Monday, November 05, 2007

Compiling GHC on Scientific Linux V5

For a long time I wanted to go 'strictly functional' and what better way then to start with the beast, ghc. So about a couple of months back, I downloaded version 6.6.1 [ ] and started reading YAHT [ ]. Then the 'laziness' took over and my 'idea of being strictly functional' took a back-seat. The news of release of ghc Version 6.8.1 (3 November 2007) reignited the desire. This time I thought of compiling the ghc from source [ Main - , Extra Libs - ]. Make sure you have 4-5 hours and 1-1.5 GB of disc space! Become 'root' and extract the above two files: tar xvjf ghc-6.8.1-src.tar.bz2 tar xvjf ghc-6.8.1-src-extralibs.tar.bz2 Both of them will extract in the directory ./ghc-6.8.1. For compiling there are some dependencies to be taken care of: 1. ghc [I already had v 6.6.1, ] , it is interesting as the compilers compiles its next version [ ]: rpm -ivhf ghc661-6.6.1-2.el5.i386.rpm 2. cabal, Common Architecture for Building Applications and Libraries, which can be downloaded from and installation instructions need to be followed [ ]: tar xzf cabal- cd cabal-1.2.2 runhaskell Setup.hs configure runhaskell Setup.hs build runhaskell Setup.hs install 3. readline-devel, readline library which in turn has terminfo as dependence, so better to use yum for installation: yum install readline-devel 4. alex, A lexical analyser generator for Haskell, whose rpm can be downloaded from and installed easily: rpm -ivhf alex-2.1.0-1.i386.rpm 5. happy, the yacc of haskell [I read on to compile happy you need old version of happy]. But for me simply getting the source and installation worked fine: tar xvzf happy-1.17-html.tar.gz cd happy-1.17 runhaskell Setup.hs configure runhaskell Setup.hs build runhaskell Setup.hs install We are all set for the ghc compilation: cd ghc-6.8.1 ./configure make make install Clean up ~300MB from the older ghc (v 6.6.1) installation, I went the brute force way: make a "list" using 'find /usr -name ghc-6.6.1' and clean 'rm -rf "list"' Now I have to dig deeper into the release note ( ), one thing which has really got me interested is the introduction of debugger to GHCi. --------------------------"The Answer Lies in the Genome"--------------------------
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Haskell is a general purpose, purely functional programming language featuring static typing, higher order functions, polymorphism, type classes, and monadic effects. Haskell compilers are freely available for almost any computer.

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Writing a Poem is like Programming ...


In this essay, Poe present a theory about how poets compose their poems [may be writers in general?]. He uses his most famous poem, "The Raven" [ Raven — the bird of ill omen, ] to illustrate this theory.

Extent: If any literary work is too long to be read at one sitting, we must be content to dispense with the immensely important effect derivable from unity of impression — for, if two sittings be required, the affairs of the world interfere, and every thing like totality is at once destroyed.

Tone: Melancholy is thus the most legitimate of all the poetical tones.
Province: Truth, in fact, demands a precision, and Passion, a homeliness (the truly passionate will comprehend me) which are absolutely antagonistic to that Beauty which, I maintain, is the excitement, or pleasurable elevation, of the soul.

Artistic effects: I determined to produce continuously novel effects, by the variation of the application of the refrain — the refrain itself remaining, for the most part, unvaried.

Character of the word :

long o as the most sonorous vowel, in connection with r as the most producible consonant.

keeping with that melancholy which I had predetermined as the tone of the poem. In such a search it would have been absolutely impossible to overlook the word "Nevermore." In fact, it was the very first which presented itself.

Pretext for the continuous use of the one word "nevermore.": "Nevermore" should involve the utmost conceivable amount of sorrow and despair.

Structure: Less pedantically — the feet employed throughout (trochees) consist of a long syllable followed by a short: the first line of the stanza consists of eight of these feet — the second of seven and a half (in effect two-thirds) — the third of eight — the fourth of seven and a half — the fifth the same — the sixth three and a half. Now, each of these lines, taken individually, has been employed before, and what originality the "Raven" has, is in their combination into stanza; nothing even remotely approaching this combination has ever been attempted.
Location: that a close circumscription of space is absolutely necessary to the effect of insulated incident: — it has the force of a frame to a picture.

Introducing Raven: I had now to introduce the bird — and the thought of introducing him through the window, was inevitable.

