Entries for October, 2009

This is my meta-funny story of the day.

Due to a rather packed schedule, I didn't have time to grab lunch. I asked one of my coworkers to pick me up some lunch from the local burger joint.

During one of my quarterly reviews, I started chowing down on my burger. Steve, who was conducting the review with me, realized how awesome my burger was. After the 1pm review had wrapped up, he went over to grab a burger, which he then started eating during our 2pm engineering meeting.

That triggered Damien to decide he too, wanted a burger; he went to grab one himself after the 2pm meeting.

I'm such a trendsetter ;)

FYI: NC from October 23rd - November 2nd! YAY!

Posted by roy on October 2, 2009 at 02:18 AM in MindTouch | 1 Comments

Posted by roy on October 3, 2009 at 02:19 AM in Ramblings | Add a comment

Posted by roy on October 3, 2009 at 05:43 PM in Sports | Add a comment

Nineteen Eighty-Four is my favorite book. Muse is one of my favorite bands. Fitting that Muse ends up writing a song which perfectly fits the story of Winston and Julia on their latest album:

Muse - Resistance

Is your secret safe tonight?
And are we out of sight?
Or will our world come tumblin' down?
Will they find our hiding place?
Is this our last embrace?
Or will the walls start caving in?

(It could be wrong, could be wrong)
But it should've been right
Let our hearts ignite
Are we digging a hole?
This is outta control
It could never last
Must erase it fast
But it could've been right
(It could be wrong, could be)

Love is our resistance
They keep us apart and they won't stop breaking us down
And hold me, our lips must always be sealed

If we live our life in fear I'll wait a thousand years
Just to see you smile again
Quell your prayers for love and peace
You'll wake the thought police
We can hide the truth inside

(It could be wrong, could be wrong)
But it should've been right
Let our hearts ignite
Are we digging a hole?
This is outta control
It could never last
Must erase it fast
But it could've been right
(It could be wrong, could be)

Love is our resistance
They keep us apart and won't stop breaking us down
And hold me, our lips must always be sealed

The night has reached its end
We can't pretend, we must run
We must run, it's time to run...
Take us away from here
Protect us from further harm


Posted by roy on October 4, 2009 at 03:48 AM in Music | 1 Comments

Another thought-provoking post from Bronte: (emphasis mine)

I am going to do a little further explaining of the stakes here.  The threat to currency union in Europe always was ultimately racism. 

When you have currency union you can no longer have a high interest rate in Spain or Italy (when those economies warrant a high rate) and have a low rate in Germany when Germany is recessed.  You have a single interest rate across the currency zone. 

The underlying state of most of the past 15 years was Spain booming, Germany mildly recessed.  Currency shifts or shifts in value between the Deutsche Mark and the Peseta can – by dint of currency union – no longer happen.   The main mechanism of economic adjustment is removed.

America has always done that.  The same interest rate applies in the rust belt, in the sun belt, in California and in Boston.  And we know how economic adjustment happens.  Americans move.  A vast number of Americans do not live in their home town and the bulk of the world’s busiest airports are American.  Internal American migration is massive.

However migration within Europe has always involved more issues.  The languages are different.  Several countries have histories of nasty endemic racism.  There are large cultural barriers.

Labor migration is key. Not only geographically, but also the ability to reduce the friction in adjusting your labor force's skillsets. For example, as America shifts more away from manufacturing into services, it's critical that we support our past workforce - this is where I (philosophically) break from more extreme Libertarians - the government has a role in reducing that friction across generations (and sometimes, you have to protect your labor force - although it should always be with an eye to the future).

Posted by roy on October 5, 2009 at 11:49 AM in Ramblings, Finances | Add a comment

I just realized that my NC trip (and the yearly mountain trip that ensues) will most likely be my last one. In May, as soon as my sister is wrapped up with school, my parents'll sell our house in NC and then move to Kansas City.

