The second coming


I pretty much suck at all things that need any more effort than required in the act of yawning. But this time I am determined to really outdo myself and kick this blog into high gear. So watch out. The aim is to produce at least a post a day. You have been warned!

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Gingrich cites fraud but Perry prefers to Sue


U.S. 2012 Election is becoming really fun to watch. Look at Virginia’s presidential nominating contest.

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, who failed to come up with 10,000 verifiable signatures, (to satisfy Virginia’s qualification process) has accused a worker hired by his campaign of fraud.

“We hired somebody who turned in false signatures. We turned in 11,100 – we needed 10,000 – 1,500 of them were by one guy who frankly committed fraud,” Gingrich says.

Read the Reuters Story

This may well be true. What I find idiotic is that he has such an incompetent campaign team. I mean if you know you definitely need 10,000 signatures and also know that one person has about 1,500 hundred of them, you would definitely make sure the person was sound. And if he says that he had been unaware that one person held 1,500 signatures, then, he is even more incompetent than I suspect.

Would you trust the reins of your country with someone who is not able to oversee his own campaign without being made to look silly?

Read more.. at http://bit.ly/vdCB01

Stop Throwing Around Dead Frozen Armadillos


Image courtesy cowboyclipart.net

Image courtesy cowboyclipart.net

I just came across a story which warned me in the first line itself, “This may very well be the weirdest thing you’ll read all day.” And yes it was. The fact that I am writing about it on this eminently readable blog just shows how weird the news is. (Everybody knows how high a threshold I set for things that I post on this blog!)

The Report (click to read) talks about how (hold your breath) a Dallas woman was attacked with a frozen armadillo. (Exhale now!)

The woman was buying the carcass of the armadillo, probably for a nice Sunday meal, when negotiations seem to have broken down. The man she was buying it from allegedly threw the armadillo at her.

Now, I am not one to condone violence against women, but I think report’s focus is all wrong. Even now I can see you reading the report and thinking “poor woman” or “what a terrible man.” I can bet my left eyeball that no one cares about the armadillo. Why should you? It’s just an armadillo and a dead one at that, right?

Wrong ! It’s not just an armadillo. Think of it as someone’s son, someone’s brother or someone’s husband. And see how the picture changes. I mean is it not enough that the poor chap is dead (frozen at that) and people are salivating at the prospects of getting on the outside of its body? Is it fair that it should be used as an assault weapon? Did it ask for it? I am sorry, no.

Add to this the fact that the armadillo ‘s good name is being bandied about in the callous manner even after its sad demise. Does it really need this at this point in its life? (or death, you quibbler!)

Outrageous. I am stunned that there is no blanket ban on the use of dead armadillos as assault weapons.

I mean, if I were an armadillo and had just kicked the bucket, I would then just have to worry about the cooking pot. And not have to concern myself with being flung about at folks!

I hope the reporter Evann Gastaldo ( @egastaldo on Twitter) is more sensitive to rights of armadillos (dead or alive) in the unlikely event that she has to write about an armadillo assault in the future.

Have you had “One too Many?’


Image from cartoonstock.comHave you ever wanted to find out your exact tolerance level for alcohol? I mean we keep hearing about people having had “one too many drinks!” I think, and I am sure you will agree with me here (unless of course you have had one too many yourself) the real key is knowing when to stop.

Well, I am happy to tell you that I think we have finally a sure-fire test to figure this out. It is called the River or Parking lot Test.
So here is how it works.

Ingredients

One medium sized river
Few large bottles of whatever it is that makes your boat rock
Notebook and pen

Method:

Sit in front of the river. Look carefully at the river. Note down what you see in the notebook. If what you have written reads “river” then have a drink. Repeat.

If at any time during the above mentioned steps you see the words “underground parking lot” appear on the notepad, promptly stop guzzling the nectar.

Later, count the number of times the word river appears on the notebook and you will have the exact number of drinks that you can have before you have had “one too many!”

