Monday, May 26, 2008

Origins of English Pound Sterling

Incidentally the term 'Pounds Sterling' - the modern name of the British currency system - can be traced back to the reign of Henry II, ie., the 12th century. The derivation of the Sterling word is almost certainly from the use of 'Easterling Silver' (the metal itself and the techniques for refining it) which took its name from the Easterling area of Germany. The Easterling area was noted for its 92.5% pure, hard and high quality coin-grade silver. It was also noted for its expertise in silver refining, and it was these techniques as well as the silver itself that Henry II imported when he arranged for the production of 'Tealbay Pennies', which formed the basis of the silver coinage quality standard established at the time. The pennies were not known as 'Tealbay' in the 12th century, they subsequently acquired the name because a hoard of the coins was found at Tealby, Lincolnshire in 1807. A contributing theme was the theory that the hallmark for what became known as Sterling Silver featured a starling bird, which many believe became distorted through misinterpretation into 'sterling'.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The bath and the bucket story

The story illustrates lateral thinking, narrow-mindedness, the risks of making assumptions, and judging people and situations:

A party of suppliers was being given a tour of a mental hospital.

One of the visitors had made some very insulting remarks about the patients.

After the tour the visitors were introduced to various members of staff in the canteen.

The rude visitor chatted to one of the security staff, Bill, a kindly and wise ex-policeman.

"Are they all raving loonies in here then?" said the rude man.

"Only the ones who fail the test," said Bill.

"What's the test?" said the man.

"Well, we show them a bath full of water, a bucket, a jug and an egg-cup, and we ask them what's the quickest way to empty the bath," said Bill.

"Oh I see, simple - the normal ones know it's the bucket, right?"

"No actually," said Bill, "The normal ones say pull out the plug. Should I check when there's a bed free for you?"

The mobile phone story

Several men were in a golf club locker room.

A mobile phone rings.

"Yes I can talk," says the man answering the call, "You're shopping are you? That's nice."

The listening men smile to each other.

"You want to order those new carpets? Okay.. And they'll include the curtains for an extra five thousand?.. Sure, why not?"

More smiles among the listeners.

"You want to book that week on Necker Island?.. They're holding the price at twenty-two thousand?.. Sounds a bargain.. You want a fortnight?.. If that's what you want honey, okay by me."

Smiles turn to expressions of mild envy.

"And you want to give the builder the go-ahead for the new conservatory? Seventy-five thousand if we say yes today? Sounds fair.. sure, that's fine."

The listeners exchange glances of amazement.

"Okay sugar, see you later.. Yes, love you too," says the man, ending the call.

He looks at the other men and says, "Whose phone is this anyhow?"

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce

The Devil's Dictionary was written by American Ambrose Bierce around a hundred years ago, and was first published as 'The Cynic's Word Book' in 1906. It was reissued as 'The Devil's Dictionary' in 1911, and continues to be published today. Its humour and irony still shine. In fact many of its observations perhaps resonate more strongly now than when Bierce first made them. Here are some choice examples of Bierce's wit, and interestingly for a writer considered to be such a 'cynic', these quotes are also examples of a touching sensitivity. These quotes still serve, as when they were created, to remind us that whether a thing is a force for good or bad is largely decided by the human factor. This is an encouraging thought, since the implication of this is that we have it in our power to change bad into good. I think Bierce would have agreed.

Corporation: An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility. (If you work for one of these be assured that there are more ethical and caring employers out there who would be more deserving of your efforts and loyalty.)

Duty: That which sternly impels us in the direction of profit, along the line of desire.

Experience: The wisdom that enables us to recognize as an undesirable old acquaintance the folly that we have already embraced.

Famous: Conspicuously miserable.

Land: A part of the Earth's surface, considered as property.The theory that land is property subject to private ownership and control is the foundation of modern society...... Carried to its logical conclusion, it means that some have the right to prevent others from living...... It follows that if the whole aea of terra firma (Earth) is owned by A, B and C, then there will be no place for D, E, F and G to be born, or, born as trespassers, to exist. (How true, and how applicable today.)

Lecturer: One with his hand in your pocket, his tongue in your ear, and his faith in your patience.

Marriage: The state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress and two slaves, making in all, two.

Happiness: An agreeable sensation arising from contemplating the misery of another.

Pain: An uncomfortable frame of mind that may have a physical basis in something that is being done to the body, or may be purely mental, caused by the good fortune of another.

