Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Good days for test cricket!

Finally, he got the hint, the idea, the subtlety and everything.

Dhoni has retired. From Tests. A pretty non-brilliant affair and good that he moved.

Now on the cricket. Tests, that is. Hopeful of more close fights and good tests. Both @home and @away


Nice article from WOTR about whats what.

Truly worth reading if one wants to get an understanding of what really AILS Pakistan by thinking about Islamism the way they do.

BTW, I did see another article by Rakesh Sood a few days back which was pretty much incisive and cutting too.

Link here

Salient points:

- A lot of it has to do with the framework that the British Raj used
- Rae Bareilly is also mentioned. Mmh. I do wonder what if anything has to do with the Congress family repeatedly standing for elections from that constituency.
- So we have a pure Islamist and a Pashtun Islamist now. Now for more variants - Baloch Islamist, Pakjabi Islamist, Sindh Islamist and so on and so forth.

Pakistan is at a cross road and I don't know if the powers that be know it.

Monday, 29 December 2014

How did the IS form and evolve

Brilliant piece, IMO, courtesy the guardian.

I learnt a few things myself! Wow, that's life and opinion all about. You think you have learnt enough and know a bit yourself till there is more compelling evidence about a totally new aspect that you haven't considered or thought of... or learnt.

If this isn't a lesson to keep learning and reading, well, perhaps nothing is.


"The other prisoners did not take long to warm to him, Abu Ahmed recalled. They had also been terrified of Bucca, but quickly realised that far from their worst fears, the US-run prison provided an extraordinary opportunity. “We could never have all got together like this in Baghdad, or anywhere else,” he told me. “It would have been impossibly dangerous. Here, we were not only safe, but we were only a few hundred metres away from the entire al-Qaida leadership.”

“Baghdadi was a quiet person,” said Abu Ahmed. “He has a charisma. You could feel that he was someone important. But there were others who were more important. I honestly did not think he would get this far.”
Baghdadi also seemed to have a way with his captors. According to Abu Ahmed, and two other men who were jailed at Bucca in 2004, the Americans saw him as a fixer who could solve fractious disputes between competing factions and keep the camp quiet.
“But as time went on, every time there was a problem in the camp, he was at the centre of it,” Abu Ahmed recalled. “He wanted to be the head of the prison – and when I look back now, he was using a policy of conquer and divide to get what he wanted, which was status. And it worked.” By December 2004, Baghdadi was deemed by his jailers to pose no further risk and his release was authorised.
“He was respected very much by the US army,” Abu Ahmed said. “If he wanted to visit people in another camp he could, but we couldn’t. And all the while, a new strategy, which he was leading, was rising under their noses, and that was to build the Islamic State. If there was no American prison in Iraq, there would be no IS now. Bucca was a factory. It made us all. It built our ideology.”"

"The first thing he did when he was safe in west Baghdad was to undress, then carefully take a pair of scissors to his underwear. “I cut the fabric from my boxers and all the numbers were there. We reconnected. And we got to work.” Across Iraq, other ex-inmates were doing the same. “It really was that simple,” Abu Ahmed said, smiling for the first time in our conversation as he recalled how his captors had been outwitted. “Boxers helped us win the war.”

Link here

Friday, 26 December 2014


OMG, its such a shame that I am here while my mind gets transported to the place even when I am reading the article.

Mmh, someday in the near future. Positive

through matador

Good post

Nice read from Stratfor, through Forbes on what might potentially happen to the subcontinent.

If Pak becomes a rump state, it might be a scary time for India. As for it being a failed state, well, it always was one to begin with.

Link here

Monday, 1 December 2014

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Wahhabism : A primer

Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant article on Wahhabism, Salafism, Fundamental Islamism and related concepts.

Oh, boy... what joy to read and understand. A must read, IMO.

"Why should we be surprised then, that from Prince Bandar's Saudi-Western mandate to manage the insurgency in Syria against President Assad should have emerged a neo-Ikhwan type of violent, fear-inducing vanguard movement: ISIS? And why should we be surprised -- knowing a little about Wahhabism -- that "moderate" insurgents in Syria would become rarer than a mythical unicorn? Why should we have imagined that radical Wahhabism would create moderates? Or why could we imagine that a doctrine of "One leader, One authority, One mosque: submit to it, or be killed" could ever ultimately lead to moderation or tolerance?  "

More here

My rhetorical qns as always:

a. So who is the IS?
b. Who is a moderate rebel and / or a moderate jidahist.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Law of the instrument

Interesting tidbits.

From Kaplan and Maslow... loosely translates to this: if one has just a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

More here

Monday, 10 November 2014

Microcoms vs macrocosm

At the microcosmic level, it might be that all life is Maya... However, at the macrocosmic level with such a large population of humans, with countless species in land, water and air-borne, it seems quite stupid that all of this could be Maya and just mention that and get away with it.
a. Maya is just the shield or the curtain or the wool that is over the people's eyes. It takes time, effort and practice to get over the screen and look at things with a discerning eye and get the 'picture'. Needs concentration and focusing powers to improve these skills -- to get the real signal from all the noises. Needle in a haystack? You bet - except that this is about a zillion times more difficult.
b. At the larger scale, it seems such a waste of time that God [He's PRESENT. I still cant get to agree that a superior power doesn't exist. Simply has to... to answer a lot of assumptions. Even science is divided here and cant explain what happened pre-BIG BANG] created such a vast body of wasteland and also created life and made his children suffer. Why do this nonsense if there was no purpose? I don't see god as so cruel [under the pure assumption & practicality that all life is pain and we all strive to move towards bliss]
c. As a Believer in Advaita: the microcosm is the macrocosm and the macrocosm is the microcosm. Both are interchangeable & reversible. If that were so, the same maya will govern both micro & and macro-cosm's.
d. Its possible that these are some of the big questions that needs answers:
  • What is the end point?
  • What do one more marginal extra rupee give me in terms of happiness?
  • What does one more marginal unit of luxury give me in terms of better quality of life?
  • What does one more marginal unit of extracting work (help) from others to get stuff done give me in terms of improving my status in life?
  • What is more important: Being a better person (and lead a fair life with a reasonable balance) or being a successful person (and live mainly because of receiving subsidies due to sacrifices made by others, obtained by virtue of ones power, responsibility and position)
  • What leads to happiness: external factors or internal factors [materialism vs love, money / rent seeking vs service of society etc]

