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  • Columns Archives - Page 7 of 7 - Unreal Blog
    calibre in China and India Not because we are 500 times less talented just that they have 500 times more people Coupled with overwhelming statistical supremacy certain countries have special superiority in their chosen or accidental specializations We expect to find more hardware experts in China more software gurus in India more badminton players in Indonesia more entrepreneurial spirit and managerial expertise in the west We need such experts so we hire them But how much should we pay them That s where economics comes in demand and supply We offer attractive expatriate packages that the talents would bite I was on an expatriate package when I came to Singapore as a foreign talent It was a fairly generous package but cleverly worded so that if I became a local talent I would lose out quite a bit I did become local a few years later and my compensation diminished as a consequence My talent did not change just the label from foreign to local This experience made me think a bit about the value of talent and the value of labels The local quant talents too are beginning to take note of the asymmetric compensation structure associated with labels This asymmetry and the consequent erosion of loyalty introduce another push factor for the local quant talents as if one was needed The solution to this problem is not a stricter enforcement of the confidentiality of salaries but a more transparent compensation scheme free of anomalies that can be misconstrued as unfair practices Otherwise we may see an increasing number of Asian nationals using Singapore based banks as a stepping stone to greener pastures Worse we may see as indeed we do these days locals seeking level playing fields elsewhere We need to hire the much needed talent whatever it costs but let s not mistake labels for talent Handling Goodbyes Losing talent is an inevitable part of managing it What do you do when your key quant hands in the dreaded letter It is your worst nightmare as a manager Once the dust settles and the panic subsides you should ask yourself what next Because of all the pull and push factors discussed so far quant staff retention is a challenge New job offers are becoming increasingly more irresistible At some stage someone you work closely with be it your staff your boss or a fellow team member is going to say goodbye Handling resignations with tact and grace is no longer merely a desirable quality but an essential corporate skill today We do have some general strategies to deal with resignations The first step is to assess the motivation behind the career choice Is it money If so a counter offer is usually successful Counter offers both making them and taking them are considered ineffective and in poor taste At least executive search firms insist that they are But then they would say that wouldn t they If the motivation behind the resignation is the nature of the current or future job and its challenges a lateral movement or reassignment possibly combined with a counter offer can be effective If everything fails then it is time to bid goodbye amicably It is vitally important to maintain this amicability a fact often lost on bosses and HR departments Understandably so because by the time the counter offer negotiations fail there is enough bitterness on both sides to sour the relationship Brush those wounded feelings aside and smile through your pain for your paths may cross again You may rehire the same person Or you may end up working with him her on the other side Salvage whatever little you can for the sake of positive networking The level of amicability depends on corporate culture Some organizations are so cordial with deserting employees that they almost encourage desertion Others treat the traitors as the army used to with the help of a firing squad Both these extremes come with their associated perils If you are too cordial your employees may treat your organization as a stepping stone concentrating on acquiring only transferable skills On the other extreme if you develop a reputation for severe exit barriers in an attempt to discourage potential traitors you may also find it hard to recruit top talent The right approach lies somewhere in between like most good things in life It is a cultural choice that an organization has to make But regardless of where the balance is found resignation is here to stay and people will change jobs Change as the much overused clichà puts it is the only constant Summing Up In a global market that demands ever more customization and structuring there is an unbearable amount of pull factor for good quants Quant talent management acquisition and retention is almost as challenging as developing quant skills yourself While powerless against the pull factor banks and financial institutions should look into eliminating hidden push factors Develop respect and appreciation for hard to replace talents Invent innovative performance measurement metrics Introduce fair and transparent compensation schemes When it all fails and the talent you so long to retain leaves handle it with tact and grace At some point in the future you may have