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Just Shoot Me

Bala, 28, Gordon Gekko in the making, pseudo-intellectual, cynic, bibliophile, obsessive compulsive ranter...

Engines of God - Jack McDevitt

December 31, 2008

In the streets of Hau-kai, we wait.
Night comes, winter descends.
The lights of the world grow cold.
And, in this three-hundredth year from the ascendancy of Bilat,
He will come who treads the dawn,
Tramples the sun beneath his feet
And judges the souls of men.
He will stride across the rooftops.
And he will fire the engines of God.


Man goes to space. Finds a lot of dead alien civilisations. Apparently in all known worlds, civilisations rise and fall every eight thousand years. Every eight thousand years, something happens which wipes the slate clean. Among the ruins of one such dead world is the above inscription. What is killing whole worlds in the galaxy like clockwork? What does that mean for Earth? Can such a thing can be stopped if it takes a shot at Earth?. This is the premise of the sprawling science fiction series Engines of God by Jack McDevitt.

The sheer scale of the series is absolutely amazing. Forget character development, forget plot twists, forget writing style. Just the scale and scope of this series is enough for someone who likes to read science fiction. This series belongs to the Xeno-Archeology / Anthrolopological science fiction genre - sort of Jared Diamond in Space. There are six books in this series. This is a must read for anyone who likes science fiction.

PS:
sundar,
when i said this wasn't like Rendezvous with Rama i had read only the first book. Boy! was i wrong!!. The whole third book is a fanboy tribute to the the Rama series. I suspect there are a lot of tributes/homages to Clarke and other science fiction writers, but i read through them fast and have only vague suspicions. The second leisurely read through will reveal more.

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posted by Bala, 6:45 PM | link | 0 comments |

bringing Valluvar up to date

December 30, 2008

posted by Bala, 9:42 PM | link | 0 comments |

Unremitting suspicion

December 29, 2008

"WRITING about one of the great swindles of the 1930s, J.K. Galbraith pointed to three traits of any financial community that he believed put it at risk of fraud. There was the tendency, he wrote in 1961, to confuse good manners and good tailoring with integrity and intelligence. There was the sometimes “disastrous interdependence” between the honest man and the crook. And there was the “dangerous cliché that in the financial world everything depends on confidence. One could better argue the importance of unremitting suspicion.

So begins the latest editorial in The Economist on Bernie Madoff. Unremitting Suspicion - thats the key word here. If you are giving your money to someone else, be wary, be suspicious, assume the worst. A healthy amount of skepticism is always good for the investor. If i have learned anything from the finance industry in the past three years, it is not to trust anyone at their word. The whole "our word is our bond" approach just won't cut it anymore.
posted by Bala, 7:39 AM | link | 0 comments |

A plague on your houses..

December 24, 2008

for the idiots who worshiped at the altar of Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand:

I wish that you will lose your jobs..
i wish that you will lose your savings..
i wish that you will be forced to sell the organs of your dear ones..
i wish that you will lie in the streets dying of starvation, while dogs chew at your entrails..
i wish that you will be reborn in a stalinist paradise and spend your next life in a gulag salt mine.
i wish that the memory of your foul breed would vanish from this very earth..

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posted by Bala, 6:22 PM | link | 0 comments |

The Permabear misgivings

For the last two nights in a row, i have listened to tales of woe. Day before yesterday it was a junior from college, who is now at IIM A reporting the dearth of preplacement offers. Yesterday it was my small business owner uncle about getting the short end of the USD Vs INR trade. Just a couple of more sob stories coming out of the recession.

After a while, being a permabear sucks.

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posted by Bala, 8:35 AM | link | 0 comments |

Alone

December 22, 2008

Alone
Edgar Allan Poe

From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone....

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posted by Bala, 8:19 AM | link | 0 comments |

The Genius of Tamil..

December 18, 2008

is such that same word can be used to translate both "Cooperation" "Cooperative" and "Orgy" ;-)

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posted by Bala, 11:24 PM | link | 3 comments |

Q & A

December 17, 2008

Q : களவாணிப் பயல் சகவாசம் என்றால் என்ன?. எடுத்துக்காட்டுடன் விளக்குக.

