Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Pursuit of Sublime


The above joke may not be apparent to all. Instead consider this anecdote: Supposedly, a little boy was asked by the teacher of his class to add up the numbers one through a hundred (1+2+3 etc., all the way up to 100). The teacher wanted to get some work done, or get some sleep, or whatever. Anyway, to the teacher's annoyance, little kid came up to the teacher with the answer, right away. ( Insight was to realise that pairwise addition of terms from opposite ends of the list yielded identical intermediate sums: 1 + 100 = 101, 2 + 99 = 101, 3 + 98 = 101, and so on, for a total sum of 50 × 101 = 5050 )

Anyways that was the appetiser to see if you like the main course consisting of dish-0 and dish-1 (they were written in 1947 by none other than the great von Neumann and quite a treat to follow his vision of Times.. 'they are changin..)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Another Haiku

A newborn seer
trouncing temptation
walking into wild

Monday, January 28, 2008

Zimbly South!

This is lovely fodder for our junta back home in Hyderabad where Chiru fans beat up Rajasekhar aftersome random guy asked him if he would join Chiru's party (Did anyone find out where this guy actually came from and what his motivation was in asking such a question?) and our fellow happily answered "No! He doesnt have any experience". Little did he know the consequence of that statement. A movie star trying to enter politics and his followers already take up arms against a single statement.Interesting! Truly disgusting reaction given some one is entering politics.

Its interesting because of the local dynamics (this wouldnt make sense outside of south quite honestly). First off, free speech is to be defended and people routinely make such comments against national leaders like Sonia Gandhi and international leaders (you know who.) but if you say something about a local honcho you are in big trouble as people tend to be more gung ho about it. That apart, when the apologies came in, the victims were doing typical media milking to ensure maximum leverage from such an incident (there wont be too many opportunities like this quite honestly). So the culture of media whipping up frenzy among public is now mainstream. (Note to self: next time figure out the pviot point of such local media which can make a mountain out of a molehill). Secondly, I dont worry about the banality of such situations but think about what we call "leadership" and "culture" and abstract the issue further (because it will help maneuver)

Well, why do I go through all this local drama? Because, I always have a fascination for the subtleties of leadership and the above videos talk about "this thing is not our culture" . Well, it always has been an indian thing till Gandhi showed up.The best template for such issues to be resolution is the Chauri Chaura incident where a violent mob razed the local police station to ashes (many people claim that this put the freedom movement back a decade and one of the most controversial pieces of his judgement) and Gandhi took this decision of calling off the "non co-operation movement unilaterally (no Working Committee involvement) ).Click on the above link to read what kind of "responsibility" a true leader would actually feel if such a thing were to happen.Here's the snipper



Stopping the non-cooperation movement following Chauri Chaura was one of Gandhi’s most significant acts — a cleansing of the body politic, in effect. Years later, despite several heapings of criticism, from being called a confused man to being called a British lackey, he did not waver on the correctness of the decision. Writing in 1928, he said, “[to] this date I have felt that I have served the country by calling off the non-co-operation movement. I am confident that history will look upon it as a form of perfect satyagraha and not as an act of cowardice.“


Friday, January 25, 2008

Darwish

Some day I would go to Turkey and do a dervish with the Mevlevi. Yes. Its on my to do list. When you are a kid you did that without any expectation. Anyhow, the reason I was connoitered that was that I listened to this highly underrated track called Zikr by our very own Rahman . Amazing it is!


He comes, a moon whose like the sky ne'er saw, awake or dreaming.
Crowned with eternal flame no flood can lay.
Lo, from the flagon of thy love, O Lord, my soul is swimming,
And ruined all my body's house of clay!

When first the Giver of the grape my lonely heart befriended,
Wine fired my bosom and my veins filled up;
But when his image all min eye possessed, a voice descended:

'Well done, O sovereign Wine and peerless Cup!'

Love's mighty arm from roof to base each dark abode is hewing,
Where chinks reluctant catch a golden ray.
My heart, when Love's sea of a sudden burst into its viewing,
Leaped headlong in, with 'Find me now who may!'

As, the sun moving, clouds behind him run,
All hearts attend
thee, O Tabriz's Sun!

-Rumi

That poem reminds me that I should go get my own glass of Syrah to see what Rumi saw

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Chak De..Surdees!

