Food, by Krish Ashok

If you’re coming cross this thread for the first time, I envy you. Scroll up to the top, and drool your way through 🙂

Please read his book, Masala Lab, if you haven’t read it yet.

Learn To See, and You’ll See That You Can Learn So Much!

Read the entire (short) thread, and the article at the end. And as Mihir says, kudos to the students!

Jeff Bezos, ex-CEO, Amazon

I thoroughly enjoyed going through these pictures, and you probably will too.

Here are three things I’d recommend you read about Amazon, to get a better sense of the company and what it has been up to:

  1. The Everything Store, by Biz Stone
  2. The Amazon Tax, by Ben Thompson
  3. A fascinating story about how Amazon developed it’s batteries.

On Prefaces

This was such a delightful read:

It fails to topple my all time favorite preface, but given that that one was written by the one and only Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, it is entirely understandable. No?

Here is the first paragraph, but you really should read the whole thing (and of course, the entire novel).

A certain critic – for such men, I regret to say, do exist – made the nasty remark about my last novel that it contained ‘all the old Wodehouse characters under different names’. He has probably by now been eaten by bears, like the children who made mock of the prophet Elisha: but if he still survives he will not be able to make a similar charge against Summer Lightning. With my superior intelligence, I have outgeneralled the man this time by putting in all the old Wodehouse characters under the same names. Pretty silly it will make him feel, I rather fancy.

Preface: Summer Lightning, by PG Wodehouse.

He was pretty good at dedications too:

“To my daughter Leonora without whose never-failing sympathy and encouragement this book would have been finished in half the time.”

I couldn’t for the life of me (alas) remember which Wodehouse book this came from. But this column proved helpful, and also proved to be thoroughly enjoyable, so here you go.

The Heart of a Goof, if you are not in a clicking through frame of mind.

India’s Demographics in One Tweet

Well, ok, not India’s demographics in one tweet, maybe. But it is such telling and thought-provoking trivia, this.

If you’re looking for a frame of reference, Belgium’s total population is 12 million. We will add 12 million 18 year olds alone.

By the way, please don’t misconstrue my stance on the issue: I’m very much on Team Simon.

#hencethename on Twitter


Twitter Handle: @indiaves

And just one of many, many, many examples possible:

Surekha Pillai

Twitter is poorer today, not by design, but by absence.

I never met Surekha Pillai, never even spoke with her on Twitter. I discovered yesterday that she was in PR. My point is that I followed her on Twitter for no other reason than the fact that she was the definition of Twitter done right. Always positive, always cheerful, always ready to help, and the number of times she used Twitter’s magic to amplify voices is beyond reckoning.

Search for “Surekha Pillai” on Twitter, and read what people have to say about her, and learn therefore what “yes, and” as opposed to “no, but” means in practice.

Meant in practice.

Screw covid.

On The History of Public Health in India

The responses will keep you busy for days, if not weeks. This tweet, and the responses to it, are an excellent argument for why Twitter is such a valuable resource for all of us.

The Ecstacy and the Agony

I watch three sports somewhat regularly, and I’ll answer the question for each of them:
  1. Cricket: Chennai 1999. I agree with Kartik, in other words.
  2. Football: The last minute or so of the 2012 EPL season.
  3. Tennis: The men’s final at Wimbledon, 2019. I still don’t understand how he lost.

The broader question, of course, is whether the increase in the supply of cricket matches has reduced their value, at least for me. And I think the answer is yes. This also helps us understand why the ESL would have been a really bad idea. I need to explore this idea more thoroughly in 2021.

And thank god for Roger Federer!

No Such Thing As Too Much Stats in One Week

I wrote this earlier this week:

Us teaching type folks love to say that correlation isn’t causation. As with most things in life, the trouble starts when you try to decipher what this means, exactly. Wikipedia has an entire article devoted to the phrase, and it has occupied space in some of the most brilliant minds that have ever been around.
Simply put, here’s a way to think about it: not everything that is correlated is necessarily going to imply causation.

But if there is causation involved, there will definitely be correlation. In academic speak, if x and y are correlated, we cannot necessarily say that x causes y. But if x does indeed cause y, x and y will definitely be correlated.

And just today morning, I chanced upon this:

And so let’s try and take a walk down this rabbit hole!

Here are three statements:

  1. If there is correlation, there must be causation.

    I think we can all agree that this is not true.
  2. If there is causation, there must be correlation.

    That is what the highlighted excerpt is saying in the tweet above. I said much the same thing in my own blogpost the other day. The bad news (for me) is that I was wrong – and I’ll expand upon why I was wrong below.
  3. If there is no correlation, there can be no causation

    That is what Rachael Meager is saying the book is saying. I spent a fair bit of time trying to understand if this is the same as 2. above. I’ve never studied logic formally (or informally, for that matter), but I suppose I am asking the following:
    If B exists, A must exist. (B is causation, A is correlation – this is just 2. above)
    If we can show that A doesn’t exist, are we guaranteed the non-existence of B?
    And having thought about it, I think it to be true. 3. is the same as 2.1

Rachael Meager then provides this example as support for her argument:

This is not me trying to get all “gotcha” – and I need to say this because this is the internet, after all – but could somebody please tell me where I’m wrong when I reason through the following:

Ceteris paribus, there is a causal link between pressing on the gas and the speed of the car. (Ceteris paribus is just fancy pants speak – it means holding all other things constant.)

But when you bring in the going up a hill argument, ceteris isn’t paribus anymore, no? The correlation is very much still there. But it is between pressing on the gas and the speed of the car up the slope.

Forget the phsyics and accelaration and slope and velocity and all that. Think of it this way: the steeper the incline, the more you’ll have to press the accelerator to keep the speed constant. The causal link is between the degree to which you press on the gas and the steepness of the slope. That is causally linked, and therefore there is (must be!) correlation.2

Put another way:

If y is caused by x, then y and x must be correlated. But this is only true keeping all other things constant. And going from flat territory into hilly terrain is not keeping all other things constant.


But even if my argument above turns out to be correct, I still was wrong when I said that causation implies correlation. I should have been more careful about distinguishing between association and correlation.

Ben Golub made the same argument (I think) that I did:

… and Enrique Otero pointed out the error in his tweet, and therefore the error in my own statement:

Phew, ok. So: what have we learnt, and what do we know?

Here is where I stand right now:

  1. Correlation doesn’t imply causation
  2. I still think that if there is causation, there must be correlation association. But that being said, I should be pushing The Mixtape to the top of the list.
  3. Words matter, and I should be more careful!

All in all, not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning.

  1. Anybody who has studied logic, please let me know if I am correct![]
  2. Association, really. See below[]