to hire them Or worse you may want to get hired by them Columns quantitative finance wilmott Columns Quantitative Finance The Wilmott Magazine Benford and Your Taxes January 1 2008 manoj Nothing is certain but death and taxes they say On the death front we are making some inroads with all our medical marvels at least in postponing it if not actually avoiding it But when it comes to taxes we have no defense other than a bit of creativity in our tax returns Let s say Uncle Sam thinks you owe him 75k In your honest opinion the fair figure is about the 50k mark So you comb through your tax deductible receipts After countless hours of hard work fyou bring the number down to say 65k As a quant you can estimate the probability of an IRS audit And you can put a number an expectation value in dollars to the pain and suffering that can result from it Let s suppose that you calculate the risk of a tax audit to be about 1 and decide that it is worth the risk to get creative in you deduction claims to the tune of 15k You send in the tax return and sit tight smug in the knowledge that the odds of your getting audited are fairly slim You are in for a big surprise You will get well and truly fooled by randomness and IRS will almost certainly want to take a closer look at your tax return The calculated creativity in tax returns seldom pays off Your calculations of expected pain and suffering are never consistent with the frequency with which IRS audits you The probability of an audit is in fact much higher if you try to inflate your tax deductions You can blame Benford for this skew in probability stacked against your favor Skepticism Benford presented something very counter intuitive in his article 1 in 1938 He asked the question What is the distribution of the first digits in any numeric real life data At first glance the answer seems obvious All digits should have the same probability Why would there be a preference to any one digit in random data Figure 1 The frequency of occurrence of the first digits in the notional amounts of financial transactions The purple curve is the predicted distribution Note that the slight excesses at 1 and 5 above the purple curve are expected because people tend to choose nationals like 1 5 10 50 100 million The excess at 8 is also expected because it is considered a lucky number in Asia Benford showed that the first digit in a naturally occurring number is much more likely to be 1 rather than any other digit In fact each digit has a specific probability of being in the first position The digit 1 has the highest probability the digit 2 is about 40 less likely to be in the first position and so on The digit 9 has the lowest probability of all it is about 6 times less likely to be in the first position When I first heard of this first digit phenomenon from a well informed colleague I thought it was weird I would have naively expected to see roughly same frequency of occurrence for all digits from 1 to 9 So I collected large amount of financial data about 65000 numbers as many as Excel would permit and looked at the first digit I found Benford to be absolutely right as shown in Figure 1 The probability of the first digit is pretty far from uniform as Figure 1 shows The distribution is in fact logarithmic The probability of any digit d is given by log 1 1 d which is the purple curve in Figure 1 This skewed distribution is not an anomaly in the data that I happened to look at It is the rule in any naturally occurring data It is the Benford s law Benford collected a large number of naturally occurring data including population areas of rivers physical constants numbers from newspaper reports and so on and showed that this empirical law is respected Simulation As a quantitative developer I tend to simulate things on a computer with the hope that I may be able to see patterns that will help me understand the problem The first question to be settled in the simulation is to figure out what the probability distribution of a vague quantity like naturally occurring numbers would be Once I have the distribution I can generate numbers and look at the first digits to see their frequency of occurrence To a mathematician or a quant there is nothing more natural that natural logarithm So the first candidate distribution for naturally occurring numbers is something like RV exp RV where RV is a uniformly distributed random variable between zero and ten The rationale behind this choice is an assumption that the number of digits in naturally occurring numbers is uniformly distributed between zero and an upper limit Indeed you can choose other fancier distributions for naturally occurring numbers I tried a couple of other candidate distributions using two uniformly distributed between zero and ten random variables RV1 and RV2 RV1 exp RV2 and exp RV1 RV2 All these distributions turn out to be good guesses for naturally occurring numbers as illustrated in Figure 2 Figure 2 The distribution of the first digits in the simulation of naturally occurring numbers compared to the prediction The first digits of the numbers that I generated follow Benford s law to an uncanny degree of accuracy Why does this happen One good thing about computer simulation