Monday, April 28, 2008

A Small World

I was fortunate enough to be a part of the creation of a small world .Our world consisted of just three people where I could just be myself with no pretensions or political correctness or any other masks one wears in a civil society to make themselves amiable by some arbit standard.This world was simply a "place to be" rather than a place to become. It was such a refreshing breath of fresh air from my daily routine that I was addicted to it and used to drive towards it when possible

Moving forward, I will have to live without it. No more, those rides for me where I wondered how Chevron rose to its eminence by riding along the I-5 route where their first well was dug in the Santa Clarita valley and slowly expanded to the rest of the world. Just like those wells which dried up after a prolonged use, one of my well springs of inspiration will also soon dry up.

No more for me, those deep conversations about random subjects where I was willing to surprised at the other party's thinking and rationale.This suspension of disbelief on both sides is much like watching a movie or reading a book except that these are stories with oneself in it rather than be on the outside.

That was a very small world, we created for ourselves. We played within it without restrictions. We fielded that ground with a carefully and pruned it like it was our own private little garden. We dropped on each others frequency and it was impossible to hide anything (the furrow on the brow gives it away and an unfinished statement is always reassembled in the others' head). It was just a way too sublime experience to be occurring in this terrestrial sphere of things.

Those dosas made from the river of eternal mau, those jokes one laughed at, the banter that everyone craved , the hustle over a weekend, the elaborate stretching and resizing of one's imagination, the humility observed by one in front of other, the talent on display just for razzle-dazzle, the insight and the clarity one saw on a thorny issue, those difficult subjects one manoeuvred with ease, the verses one recollected fondly,the yodels which erupted carelessly, the eidetic memories others cherished in the company, the beauty of nature that all of them beheld in its full glory, the passions of work every one admired, the conviction of purpose all of them respected, the humor people demanded to be of a certain level , the satisfaction they generated from a few meaningless pieces, the elegiac usage of words , if the fellows were birds the brightness of their plumage would have blinded others ,the care towards expressed in subtle and deft ways, the perspicacity everyone shared , the melodic thronging of their activities, the taste of fine things appreciated together, the divinity one experiences in commonplace things, the squalor of sensibilities to drive away any boredom that might be lurking, the multitude of perspectives to introduce harmony given a cacophony (law of small numbers instead of the large), the keen sense to eschew anything that sounded or looked meretricious, the constituents having their own sense of belonging,identities that were morphed to see what would become of them, the yearning to see the world through through the other's senses,the distillation of one's revisions in life, and the best for the last:the radiance of the thing called love shining through all its myriad manifestations

While I shall miss all of those, I consider myself immensely lucky to meet these folks. (one could wait a lifetime for such relationships and it wouldnt be a waste at all) .Funny enough that I dont have any sense of "loss" as one doesnt "gain" these kinds of things but one rather walks into them and through them. They occur at some real arbitrary places and you can only hope that perchance that this might occur again on the other side of planet. As the Ecclesiastes says "The Sun Also Riseth!" (so while the sun sets on this small world, it shall rise again). I just need to wade through the darkness for a while
* *
Guy Noir: Look, I'm a man of the world like yourself. But these people, they've put their lives into this show.
Axeman: Well now they can put their lives into something else. That's the beauty of the world, there's always something to put your life into.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Joining the Dots

I was forwarded this paper which explained why eligible bachelors in the society are "perceived" to be dwindling. Didnt understand the whole math behind it but pretty much amounted to what John Nash (A Beautiful Mind) said when multiple men were trying to hit on the single woman at the bar.
For those of you needing the other sides's view here is an excellent article of the same point but very personally written .

Finally to tie the same framework in a more general vision I think this video serves great!

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Passions of the Mind

I'm gonna wake up, yes and no
I'm gonna kiss, some part of
I'm gonna keep this secret
I'm gonna close my body now

Sigmund Freud
Analyse this
Analyse this
Analyse this, this, this….

