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Self-Referential Conditioning

Nuff: On setting examples – Part 1.

“I learnt two things while growing up: don’t be evil, and never get caught.”

I still remember the day I heard this. A good friend (Nuff, of course) was explaining his outlook on life in general. We were alone, and he seemed nostalgic for some reason. I didn’t see why he would be – we were trying to find a gift to buy for his cousin’s birthday. It seemed like a dissonance at the level of ideas; after all, buying gifts was supposed to be a celebratory commercial indulgence. But somehow, Nuff always had a way to make you think about something you didn’t really think about thinking about, if you see what I’m saying.

Nuff had just seen this advertisement online; he always found time to peruse the collection of unrelated advertisements online. See below:

It seemed to evoke a need to introspect in him. He hadn’t told me much about his childhood. All I knew about it seemed to have been brought up when he was in one of these moods. But what he said really seemed to strike a chord in me. Here’s what he said:

“I don’t remember much of my childhood – I don’t think it would help very much. But, this ad did make me think: how much of my behavior is me emulating my parents? I grew up with just the two of them as role models, and the passing flow of relatives didn’t add up to much of an influence in the end. What did influence me, though, was how my parents reacted to the presence of said wandering relatives. In fact, I would say that the passing milieu of friends were treated in an interesting way as well; it all stemmed from these dual-edged ideas of theirs that still linger in me.”

“So much about my parents shapes the ideas in my head; always conflicting, always resonating, ever interfering. Even those two things I learnt, if you notice, are mutually-conflicting. Don’t do wrong things, but don’t get caught as well. That extends to how people should/could be treated – don’t think bad about people, but don’t let them hear you say those bad things. Don’t judge people, but don’t let them know they’re being judged. Respect people and their capabilities, but don’t trust them to do the work for you. If I took these lessons literally, and I really did, then I’d be one messed up guy. I am.”

At that point, I had to tell him that he was completely off track. I knew his parents – they were really good people. They had always treated my parents and me really well, and everyone who knew them didn’t find a single thing to complain about. That’s where Nuff really got excited:

“That is the problem, dear fellow. This dual-natured armor of theirs was impenetrable – no one could figure out it’s on. It took me so long to realize it myself, and by the time I did I was so confused that I still didn’t fathom all that I had learnt from them. They were really good people, and I was blessed to have them in my life. But I’m trying to say that the trickle-down effect of all of this may have crafted me in their image – AND I actually know that. I actually know how duplicity is forced upon the best of us. I know why it is forced down upon me – any semblance of acceptable behavior has got to arise after such a conflict of ideas. And it’s not just for me, it’s for all of us who had a good and stable childhood, where we were taught how to be good and amiable people. It’s just that we’ve buried all the effort that goes into making us seem that way to the observing masses.”

“So I may end up being a great son, but a bad father. I may end up seeming to be a nice guy, but really bad at keeping friends. My jeans may be torn, but I may have actually bought them that way. You see what I’m saying?”

I told him that I was trying to, and I still didn’t see how all this was tied to that ad video he had shown me earlier.

“Ah, now here’s where it fits in. You see the ad, and you see really questionable and some downright unacceptable stuff happening. But you also see how good the children are at impersonating that same behavior. When you’re growing up, your parents are your reference models to living. All of their strengths are yours to aspire for. So much so that you really do imbibe the good things about them if you’re a nice and conscientious chap – like the two of us are, obviously. But when it comes to YOUR turn to step up in your parents’ shoes, you channel ALL of their behavior into you. That’s where this ad is relevant. Come on, no one is going to grow up swearing at ALL of the people on the road when you’re driving. But when you’re pushed to face an event that you’ve seen your parents face before, chances are you’re going to do what you saw them do back then. So if your father was an all-round good guy, but he didn’t pay too much attention to you, you’re going to grow up thinking that’s an acceptable way to live. Even the smallest things leave an impression, however real or unreal they may seem. That ad points out the harshest ones, but it really made me think about how much I imbibed from my parents.”