Now, I can see that you are scoffing at this novel theory of mine. Well, if you do not pay heed to it, you might end up with your car in the river and your driving licence with the police. That’s exactly what happened to Peter Thaler.

Check out this story : Swiss man mistakes river for car park

This Swiss man obviously had had “many too many” and mistook a river for an underground car park. Having happily parked his car (no doubt bucked at having been able to park it in the exact right spot even while intoxicated) he went away humming to himself.

“He was confused because of the fog – but mostly because of the drink,” the report quoted a source as saying.

Little did Thaler know that the police were just waiting to nab him when he went to collect his car. The police took away his licence and fined him and (beat this) asked him to pay costs for the recovery of his car.

I personally think that the authorities exhibited a marked lack of a S of H. But then, in their defence, the police say that he was so massively drunk that he flunked a breathalyser test on the day after the parking-car-in-the-river incident. Depressing, or what? Enough to make you take to the bottle, yourself.

So take this opportunity to test the limits of your sobriety. Find your tolerance level. (And save your car from getting an unscheduled wash!)

Moral of the story: Not only must you “Not drink and Drive,” you must also refrain from “Drinking and parking!”

E-Petition to get Abhishek Takle to have a haircut



If you believe that the world would be a better place if Abhishek Takle were to get a haircut, take a moment to sign this petition.

Abhishek has been sporting the fungus on his head for the better part of a year. Rumor has it that living organisms have started to peek out from the undergrowth.

While there is little to substantiate the urban legend that the Great Wall of China is the only man-made object to be visible to the naked eye from the Moon, we can say with a good deal of certainty that Takle’s lustrous locks have grown to such proportions that it can easily be seen from a low orbit of the Earth.

Takle’s locks have flourished so much that the office security team is deliberating on issuing an ID card just for the Hair. (Note emphasis on a capital “H” since we feel the growth on his head has acquired a personality of its own.)

People speaking with Takle have been known to experience a vague sensation that they are being watched. The situation has become so serious that it may be fair to say that it is not the Hair that is growing on his head, but the other way round.

It is not very often that one gets a chance to make a difference in this world. Well, here is your chance. Just sign this e-petition.

Abhishek Takle could not be reached immediately for a comment for this post. (It is difficult to get through to him under all that foliage)

Photo Credit Himank Sharma ( @wolvhim )

(This post has been corrected to fix a spelling mistake in paragraph 2.)

When Weiner called Clinton


For a long time now, I had been wondering why Rep. Anthony Weiner, a seasoned politician and a technophile at that, would jeopardise a perfectly good marriage (yes you cynic, there are such things) and a great political career, by doing something as idiotic as tweeting a pic of his package.

But now it is all clear. Right from the start, the poor guy did not have a chance. I understand President Bill Clinton officiated at his wedding with Huma Abedin. Not a good omen, is it?

But honestly, whatever faults Clinton had – and he had plenty (including, not knowing what not to do with a cigar tube) at least he knew how not to confuse a tweet with a DM.

I am just trying to imagine what Weiner’s talk with Clinton might have shaped out:-

Tony: Hey Bill

Bill: Hiya

Tony: You know, I just wanted to ask you… How did you manage to keep your affair so quiet?

Bill: Well, for one, I am not a big fan of sharing stuff online, I prefer doing things the old fashioned way. Also I was on Orkut at that time.

Tony:Damn!

Bill: Also, You know you could have said you never lied. The legal definition of lying does not fit ‘evading the truth.’

Tony: Double damn!

Apple, Analysts and the iPad 2:The Apple of their Eyes


“Apple remains the best technology company on the planet.”

“This is a sad day (The day Apple released iPad 2) for the crowd of competitors.”

“The day could not have gone better”

“Comparable tablets will need to price meaningfully below the iPad in order to take share in this market – an event that is highly unlikely given that they would essentially be breaking-even or losing money at those prices.”

(Image Courtesy – iPad.net)

You could be forgiven for thinking that an Apple flak penned the above lines. That, however, would be no closer to the truth, than Apple’s nearest rivals are to catching up with the tech giant.