Maya still exists without a doubt. However, it also seems obvious that there is life (or atleast something) beyond it.

Strive to come out of it. Strive. Hard. Harder. Break Free. The truth is out there.


Thursday, 30 October 2014

Maritime terms for the future

Makes sense to remember them.

Territorial waters, contiguous zone, continental shelf, slope etc. Matters since the ocean is a critical theatre in the next 30+ years


Friday, 24 October 2014

Tibetan Incantations, dear lord

Out on a limb, at a very random moment in the night, I was reminded of a phrase from the Mantra of Avalokiteshwara, that I have listened to [and still do]... and since I was lazy, I tried to find stuff on youtube / internet... and oh my dear lord... how many in there?!

Tibetan Bowls - 11 hour video

Mantra of Avalokiteshwara

And much much more. Brilliant. Whats life without music? 

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Hyderabad - random thoughts

Need to perhaps go to the city in a few weeks again. First time to the place after it became part of TS though. From AP to TS. How will it feel? Feels a bit strange that the city I know well is a part of a different state currently.

Life trundles on gently. And oh, I wonder why... Telangana surely could have chose TL / TG as their symbol. Why TS?

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Not a great time to be an IBMer, huh?

Not just disappointing... but piss poor. What ever are the execs thinking?

Nice article from this person which actually raises more qns than answers.

WOW, just WOW

Friday, 17 October 2014

Ricky Ponting

Brilliant from Iain O'Brien

"Like him or not, he is a man whose determination and abilities I admired. I tried to replicate them. I wanted the courage and resilience he showed as a batsman, and when on the field while I was bowling, his bloody-mindedness; his ability to stick to a plan and, when the chance arose, to dominate; his capacity to change gears. "

More here

Monday, 29 September 2014

How to improve your linkedin profile summary

Interesting writeup. Need to look at mine sometime.

Interesting point about 70-80% professional and 20-30% about passions, personal stuff etc.  Most of us miss that aspect and miss out losing on the human touch!

FWIW, here

Friday, 26 September 2014

The 7 unwritten rules of companies

1. Written rule: It’s a meritocracy.

Unwritten rule: Getting promoted is not just about who does the best job. 
Politics and loyalty and favors play a large part in the decision-making process. At best, companies place 80% of their decision to promote based on performance and 20% on relationships and politics; more likely it’s 50/50. What does it take to get promoted or hired in your company? Learn the rules to get ahead.

More here

Nuclear weapon states

link through Forbes

Stuff on who has nuclear weapons and how much. Besides, a lot of interesting info if someone likes to know a bit about nuclear weapons etc.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Monday, 8 September 2014

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

There is plenty of time for death

Nice excerpts:

My position on the matter was that there’d be a certain point at which it’d be better to be dead than to live in such a world. A point at which life and the world you live it in would be so bleak that a bullet or an overdose would be the way to go.
Michael disagreed. His answer to my argument was very simple: “There’s plenty of time for death.” That even in a world of utter despair, why not live? Which brought up the question of where lies the value in the lives we lead. What are our lives about?

Last year I was trekking the Peruvian Andes with a group of people I’d just met. As the days passed and we saw more and more remote, ‘primitive’-seeming villages, an Israeli man I’d befriended asked me the same question about the people whose homes we were passing through.
“What are their lives about?”
As far as we could see, their days consisted of scrounging building materials, firewood, and food from the mountains; feeding and killing chickens; boiling water; preparing food; cleaning their homes; caring for their young; making more young. Each day the same. A continual cycle of planting, growing, harvesting, cooking, cleaning.
And while back in the US I can go home and flip a switch that creates heat, and place a phone call, read out a credit card number, and have food delivered to my door, and sign a lease that immediately provides for reliable shelter, and have spare time to pursue myriad interests that don’t involve sustaining my physical being — does that reality put me more or less in touch with my humanity? And is “being in touch with my humanity” something I should be concerned with?
In short, I wanted to ask that Israeli man, and I wish I had, what his life is about.

Interesting post through Matador

Saturday, 30 August 2014

South China Sea, East China Sea and the maritime disputes in and around those regions

Need a separate post for tracking these topics and get armed with links.

good link on ADIZ

"Editor’s Note: China’s establishment last November of an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) shook many observers, who feared it was a first step in a more aggressive Chinese foreign policy. Here at the Foreign Policy Essay, we’ve already taken an early look at the issue. However, as the months have passed and a crisis has yet to emerge, analysts are beginning to take a second look at the issue. Eric Heginbotham, a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation, contends that the reasons for China’s decision to establish the ADIZ are often misunderstood and that U.S. policy needs to focus more on China’s actual behavior, not the zone itself."

Friday, 29 August 2014

Very interesting

More on covert operations and how Russia is playing that currently.

