Sunday, December 28, 2014

One moment, it seems there will never be enough.
The next, richness is all there.
The silence you were afraid of,
becomes your savior.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Being oblivious

Yesterday in the computer science building, I needed to visit a professor and student at the third floor.
Exiting the elevator, someone with a serious face told me `if you could please leave and come back in 10 minutes'.
I thought `ahh some silly security drill, or VIP visiting the department'.
Anyway 15 minutes later from the 5th floor, I heard screaming and crying.
Just then I ran into a friend and asked him `do you hear that? Sounds like something's seriously wrong.'
He kind of shrugged and seemed not to really notice.

Later, it turned out that someone suddenly died in his office.

What occurs to me most is that if I hadn't happened to be blocked from entering the third floor,
I would have also filtered out this screaming and crying (which was not gentle or subtle)..
or brushed it off as some students fooling around.
So just makes you think what kind of things are we filtering out that happen around us every day.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Scott Adams about being embarassed:

You can’t control luck directly, but you can move from a game with bad odds to a game with good odds. The world is like a reverse casino. In a casino, if you gamble long enough, you’re certainly going to lose. But in the real world, where the only thing you’re gambling is, say, your time or your embarrassment, then the more stuff you do, the more you give luck a chance to find you. If you do one thing and stop, you didn’t give luck a chance to find you. You only need one thing to work.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/dilbert-creator-scott-adams-says-passion-is-bs-2013-10#ixzz3IhWylnmW



I also like how Adams talks about combining different skills for success -
he says I'm not the best cartoonist, buisness man, writer, not the funniest guy in the world,
not the most knowledgable in the world about the corporate world,
but the combination of being decent at all these things is what created Dilbert.

I like it cause I'm trying similarly to position myself well using a combination of skills:
I'm not the best mathematician, programmer, or bitcoin expert,
but the combination of being decent at all three, seems to be rare and useful.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Israel - 4% Vegan!

By recent statistics. Whether this statistic is accurate or not, you can definitely feel Veganism getting into the mainstream in Israel: In most Gas stations you can order a Soy-milk cappucino.
All the big coffee and restaurant chains have quite a few vegan options in their menu.
This is of course in addition to hummus and tahini that were always in the main stream making Israel much more vegan-oriented even before the word vegan, or things like tofu and qinoua were known about.

People become activists and want to change the world.
Basically, there are two ways to try to change the world

- try to make others do their role differently
- change the way you do your role

and I think most would agree that the second option is more effective.
And what is our `role' in the world? I think if you are part of the western world,
whatever job you have, your main role is being a consumer.
That is, if you are working 9-5, as opposed to working 24 hour shifts in an Adidas factory in Malaysia,
your main role in the global economic system - that seems to be roughly divided to consumers, workers, and the few that run everything behind the scenes- is mainly that of a consumer.

The choices you make at the supermarket, the shoping mall and the coffee shop are where you have the most impact in this global system.
And it doesn't have to be black and white..
just making a larger percentage of those choices choices for less suffering and more peace,
you could have a tremendous impact.


Monday, November 03, 2014

Thoughts about decentralization

Many people's excitement about bitcoin is that it uses mathematics to create a system
that is inherently decentralized, where no minority can gain a lot of power.
This is the idea behind the motto `In Cryptography We Trust'.

I am skeptical about this as in any system you put human beings in,
their natural tendency would be to accumulate power, and they will find ways to do so the system had not anticipated, and ultimately the most greedy and\or talented of them will gain as much power in this system as a dictator has over his country.
Indeed this is what is happening in bitcoin with the so-called mining pools and mining farms.

This is why I first thought - technology can create a different world, and perhaps the historical process of change is an interesting experiment the universe is conducting, but it cannot create a better world.

..but maybe the following is true: The more  a system has a decentralized structure,
the less violent will the expression of power and control be.
 For example, in democracies the people controling the banks and the media might have as much power as a dictator for practical purposes, but the expression of that power tends to involve less killing and torturing, at least of their own citizens.

Why would it make it sense for this to be true?
I think because the minute those with power would use it too violently, it would break
the illusion of decentralization - the facade that the power is with the common people.
And if the system is working well for them, breaking this system is not in their interest.


Friday, October 31, 2014

Two things that make me hate visual studio less

After many years of doing only theory, I joined a large C++ programming project 4 months ago,
working in Microsoft visual studio. The frustration I had from the difficultyof the most basic tasks - e.g. adding a class to the project,  (just use add new Item *don't dare using add class or the class wizard or you'll never see the end of it!*)
lead me to write this facebook post:


 think Microsoft was cursed by a witch. Maybe she was once in love will Bill Gates and he broke her heart. She cursed him like this: "Although you will have a multi-billion Dollar software company, with the smartest people in the world working for you, you will only be able to make one program that works well - and it will be called `notepad'". I had these thoughts before, but thought maybe I was wrong cause I did not know Microsoft's more serious software. But recently starting to write C++ on Microsoft Visual Studio, I see how bad it is. Join me in installing ubuntu

 Well , I did install Ubuntu, but not really using it. I guess when you are spoiled and used to an IDE that takes care of everything for you, it's hard to start dealing with makefiles and stuff..
I owe a big thanks to Idan Elad for helping me out with doing things the `right way' in Visual studio after seeing my facebook post.

