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Did you just bury someone in a rented suit?

The rented suit liability is something business and finance people know well.

Here is the story in the words of Warren Buffet –

“A man was traveling abroad when he received a call from his sister informing him that their father had died unexpectedly. It was physically impossible for the brother to get back home for the funeral, but he told his sister to take care of the funeral arrangements and to send the bill to him. After returning home he received a bill for several thousand dollars, which he promptly paid. The following month another bill came along for $ 15, and he paid that too. Another month followed, with a similar bill. When, in the next month, a third bill for $15 was presented, he called his sister to ask what was going on. “Oh”, she said. “I forgot to tell you. We buried Dad in a rented suit.”

Rented suit liabilities are not just about finance and investing and money.

Rented suit liabilities are all too common in almost all aspects of our daily lives.

This is also true of decisions we make every day. That’s the reason a lot of highly productive people simplify their lives and adopt routines.

What happens when someone simplifies their work wardrobe by replacing their clothes with a whole lot of identical outfits? They are eliminating the need to choose what to wear and the need to make a decision everyday. It’s one rented suit liability that disappears from their lives.

This is extremely common in our workplace. Any process or element of a work process that can be eliminated but is not, can be called a rented suit liability. Most legacy systems and processes that can be automated but are not, are rented suit liabilities.

If you were to take an inventory of all the things in your personal, work and home life, I assure you that you will find many many things which will qualify.

Here is where I picked up the finance and investing relevance from-

Artificial Intelligence and cancer spotting

Going by first principles, any medical diagnosis is the interpretation of data based on known correlations. What disease or condition does that data correlate to?

The data could include stated symptoms, visual/touch/sound observations, ECG readings, ultrasound imaging, MRIs, X-Rays, CAT scans, blood reports, radiology reports, biopsy observations, reactions/cultures and more.

The correlations may not be simple or direct. Often the interpretation could simply throw up the need for more data. A different test perhaps.

Quite a few of these diagnostics involve the interpretation of images. This could be an MRI report, an Ultrasound test, an X-Ray, a photograph…

There are reports that despite spending billions of dollars, IBM Watson has not lived up to its promise in cancer detection.

However, I will argue that irrespective of whether some AI experiment succeeds or fails, machines are better than human experts already in interpreting images for applications like tumor detection. The only caveat is that this statement will be true only in those cases where there is a large enough existing dataset to learn from.

I am not saying that doctors will get replaced. On the contrary, doctors will have tools with diagnostic capabilities that have not existed so far.

People will want a human doctor to exercise independent judgement and accept or reject what a machine finds. People will want a doctor to explain the diagnosis to them, to recommend a course of action and to tell them why such an action is being recommended.

But doctors must be prepared for a world that is coming very soon, where diagnostic tests and their interpretation will by machines. They must adopt and embrace these technologies sooner rather than later. These are the tools that will enable them to greatly enhance outcomes for their patients.

here is an article on a technology that detects lung cancer tumors with 95 percent accuracy, when human experts are at 65 percent-

Build muscle. It doesn’t take much time.

What is the single biggest quality of life enhancement or productivity boosting practice that you have adopted in the last 5 years , which has allowed you to get much more done than ever before?

I learned a lot of new practices and habits in the last 5 years. Managed to change some behaviours as well.

But when I gave it some thought, it became clear to me that underlying all this and the work that I got done, the dominant reason was excellent health.

And the single biggest practice that has made me fitter, stronger at 52 than I was even in my twenties? Weightlifting.

In the last 2-3 years, I could put on well above 10 kilos of muscle, reduce body fat to very healthy levels and increase my strength 200 to 300 percent for almost all the major muscle groups . And also now I have a waistline that’s slimmer than ever before and I am energetic through the day.

I am not talking about pumping iron many times a week. I simply don’t have the time for that. I can’t also risk eating a lot of starch and protein calories and bulking up, which is the mainstream dietary advice for building muscle. I am too scared that all that eating to bulk up will give me metabolic disease.

I used an amazing technique that takes less than 25 minutes in the gym, once a week. It gave me week on week muscle and strength gains for 3 years and the gains are still continuing. And I gain muscle on a moderate protein, high fat, VLC cyclic ketogenic diet. A diet that is supposed to inhibit muscle gains because there is not enough protein and starch for anabolism.

You can get the same results and possibly much more (because you are unlikely to have my self imposed dietary limitations) and spend only 20 minutes once a week to do so – Body by Science by John R Little.