Note to self: to remember this stuff and limits of media and also open-source analysis

Link here

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Tips and interesting thoughts on the Indian economy and markets

Good read. Though I don't *totally* accept with the views expressed, they are perhaps the most interesting that I have read in a while.

I would have liked to seen something on the power, energy and distribution sector too. Perhaps a bit on defence... if it can be privatized, made into public listed companies and such. They will become good avenues for investment too.

Link here

Friday, 15 August 2014

Back to the basics

Should really keep a note of stuff that I do from time to time.

Little did I realize that I will see S P Infocity, Fursungi, Hadapsar etc again... and did it all over again while going to Purandhar.
Covered a fair bit of Vishalgad, Ratnagiri, Radhanagari and the ghats too.

Yay,I remember the routes in and around Pune! Feels good to be back... to life.

Now if only I could take sometime off to cover the entire west coast. Someday...

Friday, 8 August 2014

Brilliant article by an Ambassador

excellent. Though I will not totally agree with the thoughts, its pretty exhaustive, interesting and very informative.

A balanced view, in my opinion.

A few good lines:

Several reasons could be attributed to the 'new thinking' in Beijing. First and foremost, China may sense that under Modi's leadership, India is all set to pursue a genuinely independent foreign policy.
The idea of an 'independent foreign policy' has been a cliche in Indian discourses and has been bandied about cavalierly by many governments in India.
>> My opninion: this bit remains to be seen. Its early days and one couldn't be sure about a summer after seeing one sparrow. But its surely a plausible reason.

A bit on what he calls the Modi Doctrine:

  • Modi has a pronounced 'India-first' approach, which is a rooted belief as well.
  • But he is not dogmatic when it comes to the pursuit of India's national interests.
  • Nor is it divested of emotions. The human factor is obvious from his trademark slogan, 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' (meaning, inclusive development) and he visualises the foreign policy as an extension of national policies.
  • India needs help for development from all available sources and there is willingness to source it without pride or prejudice.
  • India needs a friendly external environment that is conducive to development and acts as a buffer for its national security. Modi places great store on regional cooperation.
  • Modi visualises that India's 'influence' in its region is critically dependent on its capacity to carry the small neighbours along on the path of growth and prosperity that would make them genuine stakeholders -- rather than by demanding respect or insisting on 'influence' on the basis of its pre-eminence in the region as a military and economic power and through 'muscle-flexing'.
  • He reposes confidence in the country's inherent advantages as a regional power and is not paranoid about any 'string of pearls' chocking India.
  • Modi believes in promoting India's commonality of interests with other emerging powers that also have been denied their due role in the global political and economic architecture, which was erected by the West out of the debris of World War II and has become archaic, but remains impervious to change and reform.
  • "
    It is entirely conceivable that at some point sooner rather than later the SCO countries may move toward trading in their national currencies, creating banking institutions to fund intra-regional projects and forming preferential trade regimes.
    Needless to say, with India, Pakistan and Iran inside the SCO tent, the grouping becomes a lead player in Afghanistan.
    >> My opinion: The author is perhaps trying to play the Af card too much. It cant be said for certain that the US wants to muck around in Af for ever. Agreed that Af has about a 1trillion dollar mineral deposit. However, if it were to be said that US wants to stay there for ever, why the talk even of coming out of Af? Will they not want to stay there forever? The Af operation is costly. Period. And like anything else in life, over time, US influence will wane and without security forces [boots on ground], influence in business will drastically reduce

    Finally, the Silk Road as such would get a massive fillip and within the SCO framework, India could aspire to gain greater access to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
    India's energy security gets strengthened, too. The time may have come for the creation of an SCO energy club, an idea first mooted by Putin a decade ago.
    New possibilities arise for initiating trans-regional energy projects under the auspices of the SCO, such as the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline.
    >> My opinion: Energy security is paramount and anything sensible to secure it should be pursued

    Entire article here

    Wednesday, 6 August 2014

    Strategy and why it matters

    A great line from FP. Hear, Hear

    Basically, making strategy should not feel good, avers Roger L. Martin. (The article is titled "The Big Lie of Strategic Planning," but I don't think that really captures what it is really about.)

    "Fear and discomfort are an essential part of strategy making," he writes. "In fact, if you are entirely comfortable with your strategy, there's a strong chance it isn't very good.... You need to be uncomfortable and apprehensive: True strategy is about placing bets and making hard choices. The objective is not to eliminate risk but to increase the odds of success." Indeed, if there is not much risk, there probably isn't much strategy, he emphasizes: "Strategy involves a bet."


    Monday, 4 August 2014

    South China Sea : Excellent Infographic

    Should surely be amongst my top current fav topics.


    Plod along. Gently

    To be remembered at times of going through a difficult phase.

    There comes a time in everyone's life when the future is a bit more blurred than one would like it to be, its not clear we are going along in the right path towards success and the overall outlook is very hazy. Its important to be cognizant of the present and take steps, one at a time. Its important to ensure that there is reflection and keen awareness of whats happening around you, but most importantly, that there is movement. Keep moving. As Churchill mentioned it wisely and aptly, if you are going to hell, keep going.

    Saturday, 2 August 2014

    Europe : Challenges ahead, a geopolitical perspective

    A brilliant read, IMO. No wonder why geopolitics is very interesting and opens up various opportunities and ways of looking at things that not a lot of other fields could ever imagine throwing up.


    "Back when I was teaching, I used to provoke my students in Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service by observing that Europe — birthplace of the Enlightenment, cradle of democracy — was really just “Africa with autobahns.” I wanted them to understand that despite all the apparent differences, Europeans are just as likely as Africans to embrace narrow tribal loyalties that lead to political division and violence."

