About Me

!nversed Poignancy!

...I am an eclectic amalgamation of many seemingly paradoxical things. This can be exemplified in both my seemingly endless persistance on many topics and arguments, as well as my careful cautiousness on other topics and arguments. This is largely due to how astute I am of the topic: more knowledge, more persistant; less knowledge, obviously more cautious. I also have times of obsessive compulsions regarding certain things (mostly just my thoughts, however)...

Life and Death

!nversed Poignancy!

Life

An assembly

Possibly impossible

Perfectly interchangeable..

Death

That lives most upright

Beyond the unspoken

Neither a squiggle nor a quibble..

She and Me

!nversed Poignancy!

She

A daffodil

Tyrannizer of me

Breaking the colors of dusk!..

Me

The rising sun

Infringed with violations

The impurity in the salt..

Love and Poetry!

!nversed Poignancy!

Love

A puerile desire

Buried in the heart

Never leaves..

Poetry

Sentimentally melodramatic

Cursively recursive

My thoughts idiotic!

I discover that we Indians have devised a new way of mourning death. Apparently,following the death by heart attack of the Kannada film icon Dr. Vishnuvardhan, grieving fans shut down the nation's knowledge capital. Bangalore's streets, which usually imagined as paved with hi-tech gold, but today it turned into a place that seemed like Baghdad!.

To a bemused world, this fiery convulsion triggered by the death of an old actor was just another example of Indians' idiosyncratic, borderline-religious love for their movie stars. But what is it that actually triggers these kind of behavioural patterns in people?!.

Is it that the fans are angry because he died a natural death?!. Or is it that they are ithching to get involved in some sort of a throw-stone activity since the city is full of glasswares?!. or is it that they assume that the government and the IT companies are responsible for the actors "heart-attack"?!

What actually makes these people get satiable by rioting and savaging and breaking the public properties(buses),stoning companies and ravaging hotels and shops?.

A little introspection+retrospection makes me IETise that all this is a bi-product of a jobless and sadistic being, who always feels angry,angry at this world; Angry for being miserable and poor; angry for not getting a 'fixed and heavy-paying' job,angry because "I am lazy",angry because "cigarette costs 3 bucks", "paan costs a whopping 2 bucks", "teasing girls is an offence", and simply because "there is no way to end 'my' anguishes on the Govt. and others who are enjoying a lavish lifestyle".

I do agree Vishnuvardhan died, we will all miss him, we'll miss the great actor in him. I will miss him too and in fact, everyone should miss him. Its unfortunate that its happened but, what is it that can be done? Death is a part of life cycle after-all..

The explanatory power of the 'two India's drifting apart' theory is limited, however, by the fact that 20 years ago, years before the economic reforms that unleashed India's current uneven boom, the Karnataka film board opted to edit out a scene depicting the dramatic death of Vishnuvardhan, for fear that it would spark riots.

Whatever peculiarities of the riots arise from the Indian cultural politics and the resentments of Karnataka's left-behinds, few deny that Indians generally have a deeper, more complex and more personal relationship with their film icons than Western audiences. Few years ago , when Bollywood heartthrob Salman Khan spent three nights in prison on charges of illegal poaching, thousands of his fans spent nights outside his jail cell. In 1982, when iconic Bollywood leading man Amitabh Bachchan was injured on a shoot, the nation practically came to a stop. (But not for the Bachchan fan who walked half of the length of India backwards as a show of penance.)

Why do such gruesome practices occur more in India than in other country?

Is it the low literacy level in the country?

Is it a desperate cry for mental help?

Is that the only way for the people at the lowest rungs of the social and economic hierarchy to draw attention of the top political leaders/actors to their plight?

Frankly speaking, we have no clue.
Well, I often don't mess up with intertwining the personal blog to a "personal" blog. However, today I thought I should just linger on the contour a wee-bit. I was 'eventually' feeling 'void' today, well, no introspections on that as yet and I don't think that it would last longer enough to whip in a probe. On the other hand, I developed an IET [Thats "Idiotic Emission of Thoughts" For those who know not what that is *Its my invention by-the-way*;-p] of other sorts.( actually it was an IET with Introspection sorts)

Ok, seems like I am beating around the bushes. Hmm, let me come to the IET- I had a short chat the today with a friend of mine over the phone and that triggered some sort of an idiocy in me and made me go bong over "what actually missing someone means?". Is it like you are having a deja vu and amnesia together? or is it like the past suddenly oozes out of your grey matter and stings that portion between your eye and the brain- causing unplanned patterns to hover over and towards your eyes?!. Or is "missing someone" just a matter of some mere hoaxical illusion which was a result of either you having a good memory-unit or a bad processor pipe-lining. But,what I felt was that missing doesn't always relate to "missing someone/something" neither is it a some sort of a "yearningness" or "craving". Its something else. Something more than all of these.

I was wondering if my feelings like "I am missing my 'hi' and 'hellos' with a friend with whom I am hi-bye types" or "Thinking about some chick in my class who never seemed to be one when she was around me" or "Just a lame voidness over someone" is a inference of the "Real Missing feeling"?.

I actually felt that I badly missed being struck with those millions of "hi" and "bye" that were thrown upon me during my school days-*from a few of them specifically ofcourse :P*. I felt like I wanted to talk to that little girl from the other school who only said "Hi" all through our facial bombardments and I missed hearing a simple hello from her again. And now sitting here, I am just thinking as to how many people have crossed my life and somewhere all of them have left an impression. Some are the ‘best things’ happened to me. Some have made me to cross the road, taken my hand and then hidden somewhere...where? I don’t know !. And some of them who have been the limits of my para-emotional integration and derivatives of my ortho-emotional derivations. But,the best thing is that I hardly remember even a handful of them at this point ,but, I do miss all of them.

So, what started as a voidness, then turned into a "IET" ,finally turned into a nice little blog post :P and a nitty conclusion which says
May be the purpose of the entire process of "missing" and "voidness" is a well wrapped element of higher order 'process resynchronization' with each of their entry into your life being acknowledged by you missing them. May be they have taught us what you needed to learn, may be they have nothing more to give…and so they leave.May be they’re moving on to be part of a different plan, just as you and I move and influence others.But, at the end of the day its all a kind of a realization behind a simple one-liner --
“You can never replace anyone because everyone is made up of such beautiful specific details”

Its been raining marriages around me over the last 7 months. Lolz, to continue to the beating started by Pooja and Padmav --> My Bro and Manni --> Doggy and Sana --> Price and Sharon --> Sherry and Flaunty --> My cuz and his girl --> Choms and R... The journey has been fascinating and absolutely awesome.. I'd previously shared a piece with my emotions painted when my Bro sold his stake to my manni; and now, to follow it up- I just want to paint an another parchment of emotions of how it feels to have you "chaddi-dost" and "best-pal" get knotted..:P..

Ever since I’ve known Chomy(Yup!, thats 18 looooooooong years now! :P), she'd always wanted to find the man of her dreams and get mar­ried. I’ve rarely met some­one with that objec­tive so clear in their mind! I remem­ber She and me watch­ing the movie "Life in a Metro" together and me telling her how much Konkona’s char­ac­ter reminded me of her.

Over the years and our 'sin­gle­hood', Chomy and I have had many dis­cus­sions on find­ing "the right one". One ques­tion she often had was how she would know for sure when he came along! How does one know, really? Much air­time has been wasted (or not) in dis­cussing the lack of good 'ones' (really, where are these lads and lasses?!) and the fact that our good years were slowly fad­ing away.

I mostly enjoyed play­ing an elder brotherly role and (in my infi­nite wis­dom!) usu­ally tried to impart, what I hope, was good advice. You will know, when you meet him, I said. Things will fall into place. When the stars align every­thing will work out! And so on and so forth. Through our heart­breaks and set­backs, I often told her that things that are des­tined to hap­pen, will hap­pen and surely they would hap­pen to her too. Very soon. "You can’t rush things", I said, they will hap­pen when the time is right. I even remember Shylaja Aunty(Chomy's Mom) took us to the some tem­ple and had gotten our futures read to assure both of us that good things were in store.:P

Over the years, despite all my out­ward reas­sur­ances, I must admit that my own belief in love and romance, the insti­tu­tion of mar­riage, in hap­pily wed­ded has received quite a knock­ing. Much as I would like to believe I have also seen so many signs to the con­trary, result­ing in cyn­i­cism creep­ing in and the rose coloured spec­ta­cles I wore when I was younger get­ting clouded. From being let down, from expec­ta­tions not being met (and what is life with­out some expec­ta­tion?) and from a lot of dis­con­nect. Do I expect too much or are peo­ple just not inter­ested? :-p

I would, of course, like to believe in love and romance, in find­ing "the one", but it’s dif­fi­cult to muster that blind faith any­more. When I was eigh­teen and starry eyed, yes. But older and wiser, as they say, and things don’t quite seem the same.

