10:15 PM | Author: Siva
Barron's story says Warren Buffett's company is too pricey. Their valuation is $130, 000 a share. Well it came close to that price within a day. Well, you may wonder what am I doing monitoring this share. Someone said there are class B shares of the same company for people like me. Guess its price $4510 ! That is what is called overestimation of someone's net worth.

BTW, If you are shopping for books feel free to skip "The Warren Buffett Portfolio". Instead read the Warren Buffett's shareholder letters.
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12:53 PM | Author: Siva
The Tales of Beedle the Bard is J.K. Rowling's handwritten book. The tales were first referenced in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Only seven handmade copies of the book exist. J.K.Rowling gave six copies to people closely connected with the Harry Potter collection. Amazon bought the seventh. Here is the link in Amazon's site which also has the review of the first tale and photos of the book.

I wonder how Amazon is going to profit from this investment of four million dollars. Do they have the right to reprint it ? I hope so. I will be one of the first to preorder then.
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3:39 PM | Author: Siva
You walk into an office with a series of doors. Someone who walks before you holds all of them open for you. How many times should you thank him/her ? If once then should it be for the first door or last ? Does it differ based on whether the someone is him/her ?
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2:47 PM | Author: Siva
With just a month to go for the Democratic Presidential primaries and almost every new poll claiming how close the race is will search trends help us to find the leader ? Take a quick look at Google trends results for Obama and Clinton for the past one year.

Obama and Clinton in Iowa :


Looks really close.


Obama and Clinton in New Hampshire :


This is closer than Iowa.


Obama and Clinton in US :


Not as close as one would have hoped.

Can we say where should the candidates concentrate their campaign based on search trends ?
Obama - Hillary leads in Davenport, IA by almost 3 to 4 times. (in terms of searches of course)
Hillary - Keene, NH. No one searches for Clinton there. Either they know everything about her or they really don't want to know.

Nation level search trends are much more interesting in The Republican graph. (Huckabee is leading)

Just for fun :

Bush and Kerry in US for the year 2004

10:48 PM | Author: Siva
Why is Google stock options making a millionaire news ? Unless the writer wanted some of us mortals to introspect the decision to join a company in the height of dot com boom and get stock options. Infosys is doing bad too. I am not alone.
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10:17 PM | Author: Siva
Between rating the Bikini babes of Bollywood and spotting some celebrity rediff has something interesting too. Check this excellent interview with Raj Chetty. It is excellent because the interviewer lets the professor do most of the talking.
6:33 PM | Author: Siva
Why does the Gurukkal need a mic and a set of loudspeakers to chant mantras? May be they are loud enough to be heard at Vaikuntam. May be to wake our inner God. Call me old fashioned. But I will take just the sound of the bell and a distant Seerkazhi Govindarajan or T.M Soundarrajan voice cajoling Murugan anytime. These special Poojas with surround system seem way too noisy for our peaceful selves.
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6:26 PM | Author: Siva
I am a self declared rasam enthusiast. Not the variety who experiments with lemon, pineapple, paakarkai or the likes. I prefer the traditional, uncorrupt rasam. Ok, Expecting the taste of a homemade rasam in a hotel may be unfair. But is expecting the rasam to be fresh too much to ask for ? It appears yes.

Udipi Cafe in Atlanta served us stale rasam. Not just beginning to stale. But horribly stale. The taste of that appetizer was enough to spoil my appetite. This after a 20 minute wait to get me a cup of rasam. I was too tired to say anything as the meal was immediately after a 5 hour drive. I just called the manager (who was serving us) and gave him the rasam back. I expected just an apology. Is that too much to ask for ? It appears yes. He just took it back without any apology.

