Had a wonderful time watching films made by students for a film studies class/workshop here at Yale. The class was TA'd by a friend of mine, Andrey Tolstoy, who was kind enough to invite me to the showing. Said showing was excellent - I especially loved a 30 minute documentary about a funeral home that was closing down; it was called Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye, and featured Ella Fitzgerald's rendition of the song [link].
Speaking of songs, I've been listening to Johnny Cash lately. Class.
> When the man comes around [link]
> Ain't no Grave [link]
> I won't back down [link]
Had a long day yesterday, searching for ties in NYC. The target tie being very specific in colour, texture, etc., we didn't find an exact match, but after six hours, Andrew settled for whatever we had in front of us. It was quite a nice day - MTA to New York, talking about bad research and people with political opinions based on the 9 O' Clock News and Wikipedia (hatorade: the best drink around); cab to Soho, where we ate at the restaurant of the French Culinary Institute (L'Ecole [link]); trip to Rothman's to pick up his wedding suit; then we got tied up looking for ties.
In other news, I wrote a couple of stupendously long facebook comments, which I shall try to massage into post form for this blog. Also, Spring Fling happened. My precis: mud, mediocre music, mud, and did I mention mud?
Yes. Yes it did. Do you know how much money OpenSSL receives per year for upkeep? Oh, about $2000. There's one (yes, ONE) full time employee working on the code - which is used by everyone from Google to IBM to Cisco; said companies, along with some others, have finally noticed this, thanks to the revelation of the heartbleed bug, and have agreed (via the Linux Foundation) to increase the amount of money going into OpenSSL [link].
I read an interesting article on net neutrality today [link]. While it talks about a lot of other stuff, I find it's explanation of why net neutrality is a good thing refreshingly simple.
Proctored an exam today. The professor and I added a very easy math question to the test (as extra credit) to see how many people would (a) see "math" and skip it, (b) try and fail, (c) succeed. There may or may not be some wagers hinging on the result.
Also, Rajeev Suri is apparently going to be the next CEO of Nokia [link]. Satya Nadella, then this? Excellent. It appears my plans for world domination are proceeding satisfactorily, ethnically speaking, at least. I disagree with the common "Indians only excel abroad" mentality - we excel in India as well, it's just less visible under the filth of Indian politics.
That, of course, might be improving now, given the imminent demise of the rectal canker sore that is the Indian National Congress. Good God, just talking about them makes me fly into a rage. The mere mention of their name brought these three videos into my head - I include them here for your viewing pleasure.
Situation worsens in Ukraine - soldiers kill five pro-Russia rebels [link]
Time travel using older images in Google Street View [link]
ARIN is now out of IPv4 addresses [link]; the latin american and african registries still have lots left, though.
The start menu will probably be back in August [link]
Google, Apple, etc. agree to settle conspiracy case [link]
Climate change apparently has another effect - a reduction in IQ. Or perhaps these idiots were simply weeded out in the past - perhaps we've just made it so easy to survive, that utter morons can make it to the world stage.
I just finished reading this. Nowadays, I just get annoyed when I see phrases like "studies show", or "recent data shows", or "analysis reveals". Sadly, Fox seems to be using "climatedepot.com" to perform data analysis for the channel.
Here are some gems of crystallized stupidity from the post:
Recent satellite data shows that there has been no global warming for more than 17 years.
The global warming fixation [is] “an appeal to rich people” and “a concern of the elite”
I think we can frack and drill and mine for coal and still be good stewards for the planet.
The comments are even better:
"This global warming scam is costing the taxpayers Billions. And believe you me they are putting Millions in their pockets."
"Global Warmism was explained in detail by Gustav Le Bon in his 1895 book
on Group Psychology, called The Crowd. He details how crowds form
opinions jumping from image to image, never checking the logical
underpinnings, and form what are essentially religious beliefs, complete
with persecution of heretics like Steyn. The Crowd, although little
referenced today, was probably the book having the most influence on the
20th century, because it served as a manual for Teddy Roosevelt,
Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Lenin, Freud, and Madison Avenue."
"Climate Change is the natural process the world goes through year after
year, century after century, eon after eon. Global Warming is what the
idiots call Climate Change so they can blame it on someone and make
money off of making people feel guilty and that they caused it when it
is just the natural process the planet goes through."
