AlgoMantra, b. 2005

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Saturday, September 27, 2008
Reversible Destiny Lofts & Gilgamesh for Apes
This has to be the most revolutionary idea in urban housing yet - the home as an arena of adventure sports. The next logical step would be to move to the jungle and make friends with chimpanzees, leopards and crocodiles, which I think is the sensible thing to do.

In the words of Pink Tentacle:

To NY-based architect-poets and “reversible destiny” philosophers Arakawa & Gins, comfort deserves only a limited role in the home. In their vision, a home that keeps its inhabitants young and healthy should provide perpetual challenges. A tentative relationship with your environment, they argue, is key to “reversing the downhill course of human life.”

Designed to stimulate the senses and force inhabitants to use balance, physical strength and imagination, the lofts feature uneven floors, oddly positioned power switches and outlets, walls and surfaces painted a dizzying array of colors, a tiny exit to the balcony, a transparent shower room, irregularly shaped curtainless windows, and more.


Human beings have to realign their relationship to nature in a very profound way if we're to survive. My favorite living philosopher, Wilfried Hou Je Bek has published yet another shattering pamphlet to outline the possibilities open to us in this new century - PrimatePoetics is here! As if the CrystalPunk Manifesto wasn't enough proof of his genius and audacity (audacity for you, babes, since he makes perfect sense to me), PrimatePoetics redefines what it means to be civilized, and the sequel pamphlet to it is called Gilgamesh for Apes, which is exactly what it is.

Normally, civilisation is thought of as a plane, a surface, a vista. However, it really is a feeling you get in rare bubbles of the psychogeographic landscape, the smile of a stranger, for instance. The question is - does the smile mean the same to her as it means to you? When you stop being strangers, you discover to your horror that, the stranger's smile was an indication of potent hostility! After reading Hou Je Bek's claim I am convinced that we will never be civilized until Great Apes stand amongst us, and walk with us in office suits, with neckties, holding their laptops, demanding new and improved coffee machines.

Not only will famous philosophers of the future derive their grooming style from chimpanzees (Slavoj Zizek is way ahead on this curve), they WILL BE.....highly venerable chimpanzees.


Monday, September 22, 2008
The Sunya Machina - Part II
One does not need more than the number 3 to represent and manipulate the entirety of mathematics. One possible way that the existence of the numbers ( can be justified is described in our introductory note. Another way is to hold up three fingers of any hand, and now ask yourself - "How many things do I see?" The correct answer is not 3, it is 4 - three fingers and the hand.

Even zero needs at least one symbol to be represented as zero, and the numbers (0,1,2,3) are four in number. When we examine the number 4, however, one realizes that from this point onwards, the river of numbers is a mere continuation of the idea that is self-contained in (0,1,2,3). From 4 begins a mechanical repetition unto infinity, and especially tiresome is the arbitrary selection of ten digits as the looping point of this decimal alphabet. As the Ulam Spiral shows, perhaps the distribution of prime numbers is not as mysterious as it seems. Lets us stop at 3 then, and observe the universe that is arranged before us. There is a tail that emerges from Om's behind. Om is the shape of Ganesha, lord of numbers - Om is therefore a heuristic diagram of the Sunya machina.

Instead of mundane increments, we now have patterns that emerge from the pure duality of difference, repetition and conceptual enclosure. To understand why primes emerge and and where they are prone to occur, it now becomes necessary to understand division and multiplication within the philosophical framework of the Sunya Machina. Since I am no more than a thumb-twiddling vedic crystalpunk, you might want to know what all this means from the mouth of a real mathematician like Dorian Goldfeld, who writes in an essay called Beyond the Last Theorem:

But there is another way of looking at a circle. Consider a clock, an antique twenty-four-hour model with a single hand that swings around the dial once a day, pointing first to “high midnight,” then to 1:00 A.M. and so on. The clock has no idea what day it is; as far as it is concerned,3:05 P.M. today is indistinguishable from 3:05 P.M. tomorrow, or next week or on any date you might imagine. In mathematical terms each point on the circular dial sets up an equivalence class comprising all the moments in the past, present and future at which the hand points precisely to that point. Schematically, the clock dial takes a time line marked with equally spaced integers (the midnight points),twists it into a shape like a Slinky, and then collapses the Slinky into a circle.