I don't think I'll visit NC without my parents being there, so it's a bit of a sad moment for me. I've lived in San Diego nearly three years now, and it's been a gradual process (I have only a few connections left in NC) ... but it seems everybody I know is growing up and moving on with their lives.

This reminds me of Friends - I spent the past couple of weeks watching an episode or two before going to bed, and I just felt this sadness at the series finale. It wasn't so much my attachment to the characters or the show, but just the feeling of the characters moving onto the next part of their lives; they wouldn't share all those wacky random (and ultimately useless) moments anymore.

Posted by roy on October 6, 2009 at 08:43 PM in Travel, Ramblings | 11 Comments

Posted by roy on October 7, 2009 at 09:59 PM in Music | 1 Comments

These past few weeks have been the weirdest ever. At a time when I thought things were going to unwind, things picked up intensely - think it's been the busiest few weeks in the past year or so. It (tentatively) seems like the worst is behind, and I can start moving forward. I have a lot of stuff to pick up this week ... gotta get on it!

Posted by roy on October 8, 2009 at 08:31 PM in MindTouch | Add a comment

I was sitting at my desk, when Skype messages suddenly started popping up. While that's pretty common, what was unusual was that I was not the one who was actually ... typing what it said I was...

[1:52:15 PM] Roy Kim says: You're annoying.
[1:52:22 PM] Roy Kim says: And your code makes baby Jesus cry.
[1:52:58 PM] Guerric Sloan says: :(
[1:53:02 PM] Roy Kim says: Sometimes I cry too, just thinking about it.
[1:53:21 PM] Roy Kim says: And stop looking at my butt every time I stand up, it's awkward.
[1:53:36 PM] Guerric Sloan says: awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww
[1:53:38 PM] Guerric Sloan says: you caught me
[1:53:42 PM] Roy Kim says: How am I supposed to explain to everyone about that?
[1:53:59 PM] Roy Kim says: I mean, your butt is fantastic, but I don't stare at it every time you walk by.
[1:54:22 PM] Roy Kim says: Just occasionally.

I was seriously confused for a couple seconds, then I realized I had left my Skype log-in on the conference machine. I figured it was Aaron, but then I saw Aaron standing across the room talking to somebody.

So I walk over to the conference room, and it's Bob! Stabbed in the back by an engineer!

Posted by roy on October 9, 2009 at 03:21 PM in MindTouch | Add a comment
Posted by roy on October 9, 2009 at 09:15 PM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

There's so much to do, and so little time to do it.

Posted by roy on October 11, 2009 at 05:22 PM in Personal | 1 Comments

Yeah, why *do* we have such big heads??

Posted by roy on October 11, 2009 at 05:46 PM in Foolishness | 3 Comments

I resized my own watch band today (it was surprisingly easy). Yay for small victories.

Posted by roy on October 12, 2009 at 09:41 PM in Ramblings | 4 Comments

I'd be rather remiss if I didn't write something about my latest flavor of the week. For about a month now, I've been obsessed with wrist watches.

It all started a few lazy weekends ago when I found myself up at Mission Valley, checking out a Pottery Barn ottoman in person. (Speaking of which, if that thing were $200 cheaper, I'd get it in a flash, but I cannot in my right mind pay $900 for a friggin' ottoman).

I wandered into a Tourneau's watch store, and immediately felt this sense of watch inferiority. You see, up until then, I had lived in perfect blissful ignorance about watches.

My Swiss Army watch (quartz) had happily served me for so many years:

Well I'll tell you, those watch salespeople are trained well - I left thinking, "My goodness, how could I be wearing a quartz watch? I need to get some real automatic Swiss watches!" I was smart enough to not fall for their "authorized dealer" story - I'd just get it cheaper on the Internet (and I'll tell you, the difference is huge. Frankly after a lot of research, there isn't much upside to buying from an authorized dealer versus a reputable gray market dealer like Amazon)

Of course, even the medium brand watches (Tag, Longines, Oris, Tissot, Omega, Baume & Mercier) are pretty much mass produced, so that "Swiss craftsmanship" story is bunk (and most of the watch is manufactured in China).

