Thursday, November 24, 2005

Lets Say Thanks.

Its Thanksgiving evening here and people are having dinner with their near and dear ones. I am planning to do something similar. Have dinner with one of the DVDs that have been waiting for me for some time now. And say thanks for the miracle of movies.

Enough of non-movie posts on this blog! Now next few posts, if things go as I intend them to, are going to be about movies. Things I have been planning to talk about for some months but didn't get enough time for. What better use of a holiday? Lets Blog away!!

Two Wingmates, Google Talk and Collective Consciousness

Jeet, my wingmate (and a bit of friend, philosopher and guide) at IITB is re-reading the Foundation series nowadays. I saw him proclaiming "I like the Gaia concept" on his yahoo messenger status message and promptly saw an opportunity to engage in some geeky chatter. Needless to say, given a chance to chat with Google Talk I prefer not using anything else, so we started a little chat about the whole Gaia concept.

For those who haven't heard what Gaia is, It refers to a planet that is conscious as a whole. The consciousness of everything that is a part of that planet (people, plants, animals, even the presumed non-living things) forms a part of this whole superconscious. Everyone shares this "Gaia consciousness". This idea of collective consciousness is what Jeet liked a lot. And I was pretty excited about it when I read it too.

I know that a chat transcript is probably not the best format to post on a blog. Then again, probably a lot of people won't be interested in this post anyway. And those who are will probably not mind ignoring that little irritant/inconvenience.

So, here goes... Feel free to wonder how geeky (and how lukkha) can people be!! :)

Rahul: by the way Gaia concept (except for the shared feelings/consciousness thingy) is not very much off the mark.... its what I call the "scale invariance".... when you look at it, there is nothing fundamentally different between me as an organism and one of the cells in my body as an independent living entity.... similarly there's no reason for me to assume that my relation to earth (or terrestrial biosphere) is very different to that cell's relation to me..
to take it another step forward, its not very different from the relation of e.g. a ribozome to that cell..
and the relation of an atom to that ribozome.
scale invariance..

Jitendra: hmm.

Jitendra: main to shared memory aur distributed computing ke baare main sochta hoon :D

Rahul: that's why it is more "cool"/"interesting" than true for you...

Jitendra: Vaise scale invariance ke hisaab se bhi its difficult to say that 'gaia' exist at this scale..

Rahul: haan... it can't really be "proved" as such.. that'd depend on your precise definition of a "gaia" state so you can ask specific testable questions about that state... I just meant I feel it amazing to think that if a cell in my body can "think" then it will really have no reason to think that its playing a part in my life.. all it does it lives a separate independent life according to its own instincts and rules pretty much like I do..

Jitendra: Its like Gaia as a planet is a single organism that does not share its consciousness with other planets (organisms) in galaxy.. (there might be several Gaia organism in the vicinity)

Jitendra: In our case.. (humans and earth).. the similarity with Gaia ends as soon as we reach the scale of a human body...

Rahul: no... why do you think so? that'd be true if I actually shared consciousness with each and every cell (and why only cell? each and every particle) of my body... that's a claim that'd probably be very difficult to prove.... thats why I said that I'd probably stay away from speculating about the shared consciousness thing, but I can see the parallels in the relation between me and earth on one hand and a cell and me on the other..

Rahul: the fundamental difference between my idea of gaia (that I am talking about here) and the book's idea of gaia is that in the book the components of gaia's consciousness are actually aware of the fact that they are part of this superconsciousness... if that is not necessarily true, then the parallels do not really end anywhere... if I can be part of gaia without being aware of it, then for all i know, that might actually be true... the earth might be conscious and might depend on me for its consciousness... similarly gaia as a planet might not be aware of the fact that it is a part of another superconsciousness which is shared by other planets for example... again... scale invariance..

Jitendra: I mean to say that.. Relation of cells with humans is ' more' Gaia in nature than relation of humans with earth.. contrast is.. in one case its difficult to imagine each cell having 'consciousness' and in other case that we share it with others and earth..

Jitendra: but it can be argued that microorganisms (even single cell) have 'consciousness'

Rahul: oh, that we'll just have to agree to disagree about... i find it just as difficult to imagine that a cell has a share in my overall consciousness as me having a share in earth's consciousness... to me its just as plausible/implausible that the earth as a whole is conscious as a cell being a conscious entity...