“So now, I have to think twice before I make my big moves. Once to react, and a second time to analyse if my first instinct is the right one. If my first reaction was simply because of conditioning, what am I supposed to use as a frame of reference to objectively judge it…?”

I had to stop him there, it was getting much too far away from a casual conversation. He agreed, and decided to focus on buying that gift.

I always knew he thought about things too much, and sometimes unnecessarily. But still, I’m glad he didn’t bring up those horrible portrayals of domestic abuse in the ad. I know for certain that he has very strong views against that, and his rant about “chemically castrating violent husbands” was a vitriolic monologue on “social activism” (in his own words). That is for another time.

It was only when I reached home that I started to formalize what he was really saying. “Don’t get caught”. I wondered what he meant when he said he had learnt that from his parents. The entire conversation we had was about the “don’t be evil” part, and he hadn’t really gone into how his parents had given him this second insight.

In his own way, without even realizing it, Nuff had prevented himself from catching himself saying something to implicate his parents. That conditioning he had mentioned seemed to be working on him even while he was investigating the conditioning itself…

The connotations of erroneous grammar and a formidable bewilderment brought that thought to a close, but not before I had made a mental note to stop myself from bringing this up the next time I met Nuff. After all, there are only so many levels of self-reference I can keep up with.

Apple Knows Cash Is King

How Apple can turn any marketing event into a cash-making bonanza for itself:

There isn’t much Apple hasn’t done. From the proverbial come-back winning product launch to the industry-exploding sales figures, the company from Cupertino has defied all expectations. However, it has now caught the eye of the financial sharks the world over.

First, some facts:

The second quarter of the current financial year ends in less than two weeks, and Apple is expected to have over $70 BILLION in cash, short-term marketable securities, cash equivalents and long-term marketable securities. This means that Apple is SO far ahead of its competitors in the mobile segment that it can now afford to BUY out almost all of them, at their current enterprise values.
[ Nokia = $22.6b, RIM = $13.8b, HTC = $25.4b, Motorola Mobility = $4.2b, Sony Ericsson = $3b ]

To quote Asymco’s analysis:

If Apple’s revenue streams stopped completely, current cash would keep operations going for more than seven years, or until mid-2018.

Apple’s cash pile represents about half of Google’s total enterprise value.

Cash-on-hand for Apple represents a greater worth than Nokia, RIM and Motorola Mobility’s market caps combined.

Apple’s single quarter cash growth was higher than the market cap of many companies, and just about matched Motorola Mobility’s with the $900,000 in pre-payments added back in to the total.

Apple has enough funds on hand to put the company’s CFO among the top 100 largest fund managers in the world, and above any single hedge fund manager.

Core understanding from this would lead us to a simple conclusion that Apple agrees with the time-tested fundamental tenet of accounting – it is better to have cash today rather than pay back debt tomorrow.

Nothing exemplifies the cash-accumulating marketing machine at Apple more than its recent Back To School promotion. For a few years now, Apple has given out free iPods with a purchase of a Mac to every student during late summer. However, it has now stopped the free device handout and replaced the scheme with a $100 gift card that can be used to purchase apps on the Mac and iTunes App Stores, or books in the iBook Store.

This isn’t just a way to get students to “build their future” or “prepare for new challenges”, it’s also a way to make sure that the rewards cycle back to Apple in the end. How? Remember that Apple has structured an App Store revenue-sharing arrangement. Thirty percent of all purchases made on these stores are held by Apple. The developers get the rest, of course. But this entire marketing scheme scheme wraps up amazingly for everyone involved.

1. The students are made to believe (and with good reason), that their purchase of a new Mac comes with a good reason to load the machine up with the latest productivity applications like iWork and so on. They can still purchase their favorite tunes and a few best-selling novels as well, leaving them with an overall feeling of a massive “Win”.

