Adonis Diaries

Archive for October 2008

Normalcy in Randomness (October 30, 2008)

 

Many mathematicians and scientists earned Nobel Prizes for researching the phenomena of randomness and chaos in the universe and the extremely rare events located on the tails of the Bell Curve shaped graph of the probability for the occurrence of events.  A Lebanese/American thinker from Amyoun (Lebanon), Naseem Taleb, had published last year “Black swan theory” that predicted the crash of Wall Street. Since the Middle Age nobody believed that a swan could be but white in color until a black one was discovered in Australia in the 17th century.  Professor in Epistemology or the study of knowledge sciences Taleb wrote also “Fooled by randomness” and he participated in the elaboration of “complex financial derivatives”, this evil source of the current financial crisis, when he worked for a Wall Street company a while ago. 

Professor Taleb realized a year ago that a crash of large magnitude was to happen on account that the fundamentals of financial analysis of experts are outdated: the experts rely in their analysis on the most probable occurrences and do not examine the alarming cases of rare events that have the possibility of happening.  One of the first sign that a major problem might take place is when Bernarki was appointed to head the Federal Reserve Board for the retiring Greenspan.  Taleb knew that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the largest property lenders of over 45% in the Real Estate business were in deep financial difficulty.  In fact, the US government by nationalizing these two companies own over 75% of the USA lands.

There are three levels to studying randomness mathematically, in physical sciences and in social psychological behavior.  For example, the Japanese society experiences the highest rate of suicide, especially among the students because of the competitive nature in those militaristic disciplined schools.  The Japanese society comprehends and admits crazy people in their enterprises: this authoritarian society with strictly controlled morals at work and in families has a high rate of males cracking down and losing it and it is normal to keep them on lower promoted jobs. Women are even encouraged to commit suicide to safeguarding their “honors” but they are cleverer than the stupid males; they leave such honor to the males.  Although women are completely controlled in enless set of prescriptions on how to behave they manage not to reach the act of committing suicide because society does not expect much of them for promotion or eccentricity or high “flatulent” feelings and compassion.

In societies that focus on the behaviors of average “normal” people like the USA then “crazy” individuals are fired instantly and then relegated to asylums for a while and then set free on the streets to lead a homeless life. 

We know that people with extreme characters attract one another and that people who resemble in characters do not like one another, although they congregate on animal instincts. My idea is to find a function that would reverse the Bell Shaped curve where the tails would converge and the Bell shape would baloon away. The problem is what axis would be most appropriate to represent social psychological behavior.

 

Stupeur et tremblements by Amelie Nothomb (Book review, October 30, 2008)

 

Amelia Nothomb in her captivating, touching and very funny book of 189 pages “Stupeur et tremblements” describes her experiences for a whole year at the Japanese Import/Export large company of Yumimoto in 1990.  The title was extracted from the behavior and acting of any Japanese in the presence of the Emperor. As a mater of fact, the whole story is mostly a long series of stupor and quavering by the Japanese employees dealing with the culture of a western girl. As we recall, Amelie was born in Japan when her dad was the Belgian Consul and loved her first 5 years there and felt that Japan was her homeland after so many transfers to other countries. Amelie returned to Japan with fresh recollections of her sweet and unforgettable years there as a child.  Amelie will discover at her expense that she was not to prove in business meetings with other friendly Japanese companies that she understands the Japanese language!

Amelie had a life after her 10-hour work day but she decided to focus her autobiography of that year on the enterprise. Nothomb described in details the strict hierchical structure of the company, its unwritten rules, the behavior of the employees, and the status of women in society. With or without a contract an employee at that period was not expected to be fired. The initiative for leaving a company was left to the employee who would have to meet personally with each boss in the higher levels in the hierarchy and present his resignation.  A sample of the verbal resignation should be stated is what Amilie memorized “We are at the end of term of my contract and I would like to announce to you my regret for not being able to renew it.  The company of Yumimoto offered me multiple occasions to prove my potentials.  I will be eternally grateful. Unfortunately, I could not satisfy the expectation of the honor accorded to me.” 

It is unheard of that an employee could take the initiative without the permission of his immediate boss or even complains to a higher level.  In general, the higher levels would refrain from undercutting the responsibilities of the immediate boss, although they could and had the total right to curse, lambaste and humiliate any lower level employee in front of all the employees for no specific reasons; the cadre was not permitted to defend himself or speak; all that he should be doing is to lower his head and show respect until the verbal storm is over.  For example, Mori Fubuki, a most beautiful and classy lady of 29 boss of Amelie, was subject of such a scene.  Mori hurried to the toilet to cry her eyes out and Amelie followed her to express her compassion as western custom is preponderant; Mori was greatly furious that Amelie dared to see her crying and she vowed to humiliate her at the extreme.  Fubuli thus decided to relegate Amelie to cleaning the toilets for seven months at 44th floor of the building or the accounting department.

Fubuki selected the boring task of classifying receipts by company names and ordering them by date of receipt to punish Amelie.  Amelie ordered the names of the German companies called GMBH in one file on account that any additional prefix can only mean to be an affiliate to GMBH; it turned out that GMBH stands for Ltd in German.  The accounting cadre laughed very hard and every employee shared in the merriment.  Fubuki was humiliated because Amelie was her responsibility. 

Fubuki then endeavored to find a task for Amelie that does not require “intelligence”.  Amelie was assigned to verify the accounting of business charge trips.  The genius of Amelie was that for a whole month not a single number matched!  Calculating and accounting was the worst job that could be asked of her.  Fubuli knew that Amelie will never finish the job but she waited patiently for Amelie to concede defeat.

