Monday, September 21, 2009

William Blake.. poet.. Ph.D

we all know the amazing poem written by an equally amazing person called William Blake
His poem goes something like this :

To SEE the world in a grain of sand
and heaven in a wild flower
to hold infinity in the palm of my hand
and eternity in an hour

This is one of the most profound poems I have ever read. This is what he wishes to be able to see and experience. This poem does NOT end there as is popularly beleved but really goes on a long way with similar metaphors but the first 4 lines are my favourites.

But if William Blake was doing his phd in my lab.. what would he see ?
I think it would something like this

To see my future in a set of bands
and hope for an uninterrupted supply of power
To behold my CBB stained hands
and wish for good results in one hour

To hope that the admin people have done,
completed their own share of work
To wish that I don't have to run
to get away from by boss's quirk

To not add the wrong enzyme in the hour of need
but still do and have to face the fact alone
to be horrified at my guilty deed
a mistake that is hard to atone

To wish that people could understand
the importance of computation
and that not only wet work is grand
to sigh in my mounting frustration

to wish and dream of papers printed
to be acclaimed by the community
to desperately want this degree granted
to gain from here eternal immunity...


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Horoscopy or the road to moronic marriages and crappy catastrophies part V

Ok.. we finally come to the end of this long winded discussion. I think I have successfully painted a picture of horoscopy as nothing better than a hobby. But there is something as to why people still use it. Why so many people still need to use random calculations to justify their lot in life. The answer is twofold...
1. People need to believe in something. Something that externalises the cause and effect of whatever is going on in their lives. This is especially true if someone is really suffering in life, they want to look for a reason, any reason why they are in the current state. It always helps if someone else takes the responsibility of the current situation. This is not a bad thing. Tt is a human tendency, it gives hope that one day things will change, or if I appease this god or that planet things will change. Gives them something to do, makes them believe that they are doing something change their lives.
2. People want to play safe, nobody wants to take untoward risks ( unless they are adrenaline junkies ). People believe that by doing all this.. they can empower their lives, strengthen their lives, and are therefore move to consulting astrologers etc. This is especially true when taking big decisions in life, marriage, a business venture. They think it will help them to understand any situation better and then act accordingly.
The first reason is really ok since it is human tendency to believe that something is governing their lives and that something is appeasable/controlloable. This gives them a feeling of having at least some control over their lives. All the human cultures belive in something or the other that is not human and that controls the way life is.
The second reason is also fine, again no one wants to go through life by the seat of their pants, it is good to have some tether of some belief to set one's point of view in life. But both of these stem from one and the same problem. Why can't anyone who does this accept that they are almost completely responsible for what is going on in their lives. If you are not happy in your marriage may it is time to rethink it rather than going to astrologers. If you are consistently unlucky in life.. maybe you are doing something wrong. I know this is very easy to say than to do.. but if almost all of the society thinks like this it will be an amazing place to live in. Everyone taking full responsibility of their own existence here, man that would be cool !! no need for any hookey like horoscopy because no need for any external justification of the any situation. If I am sad right now, yeah I am sad right now. I would rather try address the root of sadness in me rather than try to fix saturn or uranus and how they are looking at me right now. But this is all fine. There is only one thing that I cannot forgive....
Using astrology or horoscopy to predict doomsday or catastrophies... that really boils my blood
I watched a 'documentary' produced by the history channel called "2012: Nostradamus" or something like that. The premise of the whole 1.5 hours of drivel is that in 2012 ther world is either going to end or the end of the world is going to begin. Okm I can live with that, as long as you tell me just exactly WHY the world is going to end. Apparently on december 12 2012 the sun is going to rise in exact alingment with the centre of the galaxy as seen from the earth. Apparently this is very important. Ok.. I can live with that.. again pray tell me why is it important that the sun rising in alignemnt with the galactic centre in just parallax alignment makes it any different from any other sunrise. Granted this happens once every 65000 years or so.. but still what is the big deal. The Halley's comet comes every 76 years.. still why is that a big deal ? (Geroge W bush gets elected only once in 5 billion years, again why is this special ? or important ? ). Apparently the Mayan calender ends exactly on december 21 2012. Great !! mayans were amazing astronomers, there is no doubting that but pray tell me how do you know when their calender began ? so you can so smugly predict that it will end on dec 21 2012 ? this is absolute nonsense. OF course mayans knew about the precession of equinoxes, that is the wobbling of the earth's axis so that the pole star changes after every 26000 years. but that does not mean that anything else is going to happen. Apparently Mr.Nostradamus was an accomplished astrologer who predicted all this nonsense 400 years ago and wrote cryptic poems. He ( or his son ) made 16 watercolour drawings to depict all of this. Now one Mr. Jim Wiener proudly says that these drawings depict the end of the world when the sun and the galactic centre align. I mean honestly if you see the drawing from which Mr.Weiner draws his conclusion you will say I want whatever drug this guy is on... It is a drawing of the upper half of a naked man with a bow and arrow ( presumably sagittarius) shooting and arrow at the drawing of an upper half of a naked woman. Mr.Weiner suggests that to him the woman represents the centre of the galaxy as it is going to be aligned with the arrow of sagitarius. All I see is one naked guy and his naked girlfriend doing kinky stuff.. How the hell does he relate that to the galaxy ? Another one is a sword around which a ribbon is wrapped. The ribbon is supposed to be the galaxy. He says it means the sun is going to rise in alignment with the center of the galaxy and that the Milky way looks S shaped from earth. Mr.Weiner please go outside and look to the skies. The galaxy looks NOTHING like an S. Maybe a horizontal I or the bottom part of L. But S ? man this guy is on a roll...
Now let us again consider why would the sun rising with galactic centre cause on whit of a difference on the earth. Again gravity or electromagnetism are the only two avenues available for this interaction to have any effect. The centre of the galaxy is ALWAYS on any one side of the earth since it is a point. So whatever is effect on earth.. it is going to be unidirectional and we have been perfectly safe till now. So who knows why the sun aligning with a MASSIVE amount of matter in the sky would make a difference. It is like saying an elephant is trying to break down a door and not succeeding and an electron comes along to help it and suddenly the door breaks !!
Apparently every culture on the planet has this as prediction in their calendars, says one lady and provides a long list of cultures. O lady of the infinite wisdom you did not count India or China as any culture in your long list. These two places on earth were the greatest civilisations the planet has ever seen, NOT just in amount of sheer number of people living there !! but whatever they had achieved in science and astronomy and maths and medicine. Westerners were still burning people at stakes when we were building universities. The chinese and Indian calendars never end btw. Sure we have a creation and destruction myth and that it is cyclic but it never bloody mentions a calender in conjunction with heavenly events.
This alignment is supposed to trigger a shift in the earth's magnetic field and this is coinciding with an increase in solar activity. Well if the earths magnetic field swtiches overnight.. that would be one hell of a party. A molten mass of a few hunderd million million tonnes suddenly starts to spin in the opposite direction inside the centre of the earth would really cause a stir. I am assuming that these fools know that the magnetic field is caused by the molten metal spinning inside the centre of the earth, and that the direction of the spinning is the reason for the polarity of the magnetic field.
This is bordering on foolishness, there are many many other things that really irritated me and I cannot react to them without foul language. See the problem with this nonsense is that people will actually believe this shit and stop living their lives. This causes a down everywhere, economy, production everything. Religous nuts would use this date to do something catastrophic to prove that the god they believe in has ordained this and they are just helping to prove the theory correct ( man if I had assistants like that to prove my theories I would have gotten a nobel prize by now ). Therefore one must be very careful about propaganda about this kind. Especially to a population ready to believe such nonsense and willing to take drastic steps about it.
So when the world does not end on 21 st december 2012, I am going to find Jim Weiner and kick him in the ass till my foot bleeds and then switch to the other foot and continue ( hopefully on live TV ). The bastard has even written a book on this listing all these 'evidences'. I am going to make him eat every page of his book when it does not happen.
So this is the reason why horoscopy is good only for an evening's entertainment and is really the road to moronic marraiges and crappy catastrophies.
Thank you all for sticking with this till the end... The next series in a few days would be on creationism vs evolution. But I bet you know who is going to win that fight :D

