TOI reports ‘Chocolates healthier than most fruits’!!!

I refer to the Times of India dated 8th Feb.

I quote :

Chocoholics, you can now gorge on your favourite treat without a sense of guilt, for scientists have claimed that it’s actually healthier than many fruits. Not only that, but chocolate is being heralded as the latest ‘super food’ by the scientists who carried out a study. They have proved that it is packed with more healthy plant compounds and antioxidants gram-for-gram than fruit juice and provides far more nutritional goodness than food experts had previously thought.

Wow! This sounds good! But wait, don’t grab the chocolate bar just yet…

The scientists have based their findings on a comparison of cocoa powder, the raw ingredient of chocolate, with powders made from fruits like acai berries, blueberries, cranberries and pomegranates, …

Yikes! They are comparing the cocoa powder with powder made from the poor fruit! And then you claim that cocoa is better than fruit. Now, now, how ridiculous can you get. Next, they are going to claim that cocoa powder is even more valuable than Sachin Tendulkar.. oh! powdered Sachin Tendulkar that is.

A fruit is not some inanimate element with static properties, which would be the same regardless of drying or grounding. It reverberates with life, and in keeping with its biotic nature, goes stale or bad as time goes by. Making a dry powder from it, negates the whole idea of a fresh fruit. It lays waste to its vitamins and anti-oxidants. That’s why processed food is such a sham.

The guys making this claim with a straight face – supposedly ‘scientists’ at the Hershey Center for Health & Nutrition in the US – well the less said about them the better. They join the hall of fame of the economists rooting for lesser regulation for Goldman Sachs, the climatologists arguing why global warming is just a blip, and the doctors arguing why cancer tests proved to be useless are still necessary.

But the journalists reporting this, could we not expect them to be a wee bit more vigilant, or are they too…

Yours truly,

Vivek Shroff (

Cricket bettors or suckers?

Today’s Times of India lists the bets being offered by the bookies (prominently Ladbrokes’) for bettors wanting to stake their fortunes on their predictions for the winner of the World Cup.

Like, say, India’s odds are 11/4. So if a bettor bets Rs. 4 on India, then if India wins, he receives Rs. 11 plus he gets back his Rs. 4 – total Rs. 15. So the “cost” of betting on India is 4/(11+4) i.e. 0.2667. If the odds are a/b, then the “cost” is b/(a+b).

I have totalled the “costs” of betting on all the main contenders. A little bit of thinking will reveal that if the total “cost” is 1, then it means that by betting Re. 1 uniformly across all the options, I am guaranteed a return of Re. 1. This would mean that there is no additional cost being imposed by the bookie.

However, we know that in reality, the bookie needs his daily bread, and the bettor always starts out at a disadvantage. Typically in betting centres like Las Vegas and Macau, the dice is loaded in favour of the casino – the minimum being just above 1% for Baccarat and 3-4% for Blackjack and Roulette. If the casino doesn’t play a game, it typically takes 3% of the winnings. This pays for the airconditioning and the hors d’oeuvres (and the hostesses).

So far, fair enough. So what is the cost imposed by the bookies for cricket betting? Here are the odds offered and their reciprocals which represent the cost of betting on that particular team : India 11/4 (0.2667), Sri Lanka 4/1 (0.20), South Africa 4/1 (0.20), Pakistan 8/1 (0.1111), Australia 9/2 (0.1818), West Indies 20/1 (0.0476), England 8/1 (0.1111), New Zealand 20/1 (0.0476), and Bangladesh 66/1 (0.0149). I have ignored the rest. The total cost comes to 1.18. I.e. in order to earn a rupee, I need to wager Rs. 1.18!!! By betting a lac, I can get a return of only Rs 84,750, luck ignored. The bookie is imposing a cost of more than 15%!!! Without needing to pay for the airconditioning…

So next step for the gamblers… Macau? Or better still, just meet up with one of your ilk, play some loud music, and toss a coin. At least you would have had the satisfaction of getting the betting ‘cost’ down to zero.

Yours truly,

Vivek Shroff (

ObamaCare causing unemployment?

I came across a blog post by Scott Lincicome “frustrated libertarian” on “ObamaCare and America’s Global Competitiveness”. He argues that ObamaCare is forcing healthcare industry players to look for ways to operate more efficiently, and consequently, is causing outsourcing to India. Also, a sympathetic comment on the blog stated that the healthcare sector is generating the maximum employment growth.

I produce below, my comment to this blog entry :

So, ObamaCare is forcing the healthcare providers to “look at a variety of ways to operate more efficiently and keep premiums affordable.” Is this being criticized in the article?

The healthcare industry by accounting for 56% of job growth from 2001 to 2007, has not been a growth engine, but rather a cancerous tumour which has sucked the life out of the other economic sectors, so much so, that in the whole world, USA is probably the only country where a guy must cling to his current job more out of compulsion to retain his health insurance, rather than out of career growth considerations.

Vivek Shroff,

(End of comment)

Yours in samvit,

Vivek Shroff (