Would you buy a car if a girl and a snake selling it ?

Alright, name of the game is “find the relevance”.

Hint: This is snapshot of today’s Times of India. The news is on auction of 2G spectrum.

Now, GO.. your time starts now. What is the relevance between news item and the girl ?


Answer: If you read the caption real close, it quotes, telecom companies playing “wait and watch game”. And the girl, is “waiting” !!! Get it ? That’ the relevance. It was total coincidence that she was scantily clad.

Okay, if you really liked this game, I have one more for you. Now guess what she is selling? (I wouldn’t have got it right with a million chances)

Car advert

Answer : A car !!!!!!!!!

Debugging media

You don’t realize how little accuracy there is in network TV reporting until they cover a story in your hometown. ~Robert Braul

True that,

The best way to verify any news reported by mainstream media is to running it through social media. Twitter for example. (I know I know I hated twitter before, I take it back).

Don’t refer facebook, in its all possibility it will feed you a hoax instead.

Apart from SM, there are few good news analyzers out there, they are interesting and hilarious. Here, couple of my recommendations:

1. Mediacrooks , a different perspective to consume news. BTW results are out for India’s worst journalists  – 2014. Two ladies I voted did not win,

2. Newslaundry :  I love it for its clothesline series, in which each week’s news washed. For last week:

3. Unreal times : Most hilarious among them. Love them for their “facebook wall” and “in pictures” series.

Unreal times : In pictures: Rahul Gandhi’s much-awaited interview with Arnab Goswami
Unreal times : In pictures: Rahul Gandhi’s much-awaited interview with Arnab Goswami

4. fakingnews : pure satire,

If you know any blogs in league of these people, please recommend.

How to survive Arnab Goswami through logical fallacies

As you already might have guessed, I am a regular viewer of the the Newshour by Arnab Goswami, and a big fan. It is a ‘complete’ show. There are multiple reasons I choose to watch this – It provides good entertainment, alternatives are poorly scripted; also in a weird sense, this is a kind of adventure sport, for panellists.

Surprisingly though, there is not even a single guide available on how to survive his show. I expected at least a book in market, something like “Arnab for dummies”, nope! So I thought I’ll write one, not book, a post. If you happened to be invited to his show please feel free to use any of these.

BTW, if you do not know Arnab Goswami, please go back into your cave and close the rock door properly. I heard spiders are good protein. For others, let’s start.

Arnab Goswami
Arnab Goswami

Right, Thumb rule is, there is no correct way of doing it. However, there are several wrong ways.

  1. You can never win an argument, you can only survive it. So stop trying to convince him, it will never work.
  2. Do not practice! In fact, you don’t even need to know what the discussion is all about. He will set the premise, then he will ask what “nation needs to know”.
  3. Never ever ask for a proof. If it exists, he has seen it. As it was famously described before by media crooks –  every piece of document, including your bus ticket will have to go through his desk. Stamped.
  4. Use the words he uses, he may show mercy on you. ‘National’ television, you’re ‘exclusive’, etc. While there, don’t use the words ‘paid’ and ‘media’, or ‘you’ and ‘PR agent’ in same sentence. Prostate exams seem better than what follows.
  5. Use this as final resort, only if you are cornered. Close your ears and eyes and sing a song, need not be a patriotic song, even Sheela Ki Jawani should work.
  6. If that doesn’t work, use your rugby skills

I will update the list as and when I find more, but as of now above should help you through half an hour of his show.

On a different note, below are some rhetological fallacies I noted. This is in general, rather than Arnab’s show. These are real fallacies, I did not make any of these.