I did some research, and decided to get my first automatic watch:

I love the simplicity of the watch. Plus it's versatile - good for dressy and non-dressy occasions.

Being a total newb about watches, I was pretty enthralled by the casing on the back, which exposes the movement:

Since then, I've been reading up on watches like crazy. It's amazing what researching in your spare time for a month does for your knowledge.

I've amassed a huge bookmark of watches I like (they tend to all be quite simple in nature - I'm not big on the super flashy styles) which I'll probably start sharing - I do enjoy eye candy.

And of course if this is like any other of my most random hobbies (I don't think I ever shared about my coin collection), I'll most likely burn out of it after a few weeks.

But hey - accumulating random knowledge is fun!

(P.S. I am really hurting for a decent macro lens)

Posted by roy on October 13, 2009 at 01:45 AM in Watches | 1 Comments

I meant to go to bed after that last post, but instead I just spent another twenty minutes gathering a list of the watches I've bookmarked over the past couple of weeks that I think are beautiful and wanted to share them here.

If you ever need to pick a "safe" watch for a guy, I'd go with the Omega Speedmaster:

It was the watch used by NASA for the moon missions (there's a great story behind it, Google it)

Personally, I'd rather own a Tag Carrera Chrono:

The Maurice Lacroix Pontos chrono seems nicely dressy:

For me, if I ever felt like I had an extra 5 grand burning a whole in my pocket, I'd go with the IWC Portugeuse (although the fact that the 12 and 6 are cut off really bugs me):

For the more budget conscious (as far as you can go with luxury watches, anyways), the Baume & Mercier Classima is pretty awesome:

When it comes to non-chronos, the Panerai is an incredibly stylish (and PRICEY!) choice:

I love the font of the numbers. I've never seen one in real life, but based on the measurements, they seem like oversized watches.

If you're not concerned with automatic movements, Movado (and its subsidiary, ESQ) make some pretty pieces of jewelry which tell time:

Movado Fiero:

ESQ Fusion:

I recently found a guy selling this Hamilton Conservation watch used, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to pull the trigger (used watches are actually VERY reasonably priced!):

PM5K, I await a witty comment.

Posted by roy on October 13, 2009 at 02:18 AM in Watches | 6 Comments

This is a rather quick hit, as I'll expound on this point later (and many other random thoughts floating around in my head), but buying any software (excluding consumer software) is a lot like buying a puppy. Paying the $2K (or whatever you pay) is only the beginning - you'll need to take it to the doctor, buy all sorts of things to protect your house, and continue to feed it and nourish it. The initial license cost of software is only the first step.

This analogy also holds true for open source software; OSS software is as "free" as a free puppy is "free."

Posted by roy on October 16, 2009 at 12:27 PM in Ramblings | 4 Comments
The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Money Shot

Hilarious. I haven't heard anything funny coming from Stewart in a while; has Colbert surpassed him?

Posted by roy on October 17, 2009 at 04:02 PM in Finances | 1 Comments

"We went through an era where we went through the financialization of our economy. All we did was the razzle dazzle of Wall St., and it killed us. We didn't make things, we didn't invest in the intellectual capital that we needed. I would rather he [Geithner] talk to Silicon Valley than Wall Street. Silicon Valley is a creative, intellectual genesis where they create the next generation of companies. Wall Street, they move money back and forth, they bid things up, akin to the tulip bulbs back in Holland in 1600 and they think they’re creating value. It's fictitious. What we need is people who create value. That's not Wall Street." - Eliot Spitzer (source)

Personal blemishes aside, I always held Spitzer in the highest opinion, especially what he accomplished as a NY Attorney General.

