Friday, October 7, 2011

I have switched to wordpress.

This blog will continue at its new address:
All the older posts are present at the new address and will continue to be present here, but no new posts will be added here.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Transparency Revolution

To quote A K Antony on the current state of affairs in the nation.
"Our country is passing through a transparency revolution. Walls of secrecy are crumbling gradually. But politicians, bureaucracy, judiciary, business people, armed forces, and journalists are still not ready for this transition to transparency," 
And then he adds:
 "But they will have to follow the transition and I don't think anybody can take any step in a different direction,"

Lets see how much of this comes through, within our life times.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

A self referential post for others

This post is for those who are reading this :Post!
When you read this post, you will know it is meant for you!

You can fool all people for some time.
You can fool some people for all the time.
But, you cannot fool all the people for all the time.

Hope that the message reaches those for whom it is meant!

That is for those poeple who are reading this post!!

You anyway are wasting your time by reading this sort of trash written by me!!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Free Software Tools for scanning and making e-books

How to give a new life to books which are out of copyright!

When I used Mac OS X I used Adobe Acrobat for processing the raw files from the scanner. But with the shift to GNU/Linux I did not know what tools to use.
So here is a short summary of the tools that I have found useful for doing things in GNU/Linux!

Typically the making a soft-copy from a hard-copy involves following steps:

Scan the Hard copy using a scanner / camera. This step generates image files
typically .tiff, .png or .jpeg. Some scanning programs also have option of directly generating to .pdf
Basically at this stage you have all the data, if you compress the folder into a comic book reader format .cbr or .cbz format you are good to go. But for a more professional touch read on. The main step to scan the books properly. Some do's and dont's

Align the pages to the sides of the scanner.
If the book is small size scan 2 pages at once.
  If the book is too large adjust the scan in the image preview side so that only one page is scanned.

If these steps are done properly there is a little that we have to do in the second step. And we can directly jump to Step 3.

Preferably scan in the binary form, unless there are colored images in the text. This will help reduce the final size of the file.

Scan at minimum 300 dpi, this is the optimum level that I have come to after trials and errors with different resolutions, their final results and the time taken for each scan. Of course this can differ depending on what is that you are scanning. Many people do the scanning at 600 dpi, but I am happy at 300 dpi.

First of all for the scanning itself. Most of the scanners come with an installation disk for M$-Windows or Mac-OSX. But for GNU/Linux there seems to be no 'installation disk'. The Xsane package allows quite a few scanners which are detected and are ready for use as soon as you plug them in.
The list of the scanners which are supported by Xsane can be found here:

When we bought our scanner we had to search this list to get the compatible scanner.
What is the problem with the manufacturers, why do they not want to sell more, to people who are using Free Software?

If your scanner is not in the list, then you might have to do some R&D before your scanner is up and running like I had to do for my old HP 2400 Scanjet at my home.

Once your scanner is up and running.  You scan the images preferably in .tiff format as they can be processed and compressed without much loss of quality. This again I have found by trial and error.

Crop the files and rotate them to remove unwanted white spaces or
 accidental entries of adjoining pages from the images that were obtained. When the pages are scanned as 2 pages in one image, we may need to separate the pages.

Initially I did it manually, it was the second most boring part after the scanning. But I have found a very wonderful tool for this work.

Imagemagick provides a set of tools which work like magick in images, hence the name I guess :)

This is one of the best tools for batch processing image files.

Then I found out the dream tool that I was looking for.
The is called Scan-Tailor, as the name suggests it is meant for processing of scanned images.

Scan Tailor can be found at or directly from Ubuntu Software Centre.

Step by step scan tailor cleans and creates amazingly good output files from relatively unclean images.