is that you can dig deeper and look at intermediate results For instance in our first simulation with the distribution RV exp RV we can ask the question What are the values of RV for which we get a certain first digit The answer is shown in Figure 3a Note that the ranges in RV that give the first digit 1 are much larger than those that give 9 About six times larger in fact as expected Notice how pattern repeats itself as the simulated natural numbers roll over from the first digit of 9 to 1 as an odometer tripping Figure 3a The ranges in a uniformly distributed between 0 and 10 random variable RV that result in different first digits in RV exp RV Note that the first digit of 1 occurs much more frequently than the rest as expected A similar trend can be seen in our fancier simulation with two random variables The regions in their joint distributions that give rise to various first digits in RV1 exp RV2 are shown in Figure 3b Notice the large swathes of deep blue corresponding to the first digit of 1 and compare their area to the red swathes for the first digit 9 Figure 3b The regions in the joint distribution of two uniformly distributed between 0 and 10 random variables RV1 and RV2 that result in different first digits in RV1 exp RV2 This exercise gives me the insight I was hoping to glean from the simulation The reason for the preponderance of smaller digits in the first position is that the distribution of naturally occurring numbers is usually a tapering one there is usually an upper limit to the numbers and as you get closer to the upper limit the probably density becomes smaller and smaller As you pass the first digit of 9 and then roll over to 1 suddenly its range becomes much bigger While this explanation is satisfying the surprising fact is that it doesn t matter how the probability of natural distributions tapers off It is almost like the central limit theorem Of course this little simulation is no rigorous proof If you are looking for a rigorous proof you can find it in Hill s work 3 Fraud Detection Although our tax evasion troubles can be attributed to Benford the first digit phenomenon was originally described in an article by Simon Newcomb 2 in the American Journal of Mathematics in 1881 It was rediscovered by Frank Benford in 1938 to whom all the glory or the blame depending on which side of the fence you find yourself went In fact the real culprit behind our tax woes may have been Theodore Hill He brought the obscure law to the limelight in a series of articles in the 1990s He even presented a statistical proof 3 for the phenomenon In addition to causing our personal tax troubles Benford s law can play a crucial role in many other fraud and irregularity checks 4 For instance the first digit distribution in the accounting entries of a company may reveal bouts of creativity Employee reimbursement claims check amounts salary figures grocery prices everything is subject to Benford s law It can even be used to detect market manipulations because the first digits of stock prices for instance are supposed to follow the Benford distribution If they don t we have to be wary Moral Figure 4 The joint distribution of the first and second digits in a simulation showing correlation effects The moral of the story is simple Don t get creative in your tax returns You will get caught You might think that you can use this Benford distribution to generate a more realistic tax deduction pattern But this job is harder than it sounds Although I didn t mention it there is a correlation between the digits The probability of the second digit being 2 for instance depends on what the first digit is Look at Figure 4 which shows the correlation structure in one of my simulations Besides the IRS system is likely to be far more sophisticated For instance they could be using an advanced data mining or pattern recognition systems such as neural networks or support vector machines Remember that IRS has labeled data tax returns of those who unsuccessfully tried to cheat and those of good citizens and they can easily train classifier programs to catch budding tax evaders If they are not using these sophisticated pattern recognition algorithms yet trust me they will after seeing this article When it comes to taxes randomness will always fool you because it is stacked against you But seriously Benford s law is a tool that we have to be aware of It may come to our aid in unexpected ways when we find ourselves doubting the authenticity of all kinds of numeric data A check based on the law is easy to implement and hard to circumvent It is simple and fairly universal So let s not try to beat Benford let s join him instead References 1 Benford F The Law of Anomalous Numbers Proc Amer Phil Soc 78 551 572 1938 2 Newcomb S Note on the Frequency of the Use of Digits in Natural Numbers Amer J Math 4 39 40 1881 3 Hill T P A Statistical Derivation of the Significant Digit Law Stat Sci 10 354 363 1996 4 Nigrini M I ve Got Your Number J Accountancy 187 pp 79 83 May 1999 http www aicpa org pubs jofa may1999 nigrini htm Photo by LendingMemo Columns quantitative finance wilmott Columns Quantitative Finance The Wilmott Magazine Quant Life in Singapore November 1 2007 manoj