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Google GeoEye: 'Big Brother' for the whole World?

JOHN DE MOL TOOK THE OLD PRISON CONCEPT of confinement, absorbed its mentality, attached psychological strings, created a manipulative environment, introduced conflicting personalities into it, televised it via mass media, commercialised it by asking people to pay by "voting", and produced through Endemol one of the most popular reality TV shows "Big Brother". While the producers claim that the show is not scripted, it surely remains a prompted show. The show now runs to various international formats in nearly 35 host countries, and is broadcast to more than 100. The central concept of the show is that one is always being watched all the time so far as one is within the premise of the designated Big Brother house . You can run, but you can't hide. Expand this premise to cover the whole world, and we get close to the Google GeoEye project. On September 6, 2008, the world's most-accurate commercial imaging satellite, the GeoEye-1 was blasted off into the sp

The Financial Crisis: Who Let the Dogs Out

THE DEAL.COM HAS THIS USEFUL illustration explaining at a high-level chain of events leading to the current US financial crisis. The editor chose to describe it as chain-of-fools: [Above: TheDeal.com illustration of chain-of-events leading to the US Financial crisis.] The TIME MAGAZINE for this week features "Depression 2.0" through the following front-page across all editions worldwide. As the cover-story, economist Niall Ferguson narrates why it may not happen: [Above: A B&W photo of depression-era Free soup line in the U.S. featuring as the cover page of 13 Oct 2008 issue of the Time mag.] Update: Embedded this interesting video on the (simplified) explanation on "Crisis of Credit". The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis . See also: Related article: Sub-prime Crisis for Dummies . Go here for WIRED.COM version of "economic explanations [of the crisis] even we could understand" targeted towards the techie community.

The Financial Crisis: Explanations

HERE IS AN HONEST STATEMENT OF ALL by Kedrosky and so I found an echo in his words below - especially the last line: I pity [US] taxpayers wandering into the credit crisis story at this point. It is absurdly complex, and centers on a subject that most people neither care about nor understand. And the last time they looked in they were told this was about subprime and housing, which it no longer is -- at least not in large part. Instead, it is a costly and complex saga involving the unwinding of global credit markets, overlaid with debt syndication, new derivatives, the collapse of the investment banking business, the changing nature of leverage, flawed risk models, structured finance, greed, the housing bacchanalia, savings, paranoia about prior credit crises, and the paradox of thrift. Don't forget, of course, populist political pandering in an election year. Is it any wonder that most of even the most well-intentioned commentary on the current crisis sounds clueless, unhelpful

The Machine is Us/ing Us -- by Michael Wesch

THIS APPARENTLY IS A GREAT START OF THE WEEKEND: watching this very interesting and equally famous clips by Michael Wesch, Prof. of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University. [Above: this 5 minute clip is about ‘Web 2.0’, but it in fact narrates how IT works today, and has got integrated into social human lives. Apparently, this is also food for thought for the next business transformation endeavour...] The 33 year old highly tech savvy Anthropologist also has this another great short clip on the same subject, this time on Information R/evolution - here on YouTube. [Go here for Michael Wesch's personal pages on Kansas State Uni website.] [Go here for the first clip about Web2.0 on YouTube.]

Lehman Bros Files for Bankruptcy Protection

THE 158 YEARS OLD INVESTMENT BANK FROM THE WALL ST. was finally 'allowed' to go bankrupt by the Federal Govt. By one observation time was against Lehman on two accounts - plenty as well as too short: on one hand, time was too short for them to find a suitable buyer and thus save filing for bankruptcy protection; on the other hand, their stakeholders were considered to have sufficient time to make appropriate arrangements and were thus considered fit to fend for themselves (and go bankrupt... Unlike in the case of Bear Stearns which was prevented from going bankrupt by being 'purchased' by JP Morgan and thus its stakeholders were rather spared). It is not perhaps how large Lehman is and the impact it would generate; the real point to ponder is - is it the first is line? and, who would be next? Also, is the market at large really ready for a new phase of consolidation? What is with the rumors of BofA and Merrill Lynch merger? And while there is enough flux in motion,

