Sunday, August 13, 2017

Learning Dispatch - August 13th 2017 - On watching Master of None

This weekend I had a lot of free and I decided to binge watch Master of None.

Master of None is a comedy web-television series created by Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang. It was released for streaming on Netflix in 2015. There are 2 seasons with 20 episodes.  IMDB describes the show as a comedy about the personal and professional life of Dev Shah, a 30 year old actor in New York. Without giving out any spoilers, I'd like to write about my experience watching this show. The characters reflected some of your own personal dilemmas. Dev felt what you feel on a daily basis living in a big city. Some themes the show dealt with include:

  • Being an ethnic minority
  • Being in a job you like and don't like
  • Finding time to meet my three best friends
  • Going on a date
  • Dealing with your parents expectations of you
  • Falling in Love 
  • Falling out of Love
  • Falling in Love again
  • Work pressure
  • What do you do in a big city on a free weekend
  • Taking time out to cook
  • Growing old
Saturday, May 13, 2017

Learning Dispatch - May 13th 2017 - Money and Player Value in Sports

Hi, 

I want to understand how we can make our learning more social. I love having conversations with friends and colleagues about new insights and learnings. So these dispatches are part of an effort to get those conversations started. 

How do you determine the value of a player in a game of sport?

Money and Player Value in Football

Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski published Soccernomics in 2014. The books explores some counter intuitive truths about football. There were some passages that made me think about sport leagues and how top sports teams evaluate the worth of a player and set aside money to bring the best to their club/team.

On total transfer fees in 2013
"In 2013 clubs around the world paid each other about 2.2 billion pounds in transfer fees." (Kindle Location 200)
                                                                                             

On buying the world's top ten players
"When the club does buy, it rightly tends to focus on 'top ten' players: men who are arguably among the ten best footballers on earth, like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, David Villa, Fabregas, Alves or Neymar. These players cost a lot, but the risk of their failing is small (unless you buy them when they are getting old like Thierry Henry). Part of being one of the ten best footballers on earth is that your perform almost whatever the circumstances." (Kindle Location 874)

On the money Real Madrid spends
"Real Madrid are of course the supreme consumer of shooting stars. This is largely because the club's fans demand it. Madrid (or Newcastle, or Marseille in France) probably aren't even trying to be 'rational' in the transfer market. The club's aim is not to buy the best results for as little money as possible. When their president Florentino Perez handed over a combined total of 136 million pounds for Christiano Ronaldo and Kaka in 2009, he probably suspected he was paying more for the duo than the benefit he was likely to get in results or higher revenues. But big signings of this type (like Newcastle buying fragile MichaelOwen from Madrid for 17 million pounds) are best understood as marketing gifts to a club's fans, sponsors and the local media." (Kindle Location 436)

On Arsene Wenger's Degree in Economics
"The master of that trade today is Wenger. Arsenal's manager is one of the few people in football who can view the game from the outside. In part, this is because he has a degree in economic sciences from the University of Strasbourg. As a trained economist, he is inclined to trust data rather than the game's received wisdom. Wenger sees that in the transfer market, clubs ten to overvalue a player's past performances. That prompts them to pay fortunes - in transfer fees and salaries - for players who have passed their prime." (Kindle Location 540)
Saturday, April 29, 2017

Learning Dispatch - April 29th, 2017 - On Essays

Hi, 

I want to understand how we can make our learning more social. I love having conversations with friends and colleagues about new insights and learnings. So these dispatches are part of an effort to get those conversations started. 

This past week, I stumbled across this link to an article titled, '40 Best Essays of All Time' on a blog called rafalreyzer.com.

I've always been fascinated by the art of Essay Writing. Michael de Montaigne one of the pioneers of the form first published his 'Essais' in 1580. The term actually signifies 'attempts'. Attempts, Attempts! I already liked this. An attempt to discuss a matter, express a point of view, persuade us to accept a thesis on any subject or simply entertain. 

In the book he writes essays on topics like, 'Of Illness' and 'Of Sleeping'. This completely blew my mind away. I've always wanted to read written material on subjects like this. The names of some well known essayists include Francis Bacon, Alexander Pope, William Hazlit, Charles Lamb, Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, Joan Didion, Atul Gawande and Oliver Sacks. I spent the last week just reading through some of the essays mentioned in the above link. It was so much fun and there was so much to learn from these writers. 
Saturday, April 1, 2017

Learning Dispatch - April 1st 2017 - Mumbai Observations, Films and Plays

Why the dispatch? - I want to understand how we can make our learning more social. I love having conversations with friends and colleagues about new insights and learnings. So these dispatches are part of an effort to get those conversations started.

