# CAT Questions

Eight friends: Ajit, Byomkesh, Gargi, Jayanta, Kikira, Manik, Prodosh and Tapesh are going to Delhi from Kolkata by a flight operated by Cheap Air. In the flight, sitting is arranged in 30 rows, numbered 1 to 30, each consisting of 6 seats, marked by letters A to F from left to right, respectively. Seats A to C are to the left of the aisle (the passage running from the front of the aircraft to the back), and seats D to F are to the right of the aisle. Seats A and F are by the windows and referred to as Window seats, C and D are by the aisle and are referred to as Aisle seats while B and E are referred to as Middle seats. Seats marked by consecutive letters are called consecutive seats (or seats next to each other). A seat number is a combination of the row number, followed by the letter indicating the position in the row; e.g., 1A is the left window seat in the first row, while 12E is the right middle seat in the 12th row.

A high security research lab requires the researchers to set a pass key sequence based on the scan of the five fingers of their left hands. When an employee first joins the lab, her fingers are scanned in an order of her choice, and then when she wants to re-enter the facility, she has to scan the five fingers in the same sequence.

The lab authorities are considering some relaxations of the scan order requirements, since it is observed that some employees often get locked-out because they forget the sequence.

Identify the incorrect sentence or sentences:

A. Harish told Raj to plead guilty.

B. Raj pleaded guilty of stealing money from the shop.

C. The court found Raj guilty of all the crimes he was charged with.

D. He was sentenced for three years in jail.

1. A and C
2. B, C and D
3. B and D
4. A, C and D

Following question consists of four sentences on a topic. Some sentences are grammatically incorrect or inappropriate. Select the option that indicates the grammatically correct and appropriate sentence(s).

A. Large reductions in the ozone layer, which sits about 15-30 km above the Earth, take place each winter over the polar regions, especially the Antarctic, as low temperatures allow the formation of stratospheric clouds that assist chemical reactions breaking down ozone.

B. Industrial chemicals containing chlorine and bromine have been blamed for thinning the layer because they attack the ozone molecules, making them to break apart.

C. Many an offending chemicals have now been banned.

D. It will still take several decades before these substances have disappeared from the atmosphere.

1. B & D
2. A & C
3. A & D
4. D

Identify the sentence or parts of the sentence that are correct in terms of grammar and usage.Then choose the most appropriate option.

1. Imagine you are in a train carriage waiting at station.

2. Out of the window you see a second train standing alongside your's.

3. The whistle blows, and at last you are on your way.

4. You glide smoothly past the other train.

1. 1 and 3
2. 1 and 4
3. 2 and 4
4. 3 and 4

Identify the sentence or parts of the sentence that are incorrect in terms of grammar and usage. Then choose the most appropriate option.

1. Thanks to the coalition, we now have PCTs and hospitals that are confused, low in morale and have no clear idea of their future.

2. What may seem good political win for anti-Tory forces at Westminster feels like mayhem on the ground.

3. No responsible politician can afford to feel happy about “the pause” and the giant question mark hanging around the structural future of the NHS.

4. Labour has to have their own plan, which advances their own thinking post-government.

1. Only 4
2. 1 and 3
3. 2 and 4
4. 2, 3 and 4

Following question consists of four sentences on a topic. Some sentences are grammatically incorrect or inappropriate. Select the option that indicates the grammatically correct and appropriate sentence(s).

A. The balance of power will shift to the East as China and India evolve.

B. Rarely the economic ascent of two still relatively poor nations has been watched with such a mixture of awe, opportunism, and trepidation.

C. Postwar era witnessed economic miracles in Japan and South Korea, but neither was populous enough to power worldwide growth or change the game in a complete spectrum of industries.

D. China and India, by contrast, posses the weight and dynamism to transform the 21st-century global economy.

1. C
2. A & D
3. C & D
4. A, B & C

A part of sentence given below has been underlined. You have to Select the option that best replaces the underlined part.

The appetite of banks for funds was lost under the onslaught of the slowdown, corporates refused to borrow even as bank deposits flourished.

1. bank deposits flourished
2. bank deposits swelled
3. bank deposits flummoxed
4. bank deposits were enhanced

A part of sentence given below has been underlined. You have to Select the option that best replaces the underlined part.

