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Friday, October 28, 2011

Greece: Comeback Opportunity

 After 10 hrs of overnight marathon meeting finally the leaders of European Union came to a conclusion on how Greece can be helped to overcome the debt crisis.
So, the decision was made that Greece will undergo a "controlled default".
   The leaders put a word to the leading banks to bear as much as 50% of loss on their bond holdings with Greece. In addtion, Greece will receive more rescue loans (~100 billion euros) to repair their economy. Although this amount is less than the one decided earlier, it is expected that along the relaxation on bond holdings with banks, Greece should now be able to overcome the subsidised debt crisis.
   It is said that such a decision is taken to avoid first EU default. The decision apparently shows positive signs at present if market activities are to be believed. But it brings in few questions which might be asked in future.
   The decision might be responsible to set up a trend to overcome crisis situation.How will banks react if similar crisis appear in future? It will put the the credibility of all the nations on stake. The banks will try their best to avoid such crisis situatutions. Further how will EU tackle similar crisis situation which is standing at the doors of other european countries like Italy and Spain who bear much higher debt than Greece.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

England White Wash

An incredible series win of 5-0 by Indian team over England might have come as a big surprise to many after their pathetic performance in England tour. But it was no surprise to me atleast. I always believed that the present Indian team is good and what happened in England was a bad dream worth forgetting.

         First of all, consider the back to back series arranged for the Indian players. Beginning with world cup followed by IPL immediately with a break of just 4 days was really a long and exhaustive schedule for any player to think of playing any more games.
        Inspite of that Indian players managed to do well in the immediately following West Indies tour. I personally do not find games against West Indies interesting because winning or loosing is all decided by the West Indian team and really does not depend on what is the calibre of their opponent team. On their day, nobody can beat West Indies but otherwise they know well how to loose an almost won match
        These back to back game series were more than enough to take out all energy and excitement out of any player to play any serious cricket. But then the Indian team had to immediately face one of most difficult tour of England. The adverse conditions of England are really discouraging. And to perform well in those conditions, one has to be in strong mental condition which obviously was not the condition with Indian team. The consequences of the England's adverse condition was evident from number of replacements we sent on this tour. If I am not wrong as many as eight players were replaced during the tour.
        The quality and strength of England team really doesn't matter. After  Flintoff, I really don't care for and find any charm in England team. 
        One would expect that inspite of all the reasons Indians should have given good performance being professional players. But I was ok with India's whitewash in England series. Because they have proved their mettle back here in India by making clean sweap against the same team they lost few days back.   
        So, Congratulations to Indian team for this success against England and Best Wishes for the Australian tour.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Ubuntu 11.10 - my experience

For some reason our administrator decided to update OS of my desktop. He installed latest version Ubuntu 11.10. My first impression was not very good. I did not find it userfriendly.

Main problem is accessing different windows you open. Say, you open a firefox window with many work related tabs opned in it. This window will minimize to the left sidebar under firefox icon that also is the desktop icon to access firefox. Now, if you want open another firefox window which should have pages not work related but say personal like gmail or youtube, you click on the same icon. Instead of what you wish, the same firefox window with work related pages which you minimized few moments back reappears. So, to distinguish work related pages from personal pages is not so stright forward. One option is you open your personal page in one of the tabs in work related firefox window and then drag and drop that tab out of the window. Then it allows you to have another firefox window. But why is needs to be tricky, it should be more straight forward.
Besides, this might work for simple tasks like Firefox or text editor, or office. I faced a problem while using a software called vmd used for visualisation of molecules and other related tasks. Normally you deal with 3-4 windows while working with vmd. one of them is the main window allowing you to open file, load properties etc, while another one is the molecule visualizer. Then you also need to open related windows dealing with different settings. If you minimize, all these windows will minimize under one icon in the left hand sidebar. If you try to open them again, it is a problem. Not all windows become active again. The visualizer window and one of the settings window were active while the main window governing all other windows never become active. So, only option was to restart vmd and reload all the files which is time consuming.I could not resolve this problem.
Another and main problem with Ubuntu 11.10 version was some graphic issue with some softwares. For example: not all options in vmd were visible. They were overlapping and it was difficult or almost impossible to access some of the options. This is a serious issue and nobody here has yet been able to resolve it.
So, finally we rolled back to the older version, Ubuntu 10.04 which is quite comforting. There are some issues with it but apparently not very serious. While rest of the OS is working good in English, Firefox and Office is all in French. But am sure I will get an easy solution to it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Greece - A story to tell