Sen. John McCain's George Bush Problem

THE EDITORIALS FROM THE LAST WEEK'S EDITION OF THE ECONOMIST declared that with respect to the Presidential election in the US, Republican Sen. McCain is almost tied with his Democratic contender Sen. Barack Obama on most opinion polls - something that was deemed inconceivable just a month ago. And add to that the enormous popularity - almost a jackpot for the Republicans, if you like - that the Republican Veep nominee, "the 'hot' Governor from the cold state", Gov. Sarah Palin garnered at the National Republic Convention early this week virtually pumped a fresh breath of life into the 2008 US Presidential race. Siting the issue as McCain's George Bush problem and the need to distance himself from the incumbent President, the editorial goes on to conclude that "he sounds increasing like Bush III; [the American public] prefer McCain I".

Wordle: Measuring Yourself Up in Your Own Words

REGULAR BLOGGERS USE TAG-CLOUDS, and the sincere ones use them wisely. Whilst on one hand the tags help organise and categorise the posts and thoughts therein, they also help the author not to stray too much away (a cluttered tag-cloud is most likely an apparent symptom of this) from the topics and interests the blog is intended for and targeted towards in the first place. On the other hand, the blog posts are made up in real language using real words that make up the composition by the author. And since the author has his/her own style with grammar and sentence construction, it forms a pattern or trend of words used to produce those thoughts marked under the given tags. Wordle.net offers this beautiful applet utility that instantly creates a "word-cloud" by consuming your blog feed. Taking it one step further, one can then match this world cloud with the tag cloud of the blog, and make interesting inferences. [Above: Word-cloud from the recent posts of this blog by Wordle

The Fastest Men at the Olympics

IT TAKES YEARS TO SHED SECONDS OFF RECORD TIMINGS, and that has been the order of all major sports event, especially the Olympics Games. "Faster, Higher, Stronger" (Latin: Citius, Altius, Fortius ) is the motto of the Olympics events, and whilst it absolutely lives up to that expectations, the bar thus raised however poses faster, higher and stronger challenges to the human capacities; every single time. (Mr. Ketan J. Patel, founder and head of the Strategic Group at Goldman Sachs, in this very interesting book "The Master Strategist" published earlier this year provides a very interesting analysis and analogy on the topic of such a human endeavour where Patel observes that we indeed live in the age of extremes.) Usain "Lightening" Bolt of Jamaica is clearly my hero of the 2008 Summer Olympics games at Beijing, as with many others. Here is an athlete in what is called a championship form - with spirit exuberant that "no one can beat me today"

Five Lessons from Sub-prime Crisis

PHILIP J. PURCELL, FORMER CEO AND CHAIRMAN OF MORGAN STANLEY, proposed the big five lessons for bankers coming out of the current Sub-prime crisis of the US. For the record, during Mr. Purcell's tenure as CEO at Morgan Stanley for eight years the firm attained following milestones at the close of 2004: #1 in global equity trading #1 in global equity underwriting in 2004 for first time since 1982 #1 global IPO market share in 2004 #2 in global debt underwriting in 2004, with steady gains since late '90s #2 in completed global M&A in 2004 Mr. Purcell resigned from Morgan Stanley in 2005, and has since founded a private equity firm called Continental Investors LLC. Following are the 'lessons' that he recently discussed through an article in FT: i) profits matter more than revenues ( sales ) ii) compensation should be based on profits, margins and return on equity over time, not current year revenues iii) leverage works not just on the upside but on the downside

Golden Gift for India at 2008 Summer Olympics

FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER IN THE HISTORY OF MODERN INDIA as well as modern Olympics, the Indian National Anthem was sounded for the podium Gold position in an individual event. A moment of pride for any Indian national/origin anywhere. The German media person standing nearby the Indian supporters' stand at Beijing Shooting Range Hall was as perplexed as the Indians themselves. The German was stumped for his lack of knowledge of India never making it to the Gold in the history of the nation or the games; the Indians were stumped and elated of course because their shooter finally made it! It is perhaps the best gift that India ever received from a peaceful sports event thus far. Abhinav Bindra , the 26 year old businessman from Chandigarh, an MBA from USA and CEO of his own video-game company, at his third Olympics appearance aimed a near perfect bullseye in 10m Air Rifle event and brought India home with its first Gold in an individual event at the Olympics - classic or modern. And w

