Monday, March 17, 2008

A Small Treasure..

..was found when I stumbled upon this trove (which will take you a while to read). As usual culling out some gems (cannot help laughing at some):

The Internet is full. Go away.

All parts should go together without forcing. You must remember that the parts you are reassembling were disassembled by you. Therefore, if you can't get them together again, there must be a reason. By all means, do not use a hammer.

-- IBM maintenance manual, 1925

Fools ignore complexity.
Pragmatists suffer it.
Some can avoid it.
Geniuses remove it.

-- Alan Perlis,

Usenet is like a herd of performing elephants with diarrhea -- massive, difficult to redirect, awe-inspiring, entertaining, and a source of mind-boggling amounts of excrement when you least
expect it. -- spaf (1992)

Programming languages should be designed not by piling feature on top of feature, but by removing the weaknesses and restrictions that make the additional features appear necessary.

-- Revised(5) Report on the Algorithmic Language Scheme

Structure is _nothing_ if it is all you got. Skeletons _spook_ people if they try to walk around on their own. I really wonder why XML does not.
-- Erik Naggum, comp.lang.lisp

A.D. 1517: Martin Luther nails his 95 Theses to the church door and is promptly moderated down to (-1, Flamebait).

Not only does the English Language borrow words from other languages, it sometimes chases them down dark alleys, hits them over the head, and goes through their pockets.
-- Eddy Peters

A difference which makes no difference is no difference at all.
-- William James

It is never worth a first class man's time to express a majority opinion. By definition, there are plenty of others to do that.
-- G. H. Hardy

I don't have any special knowledge of all this. In fact, I made all the above up, in the hope that it corresponds to reality.
-- Mark Carroll,

Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining.
-- Jef Raskin

The word "Fascism" has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies 'something not desirable'.
-- George Orwell in "Politics and the English Language"

If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason.
-- Jack Handey

Indeed, when I design my killer language, the identifiers "foo" and "bar" will be reserved words, never used, and not even mentioned in the reference manual. Any program using one will simply dump core without comment. Multitudes will rejoice.
-- Tim Peters, 29 Apr 1998

As it seems to me, in Perl you have to be an expert to correctly make a nested data structure like, say, a list of hashes of instances. In Python, you have to be an idiot not to be able to do it, because you just write it down.
-- Peter Norvig, comp.lang.functional

Slashdot karma, unfortunately, is not real karma, because it doesn't involve the death of the people who have it
-- from Twisted.Quotes

People think I'm a nice guy, and the fact is that I'm a scheming, conniving bastard who doesn't care for any hurt feelings or lost hours of work if it just results in what I consider to be a better
-- Linus Torvalds

Our Constitution never promised us a good or efficient government, just a representative one. And that's what we got.

If Unicode is a horde of zombies with flaming dung sticks, the hideous intricacies of JIS, Chinese Big-5, Chinese Traditional, KOI-8, et cetera are at least an army of ogres with salt and flensing knives.
-- Eric S. Raymond, python-dev

The code definitely is not portable - it will produce incorrect results if run from the surface of Mars.
-- James Bonfield,

The source passes lint without any complaint (if invoked with >/dev/null). -- Daniel Fischer,

I can't see a conspicuous evolutionary advantage in being good at higher mathematics
-- James Riden, asr

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Paper, Eggs, Tomatoes and Stones

Sometimes I feel like going back to an Indian village to watch puppet shows,orchestra, harikatha or something. Anyone outside from a village can understand that the typical villager is fairly demanding in his time and if the so called "show" really sucks then they dont hesitate to let their expectation be known and expect improvement. Despite such a hint, if things dont improve, expect rotten eggs and tomatoes (wonder who stores them and distributes to the locals?) thrown in your face.

If an third world village has such stringent demands, what about first world web developers? At a recent conference they waited 50 minutes before launching their revolt and taking over the interview. I would have raised that question within the first 15 minutes (C'mon, how can someone tolerate the host who simple seems to be suited for something else..I amlost broke my screen in frsutration...) Here is it for your viewing pleasure (I like the Viddler site as it allows you to tag videos precisely at certain points and you can see comments as the host flirts with the interviewer..). Watch it for first 10 and last 10 minutes only (if you watch the rest you will be traumatised, I assure you)

(..just wished they threw pens/notepads or something like that but then civility demands a line drawn somewhere..)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Happy Pi Day!

Today is celebrated as Pi Day. We celebrate by eating a pie. Then also, we have come a full circle of our integration into a new group. Also, it is the birthday of Albert E. This was also the day Sutro Bath was inaugurated.

Coming to Pi, you should watch Arnofsky's movie by the same name and lastly the book called " History of Pi" by Petr Beckmann. whats amazing about the book is not only the history and math but the critical analysis of how history is written. For example, the resounding theme is that Roman fellows always subsumed cultures far more sophisticated as their own (yet call them barbarians). The key point of the story was that an enemy is someone "whose stories you do not understand.."

