Monday, January 21, 2019

ArtemisArtemis by Andy Weir
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Author Andy Weir tries to juggle too many balls here. But despite the lower lunar gravity (pun intended) he drops a lot of them.

The protagonist, Jazz, is basically a male engineer's fantasy of what a tough female protagonist would be like. An Arab Lara Croft if you will. While the author does establish that she is gifted, I quickly grew tired of her "You sound like my dad!" eye-roll moments. Not every 20-year old millennial needs to be a whiny (wo)man-child. Moments of genuine grace, even a few, go a long way in readers rooting for the protagonist.

There is (a lot of) multi-ethnic representation of characters in the story. Citizens of most races and nationalities get at least a passing mention. While the author does well to give his characters qualities that often differ from stereotypes, they come off as totally one dimensional. There is the strict/tough-love dad, the nerd longing for the heroine, the gay/platonic partner, the devious administrator, and the sleazy industrialist. But instead of the being all Americans, they are Arab, Ukrainian, American(?), Kenyan, and Norwegian respectively.

Like the The Martian, the villain in Artemis is the emptiness and vacuum of space. Jazz's improvised escape plans and a couple chase sequences are among the only engaging parts of the story.

Despite nailing the science, the author clearly struggled setting up the Artemis universe and writing from a point of view of a female protagonist. 4/5 for the effort. 1/5 for the novel.

View all my reviews

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Room - A Review

Author’s Note: I am thankful to Siddharth Gupta for pulling me out on a lazy Friday evening to watch this peach of a movie. Room was potent, powerful cinema. 

The story lingered in our thoughts as we left the theatre and beyond. None of us talked in the cab ride back to the ISB campus. “Life affirming” was what the blurb advertising the movie promised. Well this movie proves not all advertising is hogwash. 

I’ll be honest. I hate little boys. Such brats, little know-it-alls, miniature wreck-it-Ralphs. Little girls, in comparison are such angels. So proper, so caring, so composed. After Room, at least one little boy has redeemed himself. Jacob “Jack” Trembley saves his mother’s soul when she finds herself stuck in a modern-day horror story. The child is not precocious, simply tenacious, resilient and caring. He conquers his fears for the sake of his mother, not in a hedonistic way as in when parents often tell children to try this and that, and hope that something will stick, only if the child learns to enjoy it. No, Jack doesn’t like even one of the things he’s ready to try for the sake of his Ma; in fact he is terrified. But he does them nevertheless – for love.

The most powerful line in the movie is delivered by the child actor – “I pick for the both of us.” And his Ma lets him. After all why wouldn’t she listen to a person that comes to embody the best of her? 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Dainik Jargon - Everyday Economics - What is a platform?

Author's Note - The old adage of "Eat only what you kill" is true more today for our consumption of knowledge than our diet. Often we assimilate concepts without questioning the premise and grossly oversimplifying assumptions involved. 

Physics can get away with saying things like "This theory is only true in a vacuum in the absence of friction." That luxury cannot be extended to management science. It has a duty to explain the deviations, exceptions or failures of its concepts and theories. And what is our duty? To ask questions, of course. This article is an attempt to provide a farcical perspective to management and economic concepts. The idea is to go from "Are you kidding me?" to "Yes, it does make sense." I'd rather go from being a skeptic to a fan than the other way round.  

To market, to market, a gallop a trot,
To buy some meat to put in the pot;
Three pence a quarter, a groat a side,
If it hadn't been killed it must have died

- To Market, To Market (Nursery Rhyme)

On a chilly night on Dec 5 a year ago, Shiv Kumar Yadav, a driver registered with Uber raped a 27 year old female professional in Delhi. Litigation followed. Apart from arguing the case for stringent punishment for the accused, the prosecution insisted that Uber was also culpable in the crime. After all, by not conducting a thorough background check of the driver, it had exposed its customer to bodily harm.

Uber argued – not my car, not my driver, not my problem. You can’t touch me bitch, I am on the cloud.

Welcome to the new world of the Asset Light Model – a farcical Matrix like world where nothing is real and everything is a platform. What is a platform you ask? Well it’s a mystical entity that brings buyers and sellers together and takes a cut of the profit. Sound familiar? Of course it does, that is the job description of a pimp. Yup, the platform is basically a dalaal – available as an app on both iOS and Android. 

