Monday, September 24, 2012

Why we punch below our weight every once in four years

To make an Olympic champion, it takes 8 Olympic finalists. To make Olympic finalists, it takes 80 Olympians. To make Olympians, it takes 202 national champions. To make national champions, it takes thousands of athletes. To make athletes, it takes millions of children around the world to be inspired to choose sport.

 - Lord Sebastian Coe

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The power of start-ups

Novel technology many times does not first manifest itself in established corporations. Such organisations tend to be more dominated by fear than greed. Perhaps this is the correct approach because more disruptive technologies fail than succeed. Thus start-ups tend to be the place where greed and risk taking can be fostered and properly rewarded.
 - Stevens, Gebhardt, You, Xu, Vij, Das and Desai (The Future of Formal Methods and GALS Design)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The best Olympic games opening ceremony of all time!

As the clock struck ten in the night, me and my friends sat down in front of the laptop with dinner to watch the Opening Ceremony of The London Olympics. Ever since I remember, the Olympics was a big event for my family and we always made it a point to watch the opening ceremony in it's full glamour. For me it all began with the 1996 Atlanta Olympics ceremony which I saw waking up early in the morning. Since then I have seen all of them and I made sure that the trend was not going to be broken this time.

This year's ceremony was remarkably different and refreshing! No flashy displays of power or technology! The ceremony was very educative and helped me learn quite a lot about British culture. It was not an overt display of British dominance, but a rather subtle exhibition of all things British! The British are not known for a staunchly proud nationalist culture, like the French or even the Germans are known for. Surprisingly, even I did not know quite a lot about the British despite my country having shared a particularly long colonial relationship with them. If I think what the British have given to the world, at the top of my mind comes the English language! Add to that cricket (and also host of other sports like football and hockey), rock music (everything from Beatles to Queen and Iron Maiden) and Keira Knightley (not a cultural thing! but nevertheless ;) ) and you will realise that even though the sun finally set on the British Empire, the sun of British influence still continues to shine brightly. These things I just mentioned have become so globalized that it is difficult to imagine them as originally British. Uncovering the hidden Britishness of those symbols without a hint of arrogance was an infinitely difficult task and the organisers managed to do it perfectly. What cast this ceremony apart from all the others was that it gave a billion plus viewers a chance to bask in this shining sun of British culture and to realise the footsteps left by it in the sands of time. Ironically, that would be the only sun you can bask in once you are in England because the real sun is very miserly in the British Isles. It was probably the best ambassador for the British culture ever.

The ceremony had a distinctive human touch. Village life was on display with folks farming, playing cricket, sheep grazing! Children were jumping on trampolines disguised as beds! The lack of synchronisation among those children made the performance more believable and it seemed as if the children made no effort to hide their excitement! I had a very high opinion of Danny Boyle after watching two of his movies, namely Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire. But I would say and many other would agree with me that this ceremony was his best work till date! The idea to get Rowan Atkinson to do a live performance was the best ever! The British are definitely lucky to have a basket full of talented performers and entertainers and the best of them were hand picked and put on display for the ceremony! When Paul McCartney transformed the stadium packed with countless thousands of fans and around 16 thousand athletes into a live concert and got them crooning to Hey Jude, I could not stop feeling jealous of the people who got a chance to enjoy the glorious moment in its present!

The part where this edition of the Olympic Opening ceremony won hands down was that it made all of the billion plus people watching it feel as if they were part of a truly unique sporting extravaganza. It went where no ceremony had gone before by making all of us realise that the gifted sports-persons who participate in the greatest sporting event on the earth come from amongst us. I would say that it drilled home the point that with hard work, dedication and the motivation to be more faster, stronger and higher than we already are, we can too become as accomplished in our lives as these athletes! Apart from representing the British culture, This ceremony was also the best ambassador the Olympic games could have had in a long long time. Full marks to everyone involved! I will never forget the time when everyone (including my friends who were watching it with me) went Na Na Na to Hey Jude!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Olympic Hockey