Peace: In international affairs, a period of cheating between two periods of fighting.

This site contains the rest of entries.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

"If" by Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling's (1865-1936) inspirational poem 'If' first appeared in his collection 'Rewards and Fairies' in 1909. The poem 'If' is inspirational, motivational, and a set of rules for 'grown-up' living. Kipling's 'If' contains mottos and maxims for life, and the poem is also a blueprint for personal integrity, behavior and self-development. 'If' is perhaps even more relevant today than when Kipling wrote it, as an ethos and a personal philosophy. Lines from Kipling's 'If' appear over the player's entrance to Wimbledon's Centre Court - a poignant reflection of the poem's timeless and inspiring quality.

The beauty and elegance of 'If' contrasts starkly with Rudyard Kipling's largely tragic and unhappy life. He was starved of love and attention and sent away by his parents; beaten and abused by his foster mother; and a failure at a public school which sought to develop qualities that were completely alien to Kipling. In later life the deaths of two of his children also affected Kipling deeply.

Rudyard Kipling achieved fame quickly, based initially on his first stories and poems written in India (he returned there after College), and his great popularity with the British public continued despite subsequent critical reaction to some of his more conservative work, and critical opinion in later years that his poetry was superficial and lacking in depth of meaning.

Significantly, Kipling turned down many honors offered to him including a knighthood, Poet Laureate and the Order of Merit, but in 1907 he accepted the Nobel Prize for Literature. Kipling's wide popular appeal survives through other works, notably The Jungle Book (1894) the novel, Kim (1901), and Just So Stories (1902).


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master,
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son.

Chinese wisdom quotes

(Translations have been adapted for the modern age where appropriate.)

"When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be" (attributed to Lao Tsu, aka Lao Zi, legendary Chinese Taoist philosopher, supposed to have lived between 600-400BC).

"There is no greater happiness than freedom from worry, and there is no greater wealth than contentment" (attributed to Lao Tsu, aka Lao Zi, 600-400BC).

"People's tendency towards good is as water's tendency is to flow downhill" (Mencius, Chinese philosopher, circa 300BC).

"Eat less, taste more" (traditional Chinese proverb).

"Failure lies not in falling down. Failure lies in not getting up" (traditional Chinese proverb).

"The higher my rank, the more humbly I behave. The greater my power, the less I exercise it. The richer my wealth, the more I give away. Thus I avoid, respectively, envy and spite and misery" (Sun Shu Ao, Chinese minister from the Chu Kingdom, Zhou Dynasty, circa 600BC).

"Success under a good leader is the people's success" (attributed to Lao Tsu, aka Lao Zi, 600-400BC).

"Do not worry if others do not understand you. Instead worry if you do not understand others" (Confucius, 551-479 BC).

"Softness overcomes hardness" (Zuo Qiuming, court writer of the State of Lu, and contemporary of Confucius, circa 500BC).

"The greatest capability of superior people is that of helping other people to be virtuous" (Mencius, Chinese philosopher, circa 300BC).

"A great man is hard on himself; a small man is hard on others" (Confucius, 551-479 BC).

"Failure is the mother of success" (traditional Chinese proverb).

"It is not wise for a blind man, riding a blind horse, to approach the edge of a deep pond" (traditional Chinese proverb).

"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." (attributed to Confucius, Chinese philosopher, 551-479 BC, however the origins of this quote are arguably from the writing of the Chinese scholar Xunzi, 340-245 BC, for which clearer evidence seems to exist. The origin of the quote attributed to Confucius is not certain. The Xunzi quote - which is more subtle and complex, and literally translates as: "Not hearing is not as good as hearing, hearing is not as good as seeing, seeing is not as good as mentally knowing, mentally knowing is not as good as acting; true learning continues up to the point that action comes forth [or, only when a thing produces action can it be said to have been truly learned]" - can be traced to an original work, but it seems the Confucius version cannot. It is possible that the Western world simplified and attributed the quote to Confucius, being a popularly quoted source of Chinese wisdom).

"He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask is a fool for ever" (traditional Chinese proverb).

"With a strong heart and a ready mind what have I to fear?" (Chu Yuan, aka Qu Yuan, Chinese politician-turned-poet, circa 300BC - China's first great poet and considered the father of Chinese poetry, his death by drowning in 278BC is celebrated every year on the Day of Dragon Boat Festival).