The MP rose up to say that in her opinion, she thought the Women’s Reservation Bill should be passed on unanimously.

1. rose up to say that, the Women’s Reservation Bill should be passed on
2. rose to say that she thought the Women’s Reservation Bill should be passed
3. rose to say that, in her opinion, the Women’s Reservation Bill should be passed on
4. rose to say that, in her opinion, she thought that the Women’s Reservation Bill should be passed

A part of sentence given below has been underlined. You have to Select the option that best replaces the underlined part.

Many people mistake familiarity for a vulgar style, and suppose that to write without affectation is to write at random speed.

1. is to do speed writing
2. is to write fast
3. is to write randomly
4. is to write at random

A part of sentence given below has been underlined. You have to Select the option that best replaces the underlined part.

It must be noticed that under no circumstance should the company go in for diversification.

1. It should be noticed
2. It must be pointed out
3. It must be noted
4. It must be noticed

A part of sentence given below has been underlined. You have to Select the option that best replaces the underlined part.

Bacon believes that the medical profession should be permitted to ease and quicken death where the end would otherwise only delay for a few days and at the cost of great pain.

1. be delayed for a few days
2. otherwise only delay for a few days and
3. be delayed for a few days and
4. be otherwise only delayed for a few days and

Five sentences related to a topic are given below. Four of them can be put together to form a meaningful and coherent short paragraph. Identify the odd one out. Choose its number as your answer and key it in.

1. Man , whether civilized or savage, is a child of nature - he is not the master of nature.
2. He must conforms his actions to certain natural laws if he is to maintain his dominance over his environment.
3. Civilized man was nearly always able to become master of his environment temporarily.
4. When he tries to circumvent the laws of nature, he usually destroys the natural environment that sustains him.
5. And when his environment deteriorates rapidly, his civilization declines.

Five sentences related to a topic are given below. Four of them can be put together to form a meaningful and coherent short paragraph. Identify the odd one out. Choose its number as your answer and key it in.

1. It is a bonding process with the entire situation where you, your car, and its name make the entire equation.
2. Good car names are catchy and fit the product, such as the ‘Beetle’ or the ‘Mini’.
3. Marketing departments of car companies spend a lot of time and money thinking up names for cars.
4. The car you drive tells the world about your status, how much money you have, and the socioeconomic group you belong to (or want to belong to).
5. The names should be a reflection of the brand, product, and target group.

To me, a "classic" means precisely the opposite of what my predecessors understood: a work is classical by reason of its resistance to contemporaneity and supposed universality, by reason of its capacity to indicate human particularity and difference in that past epoch. The classic is not what tells me about shared humanity - or, more truthfully put, what lets me recognize myself as already present in the past, what nourishes in me the illusion that everything has been like me and has existed only to prepare the way for me. Instead, the classic is what gives access to radically different forms of human consciousness for any given generation of readers, and thereby expands for them the range of possibilities of what it means to be a human being.

1. A classic is able to focus on the contemporary human condition and a unified experience of human consciousness.
2. A classical work seeks to resist particularity and temporal difference even as it focuses on a common humanity.
3. A classic is a work exploring the new., going beyond the universal, the contemporary, and the notion of a unified human consciousness.
4. A classic is a work that provides access to a universal experience of the human race as opposed to radically different forms of human consciousness.

A translator of literary works needs a secure hold upon the two languages involved, supported by a good measure of familiarity with the two cultures. For an Indian translating works in an Indian language into English, finding satisfactory equivalents in a generalized western culture of practices and symbols in the original would be less difficult than gaining fluent control of contemporary English. When a westerner works on texts in Indian languages the interpretation of cultural elements will be the major challenge, rather than control over the grammar and essential vocabulary of the language concerned. It is much easier to remedy lapses in language in a text translated into English, than flaws of content. Since it is easier for an Indian to learn the English language than it is for a Briton or American to comprehend Indian culture, translations of Indian texts is better left to Indians.

