Theory and experiment

The theorists invents his companions, as a naive Romeo imagined his ideal Juliet. The experimenter’s lovers sweat, complain, and fart.

James Glieck in Chaos: Making a new science


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Do the math

Got my W2 in the mail yesterday. Did some quick math to figure out how much I paid in taxes last year. Bad idea. Calmed myself down by thinking “Hey, a lot of that money is being spent on your own good. Essential stuff, such as a good education for your kids”. Then I happened to see this.

[via Reddit]

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A better summary of 2006, I am yet to read.

2006 : The Year Of Living Precariously

(May only make sense if you are familiar with events and personalities in India though)

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Some Books

Most books I have read, I had to track down. Here are some that found me and I’m glad they did. They were unlike anything I had ever read before. After reading each of these, I had this rare feeling – the feeling that I had grown up just a tiny bit between beginning and end.

The Dark CrusaderAlistair MacLean

Age about 12. A rather disappointing trip to the raddiwallah, since it hadn’t yielded any books by authors I was familiar with. I had reluctantly picked this one up. I don’t think there are many Alistair MacLean books I did not devour in subsequent years.

Second FoundationIsaac Asimov

Age 16. The library had been flooded and they were they were throwing out books that had been “damaged”. My brother happened to be around and he picked up some for me. Another book on this list was a collection of novels by Raymond Chandler.

To Kill a MockingbirdHarper Lee

Age 19. A friend who lived a few doors down in the dorm lent me this one. I don’t think I put it down till I finished it.

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The TV Licence

The only radio/TV news source I rely on for balanced coverage is the BBC. I recently learned of the UK TV Licence fees that ultimately fund the BBC.

An interesting issue to say the least. On one hand, the ability to provide fair, balanced and commercial free coverage by having no obligations to advertisers. A strict licencing regime to pay for it on the other. I am sort of glad I don’t have to pick sides on this one. See this wikipedia page about the debate.

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Mostly Harmless

The BBC it seems, organized a contest for the best Hitchhikers guide entry about the Earth. In their own words:

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy famously described the Earth with a single word: Harmless. After years of research by Ford Prefect the entry was expanded slightly – to Mostly Harmless.

We asked you to write a more comprehensive (but equally witty) description using exactly 264 words*.

*In “So Long And Thanks For All The Fish” Douglas revealed that Ford had in fact written a substantial article about Earth for the Guide. Douglas described the entry using 264 words.

This and this were awarded the joint first prize. Excerpts:

You could spend many Earth years sightseeing, which is handy since leaving is difficult. Some must-sees for a short visit are:

Norway and New Zealand. The finest fjords in the Galaxy, with no admission charge.

Deep ocean. Top galactic backpackers’ hangout, but virtually unknown to the locals. The dolphins are friendly, if rather smug.
New York. Ridiculous place. You’ll love it. 

Of other literature, “A Brief History of Time” is really very funny indeed, and “Lord of the Rings” is the only other book anyone ever mentions.

Fun stuff.

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Quotation, n: An ordinary line, magically transformed into an insightful, pithy and universal truth, merely by quoting it completely out of context.
Rahul Agarwal

Here are some better quotations on … err … quotations, from the quotationspage:

People will accept your ideas much more readily if you tell them Benjamin Franklin said it first.
David H. Comins
Quotation, n: The act of repeating erroneously the words of another.
Ambrose Bierce (1842 – 1914), The Devil’s Dictionary
The point of quotations is that one can use another’s words to be insulting.
Amanda Cross (1926 – )

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