Having read the Rancid chicken story from Freakonomics just a few weeks back, I was reminded about Behavioral Economics and Anchoring. I thought he may offer a discount like the manager in Freakonomics story. But I wasn't planning to ask for any discount. That was until I saw the bill. It had a "rasam soup" in it. The manager's reason - "everyone else was having it". (There were three other groups. I don't know how many of them had rasam). I explained to him that it wasn't just me. My father confirmed that the rasam was bad too. He wasn't ready to accept that. Only when I started raising my voice mentioning stale rasam he asked me what I wanted him to do. Thanks to Dubner. Now, I wasn't ready to take anything less than 10% off. He took that off the bill immediately as if he wanted me to leave soon.

Happy eating at Udipi, Atlanta.
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6:55 PM | Author: Siva
Two Quotes that came to my mind early in the morning.

"But how do we know when irrational exuberance has unduly escalated asset values, which then become subject to unexpected and prolonged contractions .." - Alan Greenspan. (wiki)

"Neither we nor most business managers would dream of feverishly trading highly profitable subsidiaries because a small move in the Federal Reserve's discount rate was predicted or because some Wall Street pundit has reversed his view on the market. Why, then, should we behave differently with our minority positions in wonderful businesses?" - Warren Buffett.
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8:50 PM | Author: Siva
Why will someone read Atlas Shrugged, reread it, discuss and debate its values on a sunny Saturday Evening ?

a) The Kathirikkai and Paruppu in the Hostel mess was really bad.
b) The 44 degree centigrade Madurai weather was truly unbearable.
c) Got a gone case for a roommate whose social life was as pathetic as yours.
d) "Atlas Shrugged’ is a celebration of life and happiness."
e) All of the above.

Update : The NYT link was bad. Fixed it.
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9:36 PM | Author: Siva


This one stood out among the brown and black ones. May be it reminded me of the white and white uniform I wore to school dutifully every Friday. May be of the Friday after Diwali when everyone else in the school was in their new dress. I hated that dead onnu vitta thatha who happened to be a Pangali. Who expects a 12 year old to mourn for an unknown thatha by not wearing a new dress ? Well, Patties do. Anyway there I was protesting in white and white the next day. In retrospect I should have gone in some less conspicuous "color dress".
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9:02 PM | Author: Siva
Is shorts the unofficial uniform for the Hindu temples ? It appeared so in the Hindu temple of Atlanta. That they have mentioned to avoid shorts makes me wonder. Is it the Indianness of the place that gives us the freedom to flaunt our disrespect for the rules ? Or will we people do the same for a Black Tie Dinner ?
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9:19 PM | Author: Siva
Ultimate.
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6:17 PM | Author: Siva
Keeping this week's topic of earning million dollars here is another article on how to earn million dollars by not watching TV.

Apart from the price of the cable, energy and the TV he is also considering the opportunity costs. This is considering the cost of benefits we could have gained from lost opportunities in that time. But isn't that assuming we are going to work instead of watching TV. Whatever.

Still the idea of earning million dollars by just not watching TV sounds appealing. Isn't it ?
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2:26 PM | Author: Siva
A loyal reader (I have a few, you know) chides me for that line "No surprises" in this Harry Potter post. Ok, I will change it. No major surprises.

Some minor surprises.
  • Couple of deaths - one in the last battle, one with a knife.
  • A killer - the killer of the most loyal death eater.
  • A lady who helps Harry.
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5:40 PM | Author: Siva
How many millions will you need before you say it is enough ?

"“Here, the top 1 percent chases the top one-tenth of 1 percent, and the top one-tenth of 1 percent chases the top one-one-hundredth of 1 percent,” he said.

“You try not to get caught up in it,” he added, “but it’s hard not to.” "

Check this NY Times article on Millionaires who don't feel rich.
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9:08 PM | Author: Siva
I know there are few regular readers of this blog. If you haven't subscribed to this blog in a feed reader then this post is for you. Feed readers are excellent tools if you are reading a number of blogs and news websites everyday. All you have to do is to add the RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds of all the blogs and news websites you read to one feed reader. Then all you have to do is to login to your feed reader to check the latest updates to all these sites. For example of feeds from news sites check the feeds pages of NYTimes and BBC. The BBC site also has an introduction to RSS feeds if you need one. This blog's feed is here.

