Recurring Decimals…..

Everything here is irrelevant

The Happy Hour BoozeKwiz

leave a comment »

(Update: now with answers)

Just did a quiz based on alcohol on Twitter, through the handle @kweezzz.

Here are the questions. Have a go if you didn’t participate on Twitter. Will provide answers later, but you are very welcome to take guesses in the comments section:

1. George Hodgson developed this beer with higher than usual (for that time) alcohol and hops so it could survive long sea voyages. It underwent a slight style transformation in the US. What is it?

Ans: India Pale Ale (IPA).

2. Sitter. Identify the movie and the drink. Very specific answer.

Person 1: Bring me ……….. (Describes a cocktail) .

Bartender: Yes, sir.

(Two other people ask for the same drink)

Person 2: My friend, bring me one as well, but keep the fruit.

Bonus for the full recipe.

Ans: Casino Royale. Bond asking for a drink to be later named, Vesper Martini.

Q3. Kipling wrote: “You paid for a drink and got as much as you wanted to eat. For something less than a rupee a day a man can feed himself sumptuously in San Francisco, even though he be a bankrupt. Remember this if ever you are stranded in these parts”.

What’s Kipling talking about here, later to be popularized into a famous phrase by two other people?

Ans: The practice, in parts of US, of offering free food with drinks back in the days. Phrase is of course, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Q4. Easy, advertisement for what?

Ans: Loch Lomond.

Q5. In the episode of The Simpsons, Bart the Murderer, what cocktail does Bart make that saves him from getting killed by the mafia ?

Ans: Manhattans.

Q6. “Creamy Bavarian wheat beer with pronounced clove, vanilla, banana, apple, bubblegum, and sometimes nutmeg flavors. Dark color from roasted/caramelized malt.” What are talking about here?

Ans: Dunkelweizen – a dark wheat beer (not Hefeweizen since dark is mentioned)

Q7: Connect (to a drink of course)

Ans: Apple Martini.

Q8. Kate Hester, owner of a saloon near Pittsburgh, used to hush her patrons when they got too rowdy by whispering “______, boys! _____” (for good reasons). Fill in the blanks and the funda will come.

Ans: Speak Easy

Q9. A version of this classic drink was lent its name by a famous author since he liked it with grapefruit and maraschino liquor in addition to the traditional ingredients. What’s the drink and who’s the author?

Ans: The Hemmingway Martini

Q10. What’s the connection. Looking for a very specific answer.

Ans: Dry Martini. Haweye in MASH was looking for the driest Martini, Churchill and Bunuel are also  famous for liking their Martini dry.

Q11. What would be Ricky Ponting’s favorite beer, if he was partial to his hometown brewery?

Ans: Boags.

Q12.  Identify the event depicted here. Bonus for name of the film.

Ans: The Judgment of Paris. California wines were judged to be superior than French wines in a blind taste challenge. The movie is Bottle Shock – a barely sufferable romantic comedy that depicts incidents leading up to this event.

Advertisements

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

August 28, 2010 at 7:12 pm

Posted in Food, Fun, Martinis

Tagged with , , , ,

Weekend cocktail blogging: Beer Margaritas

with 2 comments

Yeah, you heard it right. Just in time before the weekend slips away, treat yourself to this awesome summer refresher.

(Yes, as a self-proclaimed cocktail snob I should be ashamed, but what can I say: I was hit on the head today, and this could be the internal hemorrhage talking.)

The basic idea is to mashup two alcoholic beverages that are very refreshing on their own for a uber-refreshing drink.

Before you start, a word of caution: there are quite a few recipes out there if you google ‘beer margarita‘; but please, please and please, do not follow them. Most of the recipes ask you to use limeade (ugh!), and give you wrong advices like avoid micro-brews to prevent overpowering your margaritas, calling instead for (gasp) Corona!

For those who use limeade (or any of those ready-made margarita mixes), to paraphrase the immortal Mr T , ‘we pity the fools’!

As for micro-brews, yes avoid  the over-hopped Stone/Doghead etc, but there are many micro-brewers and homebrewers (such as moi) who make lagers and light ales that actually taste something other than lightly diluted water. So don’t be shy of using some craft/home-brewed or imported lager/ale that is on the sweeter, but less malty and certainly not hoppy side (however, for the sake of experimentation, a well-hopped ale could be tried). However, German lager, which are heavy on the malt, may not work very well.

