Pat is having her statistic exam next week, so she is studying hard this weekend. Somehow her nervous in preparing for the exam affects me. I already helped her walking Charlie everyday, did laundry, cooked dinner and washed the dishes on the weekend. As a arts student, Pat seems struggling in the statistic course. I wonder how tough is the course and I picked up her textbook and see hard the material can be. I spent about half an hour go through all the chapter summary. As I expected, the undergrad statistic course for psychology students is a piece of cake to an engineer. There is only one central idea connecting everything in the course: you got some sample data, then you pick a distribution curve, then apply some math formulas to find whatever parameters in the curve. There are some assumptions, from time to time, you have to test whether the sample data justify for the curve you are trying to fit. You don’t want to fit the data into a wrong curve or your experiment result is meaningless. I did not learn statistic in engineering school, but the basic concept is the same for probability and statistics course. It is the same basic mathematics to see whether a new drug is effective on the patients or to decode cell phone signal received from the antenna.
My high school made news on Globe and Mail, a national newspaper. Revenue Canada, aka taxman, sues the headmaster and teachers living on campus understating their taxable benefits on free rent. The headmaster claim a taxable benefit of $6000 per year, on a two stories house over looking Lake Ontario. But the taxman say it should be a value of $31000, which is calculated base on the rent in the area. The case went to court and the judge rule against the Revenue Canada. The judge accept the headmaster’s argument that living on campus sacrifice their private life. It is unrealistic to assume the place rent out with the market price. The rent is cheap because it comes with the responsibility to take care of the boarding students at night.
As a alumni, I agree with the judge and glad that he had made the right ruling. Although outsiders thinks my high school is a elite school with four prime ministers on the alumni list, the fact is the students are as troublesome as other teenagers. Things just happens at night in board schools. The teachers living on campus has to deal with it. The headmaster is not exaggerating. We do have drunken students and students with emotional distress. I was caught once sneaking out to have beer in midnight and saw more than once fights break out among students who suppose to be sleeping. We also pranked the headmaster from time to time. I remember we wrap his car with toilet paper in Halloween one year and painted his lawn furniture in pink the other year. I don’t think anyone with a right mind would pay the market rent to live among 200 naughty teenagers.
The Mumbai gunmen rampage catch the headline of the news today. It also catch the attention of everyone in the office. Our company outsource to India and many in the team had traveled to India, so any news in India has great interest among us. Today some Muslim extremist launch multiple terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Gunmen take over the railway terminal and two luxury hotel. They had killed over 100 people and injured over 400. They also single out and kill foreigners from US and UK. The most scary part is I dined out a lot at those two luxury hotel chains in Bangalore. Mumbai is not like Kashmir, it is the business center of India, like New York to US. If terrorist attack can happen in Mumbai, it can also happen to Bangalore, the high tech center of India. The security in Bangalore is not very assuring and it had bomb attacks only a few months ago. It is quite dangerous traveling to India now. Oh! My boss is still in Bangalore, maybe he should cut his trip short and come home earlier.
I have been thinking how can we stop terrorist attacks from Muslim extremist. The ideal solution is either catch them and lock them up or simply kill all of them. Too bad that it is almost a mission impossible in a country with large amount of Muslims. You just can’t tell the good Muslims apart from the bad Muslims. In ancient time, before the government is constraint by human right regulations, the emperor can threaten to retaliate by killing everyone in the village the terrorists came form. This strategy works well against normal citizens under dictatorship in the old communist Russian and ancient China. However, this strategy may not work on Muslim extremists even we can ignore human rights. The Muslim extremists all prepare to die for Allah. If they decide to throw away their own lives, how can we expect them to take the life of their fellow villagers into consideration. Maybe they will think the villagers die as martyrs and going to join them in heaven.
