Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Status Update: New ipod

Yours truly is the owner of a new ipod, courtesy of Deutsche Bank. Won an internal competition inviting ideas for "living green" as part of Earth Day. I think this idea has some serious legs and could be implemented bank-wide. Lets see how the thing progresses...

Quantity vs. Quality

"Quantity Has A Quality All Its Own"
-- Lenin

Can apply to so many things... Offshore engineering, The Sherman vs. Tiger etc etc...

Ramblings for 2008-04-29

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Ramblings for 2008-04-28

Monday, April 28, 2008

Rambings for 2008-04-26

Ramblings for 2008-04-25

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Born to kill

"I can tell you the license plate numbers of all six cars outside. I can tell you that our waitress is left-handed, and that the guy sitting up at the counter weighs 215 pounds and knows how to handle himself. I know the best place to look for a gun is the cab of the gray truck outside, and at this altitude, I can run flat out for a half-mile before my hands start shaking. Now why would I know that? How can I know that and not know who I am?"
-- Jason Bourne


"Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage's whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men."
-- Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

Friday, April 25, 2008

Choose life

"Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourselves. Choose your future. Choose life... But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life. I chose somethin' else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you've got heroin?"
-- Opening lines from "Trainspotting"

Long list of things that have to go right

"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
-- Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, Chapter 1, first line

A very interesting application of this principle came in Jared Diamond's very interesting book - Guns, Germs and Steel. Why is it that very few ancient cultures were able to master domestication of animals (especially horses) while almost all cultures had some form of agriculture? Because, to domesticate an animal, a long list of things had to go right -
-- Having surplus food to feed animals
-- Having access to animals with the right temperament (You cant domesticate bears)
etc etc

Just like so many things need to be done right to create a happy family...

Ramblings for 2008-04-24

Ramblings for 2008-04-23

Tackling problems

"This is nothing. This is nothing. Piece of cake, walk in the park. This is nothing"
-- Dustin Hoffman as movie producer Stanley Motss in the movie "Wag the Dog"

PSP: The tipping point

It seems every 2nd person under the age of 18 on the train is engrossed in their PSP. And quite a few office-goers too... Has the PSP crossed the tipping point into mass usage?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

You really think Nike is THE sneaker brand?

Yeah, I am the prick who will turn his nose up if you tell me you run in your Adidas/Nike/Puma...

If you are doing any serious amount of running, the best advice that I can give you from my experience is to get the right pair of Asics for your feet. Seriously. It is outrageously expensive, but totally worth it.

Long-distance running was never something I did before I came to Singapore for my university studies. Initially I adopted typical Indian cost-cutting strategies and got a pair of "Power" shoes from Bata. Gave it up after the first run. I could feel my feet pounding the pavement hard every single step.

Key thing to consider for running shoes (as well as for anything) is value. It is ok to spend a bit more on good running shoes as your legs are more important than the marginal extra cost you need to spend.

Next in line were Adidas and Nike. They seemed ok. No problems when running. Thats the problem here. They are good enough... So you never notice anything short term. But they never felt great. Over many years, they can do some damage to your knee...

Recently, I started getting a niggling pain in my knee every time I ran more than 50 mins etc. A colleague referred me to Asics. (My first comment was "Asics? I thought it was pronounced Basics??") Looking at the proce of S$220, I blanched initially. Then did some research on the web and found out that this was THE shoe for running.

But you need to get the right Asics for your feet. This will be based on normal-feet/flat-feet as well as a concept called Pronation/Supination. You have to find out what feet type you have based on these 2 variables. Each Asics model is meant for a particular feet-type. So before plunking down 200 dolls on a pair, please make sure you understand your feet type.

In Singapore, you can go to Federer Sports in Peninsular Plaza (Level 2). The proprieter - Jimmy - is somebody who is passionate about running, and will examine your feet and recommend the right Asics model. I have had some very good experience with him. Completely different from the fuckin businesswalla's in Queensway. Jimmy is more expensive by around 20$, but again, it is worth it. He will also provide a warranty, which is difficult from the assholes at Queensway. Also you can try out the shoes and run a short while in Peninsular Plaza to see if you like the initial feel.