Singapore is a tiny city state Despite its diminutive size Singapore has considerable financial muscle It has been rated the fourth most active foreign exchange trading hub and a major wealth management center in Asia with funds amounting to almost half a trillion dollars according to the Monitory Authority of Singapore This mighty financial clout has its origins in a particularly pro business atmosphere world class well better than world class in fact infrastructure and the highly skilled cosmopolitan workforce all of which Singapore is rightfully proud of Among the highly skilled workforce are scattered a hundred or so typically timid and self effacing souls with bulging foreheads and dreamy eyes behind thick glasses They are the Singaporean quants and this short article is their story Quants command enormous respect for their intellectual prowess and mathematical knowledge With flattering epithets like rocket scientists or simply the brain quants silently go about their jobs of validating pricing models writing C programs and developing complicated spreadsheet solutions But knowledge is a tricky thing to have in Asia If you are known for your expertise it can backfire on you at times Unless you are careful others will take advantage of your expertise and dump their responsibilities on you You may not mind it as long as they respect your expertise But they often hog the credit for your work and present their ability to evade work

    Original URL path: http://www.thulasidas.com/category/columns/page/7/ (2016-02-16)
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  • An Office Survival Guide - Unreal Blog
    ROM that hadn t stirred in the last quarter present it as your innate curiosity and inherent problem solving skills that prompted you to seek an unorthodox solution But resist all temptation to own up to your mistakes Integrity is a great personality trait and it may improve your karma But take my word for it it doesn t work miracles on your next bonus Nor does it improve your chances of being the boss in the corner office If your coffee debacle for instance resulted in a computer that would never again see the light of day which you would concede is a more likely outcome your task is to assign blame for it Did your colleague in the next cubicle snore or sneeze or burp Could that have caused a resonant vibration on your desk Was the cup poorly designed with a higher than normal centre of gravity You see a science degree comes in handy when assigning blame But seriously your first task in surviving in a new corporate setting is to find quick wins for the honeymoon will soon be over In today s workplace who you know is more important than what you know So start networking start with your boss who presumably is already impressed He wouldn t have hired you otherwise would he Once you reach the critical mass in networking switch gears and give an impression that you are making a difference I know a couple of colleagues who kept networking for ever Nice gregarious folks they are ex colleagues now All talk and no work is not going to get them far Well it may but you can get farther by identifying avenues where you can make a difference And by actually making a bit of that darned difference Concentrate on your core skills Be positive and develop a can do attitude Find your place in the corporate big picture What does the company do how is your role important in it At times people may underestimate you No offence but I find that some expats are more guilty of underestimating us than fellow Singaporeans Our alleged gracelessness may have something to do with it but that is a topic for another day You can prove the doubters wrong through actions rather than words If you are assigned a task that you consider below your level of expertise don t fret look at the silver lining After all it is something you can do in practically no time and with considerable success I have a couple of amazingly gifted friends at my work place I know that they find the tasks assigned to them ridiculously simple But it only means that they can impress the heck out of everybody Corporate success is the end result of an all out war You have to use everything you have in your arsenal to succeed All skills however unrelated can be roped in to help Play golf Invite the CEO for a friendly Play

    Original URL path: http://www.thulasidas.com/an-office-survival-guide/ (2016-02-16)
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  • work life balance Archives - Unreal Blog
