Friday, 31 August 2007

International House

International House is a dreamland for people who want to travel the world but can't afford it, yet.
It's a student residence funded by the Rockfeller Foundation, whose goal is to enable its members from around the world to live and learn together in a diverse residential community that builds life-long qualities of leadership, respect and friendship. 700 members, students and visiting scholars, are chosen from over 100 countries to create a vibrant community for mutual understanding and intellectual exchange.
So far, I've met people the usual international students from Germany, France, India, but there are also people from Iceland, Uruguay,Congo, Nigeria whose major include human-right activism, engineering, mathematic, musicology, and religion.
In my field of applied mathematics, the students from France are especially strong where they attended schools such as
École Polytechnique, École normale supérieure, and Ecole Supérieure d'Electricité. So the French are not the relaxed wine-drinkers I thought but are probably living up to the legacy of the likes of Cayley, Fermat, and Lagrange.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Ban Manhunt 2 - The correct decision

The recently released, shall we say release-planned video game Manhunt 2 has been recently banned by the BBFC in UK and also apparently banned in Italy, Ireland, and Australia. In the United States, it received an AO, Adults-Only, rating.

Great Decision.

Yes. I can hear the liberals screaming censorship and the breach of freedom of choice. But maybe they should first checkout the entirely sadistic overtone of the game. In one trailer, the game character sneaks upon an unsuspecting guard and then pulls out his vertebrae with a clamp in graphic detail. All while accompanied by laughter from the gamer behind the character who "committed" this torture through the virtual reality of the new Nintendo Wii device.
Even adult's freedom of choice are often restricted when the danger of the restricted material is deemed too high. For example, YouTube video posted by Mexican mobsters that shows the torturing of captured assassins got taken off. Yes i know that this video is real and the game is fake. But it still constitutes a breach of freedom of choice. The justification for this breach is the guarding of public safety.

Public safety you say? You must be thinking of how adults can distinguish between the fantasy of a violent game and the reality of a gruesome murder.

Well checkout the following comments from various Youtube videos relating to Manhunt2. violent video games give me hard-ons fuck that totally defeats the perpuose i rather order it online for the uncunt version then little bitch no gore version Even though it gets an AO rating I bet you anything 12 year olds will still have it... look when GTA came out. ROFL... my cousin was 12 at the time and he got it. Freaking insane man, but oh well... only in America...XD

Below is a really interesting comment: it doesnt matter its not real life ur not hurting anybody. and there has never been case where a video game actually made someone kill. and criminals who have said it made them do it were trying to get off free. its the parents job to monitor wut ur kids do. dont impose beleifs on other people

I think that's a great idea in an ideal society. But look at how dysfunctional families are in America and how irresponsible some parents are! The rampant cases of child abandonment and single motherhood must speak to how the government needs to step in as "Nannys" in extreme cases. Such as Manhunt 2.

Manhunt 2 might not drive most people to kill. But there's a good chance that it can turn a small number of people more violent. When weighing public safety against freedom of choice, public safety wins in this case.

Monday, 12 March 2007

Federal Reserve Conspiracy

Dear readers:

A distressing sign of ignorance came to me when I found the following YouTube video:

The author proclaims that the Federal Reserve bank is some kind of a capitalist scam design to "charge people interest rate for using paper-based money" and some how Roosevelt was part of the conspiracy by making it illegal to own gold. The middle of the video also makes reference to some kind of a Zionist conspiracy that involves controlling the world's monetary reserves.

The sadder thing is that most of the responses agree with the viewpoint in the video. Only one person tried in vain to ask people to learn about basic economics to understand the nature of paper-based currency and open market operations. He was, however, drowned out by the hollow cries of pie-throwing left-wing commies.

Saturday, 3 March 2007

Creative Destruction & Creative Inertia

Dear all,

The topic of interest that caught my recent easily-distractable attention has been that of "Creative Destruction". As I was reading about the justification behind illegalizing insider trading, I stumbled upon the term Creative Destruction.

This term was coined in 1942 by economist Joseph Schumpeter. A "conservative", free-market economist. He argued that the long-term growth of the economy is fueled by the continuous destruction of inefficient industries and business practices by newer, more innovative ones. It is cycle of continuous replacement that fuels economic advancement.

This continuous innovation in business practice demands continuous learning by employees as well. However, many people seem to think that they can use the same skills that they learned in their 20s for the rest of their life. And when employers tell them to keep their skills up to date, they form unions.

