Thursday, March 31, 2011

When Opportunity presents itself

TV channels are smart enough to build a narrative and story around it. Vijaykanth beats his own candidate. But the narrative we are shown is (a) Vijaykanth spoke swear words (ladies sentiments check) + (b) Vijakanth asked that ADMK and Vijay fan flags be lowered (Internal dissension check) and (c) Vijaykanth intoxicated and says candidate name incorrectly (re-enforce existing suspicions).

I am impressed with this new 'strategic' nature of T.V channels. Adding the sound effects (when Gabtun beats the candidate - a mike tapping sound can be heard which gives an illusion that sound is that of the candidate being beaten). It is put in a loop to make it appear that the beating was a prolonged one as well. After the Kalaingar arrest orchestration video by Sun TV where they did the voice over of "ennai adikaraanga ..ennai kolraanga" later - this is an impressive improvisation. The TN election entertainment begins.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A peep into DMK and its history

This is a very comprehensive review of the state of DMK and its history. Particularly because this author has managed to focus on the behind-the-scenes power of Rajatthi Ammal.

A long read. But worth it. Very impressive article.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


People cynical of Tendulkar's decision to walk are questioning "This is the first time I have seen him walk ever in his career. Why suddenly put scene now? Maybe he was afraid UDRS would embarrass him"

The question they should be wondering about is - do they remember at least one instance where he did not walk and replays later showed him to be out. I can't ever recall Tendulkar getting lucky that way. Ever. He has been given out many times when he hadn't nicked. In 1997 tour of WI, Cumberbatch the chief among the long list of 'bongu' Windies umpires (and windies umpires are the most 'bongu' in the world) gave him out when the ball hit his shoulder and went to the keeper. And then we also had Umpire Rudy from South Africa rule Tendulkar out in South Africa to a dodgy Jonty Rhodes catch because - in Rudy's words - "Jonty is a true christian and won't lie"

I personally dislike walking. Strongly believe one should not walk. You are out only if the umpire gives you out. So didn't like Tendulkar walking. But this still had to be pointed out.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

TN Elections: A Rookie's Analysis

There is a good chance that someone (with more inclination towards politics than I have) who has been following politics closely could see many angles to the recent developments with AIADMK alliance. But I am surprised nobody in the media is explicitly mentioning one specific angle. And I am curious to know why. Which is what prompted me to write the post. I have never worried about politics and don't watch the news. All I know is hearsay. So I am trying to test if I can get the basic electoral picture correct here. So here is a newbie's point of view:

The DMK has long reconciled to the reality that they will never reach the magic 117 number on their own. They contested 132 seats in 2006 and needed to win 88% of their seats to get to simple majority on their own. The congress, PMK and everybody else knew DMK couldn't pull that kind of odds. DMK knew it as well. So its been 5 years since they gave up their ambition of ruling TN without coalition. However, it was an easy change for DMK. DMK cannot be regarded as the single largest vote puller in Tamil Nadu. They've averaged only 60 - 75 lac votes in all elections since 1991. Recently these votes seem only good enough to translate to about 70 - 100 seats out of 234. But to reach 117 seats they've more often than not needed 'help'.

Today they have been pushed down to 119 seats in 2011 elections - which means they need to win all their seats to get simple majority on their own. Its not even a option anymore. DMK have surrendered to the reality that they will never rule the fort on their own.

AIADMK on the other hand - the most popular party in TN in terms of # of individual votes they can poll in their favor - seems to be this old dog who is unwilling to accept the reality that simple majority victories by any party in TN isn't as simple as it used to be. Jayalalitha has consistently 'kazhatti uttufied' her allies post elections. She has contested in 180+ seats giving a comfortable buffer for her to get to 117 on her own. Thats because she can average 80 lac votes in TN. Barring 1996 where she hit a low of 55 lac votes - she has gotten 1.09 crore votes in 1991, 88 lacs in 2001 and 1.07 crores in 2006. Imagine this - She had got 1.09 crores in an election she won with 164 seats. In 2006 she got 1.07 crores in an election and she lost! She won only 57 seats. This is where Gabtun becomes the most important person in her life.

