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Lee Kuan Yew

My father once told me an anecdote about SM Lee Kuan Yew. My father had no direct connection with Singapore, but had a friend of his working as a newspaper reporter here in the seventies. This friend, Majeed, was a small-time reporter, not at all famous in any way. He happened to be at a press conference given by Mr. Lee Kuan Yew once. Majeed asked Mr. Lee a question, who at that moment got distracted by some other reporter asking something else. Mr. Lee held up his hand to Majeed and said, “I will be with you in a minute, Majeed” and proceeded to field the other question. This might have seemed like an unremarkable exchange to anybody, but to Majeed, it was an astonishing revelation.

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How Greece Got Quantitatively Eased

One thing we need to understand about bailouts is this – those who get bailed out don’t really get any money. So it was for Greece; she did’t get any either. Where did the money go? To the rightful owners of all the money, of course, the bankers. I used to work for a bank, so I know a little bit about it, although my station in the pecking order was way below the billion dollar bailout levels.

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A Personal Ad Server

I like programming, I’m a bit embarrassed to admit. As a fifty-year old, programming is not what I am supposed to be interested in. I should be managing large teams of people and making insane amount of money. That’s the way we think in today’s hyper-competitive and overachievement-oriented world, where we are all in a race to nowhere. But, what can I say, I do like programming. In particular, I like web programming, which is even worse. I mean, any teenager with a diploma from any of those fly-by-night schools can do web site development and such. I would like to think that I do it with a difference, but who am I to judge?

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PinPoint

MySQL on Mac OSX Yosemite

If you use XAMPP for dev work on your Mac at home, and updated your OS to Yosemite, you may be temporarily distressed when you find that your MySQLd doesn’t start up. The fix is fairly simple.

Edit /Applications/XAMPP/xamppfiles/xampp. (You may have to use sudo to do this.)

Look for:

$XAMPP_ROOT/bin/mysql.server start > /dev/null &

And add unset DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH on top of it. It should look like:

unset DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH
$XAMPP_ROOT/bin/mysql.server start > /dev/null &

Restart MySQLd and you it should work.

MotherTeresa

Philanthropy of Mother Teresa and Other Spiritual Leaders

Philanthropy comes in two flavors. One is where you make a lot of money doing whatever it is that you do, and then spend a large part of it in directly helping other people. Bill Gates is a philanthropist of this kind. The second kind is where you collect money from a large number of people and put it to good use. Organizational charities do philanthropy of this kind. So do spiritual leaders, like the god men of India.

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Driving in India

I have had the pleasure of driving in many parts of the world. Being fairly observant and having a tendency to theorize about everything, I have come to form a general theory about driving habits as well.

You see, each place has a set of driving norms, a grammar or a dialect of driving, if you will. In Marseille, France, for instance, if you switch on your turn signal on a multilane street, people will immediately let you in. It’s not because they are polite and considerate drivers (quite the contrary, in fact), but a turn signal indicates the drivers’ intention to change lanes, not a request to let them. They are not seeking permission; they are merely letting you know. You’d better let them in unless you want a collision. In Geneva (Switzerland), on the other hand, the turn signal is really a request, which is usually denied.

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Accents

If you learn a new language as an adult, or if you learn it as a child from non-native speakers, you will have an accent. There is a scientifically proven reason behind this. Each language has phonemes (basic sound units) specific to it. You can discern only those phonemes that you are exposed to as a baby. By the time you are about eight months old, it is already too late for your brain to pick up new phonemes. Without the complete set of phonemes of a language, an accent, however slight, is unavoidable.

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Richard Feynman — How Much Can We Know?

We open our eyes, we see the world, we discern patterns. We theorize, formalize; we use and rationality and mathematics to understand and describe everything. How much can we really know, though?

To illustrate what I mean, let me use an analogy. I wish I had the imagination to come up with it, but it was Richard Feynman who did. He was, by the way, quirky enough to compare physics with sex.

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