June 2006 Archives
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June 19, 2006

Image of Limited Good

Excerpt from Register's small article-note -- What cultures don't share Western economic values? -- a view from George Foster, the late anthropologist at the University of California at Berkeley

In his A Primitive Mexican Economy (1942) and in later works such as Empire's Children: The People of Tzintzuntzan (1973), Foster wrote of Mexican villagers who believed that, quite the opposite of how we are led to think, all things that are good (wealth, health, good fortune, luck, and happiness) are fixed and finite within the community.

"Good" is limited in quantity, hence the "image of limited good". Given this belief, all individuals are entitled to their fair share. If one individual has far more than their fair share, for whatever reason, this is viewed as immoral. Such a person would be regarded as selfish, an improper citizen, and more or less a community vandal or thief.

With the belief of the "image of limited good", these Mexican villagers would therefore condemn as immoral many of our Western economic and business practices and social behaviors. Among these would be our allowance of the amassing of great fortunes whilst others are poor, the driving of business rivals into bankruptcy, the unwillingness of many to be charitable in heart as well as mind. The list goes on.

Applies to India as well, I guess!

June 17, 2006


Sometimes the child in you knows the answer.

June 15, 2006

Differing worldviews... where you did not expect

Strangely, I have found these days differing worldviews in people around me quite often.

Here in the Bay Area, or for that matter, many parts of the US, there's an eclectic selection of people living in one place - some are from North India, some from South India, some from east India, some from Western India, some from urban China, some from rural China, some from Canada, some from Mexico, some from Europe, some from african countries, some are Americans, etc. Because of this, people dont fit naturally into the society in general (some do, but many dont), and try to carry on differing worldviews for a long time! Since there are good number of people from all of these cultures, they dont need to change...they can prefer to have friends or spend their time with only their chosen ones. Since the American culture in cosmopolitan places like this (San Francisco, California) is anyway loose, it doesnt obligate you to anything, and you can get by with Americans by just offering the usual courtesy things... (sometimes, the differing worldviews cover that as well!)

This sustained variety of life sometimes makes everybody living here feel alien, and sometimes makes everybody feel at home.

Out of work life, differing cultures is usually fine..... but that does get it head out within office environment as well. The very way of getting things done starts becoming different, especially in companies which a lot of international population, and have had them for some time. This, I have found, sometimes actually delaying job work, and causing unnecessary friction. Like, some people like to write documents to get information transferred from one group to another, and some prefer to talk directly, some follow schedule, some do not, some give company more importance, some themselves, and some technology, etc

June 7, 2006

"The Clean Slate"

To really understand oneself and the world better, one should start with a clean slate.

Erase all the criss-crosses of the chalk on it, all the dust that has settled on it, and wipe it clean with water and cloth.

Then restart writing on it, this time do it very carefully and slowly.....

Start with "Should I live or should I die? Why should I want to live?" Give this question some deep thought.

Then go to "What should I do with my time here? What do I want?". Throw in the "Who am I?" and "What have I been doing all this time?" in there somewhere.

After posing various questions, and writing the answers down, which can take days, weeks, months or years, you should have a new perspective on which to make judgements, decisions, etc.

Once the slate is clean, and has statements which only have been put there with deliberate thought, we become open to new ways of thought -- this is its biggest advantage. So at that point, you view whatever you had learned, or got misguided in the past, in a completely different light.

However, I have noticed that this sometimes, at least in my case (see this post and this post) and someone else's I know, results in an individualistic outlook. If one really starts thinking -- "what do I really want", he goes in the "alone, egotist, its-my-life" individualistic approach.

At that point, Yoga, meditation and in general spirituality start helping. Getting to know the world consciousness start having more meaning. "God", "religion", "spirituality", "yoga", "meditation" all start looking as synonyms of non-egoism and dissolved-boundaries-between-self-and-everything-else.

Science, spirituality, psychology, philosophy, technology, culture, relationships, etc start looking as the mirrors of the a kaleidoscope using the light of "ego" and "the non-living".