2. The developers of both the iOS and the Mac platform get a significant heads-up, with new customers aching to spend freely (sort of) earned moolah on the latest and shiniest new software. The surge in study apps being promoted on the App Store isn’t just a coincidence! It’s an upsurge, almost like (but still not close to) Christmas time.

3. Of course, Apple makes a sweet 30% cut per app. But not only is it in this scheme for the money, it is also locking new customers on to its ecosystem. With more money to spend in making life easier on the Mac platform, students are being eased into what might have earlier been a more formidable (and even more expensive) exercise. Buying apps to use on an entirely new OS is generally a deterrent to “new” customers, but this new strategy is like a whoopee cushion that doesn’t make the funny noise in the end. Apple is also showing extra love to the developers who have stuck through with the platform and have taken the plunge to begin developing applications to cater to an ever-increasing ever-spending user base.

In summary, Apple’s competitors are only going to have more to catch up with in terms of both the user-base impact and the enterprise value. The gap in the latter is near impossible to lessen, unless Apple makes a couple of hefty acquisitions. But until then, the sheer polish and panache in Steve Jobs’ ever-evolving marketing machine leaves customers and developers happier with the finer things in life, and the company’s investors seeing that ever-increasing cash balance grow uncomfortably larger every quarter.

Graduation Speech at R.V. College of Engineering, May 2011

On behalf of the students of the Electronics and Communication Department, I can say that our time in RVCE has been a most memorable one. We have, together, been through experiences that have helped us grow as engineers, citizens and friends; and for this, we are thankful to have been in an institution such as this one.

In my time here, I have learned many things. But if asked to summarize, I think I would pick just two out of all of these accumulated gems of wisdom, in order to do them justice.

In our first year together, being the first batch of the autonomous scheme, we were told to be ready to accept an entire paradigm shift in the educational method. The focus was to infuse the students with a whole new vision – It was no longer just about how exemplary your report card made you out to be, but it was about how much you actually knew, and to what extent you could apply it in the real world. The continuous internal evaluation has realized its value today, when we are facing the industry with jobs, internships and projects. We are more ready than we would have been had our syllabus not stressed on the practical side of education. For this, I think we are all truly grateful.

Perhaps an even more important aspect of our learning was the most fundamental point about being alive – self-reliance. We learned that by slipping behind on any of our course work, we were only letting ourselves down, and no one else. We learnt that it doesn’t matter where you are writing a quiz – be it the classroom or the cognitive building – online or offline – our marks depended on us and nothing else. We learnt that formulae may be useful in a quiz, but unless you know its context, it will be useless in an internal. 

We have learned the meaning of responsibility. We have learned that it is sometimes better to listen, that to simply wait for one’s turn to speak.  We have learnt to follow, but not imitate.

But most importantly, we have learnt to understand for ourselves. This is perhaps the most valuable skill our institution has embedded in us. And for that, we are all grateful.

as delivered at the graduation ceremony – R.V. College of Engineering, May 5th 2011 – on behalf of the Electronics and Communication Department batch of 2007-2011.


Pakistani Cricket – Reality Calls

India won the cricket world cup semi-finals against Pakistan on the 30th of March. It was a fine display of one team outclassing the other, and one team making full use of the other team’s inadequacies in the game. Obviously, the team doing both of these was the team that won.

Pakistan has long been the “arch-rival” to Indian cricket. From the Indian perspective, these games have long been a forum for Indian team to display its prowess in the much adored game. It has never been just about religion, or politics, or vengeance or any other divisive notion. It has always been more about being better in the game. But for Pakistan, it is always going to be about being better than India. No, not just in cricket, but at the most fundamental level, just being better than India. Forget the economy, or the level of education, or the basic progress of society; if Pakistan bests Indian cricket, then Pakistan has won vindication. This is a pitiful state of affairs for a country that has diminished to being an international joke.