Anyway here are two really cool features that made me think life isn't so bad at Microsoft:


Peek Definition:

You are browsing in your code and want to see a function definition - answerConsistencyChecks_p0p1 in the picture below.
Everybody seems to know that pressing F12 with the cursor on the function name
will take you to the file with the definition.



But at least I didn't know for a while that pressing Alt-F12 instead will just `peek'
the definition as in the picture below.
   


This way you can just see the definition without getting out of the workflow you were in at the current file.



Seeing the stack-hierarchy - especially when error\exception has occurred.

Say you're running your program...


and then an error occurs:


Till recently, I would try to put breakpoints in a `binary search' way, and keep
rerunning until I pinpointed the precise line where the bug occurred.
Here is the smart way, that saves the time of this search and multiple reruns:
Instead of pressing `Abort' above, press `Retry'.

Now MSVS will ask you if you want to Break or Continue:


Press `Break'. Good chance the breaking point is somewhere that doesn't tell you much:


Now press Ctrl + Shift + ` , (or right click and select Show Call Stack on Code Map)

You will see on the right the entire stack of calls that lead to the error!.
More than that if you double click one of the methods on this stack,
you see on the left by the green arrow precisely the place, or just the place after, where the run is
at this stack level.


And even better: If you go to `locals' you can see the value of all variables at this level of the stack,
so a lot of rerunning and couts for debugging purposes are saved.




Monday, October 27, 2014

I just love Google they make life so easy! Say you wanted to write a program that automatically retrieves text from your emails and automatically sends reply mails according to that text.
You would fantasize `wouldn't it be great if I could just go to some website, maybe a good name for it would be `script.google.com', and just start writing something that looks like gmail and I would get suggestions about script commands that can do what I want'
Well , this fantasy is a reality

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A cool thing I just discovered .
Google has an awesome programming language that
let's you mainpulate it's apps automatically.
I discovered it cause I need to program something that sends an automatic
ack email whenever someone donates through paypal to the Israel Vipassana center.

This simple program creates a google doc called Hello World, and sends you an email
with a link to it.. very cool!
Mark Zucerkberg is an interesting guy,
but forced to be boring because of being responsible to shareholders of a something billion dollar company.
I really enjoyed this lecture of his from earlier times.

One nice quote (not precise words) from the Q&A part:

`It's better to get things done and say sorry later, than to worry about dotting all your i's and not get things done'


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WA_ma359Meg


I know this question will make me unpopular in the tcs community, on which my future livelihood may depend , and I know it's probably a sensitive, possibly even offensive to some people, question ... but it seems to me odd that while this issue has received so much attention, I had not seen this obvious question addressed once. Does it really pay off for microsoft to hire pure theory researchers?
I talked to a friend who is in msr - but in computer vision. His opinion was:
- The theory part of msr was started as part of Bill Gates's philantropic project, not as a strategic business decision of Microsoft.
- If a researcher at msr theory comes up with an amazing revolutionary idea that is worth implementing and publishes it, Microsoft could implement it just the same after he publishes it if he was not from msr, and
then wouldn't have to pay his salary all those years.
(I agree that the suddenness of the layoffs, to people whose options are in academia and can't hop to the next IT company the month after, has an ugly element)


http://thmatters.wordpress.com/2014/10/14/letter-re-closing-of-microsoft-research-silicon-valley/

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

How can you every be happy without her, you think.
Is life just this miserable game where you are chasing someone,
and someone else is chasing you? Everybody trying to get somewhere?

Life forces you.. `Now it's your lesson'
Now it's time to just sit and feel the emotion.
Now it's time to learn not to be a slave of your emotions,
just let them pass through you, not to fear them.

And sometimes they come strongly.
One after the other, and not the nice ones.
Despair, anger , sadness,...

You go deeper into them instead of fighting them.

For a moment you feel the peace underneath,
and then another one comes.
Like waves in a stormy ocean, with brief interludes between them

Perhaps there is no shortcut. This is the way to dissolve you karma.
If there is a shortcut, looks like nobody has found it,
or at least not advertised it.

Otherwise there would not be so much conflict in the world.

Technology develops, but the world is not a better place,
just a different place.
Cause technology is just a set of tools, and humans use any tool
equally for good and bad, perhaps even more for bad.

If you could only know she is just another person,
not a goddess that can take you out of this life.

But you don't know that, she is just a perfect image in your mind.
And she is not coming to your rescue anytime soon..
all there is to do, is to sit and feel the emotion.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The present and future of brain-computer interfaces: Avi Goldberg at TED...

Writing music by hearing it in your head.

Communicating by telepathy rather than facebook.

Maybe real sometime soon.

Any tool can and will be used for good and bad.

Because technology advances, but human nature does not.

Mind control will become a bigger concern than rape or murder.





Friday, September 19, 2014

Playing with your phone. In these modern times every moment there's a chance , something will come to take you out of this hard long day. Parents would keep there child alive when he cannot breathe.
I would keep a dead body rotting in my living room and watch it everyday for the once or twice a year some latent nerve reaction makes it move.
This is what we call hope, and we prefer it to the long day in front of us .

