Wednesday, August 29, 2007

L receives the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer's Award

It's now official, L is one of the 6 recipients of the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer's Awards for 2007. The program
identifies and supports women writers of exceptional talent

I could not have said it better. I am so proud, and so excited as well; we will go to New York end September for some schmoozing event, to properly celebrate the identification of one woman of exceptional talent, with cocktails and music, and jackets and ties required for men - all sorts of very exotic things for me I am quite looking forward to!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Suck it up (Back to the gym)

Fighting-related activities had taken a bit of a back seat as of late, but are making a come-back.
I went to the San Jose Civic Center on August 17th, to attend Born To Fight. Originally a San Shou smoker organized by Cung Le's gym, BTF has evolved over time to encompass more martial arts. This year, it was broken down into a morning of submission grappling, and an afternoon of stand-up (Muay Thai and San Shou), topped with super-fights. It was a great event; about every gym in the area was represented, and, between the 4 grappling mats and the full ring, the place was buzzing with activity, and felt like a celebration to fighting. I messed up the planning a bit though; I arrived slightly too late to see a good friend of mine who was competing in grappling in the morning, and missed most of the fighters of my gym because I had to leave early - but it was still fun.


This week-end, I went to my usual sports bar to watch UFC 74, "Respect", and witnessed a 44-year old Randy Couture demolish in Gabriel Gonzaga a contender over 15 years younger than him, and about 25 pounds heavier; as if this weren't enough, Couture fought the third and final round with a broken arm. That helped put back things in perspective for me. I am finally going back to the gym, training 3 times a week, and have been continuously sore for ten days now; but after seeing Couture's performance, my own physical issues seem much less impressive. Suck it up, and train some more!

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bacchus - the energy drink!

The internet, source of all knowledge and reliable information, tells us that Bacchus was

The Roman god of wine and intoxication, equated with the Greek Dionysus. His festival was celebrated on March 16 and 17. The Bacchanalia, orgies in honor of Dionysus, were introduced in Rome around 200 BCE. These infamous celebrations, notorious for their sexual and criminal character, got so out of hand that they were forbidden by the Roman Senate in 186 BCE. Bacchus is also identified with the old-Italian god Liber.


It was only a matter of time until a brand name so powerful and full of promise would be tapped into for its marketing potential; and to inaugurate that promising line of products, what would be more fitting than an energy drink:

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sorry, your bank has been sold

I thought I had a good idea of the type of problems people could have with their bank; based just on my personal experience, I can easily list a dozen likely issues. But in all honesty, I would never have guessed that for some, the main source of dissatisfaction is that their bank is being sold.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

She's not that innocent

Yesterday, I came across that small piece on Clipmarks, which is challenging the myth that men are more promiscuous than women. From a mathematical standpoint, the argument goes, the average number of partners of men has to equal the average number of partners of women.

clipped from www.nytimes.com

The Myth, the Math, the Sex

EVERYONE knows men are promiscuous by nature. It’s part of the genetic strategy that evolved to help men spread their genes far and wide. The strategy is different for a woman, who has to go through so much just to have a baby and then nurture it. She is genetically programmed to want just one man who will stick with her and help raise their children.

But there is just one problem, mathematicians say. It is logically impossible for heterosexual men to have more partners on average than heterosexual women. Those survey results cannot be correct.

In fact, he added, the survey data themselves may be part of the problem. If asked, a man, believing that he should have a lot of partners, may feel compelled to exaggerate, and a woman, believing that she should have few partners, may minimize her past.

“In this way,” Dr. Gale said, “the false conclusions people draw from these surveys may have a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.”

 blog it


I thought the argument interesting (and no, not only because of my gender), but there was something bugging me which stayed with me for the entire day; and after some thinking, I think there is a bit of a theoretical flaw in the argument.
To illustrate the flaw, consider a fictional planet, which is populated by one single man, and hundred women (feel free to reverse the proportion if the argument sounds sexist) and assume that, to resolve the obvious imbalance, the planet decided to adopt a harem-like social system. In that case, the lucky man would have a whooping average number of 100 partners, whereas the poor women wouldn't have much choice, and would total an average number of one measle partner.
Now granted, the flaw is a rather theoretical one. The US Census lists about 134 million men for 143 million women in the US in 2000, which is far from the situation described above; still, in that case, assuming an entirely heterosexual population, if every woman were to have exactly 1 partner, then men would have an average 1.06 partners - and the myth of the promiscuous man, while dented, would still hold...

