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Just Shoot Me

Bala, 28, Gordon Gekko in the making, pseudo-intellectual, cynic, bibliophile, obsessive compulsive ranter...

Teaching Math to the blind

June 27, 2007

I just had an interesting conversation with my mom. She has a couple of blind students in her Standard XI Business Maths class this year and is trying to work out a teaching methodology for them. The blind students have no exposure to math braille (though they have a working knowledge of English braille) and till now have managed math through memorizing most of the concepts. My mom's school isn't equipped with a braille printer (they traditionally rely on human assistants for the visually impaired for transcription and other assistance) and without braille explaining concepts like Matrices and Determinants is proving to be difficult.

My mom has been trying to teach them Matrix concepts using objects arranged into rows and columns on a flat surface. But the real challenge lies ahead when the curriculum gets to permutations and combinations, trigonometry, Analytical geometry (conics), partial fractions and probability. The toughest part will be to deal with calculus. She is going to try and get the WIMATS software and a braille embosser to the visually impaired resource lab at her school and produce higher secondary math material in braille. The red tape and the typical insensitivity of the people involved are going to be some problems - it is a TN Government aided school with a good amount of funding for special education. Hopefully things work out well.


posted by Bala, 11:38 PM | link | 6 comments |

What use is Gold? - Part II

June 26, 2007

A few days back, i had written a post titled what use is gold?. A commenter neon tetra has left a link to an article titled Earthling Economics as an answer to that question. As with the original article, this too makes fascinating reading. Go read it.
posted by Bala, 8:33 PM | link | 0 comments |

The perils of leverage

June 25, 2007

Two hedge funds belonging to the Bear Stearns group have gone bust. The two funds - High Grade Structured Credit Strategies Fund and High Grade Structured Credit Strategies Enhanced Leverage Fund. The shorter version is they got over exposed to sub-prime mortgages and took a hit when the market went south. For the longer version read this. I think close to half a billion of investor money has been wiped out. Considering the relatively tiny(!) amount of money lost this is not as bad as the failures of Amaranth advisers or Red Kite Management, but this threatens to create a domino effect by bringing down the parent company - Bear Stearns. Shades of the LTCM crisis all over again.

Leveraging is the ultimate double edged weapon. It provides you wonderful importunities while you are on a roll, but if you fall then everything goes to the dogs.


posted by Bala, 7:21 PM | link | 0 comments |

A new series to read

June 21, 2007

After months of reeling through Colleen Mccullough's mammoth tomes on Rome (the awesomeness of masters of rome deserves a separate post, will come back to it later), i have now stumbled upon another great fantasy series The Malazan book of the fallen by stephen erikson. Quality wise, this series is comparable to George RR Martin's song of ice and fire and certainly way better than Robert Jordan's wheel of time. The scope of the Malazan universe is staggering (infact there is a lot of grumbling about its obscurity and complexity) and the pacing of the books is very good. It was a little bit difficult to get into the groove at first, but once i was in, i wasn't able to stop reading.

it would be a great read for anyone who likes to read fantasy.
posted by Bala, 8:43 PM | link | 0 comments |

In which i grow up

June 20, 2007

I believe old age has really caught up with me. When one gets bored by watching post-apocalyptic TV shows then one knows for sure that one has grown up. I grew up worshiping George Romero and devouring fine works of post-apocalypsism like "The Stand" and "Lucifer's Hammer". Mad Max and Snake Plissken were regarded as awesome gods. But now i try to watch Jericho and have a hard time staying awake. First the news of cholesterol and now this. sigh.


posted by Bala, 5:45 PM | link | 0 comments |

Eight Random Facts

June 19, 2007

பாஸ்டன் பாலா வின் அழைப்பை ஏற்று

நானே என்னைப் பற்றிப் பெருமையாக நினைக்கும் எட்டு விஷயங்கள்

1) கப் (அரியர்) இல்லாமல் அண்ணா பல்கலைகழகத்தை விட்டு வெளியே வந்தது.
2) சூப்பர்வைசர்கள் யாரையும் அடிக்காமல்/ வெட்டாமல் TCS ஐ விட்டு வெளியே வந்தது.
3) ஹோண்டா ஆக்டிவாவில் போய் சத்தியபாமா காலேஜ் பஸ்ஸுடன் நெருக்கு நேர் மோதி ஒன்றும் ஆகாமல் பிழைத்தது (ஒடம்பெல்லாம் அடி, ஆனா ஹெல்மட் காப்பாத்திருச்சு). அன்னைக்கு எடுத்த "இனிமே வண்டி ஓட்ட கூடாது" என்ற முடிவில் இன்னும் உறுதியாக இருப்பது.
4) ஒரு வருஷம் சென்னையில் லைசன்ஸ் இல்லாமலே வண்டி ஓட்டியது
5) கன்னா பின்னா வென கெட்ட வார்த்தை பேசத் தெரிவது. இந்த "நாற வாய்" ரெபுடேஷனை வைத்தே பல சொந்தக்கார இம்சைகளை நடுங்க வைப்பது.
6) 12 வயதில் நாத்திகன் ஆனது.
7) சுட்டுப் போட்டாலும் நமக்கு கதை/கவிதை எழுத வராது என்பதை (லேட்டாக என்றாலும்) புரிந்து கொண்டது
8) ராபர்ட் லட்லமின் எல்லா நாவல்களையும் (அந்தாள் உயிரோட இருக்கம் போது எழுதுனது மட்டும் தான் கணக்கு) படித்திருப்பது.