So despite it all, it gives me small plea­sure that even­tu­ally "Chomy-Dumbo" did meet the man of her dreams and now is about to tie the knot. While I watched — some­times in admi­ra­tion and some­times in fas­ci­na­tion at how fast things can move in some­one else’s life (at least com­pared to mine!), I was thrilled to see Soumya's and R's rela­tion­ship develop, mature and go straight to the altar!

I for one, am so glad that she is finally hitched. At least that way we will now be spared of her exis­ten­tial ques­tions (and mul­ti­ple smses) like, "err..bw does it happen in fairy tales..?", "Where's my man?!" and "when will I ever meet him?" and "ho!-c'mon- tell me Bags!"... These kind of ques­tions, as you can imag­ine, are quite hard to answer ;-p

Through these years, Chomy never gave up hope though. She went about her mis­sion with admirable enthu­si­asm despite the many road­blocks! I think one thing I admire her for is her sin­gle minded focus about what she wanted. And maybe that worked in the end. She did find the man and she did make every­one includ­ing her­self happy.

Mean­while, I still won­der some­times about life and love and its related com­pli­ca­tions. Infact, one thing that Padma Aunty(Poo's mom) com­plains con­stantly about the "sin­gle sta­tus" of both her daugh­ters, I jok­ingly ask her "why change what is work­ing fine?" I try and con­vince her that at least we’re happy. But I real­ize that her goal is not our hap­pi­ness, but of chang­ing our status.

I still remain unsure about mar­riage and wed­ded bliss. (Or it might be for the sim­ple rea­son that no one’s actu­ally asked :-). Have I been on my own for too long now and got­ten too used to it? What I do miss though is some­one being an intrin­sic part of my life and shar­ing and doing things together. And that is a part­ner­ship that is so much harder to achieve.

But a friend’s wed­ding always makes me happy. It’s a time for cel­e­bra­tions, for love, laugh­ter and friends to get together. And to rein­force some of those faded beliefs.

For Choms & Mr R, wish­ing both of them loads and loads of hap­pi­ness and good times together.

Chomy babe — the sin­gles club will miss you! *Hugs!* :-)

Mr. R : I’ll be there when you need a shoul­der to cry on dude:-p

I was inspired to write this blog after reading a news feature in today's (11.12. 09) Times of India. The fast undertaken by the TRS Chief, K. Chandrasekhar Rao that led to deterioration of his condition, causing threat to his life, made the Centre to take a late night decision of splitting Andhra Pradesh to carve out a separate state,Telengana.


Let us first have a look at the history of some "fasts" that had taken place in the past. Apart from being called "The Father of The Nation", Mahatma Gandhi may conveniently termed as the "Father of Fasts", who used it as a weapon. Of course, before him, it was the revolutionary, Jatin Das who gave up his life in Lahore Jail as a prisoner of the British Government, after going on a hunger strike from July 13 to Sep 13, 1929. His death left a deep impact on the minds of the Indian youth to start a new war of violent protest against the British government.

In 1932 Gandhiji went on a 'fast', protesting against the "Communal Award" of colonial British rulers to give separate representation to the "untouchables" in Provincial Legislatures, that led to Poona Pact which made the untouchable leaders to renounce separate representation. In 1943, Gandhiji undertook a fast for twenty one days as a "penance for deadlock" between the Viceroy & Indian leaders. It became a turning point in India's struggle for freedom.

After independence, the first person who gave up his life in a hunger strike was the Gandhian leader, Potti Sriramulu. He began his "fast" on Oct 19, 1952 protesting against the Centre's indifference to the demand for a separate Andhra Pradesh & succumbed to it on Dec 15,1952. His death led to violent turmoil resulting in the creation of Andhra Pradesh.

In the recent past, Mamta Bannerjee's hunger strike for 25 days against land acquisition in West Bengal, changed the colour of Bengal politics forcing the CPM to see red.

It is a well known fact that Mahatma Gandhi mostly used this weapon of "fast" as a means for self purification. He was magnanimous enough to hold himself responsible if anything went wrong & took it unto himself to atone for it by undertaking a "fast". But can the leaders of today honestly claim that their "fasts" are that, what appear to our naked eyes or there is anything more to it which we, the general public are not capable enough to perceive? Can they honestly say that their "fasts" are not less for the "cause" & more for scoring a point or to gain political mileage over their political rivals? How is it that, if there is no problem in creating a separate state now, what prevented the Centre to wait for decades, until a certain K.C.Rao staged an indefinite fast unto death? Honestly, I don't know. Can anybody among my friends, please tell me? .
I don't know why "the sixth sense" refers to something paranormal, since there are a lot more than five normal senses.

I think the problem is that whoever started out numbering these things somehow confused the senses with the sense organs. There are five sense organs that I'm aware of: the eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue, and the skin. And there are five corresponding senses: vision, hearing, smell, taste, and touch.

But there are a lot of senses that don't have a corresponding sense organ, or at least not always a very obvious one. And I'm not talking about subjective or non-quantifiable senses like a sense of humor or a sense of style or a sense of obligation or a sense of self-worth or a sense of right and wrong -- I'm talking about senses that detect measurable physical phenomena.

For example, you probably have a sense of temperature, which allows you to tell when it's hot or cold outside. The skin is the sense organ here -- it does double duty as the organ for both the sense of touch and the sense of temperature. But despite the organ in common, those are two very distinct senses, so it's not clear why the sense of temperature never made it on the list.

You've also got a sense of size. You can tell if one thing is bigger than another. This sense doesn't have a sense organ as such, but it relies on some of the other senses that do, like vision or touch, since you can tell the size of something by looking at it or by holding it.

You also have a sense of weight, of course. You can tell if something is going to be heavy or not by looking at it or by trying to pick it up.

You also have a sense of quantity or amount. You can look at two glasses and tell which one has more fruit juice in it, for example, or you can look at two bookcases and tell which one has more books on it. This relies on your sense of vision, or your sense of weight, but it's distinct from either of those senses.

Okay, what else? Well, how about your sense of speed? This one isn't very well-developed, since we can't tell how fast we're going when we're flying in a jet, for example, but still, most of us have a pretty good idea if we're going fast or slow.

And then, of course, there's the sense of time. It can be fooled as well -- when you're bored, time seems to pass much more slowly than it does when you're having a good time -- but you can still probably tell the difference between a minute and an hour, no matter how bored you get. And the interesting thing about the sense of time is that as far as I know, it doesn't rely on any other senses or any sense organs, which technically qualifies it as an extra-sensory perception.

So, here's our new list: vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch, temperature, size, weight, amount, speed, and temperature. That brings the count up to eleven, and there are probably some that I missed. So what we commonly refer to as "the sixth sense" and which we somewhat confusingly label as "extra-sensory perception" would more accurately be called "the twelfth sense."

But even that's not a very good idea, because if we're going to include paranormal senses on the list, we should probably include things like sense of humor as well. But maybe there shouldn't even be a list. Or maybe we should have three lists: one for the physical senses, one for the subjective senses, and one for the paranormal senses. I don't know what the best thing to do is, but fortunately, it's not very important. That's another sense, by the way -- the sense of importance. You can add it to the list of subjective senses if you want.
Apparently I'm not a big fan of posting "Thoughts for the day" as such, but, today as "class I threw ExceptionOfTotalOutOfOrderness ;" I just wanted to throw it out..:P
And here we go!...

Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But, it ain't how hard you hit; it's about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done. Now, if you know what you're worth, then go out and get what you're worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain't you. You're better than that!

