Showing posts from September, 2008

Linksfest:: What I'm Reading Online

Just a quick set of links: Margaret Thatcher's dotage The Wall Street Journal on the fall of the house of Lehman and how it created contagion Landmark Supreme Court decisions

Thought on watching the F1 race

So, a fuel hose is a weapon of Massa destruction? (rimshot)

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Went to watch Vicky Cristina Barcelona . Now that the show has come out in Singapore, time to note Woody Allen's "diary" of the shooting of the film . Always a fan of his writing. Review to come soon... but just some quick thoughts: Scarlett Johansson is a good muse for Woody, and it's good that here she's the free spirit - she was misused in Scoop and The Other Boleyn Girl , I think. Actually, everyone's well-cast: Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Rebecca Hall. And while there's no way that Allen knows the nuances of Barcelona enough to make this as much of a love letter to the city as Manhattan was to New York, it's still a beautiful, swooning paean to the charms of Catalonia.

F1 Singapore

Got tickets to the F1 race at the last minute from someone who couldn't be there (thanks!). To be honest, I wasn't that enthused, but the mood when I got there was infectious. Great stuff - it was so much fun just walking around the Esplanade / Marina Square area. And surprisingly, not many logistical hassles - the bus ride home was fairly empty. As for the race itself, I loved seeing the cars go down Singapore's streets (clearly ignoring the SLOW signs). And the Singapore night skyline looked magnificent for this race, both in real life and on the TV screens. Here's the view from Turn 7, at the Raffles Grandstand. Some cars clearly had more problems handling the turn than others. Man, my ears are still ringing.

I Need to Believe

Also, caught my friend Sunny Chyun's first ever exhibition, "I Need to Believe" , at the SG Private Banking gallery at the Alliance Francaise. I especially liked the use of T.S. Eliot references in her paintings' titles, but maybe that's my Prufrock obsession.

1990s Nostalgia

Watched Made of Honor last night, and it opened with a scene set in Halloween 1998, with Bill and Monica costumes. Which brought me back to college days. Add that to the '90s setting of Definitely Maybe , and I guess that means the '90s are fair game for nostalgia now. Gosh, that makes me feel old - I still think of the '90s as yesterday, for the most part.

Fooled by Randomness

Oh, and I'm reading Fooled by Randomness right now and Taleb, writing in 2004, describes the way people are taken in by rare events of great magnitude using the example of... mortgaged-backed securitisation. Pretty impressive.

Markets beat down

Michael Lewis, astute as always, has a short pithy commentary on the Lehman fallout . It's a big deal because this is the day that American financiers, from the point of view of the Asians who sit on top of the world's biggest pile of mobile capital, became a bad risk.

The Sokal hoax

Randomly, two things I was reading mentioned the famous Sokal hoax - Stanley Fish's blog and Fooled by Randomness (Taleb may have a great mind, but he needs a great web designer, although he does ask that people not write in with suggestions to improve his site). Still trying to make my mind up on it (see Simon Blackburn's review , or the New York Review of Books exchange ) 12 years later.

Plus Ones

Okkervil River's "Plus Ones" came into my iPod via the All Songs Considered podcast, and immediately ratcheted up Okkervil in my esteem. I own and listen to Black Sheep Boy, Don't Fall In Love With Everyone You See , and Down the River of Golden Dreams , but nothing on any of those albums seemed as lyrically clever as "Plus Ones", which takes as its central conceit the idea of adding one to various songs with numbers in their titles ("96 Tears", "99 Luftballoons", "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" etc.). Will Sheff also manages to throw in more than a few other references - "Dry Your Eyes", "All Out of Love" (um, at least I'm guessing he meant to reference Air Supply), "What's New Pussycat", "Let's Get Lost" etc. Blogs are for Dogs breaks down the plethora of allusions, or at least the numerically-inclined ones. Ah, the feeling of being the extra one, the unwanted item that no o

On beta blockers and competition

The Atlantic has a fascinating article about beta blockers , and whether they should be used in sports that involve pressure, or to calm the nerves of, say, musicians and surgeons. Or, as the article asks, "Should we reward the shooter who can hit the target most accurately, or the one who can hit it most accurately under pressure in public?" Implicit in that, I feel, is the question of whether sports should be treated any differently from other areas of human endeavour. If a beta blocker helped a nervous surgeon or musician be top-class performers in their fields, I'm guessing that more people would feel comfortable with that than if a beta blocker helped an archer steady her nerves during a tournament. But why should that be the case? Are competitive endeavours inherently different?