Friday, April 28, 2006

Steven Pinker//The Blank Slate

I attended a talk by Steven Pinker last evening on his book 'The Blank Slate'. I've been curious about his research for a long it was a lot of fun hearing his theories. Needless to say, the book has been added to my reading list.

Pinker argued against the 'tabula rasa' models of psychology and how the human mind is indeed not the proverbial blank slate. He's from the evolutionary psychology side of thought. For example, he explained how twins separated at birth and brought up by very different set of parents, end up having the same qualities and mannerisms. So if the brain was indeed a blank slate, their mannerims should depend on their experiences, and the twins should be very different from each other as their upbringings were different. Pinker argued how the 'tabula rasa' thought process conveniently forgets about 'genes'. According to evolutionary psychology, a human brain/soul is shaped by genes, culture etc. So this would explain why, the twins even though brought up differently, end up being similar. Cos they share genes!!

One of the many funny anecdotes was when Pinker discussed his theories on the attraction of sexes and agreed that it's a very strange occurence. He talked about how his friend always said that one should not get married to someone cos of his/her cute lip or nose. Instead, one should marry their best friend. You like them...they're's the best solution.

What made me laugh about this? According to this theory, if I were to get married today....I would have to marry best friend from the male of the species.
*2 seconds to process thought*
... know I love you dearly....but you're laughing your ass off as well as you read this.


Songs of the day:
~'Mujhpe tufan uthaye' from Tehzeeb OST
~'Black Friday' OST

Thursday, April 27, 2006

9 parts of desire

Now dont get me wrong...I LOVE this song by Trickbaby. Since the first time I heard it 2-3 years ago...

But only 9? I beg to differ... (MALE readers of this blog may want to look away right about now)
  1. Music
  2. Chocolate
  3. Coffee
  4. Johnny Depp
  5. Clive Owen
  6. Pierce Brosnan
  7. Johnny Depp + Chocolate (Ali, Smiti...stop obsessing over him...he's mine)
  8. Pierce Brosnan + Coffee
  9. Clive Owen + Music ('Starshine' by Gorillaz if you please)
  10. The Edge and his instruments...(mind out of the gutter now! I'm talking about guitars of course! Now where's my halo?)
  11. grand finale: Nikhil Chinappa (for those who dont know him....he's a VJ for MTV India. i've had a crush on him since I was in high's a long story...)
*ahem* That put things in if you will excuse me....

Albums of the week:
1. Fanaa OST
2. Bombay Bud Orchestra
3. Incredible India
4. Gangster OST
5. Global Village by Karunesh
6. Broken English by Karsh Kale
7. Global Spirit by Karunesh
8. Bluffmaster OST
9. Division Bell by Pink Floyd

heh....9 parts to that huh?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Addiction thy name is...(Part one)


Top 10 me-reasons to drink cofee:-
  1. "I just woke up. I need coffee"
  2. I want coffee.
  3. I love coffee
  4. "Blah. Let's get coffee."
  5. "Hmmm....? Let's get coffee"
  6. "I need to relax. Let's get coffee"
  7. "I need to wake up. Let's get coffee"
  8. "I need to sleep. Let's get coffee"
  9. "Coffee!! You can sleep when you're dead"
  10. Just cos.

-Mocha King

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The joy of nightouts

Over 6 years of college + grad school life as a Computer Engineer/ get used to being nocturnal. The sights and sounds of computers, oscilloscopes, bread boards, chip testers, wires, resistors, caps, LEDs, soldering irons etc....bring you comfort on a seemingly endless road punctuated by deadlines, projects, presentations and demos.

The most memorable of these experiences are the late night lab sessions. Bunches of geeks/dorks/nerds/me-types hunched over PCs and other random equipment....trying to get our logics to work. Hitting keyboards, jabbing at the screens, shaking our heads in frustration, nervous laughter and desperate deliberation. It's all there. How is this fun again? It just is. It's part of the geekhood experience. These are the times you get to bond with your teammates and learn truckloads. Welcome respites come in the form of trips to the vending machines and water coolers., animated sleep-deprived conversations with other fellow tortured souls, and the (passive-smoking) smoke breaks.

Then in the end it's all worth it when we get our programs to work or our boards to behave properly. That's when you look back at the infinite sleepless nights and say..."hey...that was fun".

Byte that chip,

Monday, April 24, 2006


Happy Birthday!!!! :-)

Let the records state that as of today...till 6th are officially THREE years older than me :P :) hehehe. ya... ;-)


Friday, April 21, 2006

A little slice of heaven

Love it, or hate it, you've gotta admit that New York City is the one place where you get hit by the feeling that you are part of something much much bigger than just yourself. It's a well oiled corporation...running smoothly from dawn till dusk ...which really merge together cos the city apparently never sleeps.

