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Showing posts from March, 2010

Blackberry for all, or none at all is stupid

'There are also other concerns expressed by academics. Will teachers flee for greener pastures? Will quality higher education become the exclusive privilege of the rich? Surely, these questions must be reflected upon before Sibal pushes through his reforms.'

I picked that out of an Outlook article on the Foreign universities Bill.

I wonder who these academics are who've expressed such concerns. May I venture to say, despite having raised 'pertinent' questions, the questions are also a reflection of their lack of understanding of the world of business.

Consider the questions.

The first one's about academics fleeing for greener pastures. I wish the academic who raised this question knew how factors of production behave in markets that allow for mobility. In such markets, factors go to wherever the returns are greater. For example, if you had capital to invest where would you consign it to? Into a venture that gives greater or lower returns? Labour too like capital, w…

To Rumor is Human

'Our journey together on this earth is characterised to one degree or another by uncertainty. We see only in part, not the whole. Rumor-shared sensemaking- is one element of our collective response to this component of the human condition. Indeed, rumor is the people's shared sensemaking activity par excellence. It attends all of life's activities. It has been around for as long as humans have lived with uncertainty. It reflects the fundamentally social and sense-making character of the human race. Rumor activity therefore represents something basic, central, and significant about who we are.'- Nicholas DoFonzo, 'The Watercooler Effect'.

Vote so they can vote to control us

Its now been almost ten hours without electricity. The power bid us goodbye at around ten in the morning and made its reappearance a few minutes ago. The time's now eight in the evening. I guess by now I've done more for the earth hour than all of the continents put together. After all they switched off for an hour. We've been out for ten hours. And this is just the beginning of a long summer without power in Bangalore.I guess now, Planet Earth owes me, and not the other way round.Anyway, this post ain't about the lack of electricity. Its about what the Karnataka government is mulling post BBMP elections. The poor voter turnout has prompted them to consider compulsory voting.My reaction? How hilarious!Imagine the irony. Politicians will now legislate so they can force us into voting booths. So we can vote them back to legislate on how they can control our lives even further. Of course, I am ready to go to the booths. But the party I want to vote for must be one that pr…

Global Coolin's A-Comin'

Fig. 2 - IPCC predicted Warming

Fig. 3 - Measured cooling


Fig. 4 - PDO indices, 1900-2008 with predictions to 2040.
Read more about Global Coolin' here and here.

The Zoo-Zoos is money down the drain

A visit to the Vodafone service center followed countless messages on the phone saying I would have to submit documents proving who I was. I acquiesced knowing we live in times where security is paramount. I wouldn't want anyone misrepresenting me when it comes to my phone, and so despite the fact it would be a pain going to the Vodafone center, I did.

At the Vodafone service center I am given a token number so I can wait my turn at the counter, as part of a sequence. There aren't too many chairs so I plonk onto a ledge and wait for what seems like an eternity. The service personnel seemed to be attending to customers the way they would've toured Disneyland. Nice, slow and easy is the way they were doing it. Mercifully I get my turn and I give in the required documents to the lady at the counter.

While at the center I spied the now famous Zoo-Zoo pictures on the wall. These cutesy little things had become quite a favourite amongst TV viewers with even a facebook account that…

Why Women don't want Macho Men

'The big question that comes of the study is this: Is it possible that modern medicine—and by extension modern life—inadvertently devalues masculinity? Possibly. Is the Marlboro Man, that smoking-hot icon of American manhood, under threat of being extinguished? Given American women's apparently strong masculinity preferences, the answer is no. We are not ready to get rid of our macho men. (Then again, we also have yet to improve our health index ratings.) Yet there are some smoke signals that suggest change is just over the horizon.

As the social environment shifts, so may women's mate preferences. While Stone Age forces once wired women to associate strong cues of masculinity with their children's chance of survival, times are changing. The promise of improved health care in America could be one example of a shift.'

- Jena Pincott, 'Why Women Don't Want Macho Men '.

What the Pope can learn from Toyota

Why I admire Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger) is because of his unwavering commitment to conservative christian principles, unlike his predecessor Pope John Paul II who was quite the liberal. Despite his tough and righteous stance on many issues, Pope Benedict XVI finds himself facing the anger of his flock. The reason's clerical abuses, one of which is now being tied back to a decision taken by the Pope when he was cardinal.

