Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Now you know Jack Schitt!

You Don't Know Jack Schitt?
Author Unknown

Many people are at a loss for a response when someone says, "You don't know Jack Schitt." Now you can intellectually handle the situation.

Jack is the only son of Awe Schitt and O. Schitt. Awe Schitt, the fertilizer magnate, married O. Schitt, a partner of Kneedeep &. Schitt Inc. In turn, Jack Schitt married Noe Schitt, and the deeply religious couple produced 6 children: Holie Schitt, Fulla Schitt, Giva Schitt, Bull Schitt, and the twins: Deep Schitt and Dip Schitt.

Against her parents' objections, Deep Schitt married Dumb Schitt, a high school drop out. After being married 15 years, Jack and Noe Schitt divorced.

Noe Schitt later married Mr. Sherlock, and because her kids were living with them she wanted to keep her previous name. She was known as Noe Schitt-Sherlock.

Dip Schitt married Loda Schitt and they produced a nervous son, Chicken Schitt. Fulla Schitt and Giva Schitt were inseparable throughout childhood and subsequently married the Happens brothers in a dual ceremony.

The wedding announcement in the newspaper announced the Schitt-Happens wedding.

The Schitt-Happens children were Dawg, Byrd, and Hoarse. Bull Schitt, the prodigal son, left home to tour the world. He recently returned from Italy with his new bride, Piza Schitt.

So now if someone says, "You don't know Jack Schitt", you can correct them. Not only do you know Jack, you know his whole family!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Comedy Convention - Dubai Edition

This past weekend, for the first time, I attended a live stand-up comedy show. I have always liked catching a smart stand-up gig on the tube, so I was quite excited to see what it would be like to actually attend one, and especially to see what one in Dubai would be like.

Title Board

The 3-day Comedy Convention tour goes through Dubai and Beirut. I attended only the last of the three days. It was held outdoors in the Dubai Media City amphitheatre, but (thankfully) the weather is still good in the evenings. But c'mon, no coffee? There was a hard bar, Japanese, grills, crepes, and Arabic, but no coffee?! I had to make do with a cranberry vodka to go with my tempura, and hope that it and the comedy would keep me awake.

Our performers were all American, except for one Italian. Erik Griffin, the comedian/host did a great job entertaining us in between his fellow comedians. His roasting of the generous chest hair of men here, and his scenario of an Arab man with a Black-American wife brought the house down. A lot of race/nationality jokes, but none I found that really crossed the line, so kudos to him.

The first comedian was Rusty Dooley, whose act consisted mostly of impressions of comedic alternatives to real movie scenes, or parodies of film personalities. It was pretty decent, most of the time. Especially his impersonation of Tom Cruise in Top Gun, down to the rectangular smile and the hair. Overall, not too broadly appealing, but better in that sense than Tommy Davidson.

I'm sure Davidson, the third, closing and headlining performer is a great comedian. His impression of Spanish TV news was probably the best part of his act. However, I felt his performance required far too cultural context to elicit the laughs. It might be great for Americans, but even he could feel the cloud of confusion hanging over much of his audience. At least Dooley had the relative prevalence of Hollywood culture going for him. I just thought Davidson should have focused more on more universally-themed jokes, considering much of the audience was not Western or American. Being English-speaking and even having a good deal of Western exposure does not mean you will know enough about Sammy Davis Jr. to find an impression of him to be funny.

Maniscalco? This man is loco!

But what made the whole show, according to me, was the middle act, by Sebastian Maniscalco. This guy is NOT to be missed. He totally dissected the awkwardness of the "first date", to peals of laughter from everyone. His gripes about the travails of air travel had us doubled over. His facial and vocal expressions were dramatic, yet believable. Maniscalco, together with Griffin, pretty much rocked the house throughout their performances. Don't miss them if you get the chance.



Friday, April 10, 2009

9 months later, the manifest opus

Yes, my thesis is finally done!

(Disclaimer: The bearded character in the image above in no way represents my real thesis advisor. He's not bald or thickly bearded! Oh, yes, and he's a nice guy too. . Image from PHD Comics)

Empirical Studies in Computer-Mediated Interest-Based Negotiations

Sohan D'souza

Master of Science in Information Technology

Faculty of Informatics

The British University in Dubai

April 8, 2009

Negotiations in which participants exchange offers based on their chosen positions can be extended to include dialogue about their interests. Revelation of negotiators' interests allows them to make more acceptable offers and perhaps propose possible alternative approaches toward each other's interests, both of which may result in mutually and individually beneficial outcomes. However, it can also expose their strategies, and possibly their dependencies on other negotiators toward the achievement of their goals. Revealing this information can leave them vulnerable to extortion or retribution, but it can also be used to gain sympathy or build a relationship of trust and reciprocity.

This dissertation studies human behaviour and performance upon introducing options for goal inquiry and revelation into mediated-protocol negotiation scenarios. Empirical studies were conducted by having human players negotiate over an alternating offer protocol and an interest-based bargaining protocol, on a platform specially adapted for this purpose. The analysis of data from these experiments revealed interesting patterns in the human use of goal revelation, and its effects on individual and social outcomes and likelihood of agreement. The design of the experiments and the development of the experimentation platform lay the groundwork for the further study of goal revelation in mediated negotiations with humans.

I still have the defense and some minor polishing to go, but the official submission is done

Nao I can has a life! Noes, srsly!


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Ten principles for a Black Swan-proof world
Suggestions for a robust world economy from the originator of Black Swan theory. I especially like principles 4,7,8 and 9.

(sorry, I initially posted a members-only link)