The Art of Not Wobbling

From a book that my brother was reading:

Whatsoever you do, just do it as totally as possible. Everything should be done in such a relaxed way that there is no effort in it. If you enjoy walking, good! If suddenly you realise that you no longer have the urge or desire to move, then sit down immediately; not even a single step should be taken against your will. One should not drag oneself. That dragging is the whole mechanism of the ego, the manipulator.

In Zen they have a very beautiful saying. They say,
just sit.
just walk.
Above all,
don’t wobble.


I read something recently, which implied the following - "We are modems. Walking, talking modems deciphering the analog and feeding it into the Web".

I thought it was interesting. Maybe we ARE really feeding large datasets to enable evolution of the next dominant species.


From Verlyn Klinkenborg, on NYTimes:
For the past week, I’ve been staying in northern Finland, just south of the Arctic Circle and a few kilometers shy of the restricted zone that marks the Russian border. This is the boreal forest, a place of almost surreal silence this time of year, when most of the birds have already migrated.

The first night I was here I stood in the middle of a bridge over a broad, slow-moving river that flows into Russia. It was dusk, a clear night, and I had come out to listen to nothing. There was no wind in the trees, not even the slightest breeze. The river below me was silent, and for the half-hour I stood there I heard not a sound.

I found myself checking, again and again, to see whether I had gone deaf. I popped my ears. I scuffed a shoe. I tossed a rock into an eddy along the river’s edge. I tapped the guard-rail with a knuckle. There was nothing wrong with my hearing. The human ear is not really meant for straining, and yet I was straining to hear. The silence felt more like an unnatural muffling of my senses than the porous stillness of the natural world, of which I was a part.

The next week I spent in and out of the forest, listening with my eyes, so to speak, and not my ears. It has been a cold, wet summer in Finland, a season filled with the sound of rain falling through the spruces and pines. All of the Finns I met grimaced when they talked about it, as if the summer had tasted like cold, weak coffee. But the past week has been dry, and every night there has been frost. The leaves are turning fast. A fog hangs above the river in the mornings, which only deepens the illusion of silence.

I say illusion because on my last night here, I went back to the bridge, again under a clear sky. There are long shadows even at midday this time of year, and dusk is still reluctant to give way to real darkness. As I stood there, I heard the faint, but quite audible roar of the rapids a half-mile downstream and around a great bend. Why had I not heard it that first night? The answer, I suppose, is that I was too busy not hearing the things I’m used to hearing, including the great roar that underlies the city’s quietest moments. It had taken a week to empty my ears, to expect to hear nothing and to find in that nothing something to hear after all.

A few years back, I was in a good discussion about how silence is what we really seek when we listen to music; about how music is structured silence. This article reminded me of that.

Steve Jobs, and Experience

At the D Conference this year, Steve Jobs made an interesting statement - If you want to hire bright and creative people, you can’t over rule them ... You can do that once or twice a year.

At the same conference, he also made another interesting statement during his much-hyped discussion with Bill Gates. When asked what he wished he could learn from Bill, he said it was Bill's (Microsoft's) ability to partner with other companies.

2 useful thoughts for the day.

Steve Jobs is notorious famous for his quirky management style. Fortune magazine famously called him "one of Silicon Valley's leading egomaniacs". So when this guy speaks about other "bright" people and about "partnership", you listen; he speaks from long experience.

Opium, and How India Created Hong Kong

Li Ka Shing, one of the world's richest people, is a name known to fewer people than one would expect. Astute followers of Indian business would have seen him mentioned recently, during the Vodafone acquisition of Hutch. Newspapers referred to him by his nickname - "Superman".

I was reading through his mini-bio on wikipedia. Li seems to have had a very competitive and ambitious spirit. He started his career by aiming to overtake his uncle, in terms of wealth. Later on in life, Li established a real estate company called Cheung Kong, with one stated aim being to take on Jardine Matheson, the then top real estate company of HK.