I used my home-made California Cream Ale, which is light (~4.5% ABV) and has a very light  sweetness to it and is neither very malty or hoppy.

Also, in my opinion, to really balance the beer and the tequila, I would recommend a Reposado tequila (tequila aged 2 months to a year in oak barrels). Reposados are mellower than the ‘gold’ (the lowest end of tequilas that have caramel etc added to give color, and IMO should never be used expect for college kids  and poor grad students to get drunk quickly) or ‘blanco’ (un-aged tequila, that is 100% agave and quite strong consequently). They are also less expensive than the aged tequilas that are a waste in cocktails anyway. Plus, with this drink, it’s not worthwhile wasting your high-end tequilas like Patron.

This was my recipe:

  • 2 parts Tequila (I used Hornitos)
  • 1 part Triple-sec (again, not worth using Cointreau or anything expensive, the regular stuff will do)
  • 1 part freshly squeezed juice of lime
  • Home-brewed California Cream Ale to top off.

Pour everything into a shaker with lots of ice and shake. Pour into a glass that has been rimmed with margarita salt. It is better to put some fresh ice in the glass and strain the shaken mix over the ice. Carefully top off with beer.

IMG_0235

A word of caution: this will get you drunk very fast. I assume no liabilities.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

August 22, 2010 at 6:01 pm

Posted in Food, Martinis

Tagged with , , ,

The difference between good journalism and …

leave a comment »

…pure shit is a thin one. Consider two articles that came out recently regarding the action of Sri Lankan bowler Suraj Randiv in their last ODI match against India.

Bit of the background: India needed one to win with plenty of overs to go, Sehwag was on 99, threshold of a well-deserved century. Randiv bowls a no-ball that galli-cricket players would be ashamed of, India has won and Sehwag doesn’t get the century even though he hit the ball for a six!

Sehwag being Sehwag, dispenses with any diplomatic niceties in the post-match questioning and asserts that Randiv did this on purpose. As you can imagine, this  incident unleashes a stupid shit-storm in the Indian media which completely over-reacts (wait! where have I heard that one before?). Even more surprisingly, though Randiv admitted his lack of sportsmanship and apologized personally to Sehwag, he was banned for a match by the Sri Lankan board!

Well, that was pretty much the gist of Sambit Bal’s (someone I often do not agree with) article in Cricinfo concerning the incident, with the perfect summation of the situation:

The bowler apologised, the batsman accepted; where do the rest of us come in?

Good stuff.

OTOH, Anand Vasu, former Cricinfo editor, tries to make the same point in Hindustan Times but with far less conviction. Firstly, he tries to make some  bizarre  analogy with breaking law in real life (speeding, drunk driving etc) and breaking law in cricket! This doesn’t really hold, since Randiv did not break any laws  (a better comparison may have been holding the lift door open for someone and not being an ass and pressing ‘Close Door’, yes you know who you are).

He also appeals with an anecdote from Chandu Borde showing gamesmanship has always existed:

Chandu Borde, who played at a time when cricket happened at a much gentler pace, recounted his experience. “When Gary Sobers was batting against us on 199, we ran him out by bringing in the field. We could have allowed him to make a double ton but we did not,” said Borde. “The lines between fair and unfair play have blurred.”

Really? Since when is running out, or dismissing a batsman unfair play? Don’t all teams like to put pressure on batsmen when they’re at 99/199/299 etc ? This wasn’t a question of trying to dismiss Sehwag, there wasn’t even a whiff for SL to win the match. The action, without doubt, was classless (but again, not worthy of so much controversy). A similar Indian action would have been to deny Murali his 800th wicket in the test match earlier this year (or if Pakistan had denied Kumble the 10-fer during that famous match).

But the ultimate zinger is this:

Closer home and specific to the latest controversy, Ajay Jadeja has a practical view. “Sehwag would have done the same thing if he was bowling,” says Jadeja. “This is very common in cricket.”

Oh yes, Jadeja – the guy who took money to lose for his team. Good to know he’s a mind-reader too. In the same vein, let me declare that even Ricky-the-ball-touched-the-ground-but-I-will-still-claim-a-catch-Ponting wouldn’t have resorted to this type of gamesmanship in a similar situation. Makes as much of logical sense.

