Archive for July, 2007

The Hobbit

July 23, 2007
This book is the prelude to the famous trilogy of The lord of the ring, talking about the unwanted adventure of Bilbo Baggins, the hobbit who went through great perils with his fellows of dwarfs and Gandolf the wizard. During the travel, when trapped in the tunnels of Goblines, Bilbo found a ring when makes the wearer invisible, and he encountered Gollum, the pitiful devil creature who talks to my precious and cursed to eat cold fish all his life. During the end of the adventure, Bilbo helped Thorin, the descent of King of the under mountain, found the treasure of the dragon. The dragon, Smaug, got so infuriated that he flamed everywhere in the mountain, but could not find the dwarfs and the hobbit because they hid in some cave. Finding the men in the Lake Town might have helped the dwarfs and the hobbit, the dragon flew to the running river to kill the men, but instead he was shot to death by the great shooter of the men, later the new Lord of Dale.

I used to thing the story should end right here: the dragon got killed, the treasure found, and the hobbit should come back and enjoy his life. But no. The men came to ask Thorin reward for their help and redeem for their loss, and Thorin, who would rather sit on the gold and silver, said the dwarfs would not give out a shit under force. And Thorin had asked the dwarfs from other area come to help establish their realm. The men also got help from the Elvesking. A war seemed inevitable. But Bilbo took some treasure stone and gave it to the men and when Thorin found it, he claimed the fact and explained that he had the right to take his share of the treasure, as promised by the dwarfs. Since this stone embodies all the glory of the dwarf kingdom, Thorin had to give fourteenth share of the treasure to the men to exchange it, and the men gave the appropriate portion of the treasure to the elves, but Bilbo accepted nothing except a bag of gold and another of silver. By that time, the Goblins came and the war of five armies started. Five armies, because it included the men, the elves, the dwarfs, the goblins, and the wargs. Thorin was severely injured and before his death, he asked Bilbo for forgiveness.

So this is the Western way of handling difficulties. I was wondering if there would be a war between the men and the dwarfs, even after I got to know Bilbo helped the men to negotiate. But here, the dwarfs and the men were willing to negotiate, though they seemed grim when talking and they did not stick to what they want. Sometimes you just cannot control everything, and you have to negotiate.

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Transformers

July 19, 2007
Gosh! Everyone said this is a great movie and it has received mostly positive reviews yet it disappointed me!

The special effect is great, especially in the beginning and at the end part. I like the fighting scenes of autobots and deceptions, the looks of some transformers, such as the scorpion and the dwarf one (the comedian boom box). The things I don’t know or even get more confused are: what are the names of these transformers and what is the function of the cube? And why Sam’s parents cannot hear the soarings of the huge transformers when they look out of the windows?

I have never been a fan of transformers, so it’s understandable that I don’t know much of them, I cannot tell each of them from their appearance, and I don’t know their names. After watching the movie, I remembered only two names of the transformers: the BumbleBee and Megatrum. Other names are mentioned only a few times, or even not mentioned at all (the scorpion). It may be redundant to those transformer fans, but for ignorants like me, it’s necessary to give me this kind of information.

The cube gives me more confusions. Where is its origin? What it is a cube-like thing and how come it can change into a small cube? Where did the S-7 find it? If it was near Megatrum, why not did Megatrum get it and change its shape? And, why it becomes deadly hot when inserted into the chest of Megatrum and causes the death of him?

I have read the related articles in Wikipedia and still I have lots of questions. Maybe I should go over the cartoons years ago, or I should talk to some transformer fans.

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The Tipping Point

July 17, 2007
The subtitle of this book is: How little things can make a big difference. By Malcolm Cladwell, who was born in UK, but raised up in Canada, and now lives in New York as a staff writer for New Yorker, also the author of Blink. Both Blink and The Tipping Point are national bestsellers.

What is tipping point? The answer lies in the subtitle: it is the moment when little things can become epidemic.

Major concepts of the book:

Three types of people

Connectors: Those with wide social circles. They are the "hubs" of the human social network and responsible for the small world phenomenon.

Mavens are knowledgeable people. While most consumers wouldn’t know if a product were priced above the market rate by, say, ten per cent, mavens would. Bloggers who detect false claims in the media could also be considered mavens.

Salesmen are charismatic people with powerful negotiation skills. They exert "soft" influence rather than forceful power. Their source of influence may be the tendency of others, subconsciously, to imitate them rather than techniques of conscious persuasion.

Key concepts

The Law of the Few. Those with the skill sets described above have disproportionate influence over the spread of social phenomena, and without their aid, such dissemination is unlikely ever to occur.

Stickiness: Ideas or products found attractive or interesting by others will grow exponentially for some time.

The Power of Context: Human behavior is strongly influenced by external variables of context. For example, "zero tolerance" efforts to combat minor crimes such as fare-beating and vandalism on the New York subway led to a decline in more violent crimes; the perception of increased vigilance altered the behavior and attitudes of the passengers. Gladwell also describes the bystander effect.

The Magic Number 150 (Dunbar’s number). The research behind the number suggests an individual can only have genuine social relationships with 150 people. Likewise, groups larger than 150 are prone to fragmentation, and it is often best for the group’s health that it split. Most extant hunter-gatherer villages, as well as military companies also stay just shy of this number.

The New Product Cycle: According to the model of Everett Rogers, there is a bell curve of adaptation to the new phenomenon: first are innovators, then early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. Each category corresponds to one standard deviation worth of width, and the apex of the bell curve is between the early and late majorities. Innovators lie 2 or more standard deviations to the left of the mean, while early adopters are between 1 and 2 standard deviations to the left, and so on. Laggards, the last group to adopt a new fad, lie at least 1 standard deviation to the right of the mean, thus make up about 16 percent of the population.

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