In the wake of the Mumbai attack, nobody in India has failed to see the irony in how Pakistan has dealt with their own duplicity in the atrocities. The perpetrators were Pakistani – yes. They caused unprecedented mayhem on foreign soil – yes. Any other country would claim the attack to be judicious grounds to declare war – most definitely. But India stayed put, and stuck to the softest possible response in the situation. All bilateral talks were grounded, and relations between the nations were dumbed to a standstill. However, to see the absolutely absurd reactions to this recent cricket match from across the border, given the decades of weighted backgrounds and this recent blatant attack on Indian sovereignty, one is simply flabbergasted.

The Captain, Oh Captain

Take the much-adored Shahid Afridi – his fans simply can’t get enough of him, so much so that they clamor to lay their hands on his pictures, those of his wife (check the comments – “Pathans dont show/shear their family (LADIES)” and of his daughters as well. From general perception and press coverage, he is amongst the most popular on the team right now. He is expected to be the grounding force in the team, now their leader and role model. However, anyone listening to him rant these past few days could well be shocked at the levels of immaturity on display. Let’s analyse some of his comments:

“Indians will never have hearts like Muslims and Pakistanis. I don’t think they have the clean and large hearts that Allah has given us,” Afridi was quoted as saying on a television channel.  

“It is a very difficult thing for us to live with them (Indians) or to have long-term relationship with them. Nothing will come out of talks. See how many times in the past 60 years we have had friendship and then how many times things have gone bad,” he said as the audience in the TV channel’s studio applauded him repeatedly. – The Nation, Pakistan

Afridi has reacted in the most juvenile way to a clear and unquestionable failure by his team. India beat Pakistan in the game. They did not have to fix the pitch, bribe an umpire or sway the media. In fact, Afridi’s own government put more pressure on his team, taking into account the fact that three of their top stars were banned for match fixing recently.

Rehman Malik (current Interior Minister of Pakistan), speaking to reporters in Karachi on Monday, had said that the team is being monitored closely to avert a repeat of the embarrassing spot-fixing scandal in August last year. “The team is being kept under close scrutiny before the match because of the recent spot-fixing scandal. We are not taking any more risks and do not want more such scandals,” he said. – The Express Tribune, Pakistan

Given that a minister of his own country issued this kind of a public warning against the national team, it goes to show the exact extent to which his own countrymen can extend their “large hearts”. With a government like this, who needs an enemy in Indian media; right, Afridi?

Is He Forgetting?

Also, these statements of Afridi are coming after he was a prominent presence in the test team that India beat on Pakistani soil in 2004. He would do well to remember the kind of security that the Indian team required to play in his home country. I’m sure Pakistanis are “large-hearted”, but even the Pakistani Government did not want to risk things going badly for the series. After all, we can almost guess what the Sri Lankans have to say about Pakistani hospitality.

Coverage of the attack – http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7920260.stm

Never before has violence of such ludicrous levels hit the sport of cricket. This kind of absurd inadequacy in security arrangements shows the incompetence of the government, the national cricket board as well the the complete ruthlessness of a people gone berserk. Controlling extremists is the priority when any such large-scale international event is hosted in a nation. But, even if Afridi insists, large-heartedness can never cover for the gross negligence at display, and the obvious move of the ICC to suspend all cricketing events in that country. Idiotic statements aside, he doesn’t seem to realize the impact this attack has had on the perception of Pakistan as a cricketing nation.

Fans and Responses

The Pakistani cricket fans seem to show a similarly nonsensical response to the loss. When Sonakshi Sinha, an Indian actress debuted alongside Salman Khan in a movie that became extremely popular in Pakistan (Dabbangg was seen as “Khan Bhai’s” capturing of the Indian movie industry), she won over many movie buffs across the border. They followed her on twitter, made lewd suggestions and requests for her pictures, morphed her face onto lingerie models and even started forum pages dedicated to the lass.

