August 13, 2010

Where are the reporters?

One of the best essays questioning the credibility of reporters is the one titled Reporters and Parrots by Peter Norvig. In this essay he highlights the most important thing that all reporters must to do, which is to think. Sadly thinking is the only thing that most reporters do not do, they are masters of everything else.

Running the Moss Tool on News Articles

If you look at most of the news articles, you see that the content is the same. I guess this is pretty evident on the success of google news which can easily identify the primary story of a news article and show you tons of other sites showing similar stuff. If a CS professor were to run moss he would have rejected most of the news articles for lack of authentic content.

As the reporters do not think, the presentation of the content also has to be similar. One of the best spoofs that presents the template of any news item was given by Newswipe. You just need to add the content what a PR firm gives you and voila you have a news item that can be bombarded on humanity for the next 24 hours!

How hard is thinking?

The eagerness to show that they were the first ones to have their hands on a particular content shows how less the reporters think. I wonder how many of the news channels have a copy of wikileaks content? How many know that the content is 3.8 GB of war logs? How many Indian reporters actually read even one log of the 35 logs mentioning the ISI? Do they know how many articles mention India? It takes a wget, tar, and a grep command to get all the information you need. But I wonder how many reporters actually did this before jumping in the bandwagon of being the first to point fingers at the ISI. Sadly this takes effort of one night to do. It is not the same as getting a copy of the speech written by a bureaucrat and read out by creatures who have reversed the process of evolution to transform from a human being to an inanimate rubber stamp.

The lack of thinking also shows how deep the marketing and PR firms have penetrated the fortress of journalism. The reporters are just vomiting the content fed by the PR firms. In my previous post of Common Wealth Games I gave an example of the following two interview clips. The reporter in question is one of the few reporters for whom I have (or had) a lot of respect. The preparation for the interview was minimal and she was satisfied by answers for which even a 6 year old kid would find flaws. Her expressions and her nods show her willingness to not think. Also have a look at what is being flashed in bold. In this case it is pretty evident that they are flashing what Kalmadi Inc want to be shown, i.e., "Perception of India is very good abroad" and "All we have done is transparent". The mascot in the background shows how much pain Kalmadi Inc have gone through to ensure a perfect setting for a nice 10 minute ad to show everything is fine and pure as the river Yamuna flowing from Delhi to Noida.

As Peter Norvig mentions, good reporters are extremely important. They are so important that one of the first things done by the great freedom fighters was to setup a press; the Kesari and the Harijan newspapers are the best example of this. Sadly given the current state of reporters and journalism, it will take a miracle to save journalism from reporters who have sold her to the pimps in the PR firms.

August 11, 2010

Testing math


Wow this works!!!..

$e^{x} \frac{sin(x)}{x} = x $

NOw for more equations and

$2x^{2} + \int_{x=1}^{\infty}$

August 10, 2010

The Great Indian Tamasha: Common Wealth Games

Some time last week I burst out laughing after lunch while reading an article. I guess it was the this one, the one with pots worth 43 lakhs. When I told my bemused labmate that the scarry laugh was regarding the corruption at the Common wealth games, he looked even more confused and gave me the most common italian hand gesture.

Publicity यह क्या है?

During this gesture I realized the amount of the so called crappy publicity this games gives. This is not the Olympics, this is not even the Asian Games; this is some event where countries once under the military presence of a common country come together. I guess it is like Iraq and Afghanistan hosting an event titled Bush tried to screw me games. Just like no other country will watch those games, these games wont be watched by anyone else. Apart from the cricket playing nations I guess no other country will ever know what happens in the first two weeks of October in Delhi. And to publicize India to these countries you don't need these games you have the bigger and sleazier tamasha called IPL.

Well having games is good. Calling it pride of the nation is good. However, giving it a blank cheque is bad. Disgracing yourself to the extent where your behavior is no different from a parasite surviving on shit is bad. There were corruptions in South Africa, there were corruptions in China as well, however the guys there were not absolutely corrupt; making money was not their primary objective, they were actually keen in hosting the respective events. In case of the common wealth games, I guess as the name suggests, most of the deals followed the golden moto of Indian civil services "सब का पैसा हो अपना". While making a tantrum over the games, the opposition is just saying "और मेरे लिए? ५% से कम नहीं लूँगा."

The Tamasha by Indian Media

The media is even funnier. The funniest video I saw was this one by Barkha Dutt; the very Barkha Dutt that once went to Kargil.

1. Look at the message being displayed. It is like an ad for Kalmadi Inc. How can you say image of India is good. It is like saying that every cow in a country is white when you come across one white cow.
2. Where are the minutes of the meeting with the London police which tells in the last minute that unless you add these security issues we will not let the event go smoothly?
3. How did he get a forged letter from the High Commission? Who is responsible for this forgery? Just think, if one government organization receives a forged letter from another government organization then who can ensure the documents in hand are the original ones? What is the result of the inquiry? International relations are at stake when forgery happens at an Indian embassy.