1. While translating, the Indian and the westerner face the same challenges but they have different skill profiles and the former has the advantage.
2. As preserving cultural meanings is the essence of literary translation Indians' knowledge of the local culture outweighs the initial disadvantage of lower fluency in English.
3. Indian translators should translate Indian texts into English as their work is less likely to pose cultural problems which are harder to address than the quality of language.
4. Westerners might be good at gaining reasonable fluency in new languages, but as understanding the culture reflected in literature is crucial, Indians remain better placed.

For each of the past three years, temperatures have hit peaks not seen since the birth of meteorology, and probably not for more than 110,000 years. The amount of carbon dioxide in the air is at its highest level in 4 million years. This does not cause storms like Harvey - there have always been storms and hurricanes along the Gulf of Mexico - but it makes them wetter and more powerful. As the seas warm, they evaporate more easily and provide energy to storm fronts. As the air above them warms, it holds more water vapour. For every half a degree Celsius in warming, there is about a 3% increase in atmospheric moisture content. Scientists call this the Clausius-Clapeyron equation. This means the skies fill more quickly and have more to dump. The storm surge was greater because sea levels have risen 20 cm as a result of more than 100 years of human -related global warming which has melted glaciers and thermally expanded the volume of sea water.

1. The storm Harvey is one of the regular, annual ones from the Gulf of Mexico; global warming and Harvey are unrelated phenomena.
2. Global warming does not breed storms but makes them more destructive; the Clausius-Clapeyron equation, though it predicts potential increase in atmospheric moisture content, cannot predict the scale of damage storms might wreck.
3. Global warming melts glaciers, resulting in sea water volume expansion; this enables more water vapour to fill the air above faster. Thus, modern storms contain more destructive energy.
4. It is naive to think that rising sea levels and the force of tropical storms are unrelated; Harvey was destructive as global warming has armed it with more moisture content, but this may not be true of all storms.

North American walnut sphinx moth caterpillars (Amorpha juglandis) look like easy meals for birds, but they have a trick up their sleeves—they produce whistles that sound like bird alarm calls, scaring potential predators away. At first, scientists suspected birds were simply startled by the loud noise. But a new study suggests a more sophisticated mechanism: the caterpillar's whistle appears to mimic a bird alarm call, sending avian predators scrambling for cover. When pecked by a bird, the caterpillars whistle by compressing their bodies like an accordion and forcing air out through specialized holes in their sides. The whistles are impressively loud - they have been measured at over 80 dB from 5 cm away from the caterpillar - considering they are made by a two-inch long insect.

1. North American walnut sphinx moth caterpillars will whistle periodically to ward off predator birds - they have a specialized vocal tract that helps them whistle.
2. North American walnut sphinx moth caterpillars can whistle very loudly; the loudness of their whistles is shocking as they are very small insects.
3. North American walnut sphinx moth caterpillars, in a case of acoustic deception, produce whistles that mimic bird alarm calls to defend themselves.
4. North American walnut sphinx moth caterpillars, in a case of deception and camouflage, produce whistles that mimic bird alarm calls to defend themselves.

Both Socrates and Bacon were very good at asking useful questions. In fact, Socrates is largely credited with corning up with a way of asking questions, 'the Socratic method/ which itself is at the core of the 'scientific method, popularised by Bacon. The Socratic method disproves arguments by finding exceptions to them, and can therefore lead your opponent to a point where they admit something that contradicts their original position. In common with Socrates, Bacon stressed it was as important to disprove a theory as it was to prove one - and real-world observation and experimentation were key to achieving both aims. Bacon also saw science as a collaborative affair, with scientists working together, challenging each other.

1. Both Socrates and Bacon advocated clever questioning of the opponents to disprove their arguments and theories.
2. Both Socrates and Bacon advocated challenging arguments and theories by observation and experimentation.
3. Both Socrates and Bacon advocated confirming arguments and theories by finding exceptions.
4. Both Socrates and Bacon advocated examining arguments and theories from both sides to prove them.

