RED (Retired, Extremely Dangerous) is extremely entertaining!

The movie is campy and tons of fun. It was a true pleasure seeing Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Bruce Willis and Morgan Freeman exchange witty banter while kicking butt. With such a great cast we are rewarded with great acting mixed with a fun completely over the top storyline! I am glad Helen Mirren and John Malkovitch, otherwise known for their more serious roles, both accepted to do the movie and went with it!

I had not seen Ernest Borgnine since watching Airwolf as a kid and his presence brought back memories from the 1980s. This is definitely an action movie for the boomer crowd yet enjoyable by all.

Go see it!

Unpopular Science

I just came across this amazing post by Christoph Niemann on the NY Times site at:

I reproduce it here for your viewing pleasure:

Whether we like it or not, human life is subject to the universal laws of physics.

My day, for example, starts with a demonstration of Newton’s First Law of Motion.

It states, “Every body continues in its state of rest, or of uniform motion in a straight line…”

“…unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed upon it.”

Based on supercomplicated physical observations, Einstein concluded that two objects may perceive time differently.
Based on simple life experience, I have concluded that this is true.

Newton?s Cradle shows how energy travels through a series of objects.
In our particular arrangement, kinetic energy is ultimately converted into a compression of the forehead.

The forehead can be uncrumpled by a downward movement of the jaw.

Excessive mechanical strain will compromise the elasticity of most materials, though.

The human body functions like a combustion engine. To produce energy, we need two things:
Oxygen, supplied through the nostrils (once the toy car is removed, that is).
– Carbohydrates, which come in various forms (vanilla, chocolate, dulce de leche).

By the by: I had an idea for a carb-neutral ice cream.
All you need is to freeze a pint of ice cream to -3706 F.
The energy it will take your system to bring the ice cream up to a digestible temperature is roughly 1,000 calories, neatly burning away all those carbohydrates from the fat and sugar.
The only snag is the Third Law of Thermodynamics, which says it’s impossible to go below -459 F.

But back to Newton: he discovered that any two objects in the universe attract each other, and that this force is proportional to their mass.
The Earth is heavier than the Moon, and therefore attracts our bodies with a much greater force.

This explains why an empty refrigerator administrates a much smaller gravitational pull than, say, one that?s stacked with 50 pounds of delicious leftovers. Great: that means we can blame the leftovers.

(Fig. A): Let?s examine the behavior of particles in a closed container.
(Fig. B): The more particles we squeeze into the container, the testier they will become, especially if the container happens to be a rush-hour downtown local at 86th and Lex.
(Fig. C): Usually the particles will distribute evenly, unless there is a weird-looking puddle on the floor.

The probability of finding a seat on the subway is inversely proportional to the number of people on the platform.
Even worse, the utter absence of people is 100 percent proportional to just having missed the train.

To describe different phenomena, physicists use various units.
PASCALS, for example, measure the pressure applied to a certain area.
COULOMBS measure electric charge (that can occur if said area is a synthetic carpet)
DECIBELS measure the intensity of the trouble the physicist gets into because he didn?t take off his shoes first.

Often those units are named after people to recognize historic contributions to their field of expertise. One NEWTON, for example, describes the force that is necessary to accelerate 1 kilogram of mass by one meter per second squared.
This is not to be confused with one NIEMANN, which describes the force necessary to make a three-year-old put on his shoes and jacket when we?re already late for kindergarten.

Once the child is ready to go, I search for my keys. I start spinning around to scan my surroundings. This rotation exposes my head and all its contents to centrifugal forces, resulting in loss of hair and elongated eyeballs. That’s why I need to wear prescription glasses, which are yet another thing I constantly misplace.

Obviously, the hair loss theory I just presented is bogus. Hair can?t be “lost.” Since Antoine Lavoisier, we all know that “matter can be neither created nor destroyed, though it can be rearranged,” which, sadly, it eventually will.

Not everything can be explained through physics, though. I’ve spent years searching for a rational explanation for the weight of my wife?s luggage. There is none. It is just a cruel joke of nature

The Garden of Betrayal is a thrilling read!

I had not come across a great fun thriller since The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons a few years ago. The Garden of Betrayal was a welcome surprise. I had read the review in The Economist and was intrigued.

