Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

QOTD

Sleep is the interest we have to pay on the capital which is called in at death; and the higher the rate of interest and the more regularly it is paid, the further the date of redemption is postponed.”

- Arthur Schopenhauer

A Very Good Rant

I believe the App Store will be history in the future and throw my support strongly in this blogger's argument

Monday, November 16, 2009

Living Dangerously

I am right now in a very interesting world of intersecting secrecies where I have a cockpit view of things where the vistas are beautiful, the valleys curving low ,the hills rolling by and mountains rising high. And, whatever I decide now will change the course of things for a small sliver of companies :-)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

On Truth

Truly a classic that I got my head around this weekend by my fave childhood author RLS

---------
AMONG sayings that have a currency in spite of being wholly false upon the face of them for the sake of a half-truth upon another subject which is accidentally combined with the error, one of the grossest and broadest conveys the monstrous proposition that it is easy to tell the truth and hard to tell a lie. I wish heartily it were. But the truth is one; it has first to be discovered, then justly and exactly uttered. Even with instruments specially contrived for such a purpose - with a foot rule, a level, or a theodolite - it is not easy to be exact; it is easier, alas! to be inexact. From those who mark the divisions on a scale to those who measure the boundaries of empires or the distance of the heavenly stars, it is by careful method and minute, unwearying attention that men rise even to material exactness or to sure knowledge even of external and constant things. But it is easier to draw the outline of a mountain than the changing appearance of a face; and truth in human relations is of this more intangible and dubious order: hard to seize, harder to communicate. Veracity to facts in a loose, colloquial sense -not to say that I have been in Malabar when as a matter of fact I was never out of England, not to say that I have read Cervantes in the original when as a matter of fact I know not one syllable of Spanish - this, indeed, is easy and to the same degree unimportant in itself. Lies of this sort, according to circumstances, may or may not be important; in a certain sense even they may or may not be false. The habitual liar may be a very honest fellow, and live truly with his wife and friends; while another man who never told a formal falsehood in his life may yet be himself one lie - heart and face, from top to bottom. This is the kind of lie which poisons intimacy. And, VICE VERSA, veracity to sentiment, truth in a relation, truth to your own heart and your friends, never to feign or falsify emotion - that is the truth whichmakes love possible and mankind happy.

L'ART DE BIEN DIRE is but a drawing-room accomplishment unless it be pressed into the service of the truth. The difficulty of literature is not to write, but to write what you mean; not to affect your reader, but to affect him precisely as you wish. This is commonly understood in the case of books or set orations; even in making your will, or writing an explicit letter, some difficulty is admitted by the world. But one thing you can never make Philistine natures understand; one thing, which yet lies on the surface, remains as unseizable to their wits as a high flight of metaphysics - namely, that the business of life is mainly carried on by means of this difficult art of literature, and according to a man's proficiency in that art shall be the freedom and the fulness of his intercourse with other men. Anybody, it is supposed, can say what he means; and, in spite of their notorious experience to the contrary, people so continue to suppose. Now, I simply open the last book I have been reading - Mr. Leland's captivating ENGLISH GIPSIES. "It is said," I find on p. 7, "that those who can converse with Irish peasants in their own native tongue form far higher opinions of their appreciation of the beautiful, and of THE ELEMENTS OF HUMOUR AND PATHOS IN THEIR HEARTS, than do those who know their thoughts only through the medium of English. I know from my own observations that this is quite the case with the Indians of North America, and it is unquestionably so with the gipsy." In short, where a man has not a full possession of the language, the most important, because the most amiable, qualities of his nature have to lie buried and fallow; for the pleasure of comradeship, and the intellectual part of love, rest upon these very "elements of humour and pathos." Here is a man opulent in both, and for lack of a medium he can put none of it out to interest in the market of affection! But what is thus made plain to our apprehensions in the case of a foreign language is partially true even with the tongue we learned in childhood. Indeed, we all speak different dialects; one shall be copious and exact, another loose and meagre; but the speech of the ideal talker shall correspond and fit upon the truth of fact - not clumsily, obscuring lineaments, like a mantle, but cleanly adhering, like an athlete's skin. And what is the result? That the one can open himself more clearly to his friends, and can enjoy more of what makes life truly valuable - intimacy with those he loves. An orator makes a false step; he employs some trivial, some absurd, some vulgar phrase; in the turn of a sentence he insults, by a side wind, those whom he is labouring to charm; in speaking to one sentiment he unconsciously ruffles another in parenthesis; and you are not surprised, for you know his task to be delicate and filled with perils. "O frivolous mind of man, light ignorance!" As if yourself, when you seek to explain some misunderstanding or excuse some apparent fault, speaking swiftly and addressing a mind still recently incensed, were not harnessing for a more perilous adventure; as if yourself required less tact and eloquence; as if an angry friend or a suspicious lover were not more easy to offend than a meeting of indifferent politicians! Nay, and the orator treads in a beaten round; the matters he discusses have been discussed a thousand times before; language is ready-shaped to his purpose; he speaks out of a cut and dry vocabulary. But you - may it not be that your defence reposes on some subtlety of feeling, not so much as touched upon in Shakespeare, to express which, like a pioneer, you must venture forth into zones of thought still unsurveyed, and become yourself a literary innovator? For even in love there are unlovely humours; ambiguous acts, unpardonable words, may yet have sprung from a kind sentiment. If the injured one could read your heart, you may be sure that he would understand and pardon; but, alas! the heart cannot be shown - it has to be demonstrated in words. Do you think it is a hard thing to write poetry? Why, that is to write poetry, and of a high, if not the highest, order.

I should even more admire "the lifelong and heroic literary labours" of my fellow-men, patiently clearing up in words their loves and their contentions, and speaking their autobiography daily to their wives, were it not for a circumstance which lessens their difficulty and my admiration by equal parts. For life, though largely, is not entirely carried on by literature. We are subject to physical passions and contortions; the voice breaks and changes, and speaks by unconscious and winning inflections; we have legible countenances, like an open book; things that cannot be said look eloquently through the eyes; and the soul, not locked into the body as a dungeon, dwells ever on the threshold with appealing signals. Groans and tears, looks and gestures, a flush or a paleness, are often the most clear reporters of the heart, and speak more directly to the hearts of others. The message flies by these interpreters in the least space of time, and the misunderstanding is averted in the moment of its birth. To explain in words takes time and a just and patient hearing; and in the critical epochs of a close relation, patience and justice are not qualities on which we can rely. But the look or the gesture explains things in a breath; they tell their message without ambiguity; unlike speech, they cannot stumble, by the way, on a reproach or an allusion that should steel your friend against the truth; and then they have a higher authority, for they are the direct expression of the heart, not yet transmitted through the unfaithful and sophisticating brain. Not long ago I wrote a letter to a friend which came near involving us in quarrel; but we met, and in personal talk I repeated the worst of what I had written, and added worse to that; and with the commentary of the body it seemed not unfriendly either to hear or say.Indeed, letters are in vain for the purposes of intimacy; an absence is a dead break in the relation; yet two who know each other fully and are bent on perpetuity in love, may so preserve the attitude of their affections that they may meet on the same terms as they had parted.