  1. Burden of proof – It’s not my job to find proof, it’s yours. E.g. Give me proof for something I claimed
  2. Special pleading – pleading for exemption without justifying the exemption. E.g. Give them time, they will prove eventually, so don’t scrutinize.
  3. Insufficient sample – broad conclusion on a tiny sample E.g. The latest ‘ground-breaking’ survey had “..about 2000 people – was small and was concentrated on the 18-45 age group”
  4. Relative privation – argument on existence of severe, but unrelated, problems. E.g. How can Madhuri Dikshit and Salman Khan can attend a show while people don’t have blanket in refugee camp.
  5. Appeal to accomplishment – because of his credentials! E.g. have you ever read Arvind Kejriwal’s Resume?
  6. Nazi card – simple branding. e.g. we are liberals, by definition we are open to all ideas except anything remotely right.
  7. Appeal to ridicule – E.g. Idea of abolishing income tax is ridiculous, we don’t even need to talk about it.
  8. Appeal to nature – argument solely dependent on the topic being ‘natural’ or ‘unnatural’. E.g. Homosexuality is unnatural.
  9. Appeal to novelty – better because it is modern. E.g. since it is written in books before
  10. Appeal to fear – fear towards the opposing idea e.g. FDI in retail will bring devastating impact in economic fabric
  11. Appeal to the majority – Since majority seems to think so, must be true E.g. majority is gullible
  12. Cherry picking – celebrating on few features of an achievement while ignoring significant information of related cases or data that may contradict that position. For example Delhi water problem solved!
  13. Appeal to ignorance – because it is not proven false; so true. e.g.  You did not give him a chance yet, he can do wonders.
  14. Appeal to common sense – I cannot imagine how this could be true, therefore it must be false. E.g. I can’t imagine how such a big actor can drive over people sleeping on footpath.
  15. Hedging – using words with ambiguous meanings, then changing the meaning of them later. E.g. we said we will live like common man alright, we also agreed to end VIP culture. But that simply means we won’t use beacons, but gas guzzling SUVs stay. Apparently practising austerity is not for common man.
    More will be added here.

Racist or Not ?

Hi there.., we are super-duper sensitive Indians.! Don’t make fun of us – we do not tolerate any racist acts! BTW we will brand any comments on our accent and on the way we look as stereotypical or racist. Please note these down in bold letters, if you forget it even for a minute – we gonna come so hard on you.., that you may have to run with tail between your legs!

While we are here, let us also make clear that above commandment works one way. Above stated can not take away our birth right of ridicule other who don’t look walk talk like us! for e.g. Gora, Kallu and Chinki are not racist names!

To summarise: non-Indian imitating Indian – Racist !. Other way round – comedy!

Having made this clear, lets go to a case study. Popchip’s ad below by Ashton Kutcher – Racist or Not ?

Right to hoist Indian flag in Kashmir

Question: Was the government right in arresting BJP leaders, who marched to hoist Indian flag in Srinagar, Kashmir (India)?

Before you answer this please consider this:

Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi organised a march in Dandi to “illegally” produce salt, against applied tax by British Raj in India. It was “within” the political boundaries of India, had a “political aspiration” with a motive of achieving a “political goal”! Now, back to BJP:

Disclaimer: As any liberal need to announce this, to avoid branding. My support here is issue based and this statement is not sarcastic.

In search of the best thrillers

Here, some notes on thriller TV serials, roughly 50 of them. They are crime, action, war, and medical (etc.,) TV serials – basically non-Glee stuff. I’ve spent a lot of time researching on them trying sample episodes/seasons on YouTube/forums. See if you can make use of these recommendations. Also, let me know if I have missed any.

Good ones (Try not to miss them)

Dexter (5/5) – Could you bring some more please?
Fringe (5/5 so far) – Hope JJ doesn’t take the path he took for Alias/Lost
24 (4/5) – Can’t tolerate one more season.
X-Files (3/5) – Don’t want to watch them all.dexter

Yet to try out (short-listed)

Breaking Bad
Criminal minds
Flash Forward
Generation Kill
Lie to me
Sleeper Cell

Tried and “no thank you”.

House (3/5) – Good one, but not for me.
Lost (2/5) – First season is good, director “lost” it second onwards.
Alias (2/5) – Good start, totally lost it in first season itself.
CSIs (2/5) – too boring.
The Mentalist (2/5)
Bones (2/5)
Burn Notice (2/5)

Totally rejected (thanks to YouTube, Wikipedia):

Ashes to Ashes, Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, Carnivale, Damages, Day Break, Dead Like Me, Heroes, Human Target, Jericho, Kidnapped, Law and Order, Life on Mars, Mad Men, Murder One, Oz, Prison Break, Rescue Me, Smallville , Sons of anarchy, Supernatural, SVU, The Wire, White Collar.

What do Facebook, Lady Gaga and religion have in common?

.. too many actually. They all are insanely wealthy, highly overpriced/overrated and all these because they have millions of followers! Also, all this fame achieved by them is never justified; obviously something else should have deserved it. I kept on pinging on Religion, I don’t give a damn about Gaga; it’s time for a take on Facebook. :-)

Earlier I wrote about “why do I hate twitter” (I still do). I claimed tweets being nothing more than shouting randomly at all directions, in other words “spamming“. Facebook is just improvised version of that,. one can shout within his friends group. Anyone who logs in, (apparently to check if there are any new comments on “chooo chweeeet” video, can learn you are standing in a queue for pop-corn. God forbid, what would have happened to the world if he did not have a chance to know that!

