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## Archive for September, 2007

September 27th, 2007

## Dollar still falling against Euro

Compared to the Euro, USD is now worth peanuts (70 Euro cents), having set a string of record lows this week.

One interesting effect of this rapid downfall of greenback is this:
1 EUR is now worth 10.58 RMB. While earlier, 1 EUR was about 7 RMB.
So, Chinese Yuan has fallen further in Euros, without either RMB or EUR being responsible for this change. That is of course, due to the fact that RMB is pegged to USD, which has fallen against EUR.

So, while the falling USD may or may not help the competitiveness of US exports, I am sure it is definitely helping the competitiveness of Chinese exports to Europe.

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September 13th, 2007

## The earth is slipping away

One of the basic questions about the origins of the universe is about the formation of Earth and other planets. Though scientists have a reasonable explanation to this question, a question remains as to what a precise location must earth have been in so that when the clouds formed into sun and earth, the earth was moving at the right speed so that it became a satellite of sun. If it had been moving too fast, it would have slipped away, and if it was moving too slow, it would have been swallowed into the sun.

From a human perspective, this seems to be so perfect. And philosophically speaking, it sure is. Quantitatively though, we can do a bit more inspection.

As of latest data, the earth is going away from the sun, at the rate of 1.5 cm/year. Based on this changing orbit, the earth has a life as well, as eventually it will get away from the sun completely and cease to be a satellite. That will likely happen over 3 billion years.

While a deviation of 1.5 cm/year may seem to be a small change, we need to calibrate the human and earth systems so that they use the same scale. Here are some calculations:

Diameter of earth: 12700 Km
Diameter (?) of a human: 0.6 meter (Try to visualize a human rolled up as a ball)
That is, earth is about 20,000,000 times larger than human.

The earth lasts about 7 billion years (barring accidents)
A human lasts about 100 years (barring accidents)
That is, earth lasts about 70,000,000 times more than human.

As we observe, once put into similar perspective, the orbit of the earth is about as perfect as us humans.

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September 12th, 2007

## Godwits: Unbelievable Birds

These tiny little birds (smaller than an adult hand) fly all the way from New Zealand to Alaska without stopping, eating or drinking. Uh-mazing!

Takes a week or so for them to do this flight, and if that was not enough, the chicks that are only 2-3 months old do the return trip as well.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6988720.stm

As for humans, here we are, marveling at ourselves that now a days kids (unaccompanied minors, that is, about 10 year olds) are doing international travels in airplanes and crossing borders that we ourselves have created in the first place. And then there are these birds, going on and on and on.

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September 8th, 2007

## Why I think Telegraph India is a dumb newspaper

Here I was, trying to find the India Japan game in the Asia Cup semi final. When I go to TelegraphIndia.com, here are the first 5 news it shows in the sports section:

• No change in Team India’s seven-batsman formula
• Sachin awaits crowning glory
• Dravid eyes a perfect finish
• Moores upbeat on Flintoff
• THE ENFANT TERRIBLE (About Shoib Akhtar)

Further, there is NO WAY to navigate to the hockey news. How can a person who is even mildly interested in hockey read hockey news?

News websites often claim they can only highlight what readers are interested in. However the reverse is much more forced: the readers can only be interested in things that they are aware of.

So, the news websites at least have to make all news available. Then, as readers read some news more than others, the news website can choose to prioritize them.

September 3rd, 2007

## The Bread wala bhai

When I was younger, like seven or eight, we used to be visited by the “The Bread wala bhai”. He would go house by house, with a large green box fitted on the pillion seat of his bicycle. He would stop gently near our house, and as he dismounted from the bike, he would make sure his leg go over the front handle bar of the bicycle. Mom would always buy a bread, sometimes smaller, sometimes larger bread. On some days she would buy eggs as well as some rusks, on other days, just the bread.

Me and my sister had a simple arrangement with him – we could buy a bun, and we wouldn’t have to pay anything. He would simply note it down, and get paid at the end of the month for everything we bought from him. It was a tacit understanding that we would only buy at most one bun a day. We could buy a 25 paisa bun, a 50 paisa bun, 1 Re bun (and later a 2 Re bun), but I can not remember, ever buying two. Mom would not pay for her purchases on a daily basis either. It was just too inconvenient with small change on a daily basis. End of the month was the way.

He would always come around dusk, when the children had, or were about to quit playing. We would be hungry, but still sweaty and tired, and not ready for supper. We would buy the bun and still run around eating it. I am sure he went through many houses and many streets, but the timing that he would hit at our house was very much the best. I think it also served him to be at the same place consistently as people would expect him. Though he had a very distinct air horn on his bike that he would press and play as he went around the street, still it might not have been well heard by us at times other than dusk.

He would pick up the goods at the local bakery, and deliver them from house to house at a small profit. We were never taught any compassion or pity towards him, nor were we taught that he is an overcharging monster. We never felt any pity or any negativity towards him. To us, he was just the bread wala bhai.

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For better or for worse, the bread guy had no name for us. He was significantly older than us – the name would do us no good. The choice of the address was between “bread wala bhai” and “bread wale uncle”. The latter would undoubtedly be reflective of a higher respect, and a higher social stature. However, he was stuck with the former for good. I don’t think we meant any disrespect, but we also did not think he was in the social equivalent league of our neighbors.

So many concepts that people study in business schools, I am sure the bread wala bhai had to just learn in life. Profitability, cash flow positiveness, those were all the concepts he was familiar with. He knew he would give out goods, not just to one family but to everyone for the entire month, and only then get paid. The last day of the month was likely, but not guaranteed to be the pay day for him. If we were going to be traveling, then he would get paid later. If it ever happened that mom did not have money that particular day, he would get paid next day. In all likelihood, he got paid around the last day, and likely never after the 5th of the following month.

And yet, he was more thankful for our business, than we were for the buns.

—————

Then, at some point of time, he stopped appearing. I am not sure how he fared. It is possible he moved up the chain and bought his own bakery, and didn’t have to go street by street on his bicycle. It is also possible he simply became ill and couldn’t do the rounds anymore. If indeed he did become ill, how would he get his money back, and what else could he really do?

As children, we did not think about these things, nor did we feel pity. Perhaps, this agreed with his entrepreneurial spirit – we were lovable little children, but customers first. Perhaps, our respect to him as a seller was all he needed to go on with his rounds.

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September 3rd, 2007

## Michael Righi got arrested for not showing a license

[Sorry Michael, I know your website is just swamped, and I may send you even more traffic, but this is something my readers must know about, even at the suffering of your website hosting provider.]

Here is the deal: Michael Righi got arrested for not showing a license

Two very good points Michael raises:

1. Police cannot ask someone for their driver license, if person is not operating a vehicle (don’t know if this is true everywhere, but seems like should be)
2. Being obedient – to have to show a license just for existing – may be a good thing for society, but does set a dangerous precedent in terms of civil liberties.

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