    that If you are into violent entertainment a boxing match between two heavy weights would be something interesting to watch but a brawny boxer beating the living daylights out of a two year old would only fill you with revolt and disgust which is similar to the feeling I had during the 91 Gulf War Don t worry I m not about to defend or try to revive socialism on this blog because I don t think a centrally controlled economy works either What worries me is the fact that capitalism does not have a worthy adversary now Shouldn t it worry you as well Corporate capitalism is beating the living daylights out of everything that one might call decent and human Should we ignore and learn to love our disgust just because we got a share Photo by Byzantine K capitalism Corporate Life money work life balance Humor Life and Death Work and Life Ridiculous Annoying and Embarrassing July 19 2012 manoj Now it is official we become embarrassing ridiculous and annoying when our first born turns thirteen The best we can hope to do evidently is to negotiate a better deal If we can get our thirteen year old to drop one of the three unflattering epithets we should count ourselves lucky We can try I may embarrass you a bit but I do not annoy you and I am certainly not ridiculous This apparently was the deal this friend of mine made with his daughter Now he has to drop her a block away from her school so that her friends don t have to see him duh but he smiles the smile of a man who knows he is neither annoying nor ridiculous I did a bit worse I think You are not that annoying you are not always ridiculous and you are not totally embarrassing Well not always was the best I could get my daughter to concede giving me a 50 pass grade My wife fared even worse though Oh she is SOOO ridiculous and always annoys me Drives me nuts making it a miserable 33 fail grade for her To be fair though I have to admit that she wasn t around when I administered the test her presence may have improved her performance quite a bit But seriously why do our children lose their unquestioning faith in our infallibility the moment they are old enough to think for themselves I don t remember such a drastic change in my attitude toward my parents when I turned thirteen It is not as though I am more fallible than my parents Well may be I am but I don t think the teenager s reevaluation of her stance is a commentary on my parenting skills May be in the current social system of nuclear families we pay too much attention to our little ones We see little images of ourselves in them and try to make them as perfect as we possibly can Perhaps all this well meaning attention sometimes smothers them so much that they have to rebel at some stage and point out how ridiculously annoying and embarrassing our efforts are May be my theory doesn t hold much water after all this teenage phase change vis a vis parents is a universal phenomenon And I am sure the degree of nuclear isolation of families and the level of freedom accorded to the kids are not universal Perhaps all we can do is to tune our own attitude toward the teenagers attitude change Hey I can laugh with my kids at my ridiculous embarrassments But I do wish I had been a bit less annoying though humor joke teenage work life balance Columns Humor The Today Paper An Office Survival Guide July 20 2010 manoj 2 Comments Let s face it people job hop They do it for a host of reasons be it better job scope nicer boss and most frequently fatter paycheck The grass is often greener on the other side Really Whether you are seduced by the green allure of the unknown or venturing into your first pasture you often find yourself in a new corporate setting In the unforgiving dog eat dog corporate jungle you need to be sure of the welcome More importantly you need to prove yourself worthy of it Fear not I m here to help you through it And I will gladly accept all credit for your survival if you care to make it public But I regret that we this newspaper me our family members dogs lawyers and so on cannot be held responsible for any untoward consequence of applying my suggestions Come on you should know better than to base your career on a newspaper column This disclaimer brings me naturally to the first principle I wanted to present to you Your best bet for corporate success is to take credit for all accidental successes around you For instance if you accidentally spilled coffee on your computer and it miraculously resulted in fixing the CD ROM that hadn t stirred in the last quarter present it as your innate curiosity and inherent problem solving skills that prompted you to seek an unorthodox solution But resist all temptation to own up to your mistakes Integrity is a great personality trait and it may improve your karma But take my word for it it doesn t work miracles on your next bonus Nor does it improve your chances of being the boss in the corner office If your coffee debacle for instance resulted in a computer that would never again see the light of day which you would concede is a more likely outcome your task is to assign blame for it Did your colleague in the next cubicle snore or sneeze or burp Could that have caused a resonant vibration on your desk Was the cup poorly designed with a higher than normal centre of gravity You see a science degree comes in

    Original URL path: http://www.thulasidas.com/tag/work-life-balance/ (2016-02-16)
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  • Reading between the Lines - Unreal Blog