There are a total of 6 steps in scan-tailor which produces the desired output.
You have to choose the folder in which your scanned images are. Scan-tailor produces a directory called out in the same folder by default. The steps are as follows
  1. Change the Orientation: This enables one to change the orientation of all the files in the directory. This is good option in case you have scanned the book in a different orientation.
  2. Split Pages: This step will tell whether the scans that we have made are single page scans, single page with some marginal text from other page or two page scans. Most of the times the auto detection works well with single page and two page scans. But it is a good idea to check manually whether all the pages have been divided correctly, so that it does not create problems later. If you find that a page has been divided incorrectly then we can slide the margin to correct it. In case of two page scans the two pages are shown with a semitransparent blue or red layer on top of them. After looking at all the pages we commit the result. 
  3. Deskew: After the pages have been split we need to change the orientation for better alignment of the text. Here in my experience most of the auto-orientation works fine. But still it is a good idea to check manually the pages, in case something is missed.
  4. Select Content: This is the one step that I have found as the most useful one in the scan-tailor. Here you can select the portion of the text that will appear in the final output. So that you can say goodbye to all the dark lines that come inevitably as part of scanning. Also some library marks can be removed easily by this step. The auto option works well when the text is in nice box shape, but it may leave wide areas open also. The box shape can be changed the way we want. If you want a blank page, remove the content box, by right clicking on the box.
  5. Page Layout: Here one can set the dimensions for the output page and how each page content will be on the page.
  6. Output: Produces the final output with all the above changes.
The output is stored in a directory called Out in the same folder. The original images are not changed, so that in case you want some changes or something goes wrong we can always go  back to the original files. Also numbering of the images is done.
So we have cleaned pages of same size from the scanned pages.

Step 3:
Collate the processed files in Step 2 to one single PDF. For this I have used the convert command.

Typical synatax is like this

convert *.tiff output.pdf

This command will take all the .tiff files in the given directory and collate these files into a pdf named output.pdf

Step 4: 
OCR the PDF file.
Now this is again tricky, I could not find a good application which would OCR the pdf file and embed the resulting text on the pdf file. But I have found a hack on the following link which seems to work fine :)

The hack is a bash script which does the required work.

Step 5:

Optimize the PDF file generated in Step 4.

Here there is a nautilus shell script which I have found in the link below which does optimization.

Step 6: 

In case you want to convert the .pdf to .djvu there is one step solution for that also

pdf2djvu -o output.djvu input.pdf

The tips and tricks here are by no means complete or the best. But this is what I have found to be useful. Some of the professional and non-free softwares can do all these, but the point of writing this article was to make a list of Free and Open Source Softwares for this purpose.

Comments and suggestions are welcome!

Monday, April 25, 2011

India would have been a better place without Sathya Sai Baba

Posting for a wider reading.

India would have been a better place without Sathya Sai Baba
Sanal Edamaruku
Indian Rationalist Association & Rationalist International

When Sathya Sai Baba died this morning (24 April 2011) at the age of
85 years, he proved once again that miracles and predictions fail. He
had predicted at a public gathering at his head quarters in
Puttaparthy, in 2000, and repeatedly many times, that he would die at
the age of 96 only. And till the last moment, many of his devotees
clung to his word and waited for a miracle. May it be an eye opener
for the millions of gullible people whom he misguided and deluded.

De mortuis nihil nisi bene, they say, say nothing but good of the
dead. But I think Sathya Sai Baba’s case qualifies for an exception.
Too great is the damage that he did to India. His devastating
influence on reason and scientific temper caused huge setback to the
country. At a time, when scientific progress led to great social and
economic leaps and scientific awakening started spreading all over
India, Sathya Sai Baba launched a “counter revolution” of
superstition, supported by irresponsible politicians and other public
figures who should have known better. In my judgment, this is his
greatest crime. I have succeeded again and again to expose him
publicly as a fraud, so did some other rationalists. But due to his
political protectors he was never held responsible for his crimes
against public reason. Nor was he ever booked for any other crime he
was accused of. Numerous cases of alleged sexual abuse and murder are
yet to be investigated, not to mention the financial secrets of his

Sathya Sai Baba insisted in all seriousness that he was god, the
creator of the universe, and “proved” his divinity with a couple of
small “miracles”. As son of a village tantric he was familiar with the
hand sleights and tricks of the trade. However, he did not only
fascinate poor and uneducated villagers with his fraudulent
performances. Over the years, he managed to attract a galaxy of
India’s rich and powerful, among them ministers, prime ministers,
presidents, chief justices, top industrialists and superstars.

