Monday, December 31, 2007


"Every man should be born again on the first day of January. Start with a fresh page. Take up one hole more in the buckle if necessary, or let down one, according to circumstances; but on the first of January let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take no interest in the things that were and are past." -Henry Ward Beecher

Since 2007 is ending for me in a matter of an hour, its time for one of those "irresolute" posts.(Because Resolution isnt meant for people like me)
(-1) I refuse to start my year with a hangover

(0) I am still trying to wrap my arms around a technology suite thats currently 25 years old (switch happened exactly on January1,1983) and I am amazed to see it is robust and what more: I am making a living out of its existence

(1) So far in my life I knew how to make a living, but from now I shall definitely look forward "to live" now and paint my life red

(2) I shall change my mind without being worried about being consistent (used to think integrity meant stickin to it no matter what happens but then the truth lies much in the vein of the Keynes' quip When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir? )

(3) Since nothing worth knowing can be taught and since there is (no need)/(not possible) to teach those who question, I dedicate the next year to questioning and experience to learn rather than yearn to be admitted to one of those grad. schools.

(4) I shall try to chuck my "relativsitic notions" and pursue the "absolute" as the wonderful book "Human Accomplishment" states that the highest accomplishments occur only in cultures that believe in absolute truth and beauty (the relativstic notion only produces ugliness among other pointless artifacts)

(5) By corollary to the above 4 points (dont ask!) I need to be back in California,so should be eagerly looking at sayin good bye to Boston (hopefully early in the) . Yay! I Cant wait to be back where I belong..
(6) I quit believing in Democracy as being representative form of government for any nation (thinking hard for the but I need to read a lot of history before democracy to see what exactly were people upto before such a concept was commonplace)
(7) Finally, I expect to be hitched in the year of 2008 which can only be phenomenal.
While every "new" year promises something novel, I always think there is something unchanging as well. Take for example the well known Brouwer Fixed Point Theorem; In layman's terms it says that if you were to take a coffee in a cup and stir it vigorously anyway you like without spilling a drop then there is one particle/point inside the cup that has returned to its original position (in other words it hasnt moved despite all your effort). Something like that happens to us where we think we are slowly aging with time, break our molds and what not, there is one single unique essence of a person that simply never changes despite all the flux. I wonder what would that be..

Sunday, December 30, 2007

In Service of the Ring!

Quite a while back,I posted this dispatch without actually knowing the history behind it. Now I know that it was written in 1907 and Kipling used it as part of the iron ring ceremony. (As a bonus I got to re-read the verse by my erstwhile roomie on that as well...those were the times when verses pored out extempore)

The gist still is valid: How many of us pay no attention to those who work long and hard behind the scenes with little recognition, let alone thanks?. Think about them the next time that someone nearly invisible keeps the machinery around you working. Anyways,the most controversial line by kipling in that happens to be this methinks:

They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and —

the Lord He lays it on Martha's Sons!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Histories of the Other Side

First off its pretty pathetic to see Ms. Benazir Bhutto killed. I didnt know why I felt a little sad but I did when I was reading the news. People around my cube said that she didnt have the right approach and that she was risking it.Risking what? Whats her alternative; sit at home and do nothing while ensconced in the security wrapper. That would do no good. Then someone said, why would someone from India bother? Why bother at all? I retorted: "Because we have to watch out for own own.."

The words rang in my mind as I came home.."Our own". How is it these guys are our own notwithstanding the parition and the likes. Why cant Pakistan have peace and economic progress like its sister countries? Then, suddenly there emerges this theory that nations which forget their cultural histories and try to enforce a new identity created of thin air have this peculiar probem of confusion.Then I rift apart trying to unravel the threads. For that, we need to go back a few centuries.

Take a look at Arab Conquest of the land to begin with. Before the conquest of Sind, the only other civilization which had a prior cultural history was that of Persia. The first expedition to capture Sind was started in 38 A.H (Anno Hegirae ) and they were beaten back. It took 7 expeditions after that to succesfully conquer Sind in the year 73 A.H by Qasim. I have just finished reading the authoritatve work on the history of Sindh called Chach Nama (the story of chach)and later works heavily reference this which gives us a valuable picture of life and times of those folks.

The key point to note from the work is the fact that Buddhists and Hindus were happily co-existing with each other before the advent of the Arabs. Shramanis(A community following buddhism much like priests) and Brahmans were equally influential in the local government. Now contrast it to modern day government where the party which wins in Punjab (Nawaz Sharif currently is the lead here) ends up being the ruling party at the centre. Also the work notes that whenever central policies are crafted carefully to not go against the local sensibilities. These days Waziristan and NWFP regularly throw out the current administrations' presence out of their regions. The Chach Nama also throws light on the fact that various institutions were present to check and balance (BTW Chach initially was well recognized for his penmanship) in stark contrast to the Army being the only enduring institution that the modern day nation.

