Monday, November 30, 2009

Profiting from other people's death

There are two kinds of people who profit from other people's death. The people conducting funeral services and the family getting insurance claims/inheritance. So what if you are not one of the above and still want to profit from someone's death? Here comes the concept of "Death bonds".
Let me explain the concept in simple words: If a guy buys insurance and dies, his family gets the money. Now what if the guy is desperate and just sells his insurance to someone else. Now, if that same old guy dies, the new holder of the insurance gets the money.

In death bonds, a lot of such insurances are bought from people to make a pool and parts of this pool are sold off to investors. So if you buy death bonds, it is profitable for you if the guys insured die within the time period of the life insurance. And since death of a few people will always occur in some probability, you are assured some returns always. I guess most finance guys will say CDO means collaterised debt obligation, but then this is a "collaterised death obligation" :P

After seeing the kind of money that the priests took for the funeral services, I realised that, if there ever was one sustainable business, that would be the "business of death". You are always in business till the last guy on earth perishes and then the whole world is yours.... hahaha
"Maut ka saudagar"....

Whats on people's mind?

The latest results of "Whats on People's mind?" update is here.
"How to hack into orkut accounts" is a new entrant of what people want to know in India...
The others are regular on the list of "how to" with "how to get pregnant" as always the topper of the list.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Benefits of social networking sites

One of the best things about the social networking sites is the birthday reminders. Not just the previous day, but at least 2 or 3 days in advance.
It gives enough time to friends to buy cake, presents, etc and also to warm up and get their shoes ready to kick some arse :)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

A historical perspective of Eunuchs

In today's encore excerpt - eunuchs, those castrated servants who performed a wide variety of functions for kings in ancient and more recent times. The special value of eunuchs (literally bed-keepers) to kings and other high-ranking officials was that they could be better trusted since they had no desire for the wives and other women of the court, did not have the distractions of family life, and were thought to have less ambition. Here we see eunuchs in the capital of Constantinople circa the fifth century CE:
"Eunuchs gave the palace at Constantinople a special atmosphere. They were men who had been sexually damaged by disease, accident, or deliberate mutilation. Mutilation, as horrible as it sounds, was not always or only conscious cruelty, inasmuch as eunuchry was a path to power and safety for the marginal or the vulnerable. One source speaks of the Abasgi outside Roman territory at the eastern end of the Black Sea (modern Abkhazia retains the name), whose king sold boys for castration and killed their parents. If the fatality rate on these castrations was about ninety-five percent, few cared, and the survivors might feel themselves lucky in many ways.
"So normal a part of the landscape did the eunuchs seem, and so easily was their involuntary sexual isolation compared with religiously approved abstinence, that in later times when exegetes read of the service of the prophet Daniel at Nebuchadnezzar's court, they naturally assumed - meaning it as a respectful interpretation - that he must have been a eunuch too. On a higher level, the angels and their sexlessness gave sexless males below a kind of respectability. The general Narses, who replaced Belisarius and finally brought grim peace to Italy for [the emperor] Justinian, was a eunuch. By the eighth century, a eunuch could even rise to the patriarchal throne in Constantinople.
"At the pinnacle of the household was the grand chamberlain, always a eunuch and thus supposedly without family interest to corrupt his service, responsible for every aspect of management and control. He supervised the silentiaries (court officials) with their golden wands, who offered discreet guidance and control to ensure that all would be orderly and impressive, and whose influence could thus incidentally mean a great deal. On retirement they were normally admitted to the senate."
James J. O'Donnell, The Ruin of the Roman Empire, Harper Collins, Copyright 2008 by James J. O'Donnell, pp. 200-201.

Cognitive miser

In today's excerpt - the human brain is a "cognitive miser"- it can employ several approaches to solving a given problem, but almost always chooses the one that requires the least computational power:

"We tend to be cognitive misers. When approaching a problem, we can choose from any of several cognitive mechanisms. Some mechanisms have great computational power, letting us solve many problems with great accuracy, but they are slow, require much concentration and can interfere with other cognitive tasks. Others are comparatively low in computational power, but they are fast, require little concentration and do not interfere with other ongoing cognition. Humans are cognitive misers because our basic tendency is to default to the processing mechanisms that require less computational effort, even if they are less accurate. Are you a cognitive miser? Consider the following problem, taken from the work of Hector Levesque, a computer scientist at the University of Toronto. Try to answer it yourself before reading the solution.