I would recommend using Google reader. But there are lot of other feed readers out there. Bloglines and Newsgator to mention two. If you like iGoogle then you can add the feeds to your iGoogle page too. To add this blog to your iGoogle page or to Google reader click the button below.

Add to Google Reader or Homepage

To use any other reader please follow the link below and select the reader

Subscribe in a reader

If you don't like using another application, but would still like to get updates from this blog, then you can subscribe to this blog by e-mail.

This is not to discourage you from visiting this website daily. You are always welcome to visit and leave comments. But a feedreader will greatly improve your experience.
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11:03 PM | Author: Siva
Got it. Finished it. No Surprises. Still interesting.
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11:12 PM | Author: Siva

His obsession with Kuttralam season started with the school tours. The ones with the girls in wet 'pavadai sattai' and the beautiful biology teacher. Sometimes there was a girls' college bus in one of the falls which was like a bonus. He found better reasons than ogling at wet pavadais soon - the combination of Malish and Toddy. It refreshes the mind and the body, he would say. But then a friend introduced him to the combination of drinks and a bath in the falls - nature's Malish. 'Ullayum Thanni Veliyavum Thanni' was the idea. He tried all the combinations. Drinks before the bath, drinks after, drinks while the water was pounding his back, a 24 - hour marathon repeating the combinations. He exhausted all the possibilities.

Then he got introduced to the exotic fruits. The lychees made him come back. While in Kuttralam, he always trekked to the Thenaruvi, supposed to be the topmost point one can go. With lychee, drinks and the nature's Malish with the purest water. When people started going above the Thenaruvi he didn't return to Kuttralam. The Trek was too long to find water in which people haven't peed. He half-heartedly went to see the Niagara and had the drinks in Minolta tower. 'Veliyavum Thanni Ullayum Thanni' he thought. He missed Kuttralam.
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8:02 PM | Author: Siva
Why Rafael Nadal wins in Clay ?

A Master's Thesis presentation in Underwear.
5:25 PM | Author: Siva
Guess who shares the next door to our Paediatrician ? Center for Sleep Disorder. I wonder if they planned it strategically.
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11:23 PM | Author: Siva
That was his favorite. Especially the black ones. The roar of its engine stood out even in the bazaar. It wasn't the noisiest bike. But the roar had an authority. The design was simple and clean. It had no fat in its belly. Only the most necessary curves were present. The rest were straight lines. Like a gymnast. There was the well endowed Enfield bullet too. Maami like. It was an easier choice between the two. Pair the black RX 100 with a kathar veshti and kathar sattai. You get an impressive combination. The disguised fury of the RX with the clear boastfulness of kathar. He waited till he got his first salary to get one of his own. Yamaha discontinued the RX by then. He settled for the Maami.
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6:03 PM | Author: Siva
Roger Federer was outplayed and he lost a set 6 - 1. It is not a beautiful sight. Even when it is in the French Open.
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10:40 PM | Author: Siva
"Velllliyeeee poooo " to his grandson and his grandson's teacher is Vadivelu then what will be the response of the grandson ? "Venam Azhuuuthuduveennnn".

Ok, When you are pondering that Clay award winning question and its solution go check out Sivaji's trailer. Since when did Hindi channels cover Rajini ? Ennammo uthaikkuthu.
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8:00 PM | Author: Siva
The Scripps National Spelling Bee has a new winner. Evan O'Dorney. He said the following about his interests.

""My favorite things to do were math and music, and with the math I really like the way the numbers fit together. ... And with the music I like to let out ideas by composing notes - and the spelling is just a bunch of memorization."

That was before he won the competition. The TV anchor checked with him again after he won the competition. No changes. His interests were in the same order. But the rediff.com seems to be disappointed with Indian American kids. It is nothing to be disappointed about. But that is rediff.com.
11:42 PM | Author: Siva
I never knew the Law & Order guy is former Senator Fred Thompson. That is until he made the following observation

‘‘Twelve million illegal immigrants later, we are now living in a nation that is beset by people who are suicidal maniacs and want to kill countless innocent men, women and children around the world,’’

I don't know how he made the connection between illegal immigrants and suicide bombers. But vote for him. Let us have some fun.

