December 31, 2002

Omnibus disputantum

If you would be a real seeker after truth, you must at least once in your life doubt, as far as possible, all things.
Rene Descartes --Discourse on Method
Posted at 12:30 PM

December 26, 2002

Zen and science

All things in this world are impermanent. They have the nature to rise and pass away. To be in harmoney with this truth brings true happiness
-- Buddhist Chant
In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.
Richard Dawkins --'God's Utility Function', Scientific American
Posted at 10:19 AM

December 23, 2002

Do not be

Do not be an emodiment of fame; do not be a storehouse of schemes; do not be an undertaker of projects; do not be a proprietor of wisdom. Wander where there is no trail. Hold on to all that you have received from Heaven but do not htink you have gotten anything. Be empty, that is all. The perfect Man uses his mind like a mirror - going after nothing, welcoming nothing, responding but not storing.
-- Chuang-Tzu
Posted at 11:55 AM

December 20, 2002

A map of Madras

map of Madras (Chennai)
Small overview
North Madras
South Madras

Posted at 10:07 AM | Comments (0)

December 17, 2002

Gift Giving

It's Christmas time. Christmas has become a social celebration in modern society. One corner stone of Christmas is the aspect of gift exchange. It is in this spirit that I broach the subject of the nature of gifts. Marcel Mauss, French sociologist and anthropologist (nephew of Emile Durkheim) wrote The Gift: The form and reason for exchange in archaic societies. Mauss explored the concept of gifts in so called primitive societies and found that the action of bestowing a gift was usually backed by an ulterior motive. It promulgated social order and prestige. Refusal of a gift was tantamount to declaring war.

One thing to consider: Does this imply that the sudden burst in graciousness and magnanimity displayed towards the close of the year, is motivated by innate human need to establish and further social order and class hierarchies? Levi-Strauss took this concept further by saying that women too were exchanged as gifts. In a marriage the father of the bride is seen as "giving the bride away". In Levi-Strauss's view the daughter was a gift used to cement ties between tribes.

Posted at 10:44 PM | Comments (0)

December 16, 2002

Abstract Expressionism

Franz Kline's MahoningFranz Kline painted "Mahoning" on the left. Mahoning is the name of a county in PA that was a center for steel production. This painting is supposed to invoke an existentialist emotion in the viewer. The painting is not black on white but "white and black". Observing this piece of art is supposed to convey the Sartrian concept of existence before essence. I view it as a koan. If you want more fodder for thought, examine the following pieces by the same author:

Black, White, Gray by Franz Kline
Black, White, Gray white forms by Franz Kline
White Forms

Posted at 11:56 PM | Comments (0)

December 15, 2002

Magritte's Pipe

Son of ManRené Magritte, the guy who painted son of man also dabbled in semiotics. One of this paintings, The Betrayal of Images is a picture of a pipe. The inscription in the painting says Ceci n'est pas une pipe (This is not a pipe). It implies that the painting of a pipe is not a pipe itself. hmm.

The Betrayal of Images. This is not a pipe. Really!

Posted at 10:07 PM | Comments (7)

Is it a Bird? A work of Art?

Or is it a propeller blade? Constantin Brancusi sculpted several of these birds. This sculpture presents an intresting case study in art appreciation. When Edward Steichen (a prominent photographer) purchased this item from Brancusi (in France) and attempted to bring it into the country, the US Customs decided this was a propeller blade masquerading as art. They slapped a $600 import duty on this bird. The resulting trial had witnesses discussing the attributes that made this a bird. If an artist labelled it a bird, does it then automatically become a bird. My mind immediately wishes to include some Saussurian structuralism or Derridean deconstruction, but alas I do not know enough.

