Category: Not So Serious

Books Recommended in Books

I mostly read only ebooks since a few years now.
 
A lot of good non-fiction books usually mention a few more good books that the authors found relevant. However, even if you highlight them as you read, it is tough to find the names later on. Especially if you didn’t make a note of them. You’d have to go through the book or highlights to find those names again. Before you forget.
 
What if authors did one of the following:
  • Used a common phrase each time they referred to or recommended a book in their book. Something like ‘XYZ, a book written by ABC’
  • Or separately list out the books at the end of the book
The latter would help both physical books and ebooks. The first would help search for the specific phrase (“a book written by”) in the ebook, thus turning up results of all the books mentioned in it
 
Now all that needs to be done is suggest this to authors, and to remember it myself if I ever get to writing another book.
Pic source: link

Invade for Better Climate

Random musings.
 
Every once in a while, mom would pester me to explore opportunities abroad. Canada in particular for some reason.
 
And between my love for an imaginary idea called ‘India’, familiarity and wanting to do something in the country I was born in, among reasons not to look for opportunities especially in Canada or the US, was the weather. The American summer holidays, working out for the summer body, etc., etc., gave me the impression that people there merely just exist and go about 9-10 months in anticipation of the 2 months of life and warm weather.
 
And we have that here, at least in Bombay all year round. Apart from the monsoons that is. And the few days or weeks of light chill that is our equivalent of hell freezing over. 🤣
 
If you were to randomly consider invasions in the past few hundred years, I wonder if crappy weather might have been a big reason for people to invade other countries in the hope of better weather.
The Brits, the Mongols, the Chinese, the Japs, the Russians.
 
Those invaded or attacked: South America, India, Australia, Africa.
 
And why didn’t the other countries in the north invade others, you might ask? Maybe because they didn’t have the means or the inclination? So they more likely found simpler ways to co-exist…for 9-10 months in anticipation of the 2 months of life and warm weather? 😉

Religious Fashion

Religious Fashion
 
Was chatting with a friend about religion.
 
I randomly correlated religion with fashion. Or people’s dressing sense, if you will.
People either have their own style, or in most cases, they follow one of the broader trends or safer dressing styles.
Which is all good.
 
Problems only arise when one or a few of them, for no reason, starts having a problem with what someone else is wearing.
If, or as long as that does not happen, everyone’s content with what they’re wearing.
 
If only that were as simple, with clothes or religion. Or race.
 

Bitter Gourd Chips

Don’t worry, this is not a lock-down, culinary achievement post!

I recently had these bitter melon/gourd (karela in Hindi) chips. An interesting paradox – using an ingredient that’s great for health and known for reducing cholesterol, and then deep frying it is fascinating. But the result, are chips that are far better than potato wafers or banana chips. And you might even get this subtle sub-conscious reassurance that you’re eating something healthy.

Navigating Airport Security

Navigating airport security… A cartoon strip..

If you own, manage or work at a company, and are grappling with a complex challenge or are in need of innovation for growth, get in touch. More here.

And you might find my book, ‘Design the Future’ interesting. It demystifies the mindset of Design Thinking. Ebook’s on Amazon, and paperbacks at leading online bookstores including Amazon & Flipkart.

Vulnerability of Tech Processes and Human Decisions

Vulnerability of Tech Processes and Human Decisions
Here are two interesting incidents I came across online in the last week. One, about a seemingly harmless vulnerability in an online service’s process. The other, a possible vulnerability in human decisions in a human-dependent, traditional business.
First of, a French literary buff, conducted an interesting experiment. It was to check his hypothesis, that the standards of publishing have fallen significantly. Writer Serge Volle, took 50 pages of one of the novels of a Nobel laureate Claude Simon, and sent it to 19 French publishers as his original work. Interestingly, 12 of the publishers flatly rejected it. The others never replied.
While one could argue that publishers might have felt the content or style of this 1962 works, was not relevant for modern readers. However, one could also say that if these people can’t identify quality, how right are we to trust them with deciding if your works are good enough for readers or not.
You can read about the incident here: link
The other incident is even more amusing. An industry colleague of mine in the Design Thinking space shared this one on a group. A writer with an unusual name, Oobah (Butler), once upon a time, used to take small fees from local restaurants to write fake, glorifying reviews about them on TripAdvisor, even if he had never eaten at those restaurants.
And this seemingly huge chink in the TripAdvisor process, got him thinking if he could better himself. And he did. He decided to list his messy shed as a restaurant on TripAdvisor, and then made it London’s top-rated restaurant, without having served a single dish. How bloody cool is that?!
TripAdvisor folks later justified, saying their effort is largely channeled around eliminating fake reviews. Nobody in their right sense would create, or benefit from creating a restaurant that doesn’t exist. But it still is a gaping hole in the process.
Point being, as we continue to be wowed by the latest of apps that simplify our lives dramatically, teams at those companies need to be constantly aware of how their simple-to-use service can be abused.
You can read about the hilarious ‘Taking TripAdvisor on a Trip’ article here: link