Pitiful is the case of the blind, who cannot read the face; pitiful that of the deaf, who cannot follow the changes of the voice. And there are others also to be pitied; for there are some of an inert, uneloquent nature, who have been denied all the symbols of communication, who have neither a lively play of facial expression, nor speaking gestures, nor a responsive voice, nor yet the gift of frank, explanatory speech: people truly made of clay, people tied for life into a bag which no one can undo. They are poorer than the gipsy, for their heart can speak no language under heaven. Such people we must learn slowly by the tenor of their acts, or through yea and nay communications; or we take them on trust on the strength of a general air, and now and again, when we see the spirit breaking through in a flash, correct or change our estimate. But these will be uphill intimacies, without charm or freedom, to the end; and freedom is the chief ingredient in confidence. Some minds, romantically dull, despise physical endowments. That is a doctrine for a misanthrope; to those who like their fellow-creatures it must always be meaningless; and, for my part, I can see few things more desirable, after the possession of such radical qualities as honour and humour and pathos, than to have a lively and not a stolid countenance; to have looks to correspond with every feeling; to be elegant and delightful in person, so that we shall please even in the intervals of active pleasing, and may never discredit speech with uncouth manners or become unconsciously our own burlesques. But of all unfortunates there is one creature (for I will not call him man) conspicuous in misfortune. This is he who has forfeited his birthright of expression, who has cultivated artful intonations, who has taught his face tricks, like a pet monkey, and on every side perverted or cut off his means of communication with his fellow-men. The body is a house of many windows: there we all sit, showing ourselves and crying on the passers-by to come and love us. But this fellow has filled his windows with opaque glass, elegantly coloured. His house may be admired for its design, the crowd may pause before the stained windows, but meanwhile the poor proprietor must lie languishing within, uncomforted, unchangeably alone.

Truth of intercourse is something more difficult than to refrain from open lies. It is possible to avoid falsehood and yet not tell the truth. It is not enough to answer formal questions. To reach the truth by yea and nay communications implies a questioner with a share of inspiration, such as is often found in mutual love. YEA and NAY mean nothing; the meaning must have been related in the question. Many words are often necessary to convey a very simple statement; for in this sort of exercise we never hit the gold; the most that we can hope is by many arrows, more or less far off on different sides, to indicate, in the course of time, for what target we are aiming, and after an hour's talk, back and forward, to convey the purport of a single principle or a single thought. And yet while the curt, pithy speaker misses the point entirely, a wordy, prolegomenous babbler will often add three new offences in the process of excusing one. It is really a most delicate affair. The world was made before the English language, and seemingly upon a different design. Suppose we held our converse not in words, but in music; those who have a bad ear would find themselves cut off from all near commerce, and no better than foreigners in this big world. But we do not consider how many have "a bad ear" for words, nor how often the most eloquent find nothing to reply. I hate questioners and questions; there are so few that can be spoken to without a lie. "DO YOU FORGIVE ME?" Madam and sweetheart, so far as I have gone in life I have never yet been able to discover what forgiveness means. "IS IT STILL THE SAME BETWEEN US?" Why, how can it be? It is eternally different;
and yet you are still the friend of my heart. "DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?" God knows; I should think it highly improbable.

The cruellest lies are often told in silence. A man may have sat in a room for hours and not opened his teeth, and yet come out of that room a disloyal friend or a vile calumniator. And how many loves have perished because, from pride, or spite, or diffidence, or that unmanly shame which withholds a man from daring to betray emotion, a lover, at the critical point of the relation, has but hung his head and held his tongue? And, again, a lie may be told by a truth, or a truth conveyed through a lie. Truth to facts is not always truth to sentiment; and part of the truth, as often happens in answer to a question, may be the foulest calumny. A fact may be an exception; but the feeling is the law, and it is that which you must neither garble nor belie. The whole tenor of a conversation is a part of the meaning of each separate statement; the beginning and the end define and travesty the intermediate conversation. You never speak to God; you address a fellow-man, full of his own tempers; and to tell truth, rightly understood, is not to state the true facts, but to convey a true impression; truth in spirit, not truth to letter, is the true veracity. To reconcile averted friends a Jesuitical discretion is often needful, not so much to gain a kind hearing as to communicate sober truth. Women have an ill name in this connection; yet they live in as true relations; the lie of a good woman is the true index of her heart.

"It takes," says Thoreau, in the noblest and most useful passage I remember to have read in any modern author, "two to speak truth - one to speak and another to hear." He must be very little experienced, or have no great zeal for truth, who does not recognise the fact. A grain of anger or a grain of suspicion produces strange acoustical effects, and makes the ear greedy to remark offence. Hence we find those who have once quarrelled carry themselves distantly, and are ever ready to break the truce. To speak truth there must be moral
equality or else no respect; and hence between parent and child intercourse is apt to degenerate into a verbal fencing bout, and misapprehensions to become ingrained. And there is another side to this, for the parent begins with an imperfect notion of the child's character, formed in early years or during the equinoctial gales of youth; to this he adheres, noting only the facts which suit with his preconception; and wherever a person fancies himself unjustly judged, he at once and finally gives up the effort to speak truth. With our chosen friends, on the other hand, and still more between lovers (for mutual understanding is love's essence), the truth is easily indicated by the one and aptly comprehended by the other. A hint taken, a look understood, conveys the gist of long and delicate explanations; and where the life is known even YEA and NAY become luminous. In the closest of all relations - that of a love well founded and equally shared - speech is half discarded, like a roundabout, infantile process or a ceremony of formal etiquette; and the two communicate idrectly by their presences, and with few looks and fewer words contrive to share their good and evil and uphold each other's hearts in joy. For love rests upon a physical basis; it is a familiarity of nature's making and apart from voluntary choice. Understanding has in some sort outrun knowledge, for the affection perhaps began with the acquaintance; and as it was not made like other relations, so it is not, like them, to be perturbed or clouded. Each knows more than can be uttered; each lives by faith, and believes by a natural compulsion; and between man and wife the language of the body is largely developed and grown strangely eloquent. The thought that prompted and was conveyed in a caress would only lose to be set down in words - ay, although Shakespeare himself should be the scribe.

Yet it is in these dear intimacies, beyond all others, that we must strive and do battle for the truth. Let but a doubt arise, and alas! all the previous intimacy and confidence is but another charge against the person doubted. "WHAT A MONSTROUS DISHONESTY IS THIS IF I HAVE BEEN DECEIVED SO LONG AND SO COMPLETELY!" Let but that thought gain entrance, and you plead before a deaf tribunal. Appeal to the past; why, that is your crime! Make all clear, convince the reason; alas! speciousness is but a proof against you. "IF YOU CAN ABUSE ME NOW, THE MORE LIKELY THAT YOU HAVE ABUSED ME FROM THE FIRST."

For a strong affection such moments are worth supporting, and they will end well; for your advocate is in your lover's heart and speaks her own language; it is not you but she herself who can defend and clear you of the charge. But in slighter intimacies, and for a less stringent union? Indeed, is it worth while? We are all INCOMPRIS, only more or less concerned for the mischance; all trying wrongly to do right; all fawning at each other's feet like dumb, neglected lap-dogs. Sometimes we catch an eye - this is our opportunity in the ages - and we wag our tail with a poor smile. "IS THAT ALL?" All? If you only knew! But how can they know? They do not love us; the more fools we to squander life on the indifferent.