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Potential revolution

We are fooled by easy tricks.
Growing up I learned how traditional societies thought of sex as bad\dirty,
and we that are more liberal\enlightened are more open to sex.
It seems sometimes ridiculous that this idea enables you to think of yourself
as liberal\enlightened\intellectual because you are obsessed with perverse sexual ideas.

What would really be revolutionary is perhaps the idea as it is in Buddhism,
that sexuality is actually a source of suffering.
Whether this is right or wrong, if it were true and I would really see this truth,
it is clear that it really would be a revolution.

A freedom, especially for men, from constant stress.

The stress, for most single guys, well at least for me, is unending.

Like in these reality shows like `the voice' , an endless sequence of tests to pass.
After each one a short moment of relief and exhilaration, and then coming back to the same stress.

-Will she be nice to me if I talk to her?
- Will she give me her number?
- Will she answer my message?
- She wants to meet for lunch, I can't make it to lunch. Will she want to meet at 16:30 instead?
Or is it ruined forever cause I can't make it to lunch?
- Will we actually meet at 16:30 or will something get delayed and we'll have to cancel?
Will that meeting I have before get prolonged and then I won't make it and then this chance will be lost forever?
..
..

..
..


50 tests later if miraculously they all passed.. you are having Sex!

If you knew that the end prize was nothing more than tension in your body,
getting you more and more addicted to this endless chasing, where if you look with a magnifying glass, there is not one actual moment of `making it', not one actual moment of contentment and satisfaction..

Then you would know it is not the end of the world if you meet today or tomorrow,
or in 2 weeks. It is not a matter of life and death If you kiss now, or in a month, or never.
cause in any case `success' is getting more addicted to this sexuality that is just a pair of handcuffs limiting your peace of mind, limiting your ability to enjoy life.

It would even the playing field. You can act around the hottest women like you do around your friend that is nice to get together with, but that you don't care much whether you meet today or next month.

But it seems like the male brain works in a way that you always feel, once I fulfill the sexual fantasy that is in my mind right now I will transition from this state of frustration to real lasting satisfaction.

Monday, September 08, 2014

std::move makes things f**kable

After spending sometime figuring out C++ 11 move semantics,
I wanted to write some semi-formal intuitions about it,
for anyone encountering bugs related to it.

(Google will bring you to more precise, thought-out descriptions than this one for sure)

The most important thing:
std::move(A) does not actually move A! it just tells the compiler - from now on
you can fuck with A.

How does it do this?
It turns A into the most insignificant type of creature in the world of C++.
The type of creature that does not even have a name...
This creature is called - an rvalue. r stands for `right' - not as in correct , but as in the opposite of left.

What are rvalues?
Think of the expression
i = 5;

any programmer is aware that i is something that exists, there  is a place in the memory
that the computer calls i, and that place can store a value.

But what about the 5 on the right hand side?
where was it before it got put into i?
It was in some temporary place in the memory that does not even have a name.
A place that the computer feels free to treat like shit.
Will the 5 still be there after it is put into i?
Nobody gives a fuck.
Nobody's looking out for that place.

This is what it's like being an rvalue.

Sadly, in the world it sometimes pays off to treat people, or variables, like shit.

Suppose you had an expression

A=B;

The compiler would probably decide this means it has to copy all the data stored in B
and store this copy in A.

Suppose we don't care that much about what will happen to B after running this line.
We can tell the compiler - feel free to ruin B while running this line if it pays off.
e.g. if B contains a pointer to some large object, it would be very efficient
to have A point to the same object, and set B's pointer to null, rather than making
a copy of the large object.

writing
A= std::move(B);
will encourage the compiler  to do this.

How does this actually happen?

I like to think of it like this.
Suppose you have a prison named `operator ='

In this prison the are 3 wards -
One for the rich prisoners where they can be sure nothing bad will happen to them.
One for the regular prisoners where, bad things may happen to them, but no one will intentionally
try to screw them over,
and one for the prisoners someone had it in for, and wanted to make sure they would really get screwed.

The entrances of the wards look in C++, respectively, like this

1.operator=(const object& B)
2.operator=(object& B)
3.operator=(object&& B)


The double && is a way to tell C++ - B is an insignificant little worm! (that is, an rvalue). Feel free to tear him apart while running this operator!

The well-known `const' on the other extreme is a way of saying -
don't you dare touch B!

using move can become crucial when dealing with the specie in C++ 11 that's on top of the food chain - the guy nobody can touch.. the Unique Pointer.

A unique pointer in a way, is even tougher than the untouchable const object.
As the name suggests, you cannot even make a copy of a unique pointer.
(This turns out to be extremely useful for preventing memory leaks)

The big mess is that, not only the unique pointer itself, but consequently any thing
containing a unique pointer cannot be messed with. For example, a vector of unique pointers
to String.

For unique pointers, std::move is a way for the gang leader (i.e. the programmer)
to tell the gang's representative in the prison (i.e. the compiler)
`This guy no longer has my protection, you can make him your bitch'

The thing is, the gang representative will hesitate about messing with the unique pointer
if he is not constantly reassured by the gang leader that the u.p really does not have his protection any more.
This hesitation will cause compiling errors.

