Friday, March 25, 2005

A day wasted

Today I told myself that I would do a huge of amount of 'DSP' or to the layman 'Digital Signal Processing'. For any further knowledge it would be best not to approach me as my knowledge is a big zero. Nonetheless, the target was to do atleast two of the big chapters that were a part of my syllabus. The morning began well and I was prgressing well but then my biggest source of distraction- the newspaper arrived. I say this because, quite honestly, my concentration sucks, but in the mornings I am this focussed freak. Coming back, I could not resist and spent a half hour reading about all the worthless stuff printed in "The Times of India." I think the paper deserves to be renamed as the bad times of India, keeping in mind all the positive stuff that gets printed- rapes, murders, corpses found rotting and other crap. Their supplement Bombay times should be called Paty times.

After this productive half hour, I sat with my books for a good fifteen minutes when my stomach started growling. Another haour spent eating and tehn lounging aorund to digest my food. Tried again for fifteen minutes and realized that there would be people online who would be ready for cs. Looged on but the lack of players did not desist me from playing with bots; who coincidently are the easiest to beat. Feels good to play against them. After a good couple of hours, I got bored crakced by books for some time, ate my food and that brings me here. The man who had just wasted half a day doin nothing. As for the DSP I am as good as you are at the subject.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Garden of the Mind

The air is still,
The silence beckons,
The mind responds.
Images are crystal clear.
Emotions erupt.
Memories flood back.
The joy of victory, achievment;
The sorrow of loss.
A flashback in time-
Of things that should or could have been done,
Of loves labour lost;
Of green meadows adorned with the gentlest of streams,a scene straight out of heaven.
Of things to be done;
Of fears that should never become a reality.
Disappointments are revisited.
The mind regales.
Sight is not a hinderance.
Darkness is where the mind speaks in it's loudest voice.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The walk home

It has been a great month for the Indian economy. The budget has been described as the sequel to the dream budget of a few years back, the sensex is scaling new heights everyday, employment is supposedly on the up and all-in-all the feel good factor is back.

Yet as I walked home today reality struck me hard. Just as I had entered my lane, I saw a lady, walk up to another (whom I recognized of being from my lane) and question her about something. The lady got a shrug of the shoulder for an answer. I noticed then that she had a young boy, of around 10 years of age with her. The lady must have not been a year over thirty. She cast a hapless look at her son and resumed her walk down the lane. It was now that my eyes fell on a man, very young I must add, who was a few metres in front. Despondency was written large in his eyes as he was begging to a man for a few rupees.

He then caught a sight of me and came over to me. I had by now realized the situation and had decided not to part with even a rupee, come what may. I almost instinctively shook my head and gave an expression as if to say, "How can I have any money?"

Just as I was about to proceed on my way home, my eyes fell on that litle boy. He looked pale, eyes sunken, shoulders drooping. The boy was definitely malnutritioned. Trying to forget the child, I began to walk; but my mind would not allow me. I could not forget that face. This child was meant to be playing, studying, eating. He should not be worrying about his food. My feet fell heavy. I stopped, out my hand in my wallet and removed a ten. Handing it over to the man, I asked him to feed his child.

The gratitude I saw on the man's face is something I shall never forget. His demeanor suggested that fate had brought him to this situation. I am not someone who condones begging but I did believe that in such situations generosity is warranted and to an extent necessary.


I would like to congratulate my friends Vikas, Amogh, Ajay and Rachit for their fabulous performance in their GATE exam. For the ignorant, Vikas with 97.67 percentile and Ajay and Amogh with amazing 99.61 and 99.83 percentiles respectively. Rachit got a 93.

Congrats guys!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

One last feministic??? article.

Bhavana sent me a mail that some friend of hers had written in jest. Check it out. Good humorous stuff.

Hi all....

So Women's Day came and went and because of that a
Cannibal Corpse song shows up in my inbox- seems like
a CAT wordlist , dipped in blood, gore and morbidity-
of course that's just me.If you try, u might just be
able to relate to it.

Anyways I thought I'd throw in my two cents(for
whatever it's worth,with the dollar depreciating and
all..).Here's an article of mine which was published
in JLT a few months back-had got a variety of
reactions then and expect the same again.
Ladies, don't kill me - take this with a pinch of
salt(a dash of lime and a shot of tequila with that
sounds even better doesn't it?)