I have to admit — since HackU ended, I have been struggling with how to contextualize it. It’s hard to put a nice neat wrapper around something that was so profound for me. For the people who were there (and you can read for yourself), it felt like a defining moment. The best way for now is to point out some of the people who made it happen and tell some of the inside story. In some later posts, I’ll probably go through some of the principles that guided us in planning Hack Day (e.g. who we invited and why, approaches to making such an event work), but for now, I just want to provide some backstory and point out some of the people who helped make this happen. There are literally hundreds of people in the mix, so I apologize in advance for those who I have missed. This will be my first attempt “official recounting” . Like all good stories, some things will be left between the lines, of course.

Before I get into the narrative, if anyone out there is wondering how we pulled this off, I offer one clue: total pros rolling up their sleeves to do whatever needed to be done. I’ve always been surprised at how intelligent people ascribe self-limiting qualities to organizations that they don’t really have to accept. Large companies are “slow.” Small companies are “agile.” “They” would never let us do this. What happens when you work in a large company and you are able to leverage the size of the organization to form a lean-and-mean ad hoc team with broad expertise (technical, management, legal, security, networking, etc.) on a moment’s notice? Something pretty powerful — you turn the cynical “they” who won’t let you do anything into the unstoppable “we” that won’t take no for an answer. I learned that inspiration might be the world’s only renewable energy source and it scales like a bank's interest rates!!.

Now, getting into the world of "thank yous" and the world otherwise. I feel that it’s an almost impossible task to get this right, but there are some specific people I wanted to thank. First, there's my team mates Madhan, Smitha and Spoorthy. It was such a great team to work with that, when we moved over to begin , we started talking about our goals almost immediately and the ideas started crystalizing no sooner than late. I honestly don't remember exactly how the "crazy" Mail Template+GreaseMonkey idea crystalized, but when it did, it was Madhan who gave us that patented Brad Pitt look that said, “dude, this is TOTALLY POSSIBLE!” and quietly lit the fire under us and himself(!) to make it happen. I’m hoping that everyone out there has a boss like this one day. Then Smitha well she's a full-swinger!. She has the most versatile brain, she used to flip her thoughts to sync the ideas that popped and parally thump in her understandability of the APIs and how they could help us move ahead(Infact, her duties also involved handling of the entire event as a volunteer too!- Man, that was real tough one!).Finally, Spoorthy- err!, this lady was the one behind the ideas, she'd generate the ideas faster that you can sync them in!!. Some of our fondest ideas of this whole process were her brain-child(ren);

Then once we got the verbal commitment done on our events, the lads and lasses were gracious enough to pick up that ball and run with it, dealing with the production issues, the code, the debugging, the betas, the alphas and anything else related to the hack, smack and crack of the code!. It was a gargantuan task that had never been done before. One of my favorite moments happened about half an hour before the show actually ended when I bumped into Arun Raghavendar and Tom Praison for a last miniute buckle-up tricks on the final hack that involved combining the hover-effect of the YUI into an Y-BOSS image search. And there it was- "Phew!" Tom and Arun got the lids shined and placed a crystal on it!. Imagine, they just ran through a 400 liner in about 5 mins and got their acts together and cracked the bug in just about 20 mins! (Where as I took a whopping 12 hours to get the code done! :P).

And last but not the least can we forget Paul Tarjan(Head Technical Monkey :P),Mr. Nagarajan, Rajesh(He's my super senior at UVCE too!),Jayasurian and the entire bunch of the Yahoo R&D team put the whole excellent Saturday agenda together along with other classmates of mine at IIITB. In one of the key roll-up-your-sleeves moments in my and perhaps our lives!.

To the extended HackU organizing team,well, you guys totally rocked — all several tens of you . And a gigantic thanks to all of you who cam over and made this developmental spree a great fun to cherish for several years to come , if not life time.

As a chorus, i would love to thank my team,yeah the team that I am so freaking proud of you. Its was a real fun time with you people out there!.

FaceBookadiction!

Scribbled by Bharath C On November 29, 2009 1 Thoughts have been Sprinkled!, Your Take?
Today I found an invitation to a Facebook group "We will not pay to use facebook, we're gone if that happens".

I guess this echos the sentiments of a generation that believes that it should get stuff for free. But really, can this really be so? Facebook, google, yahoo, etc can only survive given revenues that may be used to cover costs. Web portals with mounds of data are not easy to maintain.

On the other hand, people are concerned by the concentration of huge amounts of personal data, especially with the social networking sites. Who owns the data?

It briefly hit me that the P2P infrastructure may work reasonably well for social networking. The idea is for the network to be built up in overlapping pieces. Each indivdual stores his own information and those of his/her friends. The informing of others that information has changed may be done through a series of pings.

Naturally, a big issue is that of the storage and transfer of data. A LOT of data may have to be stored for each contact. Furthermore, one has to ask oneself to what extent does one desire to be a conduit for people to contact one's friends and how much bandwidth one is willing to dedicate to that end. Another is that of "closed cliques" being inaccessible to the world.

The latter problem would probably be solvable after some brief thought, but not the former. People are selfish by nature, and the amount of storage space and bandwidth demanded by such an application would be non-trivial.

Well then, is Facebook's current setup as near optimal as we expect? It's hard to move away from a central repository. It makes things so much easier. We can decentralize a little though... Who knows?

I used to believe that one day all human labour would be automated. Upon further reflection, I realize that I am wrong. The question of whether or not machines will someday replace all humans depends crucially on whether or not P is equal to NP. Jobs that will eventually be automated will be the ones that can be solved easily with an algorithm. In computer science parlance, these are problems in the computational complexity class P (solvable in polynomial time). For example, traditional travel agents have disappeared faster than bluefin tuna because their task is pretty simple to automate. However, not all travel agents will disappear. The ones that survive will be more like concierges that put together complex travel arrangements or require negotiating with many parties.

Eventually, the jobs that humans will hold (barring a collapse of civilization as we know it) will involve solving problems in the complexity class NP (or harder). That is not to say that machines won’t be doing some of these jobs, only that the advantage of machines over humans will not be as clear cut. While it is true that if we could fully reproduce a human and make it faster and bigger then it could do everything that a human could do better but as I blogged about before, I think it will be difficult to exactly reproduce humans. Additionally, for some very hard problems that don’t even have any good approximation schemes, blind luck will play an important role in coming up with solutions. Balancing different human centric priorities will also be important and that may be best left for humans to do. Even if it turns out that P=NP there could still be some jobs that humans can do like working on undecidable problems.

So what are some jobs that will be around in the NP economy? Well, I think mathematicians will still be employed. Theorems can be verified in polynomial time but there are no known algorithms in P to generate them. That is not to say that there won’t be robot mathematicians and mathematicians will certainly use automated theorem proving programs to help them (e.g. see here). However, I think the human touch will always have some use. Artists and comedians will also have jobs in the future. These are professions that require intimate knowledge of what it is like to be human . Again, there will be machine comics and artists but they won’t fully replace humans. I also think that craftsmen like carpenters, stone masons, basket weavers and so forth could also make a comeback. They will have to exhibit some exceptional artistry to survive but the demand for them could increase since some people will always long for the human touch in their furniture and houses.

The question then is whether or not there will be enough NP jobs to go around and whether or not everyone is able and willing to hold one. To some, an NP economy will be almost Utopian – everyone will have interesting jobs. However, there may be some people who simply don’t want or can’t do an NP job. What will happen to them? I think that will be a big (probably undecidable) problem that will face society in the not too distant future, provided we make it that far.

FreeWill Theory!

Scribbled by Bharath C On November 15, 2009 0 Thoughts have been Sprinkled!, Your Take?
Given that a materialistic theory of mind is becoming more and more mainstream, we must face the prospect of living our lives without free will. That is not to say that our lives will be predictable or even determined. Given what we know about dynamical systems, computer science and quantum mechanics it is almost certain that life is completely unpredictable and undetermined. However, there is no “you” or “me to make decisions about what we do. Results from neuroscience (e.g. Bill Newsome’s lab at Stanford) show that there are neurons in cortex that fire before a monkey makes a decision and the simulation of some of these neurons can influence a monkey’s choice. We too are at the mercy of our neurons.