    "Resurgent tribalism in Europe would raise a host of military and diplomatic issues for America.  For instance, the Scottish National Party that would likely run an independent state has said it does not want nuclear weapons on Scottish territory, but the United Kingdom government says there is no suitable alternative site to base its ballistic-missile submarines.  It isn’t clear what that might mean for a Scottish state’s role in NATO.  And Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has hinted that Madrid might veto Scottish membership in the European Community, for fear of the signal that membership would send to Spain’s own separatists."

    "Almost nobody in Washington is thinking about such possibilities right now.  It is so much easier to default to our Cold War preconceptions in addressing the Ukrainian crisis, as if the separatist impulses of ethnic Russians within Ukraine were irrelevant.  Problem is, such impulses are latent across Europe, and they might come to the surface with a vengeance if economic conditions deteriorated or new political catalysts emerged (as they did in Ukraine).  At that point, the similarities between Europe and Africa could become all too obvious."

    The whole article is a great read

    Friday, 25 July 2014

    Great post on the exposure triangle

    Perhaps the best I have seen in a while.

    Very easy to get the hang of it once you get the interactions between aperture, shutter speed and ISO.

    Combining that with the way light behaves is deadly. Seems very intuitive but most people make it sound very non-intuitive. Not so with this post here

    Thursday, 24 July 2014

    Canvas Fingerprinting

    This sure is a scary way to track what ones upto in the online world.

    "When you visit a website that employs Canvas Fingerprinting, as the new sneaky system is known, the site sends your web browser a request to generate a hidden image consisting of some text. Because individual computers have operating system versions, browsers, fonts, graphics adapters, etc. that vary from one to another, there are slight variations between the way text appears in an image on one computer from the way it does on the next. The images of text, are, therefore, like computers’ fingerprints; by analyzing them and tracking what type of image a particular computer generates, different websites utilizing the same tracking system can track a user from site to site – even if he or she is using Incognito Mode, strict browser privacy settings, or an anti-tracking tool."

    Still not sure if its the 1*1 pixilation thingie that the email marketing companies use for tracking. However, their tracking is still cookie based, from what I am given to understand.

    Real scary. And the very fact that there might be more methods makes one pause.

    Mmh, more here

    Thursday, 17 July 2014


    The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function

    -- F. Scott Fitzgerald

    Tuesday, 15 July 2014

    Touching letter

    The letter, from head Rachel Tomlinson along with another member of staff, told children: "The people who create these tests and score them do not know each of you – the way your teachers do, the way I hope to, and certainly not the way your families do. They do not know that many of you speak two languages. They do not know that you can play a musical instrument or that you can dance or paint a picture. They do not know that your friends count on you to be there for them or that your laughter can brighten the dreariest day."

    More here

    Yeah, we need more teachers like these.

    Thursday, 3 July 2014

    High altitude

    Interesting study that postulates that Tibetan Sherpas perhaps got their genes from Denisovans.

    As modern humans migrated out of Africa, they had to adapt to many new environments. One noteworthy adaptation was of Tibetans adjusting to the thin air of the Tibetan plateau, which at about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) in altitude has oxygen levels just 60 percent that of air at sea level. For instance, when at high altitudes, women who come from low altitudes usually have problems with childbirth, such as preeclampsia, which is potentially dangerous high blood pressure during pregnancy

    More here

    Tuesday, 1 July 2014


    Guffaw times from BBC.

    We are like this onlee!

    "I was travelling on a train out of Delhi once and a young girl dropped her ice cream on the carriage floor. Her mother turned round and reminded her of what she evidently thought was an appropriate English word: "Say 'shit!' Say 'shit'!" she said strictly. You won't hear that on the 08:15 to Paddington."

    More here

    thought for tot

    As a solid rock is not shaken by a strong gale, so wise persons remain unaffected by praise or censure.
    — Buddha

    Saturday, 7 June 2014

    Snowden leaks

    Ouch. Don't think a lot of people in the NSA / SAS / anywhere top secret are going to like this.

    "The secret British spy base is part of a programme codenamed “CIRCUIT” and also referred to as Overseas Processing Centre 1 (OPC-1). It is located at Seeb, on the northern coast of Oman, where it taps in to various undersea cables passing through the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian/Arabian Gulf. Seeb is one of a three site GCHQ network in Oman, at locations codenamed “TIMPANI”, “GUITAR” and “CLARINET”. TIMPANI, near the Strait of Hormuz, can monitor Iraqi communications. CLARINET, in the south of Oman, is strategically close to Yemen."

    More here

    Thursday, 5 June 2014

    Leadership traits

    Interesting one from Forbes.

    I particularly like the first and the eighth!

    1.) The Commitment Not To Lead A Little Life: “Like many people, I was going through life getting caught in little details. But then I thought, do I really want to live my life in a comfortable apartment, taking care of myself and just earning money, when instead I could perhaps change the future of my nation, a country where there is a desperate, aching, yearning need with thousands of kids nearby in starvation?”
    These are the words of Taddy Blecher, Founder and former CEO of CIDA City Campus, who also co-founded the Branson School of Entrepreneurship with Sir Richard Branson.

    8.) Emotional Intelligence: “When I meet someone, I instinctively know if I like the person, if we have the same values and if this is someone with whom I’d like to have dinner and talk about things other than business. If the answer is yes, then my gut tells me to do the deal.”
    Robert Johnson is the founder, and former Chairman and CEO of Black Entertainment Television (BET), which he sold to Viacom in 2001.