For example,
Suppose you have a method containing a line
A=B;
where B is a u.p the method got as a parameter.
You may think if I call the method with std::move(B) everything will be fine.
(cause a u.p cannot be copied, but it can be moved)
but that is not enough!Cause by the time you get into the method the compiler will hesitate
whether he can really mess with B,
and you will have to reassure him by writing again
A=std::move(B);

This is worst when calling constructors, where for reasons I do not fully understnad
you need to use std::move(B) in the initializer list - by the time you reach the
start of the method it's too late to mess with B. (well this last part is not completely correct,
but I'm tired and it's late)

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

LIFT

The weird list of 4 things that throughout years has consistently shown to have
a boost on my mood if I do them daily

-Avoid video - TV, youtube, ect.
-Avoid Masturbation.
-Hit on beautiful girls (oddly, this in itself has a more positive effect on my mood,
than having sex with them (in the rare occasions it ends up that way))
-Meditating 2 hours a day

I've been confused by this list.. cause there seems to be some kind of a contradiction between 3 and 4.
Cause it's kind of like taking one step in the direction of eliminating desire,
and one step in the direction of igniting desire.

Related to that , an analogy I had on tantra:
Think of 2 scenarios
1. You go into mcdonalds sweating in the middle of the day in shorts and a t-shirt
and get a Big-Mac

2. You go to a fancy restaurant, dressed perfectly, for a candlelight dinner, with
a wonderful woman who is also dressed amazingly. There is classical music in the background
and you have a wonderful view of the city from a window.
You are enjoying a tender steak of very high quality cooked by a gourmet chef.

You could say the second experience is more `spiritual' than the first,
but both experiences have at their core something that is non-spiritual  - eating meat.


Similarly, Tantric breathing exercises, postures, ect. can enhance the sexual experience,
and  given that you are going to have sex, why not indeed make it a special experience and a bonding experience with your partner;
but to say it is a spiritual practice when at it's core it's based on sexual desire -  the precise thing that spiritual practice is supposed to gradually dissolve, is misleading in my opinion.


btw If I had choose to #5 on this list it would probably be physical exercise , something I am only doing once a week lately, specifically Pilates in the last few weeks.

Anyway I digressed.
As for #2 on the list, for a long time I could keep it under control using a combination of meditation,
and this website http://www.stickk.com/
where you can define goals and even put money on the line.
But at a certain point I began to not take what I wrote on the site too seriously
(the credit card # I gave them also expired by the time I stopped meeting the goal, so didn't lose money)
But recently, Tim Ferriss created a community of guys trying to meet the no M goal -
actually he defined it as NOBNOM - no booze no masturbation, but I haven't been into alcohol for many years anyway -
turns out a lot of guys find this having tremendous positive effect.
This community of guys holding each other accountable has helped finally get back on the wagon
in the M category.
I recommend looking at the lift site.
This concept of choosing a few things that have positive effect,
and seeing the accumulative effect of doing the consistently (even ,say 85% consistently)
for months or years is simple and poweful..
and so different from the one I feel I was raised on by the media..
where most of the time it doesn't matter what you do,
but there are just a few critical moments, e.g., in Back to the Future where Marty's dad punches Biff
that determine everything.

Subconciously, this encourages us to spend most of our time doing nothing cause we think
all there is to do is watch TV and wait for that fateful moment when we open a car door and a guy is getting rough with the girl of our dreams, and we have to save our energy for that one punch we'll have to deliver.

I really like the phrase `Luck is when preparation meets opportunity'


Monday, September 01, 2014

I try to build a whole world from a few words you've given me.
 I'm hanging on a distant echo trying to hear what seemed so pure and right.
 And no matter how much time passes, when I start to listen a huge wave comes towards me. One particle containing the whole universe.
Poking at it, thinking it is small and weak now, it answers back, almost screaming:
You cannot deny this bond!!
It's power hasn't gone anywhere, just because you tried to forget it.

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:
https://blog.ethereum.org/2014/07/05/stake/

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,
BE HAPPY NOW!
BE PEACEFUL NOW!

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

https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/100annoyingdays?source=feed_text&story_id=10152189686637475


Monday, June 16, 2014

I wonder if there is a sort of chaos theory at work in the Cryptographic world.
I'm not an expert, but as I understand the idea of Chaos theory is not that things don't work by rules,
but that the rules are so complex, with so many things influencing one another, that even given that you know how things look now, you cannot predict what things will look like 2 seconds in the future.
The analogy is, that maybe when designing a Cryptographic system, you cannot predict in the real world what phenomenon would arise in response to try to break it.
This would be imply, in a sense, that Cryptography inherently must be an experimental science, not just a mathematical one.

One recent example, is the emergence of huge mining pools in the bitcoin network,
a phenomenon that was not predicted in the original seminal paper.

