Thursday, July 31, 2008

What little PhDs are made of ...

... is explained best here :).

Now I know know why he called it "Piled higher and deeper" :P

P.S. Finished the main part of the book [spoiler alert: do not read too much of the summary], amazing all the way till the last four words. :-|

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Venn the Rulers break the Rules

B pointed me to this amazing post on, which describes the people's misdoings in convenient set-theoretic form. From the article:
The best way to make sense of this legal tangle is to mouse over the title of an individual scandal, which will highlight everyone implicated. For example, the wiretapping bubble ensnares George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, David Addington, John Ashcroft, John Yoo, and Alberto Gonzales. At the same time, Ashcroft and Gonzales fall into the overlapping circle for monkey business related to DoJ hiring. Mouse over a person's name for information on how each person is involved. Mouse over the title of each circle for specifics about the particular scandal.

As far as I am concerned, nothing makes any difference. These guys will all go scot free, since the democrats in congress are spineless, and the public too optionless to scare them into doing anything.

Sorry for the jadedness, maybe it is coming from my readings of "The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism" :-).

Anyways, here are some clips from the wonderful satire that is the daily show. First, to illustrate my point as to how shameless they are:

and then, to show how angry I am:

ah well. nevermind.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Is your bank's website really who they claim to be?

... because according to this NPR post, if your ISP's DNS server is unpatched, you may end up going to a malicious server even if you type on the browser. [Geek friendly version here]

I recommend checking your DNS server using this site. Now.


Friday, July 25, 2008

The thing with French banks ...

... is that they do NOT post your check book and ATM card to you. They mail you the PIN code, and some letters, but you have to go to the bank to get the Checkbook and ATM card yourself.

A very secure method, I must say, but I didn't know it, and thus got these things some days late :).

In other news, I gave a talk yesterday in my new group about my PhD work, and apparently, people did understand what I was saying :). [there were many questions, which is always a good sign].

And in the afternoon, we had a party to celebrate Hassine's faculty appointment in the University of Paris. The snaps are here, but this is the team one :).

à bientôt,

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

When you knowingly drive over a cliff ...

... you do it because you think that somehow, magically, it will all be OK. That you can have you cake [of bad habits] and eat it too [not get destroyed].

That is the thought that came to my mind when I was perusing two pieces pointed to me by my friends.

First, this NYTimes article [ref: B] about the USA debt crisis, which gives a very clear picture of how the whole system works. For those wanting more, check out the daily show interview of the author of "Confessions of a subprime lender".


Secondly, and perhaps pertinent to more people [how about 6+ billion?], is the following talk [ref: DK] by Douglas Adams, author of H2G2, among many other works. It is a bit long, but strongly recommended.

Among other things, he talks about saving the Kakapo, a huge endangered flightless New Zealander parrot with a wierd mating ritual. The best part is the reason why it is so.

Once again, as I said, watch it!


And finally, I leave you with these words from the book that I am reading nowadays in my journeys on the metro and the bus [more on that in another post]:

War is Peace;
Freedom is Slavery;
Ignorance is Strength.

Monday, July 21, 2008

15 seconds of fame, and USA abortion craziness

Now that I have figured out how to put French accents using my qwerty keyboard, I can blog in English, हिन्दी में, et en Français :).

There are many things to talk about, but sadly, only so much time for blogging. I brought my Sun SPOTs to work today, so have been busy configuring them. Maybe we will buy more for the group here :).

So, to begin, I have been immortalized by a mention in the K&K podcast about the Bastille day picnic, with Victoria doing a cameo [a miceo ?] in the podcast. [skip to 10:41 if you want to jump to the mention :)]

Moving on from the above happy news, B pointed to this article in Slate about another dumbassry in the abortion debate.

From the article:
Starting this week, under orders from the state attorney general and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, medical providers in South Dakota must present a scripted statement to women who seek abortions. The script, dictated by the legislature three years ago, declares that any abortion "will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being."


I have to say, it's a relief to learn that the embryo is so complete and independent. I mean, it solves the whole problem. Here's this woman who just wants to be separated from her embryo. And lo and behold, it's already separate! No need to agonize. Just detach it and let it grow. It's separate, it's whole, it's living. Cancel the abortion. Perform a separation instead.