Ashish "She-fuckin'-hates-me-la-la-la" Shakya.

What if women ruled the world…?? (by Ashish Shakya)

“I believe women are far superior to men. They can do
everything men can, and in a far better way..”. Oh
great! I’d been fixed up with a feminist (my friends
circle was gonna be missing one member pretty
soon..@#!&**). As she went on and on, I considered,
among other things, faking an epileptic attack to get
myself outta there but since I’m no actor, I just sat
there, stuffing my face with food (food that I’D
eventually pay for, feminist or not). That was when
this thought just hit me (I get creative insights from
time to time, like the time when I hit upon a solution
to the energy crisis but that’s another story…): What
if women ruled the world??
I’m talking women militaries, female global leaders,
female cops (yes I know they already exist..think in
terms of majority)…and what the hell-even female
cabbies, dance bar owners (men dancing, naturally)…get
the picture?

Things would change…and how!

1) Toilets would be manufactured with the seats
screwed down. YAY!! A million points to all the
hapless ladies who had to (gasp) manually put down the

2) PMS would become a viable plea in order to obtain a
lenient sentence, much like the insanity plea is used
today. George Lucas (make that Mrs George Lucas) would
direct an inter-galactic legal drama titled “Attack of
the Hormones”).

3) The study of Communication Techniques would be
revolutionized the world over because of new theories
such as “Say no even if you feel like saying yes, then
express your displeasure to the concerned party,
firstly by denying that you are displeased and then
citing the reason for your obvious-but-non-existent
displeasure as the party’s inability to delve further
into your twisted psyche, which if done with the aid
of a mind-reader would, in fact, reveal what you
actually wanted to say, as opposed to the words you
said out loud.”

Go ahead, read it again-let me know if it makes any

4) Vehicles would become lethal weapons in the hands
of these marauding motorists. You’d be safer standing
naked on top of a skyscraper holding on to a 50-foot
metal pole during a thunderstorm, than on the roads.
Of course there’d be traffic cops to assist accident
victims and deal with jams but being lady drivers,
they’d probably get into an accident or two themselves
before reaching the original crash site. Maybe that’s
a li’l thoughtless of me…after all, driving in 6-inch
platforms takes time to learn and there’s only one
rear-view mirror. If they use that to look behind,
then how will they put on their make-up??

5)*Women would pay for the men, nightclubs would have
free entry for guys…*
POOF! Back to reality ! The bill was on the table and
Miss Superior Being from Venus had clammed up all of a
sudden. I’d gone too far with my dreaming…some things
will never change! Somehow, the epilepsy act didn’t
seem that daunting now.
PS: The author is neither a misogynist nor an MCP. He
would’ve clarified further but hordes of furious women
have descended upon his doors so he’s gotta make like
Ben&Jen and split…

Ashish Shakya

For a few dollars more???

The inspiration of this text is a poem that won a junior a thousand bucks!! Let me see if I can write some sense.Here goes...

If you want to know the worth of one billion,
Ask the son of a tycoon whose father married some bimbo just as he was about to die(Anna Nicole Smith).

If you want know the worth of one crore,
Ask the builder who has just lost out on a tender.

If you want to know the value of one million,
Ask the husband who has just had a divorce.

If you want to know the worth of one lakh,
Ask the middle class housewife who is searching for her dream house.

If you want to know the value of ten thousand,
Ask the small investor who has had a bad day at the office.

If you want to know the worth of a thousand,
Ask the retired octogenarian who did not get his pension this month.

If you want to know the worth of a hundred,
Ask the poor student who is forced to travel by second class in a Bombal local train.

If you want to know the worth of a ten,
Ask that labourer who is unable to buy a toy for his son.

If you want to know the value of a rupee,
Ask the hungry tramp who wants a 'Vada Pav'.

If you want to know the value of a paisa,
Go Earn One!!

Am not very happy with this work. Yet I am posting it. Please do comment.

Monday, March 14, 2005

A Quote she wrote!!

Here a few quotes I noticed.. Very interesting stuff.

Hatred comes from the heart; contempt from the head; & neither feeling is quite within our control.