Sathya Sai Baba had a special modus operandi that was the key for his
astonishing success and the root of his enormous clout. Many of his
high society devotees came to serve their own vested interests. Some
came to rub shoulders with the prominent. Many joined the club because
it was working as a powerful syndicate spreading its tentacles all
over the political system. It was a way to the top jobs and a way to
get things done. Others were seeking financial support or wanted to
get rid of ill-gotten black money: The empire, it is alleged, was
based on money laundering, using foreign devotees and branches. In
fact, the huge foreign donations to Sai Baba stood in contrast to the
comparatively modest number of active foreign devotees and the
sometimes quite weak foreign branches, some of them residing in
private homes. That is no great surprise, when one considers that Sai
Baba did not speak any other language than Telugu and traveled only
once in his whole life abroad – to visit his friend Idi Amin in

On his 80th birthday, Sai Baba’s supporters announced that he would
turn from a miracle man to a philanthropist. That was, after I had
demonstrated his miracles so often in TV shows that many kids in the
streets could imitate them. That he since spent a part of the great
fortunes, swindled out of the gullible, for social development around
his ancestral village, is highlighted now to present him as a saint.
But as useful and welcome hospitals, schools and drinking water
projects for the poor always may be: this kind of alibi-philanthropy
is well known even from mafia-bosses. It cannot be weighed against his
crimes and the damage he has done to the Indian society.

In December 2005, I wrote a letter to then President Dr. Abdul Kalam,
one of Sai Baba’s ardent supporters, which was never answered. I
demanded criminal investigations against Sai Baba. If his social
development projects are meant to be indulgence to nullify his crimes,
this procedure is unprecedented and unacceptable, I wrote. It is a
shame for India that well-founded accusations and numerous reputed
witnesses against Sai Baba are ignored without any investigation. Do
saffron clothes make an offender untouchable for the law? Do we have
to tolerate that political protectionism raises its head so boldly,
mocking India's democracy?

Sathya Sai Baba caused great damage to India. His irresponsible
political patrons corrupted the political culture of India. Encouraged
by the clout of Sathya sai Baba, a new clan of miracle mongers
imitated him. India would have been a better place without Sathya Sai

(This or other articles from the  Rationalist International Bulletin
may be reproduced by journals, blogs or web sites without change or
alteration in its content, and with due acknowledgment.)

Rationalist International:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

WikiLeaks and India

Now that Julian Assange's WikiLeaks is causing some people sleepless nights in the West, the effect is slowly being felt in India. With the expose, exposing the incumbent Congress and the opposition BJP every now and then. The counter accusations follow from the parties. Some things that I have noted when an expose happens is as follows:

  1.  Typically the party in the soup tries to downplay WikiLeaks itself, saying that this is what has been said by the US diplomats and is nothing more than office gossip.
  2. At the same time the other party mounts an attack on the party in soup, trying to tell us "Isn't it the same thing that we were saying from so many years?" And they will tell you how the other party is bad to its core. In this case they never question the authenticity of WikiLeaks. 
  3. The cycle repeats. Only the role of the parties are changed!

So WikiLeaks is like a hot potato, which none of our political parties have courage to handle. As soon as they land with one, they try to throw it away as soon as possible. When it is in someone else's hand they will try to make some brownie points out of it.

Indian media with some exceptions is trying to play down the damage done by WikiLeaks to the political and the civil system. They may be hand-in-glove with those accused, or may be afraid that their own names may appear in the future issues of WikiLeaks.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sibal Vs Hazare

Apparently Kapil Sibbal the person who negotiated with the Anti-corruption rally activists cannot make simple deductions about the state in which the country is in. Being the HRD minister he should know better.