Jitendra: Haan woh bhi hai.. book main to sabko pata hai.. !! (we don't know about planet because there is no direct IO for that)..

Rahul: this discussion can actually go on a blog, :P

Jitendra: Lekin aisa ho to kitna godgiri hoga. can you imagine the superbrain working !! but there might be a lot of chaos. (there already is)..

Rahul: :) nice things to think (and wonder) about..

Jitendra: Can you say that earth is a Gaia.. but its a bit sick right now :-)

Rahul: why do you think so... it might be like my skin cells (and red blood cells) dying every few cycles but me as an organism not being sick... maybe the environment not being conducive to humans as a species (or mammals as a collection of species.. or whatever) is just one part of a healthy gaia... we might not be doing too well, but that might still be contributing to a healthy (wealthy and wise) gaia

as I said, feel free to wonder why someone would talk about this thing and then post it on the blog.... :) I don't know.....

Monday, November 21, 2005

chicken tikka and julaabjaamun.

Women's cricket tours rarely get any spotlight at all, so I won't be surprised if some of you aren't even aware that the ladies from England are currently on a test tour of India. Charlotte Edwards is writing a tour diary for cricinfo. Her entry for November 14 has an unintentionally hilarious line. Describing their arrival at Delhi ariport, she says,
We were met at Delhi airport by girls with flower garlands which they put round our necks, and put dots made of chicken tikka paste on our foreheads.


Clearly someone told her that they want to put "teeka" on her forehead and coming from England, she probably had enough knowledge of desi cuisine to think that they are probably talking about the same dish that she loves so much. :)

Something similar happened when our lab went for a lab-lunch to a desi restaurant last month and one of the lab members said "I'll just go and get some julaab-jaamun". It was hilarious but I really didn't have the heart to tell him about the correct pronunciation and about what exactly "julaab-jaamun" might mean to anyone knowing hindi. :) I suppressed my giggle and just said "oh sure, I haven't tasted them but I am sure they must be good" :P

Will tell him whenever we go for lunch next... :)

Not a Karisma Fan But....

Karishma Kapoor
Originally uploaded by JanickG.

ran into a great pencil sketch of hers on flickr....

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Sex, Marriage and Celebrity.

I wish I was a celebrity. I'd have loved to throw my hat in all the premarital sex issue and get my effigy burnt.

For those who don't know what this is about, see the news pieces here, here and here.

And just in case it wasn't obvious, I'd throw my hat on the side of those who are against those who are burning effigies and starting court cases and are militantly against premarital sex. That doesn't necessarily mean that I am advocating PMS, but if that is what it takes to get my effigy burnt, then maybe I DO mean that. :)

sigh! how much time do people have on their hands!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

/. joke #2

In the comments of a recent article about an anti-gravity device patent, someone had this to say...

I have an idea that actually works(Score:3, Funny)
by sznupi (719324) on Saturday November 12, @06:30PM (#14017465)

Fact 1: cats always fall on four feet
Fact 2: bread slice always falls with the butter side down
So...put a bread with butter on top of a cat, and throw it through the window.

Antigravity device ready.

/. joke #1 here.

Slashdot the Chronovore!

Ok, poor attempt at a neologism, I know.. but really, Slashdot is currently the single biggest time-eater in my life (probably surpassed by cricket as of now, but then cricket has seasons... /. doesn't). And even though I have been a more or less regular /. visitor for some years now, I *really* have discovered its comments and fora only very recently.

Now, those among you who don't care will probably.. well... not care and those who do, will probably find this a prehistoric newspiece but the real fun (and usefulness, unless you have a problem with thinking about /. in those terms) is not about reading the headlines and the articles and visiting the links given in the article itself or even about the "from the $dept department" line below the poster details (if you don't know what I mean, go to /. and see any article and the fine print two lines below the article heading), but going through the zillion comments on ANY article.