I totally loved SouthPark and watched it avidly for a couple of seasons when I was at grad school but this one actually is hilarious in terms of clincal dissection of its staple applied to our staple of surd jokes. Strictly an Indian phenomenon viewed through the lens of a Colorado Mountain town looks as follows:
























Monday, January 21, 2008

A Pearl of Wisdom

I mined an old gem from his older blog today and trust me sometimes it is possible to get high and ROTFL when reading his posts. Mercurial is the only word that I can think of applying to the thought patterns he has..You dont need to be a techie to appreciate the beauty of these lines


When you write a compiler, you lose your innocence. It's fun to be a shaman, knowing that typing the right conjuration will invoke the gods of the machine and produce what you hope is the right computation. Writing a compiler slays the deities, after which you can no longer work true magic. But what you lose in excitement, you gain in power: power over languages and over language-related tools. You'll be able to master new languages rapidly and fearlessly. You may lose your blind faith, but you gain insight into the hauntingly beautiful machinery of your programs. For many, it deepens their real faith. Regardless, it lets them sit at the table with their peers as equals.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Article du Jour

This is the article of the day which does show that some kind of continuation does help Wall St as well

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Good Night!

Believe the sunrise
When I reach the line
I will see you on the other side
When I close my eyes

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tough Call

Vladimir Nabokov wanted to have his last unfinished work called "The original of laura" burnt after his departure. His wife forgot and now his son almost 73 has to decide to follow his father's wish or yield to the clamoring public of readers. Whats your take (no need to tell why..)

I would go with obeying the authors' wishes as it sprung out of his mind and he knows best as to whats to be released to the general consciousness of people (given how maligned Lolita was in some circles, I wouldnt blame him). All in all, burn the manuscript :)

Stupendous

A giant palm tree that flowers once in about 100years and dies by flowering and fruition. Even locals who lived there didnt know about this (because one needs to live 100 years or their ancestors must have stories about it to pass through the generations). This is kind of like black swan incident where until you see it happen, you imagine that palm trees can never have flowers (or for that matter die after such fruition). Our planet is amazing :)

I have always held a special place for Madagascar as it was joined at the hip to India sometime back (if you rewind the geographical movie from now to Gondwana you'll see what I mean) and the place continues to enthrall the world with its botanical splendor

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Its time to go!

“This separation between past, present, and future is only an illusion, if a stubborn one.” - Albert E.


I have always had a mysterious and deep rooted approach to the concept of "time" that all of us take for granted is real. I have this booklist which I dearly wanted to finish but scraped a few things off the list. The problem is that these things border on philosophical and religious lines that its easy to get swayed and I did get away into those territories as well.


But I wanted to share a recent gem that I have stumbled upon. Its popularly called as Wheeler-DeWitt equation. I dont understand all the math behind the equation but its fascinating for me in terms of its implications for our universe.Qualitatively Dr. John Wheeler and Dr. Bryce DeWitt described a ensemble of all possible universes into a "metaspace", if you will, that exists for a brief period before collapsing into something. Its like an electron which can be anywhere in a cloud but because you are observing it collapses into a wave or particle. Of course Albert E famously quipped


"I cannot believe that the Moon exists only because a mouse looks at it." ?


Now Time, like God, is either necessary or nothing; if it disappears in one possible universe, it is undermined in every possible universe, including our own. So if you start at the beginning: Which came first: the universe, or the law governing it? or both at the same time??


The Wheeler-DeWitt equation seems to live in what physicists have dubbed "metaspace," which like a power set of all spaces.a sort of mathematical ensemble of all possible universes, ones that live only some minutes before collapsing into black holes and ones full of red stars that live forever, ones full of life and ones that are empty deserts, ones in which the constants of nature and perhaps even the number of dimensions are different from our own.


Our own universe is similarly spread out over all of superspace until it is somehow observed to have a particular set of qualities and laws.Now comes the question of who's watching the watcher? Or rather to understand this oicture you need to step out of it


Dr. Wheeler has suggested that one answer to that question may be simply us, acting through quantum- mechanical acts of observation, a process he calls "genesis by observership.""The past is theory," he once wrote. "It has no existence except in the records of the present. We are participators, at the microscopic level, in making that past, as well as the present and the future." In effect, Dr. Wheeler's theorizes that we are collectively God and that we are always creating the universe


So, there you go. My belief that time is a fiction is further strengthened. (atleast its know not to be on the Planck Scale)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Nice Saturday Recommendation

I found a quiet turqoise blue covered book completely by serendipity after my disastrous attempt in learning to do ice-skating at the commons. Its a sheer delight thats to be read and completely savored like that of Maxwell's Coffee (good to the last drop!) . For example do you know Nabokov was a serious lepidoterist or how Coleridge and Lamb were such good friends among other nice and smart perspectives (I didnt till I read this book) :whiffling,matutinal,iridule,torquated,finials,suprachiasmatic,simulacrum,clerihews,somnifacient,coquets,oleaginous,sere,scapegrace,ocelot,omphalous

In the meanwhile the following movies are vying for the same attention that I give to this book

The Searchers
Metropolis
Salt of the Earth

Have a Nice Weekend!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Crushing Loneliness

Apparently RMS wrote the post on craigslist (not sure about its authenticity) but the words do seem to right in his case

I'd like to meet a woman with varied interests, curious about the world, comfortable expressing her likes and dislikes (I hate struggling to guess), delighting in her ability to fascinate a man and in being loved tenderly, who values joy, truth, beauty and justice more than "success"--so we can share bouts of intense, passionately kind awareness of each other, alternating with tolerant warmth while we're absorbed in other aspects of life.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Hilarious!