"Half an orange tastes as sweet as a whole one." (traditional Chinese proverb).

"The wise man puts himself last and finds himself first" (attributed to Lao Tsu, aka Lao Zi, 600-400BC).

"He knows most who says he knows least." (Confucius, 551-479 BC).

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Human sins - origins

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Window (author unknown)

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour a day to drain the fluids from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.

The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation. And every afternoon when the man in the bed next to the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed would live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the outside world. The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake, the man had said. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Lovers walked arm in arm amid flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance. As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.

One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man could not hear the band, he could see it in his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words. Unexpectedly, an alien thought entered his head: Why should he have all the pleasure of seeing everything while I never get to see anything? It didn't seem fair. As the thought fermented, the man felt ashamed at first. But as the days passed and he missed seeing more sights, his envy eroded into resentment and soon turned him sour. He began to brood and found himself unable to sleep. He should be by that window - and that thought now controlled his life.

Late one night, as he lay staring at the ceiling, the man by the window began to cough. He was choking on the fluid in his lungs. The other man watched in the dimly lit room as the struggling man by the window groped for the button to call for help. Listening from across the room, he never moved, never pushed his own button which would have brought the nurse running. In less than five minutes, the coughing and choking stopped, along with the sound of breathing. Now, there was only silence--deathly silence.

The following morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths. When she found the lifeless body of the man by the window, she was saddened and called the hospital attendant to take it away – no words, no fuss. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it all himself. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Essential info about human body

A fetus acquires fingerprints at the age of three months.

A fingernail or toenail takes about 6 months to grow from base to tip.

A human being loses an average of 40 to 100 strands of hair a day.

A person will die from total lack of sleep sooner than from starvation. Death will occur about 10 days without sleep, while starvation takes a few weeks.

According to the Kinsey Institute, the biggest erect penis on record measures 13 inches. The smallest tops off at 1 3/4 inches.

An average human scalp has 100,000 hairs.

Babies are born with 300 bones, but by adulthood we have only 206 in our bodies.

Blondes have more hair than dark-haired people.

Each square inch of human skin consists of twenty feet of blood vessels.

Every human spent about half an hour as a single cell.

Every person has a unique tongue print.

Every square inch of the human body has an average of 32 million bacteria on it.

Humans have 46 chromosomes, peas have 14 and crayfish have 200.

Humans shed about 600,000 particles of skin every hour - about 1.5 pounds a year. By 70 years of age, an average person will have lost 105 pounds of skin.

Humans shed and re-grow outer skin cells about every 27 days - almost 1,000 new skins in a lifetime.

If you are locked in a completely sealed room, you will die of carbon dioxide poisoning first before you will die of oxygen deprivation.

If you go blind in one eye, you'll only lose about one-fifth of your vision (but all your depth perception.)

In the late 19th century, millions of human mummies were used as fuel for locomotives in Egypt where wood and coal was scarce, but mummies were plentiful.

It takes 17 muscles to smile – 43 to frown.

It would take 1,200,000 mosquitoes, each sucking once, to completely drain the average human of blood.

Laughing lowers levels of stress hormones and strengthens the immune system. Six-year-olds laugh an average of 300 times a day. Adults only laugh 15 to 100 times a day.

Some people never develop fingerprints at all. Two rare genetic defects, known as Naegeli syndrome and dermatopathia pigmentosa reticularis, can leave carriers without any identifying ridges on their skin.

The average duration of sexual intercourse for humans is 2 minutes.

The average human body contains enough: iron to make a 3 inch nail, sulfur to kill all fleas on an average dog, carbon to make 900 pencils, potassium to fire a toy cannon, fat to make 7 bars of soap, phosphorous to make 2,200 match heads, and water to fill a ten-gallon tank.

The average human produces 25,000 quarts of spit in a lifetime, enough to fill two swimming pools.

The body's largest internal organ is the small intestine at an average length of 20 feet

The feet account for one quarter of all the human bodies bones.

The human body has over 600 muscles, 40% of the body's weight.

The human brain is about 85% water.

The largest cell in the human body is the female ovum, or egg cell. It is about 1/180 inch in diameter. The smallest cell in the human body is the male sperm. It takes about 175,000 sperm cells to weigh as much as a single egg cell.

The largest cell in the human body is the female reproductive cell, the ovum. The smallest is the male sperm.