But the morality of the thing, you will be glad to hear, is excellent; for it is only by trying to understand others that we can get our own hearts understood; and in matters of human feeling the clement judge is the most successful pleader.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Insights of the Week

(a) Logic is a detriment to leadership
(b) Duration is an attribute of consciousness

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Old Raymond's Print Ad- On Children

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
And it is your awesome responsibility to pass on the torch of civilisation to them.
Teach them to think.
To wonder. To dream.
To meet triumph and disaster,equally.
Teach them the difference between
flattery and praise.
Teach them the joy of a sunset.
The joy of sharing.
The joy of discovering the unknown.
More than anything else,
teach them to walk tall

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

QOTD

"Most of us enter the investment business for the same sanity-destroying reasons a woman becomes a prostitute: It avoids the menace of hard work, is a group activity that requires little in the way of intellect, and is a practical means of making money for those with no special talent for anything else."

--Richard Ney, 'The Wall Street Jungle'

Friday, October 23, 2009

Old Raymonds Print Ad - On-Marriage

Understanding.
And fairness and courtesy.
Responsibility and loyalty
and honesty.
Strong arms,
and a gentle touch.
An attentive ear,
and an open mind.
A sharing of sorrow,
and a respect for privacy.
To grow and let grow.
To have and to hold.
For richer,for poorer.
In sickness, and in health.
To love and to cherish.
Till death do you part.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Old Raymonds Print Ad On Friendship

If
he can speak his mind
And know when to
shut up
If he can pat your back.
And kick your butt.
If he can share
a hearty meal;
A good joke;
A sunset
If he acts neither big.
Nor small.
But just medium.
And lets you be you.
The he is the answer to your needs.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Old Raymond's Print Ad - On Nature

The smell of wet earth
Clouds chasing each other
The flash of a diving kingfisher

A drink from burbling brook
A fruit from a branch above
A mouthful of mountain mist

Trees to climb
Tigers to fear
And whales to wonder at

Oh! to be a child
and inherit all this

Monday, October 19, 2009

Yuppie Definitions

We all know Yuppie meant Young Urban Professional Person but here're other related terms typically used to refer to persons with potential of 'upward mobility'

Dinky - Double Income, No Kids
Glam - Greying,Leisured, Affluent and Married
Guppie - Green Yuppie
Juppie - Japanese Yuppie
Lombard - Lots of Money but a right wally
Pippie - Person Inheriting Parents' Property
Woopie - Well Off Older Person
Yupsky - Eastern European Yuppie

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

QOTD

“You will live through things you do not expect”
- Dan Bricklin

Friday, September 18, 2009

Circa 1993 QOTDs

I fished out a diary of mine that I populated sparsely used in 1993. I was in my X grade and the following were my QOTDs then (lacking blogger I used dead trees).

  • It is the coward and fool who says "This is fate" for a wiseman says 'I'll make my fate"
  • First learn to obey, the command will come by itself
  • I wasnt kissing her, just whispering in her mouth
  • You are entitled to whatever weaponry you've got in your armory.If one of them is being a woman, use it
  • Day by Day your estimation clock plays out who deserves a smile and who a frown
  • And girls you have to tell to pull their socks up are those whose pants you'd most like to pull down
  • By delivering who I'm quickly, I find that makes it easier for me to read other people
  • You cannot satirize a man who says "I'm in it for the money and thats there to it"
  • You have to make sure that everybody understands the rules you're trying to play and why, the dimensions of the fieldand how you count the goals for or against. And there was a lot of that needed sorting out. Because half of them thought they were playing cricket and others thought they were playing football,but werent sure which way they were kicking or which half it was

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Myths of Innovation

This book by Scott Berkun is a fascinating read and I thoroughly recommend it to all the curious people :-) Here's a quote from the book that echoes nicely with my belief system:

Instant messages and cell phone conversations are innovations in conveyance, as are many technological innovations. But they have no impact on the quality of the messages themselves, just as high-resolution television sets have zero effect on the quality of the acting or writing in the shows. Unless you're developing an innovation that motivates people to communicate more clearly or less selfishly, innovations that accelerate are unlikely to change the world in the way their creators expect. If you have someone good to talk to, and something important to talk about, communication is rarely in need of acceleration. In fact, software that rewards people for slowing down and thinking about what they're reading and writing might be the greatest innovation of our time


Friday, September 11, 2009

Sailing

It's the edge of the world
And all of western civilization
The sun may rise in the East
At least it settles in the final location


I think a sailor should not spend too much time ashore or else he missed the sea. It calls out to him and he must set sail westwards and beyond. I feel like that in a metaphorical sense and can see that I need to tie the mast and go back to the sea again.

Yes, there'll be pirates, storms, tidal waves, scurvy, mutinies and the likes but it will be all the more fun with them than without.

Friday, September 04, 2009

QOTD

"Most people would rather die than think; in fact, they do so."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

QOTD

There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. For the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order, this lukewarmness arising partly from fear of their adversaries…and partly from the incredulity of mankind, who do not truly believe in anything new until they have had actual experience of it.

Niccolo Machiavelli

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Solitaire Mystery

Finished this book last friday and once in a while when a book ends you are tinged with a certain feeling that's best echoed by our Seshappan Iyer (the bard of avon for others):

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, 
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Ye all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on
, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

-Prospero, Act 4 Scene 1

ps: notes to self, you are not supposed to understand this. The father character always takes a break from his long drive to smoke outside the car rather than inside, thus subtly delineating the difference between the creative and the created spaces.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tact in Dealing with Diffcult People

Every so often, all of us find ourselves having to deal with a difficult person. Tact and diplomacy omes hard. But it can be learned. Having a sense of humor helps. Here's some study tips:
  • Thank you. We're all refreshed and challenged by your unique point of view.
  • The fact that no one understands you doesn't mean you're an artist.
  • I don't know what your problem is, but I'll bet it's hard to pronounce.
  • Any connection between your reality and mine is purely coincidental.
  • I have plenty of talent and vision. I just don't give a damn.
  • I like you. You remind me of when I was young and stupid.
  • What am I? Flypaper for freaks?
  • I'm not being rude. You're just insignificant.
  • I'm already visualizing the duct tape over your mouth.
  • Ahhh...I see the f***-up fairy has visited us again...
  • I will always cherish the initial misconceptions I had about you.
  • It's a thankless job, but I've got a lot of Karma to burn off.
  • Yes, I am an agent of Satan, but my duties are largely ceremonial.
  • No, my powers can only be used for good.
  • How about never? Is never good for you?
  • I'm really easy to get along with once you people learn to worship me.
  • You sound reasonable...Time to up my medication.
  • I'll try being nicer if you'll try being smarter.
  • I'm out of my mind, but feel free to leave a message...
  • I don't work here. I'm a consultant.
  • Who me? I just wander from room to room.
  • My toys! My toys! I can't do this job without my toys!
  • It might look like I'm doing nothing, but at the cellular level I'm
  • really quite busy.
  • At least I have a positive attitude about my destructive habits.
  • You are validating my inherent mistrust of strangers.
  • I see you've set aside this special time to humiliate yourself in public.
  • Someday, we'll look back on this, laugh nervously and change the subject.