So the question I have is once a large fraction of the population believes that free will does not exist, will that change society. Although this is a dynamical systems question where the belief of free will is some aspect of the state of the system and what I ask is how the system evolves subsequent to reaching a state of no belief in free will, I will address it using language that still connotes some sense of agency or directed action since it is more convenient to do so. However, keep in mind that everything I say is with respect to how society will evolve after it attains a state where there is no longer a belief in free will.

One possibility is that people will become more relaxed and not worry so much about the consequences of their actions since they have no control anyway. I doubt this will be the case because people are so hard wired biologically to believe in control of their actions that intellectual knowledge will not affect their day to day life. People will still feel regret and remorse, joy and sadness. So, I don’t think society will lapse into a hedonistic free-for-all for example.

I think it could change the legal system though. As I posted before, if there is no free will then it will become less useful to view crime in terms of intent and motive but rather on what should be done for maximum benefit to society, including the perpetrators welfare. However, the emotions governing fairness, revenge and vindication will still exist so people may still want to keep some aspect of punishment. This may end up in a political stalemate where some fraction of the population will insist on maintaining the need for retribution whereas the rest will simply view justice in terms of containment of defective machines.

Will it affect personal relationships? Will it take the bloom off of love and romance? Will people still treat one another in the same way as they do now? My sense is that people will still basically do what they do now although with a meta-level twist to it. Some may not take insults so personally. The knowledge of no free will may actually reinforce the notion that communication between people is important and desirable since people will be more attune to the fact that their words can impact a person’s behavior. How a person acts will depend on their internal states and the external inputs they receive. People may become more strategic in providing those inputs, something masterful manipulators already do today.

Will it make people more open to socialistic notions since a person is not responsible for their successes or failures? People are just cogs in a big machine rolling along after all. They have no control over how hard they work or how creative they are. Those things are just a combination of genetics and environment. Like in a restaurant where the waiters pool their tips together and share it equally, would people be more inclined to share the wealth of society? I have a feeling that this issue will remain as divided as it is today. So, my guess is that knowledge of no free will won’t affect our lives dramatically.

‘If you can’t win over her, kill her’- that’s what seems to be on the minds of people in love these days. In fact, it’s ignominious to identify them as lovers. People no longer seem to understand the sanctity of love.

Talking of love, the Taj Mahal should certainly light up your mind, now that it’s become the talk of the town. The sheer radiance of this marble-clad massive mausoleum basking under the sunlight or its sparkling reflection rippling through the adjacent Yamuna river by the moonlight are inspiring enough to make one fall in love. The Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan made this architecture over the tomb of his beloved wife Mumtaj Mahal to exhibit his eternal love for her.

On the one hand, we talk about voting for this epitome of immortal love to bring it into the new Seven Wonders of the World, and on the other hand we hear about people resorting to killing their love in desperation. Well indeed, love has diverse definitions; that’s the parody of life. Anyway, the news channels are making big business either way!

Cases of people slaying down their own fiancées have increased multi-fold. It’s almost become an everyday episode. It was barely a couple of months from now when this 24-year-old software professional Kaushambi Layek, a TCS employee was murdered by her boyfriend at a suburban hotel in Mumbai. And now it’s this girl, Sushma Nikam who was brutally stabbed to death by her ‘lover’ on the busy streets of Thane amidst all the passers-by rushing to their workplaces. But despite their busy schedules, the otherwise-always-on-their-toes Mumbaikars did find the time to watch the ‘tamasha’, though they refrained from coming forward to the victim’s rescue. Due respect to the one lady who lent a helping hand – laudable! (I think everyone should start wearing ‘choodiyan’, if that makes one brave!) The victim was stabbed 21 times by the attacker in broad daylight, and that’s precisely the kind of social situation where we prefer to stay mum and stand as oblivious onlookers. Well, no one can be blamed. The sight would have been gruesome enough for anybody to think of taking instantaneous action. Picture ourselves witnessing such cruelty. We never know how we would react given the same circumstances - terrified…petrified…mortified…stupefied? A real situation is not an ideal situation! But people will be people – great talkers, little doers, especially when it comes to condemning each others’ doings. And the Press will be Press, when it comes to dramatizing the audience's reactions to add some spice to their hottest selling news!

Anyway, returning to my point, I was mentioning the different dimensions of love, or is this a typical case of pure love versus lust? Cliché as it may sound, but that’s the fact! Desire - want – get – acquire, these are the thoughts occupying people’s minds. Whoever said, one should learn to give in love. Forget giving one’s own life, even that’s an offence punishable by law! But taking away someone else’s life? This only confirms that we show no concern for anybody but our own selves. Self contentment is all that matters and we can stoop to any level to acquire that, though that may account to somebody else’s grief.

Can we still call ourselves humans or are we turning into callous and cold-blooded creatures, heartless hooligans? All said and done, one thing is confirmed – ‘All’s fair in love and war’, and people seem to have taken that a bit too literally. When this was phrased, little would the author have expected that there would be a phase, where love would lose its face following this very adage. And with many more ‘lovely’ centuries to go, even God might not be able to answer where mankind would lie and where humanity would be…

Money YenoM!

Scribbled by Bharath C On November 08, 2009 0 Thoughts have been Sprinkled!, Your Take?

I do hope Professor Armin Falk of the University of Bonn was paid exactly what it was worth for this study showing that money, or even the thought of it, can makes us high.

It's hard to put a price on such knowledge but it does provide great value for headline-generators such as myself.

"Money like a drug," the Herald headline begins and it's an apposite analogy for the times, as governments around the world inject cash into the banking system while everyone else is suffering from withdrawal (or maybe 'non-withdrawal' is better) syndromes.

Back to the study itself, which, according to the Herald story, suggests "that the human brain is innately susceptible to the illusion of wealth that money can bring".

At its core, Falk's study supports the notion that most people are distracted by headline numbers and pretty crappy at applying simple maths to reality.

But as this story on US website Portfolio.com demonstrates, sometimes investment professionals are pretty crappy at applying reality to mathematics.

You may be sick of reading about credit default swaps and collateralised debt obligations - the financial instruments copping the blame for our current little financial crisis - but the article (originally published in 'Wired' magazine) is particularly illuminating about the way financial types measure risk and how the beauty of a single formula blinded many to the ugly - statistically speaking - real world.

"They think they can model just a few years' worth of data and come up with probabilities for things that may happen only once every 10,000 years," the Wired story concludes. "Then people invest on the basis of those probabilities, without stopping to wonder whether the numbers make any sense at all."

Now that's a real money illusion


Well, there was something(know not what) that kept my thoughts inversed today (Perhaps, I suspect the involvement of my Algorithm Teacher's "preachings" on the complexities and the treasures that are hidden in these problems!or on the flip-side it might also be due to lack of tests and assignments this week!).So, today I felt that I had to get some thoughts in and extract some really serious inverse algorithms,if not for algorithms that are worthy enough for a patent;). And guess what?!, the thoughts did flow and the thought flow did work!- and what followed that is this post which forms the basis function to an extrapolation of these little seemingly brilliant myriad "thought flows"...

Imagine how much easier it would be to succeed and be happy in life if you were constantly expecting the world to support you and bring you opportunity. Successful people do just that. This sixth step for creating the life you want, Become an "Inverse Paranoid", isn't about being self-centered, it's about being self-confident.

Too often people who believe in themselves and their purpose (see yesterday's post for more on finding your life's purpose) are sometimes labeled as arrogant or just plain cocky and stuck-up. The opposite couldn't be truer. Those of us who expect great things out of the world, each other, and ourselves realize the importance to focus inwards to build and create the necessary energy to tell the world what we want and to help others do the same. As a result, Inverse Paranoids are not afraid to speak their minds or stand up for their beliefs and for what they want out of life.

Typically the word "paranoid" means suspicious or fearful. In this context, however, the word takes out a whole different meaning. Truly paranoid people, in the sense we usually think of, are always expecting something bad to happen to them. In terms of creating the life you want, Inverse Paranoids are expecting good things to happen to them. They expect to have strong relationships and nurturing families; they expect rewarding careers; they expect to be happy and successful. Why? Because they have told the Universe this is what they want and they are taking the necessary steps and doing the necessary things to make it happen.

