• Dr. Narendra Karmarkar
    • Is one of India’s genius mathematicians and computing professionals.
    • He developed a solution for the “what is the cheapest and the quickest way to route a phone call” problem. Sounds simple?
    • Prior to his solution, all the solutions were time consuming because they checked each route before they come with the answer.
    • His solution took all the possible routes and represented them in an image that would look like a honeycomb. His solution burrows like a squirrel into the centre of this honeycomb and then just folds this honeycomb around this central part. Inside the new honeycomb the solution then blows a balloon and sees how much it can be inflated and which way it drifts before it gets crunched by the sides of the honeycomb. The place where the balloon drifts and touches the honeycomb is where the entire process is repeated: that of refolding the honeycomb and blowing a balloon. Repeated steps ‘let the balloon drift’ to the best solution and that gives the cheapest route for the telephone call.
    • That’s Greeeeeeeeeeeeek for me!!! How’s it for you? Once in a while looking at such ‘foreign language’ stuff lets us know that life is far beyond what we experience.
  • Private equity
    • On a couple of occasions earlier also I covered a bit about this. I came across a more decent definition of this for the unitiated:
      • A partnership of business brains raises a load of investment capital from pension funds, wealthy individuals and their own pockets. Then they go out and buy companies, of taking them private in the process. Then they sell the company for more than it was acquired in a relatively short amount of time.
      • Private equity connotes the fact that the acquired companies are not publicly listed on the stock market, but privately owned through the money raised from investors. The absence of public shareholders also means that the industry is notoriously secretive about its aims, operations and profits.
  • Shakira is here!!!
    • All ye who live in Mumbai; do go see my favourite pop star ‘Hips Don’t Lie’ Shakira and convey my thanks to her for her excellent music and sensational dance steps.
    • I became a fan when I first noticed her “Whenever wherever” song.
    • Since then there was no looking back. I always eagerly look forward to her new numbers and even my kids do like most of her songs. Perhaps the more you watch somebody, the more you start liking them. I think it applies equally to all our friends and family.
  • Core inflation surges to 7.2%
    • What is core inflation? What is the ‘other’ inflation?
    • Core inflation doesn’t factor in the volatility of prices of primary food articles and energy.
    • Overall inflation includes these two components also. It remained at the 6.46% level.
  • Competition Commission of India on warehouse regulator
    • The CCI took some strong objections to the proposed bill on creation of a warehouse regulator. The bill aims to give warehousing receipts the status of negotiable instruments and enhance credit availability in the farm sector.
    • The CCI’s main objection is that this process interferes with the market forces.
  • New IT law may target exemptions
    • At present, the effective tax rates for some of the big corporates is as low as 19.2% but for others it is much closer to the statutory rate of 33.66%.
    • The total revenue foregone in 2006-07 on corporate tax and personal income tax is estimated at Rs. 65,587 crores. The total revenue foregone including excise and customs stood at Rs. 2,35,191 crores.
    • If these exemptions are removed, the government would get the flexibility of lowering tax rates.
  • Islamic finance or Islamic banking
    • The keystones of this are that interest, or usury, is prohibited, as is speculation. And the return on financial instruments must be based on physical, tangible assets.
  • Bob Woolmer’s death and calls for making betting in cricket legal
    • Today editorial in ET calls for making betting in cricket legal.
    • In most parts of the world, betting on sports events is legal. Hence there is no point in banning it in the first place.
    • While I do agree that may be the case, would it have stopped the killing of Bob Woolmer? I doubt it. The sinister thing about betting is that, when stakes are too high, it would prompt people to go to any lengths to make the bet a certainty. This is what leads to many law and order problems. Betting perhaps in utopian places – where everybody is more or less equally endowed and hence equal – may be fun. But in places where there is no equality in many spheres of activity? I have my doubts.
  • Winston Churchill
    • The only British PM who won a Nobel for literature.
  • Who is Dubya?
    • Can you recall? It is the nickname of the US President, George Bush.
  • Subprime US mortgage market figures
    • Lenders may foreclose on 1.5 mn to 2 mn homes in the next two years as defaults climb to about $225 bn.
    • About $170 bn of the defaults would stem from subprime mortages, which now total $1.2 trillion.
    • The above are statements attributed to Lehman Brothers, a leading investment banker.
    • For an economy of the size of $13.3 trillion, if the subprime mortgages are about $1.2 trillion, it constitutes a significant portion of its GDP. Will it not have a systemic impact?
    • My views on this issue can be equated more with the views of stock market operators. These are not emanating from a solid number-crunching work that is usually done by reputed economists when they come out with any statement. The likes of Alan Greenspan or our top honchos in economics and finance domain.
  • Hwang Woo Suk
    • Is the disgraced South Korean scientist who was banned by the government from research using human eggs after his claims to have created the first human stem cell through cloning were ruled as bogus by Seoul National University in 2006.
    • But now South Korea has lifted the ban on stem cell research.
  • Golf – bogeyed
    • “Jeev Milkha Singh ran into trouble on the last hole of the day as he double bogeyed ….” So reads a sentence in today’s sports news.
    • What is the meaning of double bogeyed?
      • A double bogey means two strokes over par.
      • To understand this let’s learn a bit about golf. Golf is played on a course with some holes, usually 18. Every hole will have a par. A 4 par hole means that a player is expected to strike the ball into the hole from the tee (a marked area designated for the first shot of a hole) in four strokes. Usually an 18 hole golf course will have four par three, ten par four and four par five holes. That is, it is expected that a player should be able to strike the ball into the 18 holes in 72 shots.
      • A player may take more or fewer, shots than expected to strike the ball into the hole. The player who strikes the ball into the holes with fewer shots is the winner.
      • If you look at the following table, perhaps it will make it clear:

Term on scoreboard

Specific Term



Albatross (or double-eagle)

Three strokes under par


eagle (or double-birdie)

Two strokes under par



One stroke under par



Stroke equal to par



One stroke more than par


Double bogey

Two strokes over par


Triple bogey

Three strokes over par


Quadruple bogey

Four strokes over par

      • Following the scores will be confusing for the unitiated.
  • Cricket
    • New Zealand opener Lou Vincent hit the fastest half century in a World Cup over its match with Canada. In just 20 balls, he hammered 50 runs, and went on to score 101 in all.
    • Uhmm… India as usual lost the match to Sri Lanka in its final league match. Now it is really only destiny that can see it find a place in the super eight. In the ensuing league match of this group, if Bangladesh’s net run rate is lower than India’s, India will find a place in the super eight. This is not my understanding. This is what I am told by an expert cricket watcher. This only reinforces what I have been saying. Prof. Godbole is right. If we are destined to play the World Cup semi-finals, we will play; whether or not we play well.
  • Cows and global warming
    • Reports say that the burping of the cows is responsible for 4% of greenhouse gas emissions.
    • So German scientists have invented a pill (called bolus) to cut bovine burping.
    • Burping, also known as belching, ructus or eructation, is the release of gas from the digestive tract (mainly esophagus and stomach) through the mouth. It is often audible.