My blog: 2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,400 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Spam Today

You get this sort of spam often. But this story was something special, so I decided to share it.

From: miss florence (florencdidian1@gmail.com) 
Sent: 07 September 2011 20:50PM

Dearest one i trust,

Greetings my dearest one, my name is Miss Florence Diama i am 21 years old Girl from Southern Sudan. I want to have a common relationship with you, I need to tell you more things, but first I need your help to Stand for me as a trustee.

My father Dr. Diama yak Arop was the former Minister for SPLA Affairs and Special Adviser to President Salva Kiir of South Sudan for Decentralization. My father Dr. Diama Yak Arop, my mother including other top Military officers and top government officials where on board when the plane crashed on Friday May 02, 2008. You can read more about the crat through the below site:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7380412.stm

Some months after the burial of my father, my uncle conspired with my step mother and sold my father’s properties to a Chinese Expatriate. On a faithful morning I opened my father’s briefcase and found out document which my beloved late father used and deposit money in a Bank in Burkina Faso , with my name as the next of kin.

I traveled to Burkina Faso to withdraw the money so that I can start a better life and take care of myself. The Branch manager of the Bank whom I met in person told me that my present status does not permit me by the local law to clear money or make a transfer of money into an account, he advice me to provide a trustee who will help me and invest the money or I should wait till when I will get married it demand by their Authority……

I have chosen to contact you after my prayers and I believe that you will not betray my trust. But rather take me as your own blood sister and help me. Though you may wonder why I am so soon revealing myself to you without knowing you, well, I will say that my mind convinced me that you are the true person to help me. More so, I will like to disclose much to you if you can help me to relocate to your country because my uncle has threatened to assassinate me.

The amount is $5.6 Million and I have confirmed from the bank in Burkina Faso . You will also help me to place the money in a more profitable business venture in your Country.

However, you will help by recommending a nice University in your country so that I can complete my studies. It is my intention to compensate you with 40% of the total money for your services and the balance shall be my capital in your establishment.

As soon as I receive your interest in helping me, I will put things into action immediately. In the light of the above, I shall appreciate an urgent message indicating your ability and willingness to handle this transaction sincerely. Please do keep this only to your self. I beg you not to disclose it till i come over because I am afraid of my wicked uncle who has threatened to kill me.

Sincerely yours
Miss Florence Diama.

Why I don’t talk about my drumming

I was chatting on facebook the other day with a friend called Priya Martin. We were sharing our bad habits when I decided to goof around a bit. I was able to save the conversation because I was chatting from Empathy, a universal chat client. I am dvidby0 in the chat:

 

– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:16 –

so, your turn again.

make it good.

– -591296334@chat.facebook.com, 05:17 –

hmm..

I can’t think of any

I always leave closet doors open

– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:17 –

that’s bad?

– -591296334@chat.facebook.com, 05:18 –

yeah, according to my mom at least

oh yeah, I seem to misplace things a LOT

– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:18 –

okay. Another bad habit of mine is i don’t talk about my drumming.

– -591296334@chat.facebook.com, 05:18 –

why is that a bad habit?

– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:19 –

okay.

let me explain.

this will take some time.

let’s say I did talk about my drumming.

You follow me so far?

– -591296334@chat.facebook.com, 05:20 –

yes, I do

– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:20 –

you would ask me a few questions about it.

i’ll tell you a few things.

right? I mean in a chat, okay?

– -591296334@chat.facebook.com, 05:21 –

right now?

okay, When did you start drumming?

– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:21 –

No no.

– -591296334@chat.facebook.com, 05:21 –

k, so people ask you questions

– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:21 –

i meant, in a hypothetical chat where i did tell you about my drumming,

– -591296334@chat.facebook.com, 05:21 –

in a chat

and then?

– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:21 –

these things would happen.

you would ask me a few questions about it.

i’ll tell you a few things.

right?

– -591296334@chat.facebook.com, 05:22 –

yes

– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:22 –

so, we would have a little conversation about that, but since most people aren’t into drumming, even those into music

the topic wouldn’t carry for too long, right?

It would be over in five lines or so, maybe.

– -591296334@chat.facebook.com, 05:23 –

yup, I imagine I would have a hard time talking about drumming

go on

– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:23 –

And that would save some time.

– -591296334@chat.facebook.com, 05:24 –

yeah..

– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:24 –

and we wouldn’t be wasting 16 lines here discussing this.

right? (17)

– -591296334@chat.facebook.com, 05:25 –

haha

right, so this is a much better topic

– dvidby0@chat.facebook.com, 05:25 –

AND 7 minutes.

So now you see why that’s a bad habit that I don’t talk about my drumming.

3D Tic-Tac-Toe

It was during a boring lecture at NCRA that Debsankha and I came up with the idea of this game. We were wondering how to pass the time, when he suggested we play a 4X4 tic-tac-toe. I had tried it by myself once, and it wasn’t too good, so I suggested a 3X3X3 version instead. We drew out the grid, and played it, and believe me it was fun.

Let me give a brief idea of how to play this.

The tic-tac-toe is essentially being played in a 3X3X3 grid. All the rules are same as in the normal tic-tac-toe, except that now you have many more lines which you can complete to score. You have all the edges, face and body diagonals etc. of the cube, along with the normal 2D tic-tac-toe lines on each face of the cube. This gives you a total of more than 40 lines (haven’t calculated it exactly yet), as opposed to only 8 for the normal tic-tac-toe.