I plunked down 220$ on the Gel-Nimbus 9. Jimmy had recommended a less expensive model, but LOL, I couldn't resist the lure of wearing the "World Shoe of the Year 2007". And believe me, these things are worth 500$ to me... Only when you run in an Asics will you understand what you have been missing all these years. You hardly feel any impact when your heel impacts the ground.

So in short, when getting a running shoe:
-- Know your feet-type
-- Don't go by aesthetics (Get another shoe for going out)
-- Get an Asics


"Be the change you want to see in the world"
-- Gandhi


"You can lead a whore to culture, but you can't make her think."
-- Dorothy Parker's answer when asked to use the word horticulture during a game of Can-You-Give-Me-A-Sentence?

UBS explain how they screwed up

UBS published their shareholder report detailing how they got shafted so badly with mortgage bonds. Seems to be a pretty honest appraisal.

Download the report here (pdf link on right side of page)

The higlights:
-- 66% of losses from CDO warehousing
-- 16% of losses from trading by Dillon Read (UBS-owned hedge fund)
-- 10% of losses from cash-collateral trading

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The concept remains the same, the materials have evolved

The world's first condom, dating back to 1640, and displayed at a museum in Austria currently.

via this site...
"The reusable condom dates back to 1640 and is completely intact, as is its orginal users’ manual, written in Latin. The manual suggests that users immerse the condom in warm milk prior to its use to avoid diseases. The antique, found in Lund in Sweden, is made of pig intestine and is one of 250 ancient objects related to sex on display at the Tirolean County Museum in Austria this summer."

Ramblings for 2008-04-22


"When a defining moment comes along, you define the moment or the moment defines you"
-- From the movie "Tin Cup"

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Close encounters of the LOL kind

Was walking along Robinson Road today when I saw a poser draped in this...

Some really great pics of the Taj

Truly beautiful... I have never been to the Taj Mahal, and looking at the pics, I used to wonder what the big deal was. Now I get it...

via Amit Ranjan

Ramblings for 2008-04-21

The human spirit, redux

"The human spirit can overcome many things. Little things like fear... and even big things…like gravity"
-- Olympics promo trailer

One of the ads that really grasp at you to go out and do great things. The video had these words in a voice-over as a ski-jumper leaps off...

B-52 giant scale model

Posting about that F-16 scale model reminded me of this monster 1:20 B-52 scale model that I had seen on youtube quite sometime back. I first heard of it when reading an article about the miniature jet engines from Wren used to power this monster.

The B-52 is simply the most beautiful plane IMHO. It is graceful, elegant, functional and cheap. First deployed in 1952, it is planned to form the backbone of the US bomber command till 2040. There can be no better validation of an airplane than this.

The B-52 entered popular culture thru the film Dr. Strangelove. The film was so realistic in depicting the B-52 and its nuclear deterrent operations that Stanley Kubrick was investigated by the FBI. As shown in the film, for a long time, the US Strategic Air Command did have a fleet of B-52's airborne at all times, ready to strike into the Soviet Union on command.

Anyway, enjoy this masterpiece in scale model engineering. Too bad the pilot was not as good as the engineers :-(

The human spirit

"There Is No Gene For The Human Spirit"
-- Gattaca

Monday, April 21, 2008

Law and Justice

"Unlike my brother judge here, who is concerned with the law, I am concerned with justice."
-- Alfred Thompson Denning

F-16 scale model with afterburner

via Jeremy Zawodny... A scale model F-16 with a miniature jet engine fitted with an afterburner!!

A few years back, when in London on business, I bought some scale model kits from the Imperial War Museum for my lil sis... To get her introduced to the creative side... LOL, she took one look at it and made it clear that I would be getting creative... In order not to waste the 40 pounds on these things, I spent the next 2 weeks carefully piecing together the HMS Ark Royal and a Lancaster bomber and slowly going mad. I have done a lot of tedious monotonous tasks in my lifetime, but this one took the cake. Since I wince every time I hear about a Lancaster bomber on the Discovery channel, I believe I haven't recovered yet...

So i salute the skill, dedication and concentration of the chaps who built, tested and troubleshooted this thing and managed to land it without crashing...

