Friday, March 12, 2010

Weekend Sports

This is a conversation between me and an American colleague.

Me: We're playing cricket on Saturday. You're coming.

AC: Can't make it this weekend. Besides, I am more of a golf person.

Me: What's so interesting about golf?

AC: I just love it, man.

Me: What about it?

AC: You know when you go to the course for the first time? You swing hard and miss. You miss the ball completely the first hundred times. And then the one time you hit it, it is so sweet, it is the perfect shot. That one shot makes it totally worth it.

Me: That sounds like too much effort for a little bit of pleasure.

AC: That's just the beauty of golf.

Me: Well, how about we spice this up a bit?

AC: How would you do that?

Me: Suppose that instead of just one hole, there are many holes scattered all around you, and you can choose which one to aim at.

AC: Okay, I'm with you on that.

Me: Further, suppose that the ball is not still, it is moving and you have to hit it at the right moment.

AC: Ah, interesting. Crazy, but interesting.

Me: The ball is not on rolling on the ground. It is in the air, flying around waist height, and depending on its trajectory and position, you have to choose your hole, and the precise moment to hit the ball.

AC: That's like no golf I know, but where do I sign up?

Me: So, see you Saturday for cricket?

Friday, January 01, 2010

Vodka Price Fixing

And so the new year begins with more of the same old. As we all know, the Russian economy is heavily dependent on the production of vodka, creation of new nations from unwanted pieces of Russian land, Finland, and Rasputin related accessories. This has been especially true since the mafia went into recession due to the new capitalist regime. Therefore any effect on any of these vital industries will have deep reaching impacts on the Russian economy, and they provide the best known examples of industries that are too vital to be left to market forces. Accordingly, Russia employs millions of mathematicians and statisticians to maintain the fragile balance between supply, demand and price of these commodities.

The latest in a series of efforts is the new law mandating a minimum price on vodka. According to the new law, any 0.5 L bottle of vodka selling for under 89 rubles has been outlawed. Fake vodka has long been a major problem in Russia, and the new law is widely expected to help in the fight against counterfeit alcohol. Details are sketchy at this point on how exactly this will help, but as Russia has demonstrated for over 80 years, they do have the best economists in the world, and have shown by example the correct formulation of economic principles, leading to decades of prosperity in the country.

Fake vodka producers celebrated long and hard after the new law was implemented, and termed it the best new years gift they could have received. "We have always been hard pressed to justify our prices, and have had to sell our product at ridiculously low prices because of market forces. Now, we can finally justify charging 89 rubles for half a liter of the absolute worst you can get out there. We expect our profits to double this year as compared to last."

When we contacted the Russian minister for price fixing for comments, is response was, "As you can see, our policies are already on their way to working. With these increased profits, the fake vodka supplies will be able to build better equipment and start producing real vodka. Pretty soon, we will be rid of fake vodka from our market shelves."

Absolutely ingenious. Now, why didn't we think of that before?