Is this scandal going to go away? No. Is the world citizenry outraged at what's happened? Yes.

What must the Pope do?

Exactly what the likes of Toyota did. When Toyota identified a problem with its cars, it went in for a recall. The Pope too should now systematically though his office identify errant priests and without mercy defrock them, and also leave them to the civil courts for trial and punishment. In addition to recalling cars, President Akido Toyoda of Toyota Motor Co. made a public apology and swore that his company would do everything to win co…

Awaiting the next Eco-scare

As I write this with my lights on, I am being reminded via the media of need to conserve. I wish I could remind them of the need to produce. If there's a shortfall in power, the answer is not an exhortation to conserve. Instead it must be one that prompts greater production. At the risk of sounding greedy I must say, greater production and consumption is what will benefit the masses, than caps on production and limits on consumption. Rationing never did any body any good. The last I heard they were starving in the erstwhile Soviet Union.Now for all those who've had their lights off when mine were on, do take the time to read this,'The striking fact about Earth’s temperature is its stability over geological stretches of time, without any sudden ups and downs. The Earth has seen Ice Ages — but they never reached the equator. It’s seen volcanic explosions, asteroid impacts, changes in the Earth’s tilt toward the sun. The Earth may have seen big variations in sun spots and cos…

Why no publicity is good publicity

The worst thing about good publicity is the enhanced possibility of lousy publicity. The Tata Nano is a case in point. When it came to communicating the car to audiences around the country and the world during launch, publicity worked. Every other media publication and channel carried the story of the miracle Nano. It was all hunky dory then.

Now the picture's altered dramatically. The very same media outlets are now picking up a story of the Nano going up in flames and beaming it worldwide (case in point, Pasadena Star-News). What a lousy bout of bad publicity for the car! Has its image been dented? Though these are still early days my gut tells me the damage's being done.

Will the Nano bounce back? It can and it must. That means no more going up in flames and hopefully media stories on how well the car's doing. Also no bad-mouthing by users. Is that a tall ask? Sure it is, but that's the only way out for the Nano. For its sake, I hope that's the way things turn out…

Don't Go Green

'The phrase “go green” seems harmless enough — what’s so wrong with being more efficient and looking for new ways of producing energy? It’s true, there’s nothing wrong with looking for new energy sources. But going green has been promoted as the answer to all of our energy needs, the idea being that if we “go green” we can save the earth and still produce plenty of energy and create new jobs. This is part of the lie.

What you must always keep in mind is that the only goal of the environmental movement is to save nature from you. There is no other reason for its existence. The environmental movement does not care what happens to your job, your family, your future, the future of your children, this country, any country.

Another subtle mission of the “go green” slogan is to have you participate in their war without you knowing it. In a very real sense “go green” is the war cry of the environmental movement — vilifying a gas we can’t live without to arm their anti-civilization war mach…

I ain't puttin' my lights off, Abhishek can!

Let me get one thing straight. I ain't puttin' off any lights on the 27th the way Abhishek Bachchan would want it, as part of this duncey little movement called Earth hour. He can put his lights off if he wants to. Mine stay on.

The hypocrisy of such 'enlightened' movements just blows my head off. I wonder what kind of carbon footprint the likes of Abhishek run up every day. Bet he sleeps in an airconditioned room when I sweat it out under the fan every night. Bet he's got a dedicated generator that comes on everytime there's a power cut, when I slave it in the dark. Bet he drives a car that gulps down precious fossil fuel when the likes of me worship fuel efficiency, as that keeps petrol bills down.

Once again, what's the solution he proposes to save us from bankrupting planet earth? We put our lights off for an hour! Like I said he can yank his airconditioner off the wall, or play football with his generator or donate his car to charity. Should he do that, …

Why America hates Universal Healthcare

'Now, I really don’t care if you overeat, smoke like a chimney, hump like a bunny or forget to lock the safety mechanism on your pistol as you jam it in your waistband. Fine by me. And as a laissez-faire social-libertarian live-and-let-live kind of person, I would never under normal circumstances condemn anyone for any of the behaviors listed above. That is: Until the bill for your stupidity shows up in my mailbox. Then suddenly, I’m forced to care about what you do, because I’m being forced to pay for the consequences.

