Bad car names

For the most part car model names are catchy and words that are easy to pronounce, memorize and recall: my min bar for a decent name. The names you will see below are real, rise to the min bar, but also make you want to question, "What were they smoking?".

Mercury Villager
The word villager does not exactly evoke zippy thoughts.

Oldsmobile Bravada
Bravada (noun) Old Spanish for a pretentious, swaggering display of courage. As opposed to real courage.

Chevrolet Cavalier
Cavalier (noun) haughty, disdainful or supercilious; offhand or unceremonious. You're not really selling it aggressively enough, my friends.

Chevrolet Caprice
Hmm, caprice is a tendency to change one's mind without apparent or adequate motive. Bad attitude for drivers.

Chevrolet Citation
Citation (noun) an official summons, especially one calling for appearance in court; as in traffic citation

Chrysler Crossfire
As in caught in the crossfire.

Chrysler Town & Country

Daihatsu Charade
Did you say travesty? A charade is a blatant pretense or deception, esp. something so full of pretense as to be a travesty

Daihatsu Rocky
Subliminal advertising about the drive?

Ford Probe

Mercury Marauder
As in someone who raids and pillages for spoils. Definitely not what you want your insurance provider to think of you.

Plymouth Scamp
A scamp is an unscrupulous person; a rogue or rascal or scallawag. A tip of the hat to car salesmen, perhaps?

Subaru Brat and Subaru Justy
I swear, I'm not making this up.

Volkswagen Golf
Takes after the pace of the game, I presume.

Not valid in Alaska or Hawaii

Why is it that all those ads that talk about offers and contests display fine print "Not valid in Alaska or Hawaii", effectively restricting the goodies to us in the contiguous United States? I feel for those poor sods in the two far flung states. Well, maybe not the Alaskans... they have their sweetheart oil pipeline deals and bridges to nowhere. But the Hawaiians? They live on volcanos! They deserve to win a contest or two, don't they?

Coffee as a health drink

A study has found that habitual coffee consumption was associated with lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, while another study attributes coffee to reduced risk of death by inflammatory and cardiovascular diseases.

Speaking about another report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the New York Times said,

...researchers found that a typical serving of coffee contains more antioxidants than typical servings of grape juice, blueberries, raspberries and oranges.

These benefits are not attributed to caffiene as they've been found to occur with de-caf coffee as well. Of course, none of this wipes out the fact that previous studies have revealed the downside of caffeine in increasing blood pressure, or significantly decreasing blood flow to the heart, particularly during exercise at high altitudes.

Can you be too sure?

The Moon (Luna) is not generally considered a planet. It is 1.5 times bigger than Pluto, which is. The Moon is considered to be planet Earth's moon. The gravitational force of the Sun on the Moon is more than twice as much as the gravitational force of the Earth on the Moon. So what does that make the Moon: a planet or a moon?

Detailed picture of Jupiter from the Cassini spacecraft

Picture of Jupiter from the Cassini spacecraft
Courtesy of the JPL at NASA.

Skiing: Did you know?

Did you know that the Vikings had a god and goddess of skiing? Yes, that'd be Ullr and Skade.

France lose to Italy

After dominating Italy for most of the game, France lost 3-5 in penalty shootouts. The score after regulation was 1-1.
FIFA World Cup 2006 Finals - France v. Italy
A humdinger of a game. Congratulations, Italy.

The Azzuri and les Bleus will go head to head in a few minutes. This is the culmination of 3 years of competition between 192 nations. It is down to these two now.

Vive la France!


Two words with opposite meanings are referred to as antonyms. A word that is the opposite of itself (no, I'm not making this up) is called an autoantonym or antilogy or contranym. Let's look at a few examples:

  • lease (verb): Means to lend or rent out. Can also mean to borrow or rent for oneself

  • oversight (noun): Can mean watchful care as well as omission

  • root (verb): Can mean to remove completely (as in to root out) as well as to become firmly entrenched (as in to take root)

See my entry on Wiktionary for autoantonym.

