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Notes to Myself

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February 2009

The I’s Have It

An interesting article from the New Your Times…about Obama and his grammar.

I never thought Americans cared too much of their grammar (or even what they said!) and Pure English (Read: Queen’s English) was a matter of pride and concern of Briton – England, to be precise.

When I was 14-15 years of age, my english teacher (who was my grandfather’s age – and taught me lot of other valuable things – apart from English) told me on the very first day of his English tuition:

“Kaustubh, I may not teach you good English, but I can certainly teach you Correct English! Because concept of Good English keep on changing over the years/ generations…what was considered improper or even indecent 100 years back may become norm in futre, definition of Good and Bad may change…but what is Correct will always be Correct.”

Coincidentally he went on to explain his point with the very example discussed in this article – of use of ‘I vs Me, and myself’.

So when I read this article, it immediately reminded me of my teacher…nostalgia!!!

Here is the article:

——————————————————————————–

The I’s Have It

Published: February 23, 2009

WHEN President Obama speaks before Congress and the nation tonight, he will be facing some of his toughest critics.

Paul Sahre

Grammar junkies.

Since his election, the president has been roundly criticized by bloggers for using “I” instead of “me” in phrases like “a very personal decision for Michelle and I” or “the main disagreement with John and I” or “graciously invited Michelle and I.”

The rule here, according to conventional wisdom, is that we use “I” as a subject and “me” as an object, whether the pronoun appears by itself or in a twosome. Thus every “I” in those quotes ought to be a “me.”

So should the president go stand in a corner of the Oval Office (if he can find one) and contemplate the error of his ways? Not so fast.

For centuries, it was perfectly acceptable to use either “I” or “me” as the object of a verb or preposition, especially after “and.” Literature is full of examples. Here’s Shakespeare, in “The Merchant of Venice”: “All d
eb
ts are cleared between you and I.” And here’s Lord Byron, complaining to his half-sister about the English town of Southwell, “which, between you and I, I wish was swallowed up by an earthquake, provided my eloquent mother was not in it.”

It wasn’t until the mid-1800s that language mavens began kvetching about “I” and “me.” The first kvetch cited in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage came from a commencement address in 1846. In 1869, Richard Meade Bache included it in his book “Vulgarisms and Other Errors of Speech.”

Why did these 19th-century wordies insist “I” is “I” and “me” is “me”? They were probably influenced by Latin, with its rigid treatment of subject and object pronouns. For whatever reason, their approach stuck — at least in the rule books.

Then, why do so many scofflaws keep using “I” instead of “me”? Perhaps it’s because they were scolded as children for saying things like “Me want candy” instead of “I want candy,” so they began to think “I” was somehow more socially acceptable. Or maybe it’s because they were admonished against “it’s me.” Anybody who’s had “it is I” drummed into his head is likely to avoid “me” on principle, even when it’s right. The term for this linguistic phenomenon is “hypercorrection.”

A related crime that Mr. Obama stands accused of is using “myself” to dodge the “I”-versus-“me” issue, as when he spoke last November of “a substantive conversation between myself and the president.” The standard practice here is to use “myself” for emphasis or to refer to the speaker (“I’ll do it myself”), not merely as a substitute for “me.” But some language authorities accept a looser usage, and point out that “myself” has been regularly used in place of “me” since Anglo-Saxon days.

Our 44th president isn’t the first occupant of the White House to suffer from pronounitis. Nos. 43 and 42 were similarly afflicted. The symptoms: “for Laura and I,” “invited Hillary and I,” and so on. (For the record, Nos. 41 and 40 had no problem with the objective case, regularly using “Barbara and me” or “Nancy and me” when appropriate.)

But an educated speaker is expected to keep his pronouns in line. Here, then, is a tip, Mr. President. Nobody chooses the wrong pronoun when it’s standing on its own. If you’re tempted to say “for Michelle and I” in tonight’s speech, just mentally omit Michelle (sorry, Mrs. Obama), and you’ll get it right. And no one will get on your case.

Patricia T. O’Conner and Stewart Kellerman are the authors of the forthcoming “Origins of the Specious: Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language.”

