Saturday, April 14, 2007

Deterministic vs. Stochastic

I always have interesting conversations with my wife on one issue.  She is a mechanical engineer who does Computational Fluid Dynamic Analysis on cars at GM.  I, as some know, am a PhD in Marketing.  A clash of worlds was always in the making.

Although both of us live in highly analytical worlds, we are separated by huge chasms in our approach.  Her life is deterministic and her mathematical models are equations which represent how the real world "will work".  The real wold in her case consists of cars and their components.  My world, in contrary is stochastic or probabilistic.  It comprises of firms, teams, and individuals and my models represent how the world "might work".

My world can only be imperfectly represented, while her world can be perfectly represented (well at least practically - if you sedate Einstein and hype up Newton). 

I envy her.

Gundamma katha: A must watch for gults

My dad always used to tell me that "Gundamma Katha" is one of the greatest movies ever made in Telugu Cinema.  I never believed him when I was a kid.  Now, after more than a decade of his passing away, I would like to reach out and tell him I really liked the movie. I watched it a week ago, and I was reminded of my dad so much.  The movie is an excellent depiction of the social settings of the late sixties in AP.  I was also surprised at the extent to which Telugu Cinema was integrated with world entertainment.  Although, Chevy Impalas and western suits were used by actors, morals and ethics dominated the story line and family values were always at the forefront.

Those were the days when cinema was an efficient and effective way of bringing about social change.  Great artists dominated the cinescape with their personalities that seemed to be bigger than their on screen roles. Good things they said on screen were more than dialogues and the masses looked upto these artists for their own moral and ethical code.  Nothing wrong as long as responsible people were involved in making movies. I pity the state of Telugu cinema in particular which is smitten more by shock value, entertainment and cheap gimmicks.  Even if a rare movie does address some key issues in society, they are mostly shoddy treatments.  If there is anything that I am ashamed of the Telugu culture right now - it our cinema.  Almost all story lines depict a combination  vengeance, teenage love, and romance.  Cinema has moved away from being normative to being surrealistic and a loss to social welfare in that sense.

My dad was a big fan of SV Ranga Rao, a stalwart in Telugu Cinema. The man was known for his booming voice, excellent portrayal of some of the toughest roles in telugu cinema.  My dad resembled SVR a little and in fact played a few mythological roles on theater, those that SVR had donned. 

I still remember standing backstage and watch my dad play Bheema, in the scene from Manabharatha when Draupadi was shamed in the Kaurava court.  I also remember my dad donning the costume of Lord Yama, in the play Harishchandra.  I have vivid memories of his talent on the stage.

A new personal driving record

I have driven a lot in the last few years.  Mostly between Penn state and detroit.  However, this week, I set my own personal record for aggregate mileage in a week.  Starting on tuesday of last week through tomorrow (sunday), I would have completed a road trip that would have taken me from detroit to DC to Penn state to detroit to Cincinnati and finally back to detroit.  A total of 1730 miles and 28 hours of driving.  An absolutely useless achievement - big in sleep deprivation and small in its contribution to my PhD :)

I am visiting my wife's sister's family in Cincinnati.  My wife's nephew, who is six, sits beside me and stares at my screen, and I could not stop thinking about my own childhood how at his age I had longed for a color television at my home and finally got it one day.  Technology has changed a lot.  Yesterday's television is today's laptop.  I wonder what the future holds like for my nephew.  A screen through time?

Friday, April 13, 2007

It is War!

Some anonymous blogger has declared a war on me by suggesting me that I attend counseling to correct myself. The person's comments are also getting more personal. If you want a debate have it with your own identity and not by hiding yourself behind a veil.

I also have to add that I do not respect an anonymous reader's opinions, that too when it is someone who is really bent on correcting who I am. For whatever I am worth, I have more admirers, friends, and well-wishers than enemies. So, please refrain from further anonymous posts, as I am not going to allow any more. If you have say anything say it in the open.

I also chose to delete the anonymous person's comments :). I have also changed the commenting on my blog by making comments moderated. Not that many comment on my posts. However, I do not want some overzealous person defacing my blog.

