Saturday, August 25, 2007

We shall prevail

My hometown experienced yet another act of terror today.  Explosions in two crowded areas killed more than 30 people.  One occurred at an amusement park frequently visited by families in the evenings.  The other occurred at a very popular eating joint in the heart of the city's shopping district. My heart goes out to the victims of these violent acts. I hope the system brings those responsible to justice quickly.

I have visited the eating joint called, Gokul chat bandar so many times when I lived in hyderabad, that I can't help but shiver at the thought of a bomb going off at that joint.  Who could commit such indespicable acts?  There is bound to be a lot of finger pointing, but I hope people keep their sense and do not resort to acts of hate inspired by communal mistrust.  Hyderabad has had its share of communal riots in the past, and I am proud that in the last decade or so tensions have subsided quite a bit and religious tensions do not dominate the political landscape anymore.  I am sure, that the city will get over the latest violence in unity and prove to the world that we do live in peace. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The shrewd lion

I found a good story on the relationship between advisors and students - no. no..this is another story.  Read on.  Credit for this story goes to Margaret Fleck

Lion's Watch Repair Business

It's a crisp, sunny fall day. Lion is strolling through the forest enjoying the fall foliage, when he sees Fox walking towards him down the path, head drooping down.

"Hello, Fox. Why are you looking so gloomy?"

"It's been like this all week. First my cub got sick, then the car started making a funny noise, and last night I accidently put my watch through the washing machine and it quit working."

"Well, I can't do much about the child or the car, but I can fix your watch for you."

"That'll be the day. You with your big claws? You would have trouble picking up the watch, let alone fixing the insides. You'll just break it even worse than it already is. I'd better take it into town."

"Let me take it into my den for a couple minutes. You'll be surprized."

So he disappears into his den with the watch. A few minutes later he returns: the watch is fixed.

Later in the week, Lion is sitting in the warm sun by the river, when Wolf comes running by, looking flustered.

"Wolf, why are you headed into town? I thought you wanted to work on your grant proposal?"

"The hard-drive on my laptop crashed last night, so I can't get anything done until I get it fixed."

"I can fix that for you real quick: there's no need to walk all the way into town."

"What? You? The lion whose paws are too big to even type on my keyboard? The one who left great blue smears on the trees when he tried to paint his front door? I don't think so."

"You'd be surprized: just let me give it a try."

So the Lion takes the laptop into his den. In a few minutes, he returns with the laptop, now working fine.

Scene: inside the lion's den

In one corner, next to the coffee machine, is a smug-looking lion lying on a couch cleaning his fur. In a second corner, there are piles of IEEE Computer, Byte Magazines, and Viz Comics reaching up to the ceiling. In the final corner, there are seven industrious rabbits surrounded by tiny parts and precision tools.

It doesn't matter whether you can write working programs or prove theorems.

It doesn't matter whether you can do a slick demo or generate pretty pictures.

What really matters is whether your graduate students can.

Rabbit becomes the lion

I wrote a blogpost a while ago about a rabbit, a man and a lion.  It was one of the many versions of a fable for doctoral students on the importance of one's advisor.  Finally, the time has come for me to say that I have moved on from being the rabbit.  I successfully defended my doctoral thesis yesterday, and I presume the lions were alright with a rabbit transforming into one of their own!