A fundamental property of language is that it is slippery and messy and more liquid than solid, a gelatinous mass that changes shape to fit. As Wittgenstein would remind us, "usage has no sharp boundary." Oftentimes, the only way to determine the meaning of a word is to examine how it is used. This insight is often described as the "meaning is use" doctrine. There are differences between the "meaning is use" doctrine and a dictionary-first theory of meaning. "The dictionary's careful fixing of words to definitions, like butterflies pinned under glass, can suggest that this is how language works. The definitions can seem to ensure and fix the meaning of words, just as the gold standard can back a country's currency." What Wittgenstein found in the circulation of ordinary language, however, was a free-floating currency of meaning. The value of each word arises out of the exchange. The lexicographer abstracts a meaning from that exchange, which is then set within the conventions of the dictionary definition.

1. Dictionary definitions are like 'gold standards' - artificial, theoretical and dogmatic. Actual meaning of words is their free exchange value.
2. Language is already slippery; given this, accounting for 'meaning in use' will only exasperate the problem. That is why lexicographers 'fix' meanings.
3. Meaning is dynamic; definitions are static. The 'meaning in use' theory helps us understand that definitions of words are culled from their meaning in exchange and use and not vice versa.
4. The meaning of words in dictionaries is clear, fixed and less dangerous and ambiguous than the meaning that arises when words are exchanged between people.

Any company can generate simple descriptive statistics about aspects of its business - average revenue per employee, for example, or average order size. But analytics competitors look well beyond basic statistics. These companies use predictive modelling to identify the most profitable customers-plus those with the greatest profit potential and the ones most likely to cancel their accounts. They pool data generated in-house and data acquired from outside sources (which they analyze more deeply than do their less statistically savvy competitors) for a comprehensive understanding of their customers. They optimize their supply chains and can thus determine the impact of an unexpected constraint, simulate alternatives and route shipments around problems. They establish prices in real time to get the highest yield possible from each of their customer transactions. They create complex models of how their operational costs relate to their financial performance. Leaders in analytics also use sophisticated experiments to measure the overall impact or "lift" of intervention strategies and then apply the results to continuously improve subsequent analyses. Capital One, for example,
conducts more than 30,000 experiments a year, with different interest rates, incentives, direct-mail packaging, and other variables. Its goal is to maximize the likelihood both that potential customers will sign up for credit cards and that they will pay back Capital One.

As someone said, this crisis was too valuable to waste. I, for one, learnt many lessons on crisis management and leadership. By far the most important lesson I learnt is that the primary focus of a central bank during a crisis has to be on restoring confidence in the markets, and what this requires is swift, bold and decisive action. This is not as obvious as it sounds because central banks are typically given to agonizing over every move they make out of anxiety that failure of their actions to deliver the intended impact will hurt their creditability and their policy effectiveness down the line.

There is a lot to be said for such deliberative action in normal times. In crisis times though, it is important for them to take more chances without being too mindful of whether all of their actions are going to be fully effective or even mildly successful. After all, crisis management is a percentage game and you do what you think has the best chance of reversing the momentum. Oftentimes, it is the fact of the action rather than the precise nature of the action that bolsters confidence. Take the Reserve Bank's measure I wrote about earlier of instituting exclusive lines of credit for augmenting the liquidity of NBFCs and mutual funds (MFs) which came under redemption pressure. It is simply unthinkable that the Reserve Bank would have done anything like this in normal times. In the event of a liquidity constraint in normal times, the standard response of the Reserve Bank would be to ease liquidity in the overall system and leave it to the banks to determine how to use that additional liquidity.

I wear a variety of professional hats - university professor, literacy consultant to districts, author of several books related to comprehension. To keep myself honest (and humble), I spend a lot of time in classrooms watching kids and teachers at work. During the past decade, I've observed a transformation in the teaching of reading from an approach that measured readers' successful understanding of text through lengthy packets of comprehension questions to one that requires students to think about their thinking, activating their "good reader" strategies.

Groupon is one of the fastest-growing companies of all time. Its name comes from "group coupons," an ingenious idea that has spawned an entire industry of social commerce imitators. However, it didn't start out successful. When customers took Groupon up on its first deal, a whopping twenty people bought two-for-one pizza in a restaurant on the first floor of the company's Chicago offices-hardly a world-changing event. In fact, Groupon wasn't originally meant to be about commerce at all. The founder, Andrew Mason, intended his company to become a "collective activism platform" called The Point. Its goal was to bring people together to solve problems they couldn't solve on their own, such as fund-raising for a cause or boycotting a certain retailer. The Point's early results were disappointing, however, and at the end of 2008 the founders decided to try something new.