These are, in fact, the carefully considered and meticulously measured words of various brokerages, that they issued in response to Apple’s launch of the iPad 2 on March 2.
READ REUTERS REPORT : Apple’s Jobs puts on lively iPad 2 show

It makes me wonder why ever Apple would need to spend a single penny on public relations. With analysts so deeply in love with the company and its array of blockbuster products, who needs the services of a public relations officer?

An Omnicom’s Interbrand brand consultancy division report shows that Apple products were placed in 10 of the top 30 Hollywood films in 2010. And that is actually down from 50 percent in 2008, and 44 percent in 2009! I find it amusing that while on one side Apple coughs up hundreds and thousands of dollars to project their company/products favourably, brokerages/analysts are willing to afford them stellar coverage, in most cases for free!

Frankly, analysts seem to have let down their guard. People who usually jump at the faintest sign of weakness in a company’s balance sheet, commentary, outlook and are wont to keep their comments guarded, brief and lined with caveats, suddenly seem to be outdoing each other in waxing eloquent. Some of their comments and the general sense of the whole of their notes belie the fact that these are the guys that investors are relying on to do a critical evaluation of the company.

And if you are still not convinced about Apple’s love affair with stock analysts just take a look at the brokerage recommendations.

Of the 54 analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters 50 have a “buy” or a “strong buy” rating on the stock. That’s a staggering 93 percent. I doubt if I could get my blood relatives to confess their love for me so unanimously.

Even if Apple is in truth all it is touted to be, it is unhealthy and dangerous for analysts — the people we trust to study and analyse the company in an objective manner – to be so lyrically adulatory and in such a unanimous manner at that.

A part of the reason why analysts love Apple so may lie with Apple’s successful gadgets but a lot has to do with Jobs. In a note an analyst went so far as to say, “Yesterday Apple and Steve Jobs introduced the iPad 2.”

Clearly Steve Jobs being on the stage for the launch is almost as fascinating an idea as the company’s new product itself. A fantastic case of “the Man “ and “the Machine” coming together to take a company to heady heights.

To my mind the obvious reason (legitimate or otherwise) for the way analysts adulate Apple and Jobs, is their success. Nothing succeeds like success. Success, however, may be fleeting and one must be alert to the possibility of things going wrong. The “truly, madly and deeply in love” tone of most of the analyst notes can hardly be the end result of a critical, alert and objective approach.

Whether it is the charisma of Steve Jobs or the sheer magic of its products Apple certainly has stock analysts wrapped around its little finger.

It is for lesser companies to shell out oodles of cash on splashy advertising campaigns and carefully thought out promotional events. All Apple needs to do is to have Steve Jobs take the stage with whatever it is that the company is launching.

And then the company can sit back and enjoy the applause.

(The writing above does not reflect anything but my own personal views.)

2010 : The Top Trends on Twitter


The year is drawing its last breaths and is ready to say its final farewells. When I look back on the time that has gone by and try to choose a single event/happening that defines the hours that I spent online during the course of the year, one single word comes to mind. Twitter.

I discovered the magic of Twitter pretty late in the game. ( and the year for that matter)

It has, however, possessed me like nothing before or since. So here is a summing up post for this tumultuous, tantalizing thing tagged Twitter.

As of the end of 2010 there are about 175 million registered users on Twitter. The 175 million users generated about 25 billion tweets over the year! (At 4000 odd tweets I have only a 0.000016 percent share in this!)

One of the most interesting things on Twitter is the ‘trending’ feature. The superbly popular feature allows users to check at any given time, what topics are being discussed by more people than ever before.

The overall top 10 Trending topics of 2010 were:

1. Gulf Oil Spill – An oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico which flowed for three months in 2010. No surprises here. There is nothing like a big corporate, a nasty environmental disaster and precious precious oil to fire up the imagination!

2. FIFA World Cup– With about 3.18 million fans attending the event and god knows how many more sitting glued to their television, it makes sense that the world Cup was a trending topic on Twitter.