The way I see it, the President of the company (not necessarily the owner) should be considered as God; as such he should be handsome, tall, soft spoken, and no one except the Vice-President is permitted to visit him or a cadre he summons to see.  The job of the Vice-President is play Bad Cop; as such he should look ugly, an ogre, and should be trained to curse and his powerful voice should transmit far away; basically, the Vice-President is to keep all cadres to their proper place in the hierarchy and remind them that no one is above the unwritten rules.

Once, Amelie took the initiative of aiding a cadre from another section without asking permission of Fubuki.  Fubuki wrote a complaint to Omochi and the cadre and Amelie had a thorough wash down.  Fubuki would not allow a new comer to be promoted quickly when she had to suffer for ten years to get her present promotion.

Nothomb explains why the Japanese society comprehends and admit crazy people in their company: this authoritarian society with strictly controlled morals at work and in families has a high rate of males cracking down and losing it.  The women are more controlled than men in society but they manage not to reach the act of committing suicide, an act viewed within society as the ultimate in honor for a woman; may be the only honorable decision that a woman can make beside marrying before the age of 25. Working and breeding are the only tasks of a woman; she should not expect much in promotion or eccentricity or compliments. Children are treated as God till the age of three; from 3 to 18 they are sent to schools with “military” discipline; from 18 to 25 offspring have the only break in their lives to be free in university settings; then they are back to concentration camps in their enterprises and strict duties and responsibilities to their institutions.

The Japanese fathers have an inkling of giving infinitive verbs for names to their boys such as “Work”; whereas females receive poetic names such as “Snow”, Rain”, or “Flower”.

Here is a list of prescriptions that women have to follow to the letters:

  1. 1. If you are not married by the age of 25 then you have good reasons to be ashamed.
  2. 2. If you laugh then you will not be distinguished.
  3. 3. If your face shows feelings then you are vulgar.
  4. 4. If you mention that you have a single hair on your body then you are vile.
  5. 5. If a boy kisses you in public on the cheek then you are a whore.
  6. 6. If you eat with pleasure then you are a sow.
  7. 7. If you experience pleasure sleeping then you are a cow.
  8. 8. If you go to the toilet for body releases then make sure nobody hear anything.
  9. 9. You should never sweat  Thus avoid voluptuous love making.
  10. 10. You should not marry for love.
  11. 11. If you fall in love then you were not educated well.
  12. 12. Stay thin because males do not appreciate round shapes in the body

All the sufferings in sticking to these precepts have the sole objective of preserving your honor and nothing else.

In 1993, Amelie had published two books and Fubuki sent her a brief letter in Japanese saying simply “Congratulation”.

“Stupor and quavering” by Amelie Nothomb  

Stupeur et tremblements by Amelie Nothomb, (Book review, October 30, 2008)

Amelia Nothomb in her captivating, touching and very funny book of 189 pages “Stupeur et tremblements” describes her experiences for a whole year at the Japanese Import/Export large company of Yumimoto in 1990.  The title was extracted from the behavior and acting of any Japanese in the presence of the Emperor.

As a mater of fact, the entire story is mostly a long series of stupor and quavering by the Japanese employees, who are dealing with the culture of a western girl.  As we recall, Amelie was born in Japan when her dad was the Belgian Consul and loved her first 5 years there and felt that Japan was her homeland after so many transfers to other countries. Amelie returned to Japan with fresh recollections of her sweet and unforgettable years there as a child.  Amelie will discover at her expense that she was not to prove in business meetings with other friendly Japanese companies that she understands the Japanese language!

Amelie managed to have a life after her 10-hour work day, but she decided to focus her autobiography of that year on her work at the enterprise. Nothomb described in details the strict hierchical structure of the company, its unwritten rules, the behavior of the employees, and the status of women in society.

With or without a contract, an employee at that period was not expected to be fired. The initiative for leaving a company was left to the employee who would have to meet personally with each boss in the higher levels in the hierarchy and present his resignation.  A sample of the verbal resignation should be stated is what Amilie memorized “We are at the end of term of my contract and I would like to announce to you my regret for not being able to renew it.  The company of Yumimoto offered me multiple occasions to prove my potentials.  I will be eternally grateful. Unfortunately, I could not satisfy the expectation of the honor accorded to me.”

It is unheard of that an employee could take the initiative without the permission of his immediate boss or even complains to a higher level.  In general, the higher levels would refrain from undercutting the responsibilities of the immediate boss, although they could and had the total right to curse, lambaste and humiliate any lower level employee in front of all the employees for no specific reasons; the cadre was not permitted to defend himself or speak; all that he should be doing is to lower his head and show respect until the verbal storm is over.

For example, Mori Fubuki, a most beautiful and classy lady of 29 boss of Amelie, was subject of such a scene.  Mori hurried to the toilet to cry her eyes out and Amelie followed her to express her compassion as western custom is preponderant; Mori was greatly furious that Amelie dared to see her crying and she vowed to humiliate her at the extreme.  Fubuli thus decided to relegate Amelie to cleaning the toilets for seven months at 44th floor of the building or the accounting department.

Fubuki selected the boring task of classifying receipts by company names and ordering them by date of receipt to punish Amelie.  Amelie ordered the names of the German companies called GMBH in one file on account that any additional prefix can only mean to be an affiliate to GMBH; it turned out that GMBH stands for Ltd in German.  The accounting cadre laughed very hard and every employee shared in the merriment.  Fubuki was humiliated because Amelie was her responsibility.

Fubuki then endeavored to find a task for Amelie that does not require “intelligence”.  Amelie was assigned to verify the accounting of business charge trips.  The genius of Amelie was that for a whole month not a single number matched!  Calculating and accounting was the worst job that could be asked of her.  Fubuli knew that Amelie will never finish the job but she waited patiently for Amelie to concede defeat.

