May 2005 Archives
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May 31, 2005

Questioning assumptions and becoming more aware

(Not well written)

One must clearly understand the basic assumptions he makes in evaluating anything in his life. In order to even perform basic things, one needs to evaluate what he likes, and what is better according to him; and doing this involves making many underlying assumptions -- which are not very obvious.

For example, every morning you wake up and think that -- "Lets go to work". Why do you think that? Why is that "good"? Why did you choose it?

Or you think that "Tit for tat. He didnt help me -- now handle this."

Or "He doesnt even respond to me. What a jerk."

All these thoughts and decisions, if understood to a depth, give us a better understanding of this human world, and lets us more deftly adapt to changing space and time as regards to society.

Even assuming that life is better than death without specific deliberate thought is closed-mindedness.

Even assuming closed-mindedness is bad without sufficient logical reasons that satisfy self, is blindly following it.

The basic subconscious that society creates in us, is most of the times sufficiently correct, and you dont need to question fundamental assumptions. But often, it can misguide you, especially when the world is becoming a global village, and societies with very different fundamentals are trying to play along with each other, and when technology is slowly but steadily changing basic social machinery.

The primary activity that leads us to heightened awareness is trying to climb "meta" levels. (Level, sort of indicating a realm consisting of particular thoughts and their logical connections)

A meta level being one which is a level higher, and can "observe" the level below it from a distance, thus having the ability to understand and analyze it; in other words, gives you the ability to ask "Why" to it...

Take the basic social layer; which everyone is very familiar with. Now add a layer on top, which asks "why" to everything on the lower layer. The most important things in the lower layer to which you should ask these questions apart from other things are your own judgements, actions, and your general behavior.

Now to this second layer, which will collect all the answers to the first questions, add another layer, and ask "why" to that. Reason should be pursued for the answers as well as the action of pursuing answers. Thats how it works -- you ask "Why" to even the act of asking "Why".

The more layers/levels we climb, we tend to become more aware.

After doing this process for a few months, when you reach some concepts/answers which now become more or less stable, and dont give in to any questions; you will start understanding life more closely.

Sometimes, I feel that, all it takes to becoming a spiritual master (like say Asaramji Bapu) is climbing to higher and higher levels of meta-layers for a very wide variety of concepts and actions. (among other secondary things like: knowledge, etc)

Is Enlightenment (as in Gautama Buddha) just a very high form of such awareness?

May 27, 2005

Airport Screeners

Airport screeners could see X-rated X-rays | CNET

May 25, 2005

Small Town Life vs City Life

(the following includes big general statements, which, likely are false as a principle, but are true in specific circumstances)
(to others, all of this might sound like a cliche)

I just visited Brownsville, TX, a small town in southern tip of Tdexas; on the border with Mexico. I loved that place somehow, despite it being very hot at this time of the year. While there, I had memories of my own town, Akola, India, where I am from (I spent my first 18 years of life there).

Something about the town immediately struck a chord within me.

The town was small: in a small little place, you have everything: restaurants (like Mexican (alas! they dont have veggie options there), Subways, McDonalds, etc), hotels/motels, theatres (small ones), clubs, shopping malls (small), etc... Just there were like 2 main roads, one going north, and one going south; and everything about the town, was just a few miles up or down these two roads. This gives a feeling of closeness and oneness. You feel like the town is yours, all of it, and you are a collective part of it.

The people: they were nice, in a small-town kind of way. There was an air of satisfaction, and content. There was a closeness; there was an omnipotent feeling of kinship with the fellow man. People made friends with other people, not because that friendship would provide them "fun", or some other "material help", but just because everybody is meant to be a friend, for reason or no reason. People were not trying to outsmart each other; people were trying to come together as if getting together as a water stream to overthrow the strong muddy barriers of troubles; creating a synergy for mutual life progress.

The town was small enough that everybody seemed to know everything about it; and hence cared for all of it. Town's economic development was seen as a harbinger of joy to all town-people, not as an individual opportunity.

People were not crazy for self progress; they didnt want to do "such a great thing that the whole world will watch". They wanted to do only enough to live a well-to-do life. They didnt want to change the world, they wanted to change little more than the town.

Whereas city life, I feel, while offering better material quality of life, and better opportunities for progress, has one important shortcoming. People want to become rich, and achieve big things, want to do more impact. It operates on the cutting edge, where people are doing things which few in the nation have done before. People want to become bigger and more important, by doing bigger and greater things. There is a glaring difference between qualities of life between different people in the city; and this makes a good reason for discontent and having bigger distance from others.

"Everybody is for himself" speaks loudly the whole city culture; and people are always confused with how close or distant they must be from their friends and acquaintances and strangers.

Ofcourse, it does not mean that city people are behaving badly, or doing something wrong. Rather, it is inherent in the very nature of the city.

I feel that many nations, developed or developing, might be facing a similar situation. For example, this kind of divide is visible in India too -- say between Akola and Bombay. So the absolute amount of development doesnt affect this phenomenon a lot, but their qualitative differences does.

