Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Paper goes digital

Livescribe just launched their new product that essentially converts whatever one can write on a paper lazed with special dots into digital media. There is a pen, the size of a Montblanc which is loaded with a computer chip. Via an on-board camera the pen senses hand writing movements and is able to capture the information which when docked to a laptop can be rendered. One can also record a lecture while taking down notes and e-mail it to someone else. Livescribe has several animations on their website detailing this.
NYT covers this in great detail.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Four Seasons with the LA Chamber Orchestra

I was at UCLA's Royce Hall tonight and heard the LA Chamber Orchestra perform Vivaldi's four seasons. The evening started out with a contemporary piece composed by Wolfgang through the "Sound Investment" series. In this series, some of the LA Chamber members commission a piece of music to be composed. The other contemporary piece was by an Argentinian composer Piazzolla. The evening ended with Haydn's symphony number 89.
The star of evening was Lindsay Deutsch - a 21 year old violin prodigy. I felt she was technically very adept, but she was trying too hard and seemed to hammer the music at times. Nonetheless, a great performance. The LA Chamber was led by Jeffrey Kahane whose conducting was flawless. None of tonight would have been possible had it not been for my dear friend Sarah Thornblade who is the second principal violinist in the Chamber.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Hiking in Mandeville Canyon

I went hiking for three hours this morning in Mandeville Canyon which is off Sunset near Pacific Palisades. It was a beautiful morning. I saw blue dragonflies, butterflies the size of bats though far prettier and deers. Occasionally someone on a mountain bike passed me by. It was quiet, breezy, sunny, so calm. I picked some wild flowers which were mainly in three colors, orange, yellow and lilac. I could do this every morning. Two hour hike from 6 to 8, a quick shower and then off to work.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Cheb - i - Sabbah at the Temple Bar

I am a big fan of Cheb i Sabbah's music. Middle-eastern, Indian grooves mixed with some funk, and techno. The beats will blow your mind away. He's playing at the Temple Bar on May 26th. Tickets are $15 and doors open at 9:00 pm.

Tuna Sandwiches

A couple of years ago around 2 in the morning, I was feeilng a bit lonely and I wrote the following - idealistic, but that's me.

You see it is all about this road that Robert Frost mentions in his poem, the one not taken. I look at the road and for the most part I can walk this road by myself. It is those little stupid stones, and rocks and thorns that get in the way. I want someone to help me kick the stones away, hack the thorns with a machete. I also want water and neatly packed tuna sandwiches while I walk this road. Along the way I want to stop and build a house so that other weary travelers can take refuge in it long after I am gone. Sometimes a cool person comes along and actually helps me in this journey, while at other times they actually foul me and I fall hard on the ground just as in a soccer game or in football. Rarely someone comes along who not only helps me in pushing the stones away, hacking the thorns but also in building the house. And I think to myself and ask why the hell is this person helping me like this? What is she getting out of it? After a while I realize that this person is lonely like myself and for some insane reason loves tuna sandwiches as much as I do! Before I know it we are walking on this road together and there are these crazy adventures along the way. The weird thing is that I don't ask this person her age, occupation, ethnicity, income, etc. All I know is that it is all about tuna sandwiches, and she totally digs that. Here is an oxymoron for you - planned adventure! I want to walk this road not taken and of course there'll be an adventure along the way. I don't know what to expect and there lies the beauty, the mystery, the anxiety, the fear, the joy. If I see an unexplored valley with wild flowers, I want to explore it. If I see cool people along the way, I want to get to know 'em. Just wanna meet someone who enjoys making and eating tuna sandwiches as much I do. Trust me, the rest doesn't matter!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


“If the Higgs or something like it doesn’t exist,” Dr. Arkani-Hamed said, “then some very basic things like quantum mechanics are wrong.” (NYT)

Another huge, and interesting article (See earlier NPR post) on the Large Hadron Collider on NYT.

Man Man

Thanks for pointing me to Man Man's music, Matt. They are an indie/experimental/folk group based in Philadelphia. As to how experimental they get? Here's a medley of musical intruments they use: honky tonk style piano, danelectric guitar, xylophone, clavinet, microKorg, euphonium, fender jazz bass, and the list goes on. They are on tour with Modest Mouse - another favorite band of mine.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mother's Day - Hoops and YoYo style!

I sent my Mom a Hallmark e-card for Mother's day. For those of you have not looked at Hallmark's e-cards, I highly recommend them. They are brilliant! I gave this one.
I miss you Mom!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Maddy Lemel's art

I was at the last of the Categorically Not talks today at the Santa Monica Art Studios. The last speaker for the evening was Maddy Lemel who is an artist and has her gallery at the same studio. I really enjoyed looking at her art work. She uses all forms of materials, from pipetters, to metal scrap from old airplanes. I highly encourage checking out her work at her studio. You can read more about her and her work here.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


My friend Matthew Harmon pointed me to Bansky's website. Apparently he's getting quite a buzz these days. I found the sketches very witty. He has a way of blending satire with bluntness and giving it a sophisticated artistic finnesse at the end. Very interesting.
Here is Bansky's website.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

An original Pollack or a fake? You decide!