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Ghost Rider

Ghost Rider

India has seen a meteoric rise in the number of vehicles on its roads. And with it, driving sense and etiquette have disappeared into oblivion. I’ll agree I’m not too great a driver myself. But few things anger me as much as bikers riding on the wrong side of the road.

And it’s still ok if a rider only risks his own life. But many of them even dare with their family sitting pretty, pillion. And then there are those that ride on footpaths (sidewalks), risking lives of unsuspecting pedestrians too.

I’m not sure how you deal with them, but if it’s just a bloke riding alone on the wrong side, I normally go straight at them, with lights on high beam. I might swing out at the last moment, or just slow down but continue, making them stop and pull to the side as I drive past. I’m quite sure that makes no difference though. The cops don’t seem to be in any hurry to even start addressing these riders who risk lives to save insignificant minutes or fuel.

Ok, now imagine this. A holographic projector fitted on a car that creates a very real-looking holographic image of a bike or car next to it. The purpose being to deter bikers from riding on the wrong side of the road.

Obviously the image would be unbelievably real enough and appearing to leave no space for the bikers to squeeze through. The image obviously wouldn’t stop or slow down, just keep coming. I wonder if that could be enough to frighten the hell out of the rider? And while the rider would eventually pass through the image, it would hopefully frighten them out of their skin, leaving them puzzled and horrified enough never to ride on the wrong side again.

Sure it is a slightly more expensive alternative to good old effective traffic enforcement, but I’m sure it would be fun to experiment with while the enforcers get their act together.

And this below, isn’t a ghost car, just an insanely cool see-through 1939 Pontiac Deluxe Six.

Ghost Car 1939-pontiac-deluxe-six-ghost-car

Image [source]

ghost carImage [source]

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Hope you don’t have a Rolled Model?

Hope you don’t have a Rolled Model?

We all have role models? Well, at least most of us do. And can we ever admire them enough?

While it’s great if you have idols or role models, something I suggest to friends and acquaintances is that you should not be amazed by your role models. Instead, find out what it is about them that amazes you and earns your respect and admiration. Identify those specific characteristics in them, instead. We  don’t need ‘rolled’ [all-inclusive] models.

Why we admire someone could be something as lame as for their looks or acting skills. It could be their perseverance, or selflessness, truthfulness or their ice cold negotiation skills or the ability to win consistently. But whatever it is, instead of just staring with dropped jaws at a poster of your role model, sit and think about “why” you admire about them.

I’ll safely assume that your role model is human. That said, we all have our flaws; even our larger-than-life role models most probably do (perhaps with the exception of Mother Teresa). And therein lies the problem. People are a sum of their different characteristics, habits, behavior traits, etc. And some of those are excellent, some horrible.

So, whenever we admire a person, it is usually for one or more good traits they have. But since the selection happens on a slightly unconscious level, we tend to admire the person in their entirety, often accepting their negative or less desirable traits as part of the acceptable.  You’ll probably agree if you thought about the last time you argued with someone about why a public figure is liked, admired or hated so much. Blind admiration could cause us to unconsciously inculcate negative traits too; after all, our role models are just so great.

If we admire people specifically for certain characteristics they possess, we identify directly with those qualities in them; qualities that we perhaps desire to have. That, then lets us allow ourselves to be inspired and shaped by specifically those characteristics. 

While I was growing up, many of us dreamed to be like the classy and flamboyant Vijay Mallya. But after he denied his airline employees their salary for months on end, he suddenly didn’t seem so respectable. Tiger Woods will probably never get the admiration he once enjoyed, even if he were to play better than he ever has. Lance Armstrong is a classic example too.

