwhelming, advancing force that crushes or seems to crush everything in its path: "It doesn't assume that people need necessarily remain passive when confronted by what appears to be the juggernaut of history" Christopher Lehmann-Haupt.
3. Juggernaut Used as a title for the Hindu deity Krishna.

Ofcourse - the last one is easy to see - the anglicized version of Jagannath ... but the first two come from the fact that worshipers have thrown themselves under the wheels of a huge car or wagon on which the idol of Krishna was drawn in an annual procession at Puri in east-central India !!

and to imagine that all this started from the description of Jerome Bettis pounding the ball behind the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line ... !! which leaves me with the vain hope that Peyton Manning will get intercepted twice in the first half after getting harassed by the Steelers pass rush, and the Colts will not be able to get ahead too much in the first half ... the Steelers running game will pound them in the second half .. and Pittsburgh Steelers will upset the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 (same score as the Bengals game).

Monday, January 02, 2006


Redemption for the Big East following West Virginia's win over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl - a fantastic game with a great finish ... topped by the fake punt by the Mountaineers.

Being from Pitt, I quite dislike the Mountaineers, but for once I was supporting them against the 'so-called' (yeah my opinion has turned a bit after Auburn and Georgia lost) superb defensive teams especially against the run. And after all the flak the Big East has taken about their guarenteed BCS berth, it was certainly redemption for the conference, and it would be a surprise if WVU does not finish the year in the top 5!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

-Alfred, Lord Tennyson [In Memoriam A.H.H. (CVI)]