————————————————————————————————-

Source: The New York Times, February 23, 2009

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/24/opinion/24oconner.html?_r=1

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Slumdog Millionaire and BusinessWeek articles

Came across these two articles from BusinessWeek – both having Slumdog Millionaire as backdrop…interesting read!
Hollywood Meets Bollywood as India’s Movies Go Global

Beyond Slumdog Millionaire: India’s Biggest Slum

All eyes on Oscars…


‘…and the Oscar goes to…!!!’
The moment is nearing us…less than 24 hrs. to go before the world will see a new Maestro (the old one for all Indians) – A. R. Rahman, irrespective of whether he wins an Oscar or not.
My ‘inner voice’ says: Rahman will bag 2 Oscars! 
About 7 years ago every Indian was glued to TV screens – hoping that Lagaan would win an Oscar…that time nomination was for Best Foreign film category – and not the main stream.
And to be honest – Lagaan was a typical Bollywood masala film – and did not deserve to win. But it is not so this time…Rahman has won nomination in the main stream category…and he deserves to win! 
If the betting trend and media prediction is to be believed, Rahman will most likely be holding the Golden Lady tomorrow…Let’s see!

Chess: Linares 2009 has begun…

Linares, one of the most respected Chess tournaments – equvalent to Grand Slam in tennis, has begun on 18th February 2009.

This is the first tournament for Vishwanathan Anand since he retained his World Championship in 2008 – so it is a major test for him. Already Anand (Elo: 2791) has lost his No. 1 spot to Topalov (2812) – who is ahead of Anand by a whopping 21 points! For super grandmasters that is a great lead…
But Anand is still my favourite. Just look at the following Poll result from http://www.chessvibes.com – most of them are betting on Anand…maybe that is his popularity speaking, and not necessarily his form.
Let’s see what happen…All the best to Vishy Anand!
BTW, another player to watch out for is young Magnus Carlsen – who is already chasing Anand with No. 3 position in FIDE ratings.

About Google

As a netizen I visit http://www.google.com everytime I connect to internet. Sometime back I read somewhere a quote ‘When in doubt search Google; when certain…make it your Home page!’

Well I certainly have Google.com as my Homepage – and I am sure most of you would have it too…

But how many times we browse Google itself? Believe it or not bland looking Google search page has few links that lead to wealth of information about Google…don’t believe? 


Go to ‘Our Company’ section. Unlike ‘About Us’ of most other companies this one is a wonderful and engaging read. The language is simple and without any jargons/ buzzwords. In fact it tilts more towards light humour.

Also, just like Google search – the information about Google unfolds slowly; you find more and more links as you start moving. For instance check this ‘Corporate Information’:

Many of the things never appear elsewhere – in magazines, articles or even books written on Google story…

The information and especially the language tells a lot about the Google culture. As I mentioned before, the words are not heavy with jargon and management fundas, but still they captivate you and force you to read the rest of the page. For example, check this: 

On Google Philosophy page, the prelude to ‘Ten things’ starts with line ‘Never settle for the best’

Google’s Ten things:

This very first line mandated me to read the Ten things – which otherwise would hint at some preaching that looks great on paper but not in practice.

Even the Ten things use very simple and direct language to convey the point. I do not know to what extent Google follows these things in practice…but I believe they must be doing so…for it is not easy for any organization to come up with such points unless they have well thought about them and have implemented them.

These Ten things, in a way, also make a dig at some popular beliefs – and makes mockery of them. e.g. ‘You can be serious without a suit’!!! (aimed at those high-flying Top Managers spending 3/4 th of their life in air-conditioned boardrooms…or ‘Democracy on web works’ aimed at, no prizes for guessing, Microsoft et al.

But the on
e
write-up I liked most was ‘Fast is better than slow’

A website’s success to bring customers and keep them glued to it is usually measured in terms of time a user spends on the website – referred to as ‘stickiness of the website’. The more the stickiness, i.e. the more the time spent by a net surfer on a webpage, the better the marketing of product/ service! It is assumed that when a net surfer lingers over a web page, he would end up buying the product/ service being offered.

Even for Bloggers: when we register for various websites providing statistics, they give two important details – no. of visitors and average time spent by a visitor.

Secondly, in case of online advertising and related money earned, it is based on number of ‘click-throughs’ from the advertised page.

In short, maximizing ‘stickiness’ of website is the ultimate aim of any online business.

I spent so much time to explain this is to set backdrop for Google’s ‘Fast is better than slow’ funda.

It proudly mentions: “Google may be the only company in the world whose stated goal is to have users leave its website as quickly as possible”

So Google, contrary to other website, constantly aims at reducing the time spent on Google website…and by and large they are pretty successsful in that!

The fact that most people have not gone through the links I mentioned above confirms that… 🙂

I am yet to go through all the links that Google offers…but cannot wait to do so…for next couple of days, I will use Google – but not for search; just to read ‘About Google’


असेच काही तरी: नवीन जोक-बुक


परवा एका मित्राकडे गेलो होतो तेव्हा त्याने ’जोक-बुक’ चा नवीन अंक दाखवला. जोक बुक म्हणजे एका प्रसिद्ध ’विवाह-मंडळाचा’ मासिक अंक. आम्ही त्याला ’जोक-बुक’ म्हणतो.


