Rough Book

random musings of just another computer nerd

Category: Arts

Final thoughts

I need to write this down just to sort it out. Everyone says it’s not a “big deal” and that “life will go on”. I don’t know. In elections prior, I have been disappointed but I never grieved. I thought America was headed, or at least heading (however haphazardly) in a direction where we didn’t care about each others’ race, sex, religion, or sexual orientation. I thought that we were poised and ready to tackle the problems of this new century. Then this election happened. Instead of policies, we were literally debating a candidate’s fitness for being President. Instead of merely deciding the direction of this country, we were deciding its character. I never thought that we would elect a man who categorically stated that he wanted to ban an entire religion from this country. I never thought that we would elect a man who is a bully. I thought that we valued experience, knowledge, and intelligence in this country. I never thought we would elect an inexperienced man, who, based on all we know, is not even a successful businessman. I thought we valued pragmatism, poise, and compromise, if not in Congress, at least in the President. I never thought we would elect an immature, thin-skinned man, who goes into an apoplectic fit just from a mean word.

Growing up, we’re taught things by our parents to help us become productive members of society. We are taught to say “Please”, “Sorry”, and “Thank you”. We are taught to respect each other. We are taught not to bully each other. We are taught not to discriminate against each other. We are taught not to take advantage of each other. We are taught not to lie. We are taught to work hard. We are taught to be good people. This election changed all of that. How can a man who disregards the social contract of a society ever be fit to lead that very society? I think those on the other side think I’m sad or disappointed because my party lost. No; it has nothing to do with being Republican or Democrat. But it has everything to do with deciding who we are as a country. Our principles. Our values. Hillary’s sins are well known. She is a flawed candidate. But I don’t think that she is fundamentally a bad person. Think about anyone you disagree with. Simply because you disagree with them, do you consider them a bad person? This is how I have felt about every candidate I didn’t support. I disagreed with Bush, but I never thought he was a bad person. I disagreed with McCain and Romney, but I never thought that they were bad people. They never did anything that ever made me feel that way. Think about Bush’s statement to Cindy Sheehan, his statement about Muslims after 9/11, or McCain’s response to a woman attacking Obama. They were respectful – that is how the people who want to be leaders of this country should behave. How do you explain something like this to a child? If you voted for a person who does everything you tell your child not to do, how do you explain yourself? A Trump supporter told me that one shouldn’t look to politicians for moral guidance. I’m not sure if they understood my original argument. This is not about having a source of morality; it is about an example. Think back to our earliest lessons in morality – fables – if you do bad things, you get in trouble. If you do good things, good things happen to you. Trump contradicts this most basic axiom. His character contradicts it, and now so does our national character apparently, in that a significant part of the country is not just fine with,but wanted a man like this to be president.

As a rebuttal I often get questions as to how I could support someone shady like Hillary. This usually comes with a gish gallop of numerous conspiracy-theory articles. But in general you can sum it up to the following: she lied about Bengazhi, she is corrupt, and of course, her emails. None of those paint her in a flattering light and in isolation they are all concerning. But it turns into a matter of priority. This is what Trump supporters need to understand: she is flawed. But she isn’t talking about banning a whole religion from the country. She could have and probably did make shady deals. But she isn’t talking about how it is ok to sexually assault a woman. She is establishment, and perhaps she cares more for establishment interests. But she isn’t talking about inciting violence or questioning the foundations of our democracy. She may have accepted donations for favors. But she isn’t talking about using nukes or blowing ships out of the water.

I have never felt scared in this country before. That’s different now. Trump’s senior-most advisers are alt-right fanatics. He has regularly courted the white-nationalist and white-supremacist segments of society. He refuses to disavow them as well. I’m not white and I’m an immigrant. How is that supposed to make me feel?

My opposition to Trump is not simply policy. It has nothing to do with the fact that he was on a Republican ticket. It is something far more fundamental; it is about what it means to be an American and a good human-being. It is about how we treat each other. It is about transcending our differences instead of magnifying them. It is about who we are as a society. It is about staying true to the principles that founded this great nation. It is about the statement that we make to the world about who we are as a country. It’s not just about the next 4 years, but the next 400 and where we need to go as a civilization. I really thought we were there. I really thought we were close this time. I really thought that we could start fixing some of the brain-dead decisions that got us here. I really thought that we could actually tackle climate-change. I really thought that we could do it right this time. The irony of all this, is that Trump supporters will never realize is that they not only voted against my interests, but theirs as well. And that is why this hurts so much.

The Feast

Inspired by The Codeless Code:

The master was meditating when a priest respectfully entered his chamber. The master opened his eyes. The priest bowed respectfully and said, “Master, I would like you to look at the code of a young disciple of mine”. The master nodded and followed the priest to a computer. On the screen, was a code listing. The priest pointed to the code and said:

“My disciple created an abstract class and another class that extends the abstract class. However, he has a method that should be of use to all future derivations of the abstract class.”