Independence Blues

Well, August 15 was here recently :-) Being outside the country makes it extra special, so we bought a cake and all that hungama. Sang Vande Mataram (which my folks said they cannot remember the lyrics yet hummed with me all along..see..somethings you never forget)..Cut the cake..then sang jana gana mana..took the flag on the street and paraded for a while (some having open containers of alcohol forced us to get back quickly..) . Then started usual discussions..

Finally, after rummaging through my quarters of the mind, I believe this song is the best ode to freedom in modern day.




While the lyrics seem to be inspired by Shelley's Ode to a Skylark I repurposed them in my mind to suit Freedom as a metaphor. Go India! You need to stretch your wings further and fly higher

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Stella Mystery

A friend of mine once casually mentioned that a bottle of stella artois never tastes the same as that of its draft version. I enquired about the contents and they are pretty similar except for the aritifical carbon dioxide infusion. So, how do we explain why beer in draft tastes better than its bottled counterpart (true of other beers as well)?

I think I finally found the answer yesterday. In a bottle version your olfactory senses have no input the brain but in the draught version your nose first transmits the smell of barley and hops which makes the act of drinking much more pleasant. If you dont believe me simply try drinking the same beer in a glass versus a can/bottle and you can find it for yourself.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sophie's World


He who cannot draw on three thousand years is living from hand to mouth
- Goethe
Just finished reading this book which was a bestseller in the 90s. It asks two questions at the outset (questions are always almost dangerous than answers)

Who are you?
Where does this world come from?

Then the book launches into a panoramic tour of philosophical ideas ranging from the earliest stoics to that of Jean Paul Sartre. Its 3000 years of developments summarized in a single novel of 500 pages. At the end you cannot expect a simple answer to the questions but it shows how each generation must answer those questions on their own time and on their own terms.

I began to read this work with some skepticism as I strongly believed in the quote by A N Whitehead

All of Western philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato

The book partly confirmed this notion and partly opened my eyes that it isnt wholly true much in the vein of Hegel's system.

A key aspect of the book is to question the lack of women philosophers as well as tackling the question of "are men and women equal?" . You'll be astounded by some philosophers' view on women as well (particularly Aristotle and Hegel)

To put it in creative terms the book takes you on wings of love to a world of ideas. Once you wake up from the book you'll nonetheless be richer than when you started.


Such busy, teeming throngs I long to see,
Standing on freedom's soil, a people free.
Then to the moment could I say:
Linger you now, you are so fair!
Now records of my earthly day
No flight of aeons can impair--
Foreknowledge comes, and fills me with such bliss,
I take my joy, my highest moment this.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Palimpsest

There's some cool stuff on Archimedes Palimpsest I found today. I was fascinated by the concept of 'Palimpsest' as that word always conjures up the image of India to me. The following passage from The Discovery of India was what I read when I was a child (child's mind is like wet cement, once a certain impression is made and hardened, it stays there for a very long time) which was the cause for the association

India is like an ancient palimpsest on which layer
upon layer of thought and reverie have been inscibed.
This is the complex and mysterious personality of India.
About her is the elusive quality of a legend long ago;
some enchantment seems to have held her mind.
She is a myth and an idea, a dream and a vision,
and yet very real and present and pervasive."

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Reminding Myself

a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted

a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

-Ecclesiastes 3

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Simple Vision

Once Eddington related an incident where a man with a coarse net catches multiple fishes and then concludes there must be a minimum size to fish.Somehow this video reminded me of the same :-) Look at what you are missing..

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Swimming with the Sharks

Till today, I knew of that expression but now I get to live it for a change. Whoa! Such niceties on the outside and I know that when the time comes they'll be ruthless..

So, all in all, today's meeting was best summarized long ago by the following quote

"experience has shown that opposite opinions of persons professing to be experts may be obtained to any amount" ... "[cross-examination of all these experts was virtually useless,] wasting the time and wearying the patience of both court and jury, and perplexing, instead of elucidating, the questions involved."

-- U.S. Supreme Court, 1858 (Quoted in Marcia Angell, "Science on Trial")

Monday, July 06, 2009

Obscured by Clouds

Last week it was announced that AOL would retire the once mighty online service business called CompuServe. For people like me its a metamorphism of sorts to see this kind of news. Its hard for people today to assess the vision and excitement of those days when the service was initially launched.

To properly understand their impact you have to consider computing before the advent of online services. Initial computers were huge capital expense and no one except really large corporations bought it. The rest of the folks leased time on these machines and this time-sharing business was worth $1.67 billion USD in the early seventies. 

Then came distributed processing with the introduction of "minicomputers". Now, if you are in the time-sharing industry this is a serious threat to your business if people started having their own time on their own machines rather than lease time on your boxes. So they morphed to use the "dumb terminal" approach wherein you use the minicomputer to log on to the much more powerful mainframes,etc

More eyeballs meant that more adoption. Then people started buying modems. Like telephones, modems need something interesting at the other end for people to buy them. Whats this gonna be?

Jeff Wilkins  then knew this was a market in search for a product. He also had to solve the problem of idle time on these heavy machines (since the businesses used, those machines were doing nothing on weekends and nights). He brilliantly organized a team that came up with the following recommendations:

* Sell the end users access to powerful machines like DEC for computing purposes.This is now reincarnated as Amazon EC2

* Sell extra storage on the same servers as the tape systems on end users' machines had very limited memory. This is reincarnated as cloud storage services that many vendors have been selling.

* Sell person to person and person to interest group communications. This was a precursor to modern day chat systems and bulletin-boards/forums

* Since any brick and mortar company has finite inventory, sell electronic software distribution services .In other words Downloadable Software as opposed to physically shipping them. This is the precursor to modern day content delivery networks.

These arent the only things they did (they did online travel reservations, fostered online communities,etc) but wanted to highlight how not very much has changed in terms of perspective since the last 35 years in the world of online services. These days all the above four are put in a bucket called 'cloud computing'. Old Wine in a New bottle..

RIP CompuServ (the e was added way later for marketing purposes)

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Mimetic Desire

It is said that an object becomes more valuable if some other human wants it. Nice Theory here

Monday, June 29, 2009

Vindication

I always knew this was true but came across this article which clearly states with research backing that "95 percent of people's motivations are subconscious"

So next time when someone says what they mean you know they have a 5% probability of being correct :-)


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Stength-Load Issues

Why do you think you dont see 15 feet people or 10,000 feet vines? The following 1928 essay has the answer

On Being the Right Size 
J. B. S. Haldane

The most obvious differences between different animals are differences of size, but for some reason the zoologists have paid singularly little attention to them. In a large textbook of zoology before me I find no indication that the eagle is larger than the sparrow, or the hippopotamus bigger than the hare, though some grudging admissions are made in the case of the mouse and the whale. But yet it is easy to show that a hare could not be as large as a hippopotamus, or a whale as small as a herring. For every type of animal there is a most convenient size, and a large change in size inevitably carries with it a change of form.

