Saturday, April 27

NPR Code Switch | When Our Kids Own America

You listen to Eminem son. So thought you might find this interesting. I don't understand music. That entire art for me is a bit foreign but from a sociological and anthropological perspective it's a bit interesting :) 



NPR Code Switch | When Our Kids Own America

Oakland, Calif., is two time zones away from Brooklyn Park and a whole continent away from Harlem. It could either be a utopian vision of some multiculti urban future or its dystopian, post-industrial present. For a long time, Oakland was the cultural anchor on the West Coast for black Americans. If Harlem gave us the Cotton Club and the Harlem Renaissance, then Oakland gave us the Black Panthers (and thus the modern gun rights movement) and a groundbreaking resolution on Ebonics. Oakland’s black population, tiny before World War II, exploded largely due to an influx of workers at the city’s shipyards, and eventually composed nearly half the city.

But now white people make up the biggest group — Oakland’s 34 percent white, 28 percent black, 25 percent Latino, and 17 percent Asian. It’s one of the few cities in the country with significant populations of several major racial groups. It’s become a haven for young, skinny-jeaned, creative-class types — Forbes recently named the Uptown section one of the 10 best hipster neighborhoods in the country — all while the city has remained pretty violent. Although black people make up just over a quarter of the city’s population, they made up three-fourths of its homicides in 2012. Meanwhile, local television news crews are spending less time on the streets reporting on those crimes because their equipment keeps being stolen. It’s a city with neighborhoods on alternate timelines.

Coming Thursday, April 18: A story by Shereen Marisol Meraji about the demographic shift in Oakland, focusing on developments in the city’s Uptown neighborhood.

The aforementioned Uptown used to be a hub of black life in the city. But today …

Friday, April 26

Democracy and Terrorism - Percolator

An interesting thesis son. And makes sense. The rise of the far right in the uk and other European countries is an indication of how all this intellectual and civilising aspects of European culture can be torn away quite easily. 

One to remember and will be useful for your essay. Terrorism and wars have an economic cost! 



Democracy and Terrorism - Percolator - The Chronicle of Higher Education

erica chenoweth

Erica Chenoweth, U. of Denver

San Francisco — If you’re looking for a conversation starter, calling your next book “Why Democracy Encourages Terrorism” would probably work. The idea behind the provocative title goes like this: Democracy allows interest groups and political parties to flourish, which then leads to competition. Among those groups that feel most marginalized in the ensuing din, some take extreme measures in the pursuit of attention.

In other words, the conventional wisdom that democracy is the antidote to terrorism—because it provides outlets for people’s grievances—is completely wrong.

Thursday, April 25

National panics

National panics are fascinating phenomena. When princess Diana died, the entire country went into a kind of soppy meltdown like pukeworthy. Every country goes through this kind of scare son. It can be because of celebrities or war or sickness or terrorism or sports or whatever. Multiple causes but as I've told you many times, never follow the crowd. Stay outside or on the outskirts. Mentally and physically. Be not the sheep but the sheepdog. Or the farmer if you will. Or better still the lamb meat buyer. If you excuse me stretching the point. Then you can be safe and if lucky profit :) all the time having the benefit of laughing at these headless chickens.

by the way, you should read this book, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. Its free, published in 1841. I was given this book when I first started trading in London. Its required reading for all traders and participants in the financial markets. It talks about how populations panic. Brilliant stuff. Here’s a free copy.



SMH Blog

[Cross-posted at Airminded.]

I learned something new from an article in the March 2013 issue of History Today:

Exactly half a century ago, in the spring of 1963, Israel was suddenly gripped by a curious mass panic. Sensational newspaper reports and radio announcements claimed that the country was threatened by enemy ‘atom bombs’, ‘fatal microbes’, ‘poison gases’, ‘death rays’ and a ‘cobalt warhead’ that could ‘scatter radioactive particles over large areas’. Within hours, opinion in the entire country had been ignited. Parliamentary debates, everyday conversations, even songs and poems were all preoccupied obsessively with the same theme — that Israel was confronted by the imminent threat of another Holocaust, less than two decades after the first.

The source of this supposedly dire foreign menace was not Iran, nor the Soviet Union, although superpower tension at this stage in the Cold War was certainly intense. The perceived threat instead emanated from Egypt, which over the past decade had been led by the supremely charismatic and populist military officer, 44-year-old President Gamal Abdul [sic] Nasser.

Several months before, in the early hours of July 21st, 1962 Nasser had stunned the world by successfully test-firing a number of rockets. Specially-invited contingents of foreign journalists and cameramen had been driven to a remote spot deep in the Egyptian desert, not far from the central Cairo-Alexandria highway. They watched as a massive explosion shook the ground and a white missile lifted itself from a camouflaged position, a short distance in front of them. As one American correspondent wrote: ‘It pierced a long, white cloud and later, in plain view, slowly arched to the north towards the Mediterranean.’ Over the next few hours three more launches were carried out in quick succession before the journalists returned home, amid scenes of jubilation from ecstatic crowds. The Egyptian public had heard the news when a special announcement, broadcast on a national public holiday, announced on government radio that Egypt had ‘entered the missile age’.