Friday, September 18, 2009

Horoscopy or the road to moronic marriages and crappy catastrophies part IV

This piece of the discussion is about how people apply astrology
Astrology is applied to a few if not all important decisions in the life of human beings.
Astrology is used to :
A. predict the future ( but we can consider that prediction with astrology has yet to make sense to anyone except astrologers )
See predicting the future is no fun.. because whats the worst that could happen ? you get syphilis.. or your family suffers its own little economic crisis.. or your son is a schizophrenic or you get a psychosomatic disorder or you get castrated by a gang of delinquents ( death is not mentioned here because it is inevitable, you don't astrology to predict it ). All of this does not depend on the stars... it most probably depends on you ( I mean if you really piss off a gang of delinquents in all probability they will castrate you ) (except the schizophrenic son but still that's genetics so it still might be you).
B. Arrange a marriage or Moronic marraiges.. NOW we're talking...
Checking your 'compatibility' with someone.. now that's a real challenge. For example I have known my parents my entire life but cannot predict with 100% accuracy what they would do in any given situation.
Let us see whether a horoscope can do better :
now .. here is how it goes. I am born under a certain 'sign' or 'constellation' ( read 'random connect the dots in the sky') . So I am born under a certain 'sign' and the person I am checking compatibility with is also born under a certain 'sign'.
So now the rule is... each sign is most compatible with some other sign and probably a little less compatible with the ones that are neighbors of that sign ( the zodiac is in the same order AND circular.. so each sign always has 2 neighbors ). Now why is this ? one would ask... why is this sign compatible with only a few signs. or let us ask it the other way around would probably make it easier. why does sign really not like the other signs ?
there is only answer... "Who knows" comes to mind.
There are 'water' signs or 'fire' signs. This is based on who the planet ruling the sign is ( who ever heard of a puny planet owning a group of MASSIVE stars ? you have to be kidding me ...). Well.. just like water signs there are also traffic signs, little electrons jiggling along in wires rule them.. similar scale of magnitude I think but more effective..
In the paper I referred to in the last post, they talk about a person named Carlson. Who did an experiment. He took 2000 couples. 758 divorced and the others not divorced. He had their horscopoes made and asked a bunch of astrologers to find you which ones are the divorced ones and which ones are not. In all practicality the couples that were LEAST compatible should be significantly higher in the divorced group. Exciting premise.. unfortunately it did not happen that way so statistics does not come to the rescue of the astrologer. They still get left out in the cold wasteland of ' not statistically significant'
In the Indian system there is something a little more intruiging. They try and match the 'guna' ( pronounce Goo Naa ) it can translate to prpoerties/characteristcs or points, but I think points is correct here as it is a qunatitaive trait. So they claim that when checking for compatibility they are checking to see how many points between 2 people match. The higher the points the higher the score.. so in essence the higher the compatibility. But there is one major problem... you are calculating a score between two patterns ( albeit it is based on arbitrary symbols and heavenly bodies with no differential effect on me and the other person ).
So What is the null hypothesis ? How should we determine the cutoff ? what score is ok ? the score always goes from 1 to 36. What is the base matrix based on which you decide at least 18 should match ? It is like doing BLAST without the E value !! (If you ever try this with BLAST ..people will probably fling banana peels at you thinking you should be in the zoo.)( for non scientists.. I cannot think of a good parallel right now. sorry guys ). I mean no disrespect but I believe I am entitled to know why all this is the case. I am not satisfied with the answer of " It is so" I mean I can equally well say it is NOT so and no one is the winner. Did the astrologers take random horoscopes and match them and see what score you generally get if ANY two horoscopes are matched ? I think it would follow a normal gaussian distribution since this is random. It has to be... I confess here that I don't have much of a clue as to how these points are calculated but I am sure it is based on when I am born so my 'sign'. There must be a uniform distribution in a tropical country of people being born all around the year. so then the background score would a be gaussian distribution with the mode being the cutoff. If they have not done this.. it just leads to one question.. why the hell not ? did you just accept this at face value ? There are astrology academies in pune... Don't they ever think.. " man this 18.. its not right.. if the cutoff is 15 .. more people will be compatible.. and probably be happier in the belief that " hey.. i am compatible with more people !!"
Now here is the twist... match horoscopes without regard to gender. IF this means anything.. any man's horoscope should match any woman's horoscope better than any other man's horoscope. I mean I am not against anyone being gay but I am sure horoscopes were made for marriages probably mostly for men and women togther.
But I have never come across any person who is even willing to test this theory. Forget an astrologer.. even if is say this to orthodentists they will probably think I am out of my mind..
why is this ? I mean come on.. it is a piece of paper. not self consistent.. highly subject to interpretation by the observer.. why respect it so much ? why fear it so much ? I know someone who actually told me proudly " When my daughter brought the guy she wants to marry home, even though he had not faults I told her... " If your horoscopes are compatible I am in this marriage and otherwise I am not" " come on man !!! who tells their daughter this ? If someone had told me this I would have shown them my middle finger on both hands ( and probably the fingers of both feet too ).
I am convinced now... that there are 3 kinds of marriages. Arranged marriages, love marriages and moronic marriages. The one that does horoscope copmatibility and uses it as the most important criteria is the last kind. My cousin brothers got married on the basis where the first premise was horoscopy. Don't get me wrong, All my sister's in law are wonderful people and all of them are extremely happy, but they would still be wonderful people and be extremely happy even if they had horoscopes predicting that they were gender confused ducks...
There is so much more to write on this but I better stop before I really hurt someone... So part 4 on moronic marriages ends here.
Part 5.. the one I am looking forward to write the most is about catastrophy prediction.. in particular the one in 2012.... Let us see if astrology helps us there...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Horoscopy or the road to moronic marriages and crappy catastrophies part III