Let us take the most obvious of possible cases, and consider a giant man sixty feet high—about the height of Giant Pope and Giant Pagan in the illustrated Pilgrim’s Progress of my childhood. These monsters were not only ten times as high as Christian, but ten times as wide and ten times as thick, so that their total weight was a thousand times his, or about eighty to ninety tons. Unfortunately the cross sections of their bones were only a hundred times those of Christian, so that every square inch of giant bone had to support ten times the weight borne by a square inch of human bone. As the human thigh-bone breaks under about ten times the human weight, Pope and Pagan would have broken their thighs every time they took a step. This was doubtless why they were sitting down in the picture I remember. But it lessens one’s respect for Christian and Jack the Giant Killer.

To turn to zoology, suppose that a gazelle, a graceful little creature with long thin legs, is to become large, it will break its bones unless it does one of two things. It may make its legs short and thick, like the rhinoceros, so that every pound of weight has still about the same area of bone to support it. Or it can compress its body and stretch out its these two beasts because they happen to belong to the same order as the gazelle, and both are quite successful mechanically, being remarkably fast runners.

Gravity, a mere nuisance to Christian, was a terror to Pope, Pagan, and Despair. To the mouse and any smaller animal it presents practically no dangers. You can drop a mouse down a thousand-yard mine shaft; and, on arriving at the bottom, it gets a slight shock and walks away, provided that the ground is fairly soft. A rat is killed, a man is broken, a horse splashes. For the resistance presented to movement by the air is proportional to the surface of the moving object. Divide an animal’s length, breadth, and height each by ten; its weight is reduced to a thousandth, but its surface only to a hundredth. So the resistance to falling in the case of the small animal is relatively ten times greater than the driving force.

An insect, therefore, is not afraid of gravity; it can fall without danger, and can cling to the ceiling with remarkably little trouble. It can go in for elegant and fantastic forms of support like that of the daddy-longlegs. But there is a force which is as formidable to an insect as gravitation to a mammal. This is surface tension. A man coming out of a bath carries with him a film of water of about one-fiftieth of an inch in thickness. This weighs roughly a pound. A wet mouse has to carry about its own weight of water. A wet fly has to lift many times its own weight and, as everyone knows, a fly once wetted by water or any other liquid is in a very serious position indeed. An insect going for a drink is in as great danger as a man leaning out over a precipice in search of food. If it once falls into the grip of the surface tension of the water—that is to say, gets wet—it is likely to remain so until it drowns. A few insects, such as water-beetles, contrive to be unwettable; the majority keep well away from their drink by means of a long proboscis.

Of course tall land animals have other difficulties. They have to pump their blood to greater heights than a man, and, therefore, require a larger blood pressure and tougher blood-vessels. A great many men die from burst arteries, greater for an elephant or a giraffe. But animals of all kinds find difficulties in size for the following reason. A typical small animal, say a microscopic worm or rotifer, has a smooth skin through which all the oxygen it requires can soak in, a straight gut with sufficient surface to absorb its food, and a single kidney. Increase its dimensions tenfold in every direction, and its weight is increased a thousand times, so that if it is to use its muscles as efficiently as its miniature counterpart, it will need a thousand times as much food and oxygen per day and will excrete a thousand times as much of waste products.

Now if its shape is unaltered its surface will be increased only a hundredfold, and ten times as much oxygen must enter per minute through each square millimetre of skin, ten times as much food through each square millimetre of intestine. When a limit is reached to their absorptive powers their surface has to be increased by some special device. For example, a part of the skin may be drawn out into tufts to make gills or pushed in to make lungs, thus increasing the oxygen-absorbing surface in proportion to the animal’s bulk. A man, for example, has a hundred square yards of lung. Similarly, the gut, instead of being smooth and straight, becomes coiled and develops a velvety surface, and other organs increase in complication. The higher animals are not larger than the lower because they are more complicated. They are more complicated because they are larger. Just the same is true of plants. The simplest plants, such as the green algae growing in stagnant water or on the bark of trees, are mere round cells. The higher plants increase their surface by putting out leaves and roots. Comparative anatomy is largely the story of the struggle to increase surface in proportion to volume. Some of the methods of increasing the surface are useful up to a point, but not capable of a very wide adaptation. For example, while vertebrates carry the oxygen from the gills or lungs all over the body in the blood, insects take air directly to every part of their body by tiny blind tubes called tracheae which open to the surface at many different points. Now, although by their breathing movements they can renew the air in the outer part of the tracheal system, the oxygen has to penetrate the finer branches by means of diffusion. Gases can diffuse easily through very small distances, not many times larger than the average length traveled by a gas molecule between collisions with other molecules. But when such vast journeys—from the point of view of a molecule—as a quarter of an inch have to be made, the process becomes slow. So the portions of an insect’s body more than a quarter of an inch from the air would always be short of oxygen. In consequence hardly any insects are much more than half an inch thick. Land crabs are built on the same general plan as insects, but are much clumsier. Yet like ourselves they carry oxygen around in their blood, and are therefore able to grow far larger than any insects. If the insects had hit on a plan for driving air through their tissues instead of letting it soak in, they might well have become as large as lobsters, though other considerations would have prevented them from becoming as large as man.

Exactly the same difficulties attach to flying. It is an elementary principle of aeronautics that the minimum speed needed to keep an aeroplane of a given shape in the air varies as the square root of its length. If its linear dimensions are increased four times, it must fly twice as fast. Now the power needed for the minimum speed increases more rapidly than the weight of the machine. So the larger aeroplane, which weighs sixty-four times as much as the smaller, needs one hundred and twenty-eight times its horsepower to keep up. Applying the same principle to the birds, we find that the limit to their size is soon reached. An angel whose muscles developed no more power weight for weight than those of an eagle or a pigeon would require a breast projecting for about four feet to house the muscles engaged in working its wings, while to economize in weight, its legs would have to be reduced to mere stilts. Actually a large bird such as an eagle or kite does not keep in the air mainly by moving its wings. It is generally to be seen soaring, that is to say balanced on a rising column of air. And even soaring becomes more and more difficult with increasing size. Were this not the case eagles might be as large as tigers and as formidable to man as hostile aeroplanes.

But it is time that we pass to some of the advantages of size. One of the most obvious is that it enables one to keep warm. All warmblooded animals at rest lose the same amount of heat from a unit area of skin, for which purpose they need a food-supply proportional to their surface and not to their weight. Five thousand mice weigh as much as a man. Their combined surface and food or oxygen consumption are about seventeen times a man’s. In fact a mouse eats about one quarter its own weight of food every day, which is mainly used in keeping it warm. For the same reason small animals cannot live in cold countries. In the arctic regions there are no reptiles or amphibians, and no small mammals. The smallest mammal in Spitzbergen is the fox. The small birds fly away in winter, while the insects die, though their eggs can survive six months or more of frost. The most successful mammals are bears, seals, and walruses.

