This is a part of what makes Sachin Tendulkar special

It was the last ball on day 3 of the test match between India and Sri Lanka. Tendulkar was batting on 104 and Suresh Raina – on his test debut – was at the non-striker’s end. Raina had already taken his gloves and helmet off to prepare for the end of the day. Tendulkar, however was still going on with his job. He hit the last ball for a boundary. I can’t think of any single word to cover the difference in attitude but the contrast was striking. This is a part of what it takes to achieve greatness.

3 Idiots – When the best is not good

I recently watched the Hindi movie “3 Idiots” on television. Apart from the few serious moments (which I didn’t identify with), most of it is supposed to be comedy. Apparantly it is one of the best commercial movies in recent times. There was a time when comedies were actually funny – some of Amol Palekar’s movies come to mind. These days comedies mostly consist of vulgar references to private body parts and double meaning dialogue about sex. It would be interesting to understand how this transformation came about.

The essence of life

Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it’s yours.
—Ayn Rand, “Atlas Shrugged” (End of Galt’s speech)

It is a sense of enormous expectation, the sense that one’s life is important, that great achievements are within one’s capacity, and that great things lie ahead.
—Ayn Rand, Introduction to the 25th anniversary edition of “The Fountainhead”

This view is the essence of life. It is what makes life worth living. It is a precondition of all values. As Rand writes “It is only the concept of life that makes the concept of value possible”.  This view of life is part of the ‘concept of life’ here. Retaining this view throughout life requires that one always examine and understand one’s desires as precisely as possible and act to achieve them. Having a desire and not acting to achieve it is the most damaging thing one can do.

Buying groceries is not shopping

So says my sister. And after some prodding: Buying necessities is not shopping.

I write like…

A couple of blogs that I have subscribed to carried posts containing the results of some automated analysis to identify writing style. I am always interested in this sort of thing – anlysis that purports to discover things that one may not know consciously. So I checked it out. I put seven of my posts which had atleast 3 paragraphs of original content and got the following results

David Foster Wallace (3)
Edgar Allan Poe (2)
Kurt Vonnegut (1)
Arthur C Clarke (1)

I have not read either Wallace or Clarke and only about a short story each by Poe and Vonnegut, so I don’t know whether the results mean anything. The site doesn’t provide any information about how it carries out its analysis either. It would be interesting to see if the analysis gives internally consistent results atleast.

A couple of interesting questions to ponder: Is writing style independent of the content? What does it consist of?

Happiness

I was discussing the relative merits of movies vs novels as a medium for telling a story and happened to reread a passage in The Fountainhead that struck me deeply.

Just think, Howard, think of it! You’ll be rich, you’ll be famous, you’ll be respected, you’ll be praised, you’ll be admired–you’ll be one of us!…Well?…Say something! Why don’t you say something?”

“Look, Peter. I believe you. I know that you have nothing to gain by saying this. I know more than that. I know that you don’t want me to succeed–it’s all right, I’m not reproaching you, I’ve always known it–you don’t want me ever to reach these things you’re offering me. And yet you’re pushing me on to reach them, quite sincerely. And you know that if I take your advice, I’ll reach them. And it’s not love for me, because that wouldn’t make you so angry–and so frightened….Peter, what is it that disturbs you about me as I am?”
                                             — The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand

Some people criticize Rand’s dialogues for being unrealistic. And that is true. Real life dialogues are really as perceptive as this. But the question is: Why should dialogues in a novel be realistic? Here Rand contrasts riches, fame, respect, praise, admiration, acceptance – Peter Keating’s values – with pride and self-belief – Howard Roark’s values. Second-hand values against first-hand values. And Peter and Howard both realize that despite Peter’s having achieved all his values, he is still disturbed by the fact that Roark does not pursue Peter’s values. The dialogue is a tool to move one aspect of the story – Roark’s discovery of the difference between his values and that of most others – forward. And it does that job brilliantly. Why would one want real-life dialogue instead of dialogue like this? I read novels for entertainment; for those things that I cannot get in real life, atleast not in a short timespan. Significant events in real life are mixed up with so many mundane events that one needs a condensed depiction of the significant things to remind oneself of what is important and what is not. Every event, dialogue or description in a novel should be significant. It should serve a purpose; it should move the story forward. Real life dialogue in a novel is a waste of time.

Anyway, I got distracted. The point of this post was that by rereading this passage I have a better definition of happiness. My mental definition of happiness was – “the state of mind that results from the achievement of one’s values”. The passage above emphasizes that happiness results from the achievement of one’s values only if those values are objective – consciously chosen by one’s one mind by an objective standard. Achieving a value when one does not know why one values it does not bring lasting happiness.

Sure, we do that

Here is an old hilarious post on “The Old New Thing” that I happened to read. From the post

Turns out that their driver’s implementation of DoesDriverSupport was something like this:

BOOL DoesDriverSupport(REFGUID guidCapability)
{
  return TRUE;
}

In other words, whenever DirectX asked, “Can you do this?” they answered, “Sure, we do that,” without even checking what the question was.

(The driver must have been written by the sales department.)

Apart from the humor, it is interesting to know the sort of issues a platform company like Microsoft has to deal with.

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