Even more amusing is how Vasu tries to claim a badge of honor for upsetting Indian cricket fans. Newsflash: just tweet ‘Bradman was much better than Tendulkar could or will ever be’. Watch the fun. Doesn’t take much to upset Indian cricket fans (I know, I’ve been guilty too).

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

August 18, 2010 at 6:06 pm

Posted in Cricket, India, Rants

Further comments on the superbug controversy

with 5 comments

Since I blogged about the superbug controversy in India, there have been a few other pieces on the issue. In particular there are two blogs that I would like to comment on.

Firstly, take this blog, part of the Indian National Interest community, which is apparently an attempt to refute my earlier post. I usually strongly endorse the opinions expressed in the INI domain, but I have to politely (not really, but I try to be nice) disagree with the viewpoints in the blog.

Before that, I must applaud the blogger for raising concerns about Indian health-care. I am in total agreement with the author about the need for India to employ stringent medical procedures to control the spread of this particular resistance and prevent future outbreaks.

What I disagree with and do not understand is the rest of his rather absurd arguments.

Especially, lines like:

…the exaggeration, the dramatization of the threat, the hyphenation with Pakistan, etc. (emphasis mine)

do not make sense. I hate as much as the next person, the collectivization of the subcontinental people under a single name. But I doubt bacterial organisms care much for geopolitical boundaries.

Anyway, the author goes on to say:

Scores of revelations (this blog has tried to document as many of them as it could) about the pharma industry in the last two decades literally implores us to treat any thing that they are behind, with scepticism first and acceptance later.

We need to adopt a two-pronged strategy going forward as these kinds of ‘attacks’ are bound to emerge. They are thinly-disguised protectionism from the economically beleaguered West, whether or not they are orchestrated at the sovereign level.

….

That does not mean I should accept this report with all its shades and hues.

The whole thrust of the blog’s argument – if one may accord that respect to the writings – is that pharmaceutical companies are not to be trusted. Ergo we shouldn’t trust this study and protest our heads off.

Firstly, the study was not a pharmaceutical company study. Yes, I am aware of the partial sponsorship by Wellcome and this ‘conflict of interest’ issue has already been explained in many places. [However, I do also ask how Wellcome gains anything from a paper that talks about superbugs in India when they (or any other pharmas really) do not have a drug to kill these organisms? But that is a separate matter]

Further, if we do extend this logic of the one bad apple, then, given the lack of stellar record of Indian scientists and doctors in the honesty department (let’s not even go into the politicians and the media), we should not really believe anything they say about the results in this particular journal paper!

What particularly bothers me about the post is that there’s hardly any attempt to directly engage the scientific merits of the article (other than use of quotes around the word ‘research’, which hardly justifies as a critique). Rather, the blog simply puts forward the nebulous idea of some Western extra-governmental entity insidiously planning to bring down the Indian health-care tourism industry one scientific journal publication at a time (why the same entities have not attacked other places such as Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Costa Rica etc which also has a thriving medical tourism industry, I do not know).

It is sad that a blog hosted by a portal that frames serious policy matters relating to India, deems fit to advance conspiracy theories on shaky grounds with zero evidence.

Note: I am not saying that India should sit back and not react at all to the publication. But doing so in the framework of ‘the west is out to get us’ media show is wrong.

———————-

On the other end of the spectrum, Charakan, an MD from India, has written a very insightful post on this issue, which explains a lot of the science behind the bacterial resistance and tries to separate the facts from myths. I highly recommend reading the article in full.

I do however have a comment to make about this section:

The article in Lancet says
It is disturbing, in context, to read calls in the popular press for UK patients to opt for corrective surgery in India with the aim of saving the NHS money. As our data show, such a proposal might ultimately cost the NHS substantially more than the short-term saving and we would strongly advise against such proposals’.
This is an unscientific comment not based on any data.The authors have not proved that NDM 1 enzyme producing bacteria in UK was imported from India. More than 50% of patients in UK detected to have NDM 1 has never traveled to South Asia.Also the comment is not taking into consideration other groups and sub groups of Carbapenemase enzyme producing bacteria which are more prevalent in UK than in India.

The author of the article in Lancet seems to show undue haste in blaming medical tourism for antibiotic resistance in UK.

It is a valid argument weather the authors have overreached in ascribing all the bacterial infection in UK cases to South Asia. It is an unfortunate tendency on the part of scientific authors to sometimes over-interpret their data, usually in the Discussions section of the paper. Reviewers often let this slide as well.