Similarly, the eye is a rather inefficient organ until it reaches a large size. The back of the human eye on which an image of the outside world is thrown, and which corresponds to the film of a camera, is composed of a mosaic of “rods and cones” whose diameter is little more than a length of an average light wave. Each eye has about a half a million, and for two objects to be distinguishable their images must fall on separate rods or cones. It is obvious that with fewer but larger rods and cones we should see less distinctly. If they were twice as broad two points would have to be twice as far apart before we could distinguish them at a given distance. But if their size were diminished and their number increased we should see no better. For it is impossible to form a definite image smaller than a wave-length of light. Hence a mouse’s eye is not a small-scale model of a human eye. Its rods and cones are not much smaller than ours, and therefore there are far fewer of them. A mouse could not distinguish one human face from another six feet away. In order that they should be of any use at all the eyes of small animals have to be much larger in proportion to their bodies than our own. Large animals on the other hand only require relatively small eyes, and those of the whale and elephant are little larger than our own. For rather more recondite reasons the same general principle holds true of the brain. If we compare the brain-weights of a set of very similar animals such as the cat, cheetah, leopard, and tiger, we find that as we quadruple the body-weight the brain-weight is only doubled. The larger animal with proportionately larger bones can economize on brain, eyes, and certain other organs.

Such are a very few of the considerations which show that for every type of animal there is an optimum size. Yet although Galileo demonstrated the contrary more than three hundred years ago, people still believe that if a flea were as large as a man it could jump a thousand feet into the air. As a matter of fact the height to which an animal can jump is more nearly independent of its size than proportional to it. A flea can jump about two feet, a man about five. To jump a given height, if we neglect the resistance of air, requires an expenditure of energy proportional to the jumper’s weight. But if the jumping muscles form a constant fraction of the animal’s body, the energy developed per ounce of muscle is independent of the size, provided it can be developed quickly enough in the small animal. As a matter of fact an insect’s muscles, although they can contract more quickly than our own, appear to be less efficient; as otherwise a flea or grasshopper could rise six feet into the air.

And just as there is a best size for every animal, so the same is true for every human institution. In the Greek type of democracy all the citizens could listen to a series of orators and vote directly on questions of legislation. Hence their philosophers held that a small city was the largest possible democratic state. The English invention of representative government made a democratic nation possible, and the possibility was first realized in the United States, and later elsewhere. With the development of broadcasting it has once more become possible for every citizen to listen to the political views of representative orators, and the future may perhaps see the return of the national state to the Greek form of democracy. Even the referendum has been made possible only by the institution of daily newspapers.

To the biologist the problem of socialism appears largely as a problem of size. The extreme socialists desire to run every nation as a single business concern. I do not suppose that Henry Ford would find much difficulty in running Andorra or Luxembourg on a socialistic basis. He has already more men on his pay-roll than their population. It is conceivable that a syndicate of Fords, if we could find them, would make Belgium Ltd or Denmark Inc. pay their way. But while nationalization of certain industries is an obvious possibility in the largest of states, I find it no easier to picture a completely socialized British Empire or United States than an elephant turning somersaults or a hippopotamus jumping a hedge.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Insight of the Week

I loved Lucky Ali's songs right from day one but recently the following lyric chord struck home

सुनने वाले ने , कहने वाले को . वोह बातें सुनाये समझने वालों को

The insight of this week for me is thus stated simply as: Speaking without being understood is pointless.

The Most Remarkable Scientific Commencement Speech

It i the graduation season here in the US and I usually look forward to some stellar commencement speeches and still I cannot find a rival to the one given 25 years earlier by Dick Feynman

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

QOTD

Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Such a Lovely Place

Yesterday started with a song and ended with it. I visited a place which I have not visited for a long time all thanks to a friend. It was pleasant. I dont know if thats not nice then what else would be. I mean it in the sense of true chilling out.

Finally, after some peace and contemplation, I realise that I have finally arrived. Yeah!!

We reached the dizzy heights of that dreamed of world

Encumbered forever by desire and ambition
There's a hunger still unsatisfied
Our weary eyes still stray to the horizon
Though down this road we've been so many times

The grass was greener
The light was brighter
The taste was sweeter
The nights of wonder
With friends surrounded
The dawn mist glowing
The water flowing
The endless river

Forever and ever

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Some Effects

I am strangely fascinated by the fact that I didnt know about these two concepts earlier although I have come across them as solutions in some previous problems:

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Flow

I was to have a mellow evening dining with friends and catching a movie. We strolled by the grounds and saw a few folks playing volleyball. An old instinct drew us into the game.

Man, am I happy or am I happy to play today's game?

There was this center guy called Yagna who immediately knew the right rhythm (kinda hard because volleyball is a team sport that requires you know the rhythm of the setter and the spiker)and was setting the ball so nicely I ended with 90% of my hits converted to points and not even a single block. Mercurial was the word. I blazed through most of the opposite court. Missed a few but that only added the determination to get them right which made it sweet.

Baselines, corners,straight dips, forceful body shots and finally on-the-line-ones. Its almost like my X grade when we won our school finals. Everything in me came together as if they were mocking time (in its failure to make its impact)

Its always like this. When you least expect it, there you come into a certain flow for which you are ready to pay a billion dollars but it comes on its own and leaves on its own. No one knows how to make it fly on demand.

The sound of willow thwacking leather, the golf ball kissed by the iron, the sweet spot vibrations in the racket, the melody of rubber communicating with the ping pong ball, the thud of a pool ball rolling into its hole and the sound of a spike leaving your hand all have in common one thing: the music of your flow. It eerily borders on the divine ecstasy when you seem invincible and practically limited by only by your speed and depth of imagination.

We play for hours to feel that for a minute. Keep Playing!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Sane Advice and Good Lessons

I wanted to keep this for future reference (hence the content and not the link)

-----------------------------

I’ve been an engineer for a while now, and have done a lot of things, but nothing else that I’ve done as an engineer has been as rewarding as building SiCortex with John Mucci and Jud Leonard. We started in a basement office and built the organization to 70+ employees and a growing number of installed systems.


SiCortex closed down engineering operations today, reducing staff to a support team that will service the installed systems.


While SiCortex’ demise will no doubt be attributed to everything from the alignment of the stars to the deplorable state of education in modern America, I’d rather write about the positive side. The SiCortex experiment demonstrated some things pretty clearly:


First, it is possible for a small company to compete in the computer systems business. There are some who will say that nobody can compete against “commodity manufacturers.” Ignore them: they are either shills for “commodity manufacturers” or they just don’t understand the landscape. There are only two true commodities in the computer business: DRAMs and wafer area. Everybody pretty much pays the same price for DRAMs. Wafer area is what you make of it. If you insist on building giant 100W chips, life will be tough. But if you use the silicon wafer area for something new, different, and efficient, a market will open up to you.


“Commodity” is a codeword for “x86” in much of the industry. In seven years of talking to end users and system purchasers, the non-x86 nature of the machine rarely presented much of an obstacle. In a large part of the high performance technical market the customers either own their own codes or build their software infrastructure from community owned sources. Yes there are a few major ISV codes, but -- surprisingly -- the available market outside of those areas is quite large (many billions of dollars). And if the architecture is attractive and there is sufficient market opportunity, ISVs will port codes (often for a fee.) SiCortex didn’t fail because of the x86 instruction set. There were a few prospects that shied away because of instruction set issues, but these were few and far between.


The SiCortex vision of making affordable high performance communications a primary focus of a dense cluster design created a new kind of cluster that couldn’t be created by the PC manufacturers. As a result, there are some places where SiCortex clusters are extremely well suited to the computing task. The SiCortex architecture was able to gain a foothold in power constrained applications (where either cooling capacity or electricity costs are primary concerns) and in applications whose run time is dominated by the cost of inter-node communications. The primary liability in the first generation product was its relatively weak memory bandwidth per processor. The engineering team was addressing that problem in the Gen II system that was under development until very recently.