Yes... The one probable saving grace of astrology or horoscopy.. statistics...
I have tried to argue that the constellations in the sky are absolutely arbitrary since they are just some dots connected by lines to for some shapes.. SO there is no earhtly ( or heavenly )reason in sight ( to me ) why someone born under some shape should be different than someone born under another. ( here under does not signify physical location, the entire earth is UNDER all the shapes ALL the time so that hardly gives a point of discrimination but instead under is when the sun or the moon is in the foreground of that constellation( or shape but hey.. take it as you want. I am not overtly artistic anyway but thats just me.. :D ) ) So now what is left ? A common sense argument using some facts of astronomy and some simple logic has lead us to the point of asking the question does astrology really make sense ? As Swati has very astutely pointed out on the part 1 post.. it is at best a correlation with events on earth in our puny little lives to some events of alignment of the sun and the moon and the other dudes ( and ladies ) up there ( dudes ( and ladies ) means planets and such.. I am NOT talking of gods here ). So we come to the only way we can assess any patterns or correlations in data. Statistics, pattern recognition algorithms, data mining even metadata analysis... all of these avenues are available to us. unfortunately I can understand only a little bit of the first one, statistics.. so let us start with that.
A huge thanks to my dear friend sameet who pointed out ( read his comment on part 2 ) that a statisical test for astrology had already been done and whats more it was published in a the jounral current science A statistical test of Astrology the current science article and by no less a person than Dr. J.V.Naralikar !!!
(I know his talks are boring but he is among the best scientists there is.. ). I am not going to describe the article here since it is open access. please follow the link above to read it. But the gist of the article is that astrology failed to hold up to the statistical tests they put it to. Therefore cannot be dubbed a science. A hobby at best perhaps. The paper shows that astrological predictions do not show a statistically significant predictive power and are more close to the flipping of a coin. What Dr.Naralikar has done is elegantly simple and lucid and convincing. ... but I too have some statistical experiments that I would like to conduct with astrological data ( obviously not as amazing as these people but nevertheless "majha kharicha vata" (marathi proverb, please ignore if marathi not first language) ) let us take one premise at a time and try to see whether it might be an objective disprovable/provable thesis. ( god I am writing the word thesis here.. I need to get out.. I need to get out of this place now !! )
To be an objective science you need :
1. A provable/disprovable hypothesis ( see.. thesis again .. save me !! )
2. A repeatable observation given a set of assumptions
3. A set of assumptions/rules based on known information that could be subject to change if in need of correction

now let us take the first tenet of astrology :
1. When you are born and Where you are born makes a difference in how you will lead your life.. ( again where is important only to calculate the position of the sun and all the other dudes ( and ladies ) up there. astrologers are not particularly fond of any place on earth.. at least that is the hope ). So do one simple test. define the smallest unit of time and the smallest unit of distance you want and then consider all the people born at those coordinates in time and space. ( In India sample size obviously is no problem in such matters.. ). They should have identical heavenly vistas in the sky when they were born. so they should IDENTICAL lives ( or identical predicted lives ). See if this is statistically significant with respect to important things like.. well education, death, health, spouse.
2. Identical twins.. ohh.. now it is interesting... Identical twins should have everything same !! even if they are born 10, 20, 30 minutes apart ( some simple astronomical calculation would tell us that the moon shifts from from nakshatra( in the Indian system there are 27 constellations other than 12 zodiac signs) to the next in about 12 minutes ( 12 zodiac signs so 2 hrs per zodiac sign and 27 constellations so 2.25 constellations per zodiac sign ( any astrology book would tell you this ), so 0.22 hours per constellation ( thats like 12 minutes )) this can be taken down to any resolution, I just used the moon because it was easy ( and the moon is the fastest moving heavenly body in the sky so for anything else it has to be more than 12 minutes.. point rests ). So depending on how apart twins are born, their horoscopes whould vary accordingly.
3. but again hang on.. we have enough knowledge of biology to understand that 'life' or the newborn baby begins at conception and NOT at birth as is popularly believed. So maybe horoscopes should be cast using conception time and birth time and then see which one is correct. ( if horoscopes with conception time turn out to be more correct.. people will laugh their pants off at astrologers who were doing the wrong thing for millennia !! :D ). So then.. in this case identical twins have a xeroxed fortune of eath other.
4. Why couldn't animals have horoscopes ?. Take 100 mice born at a time as close as you is practically possible. predict their lifespan using the horoscopes ( we like to use lab animals anyway ). Then if you are feeling particularly nasty about all this.. just kill them in the next 5 min when the horoscope says that they would live out their natural lives (and you can laugh like the demons from old south indian movies ). But to play nicely just see whether it works out or not.
These are a few things I would like to do.. any and all suggestions are welcome for more experiments in the comments section. But unfortunately astrologers think I am mocking them. I say to them please open your minds.. if astrology fares well in these tests.. then it IS a science and we will bow our heads in respect to it and accept it. I know astrology was a great discipline in the ancient days. I have even seen with my own eyes some guy reading my mom's future in an authenticated 3000 year old book and I am still at a loss as to explain how the hell did that 3000 old book have a correct picture of my mom's life. But the astrology that is done in these times is either extremely incompetent ( they might not get the math right ) or just plain idiotic ( they could not do much else in life so they became astrologers ).. People have a problem with the identical twin idea. they come up with concepts like "their karma maybe different so different patrika( read horoscope ) " well.. people karma cannot be measured.. so sorry.. i will not believe you. I think astrology can be made better if we apply statistics to it.
But here ends part 3... part 4 will consist of the applications of astrology and I think some suggestions people ( astrologically inclined or not ) should take seriously about it. Part 4 is about moronic marriages based on pieces of paper...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Horscopy or the road to moronic marriages and crappy catastrophies Part II