3. Inception – Anyone who has watched the Christopher Nolan masterpiece will readily understand why the movie was trending on twitter. Obviously people were discussing the movie and how nobody seemed to understand the ending. Was DiCaprio dreaming all the while? Tweet Tweet!

4. Haiti Earthquake – The January 12 catastrophic magnitude 7.0 Mw earthquake, with an epicentre near the town of Léogâne, about 25 km west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, stirred people’s imaginations like never before!

5. Vuvuzela: What’s plastic, a metre long, brightly coloured and sounds like an elephant? It’s the vuvuzela, the noise-making trumpet of South African football fans!

6. Apple iPad- Another one of Steve’s Wonders. Arguably the gadget of the year, Apple’s snazzy tablet had no problems walking into Twitter’s hall of fame. (Ironic if u consider that many may have been using the iPad to tweet about the .. well … iPad!)

7. Google Android – What do you get when you take an Internet search giant and a phenomenon called smart phones and the bewitching appeal of open source? Yes Android.

8. Justin Bieber- er .. I have no clue why he is here! 😉 He also Tops the list on people on Twitter in 2010. (And no, I do not figure on the list, thank you for asking!)

9. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows – the seventh and final of the Harry Potter novels written by British author J. K. Rowling. I guess the twitter trend refers to the movie released on 19 November. Considering that it is a movie based on a book that was released in 93 countries and sold 15 million copies in the first twenty-four hours of going on sale, it is very understandable why the movie is on the list.

10. Pulpo Paul – Paul the Octopus was a common octopus from Weymouth, England, who lived in a tank at a commercial attraction, the Sea Life Centre in Oberhausen, Germany. Well right up to the point where it’s feeding behaviour started to correctly predict the winner of each of Germany’s seven matches in the 2010 World Cup, as well as the outcome of the final match. No less mysterious was its sudden demise on 26th Oct. Plenty of fodder for tweeps to tweet about. (I personally maintain to this day that the Italian Mafia got to poor Pauly!)

Besides these overall top ten trending topics, there were some other interesting tops on Twitter this year. Hurricane Earl, Pakistan Flood and Prince Williams Engagement all made it to the top news events on Twitter. (Disclaimer. I am not saying that the Royal hook-up was in any way similar to a flood or a hurricane!)

Four of the top 10 technology topics tweeted about were from Apple Inc. – iPad, Apple iOS, Apple iPhone and MacBook Air. Two were from Google – Android and Google Instant. The term “New Twitter” also made it to the list! ( I think mostly thanks to people tweeting ‘When am I going to get the new Twitter!’)

Here is a complete list of top trends for 2010.

http://yearinreview.twitter.com/trends/

P.S. It is interesting that at least 3 of the top 10 trends for 2010 had to do with the FIFA World Cup. (I say three, because I suspect Bieber may be a soccer player! Oh, will someone tell me who this guy is ?) Er .. You can follow me at @saqibiqbalahmed 🙂

The (hug and ) Kiss of Death ! Or Sanjay Dutt’s last ‘Jaadoo ki Jhappi’


Okay. Its official. Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt’s career is over for good. Thank-you very much.

No, seriously! Local media reports suggest that Dutt has been booked for making disparaging remarks against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati during an election rally in Pratapgarh district, Uttar Pradesh.

At a public meeting Thursday at K.P. College in Pratapgarh, Dutt is understood to have said,

Main Mayawatiji ko jaadu ki jhappi aur pappi dono doonga” (I will give both a hug and a kiss to Mayawati)”

(This statement in itself will lead, any astute readers who have seen Mayawati recently, to question Dutts mental equilibrium !)

I mean, If you are a heartthrob and an icon to boot and you say you will dole out hugs and kisses and people are unsporting enough to go and lodge FIRs about your words, well, the writing is clear. Sorry buddy you are no longer a star. Just look at Shah Rukh Khan – he has practically made a career out of hugging and kissing random people, and does anyone object? Not a word of protest.

It just goes to show that the delightfully statuesque Mayawati cannot be taken lightly.

