Nov 2004 BLOG

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1 Nov 2004: Watched "Sphere" based on Critchton's novel. Bad. Spehere (1998)
2 Nov 2004: Hummingbird: from egg to flight pics
3 Nov 2004: Watched "Road to Perdition". Apparently a second time. Could not remember what was happening next. Does THAT indicate its a bad movie? Road to perdition (2002)
4 Nov 2004: Some zipcode related pages USPS
4 Nov 2004: Attended a "talk" by Avinash Dharmadhikari at the residence of Anant and Vidya Dikshit. About 40 people were present. The average age was above 50. There were only 7 of our age (30-35).

The topic was "Vivekanand, Sawarkar ani vartaman bharat". He was an IAS officer for 10 years before resigning to launch "Chanakya Mandal" to educate youths for IAS for "clean and efficient administration". He was able to speak from that level (having been collector of Pune, Sec. to CM etc.).

It was to a great extent anecdotal with many different points connected. The main theme was one of optimism. Though India has its spots of trouble, and the media paints it grimmer, things are looking up. His book "Naagarik" should be a good reading.

Examples included improvements in certain law clauses to empower people with information, to try to reduce the connections between politicians and the underworld, acceptance of Hindi stemming from a cessation of demands of states separating from the country (Kerala, Tamil Nadu decades ago and the North-Eastern states in recent years).

He dwelt trifle longer on the Hindi issue than was necessary. Frequent mention of movies seemed to trivialize matters a bit.

He mentioned Khankoje from Nagpur who went on to become Mexico's Agriculture Minister.

Vivekanand gave his famous talk on 9/11 (18??) where he mentioned that the endpoint of all religions is the same. Lets help each other along the way, whatever the way is. As against, AD emphasized, the current Jihadi way.

Sawarkar was a great freedom fighter whose lines were currently removed from outside a prison by a minister unlikely to have read his works/words stating that he was with the Britishers.

But things are looking up in modern India. Miles to go, though. (AD said that the best thing to happen will be if politicians learn to say No and bureaucrats learn to say Yes).

Unfortunately some questions were asked about his political aspirations, alignments etc. and by the time we left he had not come to the point of getting NRI help for the work he has started.

The talk set me thinking once again, as I have been doing the past few days about my role in general. There were a few points where we clearly differed e.g. renaming of Sahar airport as Chattrapati Shivaji airport. That is an unnecessarily complicating factor. Shivaji did get "India" together, but I do not see what that has to do with a clean administration.

I guess the best that one can do is draw analogies and get to work on parallel scenarios here. It is important to awaken the society, but for what? The goal has to be clear. The Talisman, as Abhay Bang would have put it, is needed. May be get people do discover what they are best at?

Khankoje is mentioned here
6 Nov 2004: Don't despair ground realities
7 Nov 2004: Was at the practice of "kala, kalakar aani tyache manuspan". It was interesting to see the musicians and singers quibble about "small" bits searching for perfection and beauty. It was interesting because that beauty is not always apparent to an untrained ear. It seemed so akin to the beauty a mathematician seeks in something like number theory. That too is unintelligible to a complete novice, but even elementary students can start appreciating the beauty of such entities as primes, their "properties" etc. Both are made of chunks (the notes and the numbers) and experts build higher structures based on these (theorems and pieces). The search for perfection comes in getting the patterns just right. The more intricate the piece involved (raga or theorem) the more carefully you have to tread so as not to fall on your face.

There are of course differences too. You can "simplify" math. Much of math has to be "correct" to seem beautiful. There isn't good math or bad math (even percieved).

7 Nov 2004: The last of the MMLA programs for 2004 went off well. 200+ people. Most sat through the 3 hours of "Kallakar, kalaakruti, aaNi tyache (tiche?) maaNusapaN." photo
8 Nov 2004: Urban legends reference page Urban legends
9 Nov 2004: Nutritious stuff Nutrition data
10 Nov 2004: Christof Koch's "quest for consciouness: a neurobiological approach" was interesting. The best part, in my opinion, perhaps because I was not aware of it, was how we miss huge pieces fron the visual field. He showed examples by flashing 2 pictures identical except for some big piece missing and most people were not able to identify that. That also should explain why we feel that all people from other races look alike: our neurons are just not tuned to the detailed differences which is natural in the case of our own race since we see more of them up close more frequently.
Another example was x asking directions to y and being replaced by z without y realizing that.

The example with 4 rectangles (red/blue/y/y) being replaced by 4 grey and the brain's perception in between is intriguing.

Epilepsy and associated neuron monitoring experiments may one day allow us to read/write to brains.

He concluded with an interesting analogy: People did not believe that the piece of stringy nucleic acid stuff, or DNA could be able to complete explain the making of our bodies. Similarly, people do not now believe that an analysis of the neurons will allow us to understand in detail the mechanism of the mind. I hope it does not turn out to be just that: an analogy.

Quest for consciosness
Change blindness (Simons and Levin)
11 Nov 2004: Jay doesn't like to be surprised by being told this: "Jay, we are going to foo now". He thought he had his solution when, while coming back from school he told me that he would like to be on the computer alone for a minute. I asked: "what is it about Jay?" and he said "about our future". He got home, went to the computer and came out unenlightened. He said: "I thought you would have written in your blog if we are going somewhere". My blog
14 Nov 2004: Read Arthur C. Clarke's "The star". Superb argument about the place humanity holds in cosmic designs. The story was part of Vol 1 of Hugo award winners (ed. Asimov). Hugo awards
By year
26 Nov 2004: Prof. Anil Gore gave a moving talk at Nikita's welcoming ceremony. It was about different sanskars, how some of them are completely outdated and how we should look at some others. Included some interesting things about differentiation.
28 Nov 2004: Went to Knott's Berry farm, thanx to Neelima and Shiva. Enjoyed a few rides. One stops "enjoying" them at some point. It just becomes an exercise in surviving them. Ghostrider lasted for 145 seconds and had many dives. California kids to get a lot of conditioning, as was obvious from the well attended "preparatory" rides. Knott's Berry Farm
28 Nov 2004: Attended a get-together at the residence of Anupama and Vijay Bal where the women activist/journalist Vidya Bal spoke on "Sanvad JaNeevancha : MaZa MaNus MnhaNoon JagaNyacha Pravas". It included the screening of a 53 minute video made to celebrate 10 years of her monthly "milun saryajani" by linking articles/poems in it in a very effective manner.

She linked her progress as a human being to her urge to question set but often pointless customs, even if it is at the cost of distancing some people. It was the second time in three days that we found one of our stand vindicated.

Unfortunately, just like in the talk by Avinash Dharmadhikari, our generation was under-represented - clearly, which men will attend a program by a women activist? And which women will ask their husbands to stay home because they want to go to the program?

29 Nov 2004: .prn files which are normally for printing only can be viewed using sview from swiftview. They can also be directly printed using: lpr -l foo.prn info on swiftview etc.

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