- Arthur Schoperhauer

Hating people is like burning down your own house to get rid of a rat.

- Harry Emerson Fosdick

Nothing Brings People together more, then mutual hatred

- Henry Rollins
I hate you for loving me, I love you for hating me, save yourself."

- Peter Steele, Type O Negative

Before you kill somebody, make absolutely sure he isn't well connected.

- Kurt Vonnegut, "Slaughterhouse Five" ( $ )

We hate most in others what we dislike in ourselves.

- Laurrel K Hamilton, "Narcissus in Chains" ( $ )

Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and fat.

- Alex Levine

Water is the only drink for a wise man.

- Henry David Thoreau

Molly Notkin often confides on the phone to Joelle van Dyne about the one tormented love of Nokin's life thus far, an erotically circumscribed G.W. Pabst scholar at New York University tortured by the neurotic compulsion that there are only a finite number of erections possible in the world at any one time and that his tumescence means e.g. the detumescence of some perhaps more deserving or tortured Third World sorghum farmer. . .

- David Foster Wallace, "Infinite Jest" ( $ )

An intellectual is a person who has discovered something more interesting than sex.

- Aldous Huxley

sex concentrates on what is on the outside of the individual. It's funny because I think it's better inside.

- Alex Walsh

great sex is great, but bad sex is like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich

- Billy Idol

When a man goes on a date, he wonders if he is going to get lucky. A woman already knows.

- Frederike Ryder

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Great Read from the net

Most of us have heard of the Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of the modern world. We also know it was built in memory of Mumtaz Mahal. But how many of us know of her aunt, Nor Mahal? She invented the device to perform attar distillation from flowers to make perfumes.

Despite 4,000 years of contribution, we do not know about most pioneering women in technology�like Empress Shi Dun, who invented paper, Penthesilea, who invented the battle axe, and Catherine Green, who invented the cotton gin (though Eli Whitney holds the patent).

Florence Nightingale, the famous nurse, was also a brilliant mathematician, and her contribution as the inventor of the pie chart that businesses, technologists, researchers and governments throughout the world use today, is virtually unknown.

This continues even in this �Information Age� where we boast of living in knowledge-based societies. How many of us know of Helen Greiner, a scientist and the only woman to run a robot company in the world or of Vanitha Rangaraju who is the only Indian woman to win an Oscar for her technical work for the movie Shrek?

A lot has been written about the Taliban�s treatment of Afghan women, which resulted in the worldwide outcry against women wearing full-length burkhas, which rendered them invisible and the denial of their fundamental rights. However, there�s not even a whimper about the systematic Talibanism of women in technology, which has made them invisible throughout the ages. Despite a large number of talented and successful women in the field, why is it that society tends to associate only men with technology? This appears to be a global phenomenon, cutting across class, race, and the development of countries.

"Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where a backbone ought to be..."

Clementine P�ford, journalist and editor

After elaborate research and having interviewed several women and men in the fields of education, business and technology, I found there are seven primary reasons why women in technology continue to remain invisible�social myths, conditioning, media, networking, deterrence, balance and marketing.

Social myths
Cutting across cultural differences, the patriarchal system has always the defined the place and role of a woman. This has led to perpetuation of myths like:

Many women do not recognize themselves as discriminated against�a visible proof of the totality
of their �conditioning�

Myth #1: Women are emotional while tech is strictly logical. As a result, they don�t go together.
Myth #2: Men are good at math and machines while women have no clue about these.
Myth #3: Men are the providers while women are nurturers.
Myth #4: Technical women are unattractive, arrogant, and abnormal.
Myth #5: Women can�t do it because they are made that way: the divine or the evolution argument.
Myth #6: Women aren�t as good at visualizing as men, and hence, don�t make good engineers.

A lot of research exploring these myths is collecting dust in various organizations throughout the world. Anne Fausto-Sterling examines these issues in "Myths of Gender". In her book, she describes the research studies conducted to analyze adult brain differences. The conclusion of these various studies proves that verbal ability, visual spatial perception, and math ability have nothing to do with the gender of a human being.