You can easily spot Inverse Paranoids. These are the people who take the time to improve themselves. They read, take courses, and attend lectures and seminars. They reach out to others who have achieved a particular success in order to soak in all they can from the people who are accomplishing the same things they want to achieve.

The encouraging point here is you can learn to become an Inverse Paranoid. Start by believing you deserve to have good things happen to you. Put yourself out there and begin to do the things successful and happy people do. It's about taking time for you and investing time in yourself. However, it can be hard to do. Early on it may feel like you are being selfish and self-absorbed. But, as you begin to make progress and learn to balance all of the demands for your time in a more productive manner, it will become more natural.

After all, by taking the time to improve yourself will have positive, residual effects for everybody in your life. From an inverse focus, you can tap into your life's desire and passion, expect it to happen, and then share it with any one you choose. That, my friend, is not selfish at all. It is a gift.
I happened to have a trade-off rant today in my Algorithms Programming Application Software! class (*Now aint that exotic?!*), I got a metaphor involving the undescribable numbers for my teacher. An interesting confusion came up from him in the comments about just what that meant. Instead of answering it with a comment, I decided that it justified a post of its own. It's a fascinating topic which is incredibly counter-intuitive. To me, it's one of the great examples of how utterly wrong our intuitions can be.

Numbers are, obviously, very important. And so, over the ages, we've invented lots of notations that allow us to write those numbers down: the familiar arabic notation, roman numerals, fractions, decimals, continued fractions, algebraic series, etc. I could easily spend months on this blog just writing about different notations that we use to write numbers, and the benefits and weaknesses of each notation.

But the fact is, the vast, overwhelming majority of numbers cannot be written down in any form.

That statement seems bizarre at best. But it does actually make sense. But for it to make sense, we have to start at the very beginning: What does it mean for a number to be describable?

A describable number is a number for which there is some finite representation. An indescribable number is a number for which there is no finite notation. To be clear, things like repeating decimals are not indescribable: a repeating decimal has a finite notation. (It can be represented as a rational number; it can be represented in decimal notation by adding extra symbols to the representation to denote repetition.) Irrational numbers like π, which can be computed by an algorithm, are not indescribable. By indescribable, I mean that they really have no finite representation.

As a computer science guy, I naturally come at this from a computational perspective. One way of defining a describable number is to say that there is some finite computer program which will generate the representation of the number in some form. In other words, a number is describable if you can describe how to generate its representation using a finite description. It doesn't matter what notation the program generates it in, as long as the end result is uniquely identifiable as that one specific number. So you could use programs that generate decimal expansions; you could use programs that generate either fractions or decimal expansions, but in the latter case, you'd need the program to identify the notation that it was generating.

So - if you can write a finite program that will generate a representation of the number, it's describable. It doesn't matter whether that program ever finishes or not - so if it takes it an infinite amount of time to compute the number, that's fine - so long as the program is finite. So π is describable: it's notation in decimal form is infinite, but the program to generate that representation is finite.

An indescribable number is, therefore, a number for which there is no notation, and no algorithm which can uniquely identify that number in a finite amount of space. In theory, any number can be represented by a summation series of rational numbers - the indescribable ones are numbers for which not only is the length of that series of rational numbers infinite, but given the first K numbers in that series, there is no algorithm that can tell you the value of the K+1th rational.

So, take an arbitrary computing device, φ, where φ(x) denotes the result of running φ on program x. The total number of describable numbers can be no larger than the size of the set of programs x that can be run using φ. The number of programs for any effective computing device is countably infinite - so there are, at most, a countably infinite number of describable numbers. But there are uncountably many real numbers - so the set of numbers that can't be generated by any finite program is uncountably large.

Most numbers cannot be described in a finite amount of space. We can't compute with them, we can't describe them, we can't identify them. We know that they're there; we can prove that they're there. All sorts of things that we count on as properties of real numbers wouldn't work if the indescribable numbers weren't there. But they're totally inaccessible.

Here is a paper from the Autumn 1997 issue peer-reviewed journal Population Trends by J. Haskey:

Spouses with identical residential addresses before marriage
an indicator of pre-marital cohabitation

In case the title is too obscure, the abstract offers this helpful clarification:

It outlines previous background research which has provided good evidence that identical addresses (before) marriage are likely to be ones in which the couple pre-maritally cohabited.

God, I wish math papers were this easy to publish. I’ve already got a stack of potential papers:

  • Number theory — Divisibility by 2 an indicator of being even.
  • Algebra — The presence of = symbol an indicator of equality.
  • Calculus — The existence of a derivative an indicator of differentiability.
  • Meteorology — The sky is blue, unless it’s night or it’s obstructed by clouds.

What would you write about?

Abstract

In this article, we discuss the classic proof that girls are evil. The author will briefly discuss the origins of the problem and review the classic proof. The author then indicates a mathematical flaw in the argument, invalidating the statement. The article concludes with a revised and corrected statement of the result.

I. Introduction

I recently received an email discussing the differences between men and women from various mathematical and engineering points-of-view. Most of it was extremely funny, and sooner or later all shall certainly appear within the mathematico-humorist community, properly researched, and appended with standard references in the literature.

However, one portion of the email included a mathematical “proof” of the fact that girls are evil. This proof is doubtless familiar to many readers, having circulated a few times in mathematicians’ inboxes. However, for those readers unfamiliar with this well-known proof, we present it now.

II. Statement and classical proof of result

Theorem. Girls are evil.

Proof. It is axiomic in all cultures that girls require both time and money, and any man with either a deficiency in available “quality time” or “disposable income” knows that this a joint-proportion, whence

Similarly, it is has been proved that “time is money”..


Therefore, the Substitution yields

We also know that “money is the root of all evil”, whence

Substituting again yields

Squaring on the right-hand side of the equation yields

establishing the result. Q.E.D.

III. Identifying and resolving the flaw

The above “proof,” so-called, is widely known to mathematicians, leading to the widespread belief that girls are evil.

It will therefore come as a surprise to find that the proof above is flawed, and indeed, the result is incorrect. There is a subtle flaw in the above argument that seems to have escaped most diligent readers for quite some time. In the interest of correcting this mis-truth, which has improperly vilified girls as being evil, we present now the correct statement and its proof.

Theorem (Corrected). Girls are absolute evil.

Proof. Arguing as above allows us to conclude

However, let us more intently examine the consequences of money being the root of all evil. A moment’s thought shows that it is incorrect to conclude that

To see this, recall that evil is a inherently negative concept . We cannot take square roots of negative quantities in the real world, lest we are will to assume that money is imaginary. (Graduate students in particular may choose to investigate this concept further ) Thus, we are therefore forced to conclude that

Substituting again yields

Squaring on the right-hand side of the equation yields

establishing that girls are absolutely evil. Q.E.D.

IV. Conclusion

We sincerely hope this clears things up.


PS: Well, nothing here is intentional. Just take em with a pinch of sarcasm(not essentially as a gender bias:P)
If only I could get to the derivative of you,
To navigate your slope just like I used to do,
Your sine curve so smooth, so well elevated,
Just waiting for me to come and make it integrated.
Remember how during our second differentiation,
I'd derivate and agitate until I'd reach acceleration?
My little pet parabola whom I so much adore,
Why can't we have a functional relationship once more?

reCAPTCHAring ;)

Scribbled by Bharath C On September 22, 2009 0 Thoughts have been Sprinkled!, Your Take?

We’ve all seen CAPTCHA’s — those distorted words that function as a cut-rate Turing test, separating humans from spambots on any number of websites.

About a mweekend I was at MSR Summers..and of the participants was Luis von Ahn — the guy who was responsible for inventing the CAPTCHA idea. He gave a great one-minute talk, in which he traced his personal feelings about being responsible for something that is so useful, yet so annoying.

CAPTCHA, you will not be surprised to hear, is ubiquitous. Luis figured out that the little buggers are filled out about sixty million times per day by someone on the web. So, as the inventer, he first felt a certain amount of pride at having exerted such a palpable influence on modern life. But after a bit of reflection, and multiplying sixty million times by the five seconds it might take to fill in the form, he became depressed at the enormous number of person-hours that were essentially wasted on this task.

