Politics & the Nation
  • What is neoconservatism?
    • An approach to politics or theology that represents a return to a traditional point of view (in contrast to more liberal or radical schools of thought of the 1960s).
    • A person who believes in or practices this, is called a neocon.
  • Time was when, as a young Bank Probationary Officer, I had a chance to get trained to sniff out the trails of a possible fraud.
    • My trainers' knowledge looks really dated now; no doubt about it.  Look at how a fraud in bank FDs that gives a genuine impression that there is real cash in the kitty, can be perpetrated!!
      • Tell the bank that the FD receipt is lost 
      • Ask for a duplicate FD receipt from the bank 
      • Use the duplicate FD to withdraw money before maturity 
      • Park the money in another bank; repeat the process with several banks 
      • At the end of the year, show the original FD certificates to auditors who don’t bother to cross-check 
    • This is what is suspected to have happened in Satyam.
  • We are too entangled with Satyam fiasco to keep a tab on the developments with Pakistan on the Mumbai terror investigation front
    • Now India is reported to have softened its stand on extradition of the terrorists and instead appears to have settled for their trial in Pakistan.
    • This follows the lack of support for its cause from UK and the US for extradition.  Do they need more deaths of US and UK citizens in the hands of terrorists in some other attack somewhere in India for a change of stance?  Perhaps.  But this is how, time, makes us slowly lose interest in investigations and their results.  What everybody would appreciate is a quick and stern action; even if that appears a bit high-handed.  Remember the Warangal acid attack encounter that happened recently?  It was very widely appreciated by the citizens.  This is one incident where people felt that the law be damned and saw real heroes in local police. 
Finance & Economics
  • If you are asked to come out with a rescue plan for Satyam; would it look like this one?
    • This plan from Andy Mukherjee appears to be gaining currency.  The idea is to create a different new entity and sell it as a going concern.  76% of this new entity can be sold and the proceeds brought to Satyam.  Creditors to be given a share of Satyam's goodwill; and if they still crib, they can be given equity options in the new entity.  The government's share of 24% could be used to compensate the taxpayer for the bailout; at a later date.
    • Looks complicated?  That's why you need to be a finance guy.
  • Even a substantial fall in inflation remains unnoticed!
    • Inflation eased to 5.24%, its lowest level since February last year, for the week ended January 3 on the back of a sharp fall in the prices of food articles. 
  • Pune based company comes up with a unique air purifier that de-odourizes public toilets
    • Based on the germicidal properties of ozone and ultraviolet (UV) light, the air purifier developed by this company neutralises any odour generated by an organic source.  The basics behind the technology:
    • UV light of all wavelengths neutralise all living organisms like bacteria, fungi and virus, when they are exposed to it. Some wavelengths of UV light (such as 185 nanometre), if not absorbed by the glass of the bulb, generate ozone when exposed to air. Apart from germicidal properties, this ozone neutralises any volatile organic compound (VOC), which is any smell generated from an organic source, like vegetables, tobacco smoke, rotting flesh, urine, fresh flowers, etc. A chemical reaction between an acid and a base, produces salt and water. Similarly a chemical reaction between ozone and a VOC produces carbon dioxide and water (vapour). Depending on the glass used to make the UV bulb inside it, the machine can be used for air purification or odour removing purposes.
    • Read further details here.
  • Apple CEO Steve Jobs ill
    • Missing his MacWorld appearance a couple of weeks ago, he said lightly that reports of his death are exaggerated.
    • Though he appears to be far away from his death, his health problems seem to be far deeper than originally thought.  He is reportedly suffering from some hormonal imbalance.
    • Let's hope Apple and Steve Jobs will survive the ordeal.
  • How to conduct effective meetings?
    • I had the rare opportunity of working with a boss who was very effective in conducting meetings.  
    • Every other boss or team that I worked with later on turned out to be such a disappointment in so far as conducting meetings are concerned.
    • Every sane person tries to attend and conduct effective meetings.  Take a look at how Google perfected the art of conducting effective meetings.  Can't afford to miss such a good read.
Language lesson
  • Green light
    • Explaining how 'Slumdog Millionaire' will impact our mindsets, Aditya Shastri writes: "This film has the potential to change the mindsets of both movie goers as well as people who green light the independence of thought in films."
    • What is meant by 'green light' in the above sentence?  
      • To greenlight a project, is to formally approve production finance, thereby allowing the project to move forward from the development phase to pre-production and, barring disasters, principal photography. A project which is financed is said to be greenlit or greenlighted and a studio executive who has authority to grant greenlight status to a project is said to have greenlight power.
    • Not very difficult to guess; isn't it?
  • Once in a way we do need an inspiring story, personality or incident to bootstrap ourselves for the chase
    • Today's inspiration is provided by Gail Devers.  Gail Devers, who?  World's fastest woman in two successive Olympics -- 1992 and 1996.
    • Look at her story.  You will surely be inspired.
  • Roman Polanski
    • This noted film maker (75 now) is controversial for his admission to having sex with a 13 year old girl (Samantha Geimer) back in 1977.  Ever since, he has been avoiding going to the US for fear of being arrested and prosecuted.  Samantha Geimer has asked that the rape charges be dropped saying that the continued publication of details of the case "causes harm to me, my husband and children".
    • He won the 2002 Oscar for the holocaust drama 'The Pianist.'