On a different note, one may refer to an analogous term called "Creative Inertia" citing the TV show Yes Minister. Creative Inertia refers to certain delay tactics that a bureacracy uses to stop action and progress. In the context of Yes Minister, the bureacracy is the British Civil Service. The technique comes in five stages and is in response to a new proposition by the elected minister:
1. Your administration is very new and it is too early to make any changes
2. The idea is certainly excellent, but are you sure that the proposal is the right way to make the change
3. Minister, this is not the right time for such proposal.
4. The proposal has ran into technical, political, and legal problems. Legal ones are the incomprehensible ones.
5. By this stage the technique should have worked for three years, and the response would be "Minister, there is a general election coming up very soon, are you sure you can get this policy through".

Interestingly enough, later the TV series, the episode "a Victory for Democracy" describes a similar technique for delaying any foreign aid that the Prime Minister intends to give. This is nomenclatured as the "Four Stage Strategy". When a foreign government asks for help and the PM desires the comply, the Foreign Office would say:
1. The situation is peaceful and there is nothing we should do.
2. There is something happening, but we should do nothing about it.
3. Maybe there is something we should do, but there's nothing we CAN do.
4. Maybe there was something we should've done, but's too late now.

I find these extremely hilarious both for their wit and in its inherent element of truth.

Saturday, 24 February 2007

Big News + Random News

Dear All,

Recently, a 8 1/2 by 11 piece of paper summarized and rewarded the toil and stride of my last four years. Yes, I was accepted into Columbia University's Ph.D. program in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research (link). My plan is to concentrate on financial engineering at their Center for Applied Probability. They even offered me a TAship that will pay for tuition, housing, and assorted goodies on the condition that I torture a subset of the 5000 or so undergrads at Columbia by hard grading and incomprehensible teaching. Just hope that they don't assign me to Engineering Calculus I. In the words of James Cook, "The long term psychological effects can be devastating."

Many of my friends, relatives, and family are very happy for me. Especially my parents. Now, I am two hours away from our home in New Jersey. I myself was more excited before the acceptance than after. This is the weird thing about human curiosity and desire. We usually want things that we don't have, but once we have them, it doesn't seem as interesting. Columbia is just another university, albeit much smaller than UofT. It seems to be quite cosmopolitan as well. My preferred place of residence is this place called International House (I-House). It seems to be a very diverse place full of vitality where grad students from all over the world gather and study, drink, celebrate, discuss, and suffer.

This Ph.D. program is a very safe route for me. I study hard, graduate, and find a decent job in financial modelling. However, I have a strong tendency to try to jump the system. Recently, I came up with a few business ideas but all of them seem to break some antitrust or racketeering law. I was told by some close friends that I should think outside the box, but still inside the lawful box......otherwise I might end up in a box.

The antitrust laws in the U.S. are quite comprehensive. Ever heard of this practice called bid-rigging? Suppose there is a government contract and two competitors (A&B) trying to grab the contract. Instead of trying to outbid each other, A & B get together and cooperate by keeping the bid price high. Afterwards, whoever wins the contract would subcontract or reward a portion of it to the loser. Well people, this is an anti-competitive practice so don't do it. If you do see it happening, you can file a complaint with the Justice Dept Antitrust Division here.

Laws are meant to be broken, or at least circumvented. This is surely the case of Vice-President Dick. Instead of bid-rigging, Dick simply issued a $7-billion no-bid contract to his former company Haliburton. When Democrat Senator Leahy tried to challenge Dick to this corrupt practice, Dick dismissed him and replied: "go fuck yourself." (Source) Nicely done Dick. This is almost as creative as former Enron officer Jeffrey Skilling's answer at his Harvard Business School interview. When asked whether he is smart or not, he smartly replied "I'm fucking smart." (Source)

Other area of law I've been interested in recently is labour law. I asked the question, why is it that white-collar jobs don't usually have unions? My proposed answer is that the working condition in white-collar jobs is not bad enough yet to warrant the risk of forming unions. Also, opportunities for promotion is quite frequent in white-collar jobs and most white-collar workers with the organizational and leadership skills to start unions are dying to jump into management.
Yes, there is risk to starting unions. Check out the Wal-Mart anti-union efforts in Quebec. A secret union was petitioned by the employees of Walmart at Jonquiere, Quebec. When intimidation didn't stop the unionization efforts, Walmart HQ decided to simply close the store down citing "profit concerns." (Read here) The better news is that countries like Germany have mandatory union requirements so Walmart is forced to recognize union workers in Germany.

Ok mates, this is the end of reading week and I have a ton of work to do. Still searching for an internship, got a newspaper issue to put out, and have to finish assignments in PDE, Real analysis, time series analysis, multivariate statistics, and stochastic calculus. I wish i'm in Afghanistan.

I have a blog now!

Ladies and Gentleman, welcome to the Oriental Freelancer.
Hopefully, this blog will serve to entertain and intrigue to the global mass of internet users to a string of random contents.