Despite their fierce reputation, Vikings may not have always been the plunderers and pillagers popular culture imagines them to be. In fact, they got their start trading in northern European markets, researchers suggest.

Combs carved from animal antlers, as well as comb manufacturing waste and raw antler material has turned up at three archaeological sites in Denmark, including a medieval marketplace in the city of Ribe. A team of researchers from Denmark and the U.K. hoped to identify the species of animal to which the antlers once belonged by analyzing collagen proteins in the samples and comparing them across the animal kingdom, Laura Geggel reports for LiveScience. Somewhat surprisingly, molecular analysis of the artifacts revealed that some combs and other material had been carved from reindeer antlers.... Given that reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) don't live in Denmark, the researchers posit that it arrived on Viking ships from Norway. Antler craftsmanship, in the form of decorative combs, was part of Viking culture. Such combs served as symbols of good health, Geggel writes. The fact that the animals shed their antlers also made them easy to collect from the large herds that inhabited Norway.

Typewriters are the epitome of a technology that has been comprehensively rendered obsolete by the digital age. The ink comes off the ribbon, they weigh a ton, and second thoughts are a disaster. But they are also personal, portable and, above all, private. Type a document and lock it away and more or less the only way anyone else can get it is if you give it to them. That is why the Russians have decided to go back to typewriters in some government offices, and why in the US, some departments have never abandoned them. Yet it is not just their resistance to algorithms and secret surveillance that keeps typewriter production lines - well one, at least - in business (the last British one closed a year ago). Nor is it only the nostalgic appeal of the metal body and the stout well-defined keys that make them popular on eBay. A typewriter demands something particular: attentiveness. By the time the paper is loaded, the ribbon tightened, the carriage returned, the spacing and the margins set, there's a big premium on hitting the right key. That means sorting out ideas, pulling together a kind of order and organising details before actually striking off. There can be no thinking on screen with a typewriter. Nor are there any easy distractions. No online shopping. No urgent emails. No Twitter. No need even for electricity - perfect for writing in a remote hideaway. The thinking process is accompanied by the encouraging clack of keys, and the ratchet of the carriage return. Ping!

The end of the age of the internal combustion engine is in sight. There are small signs everywhere: the shift to hybrid vehicles is already under way among manufacturers. Volvo has announced it will make no purely petrol-engined cars after 2019...and Tesla has just started selling its first electric car aimed squarely at the middle classes: the Tesla 3 sells for $35,000 in the US, and 400,000 people have put down a small, refundable deposit towards one. Several thousand have already taken delivery, and the company hopes to sell half a million more next year. This is a remarkable figure for a machine with a fairly short range and a very limited number of specialised charging stations. During the frigid season... it's often necessary to nestle under a blanket to try to stay warm. The temperature difference between the blanket and the air outside is so palpable that we often have trouble leaving our warm refuge. Many plants and animals similarly hunker down, relying on snow cover for safety from winter's harsh conditions. The small area between the snowpack and the ground, called the subnivium... might be the most important ecosystem that you have never heard of. The subnivium is so well-insulated and stable that its temperature holds steady at around 32 degree Fahrenheit (0 degree Celsius). Although that might still sound cold, a constant temperature of 32 degree Fahrenheit can often be 30 to 40 degrees warmer than the air temperature during the peak of winter. Because of this large temperature difference, a wide variety of species...depend on the subnivium for winter protection. Creativity is at once our most precious resource and our most inexhaustible one. As anyone who has ever spent any time with children knows, every single human being is born creative; every human being is innately endowed with the ability to combine and recombine data, perceptions, materials and ideas, and devise new ways of thinking and doing. What fosters creativity? More than anything else: the presence of other creative people. The big myth is that creativity is the province of great individual geniuses. In fact creativity is a social process. Our biggest creative breakthroughs come when people learn from, compete with, and collaborate with other people. Do sports mega events like the summer Olympic Games benefit the host city economically? It depends, but the prospects are less than rosy. The trick is converting...several billion dollars in operating costs during the 17-day fiesta of the Games into a basis for long-term economic returns. These days, the summer Olympic Games themselves generate total revenue of$4 billion to \$5 billion, but the lion's share of this goes to the International Olympics Committee, the National Olympics Committees and the International Sports Federations. Any economic benefit would have to flow from the value of the Games as an advertisement for the city, the new transportation and communications infrastructure that was created for the Games, or the ongoing use of the new facilities.

