Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Did someone ask for a Doctor?

'coz if you did -- I am at your service :).

Yup, I have passed my defense. There is still a whole bunch of text to be written in the Introduction and Related Work sections, but the huge hurdle has been crossed. The committee members were inquisitive, insightful, and kind :). Thanks professors!

A big thanks to all those who sent in their wishes, and to those who showed up to help :-).

I guess I will make this one short, like the one written just after my previous achievement. Details to follow. Stay tuned.

- Dr.A

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Preparing for D-day

Tuesday, May 27, 2008, 10am to 12pm PDT --- that is the time when I will be defending my work in order to get a PhD in Computer Engineering at USC, and to truly deserve the [premature] congratulations.

As I continue to polish my presentation, a wide range of thoughts stream through my mind, but I try not to get distracted ["yeah, right!", you say, "what about writing this post?" :)].

I guess I wanted to make one final post before the defense. Just wanted to say au revoir. See you all after the fateful presentation.


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Liberty for Safety? No thanks.

The guy on the $100 bill once said:

"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

On that note, Abi has a wonderful post on the recent demands of BJP et al for getting "hard on terror" [no pun intended :)].

Go read it. You will like it. I did :).

Back to working on the defense presentation [4 days to go].
P.S. Mom wrote a poem :)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Coating Seriousness in Humor

Not much time, but all I can say is that War, Inc. [ imdb ] is a superb movie -- go watch it!

Trailer here:

The scary thing is, it is not too implausible a reality :-|.

Monday, May 19, 2008

How about some physics?

I have loved physics from the Resnick and Halliday days, and have always been a sucker for good physics lectures.

So thanks to /., here is a set of great physics lectures.

How about you all watch these, while I work on my [much more humble] defense presentation :)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Busy-ness meets cuteness

The work on the dissertation continues -- but I give you this amazing gallery of cute animal baby pics :) [reminds me of the animal families memory game I used to play as a kid].

P.S. The commencement/hooding was yesterday. Will post pics post defense, when I actually deserve the gown, cap and hood :-).
P.P.S. Bonus: Colbert's take on the O'reilly breakdown

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A little familiarity to breed some respect

After the Jaipur blasts yesteday, and after reading the vitriolic comments left by people on the desi news sites, I got thinking how this animus can be addressed.

And sure enough, R sent me the following today, a song by Amir Khusro.

From his bio:
Khusro was born in Patiali near Etah in what is today the state of Uttar Pradesh in northern India. His father Amir Saifuddin came from Balkh in modern day Afghanistan and his mother hailed from Delhi.
[about the multi-lingual poem]
The phrase "Zeehaal-e-miskeen" comes from a poem of Amir Khusrau. The unique thing about this poem is that it is a macaronic, written in Persian and Brij Bhasha. In the first verse, the first line is in Persian, the second in Brij Bhasha, the third in Persian again, and the fourth in Brij Bhasha. In the remaining verses, the first two lines are in Persian, the last two in Brij Bhasha. The poem showcases Amir Khusrau's mastery over both languages.

The MP3 is here, and I strongly recommend you to give a listen.

So, I guess one way people will start thinking twice before killing each other is exposure to each other's cultures, and perhaps some shared-language art. But at the end of it, it will need political will -- part softness, part hardness -- which I am not sure if any party in India is currently capable of.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What is the sound of one earth quaking?

The past some days have been disastrous -- and I mean the natural kind -- Myanmar, Central USA, Chile, and now China.

I know nearly all of you know about this -- but there is nothing like audio [short of video] to convey the extent of this.

I urge you all to listen the clip on this NPR page -- as Melissa Block was able to capture the moment of the quake right there in Chengdu [she was interviewing someone when the quake struck]. I know of friends here at USC whose parents are choosing to spend the next couple days in a makeshift shelter [although their house is intact] to avoid aftershocks.

Sad. Kinda reminds me of the Latur and Bhuj quakes, esp this piece about a school -- reminiscent of the kids who dies singing the National Anthem on Jan 26, 2001.



Sunday, May 11, 2008

Adorable, Adoptable Animals

Amol, who I have known for 5 years now [he's the guy whose research provided the base for my work], has been volunteering at an animal shelter for some time now, and has finally started a blog on the topic.

So, if you are interested in animals [esp. the canine kind], or just want to do me a favor :), visit his blog, and add it to your RSS feed list. I am sure he will be posting interesting stuff on it on a regular basis [in addition to the amazing pictures he has taken].

Great job Amol! Fight on!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Warming - Globe, Heart, and Brain

First, some global warming/alt energy links:
1. Why a warm earth does not mean more food in new ice-free areas.
2. What happens when people at Google, and Abu Dhabi choose to accept that the world is about to change, and new research is needed.

Secondly, this cute video I found while trying to figure out if I should sleep or continue working:

And finally, this thesis-writing is frying my brain!! gaaah!!
20 days to go.

Monday, May 05, 2008

The Empire Strikes Barack

B linked to this cute [and nicely made] fan video of Barack Obama -- more fun to watch if you know the star wars canon.

Well, the video is nice, but personally, I am amazed at how this guy (who has so far managed to not let any manufactured petty distraction stick on him) is actually feeling the heat right now. I have seen his poll numbers drop in South Carolina and Indiana, and somehow Hillary Clinton's claim that he is an out-of-touch elitist are seeming to stick, nevermind the fact that all 3 candidates are super-rich people. Also weird is the fact that her gimmicky idea of "no gas tax from people, only from companies" is finding favor with people -- while his straight point of this being a political solution for a serious problem is not getting received by the people! Do they really think that the gas companies will NOT pass on the costs to their consumers?

The Obama campaign had given me hope. No, I am not talking about the general hope of America becoming a better place and somehow getting away from its current place where its seen as a hypocritical bully all over the world. I had hoped that in a country where freedom of speech is sacrosanct, and people are educated enough to read newspapers, a candidate's truthfulness and genuineness may be able to defeat the petty mudslinging that is the elections game. Now, I must confess that my hope has been shaken -- 'coz somehow the electorate does not seem to understand.

Let's see how this one plays out, and whether my hopes are shattered or met.
P.S. For more on what I am talking about, see this daily show clip.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Mother of Blogs

rather ... the blog of my mother :).

Yes, mom has started blogging.

Welcome to the blogosphere mom!
P.S. Check out this wonderful piece about global warming. I like the kid's attitude. And speaking of kids, what if you mistakenly gave your kids hard lemonade?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Learning from other's experiences, part Trois

NPR has this nice post about how Indians born abroad are showing up in India, and helping handle its development.

Apart from the desis being jealous of "ABCDs who get more girls due to being stronger on account eating beef", the good part of this article talks about how the America-raised kids bring a fresh perspective, and lessons learnt in another culture, to this developing country.

Go on.. listen on.

Back to thesis-writing.