However, in this particular case, I don’t think it is a huge stretch. The authors are commenting within the framework of a particular question: does NHS’ plan to reduce cost by outsourcing surgeries to India make sense? They conclude that this may not be cost-effective in the long run due to the dangers of superbug infections. Given the data showing incidences of such bugs showing up in India, it is perhaps not a wholly unreasonable point to make.

Still, the authors of the paper could have phrased it differently.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

August 16, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Superbugged

with 12 comments

There has been much brouhaha in India during the last two days  over a recently published paper in the journal, Lancet Infectious Diseases. The paper outlines the emergence of major antibiotic resistance in enterobacteria isolated from patients in  UK, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The appearance of bacteria resistant to the strongest of antibiotics is a cause for global concern, especially in these days of globe-trotting and in light of lack of new antibiotics developed by drug companies recently.

The authors conjecture is that patients in the UK who were found to harbor this ‘superbug’ picked it up during surgeries – some during health tourism visits – from the subcontinent. Needless to say, the results of the study  has been (excuse the pun) a bitter pill for Indians. The medical community is upset, the politicians and media are outraged and screaming ‘Western conspiracy‘.

Unfortunately most of this anger is highly misplaced. I strongly recommend reading Bhalomanush’s well-argued (and in the face of some of the stunning ignorance out there, highly restrained) response debunking much of the media outrage.

I just wanted to add a few words of my own.

1. The main problem I see with the Indian reaction is the  usual cry of victim-hood  (MNCs and the ‘West ‘are out to get us and our health tourism industry) that is unbecoming of a country that wants to be global player.

The mature (and the right) way of dealing with such a publication would have been a statement explaining that India has taken serious note of this study in major journal and will be conducting its own investigations, at the same time reassuring people with numbers (number of cases small compared to the vast number of patients in India) etc. Instead we’ve taken on a jstrange ingoistic tone mixed with juvenile petulance: blaming the scientists for spreading falsehoods and finger-pointing like a school kid (suggesting that the virus is everywhere, why point to us?).

The best (worst) example of this over-the-top reaction is the idiotic notion that naming the protein that confers resistance to the bacteria (NDM1 = New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase 1)  after our capital is somehow a huge insult to our nation.

National pride that is so easily dented is not really a pride worth having.

2. There seems to be no concern in the media about the actual consequences of antibiotic resistant bacterial strains. The rise of resistant strains is a real, fearful possibility in our antibiotic munching culture. What is anyone doing to ensure that such strains do not turn into a large public health problem in our country?

The medical tourism industry and most private hospitals in India are restricted to an elite population. These are the places where disinfection and sanitary methods are at their best. One wonders about the consequences of these bugs turning up in regular hospitals.

I am quite surprised that the supposed champions-of-the-underprivileged Indian media is rather silent on this (OTOH, actual medical and health concerns such as this don’t make good screaming matches on TV).

(Sakshi has a longer post detailing this concern)

3. This is not to say the western media is not totally guilty of hyping things a bit and spreading panic and fear. As Bhalomanush has pointed out, the misrepresentation of the UK and other international media is equally disgusting.

But again, a kicking and screaming response to such smearing doesn’t do anyone any good.

But, do also read the very balanced pieces by LA Times and Discover Blogs

4. The Indian media claims that the lead author of the study, an Indian doctor, Karthikeyan Kumaraswamy, has ‘retracted’ the study or at least distanced himself. If this is true, then there has been gross misconduct on the part of either Dr. Kumaraswamy or Lancet. As is true for any scientific publication, final manuscripts have to be vetted by all authors. As the footnote in the paper says:

All authors were involved in the compiling of the report and approved the final version.

If something was added after Dr. K looked through the draft and it was something he did not agree with it, he can and should take it up with Lancet. Retracting is not done in front of TV.

[actually, if you see the actual video of the interview with Dr. Kumaraswamy, he doesn’t really say anything that’s related to dissociating himself!]

5. Finally, thrown into this conspiracy theory mix is the fact that Glaxo-SmithKline recently published a paper in the online version of the journal Nature, where they have identified a compound that binds to a bacterial processive enzyme. It is possible that such a compound could escape the antibody destroying enzyme of the resistant bacteria and kill them.