The way I see it, the President of the company (not necessarily the owner) should be considered as God; as such he should be handsome, tall, soft spoken, and no one except the Vice-President is permitted to visit him or a cadre he summons to see.  The job of the Vice-President is play Bad Cop; as such he should look ugly, an ogre, and should be trained to curse and his powerful voice should transmit far away; basically, the Vice-President is to keep all cadres to their proper place in the hierarchy and remind them that no one is above the unwritten rules.

Once, Amelie took the initiative of aiding a cadre from another section without asking permission of Fubuki.  Fubuki wrote a complaint to Omochi and the cadre and Amelie had a thorough wash down.  Fubuki would not allow a new comer to be promoted quickly when she had to suffer for ten years to get her present promotion.

Nothomb explains why the Japanese society comprehends and admit crazy people in their company: this authoritarian society with strictly controlled morals at work and in families has a high rate of males cracking down and losing it.  The women are more controlled than men in society but they manage not to reach the act of committing suicide, an act viewed within society as the ultimate in honor for a woman; may be the only honorable decision that a woman can make beside marrying before the age of 25.

Working and breeding are the only tasks of a woman; she should not expect much in promotion or eccentricity or compliments. Children are treated as God till the age of three; from 3 to 18 they are sent to schools with “military” discipline; from 18 to 25 offspring have the only break in their lives to be free in university settings; then they are back to concentration camps in their enterprises and strict duties and responsibilities to their institutions.

The Japanese fathers have an inkling of giving infinitive verbs for names to their boys such as “Work”; whereas females receive poetic names such as “Snow”, Rain”, or “Flower”.

Here is a list of prescriptions that women have to follow to the letters:

  1. If you are not married by the age of 25 then you have good reasons to be ashamed.
  2. If you laugh then you will not be distinguished.
  3. If your face shows feelings then you are vulgar.
  4. If you mention that you have a single hair on your body then you are vile.
  5. If a boy kisses you in public on the cheek then you are a whore.
  6. If you eat with pleasure then you are a sow.
  7. If you experience pleasure sleeping then you are a cow.
  8. If you go to the toilet for body releases then make sure nobody hear anything.
  9. You should never sweat  Thus avoid voluptuous love making.
  10. You should not marry for love.
  11. If you fall in love then you were not educated well.
  12. Stay thin because males do not appreciate round shapes in the body

All the sufferings in sticking to these precepts have the sole objective of preserving your honor and nothing else.

In 1993, Amelie had published two books and Fubuki sent her a brief letter in Japanese saying simply “Congratulation”.

Whom are we amusing? (October 29, 2008)

I know! We are puppets.

Whom, I am trying to figure out,

Are we amusing?

Millions of small investors in stocks lost their life savings.

At least they played a game.

 

Over two millions of civilian Iraqis have perished

Since the Bush Jr, Administration invasion in 2003.

What role have the collateral dead played?

Over two millions of Iraqis babies died

From lack of medicines and powder milk

During the economical and oil embargo of Bush Senior.

 

What role do babies play?

I know!  We are all puppets.

Whom are we entertaining?

Why the ignoramus GW Bush had agreed to lead the World?

Because he is a fool, stupid. Good reason.

Dick Cheney survived ten years of congenital heart disease.

Why did he survive destiny?

Because he had to play to perfection the Devil incarnate of the decade.

 

I know!  But why millions in Bangladesh have to die,

Every year, during the monsoon season?

Why millions in Africa have to die, every year, of famine , curable diseases and malnutrition?

Why hundreds of Chinese have to die, every day, in mining operations?

Why the rich Chinese Administration has to forget its famished citizens in the provinces?

I know!  But why the untouchables, sickly, and handicapped

Have mostly to suffer?

 

The affluent, healthy and influential are not that happy;

But why do they have to make fun at the expense of the “others”?

I know! Everyone could be playing a part.

Whom, I need to know,

Are we diverting?

Fools, jesters, and tragic-comedians dust you are.

Dust blowing in the wind.

Why can we not enjoy and be happy,

Making fun at our own expense?

Let us doubly entertain

Whoever are watching us!

Redundant Prophets (written in October 30, 2007)

Tormented youths, hearing voices, experiencing apocalyptic nightmares,

Seeking desperately a corner of a desert, preferably when available nearby,

In desolate locations, in complete isolation,

To exorcise their demons and to find peace of mind.

Some of them see Archangel Gabriel in person, talking to them in a centaur voice,

Urging them to fear the Unique God, and pray and glorify his Name,

And proselytize in his Name.

Some are not that lucky in fame,  and never see a divine apparition

For their good mental stability and reduced level of exacerbated anxiousness.

The difference between Prophets and crazies can be traced

To the genetic laziness of Gabriel;

Or most probably to the glut in redundant prophets.

May 6, 2007

“A woman of independent means” by Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey

The heroine Bess Steed Garner wrote to her father when she learned that her mother left her rich in her will: “I never realized she was a woman of independent means.  I always attributed her sense of dignity and self-esteem to a more spiritual source.”  In May 5, 1909 Bess wrote her mother: “I will marry Rob this summer. Please don’t say anything to him as I want to be the first to tell him”.  She proposed to her long time friend from grade school because she was rich and he was poor and she knew that he wouldn’t take the next step before he is well off.

Bess lent her husband $20,000 in due legal papers and signed by two witnesses to be paid $1000 a year for twenty years. Rob reimbursed her the full amount within four years when his real estate business took off. When Bess was pregnant with her third child she went on vacation to Europe in 1913 with her two kids; she wrote to her mother-in-law: “Ever since Annie (her German helper) described to me the freedom accorded expectant mothers in Europe, I have been hinting to Rob that I would be happier spending the summer abroad. I would have felt at home this summer hiding behind shuttered windows.  It is ironic that the Old World is more permissive concerning the conduct of pregnant women than the New World. We may have won our freedom as a country in 1776 but in the area of feminine legal rights the battle is still raging.”

