Top Fun

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I knew this was going to be a super fun weekend even before it began – we were hosting our good friends visiting Pittsburgh from Boston, and, as an Academic Capitalist, see God: Omni-Channel Retailer about our MSOM publication (that was motivated by Onera, with Bain Capital Ventures as the VC) –  I received this email late last week (and money was wired into my account over the weekend):

Dear Shareholder:

It is with great pleasure that I share with you that today the Board of Directors has unanimously voted to enter into a definitive agreement to sell Onera to ToolsGroup, in an all cash transaction. We have built a platform centered around the idea that inventory would be the key, and data technology would be the unlock. Today, we help over a dozen major brands and retailers, including Gap, lululemon, rue21, TORRID and Zumiez manage real-time inventory and optimize their ability to fulfil ecommerce orders and increase revenue, improve profitability and delight their customers.

Delightful! Publish a paper and make money with startups that create value in industry through implementing practical algorithms in enterprise software. Sound familiar?😏

Rewind to 1986. The very first movie I saw in Uris Hall – along with hundreds of other students, mostly undergraduates though – when I had just joined Cornell – even before I discovered an Indie-film theater in Ithaca Commons that I mentioned in Portrait of an Academic Capitalist as a Young Man that introduced me to Cannes Film Festival and such – as a graduate student:

Top Gun is a 1986 American action drama film (starring Tom Cruise), grossing $356 million against a production budget of $15 million.

This weekend, I went to see its sequel:

Top Gun: Maverick is a 2022 American action drama film. The film has grossed $260 million worldwide in its opening weekend (on a budget of $170 million).

Now something for the real movie lovers. When I was an undergrad at IIT-Madras, one of the enjoyable weekend activities was watching movies in the Open Air Theater (OAT), on Saturday nights. As I saw Top Gun: Maverick, it reminded me of this movie I (think I) saw in the OAT:

633 Squadron is a 1964 British / American war film. The plot involves the exploits of a fictional World War II British bomber squadron.

Why? Here is the plot:

After the Norwegian resistance leader Royal Norwegian Navy Lieutenant Erik Bergman travels to Great Britain to report the location of a German V-2 rocket fuel plant, the Royal Air Force’s No. 633 Squadron is assigned to destroy it. The plant is in a seemingly impregnable location beneath an overhanging cliff at the end of a long, narrow fjord lined with numerous anti-aircraft guns. The only way to destroy the plant is by bombing the cliff until it collapses and buries the facility, a job for 633 Squadron’s fast and manoeuvrable de Havilland Mosquitos. The squadron trains in Scotland, where there are narrow glens similar to the fjord.

Or, was it Mosquito Squadron with a similar plot? I know it had a bouncing bomb of sorts. It has been nearly 40 years, so I am not sure.

Back to Top Gun and its sequel. The parallel (to my life) is that I returned to Cornell in April this year (see Die Freuden des freigeistigen Tayur), now as University Professor, to give a talk in the very department I graduated from, on:

Quantum Operations Research.

As you know from A Floquet Connection, our DARPA proposal was selected. I decided to visit my first Quantum Physics Lab – that of Peter’s at Cornell – and also to read up on DARPA, as until now I was not familiar with the agency at all, and so I purchased two books:

Annie Jacobsen. The Pentagon’s Brain. 2015.

Sharon Weinberger. The Imagineers of War. 2017.

These books are not very complimentary about the history or the secret workings of DARPA, although they admit that there have been some notable technological accomplishments. Happily, I found that neither book mentioned Quantum. Not surprisingly, both books cover the contributions of John von Neumann, and I recently finished reading a very informative biography:

Ananyo Bhattacharya. The Man from the Future. 2022.

The most interesting information related to DARPA I found in the books was about JASON: of the most secret and esoteric, most powerful and consequential scientific advisory groups in the history of the US DoD, consisting mostly of university professors who were free to consult in the summer, following in the footsteps of John von Neumann – included Murray Gell-Mann, Steven Weinberg, Charles Townes – who were granted top secret clearances…

Oh, no. 😳 What might have I gotten myself into? Indeed, I was lamenting about this – after all, I am a person who takes playfulness seriously having built a peaceful, leisurely life based on P.G. Wodehouse character Lord Emsworth (as I wrote in Conspicuous Leisure) — on zoom with my colleague Mustafa (and Kyra, as we were finalizing a revision on our work on exception points that provides equity in liver transplants, with UCSF physicians, as described in To Split, or not to Split) when he quietly reminded me that my PhD was in fact in – a field that was originally created for military support – Operations Research! ☺️

The only Jason that I care about is from:

The Bourne franchise consists of action-thriller installments based on the character Jason Bourne, created by author Robert Ludlum. The franchise includes five theatrical films that have cumulatively grossed over $1.6 billion in the box office (on a budget of $490 million).

