8 September 2019

Book Review: “Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World”

I got to know about this book written by the investigative journalist David Epstein, while reading another book.

First, I have to start by saying that I became a believer of “breadth over depth” long time back in my career (which explains why I have never worked in the same industry twice and have thus never been accused of being an expert in anything). Therefore, my recommendations for this book might be a form of self-rationalization.

But if you want to understand why variety of knowledge and experience leads you to understand the deeper structures of a problem and their relationships much better – which is impossible to do if you are looking thru the tunnel vision of one discipline only – this is a good book to read.

The author does a good job of separating those domains where deep knowledge actually helps (he calls it “kind domain”). These are also the domains that are likely to be taken over by computers. e.g. Watson will beat humans in chess. But when it gets to “wicked domains” – requiring a lot more of strategic thinking – that is when interdisciplinary knowledge becomes interesting. (Till date, all progress of Watson solving cancer has been nothing to write home about)

On the flip side, the author makes most of his points in the first quarter of the book. The rest of the book is filled with a lot of very interesting stories and examples from all over the world. However, at times, it becomes difficult to understand what the core message in those stories are or how it directly relates to the original point. To be fair, there are connections – it is just that he does not draw the line for you.

All in all, a very enjoyable read. Highly recommended.

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7 September 2019

An extreme case of false precision?

Flying from Denver to Chicago this week, I noticed that the American Airlines flight was informing us about our altitude – in first decimal place of a foot!!! To put it in perspective, 0.3 feet is about 3.5 inches – think about the width of your palm.

What was the great need to put that level of precision? Certainly, that level of precision cannot be accurate. A airplane measures its altitude, if I understand correctly, by the pressure difference of the outside where it is and the ground pressure.

Admittedly, it is a little more complicated than that – it has to understand what the local pressure at ground level of various points on earth are – regardless, it is a fairly inexact process. This is not your Sonar or Lidar technology at work.

Not to mention that to maintain that height constantly, the airplane would have to bounce around a lot depending on what is there in the ground below – you know a ditch here and a curb there…

I was thinking of asking American Airlines about it but was afraid they might ask me to “Depress” some button to get the accurate altitude 🙂 🙂

Category: Humor | LEAVE A COMMENT
7 September 2019


This is what the display on my loaner Lexus car said. So I yelled at the brake that it was a complete failure in life and was a worthless piece of doodoo. But the engine would not still start.

Finally, I just “pressed” the brake and the engine growled to life immediately…

“Depress”? Why Depress? Why not just “Press”?

What was the pressing need Lexus felt to use the secondary meaning of the word “depress”? Language used by the car companies – now, that is something that is “depressing”

🙂 🙂

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