A short explanation:
A central part of how bitcoin works is that participants in the network get
rewarded in new bitcoins for documenting the transactions.
So for example, if Alice gave 2 bitcoins to Bob,
I could get rewarded by documenting this transaction and broadcasting the message
s=`Alice gave 2 bitcoins to Bob' to the network.
..but it's not that easy. I have to do some more work for other nodes to accept this documentation
of the message s, and give me the reward.
This involves a function called SHA-2.
What is special about  SHA-2, is that although everybody has its code,
and can see how it works, it produces an output that looks completely unpredictable.
For example, I could give it the message s above, and it would return to me a crazy sequence of numbers:
6437871234876703270067821647060..
(I didn't actually apply SHA-2, just randomly wrote these numbers as an illustration)
To accept my documentation of the message s, and give me bitcoins as a reward,
the nodes in the network demand the following:
add to s, another message - called Nonce which is short for `number used only once' -
such that when we give SHA-2 s and Nonce together, it will give us a sequence of numbers with many zeros in the beginning, say 30 zeros.

So what the computers on the network, called miners, do is try many different messages Nonce, such that SHA-2(s,Nonce)
is a sequence starting with 30 zeros.

It turns out that requiring all these zeros can be used to prove bitcoin is safe to use, unless 51% of miners work together to find the right Nonce.
It seemed initially like a safe assumption that 51% of the miners, who are distributed around the world and not part of any organization, would not start to work together..
but then mining pools emerged.
They work like this. They tell you
`Look, you can either mine by yourself, and wait 5 years until you find a Nonce that gives 30 zeros and get bitcoins in reward.. or you can give your computation power to me, and I promise you, that
even if you find a Nonce that gives 5 zeros, but someone else in my pool found the Nonce that gives 30 zeros, I'll give you part of his reward. So this way, you'll get small rewards, but you'll see some revenue pretty quickly'.

and indeed, recently the mining pool GHASH obtained 51% of the mining power.



Thursday, June 12, 2014

It's such a pity,
that you came into my life
only for a brief moment.

What I felt when you were here,
don't know if I can ever feel again.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Hope dies.
You face the `tragedy'.
You are going to die before things work out the way you wanted.
Only in such moments you can truly give the spiritual path a chance.
And such moments are rare, because as shitty as things are, you live in a culture
where you are bombarded with songs, videos talking about the moment you reunite with love,
the moment you find your calling, the moment you create the literary\musical\ect. masterpiece
you were destined to create, the moment you find the perfect shirt,
the moment you find the determination to iron your shirts when they get out of the laundry,
the moment you shave your chest and back hair and get rid of your belly fat, so that you won't need any shirt.

Giving the spiritual path a chance means, instead of trying to fix everything outside that you are not content with, exploring the sense of discontentment as a thing in itself,
seeing how it is there 24 hours a day,
Knowing that your first priority is getting rid of this feeling of discontent.
Knowing it is the thorn stuck inside your skin, that will always distort your enjoyment of a situation, even when it is the situation of your dreams.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I recently read an article about how facebook makes people sad because they browse through pictures of people constantly looking their best , and always happy and smiling. This supposedly evokes thoughts of `ohh, they have such better lives than me'. Browsing through my own pictures I shockingly noticed that I am smiling in all my pictures! There is no representation of the sadness, frustration, agitation that I spend a certain percentage of my day in (this percentage is less when I avoid fb and youtube and do more meditation). I used these pictures to rectify the situation.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Just in the morning,
you told yourself from now on I'll be good,
I'll be perfect.

But the nature of this world,
mesmerising, distracting,

only when you are a moment
away from the death you wake up
again

less than 1500 days to get rid
of all this pain

people are dying around you,
but only when you are denied air
for a moment, can you hear their cries

`wake up!'

Monday, June 02, 2014

you spend hundreds of dollars in a strip bar,
you eat junk,
you wake up hating yourself,
by the evening you are overwhelmed by the emotional pain..

you think what point is there for trying when the girl you love
hasn't talked to you in two years and maybe never will.

You want to drink, do anything that will drive away the pain,
but you hear her voice saying, feel the pain, grow.

You say to yourself OK this evening, no distractions,
no food, no TV, no porn.. just feeling.

You see pictures of the past, of painful moments,
from 2 years ago, from 20 years ago, from the womb.

Within an hour, you feel things that have been stuck for years,
have been released.

You wake up to a new day.


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Going through so many false promises,
false hopes..both as the maker and receiver,
you wake up in the morning, and have no idea anymore,
what is worthwhile to do in the time left in this world?
When dreams have been forsaken..
perhaps just to feel protected?
Just an illusion of protection..
today while buying coffee the cashier 
asked the person next to me what he wants,
and he said `Ohh, he was before me'.
I jokingly told him `You are so different than the typical Israeli in a line',
he said `Why hurry?'
and I thought, yeah just hurrying to our deaths,
and he read my mind and said `In the end, we are all going to the same place'

Perhaps he was a sort of divine messenger saying `Ariel, don't spend the little time and energy
you have trying to cut in line'.

but by the end of writing this I see again, I am not grounded in hard reality,
I am bound by the same fairytale, an elusive love,
how insane is it to feel a person you have not seen for years is reading your thoughts, almost touching you at every moment. 

A divine messenger comes once in a while and whispers a sentence,
but the devil shouts loudly in your head every moment.