What I don’t like about the very concept of universal health care is that it compels me to become my brother’s keeper and insert myself into the moral decisions of his life. I’d rather grant each person maximum freedom. I’d prefer to let people make whatever choices they want, however stupid or dangerous I may deem those choices to be. Just so long as you take responsibility for your actions, and you reap the consequences and pay for them yourself — hey, be as fooli…

A Gag in fact speaks more

The problem with the University of Ottawa is the problem of Marketing ignorance. Or if I were more specific, a lack of understanding when it comes to the concept of publicity.

In gagging Ann, the University has propagated her message even further. The news story is on Drudge and by this time almost every other media vehicle would have carried it. And come tomorrow, the blogosphere will take it even further.

Its pathetic that liberals can't stand up to Ann Coulter's persuasive messages. And so they take the Commie route of gags. Which from a marketing communication perspective is just perfect. Because like I said, it spreads the 'message' even further.

Sach? Sach's a toothpaste?

Agreed retailers can dally around with their own private label brands. After all, its their space that manufacturer brands take up in the store, and so why not have your own brand jostling with them. But then its also important to note that should you as a retailer want to get into a category that's ruled by established brands, it must be done with infinite care.

That infinite care, according to me is the ability to build a brand that can stand on its own, and not just exist because it uses space in a store from its own parent company. The KishoreBiyani led Future group now has a toothpaste brand on its shelves. And its been christened 'Sach'.

The name Sach is drawn from cricketing legend SachinTendulkar who's supposed to be a co-creator. I am not sure if that's a stroke of branding genius, though I know the Future Group hopes people will stick 'Sach' into their mouths because they are in awe of the cricketing legend. I for one ain't hopeful. Personally, …

The Statist's Vision

'I understand the reasoning behind Obamism and am familiar with the feel-good, this-is-our-moment rhetoric of egalitarianism. But please at least spare us the fictions and simply be honest: Obama wants a state-run America, somewhere to the left of France or Denmark, a United States unexceptional and merely one of many nations at the UN. This vision follows an existing, decades-long encroachment of government. And it requires all sorts of highly credentialed overseers monitoring and at times justifiably attacking the upper middle class for its deplorable treatment of those below it.

This new America is ultimately predicated on the notion that we were born equal and must die absolutely equal as well. And this is entirely within our grasp, if we just understand that individual responsibility, talent, natural endowment, chance, merit, luck, tragedy, and a dozen other variables far too complex for government to imagine, much less solve, in fact, are not the real obstacles to ensuring eq…

Destroying America from Within

'A nation is not built from cyclopean stone. It is a fragile tissue of shared assumptions about the nature of its history, its social consensus, its cultural and political coherence, and its implicit sense of destiny which is always subject to the threat of unraveling into a tangle of loose strands. This is a process that has been gathering momentum for some time now. It did not begin overnight. We can trace this gradual dénouement (or unknotting) from the “progressive school” of education in the 1920s and 30s with its child-centered deprivileging of hard content in favor of method and personal experience, through the student revolution of the 1960s, to the affirmative action enterprise and self-esteem movement of the latter part of the last century, to the postmodern attack on the concept of verifiable, objective truth and the politicizing of the universities we see today...

Perhaps America deserves Obama, the creature of a blinkered and self-deluded electorate, as we Canadians de…

America's gravest mistake

The current American president is arguably the gravest mistake the American electorate has ever made and one it may not survive intact. It will inevitably come to regret its decision. This is not the place to run through the chronicle of Obama’s blunders, backslidings, broken promises, outright lying, despotic tendencies, shallow education, historical falsifications, ludicrous policies, betrayal of allies, and economic bungling (assuming this is not deliberate) — the record is accessible in all its details to anyone who wishes to consult it. What strikes me as most ominous, however, is that the American people have elected a president for whom the critical battleground in the world is not the Middle East or Iraq or Iran or even Afghanistan. For this president, the war he is declaring is to be fought right here on American soil against a late-awakened majority of his own countrymen, on whom he wishes to impose a political structure alien to their history, culture, economy, and feeling …

What we do for others is what we do for us

I am not too sure if this is quite the discovery, but I must say there's a tinge of revelation to it. I figured, what we do for others in fact is more about what we do for us.