Even the ones that believe in climate change are using anecdotal evidence to "prove" their points - "I have lived where I am in NW Oregon for nearly 30 years. Most snow we EVER got here was about 2-3 inches, once. Last winter we had a storm from 12 inches in a 24 hour period."
While the day started off with a communication gaffe which resulted in some of my friends having to wait on me for half an hour, the rest of it went quite well. Ate good food, played with robots, chatted with students and friends, did some work.. stuff stuff stuff. Had an imprudently large dinner at Viva Zapata, the calorie content of which was made infinitely worse by the consumption of somewhere around five glasses of coke (sorry, foxon park). Actually, I retroactively remove the sarcasm from that sentence. Foxon Park sodas really are quite good.
Easter Sunday - the Pope said some nice things [link]
Walked around the medical campus today - it's surprisingly beautiful. There are some very nice parks, as well as some pretty interesting architecture. Followed that up with some work calls, research, and coding. All in all, not bad.
Watching F1 qualifiers right now. Whoa they're fast.
Overslept. Did some work. Didn't eat. Found out that kosher salt isn't salt that is kosher, but is actually salt that is used to make meat kosher. Organized a bunch of things for Andrew's bachelor party. Saw some opinion polls from the last year or so [link]. Can't wait for the results (16th May 2014).
Another sunny day in New Haven. Had another talk about the financial crisis this morning - this time with Az Biazar, who knows Wall Street pretty well; a decidedly non-academic viewpoint. I'm going to sit down with him this evening and (again) take extensive notes on his view of the crisis. He's worked at major Wall Street firms, and has impeccable degrees (UCLA, Harvard Business School, Yale Law); more importantly, he's a dear friend, and I trust his opinion - he is quite astute, and is not given to talking about things he doesn't really understand. I'm going to do some recommended reading (e.g., The Big Short), and then try and condense all of these conversations and notes into one coherent document. In the meantime, research!
Read an article today that basically tells you to be miserly about praising your kids [link], and watched a video (recommended to me by Jim Liu) on parasites:
Had a long discussion about clashing social norms and the efficacy of legislation in such scenarios with Debdipto Ghoshal, whom I first met at St. Xavier's (he's currently in Bangalore) - perhaps the topic for a future blog post? My thoughts on the topic are still fairly nebulous, so I'm going to wait for them to settle down. Debdipto is always a good source for interesting information, and he didn't disappoint - microfactories (tiny robots building stuff) [link].
Dining hall food drove me and Az out of the dining hall this evening, so we ended up going to Tomatillo; this in turn drove all work out of our fickle little minds, so we ended up watching Full Metal Jacket after. Quite an excellent film - I recommend it.
Google released a paper [link] on the software it uses to read street numbers in Street View; it turns out that it can solve well over 99% of CAPTCHAs, so if you were relying on distorted text to protect your website, you're in trouble. (Fortunately, Google reCAPTCHAs, which no longer rely too much on text distortion, are fine.) [blog post link]
NATO is going to send ships to the Baltic (not the Black Sea) to "bolster defence of eastern European allies" [link]
Russia, Ukraine, the US and the EU agreed to "de-escalate" the crisis in Ukraine [link, link]
Putin says that the annexation of Crimea was partly in response to NATO expansion into eastern Europe [link]
After yesterday's dreary drizzle, it was a joy to see the sun this morning. It looks like it's going to be another wonderful day in New Haven. I need to do something about my sleeping habits - I keep waking up late (10-11ish). Resolution: Am going to go to bed early tonight. But before that, I have much to do - need to do some research, work on a patent app, make an exam, fix some code..
Speaking of things to do - I'm pretty stoked for the Real-Barca match today. Let's see how it goes! Real won the Real-Barca game today 2-1; things got pretty exciting towards the end - Gareth Bale scored a wonderful goal around 85 to put the score at 2-1, and Neymar's shot rebounded off of the post at the 89th minute. Real (intelligently) wasted the 3 minutes of extra time to deal a 2-1 crusher. The score doesn't really reflect Real's dominance of the match (remember, this is a team that's missing its star player - Cristiano Ronaldo!). Barca's play was pretty lacklustre - it's been a pretty bad week for them: knocked out of the Champion's League by Atletico, reeling from a loss against minnows Granada in La Liga, and now this. Not a good time to be a Barca fan.
