Posts Tagged ‘US’

Well, only if you look at it the right way. And, whoever said maths guys don’t make a living?

Read on – this short amazing piece – no maths in it, I assure you – is from Dan Lewis, his posts are on varied topics, interesting and easy to read (here).

Seeing is Disbelieving


During World War II, the UK and U.S. focused their air warfare plans on the use of strategic bombing, employing long- and short-range aircraft to lead the way and provide ground infantry with an upper hand. Much of the industrial war complexes of both these nations were focused on producing planes, and ensuring the safe return of an expensive, slow-to-produce bomber was a priority. After all, a plane that can make five or perhaps ten runs was worth much more than one which failed to return after a mission or two.

Of course, planes which came back often did so damaged. It made sense to repair those planes. The typical repair job came with additional armor added to the bullet hole-riddled areas of the plane, reinforcing the areas which took the most damage. And, in theory, it would also make sense to add additional armor in those places.

Until a statistician named Abraham Wald stepped in.

Wald earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Vienna in 1931, but, because he was Jewish, was unable to find a job in Austria. He managed to emigrate to the United States shortly after the Nazi annexation of Austria in 1938, and ended up studying econometrics for the Cowles Commission for Research in Economics, then based in Chicago. Either while at that post or shortly thereafter, he ended up on a data gathering project for the U.S. military. He was charged with looking at planes which had returned from battle, and recording where they had taken the most damage. As seen above (via the National World War II Museum), he put together a crude before-and-after diagram. The “after” image — the plane on the right — showed where the majority of the damage was, as indicated by the shaded regions. Wald determined that most of the plane — the wings, nose, and fuselage — had taken the worst beating, while the cockpit and tail were generally unharmed. Wald’s superiors suggested that the shaded areas receive additional armor.

Wald, though, objected. If planes were returning with damage to the shaded areas, then, Wald argued, the shaded areas needed the least reinforcement. After all, the planes were able to take significant damage to those areas yet still return. Wald theorized (and mathematically explored, in this pdf) that the fact that the planes lacked damage in the cockpit and tail was more telling. Certainly, the Axis’ targeting of Allies’ planes was both indiscriminate and imprecise; there was little reason to believe that the Axis forces were aiming for, say, the nose, and intentionally avoiding striking the tail. Some planes had to have taken significant damage to the tail and cockpit, and all of those planes had something in common: they, unlike the ones in Wald’s data set, did not return back to base.

On Wald’s advice, the U.S. military leadership reinforced the cockpits and tails on its planes.



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orlando-shooting-pulse-nightclub-01 justjared com

I have always thought guys in US are unbelievably innocent  and  naive (CIA…excepted).

Where’s the proof, you may ask. Here I submit for your consideration:

I take you to the unfortunate incident of mindless violence and the regrettable loss of innocent lives – shooting at Orlando couple of days ago. The country is shocked and stunned.

For a moment, I turn away from the grief at ground-zero and elsewhere to speculate on the post-incident political fallout.

If the guys here had only learnt the ropes at the knees of the wily-guily grand-dads (neta’s) of Indian politics:

The Democrats in the first hour of the aftermath would have rushed to the media denouncing it as a diabolical move plotted and executed by the Republicans to muster sympathy and support for their proposed ban on immigration. For their part, the Republicans would claim they are on the verge of making public proof enough to show the assailant was a card-holding Democrat.

And the law-enforcers would draw bipartisan fire for not capturing the assailant alive to uncover the truth.

Ending the speculation here and getting back to the real, strangely none of these has happened at least when I read the first media reports.

Don’t know for sure if they have subsequently warmed up to the opportunities presented by this tragedy to score over their rivals, getting their cues from their Indian counterparts unsurpassed in demagogy and ‘statecraft’.

I rest my case.

You agree, never mind their century-or-two old institutions, they still have some catching up to do with us in the lead?




Image from justjared.com

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Friends and relatives have been asking me how I am I doing. Well, if truth be told, it’s a dog’s life for most part without the collar or the leash – food served on time, napping on comfy bed, long walks under a balmy sky, a loving family, kidding with kids when they are in good humor, no trespassers to shoo away…Must pack up before I get ‘trained’ 🙂

The kids here are so straight and precise. I still have to unravel the nature of the ‘sauce’ they feed on. ‘I don’t know’ is often the answer when they really don’t. Kids back home are rarely short of a response, be it about black holes or the lost city of Atlantis. We in the orient – or, should I say in India – in all our lives comfortably cohabit with vagueness and ambiguity. What to speak of 50 shades of grey, even 500 of them don’t faze us. Don’t know if this is a virtue or a vice and how it shapes us in life.

Yesterday, off chance, when I looked out there was a huge fire-truck standing across the street and two officers trying to operate a water hydrant. There was no clanging of the bells or flashing crown lights. A tame scene with no crowd. And the officers seemed to be in no particular pressure. Intriguing until it was explained to me: it was nothing but a routine check held during peace time on the hydrants if they worked as intended.