The largest human organ is the skin, with a surface area of about 25 square feet.

The left lung is smaller than the right lung to make room for the heart.

The longest muscle in the human body is the sartorius. This narrow muscle of the thigh passes obliquely across the front of the thigh and helps rotate the leg to the position assumed in sitting cross-legged. Its name is a derivation of the adjective "sartorial," a reference to what was the traditional cross-legged position of tailors (or "sartors") at work.

The most common blood type in the world is Type O. The rarest, Type A-H, has been found in less than a dozen people since the type was discovered.

The Neanderthal's brain was bigger than yours is.

The only bone in the human body not connected to another is the hyoid, a V-shaped bone located at the base of the tongue between the mandible and the voice box. Its function is to support the tongue and its muscles.

The only time the human population declined was in the years following 1347, the start of the epidemic of the plague 'Black Death' in Europe.

There are 45 miles of nerves in the skin of a human being.

There are 60,000 miles of blood vessels in the human body.

Though it makes up only 2 percent of our total body weight, the brain demands 20 percent of the body's oxygen and calories.

Three-hundred-million cells die in the human body every minute.

Women's hearts beat faster than men's.

Your stomach cells secrete hydrochloric acid, a corrosive compound used to treat metals in the industrial world. It can pickle steel, but mucous lining the stomach wall keeps this poisonous liquid safely in the digestive system.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Best music sites on the web

Music is the universal language that knows no boundaries and is only limited by the creativity of its creators. Find below the best and most resourceful and diverse music websites I have stumbled upon on the net.

1. Unsigned Band Web

Unsigned Band Web delivers on the promise that new bands are discovered everyday, because at Unsigned Band Web visitors to future music starts who are waiting for their chance to shine before their audiences.

2. Grooveshark

This one of top web2.0 musical players online where you can make and save playlists among and the best of all is that all music is of high quality.

3. Artist Direct

Artists Direct is the place to visit when in the mood to listen to Hip-Hop, Pop. Rock and the rest of styles out there. Download free music or watch free music videos to reserving your concert tickets in advance with the speed and convenience found at Artists Direct each and everyday.

4. Spiral Frog

Signup at Spiral Frog and get access to over one million songs that you can download legally and free. Discover new artists that you probably haven't ever heard of before or stay with the tired and true recording artists that are known for packing large stadiums of screaming and adoring fans.

5. Pandora

Fall in love again, with the possibility of stumbling across a brand new artist, group or band that have been captured through Music Genome Project and overseen by Pandora, so that the flow of new musical talents don't go unnoticed. If you enjoy sampling the sounds of a creative crop of new and still probably new, undiscovered talented, then you will find a whole new world of sounds to delight your listening pleasures.

6. Roxwel

Get all of your metal rock, rock-n-roll and indie rock all on one comprehensive website and download load the music that you like for free.

7. Blastro

Bust a beat to your favorite Hip-Hop, R&B, Latin, Pop and Dance music genres where the songs are sassy and the music is free.

8. Digitally Imported

Get ready to burn up the dance floor to the electrifying electric dance music with highly addictive elements of the unique style that only electronic music can bring. Get free radio channels featuring recording superstars, DJs and the hottest exclusive shows anywhere.

9. Deezer

Listen to or download your greatest music icons' masterful works for free or participate in the Deezer online community and make new friends who enjoy the same music as you do.

10. Free Music Zilla

Freemusiczilla is an application that gives you a possibility to download music directly from social music services from places such as: IMEEM,, Pandora, MySpace, eSnips, Mog, Digg, and almost all social music services. Freemusiczilla supports all web browsers, has no adware or spyware and is super light, micro-sized and resource-friendly. Best of all, it's free to download.

Monday, May 5, 2008


I woke up twice today.