Being a clever guy, Luis decided to make lemonade. What we have here is a huge number of people who are recognizing words that a computer can’t make out. Luis realized that there was a separate circumstance in which you would want the computer to recognize the words, even though it wasn’t quite up to the task — optical character recognition, and in particular the problem of digitizing old texts. Apparently, before the advent of the Internet, people would store information by binding together pieces of paper with words printed on them, forming compact volumes known as “books.” In the interest of preserving the products of this outmoded technology, various efforts around the world are attempting to scan in all of those books and store the results digitally. But often the text is not so clear, and the computers don’t do such a great job at translating the images into words.

sample-ocr.gif





Thus, reCAPTCHA was born. At this point you should be able to guess what it does: takes scanned images from actual books, with which optical character recognition software are struggling, and uses them as the source material for CAPTCHA’s. The project is up and running, and can be implemented anywhere the ordinary CAPTCHA’s are used. Now, when you get annoyed at having to make out those squiggly words with lines slashed through them, you can take some solace in knowing that you’re making the world a better place. Or at least saving some books from the trash bin of history.

A lot of people who think about time tend to emerge from their contemplations and declare that time is just an illusion, or (in modern guise) some sort of semi-classical approximation. And that might very well be true. But it also might not be true; from our experiences with duality in string theory, we have explicit examples of models of quantum gravity which are equivalent to conventional quantum-mechanical systems obeying the time-dependent Schrödinger equation with the time parameter right there where Schrödinger put it.

And from that humble beginning — maybe ordinary quantum mechanics is right, and there exists a formulation of the theory of everything that takes the form of a time-independent Hamiltonian acting on a time-dependent quantum state defined in some Hilbert space — you can actually reach some sweeping conclusions. The fulcrum, of course, is the observed arrow of time in our local universe. When thinking about the low-entropy conditions near the Big Bang, we tend to get caught up in the fact that the Bang is a singularity, forming a boundary to spacetime in classical general relativity. But classical general relativity is not right, and it’s perfectly plausible (although far from inevitable) that there was something before the Bang. If the universe really did come into existence out of nothing 14 billion years ago, we can at least imagine that there was something special about that event, and there is some deep reason for the entropy to have been so low. But if the ordinary rules of quantum mechanics are obeyed, there is no such thing as the “beginning of time”; the Big Bang would just be a transitional stage, for which our current theories don’t provide an adequate spacetime interpretation. In that case, the observed arrow of time in our local universe has to arise dynamically according to the laws of physics governing the evolution of a wave function for all eternity.

Interestingly, that has important implications. If the quantum state evolves in a finite-dimensional Hilbert space, it evolves ergodically through a torus of phases, and will exhibit all of the usual problems of Boltzmann brains. So, at the very least, the Hilbert space (under these assumptions) must be infinite-dimensional. In fact you can go a bit farther than that, and argue that the spectrum of energy eigenvalues must be arbitrarily closely spaced — there must be at least one accumulation point.

Sexy, I know. The remarkable thing is that you can say anything at all about the Hilbert space of the universe just by making a few simple assumptions and observing that eggs always turn into omelets, never the other way around. Turning it into a respectable cosmological model with an explicit spacetime interpretation is, admittedly, more work, and all we have at the moment are some very speculative ideas. But in the course of the essay I got to name-check Parmenides, Heraclitus, Lucretius, Augustine, and Nietzsche, so overall it was well worth the effort.

“Under-promise and over-deliver” is a catchy and well accepted management maxim these days. It’s frequently found hand-in-hand with that other popular wisdom about the need to “constantly exceed customer expectations”. In fact many managers would argue that in order to constantly exceed customer expectations, you need to under-promise and over-deliver.

The marketing and management literature supports the notion that what is delivered to customers must relate to their expectations and this is in large part driven by what was promised in the first place. The real problem is how managers have blindly picked the idea up and assumed that it applies across the board.

Let’s explore the assumptions that underlie these traditional wisdoms and show how it adds up to nothing more than a pathetic set of fallacy!

Flawed assumption 1: That being positively surprised time and again is a sensible and sustainable thing to do

A common traditional wisdom is that one of the best things you can do is to “constantly exceed the expectations of your customers”. It’s like the customer management version of continuous improvement because it’s a stretchy and aspirational thing to do. But, given the earlier discussion about how customers dislike surprises, is this actually a sensible aspiration to pursue?

Look at the stock market example again- a blue chip stock is defined by the way it delivers the promised results time and again over the years as promised. As one web dictionary puts it- well-known common stocks with a long record of profit growth and dividend payment, and a reputation for quality management, products and services. What happens if a certain stock becomes renowned for beating expectations? Beating expectations quickly becomes the new expectation.

If for example, bank customers generally wait five minutes for teller service, their expectation will be to wait five minutes. To exceed their expectations, the bank will need to shorten the wait to less than five minutes. Perversely though, once customers experience a shorter wait, their expectations are generally revised. The inevitable happens- the bank creates a rod for its back and it feels under pressure to progressively reduce the waiting time, and following the logic, the waiting time will ultimately need to be zero.

One of the key points is that customer expectations are rarely static. The expectations customers hold will adapt and change according to what they hear in the market and what they experience.

Flawed assumption 2: That over delivering pays off

One of the biggest risks of over-delivering is wastage… the sort of wastage that cannot be seen.

It is a well known fact that some very high quality companies around the world have gone out of business. Even Baldridge award winners like Florida Power and Light have gone broke because their quality has been too good for what customers pay. There’s an assumption that great quality and service pays off, but ultimately it is about what the customer gets for what they are prepared to pay. Offer more than what a customer is prepared to pay and it will be the wastage that costs dearly.

Yet, if we explore the psychology and motivation of customers we get a picture why substantial wastage often goes unnoticed. What happens if a customer gets offered something positive they did not expect? First, they will of course usually accept it, especially if it comes with no strings attached. Unless the unexpected bonus is related to something really important and relevant to the customer, then it is likely, the customer will accept it without really thinking much about it.

Take the bank waiting time example again. If a customer comes in and this time goes straight to a teller without waiting, they will undoubtedly feel good about that for a short while. Importantly, the attitude of most customers is usually that this is a little win for them… some serendipity when “it’s usually me, the customer, who gets the raw end of the deal… so I deserve this bit of luck”. It’s likely they won’t attribute this to the good planning and management of the bank, unless it starts happening on a consistent basis. So isolated over-delivery will achieve little enduring behavioural modification for customers in the moderately dissatisfied to moderately satisfied ambivalence area of the satisfaction scale. Customers will take whatever is on offer though- they’d be crazy not too!

The main conclusion here is that over-delivery is a dangerous game. Most over-delivery will be happily accepted by customers, but don’t expect to get much back in return. To work, over-delivery must become part of a consistent, on-going offering that customers value and anticipate. And if that is achieved, that is no longer over- delivery, it’s simply doing what is promised and expected. So the emerging wisdom is don’t over-deliver, just “deliver on the nail”.



Flawed assumption 3: That under- promising works

This leads to another popular belief- that it is smart to manage the expectations of customers downwards, so that it is easier to delight them. Even better if you can delight customers by doing nothing different to what you are currently doing! This is so called “under- promising”- one half of the widely accepted “under- promise and over-deliver” approach.

On the surface of it, this seems a clever thing to do. Since the expectations of customers are quite fluid, it is obviously smart to keep them under control as much as is possible.

Let’s look at the bank waiting time example again. Imagine the bank has decided to manage expectations downward to ten minutes, but still deliver on a five minute wait. Note that in the past waiting times were one of those issues avoided if possible in any communications with customers. Obviously, it costs very little to explain to customers that they can realistically expect a waiting time of up to ten minutes. As the theory suggests, naturally, they will be pleasantly surprised if they only have to wait five minutes (the amount of time they have always had to wait)- or will they?

There are a few inherent dangers:

  • There’s a negative message to be communicated in order to manage expectations- that that the waiting time could be ten minutes. Keeping in mind that studies show that it takes about 11 positives to make up for one negative, there’s a very real danger that there could be a negative backlash against the bank which could be difficult to overcome. This will be especially so if waiting time is an important criterion for customers to evaluate the performance of the bank
  • What if another bank uses the opportunity to promote shorter waiting times? This might be an attractive proposition to the many ambivalent customers of the first bank, even though in reality waiting times in the two banks are the same. Under- promising on a systematic basis can open up an opportunity for competitors when really there is no difference between the two.