Scientists have long recognised the incredible diversity within a species. But they thought it reflected evolutionary changes that unfolded imperceptibly, over millions of years. That divergence between populations within a species was enforced, according to Ernst Mayr, the great evolutionary biologist of the 1940s, when a population was separated from the rest of the species by a mountain range or a desert, preventing breeding across the divide over geologic scales of time. Without the separation, gene flow was relentless. But as the separation persisted, the isolated population grew apart and speciation occurred.

This year alone, more than 8,600 stores could close, according to industry estimates, many of them the brand-name anchor outlets that real estate developers once stumbled over themselves to court. Already there have been 5,300 retail closings this year... Sears Holdings — which owns Kmart — said in March that there's "substantial doubt" it can stay in business altogether, and will close 300 stores this year. So far this year, nine national retail chains have filed for bankruptcy.

I used a smartphone GPS to find my way through the cobblestoned maze of Geneva's Old Town, in search of a handmade machine that changed the world more than any other invention. Near a 13th-century cathedral in this Swiss city on the shores of a lovely lake, I found what I was looking for: a Gutenberg printing press. "This was the Internet of its day — at least as influential as the iPhone," said Gabriel de Montmollin, the director of the Museum of the Reformation, toying with the replica of Johann Gutenberg's great invention.

Understanding where you are in the world is a basic survival skill, which is why we, like most species come hard-wired with specialized brain areas to create congnitive maps of our surroundings. Where humans are unique, though, with the possible exception of honeybees, is that we try to communicate this understanding the world with others. We have a long history of doing this by drawing maps – the earliest version yet discovered were scrawled on cave walls 14,000 years ago. Human cultures have been drawing them on stone tablets, papyrus, paper and now computer screens ever since.

Every age has its pet contradictions. A few decades back, we used to accept Marx and Freud together, and then wonder, like the chameleon on the turkey carpet, why life was so confusing. Today there is similar trouble over the question whether there is, or is not, something called Human Nature. On the one hand, there has been an explosion of animal behavior studies, and comparisons between animals and men have become immensely popular. People use evidence from animals to decide whether man is naturally aggressive, or naturally territorial; even whether he has an aggressive or territorial instinct. Moreover, we are still much influenced by Freudian psychology, which depends on the notion of instinct. On the other hand, many still hold what may be called the Blank Paper view, that man is a creature entirely without instincts. So do Existentialist philosophers. If man has no instincts, all comparison with animals must be irrelevant. (Both these simple party lines have been somewhat eroded over time, but both are still extremely influential.)

Some psychologists and sociologists believe that psychopathy can be an asset in business and politics and that, as a result, psychopathic traits are over-represented among successful people. This would be a puzzle if it were so. If our moral feelings evolved through natural selection, then it shouldn't be the case that one would flourish without them. And, in fact, the successful psychopath is probably the exception. Psychopaths have certain deficits. Some of these are subtle. The psychologist Abigail Marsh and her colleagues find that psychopaths are markedly insensitive to the expression of fear. Normal people recognize fear and treat it as a distress cue, but 13 psychopaths have problems seeing it, let alone responding to it appropriately. Other deficits run deeper. The overall lack of moral sentiments - and specifically, the lack of regard for others - might turn out to be the psychopath's downfall. We non-psychopaths are constantly assessing one another, looking for kindness and shame and the like, using this information to decide whom to trust, whom to affiliate with. The psychopath has to pretend to be one of us. But this is difficult. It's hard to force yourself to comply with moral rules just through a rational appreciation of what you are expected to do. If you feel like strangling the cat, it's a struggle to hold back just because you know that it is frowned upon. Without a normal allotment of shame and guilt, psychopaths succumb to bad impulses, doing terrible things out of malice, greed, and simple boredom. And sooner or later, they get caught. While psychopaths can be successful in the short term, they tend to fail in the long term and often end up in prison or worse. Let's take a closer look at what separates psychopaths from the rest of us. There are many symptoms of psychopathy, including pathological lying and lack of remorse or guilt, but the core deficit is indifference toward the suffering of other people. Psychopaths lack compassion. To understand how compassion works for all of us non-psychopaths, it's important to distinguish it from empathy. Now, some contemporary researchers use the terms interchangeably, but there is a big difference between caring about a person (compassion) and putting yourself in the person's shoes (empathy).