I recommend it.

Buy it here –

Open offices drain your energy and spirit

The scientific evidence that demonstrates the stupidity of open offices continues to pour in.

Open offices do not enable collaboration. On the contrary you collaborate and interact more in the cubicle and cabin type offices.

Workers in an open office are not more productive. How can you be? With the drumbeat of constantly changing visual, auditory and olfactory inputs all around you, you are being distracted and interrupted hundreds of times every day.

An open office is an environment that tells you that it is not important to focus or to get the job done well. It forces you to struggle against totally avoidable obstacles and yet expects you to get the job done.

It’s like forcing you to sit at someone elses untidy desk with blaring music, bling and disco lights added and still expecting you to get your best work done.

You might as well put your employees in a crowded public space and expect them to work from there 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.

Guess what you would want to do if you were made to work in a crowded public space all the time? You will crave privacy. You will eagerly wait for weekends and after office hours, when you can disappear into a private and quiet place where you can get some work done.

And that’s how people end up working all the time – in office and outside. Personal time and family time goes out of the window. So does curling up on the sofa to spend two hours reading a book.

Open offices create an attention deficit hyperactivity culture that spills over to addictive, obsessive compulsive, social media use. And then blank out zombie like in front of dumb television.

People need privacy. People need silence. People need to be left alone. That’s when they get good work done. Whether it’s problem solving, coding, writing, reading, analysis, research or decision making.

They will collaborate, reach out, talk and meet when they must. These can not be impositions. These are choices.

Here is an article in the Economist with some science and opinions on open offices –


Extinction of a Species – By Design

I am not sure if we should be troubled about the work being done to eliminate mosquito species that are vectors for diseases.

This is no longer science fiction. There are multiple initiatives which follow variants of a basic approach : “Make males whose offspring will only be males. Then release a few of these engineered males into the wild”

This approach, as some experiments have shown, have the potential to rapidly eliminate the species within a few generations in that area. This can be a very short period. Less than a couple of years.

There is no way that this can be isolated to a particular area. Any such initiative will soon spread worldwide and make the species extinct.

These “blood suckers” which cause malaria, dengue, chikungunya are not just disease carriers. They are also food for other animals. They are a part of the food chain. 

Only the females feed on blood. Both male and female mosquitoes primarily feed on nectar. The same thing that honey bees feed on. They also perform the same function that bees do – they pollinate the flowers (Some have argued that mosquitoes are not the great pollinators they are suspected to be).

We are entering an era of genetically engineered plant and animal species of all kinds. These mosquitoes are merely the beginning. Many of these species will get into the wild without any controls because the species are created by individuals or small groups of people in DIY labs.

Somehow, the thought of man made genetic solutions that eliminate or replace an entire existing species troubles me.

What about you?

Here is the mosquito article –

Criminal or Needs Help? How Do We Know?

Someone told me the other day that the reason why we send people to jail is not to punish them. That’s not the reason at all.

The reason is protection. And it works both ways. Protecting society from criminals and protecting criminals from vigilante justice. One keeps society safe and the second keeps it sane.

That brings me to the topic of mental illness. It is possible to argue in the following manner :  Almost all criminal behaviour is deviant from what we consider “normal”.  Criminal behaviour born of thought patterns that are deviant from the normal is what we may call mental illness. And so a person who has exhibited criminal behaviour is to be treated as a victim of mental illness.

In the last century, we have recognised and accepted some forms of deviant behaviour as born of mental illnesses and recognised that some others (like homosexuality) are not illnesses at all and are perfectly normal. 

But many other behaviours are yet to be recognised and formally classified as mental illness by the criminal justice system. Even perfectly normal behaviours like homosexuality continue to be criminalized in less developed legal systems and unfortunately in India as well.

Just as in other areas of life, I expect technology to play a major role in the coming two decades in this area. So far, psychiatry has not had the technology to look at things like genetic profiles or body chemistry at hormonal and other levels. The causal relationships or correlation between these and mental illnesses is neither visible nor well understood. I think that very strong relationships most likely exist and they will be found.

This opens up the possibility of cures or methods of containment. 

Maybe in future, we will be able to treat these people as victims and help them to reverse the condition or contain it. Maybe many of the people who go to jail today, don’t really belong there.

Alok Sarin makes an interesting case here on an associated topic –


WhatsApp, Government, Traceability – Who is lying?