    my bag of tricks which has a good connotation you are at my mercy When connotation is employed to drive geo political agendas we have to scrutinize the word choices with more serious care In an Indian newspaper I once noticed that they consistently used the words militant or militancy to report a certain movement while describing another similar movement with words like terrorist or terrorism Both usages may be accurate but unless we are careful we may get easily swayed into thinking that one movement is legitimate while the other is not Americans are masters in this game Every word spoken by the states department spokesperson is so carefully chosen that it would be naïve to overlook the associated connotations Look at Hillary Clinton s choice of the word misspeak books can be written on that choice What is left unsaid is as important as what is not which makes for another potent tactic in shaping the public opinion Imagine a TV report that runs like this Pentagon has reported a surgical strike with a laser guided missile fired from an unmanned predator aircraft killing five terrorists in the US most wanted list However civilians claim that the bomb fell on a wedding party killing 35 people including 15 children and ten women We haven t independently verified this claim While staying factually accurate this report has managed to discredit the civilian deaths by playing with the connotations of report and claim as well as by not saying that the Pentagon report also was unverified Besides how can super duper unmanned aircraft and laser guided munitions miss their targets We of course have no means of knowing what actually went on there But we have to discern the process of colouring the report and develop an ability or at

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  • How Friendly is too Friendly? - Unreal Blog
    friendliness as any Why be stuck up and act all bossy to them The reason is that friendship erodes the formal respect that is a pre requisite for efficient people management For instance how can you get upset with your friends who show up thirty minutes late for a meeting After all you wouldn t get all worked up if they showed up a bit late for a dinner party If you are friends with your staff and too good a boss to them you are not a good boss from the perspective of the upper management If you aspire to be a high powered and efficient boss as viewed from the top you are necessarily unfriendly with your subordinates This is the boss s dilemma From the employee s perspective if your boss gets too friendly it is usually bad news The boss will have your hand phone number And an excuse to call you whenever he she feels like it Another unfortunate consequence of accidental cordiality is unrealistic expectations on your part You don t necessarily expect a fat bonus despite a shoddy performance just because the boss is a friend But you would be a better human being than most if you could be completely innocent of such a wishful notion And this tinge of hope has to lead to sour disappointment because if he your boss is friendly with you he she is likely to be friendly with all staff By and large bosses around here seem to work best when there is a modicum of distance between them and their subordinates One way they maintain the distance is by exploiting any cultural difference that may exist among us If you are a Singaporean boss for instance and your staff are all expatriate Indians or Chinese it may be a good thing from the distance angle cultural and linguistic differences can act as a natural barrier toward unwarranted familiarity that may breed contempt This immunity against familiarity whether natural or cultivated is probably behind the success of our past colonial masters Its vestiges can still be seen in management here The attitude modulation when it comes to the right amount of friendship is not a prerogative of the bosses alone The staff have a say in it too As a minor boss I get genuinely interested in the well being of my direct reports especially because I work closely with them I have had staff who liked that attitude and those who became uncomfortable with it The ability to judge the right professional distance can be a great asset in your and your team s productivity However it cannot be governed by a set of thumb rules Most of the time it has to be played by ear and modulated in response to the changing attitudes and situations That s why being a good boss is an art not an exact science Share this Click to share on Reddit Opens in new window Click to share

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  • When the Going Gets Tough, Turn Around! - Unreal Blog
    just seen a TV commercial that said Ten billion dollars for a particle accelerator What the heck is it any way The ten billion dollar project under attack was the so called Superconducting Super Collider SSC in Texas which was eventually shut down in 1993 The cancellation came in spite of a massive initial investment of about two billion dollars To me this cancellation meant that more than two thousand bright and experienced physicists would be looking for jobs right around the time I entered the job market This concern represented my personal stake in the project but the human impact of this mammoth backtracking was much deeper It precipitated a minor recession in the parts of Dallas to the south of the Trinity River Similar backtracking though at a much smaller scale may happen in your organization as well Let s say you decided to invest two million dollars in a software system to solve a particular business problem Half a million dollars