Rob died in 1919 due to the influenza epidemic that the US soldiers brought with them from Europe after WWI.  Bess was barely 27 and she decided to take over the board of directors of her husband’s insurance business; she opted to sell her house in order to pay the debts due to the rate of mortality that year instead of declaring bankruptcy; she convinced the employees to accept a reduced wage in compensation of shares in the company.

Bess lost her eldest ten year-old son to spinal meningitis while taking her family to spend the summer in Vermont on a farm.  Death was her Enemy and she encouraged her friends to fight it with their nails and teeth; she castigated those who sent condolence letters asking her to accept death as a way of life.  She writes: “Injustice makes villains of us all, and I am afraid I am going to lose more than my husband before I find enough charity in my heart to forgive those whose only sin is that they are still alive.”  At the death a friend that the kids knew very well she asked her second son to write a letter recalling the important moments in his life that the diseased made an impact on him.

Bess handled money as an important leverage to get her way by attaching checks as deposits or for advanced several months rent or tuitions or reservations.

When Bess’s kid daughter Eleanor was stuck by a car, Bess stayed by her side at the hospital for a whole year; Bess used to write Eleanor a letter every day about kids sending her letters from the clouds in the sky.  Bess sensed that the advent of automobile is going to be a scourge to humanity and she also predicted that aviation will keep husbands away on business trips with goals of building empires for profit.

“A woman of independent means” is written in the style of a series of frank and witty letters that Bess Steed Garner sent to family members, friends and officials that let her life unfold before us as a woman of independent means as well as independent in spirit. Her daughter fell in love with a young Italian Count until they visited with his family in Sicily.  Bess wrote her friend Totsie: “I cannot imagine any woman who is used to having her opinions received with respect, submitting by choice to such arbitrary authority of her husband”.

Bess sent her boy to the East of the USA for schooling so that he gets a better education and acquire a different cultural perspective than what is offered in Dallas.  She purchased lands around the provinces of Dallas because she forecasted that this city is bound to expand and made plenty of profit.

Her son and daughter being married with children Bess visited with her second husband the world every summer; she flew to Europe for the third time, Finland, Alaska, Hawaii and Mexico.  As most Americans, her second husband was very reluctant to go out of the USA because of the language barrier and the different life styles.

When on a trip to Mexico she offered to hold one of the babies of a Mexican woman in the bus and Bess was terribly hungry: “She offered me a banana and I ate it so hungrily that, four bananas later, we were fast friends.  My hunger had made me seem like a sister no matter what language I spoke”.  After Eleanor married and got three girls she started to reluctantly invite her mother Bess to luncheon that consisted of the younger generations and Bess to write her daughter: “How dare polite society segregate people on the basis of age?  I feel that when I am alone with you I am continually auditioning for the pleasure of your company.  I find myself apologizing for boring you with answers to questions you never asked”.

Bess even wrote her own obituary way ahead of her timely death and asked the editor of “The Dallas Morning News” to interview her so that he might fill in more complete information and then to send her the edited version for her approval. She also wrote the obituary of her ailing husband.  She used to amend her testament every year or when a new grand-grandchild comes to this world.  Those who benefited from her finances while she was alive she reduced the amount commensurate to allow the newly born a higher trust fund paid with quarterly checks.

I feel like writing almost verbatim Bess last unfinished letter to her favorite namesake granddaughter Betsy before she suffered a massive stoke.  Although it might not make mush sense to anyone who didn’t read the book it does make a lot of sense to me: “It is hard for me but I want you to know, Baby is beautiful.  Like child of Cloud Fairy. I want to hold.  Not just pictures.  When will we see? You can go and leave baby here.  I will hold tight to her hand.  Trust me. Soon baby will walk, thinking I am always behind. Guests are coming and Eleanor too.  Still no flowers are on the table.  I must go into the garden. Where did red birds go? So many places I never saw. This is a strange land. Sun never stops shining. I must call Sam so he can go to bed.  Then I can sail.  I am dining with Captain tonight. I want letters waiting.  Adieu.  Nana.”

Article #42  (April 6, 2006)

 “New semester, new approach to teaching the HF course”

This semester ten students enrolled for my class; only one is a computer engineer finishing his degree and the remaining are industrial engineers.  As a reminder, this course is required for IE and the other engineering disciplines managed to open up new elective courses and were trying to market them at the expense of the wishes of many students who wanted to take my course and their petitions were denied.

With a class, one fourth its usual number, I had to capitalize on the advantages of smaller classes, once the shock is under control.  This semester, methods applied in human factors engineering are the focus and the reduction to half the previous semester of body of knowledge in the course materials might encourage my class to appreciate the efforts and time invested by the pool of human factors researchers and professionals to make available practical design guidelines for the other engineering professions.

Whereas in the previous semesters I shun away from exposing my class to new methods, except teaching them explicitly the concept of controlled experimentations, the differences among dependent, independent and controlled variables and correcting their misunderstanding, thinking that there was an abundance of knowledge to assimilate for a meager semester, I boldly changed direction in my teaching approach by investing more time on exposing and explaining the various methods that human factors might be applying in their profession.  The first assignment was using excel to compare 40 methods used in human factors, industrial engineering, industrial psychology, and designers of intelligent machines.  This assignment was a version of article #14, about the taxonomy of methods, from 20 articles that I wrote the previous years and offered them as an introduction to the course, in addition to the course materials. The students were supposed to select five categories from more than the dozen ways to classifying methods such as definition, purpose, applications, inputs, processes, procedures, output/product, mathematical requirements, disciplines teaching them, advantages, disadvantages, sources/links, connections with other methods, and comments.