    Mediating between Japan and South Korea

    Good views... and a good analysis, IMO. There is an intense need for a "multi-lateral" solution to check mate and check point Chinese aggressive stance.

    As the old saying goes, United we stand, divided we fall. That's always the stratagem to be followed in cases like this. Different horses for different courses. that's the need of the hour.

    Through Forbes

    Wednesday, 4 June 2014

    Quick notes on Infrastructure and Energy Sector

    Just been very quickly looking at the Infrastructure and Energy sectors and how those stocks have shaped up in the markets over the last few months. It does leave me with the impression that it has risen secularly... pretty much across the board, if you will.

    Pleasant days. Will this mean there will be a rise in the infrastructure capacity levels and energy security needs too? Time should tell

    Wednesday, 28 May 2014

    Dirty secrets to "know" while attempting cloud computing

    Good article from Forbes mainly enlisting the problems that one faces while working on a SaaS platform and the difficulties that one encounters when moving from traditional enterprise shipping products to shipping a service. Been there, done that and I will gladly concur with most of the views.

    I had a steep challenge when I moved from a traditional experience to a SaaS environment and little did I realize initially that I wasn't totally prepared for it. Had my own nice little learning curve where I had to "relearn" a fair bit and also "re-assume" a few more things as all the previous grounded assumptions about "how stuff works" was basically up in the air. Welcome to the world of SaaS

    Through Forbes

    Hungary & Romania watch

    Peerless analysis, as always, from Stratfor

    Hungarian history is marked by heroic disasters. The liberal revolutions that failed across Europe in 1848 and failed in Hungary in 1956 were glorious and pointless. Horthy was unwilling to make pointless gestures. The international situation at the moment is far from defined, and the threat to Hungary is unclear, but Orban clearly has no desire to make heroic gestures. Internally he is increasing his power constantly, and that gives him freedom to act internationally. But the one thing he will not grant is clarity. Clarity ties you down, and Hungary has learned to keep its options open.
    Orban isn't Horthy by any means, but their situations are similar. Hungary is a country of enormous cultivation and fury. It is surrounded by disappointments that can become dangers. Europe is not what it promised it would be. Russia is not what Europeans expected it to be. Within and without the country, the best Orban can do is balance, and those who balance survive but are frequently reviled. What Hungary could be in 2005 is not the Hungary it can be today. Any Hungarian leader who wished to avoid disaster would have to face this. Indeed, Europeans across the continent are facing the fact that the world they expected to live in is gone and what has replaced it, inside and outside of their countries, is different and dangerous.

    Read more: Borderlands: Hungary Maneuvers | Stratfor
    Follow us: @stratfor on Twitter | Stratfor on Facebook

    Here is an interesting take on Romania

    Friday, 16 May 2014

    Whoo! Brilliant

    Very pretty stats. And we thought we can NEVER have a party that can get an absolute majority by itself in the 21st century.

    Best ever performance by a single largest party since 1984. Lets hope the results hold!

    Wednesday, 14 May 2014

    6 defining moments that bring leadership out


    Act When You Are The Problem. Evans and Foster accept that this can be especially tricky. But it is no less powerful if confronted. The person who takes ownership of problems and acknowledges that colleagues avoid telling him or her difficult news or try to bypass them is ultimately in a better position and can help remove barriers to progress.

    through forbes

    6 clear reasons why employees arent engaged

    Super. Through forbes

    I can’t be engaged if I’m overwhelmed.
    I can’t be engaged if I don’t get it.
    I can’t be engaged if I’m scared.
    I can’t be engaged if I don’t see the big picture.
    I can’t be engaged if it’s not mine.
    I can’t be engaged if my leaders don’t face reality.

    9 Financial habits to dig

    Interesting stuff through Forbes

    Las Vegas–based David Sapper, who owns a successful used car business, and his real-estate broker wife make a combined income of $500,000 per year. Yet they live like “secret” rich people, only spending $2,500 per month on all bills and extracurricular expenses like eating out, unlike many of their peers. By putting 90% of his income into savings and investments, Sapper says he’ll be able to retire early.
    His advice? “Find the point that you get what you need and you’re happy and comfortable, and just stay there,” says Sapper. “I had an ‘aha!’ moment when I was watching MTV, and LL Cool J was saying, ‘I lease a Honda Accord for $399 a month,’ while other rappers are going broke.”

    Tuesday, 13 May 2014

    Borderlands - possibilities

    Baku is strategic again today, partly because of oil. I've started the journey here partly by convenience and partly because Azerbaijan is key to any counter-Russian strategy that might emerge. My purpose on this trip is to get a sense of the degree to which individual European states feel threatened by Russia, and if they do, the level of effort and risk they are prepared to endure. For Europe does not exist as anything more than a geographic expression; it is the fears and efforts of the individual nation-states constituting it that will determine the course of this affair. Each nation is different, and each makes its own calculus of interest. My interest is to understand their thinking, not only about Russia but also about the European Union, the United States and ultimately themselves. Each is unique; it isn't possible to make a general statement about them.

    Read more: Borderlands: The View from Azerbaijan | Stratfor
    Follow us: @stratfor on Twitter | Stratfor on Facebook


    Quick thoughts on the 2014 Indian elections

    Pretty much on expected lines? Coming of the NDA should hopefully herald a much needed growth phase to the adolescent Indian economy. The 80 year teenager has been there for far too long at the helm [~10 yrs as PM] and its about time we got some fresh infusion of blood and ideas too.