1. The newsreporter does not even know what prices she is talking about? Just by saying these air conditioners are bigger the matter is closed. What about air conditioners in the airport? What is the price difference in this case? No questions.
2. Nations pride using German treadmills? When everything in the planet is made in China we rent a treadmill for 3 to 4 times the price it can be bought and bring a German technician with it. Isn't there a single Indian from 1 billion people who knows the internals of a treadmill? Now how could Barkha Dutt be satisfied with this crap.

Did they learn any lessons from the Common Wealth Youth Games in Pune?

The even funnier thing is the complete lack of coordination. It was pretty much evident during the Commonwealth youth games in Pune. One fine day they lay concrete. The next day the decide they have to digg the concrete as they did not lay pipes for the telephone cables.

In the above picture you can see faint orange lines behind the trees. It is clearly visible above the "et" of the get set go slogan. These orange lines are the pipes with fiber optic cables of ISPs. These are just hanging and have been hanging till the time I left Pune last September (almost 1 year after the Common wealth youth games).

Lessons in pride.

Our dear Delhi CM Dixit recently said she was worried when she visited China before the games. Ok despite we all know that China was prepared about a year before the event let us assume what she says is true. So what if China was not prepared? It doesnt mean you should imitate China. It is like you are openly saying India follows China. How patriotic is her statement now? It is like saying Zardari is in UK when his country is reeling under floods so Manmohan Singh can go on a 50 day silence when Manipur and Nagaland are blocked.

To be frank the games are showing what we truly are:
1. A nation where there is no leader and anyone can do whatever he wants. So long as you have money you will get away with it. There is no one to take complete responsibility of anything but everyone wants to take credit of even the smallest achievement.
2. If there is anything from which a commission/bribe can be taken, it will be taken in India. I guess it is time we have "ऊपर का पैसा 101" courses in all colleges, why restrict such lesson to the IAS cream.
3. १०० मै से ९० बेईमान फिर भी मेरा भारत महान.

Well we have the Independence day this week so, despite the fact that our military generals make money of the rations of troops being stoned, despite the fact that from birth certificate to death certificate we come across दलाल's, we have to be proud. Proud not because of the 90 corrupt but because the 10 who are not corrupt are absolute gems. I salute to those 10 gems who despite being surrounded by these 90 parasites shine brighter than any star in this universe.

August 5, 2010

Mahabharata and Indian Politicians

I would like to begin by saying, "We read our history and mythology as stories. Rather than learning from them, we forget them like the dreams that awaken us to the very reality that we have created."

Last Sunday I came across the Mahabharata episodes on Youtube. Thanks to Rajashri, the production house that is famous for selling marriage videos as 3 hours movies, the entire B.R. Chopra master piece is available online. There is an age old saying that if there is anything possible in this world, it can be correlated to the events of the Mahabharata. I guess this is one of the reasons why even the great Oppenheimer quoted the Gita after the Trinity test. However, reading the news articles after seeing the Mahabharata I could see the Mahabharata in modern day politicians. I guess each one of us has such moments but I thought of writing my thoughts.

One of the biggest problems in current day Indian politics is that there is no leader and no successor. Sadly, this problem also has its roots mentioned in the Mahabarata. Before Shantanu's marriage to Satyavati the king had to choose from amongst his subjects the one who is most suitable to replace him. The successor to the throne was not necessarily the son of the king. Sadly blinded by his love for Satyavati he agreed to having Satyavati's children as his successor. This is as far as I remember the first occurrence of a child born to a king being nominated as the successor. Call it dynasty politics but this has stuck with India as has now become an Indian culture in politics. I guess Bharata would be glad that it is never referred to as भारतीय संस्कृति. Each of the current leaders and political parties sadly do not have a leader and a true successor.

Dr. Manmohan Singh:
To be frank, I would be wrong if I said he is not worthy of being a leader. In fact, he is the most qualified person and the best person currently alive to lead and run the country. Sadly he is neither running nor is he leading the country. I know silence is golden but at times words need to come out. Think of Arjuna sitting on the battle field and Krishna not speaking. Think of Oppenheimer having second thoughts on testing the bomb. Now think of the children in Kashmir, the soldiers in Kashmir, the tribals in Maoist belts, and all the people being affected by the zillions of problems in India. Words help, and words from a leader have the best healing power. Obama is the best example of this. Sadly what we hear from Manmohan Singh is silence and at times words written by bureaucrats. I am not sure what is compelling him to behave like a Dritarashtra. Why is he blind to these problems? Why is he letting Mamata burn the trains? It is like he has been made a PM because he is the most helpless creature amongst the ministers and the most easily manipulated. How could a great man like him let others treat him like this?

Pratibha Patil:
She is by far the best example of how some women are treated in the country. She is nothing more than a pawn. Replace her with a skimpily clad newsreader put on news channels to improve TRP ratings and the situation in the country would not change. She is to the idea of female liberation what the skimpily clad newsreader is to authenticity of the news. She is like the Dushala, who is the least mentioned person amongst her brothers and has the least say in what her brothers are up to. Even if we assume she is innocent, if a sister cant control her brothers who are close to her, how can she be fit lead the country? Sadly rather than being a great female leader such as Razia Sultana, Ahilyabai Holkar, Rani Chenamma, and Rani Laxmibai, this leader of the armed forces is the best symbol to advertise India as a soft state.