But the trick is, you cannot play this on a 3D cube. You must draw three normal tic-tac-toe grids, corresponding to each ‘floor’ of the cube, like so:

 

3D3T-0

Take any to be the lowest floor, doesn’t really matter (as the rules of the game are reflection-symmetric). Play as in the normal tic-tac-toe, but don’t cross off the cells once you complete a line. This is because first, only lines that belong entirely in one floor can be crossed off in the old style. Second, and this is interesting, more than one of your lines may pass through a single cell. So instead, you must add to your count of lines. What’s more, before you add to your score, you must explain to your opponent how exactly you are completing a line. It may so happen that in one move you have completed more than one line, which you must also explain. But here’s the catch: if you fail to notice that you have completed a line, you will not report it, and hence miss that point. Here’s a 3D tic-tac-toe game in progress:

3D3T-1

I’ve pointed out the completed lines with the same colour. The circle with the red/blue gradient belongs to both the red and the blue line. The yellow and blue lines are verticals, for example, the green is a body diagonal, and the red is a normal line on the top floor. The black ones do not complete any line.

In a normal game there won’t be any of these colours, so you cannot keep track of which lines have already been drawn. That might make it difficult for you to diagnose whether or not your opponent has really completed a new line when they are claiming to. Fortunately, there’s no need to keep track of this. Just make sure that when a player claims to have completed a new line, that line must involve the last cell which they have filled. The reason for this is simple, figure it out.

We noticed that the centre cell of the middle floor is vital, because many lines pass through it. If a player places their symbol there, they’ll block many lines. This doesn’t matter so much in 2D tic-tac-toe, which isn’t too smart a game anyway, but here the benefit is increased a lot. This means the starting player has an unfair advantage, because they can block that cell. Moreover, since there are 27 cells in total, the starting player will have one more move than the opponent, which is also a little unfair.

To simultaneously take care of both the problems, we decided to make that cell ‘democratic’, meaning that we shall assume that each player has a symbol in that cell, and their lines can pass through it. This greatly increases the number of possible lines in the game and makes it more interesting. Also, now there are only 26 cells to fill, half of which is filled by each player.

Therefore, we shall put a little symbol in that cell that signifies that it has already been allocated. What better symbol to put there than the ‘trademark’?

3D3T-2

3T stands for Tic-Tac-Toe. It’s just like the centre white cubie of the Rubik’s cube or the Ace of Spades in a deck of cards. It’s special.

Note one more thing. Since now we have many lines to complete, we can even have three players at this game, and everyone will have some lines to claim for themselves. We actually did play with three players. But we needed a third symbol now. So just to increase the geek quotient, we used the initials of our surnames in Greek letters as our symbols. So we had δ, μ and ɣ. You can try it too, if you want onlookers to be awed.

We thought of extending this to even higher dimensions, but then we’ll be left only with a tensor-like index notation, and no good way to visualize the grid. I thought that’s what would make it interesting (what makes this one interesting is that you must visualize the 3D grid in your mind), but then I thought that it’s too complicated.

Overall, I think it’s a fun game, and a good exercise in mental visualization and spatial manipulations. It also requires brains, unlike the normal 2D 3T.

Brooding

I don’t know how it all came to be like this. Maybe I am overreacting, but probably not. No one can be this good.
Fuck, I don’t wanna write about this. It’s so lame, writing about this.
I went around Mumbai with Nikolas today. He’s from France. Nice guy. I’ve also met Beverly from America. She is also very nice. I want to meet the Japanese guy next.
Why does a moving thing keep moving unless stopped? Who made that rule? Does it come from some more fundamental rule? And that comes from something still more fundamental? And it ends somewhere? Some ultimate rule that can explain itself, why it should exist instead of some other rule? And we have a universe that can explain itself? I don’t think so. It’s a classic bootstrap problem.
A young shadowy figure…
while the insides change the block stays the same…
that this crumpled up paper can be perfect again…
I learned to say ‘where do you live’ in French. And Nikolas learned to say it in Bangla.
I got some bad news today. It hit me. It moved some ground from beneath my feet. I am feeling bad. Sad, and angry, and brooding. So I’m listening to loud rock music where people are yelling. I like it. Definitely beats sitting alone on the roof staring at the lights of Marine Drive.
Take everything from the inside…
Some people lead their lives in a very lop-sided, distorted, unfair way. I mean, unfair to others. What should we do with them?
Yesterday I was sitting on the shore at dusk when it was getting dark and there was a lot of wind, and I was so peaceful and happy. So then I thought, the natural resources, or for that matter, anything, is not the property of anyone. This is a fundamental idea in Hinduism, but I won’t get into that. It made sense to me, but then I thought whether there was any situation where I might be forced to think otherwise. I imagined a guy working very hard behind a particular apple tree to bring it to life, and to sustain it against all odds. He does this for many years, and has to sacrifice a lot. Then, when the apples are ripe, someone else comes and sees them and takes them all away. Will it be right?
I thought, no. So there was a contradiction.
Then I found the answer.
What is ‘right’? What is ‘wrong’? The ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ we generally have in mind are human-defined artificial ones. So whether a thing is right or wrong depends on this plastic definition. It is a very artificial, fabricated morality.
So is there any inherent morality that we can fall back on? No, no morality, but there is just the rules of nature. In nature, there is no morality, just a list of things you do to survive. This list comprises very uncivilized things. If you call something that increases your chances of survival as ‘right’ (but that is exactly what ‘civilization’ won’t do), then eating that apple is ‘right’. This sort of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ is the only sort that we can define objectively. Anything else will be influenced and distorted by human tendencies, which I believe are artificial, being a result of our particular history and current culture.
I feel better now, but not much. I shall listen to more sad and angry songs until I feel satisfied.
These things keep happening to me.
Prof. Harold Helfgott fell asleep during the night class today. It was funny. He is a nice, apologetic kind of guy. I like him a lot. My roommate and I call him Helu-da.
I am talking now about the Summer School in Analytic Questions in Arithmetic at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai.
I need to take a dump. TTYL.

1Life.

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