Problem: Jack is looking at Anne, but Anne is looking at George. Jack is married, but George is not. Is a married person looking at an unmarried person?
A) Yes
B) No
C) Cannot be determined

"More than 80 percent of people choose C. But the correct answer is A. Here is how to think it through logically: Anne is the only person whose marital status is unknown. You need to consider both possibilities, either married or unmarried, to determine whether you have enough information to draw a conclusion. If Anne is married, the answer is A: she would be the married person who is looking at an unmarried person (George). If Anne is not married, the answer is still A: in this case, Jack is the married person, and he is looking at Anne, the unmarried person. This thought process is called fully disjunctive reasoning - reasoning that considers all possibilities. The fact that the problem does not reveal whether Anne is or is not married suggests to people that they do not have enough information, and they make the easiest inference (C) without thinking through all the possibilities. Most people can carry out fully disjunctive reasoning when they are explicitly told that it is necessary (as when there is no option like 'cannot be determined' available). But most do not automatically do so, and the tendency to do so is only weakly correlated with intelligence.

"Here is another test of cognitive miserliness, as described by Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman and his colleague Shane Frederick.

"A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?

"Many people give the first response that comes to mind - 10 cents. But if they thought a little harder, they would realize that this cannot be right: the bat would then have to cost $1.10, for a total of $1.20. IQ is no guarantee against this error. Kahneman and Frederick found that large numbers of highly select university students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton and Harvard were cognitive misers, just like the rest of us, when given this and similar problems."

Keith E. Stanovich, "Rational and Irrational Thought: The Thinking That IQ Tests Miss," Scientific American, November/December 2009, pp. 35-36.


Art of Keeping Busy

Hiring Java candidates

Oh! Hiring

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Precious Time

"Time, tide and P&L wait for none"

Monday, November 23, 2009

Figure skating

Vision of Mankind 2

Referring to my previous post on the vision of mankind,, I think I have found a solution...
The vision of mankind is same as that of cockroaches. And that is to propagate and have continue the generations.

I think the cockroaches are better at risk management than all of mankind combined. They have survived for millions of years with just one technique: "When you sense risk, run like crazy". We human imbeciles haven't even learnt that well. The amount of humans dying/suffering as a ratio of total human population is greater than a similar proportion for cockroaches. The mighty cockroaches have survived metrorites, ice ages and what not.

Humans also just want to survive and keep propagating. They want to reduce the risk of dying and being extinct. So they started cultivating food to avoid starvation, started using fire to protect themselves from animals and from the cold, etc. One day, when the next ice age occurs or meteors strike, temp of earth reaches 50 degree celsius or water submerges all land, we may have technologies and ways to survive extinction.

Say for the next ice age of 100,000 years, humans may freeze themselves in machines and come out automatically when the ice age stops. We may genetically modify ourselves to breathe underwater or live in 60 degree celsius without being burnt.

Humankind sees the benefits of diversification. From experimenting with ligers and tigons, now we have gayism nad a few crimes of people mating with animals. What next? Interspecies mating? Maybe the human genes can get better with the diversification and a hardier gene pool with hardier characteristics for better survival for gene propagation.

Humans dont want to accept a simple reality of death of the human kind at some time. So the adventurous imbeciles keep doing something or another to change the reality. So far, so good imbeciles! But at the end of every millennium, you are no greater than a cockroach whose goal is to just survive and propagate its genes to the next generation.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

On the taxiway

Now, I am on the taxiway waiting for the other aircrafts to take off. Once the runway is clear off them, I hope to get the Air traffic Controller's permission to take off on the runway. But I dont know where to take the plane. I am happy that I have loaded the plane with enough of good stuff that will be useful to me for a long time. I know the plane will have to travel not only during the daylight, but also in the pitch of darkness and hopefully in the right direction. As of now, the plane is on its schedule to go to a maintenance hanger and wait there till some charter's the plane for use.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


We overestimate what we can achieve in a day and we underestimate what we can achieve in a year.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Family details

Dialogues with guns in hand

"When you have to shoot, shoot, don’t talk"