A : Mr. X owns 9% of Company S and controls the management. He also owns about 90% of two uppuma/bongu/dappa companies. Mr.X suddenly decides that company S will buy the two dappa companies, for $1.6 billion. And it turns out Company S, has $1.5 Billion cash in hand. What a miraculous coincidence!!!. So in effect, Mr.X was writing a $1.3 billion cheque to himself with his shareholder's money. So, Dear Constant Reader, the people who can answer this question best are the people who own the rest of Company S. Last heard, they were standing in line to sell their shares of Company S.

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posted by Bala, 6:11 PM | link | 0 comments |

Getting weirder

December 16, 2008

I have started reading on an interesting new sub genre of science fiction - Xenoarchaeology and it is surprisingly good.
posted by Bala, 8:26 AM | link | 2 comments |

The dependents of the American auto industry

December 12, 2008


A few days back, i saw the above table in Paul Kedrosky's blog.

I didn't understand it. A 9x relationship with peripheral jobs seemed too much for a bunch of car makers. I have no experience in the manufacturing sector - spent all my career in service sector : 4 years in IT, 3 in Financial services. So i asked a friend who has worked for an auto ancillary company in Wisconsin to comment on this and he cleared things up for me. I have produced his explanation below:

--
Let's connect the dots:

a) Ford is an Auto company
b) Cummins is an engine manufacturer - some 30% of their business would be ford (30 as an example..but it would be a 2 digit number for sure)
c) Federal Mogul (FM) supplies piston rings for Cummins - 40% (40 - close to reality) of FM's business is Cummins.
d) FM's supplier foundry is a small business - Treat All Metals Inc. Treat all metal's 50% business is FM.
e) There are a lot of machine shops (mom and pop owned companies set in rural wisconsin) dependent on big companies like FM. I'm talking about 50% plus Nuts, Bolts manufacturers - these will depend on a lot of companies like FM
f) Warehouses that service FM are totally dependent on FM, as FM buys up space in bulk

Lets assume, Ford takes away one line of their vehicle - say, Ford Explorer. Cummins can't make engines for the Ford Explorer, FM can not make piston rings for Cummins, Treat all Metals loses the related foundry orders, the machine shops lose their FM business (which is their bulk of business) and the warehouses lose their sole customer.

-
Scary huh?. Thats just one of the big 3. Imagine what happens if all three (GM,Chrysler and Ford) go under. Now please excuse whilst i curl up in fetal position and whimper for my mommy..

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posted by Bala, 6:59 PM | link | 0 comments |

Situation Song

December 10, 2008

Situation: The Economist offers investment advice

Song:

குறுக்கு வழியில் வாழ்வு தேடிடும் குருட்டு உலகமடா
இது கொள்ளையாடிப்பதில் வல்லமை காட்டும் திருட்டு உலகமடா
தம்பி தெரிந்து நடந்து கொள்ளடா
இதயம் திருந்த மருந்து சொல்லடா
இதயம் திருந்த மருந்து சொல்லடா

இருக்கும் அறிவை மடமை மூடிய இருட்டு உலகமடா
வாழ்வில் எந்த நேரமும் சண்டை ஓயாத முரட்டு உலகமடா
தம்பி தெரிந்து நடந்து கொள்ளடா
இதயம் திருந்த மருந்து சொல்லடா

குறுக்கு வழியில் வாழ்வு தேடிடும் குருட்டு உலகமடா
இது கொள்ளையாடிப்பதில் வல்லமை காட்டும் திருட்டு உலகமடா
தம்பி தெரிந்து நடந்து கொள்ளடா
இதயம் திருந்த மருந்து சொல்லடா
இதயம் திருந்த மருந்து சொல்லடா


(பட்டுக்கோட்டை கல்யாணசுந்தரம், மகாதேவி)

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posted by Bala, 5:50 PM | link | 3 comments |

Anti-Terrorism strategy

December 01, 2008

Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent

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posted by Bala, 8:24 PM | link | 6 comments |