Well.. in the last post I waxed eloquent on how the two forces of physcis gravity and electromagnetism would affect each individual on earth in precisely the same manner. I did not explicitly mention it but when I am saying the effects are uniform I meant uniform with respect to anywhere on earth. So this takes care of the latitude and longitude part ( hence the comment on distribution of heavenly bodies around the earth ). Also when I say that the effects are repeatable since the heavenly bodies follow precise orbits then I mean that uniform with respect to time of birth.So that takes care of how stars/planets affect us uniformly in both space and time.
Now we look at the next level of organisation of the heavenly bodies in astrology or horoscopy...
Unfortunately there are many different schools of astrology and the only thing most of them agree with is the number planets in the sky that should affect us. The indian, chinese systems say there are 5 planets and the sun and the moon. The indian system also has two hypothetical heavenly bodies Ketu and Rahu that denote the points of intersection of the paths of the Sun and the Moon as they move on the celestial sphere.(Wikipedia navagraha) Now interestingly these are the points where eclipses will be caused since at these locations both the heavenly bodies would align as seen from earth. Indians were amazing astronomers, so were the chinese, so were the mayans and the egyptians. And they all found one thing in common. All the planets and the moon and the sun travel the heavens in exactly the same path every year. Now considering they had no knowledge of the solar plane ( almost all the planets in the solar system orbit the sun in a single plane except I think Uranus ) it was a very accurate and consistent observation. And this obviously must have helped in navigation since the directions of the passage of the sun and the moon are same. This helps tell the time of the year and therefore the weather ( in the days without pollution the weather would have been pretty consistent over the years ). So to remember the location of the sun and the moon in the sky people decided to use the only available reference. The stars in the background of the path of the sun and moon. Enter the zodiac... logical choice.. anyone of us would have done the same thing. But...
People decided to remember different shapes when they decided to trace the heavens. Well.. ancestors had a good imagination probably but for the life of me I CANNOT see any animals or serpents of hunters or maidens in the sky. for example.. (the constellation gemini to me looks like a capital 'V'). I am saying this just to point out that they ( our ancestors ) were just playing connect the dots in the sky. I will see a lion.. someone else sees a mongoose.. what does it matter ? It does not as long as we both remember 'a' shape and decide that it is the same time of year when the sun is in that shape. So basically a guide to remember the seasons became engrained in the minds of people. this is all fine and perfectly explainable but why oh why would it matter where the sun and the moon are in this particular track of the sky when anyone is born ? Why in whole wide universe would a game of 'random connect the dots in the sky' influence how my life is going to be if I am born when the sun is either superimposed over one shape or another ? . The only way stars/planets can affect us within the kknowledge that we currently have is through gravity and EM and that is independent of where we are on this earth and where they are in the sky. And basically the effect of all these heavenly bodies on earth will be more pronounced than their effect on us with a tiny mass standing on earth. Constellations are the same across cultures becuase.. face it people... the solar plane. the sun will travel the same path along with the planets because they are in the same plane and there will be NO change in its effect on earth ( except for seasons changing and tides )... and by consequence in the destinies of the people on the earth.
So does astrology really work ? Begs the question doesn't it ?

so now we turn to the only thing that would probably make believers out of disbelieving cynics like me, the saving grace of astrology .. statistics.. if only there are statistical patterns in astrology .. maybe.. maybe there is some sense in astrology.. that would be discussed in part 3.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

horoscopy or the road to moronic marraiges and crappy catastrophies... Part I

well.... to begin with let me quote sheldon cooper from the "Big Bang Theory" " knowing that you are a sagitarius tells us that you are part of the mass cultural delusion that arbitrarily defined constellations affect your everyday life". The person who wrote this was brilliant !!!!! Author's Note :I don't mean disrespect for astronomy nor do I want to disrespect the faith people have in astrology or horoscopy. They are at perfect liberty to believe what they want and act accordingly, after all.. who am I to tell them ?
Now that the political correctness is out of the way, let us get down to the fun part. Horoscopy or Astrology. Just what is this wonderful prediction tool that enables us to read our 'past' and our 'future' in the stars in the heavens ? Let us try to understand what influence the planets and stars can have on humans. If you are a rational and practical person you will say well.. there's gravity.. and probably light so electromagnetism. Fair enough... but then hang on... stars are HUGE !! and so are most planets compared to earth. And obviously compared to me the earth is HUGE. so does the gravity of a planet millions of miles away in space make a big difference to me if I in a different place on the earth ? Gravity is the weakest force in existence. yes it has very long range effects but then, the effects also decrease with the square of the distance !! now if a star is 5000000 km away and a star is 1000000km away from me then the effect of each one is divided by the squares of the respective distances. I mean will the effect change if I am pune or if I am in new zealand. Occam's razor and common sense and simple physics tells us... probably not. And as for light or electromagnetism, well.. the stars do shine at night so I can see them ( they probably must be shining by day too but the sun blots them out ) but the fun part is, I can only see the stars on my side of the earth and not on the opposite side, sure I'll see them in 12 hours time but still. So light from stars on the other side of the earth is not reaching me. Maybe neutrinos will, but let's face it, we are not in the middle of a solar furnace here so one neutrino hitting someone in my family in about 6 or 7 generations of seems right ( I have not calculated this, but this is an educated guess, ignore if you feel not important ). So gravity will have a uniform effect on me ( unless one proves that the distrubution of heavenly bodies around earth is skewed enough to cause a non uniform gravity field, of course this is on the background of the earth's and sun's and moon's gravity fields. But I know of no such data ( of course I am ignorant as they come ) so let us agree that gravity is more or less uniform on the earth ) uniform effect on me and everyone else on the planet, from bacteria to elephants ( their local masses are different but the effect is so negligible since gravity is the weakest force in existence ). Next is light, well light never hurt anybody really. we are alive here because of the sun's light, so more light from the stars can't be all that bad. We have an ozone layer to knock out all the UV rays. Thankfully we are not bathed in gamma rays like some other planets of some other stars. So light is a good thing, and again.. affects all the earth in the same way. Ok if you are mole or a worm underground it won't matter much but it can be argued that light has been uniform on the earth for years and will be uniform for years to come. No change in the way light affects depending on where you were born ( unless you count the hole in the ozone layer but hey that has nothing to do with the stars right ? ). SO now that we have established that all the effects possible by stars and planets on us are uniform, repeatable (since the planets and stars move in precise orbits with respect to the earth ) and basically no force in the known laws of physics can explain why they affect different people differently ( if at all they do ) we turn to next level of horscopy.. that is constellations. that is for part 2...