The Gaint Panda franchise

"Maybe the Giant Panda, a byword for endangered icons if ever there was one, is on safer ground. In the 1960s and '70s the nearly extinct creature, together with some acrobatic ping-pong players, emerged as a notable asset in the diplomatic arsenal of the beleaguered People's Republic. Much sought after by zoos worldwide, the pandas, especially females, were freely bestowed on deserving heads of state. The presentations were described as 'friendship gestures', and experimental breeding was encouraged as if a successful issue might somehow cement the political entente. But not any more. From sparse references in classic texts such as the 'Book of Documents' a pedigree of undoubted antiquity has been constructed for the panda and a standard name awarded to it. Now known as the Daxiongmao or 'Great Bear-Cat', its habits have been found sufficiently inoffensive to merit its promotion as a 'universal symbol of peace'; its numbers have stabilised, perhaps increased, thanks to zealous conservation; and lest anyone harbour designs on such a national paragon, no longer may Giant Pandas be expatriated. All are Chinese pandas. Foreign zoos may only lease them, the lease being for ten years, the rental fee around $2 million per annum, and any cubs born during the rental being deemed to inherit the nationality of their mother - and the same terms of contract. Like its piebald image as featured in countless brand logos, the Giant Panda has itself become a franchise."

John Keay, China, Basic Books, Copyright 2009 by John Keay, pp. 1-3.

For what?

What will you live for?
What will you die for?
What will you fight for?
What will you stand for?

Falling in love

Dont fall in love, rise in love!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Everybody hurts

Everybody hurts - R.E.M
A soul stirring song when you are down...
The video is more awesome than just the great lyrics.
Watch the video at:

When the day is long and the night, the night is yours alone,
When you're sure you've had enough of this life, well hang on
Don't let yourself go, 'cause everybody cries and everybody hurts sometimes

Sometimes everything is wrong. Now it's time to sing along
When your day is night alone, (hold on, hold on)
If you feel like letting go, (hold on)
When you think you've had too much of this life, well hang on

'Cause everybody hurts. Take comfort in your friends
Everybody hurts. Don't throw your hand. Oh, no. Don't throw your hand
If you feel like you're alone, no, no, no, you are not alone

If you're on your own in this life, the days and nights are long,
When you think you've had too much of this life to hang on

Well, everybody hurts sometimes,
Everybody cries. And everybody hurts sometimes
And everybody hurts sometimes. So, hold on, hold on
Hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on
Everybody hurts. You are not alone...


I know so many secrets about so many people (friends, roomies, cousins and family) and I feel happy that so many people trust me so much, but at times I feel it is complicating my life a little more. I have to be that much extra careful when I speak that I do not speak about the secret. Worse, I have to remember that I have to act innocent as if I didn't know certain things about a certain person's life. That is still ok. That is the easier part. Fortunately, all the secrets I know are directly from the people about themselves. The secrets that are the hardest to own and protect are leaked secrets - A secret that has been leaked to me as gossip. Then it is an open secret and any number of people could have known it. Bringing the knowledge of this secret in a discussion can make things go really bad. I am happy I don't get to know much of the juicy other's secrets. Secrets/Personal information coming from the very person are always much better than hearing the same through someone else(though it is far more interesting).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Time zone difficulties

It is difficult connecting to people across various time zones. Previously, while I was in Manila, I remembered that Pittsburgh is exact 12 hr behind and it was easy to chat with someone there knowing the time. Now after coming to India, I have moved 2.5hrs. Had to think to know what time it is in Pittsburgh while I am here. Now another complication, daylight savings...It has moved one hr... had to again figure out which way is that...When someone in Pittsburgh says I will come online and chat with you at a particular time on some date, I need to start calculating which day is it for me: is it the same  date or the next one(as I am ahead). Then calculate the time...Pretty complicated... Thankfully neither I or my friends move around countries... Else, my time warped life will be in a recursive time warp...which basically means going insane....

Life isnt about balance

"I have a belief that life isn't about balance, because balance is perfection....Rather, it's about catching the ball before it hits the floor.": Carol Bartz, CEO, Yahoo!

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination

J.K. Rowling, author of the best-selling Harry Potter book series, delivers her Commencement Address, “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination,” at the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


1. If you feel different than everyone else, thats probably because you are indeed different.Thats no crime and stop making excuses for yourself.

2. The mean things which you cried over would be a silly joke which will be quickly forgotten in a decade. And you would meet meaner people and will have meaner and vile things said and done to you. Chin up and smile.