From the point of view of economics, it serves to mitigate information asymmetry, increase capacity utilization and prevent adverse selection.  Basically, guaranteeing a good fuck while reducing the risk of contracting syphilis. And if you still do, whispering “I told you so” and allowing you to rate your experience on a 5 star scale.

Historical evidence suggests a platform is rarely fair to both sides. Whichever side is not the key driver of the network effects gets shortchanged. It's good to know which side you're on. All in all, it is a smart business model that enables the company to take a simultaneous shot at becoming a monopoly and a monopsony. Kick-ass!
In retrospect, Uber did own up to the fiasco and agree to carry out more stringent checks before on-boarding drivers and also added an SOS button in their app. But they’ve set a dangerous precedent by suggesting that companies respond best to heckling and bans. Now I have a few choice hashtags ready next time I get screwed over by a marketplace and can’t find which side of the platform to punch in the face.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Innovation - solving problems

#innovationforneed what an example sirji
Posted by Dr.Jawahar Surisetti on Monday, 12 October 2015

Monday, September 28, 2015

Kahlil Gibran - The Madman: His Parables and Poems

You ask me how I became a madman. 

It happened thus: One day, long before many gods were born, I woke from a deep sleep and found all my masks were stolen,—the seven masks I have fashioned and worn in seven lives,—I ran maskless through the crowded streets shouting, “Thieves, thieves, the cursed thieves.” Men and women laughed at me and some ran to their houses in fear of me. And when I reached the market place, a youth standing on a house-top cried, “He is a madman.” I looked up to behold him; the sun kissed my own naked face for the first time. For the first time the sun kissed my own naked face and my soul was inflamed with love for the sun, and I wanted my masks no more. And as if in a trance I cried, “Blessed, blessed are the thieves who stole my masks.” Thus I became a madman. 

And I have found both freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us. 

But let me not be too proud of my safety. Even a Thief in a jail is safe from another thief.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Them Eyes

Bright young mind, slick with grease

Was meant to glide, not to freeze

My love, my eyes meant to be my lube

Saw too much, and choked my tube

Monday, May 18, 2015

Dainik Jargon - Clubbed to Death - the election edition

Clubbed to Death

Barely a month into ISB, election season is upon us. The hullabaloo serves as a welcome break from the tedium of academics. I mean, who wouldn't love losing that useless mail  about a submission deadline in an endless heap of reminders to display enthu for aforementioned club. 

However, I am a little cross. I think the current catalog of clubs on offer fails to provide enough hot air to fully inflate my aspirational balloon. In my rapid climb to the top of the Maslow's pyramid at ISB, I need a few more rungs to settle and catch my breath. Here is a list of clubs I would like to see form and frolic. 

Fight Club
No no - no fisticuffs. Since we are all civilized and suited individuals, this a platform where we will settle disputes with verbal altercations with time tested traditions of verbal volleys and yelling matches. To join, you need to be a thoroughly detestable individual with an acid tongue and a caustic personality. Also it doesn't need external funds. The club will be financed through bets placed on verbal duels, every Thursday at the acad square.

Single Malt Club
As an alternative to the other madira based club - I suggest this awesome excuse of a club. In stead of pretending to be sophisticated while swirling red and white concoctions in long stemmed chute like glasses, we can pretend to be manly while sitting in a circle sipping expensive liquor, on the rocks, in ISB coffee cups and eating moong-daal namkeen.

Singles Club
This probably has some overlap with the music club. This is a club to appreciate and critique legendary songs that were not released as part of an album - classic rock singles, alt rock singles, well even Sonu Nigam singles. There is a possibility this club might attract a certain crowd by virtue of its name. My advice is - Shoo! Go away! Don't jinx us happy people with your single ready to mingle curse!

and last...

Bad Dancers' Club
As part of my 360 degree feedback, my colleagues mentioned my bad dancing as a potentially career ruining, leadership unraveling weakness.  After a 4-squared MAPS analysis to draw a straight line from where I was to where I wanted to go, I bumped headlong into a pole. Apparently, the dance club at ISB was out of bounds for bad dancers. I complained loudly and asked them to change their name to "(only if you can) Dance Club." After b-boying me out of the premises, the dance club enthusiasts asked me to go somewhere else. The proposed Bad Dancers' Club is my answer to that. In your face graceful and coordinated people!