Update: Went out this evening with Andrew Sinclair to talk about the financial crisis. In addition to being a great friend, he's a doctoral student advised by Gary Gorton, and is currently studying precisely that topic. I think I have a good handle, and extensive notes, on the basics now (for a layman). Hopefully, I'll be able to turn those notes into a coherent document over the next couple of weeks.
South Korean ferry accident - hundreds missing, mostly schoolchildren [link, link]
I know that saying "things are looking bad in Ukraine" is a bit of an
understatement, but whoa! Russian separatists flew the Russian flag on
armoured vehicles it had captured from the Ukrainian army's operations
against it; pretty humiliating for Kiev [link]. Furthermore, the manner in which said "capture" occurred is also pretty pathetic - "The Ukrainian troops appear to have been disarmed before being fed by
pro-Russian militants at a cafe in Sloviansk and then put on a bus back
to their home city of Dnipropetrovsk." [link]
Lavabit: When asked to hand over their encryption keys, Lavabit obeyed - by printing the keys in tiny size 4 font (this is size 4 font) and sending the resulting 11 page document to the FBI, for which they are now being held in contempt of court [link].
Another poison gas attack in Syria [link] - this happened a few days ago, but I learnt about it today.
We're having some strange weather here today. Or perhaps
it's just me that's feeling strange. New Haven is bathed in a delicate
drizzle, casting everything in a subtle, eldritch light. There's a
strange tingle in my skin, as if it's about to sweat. An anxious current
dances across my palms, overstimulating the
muscles underneath. I want to sit alone in a large squarish wooden
veranda overlooking the Ganges with the rain around me and a fire
within. I feel like something is happening, or is about to happen; every
fight or flight response within me is singing. Jack London shouts
quietly in my head - "I would rather be ashes than dust!". A poor man
from rural Bengal gives lottery tickets worth 2.5 Lacs to someone who
hadn't even paid for them - simply because he had given his word. Nalini
Sengupta stands firm and refuses to give up his fury.
Like I said, strange.
I woke up pretty late this morning, having stayed up till three or four to catch a glimpse of the blood moon [link]. The cloudy sky waylaid my astronomical attempt, and the late night ensured a dilatory awakening - by the time I got out of bed, it was half past eleven. I would have sluggishly slithered back to sleep, but I suddenly remembered that I had to meet some students at noon, so instead, I had to take a quick shower and run to the department.
Went to Avi's class in the afternoon and then to the gym to box (had an excellent workout). Dinner was underwhelming - the dining hall had practically nothing vegetarian (as a friend put it, they need to learn the difference between having vegetables and having vegetarian food); I ended up eating some yogurt with honey. I was going to hang out with a friend in the rec. room, but he told me that a bunch of bio people were already there, and that they were drinking, being loud, etc. On a Tuesday. Ah well.
A lawsuit trying to remove a memorial to Korean "comfort women" in LA [link]
Ukraine launches special ops against separatist militia [link]
My facebook wall is filled with Modi-related talk, as is almost every conversation I have with another Indian. While I haven't collected enough information to write a comprehensive, coherent post on the topic, I have been studying. Here are some articles and fact-compilations about Modi that I've found on the internet. The various court rulings (ref. the 2002 Gujarat riots) will be added to this list as soon as I find a good transcript; those will probably go under the pro section, since they found him innocent of any wrongdoing.
It's been a wonderful day here in New Haven. Woke up, lazed about, ate, worked and chilled in the courtyard, had some very spicy red curry delivered from Jeera Thai. All in all, not bad, not bad at all.
Yes, yes, I know it's not the new year yet, but since the world did not have enough sense to make the 15th of April fall on a weekend this year, we made do with the nearest one.
A bunch of us got together and made lunch; well, to be honest, it was 4:30~5pm by the time we finished, so it was nearer dinner than lunch, but we did quite a good job, methinks. The luchis were perhaps less than perfect, to say the least, and we forgot to add salt to the alu-chocchori (promptly rectified at the table), but overall, not a bad attempt. Ingredients were acquired yesterday at Bharat Bazaar and Stop & Shop - I bought myself some Chawanprash1 and a bag of michri2. In traditional Indian style, the shop closed 15-30 minutes before the listed 9pm closing time - apparently, when they said that they closed at 9pm, they meant that they expect to leave at 9pm, which meant that they started turning off the lights at about 20 minutes to 9.