How about something like the American Idol's vote for the worst for the 08 presidential election. Any nominations ?
1:39 AM | Author: Siva
are getting more attention. Coca-Cola (KO) acquired Glaceau. The news is interesting because Tata Tea and Tata Sons owned 30% of Glaceau. Tata's last August acquisition seemed really good. It didn't appear this good. A 77% profit or $523 million in absolute value. But I still feel Tata missed the opportunity to get majority stake in Glaceau. May be they didn't want to outbid Coca-Cola now. But the acquisition may have helped Tata Tea more.

While Tata would have benefited from Glaceau's presence and operations for its products, now Glaceau is going to benefit from Coca-Cola's presence. I like the former better. May be Coca-Cola has something to compete with Gatorade now. But just that won't be sufficient, no ? On that note, lot of people I know don't associate Gatorade to the Florida Gators. Why ? I don't know.
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8:13 PM | Author: Siva
This man says the value of the dollar to Indian rupee will go down to 38. Paris is paying immigrants to return. What is next ? Paying me to go home ? Or is it outsourcing Saravana Bhavan Orders to US ?*

*Check Burger King outsources to India. (via Seeni)
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6:07 PM | Author: Siva
The Hindu reports transactions with BSNL, like mobile and fixed line bill payments, have gone online. That doesn't mean you can pay the bills online. You can pay them at the old telegraph offices/DTOs waiting in a line. Mr. Dinesh Varma, when we think of online, we think of this.

As an aside, The Hindu glosses over this effort as strategy. What it misses is that the effort is required to engage the staff BSNL has. That BSNL never fired anyone when it moved from operator based dialing to STD type service. It engaged all the 'operators' and 'monitors' (as the supervisors are called) in processing applications and bill payments for which it had staff already. (In BSNL's defense, the number of lines went up too). BSNL won't fire employees even when no one uses telegram. It morphs those offices to customer service centers to process bill payments.

Will you buy BSNL stock when it becomes public ?
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1:43 PM | Author: Siva
The fruit has multiple names in Tamil - kodikappalli, kodukapalli and konapuliyangai. The Scientific or English name is unknown. That is if Google is to be believed. All I can find is an image of it.

Missing something is one. Not knowing the name of what you are missing is another.
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10:55 AM | Author: Siva
India is the global leader in Basmati rice exports and we are the best in kabaddi. We try hard to maintain status quo in other fields. For example, Badminton.
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3:34 PM | Author: Siva
Mellifluous.
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4:30 PM | Author: Siva
His name, Pugazh, meant fame. To pronounce it as 'PugaL' with the tongue rolled and touching the innermost part of upper roof of the mouth for the 'L" part was difficult for everyone. Even his parents didn't pronounce it correctly. He never knew why all Tamilians insisted on spelling the letter which sounded like a twisted 'La' with a 'zha'. They called the letter the pride of the language. The spelling hurt his. He sincerely wished he can change his name. At the least the way he spelled it. He started signing as Paul G. He said it is for the sake of his clients.
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8:47 PM | Author: Siva
The man had 3 daughters. He didn't have any hair. His house was the one among the two in the middle of a paddy field. He was sure that the boys in the other house were rowdies. Otherwise they will be in the hostel, he reasoned.

None of them wore shirts at home. He often heard 'Nila Kayuthu' in loud volume. He was sure the whistles from the other bathroom were intended. The screens he installed didn't help too. The younger one insisted that studying in the terrace and wearing her favorite nightie while doing so is the only way she can pass.