So if you were her - it is reasonable to assume you that you can get simple majority on your own because 45% of the voting population seems to favor you. All you need to do is get the voter mood swing in your direction 3 months before the election and hedge with a few key allies (PMK, CPI and CPM will win in areas that Jaya can never hope to win). But if its head on collision with DMK in 180 seats - her odds are favorable. So even if she got in bed with Gabtun - she needed to make sure her odds of getting to 117 were great. But it was only a matter of time before her allies wised up to this and preempted her before the elections. Vijaykanth pulls in close to 30 lac votes in TN. He may inch up to 40 lacs in 2011. This is 2X more than PMK. And he is pulling the gap further ahead while PMK has never grown in a long time. What makes this whole thing interesting is he doesn't complement Jaya the way the communist parties and PMK (in instances where they allied with Jaya) does. His strength/problem is the spread of his votes is wider and so his vote density is thinner. And he intersects with Jaya's stronghold in a huge way. His strongest 30 seats are probably ranked very high among Jaya's strongest 150 seats. Everytime she gives a seat to Gabtun (or Vaiko) she is giving from her core base of seats.

Vaiko and PMK seem to get between 16 - 20 lac votes. Both seems have peaked and show negigible growth. PMK is in a position to have more clout inspite of getting half the votes of gaptun because its a caste/geography density based party. So its focus allows it to translate votes to seats in a much better way. They have a good chance of contesting in 34 seats and winning 20-25 of it. Vaiko is just another Vijayakanth in terms of spread but with lesser votes. And so gets lesser importance (I like him a lot btw)

In 2011 jaya is probably set to rake in over 1 crore votes again. It is the translation of votes into seats that is being made difficult because of the growth of Gaptun is eating into her victory margins. And unlike her previous allies - gaptun is in a position to prempt her from going for a clean 117. And this is what I think this war is all about. Something that is not being discussed as much as I like it to be (but I must confess to not having read most of the thamizh media's analysis). It is about getting to 117 for Jaya. It is about not letting her get to it for Vaiko, Left parties and Gaptun. But its coming out in the press in a different way. It is not about constituency mix (which is important but not the tilter) or slighting MDMK or their relevance. And it is certainly not about Jaya's arrogance. Jayalalitha needs DMDK to convert her votes to 117 seats. Once DMDK is in the bag - MDMK is superflous. Gaptun doesn't (or shouldn't) care about well being of MDMK. To him the inclusion of MDMK means Jaya will contest less than 160 seats. Will give more of her 'strong constituencies' to Vaiko. Gaptun is making Jaya's odds of getting to 117 difficult. In this context Gaptun is using constituency mix to prevent Jaya from contesting in 150 of their strongest constituencies.

So DMK seems like a party that is already very very screwed. Now they are having their puff of smoke and are watching to see if Jaya will get screwed over.

As an aside - it is fascinating to see Karunanidhi and Jayalalitha go back to contesting in a constituency that is like a real 'home' to them. They've both met similar fates to their political careers and are going back to their roots.

My Quarter Final Predictions

Testing to see if I have any predictive abilities

Aus Vs WI
SL Vs Eng
NZ Vs Ind
Pak Vs SA

And then we may have Ind Vs Aus and SA Vs Eng

Monday, March 14, 2011

TN Elections 2011

Now that election season is around the corner. Non-voting, educated, I-have-Internet-access type idiot people will put maha-blade with references to this 49-O clause. It is the most useless option that exists. But these people will tout it as if it is the greatest invention in Indian electoral system.

Anybody who assumes non-voters didn't vote because they couldn't should be denied internet access. That people who to walk up to a booth to click 49-O are the only ones who think that no candidate is worth electing is a level of delusion that defies logic.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The 2.5 Meter Rule

Some times it is hard to refrain from commenting about cricket when there is so much nonsense is going on. Things surrounding the Ian Bell not-out decision was proceeding normally until the whole 'adulteration' discussion began in the post match conference. After that the media, Dhoni and BCCI began to act in a kind of idiotic fashion that surpasses their normal idiotic levels. And if that happens the traditional Indian cricket supporters begin to display even greater amounts on idiocy.