Cities are on the cutting edge of progress; they are venturing out to develop (and market) new ideas and products. Whereas towns are satisfied with just catching up slowly to the cities, which they are never able to do (at least in the short term).

People more ambitious who are in towns, migrate to the cities, so towns tend to maintain their characteristics; and cities tend to collect a lot of smart people.

The ambitious and individualistic city life; the content, peacefull, collective town life; which one would you choose?

May 24, 2005

Interesting Story about Math Wizard

George Dantzig, had solved two unsolved mathematics/statistics problems, mistaking them as homework problems.

Urban Legends Reference Pages: College (The Unsolvable Math Problem)

May 19, 2005

talking to family is like a Tonic

(This has been cross posted from my hidden personal blog, so is more personal than other entries here in this blog)

Whenever I talk to my mummy and daddy, I feel different.

I feel that I have a life. I feel that I know how to live happily.

Its a very weird -- different experience.

Everyday I am thinking of what to do. It appears like such a difficult choice. Whether to go this way or that way. Meeting so many different kinds of people having so many different kinds of lives -- ideas about lives -- that one becomes confused.

When I talk to my parents, I feel I am okay... I am leading a fine life with a fine job, and a fine everything else. I just need to enjoy it.

Its so different.

In the traditional model of life, that my parents have (we are from a small town in India, having our own little way of doing this), I have to just be a simple person following what the values and cultures of traditional life tell...its not about self expression, its about how much you know about "what should be done according to what our society says". Its a completely different model than what we have here -- "what do I want to do?". This difference in the focus over an individual is obvious, glaring, and widereaching.

Its something related to this other observation: When I meet some people, I see that they are dynamic, and are always looking for ways to enrich their life, looking for new ways to have fun, looking for new things to learn (for some: "and analyze"), etc. But there are so many other people, who appear so simple: they look like they are not trying to be happy, they are just happy intrinsically...they have some kind of bliss or some deep contentment written over their face -- they dont need to do a lot to be happy -- just basic simple things will make them happy or sad. They dont confuse or over-complicate their lives. They stick with the basics. They are not the kind of people who will invent theory of relativity (since intelligence, sometimes I feel, is a consequence of some kind of a disturbed, unstable mind); but neither they need someone to do it.

The latter kind of people are easier to love, and befriend. By easier, I mean, I feel like talking to such kind of people more. I feel like being around them. They wont talk about weird new ways of looking at life, but they will pull together a subspace filled with care, support, love and closeness.

When I am very sad, I hardly think about any intelligent thing. I think about my family and love. I think about simplicity of love. I yearn for care, and not analysis.

And look at me...what I have become. I try to analyze everything. I try to analyze happiness and life. I analyze people, and culture. I analyze engineering problems. I try to make analysis as the basis of my behavior.

Its such a burden now that I think about it.

Simplicity is divine, complications are a bane.

God bless Life, simple and complicated, and all that goes with it.


As soon as they put phone functionality, and double their hard drive space, I am going to buy it. (whatever it takes)

palmOne - Products - LifeDrive Mobile Manager

Super Water kills Bugs Dead

Interesting Story.

Wired News: Super Water Kills Bugs Dead

May 18, 2005

Film as against technology

Star War's Revenge of the Sith, the final episode, will shatter box office records. Thats definite.

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Fans braced for Star Wars finale

Fans had lined up outside LA's Grumman Chinese theatre months before the release (yes, camping out there).

The craze behind the movie is immense.

Sometimes, it feels that movies is what people want. If you want to do anything, which will affect a lot of people, or which most people would want to see/listen/hear/use, then making a popular movie it is.

Movies is a universal concept -- starting with story-telling from the very early days. People like to experience fictional stories, since they are more interesting than their own lives. Millions will watch this Star Wars movie in the first few days of its release. Then billions will watch it in the coming time, in theatre or on DVD. Thousands of people will watch this movie dozens of times.

Technology is also, of course universal. But the amount of impact maybe a little less. Of course, ipod sold millions, but thats only millions, not billions. And of course, the ipod does not come out every quarter, like blockbuster films come out. If IBM made the computer, ofcourse it was even more blockbuster than a film, but you have to realize that its not just one company that plays a part in such a product. There were lot of companies involved with lot of precursor of products involved, ultimately that will include thousands and thousands of people behind the development of the computer.

Whereas movies are made by just a small bunch of people. A small bunch of people make such a big impact.

Ofcourse, as with everything, the line is not solid here as well.

For example, the entertainment behind a movie will last for 3 hours and then cease. So if you count number of hours multiplied by each person that watched that movie, then the number of man hours impacted by that movie will be much less than the number of man hours that have been impacted by a computer.

Hmm. Actually, computer has been able to start new economies as well. Millions or more people depend on the computer for livelihood. Nobody depends on watching movies as means of livelihood, and if they do, they are very few.

Technology is an enabler of action - Movies (or other art) are an emotional experience.

Probably it is difficult to compare these two.

So I take my sentence back, and conclude that, as always, there is no single truth.

Building his own Segway

Trevor Blackwell made his own Segway - with great description of how he built it.


Building a Balancing Scooter

May 17, 2005


Get ego, and you will know what to do at all times of your life.