into the project you realize that it was a wrong solution What do you do It may look obvious that you should save the company a million and a half by stopping the project This decision is exactly what the collective wisdom of the US Congress arrived at in 1993 regarding the SSC But it is not that simple Nothing in real life is that simple Corporate backtracking is a complex process It has multiple often interconnected aspects that have to be managed with skill If you decide to backtrack what does it say about your business acumen Will it trigger a backlash from the top management accusing you of poor judgment In other words will your name be so much in the mud that you would find it impossible to secure a job and support your family Let s say it really wasn t your fault and you had valid arguments to convince everybody of your innocence Would that make it simple enough to pull the plug on the project In all probability it would not because all big projects involve other people for no man is an island Stopping a project half way through would probably mean sacking the whole project team This human cost is something we have to be aware of It is not always about dollars and cents If you are kind soul you would have to move the team to some other potentially unproductive project thereby eroding the savings that would ve accrued from stopping the project Wouldn t it have been better to have continued with the original project doomed though it was In most corporate cases it will turn out to be wise to shutdown doomed projects But don t underestimate the costs involved They are not always counted in monitory terms but have human dimensions as well It is far wiser never to embark on dubious projects When you must get involved in uncertain projects review your exit options carefully For instance would it be possible to

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  • Human Virus - Unreal Blog
    is to let the mode of thinking carry us forward and guide our thoughts and see what conclusions we can draw from the thought exercise A similar mode of thinking was introduced in the movie Matrix In fact several profound models were introduced in that movie which probably fuelled its wild box office success One misanthropic model that the computer agent Smith proposes is that human beings are a virus on our planet It is okay for the bad guy in a movie to suggest it but an entirely different matter for newspaper columnist to do so But bear with me as I combine Lee s notion of the Earth being an organism and Agent Smith s suggestion of us being a virus on it Let s see where it takes us The first thing a virus does when it invades an organism is to flourish using the genetic material of the host body The virus does it with little regard for the well being of the host On our part we humans plunder the raw material from our host planet with such abandon that the similarity is hard to miss But the similarity doesn t end there What are the typical symptoms of a viral infection on the host One symptom is a bout of fever Similarly due to our activities on our host planet we are going through a bout of global warming Eerily similar in my view The viral symptoms could extend to sores and blisters as well Comparing the cities and other eye sores that we proudly create to pristine forests and natural landscapes it is not hard to imagine that we are indeed inflicting fetid atrocities to our host Earth Can t we see the city sewers and the polluted air as the stinking oozing ulcers on its body Going one step further could we also imagine that natural calamities such as Katrina and the Asian tsunami are the planet s natural immune systems kicking into high gear I know that it is supremely cynical to push this comparison to these extreme limits Looking at the innocent faces of your loved ones you may feel rightfully angry at this comparison How dare I call them an evil virus Then again if a virus could think would it think of its activities on a host body as evil If that doesn t assuage your sense of indignation remember that this virus analogy is a mode of thinking rather than a literal indictment Such a mode of thinking is only useful if it can yield some conclusions What are the conclusions from this human viral comparison The end result of a viral infection is always gloomy Either the host succumbs or the virus gets beaten by the host s immune systems If we are the virus both these eventualities are unpalatable We don t want to kill the Earth And we certainly don t want to be exterminated by the Earth But those are the only possible

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  • environment Archives - Unreal Blog