Posted at 09:47 PM | Comments (0)


Reaction is not revolution. It is not a sign of revolution when the oppressed adopt the manners of the opressors and practice oppression on their own behalf. Neither is it a sign of revolution when women ape men, and men women, or even when laws against homosexuality are relaxed, and the intense sexual connotation of certain kinds of clothes and behavior is diminished. The attempt to relax the severity of the polarity in law bears no relation to the sway that male-female notions hold in the minds and hearts of real people. More women are inspired to cling to their impotent feminity because of the deep un-attractiveness of Barbara Castle'sseamed face and her depressing function as chief trouble-shooter of the Wilson regime than are inspired to compete as she did for a man's distinction in a man's world. We know that such women do not champion their own sex once they are in positions of power, that when ther are employers they do not employ their own sex, even when there is no other basis for discrimination. After all they get on better with men because all their lives they have manipulatred the susceptibilities , the guilts and the hidden desires of men. Such women are like the white man's black man, the professional nigger; they are obligatory woman, the exceptional creature whos is as good as a man and much more decorative. The men captitulate.

-- Germaine Greer.

Posted at 01:47 PM | Comments (0)

Newspaper boy problem

There exists a concept in Operations Research, called "Newspaper boy problem". Every day the newspaper boy must make a decision on how many newspaper to take into inventory. If he takes too many then he's left with inventory that goes to waste immediately (nobody wants yesterdays newspaper). If he takes too few then he leaves customers unsatisfied. Why is this problem different from regular inventory problems? The inventory in this case is highly time sensitive.

One application apparently is airlines. When a plane leaves the gate the inventory is frozen. If there are empty seats then thats like having too many newspapers. If there are passengers at the gate who couldn't get on then thats too few newspapers. Thats all I know. Maybe Mr. CFO can shed more light?

Posted at 01:36 PM | Comments (5)

Family Pressure

The Washington Post has an excellent essay chronicling the life of a young asian girl dealing with parental pressure to become a doctor.

In 2001, Asians averaged the highest SAT scores at Duluth, 1158 compared with 1091 for whites. Amy's friends are partly responsible. With their blue-black hair, the Indians shimmer, physically and intellectually. Most are in advanced placement and gifted classes. They bemoan Southern life, like the branch of the county public library that has a large selection of Christian books but a lone book on their religion, entitled "Hindu Myths."

-- read more

Posted at 12:12 AM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2002


Maulana Jelaluddin Rumi was the founder of the Mawlawi Sufi order. Sufism is a mystical movement in Islam. The Mawlawi (or Mewlawi) order of Sufi's are famous for their whirling dervishes. A combination of sound, whirling, mental focus and posturing allows the practioner to experience union with God. (editor's comments reserved). Rumi's is famous for his poetry which had a constant and strong theme of love for God. One thing that has confused me is the fact that both Omar Khayyam and Rumi wrote the Rubaiyat.

Our death is our wedding with eternity. What is the secret? "God is One." The sunlight splits when entering the windows of the house. This multiplicity exists in the cluster of grapes; It is not in the juice made from the grapes. For he who is living in the Light of God, The death of the carnal soul is a blessing. Regarding him, say neither bad nor good, For he is gone beyond the good and the bad.

One thing to note here is that in Arabic and Islamic tradition martyr's refer to their death as a marriage or wedding. I am not sure where the concept of houris awaiting a shaheed(martyr) in heaven came from. While Sufi poems liberally use the words "wine", "drunk" etc Islam is not known to look favorably on these nouns. It is usually presumed the poets were referring to the grace of God as the intoxicant.

Some Rumi Links has a good collection of Rumi's works.
Iranian site

Some Quatrains:

To Love is to reach God.
Never will a Lover's chest
feel any sorrow.
Never will a Lover's robe
be touched by mortals.
Never will a Lover's body
be found buried in the earth.
To Love is to reach God.

The Lovers
will drink wine night and day.
They will drink until they can
tear away the veils of intellect and
melt away the layers of shame and modesty.
When in Love,
body, mind, heart and soul don't even exist.
Become this,
fall in Love,
and you will not be separated again.

almost a Haiku!

All day and night, music, a quiet, bright reedsong. If it fades, we fade.

"One went to the door of the Beloved and
knocked. A voice asked, 'Who is there?'
He answered, 'It is I.'
The voice said, 'There is no room for Me and Thee.'
The door was shut.

After a year of solitude and deprivation he returned and knocked.
A voice from within asked, 'Who is there?'
The man said, 'It is Thee.'
The door was opened for him."


