Book Review: Billion Dollar Whale

“Billion Dollar Whale” by Tom Wright and Bradley HopeLow Taek Jho, who westernised his name to “Jho Low”, which I will use henceforth, was the son of a wealthy family in Penang, Malaysia. The family’s fortune had been founded by Low’s grandfather who had immigrated to the then British colony of Malaya from China and founded a garment manufacturing company which Low’s father had continued to build and recently sold for a sum of around US$ 15 million. The Low family were among the wealthiest in Malaysia and wanted the best for their son. For the last two years of his high school education, Jho was sent to the Harrow School, a prestigious private British boarding school whose alumni include seven British Prime Ministers including Winston Churchill and Robert Peel, and “foreign students” including Jawaharlal Nehru and King Hussein of Jordan. At Harrow, he would meet classmates whose families’ wealth was in the billions, and his ambition to join their ranks was fired.

After graduating from Harrow, Low decided the career he wished to pursue would be better served by a U.S. business education than the traditional Cambridge or Oxford path chosen by many Harrovians and enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School undergraduate program. Previous Wharton graduates include Warren Buffett, Walter Annenberg, Elon Musk, and Donald Trump. Low majored in finance, but mostly saw Wharton as a way to make connections. Wharton was a school of choice for the sons of Gulf princes and billionaires, and Low leveraged his connections, while still an undergraduate, into meetings in the Gulf with figures such as Yousef Al Otaiba, foreign policy adviser to the sheikhs running the United Arab Emirates. Otaiba, in turn, introduced him to Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, who ran a fund called Mubadala Development, which was on the cutting edge of the sovereign wealth fund business.... [Read More]

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Shakedown: Fake Products

One of my favourite YouTube channels is bigclivedotcom, who tears down and reverse-engineers electronic and other gadgets, often discovering horrors, occasionally deadly, in shoddy products mostly from China.  Yesterday, he posted a delightful analysis of a fine piece of Chinese junk, a “shake flashlight”, which is supposed to generate its own power by shaking the object in your hand.

Shake flashlights are a “green” gimmick which have been around for some time: here is an example of one for sale at Amazon.  They appeal to eco-freaks (no batteries!), the gimmick-obsessed kind of survivalist, and people who can’t solve simple problems in electromagnetism.  In the usual design, the body of the flashlight contains a tube inside which a powerful permanent magnet is free to slide back and forth.  A coil with many turns of wire is wound around the centre of the tube, and there’s usually two magnets fixed to the ends of tube which repel the moving magnet as it approaches them, reversing its motion without impact.  When you shake the flashlight, the moving magnet passes back and forth through the coil, inducing a pulse of current each time the magnetic field passes through its windings.  This current is then rectified (since its polarity alternates depending on the direction of the magnet’s motion) and stored in either a super-capacitor or rechargeable battery which, when the light is turned on, drives a light-emitting diode (usually a relatively dim low-power device that doesn’t draw much current).... [Read More]

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Saturday Night Science: Bad Blood

“Bad Blood” by John CarreyrouThe drawing of blood for laboratory tests is one of my least favourite parts of a routine visit to the doctor’s office. Now, I have no fear of needles and hardly notice the stick, but frequently the doctor’s assistant who draws the blood (whom I’ve nicknamed Vampira) has difficulty finding the vein to get a good flow and has to try several times. On one occasion she made an internal puncture which resulted in a huge, ugly bruise that looked like I’d slammed a car door on my arm. I wondered why they need so much blood, and why draw it into so many different containers? (Eventually, I researched this, having been intrigued by the issue during the O. J. Simpson trial; if you’re curious, here is the information.) Then, after the blood is drawn, it has to be sent off to the laboratory, which sends back the results days later. If something pops up in the test results, you have to go back for a second visit with the doctor to discuss it.

Wouldn’t it be great if they could just stick a fingertip and draw a drop or two of blood, as is done by diabetics to test blood sugar, then run all the tests on it? Further, imagine if, after taking the drop of blood, it could be put into a desktop machine right in the doctor’s office which would, in a matter of minutes, produce test results you could discuss immediately with the doctor. And if such a technology existed and followed the history of decline in price with increase in volume which has characterised other high technology products since the 1970s, it might be possible to deploy the machines into the homes of patients being treated with medications so their effects could be monitored and relayed directly to their physicians in case an anomaly was detected. It wouldn’t quite be a Star Trek medical tricorder, but it would be one step closer. With the cost of medical care rising steeply, automating diagnostic blood tests and bringing them to the mass market seemed an excellent candidate as the “next big thing” for Silicon Valley to revolutionise.... [Read More]

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Pax Dickinson Trolls Reporter Amanda Robb

Ever read about the guys who scam the people who send out the scam email lettersWhat Pax Dickinson did to reporter Amanda Robb is even funnier.

Updated 8/9/2019: Dead link… here’s an archived version.

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