First time I woke up I felt as if I had a head left squashed by a train passing through it. It felt as if I had a day long boxing tournament the day before and I lost…The only desire in such case is to fall as quickly back asleep as possible. Sleeping is the best and the surest of cures in many cases – in this case in particular. I fell asleep…

The second time I woke up I felt differently. There are times when you wake up not realizing where or when you are. Time and space mold together creating a single time-space dimension where the time-space flows in one direction, and by happenstance you don’t really realize in which direction it does. You feel afloat – you don’t even know afloat of what. You are unable to feel the difference between a dream and a reality. You close your eyes and you open them again and the only difference it makes is the amount of light. It takes you some few or more seconds to get your bearings back and to locate yourself by an unconscious but very rational and ultra-rapid questioning of your mind on subjects of where and in which time you were yesterday. The moment you localize yourself by such a query, you start feeling better, but not really. You now have a rational explanation somewhere in your head concerning your current location, and flows of thoughts and with them your worries, fears and hopes keep on pouring into your now increasingly awake mind. Thick fog –as you come to realize now - dissipates, and you start discerning then and now, here and there, yesterday and today. Like in a chemical chain reaction, this realization accelerates the entire process. All of sudden you feel as if someone came and kicked you abruptly awake and gave a you a good doze of food for thought and worries to think about.

At this point, you don’t have to persuade yourself or do a mental exercise of self-instilment for shaking your mind and body awake because they both become as alive and as awake as they ever could. But it doesn’t stop there. The ongoing rush of thoughts and worries – usually negative, anxious and worrying pieces of information have an unsurprisingly heavier impact – makes your brains feel – at least for a split second – rather livid and drained of al energy. Without realizing it, your entire body and mind go through a mental exercise of thinking and living, to a certain extent, logical ends and consequences of those thoughts, which sometimes can make your body and mind quite tired. In a matter of minutes, you experience the blur and fuzziness followed by increasing awakening doubled with acuteness of senses and dawning realization of surroundings followed by drenching flow of accelerated mental scenario shifts taking you sometimes to rational and sometimes intuitive, irrational and full-of-bias ends of your thoughts, fears, aspirations and making these few minutes feel equivalent to months and years of your life not yet lived.

The five minutes after the second wake-up..

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Fostering Innovation in Pixar

This week The McKinsey Quaterly asks: what does stimulating the creativity of animators have in common with developing new product ideas or technology breakthroughs? Apparently, a lot.

In Innovation lessons from Pixar, McKinsey writes:
Brad Bird makes his living fostering creativity. Academy Award-winning director (The Incredibles and Ratatouille) talks about the importance, in his work, of pushing teams beyond their comfort zones, encouraging dissent, and building morale. He also explained the value of “black sheep”—restless contributors with unconventional ideas.

Steve Jobs hired him, says Bird, because after three successes (Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, and Toy Story 2) he was worried Pixar might struggle to stay innovative. Jobs told him: “The only thing we’re afraid of is complacency—feeling like we have it all figured out,” Bird quotes his boss as saying “…We want you to come shake things up.” Bird explains to McKinsey how he did it — and why, for “imagination-based companies to succeed in the long run, making money can’t be the focus.”

The piece is behind McKinsey’s pay wall, but we extract its 9 key lessons below.

Lesson One: Herd Your Black Sheep

The Quarterly: How did your first project at Pixar—The Incredibles—shake things up?

Brad Bird: I said, “Give us the black sheep. I want artists who are frustrated. I want the ones who have another way of doing things that nobody’s listening to. Give us all the guys who are probably headed out the door.” A lot of them were malcontents because they saw different ways of doing things, but there was little opportunity to try them, since the established way was working very, very well. We gave the black sheep a chance to prove their theories, and we changed the way a number of things are done here.

Lesson Two: Perfect is the Enemy of Innovation

The Quarterly: What sorts of things did you do differently?

Brad Bird: I had to shake the purist out of them—essentially frighten them into realizing I was ready to use quick and dirty “cheats” to get something on screen… I’d say, “Look, I don’t have to do the water through a computer simulation program… I’m perfectly content to film a splash in a swimming pool and just composite the water in.” I never did film the pool splash [but] talking this way helped everyone understand that we didn’t have to make something that would work from every angle. Not all shots are created equal. Certain shots need to be perfect, others need to be very good, and there are some that only need to be good enough to not break the spell.

Lesson Three: Look for Intensity

The Quarterly: Do angry people—malcontents, in your words—make for better innovation?

Brad Bird: Involved people make for better innovation… Involved people can be quiet, loud, or anything in-between—what they have in common is a restless, probing nature: “I want to get to the problem. There’s something I want to do.” If you had thermal glasses, you could see heat coming off them.

Lesson Four: Innovation Doesn’t happen in a Vacuum

The Quarterly: How do you build and lead a team?