However, a recent tweet (see picture on this link) of hers garnered so many adverse/hate responses that she was forced to pull the picture off her page.  News report here.

This upset some of her pakistani fans. Many tweeted telling her to be a goodwill ambassador between the two countries and learn a few things from Salman Khan. Some of them even unfollowed her on twitter. To which Sonakshi tweeted; ‘pak fans v upset. jung ke maidan mein ladne se toh accha hi hai khel ke maidan mein ladein! im all for love thy neighbour. be a sport yaar.’ and later deleted the picture. she replied to her upset fans by saying ‘was all done in good humor. and if people dont understand that…its really not my fault’
A few days later she posted on her twitter ‘no jokes today. too many people here without a sense of humour. boo.’
do you think she went too far? should she just apologise?
I personally feel that she should just apologise straight up. Imagine if the picture was reversed and how upset indian fans would have been? I feel it was insensitive and as a public figure she needs to be careful not to ruin relationships with pakistani people. She should learn from more seasoned actors/actresses like SRK who celebrate without humiliating anyone and never try to upset their fans.

Ah yes, Salman Khan must be the embodiment of Indian dignity, of course. Pakistani fans did not handle this loss well, but their own celebrations over cricketing victories in the past have shamelessly brought up everything from Jinnah and Kashmir to Bollywood and Hinduism. The immaturity from their captain begins to make sense when this background of a typical fan is investigated. However, telling her to follow the example of Salman Khan is just pushing it, no? After all, does being an alcohol-addicted, SUV-driving-pedestrian-killing moron make him the *cough* shining example?

Must Sonakshi dance like him also? I think her Pakistani fans might prefer that.

Of course, these statements Afridi made garnered hard-hitting responses from Muslim scholars:

Eminent Indian Muslim scholars have said that his comments were immature and uncalled for. “If Allah has really given Pakistan and Pakistani Muslims such a large heart, why is it that the minorities, the Ahmedias and the Shias, live in fear there,” asked Mumbai-based Shia scholar Maulana Zaheer Abbas Rizvi. Young men such as Afridi who are role models for millions of cricket fans, said Rizvi, should not have spoken so irresponsibly. “It is this supremacist idea of Islam that is forcing well-off Pakistanis to flee that country. While the affluent are leaving the country, the poor are getting killed in the almost daily terrorist attacks in Pakistan,” he said.
Scholars mentioned the recent murders of liberal voices such as Punjab governor Salman Taseer who had opposed the man-made blasphemy laws as an example of increasing intolerance in Pakistan. “I am shocked that Afridi forgot so soon the kind of magnanimity and hospitality Indians showed him and his team on the occasion of the semi-final match at Mohali near Chandigarh,” said Islamic scholar Asghar Ali Engineer. “Were not Indians large-hearted when they cheered Pakistanis’ conduct on the field and off it? What else did he expect?” asked Engineer. – Times of India

I won’t delve into the religious aspects as much, seeing that they are more or less irrelevant to how well you play the game, as far as cricket is considered this side of the border. But, it is simply absurd on a captain’s part to steep to such blatant foolishness and pandering and use it as a cop-out to get back on the “good side” of his minions and fans back home. The treatment and security arrangements provided to the Pakistani contingent was top class. There were absolutely no problems even at Mohali, with the Indian Government playing a sporting host to the Pakistani Prime Minister as well as several Pakistani fans who were issued temporary visa-permits and tickets to watch the game live. Given the Mumbai attacks looming fresh in the minds of Indians all over, this was perhaps the biggest show of “large heartedness” possible by an entire nation still smirking from the atrocity. In fact, as far as friendship-symbolism goes, this action from the Indian people was so large it was morbidly obese, gargantuan even.

India could NOT have gotten chummier with Pakistan, in the current context.