60 minutes recently aired this piece where a woman, Teri Horton (truck driver) supposedly bought a Pollack-like painting many years ago for just $5.00. Of course she didn't know at the time that it was a Pollack. At one of her garage sales, an art teacher from a local high school spotted the Pollack-like painting and enlightened her on its similarity to the original. She has been trying to convince the art world that it is an original but the art world is giving her a hard time. If they do agree that it is an original, the price tag will be a mere 50 million! Not too shabby of an investment!
You can read more about it here.

When Massive Stars go Kablooey

There is an interesting article in the NYT detailing the recent discovery of a new supernova. A supernova occurs when a huge star dies. The one recently discovered is a massive one as the mass of the exploding star was 120 times that of our sun, or 120 solar masses.
Here is the article.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Erotic Chinese Poetry

Ah, I can't wait for this book to come out. It is devilishly delicious! Bravo Tony!

Nice article on Shor's Algorithm

I like the Walt Disney version of complicated topics. Here's one on Shor's Algorithm on the AMS webpage.

Eden's Edge Exhibition at the Hammer

I always feel so lucky to be amidst some interesting art in Los Angeles. The Hammer museum, which is near UCLA, is exhibiting "Eden's Edge", a coming together of the work of fifteen artists and their perspective on Los Angeles over the past decade. Opening night is May 13th and it goes on till September 2. More about it here

Large Hadron Collider (LHC)

The largest, most complicated, most expensive scientific instrument every built by mankind. I am talking about the large hadron collider which is being built in Geneva and has brought together more than 2,000 scientists and engineers from around the world. The price tag? a mere $8 billion!!
Once they start running experiments in fall this year, the LHC will hopefully shed some light and give some validation to string theory.
Ever wonder why we weigh, what we weigh? Where does mass come from? Higgs' posited a particle that would be the carrier of mass - now the so-called Higgs' boson. The LHC will hopefully shed light on this little elusive bastard.
Here's an awesome article on the LHC that was aired on NPR a while ago.


Sunday, May 6, 2007

Hiking in Whittier

I went on a beautiful hike in the Whittier woods today. It was a serene, quiet, and beautiful day. Hiking in L.A. has turned into such a "scene", especially around places like Runyon Canyon, Griffith Park, etc. Around Whittier, there were very few people. I could actually hear the wind rustling through the eucalyptus trees, instead of the incessant babble and chatter that you hear on trails in L.A. The smell of the Earth, and the shrub took me back home to my childhood days, where I grew up in a huge orchard, surrounded by a variety of flora.
Anyway, the picture above was taken from aunt's backyard. Now that's what I call a backyard!

A beautiful picture of Srinagar

I found this beautiful picture of the Dal Lake on Wikipedia - a beautiful lake that sits in the middle of the capital city of Srinagar, Kashmir. Ah, I can't wait to get back home this summer!

Friday, May 4, 2007

Finally, Ahh....

I can finally relax a bit, read my New Yorker and listen to some jazz. This has been a nightmarish week, with final project deadlines, preparing solutions for my class, etc. etc.
I might take a hike around Mandeville Canyon this weekend.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

BSD Conjecture

I was really happy today as one of my closest friends/peer/colleague Ifti defended his thesis and got his PhD from the computer science department here at USC. His thesis was on the BSD conjecture - one of the Clay Instittute's one million dollar Millenium Prize problems.
Congratulations Ifti!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Los Angeles, thy fresh air!

The Financial Express states, "Los Angeles has once again topped the American Lung Association’s bad air list ranking the most polluted cities in America. An association found that the Los Angeles metropolitan area, which includes Long Beach and Riverside counties, had the worst air based on 2003 through 2005 figures." Here's the link to the article.

First International Conference on Quantum Error Correction

This conference is still far into the future (Dec. 17 - 21), but I am excited about it. I find it amazing how rapdily the area of quantum error correction has grown in just the last ten years that the subject can boast of an annual conference of its own. Some big wigs are going to be there, including the guy who put quantum computing to the forefront, Peter Shor.

Harvard - I wonder if my kids...