Posted by roy on October 17, 2009 at 08:27 PM in Ramblings | Add a comment

I'm looking forward to the new album:

John Mayer - "Who Says"

Who says I can't get stoned?
Turn off the lights and the telephone
Me and my house alone
Who says I can't get stoned?

Who says I can't be free?
From all of the things that I used to be
Re-write my history
Who says I can't be free?

It's been a long night in New York City
It's been a long night in Baton Rouge
I don't remember you looking any better
But then again I don't remember you

Who says I can't get stoned?
Call up a girl that I used to know
Fake love for an hour or so
Who says I can't get stoned?

Who says I can't take time?
Meet all the girls on the county line
Then wait on fate to send a sign
Who says I can't take time?

It's been a long night in New York City
It's been a long night in Austin too
I don't remember you looking any better
But then again I don't remember you

Who says I can't get stoned?
Plan a trip to Japan alone
Doesn't matter if I even go
Who says I can't get stoned?

It's been a long night in New York City
It's been a long time since 20 too
I don't remember you looking any better
But then again I don't remember you

Posted by roy on October 17, 2009 at 08:57 PM in Music | 1 Comments

Lately, I've felt this feeling that I'm just floating around. No sense of movement or direction. And when there is movement, it always feel like it took all my energy - like dragging a cart through mud. Things don't seem as fast and exciting as they used to be. Didn't this used to be easier?

The passion and energy is misplaced right now. I have a backlog of things I need to do for work, but I just don't have the energy to deal with it. I'd rather sit here and listen to some acoustic strummings from the Mayer and chat idly with friends instead. While I'd normally write, I don't even feel like doing that. (I'm forcing myself to write this now)

I've lately been having pretty uneventful dreams, but they've all shared one common theme: a life different than the one I have right now. Not to say I'm unhappy with anything - my life is incredibly blessed and I'm more than fortunate to be here. But I've never been one to settle for less, and there is always that feeling that something could be better. Maybe that's a bad way to phrase it. It's more of a feeling that I could be doing more with my life. That I should have accomplished more so far. I envy those people in my life who take such strong-willed actions with conviction. Fluttering, flittering me! Shame!

The dream a couple nights ago had me living in the Village with that dog I keep almost getting (but I decide against for now). The night before, cruising around the Greek Isles on a 27' (but that was probably because I was stressing over my sailing certification - I got my ASA 101 certification this past weekend!).

Wish my mind wasn't so idle right now - always a problem.

Posted by roy on October 20, 2009 at 10:48 PM in Personal | Add a comment

Every year, I seem to pick a topic that nobody else has an interest in reading about. I usually find traffic dives when I pick up these random hobbies, as people ignore my posts in droves.

For example, when I was in school, the obsession was poker. Then when I moved here, there was a whole series on aquariums. Then piano. Then loft redecorating. Now I have watches!

In watch world, there are varying degrees of un-authentic watches. The most obvious "fake" watches are the cheap ones hocked at street corners. These usually replace the automatic movement with quartz movements - they're pretty easy to spot.

As more of the Swiss companies push manufacturing of watches to China, and as China gains more expertise in manufacturing, they've gotten really good at making replicas as well:

For somebody like me, who's never seen a Rolex movement, it's hard for me to say that this movement is fake:

I'd be willing to bet the movement on these replica watches aren't that bad - they might even last a couple years without a problem (in which case, getting a $200 replica watch would actually be a good deal in terms of value).

But let's move onto the next stage of fakes: the "homages." These are watches that are created by legit watch companies, but they are blantantly... "inspired":

Left: Rolex, Center: Invicta, Right: Alpha

This is perfectly legal. It's quite interesting to me how companies like Rolex continue to thrive in an industry that doesn't honor patents or copyright protections. Companies are free to copy these designs, yet Rolex still thrives. The power of the brand! (And the power of quality - although I'd be willing to bet the Invicta would last a long time) Perhaps there's a few lessons to be learned in the software industry...

