Friday, October 29, 2010

"462-0614"

I get many phonecalls now.
They are all alike.
"are you Charles Bukowski,
the writer?"
"yes," I tell them.
and they tell me
that they understand my
writing,
and some of them are writers
or want to be writers
and they have dull and
horrible jobs
and they can't face the room
the apartment
the walls
that night --
they want somebody to talk
to,
and they can't believe
that I can't help them
that I don't know the words.
they can't believe
that often now
I double up in my room
grab my gut
and say
"Jesus Jesus Jesus, not
again!"
they can't believe
that the loveless people
the streets
the loneliness
the walls
are mine too.
and when I hang up the phone
they think I have held back my
secret.

I don't write out of
knowledge.
when the phone rings
I too would like to hear words
that might ease
some of this.

that's why my number's
listed.
~Charles Bukowski

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"Eclipse"

I don't know why
they get so excited
about eclipses
eclipses happen
every day
depending on where
in the universe
you are sitting

Translation of Letter from IND

I received the letter to pick up my residence permit today and it's all in Dutch!
Here is the translation for reference:

Dear Sir / Madam,

Here we inform you that your residence permit has been received.
You can pick it up from the following address

Het IND Rijswik, Sir Winston Churchillaan 293, Rijswijk

We are open Monday to Friday, from 09.00 to 16.00 hours.

Who will the residence permit be issued to?
This document should be personally picked up. A legal representative should accompany minors.

What papers should you bring?
- This letter
- Your passport
- If applicable, the previously issued residence document or police report if the document has been reported missing.

Finally, you have only two months after the date of this letter to collect your residence permit.

Sincerely,
de Staatssecretarus van Justitie
on behalf of
The head of the Immigratie -en Naturalisatiedienst (Immigration and Naturalisation Service; IND)

Astronomy so far

Astronomy so far has been nothing what I expected it to be.
No looking through (optical) telescopes. No lying on the grass in some isolated area of Europe.
Not so far at least.

At first I was completely bummed and thought -- what the fuck have I got myself into, but then I decided to change my attitude and learn.

So I've spent the last two months learning really interesting things (and I complete two months today!):
I've learnt calculus -- never really knew it in all those years of college
I've taken a course on interferometry -- so I'm learning how all these giant telescopes are built. And as my prof. says all of interferometry is physics. Really brilliant shit.
I learnt that when a wave (in the ocean) moves, it's not the actual particle that's moving, but it's the energy.
I learnt that everything is energy and everything is light.
I learnt about the brilliance of the electromagnetic spectrum.
I learnt that astronomical images are not pictures, but they are data on flux and energy and some guy sits and assigns colors to make a pretty picture
I watched each and every video that's a part of the Cassiopeia Project and felt inspired once again to make science simple
I've taken a course on the origin and evolution of the universe and am learning about all the mathematics that went on in the first three minutes -- and think it's all so unreal
I learnt about how frivolous science can really be and why it's so important that more people question everything that scientists come up with
In my course on radio astronomy, I actually handled raw data to create basic images
I learnt that I could never be a researcher
I learnt that I could be a good educator. And I've come one step closer to what I want to do when I go back to India
I learnt that the universe is only 14 billion years old. Seems young right?
I learnt about so many more coordinate systems -- like how the earth rotates around the sun and the sun rotates around the galactic center and that we are actually "moving" at speeds of 10,000 km per hour if we count all the rotating around everything.
I learnt that age is a mindset. It really is.
I learnt that being Indian now is in my blood. It's in my pre-conditioning and I never want to change that.
I learnt that linux is an awesome OS and said bye bye to Vista

Netherlands on the other hand has been much more than I expected (and the pictures speak for themselves :)

Pre-history

Today I attended a lecture "The Prehistory of War and Peace: When, Why, and How Did War Begin" which is a part of a lecture series on "Aggression and Peacemaking in an Evolutionary Context" which is being held at the Lorentz Center, which is part of my university.

This panel discussion was a mixture of anthropology, primatology, and psychology of war. Not so much focusing on the politics of it all. So I liked it.

One interesting point of debate was how do you identify if war is in our pre-history, if we can't find evidence. So one speaker said something quite nice "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." So we can't know -- we can only make theories.

Another guy did a study on the correlation between population density and the incidence of war among hunting-gathering tribes. Surprisingly, there was no direct correlation, but he did find a correlation between incidence of war and a new variable called "population pressure". He defined population pressure as a demand and supply relationship vs. population density. For example, if a particular region had a growing season of only five months, then the people of that region are more likely to suffer a food shortage and hence start fighting.

A third guy asked us to close our eyes and imagine that we were a soldier at Auschwitz, hacking away at some poor women and children. And to imagine the act of hacking and then to imagine the blood. Certainly, most of us find the thought appalling. So if we find such thoughts so revolting, then how could another do it.

Psychological studies show that most of us are ambivalent and it's the triggers and society that controls us. A 1999 study in a journal Military Review showed that a major's job was to find just 5% of the platoon who are ready to kill, and the rest would just need to kill to defend themselves (which is somehow more justifiable).

And today, most of us have evolved inhibitions towards aggression.
There were arguments both for and against aggression being in our genes.

I liked one argument on if there were no males, then there would be no "dominance drive", and there would be no war :) But if there were no males, there would be no mankind -- shucks!

My favorite musing in the talk was go back to the point in our evolution when our thoughts found a language. And we were able to think about our thoughts. That's a turning point we don't really think about too much. And I try to think now, if I weren't thinking in words, what would I be thinking in.

You can find the names of the speakers here.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

"In the stump of the old tree..."

In the stump of the old tree, where the heart has rotted out, there is a hole the length of a man's arm, and a dank pool at the bottom of it where the rain gathers, and the old leaves turn into lacy skeletons. But do not put your hand down to see, because

in the stumps of old trees, where the hearts have rotted out, there are holes the length of a man's arm, and dank pools at the bottom where the rain gathers and old leaves turn to lace, and the beak of a dead bird gapes like a trap. But do not put your hand down to see, because

in the stumps of old trees with rotten hearts, where the rain gathers and the laced leaves and the dead bird like a trap, there are holes the length of a man's arm, and in every crevice of the rotten wood grow weasel's eyes like molluscs, their lids open and shut with the tide. But do not put your hand down to see, because

in the stumps of old trees where the rain gathers and the trapped leaves and the beak and the laced weasel's eyes, there are holes the length of a man's arm, and at the bottom a sodden bible written in the language of rooks. But do not put your hand down to see, because

in the stumps of old trees where the hearts have rotted out there are holes the length of a man's arm where the weasels are trapped and the letters of the rook language are laced on the sodden leaves, and at the bottom there is a man's arm. But do not put your hand down to see, because

in the stumps of old trees where the hearts have rotted out there are deep holes and dank pools where the rain gathers, and if you ever put your hand down to see, you can wipe it in the sharp grass till it bleeds, but you'll never want to eat with it again.
~Hugh Sykes-Davies

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

"more or less"

The problem of more or less
I'd like to have more of you with me
And less of me without you

"Rainbows"

I already met you
You already stole my heart
And willingly gave me yours
I'm coming for you
Open heart and broken heart

Monday, October 04, 2010

Leiden Ontzet

Crazy three-day festival in Leiden to celebrate the Relief of Leiden!