Sibal said this in a public meeting 

I ask this question, if a poor child does not have any means for education, then how will Lokpal Bill help? If a poor man needs help for medical services then he will call up a politician. How will Lokpal Bill help.

When Mr. Hazare responded by saying that Mr, Sibal should not be in the committee if he thinks Lokpal bill is useless, then Sibal clarified his position by saying:

the scope of the Bill is different. The problems of the common man are different. ...
I said that if you want to educate children, then this has no connection to Lokpal. If there is no convenience of water...Lokpal is only connected to corruption and we will bring a good bill that will stop corruption.

To get to what I am saying you do not even have to read between the lines. The very fact that there are problems in the Indian system, the likes of which Sibal mentions, viz. poor child not having means for education, poor man needing medical services and others at least in part are linked to India being a very corrupt  state. Since we are a corrupt state, that is the reason people cannot get access to basic needs of a good life, like education for their children and medical services, without clout of some politician, as Mr. Sibal puts it. And this is accepted, by saying that going through a politican will perhaps help a poor person, than cleaning the system itself.

How can a bad governing system which is corrupt as deep as it can be, and public inconvenience it causes and a strong anti-corruption bill be not related? The Lokpal Bill is in every related to problems of common man,  and that is the reason why it gathered such a wide support.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Children's Machine

These are some unfinished notes that I have taken while reading the Children's Machine by Seymour Papert. Hope that someday I will weave them into something more fluid.

  Why, though a period when so much human activity has been
  revolutionized, have we not seen comparable change in the way we
  help our children learn?

* Quotes


  One could indeed make kitchen math part of the School by making School part of the kitchen.

  Are there any snakes in the house?
  Yes there are, there are zero snakes in the house!

  So. negative numbers are numbers too, and their reality grows in the course of playing with turtle.

  You can't retire from a good project simply because it has succeeded.


  Constructionism: It does not call in question the value of  instruction as such

  The kind of knowledge that children most need is the knowledge that will help them get more knowledge.

  If the children really want to learn something, and have the opportunity to learn it in its use, they do so even if the teaching is poor.

  Constructionism looks more closely than other educational -isms at  the idea of mental construction. It attaches a special importance to role of constructions in the world as a support for those in the head, thereby becoming less of a purely mentalistic doctrine. It also takes the idea of constructing in the head more seriously by recognizing more than one kind of construction and by asking questions about the methods and materials used.

  How can one become expert in constructing knowledge?

  What skills are required?

  Are these skills different for different kinds of knowledge?


  School math, like the ideology, though not necessarily the practice, of modern science, is based on the idea of generality - the single, universally correct method that will work for all problems and for all people.


  Use what you've got, improvise, make do.


  The natural context for learning would be through particiaption in other activities other than math itself.


  The reason is that the educators who advocate imposing abstract ways of thinking on students almost practice what they preach - as I  tried to do in adopting a concrete style of writing - but with very different effects.


  But however concrete their data, any statistical question about  ``the effect" of ``the computer" is irretrievably abstract. This is because all such studies depend on use of what is known as the ``scientific method," in form of experiments designed to study the effect of one factor which is varied while taking great pains to
  keep everything else same. ... But nothing could be more absurd than  an experiment in which computers are placed in a classroom where nothing else has changed. The entire point of all the examples I have given is that the computers serve best when they allow everything to change.


  The concept of highly rigorous and formal scientific method that most of us have been taught in school is really an ideology  proclaimed in books, taught in schools and argued by philosophers but widely ignored in actual practice of science.


  They count the same, but it's more eggs.

  My overarching message to anyone who wishes to influence, or simple understand, the development of educational computing is that it is not about one damn product after another (to paraphrase a saying
  about how school teaches history). Its essence is the growth of a  culture, and it can be influenced constructively only through understanding and fostering trends in this culture.