Writing is both my vocation and my avocation: that’s all I do.

You may wonder why I should write a genealogy. Well, to begin with, my story is interesting. And, next, I am a mystery - more so than a tree or a sunset or even a flash of lightning. But, sadly, I am taken for granted by those who use me, as if I were a mere incident and without background. This supercilious attitude relegates me to the level of the commonplace. This is a species of the grievous error in which mankind cannot too long persist without peril. For, as a wise man, G. K. Chesterton, observed, "We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders."

I, simple though I appear to be, merit your wonder and awe, a claim I shall attempt to prove. In fact, if you can understand me - no, that’s too much to ask of anyone - if you can become aware of the miraculousness that I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing. I have a profound lesson to teach. And I can teach this lesson better than an automobile or an airplane or a mechanical dishwasher because - well, because I am seemingly so simple.

Simple? Yet, not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me. This sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? Especially when you realize that there are about one and one-half billion of my kind produced in the U.S. each year.

It’s taken me 60 years, but I had an epiphany recently: Everything, without exception, requires additional energy and order to maintain itself. I knew this in the abstract as the famous second law of thermodynamics, which states that everything is falling apart slowly. This realization is not just the lament of a person getting older. Long ago I learnt that even the most inanimate things we know of - stone, iron columns, copper pipes, gravel roads, a piece of paper - won’t last very long without attention and fixing and the loan of additional order. Existence, it seems, is chiefly maintenance.

What has surprised me recently is how unstable even the intangible is. Keeping a website or a software program afloat is like keeping a yacht afloat. It is a black hole for attention. I can understand why a mechanical device like a pump would break down after a while - moisture rusts metal, or the air oxidizes membranes, or lubricants evaporate, all of which require repair. But I wasn’t thinking that the non-material world of bits would also degrade. What’s to break? Apparently everything.

Brand-new computers will ossify. Apps weaken with use. Code corrodes. Fresh software just released will immediately begin to fray. On their own - nothing you did. The more complex the gear, the more (not less) attention it will require. The natural inclination toward change is inescapable, even for the most abstract entities we know of: bits.

And then there is the assault of the changing digital landscape. When everything around you is upgrading, this puts pressure on your digital system and necessitates maintenance. You may not want to upgrade, but you must because everyone else is. It’s an upgrade arms race.

If you read only one book about the causes of the recent financial crisis, let it be Michael Lewis’, “The Big Short”.

That’s not because Lewis has put together the most comprehensive or authoritative analysis of all the misdeeds and misjudgements and missed signals that led to the biggest credit bubble the world has known. What makes his account so accessible is that he tells it through the eyes of the managers of three small hedge funds and a Deutsche Bank bond salesman, none of whom you’ve ever heard of. All, however, were among the first to see the folly and fraud behind the subprime fiasco, and to find ways to bet against it when everyone else thought them crazy.

Plain speaking is necessary in any discussion of religion, for if the freethinker attacks the religious dogmas with hesitation, the orthodox believer assumes that it is with regret that the freethinker would remove the crutch that supports the orthodox. And all religious beliefs are “crutches” hindering the free locomotive efforts of an advancing humanity. There are no problems related to human progress and happiness in this age which any theology can solve, and which the teachings of free thought cannot do better and without the aid of encumbrances.

How would one search for knowledge? The things which he knows requires no search, for he already knows. The things which he does not know, he does not know what he’s going to search for - this is Meno’s Paradox, also called the Sophistic Paradox.

In Meno, Plato eliminates the paradox by developing his theory of recollection through Socrates. A contradiction is an always-false statement. For example, if P is any statement, then P and the negation of P is a contradiction. A contradiction cannot be made true. A paradox, however, is a set of statements that leads one into a contradiction. So a paradox misleads us.