    I am most disappointed and worried about the decision of the President not to vote. Particularly when there is a 49-O that's handy. He surely can vote NOTA and still be impartial to any candidate while also exemplifying the fact that voting is a privilege that needs to be exercised? I am surprised that the President advisors missed a trick there. Useless idiots. Haven't thought through the case properly, or so I think

    All said and done, it looks like it will likely be Modi for a few years. Should be interesting to see how things are done from here. Will we see more crafty and practical / principled foreign policy? What about a new energy policy? More focus on non-renewables? Do we even have a focused plan for capacity addition on energy? How about making ONGC Videsh a bit more global?

    Oh, what are the plans for defense? More focus on indigenization, surely? Kaveri engine? LCA? We are planning on doing  anything about our maritime interests? Shore up the eastern command? Tzoo many things on the plate, mate. Lets begin, lets end. About time we had some fun.

    Tuesday, 6 May 2014

    Strengthened Strategic ties between US and Djibouti

    US has signed a new agreement with Djibouti. Purpoted to be a 70mn USD deal / year.

    Me thinks its to do with Yemen and staying close to the Horn of Africa. Loosely ensure that choke point is safe?

    Link here

    Game theory to explain Rock, Paper, Scissors

    Pretty interesting:

    "When Wang reviewed the results he found that students chose each strategy close to one third of the time, suggesting the Nash Equilibrium theory. However, when he looked closer, he noticed a more unusual pattern.

    Computer Security

    Saturday, 26 April 2014

    Rare footage of a snow leopard

    Oh,wow. this is interesting. Snow leopards are very shy animals and to catch a footage of them is any self-respecting professional wildlife photographer's lifetime ambition.

    this interesting beast ate a sheep and was apparently too full to move out and ended up cooped in the pen itself. the owners shot the animal at close range  shot pictures of the animal. In Tibet [Qiangtang]

    Beautiful through BBC

    Note the bushy tail!

    Friday, 18 April 2014

    12 Sherpas die between EBC and Camp1

    These are the guys who ensure that everyone in the expedition live... and if they die, it does leave one speechless.

    A moment to remember the sherpas and the yeoman service that they do. And also an adequate reminder to everyone about how fickle the Sagarmatha [Chomolungma] is.

    12 Sherpas die between EBC and Camp1

    Wednesday, 16 April 2014

    Big data for big mountain

    Who knew?

    People use big data for climbing the biggest mountain on land [there are perhaps much bigger mountains under the sea?]

    Interesting. through forbes

    Monday, 14 April 2014

    See the world in different ways

    36 different ways of seeing the world

    through matador

    Amazing Insults : a collection

    A Member of Parliament to Disraeli: “Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease.” “That depends, Sir,” said Disraeli, “whether I embrace your policies or your mistress.”
    “He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.” – Winston Churchill
    I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.” Clarence Darrow
    “He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.” – William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)
    “Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I’ll waste no time reading it.” – Moses Hadas
    “I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.” Mark Twain
    “He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends.” – Oscar Wilde
    “I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend, if you have one.” – George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill.
    “Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second … if there is one.” – Winston Churchill, in response.
    “I feel so miserable without you; it’s almost like having you here.” -Stephen Bishop
    “I’ve just learned about his illness. Let’s hope it’s nothing trivial.” -Irvin S. Cobb
    “He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others.” -Samuel Johnson
    “He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up.” – Paul Keating
    “In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily.” – Charles, Count Talleyrand
    “His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork.” – Mae West
    “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.” – Oscar Wilde
    “He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts… for support rather than illumination.” – Andrew Lang (1844-1912)
    “I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn’t it.” – Groucho Marx

    Friday, 11 April 2014

    Forcing functions

    Interesting article on forcing functions

     Through Forbes

    While AWS made progress because of this forcing function, it is reasonable to ask: Was there a better forcing function? Recent moves by IBM and enterprise-class cloud firm Virtustream shows that Bezos may have made the wrong choice in forcing functions if he were seeking the largest market possible for AWS, not just increased operational efficiency for

    Thursday, 10 April 2014


    Ouch. This is going to hurt.

    A problem in OpenSSL is pretty serious.

    "When cybersecurity breaches break, the usual protocol is to change your password and update security software as soon as possible. However, Heartbleed is a bit different. Since the hack is untraceable, it may be impossible to know if your data has been breached. If a website you use hasn’t updated its security to fix the problem yet, hackers could grab your password as you change it (without you realizing). Though a new version of OpenSSL that patches the bug has been released, not all websites have updated their systems."

    More in the link

    How to retire early : A sensible approach

    "Taking these sabbaticals was what I saw value in—but it wasn’t until around 2011, when I stumbled across a website called Early Retirement Extreme, that I realized I could work hard for five to ten years to make those periodic trips more of a permanent fixture. I was already a pretty good saver, but what I read on the site encouraged me to ramp it up even more. All I would need to do to retire early was to save and invest until my portfolio reached at least 25 times my annual expenses."

    More here

    The first step, as always, is in committing oneself towards doing it. The second step is in taking the first step... forward, that is.

    Arise, awake. Stop not till the goal is reached.

    Monday, 7 April 2014

    Uncle Sam weighs in

    "In 2012 he formed a think tank called the Center for the Global Enterprise and just came out with an e-book called Re-Think: A Path To The Future. The book argues that multinational firms in a rapidly integrating world need to remake themselves into what he calls globally integrated enterprises (like he did with IBM). So-called GIEs are different than mere multinationals in structure and operating approach. Legal could be in Amsterdam, research in China and California, HR and accounting in New York. Talent goes where it’s needed. Work flows to where the customers are, not where the headquarters is. Country managers don’t get to act like royalty of their own realm. Collaboration is digital and frequent. Palmisano says that IBM saw a total productivity gain of $6 billion from 2006 to 2010 by doing things like globalizing support services and the supply chain (fewer and bigger factories), freeing up local managers to focus on sales and relationships. IBM outgrew growth markets such as China and India at twice the rate of the tech industry."