हसून हसून गडाबडा लोळावे असे ’नमुने’ असतात त्यात. काहींचे तर पान भर फोटो पण असतात, कट्रिना किंवा ह्रितिक ला लाजवतील असे मोडेलिंग करत… (बहुतेक फोटो ’जय बजरंग फोटो स्टुडिओ’ वगैरे ठिकाणी काढलेले असतात. आणि मेक-अप च्या नावाखाली चेहेऱ्याला पावडर फासून चेहेऱ्याचा ’खारा दाणा’ केलेला असतो. काही मुलींनी तर आपल्या ऐवजी आईचा फोटो दिला आहे असेच वाटते..तर काही अगदिच “मिस मांजरी बुद्रुक” टाईप फोटो देतात.


सगळ्यात विनोदी ही प्रोफाईल ची हेडलाईन किंवा पंचलाईन असते. उदा:


संगीतात रमणारी संगीता (म्हणजे स्वत:तच रमणारी???) किंवा

’एकांतात रमणारा जगदीश’ (एकांतातच रमत असेल तर मग एकटाच रहा की??!! )


हे दोन हेडलाईन वाचल्यावर ह्या दोघांचेच का जुळवून टाकू नये असे मला वाटले…म्हणजे ती संगीतात रमणार, आणि हा स्वत:त….कुठून तरी कशात तरी रमले म्हणजे झाले…तेवढीच भांडणे कमी…काय?


प्रोफाईल डिस्क्रिप्शन वाचल्यावर तर याहून चांगला मुलगा किंवा मुलगी ह्या जगात असूच शकत नाही असे वाटते – इतकी मोठी सद्गुणांची यादी असते…सरळ मार्गी, हुशार, चतुर, चाणाक्ष इत्यादी इत्यादी. जर मराठी भाषा सुधारावी असे वाटत असेल तर फक्त ही प्रोफाईल्स वाचावीत…इतकी विशेषणे ठासून भरलेली असतात. आणि त्यातही खूप innovations दाखवयाचा प्रयत्न करतात.


बांधा (म्हनजे ’बांधून ठेवा’ नाही, तर शरीराची ठेवण या अर्थाने) ह्या एकाच चतेगोर्य मध्ये किती वैविध्य असते: क्रुश (म्हणजे हल्लीच्या मराठीत ’size zero’ बरं का), मध्यम, किंचीत स्थूल (म्हणजे हे भयंकर जाड ही असू शकते..), सडसडीत (किंवा शिडशिडीत) , शेलाटी (म्हणजे नक्की कसा हा जरा वादाच मुद्दा आहे) इत्यादी इत्यादी


काही प्रोफाईल मध्ये तर नाही ते डिटेल्स दिलेले होते…म्हणजे खेळाची आवड आहे इथपर्यन्त ठीक आहे, पण प्रूफ म्हणून ’शाळेच्या लंगडी संघात सहभाग’ हे सांगायची काय गरज अहे?


एक प्रोफाईल मध्ये ’मुलाला अध्यात्मिक लेखन करयची आवड आहे’ असे होते. म्हणजे हल्लीच्या काळात अध्यात्मिक वाचन करणारा (किंवा री) सापडणे दुर्मिळ, आणि हा बाबा अध्यात्मिक लेखन करतो!


लोकेशन हा अजून एक महत्वचा मुद्दा. बहुतेक मुलींना स्थळ पुणे किंवा मग थेट USA किन्व UK (तिथे मात्र कुठेही चालेल!) अशी अट असते. मग भले त्या स्वत: यवतमाळ किंवा बुलढाणा मध्ये आयुष्य काढलेल्या असू द्या.


बर माहीती फक्त मुला किंवा मुली बद्दलच देतात असे नाही…तर त्यांचे आई, वडिल, भाऊ, बहीण (काही वेळेस पाळीव कुत्रा, मांजर) इ. सर्वांची माहीती

Happy (Anti) Valentine’s Day…

Happy (Anti) Valentine’s Day! 🙂










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Source: Someecards.com and elsewhere…nothing of my own 🙂

IPL Player pricing: What makes Dhoni worth $1.15 mn

IPL player pricing: What makes Dhoni worth $1.5 mn?

