Monday, August 18, 2014

Steve Jobs: Secrets of Life

There is a kind of subtle depression that comes from assuming you are just going to live in a routine dictated by others. Recently I've gotten into a big programming project.

Programming is somewhere I've always felt at home. Perhaps, cause I've done it from a very early age.

Maybe math was a childhood fling, and programming a life-long committed relationship.

Where I feel comfortable experimenting, playing with the parts, and seeing what happens.

And it helps me take it as an analogy.

Everything - the plumbing in my house, social structures, financial structures we live in,

are just a sum of parts that were made by people, and an interface that interacts with you

that was made by people.

They are not solid black boxes put there by god, where every detail is perfected.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

I feel it can time for some people  30-40 years
to be able to treat women like human beings.
Before that every time you think `treat her like a human being'
you just shift from thinking of her as a sex object,
to thinking of her as a perfect delicate angel.

Finally, you start to be able to think of her as
a person with preferences, self-interests, desires.

You start to try to understand what makes her tick? What does she want?
Before that, you wouldn't do that, because both as a sex object and as a perfect angel,
there's nothing she wants in your mind.

But I guess it's just a special case of viewing people as one dimension - 100% greedy or 100% kind, ect.
One time ago,
these were all just sounds to me.
They didn't mean anything.
They didn't hold back the sounds behind them.
They had their time.
She said we had our time, together.
I feel it's still our time, For-
ever, we'll play the same guitar.
The strings will become rusty,
but not our love.
This sound..never dies.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Two movements of thought.
One, encouraged very much by movies, media, that you can spend the young part of your life in
is that your real life hasn't started yet. Everything is going wrong, but there's no point or need to do something about it, because it's just a sort of nightmare, and you will wake up from it at some point into your perfect life.

But years pass.. you're 30, 33, 34, 35, almost 36.
and you see the world, this life, is not going anywhere.

You see also, that although there is a lot of shit in it, it's not random, not arbitrary.
There are patterns. You behave in certain ways, and you get certain types of results.
and the patterns are hard to see, because your emotions only see this moment,
but the patters of cause and effect, in life quality, in relationships with people,
span over a longer period - from a day to years.

Finally you say.. OK, given that is my life situation, that I am not going to suddenly wake up from it,
how can I make the best of it.

Suddenly, you find a lot of satisfaction in small improvements..

like OK - when I was 18 I spent the whole year watching TV, jerking off, and perhaps not having one friend or date.

Now at 35, I only spend 20/30% of the time doing that, and I have 3 girls that don't run away when I start talking to them.

At this rate, things will be awesome by the time I'm 85.

Monday, July 28, 2014

 I remember seeing a group of ants a few days ago, some of them lifting a piece of food, and others walking around those lifting the food. I thought - maybe one of these ants is thinking `I'm not going to be doing this for long. My life's gonna change. I'm gonna start my own company and leave this shitty job' but looking at him from above, it is so clear he is part of a pattern, maybe he will shift by 1/2% in some direction, but that's it.

I'm thinking lately, we need to get out of this inner conflict, thinking we have to be completely different.
Be a super-social family oriented person when we're not even close to that.
Be a super-athlete, doing flips in the air and being an expert in martial arts, when we could never do a cartwheel or decent somersault.

Just accepts our strengths and weaknesses, accept the path we're heading in, and just stir the 1/2% we have control over in the better direction.

Friday, July 25, 2014

to any fellow academics - on a scale of 1 to 10, how unethical would you rate the following: A fellow co-author retracts a paper that has already been accepted to a conference. He does this without the consent of other coauthors, and without even telling them he did it. They only find out, by accident, after the camera ready version was due.

I never thought academic papers could be like the stock market - you could wake up one morning with less

Friday, July 18, 2014

Low influence functions

It is quite nice to see theory and practice connect.
I've recently become interested in digital crypto-currencies - a hot topic about a market currently worth at least 8 billion dollars, and I would bet, will easily go to a trillion in the next decades.
I started thinking, `ahh, these theory people spending so much time and effort and obscure mathematical questions. I'm never going to do that again..'

But suddenly, this research on crypto-currencies brought me back to old papers that seemed too theoretical to me even when I was interested  100% only in theory.

Let me describe their subject a little through the following story.

Suppose there is a tribe with a council of 99 men that needs to choose
a new leader.

Everybody agrees that in the tribe, there are two members- Xena and Hercules,
that are the most deserving.
They have supernatural powers, and are half-gods.
Both seem to equally deserve the job, so it seems to make sense to just flip a coin
and decide who will be the new leader.
The problem is, who can we trust to flip this coin?
If we assign a particular member of the council, he might use some trick to make, say, Xena come out as the leader - like a coin that seems normal but has one side slightly heavier and almost always falls on that side.
Xena would agree with him in advance that if she gets elected she will do special favors for him
as the tribe leader.

So we don't want to assign the task of choosing the leader to any particular council member.
It seems better to have all council members flip a coin. Then, combine these 99 coin flips in some way.

How should we combine the coin flips?
Here is a very bad idea:
We will count how many coin flips came out heads.
If it is an even number - Xena will be chosen.
If it is an odd number - Hercules will be chosen.

Why is this a bad idea? Because the last person flipping a coin has total control of who will be chosen.
He counts out of the 98 flips so far if there is an even or odd number of heads, and according to that
can say heads or tails to ensure the decision he likes.

Here is a better idea:
We count again how many heads we had.
If it is at least 50 , Xena will be chosen.
If it is less than 50, Hercules will be chosen.
Now notice that when it's the turn of the last person, it is very likely the result has already been determined.
Specifically, only if exactly 49 of the flips so far came out heads, he can control the result.

Are there ways to combine the coin flips such that each player will have an even smaller chance of controling the result?
There are, and this has to do with what is called `low influence functions'.

A nice thing for me was that this paper of ours was mentioned in the Ethereum blog:

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

God is telling you, things are not going to get better..
basically from now, you are just going to get sick and die.
So you might as well,

you tell God -
thanks for the advice,
but I think I'm going to focus on getting rich and getting a hot girlfriend..
I'll work on this happiness and peacefulness thing later.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Looking back,
it seems so easy.
Just forget it ever was.
Cause it's all so over now...
and it never can be again.

Looking back,
it seems so clear that
nothing good could every come
of chasing such a lost cause,
that can never be again.

But right now, it seems so pointless to
try to love anybody else.
Till the end of this life, you are my love.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

1.5 years ago,
you tell yourself `it would be good to live with a flatmate. I'll learn how
to get along. Especially if it's a girl, I'll learn how to get along with the "enemy"'

It works great for a while,
than 1.5 years pass by, you feel you need to escape,
and it's a situation involving a dog.

You remember that 8 years ago, you also lived with a female flatmate,
and it also fell apart after 1.5 years, and there was also a dog.

You tell yourself, ahh well people don't change, patterns don't change, no point spending energy on trying.
Better spend all your energy trying to get rich from bitcoin :)

But you try for another week, you think well it's only for a short time more, so let's make an effort.
Each time you enter the apartment or get out of your room, you pause for half a second thinking,
be aware, don't be negative, don't be reactive, be aware of the moment.

Suddenly a sense of harmony is there, all 4 of you feel like good friends.
The deep conversations, the joking between you has come back.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Check out my `100 annoying days challenge' on fb

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Hi! I am a computer science postdoc. For some reason google is not finding my new homepage so I added a link from this profile