Rion, one of my coworkers, turned me onto a whole another angle to "fake" Swiss watches. The idea is actually genius.

They create a European-sounding company, get "inspired" designs from high-end brands like Patek Philippe, get the watches made cheaply in China, set a ridiculously overpriced MSRP, then always sell at a discount. Consumers end up thinking they're getting a Swiss-made watch at a cheap discount ~$150... but what they're really buying is a Chinese watch dressed up around a story of a vaunted Swiss maker. One example is Sturhling:


You'll always find Stuhrling watches at a huge discount. I have to give them credit for turning things around on its head - they fake everything but the heritage and play off people's frugality ("I'm getting a *real* Swiss watch for $150!"). (And actually, it also highlights the ridiculousness of people paying so much for watches ... but I'm one of those people now)

Posted by roy on October 20, 2009 at 11:17 PM in Watches | 5 Comments

It would probably make sense to me to explain this sudden interest in watches. The more I think about it, the more logical it seems that I'd like watches. While I work for a technologically innovative company, I've always resisted the temptation to embrace technology in my life (no smartphones for me!) To embrace the opposite of the software industry seems very natural, given my love/hate relationship with software. An industry that's steeped in history, that serves to create one item which serves one purpose exceedingly well, and one that doesn't cling onto silly notions of IP... well... wathces :)

I have a love for history, and watches have a rich history that dates back hundreds of years. The 18th century was dominated by pocketwatches. Then Patek made a revolutionary change by introducing the concept of wristwatches in the late 19th century. For 50 years, mechanical wristwatches dominated and everything was great... until the '60s, when quartz and the digital watch disrupted the whole industry. This wreaked havoc on the Swiss watch industry, and companies had to adapt. Suddenly companies had to compete against watches which were not only cheaper and smaller, but more accurate. By every measure, quartz watches are the better choice!

But the companies adapted. And now people end up paying a premium for the automatic/mechanical movements. Somehow, they convinced the world that watches which were less accurate are better! To me, it's amazing how an industry which seems so simple to a layman is actually so complicated and subject to so many disruptive changes.

And even today, there's innovation in wristwatches! An example that comes to mind is Seiko's "Eco-drive" - a watch powered by solar energy! An industry that's more than 200 years old... continuing to innovate. I mean, wow.

As an engineer, the complexity of automatic movements intrigues me. Just look at this Patek Philippe movement:

How can you say that's not beautiful? To me, it's more stunning than the other side of that watch (although Patek does a wonderful job of that as well)

Software is almost the polar opposite of the engineering behind wristwatches - it's all vague concepts and notions; there's nothing concrete. And generally speaking, software code tends to get uglier in time, not prettier. Being able to ogle at the engineering marvel that makes up a modern watch (quartz excluded, I have no interest) is a huge reason I love watches. 

Designs. Aesthetics. Watches have so many different designs - who thought the simple canvas of the wrist could yield so many different designs? And what I especially love is reading about the functional reasons why watches have certain designs (I'll cover this in a later post). Watches are ofentimes designed out of a functional need, not just for pure aesthetics. I absolutely love that concept.

Lastly, I still love being able to hold onto the notion that watches are the result of craftsmanship. The notion that Patek Philippe hand-make their watches still and are able to charge a premium (and that premium is valued and sought after) really appeals to me and gives me hope about the software industry. While there's a place for mass manufactured items (see most of the mid-brands like Tag Heuer), I really hope there's a place in software where excellent people can succeed in small teams to produce truly beautiful software that's appreciated and commercially successful.

Like watchmakers, who strive to create something of permanence, I really hope that software writers strive to create something that lasts. While there's a place for embracing the transience of time, at the end of the day, we should really strive to create things that last for a long, long time and can be appreciated as such.