    More here

    Sunday, 6 April 2014

    Peter Matthiessen's dead

    A nice article on him just before he died, here

    The Snow Leopard is something I have read and its a great book to read.

    Why hawks win

    Another Danny Kahneman special.

    Imagine, for example, that you have been placed in a room and asked to watch a series of student speeches on the policies of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez. You've been told in advance that the students were assigned the task of either attacking or supporting Chávez and had no choice in the matter. Now, suppose that you are then asked to assess the political leanings of these students. Shrewd observers, of course, would factor in the context and adjust their assessments accordingly. A student who gave an enthusiastic pro-Chávez speech was merely doing what she was told, not revealing anything about her true attitudes. In fact, many experiments suggest that people would overwhelmingly rate the pro-Chávez speakers as more leftist. Even when alerted to context that should affect their judgment, people tend to ignore it. Instead, they attribute the behavior they see to the person's nature, character, or persistent motives. This bias is so robust and common that social psychologists have given it a lofty title: They call it the fundamental attribution error.

    Link here through FP.

    So, you are smarter than the CIA?

    Recently, the GJP super forecasting team has been getting a fair bit of popularity. So, one co-superforecaster and the idea behind the project (Phil Tetlock) chime in on this link.

    Dailymall speaks about it here.

    The lady they are talking to, Elaine Rich, is part of a different team, amongst the 8 super forecasting teams, and we all compete together and a bit against each together.

    Pretty embarrassing, really. Next year being season 4 will finish things off. Where to from there?
    Time will tell. 

    Wednesday, 26 March 2014

    Dad jokes

    WOW, I didn't realize this.

    "We’ve all heard them. But perhaps nobody is more viscerally aware of this change than the single 30-somethings out there, the ones forced to stand idly by and watch this slow death of sophistication; to watch the wildest guys in the room slowly become unfunny husks of their former selves. It’s like watching a clown car careening off a cliff. "

    Mmh, interesting.

    Link through matador

    Russia links -- reference points

    Monday, 24 March 2014

    Scribbles on security

    3 important things that need consideration... and a lot of thought.

    a. Agricultural security and preparedness. There has to be some measure in place to ensure that we are self-sufficient agriculturally. Yes, we are to an extent. But we NEED more. The current model doesn't seem to be working

    b. Defense security and self-sufficiency: We are quite pathetic when it comes to this front. Still need to depend on imports to fulfill even basic needs. IAF still is looking around for potential sellers so they can train their young rookie pilots on [PC-7 Pilatus Mark-II]. And they promptly put the pilots on plans which are far inferior to the ones they get trained in. Huh? Don't believe me. Check this
    And this is just half the problem. Submarines? Sea faring ships. Well, we need a fair bit of work there too.

    c. Energy security: we have done too little and too few on this end too.

    Unless we have a firm plan and even firmer implementation of the plans, we are going to muddle around for a fair while.

    [I have read that we have some of the best plans on paper - great on strategy but v poor on implementation]

    Thursday, 13 March 2014

    Idhu Varai

    Late to this beat. Bu happened to hear this only today. Clearly and calmly. Boy, its a winner

    Yuvan Shankar Raja really gets it [unlike ARR]. Reckon, the son picks from where his dad left. Brilliant stuff.

    Idhu Varai

    I wonder and go soulful on how the best of songs seem to ring a bell in the mind. Beautiul guitar [Hawaiian style?] and decent live drums. Rings a distant bell but unique in its own way.

    Priceless. unforgettable. Stylish.

    Thursday, 6 March 2014

    Nat Gas

    again back to my current fav topic... Nat Gas and how it influences everyones lives.

    Need to spend more time on this later.


    Update: this gives a clear picture of the gas pipes through Ukraine. Ukraine path ways
    One more : from Ukraine energy

    More stubs: Ukraine / Russia good link

    Yet another: Russia and dependence of EU on Russia Nat gas

    Yet another another: How The EU And U.S. Can Strangle Russia Inc

    Wednesday, 19 February 2014

    Who can you trust?

    Brilliant piece on human mind and the multi-faceted vagaries of it. Equal parts science and equal parts behavioral.

    Worth a stab

    Friday, 14 February 2014

    How To Travel The World Without Quitting Your Job

    Interesting. Slightly difficult, but worth reading all the same.

    Portable power
    Reliable reachability.

    Mmh. here through Forbes.

    Tuesday, 11 February 2014

    Dani Rodrik : Death by Finance

    Good read. Basically, expounds on the dangers of the current financial system and how a few fundamental mistakes are perhaps being made... and a timely reminder on why there are no short-term easy answers for the problems that ail economies and such.
    First, emerging-market hype is just that. Economic miracles rarely occur, and for good reason. Governments that can intervene massively to restructure and diversify the economy, while preventing the state from becoming a mechanism of corruption and rent-seeking, are the exception. China and (in their heyday) South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and a few others had such governments; but the rapid industrialization that they engineered has eluded most of Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia.


    Through project syndicate. Link here

    First, emerging-market hype is just that. Economic miracles rarely occur, and for good reason. Governments that can intervene massively to restructure and diversify the economy, while preventing the state from becoming a mechanism of corruption and rent-seeking, are the exception. China and (in their heyday) South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and a few others had such governments; but the rapid industrialization that they engineered has eluded most of Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia.