However, many males accept these myths readily. Njin-Tsoe Chen, project leader, Schuitema, Netherlands, observes, "To some degree it�s society, but evolution also plays a role. Men and women are different." A recent survey conducted by search engine AltaVista found that the myth of men being better in technology, alive on the internet, as 80% of the men claimed they are better surfers than their female partners.

...thus, most of the �knowledgeable� sources are men. As for the audience, I�m sure it�s mostly male too

"I think that the number of women in science and technology is certainly larger than zero but it is a small percentage�5% or less," says Dr Hemker, German Physicist at Credit Suisse. Aggressive women get labeled as bitches. There is a program in California for �bossy broads,� women whose assertiveness scares men and whose companies send them to learn how to �temper� their behavior. Implicit attitudes are difficult to change. When a woman shatters these myths and succeeds in the technical field, she is made out to be a honchess, arrogant feminist or said to have slept her way through to the top. Instead of being accepted for their accomplishments, successful women are questioned as to how they became successful.

The social myths perpetuate stereotypes that lead to conditioning. There is pressure on women to look and behave in certain ways, which is deeply ingrained in their psyches. Perception is everything. Kate Millet, the writer and educator said, "Many women do not recognize themselves as discriminated against; no better proof could be found of the totality of their conditioning." Stereotypes based on social myths exist because of mass media. It starts at an early stage when parenting is done using stereotypes�girls like dolls and boys like cars. "I think it does kids harm not to see what they gravitate towards and make toy selections appropriately. I was always jealous of my brother�s radio controlled cars and electronics sets," says Helen Greiner, president of iRobot.

According to Diana Bouchard, graphic artist, Quebec, Canada, "Looking through thousands of photographs weekly, women are depicted 95% of the time as �beginners� with males standing behind them, pointing at the computer screen as if to say �ok, now you click here.� It�s indicative of male mentality that women don�t get it." When young girls see this, they assume technology is not for them. While there�s much discussion about the social impact of the media�s depiction of a woman�s body, there is almost none about the impact it has on careers and educational aspirations.

In an Internet survey where I polled over 2,557 women working in the technical field, 56% of the women stated they have never been able to wear a skirt to work in any tech industry job event, because they�re afraid of being perceived as unprofessional. 70% said plain glasses, little or no make up, and a tight hair bun helps them if they want their work to be taken seriously. Finally, the conditioning is so absolute that women are told they are automatically empowered by the design of the technological environment known as the kitchen with all its fancy gadgets, which turns out to be a way of luring women to occupy their assigned place in society. This is better known as the "gendering of space" argument, which was propounded by Dr Radhika Gajjala, Bowling Green State University, Ohio.

If men and women were truly equal at work, both would hold roughly identical expectations of what is possible and what isn�t

By not covering successful women in technology, the media denies the next generation role models. Today, if you flip through any popular technical magazine, you would rarely find an article written by or about a woman. Why?

David Ball, editor of Packet Magazine, answers, "Out of my top five freelance writers, four of them are women. While our writers get bylines, in many cases, the byline goes to the content expert that was interviewed for the story. There appears to be more male engineers and technical product managers than female." Regarding dearth of articles about women, Don Davis, editor, Card Technology magazine, says, "The majority of the executives in the industry we primarily cover are men. Thus, most of the knowledgeable sources are men. As for the audience, I�m sure it�s mostly male."

Thus, editors justify lack of coverage saying their readers (again assumed to be male) wouldn�t be interested in knowing about women in technology. It is up to the women�s magazines to cover these topics and personalities. This becomes a vicious cycle as the typical woman�s magazine covers what are considered "women" subjects like fashion, beauty, and family and leave IT to tech magazines.

"There should be a proper regulatory framework to ensure that the broadcasters� air programmes on successful women in technology. The regulators should ensure that broadcasters comply," says Emily Khamula, Broadcasting Officer in Malawi, Africa.

Prof Rodney Brooks, MIT, disagrees. "See the article in Forbes on iRobot, featuring Helen Greiner and the movie Me & Isaac Newton, featuring my former student Maja Mataric. Or see the press coverage for my former student Cynthia Brezeal�Time magazine featured a story, plus myriad TV appearances. None of my former male students have done as well in the press as these three."