I'm gonna break the cycle
I'm gonna shake up the system
I'm gonna destroy my ego
I'm gonna close my body now

For every sin, I'll have to pay
I've come to work, I've come to play
I think I'll find another way
It's not my time to go

I'm gonna avoid the cliché
I'm gonna suspend my senses
I'm gonna delay my pleasure
I'm gonna close my body now

I think I'll find another way
There's so much more to know
I guess I'll die another day

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Wonder How?

This dispatch was dated 11/15/93 . Wonder what happened since then on this research...

STANFORD - An individual ant is not very bright, but ants in a colony, operating as a collective, do remarkable things.

A single neuron in the human brain can respond only to what the neurons connected to it are doing, but all of them together can be Immanuel Kant.

That resemblance is why Deborah M. Gordon, Stanford University assistant professor of biological sciences, studies ants.

"I'm interested in the kind of system where simple units together do behave in complicated ways," she said.

No one gives orders in an ant colony, yet each ant decides what to do next.

For instance, an ant may have several job descriptions. When the colony discovers a new source of food, an ant doing housekeeping duty may suddenly become a forager. Or if the colony's territory size expands or contracts, patroller ants change the shape of their reconnaissance pattern to conform to the new realities. Since no one is in charge of an ant colony - including the misnamed "queen," which is simply a breeder - how does each ant decide what to do?

This kind of undirected behavior is not unique to ants, Gordon said. How do birds flying in a flock know when to make a collective right turn? All anchovies and other schooling fish seem to turn in unison, yet no one fish is the leader.

Gordon studies harvester ants in Arizona and, both in the field and in her lab, the so-called Argentine ants that are ubiquitous to coastal California.

Argentine ants came to Louisiana in a sugar shipment in 1908. They were driven out of the Gulf states by the fire ant and invaded California, where they have displaced most of the native ant species. One of the things Gordon is studying is how they did so. No one has ever seen an ant war involving the Argentine species and the native species, so it's not clear whether they are quietly aggressive or just find ways of taking over food resources and territory.

The Argentine ants in her lab also are being studied to help her understand how they change behavior as the size of the space they are exploring varies.

"The ants are good at finding new places to live in and good at finding food," Gordon said. "We're interested in finding out how they do it."

Her ants are confined by Plexiglas walls and a nasty glue-like substance along the tops of the boards that keeps the ants inside. She moves the walls in and out to change the arena and videotapes the ants' movements. A computer tracks each ant from its image on the tape and reads its position so she has a diagram of the ants' activities.

The motions of the ants confirm the existence of a collective.

"A colony is analogous to a brain where there are lots of neurons, each of which can only do something very simple, but together the whole brain can think. None of the neurons can think ant, but the brain can think ant, though nothing in the brain told that neuron to think ant."

For instance, ants scout for food in a precise pattern. What happens when that pattern no longer fits the circumstances, such as when Gordon moves the walls?

"Ants communicate by chemicals," she said. "That's how they mostly perceive the world; they don't see very well. They use their antennae to smell. So to smell something, they have to get very close to it.

"The best possible way for ants to find everything - if you think of the colony as an individual that is trying to do this - is to have an ant everywhere all the time, because if it doesn't happen close to an ant, they're not going to know about it. Of course, there are not enough ants in the colony to do that, so somehow the ants have to move around in a pattern that allows them to cover space efficiently."

Keeping in mind that no one is in charge of a colony and that there is no central plan, how do the ants adjust their reconnaissance if their territory expands or shrinks?

"No ant told them, 'OK, guys, if the arena is 20 by 20. . . .' Somehow there has to be some rule that individual ants use in deciding to change the shape of their paths so they cover the areas effectively. I think that that rule is the rate in which they bump into each other."

The more crowded they are, the more often each ant will bump into another ant. If the area of their territory is expanded, the frequency of contact decreases. Perhaps, Gordon thinks, each ant has a threshold for normality and adjusts its path shape depending on how often the number of encounters exceeds or falls short of that threshold.

If the territory shrinks, the number of contacts increases and the ant alters its search pattern. If it expands, contact decreases and it alters the pattern a different way.

In the Arizona harvester ants, Gordon studies tasks besides patrolling. Each ant has a job.

"I divide the tasks into four: foraging, nest maintenance, midden [piling refuse, including husks of seeds] and patrolling - patrollers are the ones that come out first in the morning and look for food. The foragers go where the patrollers find food.