08.08.08 - World Watches as China Arrives with the Olympics

ONE OF THE MOST MESMERIZING EXPERIENCES OF RECENT TIMES, the live performance of the opening ceremony of the 29th modern Olympics at Beijing surpassed all expectations. Even the foreign correspondence who have been in Beijing since a few months, measuring the air-quality, spying, and commenting on the build-up, and covering the unveiling of the Olympics, in spite of having stolen away a video footage from the rehearsals a week ago, were neither aware of nor prepared for the enthralling experience of the pinnacle event - lighting of the Olympics torch... [Above: Li Ning "walks" on the walls, with the backdrop of video panels on the edge of the roof of Bird's Nest , on his way to light the 29th Modern Olympics torch at Beijing on August 8th, 2008 at 08.08pm CST. Here is this footage on YouTube. ] Unquestionably, China has arrived. Hello World! As they say, well began is half done... And going by the analyst reposts , I suppose the icing on the cake for them would be

Sub-prime Crisis for Dummies

THE CLOUD OF SUB-PRIME CRISIS JUST GOT HEAVIER, DARKER AND LARGER. The New York Times reported that the Federal Government may assume direct control of the two of the biggest mortgage-finance companies in the US to bail them out: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These two have nearly 45% of mortgage market share between them, and could potentially tank about USD 5 trillion if they go down. On the other hand, the bail-out of this magnitude might blow away credibility of USD, and imperilling the Fed budget. [Left: Nose-dive - from USD 70 per share last year to USD 9 per share. source: Reuters.com] There is a sense of politics being involved since the NYT report of "nationalization" came out earlier this week. This further took a large chip off the share prices of both and the decline continued for the whole week in spite of confident building reports from the promoters. Fannie Mae's stock, for one, has lost most of its value, swooning from peaks around $70 in August 2007 to

HBR: "The Right Way To Be Fired"

NO EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT HAS A PERMANENCY CLAUSE. The category "permanent employee" is only to differentiate one from temps - both remain time-bound nonetheless. There may be a clause in the employment contract talking about retirement age of an employee, and rather misleadingly, that might go on to give an impression to the newly joined that her job is secure and permanent until the age of say 60 years. However, in reality that section of the employment terms is just another clause suggesting when would you be required to leave your present job. As the "globalization" story propagates to more and more regions and industries, it is getting increasingly important, especially to the optimistic lot like myself too young for that retirement age yet, that the realities of the impermanent nature of jobs and employment be realised, the sooner the better, such that one can make a more informed and rewarding career planning. They also call it acting "professional".

"mind × the + gap" overhauled (July '08)

AFTER SPENDING NEARLY 6 MONTHS under the old 'skin', I thought it was almost time to give " Mind the Gap " an overhaul in look-and-feel. And trust me, it turned out to be a worthwhile and satisfying weekend indeed: Loading up Photoshop for 'grafix' on one hand and coding/debugging xHTML, css, js, and the whole of tech jargon on the other. Almost reliving the time ten years ago, the dot-com boom, and designing, developing and coding of websites with a passion of a rather naive young rookie, just "out-of-the-box" programmer! It was annoying to some degree that Google has most of its products and services under Beta - and they never seem to move out of wrappers. You hardly see any changes or progress. In specifics, I was not happy at all with the tiny collection of templates that are available by default with the Blogger system (have you ever visited any of those beautiful WordPress or LiveJournal pages of your friends (or competition) that left you

4th of July, The US National Anthem, and Outsourcing

THE U. S. CELEBRATES ITS INDEPENDENCE DAY TODAY, July 4th. The custom involves the state sponsored fireworks accompanied by songs such as the National Anthem - The Star-Spangled Banner . [Right: A Ganges-class ship, to which HMS Minden belonged, at war with French Navy in 1806.] The national anthem, which originally was a poem titled "Defence of Fort McHenry" was written by one Francis Scott Key. Mr. Key, a lawyer by profession, was visiting certain British officials at Royal Navy ships at that time. The point in case here is that the ship HMS Minden , a Ganges-class ship, aboard which this national anthem is first conceived and written was Made in India . The ship was built by one Mr. Jamshedji Bomanji Wadia, a merchant of Bombay. And by this account of trivia, the Outsourcing relationship, as it were, between the US and India is as old as 1801 when this ship was first built at Bombay dockyard, one of the best ship-building dockyards of the world at the time. Happy 4

Who Pockets the Extra Money I Pay For Gas?