A woman who swims with sharks has a better chance of being published than a man who does the same thing. Why? Because she is considered a maverick. Mass media coverage of Prof Brooks� three former female students who specialized in robotics can be explained as robotics is still considered a maverick field for technical women. Despite the social myth that women in technology are abnormal, why don�t they get the limelight? This is because only �displayable� aggressiveness results in limelight. For women in technology, externally, one mightn�t seem aggressive; internally, they have to be because of the job, which doesn�t make good copy.

Lack of networking plays an enormous role in rendering women in technology invisible. It is hard for women, however, to hang out with their male colleagues after work. Two factors remain as major obstacles to networking.

n Old Boys� network.
n Male colleagues� wives or girlfriends.

A female senior manager at Intel, says, "I find networking to be a major problem. I cannot have the same informal �outside work� relationship with my peers and senior executives that my male �competitors� could have without spouses being concerned and some people�s tongues wagging."

Most of the time progress at work depends on being able to have the same access to male co-workers after hours as the other male co-workers have. This isolates women from the "old boys� network" and trust building that occurs at senior levels that leads to more opportunities.

Deterrence is done in two places�school and home. According to a Unesco study, girls consistently match or surpass boys� achievements in science and mathematics in schools across the world. In developed countries, young women are discouraged from pursuing engineering. In developing countries, there is refusal to invest in a girl�s technical education.

A study by the National Science Foundation found gender-based inequities in the USA. According to it, despite gains in girls� participation in advanced math in the 1990s, 34% of the girls report being advised not to take math in their senior year of high school.

According to a NIME study, in Asia most families across cultures are willing to invest in technical education for their girl child because it improves marriage prospects but after marriage inevitably, over 50% of these women do not pursue a full-time career.

Working hours required and the social set up for the jobs in the technical field demand quite different commitments. This directly affects the socially defined role of a woman as a nurturer. Therefore most women feel there is a lack of balance in their lives and this leads to guilt. In Californian Law, pregnancy itself is considered a disability with a note from your doctor.

Shazia Harris, a clinical psychologist and researcher in education, Pakistan says, "My research indicates that females will opt for fulltime jobs if the option is available even after marriage and even after having children which was one of the major factors for losing the professional female workforce, i.e., home responsibilities before career."

Generally, men market themselves better. In her book �What�s Holding You Back?� Linda Austin says men tend to over-represent their abilities and qualifications by 30-40%, while women under-represent theirs by the same amount. This works to a 60-80% gap between what a man and a woman with similar qualifications claim. Accord-ing to Jennifer Pikes, an engineer who worked for IBM, "Even in the �soft� technical area (technical writing department), men seemed far more eager to make a name for themselves than the women did."

Though social perceptions are slowly changing, women in the technical workplace remain behind the scenes because they tend to play down their contributions. This is because "feminism" has become a bad word in today�s society. Many women in the technical field are scared of being labeled "feminist" that they would rather �dumb down� than take credit for their work. Also, social conditioning tends to make women as secondary, non-aggressive, non-risk-taking team players.

Dorothy Parker once said, "You can�t teach an old dogma new tricks." True, but why not create a new one? For starters, we could begin by asking the same questions that members of the civil rights movement did. This issue of invisibility of women in technology is currently hovering between intent and execution, with industry leaders wishing the whole issue would simply disappear instead of addressing the problem head-on. This is where government advocacy and media can play an enormous role.

Technical workplaces founded on a male �norm� need to be changed to allow fair competition for jobs and advancement for women whose strategies differ from the norm. If the norm involves weekend �beer busts�, it�s not the female employee who needs to �loosen up� but the employer who needs to identify appropriate venues for company meetings and encourage diversity.

Femininity as the culturally defined model of female behavior enforced from the outside needs to be examined. One needs to strongly reject any sort of artificial �femininity� and teach our society to embrace diversity, to allow girls to be �technically� ambitious without labeling them �tomboys� and to allow boys to be sensitive without branding them �sissies�. Generalizations based on myths should not be assumed of any particular man, nor used to discriminate against any particular woman.

While ignoring the contributions of a single individual is really bad and ignoring the contributions of a minority is appalling, ignoring the potential contributions of half the population can be best explained in two words�plain stupid.