Ramblings for 2008-04-20

Late night thought of the day

"All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others."
-- Animal Farm (Author: George Orwell)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ramblings for 2008-04-19

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Ramblings for 2008-04-18

Late night thought of the day

Schadenfreude SHOD-n-froy-duh\ -
Intense pleasure you feel when you see two Mercedes Benz 's collide.


Was watchin VH1 today, and this came on... Hadn't listened to it in such a long time. One of the great songs of the 90s IMHO... Here's Extreme with "More than Words".

Friday, April 18, 2008

Datapoint of the day: Foreign reserves in oil terms

In 2003, oil prices were at US$25/barrel.
China's foreign reserves were US$ 400 billion.
China's foreign reserves in oil terms = 16 billion barrels

Today, oil prices are US$115/barrel.
China's foreign reserves are US$ 1.6 trillion.
Foreign reserves in oil terms = 14 billion barrels

Leadership and failure

via an email forward...

Former President of India APJ Abdul Kalam : 'A Leader Should Know How to Manage Failure'

India Knowledge@Wharton: Could you give an example, from your own experience, of how leaders should manage failure?

Kalam: Let me tell you about my experience. In 1973 I became the project director of India's satellite launch vehicle program, commonly called the SLV-3. Our goal was to put India's "Rohini" satellite into orbit by 1980. I was given funds and human resources -- but was told clearly that by 1980 We had to launch the satellite into space. Thousands of people worked Together in scientific and technical teams towards that goal.

By 1979 -- I think the month was August -- we thought we were ready. As The project director, I went to the control center for the launch. At four minutes before the satellite launch, the computer began to go through the checklist of items that needed to be checked. One minute later, the computer program put the launch on hold; the display showed that some control components were not in order. My experts -- I had four or five of them with me -- told me not to worry; they had done their calculations and there was enough reserve fuel. So I bypassed the computer, switched to manual mode, and launched the rocket. In the first stage, everything worked fine. In the second stage, a problem developed. Instead of the satellite going into orbit, the whole rocket system plunged into the Bay of Bengal. It was a big failure.

That day, the chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization, Prof. Satish Dhawan, had called a press conference. The launch was at 7:00 am, And the press conference -- where journalists from around the world were Present -- was at 7:45 am at ISRO's satellite launch range in Sriharikota [in Andhra Pradesh in southern India]. Prof. Dhawan, the leader of the organization, conducted the press conference himself. He took responsibility for the failure -- he said that the team had worked very hard, but that it needed more technological support. He assured the media that in another year, the team would definitely succeed. Now, I was the project director, and it was my failure, but instead, he took responsibility for the failure as chairman of the organization.

The next year, in July 1980, we tried again to launch the satellite -- And this time we succeeded. The whole nation was jubilant. Again, there was A press conference. Prof. Dhawan called me aside and told me, "You conduct The press conference today."

I learned a very important lesson that day. When failure occurred, the leader of the organization owned that failure. When success came, he gave it to his team. The best management lesson I have learned did not come to me from reading a book; it came from that experience.

Ramblings for 2008-04-17

Late night thought of the day

“You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.”
-- Leon Trotsky

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ramblings for 2008-04-16

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Ramblings for for 2008-04-15

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Links for 2008-04-14 []

Scenic tree-lined mountain road

From Digg. Click on pic for larger version...

Pretty please... with sugar on top. Clean the fucking car

I used to be like this chap...

The last part of this video is one of my favorite parts of the movie...
The Wolf
: Jimmie, lead the way. Boys, get to work.
: A please would be nice.
The Wolf
: Come again?
: I said a please would be nice.
The Wolf
: Get it straight buster - I'm not here to say please, I'm here to tell you what to do and if self-preservation is an instinct you possess you'd better fucking do it and do it quick! I'm here to help - if my help's not appreciated then lotsa luck, gentlemen.
: No, Mr. Wolf, it ain't like that...
: I don't mean any disrespect, I just don't like people barking orders at me.
The Wolf
: If I'm curt with you it's because time is a factor. I think fast, I talk fast and I need you guys to act fast if you wanna get out of this. So, pretty please... with sugar on top. Clean the fucking car!