Posts tagged “quotes” – page 2 10

Brown Problems

From an old (2010) interview with Anand Wilder of Yeasayer

PP: What do you think of South Asian artists who have also broken into indie/mainstream music success, like Natasha Khan (Bat for Lashes), M.I.A., and yourself? Is there a different responsibility or consciousness involved with being South Asian and a musician in an industry environment where there are so few?

AW: [. . .] The problems facing Indians in America are what? Parents pressuring their kids to become professionals, parents valuing academics over social lives, parents pressuring their kids to marry. When you think about it in the grand scheme of things, these problems are really not that bad! I’m pretty sure Indians are America’s wealthiest ethnic group1 – I think if I was fully Indian, statistically I’d be a richer man! At least more educated. So the only thing holding us back from being in the spotlight is ourselves. Sure there’s probably some institutional racism out there, but I’ve been around the world, and there’s no place as open as America. Europe is an ass-backward, old school place. Everyone who wanted to do something new and interesting with their lives left Europe for America at one time or another. Don’t let all that supposed progressiveness fool you, they’re xenophobic as hell. And I love to visit India, but come on – it is a dusty, corrupt, and chaotic country, with an even more despicable gap between the rich and poor than America’s. Did I mention the dust?!

I embrace being different from your average white musician. That’s part of what I love about my band; we all have different personalities or backgrounds and we try to throw them all into the mix to create something new and interesting sounding. If I can be onstage and inspire some brown kid out there to pursue something artistic, something other than being a doctor or engineer, then I’m doing a good job. And if they want be a doctor or an engineer, good for them! Less competition for me.

  1. Made. It. Rain

Happy Popper

I slipped in a final question: Why in his autobiography did Popper say that he is the happiest philosopher he knows? “Most philosophers are really deeply depressed,” he replied, “because they can’t produce anything worthwhile.” Looking pleased with himself, Popper glanced over at Mrs. Mew, who wore an expression of horror. Popper’s smile faded. “It would be better not to write that,” he said to me. “I have enough enemies, and I better not answer them in this way.” He stewed a moment and added, “But it is so.”

– John Horgan, The Paradox of Karl Popper

Stupidity vs Expertise

There are some things that can beat smartness and foresight? Awkwardness and stupidity can. The best swordsman in the world doesn’t need to fear the second best swordsman in the world; no, the person for him to be afraid of is some ignorant antagonist who has never had a sword in his hand before; he doesn’t do the thing he ought to do, and so the expert isn’t prepared for him; he does the thing he ought not to do; and often it catches the expert out and ends him on the spot.

– Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court


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via @thebarrytone

Linux and Switching

The problem isn’t CPU power. The CPU on any modern PC is going to blow away the processing power of any sort of network switch you’d care to buy except the really high-end ones. (Really high end. So high end that unless you already know them by name you are not going to want to buy them)

Offloading to the GPU would make things worse, not better.

The problem is latency. It takes time for the PC to take the buffer from the NIC, copy it to the to the main memory, process it on the CPU, copy it back down into a buffer, and then push it out to the network. All this copying around takes time. You could have a 30000 GHZ processor and it’s not going to help you out any.

No amount of programming or GPU offloading is going to make your I/O faster or have less latency. This needs to be done in the hardware. PCs are not designed to handle this. They are designed to have huge cache’s were you take a huge amount of data and process it through loops. This is exactly the sort of thing you do NOT want on a switch.

With a switch you want small buffers. You want small buffers optimized to the speed of the networks they are connected to and have the ability to shuffle information from one port to another. You want to get the information in and out as quickly as possible.

That being said I have no doubt that a Linux switch based on commodity hardware would have no problem keeping up with a 1Gb/s or even 10Gb/s network and having performance similar to any typical corporate switch.

The problem then is one of cost, energy, and space. A network switch takes up almost no room on a rack. It uses little electricity and creates little heat compared to a PC-style corporate Linux server. It has lots and lots of ports.

To create a Linux commodity-based switch with 20 or 40 ports the thing is going to be huge, expensive, and hot.

So yes while it can be done it’s not practical.

On using a Linux box as a switch.

Child Endangerment

A mother in suburban Chicago breathes a huge sigh of relief this week, as she was reunited with her 8-year-old son Kevin, who was accidentally left at home alone as the family went on vacation to Paris. Apparently no one had noticed the boy was missing on their drive to the airport and through airport security and while boarding the plane.

