Thursday, December 31, 2009

The New Year in the cosmic scheme of things

Tonight in Sydney we're going to be among the first cities on the planet to welcome the New Year and the new decade. Speaking of which, I was reading this week's edition of Time on the train (the one with this year's "Man of the Year" on the cover, wait, "Person of the Year" lest I be accused of being politically incorrect). In it was a letter from a certain "Lisa" who was arguing (with regard to that magazine's welcome of the new decade) that the decade is supposed to begin on 2011. If I recall right her argument went along the lines of her kid knowing how to count and always starting a count from the number one.

Funny. Even funnier if she was being serious there.

Would you consider 1970 part of the 1960's and 1971 the beginning of the 1970's?

I don't think it really matters in the cosmic scheme of things if we are to consider the brainwave I had while commenting on noted blogger Mr London Street's We kiss with dry lips when we say goodnight:

Strange, all the silliness of these holidays marking what are really just our planet's location at an arbitrary point in space and time.

Happy New Year all!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Victims of clever marketing

This blog post is based on a comment I made on Kevin J. Gamble's blog article Jobs: The trend line is not positive. Gamble's article in turn was also based on a comment he intended to make in another blog article that also describes the magnitude of the job creation challenge that faces most advanced economies in the aftermath of the "global financial crisis" (GFC).

The thesis of Gamble's article and the article he refers to is the reality that there may be no jobs to go back to despite all efforts to "create" new ones to replace those that were obliterated by the collapse.

And here is what I think:

I think there are no jobs to go back to because most of the ones that were lost were created on the back of a layer of perceived value that coated the core of tangible value in our economies' asset base before this crisis. The GFC I believe and as I have read in many articles, at its most fundamental, serves as a severe test of asset value. Not surprisingly, it is assets that lack substance that are at biggest risk.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Babe Army!

It's almost like a fashion show on steroids -- in that intense way that only the Chinese could do.

I had two years of mandatory Citizen's Military Training (CMT) back in my university days, and have experienced marching (after weeks of drills to get it right!) in platoon- and battalion-strength formation. Our marching pace in those days was probably half the tempo of this parade. So I just have to pause and salute these ladies.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Face time

I had my mid-year performance review meeting with my boss today. My performance as an employee is measured along several lines: "community building" among users of our service, customer service, development of new services, and quality of output.

I got high marks in all except the first: "community building", which happens to be the item that wields the biggest weight (20%) in an accounting of my overall performance. My boss said I need to be out there with the customers getting more "face time".


I'm thinking as I listened to the words coming out of my boss's mouth:

If I am tops at customer service, develop innovative new services on a regular basis, and deliver at a high quality consistently, what exactly is the added value of this additional "face time" I need to have with my customers on top of the regular day-to-day communication and interaction I have with them?

Do I arrange meetings with them just for the sake of earning some "face time" points?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Brittany Murphy and the thing about death...

Just saw this on the news this morning: Brittany Murphy dead at 32. Brittany Murphy is the girl who played the homely sidekick of the character played by Alicia Silverstone in the movie Clueless. She went on to become a star in her own right and I read that she even had a dance track that became a dance club hit.

I can't claim to know Brittany Murphy by any stretch. But the thing about hearing news about someone's death is that it induces an almost reflex-like process in my mind to call up all memories about that person. In the case of Brittany Murphy, it was all the scenes of her in various movies she was in that I've seen. My most extensive store of images of her was from the movie Clueless.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Advanced alien life: couch potatoes who can't be bothered

On the train this morning, I just finished reading the book We need to talk about Kelvin by Marcus Chown. It's an excellent book where Chown makes connections between what is readily observable everyday -- the solidness of our bodies and the stuff around us, our reflection on a glass window, the darkness of the night sky, etc. -- to the counter-intuitive realities that quantum physics predict about our universe.

In the last chapter of Kelvin, Chown lays out an extensive discussion around the probability of us coming into contact with extra-terrestrial (ET) intelligent life. He brings together the views of an array of experts on the subject. Biologists, for one, describe the fine points around how infinitessimally improbable the evolution of complex multi-cellular organisms is, much less intelligent life. To highlight that point, they show how single-cell life forms were around on Earth for more than three billion years before multi-cellular life emerged and flourished only in the last 700 million years. Imagine how lucky a little planet like Earth is. It managed to survive long enough, circling the sun more than three billion times without being blown to bits by a stray asteroid, to see our close ancestors (in relative terms given geological timescales) crawling out of the muck!