Still, I hope what seems to be the devil at times, will turn out to be my guardian angel.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

So sad that such
a short moment, can keep you locked forever,
in its memory.



Thursday, May 15, 2014

I don't know who you are anymore,
and maybe I never did.
You're just an image I use to write the next note.

Friday, May 09, 2014

,הרבה אפלה, קצת אור
?מי ינצח
אחד עוטף, השני ממוקד
אחד ממכר, השני חמקמק
?מי ינצח

Tuesday, May 06, 2014




Some thoughts.. it seems we can't fight the `spirit of time', in the sense that in today's world, with
the constant stimulation and overflow of information, there is no chance to develop the attention to detail that a composer in the 18th century had.
It seems a better use of energy not to try to be better in the parameters by which we judge old composers,
but just to be different, using the advantages we have today, rather than endlessly reflecting on the disadvantages.
No one is going to write like Bach as well as Bach; and even is someone did, it wouldn't be that interesting.
Like Dwight says in the office: `Nostalgia is people's biggest weakness, second only to the neck'.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

How crypto-currencies will change the world

My first reaction to bitcoin - the popular electronic money,
was kind of dismissive. I thought `ahh.. all these shallow people only caring about money'
and `this cryptography stuff is always so non-elegant and over complicated, and thinking about security all the time is boring.'
but getting into it, and actually reading the genius paper of the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto
(it is not known who he is, or whether he is actually a group of people,
or whether his name is short for Samsung-Toshiba-Nakamichi-Motorolla)
https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf

you start to feel, like others are feeling, that this is the beginning of a revolution on the scale
of the creation of the internet.

A revolution for the better?
Well it's like asking is life better with the internet?
I think the answer is:well.. it's not better or worse, it's just different.

Is there any point in going somewhere different that is not strictly better?
Well I think of the analogy: you are watching a movie - the
27th minute is as good as the 32nd minute - so why not just watch the 27th minute over and over?

Because (coming back from the analogy), there is a certain pleasure and excitement in witnessing and taking
part in this evolution of humanity, which is really part of the transformational process of mind and matter from the big-bang to the big-crunch - the *ultimate* movie.

Why is it a revolution?
Well you could say that any communication between people, or retrieval of information\media
that is possible now, was possible before the internet it is just much more convenient and easy now. (Maybe this is not precise but give me some slack.)
But this convenience\easiness changes the world, because it very very often changes the decision of
whether to proceed with the information retrieval  or communication.

The electronic currencies will ultimately make the same change in ease\convenience of exchanging
services for money - money in the broad sense of some, perhaps digital, currency.

Let me give an extreme example:
I am in my office thinking it would be nice to buy a muffin, in the coffee shop downstairs
(actually already ate a muffin half an hour ago, but just for the example..)
I think: I would gladly pay another 10 cents for someone to bring it to me.
And right now, there is someone downstairs that is buying something else in this coffee shop and on his way up that would gladly make the purchase and bring it to me for 10 cents.
But of course, we would not do this today,
because the complexity of coordinating between a person wanting the muffin, and the person who
happens to be downstairs at the same time, and the awkwardness of exchanging 10 cents for the delivery,
is too large an inconvenience to be worth it for either of us.

But if it was easy as typing `muffin' on google on your cellphone,  or computer,
it would be worth doing,
and that's where things are headed




Thursday, April 24, 2014

Science and Mathematics have created (a revolution in) Technology,
and consequently in our way of lives  (an issue much discussed in this blog, is that
they have not and probably cannot solve the basic problem of dukkha (suffering\unsatisfactoriness)
but that's a discussion for another time)

An exciting revolution, that we seem to be in the beginning of,
is technology creating a revolution in how we do math and science.

A beautiful post by Tim Gowers on this subject

http://gowers.wordpress.com/2009/01/27/is-massively-collaborative-mathematics-possible/

initiated the polymath  project, where a large group of mathematicians jointly solved
a research problem, mainly via a sequence of comments in the comment section of the blog post.

One of many points in this insightful post:
Gowers purposefully encouraged people  not  to think in depth and in length
before posting a comment, and instead writing partial ideas that were likely to be wrong.
Thus, creating a process of doing mathematics that is indeed inherently different
than what was possible before the technology of the internet -
one giant interconnected brain consisting of many mathematicians with constant rapid feedback between the different parts of the brain.

Another point addressed is the issue of credit.
Mathematicians, and people in any field, are sometimes afraid
to publicly discuss their ideas before they are fully developed
as someone else might make the last step and quickly publish it as work of his own.
Here, Gowers says,
`is where the beauty of blogs, wikis, forums etc. comes in: they are completely public, as is their entire history'.

So, you have proof of your contribution.
The one potential problem here, is that the blog\forum\wiki owner could alter this documentation
of history, giving credit to himself or others.

