Friday, May 25, 2007

Global Warming and I

Why do I care about global warming? Because my house is going to get flooded if the sea level keeps rising like this. Thats why!

Kerala does not contribute much to the problem except for some occasional elephant fart. Which is what makes it all the more frustrating. All those industrialized countries caused the problem by pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and it is us poor keralites who have to live with the consequences.

But to be fair, its those same countries that have now taken the lead in trying to control global warming. They have put in lot of effort into studying climate change. And the EU has made significant progress towards emissions trading.

Our petty politicians and NGOs still haven't gotten over the pesticides in their Coke. (The pesticides got in the Coke because Coke uses the same ground water that we drink everyday, but nobody seems to care about groundwater pollution!) Guess we'll have to wait till they figure out how take bribes in carbon-credit.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Motorola has finally announced the RAZR2. When the original RAZR V3 first came on the scene three years ago, it was something radically new. The RAZR2 V9 however is more of an evolutionary improvement over the original. It feels more solid, has an even better finish and a faster processor that runs at 500MHz.

I still remember the time when I first saw a prototype of the V9. Unlike the KRZR design, which I must admit is more of an acquired taste, this was love at first sight. It exudes sophistication just as the V3 did back in 2004. A beautiful piece of engineering. I just hope we do an equally good job with the marketing.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Blade goes online

Back home in God's own country, 'Blade' is a term used to refer to microcredit because of the cutthroat interest rates. Private lenders lend money to individuals who would not be able to get a loan from a bank. Naturally, the interest rates are higher. And local gangsters moonlighting as recovery agents don't have to try too hard to give the industry a bad name.

Socially responsible microcredit ventures like the Nobel prize wining Grameen bank have changed all that to some extend. But Grameen and other ventures like it are focused on developing economies.

So who does the regular American, with a less than perfect credit rating, turn to when she needs a few extra bucks? She goes online. Sites like bring the latest in online social networking to the old world business of microcredit. Prosper is very similar to online auction sites like e-Bay. The only difference is that instead of sellers and buyers, we have lenders and borrowers. And the site provides the framework for the transaction, verifies the credit worthiness of potential borrowers and takes care of recovery.

Online selling has been around for quite some time. So what took online lending so long even though the underlying technology is almost exactly the same? Not sure. But what this example does indicate is that there are patterns out there. Technology offers new business patterns, not just unique opportunities.

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Kumbanadan model of economics.

A popular question on campus during recruitment season used to be - " Would you rather be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond and why?" I have never been asked this question but I did have a prepared answer just in case. My answer went something like - "I'd rather not be a fish."

Economists have a similar trick question - "Would you rather be a rich person in a poor country or a poor person in a rich country?" Unlike the previous question however, this one has a definite answer based on hard data. To see if your answer is correct check out the explanation on Harvard economist Dani Rodrik's blog. ( Hint: Visit Kumbanad.)

Kozhikatta - How To

Easter and Vishu are both spring festivals. So I was searching for some info on Vishu while researching for my previous post and I came across this wonderful blog called Ammupatti's Thoughts by a Malayalee lady settled in the US. It turned out to be a treasure trove of traditional recipes and cooking tips with improvisations for bachelor life (she has two sons working away from home). There is everything from Kozhikatta to Aviyal. Definitely worth checking out especially if you want to impress your aunts and grandmas back home.