I expected that, as engineers, they would logically select for columns applications, input, procedure, output, and comments because they are what define a method but somehow they opted for applications, procedures, advantages, disadvantages, and comments mainly because it is how the internet offer information.  After 3 students submitted their assignment on time I handed them over 40 summary sheets for the 16 methods used to analyzing a system or a mission, at least 2 sheets for each of 16 methods, one sheet on the purpose, input, procedure, and output/product of the method and the other sheets as examples of what the output is expected to look for presentation. I then asked the less performing students to concentrate on only the 16 methods for their assignment and most of them did not submit this assignment even two months later.

So far I used up six sessions for methods or related topics such as the methods applied in the process of analyzing systems’ performance, psychophysical procedures, the fundamentals of controlled experimentation methods, human factors performance criteria, and what human factors measure in their experiments. 

As for the body of knowledge I extract a few facts from experiments and asked them to participate in providing me with the rationales or processes that might explain these facts. For example, if data show that females on average are two third the strength of males then what could be the underlying causes for that discovery?  Could that fact be explained by the length of the muscles, the cross section thickness of the muscles, the number of muscle fibers, or the length of the corresponding bones?

Facts are entertaining but I figured that they are big boys to be constantly entertained while shovelful of money is being spent for their university education. Facts are entertaining but there have to come a time when these big boys stop and wonder at the brain power, Herculean patience, and hard work behind these amusing sessions.

The next assignment was to observe the business of the family’s bread earner, note down the minute tasks of his typical day work, learn about the business by attempting to generate detailed answers from a questionnaire they have to develop based on a set of investigative query and problems related to human factors performance criteria in the assignment sheet, and to report back what are the routine and daily tasks that enabled the students to join a university.  Three students worked with their fathers’ in summer times and enjoyed the assignment; the remaining students could not shake off their 8th grade habits, wrote the questionnaire, mailed it, and waited for the answers.  I was expecting that the students would apply the methodology they learned in analyzing systems such as activity, decision, and task analyses but the good stuff was not forthcoming. To encourage them to cater to the business that they might inherit, I assigned them a lecture project that would generate the requisite analyses with a clear objective of focusing on near-accidents, foreseeable errors, safety of the workers and heath conditions in the work place.

So far, the products of the two quizzes were complete failures; although most of the questions in the second quiz were from the same chapter sources as the first quiz, it is amazing how ill prepared are the students for assimilating or focusing on the essential ideas, concepts, and methods. So far, with a third of the semester over, I can points to only two students who are delivering serious investment in time, hard work, and excitement and are shooting for a deserved grade of A.

For a sustainable growth: Gold-paper currencies (October 28, 2008)

 

In these uncertain financial crisis and economical deflation I suggest a psychological incentive for people to recover some sense of value to their currencies.  My idea is to issue hard currencies that are an alloy containing the quantity of gold commensurate to the large denominations.  This currency would be almost as thin as paper money and could not be forged unless the amount of gold is the same as the officially issued currencies. It should be feasible because gold can be made as thin as needed; then if we find a cheap metal or plastic that can add resistance and flexibility to the currency to be folded and handled as paper money then everybody would be satisfied.

At first, the gold paper-like money could be distributed at a rate of say 1% increase over its real value to recover the upfront expenses in addition to the increase in market value of gold, averaged once a week; these extra expenses would not discourage the use of paper money for those who could not afford the extra cost of gold currencies.  The higher denomination currencies would be larger to keep the same thinness as the other smaller denominations.  As the value of gold would certainly keep increasing then the government would at interval retrieve the older currencies from the market and replace them with smaller size currencies containing the market value of the amount of gold in the alloy; this is logical because the gold-paper currencies would require less gold as its value increases.  Travelers could then exchange their State own gold-paper money abroad and register them at any bank for Interpol investigations in case of thefts and get exactly the same money value of the respective States. Obviously, all governments that signed in to this system would have to submit to international control when issuing gold-paper money for credibility and quality reasons.

I believe that with real gold-paper money then the businesses of currency speculations and rate of exchanges should wane and quickly disappear.  What might remain is currency trade or the accumulation of gold in rich sovereign funds.  The governments would quickly learn to issue enough gold-paper currency to satisfy internal commerce. The superpowers and regional powers would exercise political and military “incentives” on weaker and unstable States to issue more gold-paper currency than needed for inner commerce but then they would have to deliver real gold and good value products to retrieve the surpluses.  The US Administrations do not have real value money or real value economy to horde gold and will not be able to do so for many decades to come; only China, India and the rich oil producing States with small populations would be the major players in currency trade of gold-paper money.

There are several policies that governments would revisit to manage this new system.  Governments might issues a composite weight of the amount of gold-paper and regular paper money that should satisfy internal commerce.  Either the gold-paper money would concentrate in the hands of the rich and thus reducing commerce to regular money with industries specialized in high quality and luxury products for the rich and industries focusing on lower quality and basic products for the masses; or the little people would not desist from the gold-paper and use them as personal saving account in their homes and thus deflation would hit the economy due to the lack of currency circulation.  Consequently, governments would have choices to either limit the amount of gold-paper in circulation to encourage circulation of money or eliminate regular paper currencies to force the masses into liberating their horded gold-paper. 

The same pitfalls and recurrences of the present monetary system would be exhibited but the remedies would be more straightforward to comprehend by the common people. Furthermore, an interesting phenomenon will emerge: cultures where mostly little people horde the gold-papers and cultures where gold-papers are concentrated in the class of the rich.  Well, if there is civilization clashes then this division between the two types of cultures would set the foundations for a new sociology science where the manipulation of hard money is the first principle.