The goons never seem to go to college as they claimed they did. One or other was there in that house always. He had to pack the girls to his sister's for the holidays. Full moon nights confirmed his feelings. Only rowdies try Kamalahasan's 'Thakida thathimi' and Sivakumar's 'Thanni Thotti' on the parapet wall. But the music wasn't the same always. Sometimes it was good like the music from Veedu. But he never understood why they chose one to the other.

All his daughters are married now. There is a new bunch of rowdies living there. They mentioned that the previous bunch is in the US writing software for some company. He wished for a grandson. He didn't have any hair left to lose.
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11:50 PM | Author: Siva
He knew everything. To tie the shoe lace really fast. To explain face value of shares better than the math teacher. To teach me how to maintain a double entry ledger. Even when he didn't have a shoe or a share. He had answers to all the questions. He asked questions that are difficult to answer. He quoted from Kalamega pulavar and Ramalinga Adigalar. To remember the Thirukural that ends with 'ila' was simple for him.

I pick the shares for him and teach him options. He doesn't like Excel. I wish he can still teach me something. May be he can.
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4:44 PM | Author: Siva
When one overhears 2 girls hush-hush like the following

G1: I was like "ooooooooooh" .... He was like "Aaaaaaaaaaaah" ...
G2 : really ... (giggles understandingly)

and doesn't get it but imagines nasty things, one realizes one is getting older like Seeni. Wait. May be one is getting younger. Whatever.
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5:46 PM | Author: Siva
He always wears a white dhothi and a white shirt. A lot of us will mistake it for pale yellow. He managed couple of people and my neighborhood barber shop. The one with 'Dinamalar' and 'Dhinathanthi' and lot of actress posters. He has this smell of Sambar on him. Always.

My Dad liked him. I didn't. He knew my Dad's choice. I always got that. I tried telling him Disco cut, Hippie style, all those I wanted. Even took a picture of Bruce Lee once to show that the hair should cover the ears. I got what my Dad wanted. The crew cut. I hated him. People thought it was really my hair that is causing all the problems and called me 'Vanangamudi'. Which I was anyway.

He took lot of pride in teaching the art to his assistants. I moved to his assistants' shop, the one with TV and samantha fox posters. Ramasami didn't know he made a bad choice for short term gains and died bankrupt. I ask for a crew cut now.
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7:22 PM | Author: Siva
There is a new feature in Jogging the path. With the amount of information available increasing astronomically there is no way each one of us are going to read all that available. Here is an option to make it little bit more easier. I am going to share what I am reading in the new module in the side bar. Thanks to google reader for allowing this.

If you share my interests you will find the links interesting. If not, well, what are you doing here then ? Most of the links are going to be for blogs, but some of it could be from news sites too. This portion is going to be updated frequently than the blog itself. (as I spend more time reading than writing)

If you use a feed reader to read this blog then you can subscribe to the feed for What am I reading by going here.
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6:42 PM | Author: Siva
As previously predicted in this post Florida Gators did win the NCAA men's basketball championship. So that makes it two in a row in basketball since Duke's 91-92 wins. This is the first time the same University holds College Football and College Basketball Championships. That gives us the bragging rights for a year.

The only scare to the prediction came when the Tennessee Vols led the Ohio State by 20 points. But that was just a scare.

Barack Obama will win.

I am not going to say anything about cricket. But I am starting to like Srilanka.
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4:42 PM | Author: Siva
when his grandson refuses to go kakka .. "Velllliyeeee poooo " !
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5:27 PM | Author: Siva
Let me stick my neck out and predict (without any reason, but with a lot of bias) that

The Florida Gators will, once again, trounce the buckeyes for the National Championship in men's basketball.

Barack Obama will win.

I will not say anything about the cricket world cup.
2:23 PM | Author: Siva
David Boon was his inspiration. Kris chikka the next one. He started being extra nice to chitra akka. Theirs was the only household with a TV. To get that coveted seat near the TV he even lent his imported chithappa-given video game for an hour. It is solar powered. Besides, I have the highest score in it, he thought. The seat was reserved after lunch too.

