Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The host

C: So you're Buddhist?
R: Yeah!
C: Wow!

<*eyes NF*>

C: Are you also one?
NF: <*faintly amused*> No!
C: Uhh...okay!

NF: Why this default assumption that one must be associated with a religion at all? It's almost like being accused of having bad taste - only third rate, lazy, somnambulant minds with no discernment at all can claim to be taken in by such stupid mumbo jumbo.

<*realizes the rant was not called for and that he's been terribly, terribly rude*>

NF: <*a little defensively*> You're not religious, are you?

<*now it's her turn to be faintly amused*>

C: Well...not really.
NF: Ahh...thank God!


Hosts shouldn't drink more than guests.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The man the machine redux

The great Ted Chiang wins the 2011 Hugo Award (again!) for best novella - The Lifecycle of Software Objects. (News.)

Here's the link to the novella in full. (Link.)


Here is an old NF post in which he gushes over Ted Chiang's 'Stories of your life and others'.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Compliments and complements

The greatest compliment ever - from Bryan Caplan, for Robin Hanson:

When the typical economist tells me about his latest research, my standard reaction is 'Eh, maybe.' Then I forget about it. When Robin Hanson tells me about his latest research, my standard reaction is 'No way! Impossible!'

Then I think about it for years.


To quote the eminently quotable Shandy, apparently "...news of happenings in my life have forestalled my own poor pen." (see AK's post about NF's visit). However, here's a complement (and compliment) to AK's account.

Yes, jokes told were retold and they remain as fresh as ever. The two obscurantists NF and AK (sidekick NF and hero StanMan in Subbu's never-attempted masterpiece graphic novel) traded in obscurities - AK rhapsodizing about Ramin Bahrani and Wilbur Sargunaraj and NF returning the favor by paying misty-eyed tributes to SatyaVrat, Shandy, Wittgenstein and David Dhavan. They also prostrated themselves before that master obscurantist - Ra - who swayed to the crescendoes of Godspeed You! Black Emperor back in the time when NF and AK were busy discovering the magical beauty of Backstreet Boys.

The streets of Stanford reverberated with sober laughter as NF poorly attempted to mimic Shandy in his post-'Fortress of Solitude' phase of life. The militant Californian hippie AK and the country-bumpkin-from-rural-hinterlands NF tried contacting SatyaVrat too, but had to settle with the memories he had graciously accorded them.

And so the nostalgic, happy weekend ended and AK and NF, chained to their cubicles and content with their neglegibles, lived happily ever after.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


A very funny, longish, brilliant piece by the great Michael Lewis whose wonderful, excellent book The Big Short NF had such a great time reading. Heartily recommended!

Notwithstanding the threat of spoilers, the piece is about Germany's new status as the king of the EU; the heavy, thorny crown the new formed status necessitates Germany wear; the (in)famous Teutonic pedantry and superhuman levels of abidance by rules; the German culture's apparent Victorian hypocricy and fascination with shit (the smelly waste product periodically expelled from the human anus, that is); and of course about the current EU financial crisis and Germany's role in the subprime mortgage crisis and the Great Recession. All in all, a very Michael Lewis piece.

Do read it!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The perils of Platonism

NF: You're so foolish!
S: You're foolish!
NF: No, you're foolish!
S: You are!
NF: Ha! Who believes in zodiacs?
S: ...
NF: Who believes in horoscopes?
S: ...
NF: Who believes in god? Who believes in voodoo? Who believes in black magic? Who believes everything-happens-for-a-reason?
S: ...
NF: So who's foolish now?
S: <*big sigh*> Who believes in the existence of numbers?


The putdown David Hume would've approved of!