Conclusion: Two things are invariably required — first, some amount of complexity, or more properly, adaptation; and, secondly, some amount of suggestiveness — some under current, however indefinite of meaning.
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Poe photo
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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Installing FreeBSD 6.2

FreeBSD is really really getting cooler with each release. Here is how it went, I downloaded CD1 of the FreeBSD (just for base and no ports) and then proceeded to install as follows. Chose 1 to BOOT, Select Country, Select Keyboard layout. Later the diskmanager comes, went to the partition on which I had installed 6.0RC1. I wanted to do a fresh install so I deleted it using 'D', then Create using 'C' and press 'Q' to save-and-quit diskmanager. The next screen is for slicing the newly created FreeBSD partition (with number 165), chose using up-down arrow keys and press 'A' for auto-slicing (works well for quick and dirty install like this), pressed 'Q' to save-and-quit slicemanager. Now comes the next screen for selecting packages, I chose the 'custom' and then selected 'ALL'. It also asks if one wants to install 'ports' tree with a cost of 440MB, since it is worthit, I say 'yes'.
Create the root password and a normal-user account as the installer asks.
Install the bootloader too at MBR. This will allow to boot any other OS you have.
My WinXP is coming as option F1 and FreeBSD as F2.
Now reboot. Chose F2 to boot FreeBSD and press enter... one more time to avoid 9 s lag!
Now I logged in as root and did the most important thing, getting the wireless card working!
I have this Motorola bcmwl5 card which does not have the FreeBSD driver. I repeated what I did for making it work in FreeBSD 6.0 [ follow and may be ].
To enable my sound card, I had to edit /boot/defaults/loader.conf and replace NO with YES at the snd_drv_ich using vi and card worked like magic. is a nice tutorial to enable SUDO [bob, bunny ALL=(ALL) ALL]
For autologin, I followed
To install Fluxbox -
For xmms-wma -
For mplayer, the security vulnerability thing has to be closed.
For playing the DVD, I found ogle and ogle-guimplayer very good [remember to disable quicktime using make config in /usr/ports/multimedia/win32-codecs].
PS: I tried to install the Mintlinux [ , Cassandra Light ] and Fedora7 [ ] live-cds, but seems like they are not meant for older pc anymore! I have 256MB RAM and PentiumIV, but it takes ages to boot these live cds!
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1905 - Annus mirabilis, Latin for 'extraordinary year'

Einstein in 1905, while working in the patent office, published following papers:

1. "A New Determination of Molecular Dimensions" (Doctoral dissertation)
[30 April 1905] - download from
• Buchdruckerei K. J. Wyss, Bern, 1906.
• Annalen der Physik, 19(1906), pp. 289-305.
Considered least interesting and most cited work amongst these papers!

2. "On the motion of small particles suspended in liquids at rest required by the molecular-kinetic theory of heat." (Brownian motion)
[May 1905; received 11 May 1905] - download from
• Annalen der Physik, 17(1905), pp. 549-560.

3. "On the electrodynamics of moving bodies" (Special relativity)
[June 1905; received 30 June 1905] - download from
• Annalen der Physik, 17(1905), pp. 891-921.

4. "Does the inertia of a body depend upon its energy content?" (E=m*[c]^2)
[September 1905; received 27 September 1905] - download from
• Annalen der Physik, 18(1905), pp. 639-41.

Written as a brief follow-up to the special relativity paper, this short note derives the inertial of energy: all energy E also has an inertia E/c2.

5. "On a heuristic viewpoint concerning the production and transformation of light." (light quantum/photoelectric effect paper)
[17 March 1905] - download from
• Annalen der Physik, 17(1905), pp. 132-148.

Later after completing the theory of General relativity in 1916, he wrote a book on the Theory-of-Relativity. This can be freely downloaded [ ] from Project Gutenberg [ ].