Someone accused me of trying to steal someone else's girl at a party last week. I met the crowd again today to supply them the context to clear myself of this misgiving. This was really hilarious because why would you ask a third person in a relationship unless you are insecure about your own relationship. Come on!

Anyways the best statement I gave was the following (other than the fact that I come from a third-world country and english is not my native language):

"My manners as judged by occidental standards may not be upto the mark. However, that does not mean I dont have any manners. I have my oriental manners intact .."

This is what happens when you live in a society where the "coolness" factor is judged by some archaic European standards. What tells you that it is better than the current Asian standards? Dont give me the shiitake of "In Rome, do like romans do.." in which case all the talk about "diversity"/"melting pot" stuff is all baloney!

When I choose platforms that I work on, I deliberately choose something where is eay to get stuff installed ("apt-get" in Ubuntu and "ports" in FreeBSD) exactly because I dont want to go through the crap of rpm install or some other esoteric package install. Similarly, now in life, I need to choose a society which makes it easy for me to do what I want and not neccesarily mold me to do what it wants!

But it erupted me in laughter when I heard the allegation! (Its a different thing that I downed 5 triple filtered draft Chimays before I did that)

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Elementary..

I stumbled upon this page today. The only work of fiction I had read thrice so far because of those neat little gems. You dont know the value of them until you gain from it. Of course there is also this and probably many more but there's nothing like reading the whole thing.

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring’d with the azure world, he stands.
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

This is not my post



Its become a fashion for me to forget people's birthdays and exceptional when I remember. This time it was a very good pal of mine but then I am known to forget even my best friends. I also miss calling up my own relatives and other folks (my phone bill when 8 years ago was consistently $300 ) whereas now if $60. Not that we all use the instant electronic mailing to each other to write long emails (I occasionally do when I am in the mood for letter writing). Luckily no one important to me seems to hold it against me. Then I wondered why is it that people closest to me get a raw deal while I tend to atleast remember those who I think arent that connected.(If a client/co worker says his anniversary is coming up or a birthday comes up I somehow tend to remember in the short term to ask how it went) Somehow, in the back of your mind, you know friends would always be there (this was the philosophy M used when he used to ditch my appointments when a girl came along ) whereas for acquaintances you needed to be careful in not slipping up through the formalities (like wishing on a festival and other pleasantries our society has grown to believe in).

If I reflect more on this, I came to realise that most of my good pals do not mistake in my not calling them/not wishing them/or other symbols or images of being in touch as lack of affection or any other not so implied things. Its kind of hard but beautifully expressed by the above surreal painting which translates into "This is not a Pipe" which cuts at many levels deep like a Quentin Tarantino movie.

Simply put: the map is not territory and a map is useless when you know the territory very well. So we can do away with maps like "greeting card "/"phone call "/"email" and the likes. Conversely for a new person a map is extremely important to navigate unchartered territory of the other person and hence you can be judged harshly (as in not really relating to 'your' reality) if you give them poor maps/images. Hmmm...I shall stop now before I go into regression!

ps: On further thinking: Why take a chance.? Better late in wishing than never. Happy New Year to all of you and Happy belated birthdays to all of you that I missed last year and also many belated wishes for all Diwali,Eid, Christmas, Chanukkah , etc..etc .. This way I can cover for one years worth of missing out.
pps: I know, I am truly shameless (thats the correct answer in conclusion)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

This is the Life that I admire..

This is a poem that I have held close to my heart since childhood. As Alan Kay says "Perspective is worth 80 IQ points" and I believe this one scores something like 100 on that scale.

It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel; I will drink
Life to the lees. All times I have enjoy'd
Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea. I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known,-- cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honor'd of them all,--
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
As tho' to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains; but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
to whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,--
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfill
This labor, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro' soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail;
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me,--
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads,-- you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honor and his toil.
Death closes all; but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks;
The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends.
'T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,--
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.


-Ulysses by Alfred Lord
Tennyson