If we want to threaten the Muslim extremists, we must hold something dear to them as the target of retaliation. Muslim extremists attack us because of religious causes. We must ask what is the most important thing to the Muslim religion? It is the holy city, Mecca, of course. Here is the perfect solution. If the Muslim extremists won’t stop their terrorist attacks, we should threaten to drop nuclear bomb on Mecca. Given enough warning for evacuation, wiping out Mecca would not have any causality nor loss of lives, so it does not violate any human rights. The Muslim extremists must learn violent will not solve anything, it will only hurt them more at the end.
Malcom Gladwell’s writing is often very inspiring. I liked his booked Blink and Tipping Point. I visit his website once a while to catch up his articles on The New Yorkers. His article titled Late Bloomer seems strike a chore in my mind. In this article he questioned are genius always shine in early age. Almost all famous artist, scientist, philosophers we remember finish their greatest work in early days. Gladwell went through historical data and show that although rare, there are indeed some late bloomers, whose genius are not recognized until their forties or fifties. There are two types of genius. The first kind is the young genius we all familiar with, who shine bright and then fate fast. The second kind is a late genius, he perfect his work through years of experiment with his thoughts. The young genius seems come around more often because it is pure economic. Young genius gain their fame quick so they can support themselves. The successful late genius often have love ones supporting them whiling wait for their talent come to the full potential. However, more often unsuccessful late genius just simply giving up and live a mundane life. I know for sure I am not a young genius. (That’s quite obvious) Maybe I am a late genius, I can accomplish something great if I just keep trying. If I continue my studies in philosophy, maybe one day I will write a master piece and become a famous philosopher. Most of the great philosophers in history made their name early in their career, but maybe there are still rooms for a late genius.
I rented a BMW convertible at Mr. Rent A Car for my wedding. When I return the car, the rental shop accuse us scratch the bottom of the car and charged me for damage. I should be suspicious when I pick up the car. The guy at the rental counter didn’t inspect the car with me. He just ask me to look for any scratches myself. I thought it is just the usual sloppiness of Chinese rental shop, so I didn’t pay any much attention. I looked at the skirt of the car, but who would aware to check the underside of the car. You can’t really see the scratch unless you get down on the ground. Luckily, I rent the car with my Visa card, which comes with free rental insurance, so I don’t have to pay the damage. Since I don’t have to pay anything, I don’t bother fight hard against the wrongful accusation.
I think the car already has scratch before I pick up the car and the rental company is fully aware of it. They don’t want pay to fix the car themselves and they know I have Visa insurance, so they just blame it on me. If I have to pay out of my own pocket, I will definitely fight hard to prove my innocent. Here are two lessons I learn from this bad car rental experience. First, next time when you pick up the car, ask the rental employee go through the car inspection with you. Ask them check exactly the same things they will check when you return the car. If he missed anything, it is his fault. Second, always use a Visa car with free auto rental insurance. I just receive the refund cheque today!
Like many companies outsource to India, my company come to realize outsourcing is not as effective as the business magazine claims. No one can escape from the fundamental law of economics, what you pay is what you get. Yes, going to India seems cost saving on paper, but it really sacrifice the quality of work, which often don’t show up in any project management matrix until it’s too late. This week, I doing code review for my Indian team. Their code is so bad that it is driving me nuts.
In the project status meeting, one of them claim his code is done, all the tasks are completed. However, when I review the code, it’s all garbage. The code is not doing anything, not testing what the program suppose to test. It is pretty much a glorify print statement that prints “PASS” at the end. I have tell him rewrite the code from scratch. Maybe we forgot to tell him on top of meeting the schedule, the program also has to work.
I review other code pieces from other Indians programmers. Well, the code works, but it is the ugliest code I have seen in a long time. Instead of writing a for-loop, one guy copy and paste the code 4 times and change the index in each code segment! Instead of using a single if-else statement, another guy split the code into a dozen if-else statements having exactly the same if condition. Maybe they were paid by the number of lines of code they write, so they purposely inflate to make the program look larger.
To be fair, a few of them are quite decent, but I found the majority are just simply annoying. I wonder is it a cultural problem that Indians are sloppy in general or I am just (un)lucky enough to work with mostly incompetent people?