28 August 2012

On trying

Edit: This post is NOT autobiographical. None of this has happened to me. None.

***

The red must go on top of the yellow. Why? Because it must.

Uncoordinated dainty little hands lifted the red block and tried to place it on top of the yellow one. The red block swayed dangerously on the edge of the yellow block. The dainty hands did not possess the prerequisite motor skills just yet. The block did not fit well in hands that size. Slowly, the red block leaned over. Slowly, it leaned over just a bit more. And sure enough, it fell.

The red must still go on top of the yellow. Why? Because it must.

Up into the air went the red block again. A foot off the ground. It moved irregularly. Never quite directly above the yellow block. The motor skills were just not developed enough. It suddenly fell, hitting the side of the yellow block, taking a discernible chip off it.

The red will have to go on top of the yellow. Why? Because it must.

An uncoordinated frown appeared on the dainty forehead. Concentration flowed into the dainty hands while it lifted the red block for a third time. A little to the right. No, that was too much. Slightly to the left. And drop. The red block landed on top of the yellow one. It stayed.

A dainty smile appeared. Uncoordinated motor movements turned the body to call the mother. A proud moment of achievement.

Just then, the uncoordinated dainty leg knocked the yellow from under the red.

***

The clock showed ten minutes to twelve.

There was only the question on limits left. Three marks.



The mind raced over Chapter 2. It was not any of the questions in the text book. Damn. Limits had been sticky in the mid-terms and the pre-boards as well. First principles, then. Plug zero in for x. The pen raced over the answer sheet.



Except that you cannot divide by zero. That is not defined. He remembered that much. He stared. Would it not be convenient for the denominator to disappear? And the fact that trigonometric functions appeared with the logarithmic function in the same question was not helping things. Logarithmic functions are naughty.

The clock showed five minutes to twelve.

L'Hopital's Rule! If you have an undefined answer, just differentiate both the denominator and the numerator. That must be it.



Zero denominator again. Panic struck him. Was it even okay to multiply zero by zero? That would be taking nothing and repeating it nothing times. If you took nothing and repeated it one, two, or three times, you would still get nothing. But how can you repeat nothing nothing times? The pen made one smooth line through the entire page. Diagonally from the top left corner to the bottom right. This was clearly useless. L'Hopital had never failed before.

The clock struck twelve.

The invigilator shouted for pens to be put down. A horrible sinking feeling overtook his body. Just then it hit him. L'Hopital had not just said that you should differentiate the numerator and denominator. He also said you could keep doing it as long as the answer was undefined.

He looked at the paper. How he wished he had not crossed it all out. Maybe he could salvage the situation and carry on before the invigilator got to his table.

He started neatly applying whitener over the line. Starting from the top left corner.

One inch down, and the invigilator snatched the paper from under his hands.

***

The cost of capital equals the cost of debt plus the cost of equity.

He looked into the mirror. The River Island suit had become just that bit tight for him. Bits of fat poked out from over the belt. The jacket would cover that though, he thought. The trousers were a different matter though. The fat on the thighs strained the fabric. Sitting down was uncomfortable. He was afraid the front button might come flying off and hit the interviewer in the face. And the inner seams of the trouser were seriously straining. He made a mental note to start hitting the gym. And to buy a new suit in the interim.

Ten firms in Cournot competition are actually pretty close to perfect competition in terms of outcomes.

He sauntered down to Bethnal Green tube station. Past the Tesco metro. He looked in and saw that there was a two for one offer on the Jaffa cakes. He stepped into a puddle. The shine on the right shoe was now ruined. He concentrated on the pavement for the rest of the way. He got to the station. There were severe delays on the Central line. This was going to be tight. The platform was full. He waited.

Collusion among competitors necessarily requires you to repeat games, because effective collusion depends on the threat of a future punishment.

Ten minutes later he jostled for space to get onto the train. He was only going to Holborn for the interview. Ten minutes later, he walked out of Holborn station, jacket all crumpled up and sweat having drenched his shirt from being stuffed into the tube in conditions under which it is illegal to transport cattle. He was five minutes late. He walked up to the receptionist and introduced himself. He was asked to wait in the lobby.

Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union bans the abuse of a dominant position in any market.

The interviewers came to meet him. They took him to a room. Then they grilled him. The first case study was about two mobile phone manufacturers merging. He handled it well, he thought. Another one about calculating the charges that a regulator should allow a monopoly rail operator. He might have messed up a bit in the cost of capital bit, but hopefully not by much. They talked about his university. Not the best by a long shot. The only reason he went there was rich parents. The interview ended.

Two weeks later he got a letter in the mail. There had been a problem with his application form. The kind of visa he had stated did not match the one in the scanned copy of his passport. He had been disqualified from the application process.

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