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June 23, 2009

Alice in the wonderland.. called cyberspace

If knowledge is power, ours is by far the most powerful generation to have inhabited this planet. Reason (simple enough) – The Internet!!! Never in the history of human civilization have we got access to such quantum of information, literally at a push of a button.

Just over one weekend we can know more about the ‘world that surrounds us’ than, what such erudite thinkers of their times - Pluto, Aristotle got to know in their life times.

Truly Cyber-space like the Outer-space has so much to reveal provided one is intellectually curious or passionately inquisitive.

Events that unfold each year bring new, offbeat words into popular circulation. If there was a contest for such words for the year 08, ‘Ponzi’ will easily take the top honors, after the disclosure by Bernand Madoff that his financial empire was nothing but a ponzi scheme (pyramid scheme).

“We were better off earlier (read before privatization) in India ” heard this before. Whenever we think about our childhood-days a sense of nostalgia usually clouds our Judgment. Human psychology often makes us view the past in more favorable terms than it truly deserves. Want a glimpse of how life in India would have been today had we not liberalized and embraced market economy. Read about a country ( Cuba ) that decided to stay the course of Socialism. It will remind you of the country of our childhood. Though somewhat arduous a great read for someone with a penchant for history, economics and ‘the story of ordinary people’.

Someone rightly said ‘truth is stranger than fiction’. The incredible almost ‘filmy’ but true story about Pocahontas

Like me, how many of you felt that 2008 was one awfully long-miserable year. Surprise, surprise!!! We were right all the way …well almost

Astrologer’s gone wild!!! And most of us have been taken for a ride!! All this while

There is one claim that all Indians can make, most of us have seen ‘one of the new 7 wonders of the world’ – The Taj Mahal.

Based on the criteria for candidacy circulated by the New 7 Wonders Expert panel, Guess which according to me should have been the No 1 wonder of the world (hint it was not even nominated)

Manhattan in New York City – an enduring symbol of human ingenuity and modern (post 19th century) heritage. Consider every parameter for comparison with all other finalists (structure quality, artistic and cultural value, recognition factor, diversity) and you might draw the same conclusion.

And finally on a humorous note. If you grew in a city where you had to share your play area with pigs, take heart, now we have children of Berlin for company I guess pigs don’t discriminate between Third world and First world!!


“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest” quote by Benjamin Franklin

Without having to do much how I lost 20 % of my savings in 2008.

  • Without having to do much how I lost 20 % of my savings in 2008.

    Samir Konnur presents:

    I earn in Mexican Pesos, but need to save in Indian Rupees. As there is no institution that will give me rupees in exchange for the pesos, I need to first convert my pesos in to green backs – the US Dollar. And subsequently in India convert dollar into rupees.

    Now consider the facts –
    US economy has been in recession for over a year while India & Mexico are still enjoying positive GDP growth
    Unemployment has skyrocketed in US while India & Mexico has relatively been stable
    Major US banks & Institutions in US have collapsed, none so in India & Mexico

    Based on the above one would have assumed that both Mexican Peso and Indian Rupee would have become stronger against the USD but …. The value of both currencies have fallen since September

    In September - 10 Pesos made 1 USD today roughly 14 Pesos make a 1 USD ( 40 % reduction in value of the peso)
    In September - 42 Rupees made 1 USD today roughly 49 Rupees make a 1 USD (20% reduction in value of the rupee)

    So for someone earning in Pesos, saving in rupee thru the dollar

    If I saved 1000 pesos in September, I would have got 100 dollars – and in turn saved Rs.4200 in India (At exchange rates prevailing at that time)
    Today if I saved 1000 pesos I would get 71 dollars – and in turn be able to save – Rs. 3500 in India (At current exchange rates)

    Net loss 17 % L

    So I went about researching this puzzling phenomenon – and found how Interest rates & Inflation affect the exchange rates. Now re-look at the facts

    Interest rates in US are around 1 %. In India over 8 % while in Mexico over 4 %
    Inflation in US less than 2 %. In India over 9 % in Mexico over 5%

    So exchange rates tend to balance the impact of Interest rates, inflation amongst various countries. Eureka !!

    Why would you invest in a financial instrument – bond, security, etc to get some return in form of interest .. Right? Read the article below

June 20, 2009

Houston, we have a problem..

Houston, we have a problem!!! - A phrase now commonly used to describe “being faced with a difficult situation”.

For several years as a student I tried to understand the origin of this phrase, but in vain. I knew there was some space connection but why not, Cape Canaveral , FL - Kennedy Space Center or Cleveland , OH - Glenn Research Center , are located, what was special about Houston ?

Though I got my question answered a few years ago - the MISSION CONTROL for all NASA space flights is located in Houston at the Johnson Space Center .

It was still quite a thrilling experience when as a part of the guided tour at the Johnson Space Center in Houston I got to view the actual Mission Control Center for all the Apollo missions (14 of them) and to see the console where that call was received from the Apollo 13 mission.

Apollo 13 mission ‘story’ now part of the space exploration folklore was to be the third mission to Land on the moon after the success of Apollo 11 (first mission to land on Moon) and Apollo 12. Mechanical failure crippled the spacecraft during flight and the moon landing was aborted. James A Lovell Jr. Commander – Apollo 13 called up the Mission control in Houston to inform them about ‘the problem’. The crew returned back to the Earth after orbiting the moon but without making the planned landing.

Besides is the Astronaut Memorial Grove at the Johnson Space Center , where a tree is planted for each astronaut that is lost on or while preparing for a mission.
Though not a big devotee of George Bush’s oratory, I really felt something, listening to the memorial speech delivered by him right here at the Grove after the Columbia space shuttle disaster in 2003.

For a nascent astronomer in me the visit to the JSC was another reminder there is so much more to life than 'mere living'. So much to explore, so much to know.

More so in the troubling times we live in, seeing such senseless acts of barbarism perpetuated in the name of God.