Sunday, November 28, 2010

Condom Conundrum

There was news that the Pope has approved use of condoms in exceptional cases. I guess that means, if push comes to shove, it is OK to use! But then, every case here is an exception, since it's all about push coming to shove...:)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Book Review - We Are Like That Only

We are Like that Only by Rama Bijapurkar: This book is a winning guide to India's consumer market. It brings out the peculiarities in the Indian market with examples, quantitative data, segment analysis and from the author's own experience from Mckinsey and other. It was interesting to read about how "bride viewing" is now being video taped by marriage brokers, how Kellogg cereal should have been marketed as a afternoon snack instead of breakfast, and how India always seems half full and half empty! It also projects views like there are 3 Nigerias within India, while everyone talks about the one silicon valley in Bangalore! Folks in B-school who have studied case studies in Japan or China would be aware of the pains and pitfalls mentioned in dealing with a newly emerging country like India, but I felt the consumer data and segmentation of Indian market was something new, and can be useful to product companies. There were also comments relating to Indian history and epics such as Ram abandoning his wife and asking her to prove chastity, Krishna as a manipulating cowboy, which I think is unwarranted and shows the book in poor light. There is an interesting table showing a mapping from Indian to western values, showing things like Patriarchy vs. Egalitarian or Individualism - sometimes, I feel these are comparing outcomes as a result of transition rather than intrinsically present behaviors that can be called "Indian". I could finish reading rather quickly, which I think is because I didn't find anything jaw-dropping.

Book Review - The World Is Flat

The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman: This is a popular best seller that comprehensively discusses globalization, how it affects different countries, companies and people, and what they can do about it. Friedman brings great perspectives from decades of journalist experience having visited the different countries, interviewed leaders worldwide on this topic and plenty of useful insights. The beginning itself catches attention comparing his expedition to Bangalore (India) with Columbus' expedition to look for India, and how he discovered the world was flat, while Columbus discovered the world was indeed round! Then he discusses the various factors like browsers, open source software, Google search that made the world flat by making it easier to share information and collaborate easily across the world. Having established the world is now flat, he provides insights on why Americans should be concerned, and what they can do about it. We may not agree with all his views and solutions proposed, but that shouldn't stop the reader from appreciating the insights gleaned from direct experience. It was interesting to note his new definition for Untouchables, how 11/9 (Berlin wall) was constructive and 9/11 (WTC) was destructive with respect to a flat world, how Dell PC has components coming from different parts of the world. To put it flat, it was well worth the several days it took to finish the 450 pages.

Monday, November 15, 2010

LDL formula

I found something surprising after breaking my head over a blood test result. It seems labs don't always measure and report LDL numbers. They sometimes use a formula to compute LDL!!

TC is Total Cholesterol and Tri is the triglyceride measurement, TC = LDL + HDL + VLDL and, as an approximation VLDL = Tri/5. That means, LDL = TC - HDL - Tri/5.
E.g., if TC is 230, HDL is 36 and Tri is 190, the LDL = 230 -36 -190/5 = 156.

Apparently, this is a close approximation in most cases where Tri is less than 400 mg/DL. In some cases, real LDL measurement could be lower. Also, higher LDL could just mean the fluffy LDL particles became larger, and not necessarily more LDL particles. Check out this link for more details - scroll down a bit to see this LDL formula stuff.

I wish labs disclose that they took a short cut to save money rather than let folks figure out or freak out! But my doctor said I need to reduce cholesterol anyways, so all this research didn't matter in the end!

Gayatri Mantra - Mindboggling interpretation!

I recently read an article recently from a reputed Guru who said something like -"Gayatri mantra has maximum effect if it is chanted in the mornings". It turns out, there are many such Gayatri (or sing-able) mantras in the Vedas dedicated to different deities, and the one popularly referred to here is towards Savitr (Sunrise or the sun light at dawn). The meaning of the hymn is essentially "...We meditate on that which gave us this morning light, may that illuminate our intellect..."

So, its like saying Good Morning has maximum effect if it is said in the morning! It's amazing how Gurus can attract crowds with such simple interpretations!