March 30, 2002



The sign and the signified. For example the word cat (made up of the letters c-a-t) is the sign and the signified is the (insert image) cat. So essentially structuralism (semiotics also) looks into the way language means what is says (?). I wonder how onomatopoeic words word with structuralism.

Posted at 11:44 AM | Comments (0)

March 27, 2002

Machinations of US foreign policy

good but long article.notable excerpts.

Pakistan, which before September 11th clearly met the new test of national unacceptability (it both harbors terrorists and has weapons of mass destruction), will also require long-term attention, since the country is not wholly under the control of the government, as the murder of Daniel Pearl demonstrated, and even parts of the government, like the intelligence service, may not be entirely under the control of the President


Several people I spoke with predicted that most, or even all, of the nations that loudly oppose an invasion of Iraq would privately cheer it on, if they felt certain that this time the Americans were really going to finish the job. One purpose of Vice-President Cheney's recent diplomatic tour of the region was to offer assurances on that matter, while gamely absorbing all the public criticism of an Iraq operation. In any event, the Administration appears to be committed to acting forcefully in advance of the world's approval

(I suppose this point means that the whole purpose of Cheney's going through the middle east and getting nos from all the mid-east rulers, was so that they could in public say no to the us attacking iraq, but privately cheer/help the US?)

The New Yorker

Posted at 01:37 PM | Comments (0)

Secular Humanism != hedonism

First it was the godless communists. Now the conservatives have turned the attention of their propoganda machinery towards the secular humanists and their ilk. The ills of this country and the world are blamed on the depravity of the individuals without religion. It is assumed that a moral compass not endorsed by God will lead its holder directly into hedonism. Robert Scheer writes about this in his column 'Values fall prey to hypocricy'.

In related news Maureen Dowd of the New York Times argues that when a man of god commits abuse the effect is much more significant.

Posted at 11:57 AM | Comments (0)

March 26, 2002

Google the spelling-bee champ

Google is furiously ascending to the top of my most admired companies list. They just seem to do really neat things. One feature of Google is it attempts to decipher your true search intentions from the massacred english text you entered. They have a list of every spelling combination of Britney Spears that has been entered. Sigh! If you want to work at Google you should

Posted at 04:57 PM | Comments (0)

March 24, 2002

And now for something completely different

With apologies to Monty Python.
What if the shoe were on the other foot

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March 23, 2002

A fishy metaphor

I've had a solitary Betta inhabiting my acquarium for a couple of weeks now. He's transcended his initial shyness and over time become quite a happy little fish. Today in a bid to increase the population of my little sea world I introduced two new cast members to this Betta monologue. The actors, a red sword fish and a black molly entered their new home at 6:13 pm. My Betta, a modicum of zen contentment shed his philosophical beliefs with alacrity. At first an examination of the new comers was conducted. The welcome given was quite intrusive and soon the Betta was pursuing his companions around the small container. I watched with awe and a growing sense of despair that my utopia of brotherly-fish-love would not come to fruition.

Sitting there watching the manners with which these fish conducted themselves struck me as particularly telling about the human world. Here was a sated Betta with more than enough resources. The moment two harmless fish were introduced, his primal existence instincts kicked in and he made them unwelcome. My first reaction was to dip into my bag of Marxian characters and label the Betta as a capitalist pig with little respect for the fact that there was enough for all three of them. Soon, another thought bubbled to the top. Was this a metaphor for my existence. Am I swimming through the plastic plants/rocks of work/life/friends and fighting off attackers only to end my existence in the 'toilet'? If these fish knew they were all destined for the wasteland on the other end of the porcelain chute would they still persist in this manner?

My negative remarks about the 'capitalist' fish were received with caution by my friend. I hastened to point out that I wasnt against capitalism. I believed that the social contract that existed in the fish tank was the perfect Hobbesian world (nasty, bruitish and short). The American capitalist system framed upon the important works of Thomas Paine provided the essential social contract where we were allowed to discover our own happiness as long as the rights of others were not infringed. Sitting there watching these fish affected me negatively. I have now returned to my solipsistic world. The fish dont exist. The determination of the result of the fish-feud will not be subject Heisenbergian uncertainty. When I return to watch the results, I would have fast forwarded through the 'fight' and results will be patently obvious. I will accept the results, much like I do this world's treatment. I will not complain, I will make do and make the best of what I have.