  I would be rather precisely wrong than vaguely right.
  - Patrick Suppes
    It had been obvious to me for a long time that one of the major difficulties in school subjects such as mathematics and science is that School insists on the student being precisely right. Surely it is necessary in some situations to be precisely right. But these situations cannot be the right ones for developing the kind of thinking that I most treasure myself and many creative people I know.

    What computers had offered me was exactly what they should offer children! They should serve children as instruments to work with and to think with, as means to carry out projects, the source of concepts to think new ideas. The last thing in the world I wanted or needed was a drill and practice program telling me to do this sum of spell that word! Why should we impose such a thing on children?

    The opportunity for fantasy opens the to a feeling of intimacy
    with the work and provides a peep at how emotional side of
    children's relationship with science and technology could be very
    different from what is traditional in School. Fantasy has always
    been encouraged in good creative writing and art
    classes. Excluding it from science is a foolish neglect of an
    opportunity to develop bonding between children and science.

    Errors can become sources of information.


    Although the ultimate goal was the same, the means were more than
    just qualitatively different; they were episte,mologically
    different in that they used a different way of thinking.

    Traditional epistemology is an epistemology of precision:
    Knowledge is valued for being precise and considered inferior if
    it lacks precision. Cybernetics creates an epistemology of
    ``managed vagueness."


    The real problem was that I was still thinking in terms of how to
    ``get the children to do something." This is the educator's
    instinctive way of thinking: How can you get children to like
    math, to write wonderfully, to enjoy programming, to use
    higher-order thinking skills? It took a long time for me to
    understand in my gut, even after I was going around saying it,
    that Logo gaphics was successful because of the powet it /gave/ to
    children, not because of the performance it /got from/ them.

    Children love constructing things, so let's choose a construction
    set and add to it whatever is needed for these to make cybernetic


    What will they [children] learn from it [Logo]? And won't it favor
    boys over girls?

    The first question concerns what piece of the school curriculum is
    being learned but I attach the most importance to such issues as
    children's relationship with technology, then idea of learning,
    their sense of self. As for the gender issue, I am thinking more
    about, how in the long run comoutational activities will affect
    gender than how the gener will affect the activities.

    Their work provies good examples of material that overlaps with
    School science and math, and of an alternative style applied to
    these subjects - instead of formal style that uses rules, a
    concrete style that uses objects.

    It is worth noting that the students appreciated the
    self-organizing nature of the traffic jam only because they had
    written the programs themselves. Had they been using a packaged
    simulation, they would have had no way of knowing the elegant
    simplicity of the programs underlying the jam.

    Emergent stuctures often behave very differently than the elements
    that compose them.


    The cathedral model of education applies the same principle to
    building knowledge structures. The curriculum designer in cast in
    the role of a ``knowledge architect'' who will specify a plan, a
    tight progra, for the placement of ``knowledge brick's'' in
    children's minds.


    What is typical of emergently programmed systems is that
    deviations from what was expected do not cause the wholw to
    collapse but provoke adaptive responses.

    We are living with an edicational systsem that is fundamentally as
    irrational as the command economy and ultimately for the same
    reason. It does not have capacity for local adaptation that is
    necessary for a complex system even to function effieciently in a
    changing environment, and is doubly necessary for such a system to
    be able to evolve.

    Defininf educational success by test scores is not very different
    from couting nails made rather than nails used.

    But calling hierarchy into question is the crux of the problem if
    educational change.

    Each of these cases suggests ways in which a little school created
    in a militant spirit can mobilize technology as an assertion of

    I could continue in this spirit, but this may be enough to make
    the point that little schools could give themselves a deeper and
    more conscious specific identity. Everything I have said in this
    book converges to suggest that this would produce rich
    intellectual environments in which not only children and teachers
    but also new ideas about learning would develop together.

    I see little schools as the most powerful, perhaps an essential,
    route to generating variety for the evolution of education.

