Sunday, September 28, 2008


if Hattori Hanzo´s sword was a version of Damascus Steel (contrary to its name the steel came from India although the swords were popular among the syrians)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Refreshing Century of Ads

Not sure how many of you know the old hovis ad:

Now watch the new breathtaking one (particularly has a desi couple in the midst of a 2 minute history of modern england)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

True Freedom

I havent know a lot about David Foster Wallace but since he died recently I had to look him up and read a bit. He had a fantastic commencement speech that I urge you to read

Because here's something else that's weird but true: in the day-to day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship -- be it JC or Allah, bet it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles -- is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It's been codified as myths, proverbs, clich├ęs, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.

Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they're evil or sinful, it's that they're unconscious. They are default settings.

They're the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that's what you're doing.

And here´s his final punchline which I totally subscribe to

The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Another Exit

In my career of 6 years this blog (and my car) have witnessed the other two exits I have made. In Bengal, they have this curious piece of land which is never dug and called something like ¨Sakkhi" (akin to Witness) which is supposed to remain there to remind people what the land was before the dug out.

It was my last day at my current employer today. As always, I left with mixed feelings. The key question on everyone´s mind was What made me leave? Thats a complex question for which we need to make multiple detours. First Consider this

The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the "quantity" group: fifty pound of pots rated an "A", forty pounds a "B", and so on. Those being graded on "quality", however, needed to produce only one pot - albeit a perfect one - to get an "A".

Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the "quantity" group was busily churning out piles of work - and learning from their mistakes - the "quality" group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.
The most interesting observation above is that somehow quantity produces quality than other way around. If thats not enough lets turn to Charlie Munger who has to say the following

The last idea that I found very important is that I realized very early that non-egality would work better in the parts of the world that I wanted to inhabit. What do I mean by non-egality? I mean John Wooden when he was the number one basketball coach in the world. He just said to the bottom five players that you don’t get to play. The top seven did all the playing. Well the top seven learned more, remember the learning machine, they learned more because they did all the playing. And when he got to that system he won more than he had ever won before. I think the game of life, in many respects, is about getting a lot of practice into the hands of the people that have the most aptitude to learn and the most tendency to be learning machines. And if you want the very highest reaches of human civilization, that’s where you have to go. You do not want to choose a brain surgeon for your child from 50 applicants where all of them just take turns doing the procedure. You don’t want your airplanes designed that way.

The above paragraph says that the more you play they better you are than anything else. As if that werent enough, please consider the research of Dean Simonton whose paper titled ¨Age and Outstanding Achievement: What Do We Know After a Century of Research?¨

First, if one calculates the age curves separately for major and minor works within careers, the resulting functions are basically identical...

Second... minor and major contributions... fluctuate together. Those periods in a creator's life that see the most masterpieces also witness the greatest number of easily forgotten productions, on the average.

Another way of saying the same thing is to note that the "quality ratio," or the proportion of major products to total output per age unit, tends to fluctuate randomly over the course of any career. The quality ratio neither increases nor decreases with age...

These outcomes are valid for both artistic and scientific modes of creative contribution. What these two results signify is that... age becomes irrelevant to determining the success of a particular contribution.
The above piece mentions that Quality of output does not vary by age. In other words, attempting to improve your batting average of hits versus misses is a waste of time as you progress through a creative career. Instead you should just focus on more at-bats -- more output.If this sounds insane to you, Dr. Simonton points out that the periods of Beethoven's career that had the most hits also had the most misses -- works that you never hear. So what makes us think we can be better than Beethoven in terms of average over time?

Given the above synopses, the clear theme is that you should bat early and bat often. Meaning you should try different things and try them more which is why I choose to exit now and do something different than do the same thing I have done close to 2 years. Time for me to change :)

So it is that time of the year for me where I tend to bat at different pitches and try to bat more than anything else which drives me to this opportunity, Wish me luck because I need all of it :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Followon to the Followup

Once I had screwed up a proper screw up (if it makes sense!), similarly posting a follow-on to the follow up. On of my favorite authors Michael Lewis has this to say about whom to blame

1) Christopher Cox. He's the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and so has the job of regulating these companies that helped make it possible for every poor American to get a mortgage and are now, as a result, falling apart.