To start with - the usage or public presentation of UDRS technology seems to be more erroneous than the actual technology itself. For example if a fielding team appeals for LBW and the umpire gives it not out and the fielding team refers the decision to UDRS - the first thing that is checked is if the bowler bowled a no-ball or not. If he had indeed bowled a no-ball, we don't even proceed to the next step of seeing whether the ball might have gone to hit the stumps or not. The review process is abandoned right then and there and the the batsman is given not out.

The 2.5 meter rule should ideally be used in a similar gated fashion. Before projecting the direction of the ball - the technology should essentially measure the distance of impact between ball/pad and the stumps. If it is beyond 2.5 meters - it should straight away abandon the referral process and either give 'not out' or at least revert to the on-field umpire's decision.

What the people behind UDRS claim is that the 'hawkeye projection' is more error prone or uncertain when the distance between impact and stumps is greater than 2.5 meters. You may ask why 2.5 and not 2.6 or 3.7? Thats just because you don't know enough. I don't know enough. Maybe the technology manufacturers did several million samples of statistical analysis and found out that until 2.5 meters they have 99% accuracy and at about 2.5 meters the accuracy dropped down to 70%. Who knows? And when you don't know enough the best thing to do is shut up and let the person who knows enough to make a decision. It seems in this case the manufacturers of the technology seem to think that their technology does not work beyond 2.5 meters. It could have been 3.1 but in this case it is not. It has to be some number and in the case of this technology it was 2.5 meters.

So what is really happening is that this technology is opting out of the decision making process if the impact is greater than 2.5 meters. This is a simple enough rule. This essentially means that the ability for technology to support referrals is only within the 2.5 meter scope.

The horrible thing they did in that match is present/use UDRS poorly. So poorly that they had UDRS project the path of the ball even when self-admittedly the projection was inaccurate and unreliable. They did not tell us before showing the visual that projections beyond 2.5 meters was unreliable. The disclaimer was written on the right-hand side in red font that "2.5 meters bla bla bla". Which no one read. Rightly so - because no one ever reads the fine print. The fact remains that - they shouldn't bother projecting/showing us stuff that has no reliability. Might as well tie a pen to a chicken's feet and show that as a 'projection' on the big screen and call it UDRS. Now what that colossal stupidity led to was - millions of people saw some random projection - came to believe that the ball was *certainly* going to hit the middle of the middle stump. And they all got angsty when Billy Bowden gave 'not out'. And Dhoni comes out and says that technology was "adultrated by Human intervention". When in reality "Adultrated Technology removed itself out of the equation and reverted back to human's best decision".


You could ask what should be done under circumstances when the ball hits the pad when the batsman is well in front.

When technology with all its power is unsure at 2.5 meters - I do not think on-field umpires can be sure either. And when there is doubt the batsman should be given not out. So the sensible thing to do is to fix a threshold (be it 2.5 or 2.6 whatever the technology decides as statistically favorable to making a more accurate decision) and set that as boundary condition. Impacts over 2.5 meters should be given 'not out' by both on-field and UDRS. You may ask how an umpire is to know whether the impact was 2.5 meters or more. Well - he uses the same guesstimate he uses to decide whether the ball pitched in-line or not. In cases where he gives out for impact greater than 2.5 meters, the batsman can appeal and get a 'not out' from UDRS. In cases where on-field umpire says not-out and fielding side is unsure - the fielding side can refer to UDRS and if the impact was less than 2.5 meters - UDRS will go on to project the path of the ball and deem it out or not out based on that.

But the key thing to do is not show the public stuff that does not have a high degree of certainty. Then the whole discussion gets biased by what people saw. Visual images can bias a person beyond reason. And it ridiculous that the ICC does not even know this basic fact of life.