Tip: Whoever your role model, also make a mental note of what skills or character traits make them your role model.

‘Details’ don’t complicate things. Instead, they provide a simpler view of how and why things are. Don’t avoid details, go look for them.

people-man-characteristic-attitude-pictogram-27880388.jpg (800×800)

Image: link

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Dark Knight Rising, Batpod Skidding

Dark Knight Rising, Batpod Skidding

You know how we sometimes have a tendency to give our ‘expert’ views on something that already seems perfect, and how, according to us, it could have still been better?

Experts will agree that in areas of personal strengths and weaknesses, it is always better to focus on our strengths rather than our weaknesses. But in some other areas, the attitude can sometimes seem unnecessary. For instance, the way some people comment or curse when according to them, a sportsperson already giving his or her all, could have still done better. Where lazy beer-sipping spectators, with the other hand drowned in a bag of chips, somehow feel they know better.

In this post, I too am guilty of something to that effect. My views are about the Batpod design in a movies series that is already almost perfect. But don’t take it personally, as I am probably a bigger Batman fan than you are.

Christopher Nolan‘s franchise gave us the best 3 Batman movies ever. Apart from Batman himself, the brilliant plot, an eternally loyal Alfred, outstanding characters, an unforgettably dark Joker, Bane, Mr. Fox, and all the darkness; a treat for fans.

When it came to Batman’s crazy rides, I found something a little wrong with the Batpod, in The Dark Knight and in The Dark Knight Rises.

BatPod (1)

It is undoubtedly a neat looking ride, especially when you see it disengage from a badly damaged Tumbler. But there’s a scene almost immediately after that bit, that doesn’t make sense from the point-of-view of the Batpod’s design. You’ve noticed the guns on either side of the front wheel of the Batpod. And we’ve all seen how the Batpod skids to a halt, its wheels spinning on the axle. It looks especially neat when Batman comes out of a narrow alley, and you can see the lights on the forward guns spin with the tyre. In case that bit is a little hazy, here’s a video to jog your memory. [the spin happens after 0.55 secs into the video]

So, the bit I didn’t understand is, that when the wheels of the Batpod are spinning on a skid, how is it physically possible to do so with the guns present?

batpodwire

image: link

Because as soon is anything but rubber is in contact with the road, it would send the Batpod or any other vehicle, spinning anywhere but where you’d hope for it to go. No friction, right? And there don’t seem to be any rubber-like material on the outer side of the guns either. And neither are the guns shaped to make the cross-section circular, to make for a smooth spherical roll while skidding.

That said, I’d still most certainly own a Batpod if I could.

Batpod3

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A to B to C

A to B to C

This one is in connection to some earlier posts on ‘Impactful brevity’ and on effective communication (So what’s your Point?). A friend recently sent me a hilarious video on WhatsApp that somehow reminded me of an incident from high school that I was surprised I remembered. Wonder how the memory had managed to survive in the junk in my head for so long.

Here’s what had happened. During a Physics lecture somewhere in high-school, our teacher was explaining to us, the oscillation of a pendulum. We drew the oscillating pendulum, which looked something like the one below, and we noted the definition as instructed, which read something like, “one oscillation of the pendulum, is when the pendulum moves from point A-C-A-B-A, or from B-A-C-A-B, or from C-A-B-A-C.” The definition seemed a little amusing, but I guess there weren’t many other ways to define it

image: TutorVista.com

While studying for the upcoming test, and this was probably the simplest definition; a realization hit me. It was that the definition completely depended on the drawing or image, and that it would be meaningless without it. Then another thought hit me. That I was probably really stupid to make such a big deal of something so obvious.

When we got our test scores, having scored reasonably well, I was quite upbeat. The teacher, while reviewing overall performance, mentioned the question on oscillation. I wondered, the definition couldn’t possibly have gotten any easier, so why was he bothering to mention that. He said, that a good number of students in class had defined oscillation with the ‘A-C-……’ definition, but had not drawn the diagram, and hence their definition was meaningless, and it didn’t get them any scores for that answer. Damn, I thought. Suddenly, my realization didn’t feel all that stupid.

Here’s the funny video that reminded me of it. Hope you enjoy a good laugh, like I did. And yeah, things aren’t always as obvious as they might seem.

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