This system would require many fine tuning but the advantages must far exceed the disadvantages for smaller and weaker States.  Countries with real value-added economies would not be affected by any mischievous financial embezzlement schemes in destabilizing their financial status because the middle classes would have re-learned the value of hard money and desist from speculative schemes for some times.  This re-learning process of the value of real hard money is the fundamental benefit of the new system so that financial history would repeat its cycle of development for the century.  In any case a genuine International Monetary Control and Management Fund would be instituted to focus on the circulation of money within and among States and help in the synchronization of real commerce.

            The crux of this gold-paper currency system is to stabilize growth to a sustainable level for human kind.  Since gold is limited on Earth and its production has reached a limit then wild GNP rate of increases would slow down; redundant and irrelevant consumer products would make room for basic products essentials for the survival of mankind.  The new economical strategies would focus on cutting cost, cutting waste, re-cycling and vigorously researching for substitute renewable energies for the benefit of all States.

How to optimize human potentials in businesses for profit”

Article #53, (Written in October 3, 2006)

            University students learn their future profession theoretically and piece meal, one course at a time… They are not exposed to meaningful courses with the objective of linking all the concepts together or a cross-over knowledge of the problems of the different concepts within the profession.

The best that most universities come up with is a last year project, supposedly to initiate the graduate to a real life problem in one aspect of the business.

For example in industrial engineering, when a student learn how to optimize inventory he has the impression that ultimately some magic inventory formula will generate the most profit to the enterprise; the student fails to comprehend the interactions among inventory, production capacity, marketing, sales, finance, management style, medium and long-term planning for profitability of the whole business.

Most of the time, the student does not understand that maximizing in one department is counter productive in another department and that what he believed is excellent performance might turn to complete disaster for the business in return on investment and profitability.

            What a university student needs to comprehend is that the success of any enterprise is the development of human potentials within it, and the best potential for a graduating student is to joining a serious and comprehensive training program before graduating or after when hired by a company.

The training program must necessarily introduce the new recruits to the interactions among the different departments and their cross-over difficulties. The best example I can offer is the successes of Carlos Ghosn, the “Cost Killer” from Lebanese descent, who revived Nissan from certain death into profitability within three years.

Carlos university background was mostly in abstract higher mathematics and graduated from the prestigious engineering university of Mines in Paris. It is the formation of Carlos at the multinational pneumatic company Michelin that provided him with a wide spectrum in managerial skills and know-how that prepared him for tackling general and particular problems in several faltering enterprises.

It is necessary to dwell on the training program in Michelin.

Carlos was hired in 1978 and in the first 3 months, the new recruits for all types of functions followed the same program consisting of conferences given by the main directors of departments on the different aspects of the business.  These conferences were backed up by small real operational problems that needed simple solutions within a restricted time limit.

The new recruits live together and they learn to go through the transition between a student life and the active one.  This training program also offers management a profile of the new recruits and their potentials in different sectors of the business.

At the end of the training period, Carlos was affected to work for another three months in a factory preparing the rubber that will be turned into tires.  His work consisted of cutting the rubber, rolling it up, inserting it into moulds and then transporting it… The best part is the fraternity that is created among the workers and the future bosses.

Carlos is then promoted foreman for a group of workers in a new factory.  Six months later, he is dispatched to an affiliate company in Germany to get training on quality control, and training in industrial organization at the factory in Tours.  He is promoted group chief of production for a whole year at the factory in Cholet.

In 1981, Carlos is 27 years old and director of the new factory where he worked as foreman and will stay 2 years and three months.

Carlos is summoned to headquarter to meet with the ‘Boss’ Francois Michelin. The Boss assigns him the task of investigating the troubles of the straggling affiliate Kleber-Colombes.  Carlos has to work as adjunct to the director of finance Behrouz Chahid-Nourai and discover the concept of “cross manufacturing” for utilizing the same tools of production for several products under different brands.

After offering his recommendations to revitalize Kleber-Colombes, he is affected to the research department for a year, the job that Michelin initially contemplated that he might fit better in the company when he was in the training program.

In June 1985, Carlos is promoted director of the troubled operations in Brazil.  In February 1989, Carlos takes over the operations in the USA and settles in Greenville South Carolina.

This training formation at Michelin is at the foundation of Carlos concept of forming leaders in any enterprise.  He views the primary task of the ‘Boss’ in any institution is to send everyone with potential to the hot fronts on the terrains where difficulties are observed and then offer them chances to fail sometimes.

It is by providing opportunities to learn and prove leadership that the ‘Boss’ can ensure the survival of his enterprise when he decides to retire. The leaders of tomorrow are formed from the challenges of today and the clever ‘Boss’ should end up with a wide choice of alternative leaders when the time to retire is near.

When a general director is hired he should embrace the responsibilities of the past, present, and future status of the enterprise; he is not allowed to dwell on excuses from past failures as if they were not of his doing.

A general director has to first gather all the current facts and information on the institution and base his theory on these pieces of intelligence. The boss has to feel the enterprise and the clients, suppliers, concessionaires, stockholders, and customers, by frequent visit to the different sections of the business and proffer the same message everywhere.

The boss does not have to comprehend in-depth every facet of the business, which is the job of the specialists whose task is to adequately summarize the topic so that the boss is in a position to take decisions.

The boss should not forget for a moment that the crux of the matter is to produce quality products and be able to sell at profit.  Otherwise, if diversification into other businesses is undertaken without close supervision to the core business then the enterprise will suffer ultimately.

I might generalize the term “boss’ to include any employee who was assigned a position of responsibilities, even a foreman job and he has to follow all the above prerequisites in order to achieve quantified results.

