Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Long and Short of It

Embarassing stuff this is. More so since it has been on the BBC's Most Emailed / Most Read articles for the last three days. All the Brits are probably having a good snigger or two over their evening Earl Grays. Going back to the article - two questions immediately popped to the distraught mind - Surely 1200 men do not a nation make, and what if it's true? Statistical analysis are prone to errors aren't they especially when with such a small number, such large inferences are derived! Or are the Indians really not cut out to international standards.

If you, dear reader, haven't visited the link yet, I shall try and get the gist of it in the next few sentences. The title of the BBC article reads "Condoms 'too big' for Indian men". I think that one sentence is enough for the gist after all. On to the substance then. 1200 men from various classes, religions, villages, cities were checked for length and breadth and it seems that they didn't set no statisticians pen on fire. The failure rate for condoms (falling off/tearing) in India is high - one in five times (Where do they get this kind of information?!!). And that custom-made condoms (read smaller) should be introduced since those made according to international sizes are too large for a majority of Indian men.

The Ego has crash landed...

Now I don't know how these 1200 men volunteered for the survey. I wouldn't take it too kindly if a chappie with a measuring tape came up to me and asked me drop everything and raise it so that he can then measure it. So firstly, I am not too sure of the kinda men who were actually measured. No self-respecting, virile and well endowed Indian male would have stood for such nonsense - a bunch of wusses these surveyors must have run into and cowed them into standing in front of the tape. Moving on to the next possible flaw in the survey. The measurements need to happen when the thingy is at its best - that would have called for the volunteers to get it to the maximum. Now that would take some stimulation. How can I be sure that the surveyors had high quality material with them to get the volunteer's blood flowing. Was the erotic stuff textual or was it visual? Did it take into account the participant of the survey's individual taste and kinks? I dont't think so. So the chances are that due to the lack of good infrastructure the most of the 1200 men didn't get it to their maximum. I mean there is the real large probability that they could have stuck a better pose and raked up a couple of more centimetres on the ruler if they were shown their favourite porn star in action. Finally, onto the actual process of measurement. The article mentions that the measurements done were accurate to the last millimetre. I remember my Physics teacher telling the class long ago that the instrument that is the daddy of all measuring tools is vernier callipers - it takes it down to the millimetre and more. Since the survey claims to have been very precise with the readings I assume that this would have been their tool of choice. One thing I vividly remember about the contraption was that it was extremely cold - steely and very very cold. It also had a couple of sharp points. Now when I imagine the cold steel with the pointy things taking readings I can't help but feel that it would most certainly have had a damping effect on the poor soul that is being measured. Kinda like the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. If the calliper touches, it would shrink, if the calliper doesn't touch, reading would be inaccurate. Either way, it points to more skew in the conclusions drawn.

These are the three compelling arguments I have in defence of the slandered Indian male.

Excerpts from the article

But Indian men need not be concerned about measuring up internationally according to Sunil Mehra, the former editor of the Indian version of the men's magazine Maxim. "It's not size, it's what you do with it that matters," he said.

"From our population, the evidence is Indians are doing pretty well.

"With apologies to the poet Alexander Pope, you could say, for inches and centimetres, let fools contend."

On a not so relevant note, I must mention that the survey was done in Delhi. (I live in Bombay by the way)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Poxy Pixels Turn Pricey

The chap who made a million dollars by selling a million pixels at a dollar each as advertising space on a website is at it again. (All the ads contain links to websites.) This time though each pixel is going to cost two dollars. The minimum cost of an advert is 200 dollars (the minimum that one needs to pay - for a space of 10 x 10 pixels). One dollar goes into Alex Tew's kitty and one gets added to a pot which when will finally be handed over to a lucky surfer. One month after the final pixel is sold one advertisment from the page will be randomly chosen and another draw will determine one surfer who had clicked on the chosen advert - the surfer gets a million dollars. I was wondering how the site administrator would know who clicked on which advert. It turns out that you need to create an id on the site and then login before setting off on the clicking spree to increase your chances of winning the jackspot. However you are allowed to click on only a maximum of 10 ads a day. The new site has sold around 75000 pixels so far.
I spent some time going though many of the adverts put up on the original page - most of the adverts are for online gambling sites, there are quite a few dating / networking sites, there are sites that have aped the idea (this site was launched on 11 Jan 2006 and has sold around 200 thousand pixels so far, 800 thousand more to go), adverts for medicinal cures for hairloss, organ enlargement and so on. Advertisement of pornographic sites is not allowed though (like they need any you may say eh!). At the end of it, I really don't think there were any sites except for the Internet Yellow Pages) which seemed useful or were of interest. (The site still gets 7000 hits a day and at it's peak it used to get around a million hits a day!). The point is, the site made money only because of the novelty of the whole thing, because Alex thought of something noone else in the world had thought about. Grudging envy - my feelings on Mr Alex Tew - the 21 year old who made his million bucks in 5 months - purely on the strength of an idea. I wish him luck on his new Pixelotto venture.
Are ideas spontaneous or is motivation needed for an idea to germinate? (Alex needed money for his education and was thinking of ways to make some). When was the last time I thought of something innovative that at least made me feel good even if it didn't make me any money...I don't know. Imagination - I need to work on it.