Friday, December 30, 2011

Chapters and continuity

The chapters in a book have a physical beginning and a physical end. But their contents flow backwards into the story before, flow forwards into the remaining story and will continue to weave into the story contents beyond the book itself.

Book in photo above courtesy of Bahati Mabala, A Trail of My Shadows.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

2 questions from Tuesday night

1. Is it possible to create an international political party? If so, where does this leave the role of "international" ideologies (such as democracy, capitalism, etc.) and institutions (the UN, the World Bank, etc.)?

2. Is all the information circulated within Government public domain?

Thanks Nabil, Inayat, Muntazir, Ayham and Hamza for the (as always) good company.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Interesting questions

I found these Google interview questions and suggested responses from a WSJ article. Examples of some questions:

You're in a car with a helium balloon on a string that is tied to the floor. The windows are closed. When you step on the gas pedal, what happens to the balloon—does it move forward, move backward, or stay put?

A book has N pages, numbered the usual way, from 1 to N. The total number of digits in the page numbers is 1,095. How many pages does the book have?

A man pushed his car to a hotel and lost his fortune. What happened? [My favorite]

Responses here (thanks, WSJ!).

Friday, December 23, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

On risk II

Risk, it appears, is not mitigated even if one is able to disconnect oneself from the result of invested effort. It seems risk can only be mitigated if all constituents of any effort or event are relieved from the potential of harm. The responsibility of everyone dealing with this risk, therefore, lies on one who initiates the risky event, however disconnected they are from the result.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The colors of coffee bean culture

Green is the true color of the coffee bean. The bean is harvested in Central and South America, Eastern Africa and Southern Asia. Green is the only natural color of the coffee bean, since What comes next is human-inflicted.

Gold is the coffee bean's color after a little bit of heat. It is poured into closed heating tubs, and after about 5 minutes, the coffee bean is roasting at around 150 degrees celcius. Here, the it is transforming into something it is not familiar with.

Brown. This is the color of the coffee bean after about half an hour of roasting, in the same heating tubs, now churning at over 200 degrees celcius. Brown is when the coffee bean has no green left in it. What comes next is variable and unknown to the bean. All it knows is that it is getting hotter and it is being churned around and around and if it doesn't keep up it'll probably end up in a scraps pile away from the other beans it looks similar to.

Darkened brown. How brown will depend on how much longer the coffee bean sits in the heating tubs. The longer it is kept inside, the darker it becomes, and the stronger its eventual taste. Soon the coffee bean will be packaged for export, darkened to match preferred tastes in household and coffee houses somewhat globally.

Of course, the packagers will leave a small valve open on the packages before they are sent away, otherwise they would explode due to the still self-roasting coffee bean releasing gases.

And as the coffee bean sits with its counterparts in its package, quietely roasting away, it acknowledges that it is among other beans just like itself. It cannot acknowledge which kind of green this bean used to be, and which kind of green that bean used to be. It cannot even acknowledge how green it was in comparision to all the other beans. All it knows is that it is know in a package with other look-a-like beans, and they are all heading for the same place.

From a green birth to a gold childhood, into a brown adulthood and a finally darker old age, how are we humans different from the culture of coffee beans? Today more than ever we seem to collide into eachother in heated circumstances, one often clueless of the other, and we claim to grow from our collective experience. How much are we growing if we are simply repeating eachothers stories without learning from them?

On risk

Risk generally concerns exposure to danger or harm. Here, danger or harm is assumed to be undesired by an individual or group. But if there is a way to disconnect a self - either the individual's self or a group's self-identity - from the potential resulting event, does this mean the risk is mitigated?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Doing Time II

If we can change time, we can also change how we do/act.
If we change how we act, how representative are we of everyone else?
If we are very representative, we can change time collectively.
If we are not representative, how will we change anything?

Thursday, December 1, 2011