Interesting Excerpts from PDC Languages Panel

…the problem is that you know… the pace of innovation is limited by what people can digest, and you cant force things on them too fast, and so you see… some things happen in generations at some level, and it just cannot be otherwise, because you know… you basically need a certain generation of programmers to retire or die off or whatever before you can introduce radically new ideas, because the stage in people’s lives when they really do something completely different passes at some fairly early stage… atleast from my perspective it is a fairly early stage.

…so, keeping it simple, is easier when you don’t have to deal with a committee, because the common assumption is that you know… two heads are better than one, but what you actually get when you have multiple heads is not their union but the intersection, and so its what they can all agree on and kind of negotiate around and it doesn’t work well unless there is somebody in charge …
So you don’t want that, you want to strictly adhere to a very uniform… whether it is functional… all the really beautiful languages basically take something to their logical conclusion… whether it is logic or functions or objects and they dont … mongrelize – hybridize doesn’t have quite the edge that I was looking for – but it is very hard and necessarily to do that in the real world under real time constraints… because in a lot of ways mongrels are very resilient and getting the pure solutions not to be very brittle and to address all the burning immediate needs of people takes time and the time usually does not exist

The interesting thing is that the actor model is a perfect fit with the object capability model, and again, if you take that seriously you find that you can introduce a particular model of concurrency that has much to recommend it with relatively little conceptual overhead, again because you are still… you are reusing these concepts of isolated things that communicate via message passing, bcause… well, the common thread to all these things, to the modularity, to the security, to the concurrency is… there is no global anything, there is no top level thing that is all knowing, that can synchronize everything, and knows about everything, and has a global namespace and so forth, because this is what actually scales… whether you are doing modularity or concurrency or worried about anything else, because you know there isn’t actually something up there in the universe.. the laws of physics work very well because they are distributed, because there is no shared convenient thing that you can appeal to that will sort it all out and if you program that way it tends to unify a lot of things

— By Gilad Bracha

The full session is available here.

Brilliant analogy

This is perhaps the best introduction to a subject I have seen.

A real-world example of asynchrony

“A waiter’s job is to wait on a table until the patrons have finished their meal.
If you want to serve two tables concurrently, you must hire two waiters.”

From The Visual Basic Team Blog.

Mind-body dichotomy

Just happened to hear this old song that talks of “pure love” and it struck me as a perfect expression of the mind body dichotomy.

Hum ne dekhi hai un aankhon ki mehakti khushboo
Haath se chhoo ke ise rishton ka ilzaam na do
Sirf ehsaas hai yeh, rooh se mehsoos karo
Pyar ko pyar hi rehne do, koi naam na do

Film: Khamoshi (1969)
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
Lyricist: Gulzar
Music Director: Hemant Kumar


I have seen the fragrance of those eyes
Dont accuse my looks of any ties by a touch
This is just a feeling, experience it with your soul
Let love remain love, don’t give it a name.

Old Hindi movie songs were brilliant in terms of lyrics, melody and music. Over the last two decades, with a very few exceptions, they have lost all of that. Over the same time, misplaced idealism has been replaced by dogmatic pragmatism (yes, there is such a thing). Cause and effect?

Revealing language?

The average American uses 159 gallons of water every day – more than 15 times the average person in the developing world. From showering and washing our hands to watering our lawns and washing our cars, Americans use a lot of water. To put things into perspective, the average five-minute shower will use about 10 gallons of water. Now imagine using that same amount to bathe, wash your clothes, cook your meals and quench your thirst.
(Emphasis in original)

This is from a mail I received last week from promoting the Blog Action Day. The chosen topic this year is “Water”. This was one of five facts chosen by the to “highlight the severity of the global water problem”.

If I wanted to present that fact as highlighting a problem, I would put it as:

The average person in the developing world has access to only about 10 gallons of water a day – less than a fifteenth of what the average American uses.

What is the problem here? That the developing world does not have adequate access to water or that America does? Does the choice of language reveal something about the world-view of the organizers?

On Peikoff’s condemnation of McCaskey

The good, therefore, is a species of the true; it is a form of recognizing reality. The evil is a species of the false; it is a form of contradicting reality.

The general principle here is: truth implies as its cause a virtuous mental process; falsehood, beyond a certain point, implies a process of vice.

— Leonard Peikoff in his essay Fact and Value

From the available evidence on the issue, it seems to me that Dr. Peikoff’s moral condemnation of Dr. McCaskey (which surprised many) is based on the above. McCaskey, given his credentials, is clearly in possession of the relevant historical facts. If he is wrong – and Peikoff believes he is – it is not surprising that Peikoff regards the falsehood of McCaskey’s ideas as implying a process of vice.

I am way out of my depth in the issue at stake here – a theory of induction and the history of science – and cannot decide who is right and who is wrong.

That aside, the crucial question that this issue raises is: How should the ARI handle disagreement between its members on philosophical issues that do not come under the scope of Objectivism? It would seem that such disagreements should be tolerated given that the mission of the ARI is to promote Objectivism. But, given the nature of objectivism – the fact that objectivism demands (and rightly so) moral judgement of ideas – it is not realistic to expect people to work with those whom they morally condemn. Over time, as Objectivist intellectuals work on issues that Rand did not address, such disagreements are bound to increase. In the long term, this means that there can be no single organization that lays claim to Rand’s ideas. This is not something to regret.

Waiting for Godot

I found a reference to this play in some blog post I was reading, and realizing that I did not know what this famous play was about, decided to read it. The text can be found here. I gave up halfway through the first act. I wonder what perversion of concepts allows anyone to call this art.

According to Wikipedia, there are various interpretations of this “play”. Apparantly, there is a whole body of “intellectuals” in the humanities, who derive their intellectual status from assigning interpretations to what I can only describe as meaningless gibberish.

A change in outlook?

In his latest post, refering to the rebranding of terrorism as man-caused disasters Aristotle The Geek writes

On 9/11/01, some man-caused-disaster-causing-men caused a man-caused disaster

It took me a couple of seconds to parse that, but then I burst out laughing. An year back, I don’t think I would have found it so funny. I would have been more indignant that people in charge of security are busy inventing euphemisms to avoid offending the terrorists.

I am not quite sure what this change means or even whether it is positive or negative. Something to ponder over.

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