My first and foremost issue with Facebook is, it is a “blog-killer”. All my friends who used to blog, which was really picking up in late 90s and early 10s, now don’t have time to blog. Instead time is spent on fertilizing neighbours crops in Farmville or watching “too good… every Indian must watch this” videos. Blogging could have become a real alternative to mainstream media, who apparently require multiple reminders for unbiased and honest duty. Blogging could have dominated internet with citizen journalism. But now it’s official, they have sung RIP for blogging. Tweets and Facebook status has taken its place along with LOLs.


image source and complete infographic

Who are we fooling? Let’s be honest. Do million tweets and likes on “Save Aasia Bibi” do any difference? Even if they are tried in Capital letters? Blogs, wikis and forums run in parallel to media with more strong opinions creating awareness among (at least) netizens. Tweets and Pages really fail to fill in this shoe. Let me remind you again, these new age opinion are weighed more by number of retweets and like, less by content itself. I feel Facebook is fancy but ineffective way to run a campaign and twitter is its disabled buddy.

Agreed that Facebook had a considerable role in couple of social revolution (related to Blasphemy, Iranian stoning etc), but it’s just that Facebook had been there at right time at the right place. What Facebook has done extra which any other social media couldn’t do?

Also agreed that Facebook is a very good way to maintain contact book and way to reconnect old (and new) friends, Facebook cannot claim that for itself. It’s not the first time that someone integrated a messaging engine, contact book and an instant messenger. Facebook did that as any other social network, rest of them just did not get the hype and love, that’s all. There are good things in Facebook; I am not here to list them for being politically correct. My concern is with Facebook-mania, lot of good ventures gets shut down for not being able to gather their due attention.

I hated twitter and now Facebook; don’t call me old fashioned Web1.0 guy. I am not. By the way Web2.0 is sooo Web1.0. By this time we should’ve been in 4.0. But thanks to all those attention and time spent in “share” s and “like”s we are still stuck here. One very such example, Google Wave never got attention it deserved. Now they closed it down, a step backwards and said “sorry, internet is not ready for next version of Web”

One example on “how Facebook groups” are so useless (thanks to Evening Standard, London for pointing it out). There

mark zuckerberg Vs julian assange
Mark Zuckerberg Vs Julian Assange - source (http://unreasonablefaith.com)

is a page called “save children of Africa” which was around for few years now. Last time I checked it had more than 1.8 million members. As its name states it is established to raise funds (only interpretation of word “save”) for poor malnourished children in Africa. In all those years of “like”ing and “join”ing it managed to raise little over 13000$!. That’s ridiculous. Simple arithmetic, it is less than 0.001$ per person, not even annual!. Now, compare it with Wikipedia banner campaign that raises its running cost every year without a like button in it.


In last couple of years I got at least 50 requests to join a page called “stripey”. It is created by some concerned Facebook members to save tigers in India. A large group with so many cute tiger photo uploaded. It says, if I join – tigers get saved! And how? No clues so far. No facebook-er does anything more than clicking “join”, or May be, its moral support for tigers on Facebook :-).

Final note, heard apple registered phrase “there is an app for that”. I think Facebook also should register phrases “there is a useless and silly page for that”.

And if you think Facebook is doing great as a product, read this:

The disparity between the number of Facebook users claiming to be concerned about this issue and how little money they were willing to put up says quite a lot about the business. Loads of customers were happy to commit themselves to a click to show how caring they are. Parting with cash is less popular.

Mark Zuckerberg ‘s creation — a nifty piece of kit, for sure — has 500 million users. And revenues of about $2 billion. So all those people who spend all those hours poking and messaging each other are worth only $4 each — in sales, not profits. A year.

It’s hard to think of another business model where so many customers and so much use can equate to so little revenue. If Facebook started charging for its services, how many of those 500 million would stick around? If the answer is zero, isn’t that the true value of the company?

Now, analysts reckon that Facebook may report a profit for 2010 of $473 million. That’s works out as a price/earnings ratio — the traditional way of measuring how highly a company is rated — of 106. By comparison, Apple , a business that has taken the old-fashioned approach of making and selling things, has a PE of 22.