Posted at 06:58 PM | Comments (0)

March 19, 2002

Bobby Knight

Bobby Knight - "BS is just what it stands for, an MS is More of the Same, and a PhD is Piled Higher and Deeper."

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March 15, 2002

Tell it like it is

Who has made the worse contribution to the world, Henry Kissinger or Mother Teresa?

Kelly Rider, by e-mail

With Kissinger, you can tell how many people he killed. With Mother Teresa, who only preached surrender to poverty, disease and ignorance and against family planning, we can't be sure of the figures. But together they certainly make two out of the four pale riders of the Apocalypse.

Christopher Hitchens says it like it is.

Posted at 04:04 PM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2002

Accounting issues

Under that deal, E.D.S. agreed to buy as much as $8.5 billion of communications services from WorldCom over 10 years. WorldCom, in turn, said it would hire E.D.S. to oversee its billing and other basic services, agreeing to pay E.D.S. as much as $7 billion in the same period. E.D.S. also agreed to buy a WorldCom unit for $1.6 billion, taking on more than 12,000 WorldCom employees. The question for analysts is how each company booked the nearly equal amounts of revenue from the deal.

- Nytimes

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Stock market scams


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March 11, 2002

Corporate Culture and Strategy

Mr. Gerstner argues that strategy and corporate culture are intimately linked. "You can't talk a culture into changing," he said. "You can't just exhort people to be different. You've got to point to fundamental strategic changes you're going to implement in a company and then drive the execution of that strategy. And it is in the execution of the strategy that the culture begins to change."

-- New York Times.

Posted at 11:23 AM | Comments (0)

March 09, 2002

Kantian contribution

Kant's Critique of Pure Reason made him one of the greatest modern philosophers. Kant was driven by Hume's thesis that metaphysics was an impossibility. First a background:

There were two school of thoughts that dominated philosophy before Kant came along:
Rationalists Rationalists like Decartes believed that all human knowledge was derived. They didnt trust the physical world and believed mathematics provided the answers. Rationalists dealt with Analystic propositions. They believed only in a priori knowledge.

Empiricists. Empiricists believed only in scientific experiments and the results there of. Empiricists believed in synthetic propositions. They believed in a posteriori knowledge.

Kant's contribution was that he believed synthetic a priori knowledge was possible. He claimed that Space and Time were a priori institutions granted to everybody. From what I can tell this helped him prove the existence of knowable things but he claimed it was impossible to claim the existence of things in themselves. For example, he claimed that if I hit a billiard ball (I know the existence of the ball from a priori knowledge) I can predict where the ball goes from synthetic propostions.

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March 08, 2002

The great leap backwards?

In 1958 Mao Dezong started the program known as the Great Leap Forwards. The goal was to abolish the individual peasant farms and build farming collectives. The hope was that with optimized and organized labor there would be excess labor for activities such as steel production which would push the Chinese further along. However, rampant mismanagement and inefficiency created the largest man made famine that resulted in the death of over 30 million Chinese from 1958- 1960.

tidbits: The ideology in China during the 60's was Better Red than Expert extolling the communist practices even where the real experts should have been consulted (?). Deng Xiaoping's slogan was It doesnt matter if the cat is black or white; what matters is how well it catches mice. Deng dies in Feb, 1997. Jiang Zemin currently rules over the most number of people in the world.

Posted at 04:56 PM | Comments (0)

A blurb on my philosophical growth

I first confronted my first philosophical issue when I asked myself "what if I was praying to the wrong God". I had'nt accepted Jesus as my savior and I had no intention of doing that. I resolved this issue by claiming that if I lived a good life and remained true in the practice of my religion it would be hard for God to find me at fault, given the lack of information on God's part. The next step was reconciling what I knew of religion with what I knew of Science. The duality of living a religious life while accepting the scientific tradition seemed apocryphal. I decided that the religious works could not cover all thats known to man now since it would not appeal to the lay person. That delusion lasted only a brief time. I soon discovered Joseph Smith's Mormonism and the Carribean Rastafarism. Given the vigor of the followers of these two religions it soon occurred to me that I could be totally off course in my religion as well. The best thing was to start from the beginning and question everything. This Cartesian methodology also had no desired answer in store. I drifted into deism with a mixture of agnosticism. While I couldnt say for sure if God existed or not I believed God was no longer involved in our day-to-day lives. I used Objectivism to bolster my reason for living. My greatness in it self seemed enough. God didnt matter. Through all this the question of "whats the meaning of life" nagged me to no end. Finally I discovered buddhism and zen and I was liberated. No longer did I care if God existed or what came first 'the chicken or the egg'. Enough time with Zen just made life better and better. Then my zen life took on a bit of a existentialist flair. Where zen promulgates living a 'good' life I began to question what is good and bad? It is what I make of it (existence before essence) and by choosing I choose for all of humanity. So thats where I am. A Zen existentialist with Objectivist leanings.