What the circle does for the one-dimensional flow of time, it can also do for the infinite one-dimensional space of the real number line. In that case the circle becomes a set of equivalence classes of pure numbers. Formally, for any number x, the equivalence class is defined to be the set of all numbers of the form x + nc, in which c is the circumference of the circle and n is any positive or negative whole number.

At first glance the two descriptions of a circle—one in terms of algebra, the other in terms of equivalence classes—could hardly be more different. But they are indeed equivalent, linked by the Pythagorean theorem and some elementary geometry.


Sunday, September 21, 2008
The Yakuza Papers(1973)
The torrent download of Yakuza Papers is finally complete and I've been enjoying it thoroughly. They say this series of films is the Godfather of Japanese cinema. Brutal, fast and's about the post-war Japanese underworld:

During the post-War rationing, the yakuza controlled the black market much in line with traditional tekiya operations. At the same time, they also moved into controlling major sea ports as well as the entertainment industry. The biggest yakuza umbrella group, the Yamaguchi-gumi, emerged in the Kansai region, which had a large entertainment industry in the city of Osaka as well as a major sea port in Kobe. American occupation forces fought against them in vain and conceded defeat in 1950. Yakuza also adapted to a more western style, including wearing clothing reminiscent of US gangsters, and began to use firearms. At this point, tekiya and bakuto no longer confined themselves to their traditional activities and expanded into any venture they found profitable. At the same time gurentai began to adopt traditional roles of tekiya and bakuto. They also began to feud among themselves, jockeying for power and prestige.

In the 1960s, Yoshio Kodama, an ex-nationalist, began to negotiate treaties with various groups, first with the Yamaguchi-gumi of Kazuo Taoka and Tōsei-kai of Hisayuki Machii and eventually with the Inagawa-kai. Fights between individual gangs, however, are ongoing.

However, the history of the yakuza is not as simple as Bombay's "bhai" (the don/big brother) and the American spaghetti mobsters. It is almost as old as Japan itself:

Despite their notoriety in modern Japan, the precise origin of the Yakuza is still somewhat the subject of debate. The first historical interpretation of their derivation is from the hatamoto-yakko or Kabuki-mono of the 17th century Genroku Era,[2] who were derivative classes of the low-rank hatamoto, which resembled a quarter of the shogun.[3]

Other theories, suggested by the Yakuza members themselves claim their origins are from the machi-yokko, who policed villages by protecting them from the hatamoto-yakko that tried to steal from them, despite their being outmatched by the Hatamoto-yakko in training and strength. Despite their shortcomings, the machi-yakko were regarded as folk heroes similar to those in the stories of Robin Hood, with some groups being made the feature of plays and dramas.[4][5] The derivation from the hatamoto-yakko or Kabuki-mono known for their adoption of strange hair styles and outrageous dress manner refers to a relevant era of the Genroku Period in which kabuki plays, and onnagata were prominent.


Thursday, September 18, 2008
The Towers of Brahma
...or, what you might know as Towers of Hanoi, a game as legendary as Tetris and Pong, has a nice myth behind it:
There is a legend about a Vietnamese or Indian temple which contains a large room with three time-worn posts in it surrounded by 64 golden disks. The priests of Brahma, acting out the command of an ancient prophecy, have been moving these disks, in accordance with the rules of the puzzle. The puzzle is therefore also known as the Tower of Brahma puzzle. According to the legend, when the last move of the puzzle is completed, the world will end. It is not clear whether Lucas invented this legend or was inspired by it. The Tower of Hanoi is a problem often used to teach beginning programming, in particular, as an example of a simple recursive algorithm.

If the legend were true, and if the priests were able to move disks at a rate of one per second, using the smallest number of moves, it would take them 2^64−1 seconds or roughly 600 billion years. There are many variations on this legend. For instance, in some tellings, the temple is a monastery and the priests are monks. The temple or monastery may be said to be in different parts of the world — including Hanoi, Vietnam, and may be associated with any religion. In some versions, other elements are introduced, such as the fact that the tower was created at the beginning of the world, or that the priests or monks may make only one move per day.

And Hanoimania is a website dedicated to the Hanoi and computers. There is even a Hanoi OS,"a bootable operating system for the x86 processor that solves the Hanoi puzzle as its primary task"..... apart from other obsessive oddities. It's a total WTF.