Ola Auto-Rickshaws in Mumbai
Mumbai Observations

I was in an auto rick-shaw in Mumbai and suddenly struck up a conversation with the driver. He told me that they fill gas to run the auto-rickshaw two times in one day. They do it at midnight and then late in the afternoon. These two refills normally last them the whole day as they pick up and drop passengers. But the line at the petrol pump or refill centre is often very long because most auto-rickshaw drivers go and fill it together.

I then realised why some of these auto-rickshaws drivers did not stop for me in Mumbai when I wanted to travel shorter distances. They were often weighing the opportunity cost of taking a passenger from one point to another. In Economics, 'Opportunity cost' refers to a benefit that a person could have received, but gave up, to take another course of action. So it makes sense for them to get more returns from one passenger rather than getting the same returns from several passengers. So they choose passengers that would normally give them higher fares or a 'lamba bhada' in Bombay talk. They are trying to maximise their returns from every refill of gas. They also have the additional pressure of competition from the more sophisticated Uber and Ola drivers with their air-conditioned cars, online network of repeat passengers and higher fares.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Learning Dispatch - March 3rd, 2017 - Watching Arrival and Collateral Beauty

Why the dispatch? - I want to understand how we can make our learning more social. I love having conversations with friends and colleagues about new things we have learned. So these dispatches are part of an effort to get those conversations started.



In the movie, ‘Collateral Beauty’ (watch the trailer here), the protagonist, Howard Inlet (Will Smith) is a successful advertising executive. The movie starts with this statement by Howard,

‘What is your why? Why did you get out of bed this morning? Why did you eat what you ate? Why did you wear what you wore? Why did you come here?….The big why. We are certainly not here to just sell chit. We are here to connect. Life is about people. Advertising is about illuminating how our products and services will illuminate people’s lives. Now how do we do that? Love, Time, Death. Now these three abstractions connect every single human being on earth. Every thing that we covet. Every thing that we fear not having. Everything that we ultimately end up buying. Because at the end of the day, we long for love, we wish we had more time, and we fear death.’

The scene then shifts to a time period three years in the future. Howard is now divorced and his 6 year old daughter has passed away. He is not able to focus on his work and this leads to lots of problems at his workplace. During this time he writes letters to the abstract ideas of Love, Time and Death. His partners at the agency are worried. They hire three actors and a private investigator to prove his instability with regards to his mental health. These actors meet him as Human Representations of Love, Time and Death. The private investigator plans to record his interactions with these actors to document instances of his mental instability.


In the movie, ‘Arrival’ (watch the trailer here), 12 alien spaceships decide to pay planet earth a visit. They park themselves at 12 different points around the planet. Each country where the spaceship has landed launches an independent investigation into tackling these visitors. 
Thursday, February 9, 2017

Learning Dispatch - February 10th, 2017 - The Adele Bloch Bauer Painting

Why the dispatch? - I want to understand how we can make our learning more social. I love having conversations with friends and colleagues about new things we have learned. So these dispatches are part of an effort to get those conversations started.


Gustav Klimt (1862-1918), Adele Bloch-Bauer I, 1907. Oil, silver, and gold on canvas. © 2015. Neue Galerie New York/Art Resource/Scala, Florence

The Story of a Painting

The 'Portrait of Adele Block Bauer I' is a 1907 painting by Gustav Klimt. I recently got an opportunity to visit the Neue Gallery in New York where this painting is on public display. On the way to the gallery, my sister told me about the story behind this painting. I was intrigued. I did not know paintings had stories to tell too.

The Portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer I, is like the Mona Lisa for the people of Austria. It belonged to a prominent Jewish Sugar Merchant who lived with his family in Vienna, Austria in the 1900's. His name was Ferdinand Bloch Bauer. In the summer of 1903, he commissioned the painter Gustav Klint to paint his wife's portrait whose name was Adele Bloch Bauer. 

This painting was forcefully taken away from the family, following the annexation of Austria to Nazi Germany. Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer had to flee the country and settle down in Zurich. The painting was never returned back to him during his lifetime. The name of the painting was also changed to 'Woman in Gold' because of Klimt's heavy use of gold to depict Adele's outfit. The Neue Gallery website describes how in the painting, 'her hands are folded in such a way as to conceal a deformed finger, yet the gesture only adds to her mysterious grace.'
Thursday, December 15, 2016

Learning Dispatch - December 15th, 2016 - New York Diary

Why the dispatch? - I want to understand how I can make my learning more social. I love having interesting conversations with friends and colleagues about new things I learned. So these dispatches are part of an effort to get those conversations started.

I'm writing this post from New York City. I have been here for the past two weeks. This is a city I have always wanted to visit. It has such great energy. The city is part of the New York State and has five boroughs which are:
- Manhattan
- Brooklyn
- Bronx
- Queens
- Staten Island

New York City View from the Empire State Building