I also have drawn some parallels in my last post: I do think it's quite interesting how an industry where it's so easy to rip off of one another has managed to maintain so many high-quality brands. With no patent/copyright protection on designs, you'd think companies like Rolex would be replica-ed out of the industry ... but they haven't. To me, these are clear examples that IP, as a concept, is, well, stupid.

Posted by roy on October 20, 2009 at 11:58 PM in Watches, Ramblings, Web Development | 2 Comments

Posted by roy on October 21, 2009 at 08:12 PM in Music | 2 Comments

From the IBM article on Wikipedia: (emphasis mine)

IBM has often been described as having a sales-centric or a sales-oriented business culture. Traditionally, many IBM executives and general managers are chosen from sales force. The current CEO, Samuel J. Palmisano, for example, joined the company as a salesman and, unusual for CEOs of major corporations, has no MBA or post-graduate qualification. Middle and top management are often enlisted to give direct support to salesmen when pitching sales to important customers.

Posted by roy on October 22, 2009 at 02:24 AM in Ramblings | 7 Comments

For some time now, there's been something that's quite worrisome for me. The whole evolution of the web standards movement was to deliver (1) lower overall cost of development (we could re-use components as people built them once) (2) increase consumption (by making documents more accessible and (3) be future-proof (by sticking to a standard, we can evolve to future platforms).

For me, my biggest hope was that by adopting standards, it'd be easier to transition away from the desktop, whenever it'd happen. The XHTML document itself would become one massive bucket of microformats, which would let programmers go out, parse the data, and create this rich semantic web of information. FOAF was one of the earlier document formats I can remember that was supposed to do this.

Let's posit, for this post, that the web is quickly evolving into an "applications" economy. On the enterprise side, you're seeing Salesforce push Force.com, which are enterprise applications in the cloud. On the social front, you see Facebook dominating with Facebook apps (Zynga, the largest application provider on Facebook, may net up to $100mil this year). And in the mobile space, Apple is killing everybody with the App store.

I don't know enough to talk about Force.com (although I really should, given my job background), but it's a bit scary that neither the Facebook ecosystem (flash apps) or the Apple ecosystem (Cocoa) are building atop the web (by that, I mean XHTML + Javascript + CSS).

Gruber writes:

It's worth recalling that Apple had a similar idea to WebOS for the iPhone, where certain apps would run as Dashboard-style widgets, written in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Apple abandoned the idea in the six months between the iPhone’s January 2007 announcement and when it went on sale at the end of June, concluding that performance for such apps was unacceptable and that they should go native Cocoa across the board. And Apple was only going to do it for small apps, like Weather, Stocks, and Calculator, not the flagship apps like Calendar and Mail.

On the other end of the spectrum, Ballmer:

"Let's face it, the Internet was designed for the PC. The Internet is not designed for the iPhone. That's why they've got 75,000 applications — they're all trying to make the Internet look decent on the iPhone."

Steve Ballmer is absolutely correct. But the conclusions he's drawing are incorrect - Apple has 75,000 applications specifically because the web couldn't provide the rich functionality. And when it couldn't, it wasn't extendable in a way where it could be. How does this portend for the future?

I can tell you that when we worked on the iPhone application for MindTouch, I was gung-ho on utilizing Safari and its primary interface. But after it was all said and done and I saw the Facebook app, I wanted to redo the whole thing natively inside the iPhone for the best experience possible. Ahh!

If I'm starting a new company from the ground-up, I'm now faced with a dilemma: do I focus my attention on writing for the Apple ecosystem (subject to the wrath of the Apple app gods), or do I go with the generic route of building for the web and hoping that sticking to standards helps me become more future proof?

I do know the launch around Amazon's Kindle required TONS of work on their website since the Kindle interacts directly with their website and not through custom protocols. Was it worth the cost for them? (I don't know) Will companies continue to do this?

Perhaps I'm just disillusioned, but it seems that the web standards movement really failed in moving rapidly enough to ensure that the bounds that were being pushed could be handled inside the browser.

