Oracle Paul, do tell us all!
I believe the biggest contribution of the animal kingdom to the modern world has been Paul the psychic octopus. He’s been able to predict results of matches in the World Cup. But more than any other country, India needs Paul because, somehow, there seems to be no one in our country who can provide answers to some real basic issues.
So here’s an open letter to Paul, from a concerned Indian:
Given how busy you are, I am going to keep this simple. Let me have the answers to these questions once you’re done with the World Cup:
* When will our country send players, not administrators to the World Cup? I believe every Indian administrator, suspended or otherwise, is in South Africa as we speak.
* When can we hope to have roads that don’t cave in every time they are re-built or when it rains?
* Will the Commonwealth Games be held in Delhi in 2010 and will Prince Charles be able to land in Delhi since the new terminal has been inaugurated but no flights are flying from there?
* When will Prime Minister Manmohan Singh award the Nehru Prize for Humanity to A. Raja for honesty and transparency in good governance? And will it help if we propose Raja’s name for the Fields Medal, the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in mathematics, since the telecommunications minister is obviously good with calculating large numbers?
* When can we hope to have Rahul Gandhi in the Cabinet so that the world’s youngest nation can actually also have a youthful cabinet? Or will we have to wait for Arjun Singh to break his silence on Bhopal?
* When will Murli Deora address India’s Parliament coherently on the oil price increase? Or shall we just wait for the Abhishek Singhvis and the Manish Tiwaris to tell us all?
* When will Nitin Gadkari stop fainting in winter and actually get the BJP to be an effective opposition to the otherwise so generous Congress? Or, for that matter, when will Sushma Swaraj work with the Reddy brothers in Bellary to help them export iron ore?
* Will the Congress ever embrace dynastic politics and give up this silly ‘inner-party democracy’ that it keeps talking about?
* Will the DMK ever change its slogan to ‘Delhi money for Karunanidhi’? It’s so much more hip and contemporary. It’s also pan-Indian.
* Can we ever hope for the return of Amar Singh in politics (that’s if he’s actually left)?
* Given his stupendous contribution to nation-building, when we can hope that Sant Chatwal gets the Bharat Ratna but not posthumously?
* Will India ever have a Planning Commission that works and which Kamal Nath loves?
* Will Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee be willing to join Mamata Banerjee owing to his deep affection for Prakash Karat?
* Can India ever hope to create a balancing act by finally getting some corrupt ministers in the Union Cabinet? Or will we suffocate with sickness at the high moral quotient of the present Cabinet?
* When will Mayawati ever throw grand birthday jamborees and wear garlands made of paper? Her abstinence from anything materialistic is such a welcome change in Indian politics.
* When will the government begin harming Air India so that we can then sell it to Jet Airways — and that the history books can call the change ‘From Tata to Goyal’?
* When will Karan Johar make a film that talks about the Indian family and Indian weddings?
* And finally, when will some of our very rich industrialists slow down on all the philanthropy they are doing? The amount they and the NRI lot are giving back to India is overwhelming. Last week, I wept when the Hindujas told me they’d bought a bank in Europe to help Moradabad.
Pray, tell all, Paul. And hopefully, before the next Five-Year Plan is published.
- Suhel Seth
Re: Oracle Paul, do tell us all!
Those who dunno who Paul is:
Paul the Octopus or Paul Oktopus is a common octopus, used as an oracle to predict the results of German international football matches.
Paul is presented with two boxes, each containing food, and each marked with the flag of a national team. He is reported to have chosen the box with the flag of the winning team in several of Germany's six Euro 2008 matches, and in each of their first six matches in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Paul was hatched from an egg at the Sea Life Centre in Weymouth, England, and is now kept in a tank at Sea Life Oberhausen, a commercial attraction in Germany. Paul's name was taken from the title of a poem by the German children's writer Boy Lornsen: Der Tintenfisch Paul Oktopus.According to Sea Life's entertainment director, Daniel Fey, Paul demonstrated his intelligence early in life:
"There was something about the way he looked at our visitors when they came close to the tank. It was so unusual, so we tried to find out what his special talents were."
The animal rights organisation PETA claimed that Paul's confinement causes him suffering, and that he should be set free, but Sea Life responded by stating that such a release would be dangerous for Paul, who is not accustomed to finding food for himself.
In the lead-up to Germany's international football matches, Paul is presented with two clear plastic boxes, each containing food: a mussel or an oyster. Each container is marked with the flag of a team, one the flag of Germany, and the other the flag of Germany's opponent. The flag on the box chosen by the octopus is interpreted as being the flag of the predicted winning country.Paul was used during UEFA Euro 2008 to correctly predict the outcome of 4 out of 6 of Germany's matches, but failed to predict their defeats to Croatia in the group stage and to Spain in the championship's final, although some later sources claim his success rate had been 80%. Paul's accurate predictions for the 2010 World Cup, broadcast live by German news channel NTV, have endowed him with celebrity status.
Although Shelagh Malham of Bangor University claims that Octopus vulgaris can distinguish brightness, and are drawn to horizontal shapes, according to Janet Voight at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, there is no evidence that Paul has colour vision. Octopus vulgaris is equipped with sensitive taste receptor cells, and biologist Volker Miske, of the University of Greifswald, suggests that minor chemical differences on the surface of each box might account for Paul's decisions.
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