In this competitive world, it’s unusual to have the space to under- promise on an ongoing basis, especially to make enough of a difference for the under-promise; over-deliver strategy to stand out to customers.

Much more important to work on is communicating realistically what your firm is capable of, so that there is no misunderstanding with the customer. You could call this “promise on the nail”- the art and science of promising exactly what a customer is going to get.

Where does that leave “under-promise and over- deliver”?

It’s catchy, but it has no substance and it’s not sustainable- “under-promise and over-deliver” rarely works for all the reasons argued above.

Most success will come from promising what can and should be delivered and then doing it- “promise on the nail and deliver it on the nail”.

Effective “Promises Management” calls for finding the right balance between how the right promises are made and whether they are reliably delivered on. It is much more than a two handed balancing act though. Yes, one’s own promises must be managed on the one hand and delivered on the other, but what about the promises made to you? Two more hands are required to track and manage promises made to you and whether they have been delivered… unless of course the people you are dealing with can be trusted to do what they say they will.
"Our emotions, our sentiments, our thoughts, the whole paraphernalia of the mind, are manipulated and conditioned by the outside. Scientifically, it has become more clear now, but even without scientific investigation the mystics have been saying exactly the same thing for thousands of years, that all these things our mind is filled with are not ours; you are beyond them. We get identified with them, and that's the only problem."

Who you are not

You are not the body. If a doctor amputated both arms and legs, and if he transplanted into your body someone else's kidneys and an artificial heart, the essence of who you are would not change because you are not the body. You are not that.

You are also not your brain. Even if a doctor hooked up wires to your brain, and by applying voltages to different regions of your brain, forced you to move various limbs, or even to change certain emotional behaviors, the very essence of who you are would not have changed because you are not your brain. You are not that.

You are also not our mind. While asleep, your mind might take on the personality of a sexy model, or a dapper ladies man, or a silver-tongued international spy, or a bird in flight. But, the I that is you is merely the observer to the journeys your mind takes. The I that is the essence of you never changes. It is not the mind. You are not that.

Who you are

Who you are, the very essence of who you are, is Consciousness. The challenge for you, in this life, is to gain knowledge of Self --- to understand what, exactly, this Consciousness is that is Self.

Certain research into the functioning of neuromelanin over the past century has offered clues to guide us in our search for Knowledge of Self -- a search that Man has been on for as long as Man has been Man --- for as long as Man has possessed Consciousness.

The Self transcends the body. You are not that.

However --- and this is an important point --- melanin does have a critical role to play in the _functioning_ of our Consciousness. And, this role is consistent within All -- both Whites, and Blacks, and Browns, and all the other artificial subgroups of mankind. Melanin is an energy absorber. Skin melanin absorbs light energy from the rays of the sun, from without. And, neuromelanin both absorbs, and transfers/radiates, energy within the body. But, what is this energy that is both without, and within? What is this light that is the life of men?

The question is straight forward but the answer is ambiguous..:)
For our entire lives, most of us have depended on highly centralized systems. Our food comes from a thousand or more miles away. Our savings is shipped into distant financial centers and invested by strangers in enterprises run by strangers. We watch highly scripted news that serves the same spin no matter how many channels we try. We bank at impersonal global banks with criminal records that would make a felon blush and have no idea where our money goes, just that the government guarantees that we will get it back.

Within this centralized system, diversification means having your financial assets deposited into a “one-stop-shop” brokerage account invested in securities representing different global industries, the idea being when one industry is doing poorly, another “countercyclical” industry would be doing well.

But suddenly, we find that we may not be able to trust these centralized systems. Suddenly, traditional portfolio theory no longer addresses our anxiety. This is because we need to shift from diversification within a centralized system to real diversification in a decentralized, possibly “out of control” world.

If you study the investment patterns of families and wealth that has survived through the generations, including through periods of lawlessness and warfare, you come to understand that for those who want to thrive in all economic and political scenarios, diversification has had a far deeper meaning than what is commonly understood in the financial markets today. For the astute strategist, it means not putting all your eggs in one basket in every important aspect of your life. Given what is happening in our world and economy, it’s time to revisit the deeper meaning of diversification.

Diversification means that our assets are invested such that an economic, political, or natural event — particularly a catastrophic event — cannot wipe us out. So, for example, we don’t invest all of our savings in a single financial institution or fund. Investors who lost their life savings in the Madoff scandal were not practicing even the most basic form of financial diversification.

Diversification also means having multiple types of assets and custodians in multiple places. Custodians (i.e., those who hold our assets for us) might be brokerage firms, banks, depositories or our own safe.

Diversification by place means locating our assets in states or countries subject to different legal and political risks. It means denominating our assets in currencies of multiple countries. It means selecting assets subject to different risks of loss due to climate change, weather conditions, social conditions and other uniquely local vicissitudes. Local investment is a great idea, but the people who lived through Katrina can tell you why having all of your eggs in one local basket may not be the best idea.

Diversification means that we don’t have all of our savings in just one type of asset. So we don’t invest in securities only — we also invest in tangibles. If possible, we buy a house without debt, or with debt that can be serviced by one family member’s income, or invest in our home to lower energy and food costs permanently. We also maintain a sufficient inventory of household goods. And it’s a good idea to invest in disaster preparedness if we live in an area that experiences earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, or tornadoes or is prone to power outages.

Having all your money in one currency or one country is pretty risky – a risk many in the US tend to take. Ask your Jewish friends whose parents got out of Germany in time because they had gold coins or family and assets abroad. Gold coins may hold their value if the dollar collapses, but they can also disappear in a burglary or if you forget where you put them. Digital gold may be a great thing, but if the Internet is not reliable where you are, cold cash may be a good thing. Or if your cash is worthless, a stockpile of food, vitamins and liquor can be priceless. However, food, vitamins and liquor are only good when you are bartering with someone who wants them or is close by. Which takes us back to gold and thats back to square one! ;)

In Thomas Friedman's "Hot, Flat and Crowded" he refers to Ray Kurzweil's (see www.Kurzweilai.net) explanation of intuitive linearity vs. exponential growth as the way to explain our failure to anticipate the level and speed of climate change. Simply put, we tend to base our understanding of the future based on the events of the past and the rate of their unfolding.

In my experience, this is not the experience of the sensitive or the visionary. Part of the struggle for these populations is that their processing leads them to have a sense of the future that does not come from their experiences of the past or how events up until the present have played out. They have a natural capacity to see and feel ramifications of current policies that reach out far into the future.

While I do not begin to suggest that these populations know how climate change is going to play out, I would say that many sensitives and visionaries live with a sense of how large events will play out or come to pass that surpasses all logical explanation. In some ways it is as if they lack the filter that limits the ability of most people to see beyond the present.

If a pebble is dropped in the pond, it is as if the sensitive or visionary feels or sees as far out as the 100th ripple. At most, the majority of the population is just watching the pebble drop. With climate disruption, and economic policies that have global implications, the world's problems emerge onto a shared playing field. Cultures are being forced to see beyond the pebble that drops in their neighborhood pond. Yet, being forced to consider larger variables is profoundly different than having a natural affinity for sensing and moving into the ever expanding ripples.

I think it remains important for sensitives and visionaries to recognize this distinction. Otherwise, when they are around people talking about "green revolutions" etc., they can get confused as to why the level of conversation still seems to be missing the mark. It is as if the people seem to be talking about the ripples, but somehow, they are still only seeing the ripples nearest to them. (See "Hot, Flat and Crowded" for a superb explanation as to why the efforts in the at US towards green living have less than the impact of a pebble in a pond on a global level).

As crises spread, deep change is mandatory. Someone aware of the ripples can be confused as to why it takes such crisis for most citizens to even begin to consider the need for change. This is part of the pain of carrying a capacity for vision - or for the awareness of the exponential.


Two weekends ago I was visiting a dear friend in Mysore. She has just started a postdoctoral fellowship in Chemistry at an IIT and also she's has just started dating an engineering doctoral student.(Thats a dual degree for the taking!!) They are very smitten. It was disgusting.