Lal Krishna Advani:
One of the biggest mistake this person made in his life is not groom leaders to replace him. We have potential leaders like Arun Jaitely, Sushma Swaraj, Nitin Gadkari, Jaswant Singh, and many more. However, not one of them stands out and appeals as a true leader; not one is capable of leading the others I mentioned. A good opposition is essential for democracy, else democracy becomes monarchy waiting for a tyrant to be born. I guess it is a problem of plenty but sadly not one of them is a true leader like Vajpayee who could stand out from the crowd. Further, there is a problem of dynasty politics entering this party as well. The biggest mistake that Indira Gandhi made was there was no one groomed to replace her; yes Narasimha Rao became a PM but the Congress became a shade of its past after his term ended. Now Vajpayee had Advani to follow, but no one after that. The 2009 results for BJP would remind any one the time of Congress under a guy called Kesari.

Now I have mentioned only the BJP and the Congress as the rest of the parties are no longer worthy of being mentioned. CPI I do not wish to mention. Consider what the communist party did to China from 1980 to 2010 and then look at what a communist party did to Bengal in the same time period. Bengal is the state of the greatest thinkers, the greatest artists. Creativity is in the heart of Bengal, hard work is in the heart of Bengal, yet sadly in this very state we have the Communists fighting with Maoists; each trying to redefine social justice and claiming to be on the true side of Dharma.

We the people are the ones who are responsible for this mess. The process of finding a leader and selecting a leader is in our hands and yet we prefer to stay in our houses enjoying the cool air of the fans and AC's rather than pressing a big button. I guess we act like Deedee from Dexters Lab asking the rhetorical question, What does this button do?. Jayprakash Narayan was useless without the crowds that came to listen to him. Abdul Kalam, one of the true presidents since independence, became a demi-god because of the support and faith he enjoyed. Yet despite the power we have we prefer to act helpless. There are many things that can be done. One just needs to listen to ones heart to compile a list of such things. One just needs to perform an action rather than sitting and waiting for some one else to do the right thing.

Network Address Translation (NAT)

Why do we need NAT?

Well before I start explaining NAT, I guess it is important to know why NAT is necessary. The machines on the Internet use a 32 bit address (IP address) to uniquely identify each other. A machine can communicate with another machine in the Internet so long as it knows its 32 bit IP address. 32 bits implies there can be about 4 billion IP address. This number is far less than the population of this planet, and far smaller than the number of machines that want to access the Internet. A hacky solution to this small address space is to let multiple machines use the same IP address. NAT boxes enable you to let a large number of machines in your home/office/college access the Internet with a small number of (usually one) IP address. A machine behind the NAT box can be in one the LANs (top portion) of the figure given below.

Network Address Translation

What is a Global IP and what is a Local IP?

In the context of NAT we come across the terms Global IP and local IP address. The IP address your NAT box uses to communicate with your ISP other machines (including other NAT boxes) in the Internet is the global IP address. The IP address of the machines present in the LANs behind the NAT boxes (above NAT box in the figure) is the local IP address. The local IP addresses are typically 10.x.x.x or 192.168.x.x.

How do machines in the LAN access the Internet?

NAT stands for Network Address Translation. So as the name suggests, to the outside world all the machines behind the NAT box are seen as one machine accessing the Internet. Say, machine A with IP address wants to access which has an ip address A.B.C.D and the global IP address you have is I.P.A.D. The NAT box replaces with I.P.A.D. and sends to the packet google. The response from google is forwarded by the NAT box to you. Now if two machines M1 and M2 from the LAN access google, the NAT box needs to ensure that response from google to M1 is forwarded to M1 and not M2 and vice-versa. There are various ways in which NAT boxes do this. The main idea is that the packets between a machine in the LAN and a remote server should not be lost and garbled.

How can machines in the Internet connect to machines behind NAT?

A simple answer to this question is NO. Say a machine A.B.C.D in the internet wants to connect to M1 ( Now note that 10.x.x.x and 192.168.x.x addresses are reserved for machines behind the NAT. So if you have a NAT box in your house/office, you can assign to a machine behind your NAT box. Similarly, your neighbour can buy a NAT box and assign to his machine. So when A.B.C.D wants to connected to, how can a router in the Internet tell that it needs to connect to your machine M1 and not your neighbors machine.

What is port forwarding?

One way a remote machine with address A.B.C.D can to your machine is by connecting to you NAT box. The source address of the connection request is A.B.C.D and the destination address is I.P.A.D (the global address of your NAT box). The NAT box can then be configured to forward requests on a particular port to Say you want to run an HTTP server on M1 ( behind the NAT box. The NAT box can be configured to forward connection requests on port 80 to This is one way in which a remote IP in the Internet can connect to machines behind the NAT box.

The contents of this post are simplified to a large extent and some technical content needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.

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