Second, it is possible for a very small group of people to do amazing things and have fun while they at the same time. The first generation SiCortex systems were designed and assembled by a team of fewer than 40 engineers. The software team was tiny by system company standards. The chip team was fewer than 25 people. Chips done at the “commodity” manufacturers have more than 25 managers working on a project. During the first generation development at SiCortex there were no managers who didn’t have some other “non management” task. And it was fun. Even a bad day working in a team where everybody was dedicated to reaching the goal was more fun than working for BigCo.


Third, there is a need in the computer industry for more ventures like SiCortex. My greatest fear is that somebody else will go out and try to raise money from the Venture Capital market and be turned away with comments like “SiCortex tried to compete and they failed: so will you.” That is baloney. SiCortex failed for the same reasons lots of businesses fail: they ran out of money. The reasons had nothing to do with the product concept and everything to do with the execution and timing: May of 2009 is not a good time to be raising money: success takes a mix of luck, skill, and determination that just didn’t come together this time around.


The fact is, innovation carries with it a risk of failure. Large organizations may be incapable of creating an environment for genuine risk taking. The reward system makes chasing small market segments unappealing, and ambitious competent managers and leaders hear the message: aim for the big wins with giant market opportunities. Unfortunately this has led to an industry where uniformity is the dominant theme. But there are lots of computing tasks that don’t look anything like Excel or a video game. The industry needs daring experiments. They fill in the gaps left by the uniform copy-exact giants.


Companies like SiCortex pose no real threat to the BigCos of the world. But they can serve as an irritant: a reminder that the dominant model may not hold the ultimate answer. When SiCortex started, nobody was talking about power efficiency in high performance technical computing: the assumption was that BigCo was doing about as well as could be done. Now system vendors are engaged in a competition to see who can make the most outrageous claim to green-ness. (My favorite: turning down the fan speed so the chips run hotter but less power is spent on turning fans. That’s what passes for daring innovation at BigCo.)




I’d like to thank every one of my colleagues at SiCortex, and especially those who I recruited to the effort. Your faith in the vision, your good humor, your devotion to the cause, and your support through all the challenging times has been a gift to me. For those who are leaving SiCortex today, thank you. For those who are staying to support the ongoing efforts, thank you.


I am also grateful to all the SiCortex spouses, SOs, and families. The late hours, the screwed up vacation plans, the lost weekends, they were the price of admission. Thank you for all that you put up with.


And thank you, investors both big and small. Along with the major shareholders -- Flagship, Polaris, Prism, JK&B, and Chevron, there were angels and other stockholders who had faith in the vision and courage enough to put money behind it. The VC investors bucked a trend back in 2002 when most of the big money was saying that innovation in the computer industry was over. We showed them that it was not.


As an engineer, I’d spent most of my career before SiCortex far removed from the sales force. Working with the SiCortex sales team has been wonderful. For you technical geeks out there, if you get an opportunity to work with real sales people -- do it. Not only will you learn more about your own product, you’ll learn a lot about how people make the crucial buying decision. Sales folks are a special breed -- no, they are a whole collection of special breeds -- and the good ones work in a landscape that is as far removed from spreadsheets and mathematical models as ballroom dancing is from hardware design.


And for the customers, prospects, technical hosts, conference organizers, workshop coordinators, journalists, students, and educators who offered hospitality, advice, and encouragement, thank you. The last few years have been tremendous fun and often very enlightening. I owe a special debt of gratitude to the folks in the seismic exploration business who patiently explained the peculiar nature of their very interesting computational problems.


And of course, thank you to every manager, decision maker, geek, and visionary who made the decision to buy a SiCortex system. Thank you for your faith in the product and your willingness to join in our experiment.


SiCortex has been an interesting ride. There is still an opportunity for a buyer to come along, and I hope someone does. The current generation product still has a great deal of untapped promise -- only recently it has shown us some new tricks. The next generation builds on the concepts from the first. Whether SiCortex builds it, or some ambitious and determined new venture gets created somewhere, there is lots more to do in the computer industry beyond duct-taping desktop PCs together and turning off the lights to keep the bulbs from getting hot.


Primary takeaway: I’m glad I walked away from a perfectly good job with a very large company back in 2002 -- for all the bumps in the road, SiCortex was far more than an interesting ride, it was a thrill and a joy.

Dream a dream. Chase a vision. Build something. Repeat.

---Matt Reilly

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Akeelah

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Fold on Myself

I went to a party where some distant relatives and other assorted league members were present. This was my introduction despite being on this side of earth decade. Some were visitors from India.
They saw me, measuring me in almost every which way. An old woman comes and asks

"Are you Ramani's Son?"
"Yes, Ma'm"
"I know. You have your mothers' look, I can tell by the nose"
"I am glad"

Then her husband slowly walked by. I was chatting with him earlier on subjects like elections,etc

"But you know, he seems to carry his father's intellect"

Their daughter in law who doesnt seem to know/like my parents joins the circle to finish

"But you have to give him that his charm is altogether his own"

I smile staring vacantly in the space thinking how long anyone tied me back to the family

Then their american daughter joins this crowd

"I dont know. You are just weird"

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Man

If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!

All throughout my childhood I cherished tis poem but never knew why. I always wondered what kind of a 'man' would this definition be for..I have had 60 varied descriptions ranging from those hormonal descriptions  to that of one who respects those unwieldy abstractions of yore :-)

I finally have stumbled upon a living example of one such person. The funny thing is that when I broached this ancillary subject with him he seemed to feel that he has travelled so far from his home and thought many thoughts but all that remained was that he has grown old and lost his hair to which I counter with the  following immortal lines

   When old age shall this generation waste, 
        Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe 
    Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st, 
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty," - that is all 
        Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

I may sound prejudiced when describing this man to you but every moment I have spent with him so far, has only affirmed the same belief and more.. He taught me  (unknowingly of course like Drona to Ekalavya) that being a man doesnt mean the macho thing (as we believed in our teens) or the extrasensitive doormat (as we believed in old age)...There's a fine line line that gentlemen seeking stripes know where to draw the line..has to be always fair and only bend the rules when they seem unjust or beyond reason..that there exists a balance for contradictory constraints that only one has to be creative in finding the solution..and many more things that canot be described in words here in this verbal dispatch.
Learn of the little nautilus to sail, Spread the thin oar, and catch the driving gale. 

Monday, May 11, 2009

Starstruck

One alternative definition of a good friend can be as follows (I discovered this week!) :

One who makes you struggle with your own belief systems and helps you make progress in understanding your own possibilities and limitations


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Vision

Once I drove a fellow to the golden gate bridge on his visit here and we drove on it to reach the other end where he wanted to take a picture. Of course, it was foggy and when we saw around we could see nothing. I was like "I Swear, the bridge was there when we drove through it, not sure what happened in the aftermath"

Consider the random walk concept which was postulated as follows:

If a drunkard begins at a lamp post and takes N steps of equal length in random directions, how far will the drunkard be from the lamp post?