Monday, July 20, 2009

iPOD statistics...

About a month ago, I finally decided to buy an iPOD. Actually I just decided to buy anything that plays music and is small but liked the 'iPOD' so bought one. The first thing that hit me when making the choice was the total amount of music I own ( in any format and obtained by any means ) is less than half the memory of the lowest model of the series. So being the practical koknastha bought a 1GB iPOD shuffle. YaY glorious day !! now i have a player and so to the next complicated step of the project : filling it with music. Having almost never used windows ( thats for wimps anyway ) was fiddling around the net trying to figure out what to do.. so found salvation in gtk-pod an amazing gtk widget to synchronise with the apple pods ( 'i' or no 'i' ). It turns out that while using gtk pod is fun and you get a sense of accomplishment of putting one over the microsoft guys, there are a lot of things that one misses in gtk-pod. I realised that there is something called play count for every track one puts in. I was thinking whoever has done this is barmy.. why the hell would I want to know how many times I played a track ?. Then I discovered what iTUNES is all about. Though unfortunately this is available only for windows and MAC os ( damn those guys are after my money ), I was shocked out my headphones when I saw the online music store where one can buy tracks, single tracks!!!. But the most amazing thing is : iTUNES has 3 parameters to every track. play count, skip count ( the most interesting one I think among all the three ), and track rating ( ranges from 1 - 5 stars ) for grading all the music that one puts in. I guess these are parameters for the shuffle feature to learn what you like. BUT, it opens a huge universe of data for the music industry... here is what you get :
1. because They always ask you to 'register' the iPOD ( every time you run the program in fact )
so they know who has bought the iPOD and where they live
2. If there is a music store, there's gotta be a database of some sort of pod users, so then it is not a long leap to saving the 'names' of tracks used by these people sorted according to other data ( occupation age and so on )
the fun starts here :
each track can potentially be saved by the database with the parameters of how many times you played the track in a fixed time duration, how many times you skipped a track in that time duration, what you rate the track as.
So it is pretty simple that the track you played the most, or the one that you rate the most is the one you like the most, but what is even more interesting is the that track you kept on your iPOD but skipped playing the most. See you put if there because you like it, you did not delete it but kept skipping it. For example the pod comes with a shuffle mode so you could be doing it out of mere annoyance of getting the track at the wrong time to interfere with your mood.
so the most interesting thing to study would be how many people skip a particular track but don't delete it and how do they rate the track as. it means they want to listen to it, but not just now. maybe they associate it with something specific, or it reminds them of something specific, something that you don't listen to in traffic but listen to but like to pay attention to while listening.
Couple the skipping data with rating and how many times the track is played and you start getting all sorts of fun patterns.. there is one track on my iPOD that I have rated as 5 stars, but I don't listen to it all the time. in fact I SKIP it and listen to it only when I am in that mood.
compiling data using most listened to tracks is all fine, but compiling data with skipped but listened to tracks would be more interesting.
I mean I skip tracks that I don't want to listen to now, but I still keep them on the pod. Now i don't own much music and mostly listen to what I really like, maybe people have millions of tracks that they listen to on a single pod and therefore skip just because they don't like it.
But if iPOD statistics could be done I guess a pattern would emerge of some kind of tracks being special due to skipping. I have decided to compile some statistics of the songs that I listen to a lot and skip a lot, maybe I could discern a pattern over time. If anyone wants to help in this endeavour please send me YOUR iPOD statistics. you could ask for my contact id in the comments here.
Now this is amazing and a FREE demographic tool about any damn kind of music on the planet. Why have ratings and so on ? just use your iPOD user pool to figure out what the people like. Wonder if they use it in the iTUNES store to push songs onto people.. :D

Monday, July 6, 2009


years ago I married 'reason', the perfect wife
beautiful and lucid, my partner for life

reason showed me a life as pure as gold
sparkling and pure, divinely so
yet reason is brutal and ruthless and cold
and she never loved me so I had to go

on a journey to find myself, destroyed by knowledge
I was mere substance, a ghost, a wraith
then I saw someone I never did acknowledge
the one that always waited,the wonderful 'faith'

faith smiled at me and all of my flaws
faith never demanded or made any laws
reason had conditions, faith had only one
that I trust in something and there's no need to run

now faith is my mistress, my place of refuge,
my shield from distress and from reason's subterfuge
reason is honest , yes the perfect wife
and she had promised me the answers to life

but reason's answers are cold and sterile
and faith touched my soul, made my passion fertile
reason always dictates the way I should live
yet faith never tells me what I should believe

I love reason for life don't get me wrong
yet faith also has wonderful presence
reason departs at the end of the song
but faith remains one with my essence

reason will analyse me to see if I was truthful
but faith will still love me even if I am un'faith'ful

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I remember...

A twinkle in your eye, your secret smile just for me
The exhilaration I feel, a moment of bliss
My heart was dancing, but I wished to dance with you
My skin on fire, the moment of our stolen first kiss

I remember all that I said, on MY shoulder you had cried
I could not understand, but it does not mean I have not tried

I gave you everything I had, but it was probably not enough
Leaving you was the hardest thing, please know I am not so tough

I see the anger and the hatred in you
but can't you see I hate it too ?