I reiterate that the person talk to me with their true identity if they want to sort out things with me. Else, I have nothing much to say on this issue.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Iraq War and Indian Monsoons

I am back with my two hometown uncles.  This time around, the conversation took place at my sister's marriage and was reported to me by my close friend Kayyes ( ).  This incident happened in the summer of 2003, a few months after the Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Man 1:  Guru, have you been reading the news on Iraqi war lately?

Man2:  Yeah, America thinks it is the world's police.  Moreover, they are not thinking about the consequences of the war on other countries.

Man 1:  That's true.

Now, Kayyes was following this conversation. So now my uncle turns him to him and says,

Man 1: Do you think the Indian Monsoons will be affected by the war on Iraq?

Kayyes was speechless.  Definitely, cause and consequence were of no concern to these guys.  Butterfly effect@work.


Monday, April 09, 2007

A disgrace called abuse

I normally do not like to blog on news reported on TOI.  However, after getting to know that the original information comes from a survey done by an NGO called Prayas in association with UNICEF, I decided to post on this.

Read the full article on sexual abuse on kids in India here.

On a much broader note, abuse against women in public in India is widely rampant.  I am sure many who come from my hometown of Hyderabad in India will realize how they themselves were witnesses to seemingly harmless acts of abuse on roads, buses and busy public junctions, particularly against women.  "Eve-teasing", as it is popularly referred to is a lot more than teasing - often it is an assault on the self-esteem of these hapless women.  They lose their sense of security, suffer public humiliation and cannot dare retaliate against their offenders, lest they become vengeful.  The police is spineless and often lack the conviction due to their indifference and that of the judicial system against such crimes.  The penalties to offenders, when found guilty for such crimes, are often petty and a disgrace to the judicial establishment.

Acts of abuse against women and children should be treated with utmost severity with zero tolerance.  Offenders should be subjected severe punishment with no provision for easy bail and compulsory jail time and community service (cleaning open public toilets with a tag saying they were abusers sounds good to me).  I know that our country does not have a system that has the spine to act with conviction against such crime.  Change has to come from within.   Social taboo against the offenders is often absent or is not manifested in such a way as to deter them from future acts.  We hear people saying things like, " the girl dressed inappropriately - inviting the abuse".  Is it not time for change  Is it not time for us to start treating women with more respect ? 

it is not enough if we pat each other's backs in public saying ours is the land of "Sita".  We better act accordingly.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

How Intel and Cisco changed the dynamics of higher education in Andhra Pradesh!

Circa 2000 I overheard an amazing conversation at a marriage party that I attended.  My father's cousin was getting married in Hyderabad and a few of my distant uncles had come to Hyderabad to attend the marriage.  These guys are really well informed and I mean really well informed - they read just one newspaper - a very opinionated vernacular daily called "Eenadu".  Much of such guys' knowledge about science, geopolitics, weather, and, IT comes from this local newspaper.  I happened to be a witness to their conversation and I report it here faithfully.
 Man 1 : Boss, do you know that Intel and Cisco are beginning to suffer from the .com bust?
 Man 2 :  Yeah! I even read that there is going to be a  big announcement involving  job cuts in the US.
(You have to realize that these two guys have no knowledge about the product markets of these two companies or what .com means)

Man 1 (with a concern on his face):  Sure, that is why I have been trying to convince my son to consider taking Electronics and Communications instead of Computer Science at EAMCET counseling.

Man 2:  That is an excellent idea.  It will give them options in other fields.

Well, it is like the butterfly effect ,truly -  no obvious link but the sheer utter stupidity of an idiot's processing of some vague information  that has been reported by another idiot.

Suddenly, ECE becomes more popular as a branch of engineering for fresh high-schoolers than Computer Science because Cisco and Intel have announced lay offs.

Welcome to AP ! Welcome to eenadu! And, more importantly -  welcome to the wise men of my home town - Bandar (Machilipatnam).  More posts on the gems these guys have generated over time will follow.