I really enjoyed this recent article on young kids and getting into Harvard from the New York Times.
Here's the article

Ghalib # 36

I have been working on a book of translations with my dear friend Tony Barnstone. I am translating the works of the Urdu world's most famous poet, Mirza Assadullah Khan Ghalib. Ghalib lived in Delhi around the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. He wrote poems which are known as ghazals, somewhat like the English love sonnets. The ghazal is written in couplets where the first and the last word of the first couplet rhyme and thereafter the rhyming trend follows every second verse of every couplet. We have had to play this very delicate game of maintaining the meaning of the poem and the rhyming sequence. The ghazal also involves a meter, but we found it quite challenging to satisfy all three constraints in our translations. There is an excellent project on Ghalib's works being done at Columbia University.
With a few more translations, we will be able to get our work out in book form. In the mean time enjoy the following ghazal. Ah one last point. As far as meaning is concerned, each couplet stands on its own and does not rely on a thought from a previous couplet of from a succeeding one. I always found this quite unsettling about ghazals.

پھر مجھے دیدۂ تر یاد آیا
دل جگر تشنۂ فریاد آیا
Once again I recall her tearful eyes;
heart and liver call intensely for my lover,

دم لیا تھا نہ قیامت نے ہنوز
پھر ترا وقتِ سفر یاد آیا
Doomsday has barely paused
when I recall your passing.

سادگیہاۓ تمنّا یعنی
پھر وہ نیرنگِ نظر یاد آیا
Oh, Desire, your simplicity makes
me recall my lover’s witching glance.

عذرِ واماندگی اے حسرتِ دل
نالہ کرتا تھا جگر یاد آیا
Excuse my longings O thirsty heart.
When I call out, I recall my lover.

زندگی یوں ہی گزر ہی جاتی
کیوں ترا راہگزر یاد آیا
Life might have passed as is,
so why did I recall the path you walked?

آہ وہ جرأاتِ فریاد کہاں
دل سے تنگ آ کے جگر یاد آیا
What a spectacle, to fight Heaven’s gatekeeper
when I’m called from Heaven in recalling your home.

پھر ترے کوچے کو جاتا ہے خیال
دلِ گم گشتہ مگر یاد آیا
How can I get the courage to beg?
I’m tired of my heart. I recall my lover.

کوئی ویرانی سی ویرانی ہے
دشت کو دیکھ کے گھر یاد آیا
Once again, my thoughts wander your alleys.
Maybe I can call back my lost heart.

کیا ہی رضواں سے لڑائی ہوگی
گھر ترا خلد میں گر یاد آیا
My wasteland is such a wasteland
that seeing the desert, I recall home.

میں نے مجنوں پہ لڑکپن میں اسد
سنگ اٹھایا تھا کہ سر یاد آیا
In my childishness I, Asad, pick up a rock
and almost stone Majnun, then recall my head.

Categorically Not!

I am really looking forward to the last of this mentally delicious series called "Categorically Not!" started by K.C. Cole and Clifford Johnson. Here's the excerpt from their upcoming event "Recycling" on May 13th at the Santa Monica Art Studios (The Hangar). Hope to see all of you there.

Everything gets recycled: newspapers and banana peels, the air you breathe and the earth you walk on; some would even say our souls. Our bodies, we know, are made from materials recycled in generations of stars. The mix of genes that makes us who we are is a stew recycled by long lines ancestors—something nice to remember on Mother’s Day. Artists recycle everything from concrete objects to abstract ideas. New musical forms—like new scientific theories—are inevitably reconstructed from pieces of the past. We’ll start with the ancestors of us all: the stars. An astronomer with the Carnegie Observatories, Alan Dressler, will tell us how stars have produced all the heavy chemical elements, and how they have recycled them back into space as they die. Galaxies store the enriched gas much like a reservoir stores water – this is recycling on the grandest scale.Culture recycles as well, and Josh Kun, a professor in USC's Annenberg School for Communication, will talk about recycling as a mode of cultural creativity and oppositional aesthetics. He will focus on the central role of recycling in contemporary music and the role of recycling as an aesthetic practice in the artistic subcultures of Mexico and Brazil. Josh is a regular contributor to The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Magazine, Tu Ciudad Los Angeles; his book Audiotopia: Music, Race, and America, won a 2006 American Book Award. Finally, Artist Maddy LeMel will show and talk about how she uses discarded objects to make sculptures that explore the mystery of “stuff” devoid of original context; in new combinations, her transformed objects take on second lives and assume a new sense of mystery. Recently described as “exquisite” in the Los Angeles Times, Maddy’s sculptures can be seen at many galleries through-out California. She currently has her studio at Santa Monica Art Studios.

Underworld at the Bowl

I am a really huge fan of Underworld of the Karl Hyde and Rick Smith fame. I was ecastatic whenI read that they will be playing at the Hollywood Bowl on September 9 along with one of the biggest Euro DJs, Paul Oakenfold. Jason Bentley from KCRW's "Metropolis" will be hosting the night. Read more at the Bowl page.