During one of their goodbye smooch sessions (while I was attempting to melt beneath the floorboards on my way out the door), my dear friend, let’s call her XYZ, accidentally said “I love you” to the Engineer.

This was cause for great distress and she immediately “took it back.”

A few days later, consumed by the saying, taking back, and woefully lack of saying and taking back in return, XYZ broached the subject with the Engineer (I was thankfully hanging out with my 21-year old cousin, who's from a Arts background).

The Engineer, delightful and rational fellow that he is, made it clear that he would not be saying “I love you” until he was sure. Otherwise, he might waste this very important statement by saying it too early in the relationship, when his love was still growing rapidly, thereby taking away the significance in later weeks/months when his love was much, much greater.

XYZ, obviously disappointed by this response, pressed and asked WHEN exactly that would be. His response: when dLove/dt = zero.

For those of you who have forgotten your calculus (or blocked it out, or, lucky you, never took it at all) let me explain: he will say “I love you” when the slope of the tangent to the growth curve of his love has reached zero. This indicates of a local maximum and means that the rate of growth (the velocity of love, as it were) has slowed to a stop.

As XYZ and I were discussing his response, we found it concerning on several levels. Firstly, if the curve of his love is akin to figure (a) then after he says I love you, he will actually begin to love her less. Which bodeth not well for their long term relationship survival. So then, let’s be generous and suggest the curve of his love is better approximated by figure (b), where the plateau of zero growth might indicate the end of honeymoon/infatuation-type love (a bit late, but not a BAD time to say I love you), which then moves on promptly on to another growth phase, the build up of life-long-partnership-love and the having of babies.

But the second distressing aspect of the whole affair was that somewhere along the line XYZ had also mentioned the term “second derivative.” And neither of us could actually remember what this was. We both recalled HOW to take a second derivative (indeed XYZ and I took calculus together many years ago), but we couldn’t remember what it actually meant.

Enter massive calculus textbook from our 1st year class (XYZ hates throwing away text books).

After searching in the index and finding some helpful examples, we remembered that AHA! the second derivative is akin to acceleration: the rate of rate of growth. And by solving for the second derivative - d2 (love)/dt2 - we could ensure that when d(love)/dt = 0, it is a local maximum (the greatest love), not a local minimum (not the greatest love of all). For when the second derivative is negative = local maximum, as in figure (a); when positive, it’s a local minimum, as in figure (c) (Refresh your memory here). All is happy.

But, you see, I have come up with a better solution. The first few weeks or months of a relationship often result in a very rapid growth of love. Indeed you could even say love is accelerating at a break necking pace (oh har, sorry) not merely speeding along in a linear fashion. Of course this psychotic rampage in love growth can only continue apace for so long and eventually the acceleration will drop to zero, though the absolute value of love is still growing - ie the velocity or d(love)/dt is still greater than zero. An exemplary graph of said derivative can be seen in figure (d).

Try this math teacheresque example; it’s like XYZ and the Engineer have the pedal to metal, building up speed along the on ramp to the freeway of love. But once they merge on, and find a nice lane, they can continue traveling at a constant rate, save for pit stops (fights) and the occasionally passing of trucks (make-up sex). Or better yet, let’s say that falling in love is really actually like falling, wherein the acceleration = 9.8 meters per second squared. When you finally slam into the ground (or reach terminal velocity, which ever suits your particular romantic scenario) and start acting like a normal human beings, instead of a driveling, love-crazed sociopaths, then you know its really time to start saying “I love you.”

In either case, the Engineer should in fact solve for zero in the second derivative to the love-time function and say “I love you” when love has stopped accelerating. This solves the concerning problem of having to wait until his love has stopped growing. Because zero growth in the love function is likely to make any woman, chemist, calculus enthusiast or otherwise, pretty goddamn pissed off.

Although Einstein is best known for his theories of relativity, he was also the main driving force behind the advent of quantum mechanics (QM). His early work in photo-voltaic effect paved way for future developments in QM. And he won the Nobel prize, not for the theories of relativity, but for this early work.

It then should come as a surprise to us that Einstein didn’t quite believe in QM. He spent the latter part of his career trying to device thought experiments that would prove that QM is inconsistent with what he believed to be the laws of nature. Why is it that Einstein could not accept QM? We will never know for sure, and my guess is probably as good as anybody else’s.

Einstein’s trouble with QM is summarized in this famous quote.

"God does not play dice with the universe."
— Albert Einstein

It is indeed difficult to reconcile the notions (or at least some interpretations) of QM with a word view in which a God has control over everything. In QM, observations are probabilistic in nature. That is to say, if we somehow manage to send two electrons (in the same state) down the same beam and observe them after a while, we may get two different observed properties.

We can interpret this imperfection in observation as our inability to set up identical initial states, or the lack of precision in our measurements. This interpretation gives rise to the so-called hidden variable theories — considered invalid for a variety of reasons. The interpretation currently popular is that uncertainty is an inherent property of nature — the so-called Copenhagen interpretation.

In the Copenhagen picture, particles have positions only when observed. At other times, they should be thought of as kind of spread out in space. In a double-slit interference experiment using electrons, for instance, we should not ask whether a particular electron takes on slit or the other. As long as there is interference, it kind of takes both.

The troubling thing for Einstein in this interpretation would be that even God would not be able to make the electron take one slit or the other (without disturbing the interference pattern, that is). And if God cannot place one tiny electron where He wants, how is he going to control the whole universe?

Cellphone marketing seems to have undergone a change recently. Cellphones at first were a status symbol, something that only the supposed elite possessed. But thanks to good marketing, and of course the fact that they’re extremely useful, almost everyone who could afford one soon got one. As people eloquently point out, they became a necessity, with being late or unavailable without excuse no longer unacceptable in the business world.

I remember being told a few years ago when I was resisting being given a cellphone by my parents, that I was being selfish, not by my parents, but by a friend, annoyed she couldn’t get hold of me as easily as she could others.

Parents on the whole seem to have bought into the belief that teens have to have a cellphone, mainly for safety reasons. Makes me quite nostalgic for my wildly irresponsible kido phase when I could leave the house with no way of being contacted.

But it’s the ads that interest me right now. I must be strange, never having been much interested in material things. I argue it allows me to focus on more important things, and has allowed me to “retire” with an income a fraction that of some friends who’re juggling their credit card debt with their overdraft debt. The ads clearly aren’t aimed at me then. But I find it hard to believe that people actually fall for them, in the sense of unconciously and unquestioningly accepting the message without any further awareness.

The first is an ad for a particular brand of cellphone, I forget which, perhaps Siemens, which very loosely goes something along the lines of:

Some think it’s your watch that gives you status, others your sunglasses, or your car. They’re wrong.

On first viewing, at this point I thought they were being consciously ironic, and there was to follow a clever punchline about the really important things in life, and the ad would actually be for the Nelson mandela Children’s fund. But no, it continued:

It’s actually your cellphone.
I had to stifle my gagging reflex. Surely an advertiser cannot be so purely vomitous? Are people really that stupid? Is the irony intentional, people being aware of it, and thus rendering the ad humourous. I fear not. Either way, it’s quite a depressing ad, and the manufacturer must be grateful I’m reeling so much I’m not entirely certain of the brand.

The second ad features an archetypal American dream family in the car. The dad puts on some old music, and the kids start laughing. Then the dad, slightly balding, brushes his hair trying to hide his bald spot, and the son laughs at him. The dad then walks in with an outdated suit, gets laughed at again, before finally pulling out an ancient cellphone, and again getting laughed out. The punchline indicates that MTN (I think) allows you to upgrade regularly to avoid such embarassment. Clearly aimed at teenagers, the messages are that cellphones are a status symbol, they must be new to be good.

I feel that the cellphone boom must be most credited not to the time,destiny or to the mindset of the present generation..but to the most creative types are being lured into the advertising industry, with its large budgets, and many are putting their best efforts into propaganda of the most subtle kind. The other side of the destroyed are those who do not find lasting happiness from buying the latest trinket, but again fall for the followup ad, and replace “I’ll be happy when I get X” with “I’ll be happy when I get Y”. Listen out for that phrase. It’s amazing how often it appears in conversation.

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