Recenly came across this article in the Economic Times (http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/4072970.cms)

Some IIMA professor has written a paper on IPL valuations which can be downloaded from IIMA website: http://www.iimahd.ernet.in/publications/data/2009-01-02Rastogi.pdf
To be honest, I did not quite understand how the valuations were arrived at. When you bundle simple concepts with confusing management jargon and incomprehensible mathematical formulae they seem sophisticated and are wothy of being called ‘a research paper’. But it doesn’t mean that everything that contains deltas and thetas and betas; and some filthy graphs is a well-researched article…
I am not too sure if Modi and Co. ( whole-and-sole of IPL auction) had thought of so many factors before attaching an initial price tag to the palyers being auctioned. And I am VERY SURE that the bigwigs participating in auction DEFINITELY had no backing of logic or mathematics when they bid for a player. So there is no point in ‘finding a method in this madness’…
A price any player fetched was purely based on combination of many things – hype, publicity, perception (of ‘experts’ and owners of IPL teams), recent performance (to some extent), popularity in India and just their ability to ‘surprise’ …all of these – but DEFINITELY NOT the
 algorithm and sophisticated valuation techniques.
Some of the findings were as meaningless as valuation techniques e.g.
  • An Indian player, on an average, fetches a premium of $203,156 over foreign players  (so what? this might change next year – so what is the trend/ point in this?)
  • A half century in any form of ICC approved match fetches $2683 (again what does this signify?)
  • An increase in T20 batting average by 1 run fetches $4658  
  • One more stumping in any form of ICC approved match fetches $2596 
  • An additional wicket in any form of ICC approved match fetches $377
The last 3 are the most meaningless data points – for there aren’t enough T20 matches played yet – so such a number will always be high…once no. of T20 matches rises, corresponding averages would decrease.
I don’t know to what extent the IPL owners (the people who actually spend money) will value this analyses in future auctions – if at all they bother to read it. 
But what I am interested in is opinion of the real expert person on this topic i.e. Harsha Bhogle – who is one of the most thoughful commentators and also an IIM alumni! 
So let’s wait (and hope) that he has something to comment on this IPL auction and valuations…

Unlearning things is difficult too…!

From today I am undergoing hectic 5-day training sessions for PMP certification. This is the second Project Management certification training for me in less than 6 months!


The first was PRINCE2 (Projets In Controlled Environment), which is a PMP equivalent certification instituted by UK Govt. and is more prevalent in the UK and parts of Europe.


In the very first session, when I told the instructor that I have done PRINCE2 certification, she said, “That’s good! Then why do you want to do PMP certification? The basic concepts are just the same – just terminology is different…so you may skip this…” and she waited for me to say, “OK…” and walk out and give place to someone else – if there is anybody on waiting list.


But she did not know my adamant nature 🙂 I simply turned a deaf ear to what she was saying…as if it was not meant for me (I am very good at such things!) …she understood and conmpleted her sentence, “…so you may skip this…OR if you still want to undergo this training and certification for personal benefit (READ: To increase job prospects and swicth job!) you may do so”


Needless to say I again ignored it, and remained in the training room 🙂


………………….


OK, so now training has begun – and first thing I notice is: I have learned all the concepts, there is nothing new which I can expect in the next 5 full days of labourous and yawn-inducing training. The bad part is: though concepts are all the same, the terminology is different. A Project Initiation Document is now called (in PMP jargon) a Project Charter etc.


This means I have to ‘unlearn’ the jargon, the terminology used by PRINCE2 without forgetting the basic concepts! Quite a tough task.


Let me put it in simple and lucid language. Imagine this: You have undergone a training on driving – you know function of signal and what each colour stands for.


Now you undergo another training for driving – and guess what, it has a signal too! The only difference is – the colour code here is not the same…in fact, it’s completely goofed up.


So in the new system, you would STOP on a BLUE light and START on a RED light, you would slow down on a PINK instead of a YELLOW…you will turn RIGHT when the arrow indicates LEFT and vice-versa!!!


The basic concept and functionality of the signal still remains the same – but the mapping of signs and color code is different.


So you MUST first unlearn the earlier mapping of a RED and STOP or a GREEN and START – without forgetting what signal is meant for. Then you MUST map new color – BLUE to STOP and RED to START.


Sounds easy? Then imagine this for 30 or 60 colors instead of 3…yep, there are more than 50 processes, sub-processes, knowledge areas and controls involved here…


So today I had to try hard to ‘unlearn’ the jargon/ terminology I had learned just 6 months back…


I am still struggling to com
e
to terms with this mapping/ unmapping game – even when the training moves ahead at frantoc pace…Let’s see how I cope up with this new challenge!

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