"We are our narratives" has become a popular slogan. “We” refers to our selves, in the full-blooded person constituting sense. “Narratives” refers to the stories we tell about our -selves and our exploits in settings as trivial as cocktail parties and as serious as intimate discussions with loved ones. We express some in speech. Others we tell silently to ourselves, in that constant little inner voice. The full collection of one’s internal and external narratives generates the self we are intimately acquainted with. Our narrative selves continually unfold.

State-of-the-art neuro-imaging and cognitive neuropsychology both upholds the idea that we create our “selves” through narrative. Based on a half-century’s research on “split-brain” patients, neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga argues that the human brain’s left hemisphere is specialised for intelligent behaviour and hypothesis formation. It also possesses the unique capacity to interpret - that is, narrate - behaviours and emotional states initiated by either hemisphere. Not surprisingly, the left hemisphere is also the language hemisphere, with specialised cortical regions for producing, interpreting and understanding speech. It is also the hemisphere that produces narratives.

Hofstadter approaches the “Mind” from the perspective of the computer sciences, in that there are both hardware and software aspects of human intelligence. He looks at the enactment of intelligence in terms of a formal system. In turn, Hofstadter declares that in primal, natural systems, formal systems are embedded. He infers that in relation to what we perceive as explicit in such formal systems, there is also an aspect that is intrinsically implicit. The idea of an embedded implicitness ultimately suggests a “Within” in the heart of things.

To begin, there is a need for a descriptive presentation of Hofstadter’s brain system model. He uses the ant colony as an analogy of the human brain system. Hofstadter relays that individual ants seem to be able to cooperate as teammates and not randomly wander off. After billions of years of evolution, these ants have passed a critical threshold...reinforcing themselves into a collective behaviour that results in an ant colony. Hofstadter likens ant teams to signals; and, basically, “the effect of signals is to transport ants of various specialization to approximate parts of the colony.” Ultimately, the fully evolved ant colony takes on a holistic aspect, and emerging molecular mechanisms take form.

But I wonder how much real attention Dickens’s books will get. In America at least, he seems to be an author more known than read. (Find me someone who claims to have read “Martin Chuzzlewit” and I will show you a goddamned liar.) Yet even if you’ve read only one of his books, his stamp is such that it feels like you’ve read them all. The virtues that kept him famous, prosperous and never out of print - that he is easily grasped and eternally inventive in his visuals and jokes - have served to make him iconic. His characters, of course, deserve most of the credit. They possess those funny allegorical names, behave just as fixedly, and get thrown into one melodramatic scene after another. But taken as a whole, those 989 characters make up an unforgettable universe of humanity matched only by Shakespeare, whom Dickens worshipped.

Union Carbide’s in-house investigation of the accident will probably not be completed before the end of February. But an inquiry under way in India is already reaching some initial conclusions. The investigation has identified a combination of design flaws, operating errors and managerial mistakes that helped cause the accident and intensified its effects. In addition, the accident has stirred serious questions about placing modern technology in less industrialized Third World nations.

I was recently shocked to read that several city councils in the UK are getting ready to expunge everyday Latin words from the English lexicon. Along with ‘via’ and ‘etc’ would be banished ‘viz’ and ‘i.e.’, not to speak of ‘inter alia’ and ‘bona fide’. There goes away that exotic literary advantage. It was only recently that Amrita, my 10-year-old, fighting against a tide of domestic protestations voted against romantic French and prevalent Spanish and chose Latin as her second language in middle school. I had cheered her and actually promised to help out with the homework, given that three out of five words in English are of Latin origin. Blame this vicarious decision on my formative years but growing up in Mumbai, Latin was never an option in my school, as our national language Hindi was strictly enforced. Shiv Sainiks had decreed that local Marathi was de rigueur for all citizens of the city. I therefore ended up needing to speak three additional languages, not to forget Tamil, my mother tongue.

Microfinance in India started in the early 1980s with small efforts at forming informal self-help groups (SHG) to provide access to much-needed savings and credit services. From this small beginning, the microfinance sector has grown significantly in the past decades. National bodies like the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) and the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) are devoting significant time and financial resources to microfinance.