Random ruminations as I figure out and deal with life, grad school, being an engineer and a product manger; learn more about technology, marketing, economics, news, writing short stories and other stuff that distracts me from doing whatever I'm supposed to be doing....
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Reviews: Bachelor of Arts and Dorian Gray....and Jet Airways
But first a thumbs up for the airline on which I did majority of the reading: Jet Airways is now my favorite way to fly to India: great service, great leg-space and seats, and a great entertainment system (caught like 3 movies + 1 TV show+ 4 parts of movies on the two flights.)
The last R.K. Narayan stories I'd read were quite a few years ago and most of my reading of his work was from when I was in school and this short stories were part of my English textbook. So I'd completely forgotten just how brilliant he really was, and was able to appreciate the novel in a very different way from when I read them as a child. Its hard for me to articulate, and perhaps its just me, but there's a directness to his voice that's very, very different, and he's able to make you feel what the character feels much more directly than any other author I've read.. The story and characters themselves are great and you love following along on the journey that Chandra takes.
Every once in a while, I'm reminded that humans can be completely lacking in humanity.
My wife had the following experience yesterday on her ride back home. She got on the train and found a seat. The train was unusually crowded and it looked a lot of people had to stand for a long ride. An elderly Asian gentleman carrying a few things in both hands, was looking for spot, started to complain smilingly about the train being so full and stood in the aisle at the back of the carriage some seats away from her.
She expected someone closer to gentleman in the aisle (lots of younger people on the train) to give him their seat.
No one did.
The train started, and it was clear the man was having a lot of trouble standing up. Then at the next stop there was actually an announcement saying the train was full so please give up your seats to people who needed them.
Still nobody moved.
My wife got up walked to the end of the train and asked the gentleman to go over to her seat. She still couldn…
I've been really enjoying the Freakonomics podcast of late. This episode and the lesson we should take a away from it, was a stark reminder of one of the most important things we should be doing - but often don't - in building products or making any decisions: measuring the impact of absolutely everything we do, including the things that seem obviously good.
I recommend listening to the podcast if you have the time, but here's the summary. Stephen Dubner describes the Cambridge Sommerville Youth Study. The impact of social intervention programs in general is hard to measure and so they seldom are. This was the first attempt at measuring the impact over a long period of time.
It's a great story and there are a few good take-aways, but here's the main one: troubled or at-risk youth that received mentoring (good mentoring!) had worse life outcomes across every dimension than the kids that were left alone. Despite the recipients saying that the mentoring was incredibl…