If Afridi had particular problems with any arrangements, he should have voiced them here. He wasn’t denied a voice or a platform. His move to walk back home, head hanging in shame, with his own daughter crying on national television, must have brought out this cowardly response; because his pathetic batting form obviously didn’t help him register a response on the cricket ground. No doubt, the Pakistani forums are already mumbling in agreement with Afridi’s reasoning. No doubt, his statements will instigate much data-mining by the news shows there. However, nobody would expect someone like Dhoni, or Tendulkar, or even Sreeshanth to resort to such absurd comparisons to religion-induced large-heartedness and media skulduggery when justifying a loss. It is a sorry state to see the scion of Pakistani cricket resort to such nonsense, but not unexpected of a people slowly losing their stakes in their own conduct. It is hard to say if the Pakistani team will reclaim the iota of respect they had garnered from a semi-final ending run in the world cup. But whatever happens from here, it is not difficult to imagine that reality is shouting a different tune to what currently passes for it in Pakistan.

UPDATE: Watch the Dawn interview below.
 0:56 –
“Jitne bhi hum koshish karle, jitne bhi haanth bhadayen, joh hamare dil hain woh unke nahi ho sakte”
“However hard we [Pakistan] try, however much we extend a hand [in friendship], their hearts can never be like ours”


Advertising That Astounds

If you’re like anyone, you’ve been troubled by the barrage of incessant advertising interrupting everything in your life – from cricket to cornflakes. But sometimes, it takes an advertisement like this to make you marvel at the extent of possibilities that genius can reveal in a couple of minutes.

We’ve all probably heard of DoCoMo – the Japanese mobile company that started a new service in India along with Tata. But checkout this ad for their new TouchWood line of phones. No nonsense product placement, no brand retention efforts and absolutely no trickery – an intricately designed Rube Goldberg device that plays out Bach’s Joy of Man’s Desiring, made of recycled wood and a ball.

Might be “phon”-y, might be trickery. But this takes induced wonder through advertising to new levels.


Argentine Snaffles and Tom Thumbs, Part II

I apologize for the sound quality and for my horse’s inattention. It was an extremely windy day and the loud gusts were bothering her, plus she had just been vaccinated (by the evil evil vet with the awful horrible needles), AND there was a noisy tractor running right outside the barn, so she was a smidge upset and distracted. Now, why is the juxtaposition between the two bits’ actions diminished once they are placed in the horse’s mouth? The primary reason is that in this environment, the bit folds slightly along its central joint to accommodate the tongue. This frees this joint, allowing the sides of the black bit to rotate more freely from one another than before. However, keep in mind that this black bit is not a true Tom Thumb. A real Tom Thumb would not have this degree of freedom even within a horse’s mouth due to the tightness at the junctions of all of its joints and the shape of its shanks. Unfortunately for the sake of the demonstration (but fortunately for my horses) I do not own a Tom Thumb, nor could I find one to borrow to make the video. So the clips you get here are imperfect in that regard, as they do not show the severity and total lack of side-to-side independence that you get with a real TT.
Notice, however, that while both bits have some movement on the opposite side when one rein is pulled (and almost any bit will have this to some degree, with the possible exception of chain and Billy Allen / Myler mouths), it takes far less pressure on one rein to activate the motion of the black “TT,” meaning that the whole mouthpiece of that bit is rotating and pressing down on the horse’s mouth as a single unit, thus increasing its severity and decreasing its finesse, independent side movement, and total cuing ability.

Tom Thumbs and Argentine Snaffles

All right. Let’s discuss the topic of Tom Thumbs and Argentine Snaffles, a surprisingly controversial subject… First off, when I say “snaffle mouth,” I mean two-piece, single-jointed. “Snaffle” is a misnomer, but a commonly accepted one, quoted by big name trainers in their videos, written about in magazines, and sold in tack catalogs. The word snaffle really means a bit with no shanks and direct rein -> mouthpiece action (something that Tom Thumbs and Argentine Snaffles clearly are not), but in the vernacular it often refers to the type of mouthpiece shown in this video, regardless of cheek style. The Tom Thumb is a bit that gets a bad rap for being very harsh–stories have been passed around of people breaking their horse’s jaw with it. Now, that seems a little exaggerated to me (I can’t imagine how much pressure they’d have to be exerting on the reins to cause that much damage), and while I don’t consider the TT to be particularly cruel, I just plain don’t like it for a variety of reasons. Many people do use and love this bit, swearing by it and using it for training colts. To each his own, but my personal opinion is that there are far better bits on the market.