Where is all this going? Nowhere in particular. I'm too swamped at school to write a well thought out blog entry. heh. Right now, I'm just reminiscing from last night.

After a long frustrating day, all I really wanted to do was meet some friends, and sit outside in the amazing weather ...listening to music. Wish, and ye shall receive!! :-) After doing dinner round 1 at the Mamoun's falafel place (An amazing sandwhich for just 2$!!!!) ...we sauntered into Washington Square Park where I can always trust to find live music. Sure enough, hunched into a corner was a group of eclectic jazz musicians playing anything from blues to rock to good old jazz. What a voice the singer had...he tore up the night literally....

Staring up at the beautifully lit up Arch, sipping iced tea, tapping my feet to jazz, flanked by my friends....that's when it hit me again for the hundredth time...."I'm a part of something sooo much bigger than myself"

A little slice of heaven right there at the end of a frustrating day/week.

Ate mais tarde

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Another month

As another month of 2006 winds down, I'm precariously close to graduation. Which means that I have about 2-3 weeks of school life left...and then I dunno when I'll be back. Jeez. 6 years have flown by. And I still remember August 2nd 2000 as clear as it was yesterday. Everything else is a big hazy blob punctuated by memories :-)

Hmm....moving on....I finally watched "Before Sunrise" and "Before Sunset". amazing, incredible....i LOVED both of them. So simple...but so captivating. Such movies give you me likey!

Some random thoughts from yesterday:
~"You need to find peace within yourself to be able to love others" - from Before Sunrise
~"Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?" - Henry Ward Beecher
~"I'm still giddy from Saturday night" - Me :P

Songs from yesterday:
~"Dilruba" by Niyaz
~"Indus Valley" by Karsh Kale
~"Letting Go" by Karsh Kale
~"Milan" by Karsh Kale
~Album "You could have it so much better" by Franz Ferdinand (thanks Ito-Frito)
~Albums "October", "Pop" by U2

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Part time mom, Full time friend

Her name is Lalitha. Its her birthday today. She is the one that our universe revolves around. By 'our', I mean Andy, dad and me. She's the first friend I had. She's the source of my love for life, my enthusiasm and my craziness :-)
"Happy Birthday Mommyyyyy"
For everything you are to us and all that you've given us, we love you.

~Your three monkeys

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Land of Nod

The Land of Nod eludes me...
...but all's justified by the "dedication to having fun"....

And then again....
COFFEEEEE!!! You can sleep when you're dead!


Thursday, April 13, 2006

My first baseball game

Didnt that sound like the title of a baby's photo album..."My first birthday party" or something like that...LOL!

Anyway...moving on to the topic at hand. The KC Royals were drowned by the NY Yankees this afternoon while 54000 Yankee fans cheered on. And yes, there were about 300 non-yankee supporters who were picked on, torn apart etc. Yes, there were fights. Verbal and physical. You can imagine the rest.

So being that this was my first baseball game ever and that I'd never really visited Yankee stadium before...I was excited. The day was PERFECT...the sun was shining...there was a cool breeze...and my buddy Han gave us free tickets!! Ha! So five of us from school...gave into the guilty pleasure of escaping school on a Thursday afternoon to go bask in the sun and drink beer (in my case it was Gatorade...cos i'm off alcohol for a few weeks...dont ask why). Game was great. And at one point of time, the ground crew actually danced to YMCA....which was hilaarious! ( would have cracked up chica)

An afternoon well spent....more pics here...

Sophia, Han and Me at the stadium...

The view from our seats...(no, it wasnt slanted :P)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I'm pissed!!

1. My favorite and oldest pair of jeans's time to let go....but...hmpphhhhffff
2. I couldn't see Karsh Kale or Indian Ocean perform cos of classes....
3. Paul Oakenfold is not performing this weekend....going to Philly instead...WTF??!!!
4. I was woken up in the morning (after sleeping for 2-3 hours only) by the maintenance guy....about fixing my window blinds. I hadnt filed a complaint about the only way he could have found out is by peeping in through the fire exit. Blooody perv.
5. My project partner is a jerk!

C'est fini!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Networking made easy

XHTML Friends Network (XFN) is an interesting new protocol out there. It basically aids us in linking our (web-site-available) friends on the web via HTML itself. So it's a nice way to create your own network and keep track of how the web is coming together.