That, in itself, is no reason to blame him. He inherited a broken operation: the SEC has been morally bankrupt for some time now. The people who work for the place -- especially the ones who call the shots -- have for years had a disconcerting habit of leaving their low-paying government jobs regulating Wall Street firms for high-paying ones at those same Wall Street firms.

Systemic Corruption

They are meant to guard against systemic corruption when they are themselves systematically corrupt. It's hard for people who are paid $85,000 a year to police people who are paid $15 million.

Happily, you can still blame Cox for something. He went as far out of his way as he could to enable the brokerage firms by harassing the small group of informed financial people who have been trying to tell the truth to the markets: the short sellers. They bet against the stock price of a company and so have always had a bad reputation with the public. But in this case, they are the closest thing we have to heroes.

A man named David Einhorn is a case study. He runs a hedge fund called Greenlight Capital, which sells short some stocks and buys others. That is, he doesn't just bet against companies but for them, too.

Blaming Shorts

Still, for some time now, he's been standing up in front of large audiences, announcing that he was short Lehman Brothers stock, and then explaining in great detail its dubious accounting practices. The SEC responded by demanding to see his firm's e- mail, hinting darkly that he was part of some conspiracy to drive Lehman Brothers out of business, and generally making him feel that he'd pay a price for telling the truth.

Christopher Cox is probably a nice man who has no real idea what just happened. But for the way he treated people with the nerve to speak the truth to power you should feel free to blame him anyway.

2) The Wall Street CEO.

Stan O'Neal was the chief executive officer of Merrill Lynch, Dick Fuld was the CEO of Lehman Brothers, James Cayne was the CEO of Bear Stearns Cos. Each took home tens of millions of dollars in pay for making the decisions that destroyed his firm.

Stan the Man

Of the lot, O'Neal deserves perhaps the greatest scorn as he took a business that wasn't well designed to take huge trading risks and wagered it all on a single bet.

He screwed up the lives of more innocent people than the others. But interestingly, if any of these men had behaved well and resisted the pressures and temptations of the moment, his firm would have, for several years, dramatically underperformed the competition. Probably he would have lost his job.

Even O'Neal can probably look back on his performance and say to himself, ``There's nothing I'd do different, given what I knew at the time.''

That's what they all say -- right before they're shot.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Yesterday, I was worried about the implosion on Wall St., and its effects but today I found a great new article explaining why most of it happens ( and will happen again in all probability). The more I read about Black Swans, the more I am convinced that they must be true. Another reason why Mathematicians rock! . If you dont understand what black swans are about this joke will tell you all about them:

An astronomer, a physicist and a mathematician (it is said) were holidaying in Scotland. Glancing from a train window, they observed a black sheep in the middle of a field.

"How interesting," observed the astronomer, "all scottish sheep are black!"

To which the physicist responded, "No, no! Some Scottish sheep are black!"

The mathematician gazed heavenward in supplication, and then intoned, "In Scotland there exists at least one field, containing at least one sheep, at least one side of which is black."

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Great Wall St. Show

All the signs currently point to a major events happening on Wall St. this week.
Its going to set the stage for the what happens in the financial services industry for the next 5-10 years. So strap on your seat belts, keep your liquid assets close to your chest and watch the saga unfold of human folly

Jerdon´s Courser

Very interesting to read about this rare nocturnal bird found nowhere else in the world except South Eastern India now.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Quote of the Day

Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on \
what to have for lunch.
Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Really Cool!

Google released a really cool thing today. Search for "India" (or anything else of historical interest to you) and see how the things in the past were viewed. This is the second release in a week from Google that I really liked. I started using Chrome (which is ultra cool for people like me) as my default browser.

Finally, for those of you getting overwhelmed by tasks and want a simple lightweight organizing tool, this is the best site I found in months (play with it for a while to see whats it got)

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Ultimatel Digital Machine

The Most Beautiful Machine is an idea of Claude E. Shannon.

In this special case the observers are supposed to push the ON button. After a while the lid of the trunk opens,a hand comes out and turns off the machine. The trunk closes - that's it!

Thursday, September 04, 2008


Its been a while. I was out back in India. Discovered that the best way to tour India is to give in rather than resist whats local at each area. Of course, this means you pay a price like getting sick among other things but thats still the way to go. Didnt meet as many people as I would like to but thats okay.