Brad Bird: I got everybody in a room. This was different from what the previous guy had done; he had reviewed the work in private, generated notes, and sent them to the person… I said, “Look, this is a young team. As individual animators, we all have different strengths and weaknesses, but if we can interconnect all our strengths, we are collectively the greatest animator on earth. So I want you guys to speak up and drop your drawers. We’re going to look at your scenes in front of everybody. Everyone will get humiliated and encouraged together…

Lesson Five: High Morale Makes Creativity Cheap

The Quarterly: It sounds like you spend a fair amount of time thinking about the morale of your teams.

Brad Bird: In my experience, the thing that has the most significant impact on a movie’s budget—but never shows up in a budget—is morale. [what’s true for a movie is true for a startup!] If you have low morale, for every $1 you spend, you get about 25 cents of value. If you have high morale, for every $1 you spend, you get about $3 of value. Companies should pay much more attention to morale.

Lesson Six: Dont Try To “Protect your success”

The Quarterly: Engagement, morale—what else is critical for stimulating innovative thinking?

Brad Bird: The first step in achieving the impossible is believing that the impossible can be achieved. … “You don’t play it safe—you do something that scares you, that’s at the edge of your capabilities, where you might fail. That’s what gets you up in the morning.”

Lesson Six: Steve Jobs Says ‘Interaction = Innovation’

The Quarterly: What does Pixar do to stimulate a creative culture?

Brad Bird: If you walk around downstairs in the animation area, you’ll see that it is unhinged. People are allowed to create whatever front to their office they want. One guy might build a front that’s like a Western town. Someone else might do something that looks like Hawaii…John [Lasseter] believes that if you have a loose, free kind of atmosphere, it helps creativity.

Then there’s our building. Steve Jobs basically designed this building. In the center, he created this big atrium area, which seems initially like a waste of space. The reason he did it was that everybody goes off and works in their individual areas. People who work on software code are here, people who animate are there, and people who do designs are over there. Steve put the mailboxes, the meetings rooms, the cafeteria, and, most insidiously and brilliantly, the bathrooms in the center—which initially drove us crazy—so that you run into everybody during the course of a day. [Jobs] realized that when people run into each other, when they make eye contact, things happen. So he made it impossible for you not to run into the rest of the company.

Lesson Seven: Encourage Inter-disciplinary Learning

The Quarterly: Is there anything else you’d highlight that contributes to creativity around here?

Brad Bird: One thing Pixar does [is] “PU,” or Pixar University. If you work in lighting but you want to learn how to animate, there’s a class to show you animation. There are classes in story structure, in Photoshop, even in Krav Maga, the Israeli self-defense system. Pixar basically encourages people to learn outside of their areas, which makes them more complete. [and more creative].

Lesson Eight: Get Rid of Weak Links

The Quarterly: What undermines Innovation?

Brad Bird: Passive-aggressive people—people who don’t show their colors in the group but then get behind the scenes and peck away—are poisonous. I can usually spot those people fairly soon and I weed them out.

Lesson Nine: Making $$ Can’t Be Your Focus

The Quarterly: How would you compare the Disney of your early career with Pixar today?

Brad Bird: When I entered Disney, it was like a classic Cadillac Phaeton that had been left out in the rain… The company’s thought process was not, “We have all this amazing machinery—how do we use it to make exciting things? We could go to Mars in this rocket ship!” It was, “We don’t understand Walt Disney at all. We don’t understand what he did. Let’s not screw it up. Let’s just preserve this rocket ship; going somewhere new in it might damage it.”

Walt Disney’s mantra was, “I don’t make movies to make money—I make money to make movies.” That’s a good way to sum up the difference between Disney at its height and Disney when it was lost. It’s also true of Pixar and a lot of other companies. It seems counterintuitive, but for imagination-based companies to succeed in the long run, making money can’t be the focus.

Source: GigaOm

Friday, May 2, 2008

American government LOVES war in Iraq

Who profits from the Iraq war? More than a quarter of senators and congressmen have invested at least $196 million of their own money in companies doing business with the Department of Defense (DoD) that profit from the death and destruction in Iraq.

According to the latest reports, 151 members of Congress invested close to a quarter-billion in companies that received defense contracts of at least $5 million in 2006. These companies got more than $275.6 billion from the government in 2006, or $755 million per day, according to, a website of the watchdog group OMBWatch.