This section will focus on the professional aspects of Carlos after the strategic alliance of Renault and Nissan, whereof Renault bought 36% of Nissan shares for $ 5 billion.  Carlos was selected to head the operations of reviving Nissan from certain death in 1999 because Japan did not yet transform its economy and financial institutions to absorb and rely on foreign investments in the deflation period of the 90’s.  Carlos brought with him a total of 30 French specialists in Renault in a period of three months to support his job; the understanding was that they are not in Japan to change the culture of the Japanese employees but with the objective of turning Nissan around to profitability.

For three months Carlos set up nine “transversal or cross-functional teams or CFT”, constituted of ten members and each headed by two members of the executive committee which was reduced to ten, with the task of understanding each other departmental problems.  For example, the Executive Vice President (EVP) for procurement was teamed with the EVP for research and development.  Each main CFT team relied on other CFT cells with tasks to investigate deeper special problems.

In total, 500 persons were mobilized in the CFT organizations between July and September 1999.  Carlos visited all the factories and suppliers to get a feel of the major problems and to get to the bottom of the illnesses of Nissan.

For example, Carlos discovered that six suppliers of tires for a factory producing 200,000 cars did not know the vision of Nissan, its strategy, or its priorities; the peculiar standards of Nissan were changed and imposed every three months, instead of the standards in the business and their suggestions were not heard or acted upon. During these months Carlos encouraged and was open to interviews by the Medias in order to promote the concept of transparency that will be adopted in reviving Nissan and also to encourage communications inside the institution and disseminate the steps to be taken and the expected changes that will follow.

In October 18, 1999 Carlos divulged his plan of rebirth NRP to an assembly of journalists; it was a surprise announcement and no one outside the members of the executive committee new about the announcement; even the Japanese government got wind an hour prior to the announcement.

Nissan dropped from 6.6% to 4.9 % of the world market in 8 years or a reduction in production of 600,000 cars; it was heavily indebted of $19.4 billion. Carlos promised that Nissan will introduce 22 new models within three years and that the objective is to reduce the cost of procurement to 20% since it represented 60% of the total cost, the number of suppliers of pieces; materials, equipment and services to almost half from a total of more than 8000 suppliers by 2002.

Nissan had the capacity of producing 2.4 million cars but actually produced 1.3 million; thus five factories would be closed by 2002 so that the rate of utilization of the remaining factories would be up to 82% taking into account a growth of 5.5% by 2002.  Thus, Nissan will end up with 4 factories utilizing only 12 plate-forms. Nissan will have to reduce by 20% the number in its network of distribution subsidiaries and close 10% in its points of sales.

Most important, Nissan will sell its shares in almost 1400 societies that do not strategically contribute to car manufacturing business.  The number of employees would be reduced 14% to 127,000 with the exception of the department of research and development which will gain 500 additional jobs and the engineering department another two thousands.

Three targets were set to be accomplished by 2002, otherwise, Carlos and all his executive committee will quit even if one of these targets is not attained; these targets are the return to profitability, a rate of operational margin exceeding 4.5%, and the reduction of the total debt to 50%.

These three targets were reached and in 2002.  By 2003, Nisan stocks jumped from 360 to 1200 yens, the syndicate at Nissan obtained all their demands which were reasonable while the number one Toyota froze salaries. Many in Nissan are now exercising their rights for stock options and the minimal number of stocks was reduced to 100 instead of one thousand. The team of Carlos Ghosn then elaborated a three years plan called Nissan 180, where 1 represent an additional one million cars produced, 8 for an operational margin of eight percent growth, and 0 for zero debt by the end of the triennial.

As Carlos explained: “If an enterprise does not develop middle and long-term plans then the financial analysts will have nothing to rely on but the near term results and the employees will feel totally disoriented and discouraged if the results were not satisfactory“.

By the year 2003, 80% of Nissan’s cars would emit only 25% on the regulatory limit on pollutants.  An agreement with its archenemy Toyota was signed in September 2002; Toyota would provide Nissan 100,000 hybrid engines vehicles to be marketed in the USA by the year 2006. A hybrid engine works in the classical manner on highways and electrically within city routes.

In November 2000, six months after the announcement of the NRP plan, Carlos decided to invest $ one billion in the USA for the construction of a new plant in Canton in the State of Mississippi; this new plant will target the segment of large pick-ups and SUV in the Middle West market where the American companies have it locked. This investment secures a stronger implantation in the most profitable market in the world because it has the best mix and a homogeneous market for advertisement and distribution and selling 16 million vehicles a year; it will also save on the tax barriers and monetary exchanges.

Another development is the investment in China, a new emergent market with the biggest potential given the saturation of the matured developed nations.  Nissan concluded a deal to invest more than $ one billion to acquire 50% of Dongfeng, a Chinese state-owned enterprise that manufactures buses and heavy trucks. By the year 2010, this joint venture is projecting to produce 450,000 Nissan cars and 450,000 heavy vehicles.

The Chinese government gave priority to Nissan because of the bold steps it has taken to get back to profitability and of its experience with multicultural and global management practices.

Although the initial intention was to revive Nissan into profitability some cultural changes within Japanese business behavior had to occur. For example, Nissan had an organization of assigning counselors to each field teams with no definite operational functions and not responsible to results; these counselors were originally dispatched to foreign countries to disseminate the Japanese practices but were of no use anymore; these counselors ended up diluting the responsibilities of the field directors; they  had to go.

Another Japanese practice was to promote employees according to seniority as well as increase in salaries without any regard to productivity or innovation; Carlos instituted the notion of result instead of effort in judging what is fair.  The consequences for that notion of result did away with the practice of working overtime and spending unduly longer time at the offices, even showing to work on holidays in order to please management and prove that they were investing lots of efforts.