May 14, 2005

Google search seems to be better than Yahoo

I had thought that Yahoo Search has improved a lot over past few months. But now I know: whatever Yahoo does, I think its going to be difficult for them to overtake Google in search excellence.

The brainy people at Google have put in such witty logic in the search, that search at Yahoo (even now) seems primitive.

Cases in point, that I encountered today:
- a search for MIT Stata Center showed that Yahoo gave wierd results. The link I wanted, Google had that right at the top. Even Clusty gave better results, even though it uses neither Google nor Yahoo.
- a search for Gaurang Bookmarks again defeats Yahoo. Even though Yahoo has crawled my updated website (as evident from it Cache output), and I have removed the link to and changed it to several weeks ago, it still gives the old link (and not the new link).
- Another search makes Yahoo give an erroneous link at the Number 3, which has been erroneous for several months now. Whereas Google had removed it only a few days after it became erroneous. Btw, its not exactly erroneous, I dont know how google managed to figure that out.

Google's search logic is so clever that it gives the eerie feeling of artifical intelligence sometimes.

No wonder, why Google is the most popular search tool today.

Yahoo is Very Good, but Google is Excellent.

May 13, 2005

Benefits of Arrogance

This is actually a little strange.

If people are not arrogant, and are God-fearing (or society-fearing or whatever to call the same thing), then the progress of society will take place very slowly, since people will conform to current ways and not "act smart", and do their own way.

This is kind of a paradox - but may have a grain of truth.

It might actually require some brazenness and insolence, in order to come up with stark new ideas, whereas convention normally prevents outright ingenuity.

But as we know, conformance, while subduing your imagination, helps you in many other ways, like being able to identity and relate with other people better (two God-fearing (or society-fearing) people are likely to feel comfortable with each other, and most of the people in the world are conforming kind; whereas two arrogant people may likely not feel comfortable with each other, and if everybody in the world was arrogant, it will lead to chaos), avoid pitfalls of trying out very new ways, etc. In fact, it is kind of courteous to be conforming, since by that you say, "Dont worry, I will behave in a very predictable manner. I wont outrightly do something very new."

Actually, this thought reminds me of Howard Roark in "FountainHead" and its author Ayn Rand's objectivism.

May 6, 2005

Outsourcing to the sea

Interesting Idea: Twist to Outsourcing:

News Article about Sea Code

Sea Code Website

Working - and limit of knowledge

A big difference of our working life as against student life, is that in our working life, we put in 40-50 hours of the week into doing a focussed task.

Our knowledge of work and life, grows only in this singular direction -- the area where we are working on.

We dont get much time for learning other things.

After work, we feel like enjoying life with friends and relatives, instead of learning anything more.

So our whole life, gets kind of limited, and we have to find our happiness in this restricted life.

Whereas in student life, I was learning extensively about everything and anything daily.

So in this work life; people's attitudes and life culture and ways of looking at life also tend to remain the same; and we try to go into a "uni-directional tunnel" where we cant see anything around us.

Of course, different people are different; and many people keep learning aa lot of new things throughout their life. But I am talking about the many who are there who dont.

Though, attitudes dont change dramatically, they slowly change towards maturity: the grown up worldview: which is having these things in mind and action:
- everyone is trying to make his life better
- we will try for a while to get along, if it doesn work, then we will move away; we dont need to make a lot of an effort to mix or change for the benefit of others.
- since we know already how to live: we can earn money now.
- if our life paths are the same, its good; otherwise: hard luck.
- get things done reliably
- know what we want, and what is good for us; and take action based on that


May 1, 2005

Practical vs the Spiritual

Just finished watching "October Sky" now. So maybe my mental perception has worn a temporary goggle.

But I feel that spiritual path (contentment, happiness by looking towards the self, group harmony by ego subduement, happiness of being, satisfaction in inaction, relationship bliss, loving and being loved as the only worthy emotions, submitting to God, realizing the singular collective consciousness, etc.) might actually be helpful or considered the best choice only in certain situations.

IN situations of mental turmoil, relationship problems, meaninglessness, deep sorrow, and such; spirituality can be a very enriching experience, and a sublime way of life.

But, under normal emotionally fit circumstances, does spirituality fulfil man's complete emotional apetite?

Having been under the belief that it does, I am now bent to think that it might not.

Man is a complex being -- and he exhibits himself in eclectic and diverse forms.

And his ego (sense of existence as a separate, individual, capable, entity) is one of the various embodiments of his conscious self.

All that is associated with the ego.... is that wrong? The eternal conflict within my mind between the force of individualization with the yield of biological bliss, and the force of submission to the collective with the yield of emotional/consciousness bliss; rages on, but I am now at the moment being driven towards the biological.

Ambition, the will to act, expression of individual voliton, self maintainence, etc. are taking on more meaningful roles in my vision of the scheme of things.

After all, why people remember actions and impacts of the individuals after they cease to exist, rather than their state of mind; or even if they remember their state of mind, why do they remember so as to get impacted by it themselves?

Is making an impact, to create egoistic meaning for the individual, a wrong thing to do?

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