The articles that you really are interested in will probably be commented on by many people who are not only as interested as you (or more) in the same thing but have interesting views about the thing or a better insight into the matter than you do and just reading those exchanges will probably tell you some orders of magnitude more about the matter in question than the parent article itself. Even the articles not of direct interest to you have some extremely funny comments by people. You know, the ones of the "must read" variety. One can spend entire days reading these things and not be bored. (note to advisor: No, thats just a figure of speech, I DON'T spend days on it... maybe hours.. :P )

/. rocks. Really.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

spotlight phobia!

I have always been a bad stage-performer and that is true for all kinds of stages. It is probably understandable why that would manifest as a bumbling, fumbling interviewee when 5-6 strangers are sitting and looking at everything that you fail to do and listening to everything that you fail to say, but if that attack of nerves comes when the stage is actually about 10 meters from you and the person who actually is on stage is an interviewee and is not called Rahul Tyagi, I guess its fair to say that it is getting a bit too much.

A faculty candidate had his seminar today and I had some questions to ask him. And I am not dumb, even if I say so myself. Meaning that the questions I had were actually pretty relevant. The keyphrase here is "I had". They never came out. The moment I started speaking, all the cells in the nervous system froze and what finally came out of my mouth - amidst a generous deluge of "ammm.."s, "well..."s, "ahhh..."s and the like - resembled the actual question about as much as Adolf Hitler resembled the Statue of Liberty. Not much.


Thursday, November 03, 2005

lets say it...


Sachin is back!! and how!!

I know, I know, this is probably too stale a news but there was a reason why I didn't write about it before (other than the fact that I am lazy, that is). I did not want to write in the condition I was in. As in, the 93 was exciting enough but the 67 he followed it up with was a true thing of beauty. I needed to calm down a little just to ensure that I write something that is at least semi-coherent.

I haven't been watching limited overs cricket for quite some time now. Sachin wasn't playing and when he was, it wasn't really worth all the time and money one has to invest for watching cricket here in US. I used to buy packages for the major test series but that was about it. 20 days back I'd have bet anything in the world that nothing in the world can make me buy these stupid 12 one dayers. I mean, come on! Its not as if I am sitting on a pile of gold. At the end of the day one has to remember that a poor grad student can not quite afford luxuries like spending 130 dollars on what is essentially a completely inconsequential series of see-it-hit-it-out-of-the-ground circus shows, right?


All that was based on my certainty that Sachin isn't going to budge from his stupid stand that he is now grand old man of indian cricket and needs to play that way. Sorry, it might give us a few victories here and there and maybe some major scores in test matches but it still falls short of a big enough motivation to shell out 130 dollars. However, something happened over last few days that took almost everyone by surprise. And even though most of us have come out of the shock and are readying ourselves for whats hopefully going to be a great ride over next few years, Atapattu and party are still shell-shocked. One needs to see him at the presentation ceremonies to believe the extent of the shock. He looks miserable. Blabbers and stammers his way through those couple of minutes and looks as if he has reached the end of his wits. Not that SL hasn't improved. The last two games were much better for SL fans than the first two. That sachin failed in both of these last two games might have something to do with it. Think about it. Sachin is playing as if there is no tomorrow. Reckless like a 15 year old. Heck, even more reckless than Sehwag! And they lose even the two matches where his recklessness ensured that he won't have much to contribute to indian total. What are they going to do when, inevitably, he DOES get a start again?

Its amazing! he isn't even playing like he used to in his heyday (1996, 1998, 2000 etc). He was an aesthetic treat then. Now, its plain butchery. You'd never have caught him flourishing his bat with overexaggerated follow-throughs. And even though that earlier method is most likely more efficient AND more pretty than this current avatar, it must be said that while that inspired awe among the opposition this Sachin probably inspires dread more than awe. This might sound a bit too premature considering that he has only played two good innings in this manner and failed in the next two. And he might just go back to being the grand-old-man Sachin from next innings onwards. But, really, even if he does go back, these two innings will be unforgettable for the manner in which it caught the whole world unawares. He was coming back from injury, hadn't been doing proper nets till just a couple of days before the match and hadn't shown much to be too excited about in the challenger matches just the previous week. And then he walks into an international match and cuts everyone to size. As cousin Avy says in Snatch - Not Subtle, But effective!

No wonder I needed only about 5 overs of the first match to get sucked into putting my credit card number and pressing enter! Poorer by 130 dollars, richer by some great innings!