The master furrowed his brow and looked at the code. “Indeed.”, he said. The priest continued, “I pointed this fact out to him and mentioned that it would be better to define it in the abstract class”. “I see; what did he say?”, asked the master.

The priest sighed and said, “He said ‘You Ain’t Gonna Need It’ and that he could simply copy the method into each new derivation when the time comes”. The master then asked the priest to bring the disciple to him at once. The priest bowed and went away to fetch the young disciple.

A few minutes later, the young disciple respectfully entered the master’s chamber. “You sent for me, master?”, he said. “Yes. I have a task for you”, said the master. The disciple bowed, indicating that he was ready to perform whatever task the master required. The master looked at the disciple and said: “Tomorrow, we will have monks visiting from a neighboring monastery. In their honor, our monastery is providing a feast for them. I need you to report to the dining hall tomorrow. The cook will give you further instructions”. The disciple bowed and left the master’s chamber.

The next morning the disciple arrived at the dining hall as he was asked. He looked around and noticed a large number of seats. He assumed, correctly, that these seats were for the visiting monks. He then noticed the monastery’s cook approaching him. The cook was holding a bowl that was filled with a white substance. As the cook got closer, the disciple realized that it was salt. Once the cook reached the disciple, he held out the bowl to him and said, “Master has asked you to give salt to any of the monks who desire it”. The disciple took the bowl and the cook left. The disciple was puzzled, but smiled thinking that this was going to be an easy task. After all, how many monks would require more salt in their food? He estimated only a few; not much more than that.

In a few minutes, the visiting monks arrived and sat at their places. Other monks from the hosting monastery brought out steaming bowls of soup for the visitors. The head visiting-monk took a spoonful of soup, sipped it and wrinkled his nose. “This soup does not have any salt!” he said, rather loudly. The disciple quickly ran up to the head visiting-monk and bowed and said “Master, I apologize that there is not enough salt in your soup, please allow me to offer you some!” The head monk nodded and the disciple quickly added salt until the monk motioned him to stop. He had barely finished when he heard another monk complaining that there was no salt in his soup either, then another, and another. Soon he was running around the hall at full speed, bringing salt to each of the visiting monks, trying his best to make sure that everyone was happy. The hall was big, and the number of visiting monks was many. When he was done, he sat down exhausted, in the corner of the hall.

He closed his eyes and tried to catch his breath. When he opened his eyes, he noticed that the next course was being brought in. “Surely the cook wouldn’t have forgotten to add salt this time!”, he thought. Unfortunately, it was not so! “There is no salt in my meal!”, thundered the head visiting-monk. The disciple got up and ran to the head monk to add salt his meal. Soon other monks started complaining and the disciple was running around the hall as he had done before, offering salt to all the visiting monks. The disciple hoped that this would be the last time he would have to do this, but alas, there were three more courses! The rest of the courses passed by in a blur for the disciple. All he could remember was that he was running around the entire hall, bringing salt to the visiting monks. The monks didn’t all finish their meals at the same time and so the later courses were continuously being brought out. Hence, he was always on his feet and didn’t get a chance to rest.

Finally, the monks stopped asking for salt and the disciple wearily went back to his corner. Dessert would be next, and there would be no need for salt then. He had barely sat down when he saw the cook approaching him. This time he had another bowl, also filled with a white substance. When the cook got close, he offered the bowl to the disciple and said a single word: “Sugar”. The disciple was almost in tears. He knew was was coming and prepared himself for the endless rushing around that he would have to do. Luckily there was only one course of dessert. When the feast was done, the disciple collapsed in the corner. He opened his eyes and noticed the cook walking towards him again. “What more will he want me to do?”, thought the disciple frantically. He noticed with some relief however, that the cook’s hands were empty. “Master will see you now”, said the cook as he got closer to the disciple. The disciple wearily got up to his feet and walked to the master’s chambers.

After a few minutes, the disciple arrived at the master’s chambers. He walked in and bowed in front of the master, his legs burning with fatigue. “How was your task?” asked the master with his eyes still closed. “It was exceedingly difficult master! There was no salt in the soup or the meals, and no sugar in the desserts! I had to run around the whole hall bringing salt and sugar to the visiting monks!”, said the disciple. “It must have been exceedingly tiring…”, said the master. “Yes, master! It was!”, said the disciple nodding his head. The master opened his eyes and said, “One could say that your task would have been much easier had the salt and sugar been added to the meals at the source, and thus before they were brought out to our honored visitors.”

In that moment, the disciple was enlightened.

Data and Code

Inspired by The Codeless Code:

A novice monk had just started learning assembly programming when he was troubled by doubt. He approached his master and asked:

“Master, how do I know which is code and which is data?”

The master who was meditating, opened his eyes, smiled, and said:

“Each is the other, yet neither is either.”

“Master, I do not understand.”, said the disciple.