Congressmen gave themselves a loophole so they only have to report their assets in broad ranges. Thus, they can be off as much as 160%. In 2004, the first full year after the present Iraq war began, Republican and Democratic lawmakers—both hawks and doves—invested between $74.9 million and $161.3 million in companies under contract with the DoD. In 2006 Democrats had at least $3.7 million invested in the defense sector alone, compared to the Republicans’ “only” $577,500. As the war raged on, so did the billions of profits—and personal investments by Congress members in war contractors, which increased 5% from 2004 to 2006.

Investments in these contractors yielded Congress members between $15.8 million and $62 million in personal income from 2004 through 2006, through dividends, capital gains, royalties and interest. John Kerry and Rep. James Sensenbrenner, who are two of Congress’s wealthiest members, were among the lawmakers who garnered the most income from war contractors between 2004 and 2006: Sensenbrenner got at least $3.2 million and Kerry reaped at least $2.6 million.

Members of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees which oversee the Iraq war had between $32 million and $44 million invested in companies with DoD contracts.

War hawk Joe Lieberman, chairman of the defense-related Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, had at least $51,000 invested in these companies in 2006.

Hillary Clinton, who voted for Bush’s war, had stock in defense companies, such as Honeywell, Boeing and Raytheon, but sold the stock in May 2007.

Of the 151 members whose investments are tied to the “defense” (war) industry, as far as known, not one of them offered to donate their bloodstained profits to the national treasury to offset the terrible debt they have imposed.

Welcome to reality of America’s foreign policy hypocrisy – bring democracy to Iraq, while in real enriching their own coffers. Read Naomi Klein’s latest book “Shock Doctrine” for further revelations.

Data obtained from: roguegovernment

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Some lessons to be learnt from history (I)

  1. Don’t piss off your peasants. They’ll revolt and kill you.
  2. Never invade Russia from the west. The snow will kill you. (The Russians will help).
  3. All monotheistic (so-called portable) religions claim that there is no God but God in no smaller part considering that Judaism has always been monotheistic. This is absolutely NOT true as YHVE, or Tetragramaton if you prefer, was one of their Gods – the God of War, reaching its eminence through wars of unification and survival against external enemies.
  4. Geography matters.
  5. No other country but Africans cared about Africa. (Every country should).
  6. The French always lose. If the French win it is because they are fighting themselves, being led by someone who is not French, or the US is doing all of the fighting. It’s best to just ignore France.
  7. The Jews are the most persecuted people in history. Statistically, they’re bound to start winning sometime. (As long as they don’t piss of their peasants or invade Russia…or ally themselves with the French).
  8. Don’t think Chinese are too incapable or too modest. The moment will come and they will stun the world like never before. (Indeed this is what is already starting to happen).
  9. Burning down cities will not bring your Messiah back.
  10. Wherever natural resources of any value are discovered, local population suffers massacres, deprivation, and starvation caused by those who can afford.
  11. Every superpower saw its own summit before tumbling down.
  12. The Romans declared war on China. They didn’t know where China was or what it was but they thought it would be a good idea to declare war on it just in case. It’s always good to declare war on people you don’t know…as long as they don’t find out and kill you.
  13. When in doubt pay your enemies to go sack another civilization. Hope that civilization does not have an important looking Pope.
  14. History was always there and available to those who were at crossroads of great events, but they always thought that their case is different not heeding the history, thus ending up in the very same situation that history witnessed.
  15. Conquer the world…but don’t forget to govern your empire or it will fall apart.
  16. Marco Polo invented spaghetti.
  17. Leonardo da Vinci invented chemical weapons.
  18. Guys who talk to statues and appoint their horse Consul of Rome generally don’t make good Emperors.
  19. Armenians (not Jews) introduced coffee to Europe.
  20. You can’t expect much from a guy named after a toilet.
  21. The Phoenicians built an entire empire on snail testicles.
  22. When uniting Germany, don’t try to rebuild Charlemagne’s Empire.
  23. An army of 12,000 terracotta soldiers will not protect you from a mob of angry Chinese peasants.
  24. Switzerland is cool…they have chocolate, pocket knives, watches, banks, the most armed society in the world, and a military that is so effective, its banned from most wars by international law. Not even Hitler was stupid enough to mess with the Swiss.
  25. Trade is the best way to spread culture, disease, religion, language, and technology but conquest works in the unlikely event that you don’t have anything that anyone else wants.
  26. The Europeans first sent merchants to trade with you, then missionaries to convert you, and finally armies to conquer you.
  27. St. Peter’s Basilica cost the Catholic Church Germany.