I never thought you'd lie to me
I never thought you'd make me see

how easy it is to be a slave to myself
how long would it take till I forgave myself

was that all a dream never to be real ?
was I lying, when I told you how I feel ?

These questions haunted me, ate me alive
I lost myself, drove myself away to survive

you buried your hurt under a mask of a smile
or maybe you found love in the arms of another
I though was left to rot
and the guilt is all that I care to remember
I remember...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Screaming in silence...

This is what I was/am feeling due to certain events in my life. Even though this poem reflects what I am feeling at this moment, is dedicated to a friend of mine who lost her father recently in the sincere hope and wish that she will be happy once again and a prayer to him that he will watch over her wherever he is...
The poem represents me no one else but she also is in pain hence the dedication.

I wake up and the loneliness stings
filled with dread at fear's first kiss

I drown in the flood that loneliness brings
but realise that there is no one to miss

No one to share
the blood of my heart with

Nor feel sorrow or joy
as there is none to part with

My days are empty and hollow
nights just seem to follow

one image after another a copy, a shadow
of what was my life was when I truly was living

I put on a mask, a handsome one
as this pain must not be shown

the stonier the better
isn't that a mark of how much you've grown ?

apathy to fellows and indifference to friends
too long this has been, too late to make amends

evading my responsibility to the best of my talent
is all I am reduced to, hence this pathetic lament

My mind says "forget this and move ahead
what do you have to prove ?"

Some people might heed this piece of sane advice
But my heart will not let go and there is no asking twice...

the world is broken
or maybe it is me

there is no colour left
or is it just that I can't see ?

I stare in horror at a world gone wrong
I try to remember the words to MY song

that one reference, the point to begin
my sojourn here, the birth, the origin

No childhood wonder, no surprise or joy
the end of innocence, broken like an old toy

I am just numb to all the madness and violence
I stand quiet, but am screaming in silence

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

running around in circles..

A circle.. a shape that Euclid loved the most, a shape that is sought and found by many spiritualists ( who want to rationalise the universe ) in amazingly diverse natural phenomena. The hardest shape that I ever had to draw ( and still do to my eternal disappointment ).. it has many distinct qualities in our minds.
What struck me was that it had a functional significance. A circle is something that many people embody. A circle to my naive and simple mind embodies three things :
1. repeating an action/act/pattern of behaviour however complex after a fixed duration of time
2. The centre of the circle ( read your 'self' ) is kept away from all and sundry with whatever distance you are comfortable with
3. also not being interested in things that are not within the radius of your circle and actively criticising those who are interested in them

Repetitive patterns is fine but when it is there in significant things like arguments/conversations and humor...
The first point is especially evident when arguing with people.
Have any of you ever read alice in wonderland ? or through the looking glass ? There are the most hilarious examples of circular arguments in those books. When they talk with the red queen or I think even in the conversation with the mock turtle. Well the reason this came to mind is because people tend to give circular arguments in their lives. This is especially true if one does not have a good counter point during an argument that one hears responses like : 'ya exactly !!' ( hello.. you agreeing to what i said ? isn't that against what you are saying ? ) or 'no no that is not true.. why ? no it is not... '( honestly.. what do you sat to things like this ) But both of these is fine.. this might be just buying time to think of a better point to speak. What really boils my bottom is that people have a long term circular argument system. today they are arguing with you about something... 2 weeks later you hear them arguing from your side of the same argument with someone else (occasionally with you as well ) !! This is crazy !! it is a long time ago since we all stopped expecting anyone else but ourselves ( and occasionally ourselves as well ) to be as rational as ourselves. But this is just too funny. I have no clue why this happens.. none at all.

The second one is something that that I have talked about earlier i guess so I will not repeat that. Though I admit the temptation to bash that behaviour is exceedingly hard to overcome every time I think about it.

The third one is my favourite. define one area of your existence/sentience/ whatever name you are ok with and let the world outside go to hell. I am not talking of narrow minded selfish let the earth be blasted kind of people here. I am talking about people like me and probably those who are reading this blog entry as well... everyone.
people in jobs want to do jobs to get money to live comfortably to do jobs more easily. people with families want to have good families so that their offspring can grow up and well.. have good families. people like me who write cynical posts so that they are appreciated by others so I can feel good to... write cynical posts.
Substitute the actions listed above with anything of your choice. it would still make perfect senes. I have nothing against either circles, they are all good and esteemed and really decent people trying to survive.That is ok But..
This is what is unfathomable to me : why is it that such thinking has a ring of inevitability to it ? I am sure I am not the only one who has thought of this, many must even have figured out the answer. One answer I have is convenience. It is easy to focus on something finite rather than irritating abstractions which will not directly affect our lives. Still just because it is easy I do not feel that it is right or the best way to be. Most of human effort I think is spent in 2 things. Avoiding thinking about this or pondering this and trying to figure out an answer. I am all for the latter. Because living in circles is boring... really.. however wide your circle will be the less frequently you'll be bored but you will be eventually. The question is always what next ? the day this question is permanantly answered for anyone he/she will be truly free.
The most amazing of human endavors is when the second option is selected. Trying and face your own true self, ask if you really want circles. If the answer is yes, imgaine there are no circles and how would life be like and ask again if you still want circles. If you cannot imagine life without circles what follows is not for you.
I don't mean or want that life should be purposeless, I am not even remotely qualified to answer such questions as to purpose of life. But I have something that does not rest easy with this mode of existence.. maybe that is just me.
Here I find that a lot stuff that sounds dangerous like religion/spirituality/philosophy does indeed try to address such questions. I am follower of " if you experience it for yourself then it is true" and I have experienced nothing in my rational mind/science/ education/upbringing that says that circles have to be an inevitable part of the world I live in..

If I was immortal.. I would outgrow all the circles soon and then would be faced with a really big what next... that would be interesting.. really..