Here's a quick mnemonic to remember Pi : "May I have a large container of coffee". The number of letters in each word when written down as digits yields 3 1 4 1 5 9 2 6 which gives you the 7 digit decimal expansion of Pi...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Thought du Jour

The length of the "true" longing for a particular thing is directly proportional to the depth of the satisfaction when you get it. If it isnt, then you werent longing for it :)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Sense of Perspective

Choose your toss between

Friend: Do you know why the sun is round Charlie Brown?
CharlieBrown: No, I can't say that I do..
Friend: I think it would be more practical to have it shaped like a flourescent light
CharlieBrown: I don't know about that,But I do know one thing..
Friend: What's that?
CharlieBrown: It's too late to change it now!

--- or ----

"In The Periodic Table, Primo Levi tells a story that happened when he was working in a varnish factory. He was a chemist, and he was fascinated by the fact that the varnish recipe included a raw onion. What could it be for? No one knew; it was just part of the recipe. So he investigated, and eventually discovered that they had started throwing the onion in years ago to test the temperature of the varnish: if it was hot enough, the onion would fry."

Sunday, March 09, 2008

A River Sutra

Another 4 hours spent straight reading through this wonderful book called "A River Sutra". The river of concern here being Narmada which like the Mississippi cuts the country into two halves with the time being different on each coast.As per the scriptures, just its sight is enough to wash away all sins ( I didnt know till I read this book that it is the holiest river in India, more so than the Ganga which requires atleast a dip in it).This is a fabulous work which has enough warmth that made my wintry day so wonderful. The forests along the river are older than the Himalayas and the river has never changed its course in the last few thousand years (only slow current rivers change their course, fast moving ones cut across the rock and impose their will like the Naramada).

I want to narrate here a passage from the book which my friends would find familiar as I am prone to use the term "sthula,sukshma and para" in my conversations and this passage echoes that sentiment the best:
"The first sound of Om is the manifest world,
The sound of waking consciousness,
The sound of gross experience"

"The second sound of Om is the unmanifest world.
The sound of dreaming consciousness
The sound of subtle experience"

"The thirs sound of Om is the nonmanifest world,
The sound of dreamless sleep,
The sound of potential experience"

"The half-syllable of Om is silence
The sound of the unmanifest world.
It is the ultimate goal
The incomparable target"

That, is in essence, the distillation of Mandukya Upanishad (the blog's title is derived from that) and if you are curious about the last state (which is another way of saying in a given musical composition the silence between notes is more important than the notes themselves) is called Turiya (a term, that I never use lightly) .

There, lies the object of some lives at least..

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Brave New World

This is really awe-inspiring talk at this years TED. I havent been keeping track of this field for a while but seems like we are on the brink of some breakthrough by the end of the decade where we shall design a lot of bio stuff ourselves and the ultimate software hack would be in playing combinatorial DNA codes..

For some reason if the above link takes way too long click here

Fish Curries

Couple of weeks back, I struck bigtime in my kitchen with a traditional fish curry (where I got away with Tilapia instead of Catfish).So, in essence, I designed a meal around South India for my guests which basically was the following: Chicken Chettinad, Andhra Chepala Pulusu, Avial and Bisibele bath (2 of them were pre-made) to represent all southern states to my guests.

After that event, I have been scouring the net for more southie traditional curries and stumbled upon these two blogs which have really well thought out recipes for fish among other things:


Yamazing. Cant wait to execute on the coconut + fish combo...

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Remarkable Self-Awareness

Elephants were alwys one of my favoritest animals around (if I ever had a pet that would be a baby elephant) and recently did read about Elephant Intelligence but what struck me as odd was their remarkable ability to be self-aware meaning that they recognise that it is them when they see a mirror which is very very essential for consciousness and other interesting abilities which sets humans apart. But this video today confirmed all those thoughts

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

My Indian Idol

I had a hard time explaining some old tenets of Indian music today as I was trying to explain that instruments are secondary in nature to classical music and vocals are the most important asset in any classical musicians' repertoire. Here was a video that was the best way to explain many things that classical music enjoyable back in the day:

(a) Excellent & Melodious Vocals
(b) Accessible lyrics for a layman
(c) Lyrics pointing to some shared culture
(d) Scope for improvisation where the artiste himself can take liberties on certain aspects

This video was just one facet of classical called Tathva (Core Concept) and there are many more to pluck from this garden..

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Sage of Omaha Speaking

While most of the attention these days goes to his annual report which admittedly is like Nani Palkhivala's address in Bombay(or the other way round, if you prefer) I tend to go for the most candid Q&A sessions with him as they offer the most value to me in terms of any advice (the unconditional love this was by farthest his best quote)

Hope you like reading it as much as I do..

Monday, March 03, 2008

Life Imitating Art

ज़िंदगी है तो ख्वाब हैं ,
ख्वाब है तो मंज़िलें हैं ,
मंज़िलें है तो फासले हैं ,
फासले है तो रास्ते हैं ,
रास्ते है तो मुश्किलें हैं ,
मुश्किलें हैं तो हौसला हैं ,
हौसला है तो विश्वास है ,
क्योंकि Fighter हमेशा जीत था है .

I felt those words true. Whats more, India won the finals, thats the spirit!

One Reason Why Valley Works so hard...

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Book Buying Binge

I wanted to splurge on something but shopping doesnt fancy my imagination. So I went ahead on a book buying binge and left the shop with a box full of the following books:

There. I have an year to finish all these now...Its almost an ensemble of what I typically like in a book store.