[Source: , , ]
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Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was born at Ulm, in W├╝rttemberg, Germany, on March 14, 1879. Six weeks later the family moved to Munich and he began his schooling there at the Luitpold Gymnasium. Later, they moved to Italy and Albert continued his education at Aarau, Switzerland and in 1896 he entered the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School in Zurich to be trained as a teacher in physics and mathematics. In 1901, the year he gained his diploma, he acquired Swiss citizenship and, as he was unable to find a teaching post, he accepted a position as technical assistant in the Swiss Patent Office. In 1905 he obtained his doctor's degree.
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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Science in India

I was reading the latest Nature and saw this news article [Nature 447, 764 (14 June 2007) doi:10.1038/447764a; Published online 13 June 2007, "Indian scientists battle journal retraction", ] which says:
The arguments centre on a 2005 paper in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC), which examined signalling pathways in the development of skin cancer (Rangaswami, H., Bulbule, A. & Kundu, G. C. J. Biol. Chem. 280, 19381–19392; 2005). It was authored by Gopal Kundu — 2004 winner of the India's highest honour in science, the Bhatnagar prize — and two colleagues at the National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS) in Pune. The journal retracted the paper in February 2007 after an investigation prompted by an anonymous email. The authors were told that the paper contained "data that was reproduced without citation and with different labelling" from a paper the same group had published in 2004 (Rangaswami, H., Bulbule, A. & Kundu, G. C. J. Biol. Chem. 279, 38921–38935; 2004). Journal editors claimed the errors amounted to "deliberate misrepresentation".
I don't know who is saying the truth? Very confused. As I flipped pages, I note the ENCODE [ ] consortium does not have any Indian or any Indian Institute as a member [ ].

Monday, June 04, 2007


The UNIXHATERS Handbook [download] is a fun to read book. It introduces us to the frustrations of the 80's hackers who were exposed to UNIX of that time [it is presented as virus-with-a-user-interface in the book]. They were not quarantined in time so it simply spread...

Most of the stuff in the book is not valid literally [Now we have GNU/Linux and I must note that many of the bugs mentioned here have been fixed, so you can not replicate them.   But the points of 'being-productive' is still context free :)] but some of the philosophy mentioned, still holds.

But listen to what Dennis Ritchie [Co-creator UNIX and C] has to say about the book:

Here is my metaphor: your book is a pudding stuffed with apposite observations, many well-conceived. Like excrement, it contains enough undigested nuggets of nutrition to sustain life for some. But it is not a tasty pie: it reeks too much of contempt and of envy.

Bon Appetite!

--------------------------"The Answer Lies in Genome"--------------------------

PS: Few quotes from the book

To Ken and Dennis,
without whom this book
would not have been possible.


The original Unix solved a problem and solved it well, as did the Roman numeral system, the mercury treatment for syphilis, and carbon paper. And like those technologies, Unix, too, rightfully belongs to history.

 "Two of the most famous products of Berkeley are LSD and Unix. I don't think that this is a coincidence."


Unix was evolutionarily superior to its competitors, but not technically superior. Unix became a commercial success because it was a virus.

A century ago, fast typists were jamming their keyboards, so engineers designed the QWERTY keyboard to slow them down.

550 chiarell… User unknown: Not a typewriter
-sendmail error message

Sturgeon's Law, which states that 90% percent of any field is crap.

wc *.c
[A UNIX program 'wc' used here over C source files from the book: The Unix Programming Environment]
Yep. That's what much of this programmer's work consists of. In fact, today I spent so much time counting my C files that I didn't really have time to do anything else. I think I'll go count them again.

Yet somehow Unix maintains its reputation as a programmer's dream. Maybe it lets programmers dream about being productive, rather than letting them actually be productive.

If you drop a frog into briskly boiling water it will immediately jump out. Boiling water is hot, you know. However, if you put a frog into cold water and slowly bring it to a boil, the frog won't notice and will be boiled to death.

The noted linguistic theorist Benjamin Whorf said that our language determines what concepts we can think. C has this effect on Unix; it prevents programmers from writing robust software by making such a thing unthinkable.

bugs usually don't get fixed (or even tracked down), and periodically rebooting Unix is the most reliable way to keep it from exhibiting Alzheimer's disease.

Unix discovers this after spending a few hours to dump 2 gigabytes. Unix happily reports the bad spot, asks you to replace the tape with a new one, destroy the evil tape, and start over. Yep, Unix considers an entire tape unusable if it can't write on one inch of it.