Beyond movies, you know from Ford v Ferrari that I love exotic cars, with a preference for McLaren over Ferrari. The 2022 Monaco Grand Prix this weekend had Ferrari in Pole-position and McLaren with the fastest lap, but – although McLaren has won it most (15 times), with Ferrari second (10 times) – the winner this year was not either of them. A movie that combines Monaco Grand Prix with Defense Technologies (and a cameo appearance by Elon Musk, if I recall correctly) is:

Iron Man 2 is a 2010 American superhero film with stars Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark / Iron Man alongside Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Mickey Rourke, and Samuel L. Jackson. It had a box office over $623 million on a budget of about $170 million.

Folks have been asking me if I am planning to create a third startup – SmartOps was enterprise supply chain software that created the market of EIO software and OrganJet is a social enterprise that helps folks through multi-listing – in quantum space:

Will my next company be in defense technology?

Let me accept its possibility with the cheerful fatalism of Que Sera, Sera:

Whatever will be, will be

The future’s not ours to see


The Man Who Knew Too Much is a suspense thriller film directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock, starring James Stewart and Doris Day. The film won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)”, sung by Doris Day. It premiered at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival.

The 2022 Cannes Film Festival ended this past weekend:

‘Triangle of Sadness’ Wins the Palme D’Or at Cannes.

What else happened this weekend? If you have not seen it:

U.S. Retakes Top Spot in Supercomputer Race.

But here is the catch:

Experts say two supercomputers in China may be faster, but the country didn’t participate in the rankings…The field was dominated by U.S. technology for decades, but China has become a dominant force. Chinese researchers used to participate in the ranking process. But the country has adopted a lower profile in promoting its supercomputer progress…A group of 14 Chinese researchers won a prestigious award from the Association for Computing Machinery, the Gordon Bell Prize, for simulating a quantum computing circuit. The calculating job, estimated to take 10,000 years on Oak Ridge’s fastest prior supercomputer, took 304 seconds on the Chinese system.

Time to think seriously about Tayur Industries? ☺️

Another reason why this was a great weekend? Here is an email (on Friday) from Bill Lichtenstein:

We just received word that “WBCN and The American Revolution” has been awarded a MHA STAR Award from the Massachusetts History Alliance for “exemplary work in the field of public history in Massachusetts that is recognized as a long term commitment, outstanding work with concrete results, exemplary innovation, local leadership for change, or contributions to equity and justice.” 
Earlier this month, Bill had emailed:
I just received some more good news from MIT Press that the companion book to the WBCN documentary won a Silver-level Medal in the Best Regional Non-Fiction, US Northeast category from the Independent Publisher Book Awards. The “IPPY” Awards are annual book awards for independently published titles. According to the IPPY website, the awards “reward those who exhibit the courage, innovation, and creativity to bring about change in the world of publishing.”
Yippie! You should really get the companion book. It is a veritable history of music  – Aerosmith, Joan Baez, Chuck Berry, Bob Marley, Cars, Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac, Aretha Franklin, Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, B.B. King, Led Zeppelin, John Lennon, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Pink Floyd, Queen, Bonnie Raitt, Lou Reed, Carly Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Rod Stewart, Pete Townshend, Velvet Underground and so many others – who were part of the counter-revolution, combating policies that took US to war and seeking transparency in MIT’s involvement in defense research (among other social and cultural issues).  Perhaps this is the only time my picture (and name) will be in a book alongside them (and Noam Chomsky 😳). As Jon Abbot (President and CEO, GBH, where I was on the Board of Overseers for many years) says:

A fascinating journey back in time when music and radio were at the center of a movement, and an inspiration for what media can be today. WBCN holds a special place in history.



  1. Of the 26 musical names mentioned above, I heard 13 of them, several multiple times.

    1. Wow, that is impressive.

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