Unconfirmed reports suggest that she has banned all statues of Sanjay Dutt in the whole of Uttar Pradesh.

Did you just look at the Sun? That will be $2.45 please!


A Hot Bargain!

A Hot Bargain!

The Best Things in Life Are Free – the Sun, the Air, the Earth…

Hah, that’s what you thought.. till now. This might come as a nasty shock to all you folks, but I take it as my sacred duty to let you know that the Sun is no longer free. Yes, all you people who have been happily frolicking in the Sun with never a thought to the huge bill that you have been running up all the while, it’s true.

The next time you look at the bright yellow Sun you better be ready to shell out the green stuff.

Angeles Duran, a smart lady from Galicia – a sunny spot on the border with Spain and Portugal has come up with the idea of laying claim to the G2V star. ( that’s the scientific classification for the sun, based on its spectral and luminosity class! It really is. I make up lot of things but would never be able to make up something on this scale!)

The Daily Mail on Monday carried a story about how Duran says that the Sun officially belongs to her now, since she had the celestial body registered in her name at a local notary office.

READ REPORT : http://bit.ly/STUNdSUN

‘There was no snag, I backed my claim legally, I am not stupid, I know the law.” the story quotes her as saying.

I can’t imagine why she would think anyone would think her stupid. I mean she has just laid claims to a star whose mass is 743 times the total mass of all the planets in the solar system, and which has a radius that’s 109 times that of the Earth. If she takes it in her head to survey her possession she will take her about eight minutes to get to the Sun even if she travels at the speed of light. And Oh yes, it’s kind of hot – about 6,000°C at its outer visible layer. Does that sound remotely crazy?

In my opinion, she has struck the iron while it is hot. (6,000°C remember !) Smart woman. She saw opportunity and grabbed it with both hands. Moreover, Duran is not one of those folks who just buy up real estate on a whim and then wait for it to start generating revenue. She has definite plans. She wants to slap a fee on everyone who uses the Sun. (This is the only time I am really grateful that my work requires me to work at night and an online copy of a famed British tabloid newspaper is the closest that I ever get to seeing Duran’s latest possession!)

But hey, don’t judge her yet. She is not in it for the money. In fact quite generously she has offered to the Spanish government, half of the proceeds that she gets from people looking at the Sun. If only she had been Irish … Ireland might not have had to go to the European Union for a €67.5 loan package!

Besides this, she plans to devote a tenth of her earnings from the Sun towards research. The report disappointingly does not say what the research is going to focus on. Possibly she wants some research done on coming up with more harebrained ideas for making money. (In which case I would like to warn her.. it’s a waste.. one cannot come up with a more loony idea .. even if one spends millions on research !)

Also very nobly, she has offered to donate another 10 percent of her earnings from the Sun to end world hunger. She might have her eye on the Sun, but has her feet firmly planted on Earth and is very much keyed-in to real problems. ( by real problems, I mean, World hunger, not something like figuring out how she is going to stop you from peeking at the Sun without coughing up the cash!)

For her own self, Duran wants to keep just a measly 10 percent of the proceeds she gets from people making use of the Sun. Touching. Sniff. Sniff. Such a nice person! I just hope she has a good paramedic at hand when she gets her next property tax notification.

And you know what; Duran might actually end up making some money off her idiocy. (Certainly more than what I am making from writing these insane posts!) She can always put the Sun up for auction on eBay. And for all you know someone out there might be crazy and rich enough to cough up some cash to own the Sun. What a bargain. I have it from a good source that this can definitely happen.

After all the list of things sold on eBay is not very impressive. Weird things sold on the Internet include:

#248619068: “The Meaning of Life” for … hold your breath $3.26

Item #2931457201: “Ghost In a Jar” for .. don’t be spooked … $90 million

Well, all luck to her. Meanwhile I will just try to enjoy a few more laughs before someone goes and registers “humour” as their exclusive possession.

P.S. And if you are thinking about going ahead and laying claim to other stars and planets. Desist. It’s already been done. I checked!

P.P.S. Post idea courtesy Divya Sharma.