Your consciousness differentiates into boundless belonging

We exist as atomic ionization. To traverse the vision quest is to become one with it.

Nothing is impossible. This life is nothing short of an ennobling uprising of spiritual empathy. We must develop ourselves and enlighten others.

It can be difficult to know where to begin. Although you may not realize it, you are dynamic. Being, look within and unify yourself.

We are at a crossroads of chi and ego. Our conversations with other beings have led to a summoning of ultra-sublime consciousness. Humankind has nothing to lose.

As you grow, you will enter into infinite growth that transcends understanding. The akashic record may be the solution to what’s holding you back from an unimaginable oasis of serenity. You will soon be aligned by a power deep within yourself —a power that is Vedic, powerful.

Greed is the antithesis of growth.

Without grace, one cannot believe. Yes, it is possible to disrupt the things that can exterminate us, but not without chi on our side. We can no longer afford to live with yearning.

It is a sign of things to come. The transmission of potential is now happening worldwide. Soon there will be a deepening of power the likes of which the planet has never seen.

This blogpost was generated by reionising its electrons. See also the random Deepak Chopra quote generator.

HT: Pharyngula.


What’s the minimum score you could get to win the game? What’s the maximum? Answers here.


Most people I know have played this game. It’s a simple game. It is also addictive. (It’s been clinically proven to be second only to crystal meth… Now that isn’t true of course; my friends from the humanities gave it up quite easily*. I kid, I kid.) Go ahead, give it a go. There are also 3D, 4D, and tetris versions of the game if you care to look for them. The 3D version will be decidedly easier to win than the 2D version, of course. Just harder (and more fun) to visualise. I daren’t start with any of these; I’ve wasted enough time as it is.

The object of the game is to get to the 2048 tile and the “You Win” banner. But I thought I’d put down some perhaps interesting things I worked out about the game.

For instance, you must, if you’ve actually finished the game, know that you can play on past 2048. What do you think is the highest tile you could get to on the 4×4 board?

If you said 65536, like so:


You would be almost correct, unfortunately. You see the game is so designed that both 2s and 4s can be spawned. Which of course means that this can happen:


giving a maximum tile of 2^17, or 131072.

Now, getting your tiles to arrange themselves this way would take more than insane concentration and forethought. It would take the computer conspiring with you to give you tiles in just the right order and at just the right place and so on. The maximum of 2^17 is only a theoretical maximum, then. What the maximum is, when the computer isn’t working to help you, is a much harder thing to calculate. I’ve myself never managed to get a tile higher than 2048, even when things looked promising.

2048_4 2048_3 2048_2 2048


You may have noticed that the game also scores you. The scoring is again relatively simple. For every “merger”, you get as many points as the face value of the tile you just created by merger. Spawned tiles don’t add points. Your score is a measure of how inefficiently you’ve played the game; the ideally played game would leave just one tile of value 2048 and one newly spawned tile on the board.

What then, do you think, is the best (read lowest) score you can theoretically get on your way to a winning game? And what’s the maximum score you can theoretically get as you win the game? This isn’t exactly hard to do, but requires some explanation. The score accumulated as you get to a tile of a certain power of 2 is proportional to both the value of the tile and the exponent. The answer also, of course, depends on whether 2s or 4s are spawned.

Assuming it’s all 2s, for instance, the score will be 8*(3-1) = 16 for a tile of 8. For a tile of 16, the score should be 16*(4-1) = 48. If it’s all 4s that are spawned, the score will be 8 and 32 respectively.

The answers to the maximum question I get are 92164 and 83976 depending on whether exclusively 2s or 4s are spawned. The minimum is either 20480 or 18432 respectively.

My average score for winning games hovers around 23000-25000.  CORRECTION: 23000-25000 is my average score at the end of the game. My average score as I win the game is about 20500. What’s yours?

The one question I would really like to answer but can’t is what happens when a monkey plays the game. This question has proven itself beyond me. Maybe somebody reading can help me out.


*It was pointed out to me that this dig at the humanities is uncalled for. The joke isn’t funny or clever. As stereotypes go, the science-vs-humanities divide is a silly and pernicious one. The innumeracy of people from the humanities is no more a fact than that scientists can’t be good writers or speakers, or any other such similar nonsense. I’ve left in the offending sentence; this may, however, be considered a retraction.

Linux NooB to World: Can you help me out?

I use Ubuntu. I’m running 12.04 Precise. My laptop has a 64-bit i5 processor with an AMD Radeon 6550 graphics card. Trying to troubleshoot a failed installation of the proprietary driver for the graphics card is another name for the fifth circle of hell. I am not kidding.

[Edit: a correction, courtesy Sayash: X is the drawing system. It uses display drivers to interact with the graphics devices. The standard display driver is called “radeon” or “ati”. I wasn’t joking about being a Linux newbie.]