Then came the real thing. Trying all you saw in TV. It started with the rubber ball. The game was way too easy. It was a batsman's game. But the ball didn't last long. Especially when it was wet. Which it was mostly, due to the hits to the open 'ditch', and subsequent left-hand-picked washes. Then came the rubber cork ball. Cricket still was a batsman's game. The ball came to the bat nicely. Even a good length ball was quite playable. He tried chikka's mammutti shot and ravi shastri's front foot kattai. Everything worked. He wanted to graduate to the big league. He didn't know what was waiting for him.

There was this commie-red wicky cork ball. Wickedly shining. With golden logos on both sides. Use of that was strictly banned on streets since he played a lofted shot that hit the sarbat guy. He settled with the team that played in the rice mill. There he lost it. There was too much bounce on the cement floor. The hand eye coordination suddenly wasn't good enough. Even the half volleys had a lot of pace. Going back foot was inviting danger of getting hit by the missed ball bouncing back from the 10-ft wall. Forget form, even class seemed temproary. Above all there was this Durai, using any small crack to generate extra bounce and mixing it with a yorker. Innings after innings, he will have to face Durai. He tried a mighty heave once which connected well for a boundary. The next ball was a nasty bouncer that broke his 'chilli mooku'. He declared cricket as a violent game and sportsmanship was missing. He settled to watch the game with chitra akka and started writing cricket commentary for the school's times.
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11:16 PM | Author: Siva
Check out an op-ed by Jyotsna Vijapurkar about Teaching Science in our schools. Interesting one.

Similarly, photosynthesis — the process by which plants make glucose from carbon dioxide and water — is `taught' years before children are introduced to the idea of atoms and molecules and basic chemistry. To water down this difficult concept, textbook writers resort to phrasing it in what they believe is simple language for children: "plants make their own food." Put yourself in the child's shoes for a moment. Do you not wonder: "so do people" (in the sense of cooking)! "What does the plant's own food look like?" "Can you see it in the plants?"


Check out the article. As I have argued before, she argues for nurturing curiosity. But she also argues to do that at the right age.
11:20 AM | Author: Siva
We announce CCTV's, smart video cameras (pdf) (whatever they are), palm tops for TTEs, but we have a suit pending against us for unhygienic waste disposal. Without any data, we stick our neck out and guess our waste disposal methods will outdo the terrorists in population control. So, we declare this year as 'Cleanliness year' and get along with our mundane lives.
3:13 PM | Author: Siva
Estonia with its 940, 000 registered voters is going for an Internet election for the nation's Parliament. Wish this happens in India. We can atleast be spared of the images of 90 year olds carried to polling booths in SUN TV and Jeya TV. There will be other trivial benefits like no booth capturing, no need for the army to be mobilized, no need for a holiday to schools etc. But if the ballot gives me only a choice between laloo yadav and mulayam then do they really matter ?
7:18 PM | Author: Siva
in Indian context starts with IIT and ends with IIT. Okay, may be it goes as far as NIT. But there are some interesting discussions in the recent past that are venturing further ahead. Check out BongoP'o'ndit's take about undergraduate research training in India and Abi's Real Universities, Please?. The discussions, like these two, about second tier Universities and developing them are going to be the key for future

Even if the vital few and trivial many principle has to be trusted, the IITs and NITs are nowhere near 20% of our country's student intake. Spending more resources (money, policy decisions, even discussion space) on improving 1-2% is not prudent. If 80% of our productivity is going to depend on 20% of the students then we need to talk about improving Anna, Madurai Kamaraj or Delhi Universites. As people are pointing out lack of research infrastructure, faculty, badly designed curriculum are part of the problem. But a problem that is almost ignored is the quality of the students joining these second tier universities. Garbage in will imply garbage out. Most students entering these universities are (toppers) from state board schools. We know the quality of state board schools. Scoring 200/200 in higher secondary math doesn't require much knowledge of, well, anything except memory. Even few years back T.N's higher secondary math exam questions has to be from the book, verbatim. When their best known preparation technique, to memorize entire books, fail them in their first semester most students lose track. Only those who still have the energy face the other problems. Expecting the students at these levels to do any research, even the delta problems that BongoP'o'ndit talks about, is simply not possible. The basics for research, the curiosity and the creativity, were never nurtured. But to the higher secondary education's credit it helped develop competitiveness in these students with which they usually survive.