Seriously, when will the 'pro-life' lobby get consistent!


In other news, Leesa has posted pics of our Indian-food adventures. I will post more of it and the Buddha bar experience, but when my hostel net gets better.


Also, a HUGE shoutout to Biplav, who has started a new website to help people looking for advice on GMAT/MBA issues. Best wishes dude!


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Another picnic, Bastille Day pics from Frog, and a movie to watch

I still need to get my picasa account in order, so I guess I will let you all know of my adventures in France but linking to two wonderful posts.

First, Leesa has posted pictures of the picnic we had on the banks of the Seine last Wednesday. Another one coming up next week, and I intend to take some free dance lessons :).

And secondly, more pics of the Bastille day picnic from Frog with a Blog. Figured you all might be interested.

And finally, a movie recommendation. I watched High Fidelity yesternight, thanks to Zack. I am sure it would have been much more fun if I knew those songs, but the movie slowly grew on me, and I loved it! Strongly recommended [viewers cautioned for strong language and some adult situations].

Then I realized that it was similar to War, Inc., in that it has monologues by John Cusack, and his talented sister Joan also acting in the movie :). Zack tells me there is another one like that. Must look for it in the INRIA media library.

Well, that's it for now folks, off to buy some saucepans for ghar-grihasthi :).

Friday, July 18, 2008

ITBHU to IIT -- almost done

I got to know yesterday that the cabinet has 'in principle' approved the conversion of ITBHU to an IIT [and the creation of several new ones etc.].

You can get the links for the official press releases, as well as follow the discussion at this IIT-conversion related post on the ITBHU Alumni website.

I, for one, would hold off on calling us an IIT just yet. Sadly, I have been badly burnt multiple times on this, and would wait for the proverbial cup to get to the proverbial lip :).

Cautiously optimistic,

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Unfounded food, and semi-long term job

Two things:
1. R sent this amazing article about what happens when you blindly use machine translation. Must watch :-). Also, make sure to look at the comments.

2. Valerie just told me that my INRIA postdoc fellowship application came through -- meaning that I am now funded on a no-strings attached 2 year fellowship here that she does not have to pay for :). Time to start hunting for an apartment :).

And as a bonus, some life updates. I am learning more french words here every day, and also making new friends. Leesa was kind to invite me to another picnic last evening, and to lunch in India-town on Sunday. Will be doing some more shopping at Carrefour this weekend.

On the work front, things are good too. I have been given my own office with enough sunlight that I don't need to switch on the lights, and a Dell Latitude D620 with a docking station and an extra monitor to work on. Must say it is nice to have your inbox open in a completely different monitor while you focus on the main screen. Discussions with group-mates are also going well, and they are very helpful with pointers, both for research and for life@INRIA.

and that's it for now,
A bientot!


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bastille Day, and K&K

Yesterday was Bastille day, and I finally met up with Katia and Kylie Mac and their wonderful friends at Les Invalides. It was great fun, and I made a lot of new friends, thanks in part to the large bag of M&Ms I brought to the picnic :).

While I figure out how to best upload all the videos and large resolution pics without getting over my Picasa limit, here is a facebook album to satiate you all :).

Also, check out Leesa's posts here, here, here and here for some more amazing snaps.

Looking forward to more such picnics,

P.S. On a different note, here is a post about French researcher salaries [via Abi]

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Washington DC Snaps

I went to see the Bastille day parade today near the Chateau de Versailles, and the snaps are on their way.

In the meantime, here are some snaps from my Washington DC visit.


The sweet smell of gunpowder

No no, I am not talking about the fireworks for the Bastille day celebrations this coming Sunday and Monday, I am talking about the American power-strip I plugged into the power supply here this afternoon.


went the power strip, and the smell filled the room. What was worse, as I later realized, that I had taken down not only the electricity of my room, but of half my floor with me. [btw, the "surge protector" was rated at 120V, and the voltage here is 220V -- do the math]

As I went downstairs to meet the people at the reception, I met another floor mate who was there because his room was dark now. I asked him how to say "It is my mistake" [«il est ma faute»] :).