THERE IS NO PLACE CALLED "KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY" in the world as of now. But perhaps it wouldn't be long before we see a spot on Google Earth with such a name having 3 million in population, partly thanks to the sky-rocketing Oil prices. Interesting Headlines: "The Crude At Rude Prices" and "Oil Crises called Oil Prices" The crude prices reached a historical record USD 145 per barrel - nearly doubling compared to the previous year. A barrel holds 42 US gallons or about 159 litres of crude oil, making it USD 0.91 for 1 litre - almost double from USD 0.44 per dollar last year. This is the purchasing price of crude oil from the OPEC countries, and is not yet usable. The actual process is much more complicated, but at a very high level, it follows steps like transport it, refine it, process it, transport it again, store it, distribute it and make available at the local gas station. This adds additional costs to the original purchase price of Oil.

So Long, King Gates

FINALLY, THE IT TZAR TAKES THE BACK SEAT. And as Mr. Bill Gates completes his last full working day by the EOD today - June 27, 2008 - at his Richmond, WA office in the US , an era of Biggest, Richest, and Fastest draws towards a change. Call him Innovator , Software Evangelist , Chief Software Architect , or by any other name, above all, Mr. Gates is a successful businessman, Zero-to-billions kind. And that is how I would want to reckon him, for Mr. Gates is not perhaps a mesmerising orator, neither a charismatic leader, nor a magnanimous personality. Even if he is all of these, they rather remain secondary, for the bottomline is, Mr. Gates knows business, does business and means business. Period. Arguably the world's most famous dropout - and thus perhaps the tallest example that education and money may not have a direct corelation - wrote the first BASIC compiler 17 years ago, and left the legacy as the world's richest man with such words: "There is nobody getting ric

"The Beautiful Mind" Turns 80

"The special commodity or medium that we call money has a long and interesting history. And since we are so dependent on our use of it and so much controlled and motivated by the wish to have more of it or not to lose what we have we may become irrational in thinking about it and fail to be able to reason about it as if about a technology, such as radio, to be used more or less efficiently..." -- John F. Nash , lecture at CII in Mumbai, Feb 2007 IF THE WORLD IS CONSIDERED A "CLOSED SYSTEM", deeming it a Zero-sum game, Nash Equilibrium could certainly offer a different meaning to the notion of money, and thus, to the word richness or net-worth and the world economy. [Today, June 13, John F. Nash, Jr. turns 80. A humble tribute to the 1994 Nobel Laureate legend.] Arguably, the Nash equilibrium is the single game theoretic solution concept that is most frequently applied in economics. In terms of strategy and planning, the equilibrium could be simplified as

ImagineCup 2008 - Runnup

"Achieve What You Can Imagine." --imaginecup.co.uk invention, innovation, inspiration, imagination... If any of the i's tantalise you, entertain yourself with this cute little 1.5 minute teaser video, which in fact is a runnup to the ImagineCup 2008 due this month. "Great innovators don't imagine things in the future; They imagine them in the present, and change the future..." Go here for a list of Software Project designs that made it to the semi-finals of the innovation competition this year. [The video above is one among many created by the students of Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication. Go here for the video on YouTube, and here for other possibilities from Microsoft.] Edit: The '08 finals will be held in Paris between July 3 and 8, 2008.

Clinton bows out of the race to the 'White'house

Yahoo: Clinton suspends campaign, endorses Obama . And now, it is 'young' Barack Obama pitted against 'experienced' Mr. McCain. Let's suppose that Senator Obama continues the momentum, wins over the Clinton vote-split, manages to prove that young is the new 'old', defeats the myth by showing that change could also be other than what is loose in your trouser pocket, and finally makes it to the 'White'house, should he rename it? [Above: Girls from Obama village in Japan dancing for Barack Obama's campaign.] Talking about names, I am almost certain that it is purely coincidental that Baraq Obama sounds so similar with the two other major disasters for the Bush Administration: Iraq Osama Edit: Oh, by the way, Obama's middle name, through his Kenyan father, is Hussein - as in Saddam Hussein...