    The prevailing wisdom in the education establishment might agree
    with the need for variety but look to other sources to provide
    it. For example, many - let us call them the Rigorous
    Researchers - would say that the proper place for both variation
    and selection is in the laboratory. On their model, researchers
    should develop large numbers of different ideas, test them
    rigorously, select the best, and disseminate them to schools.

    In my view this is simply Gosplan in disguise.


    The importance of the concept of the little school is that it
    provides a powerful, perhaps by far the most powerful, strategy to
    allow the operation of the principle of variation and selection.

    This objection depends on an assumption that is at the core of the
    technicalist model of education: Certain procedures are the best,
    and the people involved can be ordered to carry them out. But even
    if there were such a thing as "the best method" for learning, it
    would still only be the best, or even mildly good, if people
    believed in it. The bueracrat thinks that you can make people
    beleive in something by issuing orders.


    The design of learning environment has to take account of the
    cultural environment as well, anad its implementation must make
    serious effort at involvement of the communities in which it is to


    It is no longer necessary to bring a thousand children together in
    one building and under one administration in order to develop a
    sense of community.


    I do not see that School can be defended in its social role. It
    does not serve the functions it claims, and will do so less and



  Talking about megachange feels to them like fiddling when Rome
  burns. Education today is faced with immediate, urgent
  problems. Tell us how to use your computer to solve some of the
  many immediate practical problems we have, they say.

  Impediments to change in education such as, cost, politics, the
  immense power of the vested interests of school bureaucrats, or lack
  of scientific research on new forms of learning.

  Large number of teachers manage to create within the walls of their
  own classrooms oases of learning profoundly at odds with the
  education philosophy espoused by their administrators...

  But despite the many manifestations of a widespread desire for
  something different, the education establishment, including most of
  its research community, remains largely committed to the educational
  philosophy of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and
  so far none of those who challenge these have hallowed traditions
  has been able to loosen the hold of the educational establishement
  on how children are taught.

  Do children like games more than homework because, the later is
  harder than the former?

  Most [games] are hard, with complex information - as well as
  techniques - to be mastered, in the information often much more
  difficult and time consuming to master than the technique.

  These toys, by empowering children to test out ideas about working
  within prefixed rules and structures in a way few other toys are
  capable of doing, have proved capable of teaching students about the
  possibilities and drawbacks of a newly presented system in ways many
  adults should envy.

  In trying to teach children what adults want them to know, does
  School utitlize the way human beings most naturally learn in
  non-school settings?

  If it has so long been so desperately needed, why have previous
  calls for it not caught fire?

  K[G]nowledge Machine

  Is reading the principal access route to knowledge?

  Ask a symapathetic adult who would reward her curiosity with praise.

  Literacy is being able to read and write. Illiteracy can be
  remedied by teaching children the mechanical skill of decoding black
  marks on white paper.

  /Letteracy/ and /Letterate/

  Reading from Word to Reading from World

  ... the Knowledge Machine offers children a transition between
  preschool learning and true literacy in way that is more personal,
  more negotiational, more gradual, and so less precarious thant the
  abrupt transition we now ask chidlrento malke as they move from
  learning through direct experience to using the orinted word as a
  source of important information.

  .... School's way is the only way beacause they have never seen or
  imagined convincing alternatives in the ability to impart certain
  kinds of knowledge.

    * Babies learn to talk without curriculum or formal lessson

    * People develop hobbies at skills without teachers

    * social behavior is picked up other than through classroom

     Parable of the Automobile:

      ... certain problems that had been abstract and hard to grasp
      became concrete and transparent, and certain projects that had
      seemed interesting but too complex to undertake became

      Paulo Freire: "Banking model" information is deposited in
      child's mind like money in a savings account.
      /Tools/ for creating new experiments in effective fashion.

      * Ideas

    * Dewey: children would learn better if learning were truly a
          part of living experience

    * Freire: chidlren would learn better if they were truly in
          charge of their own learning processes

    * Piaget: intelligence emerges from an evolutionary process in
          which many factors must have time to find their equilibrium.