And that's how I met Ahmed from Tunisia, a PhD student at INRIA. We looked for the circuit breaker, but could not find the one for the floor [we did find the ones for each room, and those for the gym and the kitchens and the restrooms, but to no use]. During this adventure, I also met Danielli, an Italian intern at INRIA.

Finally, an electrician was called, who promptly opened a panel we had not seen, and flicked a switch, and all was well.

Then, I took a bus and a train to Paris to meet Yogesh, one of the most active volunteers of the ITBHU Alumni website, who was visiting Europe with his family.

I came back at midnight and was greeted by Ahmed and Rania [Intern at INRIA], who were playing chess. We had a good conversation while I spectated, and they were impressed by the geolocation facility of my iPod Touch, as well as my James Bondesque wristwatch :).

Then it was time to call bhai on skype [he has a toll-free number, and it is free from anywhere on skype :)], and to post this post.

And now, it is time to sleep.
Bonne Nuit!

Friday, July 11, 2008


I have reached France, and posting this one from my hostel. All is well. More later.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Au revoir!

The past few days have been fun -- visiting Atlanta, Washington DC, New York City and New Jersey, and I am supremely thankful to all those who hosted me, fed me, and enriched me with wonderful conversations.

And as an extension, the same holds for the past 5 years.

But now, it is time to leave, and I give you this:

For those looking for the Armageddon version, here it is.

til we meet again.



Monday, July 07, 2008

'tis Time to Play the Next Song

In preparation for the next phase of my life, I figured I should buy my first wrist watch. I still love the one J gave me, but its straps broke :-|.

So I got a Timex IronMan Sleek iControl, which can also be used to control my iPod :D.

Leaving Atlanta tomorrow -- and it is starting to sink in more -- I am moving on :-|.


Friday, July 04, 2008

This weekend -- get smart :)

I watched this movie the weekend it was released, and strongly recommend you to watch it for some laughs.

For my review, I think it is best I post the email I wrote to NPR after watching the movie.

Subject: Get Smart's Bad Review Completely Unfair

Dear Hosts,

I am an avid listener to NPR, on the radio as well as online. The one trait I greatly admire about NPR, in this day of biased main-stream media, is its _objectivity_. Therefore, if I hear a movie review on NPR, I trust it.

However, I was in for a rude shock last evening, when I went to watch "Get Smart [IMDB]" with some friends. Since I had heard NPR critic Kenneth Turan's extremely unfavorable review of the movie, I was hesitant in going for it.

To my surprise, I ended up loving the movie, and found the humor to be very well-times and good quality. I understand how disappointed Mr Turan was to see his childhood buffoon get smart [pun intended], but the people whom I went with had also enjoyed the TV series, and they LOVED the movie.

As someone who creates comedy [I was the founding-director of the first Indian improv comedy troupe at USC ], I can understand how tough it is to make good comedy, and that a comedy cannot stand on slapstick and vulgarity alone. "Get Smart" did that for me -- it was entertaining, and did not leave a bad taste in my mouth. We all stepped out of the theatre laughing and in a good mood.

Bad reviews, especially as bad as the one I heard on NPR that day, can hurt a movie's business. I would strongly urge Mr. Turan to not use his own expectations to provide a subjective review, but aspire to give an objective one.

Best wishes,
Animesh Pathak


Thursday, July 03, 2008

My Blog: New Rules

Some of you would have noticed that I went offline from my IMs yesterday. Well, that was a part of my final adieu to the University of Southern California, from where I flew out on the afternoon of July 1st.

This means that some things will change:

1. I won't be online 24x7 on my IMs. I do strongly recommend that you subscribe to the ATOM or RSS feed of this blog to keep up to date :). Use Google Reader if you can, works for me when I want to keep track of my friends' infrequently-posted entries.

2. My posting will be a bit more erratic -- some days there will be no posts, and some days there might be multiple posts :).

3. I will miss LA, and the people who made my life worth living there :-|.

'nuf said, off to bed now.
P.S. Wii Sports is amazing! and so is Rock Climbing :)