And then you go crazy, and visit a shrink. Just kidding! :)

UPDATE: Rishi pointed to his very splendidly written insights in this blog post, which I commented to as well.

Stock Options strategy for bull call vertical spread

I have found a new strategy for playing the "bull call vertical spread" in stock options.

Here's what you do, around 2 to 3 weeks before the expiration date of the month, sell the at-the-money call, and buy an in-the-money call by 2-3 strike prices.

The benefit of doing this is that since the extrinsic value is the highest for the at-the-money call option, we sell that options since we know the extrinsinc value is going to be wiped out at expiration. To hedge it, we buy a lower-priced call option, which does not have much extrinsic value, hence time does not work against us in this leg. So overall, time works in our favor. Hence, the breakeven of this trade is below the current stock price. So if either the price stays at its value or increases in the next 2-3 weeks, you make money. If it goes significantly below then you loose money, but the money is not that much since you did a spread and hence your investment was low.

Apart from this strategy, I usually do call spreads for a longer term like 6 months.... theres another neat trick I do -- if the stock price moves against you significantly, then you buy back the short leg of the position which will be very profitable. Hence when the price moves back up, you can make more profit on long leg of the position!

June 3, 2006

"Lost" TV Series

"Lost"'s 2 seasons (I have seen all the 48 1-hr episodes), I beleive, come close to being the best TV series that has ever been made of its type.

"Lost" is an outstanding intellectual and cinematic acheivement, and a source of unparalleled entertainment.

The plot is "very" interesting, it pulls you in like a black hole, and you are thinking about it day and night. These questions will keep revolving around your mind - "Why did he do that", "why did that happen", "who are these people", "what happenned in the past", etc.

The characters are very well developed, and I almost developed a liking for each of them and they became my friends... in fact, i used to be sad for days when something happenned to any of them?

A lot of thought was put in to making each of the episodes, and each of them feels like a good movie in itself. The character background stories are excellent.

Overall, "Lost" has everything at its very best -- creativity, drama, character development, adventure, suspense, wisdom, entertainment, acting, direction, story, cinematography, philosophy, psychology, mystery, etc. You even learn more about life by just watching it!

Very highly recommended to all!!!!!!

Watch it from the 1st episode to the 48th episode, without missing a minute, and you will be most rewarded. You can get the first season dvd online, and then the second season you could download from itunes.

ABC.com: ABC's 'Lost,' Wednesdays 9/8c

(SPOILERS, dont read ahead)
As a personal note to myself, I think I want to write down what questions are remaining to be answered for the next season:
- what was the monster security system?
- what was libby doing in the mental asyllum and how did she know Hurley? how did she recover?
- does not-Henry know a lot about Dharma, did he press the button? How did he open the gates that had come down in the hatch? Why did he lie to Locke?
- what was Dharma, Hanso, hatch, etc?
- what abt the 4-toed statue?
- why were the dharma observation books outside with nobody to see?
- what were the others?
- how is Desmond's girlfriend involved in the electromagnetic anamoly search?
- who was rusedski?
- what was claire's child operation? And why are these others interested in children?
- how did this others approach with "whispers"?
- was walt able to appear in places he wasnt supposed to be?
- how was john paralyzed?
- why was the hatch so important that Echo's priest brother said it was? And why was the question mark that important, since it actually harmed Locke's faith in the hatch?
- how did the others' genarate lists of people, even though they didnt know them, and what was its significance?
- how did the boat reach so high?
- what is the significance of the numbers?
- why did desmond's boat come back to the island?
- did Michael know that he doesnt have to take these 4 people to the other's camp, and just somewhere else in the middle?
-what was the parachute loaded with food, who came along with it?
- who was henry gale, and who and why was he killed?
- why did rusedski edit the tape?
- why didnt they have automatic insertion of the numbers in the hatch, and why didnt they have reinforcements of people? what was the "incident"?
- how did the polar bear reach there?

June 2, 2006

Digital Maoism - The Wise Online Collective

Here is an article by Jaron Lanier on the growing importance of the "Online Collective" wisdom - wikipedia, meta-sites, etc.



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