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Back from L.A.

After one week of vacation topped by an in-and-out incursion to Los Angeles, returning to work felt like a crash-landing back to reality. Since our LA stint, L has been a bit sick, and I haven't felt that hot myself. The ambiance at the office has been a been tense; we had a deployment scheduled this week, which is always a bit stressful. No matter how carefully you prepare these, there are always some last minute surprises - and rarely of the pleasant kind. In addition to that, a colleague announced her resignation somewhat unexpectedly, which also dampened the spirits a bit.
Going to the movies sounded like the perfect indication for our condition - a movie not too intellectually demanding, and, if not uplifting, at least with no excessive drama. So we went for The Bourne Ultimatum. I am still unclear as to why the movie received such high praise from the critics; but, within the requirements aforementioned, the movie delivered, and L and I had a very good time. I can't recall another movie where the edit of fight scenes is so fast-paced. Where fight scenes are usually carefully choreograph to highlight the elegance of the movements, Bourne's fight scenes almost make it look like the cameraman is the one taking the beating while trying to shoot. Until there is only one man standing, it is pretty difficult to follow what is going on, but the very fast-pace makes up for the lack of coherence, and is really entertaining. Which, overall, is also an adequate description of the entire movie.

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Sunday, August 5, 2007

Hollywood, baby!

L and I made it to L.A. yesterday. We are staying at the Sunset Tower, where, according to the brochure, Iggy Pop used to "dive from his apartment window into the pool". The ambiance has mellowed down quite a bit since; the staff seemed pretty thrown off when we asked if it was OK to take a swim. Our outlandish request gained us some respect from one of the waiters, who asked us later on in a conspiratorial manner if we were "the two who went in the swimming pool today". I somehow expected it would take more to create a sensation in Hollywood... Just in case there was any doubt, though, the directory of hotel services did confirm we were in Hollywood indeed: where else would that list propose "Wrinkle Relief & Dermal Filters", "Laser Vein Removal", and "30 Minutes Collagen Stimulation and Laser Rejuvenation (FDA Approved)"?

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Thursday, August 2, 2007

Embourgeoisement?

I feel very happy and yet slightly embarrassed about my new acquisition: a cigar humidor. Since I quit smoking some two or three years back, I have allowed myself some space for just a little vice, and smoke a cigar here and there. That has worked pretty well for me, except for one issue. I buy a few cigars on duty-free at the airport when I travel out of the country, but because I smoke so little, the cigars tend to dry out. That may sound like a trivial issue, but really, puffing on a dry cigar ruined the pleasure of my quarterly smoke, so I decided to invest in a humidor. I seasoned it, filled it with my cigars, and I really like it; except that with my cigars now in this dignified looking box, I suddenly feel like a capitalist fat cat, feeling I somehow never got when they were stored in the bathroom near the q-tip box...



I can't say I am losing much sleep over this issue, though. In fact, I have been on vacation for nearly a week now, and I can't remember sleeping so much and so well in ages. I haven't done a thing in a week, and this is tremendously enjoyable. I will go back to work on Monday, but before that, L needs to go to L.A. for a project she is working on, so we'll drive there together over the week-end. Nothing like a good low-budget road trip to keep it real!

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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Things I might be interested in

In February 2006, a friend of mine moved from California to New York city. To make the transition easier, I gave him the Zagat New York City restaurant guide, which I purchased through Amazon. Since that day, "As someone who has purchased or rated books by Zagat Survey", I have been notified about every two months of new issues of Zagat guides, covering the most random places in the US. I have been suggested to purchase the Zagat 2007 Texas. I have been advised to look into the Zagat survey of America's top golf courses. And today I have been recommended to check the 2008 Zagat survey of Washington Dc/Baltimore Restaurants.
Granted, it's notoriously difficult for computer to make recommendations based on taste, but come on! This is just plain ridiculous. I haven't heard anything from Amazon on the latest issue of the San Francisco Zagat (to be fair, I may have forgotten), even though they have my address on file - so why would the computer decide that I may be interested in Baltimore, Texas and US golf courses, when none of my amazon purchases has anything to do with these?

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