In a country like India, people easily believe malicious rumours. Often, these rumours whip up mob hysteria and we have mobs doing all kinds of things- lynching someone, parading someone naked, rioting, arson, destroying property and more.

Whatsapp is not only increasing the number of such rumours but also accelerating their spread and a hydra headed monster of mob violence is making itself felt all over the country. People are getting killed.

The solution obviously is not to ban WhatsApp. The solution is to create a mechanism to identify the originators of these rumours and make an example of them. Arrest them and ensure justice.

Every society has a written law and the law acts as a deterrent to crime. However, the law is emasculated and rendered ineffective by WhatsApp’s refusal to share the identity of the originator of the rumour with the enforcers of the law – the police, the courts, the government.

Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad recently said that he was successful in getting WhatsApp to agree to implement traceability. He confirmed to me on a LinkedIn message exchange that this is the case. The picture on this page is a screenshot of the exchange.

Today, I read news reports that this is not true. And that WhatsApp has REFUSED the Indian Government’s request to implement traceability.  A couple of news report examples are here and here.

Now who has got it wrong? Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad or the Press?

I would like to see a formal announcement by the minister or his ministry telling us what exactly WhatsApp has agreed to.

Keto? Cyclic keto? Intermittent fasting? Off label metformin?

The big health interventions I have been experimenting with for the last 5 years have been cyclic ketogenic diets initially for a couple of years and then I added intermittent fasting and OMAD (One Meal A Day) to the mix. Plus a nice dose of HIRT (High Intensity Resistance Training).

It’s been a wonderful journey. The results have been amazing. I have put on a lot of muscle. I am stronger and fitter than I have ever been. I do not get tired even after 14 hour work days (which is almost every day). Better mood, near perfect blood work, flat abs, lots and lots of energy.

I also dreamed up hundreds of tasty, “Indian” keto friendly food recipes. And my keto food is really really yum!

I have combined these practices with extensive supplementation (this is essential with keto. Without extensive supplementation, people on keto risk serious, long term, chronic, irreversible, nasty health conditions – osteoporosis anyone?).

I created my own supplementation regime and my own supplements by mixing a lot of different (over 40) raw/organic ingredients.

I have not tried off label metformin and this has been on my list for a while. But this article by Dr Jason Fung seems to suggest that it may not be necessary. I will wait a couple more years and dig more into the research before hitting this one!




Portable Medical Imaging and Communicating Thought

I was reading this extraordinary set of claims for a new technology at this link –

Coming from Mary Lou Jepsen, you have no option but to take the claims seriously.

Imagine looking into your body at resolutions that are even better than MRIs or CAT Scans. Imagine being able to do that over extended periods of time and not just looking at organs but also movements and flows! And all this as a wearable and not while lying inside a huge machine in a hospital.

The telepathy piece is something I have difficulty believing in. I think the jump from imaging, to interpretation and then communication of complex thought patterns is not feasible using any current technology.

Speech to text is complex enough. Interpretation of the nuances of language is still a work in progress.

Here we are talking of interpreting thought, or rather the visual expression of it as seen on an imaging machine. I suppose that will work  for basic commands that you would use for playing a video game for example. It may also work for communicating simple phrases or feelings or direction etc.

I can’t see how complex, structured (or monkey brain) thinking can be interpreted or communicated.

Maybe I am reading this wrong. I am assuming that a machine is interpreting and then communicating the interpreted thought patterns to humans. On the contrary, here it is humans who interpret the raw expression of thought?  And this is easy for us because it is not much different from what we “see” in our own heads?

I would so love to be a part of this team! This work seems to be really exciting.

Hazardous work and no protection in New Delhi

This is a photo I took today in New Delhi. In the heart of Lutyens Delhi, where our ministers and senior bureaucrats live.

These are sanitation workers cleaning the underground sewers.

The men you see are wearing no protection. 

No gloves. No boots. They are bare bodied. They also do not wear any masks before opening the manholes and descending into the sewers.

Who are the people who employ them? Why does the New Delhi city government allow this? Is this not illegal? 

These workers could fall victim to an accident. They may contract illness due to exposure to pathogens or toxins. And given India’s fairly dysfunctional justice system, they will have no recourse. Nobody will pay for illegal worker treatment like this and nobody will pay for the damage that will happen to their health and well-being.

This is in Delhi. Less than 4 kilometers from the seat of our government. Just imagine what the situation is, in other parts of India…