Which brings us to the topic of this post.
A goal Li Ka Shing announced when establishing Cheung Kong was to become bigger and more profitable than Jardine Matheson in real estate development. Jardines was founded in 1832 by two Scottish merchants William Jardine and James Matheson. They profited greatly by selling opium to local Chinese, which they sourced cheaply from Bengal and sold at exorbitant prices. The excess cash was used to buy land, construct offices and warehouses, deal drugs, export tea, and operate as a shipping insurance agent. In 1872, Jardines withdrew from the opium trade and diversified into sugar refining, textiles, property development and tramways. By going legitimate, the company became the biggest landlord in the territory's Central business district and transformed the barren island (Hong Kong) into a major international business center.

And that is how, my friends, I say that India enabled the creation of Hong Kong. :-)

The Psychology of Success

Guy Kawasaki's blog - 2 blocks snipped ..

Here’s some food for thought: perhaps this explains the inexorable march toward mediocrity of many (temporarily) great companies. Let’s say a startup is hot. It ships something great, and it achieves success. Thus, it’s able to attract the best, brightest, and most talented. These people have been told they’re the best since childhood. Indeed, being hired by the hot company is “proof” that they are the A and A+ players; in fact, the company is so hot that it can out-recruit Google and Microsoft.

Unfortunately, they develop a fixed mindset that they’re the most talented, and they think that continued success is a right. Problems arise because pure talent only works as long as the going is easy. Furthermore, they don’t take risks because failure would harm their image of being the best, brightest, and most talented. When they do fail, they deny it or attribute it to anything but their shortcomings.

And this is the beginning of the end.

For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.

Well. That, supposedly, was Hemingway's shortest story. All of 6 words. A very deep 6 words, if you ask me. What happened to the baby? Why were the shoes never worn? And why are they for sale? Many questions. I doubt I could write such 6 words.

So Wired asked popular sci-fi writers to write a story, in no more than 6 words. Arthur Clarke had an 11-word response "God said, 'Cancel Program GENESIS.' The universe ceased to exist." Personally, I think it could've been said in just 3 words "Cancel Program GENESIS". Brevity.

Some other 'stories' that I liked -
Internet "wakes up?" Ridicu - no carrier.
- Charles Stross

Epitaph: Foolish humans, never escaped Earth.
- Vernor Vinge

The baby’s blood type? Human, mostly.
- Orson Scott Card

It cost too much, staying human.
- Bruce Sterling

Singularity postponed. Datum missing. Query Godoogle?
- David Brin

He read his obituary with confusion.
- Steven Meretzky

Parallel universe. Bush, destitute, joins army.
- Steven Meretzky

To save humankind he died again.
- Ben Bova

On Affirmations ..

Scott Adams speaks about Affirmations, as a technique that makes things happen. Briefly put -
The idea behind affirmations is that you simply write down your goals 15 times a day and somehow, as if by magic, coincidences start to build until you achieve your objective against all odds.

But I would guess the biggest confusion here is that one doesn't know what one's affirmations should be.

If God were to grant you 3 wishes, would you really know what to ask for?

Interesting article on China

Here is an article that challenges popular perceptions about China. It references a few other articles, notably this WSJ article (subsc reqd).

Western views of an authoritarian central government in China that controls all activity in the country help to reinforce the misconception that there is a single China. There is no doubt that the central government is authoritarian, but it is easy to overstate the control it exercises throughout the country.

China’s leaders are caught in a trap as they cast around for ways to rein in investment. The old administrative methods – ordering state banks to stop lending, restricting land sales, halting government approvals for major projects – aren’t working as well as before, partly because local governments are defying Beijing.

Much of the economic growth of the country has been triggered by intense competition across municipal and provincial governments to attract private investment.

It is no longer (if it ever was) sufficient for companies to have a “China strategy” – they need to define a Shanghai strategy, Shenzhen strategy, etc.