Posted at 04:14 PM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2002

A little pasada with your samvega?

The story of Siddhartha is now an often repeated parable of how an Indian prince dropped out of society to find nirvana. The issue that confronted Siddhartha was the vicious cycle of life,sickness,old age, death that seemed to provide no plausible reasons for living.

Samvega is the complex emotion that is the result of the realization that your life is stuck in a rut and you see no way out. Pasada is the feeling of supreme confidence and clarity. With Pasada life makes complete sense. (I assume pasada is the result of kensho/satori which are the japenese terms (Samvega/pasada are Pali Sanskrit terms)).

The Bhavana sociey has one of the best articles on Buddhism that I've read in a while. [via metafilter

Posted at 04:31 PM | Comments (0)


Gregor Samsa awoke one morning to find himself transformed into a dung beetle. Gregor the sole breadwinner in the family (with dreams of sending his young sister Grete to music school) is now the one who needs to be supported. Gregor's handicap polarizes the family. Gregor's father returns from retirement and his siter starts working. Eventually Gregor is no longer appreciated by his family. Gregor dies. His family now look to his sister as the new hope for the family.

The Metamorphosis in full and in summary

Franz Kafka's work has been seized by camps across the spectrum of human thought as representative of their school of thought. Surrealists obviously delight in Kafka's phantasmagoria. Existentialists expound that Kafka's characters represent the essential existentialists. What do I think? I think Kafka suffered from a constant fear of not living up to his parents' expectations.

Posted at 11:25 AM | Comments (0)

Money, Money, Money and Love

Money can't buy love, but it improves your bargaining position
-- Christopher Marlowe

Those who say money can't buy happiness, dont know how to shop

Who says money can't buy happiness. Look at the smile on my face

Love is an ocean of emotions entirely surrounded by expenses
- Lord Dewar

Love is the self-delusion we manufacture to justify the trouble we take to have sex.
Daniel S. Greenberg

Absence - that common cure of love.
Lord Byron

Love is the child of illusion and the parent of disillusion.
Miguel de Unamuno

Posted at 11:20 AM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2002

Bill Clinton's presidency

Joe Klein the anonymous behind Primary Colors has a new book out on Bill Clinton. His The Natural: The misunderstood presidency of Bill Clinton was reviewed by the Washington Post. The thesis of this book is that while the scandals surrounding Clinton's presidency are repugnant the president by and large was an exceptionally astute political magician with a very positive agenda.

Posted at 12:02 AM | Comments (2)

March 04, 2002

Infini band. Infinite Bandwith?

The infiniband architecture is a high throughput I/O interface. Its speed is in the order of Gigabits/sec and blows the antiquated PCI architecture out of the water. There are a plethora of companies jumping into the market around Infiniband.

Vieo provides the software stack to build on top of Infiniband. Banderacom builds a infiniband chip. Surgient builds high performance application servers on top of Infiniband technology.

Posted at 11:58 PM | Comments (0)

March 03, 2002


I learnt something interesting about Liberia today. I had often wondered why a country in Africa would name its capital after an American President (Monroevia is named after James Monroe). In the antebellum new world, the land north of the Mason-Dixie land was free of the cruel practice of slavery. Slaves that successfully crossed into the North were free. However, given their lack of education and other cultural differences they didnt fit into society. As a result the black class swelled in the North with no real way for the North to absorb them. Robert Finley floated an idea to repatriate the blacks back to Africa. The American backed colonization committee set sail for Liberia and estabilished a colony. Liberia was founded with an American-like consitution around 1822.

More information at this site

Posted at 11:06 PM | Comments (1)

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