Wednesday, April 24

Lost in the Meritocracy

This is a fascinating personal account of how a boy learnt how to learn. For the first time. You will be leaving for uni next year. But that necessarily doesn't mean that you learn there son. I barely squeaked through my first degree. But it was only after my accident that I started learning. 

But do experiment in uni son. That's where you can make mistakes and not suffer too much. It's fun as well. It's the mistakes which we make which perhaps have the bigger learning potential.



Lost in the Meritocracy - Walter Kirn - The Atlantic

Continue to the


January/February 2005

How I traded an education for a ticket to the ruling class

Walter Kirn Jan 1 2005, 12:00 PM ET

On the bus ride down to St. Paul to take the test that will help determine who will get ahead in life, who will stay put, and who will fall behind, two of my closest buddies seal their fates by opening pint bottles of cherry schnapps the moment we leave the high school parking lot. They hide the liquor under their varsity jackets and monitor the driver’s rearview mirror for opportune moments to duck their heads and swig. A girl sees what they’re up to, mutters, “Morons,” and goes back to shading in the tiny ovals in her Scholastic Aptitude Test review book. She dated one of the guys a few months back, but lately she’s grown serious, ambitious; I’ve heard that she hopes to practice law someday and prosecute companies that pollute the air. When she notices one of the bottles coming my way, she shoots me a look of horror.

“No, thanks,” I say.

My friends seem wounded by this—aren’t we teammates? We play baseball and football together. We go way back. In our high school class there are only fifteen boys, and every summer some of us camp out by the river and cannonball from the cliffs into the current. We talk as though we’ll be together forever, though I’ve always known better: Someday we’ll be ranked. Someday we’ll be screened and then separated. I’ve known this since my first day of kindergarten, when I raised my hand slightly faster than the other kids—and waved it around to make sure the teacher saw it.

My buddies give me another chance to drink.

“Put that away, guys. Today is a big deal for us.”

But they know this already—they just don’t like the fact.

“Come on,” one says. “A sip.”

“I’m sorry. No.”

And so I go on to college, and they don’t.

Percentile is destiny in America.

Tuesday, April 23

What’s in a name? actually quite a lot

Shakespeare said…

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

But poor man was living in a different world, nowadays, the name of the company has a big impact on its performance. See this paper.

Research from psychology suggests that people evaluate fluent stimuli more favorably than similar information that is harder to process. Consistent with fluency affecting investment decisions, we find that companies with short, easy to pronounce names have higher breadth of ownership, greater share turnover, lower transaction price impacts, and higher valuation ratios. Corporate name changes increase fluency on average, and fluency-improving name changes are associated with increases in breadth of ownership, liquidity, and firm value. Name fluency also affects other investment decisions, with fluently named closed-end funds trading at smaller discounts and fluent mutual funds attracting greater fund flows.

An example that they quote is:

Practically speaking, when choosing from among drug manufacturers, people could instinctively feel more comfortable investing in a name such as “Forest Laboratories” than the less fluent “Allergan Ligand Retinoid Therapeutics.”

Hmmm, i wonder what that will mean to the financial institutions that i know and love? lol

Monday, April 22

Sari bich nari hai ki nari bich sari hai

I read this here.


In his 1872 short story “Dr. Ox’s Experiment,” Jules Verne mentions a curious tradition of marriage within the Van Tricasse family:

From 1340 it had invariably happened that a Van Tricasse, when left a widower, had remarried a Van Tricasse younger than himself; who, becoming in turn a widow, had married again a Van Tricasse younger than herself; and so on, without a break in the continuity, from generation to generation. Each died in his or her turn with mechanical regularity. Thus the worthy Madame Brigitte Van Tricasse had now her second husband; and, unless she violated her every duty, would precede her spouse — he being ten years younger than herself — to the other world, to make room for a new Madame Van Tricasse.

Is this a series of distinct marriages — or one immortal union?

reminded me of the old hindi quote, sari bich nari hai ki nari bich sari hai, sari hai ki nari hai…an immortal union…

Then related to that is the complicated relationship which Mark Twain mentioned:

Many many years ago when I was twenty three,
I got married to a widow who was pretty as could be.
This widow had a grown-up daughter
Who had hair of red.
My father fell in love with her,
And soon the two were wed.

This made my dad my son-in-law
And changed my very life.
My daughter was my mother,
For she was my father's wife.

To complicate the matters worse,
Although it brought me joy,
I soon became the father
Of a bouncing baby boy.

My little baby then became
A brother-in-law to dad.
And so became my uncle,
Though it made me very sad.

For if he was my uncle,
Then that also made him brother
To the widow's grown-up daughter
Who, of course, was my step-mother.
Father's wife then had a son,
Who kept them on the run.

And he became my grandson,
For he was my daughter's son.
My wife is now my mother's mother
And it makes me blue.

Because, although she is my wife,
She's my grandmother too.
If my wife is my grandmother,
Then I am her grandchild.

And every time I think of it,
It simply drives me wild.
For now I have become
The strangest case you ever saw.
As the husband of my grandmother,
I am my own grandpa!