Thursday, September 11, 2008
Xu Bing: A Book From The Sky
More on his website.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Yoda v/s Facebook: Yoda wins!
Heh, I knew this was coming, Facebook. You better mend your wayward ways. All your namez R B-long to US!!!

Snip from AltJapan:
In the wake of the dreaded Facebook Incident, which ended yesterday after they relented and allowed her to register, Hiroko Yoda writes about life as Yoda:

I'm a Japanese woman, and my last name really is Yoda. It's a common family name in Japan. "Yoda" the Jedi Master is actually pronounced with a long "o" in Japanese, which makes it different-sounding enough that the connection only becomes apparent when you write out my name in English letters instead of kanji characters. So even though I of course saw the films here in Japan, I never made a connection between the character Yoda and my own name.

But whenever I leave Japan, it's a different story. People think I changed my name because I'm a crazy Star Wars fan, or that I'm just kidding around. Even people who know I'm not making it up are always giving me Yoda trinkets and keychains and figures, so I had this little shrine to him going on for a while. Maybe because I'm female, or because I look foreign, people don't usually make a lot of comments directly to me. But Matt gets stuff all the time. Whenever he has to tell my name to an airline ticket agent or a hotel receptionist or something, it's totally common to get a response like "Ha-ha-ha! That's a good one, sir! Anyway, what's her real name?" Once he was even asked semi-seriously "Is her first name, then, 'Master'?" And then there was this latest incident with Facebook. I tried signing up like ten times, and it always rejected my name. Finally we figured out that a filter was blocking "Yoda" because it thought I was trying to register a fictional name! They finally let me sign up, but it took several days and a lot of emails.


Friday, September 05, 2008
Flexi by Techsouls

Friend and fellow hacker Prayas just informed me about Flexi, a cheap Arduino clone made in India by a gang of urban tantrics who call themselves Techsouls:

Welcome to Techsouls. Techsouls is a free spirited movement in the field of Robotics and Physical Computing. We operate under two main divisions, Techsouls Education and Techsouls Research. Our Education division uses Robotics as a tool to incorporate a structured, hands-on and scientific education at schools and colleges. On the other hand, our Research and Development division is involved in cutting edge research in the field of Robotics and Physical Computing.

This makes me very happy. They can cut out the PR bullshit, but it's still a cool hack for under Rs.2000.
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Hidden Behind The Leaves

On my way to Japan in a few months, I have been going through samurai manuals of all manner and degree of bizarreness/wisdom. Here's a brilliant excerpt from Hagakure (Hidden Behind the Leaves) by Yamamoto Tsunetomo sensei, which clearly indicates that ancient ties bind Indian belief systems with the Japanese:
Recently, people who are called "clever" adorn themselves with superficial wisdom and only deceive others. For this reason they are inferior to dull-wilted folk. A dull- wilted person is direct. If one looks deeply into his heart with the above phrase, there will be no hidden places. It is a good examiner. One should be of the mind that, meeting this examiner, he will not be embarrassed.

The word gen means "illusion" or "apparition." In India, a man who uses conjury is called a genjutsushi ["a master of illusion technique"]. Everything in this world is but a marionette show. Thus we use the word gen.

To hate injustice and stand on righteousness is a difficult thing. Furthermore, to think that being righteous is the best one can do and to do one's utmost to be righteous will, on the contrary, brig many mistakes. The Way is in a higher place then righteousness. This is very difficult to discover, but it is the highest wisdom. When seen from this standpoint, things like righteousness are rather shallow. If one does not understand this on his own, it cannot be known. There is a method of getting to this Way, however, even if one cannot discover it by himself. This is found in consultation with others. Even a person who has not attained this Way sees others front the side. It is like the saying from the game of go: "He who sees from the side has eight eyes." The saying, "Thought by thought we see our own mistakes," also means that the highest Way is in discussion with others. Listening to the old stories and reading books are for the purpose of sloughing off one's own discrimination and attaching oneself to that of the ancients.

A certain swordsman in his declining years said the following:

In one's life. there are levels in the pursuit of study. In the lowest level, a person studies but nothing comes of it, and he feels that both he and others are unskillful. At this point he is worthless. In the middle level he is still useless but is aware of his own insufficiencies and can also see the insufficiencies of others. In a higher level he has pride concerning his own ability, rejoices in praise from others, and laments the lack of ability in his fellows. This man has worth. In the highest level a man has the look of knowing nothing.

[The details of the ukio-e pictured are here.]