Moved my site from Windows Spaces to WordPress

Spent a couple of days’ morning hours to make that great retreat to wordpress. Couldn’t get my URL and had to settle for My happy capture of personal impressions continues on this space.

I just don’t like the default theme options and is not so simple and minimalistic as windows spaces and I like the boxy, simple and neat whitish layout. Have to further research and spend some dollars to get that I suppose!


2 devices I’m after before this xmas….

I’ve zeroed in on Samsung i8700 aka Omnia 7 as my next windows phone after I lost my Xperia windows 6.5 device. Hope to master latest OS goodies and start my experiment to develop some app as a pastime if time permits. After painstaking review read and comparisons and a quick visit to Singtel Hello store which only had a LG Optimus 7, decided for Omnia 7 in the end given its popularity in andriod with Galaxy S device. Omnia 7 is remake of Galaxy S and that’s my guess. Waiting for the device to hit the ground….not yet. Windows phone 7 cloud backup is one feature certainly I’d be using fully as I feel the pain when I lost my device with all data without full backup.

The other important device I’m looking for is the Kindle 3. Surfed to understand how to get the kindle in Singapore in Again waiting for my virtual credit card from US to splurge on this device. I plan to load all classics out there and read them.

Count Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy

Tolstoy by Henri Troyat  (translation in English) is a fantastic and intimate story on one of our greatest literary giants. His life revolves around his Yasnaya Polyana estate & Moscow, and this thick book gives an erudite & riveting rendering of his life events, step by step. You get a glimpse of how War & Peace, Anna Karenina and The Cossacks came into form and became legendary pieces and also understand how the author attempted to enter sainthood albeit partially and produced world famous essays. The independence movement of various countries were influenced by his essay “The Kingdom of God is within you” and I’m longing to read this in my future e-reader, haven’t decided which one to go for, a Kindle 3 or Sony.

As I was savoring this book on my commutes except for a gripe, heavy to hold, I was literally transported to Yasnaya Polyana, Moscow and his various haunts. Indeed 2 hours of unadulterated happy read time while infusing his bits of knowledge and ideas into me by peeking into his entire life. I looking forward to read his classic essays – non fiction items.

More Geek’s Speak

Speed of a jet:
Hold your palm at arms length and look with one eye and count how long does it take for the plane to pass behind your hand. You’ll find it about 5 seconds. Your palm is 4 to 5 inches across and you’ll be holding it 3 feet away from your eye. The jet is at 30,000 feet, its cruising altitude, you might have heard the pilot saying it after it had completed its ascent. Thus plane is 10,000 times as far as your hand. Plane had to travel 10,000 palm widths to appear to cross your hand. That’s 10000 x 4 = 40000 inches. Plane travelled 40,000 inches in 5 seconds. There are 3600 seconds in an hour, 12 inches in a foot, 5280 feet in a mile. So its speed must be 40,000 / 12x5280x3600 = 454 mph.

Something similar to computing the distance of the cloud during a thunderstorm, you start timing the seconds from a lightening strike to hear the thunder sound, say it’s 10 seconds. Sound travels @ 300+ meters / second. Then the cloud must be 300 x 10 = 3000 meters i.e. 3 Kilometers away from you.

Weight of electrons to service US electricity needs:
Electric current is flow of atomic particles called electrons – elementary science. Question is what is the weight of electrons has been delivered from U.S. power stations today? strictly the answer is none. For AC current, electric field is reversed 50 times and hence no net flow of electrons. In DC current, same effect, electrons move backward and forward a very short distance without, on average, making overall shift in either direction. However, what you could count is the number of electrons that just enter and just leave the power station.
One electron can carry a charge of 1.6e-19 units of electrical charge (proved by Robert Millikan). An electric current of 1 amp is a flow rate of one unit of electrical charge each second; it is carried by 1/1.6e-19 = 6.24e18 electrons per second. A current of 1 amp running for 1 hour would transfer 6.24e18 x 3600 = 2.2e22 electrons. Daily consumption of electricity in U.S. is 11 billion kWh. If you divide this by voltage (electrical power = voltage x amps), you get average current of 200 million amps for 24 hours every day. The number of electrons that flow in a 1 amp for 1 hour is 2.2e22 electrons, so total daily electron flow to the nation is 2.2e22 x 200e6 x 24 = 1.05e32 electrons. One electron has a tiny mass of 9.1e-31kg. Now multiply mass times no. of electrons, i.e. 9.1e-31 x 1.05e32 = 96 kg – weight of big man.

GeekSpeak – SpeakGeek

Fun and thoughtful read after lots of books, Dr. Graham Tattersall has done a wonderful speak of the geeks. Made the though scientific observations and calculations palatable for the common unscientific folks. Those that attracted me:

  • Top 3 fingerprint words in women’s conversation: she, her, said. Men’s top 3: f***ing, er, the
  • We never spell the stop consonant pp in the word A”pp”le
  • 746 watts = 1 hp, 75 watts bulb = 1/10 hp, i.e. need one horse turning a windlass connected to a electrical generator could light 10 such bulbs. Without fossile fuel, unit of power might be the “slave” and if a slave = 1/10hp, car has a 600 slave engine, water heater is rated at 40 slaves, fridge one slave – i.e. a slave needed to pedal a generator 24/7 to keep the food cold.
  • >60%of the energy from burning gas in your car is wasted
  • House harmony: An aesthetically pleasing window has a height of 1.618 times greater than its width
  • there are 4.1 billion people accessible through a chain of 6 links: if you know 40 people on an average, 6 links lead you to: 40 power 6 = 4.1 billion, so you may link to Obama or Queen
  • A 10 digit phone number can connect to anyone on earth: 1…9 for first number and rest 9 digits can be…10, hence roughly 10 power 10 = 10 billion phone users, this applies to telephone switching too
  • A man weighs 200 pounds at north pole would weigh 2.5 ounces less at teh equator: at north pole no upward flinging force whereas at equator this deducts a small amount from gravitational pull, hence weight loss
  • Britain to North America communication via satellite takes 1/4 sec = signal distance / speed, 50K miles up & down divided by speed of light 186K miles per second = 0.26, whereas by cable distance is only 3000 miles, hence time taken is 0.03 sec – so cable is faster with least lag time
  • On average, each dollar in the US economy is used every 36 days: Money Speed X Money Supply = GDP, US GDP is 13 trillion, money supply is 1.3 trillion usd, gives 10 as money speed, which means that each dollar is used 10 times per year, once every 36 days
  • Can you tell the weight of bus looking at the tire pressure? tire is 8 inch wide and tire pressing the road is 12 inch long, hence the area is 96 sq. inch. If the inflation pressure of the tire is 56 pounds per sq inch, then the flattened area’s air pressure touching the road is enough to support bus weight, hence total outward pressure = 96×56 ~= 100×50 = 5000 pounds, if it has 4 wheels, 4 x 5000 = 20K pounds, i.e. 10 tons (1 ton = 2000 pounds)
  • If present population trend continues (population doubles every half a century in the last 2 centuries) in 400 years time, there’ll be 1000 sq. feet of land left for each person: World’s area (60 million sq. miles) / 1000 sq. feet plot = 1.5 trillion plots, world’s population to grow to 1.5 trillion, you need 8 half centuries, as you double up from 6.6 billion from now

The four-letter word of independence

I loved this paragraph in the book “The Black Swan” by NNT and I’d grab the opportunity to follow in his footsteps if a black swan presents me with financial independence and it highlights the single minded focus, unperturbed attention to write a masterpiece while having the financial independence taking care the economic needs. Here it is, verbatim: 

Bonus from financial companies are f*** you money that can make you act like Victorian gentleman, free from slavery. So I stayed in the quant and trading business but organized myself to do minimal but intense (and entertaining) work, focus only on technical aspects, never attend to business “meetings”, avoid the company of “achievers” and people in suits who don’t read books, and take sabbatical every 3 on the average to fill up gaps in my scientific and philosophical culture. To slowly distill my single idea, I wanted to become a professional mediator, sit cafes, lounge, unglued to desks and organization structures, sleep as long as I needed, read voraciously, and not owe any explanations to anybody. I wanted to be left alone in order to build, small steps at a time, an entire system of thought based on my Black Swan idea

Spills on butchering The Black Swan

A black swan incident is identified by the following: it is an outlier, it carries an extreme impact and it concocts explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable. In summary, characterized by rarity, extreme impact and retrospective predictability.
NNT disagrees with Marx & Adam Smith – The reason free markets work is they allow people to be lucky, Thanks to aggressive trial and error, not by giving rewards or “incentives” for skill. The strategy is, then,  to tinker as much as possible and try to collect as many black swans opportunities as you can.

Readers despise writers who pander them
Scalable jobs: unlike dentist, prostitute, barber and butcher  but like a entrepreneur, CEO, businessman – the inequity comes when someone is perceived as being marginally better gets the whole pie. In art, talent comes from success, rather than its opposite

Mediocristan and Extremistan
Former: height, weight, income of a baker, prostitute, gambling profits, car accidents.
Latter: wealth, income, book sales per author, damage caused by earthquake, deaths in war, financial markets

Nero, the fictional trader’s advice
World is of two categories: some are like turkey, exposed to major blowup without being aware of it and while others play reverse turkey, prepared for big events that might surprise others In some strategies and life situations, you gamble dollars to win succession of pennies while appearing to be winning all the time. In others  you risk a succession of pennies to win dollars:- I’d like to be latter and wait for a black swan to happen….financially and in life and never curtail that self learning and perseverance qualities.

Nihil Perditi
Seneca was a great teacher of and practitioner of stoicism, who transformed Stoicism from metaphysical and theoretical discourse to practical and moral program of living, a way to reach summum bonum, an untranslatable expression depicting a life of supreme qualities, as perceived by Romans. Stoicism is about dealing with loss, and finding ways to overcome our loss aversion – how to become less dependent on what you have. In Seneca’s Epistle IX, Stilbo’s country was captured by Demetrius, called the Sacker if Cities. Stilbo’s children and his wife were killed. Stilbo was asked what his losses were. Nihil perditi, I have lost nothing, he answered. My goods are all with me. The man has reached stoic self-sufficiency, the robustness to adverse events.

Black Swan robust Society

What to do with fourth quadrant
Phronetic rules (in the Aristotelian sense of phronesis, decision making wisdom): What is wise to do (or not to do) on real life to mitigate the fourth quadrant (black swan area) if you can’t barbell? –>

  • Have respect for time and non-demonstrative knowledge: things that have worked for long time are preferable
  • Avoid optimization; learn to love redundancy – redundancy (in terms of having savings and cash under the mattress) is the opposite of debt. Also buy insurance to robustify it.
  • Avoid small probability payoffs – though not necessarily from ordinary ones, payoffs from remote events are more difficult to predict
  • Beware moral hazard with bonus payments – It’s optimal to make a series of bonuses by betting on hidden risks in 4th quadrant, then blow up and write thank-you letter. This applies to bankers and company executives
  • Avoid some risk metrics
  • Do not confuse absence of volatility with absence of risks
  • Beware of presentation of risk numbers