Saturday, March 17, 2007

Gavaskar v/s Ponting

India lost to Bangladesh today ... that certainly was rock bottom as far as World Cup aspirations go for India. On another note, a storm has been quietly brewing in the days leading up to the World Cup. Gavaskar's outburst against the Aussies and their on-field behavior provoked Ponting's predictable response about the famous Gavaskar walk-off from the field (1981 at the MCG) - certainly the low point of Gavaskar's illustrious career.

But things have gone one step too far - with Gavaskar bringing in the fact that David Hookes died of injuries suffered in a bar, an apparent example of the fact that the Aussies' off-field activities could land them in hot water. I was all with Gavaskar about the sledging and the taunting by the Aussies on-field - but that was just too tangential, off-track and downright personal and dirty. Certainly not a smart thing to say, and no surprise that it has come in from condemnation from Aussie cricketers.

Greg Baum uses these episodes to highlight the East-West divide in his article in the Australian newspaper The Age. Baum correctly argues - "Gavaskar invoked the late Hookes' name needlessly, carelessly and tactlessly. It did not belong in this dialogue." He also points out that such rhetoric can also bring forth extreme reactions from the public like someone calling in a radio program in Australia asking that Gavaskar's name be removed from the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. The East-West divide is exemplified by his concluding remark:
Former Australian prime minister and cricket enthusiast Robert Menzies wrote once that Englishmen and Australians were of such like minds that "thankfully, we don't have to be too tactful". Between Indians and Australians, it is not so simple.
The World Cup is well and truly underway - and if the Aussies win again, with India perhaps not even making it to the Super 8 stage, it will be a needless point used in the above argument.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Beer launcher

The ultimate weapon in a couch potato's armory - an robotic arm that extracts a drink from a fridge and propels it to your seat on the couch! A Duke University graduate has created just that - an automated way of extracting a beer can from his fridge and tossing it to him. This includes an elevator to bring the can out of the refrigerator before loading it into the catapult. The beer launcher is pretty darn cool and is sure getting some good publicity for its inventor John Cornwell.

Check out this video of the Beer Launcher

One thing I admire - the hands on skill of this guy! I have been to engineering school in India, but being hands-on is not a skill that is cultivated - at least not through the school curriculum (or perhaps the way it is enforced). The school system here in the US is quite good at encouraging this ...

Leonardo da Vinci would certainly have been proud of Mr. Cornwell.


The onion has a pretty neat article about Apple's latest new and revolutionary offering:
At a highly anticipated media event Tuesday at San Francisco's Moscone Center, Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced a new Apple product he said would "revolutionize" the process of unveiling new products throughout the world.
About the new product (called iLaunch), Jobs said that it "will be able to make announcements from this, or any other stage, making human participation in generating consumer awareness almost entirely unnecessary." But what he concluded with really took the audience by storm
As his presentation wound down, Jobs said there was "one more thing" he wanted to mention: the iLaunch automatically saves a significant, salient product feature for the end of a presentation, to surprise and delight audiences.

"Do you want to know what the surprise of this unveiling is?" said Jobs to the eagerly nodding crowd. "The iLaunch itself generated this entire presentation, as well as this very surprise."
If you found the whole thing weird and hilarious, its because it is. Self-referencing can make things complicated as well as interesting. And when I showed the article to my brother (who is a fan of The Onion), he was immediately reminded of Godel, Escher and Bach, and had this to say
The Onion is entering "Godel, Escher, Bach" self-referential territory... i guess they could also have added that iLaunch also automatically generates news reports in satirical journals that closely mimic actual news reports, and in fact, that particular report was itself generated by iLaunch...

For the first time the "i" really means "I", as in "I launch myself" as opposed to "iLaunch launches iLaunch".
If all this sounds confusing, it is indeed that way (ask Bernard Wooley).