Using crypt is like giving a person two aspirin for a heart attack. Crypt's encryption algorithm is incredibly weak—so weak that several years ago, a graduate student at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory wrote a program that automatically decrypts data files encrypted with crypt.2

always going on about how under real operating systems (ITS and MULTICS among others), one never had to worry about losing mail, losing files, needing to run fsck on every reboot… the minor inconveniences Unix weenies suffer

The Unix file system slows down as the disk fills up. Push disk usage much past 90%, and you'll grind your computer to a halt. The Unix solution takes a page from any good politician and fakes the numbers. Unix's df command is rigged so that a disk that is 90% filled gets reported as "100%," 80% gets reported as being "91%" full, and so forth.
Weird, huh? It's sort of like someone who sets his watch five minutes ahead and then arrives five minutes late to all of his appointments, because he knows that his watch is running fast.

So why do people believe that the Unix file system is high performance? Because Berkeley named their file system "The Fast File System."

By design, NFS is connectionless and stateless. There's only one problem with a connectionless, stateless system: it doesn't work.

God has a binary representation is just another clear indication that Unix is extremely cabalistic and was probably written by disciples of Aleister Crowley.

Unix teaches us about the transitory nature of all things, thus ridding us of samsaric attachments and hastening enlightenment. - Michael Travers <>
[Now, I no longer have attachments to my processes. Both processes and the disappearance of processes are illusory. The world is Unix, Unix is the world, laboring ceaselessly for the salvation of all sentient beings.]

In a cryptic statement, Professor Wirth of the ETH Institute and father of the Pascal, Modula 2, and Oberon structured languages, merely stated that P. T. Barnum was correct.

Dennis and Brian worked on a truly warped version of Pascal, called "A." When we found others were actually trying to create real 308 Creators Admit C, Unix Were Hoax programs with A, we quickly added additional cryptic features and evolved into B, BCPL, and finally C. We stopped when we got a clean compile on the following syntax:

for(;P("\n"),R=;P("|"))for(e=C;e=P("_"+(*u++/ 8)%2))P("|"+(*u/4)%2);

Monday, May 21, 2007

God Delusion

Below are the notes I have compiled from the Book God Delusion by Richard Dawkins []. The book starts with the thought why most of us continue doing a thing, despite we hate doing it and despite we all are endowed with the power to stop. He mentions his wife saying "I didn't know I could" (to atheist?). He talks about the how environment plays a role on which religion we choose "Victim of Childhood Indoctrination - Mutatis Mutandis". But he also mentions that "Same experience led people to different paths". He seems to be frustrated on the point of a child being labeled by folks; he says "Children are too young to be religiously labeled". He then brings and interesting point on how many scientist's quote has been taken out of context to prove there belief in God. For e.g., one of Einstein's most eagerly quoted remarks is 'Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.'

But Einstein also said, "It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it." [Source: Max Jammer's book Einstein and Religion] He describes the naturalist's attempt to understand nature as "As ever when we unweave a rainbow, it will not become less wonderful". Then he defines the terms:

Theist - Deity is intimately involved in human affairs. Deist - Deist God never intervenes after setting up initial laws governing the universe, and certainly has no specific interest in human affairs (People like Voltaire and Diderot fall in this). Pantheists - "God as a no supernatural synonym for Nature, or for the Universe, or for the lawfulness that governs its workings (People like Spinoza fall in this)." On the biased attitude towards religion, he cites example of United States Supreme Court allowing the use of hoasca tea (which contains the illegal hallucinogenic drug dimethyltryptamine) by members of church in New Mexico while ruling against the use of Marijuana as a therapeutic agent. Talking about religious irony, the book cites statements like 'Behead those who say Islam is a violent religion'! In an interesting manner when he starts talking about Old Testament, he brings out the famous quote of Ralph W. Emerson: "The religion of one age is the literary entertainment of the next." On evolution, his bottom line is "any creative intelligence, of sufficient complexity to design anything, comes into existence only as the end product of an extended process of gradual evolution." Something again which I can relate to Hinduism, he says "What impresses me about Catholic mythology is partly its tasteless kitsch but mostly the airy nonchalance with which these people make up the details as they go along. It is just shamelessly invented." In Hinduism I have seen that from recovered Four Vedas [where Indra is mentioned more often then Visnu] don't mention 99.9% of the ~330 million Gods. Later based on personal likings people brought their God forward and wrote treatises like Shivpuraan [Lord Shiva is Supreme here] while in Vishnupuraan [Lord Vishnu takes the center stage].