Deepa Kandaswamy

Friday, March 11, 2005

I wan't some more

Human emotions can be quite abstruse. Its really difficult to comprehend oursleves, let alone others. Each and everyone is unique. Yet, there is one feature omnipresent when it comes to this race. Actually, it is synonymous with the Animal kingdom. This is the quest for more.... not the greed...the insecurity that you dont have enough. The hoarding mentality plagues us all.
On the prompt I am sure every one of us will be up in arms, but I would still hold up my end on this one. It might not be as evident in some as in others, but prevalent nonetheless. As as adducement I would like to give the example of my grandmom. Before being my grandmother, shes first a mother to my dad and his siblings. But before that shes a mother to all the steel vessels she possesses. Her benevolence bears no equal till we are not talking about steel. As soon as she sets her eyes on any metallic object you know she wants it, and believe me she makes no bones of it.
I guess the reason for this syndrome is the fact that there is no individual on this planet who is insecure-guys desisting are the most insecure ones. Ther is the constant urge to be reassured probably because of th socail natuer of man.
Anyways bored of typing. Comments welcome.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

The one in the crowd.

It's platform number 4 of the erstwhile V.T station. The time is 6:00 p.m. Its that time of the day on this platform when ants dread to step out. The platform is brimming over with people.

Lost in the crowd you get to see that tired face. A face twisted in fatigue,with eyes hidden behind glasses and matted hair. Its evident that she has had a long day.

The train pulls and the crowds surge in like a mighty river in flood. You dont have to make an effort to enter, you are swept along. The lady follows suit. Her eyes search for the magical, fast depleting empty seat. Just as she is about to take one, a lady with a child in her arms steps forward. The mother that she is, she gives away the only seat. She knows what it feels like. Her children, luckily, are being taken care of by her mother-in-law. The elder one is all of two years old. The younger one is just 2 months old. Yet, like a lioness, she too has too work for her food. She blesses her mother-in-law for her generosity.

Ah! Her mother-in-law! The same woman who refused to let her son marry her if her father did not cough up 50,000 on her wedding day. Memories come flowing back of that eventful night when she bade farewell to her home. She forgets the constant bickering and badgering that she has to undergo for getting her MIL to take care of her children. Sometimes, she does feel like giving her a earful, but protocol steps in. She has even forgotten how she would never equate to her sister-in-law, irrespective of whether she is the on who would run with her husband's father to the hospital when he is sick and her SIL would make only a cursory appearance to shed a few tears. There is no memory of the fact that it was her that evreyone consults and not her own husband in family matters. The stepmotherly she feels might even be justified; after all she is the Daughter-in-law and not the Daughter.

Despite this, her mind is apathetic towards the sheer indifference shown by her better half. He knows all, and loves her very much, but is a silent spectator. When she asks him to stand for her, all he says is, "Its between the two of you. Say what you want to her." The perfect male reaction-realizing its best not to get in between two women. He too is going through his own travails and she has stopped pressing him. After all, she thinks, "He is the father of my children."

Stations pass by with her being oblivious to the crowd flitting in and out like a swarm of bees that are hunting down nectar. Realizing then that its her stop next, she goes to the exit. The station comes and the reverse routine she did at V.T ensues. The lady disappears into the crowd again.

I know, shall see her again tomorrow, on this very train. But then, today is womens day. A day to celebrate the empowerment of women. And the ideal celebration would be raising a toast to the working woman in Bombay. Cheers, ladies and congratulations. You may not make it to page 3 but a way to everyones heart who knows you, that I assure you, you shall find.

Happy Womens Day!!!

Sunday, March 06, 2005

The Spokesperson

When the rest of my faculty cant speak,
Its from me that people answers seek.

You see, I am the one who can talk the loudest,
But sadly at lying I am not the best.

I turn red when the emotion is Anger,
Or turn white, when all of us sense Danger.

Happiness causes a pearly glow,
As if to one and all, our feelings we show.

People see me hang low when dejection it is,
Malady on me is something that no one can miss.

Fatigue causes a shrink in size,
Excitement is what I depict, when we win a prize.

A compliment from the opposite sex, turns me to something I myself can't explain.
I contort when there is pain.

I am the face, depicting emotins without pay;
Being his spokesperson, I speak what the mind wants to say.