Only the ones you need

In their remarkable book called You: The Owner's Manual, Drs. Roisen and Oz  wrote on the human body. A thing that everyone possess but most people (including yours truly) seem to know little about (and what they think they know is mostly myth). I was most intrigued by their descriptions of the two main cavities that book-end our generous plumbing a.k.a the 'digestive system'.

On one end they recommended to stool watch - i.e to pay attention to the shape and the consistency. If something's wrong with your digestion then you are gonna see the effects. The ideal stool needs to long and S-shaped (they write: like the shape of your intestine). It shouldn't be hard and softer than al dente is Goldilocks perfection.

We all know garbage in, garbage out doesn't just apply to computer programming. On the oral end people seem to have most of the right ideas. Eating healthy is known, if not followed very well. On the aspect of maintenance people are diligent about brushing their teeth at least twice a day and certainly at night. Of course no one really changes tooth brushes every six months as recommended. It's one of those things that no one really takes seriously like the notice on mattresses: "Do not tear this label, or hell will break loose".

Despite all evidence and suggestion to the contrary, I have yet to see anyone as diligent about flossing. No dentist, drunk or sober, is going to not recommend flossing. What do Roisen and Oz propose? They  leave it up to you and recommend rather pithily:

Teeth: Floss only the ones you need
Since my last dental exam, I have actually behaved in a manner that I didn't care.  I was given a clean bill but like everything in life, you can't rest on your past laurels. So, I freaked out when I learned that I had my dentist's appointment in two weeks. Brush as much as you want, those bleeding gums give away that you haven't flossed for love or for money in past few months. 

To avoid the dead giveaway and lose face in front of my dentist, I crammed.  I was cramming for the last two weeks for the dental exam by flossing every day.  The gums, they bled, but by the end of the week the really nasty tell-tale signs would be gone.  On the day of the exam, the removal of the calculus was painful, but the gums didn't bleed. This is to say that I  passed with a high B+ on in the flossing column of the report card.

As is always the case, after the cleaning and gentle admonishment I felt very repentant. I swore that I will finally turn a new leaf and floss. It's for my own good, no?

So, I have been very disciplined. Using the best floss money can buy and sleeping very soundly at night.

What is it with flossing? Is it just me? Every time I floss, I feel very virtuous, as if I did a good deed that day. A feeling that is better than the one you get when you eat a healthy salad when the rest of the people around you are eating something patently bad -  like nasty French fries. It just seems to lift you up to a higher plane.

Consequently, if you really want to intimidate somebody then just floss while they are brushing their teeth. It eerily makes them feel a little less clean. It's more effective than the using a hand sanitizer for no real reason. Pulling out the hand sanitizer makes most people think you are just one of the  'germ theory' show-offs. You could lose friends this way.  But, flossing, ah that's a subtle one.

So, every night as I rub the twine between my teeth I feel like a  better bigger person, a human being that people want to emulate but can't quite do it. Besides, I sleep rather soundly knowing my gnashers will be there the next morning.

He had it coming...

Paul the Octopus the world's most celebrated eight-armed cephalopod has died. He briefly dazzled the world with his Nostradamus-like ability to predict the outcomes of football matches featuring his adopted homeland (or Fatherland) Germany. He entertained millions on YouTube and had the bookmakers in a tizzy. That could be the seed of one of the many conspiracy theories. Who killed Paul?

Nobody. He did it himself. The truth is that it was 'self-guilt'. The pressure and attention got to him - as he was consulted on deeper problems that plague our human lives - Will the Tea Party change politics? Will China let the Renminbi float?
It wasn't that his area of expertise was limited to just football.  Paul knew deep inside that he was a fake. His fate hanging on the balance of a string of lucky, very lucky coincidences. So before he was exposed as a false prophet he took a dive to ensure immortality.

Paulos. Eight-armed
Requiescat in pacem.
Predict no more.

Every Dollar counts

‎"Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want."
 Anne Lappe, American ethicist

Quizzing: Meta Thoughts

Hat Tip:  Ramanand's Buzz:
From quatrainman: Wunderbar! RT @mitesh_agarwal: Must read if you are a quizzer - awesome stuff from Arul @al_lude Trivial pursuit

(I originally planned to just retweet it, then I  thought I should add a comment or two. One thought led to another and then all brevity eloped.)

Arul Mani's article makes excellent general points and confronts some dark aspects that most people would not admit in public. There are a number of spot-on observations on quizzers, quizzing communities and prevailing attitudes, including what's going to be called the quizzing asshole aphorism:

My own private test for the health of a quizzing community is to ask whether they have acquired a resident asshole. This creature is generally male, a petulant complainer, a hand-raiser, and a source of such constant irritation that all the others band together to ensure some general sanity. 

In a perverse way one, I  can only sympathize with the quizzer's need for recognition as a rockstar in a parallel universe where knowing the epitaph on Heisenberg's grave is actually 'cool':
Quizzers are at their entertaining best when they are overtaken by the need to write their own history. The Wikipedia page ‘Quizzing in India’ was initiated by a Pune-based quizzer as a bland list of quizzing activities in several Indian cities.

He continues further...
Despite the old and new, quizzing has had a very short history. There has been little organization or talk between communities across cities, but quizzers having read too many books are really quick to seize the opportunity to write their own mythologies and theories of supremacy of one city, or one system over another.

That has always been one of the chief attractions about quizzing - despite what anyone tells you - everyone wants to grab a slice of history and fame. To add a few more psychological-anthropological fundaes: Quizzing also being overwhelmingly male-dominated often descends into no-holds-barred nerd frat party, minus the booze. Male egos need histories to stand out as heroes. What's wrong with that?

The following also made me chuckle, Mr. Mani writes - "Some years ago, I discovered that the Pune quizzers liked to discuss questions, such as what makes for a good quiz, with pages of analysis and graphs – I spent several months wading through the stuff in repulsed fascination."  I  freely admit that we Pune quizzers tend to be masturbatory lot when it comes to theorizing. It did get out of hand a little while ago, but all that discussion was more in the speculative genre and the changes, or tweaks really, have been largely for the better. See the self-styled BCQC website for details. Note: BCQC people are Pune's leading quizzing fanatics (italics mine).

Nurturing a quiz team is one of the ways in which a business school can prove that their MBA packs muscle. Holding a quiz is the means by which folks in corporate employ can reassure themselves that they are knowledge-workers

There is hardly an 'old' quizzer who isn't lamenting with great nostalgia for the pure and distant past. I would argue to the contrary. TV shows and the popularity of  bad, often very bad MBA-style 'business quizzes' took quizzing to more places and to more people. If it hadn't been for these media circuses, place like my hometown Pune would not have been able to showcase the home-grown talent and for it to improve and compete with traditional powerhouses from Kolkata and Bangalore. Many, many years ago I had qualified for the National finals organized by Limca and Pune teams - Loyola and St. Vincent's (my team) took such a beating in the semis that we realized Pune's poor level of quizzing. I am very glad to note that this is no longer the case and  many local schools and open teams have had outstanding results at the national level.

The wrong kind of crowd who Mr. Mani wants to distance himself from is merely the price of democratization.  While the riff-raff and the occasional bad quizmaster who insists on using the Manorama Yearbook as a source of questions are still annoying,  I see a lot more decent quizzes and decent quizzers than before. People who really understand what a good question is and who appreciate the joy of 'working out' the answer. Mr. Mani rightly points out that the internet has been a boon to keep the nastier elements in line. On a more important note: the internet keeps people like me, part of the great quizzing diaspora connected.