    is consuming more natural capital today than ever before and we are on auto pilot to at least a 3 5 degree Celsius warming If IPCC is right this will unleash catastrophic events and mass annihilation of the world s poor in the foreseeable future Simply stated current patterns of consumption and production ladies and gentlemen are unsustainable CSR activities such as opening schools and hospitals or green washing board rooms with efficient lights are simply inadequate Also inadequate is a business mindset that first influences and then merely meets current regulations and sees value only in monetary terms based on a simplistic cost benefit analysis We need a policy framework that first limits our use of fossil fuels and other forms of natural capital and then gradually reduces it in a cradle to cradle paradigm fuelled by innovation Our growth model must be an inclusive one that reduces unsustainable overconsumption by a few and redistributes that to the bottom 50 of this world No I do not seek to make the poor rich by making the rich poor I simply seek the right of the bottom 50 of the world to have a dignity of life afforded by consumption at 50 of the poverty levels within the OECD The current inequities whereby the world s third largest economy in PPP terms India is placed 134th in terms of its HDI and has the world s largest concentration of poor malnourished adults and under weight children are unsustainable Enlightened business leaders must not only define sustainability in terms of guaranteeing inter generational resource equity but also see the unsustainability of not removing current intra generational inequities and thereby delivering the minimal adaptive capacity to the bottom 2 5 billion of fellow humans in the face of impending abrupt climate events In closing I quote Mahatma Gandhi who said The world has enough to meet everyone s need but not enough to satisfy even one man s greed I thank you for your time and attention Corporate Life environment ethics Columns Environment The Today Paper Human Virus July 2 2010 manoj 2 Comments On one poignantly beautiful autumn day in Syracuse a group of us physics graduate students were gathered around a frugal kitchen table We had our brilliant professor Lee Smolin talking to us We held our promising mentors in very high regard And we had high hopes for Lee The topic of conversation on that day was a bit philosophical and we were eagerly absorbing the words of wisdom emanating from Lee He was describing to us how the Earth could be considered a living organism Using insightful arguments and precisely modulated glib articulation no doubt forged by years of intellectual duels in world s best universities Lee made a compelling case that the Earth in fact satisfied all the conditions of being an organism Lee Smolin by the way lived up to our great expectations in later years publishing highly acclaimed books and generally leaving a glorious imprint in the world of modern physics He now talks to global audiences through prestigious programmes such as the BBC Hardtalk much to our pride and joy The point in Lee s view was not so much whether or the Earth was literally alive but that thinking of it as an organism was a viable intellectual model to represent the Earth Such intellectual acrobatics was not uncommon among us physics students In the last few years Lee has actually taken this mode of thinking much farther in one of his books picturing the universe in the light of evolution Again the argument is not to be taken literally imagining a bunch of parallel universes vying for survival The idea is to let the mode of thinking carry us forward and guide our thoughts and see what conclusions we can draw from the thought exercise A similar mode of thinking was introduced in the movie Matrix In fact several profound models were introduced in that movie which probably fuelled its wild box office success One misanthropic model that the computer agent Smith proposes is that human beings are a virus on our planet It is okay for the bad guy in a movie to suggest it but an entirely different matter for newspaper columnist to do so But bear with me as I combine Lee s notion of the Earth being an organism and Agent Smith s suggestion of us being a virus on it Let s see where it takes us The first thing a virus does when it invades an organism is to flourish using the genetic material of the host body The virus does it with little regard for the well being of the host On our part we humans plunder the raw material from our host planet with such abandon that the similarity is hard to miss But the similarity doesn t end there What are the typical symptoms of a viral infection on the host One symptom is a bout of fever Similarly due to our activities on our host planet we are going through a bout of global warming Eerily similar in my view The viral symptoms could extend to sores and blisters as well Comparing the cities and other eye sores that we proudly create to pristine forests and natural landscapes it is not hard to imagine that we are indeed inflicting fetid atrocities to our host Earth Can t we see the city sewers and the polluted air as the stinking oozing ulcers on its body Going one step further could we also imagine that natural calamities such as Katrina and the Asian tsunami are the planet s natural immune systems kicking into high gear I know that it is supremely cynical to push this comparison to these extreme limits Looking at the innocent faces of your loved ones you may feel rightfully angry at this comparison How dare I call them an evil virus Then again if a virus could think would it

    Original URL path: http://www.thulasidas.com/tag/environment/ (2016-02-16)
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