    First, emerging-market hype is just that. Economic miracles rarely occur, and for good reason. Governments that can intervene massively to restructure and diversify the economy, while preventing the state from becoming a mechanism of corruption and rent-seeking, are the exception. China and (in their heyday) South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and a few others had such governments; but the rapid industrialization that they engineered has eluded most of Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia.

    First, emerging-market hype is just that. Economic miracles rarely occur, and for good reason. Governments that can intervene massively to restructure and diversify the economy, while preventing the state from becoming a mechanism of corruption and rent-seeking, are the exception. China and (in their heyday) South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and a few others had such governments; but the rapid industrialization that they engineered has eluded most of Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia.

    First, emerging-market hype is just that. Economic miracles rarely occur, and for good reason. Governments that can intervene massively to restructure and diversify the economy, while preventing the state from becoming a mechanism of corruption and rent-seeking, are the exception. China and (in their heyday) South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and a few others had such governments; but the rapid industrialization that they engineered has eluded most of Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia.

    First, emerging-market hype is just that. Economic miracles rarely occur, and for good reason. Governments that can intervene massively to restructure and diversify the economy, while preventing the state from becoming a mechanism of corruption and rent-seeking, are the exception. China and (in their heyday) South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and a few others had such governments; but the rapid industrialization that they engineered has eluded most of Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia.

    First, emerging-market hype is just that. Economic miracles rarely occur, and for good reason. Governments that can intervene massively to restructure and diversify the economy, while preventing the state from becoming a mechanism of corruption and rent-seeking, are the exception. China and (in their heyday) South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and a few others had such governments; but the rapid industrialization that they engineered has eluded most of Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia.

    First, emerging-market hype is just that. Economic miracles rarely occur, and for good reason. Governments that can intervene massively to restructure and diversify the economy, while preventing the state from becoming a mechanism of corruption and rent-seeking, are the exception. China and (in their heyday) South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and a few others had such governments; but the rapid industrialization that they engineered has eluded most of Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia.


    Wednesday, 15 January 2014

    Rationality and Bayes rule : Thinking about thinking


    Brilliant post and a good read.

    We’re hours into our war and no longer strangers. Jeff Gringer, known to us as the Taliban, stands and thrusts a hooked finger in my direction while declaring he’s going to “pop those Coalition troops in Helmand.” The Taliban is using a car bomb to ambush my men. I rock back in my chair, resigned to my fate.
    Robert Leonhard, pulling the strings for the Warlords, is in real life a national security analyst at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and a retired Army lieutenant colonel. He has been sitting in mostly quiet concentration but finally speaks up: “I hate to hear you say that, Jeff. My oldest is in Helmand province.” He pauses, moving his glasses from his nose to the top of his graying high-and-tight. “I think. He can’t tell me exactly where he is.”


    More here

    Mmh... the more I think of it, the more it is pleasing. I was always a sucker for real-time strategy games and it gives me a thrill to see board games on these topics. Need to check for these now.

    Monday, 13 January 2014

    Think you understand space? View this!

    Mind boggling, mind numbing. Deeply humbling.

    A fraction of a fraction is just about right.

    Brilliant infographic Makes for careful viewing...

    Comprehensive view of space and things inside it along with a timescale and distance [I didn't know till date that it takes sunlight 4 hours to reach Pluto. WOW. Kaput.

    Sunday, 12 January 2014

    Future - timeline of the far future

    Brilliant infographic from McCandless through BBC

    I have been following this guy off and on and his site is a visual treat too.

    Tuesday, 7 January 2014

    13 traits of mentally strong people

    Personally, I am not a great fan of numbered traits of any kind, whatsoever.

    But this seems worth ones while.

    Monday, 6 January 2014

    If you are a poor performer, chances are that you wouldnt be aware of it

    Seems intuitive and sensible. Now there is ample proof for it too.

    In a logic test administered to people who had volunteered over the internet, a team of researchers found that the lowest scorers vastly overestimated their performance, believing, on average, that they had gotten 7 out of 10 items right, when the actual figure was 0, according to Thomas Schlösser of the University of Cologne in Germany.

    I find that most interesting. Through HBR

    Thursday, 2 January 2014

    Gregorian Calendar - A geopolitical perspective

    As always, a brilliant 'un from Stratfor

    At its core, the modern calendar is an attempt to track and predict the relationship between the sun and various regions of the earth. Historically, agricultural cycles, local climates, latitudes, tidal ebbs and flows and imperatives such as the need to anticipate seasonal change have shaped calendars. The Egyptian calendar, for example, was established in part to predict the annual rising of the Nile River, which was critical to Egyptian agriculture. This motivation is also why lunar calendars similar to the ones still used by Muslims fell out of favor somewhat -- with 12 lunar cycles adding up to roughly 354 days, such systems quickly drift out of alignment with the seasons.
    The Gregorian calendar, introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, was itself an attempt to address the problems of its predecessor, the Julian calendar, which had been introduced by Julius Caesar to abolish the use of the lunar year and eliminate a three-month gap that opened up between the civil and astronomical equinoxes. It subsequently spread throughout the Roman Empire (and beyond as Christianity spread) and influenced the design of calendars elsewhere. Though it deviates from the time it takes the earth to revolve around the sun by just 11 minutes (a remarkable astronomical feat for the time), the Julian system overly adjusted for the fractional difference in year length, slowly leading to a misalignment in the astronomical and calendar years.

    Read more: The Geopolitics of the Gregorian Calendar | Stratfor
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