Pictured below is a true Tom Thumb bit, as the black show bit used in the video, as mentioned, is not entirely a TT due to its curved shanks and slightly higher degree of freedom around the mouthpiece/shank connection. 

That, right there, is a true Tom Thumb–and the worst one in existence. The straight shanks don’t give the horse any warning at all–the second you apply pressure, they pop right around, snatching the curb and activating the tongue-pinching and bar-crushing effects with the mouthpiece. It also makes direct reining difficult–the straight shanks, combined with the way the mouthpiece attaches to the shanks (no freedom whatsoever), mean that when you pull on one side, the entire bit twists rather painfully in the horse’s mouth. The curved shank versions aren’t quite as bad, but it’s still quite difficult for the rider to convey the intended cue to the horse, no matter how light or heavy his or her hands are. This bit just doesn’t have a whole lot of finesse in the horse’s mouth–it’s all or nothing. And any efforts at direct reining will likely result in confusion for the horse. While many horses do ride well in a TT, this often has far more to do with the kindness of the horse’s temperament than the quality of the bit.Now compare the above bit to this, your standard Argentine Snaffle.

At first glance, they look very similar. But the Argentine is much better balanced. Look at the curved shanks–these make it less harsh, and a slight touch of the rein will give a horse warning that a cue is coming, giving the horse time to react. Also, the joint between the two parts of the mouthpiece is finished better, so it will be less likely to pinch. Most importantly, the attachment from mouthpiece/shank is not fixed in the vertical direction. This gives both parts some freedom and independent movement. Slight jingles in the reins are often all that is needed to give a cue and thus get the desired response from the horse without the yanking that is often required with a Tom Thumb. Ask any horse–most will respond so much better to bits of this type.

In regards to folding and pinching of the mouthpiece into a palate-poking “V,” unfortunately I was not able to give a good visual demonstration of this effect. Keep in mind, as stated, that the bit will behave slightly differently in the organic environment of the horse’s mouth, interacting with tongue, bars, lips, jaw, and so on. The movement of the horse’s mouth certainly has the ability to change the orientation of the bit, and this could lead to some pinching with any mouthpiece, but more so with a two-piece “snaffle” mouth like this. However, in a curb bit like an Argentine or a TT, when the reins are held two-handed for direct-reining, the hands are wider apart than the cheeks of the bit (and the cheeks are further held apart by the very size and structure of the horse’s mouth), so the bit will not fold in on itself. Even when riding with one hand, the reins are separated by the width of the horse’s neck, and thus greatly minimize the inward force pulling the shanks together, and thus folding the bit. Pulling directly back, harshly, while riding one-handed with a centrally-positioned rein could perhaps begin to crush the bit inwards, but this is very poor riding and should be avoided regardless of the choice of bit. When neck-reining (and even when direct-reining), too, the primary control of speed, stop/go, and turning should come from the rider’s seat and legs and the “push” of the reins across the neck—not from bit pressure, again regardless of bit choice.

When are these bits appropriate? In my opinion, the answer for the Tom Thumb is “never.” For the Argentine Snaffle, I find it to be a good transition between a regular, true snaffle bit (O-ring, D-ring, etc.) and a curb of any kind. The mouthpiece is familiar to the horse, the shanks are short and relatively mild, and well made bits allow for some degree of independent side action, meaning that it can be used for direct-reining, flexion, lateral movement and so on. Recall again that bit quality is of the utmost importance. Some bits marketed as Argentines are really nothing but glorified Tom Thumbs. Try the bit out first to make sure that it works the way you think it will. The Argentine may also be a good choice for trail riding (so long as the hands using it understand its action and can use it appropriately) and for training any sort of horse who appreciates a bit with this design—and many do.