Finally sent in my tax return today. Unfortunately, for some idiotic reason, nonresident aliens in the US cannot file their taxes online. I have half a mind to charge the postage to the IRS.
The catharsis of finishing off my taxes was unfortunately interrupted by a rather annoying discussion at dinner - another instance of loud, emphatic ignorance confident about their knowledge of finance. "Bankers are evil.. they contribute nothing to society.. the whole of Wall Street is ethically wrong[sic]... they produce nothing.." - etc., etc., etc.
The exact workings of the financial crisis were then explained to me - it never ceases to amaze me that people are ready to believe that they have perfectly understood something that eluded some of the best minds in the world. Very, very few people can claim to understand the recent crisis - a few central bankers, a couple of professors and doctoral students at Yale and Chicago, and perhaps some people at the US Federal Reserve. That's it.
I, being the utter imbecile that I am, was foolish enough to argue. I should have known that this particular variety of self-assured ignorance comes accompanied - almost invariably - by an ego that is incapable of handling any opinion contrary to the first one that it accepts. Confronting such a person is a nuclear option; one must tell them that they are utterly and completely wrong. And doing so is difficult - one must decide to tear down someone else's ego in public. I quickly changed tack and started talking about something else. Phew.
I'm going to try and write a post describing the financial crisis in a couple of days. It will likely be an amateurish attempt, but I do want to put my ideas - rather, the ideas I have gleaned from my conversations with Andrew Sinclair - down on paper.
Had some very heated discussions about the stock markets, morality, and taxation this afternoon.
I despise it when people who don't really understand something are so passionate in their beliefs on the issue. This seems to happen mostly because the person in question has some deep-seated beliefs that are strongly validated or rehashed by the argument. "Rich people are bad", or "making too much money is a sign that you're stealing from the poor" seemed to be the concepts that underlied most of the arguments today.
The stock market is not just a gambling house; if you want to describe it as "informed gambling" then almost anything is a gamble. If you enter any system (and actually put your hard-earned money into it) without understanding what you're doing, there's a good chance you're going to lose it. Stock market regulations are not perfect, just as legal systems are not perfect. Some people have gamed the system to make money in insidious ways that will soon (hopefully) be outlawed 1. No doubt others will come up with even cleverer methods to make money. But that doesn't mean that the stock markets themselves are somehow morally wrong.
All of this seems to stem from a basic idea that (a) rich people are bad, and (b) rich people seem to make lots of money from the market: cue the "inequality is growing" tagline - which is something I'm not entirely sure of in any case 2,3. Something, they say, must be wrong. Surely, the big, bad, rich people are using this corrupt system to make even more money. No.
Bad people may be rich, but if you make the argument in reverse, you are simply, logically, absolutely, thus congruently, wrong. Saying that some rich people make lots of money from the market is right; that's how many of them made their fortunes in the first place - they're rich because they're good at making money.
There was also a claim made that rich people are "bad" because the infrastructure that they stand on, that allows them to get rich, is inherently "bad" (and it influences said rich person), because it is (clearly) aimed at making money and nothing else. Note the implicit assumption that making money is automagically a bad thing. Don't even get me started.
There's a lot more I want to say about this, but I really should do more research before I do so.
It's been quite a while. I'd actually forgotten about my old blog.
A friend of mine told me he found it the other day. I don't suppose anyone else even looks at it anymore. Going through the posts, I can see how much and how little I've changed - I truly regret not keeping this blog updated - so many moments missed, soon to be forgotten. I suppose facebook took up that part of my life - when I wanted to say something, I just posted it there. But it's not quite the same. Not quite the same.
I'm going to try and update this blog every day from now on, even if it's a short, boring post. There are so many things I want to write about, so many wonderful memories I want to share - I'll see if I can do justice to the topics I choose.
I'm going to start with some events from last Friday and Saturday. Wish me luck!
P.S. I did notice the missing apostrophe in "it's" in many of my earlier posts. Don't know how that happened; I'll try to fix them as soon as I can.
UPDATE: Didn't even manage a week. Missed two days on the 9th and 10th. I'll keep recording days missed here to discourage laziness.