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

NO mercy for pakistan... NO prayers for their dying innocents

I will begin this by first condemning the absolutely horrifying attack by jihadis on pakistani soil on the Sri Lankan cricket team. Attacking a sports team that has come for friendly international competetion. A thing so beautiful, attacking such an ideology is despicable. I want to make it clear that I HATE what happened in pakistan yesterday, yet today I read in the papers that pakistani cricketeers like Imran Khan are asking everyone to pray for pakistan. I think the bad joke begins here. people praying FOR pakistan ?? you must be joking Mr. Khan. Pakistan is not even deserving derision from the rest of the world.
There is miltancy in pakistain. There has been militancy in Pakistan for decades. The Indian government has been telling the world and pakistan in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS to curb the military infrastructure IN PAKISTAN. But all these claims have been denied/ignored by whoever was in the pakistani government from time immemorial. There have been reports of PAKISTAN BREEDING TERRORISTS by funding and running terror camps in either the PoK ( Pakistan occupied Kashmir) or elsewhere in their OWN country. The same terrorists are now all but ruling pakistan. The government is a joke. The economy was already a joke for the last 8 years. Pakistan runs just because of US support and that is also given because pakistan happens to have a common border with the enemy of the US.. afghanistan. That is ok.. the US is doing what it thinks is right to try and curb terror in the world. My problem is with the bloody bastards who are the pakistani government. These assholes deny the very existence of terror camps in pakistan, after the black hearted 26/11 attacks on my beloved country. The pakistani donkeys who are 'in power'(so to say) there denied that the terrorists were even from their country. Some went as far as to even say that INDIA is breeding terrorists that INDIA cannot control !!! This was the most hilarious thing I had ever heard in my life. My point is simple... India is a lot bigger and stronger than pakistan. India can take over pakistan by :
1. Buying it out. All the industries all the produce everything... in one day
2. Military operation to finish whatever pakistan stands for .... in one day
3. Stop/Poison the water that flows to pakistan's province of punjab... in one day
4. Outcomepete pakistan in all their economic deals with all countries ... a couple of months and lead them to eat each other's flesh to remain alive..
When such easy alternatives do exist why would we go through all the trouble and expense of training brainless idiots to kill some people in a country like pakistan that does not even matter to the world. If pakistan ceases to exist not even pakistanis will care..
They asked everyone to pray for pakistan now that there is a terror against their own state, by the same people whom THEY BRED to spread terror in OUR state. I have no proof but I am not going to need to provide one. India has been very very lenient with these bastards.. these fatherless sons of donkeys who are the pakistani government.. But now they still blame us India for the attacks on the lankan team ? We have no animosity with Sri Lanka. we never did.. We even helped them quell the LTTE rebellion around Rajiv Gandhi's time. Why would India attack its friend state at random ? Why the hell would we send 'terrorists' to attack a shit eating dog like pakistan. We can just take out all their government buildings from our country with missiles of our own design from our own armchairs with no one else's permission... Why would we who can make pakistan lick our bottom if we wished even consider it a worthy opponent to do all this nonsense ??
This is pakistan paying for its years of breeding hate against india. pakistan wanted to separate from india when india became independent.We indians were trying to convince them to stay with us and grow and prosper with us. They killed hundreds of hindus and sent trainloads of dead bodies back from pakistan to india. We did not do any such thing. I say india became independent because pakistan never became independent. It is still a slave to stupidity, narrow mindedness and outright violence against the world and humanity. Pakistan decalred war 3 times on india and LOST !! yet their textbooks say that india lost the war and thay us made pakistan give back india ?? Who the hell do they think they are ? People tell me not to get worked up over this, people are scared of being 'politically' correct. I don't give a damn for that. This is insane and this has to stop.
Pakistan has peed its pants.. now it wants to hold someone else responsible for the mess. I hope pakistani people do read this blog entry of mine. I want them to. I want them to know that there will be NO mercy for pakistan in my heart. They did not stop their country from going to the dogs like terrorists, they did not take steps to curb terrorism. I am not sure how many of them even understand what is going on their country. I am NOT against ANY religion, but i am against all fundamentalists. Pakistan bred terrorists and trained them with resources out of its own pocket. They realised just now that the ideology they have been feeding their pack dogs was not under their control. They should have just targeted india, now their servants have targeted the entire world and the world will not forgive. I am not a saint or a praying human. But this time I pray for all the victims of all the terror attacks in the world. I pray that they get justice. I know i am supposed to have compassion for human beings and for all living things. These terrorists and the governments who breed them are not living things. I know I will not be able to bring justice to any of them personally but I sure hope to do my bit in educating the rest of the world as to the need for extermination of these kind of people. You will ask what is the difference between me and them ? For this question I have this answer alone : If the enemy is filth, clean people cannot fight them because they are afraid of getting filthy.
Mercy does not exist for pakistan and never will. For all the innocents who die in pakistan because of their own ineptness to rule their country and live like human beings, I am sorry for their loss but they are not worth my mercy or prayer. Pakistan has to pay for its mistakes. I am believer in the law of karma and this is pakistan's karma coming back to bite it in the ass. I hope it does. I hope it bites hard and then maybe they will realise that breeding hate against people who never bore ill will towards you has grave consequences. I do not want to spread hate about anyone in the world, but I guess pakistan is not worthy of hate any more than a cockroach. It should be squashed exaclt as an insect is sqaushed.. without feeling, without remorse.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

a parody..

well.. after reading the amazing parodies written by shilpa and alok on their respective blogs here is a chance to write my own. I was listening to the song khabar nahin khabar nahin from dostana ( a rarity in itself since I am not normally into songs from bollywood ) and the flow of the lyris and all was such that it hit me. This song can be meant for a phd student.. so here goes
The original song :

Mere Maula Maula Mere Maula, Man Matwala Kyun Hua Hua Re
Man Maula Maula Mere Maula, Mere Maula..
Kis Taraf Hai Aaasmaan, Kis Taraf Zaameen
Khabar Nahi, Khabar Nahi
Oo Oo, Jab Se Aaya Hai Sanam, Mujhko Khud Ki Bhi
Khabar Nahi, Khabar Nahi
Oo Oo, Hosh Gul Sapno Ki Mein Bandhu Pull, Aankh Kab Khuli
Khabar Nahi, Khabar Nahi