How is this done? Nothing fancy to be done really...just add a "rel" tag in the "a href" and choose from a set of attributes to assign to the link. The link here is the link to your friend/contact's webpage or blog. (by the way, did you know that blogs and blogrolls are the fastest growing are of the web?...neither did I...but Wiki says so)

For example, consider my blog roll...let's look at a link......
a href="/" rel="friend met"

The "rel" attributes are not imaginary. They are listed here: XFN Getting Started

View my network here:

I think this is cool. Eventually we'll be able to see how well connected the web really is.

That's it for now. Back to the regularly scheduled broadcast...

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Mother Nature is on crack!

How else do you explain 70 degrees over the weekend and snowfall today?

Serves me right to be audacious enough to pack away my snow jacket! Ha!

It's all good though. I totally enjoyed the ginormous snow flakes today....

Randomness rocks! :-) Right Ito?


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Dance like this

Wyclef belts out...
"Baila en la calle de noche
Baila en la calle de dia"

Literally translates to ... (thanks Alicia)

"Dance in the streets at night
Dance in the streets by day"

And that's exactly what I did.

Created this amazing setlist last night with a lot of the songs from the soundtrack of Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (My all time favorite movie for those who dont know). There is something about Cuban and other Latin American music. There is a raw passion in the beats and rythms....for Dance, Love and Life. Not to mention the sensuality factor. Oh so much ...

So it's a cool afternoon and i'm going about my business on the streets of nyc...with my new playlist smoothly flowing out of the iPod...and I cant help but break out into subtle moves...the beats just swept me away. And of course there is a stupid smile plastered on my face... ;)

Then Yerba Beuna took over with "Guajira"...
I love you too much"

Standing at a traffic light...head bobbing, shoulders and hips swaying's all I could do to not start moving my arms as well and make a complete fool out of myself. But I was having soooo much fun!!!!! :-) Most of the dancing was going on inside my head thankfully... :)

So...yeah...nice dancy day :D

Tchau, Ate mai tarde,

Monday, April 03, 2006

A conversation with a psychic

Do you believe in extra sensory perception? Or that the lines on your hand decide your destiny? Or whether there is such a thing as destiny?

I admit, I am a skeptic.

I met a psychic on Saturday night. Consciously, I would never ever have approached one or would have very strongly turned away if one approached me. But intense exhaustion and melancholy combined made me give in to her coaxing. Or as my mother cares to explain it: hypnotism. But that's a story for another day. I do acknowledge that psychics have a way to tell when a person is vulnerable and they can definitely read faces really well. So this woman started telling me things about my past and started moving on to the future. Here's a snippet from our conversation...

Psychic: "You have been in a bad relationship before."
Me: Not really.
Psychic: "There is a lot of loneliness in you. You smile, but lot of the time you're sad inside."
Me: Un-hnn...
Psychic: "The loneliness is gonna be there for a long time"
Me: Gee...thanks!
Psychic: "For a nominal fee...of 100$...I can do a searching to find out where the block is"


There it was. The clincher.

This conversation definitely shook me up for a bit. Of course, the woman was after money so she sugar coated the beginning and gradually got me down in the dumps so I would shell the hundred to "remedy" the block in my love life. Good sense prevailed and I got the hell out of there. Then I started questioning the credibility of palm reading or chiromancy. How is it possible that the lines in my hand or the vibrations in my energy dictate my life? Or is it that my stubborn optimism makes me deny whatever I dont like hearing?

Chiromancy or Palmistry has been practiced since the 15th century. It's the concept of telling your future by observing the lines and patterns on your palm. The authority hand for men is right and for women is left. Many years of research later, palmistry cannot still be called a science. Though the patterns in your hand can definitely tell your character, there is no proof that they can predict your future. For example, whether you will be making a million dollars or if you will find the love of your life? So even though there is no credibility associated with this pseudoscience, why do so many people spend their hard earned money on it? What gives palm-readers the authority and encouragement to actually make professions out of it?

Here's my take. At the root of palmistry is a human being's burning need to know the future. What spawns this off? Insecurities, emotions, sadness, the need for hope and faith. Humans always need reassurance, that's just how we are designed. Some of us find it within ourselves (as in, we have our own garages) and others find it elsewhere...friends, spouses, lovers, psychics....etc. In my case, I was being plagued by various questions of life and anyone who could even remotely shed light on the answers was God sent. (Again, a story for another day would be how come I believe in God, but not in destiny and palm reading?) So I could have chosen to believe the psychic or I could have chosen to live my life and learn my own lessons.

I chose life! I dont want to lose my present in anticipation of the future. I'll deal with my future when I face it. But I am not blind to it either. I am aware that every single action of my present will affect my life ahead. So I attempt to infuse it with positivity.

And as Alan Kay said -- "The best way to predict the future is to invent it"

Love & Peace :)
~Amrita Rajagopal