The master then brought out two identical pots and said. “Take these. Fill one with the water from the lake, and fill the other with water from the stream that flows into the lake. Then bring them to me.”

The monk bowed and took the pots. He walked to the lake, which was some distance away and filled it with water from the lake. Then he walked around the side of the lake until he found the stream that fed water into the lake. He used this water to fill the second pot and then brought both pots back to his master and set them at his feet. The master looked at the pots, and then back to his disciple and said “Now go. You may come back tomorrow morning.”

The disciple came back the next morning to find his master standing with the two pots. He held up both the pots and then threw them to the opposite sides of the room. The pots smashed, and the water from both pots flowed towards the center of the room, forming a puddle.

The master then said, “Which pot contained water from the stream? Which pot contained water from the lake?” He then pointed to the growing puddle that was forming in the middle of the room. “Which part of the puddle contains water from the stream? Which part contains water from the lake?”

In that moment, the novice was enlightened.

Pictures from our anniversary balloon-ride

I booked a balloon-ride for my wife and I for our second anniversary. It was the first time that both she and I had even been on a balloon. It was an awesome experience and a whole lot of fun. These are a few pictures from that trip. I’ve touched up some of these pictures with Picasa. I’m still learning and so I occasionally I’ll shoot something where the composition is ok, but the colors are all off. Still figuring out how to shoot things in different lighting conditions!

A few pictures from my vacation to Oman

Here are a few pictures from my vacation to Oman. I only wish I had longer that two weeks! I traveled with my wife, my best friend Michael, as well as my sister and her husband. We visited Nizwa, Muttrah, the Grand Mosque, as well as friends and family. The following pictures were taken with my Nikon D3000. I’ve made minor edits like straightening, or converting images to black and white. Hope you enjoy the pictures!

Rare pictures of Trivandrum

Some of these pictures are from an album titled “Album of South Indian Views”. The pictures were taken by the Government photographer Zacharias D’Cruz. For some of these pictures, the photographer is unknown. Most of these pictures were taken in the late 1800’s and 1900’s. I originally got these pictures from Manu Prasad Revindran’s Facebook album.

Ghost in the Machine

Yes, I know this is not a very original title, but it’s all I could think of. I’m a skeptical person (being an engineer and all) and although I love reading and listening to ghost stories, I’ve always thought that there is a scientific explanation for supernatural stories that I’ve heard. I don’t believe in ghosts either. If there is no explanation, I just chalk it up to coincidence or observer bias.

That’s what I thought until I experienced the following. Even though I still think that the vast majority of ghost stories and supernatural occurrences have real-world explanations, I am willing to concede that there may be things out there that cannot be explained. Now on to my story.
Read the rest of this entry »

I drew this during a meeting

It’s brown marker on napkin.

Desert: Brown Marker on Napkin

Desert: Brown Marker on Napkin

Six-man football releases new album

Alternative indie-band Six-man football has released their latest album titled … you can get silly again.

When asked about why the band has only four members (a vocalist, lead guitarist, bassist, and drummer) they replied:

We realized that only hipsters listen to indie bands until they get popular. Also, hipsters like anything that appears “ironic”. Hence, we only have four members and we also dress in baseball uniforms. Due to this ostentatious display of irony, we expect that we will have a lot of hipster fans until word of our existence spreads to the normal population. This way, we expect to slowly, but surely, grow our fan-base.

... you can get silly again

Six-man football: ...you can get silly again

This is fake. You can make your own album cover by following these instructions:

  1. Get a random article from wikipedia. The title of this article is the name of your band.
  2. Get the last four or five words, or the very last random quote on quotationspage.com.
  3. Get the third picture on explore the last seven days from Flickr. This picture will be your album cover.
  4. Use Photoshop, gimp, or pixlr.com to create your album cover.

DirecTV are a bunch of douchebags

So I went to cancel my DirectTV account today and discovered how difficult it was to do that. First the guy tried to get me on some other plan that was supposedly cheaper. Finally he said that there was a $220 cancellation fee because I apparently had a 24-month contract. I went on DirecTV’s website and supposedly, they do that to offset the costs of their equipment. WTF? What the hell are they subsidizing over the terms of the contract? With a cellphone contract, they provider subsidizes the cost of the phone. At the end of the contract, you pretty much own the phone. What the hell do I own here? So I asked him what the lowest plan was. It was a family plan for $24.99 but since I have a DVR with HD, I would have to pay more and so the total monthly cost was about $31. I told him I wanted to cancel the HD and he then said that I couldn’t because then I wouldn’t have any equipment. Not only that, I can’t swap out equipment. He could explain anything, and just kept mumbling “It’s in the contract… It’s in the contract”.

Finally I asked him how many months I had left on the contract. He said 11 months. As it turned out it was cheaper to pay the cancellation fee than giving those douchebags about $30, every month for the next year. So I went ahead and cancelled. I’m pretty sure I won’t ever be going with them again.

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