It is interesting how ideas that are in the spirit of the time arise concurrently from different sources.
Satoshi Nakomoto wrote a paper a few years ago about how to implement a digital currency called a bitcoin, that requires no centralized banks.
In fact, his ideas are not limited to electronic money.
They give a general method to document history in a way that unless more than half of the people involved in the documentation collude together, it is impossible to falsify the account of what happened.
In the case of the bitcoin it is the history of a sequence of financial transactions,
but it could be just as well the history of a math research project.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I like sometimes to believe I am cursed,
because then, nothing you do matters,
you have an excuse to be lazy, to be bitter, to be negative to people,
to blame certain people for your pain.
Not having to make any effort.
But when you experiment, you see that what you do matters,
up to a resolution of a *minute*:
Watching 50 minutes of hard-core porn and meditating for 10 minutes
will leave you in a much worse mental state
than watching 30 minutes of hard-core porn, and mediating for 30 minutes.

and it seems that it's not just your mental state, somehow the  *events* for the continuation of the day
will vary according to if you chose option a or b above.


A friend of mine helped a blind person cross a road (yes of course anyone I associate with is a complete saint)
and he told her a saying I like very much:
`Don't worry, there are more obstacles than directions"


Sunday, April 06, 2014

Denied the happiness of waking up next to her smile, hearing her voice,
you turn to spirituality not out of choice.
You are not really an exception, almost everybody is lazy and hypnotized by pleasantness.
They will only truly search within when all other paths are blocked.
You search for something that can lift this blanket of sadness.
You start to meditate, and think at first it's an illusion that anything but her can truly help.
15 minutes pass..20 minutes pass.. and then , it starts to work; like a stream of water arising
from within; a stream flowing in the body, like a flood drowning negative emotions.
Soft tears flow through your eyes. Not really crying, just a few drops of water cleaning the eyes.
Would you trade this cleansing stream for the pleasure of being with her? Those intense emotions
that nothing can compare to? You would at any given moment.
But the choice is not yours.. God, fate, or bad luck has forced you to take the hard way.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Waiting at Amsterdam airport for a flight to Bergen, Norway,
I am delighted to discover that Bikkhu Bodhi's book
The Noble Eightfold Path, can be found online
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/waytoend.html#ch1

I remember reading just the first one or two pages a while ago,
and feeling they resonated so perfectly with me.
I think of the analogy of having a really simple mathematical proof
of a theorem.
Then, someone finds a small bug in the proof.
You hope there is an easy fix.
But although you try to deny it, in the back of your mind you already know:
The path leading to the correct proof is completely different, deep and long.
So it is, with the issue of happiness and suffering.
You are not completely happy, and you are hoping there is a quick fix:
Oh, your career must be not what your real calling is.
Oh, your partner is not the your true soulmate.
Oh, you need to exercise and eat right and then everything will be perfect.
Of course - quick is `relatively quick' :)
I think a big problem, is that once you have a glimpse of the spiritual path
you doubt that these things will  make you 100% happy, but you are not sure they
won't make you 100% happy.
The only way you could be sure is if you had the job\partner you fantasize about,
and discover - ohh , I'm still not happy.
But since you at the same time doubt these things will make you happy,
your motivation to go after them is not as high as other people..
so you don't get them! and then you stay with this doubt..
you use half your energy for the spiritual path, and half for obtaining the things you fantasize about
and keep taking one step in one direction than one to the other.
If you are in this situation, reading the intro of Bodhi's book can really help :)
..well I'm not completely sure it will help but read the first page anyway. It's awesome.

Friday, January 24, 2014

I remember asking a meditation teacher: Does a cat generate bad karma by killing?
I expected the answer: No, it's just his instinct. He has no choice.

But instead he slightly smiled and said something like `It's hard to get out of being an animal'

It's easier to make money when you already have a lot.
It's easier to generate good karma at moments when you are experiencing the pleasure of previous good karma.

But when you are not. And you are looking around, envious. Why did he get the relationship he wanted?
Why did he get the job he wanted?
You find yourself wanting to be bitter.Wanting to be the victim and tell yourself how everybody uses and mistreats you.
You find yourself cutting people on the road. Not stopping when a mother with her baby wants to cross.
You have a day where you feel as miserable as you did as a teenager.
No hope, only darkness.
You go get some coffee to help you finish some work.
Or perhaps, you think of some work you need to finish to have an excuse to drink more coffee.
Especially soy-milk capuccinos can be watery and tasteless if not done right.
But you get a cup that is thick and tasty.
You wait for a second for the guy to end a phone call and say
`You guys always make the best coffee around!'
You feel better than you did all day.
For a moment, you are not poor or envious.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Suffering is like a beast inside you.
And ignorance is confusing the beast with the beast's food.
It's food - anything in the external world that is not pleasant to you
Even a thought that is not pleasant.
You feel the suffering inside you clearly only when it is feeding.
So you confuse the suffering with the unpleasant situation.
You think the unpleasant situation is your enemy,
You think the person causing the unpleasant situation is your enemy.
But practicing Vipassana, you reach a stage when you can feel
the beast inside you almost continuously.
You start to consciously fight the real battle.
Real in the sense that every small victory brings happiness.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Some amazing math

There has been a video on the net claiming that the infinite sum 1+2+3+4... = -1/12.
Initially I thought this was nonsense.
But just read an amazing blog post (in Hebrew) explaining the matter.