Jaane Kab Kahan Kaise, Tere Ho Gaye Kaise
Hum To Sochte Hi Reh Gaye, Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya
Mere Khawaab Dil Saaansein, Mil Ke Kho Gaye Aise
Tujko Dekh Ke Aisa To, Kai Baar Ho Gaya
Tu Kahe Dil Yeh Tera Hi Rahe, Aur Kya Kahun
Khabar Nahi, Khabar Nahi

and my version :
Mere Maula Maula Mere Maula, Man Matwala Kyun Hua Hua Re
Man Maula Maula Mere Maula, Mere Maula..
Kis taraf he pipettman, kis taraf youvee khabar nahi
jab se aya lab mein, mujh ko meri hi khabar nahi
Oo oo hosh gul paper ke mein bandhu pull
aankh kab khuli khabar nahi khabar nahi

Jaane kab kahan kaise, 'array' ho gaye aise
hum to sochte hi rehe gaye aur ek saal ho gaya
uske plots or trends hatke, data mine karte karte
statistics karke hi to mera ye haal ho gaya
boss kahe " data aisa hi rahe"
iske age mein kya karoon khabar nahi khabar nahi
Ooo kis taraf hai asmaan, kis taraf zameen khabar nahi khabar nahi..

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A slice of my life...

monotonous days monochrome nights
dead end ways and feeble lights
playing games online and alone
sinning by not working and scared to atone

Avoiding questions, a skill newly found
I have few results but excuses abound
reasons to admit to oneself, reasons for illness
cannot admit to myself this is stagnation not stillness

burning to work yet cannot find the seed
to unravel this mess a thread is all I need
what happened to me ? I could always see the way
I guess I lack the will now to make this world sway

Cannot even complain as I have run out of reasons
I have blamed all things, even the turning of seasons
for things that happened and things that did not
for things I should have done and thoughts I should have thought

plodding through the day without action or thought
for my life, for my goals, an intellectual drought
sitting alone at home I don't want to step out
I even stopped bothering what is happening without

what is this apathy I don't even feel sad
I have stopped evaluating, don't even know what I had
What it feels like to do an honest days work
forgotten long ago and am living like a jerk...

Friday, January 16, 2009

PhD 5.0

As the name suggests... This will detail the confirmed signs and symptoms of a PhD candidate who has completed or about to complete 5years of back breaking, brain racking, self questioning work and is not sure to what end did all this happen...
The things to look for in a PhD 5.0 are :
1. He/She will never plan his/her life farther than 2 hrs into the future. Most of the concepts of time spans are now aligned either to experiment incubation times or paper/manuscript review times. The reason is the incessant dersire NOT to think too much into the future.
2. The only person hated more that Osama Bin Laden is anyone who asks them any of the following questions "when will your thesis be done ?", "Got any offers after PhD ?"
3. It is a personal insult if anyone talks about their field or about new papers in their field. ( 99% of the times because they have never heard of those papers in spite of reading about 99000 related articles on pubmed)
4. If their character/avatar in an online role playing game gets a cool sword that glows, they think it is a significant achievement in life.
5. They tell others how really they want to be done with it and move on but in reality pray that they never have to because the idea that their work is going to be judged out in the real world and their entire lives depend on it scares the pants off them.
So these five symptoms are the most sure way of identifying possible post doc candidates. Maybe we should find a way to quantify these 5 characters and select people based on these as well as research ability.

Monday, January 12, 2009

systems of belief...

I have thought about this aspect for a long time now. Sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously. We all have systems of belief... There is something that we think is a certain way, it can be anything from cosmic truths like monotheism to trivial things like 'pink is lucky for me' the only common pattern in any of this that we 'need' them to be true or at least possibly true. But the most important thing of this I would say is our opinion/definition of ourselves. I know this is not static and will change with changing times but there are some basic premises that we have developed that are always the same. We need these things to be the way they are so that we can feel secured and assured about our view of the world. so that we can justify what we do is correct in the bigger framework. I am NOT saying that we tailor our beliefs to justify whatever we do, what I mean is that we develop this set of beliefs over time and experience. We feel this is the way the world is and therefore we think if this set of basic premises are met everything can be dealt with. This is ok, I guess it is a natural tendency of any mind to generate a world view and function according to that. The problem is more subtle, the thing is we are extremely attached to this world view ( I speak from my experience of myself and a few others who I think are in similar situations ). We are extremely attached to this world view and we get angry, hurt or generally inconvenienced when this world view is challenged by some situations. Why should this be the case ? If the world view is challenged why is so hard to reevaluate it ? I began thinking about this when I came across a situation where my opinion of myself was questioned and I could not stand up to the test and was thus extremely hurt and depressed.
The thing is so very trivial as compared to the rest of the world, it is just how I look at myself but why should that matter so much in governing the rest of my life ? If I just remove the framework in which I judge myself the whole thing seems pointless. Since the framework is a result of the experience of all the restraints, constraints, opinions that I have gathered in my life. Is the only reason I am so attached to them is that they are mine ? or do I sincerely believe that experiences define me in a very fundamental way. That is not necessarily the case I think, I think my view of my own is cherished because it will not have any points that I consider negative and when that is shattered it is very hurtful. The question boils down to why do I consider those points as negative ? and why should I believe that they are not included in my behaviour ?
Is just past experience governing the current ability of my mind to function ? I cannot believe I was in a mental limbo for 6 months because of this small misunderstanding. Why should only I be the best in my own eyes ? Why can't I accept anyone else that is better than me ? Why is that so hurtful ? I have been told that answer is ego.. but i think it is just the ego, it is the block of your world view cluttering up the head, your belief system that one considers necessary for one to function because one thinks we functions the best if their world view is unchallenged. That is wrong, why have this nonsense in head and go around ? I have tried telling it to people and received an amazing plethora of answers. my favorite one is " it is not practical for every day life " that is the most idiotic thing I have ever heard in my life. It is not practical because you do not wish to practice it, because you do not want to reevaluate your world view, or let it go is what I would say to these people. But why is this block there at all ?
Is really letting go of this equivalent to letting go of one's responsibilities ? I would like to believe that is no so, that is part of my belief system but I do not know the answer. But I would like to believe that this is possible, not because of any other reason but that would make living beautiful according to me...
ending the post with a paradox. I do not believe in being so attached to systems of belief because I believe that it is foolish. If I could only say this with experience of not belonging to a system of belief... I would be the happiest fool on earth...

About Me

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just your regular guy who dreams too much. i read a lot don't remember it all though.. swim, trek, yoga.. think and read more.. that about sums it up..