As with any bit, both of these require an educated hand with good “feel.” Whenever selecting a bit, play with it in your hands first to get an idea of how it works. When riding, visualize the bit in the horse’s mouth. With practice, you can even begin to feel what it is doing—you can actually “see” the rotation of the independent sizes of the mouthpiece, feel the curb chain activate, and so on. Thus you can temper your rein motions accordingly to transmit the clearest—softest and most precise—cue to your horse.

Help Me, Nuff

Dear Nuff,

I am a middle aged working mom, and I’ve been married to my husband for 8 years. We have a lovely 7 year old daughter, and things were fine until September last year.

My husband got laid off when his company bought over another company, and they went through a “creative restructuring” to “maximise employee efficiency”. In other words, being told he wasn’t indispensable to a company where he’d been working for over 9 years struck him pretty hard. He refused to leave home for weeks, and did nothing but sit and stare at his computer screen all day. I thought I’d give him a month to work over his depression, but he didn’t seem to get any better.

I’ve been busy with a new contract at my office this past month, so I’d asked him if he would take care of our daughter during the school break. He agreed, but that’s when the problem started. I’d get back late everyday, only to find my daughter unwilling to talk to me or look me in the eye. I thought this was only because I wasn’t spending as much time at home, so I promised myself I’d spend the weekends with her. But it wasn’t until yesterday that I figured out what was going wrong.

I left home at 7 that morning as usual, and decided to take my iPad with me to work. It was low on charge, so I thought I’d use my iPhone’s car charger to juice it up. I was a few blocks away when the iPad gave me a message saying that charging was unsupported with that charger. I decided to head back home real quick to grab my iPad power adapter.

When I got back home, I crept in to my bedroom to see that my husband had put on my underwear and some of my makeup, and was parading around the room trying to “strut his stuff”. My daughter was sitting in front of him, following him keenly; a look of bewilderment and confusion on her face. He was trying to imitate my voice, and saying things like how I used my “booty” to get a promotion, and how I “sucked balls” to keep from being fired. He proceeded to use a tube of face cream to imitate fellatio, and my daughter just sat and watched.

I couldn’t take it anymore, and I rushed out of there as soon as I could. I can’t face my husband anymore, and I can’t figure out if and how I should bring it up. Is he insecure? Does he hate me for keeping my job? Is he trying to turn my daughter against me? Please help me Nuff – what should I do?

A concerned soon-to-be-single mother


Dear iPad user,

The iPhone and the iPad both use the 30-pin connector to charge their batteries, but there are differences in the battery capacities. The iPhone/iPod Power Adapter is 5V, 1amp (5×1=5 watts), while the Ipad Power Adapters are 5V, 2Amp (5 x 2=10 Watts). So an iPad might charge using the iPhone’s Power Adapter, but it’s going to be way too slow. Car chargers for the iPhone are already strained delivering the required wattage as is, so it’s almost certain they won’t be able to keep up with the iPad.

The fastest way to charge your iPad is with the included 10W USB Power Adapter. The iPad will also charge, although more slowly, when attached to a computer with a high-power USB port (many recent Mac computers) . When attached to a computer via a standard USB port (most PCs or older Mac computers), the iPad will charge; but only in sleep mode. Make sure your computer is on while charging iPad via USB. If iPad is connected to a computer that’s turned off or is in sleep or standby mode, the iPad battery will continue to drain.

Take good care of your Apple accessories by keeping their unique charging requirements in mind.

Nuff said – Do unto others before they undo you.

to be continued. 


Can you dunk?

Can you dunk YOURSELF?