Firstly, do note: the paper describes the snap-shot of the protein in its inhibited state i.e in a state where it is in a crystallized form. How such a compound succeeds as a drug is anybody’s guess with details such as efficacy, safety and stability that needs to be worked out (over a period of years).

And to those seeing another conspiracy in this, I really doubt that GSK could have pulled off the timing of their publication  (which btw is currently an advanced publication online only, has not come out in an issue) to coincide with the Lancet publication. More likely, it was a fortuitous occasion and the GSK PR department has jumped on it seeing a great opportunity to raise share prices. This is borderline dishonesty because, as I mentioned above, there is really no way to determine if the compound will be an actual drug and such drugs aren’t expected to be produced in a short time.

There are few other issues e.g the constant touting of the supposed ‘conflict of interest’ that have been covered by fellow bloggers, so I am not going there.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

August 14, 2010 at 6:20 pm

Posted in Desi Connections, India, Rants

Tagged with ,

Ghost goals and whingerings

with 4 comments

So everyone and their grandmother are complaining about the lack of use of technology in soccer after England had a perfectly good goal disallowed during the first half of their round of 16 match-up with Germany.

It is hard to argue against some kind of electronic and/or human intervention in cases of howlers such as this, or the missed off-side call during the Argentina-Mexico game later in the day.

But, even though England went on to be subsequently thrashed 1-4, apologists – chief among them coach Fabio Capello and other English players – decided to blame the entire loss that disallowed goal. Their reasoning: England would have played differently with a 2-2 score and Germany would not have had chances for the counter-attacks.

This is of course, perfect bullocks.

Here are two reasons:

(1) Look at the South Korea-Uruguay game from yesterday. Korea, down by a similar margin at the interval, came out brilliantly in the second half; controlling the ball well, not getting nervous or hurried, and constantly keeping the mighty Uruguayan defense under pressure. Their efforts paid off in a goal scored partly by a rare lapse from a defense that hadn’t conceded yet in the World Cup. Now if a country like South Korea, much less experienced at the World Cup knock-out stages,  can keep their composure and achieve an equalizer playing proper football, there is little excuse for the highly paid English footballers, majority of them playing in one of the best professional leagues in the world, and aided by a million-dollar income coach, not to do the same.

(2) The third goal conceded by England was a counter-attack off a set-piece near the German penalty box. It was not as if English defenders (or even midfielders) did not know the situation and the existence of  the possibility of a quick German counter.  The truth they should face is that English defense was a joke. The first goal by Klose proved that amply. A goal-kick results in a score only in back-yard soccer.  And that third goal was the pure speed of the young German midfield, combined with the selflessness of their players.

Capello’s whining is also a tacit admission that a tied score would’ve made England play defensively and attempt to luck it out in the lottery of penalty kicks (for which Capello famously already had a line-up drawn up for).

Anyway, I am waaaaay pleased that Germany won. I love following the German team in football for reasons I won’t go into now. (a love for German lagers and ales doesn’t hurt).

But before I end, can anyone please answer this question that’s been vexing me for the whole World Cup: what the fuck is David Beckham doing on the English sidelines dolled up in a three-piece suit and looking suitably worried all the time? The Guardian tells me Beckham is some sort of a go-to guy between the players and the manager. If that is true, then I rest my case about why England lost.  @a_muse suggested Beckham is their official mascot. In which case, I ask, ‘ Dude, where’s your monocle?’.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

June 27, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Posted in Soccer, Sports

Tagged with , , , , ,

Weekend Cocktail Blogging: Saturday Quickie…

with 6 comments

A fine, crisp and sunny weekend evening in San Diego inspires this Hendrick’s Gin-based cocktail. Let’s call it…ummm….. say Carte Blanche (not my own idea – flicked the name off the box the Hendrick’s came in)
  • 3 parts Hendrick’s Gin
  • 1.5 part lime juice
  • 1 part sugar syrup/teaspoon of sugar.
  • Few dashes of Paychaud’s Bitters

Shake all ingredients except the bitters with ice and strain into a pre-chilled martini glass. Add a few dashes of the bitter on top. Enjoy with mozzarella-rolled prosciutto with basil, and salami with Parmesan.

[Or, just drink a Shiraz-Cabernet-Viognier blend, as the better -half was doing]

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

April 10, 2010 at 11:01 pm

Posted in Food, Martinis, Personal

Tagged with , ,