The doing away with the seniority criterion for automatic promotion meant that new recruits could be hired at higher and competitive salaries. The cost of incentives represented the variable portion in the total cost which was 40% at Nissan. Employees will thus be judged according to their contributions and incentives given to those who satisfy quantitative criteria.

The third practice was hiring for life. During the recession in the 90’s, many Japanese companies concocted many gimmicks to in reality fire employees while providing the image of still belonging to the firm; for examples, many were assigned to concessionaires and suppliers who paid their salaries. Fourteen percent of employees will lose their jobs and many of these fictitious employees distributed to suppliers were repatriated to Nissan.

In the automotive business the question for the future is: can it afford a competitive offer and the capacity to maintain it? The end game reduces to maintaining innovation in a complex market, where emotions of clients for a stylistic car play a critical part along with quality and at a competitive price.

The team detached from Renault to Nissan played the role of catalyst because the real resource of Japan as the second economy in the world is its professional and skilled people.  Japan has no natural resources, a relatively tiny island, ravaged by earthquakes and typhoons and facing strong adversaries. Japan has the third of the world monetary reserves although it has now a public debt up to 150% of its PIB.

It is apparent that the Japanese companies have not assimilated the Nissan experience because they are still suffering from indecision and indebtedness; the “Cost Killer” Carlos believes that the problem is a lack of know-how and experience to treating their own managerial problems that did not change for over 40 years.

 

Article #52, (September 12, 2006)

“Mathematics: a unifying abstraction for Engineering and Physics Phenomena”

A few examples of mechanical and electrical problems will demonstrate that mathematical equations play a unifying abstraction to various physical phenomena of entirely different physical nature.

Many linear homogeneous differential equations with constant coefficients can be solved by algebraic methods and their solutions are elementary functions known from calculus such as the examples in article 51.  For the differential equations with variable coefficients, the functions are non elementary and they fall within two classes and play an important role in engineering mathematics.

The first class consists of linear differential equations such as Bessel, Legendre, and the hyper geometric equations; these equations can be solved by the power series method.

The second class consists of functions defined by integrals which cannot be evaluated in terms of finite many elementary functions such as the Gamma, Beta, and error functions (used in statistics for the normal distribution) and the sine, cosine, and Fresnel integrals (used in optics and antenna theory); these functions have asymptotic expansions in the sense that their series may not converge but numerical values could be computed for large values of the independent variable.

Entirely different physical systems may correspond to the same differential equations, not only qualitatively, but even quantitatively in the sense that, to a given mechanical system, we can construct an electric circuit whose current will give the exact values of the displacement in the mechanical system when suitable scale factors are introduced.

The practical importance of such an analogy between mechanical and electrical systems may be used for constructing an electrical model of a given mechanical system. In many cases the electrical model provides essential simplification because it is much easier to assemble and the values easily measured with accuracy while the construction of a mechanical model may be complicated, expensive, and time-consuming.

An RLC-circuit offers the following correspondence with a mechanical system such as: Inductance (L) to mass (m), resistance (R) to damping constant (c), reciprocal of capacitance (1/C) to spring modulus (k), derivative of electromotive force to the driving force or input force, and the current I(t) to the displacement y(t) or output.

Here are a few elementary examples:

5)      Ohm’s law: Experiments show that the voltage drop (E) in a close circuit when an electric current flows across a resistor (R) is proportional to the instantaneous current (I), or E = R* I.

Also, that the voltage drop across an inductor (L) is proportional to the instantaneous time rate of change of the current, or E = L*dI/dt.

Also, the voltage drop across a capacitor (C) is proportional to the instantaneous electric charge (Q) on the capacitor, or E = Q*1/C.  Note that I(t) = dQ/dt.

6)    Kirchhoff’s second law:  The algebraic sum of all the instantaneous voltage drops around any closed loop is zero, or the voltage impressed on a closed loop is equal to the sum of the voltage drops in the rest of the loop. Thus,

E(t) = R*I + L*dI/dt + Q*1/C.

For example, a capacitor (C = 0.1 farad) in series with a resistor (R = 200 ohms) is charged from a source (E = 12 volts).  Find the voltage V(t) on the capacitor, assuming that at t = 0 the capacitor is completely uncharged.

7)    Hooke’s Law: Experiments show that when a string is stretched then the force generated from the string is proportional to the displacement of the stretch,

or F = k*s.  If a mass (M) is attached to a string, then when the string is stretched further more (y) after the system is in a static equilibrium, then: F = -k*s(0) – k*y.

Newton’s second law for the resultant of all forces acting on a body says that:

Mass * Acceleration = Force, or My” = -k*y.

Furthermore, if we connect the mass to a dashpot, then an additional force come into play, which is proportional to the rate of change of the displacement due to the viscous substance with constant (c).  The equation is then a homogeneous second order differential equation: M*y” + c*y’ + k*y = 0.  Depending on the magnitude of (c) we have 3 different solutions: either 2 distinct real rots, 2 complex conjugate roots, or a real double root [c(2) = 4*M*k)} corresponding respectively to the conditions of  over damping, under dumping, or critical damping.

For example, determine the motions of the mechanical system described in the last equation, starting from y = 1, initial velocity equal zero, M = 1 kg, k =1 for the various damping constant: c = 0, c = 0.5, c = 1, c =1.5, and c = 2.

8)    Laplace’s equation is one of the most important partial differential equations because it occurs in connection with gravitational fields, electrostatic fields, steady-state heat conduction, and incompressible fluid flow.  The solutions of the Laplace equation fall within the potential theory.

For example, find the potential of the field between two parallel conducting plates extending to infinity which are kept at constant potentials; or the potential between two coaxial conducting cylinders; or the complex potential of a pair of opposite charged sources lines of the same strength at two points.

 


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

October 2008
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