3. The best friends you have now will be the ones whom you will turn to when you need someone the most. They might never understand you-but they will always be there.

4. Nobody is perfect,not even you.Forgive and forget.The Karma always gets back to you.

5. Your looks would be totally different 10 years down the line. So will be your thoughts, dreams and your outlook towards life and living.

6. You will see and learn things beyond your comprehension. So stop planning and worrying over the future. Life can never be planned.

7. Friends are friends. Regardless how gay,drugged,drunk or wicked they are. They bear with you, so you have to return the favour.

8. Save some of the childhood innocence tucked deep down. It will help you sharpen your charm sometime in life.

9. Accept failures. Your wins are not worthy without them.(And I ought to share this link-courtesy Cherian)

10. Eat, pray and love- The rest will work out fine.

Vision of Mankind

I realised the value of a vision or a dream sometime ago. Every individual and every organisation needs it so that it can continuously go forward and keep on its path and to overcome obstacles in times of difficulty. It gives a certain drive, motivation, energy and something to look forward to each day. So I wonder what is the vision of mankind as a whole? What does it want to achieve once all the infightings are sorted out or not?

One should read Scott Adams book "Gods Debris" and from there comes certain ideas... I can see things happening as predicted in that book. The world is coming together as a whole, especially with the help of the internet. People all over the world can come together and decide on various important topics staying far away. Internet unites everyone like nothing else has ever done before. It is a social fabric in a way intertwining everybody's life into it. And as more people use it, more people are going to spend sufficient amounts of time on the net. So what next? Similar to people vote in a country to choose elected representatives to solve people's problems, what will the people of the world come together to do? What is it that Humanity wants? What does the mankind look forward to? What is the vision of Human existence as a whole?

Do you have Guts?

The new Herbivore culture

The new 'girly' men culture of Japan: a new solution?

The good, the bad and the ugly

Today is the day for me to hear all three events from various quarters for me.
The good: A friend of mine got a job.
The bad: Got a cheated feeling by trusting some people.
The ugly: A friend did a very very bad thing against his gut feelings and is now repenting it badly.

Two to tango?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Of rich guys and pretty girls

Damn, I didn't keep a note of the pretty girl I once saw in an finance newspaper. If only, I was able to remember her beyond her beauty and remember exactly what she did or what her name was!

This girl has attracted the attention of a quiz master and now I cant answer the quiz question of who she is and what organisation she works for!!!

Lesson of the day: Keep a special note of the details of beautiful girls and rich guys!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Writing and reading

“There are two types of writers: those who make you think and those who make you dream” - Brian Aldiss

The writer has to be a good reader.  The kind that sticks to academic texts and does not read what others write (and here I’m not just talking about books but also blogs, newspaper columns and so on) will never know his own qualities and defects.

People always judge others using the model of their own limitations – and at times the opinion of the community is full of prejudices and fears.

Join those who sing, tell stories, enjoy life and have happiness in their eyes.  Because happiness is contagious and always manages to keep people from being paralyzed by depression, loneliness and troubles.

William Blake said: all that we write is the fruit of memory or the unknown.  If I can make a suggestion, respect the unknown and look there for your source of inspiration.  The stories and facts remain the same, but when you open a door in your unconscious and let yourself be led by inspiration you will see that the way to describe what you have lived or dreamt is always far richer when your unconscious is guiding the pen.

Two sides of a coin

I learnt a trick that is really useful for making decisions in this web world. Usually, when we don't understand a specific topic or want to know about something, we do a search of the topic in google or do the search on wiki. This is ok. But when you need information on topics that you going to make you decide on something important, this is not enough.

Eg: Say you are planning to buy a product made of Neem(a tree) for your family and assuming you didnt know about Neem before. Doing a google links gives wiki as the first link. I went through the page and understood all its benefits.
Now, does that mean I can just buy it and use it? Could there be any harmful effects of it?
So now I do a google for the words 'harmful neem' and I got multiple links saying the harmful effects of neem on children and on pregnant women.

This is my learning from my finance prof. Deepak Kapur: Do the google search as before and then do a google search with the contents "problems" along with the topic. The word problems/harmful effects, etc will give you the lesser known criticising view of the topic at hand. This tip/trick can be used to gauge the problems related to companies in the stock market to increasing your knowledge and for being more decisive and critical in your thinking.