I've tried to dissect most of what I've done that seems altruistic. And I find that though the act was crafted to be one that's helpful, within it I see a design that's intended for me. I mean in the act of caring for others what I've actually done is look out for me. I know this is hard to admit. After all it isn't easy facing up to an act that on the surface seems one thing but in reality is another.

True care means sacrifices must be made and no returns sought for, actively or otherwise. That's a tall ask and doesn't come easy because as human beings we are inherently built to seek our own good. Now I see no harm in it. It only gets my goat when the do-gooders pretend otherwise to make us feel as if what they did, they did us.

As consumers, the brands we take to are the brands…

What's it with going to a game?

There's something common to my three year old, and fans at an IPL match. Both, the way I see it, turn out to be avid participants in the shows they watch. Jaden's hooked on to Ben 10. And every time the show comes on Cartoon Network, he demands that I get him his Omnitrix. He insists on watching Ben 10 do his stunts while wearing the watch. In fact at times I see Jaden waving his hands the way Ben does. In doing what he does, Jaden's trying to participate. Its much more fun that way. Its greater fun participating than being just a passive viewer. Now its the same with the guys who go to a game. I sometimes wonder who in their sane senses would pay money to watch what I believe is one the most boring games on planet earth, namely cricket. But then I get it. Getting into a stadium and screaming your lungs out gets you to be a participant. Guys like me who face the telly are just passive recipients. There's nothing much we can do than down the popcorn and watch. But for t…

If Ranbir represents the youth, I must be the Pope

I guess I must count myself lucky to have caught what 'broke' on Headlines Today. The breaking news was from the India Today conclave that had among its participants, Ranbir Kapoor. Ranbir had grandly declared at the gathering that he represented Youngistan, the youth of India.

I guess I almost fell out my chair knowing now that Ranbir represented the youth of India. But then I wondered which set of youth was he talking about? The kind that roam malls across metros? Or the kind that are holed up at the campus of a University waging battle for what they term 'Telengana'? Or was Ranbir talking about representing the girl who's been on a fast for ten years wanting the Government of India to withdraw the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958?

Who did Ranbir really represent?

The answer's pretty simple. Not the youth, at least not all of them. What Ranbir represents is the dazzling guile of a marketer who's coined a term not to band the youth of India together, b…

Its a Question of a Question

Note the difference. 'Is X the answer to question A'?'What's the right answer to question A?'The first manner of questioning is used when we desperately need the answer to be what we have written, say, in an exam paper. This kind of questioning comes close to what's termed a 'confirmation bias'. We pre-decide what the answer is, and set out to prove it.The latter style to questioning exhibits a desire to know what the answer is, without any preconditions. The questioner in this case wants to know what the answer is, despite what he may believe it be.The latter's the 'healthy' questioning mindset. Its a joy to face such questions in the classroom from students who really want to know. These are not students who've already decided what the answer must be, and therefore only seek confirmation.The difference between the former and the latter is the difference between a marketer and a seller. A seller sells what he believes consumers must buy…

My Soft Drink's me, or is it?

The other day someone tells me our choice of a beverage says so much about us. I guess I agree, though I need to add something more to that. Our choice of a beverage also may say nothing about us, instead say more about the the context and its effect on us.

Let me illustrate both these scenarios. Soft drink manufacturers make the effort to build a personality for their brands. For example, Thums Up, the leading cola brand (owned by Coca-Cola) in India takes an identity of dare-devilry. Which I believe suits it fine. People who either see themselves as dare-devils or fantasise about being one, take to Thums Up. But then its also important to note that this choice plays out in manner that's conspicuous. I mean the kid who sees himself as the daredevil buys a Thums Up while with friends and downs it, thus making a statement about himself, in the open.

Now contrast this with my buy of a Soft Drink brand. My buy doesn't see me downing the drink at a store, Instead I buy it for future…

Liar, Liar!

'Society would quickly collapse were it not for the dozens of tiny lies we permit ourselves every day. Mostly we use this for simple good manners. For instance, when breaking up with a partner, we reassure them that "It's not you, it's me", when in reality it most certainly is them.

We all learn to lie at such a young age: every parent will recognise the moment where a child first puts their hand to their mouth before stating a blatant lie. From that moment, we get steadily better at lying as we grow older, gradually refining our technique until by full adulthood we are all experts in the art of deception.

Of all human social behaviours, it is perhaps the hardest to detect.'

- James Borg, 'How to lie and not look as though you are lying'.