Last night,
I was lying on the rooftop,
thinking of you.
I saw a special Star,
and summoned her to take you a message.
I prostrated myself to the Star
and asked her to take my prostration
to that Sun of Tabriz.
So that with his light, he can turn
my dark stones into gold.
I opened my chest and showed her my scars,
I told her to bring me news
of my bloodthirsty Lover.
As I waited,
I paced back and forth,
until the child of my heart became quiet.
The child slept, as if I were rocking his cradle.
Oh Beloved, give milk to the infant of the heart,
and don't hold us from our turning.
You have cared for hundreds,
don't let it stop with me now.
At the end, the town of unity is the place for the heart.
Why do you keep this bewildered heart
in the town of dissolution?
I have gone speechless, but to rid myself
of this dry mood,
oh Saaqhi, pass the narcissus of the wine.

Posted at 10:32 PM | Comments (1)


A billion stars go spinning through the night, blazing hgh about your head. But in you is the presence that will be, when the stars are dead.
-- Rainer Maria Rilke
Buddha In Glory

Center of all centers, core of cores,
almond self-enclosed, and growing sweet--
all this universe, to the furthest stars
all beyond them, is your flesh, your fruit.

Now you feel how nothing clings to you;
your vast shell reaches into endless space,
and there the rich, thick fluids rise and flow.
Illuminated in your infinite peace,

a billion stars go spinning through the night,
blazing high above your head.
But in you is the presence that
will be, when all the stars are dead.

Posted at 10:07 AM

December 11, 2002

Whats wrong with Aeron Chairs

As a new owner of an Aeron chair I have to chuckle at this:

Why Aeron chair's suck?

Posted at 04:06 PM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2002


This has to be one of the cooler projects I've seen online. has a mechanism to (more-or-less) reliably ascertain that a human is on the other end of a connection. (Remember: On the Internet no knows you're a dog). It has usage in spam control and other fields.

Find out if you are human?

The NYTimes article and as always metafilter

Posted at 05:09 PM | Comments (0)

WinSock2 support

FWIW (For What It's Worth):

WinSock 2 SDK: Sept '98 as part of Microsoft's "Platform SDK" available on-line through MSDN. Download.
Add-on for Windows 95: Equivalent to Win98 version, but lacks GQOS support. Download (look for"Windows Socket 2 Update").
Native in Windows 98: It includes support for the "Generic QOS APIs" (RSVP support only)
Native in Windows NT4: Substantial updates available in Service Pack 4 (SP4). Download: WorkStation and Server
Native in Windows 2000 (aka "NT5"): Beta 2 has GQOS with RSVP, Differentiated Services, Traffic Control & Policy Enforcement.

For more info: Essentially if you are on Win98 or WinNT you can assume the presence of Winsock2. Only Win95 is the red haired step child

Posted at 11:13 AM | Comments (0)

December 09, 2002

Talk Again?

The server ran out of space as I was editing a blog over the weekend. This corrupted the Berkeley DB files used by Moveable Type.

Turns out there aren't very many tools to muck with the db files. I ended up having to re-install Moveable Type.

For more info look at Moveable Type Support Forum

Posted at 03:51 PM | Comments (0)

December 05, 2002

Fortuyn on Islam

'Christianity and Judaism have gone through the laundromat of humanism and enlightenment, but that isn't the case with Islam.'
Pim Fortuyn
Posted at 01:56 PM | Comments (0)

A few Zen quotes

Outside mind there is no Buddha, Outside Buddha there is no mind
-- Ma-Tsu
As long as you haven't experienced This: to die and so to grow You are only a troubled guest on the dark Earth
-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The nature of the mind, when understood No human words can encompass or disclose. Enlightenment is naught to be obtained, And he that gains it does not say he knows.
-- Bodhidharma
As long as you seek for something, you will get the shadow of reality and not reality itself.
-- Shunruyu Suzuki
And he was almighty because he had wrenched from chaos the secret of its nothingness
-- Jean Paul Sartre
Posted at 11:34 AM

December 2002
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June 2002
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April 2002
March 2002
February 2002
January 2002
Recent Entries
Omnibus disputantum
Zen and science
Do not be
A map of Madras
Gift Giving
Abstract Expressionism
Magritte's Pipe
Is it a Bird? A work of Art?
Newspaper boy problem
Arts and Letters Daily
Movies seen
Books read
Bush Says