He brings out famous words of Nehru: "The spectacle of what is called religion, or at any rate organized religion, in India and elsewhere, has filled me with horror and I have frequently condemned it and wished to make a clean sweep of it. Almost always it seemed to stand for blind belief and reaction, dogma and bigotry, superstition, exploitation and the preservation of vested interests." which are still so relevant in India. On the question of the healing power in a Prayer, he quotes work of Galton: "He noted that every Sunday, in churches throughout Britain, entire congregations prayed publicly for the health of the royal family. Shouldn't they, therefore, be unusually fit, and compared with the rest of us, who are prayed for only by our nearest and dearest?" Galton looked into it, and found no statistical difference. His point is what Arthur C. Clarke puts as his Third Law ['any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic'] "The crucial difference between gods and god-like extraterrestrials lies not in their properties but in their provenance. Entities that are complex enough to be intelligent are products of an evolutionary process. No matter how god-like they may seem when we encounter them, they didn't start that way." Then he discusses the Thomas Aquinas' 'Proofs':

  • The Unmoved Mover. Nothing moves without a prior mover. This leads us to a regress, from which the only escape is God. Something had to make the first move, and that something we call God.
  • The Uncaused Cause. Nothing is caused by itself. Every effect has a prior cause, and again we are pushed back into regress. This has to be terminated by a first cause, which we call God.
  • The Cosmological Argument. There must have been a time when no physical things existed. But, since physical things exist now, there must have been something non-physical to bring them into existence, and that something we call God.
  • The Argument from Degree. We notice that things in the world differ. There are degrees of, say, goodness or perfection. But we judge these degrees only by comparison with a maximum. Humans can be both good and bad, so the maximum goodness cannot rest in us. Therefore there must be some other maximum to set the standard for perfection, and we call that maximum God.
  • The Teleological Argument or Argument from Design. Things in the world, especially living things, look as though they have been designed. Nothing that we know looks designed unless it is designed. Therefore there must have been a designer, and we call him God.

For point 1 to 3, he sees two problems:

  • God himself is immune to the regress.
  • Omniscience and omnipotence are mutually incompatible.

For the 4th point, he creates the 'peerless stinker'. For the 5th point, he quotes Darwin: "Evolution by natural selection produces an excellent simulacrum of design, mounting prodigious heights of complexity and elegance."

I feel Stephen Wolfram's work [Book: New Kind of Science] on cellular automata also brings in interesting pattern emerging from simples rules. Fractals are another good example.

He brings also mentions the ontological argument, proposed by St Anselm of Canterbury in 1078 "a being than which nothing greater can be conceived. Even an atheist can conceive of such a superlative being, though he would deny its existence in the real world. But, goes the argument, a being that doesn't exist in the real world is, by that very fact, less than perfect. Therefore we have a contradiction and, hey presto, God exists!" To mock this he quotes Australian philosopher Gasking who tried to prove a non-existent God on similar lines of thought! He points to the fact in the days of Michelangelo, making religious sculpts was practical. Given a task to paint for Science Museum, he would have come up with a thing different than Sistine Chapel! He points to the Pascal's wager, cowardly bet-hedging, which talks about practicality of being a believer! He mocks at this feigning belief in God by pointing to Douglas Adams in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, "where we meet the robotic Electric Monk, a labour-saving device that you buy 'to do your believing for you'. The deluxe model is advertised as 'Capable of believing things they wouldn't believe in Salt Lake City'." He then talks about Brain as a Internal Simulations software which takes sensory inputs and creats the picture of reality which might be an illusion [eg, Necker Cube]. "To simulate a ghost or an angel or a Virgin Mary would be child's play to software of this sophistication." "Constructing models is something the human brain is very good at. When we are asleep it is called dreaming; when we are awake we call it imagination or, when it is exceptionally vivid, hallucination." He talks about Hoyle's Boeing 747 gambit "the probability of life originating on Earth is no greater than the chance that a hurricane, sweeping through a scrap yard, would have the luck to assemble a Boeing". To answer this he brings in Darwin with the "Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection". He cleverly brings in phrase 'irreducible complexity', and 'the smooth gradient up Mount Improbable'. Darwin himself said as much: 'If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. But I can find no such case.' He says one of the truly bad effects of religion is that it teaches us that it is a virtue to be satisfied with not understanding. "Creationists adore 'gaps' in the fossil record, just as they adore gaps generally. Michael Shermer has wittily pointed out that if a new fossil discovery neatly bisects a 'gap', the creationist will declare that there are now twice as many gaps!" He brings in to notice that "If the scientist fails to give an immediate and comprehensive answer, the creationist draws a default conclusion: 'Right then, the alternative theory, "intelligent design", wins by default.' Notice the biased logic: if theory A fails in some particular, theory B must be right. Needless to say, the argument is not applied the other way around. We are encouraged to leap to the default theory without even looking to see whether it fails in the very same particular as the theory it is alleged to replace. Intelligent design - ID - is granted a Get Out Of Jail Free card, a charmed immunity to the rigorous demands made of evolution." On the question of "What is the benefit of religion?" he mentions:

  • One arises from the theory of group selection [Different skill sets, one goal, get together]
  • The second follows from the theory that I advocated in The Extended Phenotype: the individual you are watching may be working under the manipulative influence of genes in another individual, perhaps a parasite. [Common Cold]
  • Third, the 'central theorem' may substitute for 'genes' the more general term 'replicators'. [Ideas want to propagate!]

In George Bernard Shaw's words, 'The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.' On faith healing "Homoeopaths may be achieving relative success because they, unlike orthodox practitioners, are still allowed to administer placebos - under another name. They also have more time to devote to talking and simply being kind to the patient." He asks "Is religion a placebo that prolongs life by reducing stress?" I guess, may be religion takes the load off from our shoulders to explain the universe! Or may be all religious people are suffering from a kind of obsessive-compulsive disorder? He suggests work by Michael Persinger and others 'that visionary religious experiences are related to temporal lobe epilepsy'. And 'Religion is a tool used by the ruling class to subjugate the underclass.' The he talks about an interesting phenomenon of Moth's self immolating behavior: "But the light compass relies critically on the celestial object being at optical infinity. If it isn't, the rays are not parallel but diverge like the spokes of a wheel. A nervous system applying a 30-degree (or any acute angle) rules of thumb to a nearby candle, as though it were the moon at optical infinity, will steer the moth, via a spiral trajectory, into the flame. Draw it out for yourself, using some particular acute angle such as 30 degrees, and you'll produce an elegant logarithmic spiral into the candle. Though is it fatal in this particular circumstance, the moth's rule of thumb!" The gullibility of child is put forth with "The child cannot know that 'Don't paddle in the crocodile-infested Limpopo' is good advice but 'You must sacrifice a goat at the time of the full moon, otherwise the rains will fail' is at best a waste of time and goats. Both admonitions sound equally trustworthy." He compares this with a computer which can not differentiate between a good and bad program. "The assignment of purpose to everything is called teleology. Children are native teleologists, and many never grow out of it." "It seems to me entirely plausible that the intentional stance has survival value as a brain mechanism that speeds up decision making in dangerous circumstances, and in crucial social situations." A connection between love-religion, "I made the comparison between falling in love and religion in 1993, when I noted that the symptoms of an individual infected by religion may be startlingly reminiscent of those more ordinarily associated with sexual love." The biologist Lewis Wolpert's point is that irrationally strong conviction is a guard against fickleness of mind: 'if beliefs that saved lives were not held strongly, it would have been disadvantageous in early human evolution. It would be a severe disadvantage, for example, when hunting or making tools, to keep changing one's mind.' He brings in the idea of MEME as a plausible explanation for existence of religion. "Most religions evolve. Whatever theory of religious evolution we adopt, it has to be capable of explaining the astonishing speed with which the process of religious evolution, given the right conditions, can take off." Why are we moral? He elaborates using the Darwinian model:

  • Being in group increases the chance of our survival.
  • Reciprocal Altruism of Robert Tivers['You scratch my back, I will scratch yours!'] - Symbiotic? "Reciprocal altruism works because of asymmetries in needs and in capacities to meet them." "Altruistic giving may be an advertisement of dominance or superiority. Anthropologists know it as the Potlatch Effect" [Norwegian economist Thorstein Veblen and Israeli zoologist Amotz Zahavi] Though we no longer live with close kins who can reciprocate, it has remained just like sexual lust. "It is a strong urge which exists independently of its ultimate rationale." "We can no more help ourselves feeling pity when we see a weeping unfortunate (who is unrelated and unable to reciprocate) than we can help ourselves feeling lust for a member of the opposite sex (who may be infertile or otherwise unable to reproduce). Both are misfirings, Darwinian mistakes: blessed, precious mistakes."

