Wednesday, March 29, 2006

As Beck might say, Hell yeah. You know, it takes me back to those days when we first got the huge 17" monitor; how funny that it was just today that I unplugged it, perhaps for the last time. Can't quite forget those days of Download Dispatch and GamerX.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Jon Landau's essay after seeing Bruce Springsteen, "rock and roll future". I wonder if I've had epiphanies like this? None that I can recall, but, as it goes with such things, I can relate.
Well before our meeting, I wondered what he would say. I hoped he would say he understood. I hoped even more he would say he agreed.
I just realized that I've written an amazing volume of nonsense over the years. It's getting better, but only marginally.

Monday, March 27, 2006

The iPod and 'modern science's greatest mystery' is explored quite entertainingly by a Princeton professor. And you know, it's almost enough to make one want to be a computer scientist. Oh, wait...

In truth, I don't really feel like a CS-person, but I'd put that down to the lack of exposure to a lot of things that pure CS seems to focus on. The kinds of theoretical analysis of algorithms I've done, for starters, have never even remotely approached the ingenuity (or mathematical fluency) demonstrated by some of Knuth's work. Of late, I've been working on a project that is I suppose theoretical CS in some ways. After all, when your storage requirements are ne-2 (e being desired error), you're not going to win too many friends in the applied sciences. What have I learnt?

Well, for starters, it's not all that bad. But I must state a caveat - perhaps I think that only because till now, my work has involved reading and assimilating a wide range of papers. As of yet, there is no contribution that I have had to come up with (save pithy summaries that I make for those who are interested). As it goes with these things, once that starts, it won't be too much of a surprise to see me write here about how I long to be studying against a set text rather than gazing out into the unknown, having to figure my way all by myself.

It also makes me wish I were able to understand what these clever people talk about sometimes. Knuth is taken to be something of a God in CS-circles, but to me, he is also something of a mystery. I'm talking about his mind. How one can assimilate and contribute so much, 'tis a mystery. But there are far more common people who strike me as being unbelievably adept at being able to think in terms of algorithms and plans of attack when confronting a new problem; it sometimes makes me wonder if I'm cut out for this field after all.

Perhaps best of all, there's enough maths to satiate my appetite and make me forget how I cruelly abandoned this enchantress at the end of last year. Now I realize that maybe I didn't need to take a maths unit just to feel "in touch"; especially since I find I have no idea what is going on in the subject. But let's worry about that come exam time, shall we?

Actually, in one of the author's interviews, he says something I find strangely offensive. It is words to the effect of mathematics producing beautiful one-liners, but CS producing literature. The analogy is meant to indicate that CS can be large and messy, but ultimately is capable of a more satisfying analysis of reality. I occasionally find myself being taken in by his poetic descriptions of CS, but mostly I find myself arguing that surely mathematics produces these one-liners on the surface, but with far more staggering literature that's at work underneath. It's a little disconcerting that I should argue for the inferiority of my field of choice, but there you go.
Watching you at the front of the class
With the snide questions
Sniggers you couldn't hear
I just thought back
To the person of the day before
I couldn't understand it
And I thought to myself
"It is just so sad".

Saturday, March 25, 2006

No, the title change is not to say that I don't appreciate Robert Hunter anymore. Just another crazy idea that came into my head as it was raining one afternoon - the words from McCartney's neat little song just came into my head (it's an infuriating song, you know; the first five seconds or so are catchy as heck, but the melody isn't used again!). But actually, I suppose it goes a bit further than that. After all, since I've had a change in what I write about, I may as well stop pretending like this blog is meant to be contain anything profound (the previous title may have given the impression that there is writing of worth here, not fawning over music!). Why don't we stop fooling ourselves? (Sorry, I can't help it! Every post must contain a reference to a song it looks like)

Maybe sometime soon I'll get back to what I originally intended to do here. But right now, we have a minor digression.

Friday, March 17, 2006

"You know what I am, two-tongued devil", he said quietly, wondering all the while why he considered this man his friend. He remembered then the loans of money, and all the help he had been offered at no expense, but he immediately resented ever having agreed to these.

Friday, March 10, 2006

The young fools were out in throves. "We are better than them", my uncle would say as he looked out into the distance, as though he were not speaking to me, but all those worthy of listening. In those days, I never knew much about the world, and in my naivety was unable to understand why these boys would do such a thing. When I saw that they looked different, I was never filled with any fear or anger. And yet every story told made me wonder all the more whether I was in fact worse than them. "But we must pity them, for they will never learn", he would say. The thick frames of his glasses looked quite beautiful at the time. I looked at his noble face looming above me, and I wondered how it was possible for anyone to dislike this man. At the time, I never appreciated it, but there was a true dignity in the way he carried himself. Were I subject to what he went through, I would certainly have let blind rage take over me. Sometimes, I still think back to that day, and wish that I had the strength to have gone up to them and... But the more I thought about him, the more I began to realize that what he did was right. We did not pick up our pace - he in fact began to walk slower. He calmly turned towards them, with that look in his face that is now forever etched in my memory.

Monday, March 06, 2006

I've been reading One Hundred Years Of Solitude. It probably shows.

It was when he went in through the door that he realized that there was no longer good and bad, and that all men were simply no better than those nomadic savages he read about in his childhood - it was just as father once told him. When he experienced the pains of the offhand slight that awaited him on the other side of the door, he remembered the various moments of his life that were mired in insignificance and the pathetic, abject suffering. He desperately sought to rise above it all for a moment, and be like what he remembered his father as.

With his sights firmly set on what he wanted to become, he would later feel that he had survived through it all and come out a better man. Indeed, it was true; and yet, it was his bad luck that most people never noticed this, for all they saw was that he began to dress uncannily like his father. People would attribute his sudden good fortune purely to some unknown power in those regal coats and the exquisite golden ring he inherited. He never paid attention to such stories, but nonetheless made sure that his son tried on his grandfather's coat on the first day of winter. It was a perfect fit, and as he marvelled at how much it suited him, he did feel slightly worried that his son would grow too attached to it.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Levity has its place, but not here, my dear. Were I braver, maybe I could've actually said this out loud. Sniggers that seemed so strange, because I could easily be the one making them. And yet, no one knows my own connections, and so no one knows why I get so easily upset at these trivialities.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

No Direction Home was very enjoyable, as expected, and further drove home the point that Dylan absolutely hated being labelled "the voice of a generation" and all that jazz. My favourite moment (that I can remember) is an early performance of "Mr. Tambourine Man" at a folk-festival. It was so bitterly funny trying to imagine what those gathered there must have thought when they were expecting some solid folkie tunes, but instead got "And take me disappearing through the smoke-rings of my mind"! It also made me wish that I was around, just to experience the phenomenon first hand. Somehow I feel we won't see such a radical extension of music make it to the mainstream (for all I know, the avant-garde groups are doing some truly mind-expanding stuff now) and change the landscape of popular music.