"The colony has about eight different foraging paths. Every day it uses several of them. The patrollers go out first on the trails and they attract each other when they find food. By the end of an hour's patrolling, most patrollers are on just a few trails. . . . All the foragers have to do is go where there are the most patrollers."

Each ant has its prescribed task, but the ants can switch tasks if the collective needs it. An ant on housekeeping duty will decide to forage. No one told it to do so and Gordon and other entomologists don't know how that happens.

"No ant can possibly know how much food everybody is collecting, how many foragers are needed," she said. "An ant has to have very simple rules that tell it, 'OK, switch and start foraging.' But an ant can't assess globally how much food the colony needs.

"I've done perturbation experiments in which I marked ants according to what task they're doing on a given day. The ants that were foraging for food were green, those that were cleaning the nest were blue and so on. Then I created some new situation in the environment; for example, I create a mess that the nest maintenance workers have to clean up or I'll put out extra food that attracts more foragers.

"It turns out that ants that were marked doing a certain task one day switch to do a different task when conditions change."

Of about 8,000 species of ants, only about 10 percent have been studied thus far.

"It's hard to generalize anything about the behavior of ants," Gordon said. "Most of what we know about ants is true of a very, very small number of species compared to the number of species out there."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Yay! Yipee! Yay!

I am thoroughly excited and looking forward to the weekend as I am off this conference where most of my cherished role models speak. Cant wait for April 19 to be with these folks flesh and blood and live listening to them..

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Call me Fishmeal

I regularly read this blog and today there's a very candid piece which I would like to preserve in my notebook. Its very simple but simple is beauitful in my world.
The happiest and saddest part, I think, of liking someone of the opposite sex... really liking, as in, really admiring the person, thinking that she is, in fact, a really good person, a decent person, a person whose morals and smarts and sense of humor and accomplishments you actually think are amazing -- not just, like, "Damn, she got pretty tummy," which latter sentiment I have also fallen prey to -- the happiest and saddest part is that you become someone different when you feel this way.

I don't want to, and won't, use the stupid cliché from the stupid movie. But it's true. You make yourself into a better person, not to trick them into liking you, but because _they deserve it_, and _you want to be a person that deserves them_. The difference is everything.

It's the saddest part because when you lose the hope, the dream, the focus -- well, you want to hold on to that you, that better you, that you that you liked so much, the you that you were with her. It's inside you. Were you faking? No. You have it. Just continue being it. Just don't stop. Be more patient with people you see. Smile at them. Let tiny things go, ignore any little slight, be generous with praise. Be that person. You can still do it. Hold on to him.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Great Indian Rope Trick

I occasionally stop by while walking when I see what I call as a "picture moment". It can be a girl waiting in a crowded restaurant looking at her watch with a bright light on her face, a wife who is about to snap the thread after sewing a button on her husband's shirt (as seen through an apartment window at noon), a beautiful flowervase on the window sill with just enough light in the darkness of the night, a silhoutte of someone in moonlight, and ad hominem. One such occasion, someone told me "Take a Picture, It'll last longer"

I laughed it away.Now, I understand . Imagine this experiment: An observer is at a temporal (that is instead of space, watch it in time) vantage point shooting his subject and lets say he overexposes the film. (By overexpose, I mean keep the shutter open for a long while..really long while in this case like some centuries). Just as Keynes said "In the long run, we are all dead", similarly in a sufficiently longer run of time our hypothetical photographer with his shutter open watching a given subject will ultimately see his subject disappear or become transparent.
I wonder how that negative looks for such a "patient" snap...

Monday, April 07, 2008

A Small Revolution

Imagine this blog or any other blog which is hosted on the blogspot. Each of us have our own content to put up on the web and blogspot makes it easy for us to publish content to our end users using google infrastructure.

Now,imagine the same concept for people writing web applications (i.e like blogger, flickr,etc) where you have an application you wrote and instead of adding resources for yourself let Google do the hosting and management for you. This is truly important as you shall see a large flock of application developers coming up with their own applications on

Crayon Physics