"The message of Harvard biologist Marc Hauser's book, to anticipate it in his own words, is this: 'Driving our moral judgments is a universal moral grammar, a faculty of the mind that evolved over millions of years to include a set of principles for building a range of possible moral systems. As with language, the principles that make up our moral grammar fly beneath the radar of our awareness.'"

"Immanuel Kant famously articulated the principle that a rational being should never be used as merely an unconsenting means to an end, even the end of benefiting others." "The main conclusion of Hauser and Singer's study was that there is no statistically significant difference between atheists and religious believers in making these [moral] judgements." Einstein said, 'If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.' [I guess a Twist to the word God-fearing!] "I suspect that quite a lot of religious people do think religion is what motivates them to be good, especially if they belong to one of those faiths that systematically exploits personal guilt." He also brings forth the wild stories from the Old Testament (reminds me of some stories from some well know Hindu Scriptures esp. the story of Noah looks like a direct lift off from story of Manu from Vishnu Puraan). "I am trying to establish for the moment is that we do not, as a matter of fact, derive our morals from scripture. Or, if we do, we pick and choose among the scriptures for the nice bits and reject the nasty." I guess this is coded into our genome itself! He talks about religious leaders [common people?] picking up certain lines from scriptures and leaving rest, "By what criterion do you decide which passages are symbolic, which literal?" Napoleon, who said, 'Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet,' and with Seneca the Younger: 'Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.' Voltaire got it right long ago: 'Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.'

Nobel Prize-winning American physicist Steven Weinberg said, 'Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you'd have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, it takes religion.' To point towards Hindu-Muslim fight he quotes Salman Rushdie: 'What happened in India has happened in God's name. The problem's name is God.' "Sam Harris, as so often, hits the bullseye, in The End of Faith 'The danger of religious faith is that it allows otherwise normal human beings to reap the fruits of madness and consider them holy.'" He says "When a science book is wrong, somebody eventually discovers the mistake and it is corrected in subsequent books. That conspicuously doesn't happen with holy books." "We believe in evolution because the evidence supports it, and we would abandon it overnight if new evidence arose to disprove it. No real fundamentalist would ever say anything like that."

On the Consolation, he says "according to the Shorter Oxford Dictionary, is the alleviation of sorrow or mental distress. He divides consolation into two types:

  • Direct physical consolation. A man stuck for the night on a bare mountain may find comfort in a large, warm St Bernard dog, not forgetting, of course, the brandy barrel around its neck. A weeping child may be consoled by the embrace of strong arms wrapped around her and reassuring words whispered in her ear.
  • Consolation by discovery of a previously unappreciated fact, or a previously undiscovered way of looking at existing facts "

"Is the imaginary-friend phenomenon a higher illusion, in a different category from ordinary childhood make-believe?"

"the power to comfort, and provide a vivid sounding board for trying out ideas." "If you take religion away, people truculently ask, what are you going to put in its place? What have you to offer the dying patients, the weeping bereaved, the lonely Eleanor Rigbys for whom God is their only friend?"

But here we are seeking truth here and not a reason for existence of religion :) "I think we all know people who enjoy the idea of religious faith, and resent attacks on it, while reluctantly admitting that they don't have it themselves." Very common in Hinduism for sure, otherwise I won't be seeing so much immorality around! He mentions "They believe in belief." Reminds me of a line from a very famous Indian film, 'Guide', where the hero is asked whether he beleives in God and he replied "In logo ko mujhpar viswaas hai, aur mujhe inke viswaas par viswaas hai [village people believe in me and I 'believe in their belief']!" .

More Quotes from the book and othewise

Adams (on the idea of relegion):

'Here is an idea or a notion that you're not allowed to say anything bad about; you're just not. Why not? – because you're not!'

Carl Sagan:

'if by "God" one means the set of physical laws that govern the universe, then clearly there is such a God. This God is emotionally unsatisfying . . . it does not make much sense to pray to the law of gravity.'

Phillip E. Johnson:

'Darwinism is the story of humanity's liberation from the delusion that its destiny is controlled by a power higher than itself.'

Robert M. Pirsig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle:

'When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called Religion.'

Albert Einstein

I don't try to imagine a personal God; it suffices to stand in awe at the structure of the world, insofar as it allows our inadequate senses to appreciate it.