    * Vygotsky: Conversation plays a crucial role in learning.

    Why did the discovery method fail?

    By closing off a much larger basis of knowledge that should
        serve as a foundation for formal mathematics taught in school
        and perhas a minimal intuitive basis directly connected with

    The central problem of mathematics education is to find ways
        to draw on the child's vast experience of oral
        mathematics. Computers can do this.

    Giving chidlren opportunity learn and use mathematics in a
        nonformalized way of knowing encourages rather than inhibits
        the eventual adoption of formalized way, just as the XO,
        rather than discouraging reading, would eventually stimulate
        children to read.

    The design process is not used to learn more formal geometry.

    Traditionally teh art and writing classes are for fantasy but
        science deals with facts; union of technology with biology.

    It allows them to enter science through a region where
        scientific thinking is most like there own thinking.

    Reading biographies and iterrogating friends has convinced me
        that all successful learners find ways to take charge of their
        early lives sufficiently to develop a sense of intellectual

    Piaget's first article: a paradox?

    Schools have inherent tendency to infantilize the children by
        placing them in a position of have to do so as they are told,
        to occupy themselves with work dictated by someone else and
        that, morever, has no intrinsic value - school work is done only
        because the designer of the curriculum decided that doingthis
        work would shape the doer into a desirable form[for the

    NatGeo: Kidnet??Robert Tinker

    Researchers, following the so-called scientific method of
        using controlled experiments, solemnly expose the children to
        a "treatment" of some sort and then look at measurable
        results. But this flies in the face of all common knowledge
        of how human beings develop.
    The method of controlled experimentation that evaluates an
        idea by implementing it, taking care to keep everything else
        the same, and measuring the result, may be an appropriate way
        to evaluate the effects of a small modification. However, it
        can tell us nothing about ideas that might lead to deep
        change... It will be steered less by the outcome of tests and
        measurements than by its participant' intuitive understanding.

    The prevalent literal-minded, "what you see is what you get"
        approach measuring the effectiveness of computers in learning
        by teh achievements in present-day classroons makes it certain
        that tomorrow will always be prisoner of yesterday.

    Example of Jet attached to horse wagon.

    ... most people are more interested in what they learn than in how
        the learning happens.

    But math is not about feeling the relationship of your body to

    Turtle lets you do this!

    Intellectual work is adult child's play.

    Example that if observation of schools in some country where
        only one writing instrument could be provided for every fifty
        students suggested that writing does not significantly help

    The change requires a much longer and more social computer
        experience than is possible with two machines at the back of
        the classroom.

    /Balkanized Curriculum and impersonal rote learning/

    What had started as a subversive instrument of change was
        neutralized by the system and converted into an instrument of

    Schools will not come to use computers "properly" because
        researchers tell it how to do so.'

    It is characteristic of a conservative systems that
        acoomodation will come only when the opportunities of
        assimilation have been exhausted.

    Supposed Advantages
    * Immediate Feedback
    * Individualized instruction
    * Neutrality *

      CAI will often modestly raise test scores, especially at the low end
      of the scale. But it does without questioning the structure or the
      educational goals of the traditional School.
      Today, because it is the 15th Monday of your 5th grade year,
          you have to do this sum irrespective of who you are or what
          you really want to do; do what you are told and do it the
          way you are told to do it.

      Piaget was the theorist of learning without curriculum;
      School spawned the projectof developing a Piagetian curriculum.

      The central issue of change in education is the tension
      between technicalizing and not technicalizing, and here the teacher
      occupies the fulcrum position.

      Shaw: He who can, does; he who cannot, teaches.

      The system defeats its own purpose in attempt to enforce them.

      School has evolved a heirarchical system of control that
          sets narrow limits within which the actors - administators
          as well as teachers - are allowed to exercise a degree of
          personal initiative.

      Hierarchy vs. Heterarchy

      The major obstacle in the way of teachers becoming learners
      is inhibition about learning.

