deferred live

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Archive :: ‘them’

Socialism, à la FaceBook

October 19th, 2013 at 10:31 am

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iFAQ is real

Infrequently Asked QuestionsBy Donald Ervin Knuth (Ka-NOOTH)

Why does my country have the right to be occupying Iraq?

Why should my country not support an international court of justice?

Is my country not strong enough to achieve its aims fairly?

When the leaders of a country cause it to do terrible things, what is the best way to restore the honor of that country?

Is it possible for potential new leaders to raise questions about their country’s possible guilt, without committing political suicide?

Do I deserve retribution from aggrieved people whose lives have been ruined by actions that my leaders have taken without my consent?

How can I best help set in motion a process by which reparations are made to people who have been harmed by unjust deeds of my country?

If day after day goes by with nobody discussing uncomfortable questions like these, won’t the good people of my country be guilty of making things worse?

Donald E. Knuth is the Professor Emeritus of The Art of Computer Programming at Stanford University. He is the man who is writing this book for the last 46 years, started at 1962. American Scientist has included this work among the best twelve physical-science monographs of the twentieth century. The other 11 are Dirac on quantum mechanics, Einstein on relativity, Mandelbrot on fractals, Pauling on the chemical bond, Russell and Whitehead on foundations of mathematics, von Neumann and Morgenstern on game theory, Wiener on cybernetics, Woodward and Hoffmann on orbital symmetry, Feynman on quantum electrodynamics, Smith on the search for structure, and Einstein’s collected papers.1

All this is still within expected. What is beyond expectation is the iFAQ! Why does a man like Donald Knuth need to put in black and white these uncomfortable and totally un-mathematical questions in his official website? My best shot is this saying from Arthur C. Clarke:

As our own species is in the process of proving, one cannot have superior science and inferior morals. The combination is unstable and self-destroying.



Knuth says, “Perhaps the best clues to the outlines of successful answers can be found in a wonderful speech that Richard von Weizsäcker gave in 1985.


February 7th, 2009 at 8:22 pm

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When you wore out the welcome

Is when you refused to get uninstalled. I am talking about Windows Media Player 11.0

I had to uninstall five seven eleven … 13 (not reiterating my favourite primes) times, to get good riddance.

1) Windows Media Player 11
2) Windows Media Format Runtime 11
3) Hotfix for Windows Media Format 11 SDK (KB 929399)
4) Software update for Windows Media Player 11 (KB 936782)
5) Software update for Windows Media Player 11 (KB 911564)
6) Software update for Windows Media Player 10 (KB 936782)
7) Software update for Windows Media Player 10 (KB 917734)
8) Software update for Windows Media Player 6.4 (KB 925398)

And then each time, with every uninstall, I was threatened. Firefox, VLC, Media Coder, et all may not work after this uninstall. VLC? Media Coder? All awesome open source applications who are light years away from any dependencies on a Microsoft .dll. And Firefox? It will not work if it does not find Media Player! Wow.

Ok, so it was not thirteen times. It was eight. But sure felt like a bad infinity.

[Edit:: 9th November 2008, 20:44]
I was not playing the Shine On You Crazy Diamond when I was writing this. Only later it dawned on me the lines, “Well you wore out your welcome with random precision, rode on the steel breeze.” Two completely different interpretations of wearing out the welcome. One the banal of the worst kind, the other sublime and surreal of the saddest order.

August 26th, 2008 at 6:58 pm

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Burn the book

Tuesday, 5th August 2008. Time: After midnight.
Place: A Bengali TV channel, name not worth remembering.
Scene: A woman burning pages of a school book. And a representative of the social welfare committee was unable to understand why the woman was burning the pages, and she pledged that she will look into the matter. There was also the suggestion of penalties for book burning.

Fat chance that the social welfare lady will ever read this post. If she does, here is the reason why book pages turn to ash: The kerosine costs 32 INR per liter. The average income in a Bengal village is 30-40 INR (less than $1) per day. I got to know this from the website that this lady representative’s government published.

August 5th, 2008 at 4:07 am

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