Saturday, October 13, 2012


Simons related announcements:
  • The Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing has a webpage. Lot of good information here from upcoming programs to call for Research Fellows which looks very interesting.
  • Simons Science Series of talks continues with Ingrid Daubechies on Oct 24.
  • NY Area CS and Economics Day (NYCE) continues for the 5th year. The early meetings were hosted by the NY academy of sciences in downtown NY, but Simons foundations will host the upcoming edition on Dec 3.


Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Airline Travel Tales

When airplanes work, they are great, getting us from A to B in a swish, with many channels of entertainment (forget the food, I am surprised someone hasn't worked out a business model where I can order great food online and they will deliver it to me fresh and hot, past the security just before I board, sorta like Mumbai Dabbawalas). When they dont:
  • I was stuck on the tarmac with an engine problem and the pilot says, "Electrons are running around in the computer not listening to us. We are trying to talk to them."
  • The other day, the pilot starts the engines, they shut down for some reason, and he announces on the PA, "We will try to switch the engines on in the reverse order and see if that works."
  • Recently heard (due to United/Continental merger, the staff are not crosstrained on others' equipments and there is chaos on board during most flights): "We seemed to have keyed in the wrong entertainment code, we have to wait for this movie to finish and start with the new program in your entertainment guide."
Finally, no matter the circumstances, airports are very badly designed.  Hub-and-spoke model sucks, transfers take far too long, instead of bringing airplanes to people, people walk along many spokes, spines, and multiple security lines.  Try Frankfurt transfer! Amsterdam has accepted the horror and has a tiny Rijksmuseum in the airport to distract you.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Quick trip to NY

I spent the weekend in NY.  In NY, everything changes between any two visits, places you know will die,  from that debris will rise new stories. My days intersected --- sometimes obliquely --- with
  • time in MSR NYC office, 
  • wedding in Musician John Popper's family, 
  • Usher's party at Casa La Femme,  
  • new Michelin 3 star Atera by Mike Lightner, 
  • Shaineal Shah's Xocolatti, and 
  • I had comfort food (matzo ball soup and kasha).  
I had a conversation about Tucker cars and the business of cinematography ("business of rejections" claims Ivan) that cheered me. Note to the world: real estate is back beyond the 1%.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Films: Foreign, Bolly, Animation and Beyond

On the flight back from India, I watched Thermae Romae, a two-period piece in which an architect who designs baths in ancient, royal Rome time-travels back and forth to the baths of modern middleclass Japan. It is a great premise to tie these two baths-immersed cultures together across time and space, and a casting challenge to have grand Roman scenes with Japanese actors in them. The film is comic with a Roberto Benigni like Banana, a toga that becomes the Samurai garb, the  line by a Japanese traveler to ancient Rome, "That Marcus?" and others. This is not the top example of Japanese filmmaking, but it occurs to me that Bollywood that "draws" from the west should turn to Japan too. I was told, I should address this tip to SRK.

In addition, I watched Kitsutsuki to Ame about a woodsman in a remote town who gets drawn into the making of a Zombie movie by a visiting film crew. One learns "Zombies cant run" and there is a fun finale when humans and Zombies wait for a break in the rain for the shooting to begin. I also watched a couple of other HK/China flicks like Dai Chui Bo.

Time traveling to present times. Like last year, I had passes to the Palo Alto International Film Festival (PAIFF) that just concluded. Last year I used it for VIP parties and lounges, panel discussion with filmmakers and other things, but this year I mainly used it to watch childrens movies. Palo Alto has an interesting place in film making history, and their promo has the sprinting horse, a reminder of the first killer-app for making moving pictures.

This is Palo Alto, no event is complete without local entrepreneurs and new startup technologies. Before the films, you could use theater wifi to access and play trivia, and results appeared real time on the screen! Also, the FF showcased some nice animation technology, melding handdrawn animations into disney-esque and 3D.