Of course, the Arabs referred to the subcontinent as Sind and Hind (Kashmir marking the eastern border and Kutch marking the southern border) somehow emphasizing a difference of nations there which later was unified by later conquests which are well known.The second time the partition happened was when the British carved away Sind from the Bombay Presidency in 1935 which kinda foreshadowed the partition (but given the way Jinnah was treated, I wouldnt blame him for not having anything to do with some morons in the Congress who refused to eat with him and other petty religious isolational things). So, whenever something happens in Sind, it usually had implications for the rest of the country. The Bhuttos are the modern day leaders of Sind (sindhis always loved her)and now I wonder what this event portends for the rest of the country.

Jiye ..Jiye..Jiye Bhutto Benazir (That 1993 campaign song was very popular in Hyderabad Deccan as much as it was in the other Hyderabad)
But if I were to choose the appropriate lyrics for the rage inside pakistan it would be best expressed via Red Hot Chilli Peppers:

How long
how long will I slide
Separate my side
I don't
I don't
believe it's bad
Slittin my throat
It's all I ever ...

I heard your voice
through a photograph
I thought it up and brought up the past
Once you've know you can never go back
I've got to take it on the otherside ..
Centuries are what it meant to me
A cemetery where I marry the sea
Stranger things could never change my mind
I've got to take it on the otherside
Take it on the otherside..

Pour my life into a paper cup
The ashtrays full and I'm spillin' my guts
She wants to know am I still a slut
I've got to take it on the other side

Scarlet starlet and she's in my bed
A candidate for a soul mate bled
Push the trigger and pull the thread
I've got to take it on the otherside
Take it on...

Turn me on take me for a hard ride
Burn me out leave me on the otherside
I yell and tell it that
It's not a friend
I tear it down
And then it's born again
I don't
I don't believe
it's bad
Slittin my throat
It's all I ever

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Lists of the Year 2007

The following are what I consider as my best list for this year

Single : Waiting on the world to change/John Mayer
Album: Magic/ Springsteen
Fiction: Another Roadside Attraction
Non-Fiction: Enigma
News Article: Subprime Mess Produces Unqualified Victims
Blog: Stevey's Rants

Tech Article: The Man who wants to control the internet
PhD Thesis: Scalable TCP Congestion Control
Paper: BellKor Solution

Of Piers and Quays

Last year was a 'wharf' year in the sense I was firmly landed.When I opened the year, I thought this year would be a 'bridge' year in the sense it would probably would have connected to something more significant but in the end I would classify it as a 'pier'.Neither land nor water. Its an escape route that leaves one with few choices.The closest way I know I can walk on water.An escape from the land but still tied to it by the planks should I want to do a U-turn.Watching the land's end from the pier gives a different perspective and still disorienting to think of the waves calling you out with a message to be more explorative.

"Cubitt sat down chilled in a glass shelter and stared out towards the sea. The tide was low and the mist hid it: it was just a sliding and a sibilation. He lit a cigarette: the match warmed for a moment the cupped hands..Hack!Hack!Hack: the vocal chords dry as straw.Somewhere out at sea a violin began to play:it was like a sea beast mourning and stretching towards the shore...

Cubitt looked back towards the shore and saw above the mist the high lights of the Cosmopolitan, and they daunted him.He wasnt used to that sort of company. He went down the iron companionway to the gents and drained the whisky out of him into the movement under the piles and came up on to the deck lonelier than ever. He took a penny out of his pocket and slipped it into an automatic machine: a robot face behind which an electric buld revolved, iron hands for Cubitt to grip. A little blue card shot out at him: `Your Character Delineated.'Cubitt read: 'You are mainly influenced by your surroundings and inclined to be capricious and changeful. Your affections are more intense than enduring. You have a free,easy, and genial nature. You make the best of whatever you undertake. A share of the good things can always be yours. Your lack of initiative is counter-balanced by your good common sense, and you will succeed where others fail."

--Graham Greene in Brighton Pier

There. That was spot on as to how my year has been.I dont know the end but maybe I can find a quay at the end of the pier that's loading up people for the the other coast again. This time, I wont ask questions and simply get on with it to explore more fares that the sea's got to offer.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Season of Giving

Its holiday season and I totally love the air around me filled with gaiety and color. As it is a season of giving , I would like to make a special mention of a web service called Kiva. Its a swahili word meaning "concord" (Any thingy named in Swahili seems to be good, Ubuntu for example, or Hakuna Matata..)

Back to the topic, the above site isnt about charity but all about microfinance distribution around the world. Instead of charity, you get your money back here (no interest though, cmon do something in the name of philanthropy) in a vein similar to that of loaning out your friend in need (I myself bootstrapped with the help of my dear friends). So its an instrument to elevate people out of their poverty and more importantly the Interney enables to break the lock of local feudal honchos who charge exorbitant interest for such endeavors. These kinds of endeavors always struck me as the ending line in the novel

“…because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth”

But now I see Kiva as providing a second chance to those (and within a short while on Jupiter as well).

Happy Holidays!