Growing up in India, sports telecasts for football games have traditionally been European, mostly British. The BBCs and Sky Sports ruled the roost. There is something to say about the commentary on those telecasts: sparse, impartial and devoid of human-interest pieces. Football afficionados (I like to think I'm one of this large group of people) like this experience.

I contrast that to World Cup broadcasts on American networks, ABC and ESPN, I've been watching this past month; and see how the networks' experience and insight into basketball, baseball, ice-hockey and American football have influenced their commentary and overall presentation. These broadcasts are chock full of random statistics on players, sidelights on the venues and teams, and much too much talk. There is an unusual focus on the (perceived) stars, creating a cult of personality: where some chosen men get too much attention, sometimes undeservedly so. I've seen England games where Beckham and Rooney were on the commentators' lips practically every other minute but these two (I admit talented) gents didn't do much in those games to merit that kind of attention. Thankfully, the camera isn't in the control of the commentators; it followed the ball for the most part, save for those occassions when the producers would cut to a replay of a move that happened ten minutes ago. As the Times' World Cup blog puts it:

American TV sportscasting is full of factoids, full of graphics, full of breakaways from the midst of play for prerecorded human-interest backgrounders, full of color analysts overexplaining what happened a couple of minutes ago even as new, more urgent things are happening in front of our eyes, full of overpacked broadcast booths with three-man teams, sideline reporters, spotters, graphics people and telestrators, all breathlessly jostling for air time.

At times the impartiality of the commentators was also in question. Some teams like Brazil, Argentina and Italy were treated with godlike status -- their glorious past history was the subject of much banter while their performance on the field was conveniently ignored -- while others with arguably as much talent and potential, if not more, didn't get even a passing mention. The one common strain I've seen in all my life of watching and playing the game amateurly is that every game is different. On a given day, anyone can beat anyone else.

Football is a very fast-paced game and the play on the fields -- the players' skills, passing, and set pieces -- mesmerizes millions around the world, in every possible timezone, to stay glued to their TV sets. In this world cup, 192 countries competed and were whittled down to 32 that got to play for the cup in Germany. That's what makes this the "World" cup. It is a stature unmatched by any other. Sadly, the stature of the broadcasts begs many questions. My pet peeves:

  • Play the team arrivals and anthems before every game; show some respect.

  • Cut the smalltalk; I don't need to be reminded you showed up for work. I also don't need play by play commentary.

  • It's okay to talk about a player's club affiliation but don't wax eloquent about what he did that summer 2003. It distracts from the game I'm trying to watch.

  • Be impartial. Please.

  • Don't elevate personalities and obsess with them. This is still a team sport. One man makes or breaks a game as much as one man can make or break a space shuttle.

  • To the networks: please employ people who know what they're talking about. Wynalda and Lalas were good players (not great, mind you) but are bad analysts. Get someone who understands the game and can articulate it better than us unwashed masses. Ditto for commentators.

I understand football isn't like American football where you stop the clock every minute and go to commercial break every other minute. Some things you've learned from American sports can be reused, just not everything. Some things need to be learned anew, or re-learned. We can strive to do better, can't we?


The word idhar in Hindi refers to "here" or "on this side", just like the Old/Middle English word hither. They come from the same Indo-European demonstrative base, possibly hider. The sound of "d" is more like "th" as in father.

See Merriam-Webster etymology for hither.


For a while I have used my other (more prominent) blog - Even a chimp can write code - to highlight various epiphanies, deductions and inferences I've drawn. Some of these were about software development and therefore appropriate given the slant of that blog. Others had tangential, if any, relationship with the spirit of that blog and turned out to be line noise (unfortunately) to its techie audience and aggregator services. A new blog was merited to catalog these entries. That brings you to this blog: Inference or anumaana in Sanskrit.

I don't plan to restrict myself any one topic here. But the ethic of this blog remains the same: There will always be questions that raise issues [thank you Kafka!]; questions that will raise further questions when first answers are given to them; questions that could seldom be answered simply by Yes or No; hypothetical questions that present suppositions -- the implications or consequences of which are to be examined; questions that are complex and have many related parts, to be taken up in an orderly manner.

Yes, inconvenient questions must be asked. Uncomfortable situations must be created. Ideas need to be thrown around. That's why we are here.