Great Entertainment

Ops, a bit slow on blogging lately. Here's a great movie and a great book:

The Hangover

Hold on, so you're telling me there's only a handful of movies about a bachelor party in Vegas, and the only one that comes to your mind is Very Bad Things!? VERY BAD! How is this even possible!? (Besides the very real reason that we don't want the ladies to know about it...)

The Hangover is 90 minutes of solid hilarity. This might well the funniest movie I've ever seen (东成西就 notwithstanding - it's just too classic), although my friend AT is convinced nothing can top Old School. Me thinks The Hangover is a better comedy. Then again, with a bachelor party in vegas premise, there's no ceiling for this. I wonder when will the next BPiV come out? Anyway, the actors in the movie (a collection of nobodies...) did a great job... but the screenwriters really put this thing together. Awesome job that kept the movie going and going, while the audience laughed till their jaws started to hurt. Mine certainly did. Bachelor party is Vegas, baby!

HIGHLY HIGHLY recommended. I will see it again with PNGF... and hopefully convincing her that's not how it goes down in BPs...

Into Thin Air

One thing is for sure: Into Thin Air is not funny. You already know 5 of them are going to die. You even know which 5. And you read about all the decisions and incidents that slowly builds up to the Everest climbing catastrophe in 1996.

My next book is Nudge by my former teacher at Chicago Booth Dick Thaler, who actually uses Into Thin Air as part of his teaching material on Managerial Decision Making. And that's how I read it: a book about how decisions can lead to unintended consequence. In fact, that's why I ordered this book.

Yet I digress. The author Jon Krakauer was part of a 26 member team that attempted to summit Mount Everest. In the book, he recounts what happened after interviewing all the parties involved and tries to analyze what happened in what is known as a Dead Zone (above 25,000 feet about sea level - Everest is 29,028 feet). It's an extremely well written book: Krakauer has left no stone unturned. Facts were slowly put together as the climbers ascend the mountain, and you start to cringe about every single one starting from chapter 1. Finally, in the final summit attempt, all these facts snowball into disaster.

Again, highly highly recommended. One of the best books I've read in years (sigh, how did I not get to this earlier) and great material to learn about decision making. Here're some of my learnings:
  • Those who want to climb mount Everest are crazy
  • Those who want to pay to climb mount Everest are stupid
  • People who could be in danger (read: all climbers) should have a radio (And have enough batteries... sigh... I violated rule #1 in my friend AT's wedding)
  • Once you've paid for something, your decision is skewed already
  • Once you asked someone to pay for something, both your decisions are skewed
  • Commitment to pre-defined deadlines are important
  • Setting pre-defined deadlines and the conditions are important
  • As economists have said all along, self interest comes first... especially when your life was at stake
In my opinion, most of the things that happened on top of the world was motivated by self interest - even the seemingly selfless act of waiting with the client in the blistering cold. And it's really nobody's fault that disaster struck. If any, it is the over-confidence of each individual as well as the collective team that was the main cause.

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