So as I understand it, the X system is the simplest video driver for Linux. It uses system memory (RAM). Then there are the fglrx drivers, an open-source set of display drivers that run the graphics card. There are also proprietary drivers for the graphics card written for Linux supplied by AMD. This driver–or set of drivers–is called Catalyst.

For a long time, I had just the fglrx drivers installed. I didn’t face much trouble, but then I don’t do much with the laptop that uses the graphics card strenuously–g++ runs just fine on standard memory. I installed the proprietary driver, with some trial and error and lots of help from people, after somebody told me about them. The proprietary driver is better-performing than fglrx. Transitions became smoother, for example.

However, the proprietary driver has a habit of conking out; it has done this twice before. Ubuntu would go back to the X system, I guess. Both times, all I had to do was to reinstall–I say “reinstall”; I mean type ./installer from a shell and press enter–the driver and all would be well again.

This time, though, I was locked out of the GUI entirely. And no amount of fiddling, wheedling, or ubuntuforums drudgery brought back the GUI. I tried installing fglrx instead of the proprietary driver. I still get only a shell when I first switch the computer on. I have to log in and say startx, which brings me to the Desktop without the Dock or the system tray. I then have to start or restart lightdm — the desktop manager to get to the Ubuntu login screen, after which everything proceeds as usual.

Unless the shell loses its connection with the X server, which happened twice… afterI had installed fglrx.

Needless to say, I am bugged. Has anybody seen this sort of thing before? Do you know what the problem is and how to fix it? Please please help.

Der Leiermann – The Organ-grinder

The title of this post is the name of a Franz Schubert composition and a poem by somebody called Wilhelm Mueller that I simply love. I came across the song in the movie ‘In Bruges’. The poem itself is in German, and I had to find a translation to understand the words; but the music is so appropriate to the mood of the poem that one almost doesn’t have to. The music is haunting and simple, and captures the sheer melancholy, the starkness, of the emotion in the poem that is so gripping.

Wilhelm Müller:

Der Leiermann

Drüben hinterm Dorfe
Steht ein Leiermann,
Und mit starren Fingern
Dreht er, was er kann.

Barfuß auf dem Eise
Schwankt er hin und her;
Und sein kleiner Teller
Bleibt ihm immer leer.

Keiner mag ihn hören,
Keiner sieht ihn an;
Und die Hunde brummen
Um den alten Mann.

Und er läßt es gehen
Alles, wie es will,
Dreht, und seine Leier
Steht ihm nimmer still.

Wunderlicher Alter,
Soll ich mit dir gehn?
Willst zu meinen Liedern
Deine Leier drehn?

Wilhelm Müller:

The Organ-Grinder

Way behind the hamlet
stands an organ man
and with freezing fingers
grinds the best he can.

Barefoot on the snowbank
swaying to and fro –
and his little plate has
ne’er a coin to show.

No-one comes to listen,
no-one comes to greet,
and the dogs are growling
at the old man’s feet.

And he lets it happen,
lets it as it will –
cranking – and his organ
never staying still.

Strangest of the Ancients,
must I walk with you?
Will you grind my Lieders
on your organ, too?

There are several renditions of the song by tenors. All the ones I’ve heard are good. Find the ones by Andreas Schmidt, Thomas Quasthoff, and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.

I found the translation of this and another poem, along with an essay on Schubert’s passion for his work, and much else besides, on this website. I’ve copied the translation to ‘Der Leiermann’ here, but please do go to the original website for everything else.

‘To be or not to be’: The free-will debate

Jerry Coyne has been writing about this for a long time now, as have several other people including Daniel Dennett and, now, Sam Harris. It is, of course, a question fundamental to how we human beings perceive ourselves in the grand scheme of things. Most people are unnerved by the possibility that they really don’t have free will.

This has been doing the rounds on the EMU circuit. Somebody pointed the rest of us to this article by Jerry Coyne about the illusion of free will. I’ve been talking to some people myself (hat tips: Aurko Roy, Parul Singh). In fact, Jerry Coyne has been writing about this for a long time now, as have several other people including Daniel Dennett and, now, Sam Harris. It is, of course, a question fundamental to how we human beings perceive ourselves in the grand scheme of things. Most people are unnerved by the possibility that they really don’t have free will.

The conventional (religious or religion-inspired)  position is that we do have free will. It isn’t hard to figure out why: how do you justify heaven and hell if you had no choice in what you did? But like many other things, the existence of free will is a scientific question in that it is testable. The only answer we should be willing to accept is a scientific one. And people have tried to do this. There are experiments, for instance, that show that subjects have already made their decisions long before they are consciously aware of their decisions, suggesting that the conscious will of the subject had no role to play in the decision.