(Although I can say one HUGE benefit of applying web standards was that when IE8 and Chrome were released, it was very nice that websites "just worked". No work involved there!)

Posted by roy on October 22, 2009 at 02:49 AM in Ramblings, Web Development | 1 Comments

Nearly universal literacy is a defining characteristic of today’s modern civilization; nearly universal authorship will shape tomorrow's.

I honestly couldn't say it better myself.

Posted by roy on October 22, 2009 at 02:52 AM in Ramblings | Add a comment

I just realized something that totally bummed me out.

I've been under the premise that by cloning me, the problems of women worldwide would vanish - a Roy for every woman would bring supreme happiness to them all.

But a wise friend informed me: "roy...you KNOW woman love to have what other woman don't have"

What a truly wretched world we live in! Cloning me won't be enough!

. . .

I'm known for taking quotes out of context, so it only serves me right that I do the same for myself (to demonstrate I can take it as well as dish it out - in this case, doing both):

Roy Kim (10:08:26 PM): hey there's a lingerie section in juniors
Roy Kim (10:08:29 PM): oooh nice

Posted by roy on October 22, 2009 at 09:51 PM in Foolishness | 3 Comments

Guess I didn't write about this last week, but Damien and I have officially started pursuing our passion for sailing by getting certified at the introductory level of sailing last weekend. Part of it was a standardized test, while the other half was actual sailing. I will say that, true to my nature, I killed the standardized test part (100%, booyah).

I'm looking forward to getting back to SD (I'm in NC now; attended the beautiful wedding of Alfish7 and Heidi tonight) so I can practice some - I want to take the next level classes as soon as I can afford them!

The goal is to be able to take out 36' - 44' out into the ocean; maybe fly down to the Carribean (or the Greek Isles) and sail around ... the peacefulness of that trip soothes me already! :)

I got to walk around the Jeanneau 54' during the class... and I can only say: WOW.

Posted by roy on October 24, 2009 at 11:24 PM in Travel | 2 Comments

So far, while driving in NC, I've heard the Miley Cyrus song "Party in the USA" four times. And I haven't even spent that much time driving. Ridiculous!

(The South must love Miley Cyrus)

. . .

I didn't know there was such a romantic backstory to the Rolls Royce hood ornament. Apparently this hood ornament was modelled after a secret lover:

(I'm a sucker for such stories)

. . .

Got to celebrate the 30th birthday of a friend last night - we jukeboxed T.I's "Live your life" - a fitting song. My time will come, too. I hope it's a meaningful 30th birthday.

. . .

The video is lame, but this song by Jay Sean is catchy: (if you like Akon, you'll like this song)

Posted by roy on October 25, 2009 at 11:11 AM in Music | 3 Comments

Saw this on another Tabulas, and wanted to share:

People breaking out in spontaneous dance is always awesome. And as a reminder of the MC Hammer flash mob:

Posted by roy on October 25, 2009 at 07:54 PM in Ramblings | Add a comment

Having trouble sleeping, so here's another random post!

An older post from Bronte Capital highlights the benefit for knowingly creating ginormous conservative banks. The gist of the argument is that along with creating these massive banks whose (monopolistic) tendencies create great wealth for its shareholders, you can ensure conservatism by straightjacketing these new huge entities with regulations.

You basically make the banks incredibly profitable, make them incredibly easy to run, and ensure their conservatism doesn't get them into trouble. You basically tap into the unwillingness of humans to give up a "good thing" out of fear of messing it up at a large $cale. (This reminds me of the Friends' episode where Joey and Chandler end up getting free porn on cable, and are so afraid of losing it, they refuse to turn off the TV - long after they've gotten sick of watching the porn)

This is an interesting point, but let's add in the op-ed by Calvin Trillian in the Times who claimed that the reason Wall St. failed was because "smart guys started going to Wall St." I'm too young to dispute the claim (although in my gut, it feels very wrong), but I will admit that smartness can work against you - this is a very common known problem in software development (the "not invented here" syndrome).