I thought it was nonsense because I thought we already know that 1+2+3+4.. is equal to infinity,
and infinity is clearly not equal to -1/12.

But it is not true that we know this.
What we know is that when embedding the rational numbers into the real numbers,
and taking distances between them as real numbers - for example the distance between 4 and 1 is 3,
then the sum 1+2+3+4+.. is just not defined! It does not `get close' to anything.
(For an example of `getting close', look at 1+1/2+1/4+1/8+1/16... we see that this sequence `gets close' to 2, and indeed you can prove in mathematics it is equal to 2.)

What they prove is that in any embedding of the rational numbers to a metric space such that
1+2+3+4+.. is defined, then it would have to equal -1/12.

A simpler example given in the post:
Suppose S= 1+2 +4+8 +16... (all powers of 2)
suppose we are in a world where S is really well defined.
Then we can write

1+2S = 1+ 2*(1+2+4+8+16..) = 1+2 +4+8 +16+32.. = S

So 1+2S =S and S = -1

The amazing thing is that there is  a mathematical world called the 2-adic numbers
where this sequence S indeed equals -1.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Those small moments where you override your habit,
and do something that makes you say `yes!! I Rock!!' inside.
The moment when you go talk to that cute girl instead of chickening out.
The moment where you go the gym at night instead of stuffing yourself and browsing the net.
The moment where you do that annoying complicated calculation you were afraid of.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The key to transforming yourself -- Robert Greene at TEDxBrixton

You get up in the morning,
you try to convince your self it doesn't really matter
if I start working or meditating now, or watch half an hour of YouTube before.

Then the YouTube video you end up choosing reminds you that
there are no fast and external revolutions,
that true change and improvement is from within, and not sudden,
but a day to day improvement of small patterns,
a day to day drilling deeper into your unique talents and tendencies
leading to the unique contribution to this world you were designed to make.


The most important lesson from 83,000 brain scans: Daniel Amen at TEDxOr...

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

You go to a job interview.. you know more or less where it is,
but you put on waze GPS to be extra careful. Since you know more or less
where it is you hesitate whether to listen to the directions.  You end up taking some `average'
of your route and waze's route, which leads you on the way to some natural reserve called hermon
rather than hermon science park.
You start screaming in your car .
Meanwhile you think to yourself, so disappointing that I'm screaming like this over
something like being late to a job interview after so much meditation. I'm supposed to not be concerned about death by now, which is at least as serious as being late (since you have no chance of arriving on time after you're dead)
You find yourself accidentally passing a red light.
Then you stop at a coffee shop to ask for directions.
The coffee barista is so smiley and calm, which makes you feel so spiritually immature
(I'm upset about petty things while she knows how to enjoy life)
Here your addiction helps, because the possibility of having a cappucinno completely overrides any concern about being late to a job interview.
Driving, sipping this coffee everything seems perfect.


Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Vegetarians are closer to vegans in intent, but closer to meat eaters in results

My translation from Hebrew of an eloquent reply someone gave to a comment titled `Why I'm a vegetarian and not a vegan':
 Vegetarians are closer to vegans in intent, but closer to meat eaters in results. The egg and dairy industry are tied 1:1 with the meat industry. Every time you eat an egg you kill a chick. Every time you drink milk you send a calf to the slaughterhouse. It must be like this even in a farm with the "best" conditions. Because you cannot let calfs drink your milk or support male chicks and stay within the bounds of being economical. Switch to veganism my dear. You will see it's particularly easy for you, cause you are already there in your
intent.

 תעשיות החלב והביצים קשורות 1:1 עם תעשיית הבשר. כל פעם כשאתה אוכל ביצה אתה הורג אפרוח זכר וכל פעם כשאתה צורך מוצר חלב אתה שולח עגל לשחיטה. זה חייב להיות כך גם במשק עם התנאים הכי "טובים" שיש כי אי אפשר לתת לעגלים לשתות לך את חלב או להחזיק אפרוחים זכרים ולהישאר בתחום הכלכליות. עבור לטבעונות יקירי, תראה שזה קל במיוחד לך כי אתה כבר ממילא שם בכוונתך.

Monday, January 06, 2014

He was always surprised,
when yet another thing that he took for granted,
could make him cry from its beauty,
when he saw it again at the right moment.


Sunday, January 05, 2014

Walking for years in a dark desert,
everyday he left a note for his love on the rocks.
Meanwhile, his only companion,
a dark crow who seemed always waiting
for the moment where he could feed on his flesh.
He craved to be away from the crow, and with his love.
A hundreds years later he crossed the desert and met her.
She told him: I sent the crow. Only your fear of him could keep
you from falling asleep, keep you walking on this journey to me.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

He told her:
You are the only woman I could marry.
The one woman I dream of having near me,
even and especially when she is old and wrinkled.

She told him:
Prove it.
Go years starving, having me ignoring you
and hating you.
Being lonely, frustrated, doubting your dreams, thinking this love is only in your head.
Then, spend years being surrounded by a thousand beautiful girls, distracted every moment.

And then, I will come to you,
weak, wrinkled, not glamorous anymore.
Then you will be tested: Is your heart truly mine.

He answered:
Sounds like a plan.
See you in 20/30 years.

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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