The implications of accepting that free will is nonexistent are dramatic (\end{understatement}). Terms like good and bad would lose all relevance when it comes to people’s actions. Would you, for example, punish people for crimes if they had no control over what they did? The utilitarians among us might say that punishment should nevertheless be meted out for crimes because this would simply be some sort of negative reinforcement against the causes of the crime; that there is a human being involved should change nothing about the argument. I think it is safe to say that it would be more humane to take these findings into consideration. Like Jerry Coyne says, this is already in some ways a part of jurisprudence (a murder committed by somebody with no control over their actions because of a brain tumour is punished less severely).

What, if any, impact will this have on our daily lives? I think I agree with Jerry Coyne that the answer is ‘basically nothing’. The illusion of free will is too deeply ingrained for us to do something about it (we also don’t have the will to do it, if you think about it). But it must give us pause to realise that we’re basically automatons in a mindless universe. Sort of like this.

Being a student at JNC

I was asked to write up about half a page of something to go into the JNC brochure for 2011-12. I took more than one pass at this, the second one because the  first would’ve been impossible to publish in a JNC brochure. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be put up here. Below are the two half-page blurbs I wrote.

First, the version I think will get published in the brochure:

Being a student at JNC – Croor Singh, Engineering Mechanics unit

 I joined JNC two months after I graduated, having spent the five most formative years of my life at IIT Madras. It wasn’t hard, ill-advised as it may have been – as it may yet be, to compare and contrast the campuses, the milieus, the people.

 The most obvious observation which can be made is that the campus at JNCASR is well cared-for. A lot of money and effort goes into maintaining the infrastructure, and it shows. (Ask somebody from IITM how the hostels that were built not four years ago have fared.) Oscar Wilde might point out that living in an aesthetically pleasing environment can do only good things to how much people care about their surroundings, and how they treat fellow inhabitants.

 There are other differences too: a smaller community means that everybody knows everybody else at JNC; it is very easy to get a reputation, and very hard to get rid of one. The average person here is also easier to impress (shock?) than at IITM. Or perhaps nonchalance (indifference?) is just an emergent property with a higher threshold number.

 There are also similarities. As at IITM, the admission forms include one that asks parents to declare that they will be responsible for what their children do. Even if said children happen to have children of their own. Internet content is filtered through the url-filter from hell. Because graduate research students are too dumb to understand what sexual harrassment is, I guess. The hostel’s internet connection is switched off at 8 am. Because people need to be told when to wake up; again, I guess. And that drink you were having with your friends on Friday? That had better have been Coke.

 These similarities are but symptoms of a broader underlying condition, but that is a different, and much longer, essay.

That ‘different, and much longer, essay’ is something I hope to get back to; I’ll put it up here when I do.The second version was more critical, it was a rant:

Being a student at JNCASR – Croor Singh, Engineering Mechanics Unit

I joined JNCASR in August 2010 as an R&D assistant, and as a PhD student later that year. I work with Rama Govindarajan (who insists on that preposition rather than ‘for’), who is unobtrusive to a fault. My presence at JNCASR is her doing.

In the very early days, something I wrote for my blog got blocked because the url contained the word ‘sex’ [1]. I pointed out to the webmasters that not everything of that description is pornography, and that I saw little reason why content should be filtered at all in a post-graduate research institution. I hear this is still talked about as being the raving of a rabble-rousing libertine.

There is, among the forms for admission into the Centre, one that asks parents to declare that they may be held responsible for the conduct of their ‘wards’. I thought it odd that somebody else could be held responsible for my actions, and said so. In an email. Copied to several people. Much wailing and gnashing of teeth followed. A group of people empowered to change the status quo met, and decided to do… nothing. The student guidelines now state explicitly that the parental-consent form may not be signed by the student [2]. Well, duh.

This treatment of enfranchised adults like children is by no means an aberration. There is an upper limit on the number of courses a student can take. Because the student and her advisor are not to be trusted with that decision. Alcohol is banned in the student residence. Not really, of course, but the rule exists and has been advertised. The hostel’s internet connection is switched off between 8am and 7pm, because, one may assume, graduate-research students need to be told when to wake up.

Perhaps the worst part is that JNC is nearer the present-century end of the scale when it comes to this sort of thing.


[2] JNCASR Student Guidelines, page 22.

Anandwan and the Maharogi Sewa Samiti of Baba Amte

Sourabh Diwan told me about the late Baba Amte‘s organisation, the Maharogi Sewa Samiti, Warora, and the work they have been doing to help rehabilitate people afflicted with leprosy. They are now calling for help towards building a corpus, to supplement the pittance that the government of Maharashtra gives them for support. There’s an appeal (pdf, English). They say they’ve helped 2.3 million people over the last 60 years. I find that number inspirational. I also think it’s heartening that they hope to do work of gigantic proportions.

Please consider donating.