The above scenario is in the second tier engineering schools. The quality of students joining the sciences is usually worse. Gautam Desiraju traces the problem to undergraduate teaching. But I would say the problem starts much before. It is our schools.
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12:29 PM | Author: Siva
Invested based on instinct. Made 200% profit. Followed technical analysis to invest the profit. Lost all of it. Options suck. Or is it the analysis ?
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6:36 PM | Author: Siva
Read Screw It, Let's Do It: Lessons in Life by Richard Branson. Its (self) classification as a self help book gave me enough doubts. But Atanu's recommendation and the "Quick Read" tag in amazon helped me overcome that skepticism. Thanks to that. It is a good read. Even with the "self help" tag. But if you expect a n-point, bulleted, step by step recipe for a success then this may not be it. Just take it as some advice from an experienced person. The words of someone who did these things (and successful) is always going to be more inspiring than those of inspirational writers' capitalized advice. It worked for him. Some may work for you. Besides that the book itself was worth the time and the price.
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6:39 PM | Author: Siva
A simple game. There are 2 players, you and some x.

  • Scenario 1 : You have $10. x has nothing. You can give $y to x. 0<= y <= 10. The game ends there.
  • Scenario 2 : You have $10. x has $10. You can give $y to x or you can take $y from x. 0<= y <= 10. The game ends there.

What will you do in both these cases ? The first one is a Dictator Game. The second one is the Ultimatum Game (well, not exactly) . Both used in economics. If you are a rational (in the economic sense) then you should have said 0 $ in scenario 1 and taken 10 $ from x in the second. I am irrational !

Attended a talk delivered by Freakonomics author Steven Levitt. Wall Street Journal relates him to Indiana Jones. His wife thinks Jim Jones will be a better comparison. Well, What are wives for ?
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12:40 PM | Author: Siva
that freedom is not forcing you to wear a tie every monday and then giving you the right to question when the CEO is not wearing one. It is giving you the right to choose to wear the tie or not.
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11:04 PM | Author: Siva
Check out our "Scientist" president's Republic Day speech. The best part :

We cherish the valour, commitment and devotion to duty of these gallant personnel of our Armed Forces. Our Police Forces and Intelligence agencies complement each other and provide safety and security to our citizens from unscrupulous elements, criminals and extremists. Many persons from these forces have laid down their lives while protecting the nation, the flag and our people. We salute them all.


The next best

Today, the youth are asking me, "What I can give to India?"


Forget that Friedman 's quote** about citizen's giving back to the country, he dwelves about it in great detail. But he is sitting on a mercy petition for three months. Someone please ask him "What he can give to India ?". I mean, can't he decide on the petition one way or other ? Well, Russell Roberts says politicians are not motivated to do that. He is just trying to stay in office for one more term. But see how people react to it. He will get another term and will implement those preventive action through modern psychological tests ! We will have to listen to this vision for few more years.

** President Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.". Neither half of that statement expresses a relation between the citizen and his government that is worthy of the ideals of free men in a free society. “What your country can do for you,” Mr. Friedman said, implies that the government is the patron, the citizen the ward; and “what you can do for your country” assumes that the government is the master, the citizen the servant. Rather, he said, you should ask, “What I and my compatriots can do through government to help discharge our individual responsibilities, to achieve our several goals and purposes, and above all protect our freedom.”
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10:22 PM | Author: Siva
The Tamilnadu government has removed the rule that allowed corporal punishment in schools or in plain language the rule that allowed to beat the hell out of the children. Here is The Hindu report .