The narrator in the Times op-ed describes why this is problem: (emphasis mine)

"Of course it's accurate," he said. "Don't get me wrong: the guys from the lower third of the class who went to Wall Street had a lot of nice qualities. Most of them were pleasant enough. They made a good impression. And now we realize that by the standards that came later, they weren't really greedy. They just wanted a nice house in Greenwich and maybe a sailboat. A lot of them were from families that had always been on Wall Street, so they were accustomed to nice houses in Greenwich. They didn't feel the need to leverage the entire business so they could make the sort of money that easily supports the second oceangoing yacht."

While the op-ed is soft on facts, the logic makes sense to me. Smart guys made up some complex math which 'worked in theory,' then sold the "lower third of the class" on the notions, who foolishlessly went along with the plan since the "smart guys" made it up.

Within context of the Bronte Capital post, this makes a lot of sense.

Let's color in the recent debate over executive pay. As much as it pains the inner Libertarian in me to say it, capping executive pay for financials makes a lot of sense if you're trying to limit the risk that banks take. Executive pay will most certainly drive the "good" talent out, and that's a perfectly OK thing! They'll end up at hedge funds or a private company - they simply will stop gambling at the public's expense.

George Soros recently was quoted:

"That [executive pay caps] would push the risk-takers who are good at taking risks out of Goldman Sachs into hedge funds, where they actually belong, because hedge funds take risks with their own capital, not with deposits and not with government guarantees," he said.

Of course, this doesn't mean risk in the financial systems vanishes. LTCM is great example of a private hedge fund whose effects reverberated throughout the financial sphere - I don't think simply moving all that risk into the private sector alleviates all the problems, although it certainly does limit the risk of gambling at the taxpayer's expense.

Posted by roy on October 25, 2009 at 11:06 PM in Finances | Add a comment

I walked out of my first movie today.

Posted by roy on October 27, 2009 at 08:49 PM in Ramblings | 14 Comments

I feel a little ridiculous writing this, seeing as to how everybody and their momma seems to love this movie (IMDB has a 8.1 star rating!)

I'm a fan of Spike Jonze (loved Adapation and Being John Malkovich), so I figured him + children's book = awesome.

I didn't know what the movie was going to be about, so I didn't have any preconceptions.

Much like my earlier (controversial) review of Lost in Translation, I didn't like this movie because even an hour and a half into it, nothing had happened. There was no rich imagination or escapism - nor was there even decent cinematography to keep me interested. It just seemed angsty. I felt no emotional connection to the characters in this movie - geez, a kid is picked on and feels lonely!

Basically the story, when I left it: Max is angry and escapes into a land with these curious creatures and immediately bonds with a creature that is JUST LIKE HIM. The creatures do nothing except be sad and sullen, until Max comes up and offers them random advice to make them happy. I don't know what happens, but I'd imagine there's some discovery of Max not being a king, then for some reason Max returns home happy and not angry.

Maybe if I had patience, I would have "gotten it", but frankly I didn't want to stick around to find out.

That's not to say that I need plot-driven stories; I enjoyed Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter which is nearly devoid of plot and dialogue - but at least it makes a point and makes an emotional connection to the viewer.

Pan's Labyrinth is about a gazillion times better.

(P.S. I fully expect Crispdawg to pop-up and bash me in the comments. Don't disappoint me - I know you still read this site!)

Posted by roy on October 28, 2009 at 07:17 PM in Ramblings | 13 Comments

I heard a song I liked on the radio, only to find out it was Creed. I felt so embarassed. I thought that band disbanded - why are they back and why are radio stations playing them?!

Another song that's hot right now: Britney Spears "3."

Are we back in 2001?

Posted by roy on October 28, 2009 at 09:41 PM in Music | 1 Comments
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