The London Olympics begins in about two weeks time and I cannot stop thinking about the Indian hockey team. Recently, I came across these set of articles about the Indian hockey team. It was nice for someone of my age to know about the great hockey culture we had spawned. The first thing I noticed was that we are not new to politics and nepotism in team selection. But those things apart, the articles shed a nice light on the glorious period of Indian Hockey.
I am now in Dutch country, in Delft and I feel thrilled when I see young Dutch boys and girls cycle to the nearest astro turf in their shorts and skirts with hockey sticks in their hand. Every time I see it, I pause and remember about my country's rich hockey history. Ask any Indian to talk about the hockey history of India and you will notice one name coming up frequently - that of Major Dhyan Chand. He was to hockey what Pele was to football. Seeing him in action at the 1982 Amsterdam Olympics, a Dutch journalist had written, "The Indian ball seems ignorant of law of gravity. One of those tanned, diabolical jugglers stares at the ball intently; it gets upright and remains suspended in the air. It only proceeds on its way when the player has bestowed an approval nod on it." Although it is blatantly racist, I cannot help but admire the sorcery Major Dhyan Chand and his boys managed (at that time, Dhyan Chand was not the captain and just a young member). Apparently he had marvelled the audiences so much that there are anecdotes about him. No wonder his birthday is celebrated as National Sports Day in India and the National Stadium in the capital is named after him.
Reading all those articles wakes up the passionate Indian inside me, whose national sport is hockey. I am planning to cheer no holds barred for the Indian team this coming Olympics!
Best of luck to them!

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

HW-SW co-design brings people together..!

Prof Michael Hübner of The Ruhr-Universität Bochum gave a lecture on evolution of embedded systems today in TU Delft. Apart from many experiences he recounted of working in the industry, he mentioned about a certain tech-company where the hardware designers and software designers did not talk to each other and were often at loggerheads. After the company forayed into hardware-software co-design, the warring designers had no option but to work together as a team and thus had to talk to each other. These days, says the Professor, they sit at one table and chat during lunch. An achievement he attributes to HW-SW co design working to bring different people closer to each other!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

I want to paint the entire map red

visited 8 states (3.55%)

Fuck Yeah!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Amdahl’s Law

Everyone knows Amdahl’s law, but quickly forgets it.

—Thomas Puzak, IBM, 2007

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Inspirational Quotes conjured up in TU Delft...!

"When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window."
 - Reverend Mother from Sound of Music

"I say when the Lord closes a door, you open it. If the Lord locks it, you pick that lock. You wouldn't want to look like an idiot trying to climb through the window just because God was in a goofy mood, would you? No, no you would not."
 - Christopher Watson

Monday, May 07, 2012


The greatness of a nation and it's moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated

Things to learn from a dog

I found this on the internet. If a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:

  1. When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
  2. Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
  3. Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.
  4. Take naps.
  5. Stretch before rising.
  6. Run, romp, and play daily.
  7. Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
  8. Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
  9. On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
  10. On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
  11. When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
  12. Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
  13. Be loyal.
  14. Never pretend to be something you're not.
  15. If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
  16. When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

A hilarious experiment with monkeys

Just came across this video on Facebook. You are satisfied with your reward until you see others getting better ;)

Monday, April 30, 2012

Fault Modelling

The extreme difficulty of obtaining solutions by conventional mathematical analysis has led in the past to the use of highly unrealistic models simply because they led to equations that could be solved. In fact, the applied mathematician has been engaged in a continual tussle with his conscience to decide how far he could go in the direction of distorting his model in order to make the equations tractable. The point is well made in the ancient jest about the examination question that began 'An elephant whose mass can be neglected.....'