Steven Weinberg

Some people have views of God that are so broad and flexible that it is inevitable that they will find God wherever they look for him. One hears it said that 'God is the ultimate' or 'God is our better nature' or 'God is the universe.' Of course, like any other word, the word 'God' can be given any meaning we like. If you want to say that 'God is energy,' then you can find God in a lump of coal.

Bertrand Russell

"The immense majority of intellectually eminent men disbelieve in Christian religion, but they conceal the fact in public, because they are afraid of losing their incomes."

Blaise Pascal

"You'd better believe in God, because if you are right you stand to gain eternal bliss and if you are wrong it won't make any difference anyway. On the other hand, if you don't believe in God and you turn out to be wrong you get eternal damnation, whereas if you are right it makes no difference."

Thomas Jefferson

"The priests of the different religious sects . . . dread the advance of science as witches do the approach of daylight, and scowl on the fatal harbinger announcing the subdivision of the duperies on which they live."

Marek Kohn

To an evolutionary psychologist, the universal extravagance of religious rituals, with their costs in time, resources, pain and privation, should suggest as vividly as a mandrill's bottom that religion may be adaptive.

Einstein & Faith Thursday, Apr. 05, 2007 By WALTER ISAACSON,9171,1607298-3,00.html]

"What separates me from most so-called atheists is a feeling of utter humility toward the unattainable secrets of the harmony of the cosmos," he explained. In fact, Einstein tended to be more critical of debunkers, who seemed to lack humility or a sense of awe, than of the faithful. "The fanatical atheists," he wrote in a letter, "are like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who--in their grudge against traditional religion as the 'opium of the masses'-- cannot hear the music of the spheres." "Schopenhauer's saying, 'A man can do as he wills, but not will as he wills,' has been a real inspiration to me since my youth; it has been a continual consolation in the face of life's hardships, my own and others', and an unfailing wellspring of tolerance." "I know that philosophically a murderer is not responsible for his crime," he said, "but I prefer not to take tea with him." Scientists aim to uncover the immutable laws that govern reality, and in doing so they must reject the notion that divine will, or for that matter human will, plays a role that would violate this cosmic causality.


There is in every village a torch - the teacher: and an extinguisher - the clergyman.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Aa Jaana Na Jaanaa

Song is on the way to completion but I want comments in mid-way thus posting.

A a a aaa jaaaana
Na na na naa jaanaa

Madhosh raatein hain
Khaamosh baatein hain
Jaane man khoya hoon kahaan....

Bridge to:
Kehta to hai meri main tera
Par na jaane tu gayi kahaan
Koi jaane naaa

Again I ask for comments from you guys for the version 2 of this song!


Mere Dil Ke Paas ...

A song I have been writing for sometime now, part of the lyrics comes from few lines I thought while trekking sandakhpu []. Here it goes:

Mere dil ke paas
Chupa ek raaz
Jize dhoonde tu
Hoon main wohi hooon

Wo anmit kaahaani
Baatein Nayi purrani
Jize dhoonde tu
Hoon main wohi hooon

Saanson main jo naheen
Aankhon main kho gayee
Main tera rahaa
Najaane tu kahaan gayi

Mere dil ke paas
Chupa ek raaz
Jize dhoonde tu
Hoon main wohi hooon

Wo anmit kaahaani
Baatein Nayi purrani
Jize dhoonde tu
Hoon main wohi hooon

Hoon hoon hooooooooo
Hoon hoon hooooooooo

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Food, a thought...

Guys I admit, I am feeling hungry! But I am stuck at a place where I do have internet but no food in sighting... so I got to cook myself and it better be something whose taste is alien to my buds otherwise it will be hard to swallow! So I decided I will check out which websites offering exotic recipes. I hit upon channels like,,,,,,,,,, and But the one which really attracted me is is like Youtube+Orkut+Google+FoodChannels rolled into one! It turns out to be the best one in the lot for several reasons. It is well designed; probably the only site which has kept young users in mind and it has got great videos! Look and feel is Web 2.0 with expanded shot on mouse-over, a class apart. Anyone can register and upload their recipe (youtube for food?). I liked browsing via the Featured-Blogs section and since the videos are rated by the user, I could easily guess which one to check out (keyword are really helpful)! The whole visual appeal is tempting, believe me, you guys will drool while browsing this channel. I am settling for Baked-Potato-with-Onions ( as it sounds easy (?) and I am not aware of how it will taste!
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