Only once when they were in flight did the mother sense that a cherished family member may not have been present. She then shrieked, Kevin. She would rush home where she, along with police, found the boy unharmed physically, though he may deal with abandonment issues for years to come.

In addition to the boy, the police also found two career criminals who appeared to have suffered great bodily damage while attempting to rob the house. One man had been shot in the groin with a BB gun and had his hands severely burned by a hot doorknob. The other man had a nail and pieces of glass Christmas ornaments lodged in his foot. Both men also miraculously survived being hit in the head with a paint can that was apparently swung from a rope at high speeds, something which would normally crush a human skull.

Child Protective Services say they will not remove the child from the family since they believe it to be only a one-time occurrence, and certainly not something that could happen again the next year.

– Hari Kondabolu on Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!

Telling People Things

What’s going on is that without some kind of direct experience to use as a touchstone, people don’t have the context that gives them a place in their minds to put the things you are telling them. The things you say often don’t stick, and the few things that do stick are often distorted. Also, most people aren’t very good at visualizing hypotheticals, at imagining what something they haven’t experienced might be like, or even what something they have experienced might be like if it were somewhat different.


When people ask me about my life’s ambitions, I often joke that my goal is to become independently wealthy so that I can afford to get some work done. Mainly that’s about being able to do things without having to explain them first, so that the finished product can be the explanation. I think this will be a major labor saving improvement.

Chip Morningstar, “You can’t tell people anything


When one watches some tired hack on the platform mechanically repeating the familiar phrases – bestial atrocities, iron heel, bloodstained tyranny, free peoples of the world, stand shoulder to shoulder – one often has a curious feeling that one is not watching a live human being but some kind of dummy: a feeling which suddenly becomes stronger at moments when the light catches the speaker’s spectacles and turns them into blank discs which seem to have no eyes behind them. And this is not altogether fanciful. A speaker who uses that kind of phraseology has gone some distance toward turning himself into a machine. The appropriate noises are coming out of his larynx, but his brain is not involved as it would be if he were choosing his words for himself. If the speech he is making is one that he is accustomed to make over and over again, he may be almost unconscious of what he is saying, as one is when one utters the responses in church. And this reduced state of consciousness, if not indispensable, is at any rate favorable to political conformity.

– George Orwell, “Politics and The English Language

Oliver Burkeman on Hasty, Short-Term Thinking

It is alarming to consider how many major life decisions we take primarily in order to minimise present-moment emotional discomfort. Try the following potentially mortifying exercise in self-examination. Consider any significant decision you’ve ever taken that you subsequently came to regret: a relationship you entered despite being dimly aware that it wasn’t for you, or a job you accepted even though, looking back, it’s clear that it was mismatched to your interests or abilities. If it felt like a difficult decision at the time, then it’s likely that, prior to taking it, you felt the gut-knotting ache of uncertainty; afterwards, having made a decision, did those feelings subside? If so, this points to the troubling possibility that your primary motivation in taking the decision wasn’t any rational consideration of its rightness for you, but simply the urgent need to get rid of your feelings of uncertainty.

– Oliver Burkeman, “The Antidote

Freeman Dyson on Richard Feynman

When we arrived we were introduced to Henry Bethe, who is now five years old, but he was not at all impressed. The only thing he would say was “I want Dick. You told me Dick was coming,” and finally he had to be sent off to bed, since Dick (alias Feynman) did not materialise. About half an hour later, Feynman burst into the room, just had time to say “so sorry I’m late. Had a brilliant idea just as I was coming over,” and then dashed upstairs to console Henry. Conversation then ceased while the company listened to the joyful sounds above, sometimes taking the form of a duet and sometimes of a one-man percussion band.


In the evening I mentioned that there were just two problems for which the finiteness of the theory remained to be established; both problems are well-known and feared by physicists, since many long and difficult papers running to fifty pages and more have been written about them, trying unsuccessfully to make the older theories give sensible answers to them. When I mentioned this fact, Feynman said, “We’ll see about this,” and proceeded to sit down and in two hours, before our eyes, obtain finite and sensible answers to both problems. It was the most amazing piece of lightning calculation I have ever witnessed, and the results prove, apart from some unforeseen complication, the consistency of the whole theory.

– Freeman Dyson, “Maker of Patterns” (via Nautilus)