The house next door, recently changed hands, had at the entrance rose plants in full bloom – more roses than leaves, palm-sized. A rank amateur, I still love taking snaps of flowers and trees – birds are too fleeting for me. Long ago I gave up on coaxing plants in pots after infamously killing countless specimens that looked so full of promise in the shop window. I was told by those in the know it was either heat of the sun, too much water, too little of nutrients or my thumb was not green – plain and simple. In this course came the eureka moment when I realized it is much less bother to admire a thing of beauty as a passer-by than own it, opening up much wider vistas in life. Am a lot happier looking at your multi-million dollar homes, master’s paintings, antique jewelry, haute couture dresses…or anyone else’s. At one stroke, life is a leisurely walk, quite liberating, not anything like the averred field for racing rodents.

Going back to neighbor’s impetuous roses:

asiatrvl com

This time I was not sure if it was okay to freeze them digitally, aware of the danger of it being construed as trespassing or invasion of privacy or whatever other laws in force. Emboldened by the sight of uncollected mails and news papers lying outside the main door, right or wrong, the deed was committed with great nervousness. Over the family dinner I mentioned it in passing. I was informed it was a normal and the easiest thing to spruce up the frontage of a on-sale property with off-the-shelf flowering plants! Whoever said commerce is dull and devoid of creativity?

More to follow:-)


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Mornings and evenings, I walk along a small canal that runs behind the house.


Plants, bushes, shrubs irrepressible with colorful flowers that, unfortunately for me, remain unnamed,

Trees that have grown to a perfect shape of a bulb (is that because of trimming?),

Ducks and turtles lazily waddling in the waters fearing no predators,

Quaint foot-bridges cinching the canal like a girl’s waist band,

And occasional raucous call of a bird with proud plumage punctuating the silences,

Even the languid waters in no hurry to flow…


Well, I’m no wordsmith to carry on, but you get the picture?


I haven’t tired myself out yet amateurishly snapping at these. For want of a cable, yet to check on a larger screen if I got them like I had wanted to. These are moments when the eyes of the mind run far ahead of the eyes in the head and the lens in the camera.


On the trail men and women, young and old, pass me walking or jogging, some pushing carts with babies, some with their pets on leash, occasionally a kid cycling. And when they do, a friendly nod is exchanged – a gesture that makes one feel connected with the rest of humanity at least for a moment. And just the thing for many of us socially awkward. No words are called for. At the most, ‘Good Morning’ or ‘Nice weather, eh?’. Of course I also get a share of them who are lost to here and now with ears plugged into music or whatever.


It brings to my mind an incident that happened years ago in HP’s office in Hong Kong. Coming from different countries of far-east, we were undergoing training on various HP systems. One day during the break a colleague of mine, a man of fewest words, on his way to the loo came upon a trainee from Taiwan making his way out after finishing his business. Feeling compelled, like many of us, to make some inane remark, he greeted the trainee with: ‘Coming from the loo?’ The trainee breaking his stride thought for several moments, his face betraying the inner struggle he was passing through, before responding: ‘May be’.


A couple of days ago I saw an elderly looking man walking along with his eyes on the waters and carrying a scoop-net. This was despite the brusque injunctions prominently displayed against fishing in the waters of the canal. The man had a mellowed face that would easily break into a smile if occasion demands. I could not envision him to be an offender flagrantly carrying the scoop like it was his state flag, in a largely law-abiding society. Then, with evil satisfaction, I said to myself: ‘So what if it is US? People are people anywhere.’ Until I saw this man getting closer and scooping out a stray soda can bobbing in the waters.


So much for smart-reading the world.


(More to come 😦 )


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Impressions From US

WISISWYG: What I See Is What You Get:-)

Fort-Worth-International-Airport-in-Dallas-Texas Layoverguide com
It was a long 17-hour flight that I was half-way turning into a mummy.

I was visiting this country after a lapse of 10 years, prepared to see a changed scene. But this was something else…at the airport.

At the immigration, I was steeling myself to face those hurly-burly guys ready to shake the small change out of hidden trouser pockets. If you ever wanted to empathize with creatures facing a spray of Flit , this is exactly the place you go, without the option of scurrying to unseen underside of some furniture or equipment. Instead here was a friendly soft-spoken officer who stopped just short of welcoming me. Perhaps it was an off-day for the regulars? Or is it a genuine soul change? I wouldn’t know.

Passing through the customs, again, was easier than saying ‘Hi’.

May be these wily firangees are playing to an agenda <This is what happens to your head when you read books of ‘Freakanomics’ kind like I did recently>.

Consider this: Assume every day 100 flights leave Indian skies, each carrying about 200 passengers heading for this country. That is 20,000 heads a day. At a minimum, let us say, they carry $500 per-capita to spend in US. Makes it $10 m a day or $3 b+ a year. No small change and this is spent at the bottom of the economic pyramid – mostly at the retail outlets. All without one bead of sweat.

Makes sense? The other day, someone said if you ever want to understand a phenomenon, follow the money trail – in most cases, this works. But like most of you, I’m not given to such cold calculative thinking. I was, honestly, welcome, I would like to think – plain and simple.




Source: Image from http://www.layoverguide.com

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