— by Arnab Gupta

☞ Muhammad Ali is no more

June 04, 2016

A great fighter—“The greatest ever”—but he was so much more than that.

[…] as a young heavyweight champion he converted to Islam and refused to serve in the Vietnam War, and became an emblem of strength, eloquence, conscience and courage. Ali was an anti-establishment showman who transcended borders and barriers, race and religion. His fights against other men became spectacles, but he embodied much greater battles.

Also, these are must watch, if you haven’t seem them already:

Rest in peace, sir.

☞ Mumbai Police go after comedian for “mocking” celebrities

May 30, 2016

An Indian comedian, known for “edgy”, “controversial” material, apparently created something that pokes fun at Indian mega-stars and national heroes Lata Mangeshkar and Sachin Tendulkar.

And of course, this being India, some people found reason to be outraged. And of course, since these people have political affiliations linked to the government, the police are now “looking into the matter”.

Mumbai police has begun an inquiry into complaint against comedian Tanmay Bhat’s video of a mock conversation with Lata Mangeshkar and Sachin Tendulkar that prompted the Shiv Sena, Bhratiya [sic] Janata Party and MNS to call for action against Bhat and AIB.

The inquiry is based on the complaint by Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena.

Bollywood has also reacted sharply to the comedian’s portrayal of the music and cricket icons, saying it is in poor taste.

Making videos in poor taste is not against the law, people. I have not seen the video; I will go ahead and concede nevertheless that the video is not worth its time on Youtube. OK, then don’t watch it! If no one watches it, guess what happens: they stop making such videos!

I find stuff like this maddening. “Freedom of speech” should be simple to understand, no? I can speak my mind; you can speak yours. Unless you’re putting words in my mouth, or are preventing me from living my life fully, I have no right to stop you making your speech, however offended or outraged I feel. Yes, if I feel your speech is “wrong” or “bad”, I might encourage my friends and family to boycott you. But only my sense of offense should have no effect on the legality of your speech!

The only people with say in the matter are the celebrities in question. Did Sachin Tendulkar complain? No. Did Lata? No! As long as everyone understands that the video was made by someone else and not the celebrities in question, how in the world does legality come into the picture?

Please, let the police do their thing and go after actual crime and actual criminals. “Distasteful” and “offensive” mean very different things than “illegal”.

Octopress — adding category tags to the blog RSS feed

May 28, 2016

Right from the beginning, I’ve assigned broad categories to every post I’ve written here. (For example, this is my—very lacking—Health Monitoring series of posts.) However, Octopress does not include these category tags by default into the RSS feed. So if a reader is using an RSS feed-reader app or website, they cannot make use of the assigned categories even if the app or website was capable of doing so.

I’ve now added some code necessary to add the categories to the RSS feed, and this is what I did.

☞ Creating “Linked-List” type posts

May 27, 2016

One of my long-time to-do’s for this blog was to be able to create “linked-list” type posts, where the main heading points, not to a single webpage for the dedicated blog post, but to an external website of interest. (This type of post has been made famous by John Gruber, who is, incidentally, also the creator of the Markdown syntax.)

Well, now I know how to do this (evidence—this post! Ta-da! The title for this post points to The Candler Blog). It turns out it’s not too difficult, but even so, I had help all the way, from The Candler Blog. He has this same implementation, and it turns out, he also has a blog post dedicated to discussing how he did it!

Okay, so, “Daring Fireball-style Linked List posts,” for the uninitiated, refers to the publishing style of John Gruber’s Daring Fireball. For the most thorough explanation of how this works, see Shawn Blanc’s excellent 2009 article, “The Link Post” […]

But how is it done in Octopress? It’s actually very simple. I got a great deal of help, when I was first setting up the site, from Connor Montgomery, who posted his own link post tutorial a few weeks ago. I have since refined the code on my site beyond what we worked out together.

(The Candler Blog website seems otherwise very interesting as well. Go check it out!)

Of Cricket, Mankad-ing, and the Spirit of the Game

February 03, 2016

The Under-19 cricket world cup is on, and there has been a lot of controversy about a West Indies bowler running a Zimbabwean batsman out as he came in to bowl. Colloquially, this is called ‘Mankad’-ing, and some people view this form of dismissal as “not quite done”. As it happens every time, lots of people are talking about “spirit of the game” and “no warnings issued to the batsman”.

I think those people are in the wrong.

(Here’s the video.)

On Failure in Metallic Materials

June 07, 2015

As a continuation of my series on composite materials and health monitoring, I wanted to talk about failure in composites. In writing it, I decided that first I needed to talk about failure in metallic materials. In writing that, it turned out that it was long enough to be a separate post by itself. So here it is, a small primer on failure, especially in metallic materials.

We’ll talk about composites next time.

On India’s World Cup performance (they lost today)

March 26, 2015

It’s always gutting to see your team lose, isn’t it. Gutting, and infuriating. “They should have won! If only they’d played better!”

Let’s think back though, to the beginning of the World Cup, before a ball had been bowled. Remember those days, just after the triseries with Australia and England? What if someone had said then that India would reach the semifinal? We’d have smirked. “With this team? This bowling attack?” Winning 7 games on the trot? Smirk. 70 wickets in 7 games? Best economy rate as a bowling unit? Cohesive batting performance from the entire unit? Fast bowlers bowling with pace and discipline? Smirk; smirk; smirk.

India have done well to reach the semifinals. They’ve been an excellent team. Their flaw today was that they were not a great team. But that’s okay, being excellent isn’t half bad.

Yes, they had a collective off-day. The bowlers sprayed it around a bit, uncharacteristically. The batters got out in inopportune moments, uncharacteristically. Dhawan usually scores big once he gets a start (and gets a catch dropped). Kohli usually gets himself in and ups his scoring rate, and doesn’t get out at all. There’s usually always Rahane, and even Raina has scored a hundred this world cup. Usually; just not today.

They came across a genuinely better team today, and lost. No shame in that; that takes nothing away from their excellence. Then too, they actually brought Australia back from what looked to be a certain 360+ score. That’s something in itself, no?

Also, a thought: how many teams have defended their world cup titles successfully? West Indies in the 1970s, and Australia in the 1990s and 2000s. It needs a great team, not merely an excellent one, to be able to defend trophies across four year periods and in different conditions. Would we call this Indian team “great”, comparable to the West Indian and Australian teams of before? Definitely not, right? Not yet. Maybe with time and more experience, and maybe a couple of different players, but certainly not yet.

So they came across a better team. They lost. So what? They played well until they lost; they played with pride and with skill and with passion and with excellence.

They kept the Tricolor flying high. Let’s be proud of that.