 - M.V. Wilkes

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Ascent of Money

Money does not make the world go round, it makes staggering quantities of people, goods and services go round the world

The Ascent of Money

I have recently started reading the book "The Ascent of Money" by Niall Ferguson. This book carries a lot of insight into the economic history and evolution of the world to the present day financial markets. Needless to say, it conveys a lot of information about human behaviour regarding money since times ancient. I will be sharing some of the interesting quotes I come across in this book on my blog.
The first one to go is

When human beings first began to keep written records of their activities, they did so not to write history, poetry or philosophy, but to do business and keep accounts
 - Niall Ferguson 


Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy

 - Dale Carnegie 

Right to Education in India

Recently the Supreme Court of India upheld the Right to Education act's requirement that all private schools reserve free seats for students from the neighbourhood who cannot afford to pay tuition fees. The middle class which proudly calls itself the face of the nation disliked the idea of having their kids share social space with poor kids. After living in an egalitarian society for three quarters of a year I cannot help but  feel ashamed of the actions of the middle class. Surprisingly these actions come from people who, while growing up have been taught the notion of equality of class and creed.

My despair is shared by Mihir Sharma in this article. You can clearly see the evidence of his frustration when he uses the choicest of words to rebuke and  criticise the middle class. He goes on to call India the most elitist, unequal, exclusive and stratified country in the world. He may be right given his observations and experiences and on some terms, I agree with him.
In one of his best lines in the article, he says, "The Indian elite confuses its tiny, mediocre incestuous world of networks and inherited advantage with true merit, the one that comes from striving upwards when the circumstances are unfavourable". I truly appreciate the sentiments behind his scathing attack on the Indian middle class.
More such attacks will be needed to truly imbibe in the new generation of Indians, the values of social equality. De-fragmentation of the society is essential before the divide breaks our society into two irreconcilable halves.
When we switched to a free market economy in 1991, we still decided to retain the word 'socialist' in the preamble to  the constitution and maintained that India still was a SOVEREIGN, SOCIALIST, SECULAR, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC, the word SOCIALIST standing for equality of status and opportunity.
I hope we as a country realise the importance of an undivided meritocratic society soon.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The gem of a person that Rahul Dravid is

In an interview to Ed Smith, Rahul Dravid said that as a schoolboy, he remembered many kids who had at least as much desire if not more to play professional cricket as he did - they attended every camp and net session, no matter the cost or difficulty of getting there. But you could tell - from just one ball bowled or shot played - that they simply did not have the talent to make it. He knew he was different. "I was given talent to play cricket", Dravid explained. "I do not know why I was given it. But I was. I owe it to all those who wish it would have been them to give of my best, every day".

Sir, you will be missed. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Of text-books, about which we hear so much, I never felt the want. I do not even remember having made much use of the books that were available. I did not find it all necessary to load the boys with quantities of books. I have always felt that the true text-book for the pupil is his teacher. I remember very little that my teachers taught me from books, but I have even now a clear recollection of the things they taught me independently of books.

 - Mahatma Gandhi 

Thursday, February 09, 2012

On Gandhi and Godse

I don't refute Gandhi's theory of non-violence. He may be a saint but he is not a politician. His theory of non-violence denies self-defence and self-interest. The non-violence that defines the fight for survival as violence is a theory not of non-violence but of self-destruction.The division of the nation was an unnecessary decision. What was the percentage of the Muslim population as compared to the population of the nation? There was no need for a separate nation. Had it been a just demand, Maulana Azad would not have stayed back in India. But because Jinnah insisted and because Gandhi took his side, India was divided, in spite of opposition from the nation, the Cabinet. An individual is never greater than a nation.

In a democracy you cannot put forward your demands at knife-point. Jinnah did it and Gandhi stabbed the nation with the same knife. He dissected the land and gave a piece to Pakistan. We did picket that time but in vain. The Father of our Nation went to perform his paternal duties for Pakistan! Gandhi blackmailed the cabinet with his fast unto death. His body, his threats to die are causing the destruction — geographical as well as economical — of the nation. Today, Muslims have taken a part of the nation, tomorrow Sikhs may ask for Punjab. The religions are again dividend into castes, they will demand sub-divisions of the divisions. What remains of the concept of one nation, national integration? Why did we fight the British in unison for independence? Why not separately? Bhagat Singh did not ask only for an independent Punjab or Subhash Chandra Bose for an independent Bengal?

- Nathuram Godse in his final editorial