Lee Vance, the author, is a former trader at Goldman Sachs. His insider’s perspective felt real and compelling. I was all the more engrossed as the material Mark Wallace, the protagonist, enters in possession of on Saudi oil reserves was very reminiscent of a Peak Oil article published by Clarium Capital that I had recently come across.

The multi-layered story with Mark’s investigation into the disappearance of his child, his family difficulties and the complicated geopolitical machinations all happening simultaneously had me engrossed and struggling to keep up. I got so into the story that I ended reading the book in one go on my Kindle, finishing it at 4:30 am this morning!

If you are up for a fun autumn read, definitely check this book out!

The new Kindle is great!

For a self-avowed tech geek, it took me a long time to transition to ereaders. I have an iPhone 4, an iPad, a Lumix ZS7, lots of plasma TVs, Xbox 360s, PS3s, a Traxxas remote control car, an E-flite remote control plane and tons of other gadgets. You would think I would be the perfect candidate for reading on an ereader. Yet, somehow I was addicted to the feel of the book in my hands. I could not conceive of using an ereader. Maybe this anachronism was the legacy of all the reading I had done at Princeton in a most traditional setting, but somehow I could not shed it and risked being left behind by the times.

I had tried a Kindle in the past but had never committed to it. I bought most books in both print and Kindle editions and read the print whenever possible. I found the Kindle slow and awkward to hold. It also met a premature death when I inadvertently dropped it in my bathtub. As a result until yesterday, I had not read a book cover to cover on the Kindle.

During the last few years as the amount of business travel I do has increased significantly I have tried to shed weight wherever I could. I switched from an 8 pound Dell 17” notebook, to a 6 pound 17” Macbook Pro, then to a 5 pound 15.4” Macbook Pro. This year has been even worse. I have already been on the road over 6 months so far and will be traveling all of December, so I took the weight loss up another notch. I switched to a 3 pound Sony Vaio Z and even downsized my backpack with the 2.9 pound Booq Boa Squeeze. I started using the laundry service in hotels more aggressively and now can definitely say I travel light. On a recent 3 week trip, I managed to take just a carry-on suitcase and my backpack.

On said trip, I was shocked to realize that over half the weight in my backpack was accounted for by the books I was carrying with me. The time had come to give the Kindle another try. Conveniently, Amazon had just released the new Kindle. On my current two week trip I only took 1 book in addition to the Kindle. I started reading The Garden of Betrayal by Lee Vance on the Kindle and could not put it down. I read it cover to cover as I would have a printed book. I found the new Kindle easier to read and faster than the last iteration. I did notice the page transitions and generally loved the experience. I am now hooked! From now on it’s going to be all Kindle all the time!

Slight non sequitur: I bought the 3G version despite not anticipating using it on the off chance I get caught somewhere with nothing to read and no wifi coverage. The extra $50 is well worth the price of having the world’s largest library at my fingertips anytime, anywhere.

Monsters is well worth seeing!

I rented the movie on iTunes which somehow had it available to rent 1 month before it came to the theaters. I had seen the trailer, but unlike other reviewers, I knew this was a low budget movie and did not expect a special effects extravaganza. I have Skyline and Super8 to look forward to for that. In this movie, as expected, the monsters mostly stay off screen and provide the backdrop for the story. As a result Monsters feels like it could have been shot by an earlier, low-budget era Spielberg.

I did not find the love story convincing and the ending was too abrupt, but I did like the general mood and the unexpected storyline. By unexpected, I don’t mean that the story is not predictable. I started suspecting the direction the movie would take when they reached the quarantine zone border, but it was definitely fully unexpected when I started the movie and untraditional for an alien invasion movie.

It’s well worth seeing, but don’t go in expecting to see Independence Day.

The Social Network is a must watch, especially for entrepreneurs!

The movie is one of the best movies of the year. The acting is fantastic and the movie has by far the best dialogue of any movie this year. More importantly for entrepreneurs, the story will resonate! From Zuck’s interaction with his girlfriend at the beginning of the movie, to his lack of social skills, to his condescending attitude towards those who “don’t get it”, to being on his notebook during boring legal meetings or all alone at night in at the office working on the product, it all felt familiar.

In the movie, Mark is supposed to be the arrogant, backstabbing evil genius, but I only felt empathy and respect and smiled knowingly at the challenges he faced.

Whether you are an entrepreneur or not, go watch the movie!