But wait, if you think sanity is returning to the state then that joy will be shortlived. It recommends imposition and suspension from class as corrective measures instead. Morons ! Why don't they just remove it and keep their mouth shut ? Why do they have to always recommend something ?
12:59 PM | Author: Siva
Well, apart from two of the emerging markets Brazil and India are finding more things in common. The law taking its own course is the latest ! A Brazilian court has ordered shutdown of YouTube. The reason : a video featuring Brazilian model Daniela Cicarelli.

Check the news here.

Though it is going to have no effect on Google or YouTube, it still underlines a problem. Think about this

While YouTube has attempted to placate the Brazilian couple for several months by taking copies of the video down, YouTube's users continue to re-upload copies of the video.

There are two questions : Can you block videos based on its content with the existing technology ? Check out an article on YouTube's problems scanning the videos. The 65000 videos per day those have to be scanned for copyright violations and the above sort of privacy issues are proving too much to handle. The actual answer will be the answer to : do you want to spend the money developing a technology to filter such content or do you want to spend it in lawsuits or even better do you want to spend it lobbying the government to say that the companies likeYouTube are not responsible for the content they host.

The second question is do you really want to filter these content as a company ? It is these videos that are bringing lot of users to your site. Do you want to turn them away ? For copyright violations : yes, filter them. For Daniela Cicarelli, the company could say : you had fun in the beach, fine. Let our users have some fun too. Why spend company's money developing technology that turn users away ? Instead spend that on the lawsuit, even better spend than on lobbying to free them from the legal actions of the content hosted in their site.
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7:57 PM | Author: Siva
"It is the one great idea that is missing. See Google. If we have a similar idea then we can do it too." This line came up in a conversation with a friend. I hear it often. But I beg to differ. It is the idea but not just the idea. It involves a lot of things. For starters, how about being in the right place at the right time. Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page were at Stanford in 1998. To work on that problem at that time you had to be there. And that turned out to be the right problem. It is very easy to say anyone, anywhere can work on similar problems. But very difficult to do it.

When it comes to funding, it appears some venture capitalists nowadays insist you move to Mountainview, CA. But you have to be atleast in the U.S. They say the environment in Bangalore is getting better. But the prospects are not as shining as they are in California. Check out an article by Paul Graham on "Why Startups Condense in America". (Though I don't agree with the swarm of beggars thing !)

That article addresses a lot of issues for a startup. But they are mostly in the macro level. At your company level, once you have the idea and get the funding still there are lot of uncertainities. Building a great product from the idea, finding the right people do it, marketing it and doing all this fast and profitably. It isn't just the idea. It starts from the idea but it is more than that.

When we are at it let us just think about what will be the next great idea ? Even if we aren't at Stanford or at California still we can see what the venture capitalists are doing. Check out the presentation on "India and Internet - A primer" by Ram Shriram of Sherpalo Inc. The last slide list the rules for startups. If you want to see all their presentations then check them here.

So where do you think the next great idea is going to take us ? Any idea ?
8:15 PM | Author: Siva
When I point out a survey that was done poorly I will be biased if I don't point out surveys that are done well. Even when the results are disappointing. This is a month old news. So if you have read the survey about student learning in Indian metros then fine. If not you can find it here. The surprising thing is both the surveys are published by India Today group. Though the previous one was conducted by them (along with Mercer and TNS) this one was conducted by Educational Initiatives with the help of Wipro. (I guess India Today got the exclusive) It is worth a read.
A quick summary for those of you who find the survey too long:
  • Children in some top schools of Indian metros perform less than interantational average in these tests.
  • Chennai and Bangalore kids did worse than Delhi, Mumbai and Calcutta kids.
  • Boys did better than Girls.
  • They were able to answer standard questions when presented in standard form. But most of them weren't able to tackle questions that are slightly different.
  • Children in ICSE schools did better than children in CBSE. Children in CBSE schools did better than children in state board schools.
There are no surprises in the last two points. But the first three are surprises atleast to me. So much for our knowledge superpower goal.
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