யாருக்கும் மெமே tag கொடுப்பதில்லை என்ற கொள்கை கொண்டிருப்பதால், யாரையும் டாகுக்கு இழுக்கவில்லை


posted by Bala, 6:39 PM | link | 1 comments |


June 18, 2007

Apparently i have "borderline high" LDL cholestrol. kozhuppu adhiga aiducham. WTF?


posted by Bala, 6:59 PM | link | 1 comments |

What use is Gold?

June 10, 2007

I just read an awesome article titled "What use is Gold?". I have had similar thoughts about the utility value of Gold before. Warren Buffet once said about gold"It gets dug out of the ground in Africa, or someplace. Then we melt it down, dig another hole, bury it again and pay people to stand around guarding it. It has no utility. Anyone watching from Mars would be scratching their head." And it makes a lot of sense. Go read the entire article.


posted by Bala, 6:12 PM | link | 1 comments |

The Mother of all cartels

June 07, 2007

There are a lot of idiots in India (they usually tend to be middle class or female or both) who think that the price of gold is determined by retail demand for gold jewelery. This is the group which buys gold jewelery and then destroys a huge proportion of it by remaking it constantly over the years. Except for those who breed beyond their capacity to feed (and who consequently need something to pawn) gold jewelery is useless to anyone as an investment. Please note that i am saying "gold jewelery" and not "gold". There is a huge difference between these two.

Who controls the price of the gold?. Apparently, according to some conspiracy theorists (who make a convincing argument), there is a great cartel of western central banks which wants to keep the price of gold under control. They have a vested interest in keeping the value (and demand) of their own paper currencies. With their deficit spending and fiscal indiscipline, their currencies become more and more unattractive as investment avenues. In the natural course of things money would flow out of the fiat currencies to their competitor - gold. So it is in the central bankers' interest to keep the value (and attractiveness) of gold down. This, they achieve by selling heavy quantities of gold in the international bullion markets whenever Gold appears to be gaining in value. They started with huge reserves of gold - by some accounts around 1/5 of the existing above-ground gold (around 30 kilotons)- and are selling it every time a bull run in gold seems out of control. The conspiracy theorists say that there is actually much less physical gold in the central banks' vaults than what the banks claim to possess. Lax auditing standards and futures trading in bullion (where actual physical delivery is not required till the settlement date) help the alleged cartel manipulate the gold market. The GATA website is full of articles on gold market manipulation by the central banks.

I don't know how accurate this theory of a gold cartel manipulating the bullion market is. But it sure is a fascinating (and frightening) read. If you are among those who think gold prices go up when people buy jewelery during akshaya thrithiyai , i suggest you head over to the GATA site and have a look.


posted by Bala, 7:37 PM | link | 0 comments |

tamil heritage

June 04, 2007

எனது டமில் வேர்களுடன் டச் விட்டுப் போனமாரி இருப்பதால், கொஞ்ச நாளாய் புறநானூறு படிக்க ஆரம்பித்திருக்கிறேன். சில பிடித்த பாடல்களுக்கு உரை எழுதலாம் என தோன்றியது. இனிமே அடிக்கடி இம்மாதிரி உரை முயற்சிகளை இங்கே பார்க்கலாம்.


புறநானூறு 246
பாடியவர் : பூதபாண்டியன் பொஞ்சாதி பெருங்கோப்பெண்டு

பல்சான் றீரே பல்சான் றீரே
செல்கெனச் சொல்லா தொழிகென விலக்கும்
பொல்லாச் சூழ்ச்சிப் பல்சான் றீரே
அணில்வரிக் கொடுங்காய் வாள்போழ்ந் திட்ட
காழ்போ னல்விளர் நறுநெய் தீண்டா
கடையிடைக் கிடைத்த கைபிழி பிண்டம்
வெள்ளெட் சாந்தொடு புளிப்பெய் தட்ட
வேளை வெந்தை வல்சியாகப்
பரற்பெய் பள்ளிப் பாயின்று வதியும்
உயவற் பெண்டிரேம் அல்லே மாதோ
பெருங்காட்டுப் பண்ணிய கருங்கொட் டீமம்
நுமக்கரி தாகுக தல்ல வெமக்கெம்
பெருந்தோட் கணவன் மாய்தென வரும்பற
வள்ளித ழவிழ்த்த தாமரை
நள்ளிரும் பொய்கையுந் தீயுமோ ரற்றே

உரை : பன்னாடைங்களா, என் புருசன் பூட்ட பெறகு உங்க டார்ச்சர தாங்க முடியாது. வாயில வைக்க முடியாத சோத்தப்போட்டே என்ன இம்ச படுத்துவீங்க். பாயில படுக்க வுடாம கட்டாந்தரையில தூங்கச் சொல்லுவீங்க. இதுக்கு பேசாம நான் என் புருசன் சிதயிலேயே விழுந்து சாவறேன்.

english உரை : my husband is dead. i can't eat the food you bastards are going to force me to eat and i can't sleep on the bare ground where you will force me to sleep. I am better of burning in my husband's funeral pyre.


posted by Bala, 10:29 PM | link | 2 comments |