The typical analyses concede that it will be proportional to sqrt(N). However if you were to place a pretty woman on one side, the answer would be proportional to "N" steps. (imagine n and sqrt(n) to be stock prices and you'll clearly understand why one is preferable over the other). The difference in the two versions is the presence of a vision :-)

Bottomline: The trick is this: Keep your eye on the ball even if the ball isnt always visible.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Topological Concern

If you allow me to indulge a bit in comparitive mythology the following is very entertain:

Dyaus Pitar --> Zeus Pater --> Jupiter


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Papier-mâché Flowers



Every time I hear that song, a sense of loss is tickled in me, so it goes on..

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The First Veil

Currently reading Skinny Legs and All and I must confess its the usual fantastic style of Robbins..I havent yet finished it just getting through only the first few chapters but it had enough to blog about..Some excerpts

"As is sometimes the case, the very absence of cultural stimulation was culturally stimulating"

" Women are more interested in sex than men were.Ellen Cherry was convinced of that.True,Men talked about sex more.Men were forever making a big deal about it with jokes, hustler magazines, aggressive advances, and transparent braggadocio- but in her opinion that was largely for the benefit of other males.They thought that to be masculine,they had to be copulative dynamos,and it was largely to prop up their insecure masculinity that they resorted to sexual display,whereas,in fact it was their relatively mild interest in physical contact that was largely the source of that insecurity. Why am I not more horny? why isnt my pecker bigger? Why am I washed up after one orgasm when she can have a dozen and still ready to go?
How do I know that kid is really mine?It's got read hair! Ellen Cherry had to laugh.

Typically her own interest in sex was abiding and deep. In a patriarchal society, the abiding sexuality of the healthy female was obliged to wear a prim disguise. Unaware of the irony, men flaunted their pale desires, while the stronger passions of the woman were usually concealed. 
nobody could tell ellen cherry otherwise. The only thing that interested Ellen Cherry more than sex...was love"

then a bunch of stuff about Astarte (Ashtoreth in Hebrew) who was worshipped by Jezebel and known as Ishtar in Babylonia, Kali in India (I personally think she is closer to Ushas) , Demeter in Greece,Ostara in Saxon,Freya in Nordic or Isis in Egyptian wherein she was virgin,bride,mother,prostitute,witch and hanging judge all swirled into one..

"Because Veils of ignorance,disinformation,  and illusion separate us from that which is imperative to our understanding of our evolutionary journey,shield us from the Mystery that is central to being"

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Darwin and Hooking Up

I havent read any Darwin yet though a lot has been read of him. Just finished reading his work called 'The Descent of Man' and its quite amazing (its free to download from that link)

Now consider this part of the work
Man scans with scrupulous care the character and pedigree of his horses, cattle, and dogs before he matches them; but when he comes to his own marriage he rarely, or never, takes any such care. He is impelled by nearly the same motives as the lower animals, when they are left to their own free choice, though he is in so far superior to them that he highly values mental charms and virtues. On the other hand he is strongly attracted by mere wealth or rank. Yet he might by selection do something not only for the bodily constitution and frame of his offspring, but for their intellectual and moral qualities. Both sexes ought to refrain from marriage if they are in any marked degree inferior in body or mind; but such hopes are Utopian and will never be even partially realised until the laws of inheritance are thoroughly known. Everyone does good service, who aids towards this end. When the principles of breeding and inheritance are better understood, we shall not hear ignorant members of our legislature rejecting with scorn a plan for ascertaining whether or not consanguineous marriages are injurious to man.

The advancement of the welfare of mankind is a most intricate problem: all ought to refrain from marriage who cannot avoid abject poverty for their children; for poverty is not only a great evil, but tends to its own increase by leading to recklessness in marriage. On the other hand, as Mr. Galton has remarked, if the prudent avoid marriage, whilst the reckless marry, the inferior members tend to supplant the better members of society. Man, like every other animal, has no doubt advanced to his present high condition through a struggle for existence consequent on his rapid multiplication; and if he is to advance still higher, it is to be feared that he must remain subject to a severe struggle. Otherwise he would sink into indolence, and the more gifted men would not be more successful in the battle of life than the less gifted. Hence our natural rate of increase, though leading to many and obvious evils, must not be greatly diminished by any means. There should be open competition for all men; and the most able should not be prevented by laws or customs from succeeding best and rearing the largest number of offspring. Important as the struggle for existence has been and even still is, yet as far as the highest part of man's nature is concerned there are other agencies more important. For the moral qualities are advanced, either directly or indirectly, much more through the effects of habit, the reasoning powers, instruction, religion, &c., than through natural selection; though to this latter agency may be safely attributed the social instincts, which afforded the basis for the development of the moral sense."



Now, what had Darwin been thinking about when he was to be married? Well, his correspondence is very clear on this. he simply wrote two columns: one for and one against

One one side we have:

Children — (if it Please God) 
— Constant companion, (& friend in old age) who will feel interested in one, 
— object to be beloved & played with.  
—better than a dog anyhow. 
— Home, & someone to take care of house 
— Charms of music & female chit-chat. 
— These things good for one's health. 
— Forced to visit & receive relations but terrible loss of time. —

My God, it is intolerable to think of spending ones whole life, like a neuter bee, working, working, & nothing after all. 
— No, no won't do. 
— Imagine living all one's day solitarily in smoky dirty London House. 
— Only picture to yourself a nice soft wife on a sofa with good fire, & books & music perhaps 
— Compare this vision with the dingy reality of Grt. Marlbro' St.


On the arguments for not getting married he has the following

-No children, (no second life), no one to care for one in old age.

— What is the use of working 'in' without sympathy from near & dear friends

—who are near & dear friends to the old, except relatives

-Freedom to go where one liked — choice of Society & little of it.  

— Conversation of clever men at clubs 

— Not forced to visit relatives, & to bend in every trifle. 

— to have the expense & anxiety of children 

— perhaps quarelling 

— Loss of time. 

— cannot read in the Evenings 

— fatness & idleness 

— Anxiety & responsibility 

— less money for books &c 

— if many children forced to gain one's bread. 

— (But then it is very bad for ones health to work too much)


Finally he settles for the option to marry outweighs the benefits and now he thinks when, sooner or later with these kind of thoughts

— one's character is more flexible 

—one's feelings more lively & if one does not marry soon, one misses so much good pure happiness. 

—But then if I married tomorrow: there would be an infinity of trouble & expense in getting & furnishing a house, 

—fighting about no Society 

—morning calls 

— awkwardness 

—loss of time every day. (without one's wife was an angel, & made one keep industrious). 

— Then how should I manage all my business if I were obliged to go every day walking with one’s my wife. 

— Eheu!! I never should know French, — or see the Continent — or go to America, or go up in a Balloon, or take solitary trip in Wales 

— poor slave. 

— And then horrid poverty, 

— Never mind my boy 

— Cheer up 

— One cannot live this solitary life, with groggy old age, friendless & cold, & childless staring one in ones face, already beginning to wrinkle. 

— Never mind, trust to chance 

— keep a sharp look out 

— There is many a happy slave

-    Perhaps my wife wont like London;  then the sentence is banishment & degradation into indolent, idle fool 

Despite all the above thoughts he married his cousin Emma Wedgewood :-)

(may be dopamine was flowing very generously when he decided so)