    Few years back, Greece was known for many good reasons. Its history, connection to India with invasion of Alexander, Olympics, Amazing and beautiful nature, Touristic islands. But now it is known for altogether different reason - Bankruptsy!!
    Greece is under a great debt nearly 330 billion euros. It is on the edge of being declared Bankrupt or should we say it has already crossed that line. Fellow countries in the European Union are trying to help Greece by bailing out extended loans hoping Greece will recover from the Economic crisis at some point. But it is a long and difficult struggle which nobody is sure that Greece will manage to win.
    The main obstacle in the way to recovery is its well nurtered corrupt system. Along with Bulgaria and Romania, Greece is among the most corrupt countries in the 27-member European Union and the main challange infront of Greek government is to bring this corruption under control.
    Corruption exists at every nook and corner of Greece:
- All the transactions are done in cash, without any written record.   It allows one to avoid declaring their actual income, thereby,  paying less tax.
- As good as 33% of economic activities in the country are not accounted for. It reduces the possibility of government earning  through revenues to 67%
- It is said that tax evasion comes to Greeks as ancestoral gift. It shows connection back to Ottoman empire, when tax evasion was obseved as a resistance to foreign powers.Back then in 1800s, a British ambassador paid Ottomon officials in Athens to smuggle marble friezes decorating the perimeter of the Parthenon, the scared temple.
- Bribery in public offices is very common. Even the rates are fixed for most of the common tasks. People get fed up and finally succumb to the demands of public officers for bribe. It just delays all the activity and hampers the interests of different
  investors which ultimately leads to slow growth of economy.
- Even the ministers are not spotless. The prime minister comes from  a prominent political family which at more than once incidences  have been involved in the cases of corruption.

The greek government is trying to curb corruption and trying to bring the situation under control. But in doing so, they have to take strict decisions which may not be go well with the public.
- It is planning to put heavy taxes on leisurly articles, tobacco products and alcohols.
- It is also planning to cut down the number of jobs in public services.

This may lead to anger among the public which might end up with the revolt against the Government. Its a vicious cycle and nobody knows how to break that.

The situation is so worse that even the members of European nations are rethinking whether or not to help Greece anymore. It may ultimately lead to the expulsion of Greece from the European Union.

But even that is not so easy.Greece is just a beginning. If they are expelled from the European Union, what happens to all the loan that other countries and institutes offered to Greece. How will Greece repay back with no more security avaible from European Union. This will effect the economy of the conutries lending all the loan.

Other than that, there are other countries (Portugal, Ireland, Spain, Italy) which are following the same route as Greece. If Greece exits, European Union will be compelled at some point of the time to take similar actions to them. Considering the dependency of all these countries on each other, with no idea of repaying capacity of these countries, it may lead to another economic catastrophe, this time centered on Europe instead of USA. Ths situation will be worse than what happend 3 years back in USA.

Nobody knows the solution to this crisis and apparently everybody is confused about the coming days. The future of ecomonics is gloomy and globalization is showing its adverse effects.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Nobel Prize, 2011

Nobel Prize are awarded every year in the field of Science (Physics, chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature and Peace.For year 2011, the award recipients for Science have now been declared:


Physics: The expansion of the universe is accelerating.

Saul Perlmutter:American astrophysicist from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley. 

Adam Riess :American astrophysicist at Johns Hopkins University and the Space Telescope Science Institute.

Brian P. Schmidt: Professor, Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow
  Astrophysicist at the Australian National University Mount Stromlo Observatory and Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics.


Chemistry: The discovery of quasicrystals

Daniel Shechtman : Professor of Materials Science at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, an Associate of the US Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory,
Professor of Materials Science at Iowa State University.
The story of how his discovery was ridiculed  long back in 1982 by his group members in Washington D.C. and how he was thrown out of the group for such crappy findings, which ultimately led him to the Nobel prize, is making rounds on the net.


 Physiology or Medicine: Discoveries concerning the activation of innate immunity. AND (Bruce Beutler & Jules Hoffmann)
Discovery of the dendritic cell and its role in adaptive immunity (Ralph Steinman)

 Bruce Beutler:American immunologist and geneticist.Director of the Center for the Genetics of Host Defense at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas and Professor and Chairman of the Department of Genetics at The Scripps Research Institute, in La Jolla, California, USA. Nobel prize winner for the work on the activation of innate immunity along with Jules Hoffmann

Jules Hoffmann: French biologist.
Research director,National Center of Scientific Research (CNRS),Strasbourg, France.
President of the French Academy of Sciences.
Nobel prize winner for the work on the activation of innate immunity along with Bruce Beutler

Ralph Steinman:Canadian immunologist and cell biologist at Rockefeller University.
Nobel Prize for his discovery of the dendritic cell and its role in adaptive immunity.
He died 3 years at the age of 68 years and so an exceptional case.

More info available on www.nobelprize.org/