The problem with `developed' countries as opposed to `developing' ones
is that the developed countries are already there, there is no further
development possible.

In education, the highest mark of success is not having imitators but
inspiring others to do something else.

As long as there is afixed curriculum, a teacher has no need to become
involved in the question what is and what is not mathematics.

Society cannot afford to keep back its potentially best teachers
simply because some. or even most, are unwilling.

The how-to-do-it literature in the constructivist subculture is almost
as strongly biased to the teacher side as it is in the instructionist

Some etymology:

/Mathematikos/ disposed to learn
/mathema/ a lesson
/manthanein/ to learn

\ldots mathetics is to learning what heuristics is to problem solving.

What is that feeling when you look at a familiar object, with a sense
that you are looking at the object for the first time?
It is /jamais vu/.

Attempts by teachers and textbook authors to connect school fractions
with real life via representations as pies simply reuslyed in a new

* What is the difference in learning at school and all other learning?
  Generally in life, knowledge is acquired to be used. But school
  learning more often fits Freire's apt metaphor: Knowledge is treated
  like money, to be put away in a bank for the future.

* What does /Computer Literacy/ mean?

* The Technology of the Blackboard and The Technology of The Computer


* Lines You can use:

   The computer to program the student...
   The student to program the computer...

   Computer as an expensive set of flash cards.

   If the students scores improve, our approach must be right.

   Self-directed activities versus carefully guided ones
   If the scores improve does it mean that the strategy is effective/
   approach is right?
   Heterarchical versus Hierarchical
   Totalitarian Education or Trivialized Education

Friday, February 11, 2011

How science should be taught

Science is an adventure of the whole human race to learn to live in and
perhaps to love the universe in which they are. To be a part of it is to
understand, to understand oneself, to begin to feel that there is a capacity
within man far beyond what he felt he had, of an infinite extension of
human possibilities ....

I propose that science be taught at whatever level, from the lowest to the
highest, in the humanistic way. It should be taught with a certain historical
understanding, with a certain philosophical understanding with a social
understanding and a human understanding in the sense of the biography, the
nature of the people who made this construction, the triumphs, the trials, the tribulations.


Nobel Laureate in Physics

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Kabuki is a comic series from artist and writer David Mack. It is about an assassin who struggles with her identity in near future Japan.

Kabuki is one of the 8 eight assassin in the Noh, a secret Government agency which balances the power in Japan's underworld.
As far as the storyline is concerned one can trace a lot of influences on the art and the characters of the story [at least the ones I am familiar with]. Not to mention the industrial style that we see in Blade Runner.

The first Volume Circle of Blood tell us about the origins of Kabuki. The art form in this Volume is black and white. Some of the other volumes are in color. In this volume there is a strong influence from Lewis Caroll's Alice in Wonderland.Especially in the Issue where Kai is killed by Kabuki the entire setup of the Mad Hatter's tea party has been taken. When Kai takes Kabuki to visit his collections, the book that she picks up is Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
The passage she reads is this :

'But I don't want to go among mad people,' Alice remarked.
'Oh, you can't help that,' said the Cat: 'we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad.'
'How do you know I'm mad?' said Alice.
'You must be,' said the Cat, 'or you wouldn't have come here.'

And I think I can relate very well to the quote of Kai on books [who has a formidable collection], when he compares the paper books with those that are digital :

But I love the intimacy of books. I love the physical act of turning
the pages and the tactile sensations of fine rice paper contrasting
with an embossed hardcover in my hand.

Influence from Carroll can also be found in other as pack of cards.

We are only faces, yet we are faceless... nothing but a pack of cards
in wonderland.
And in case of Kabuki when she says

I am a reflection, trapped in the world of a little girl.

It seems that David Mack has a fascination for M. C. Escher like I do. There are many influences of Escher in the later Volumes of Kabuki and especially in Metamorphosis. Incidentally metamorphosis is the theme in numerous Escher's drawings, in which one thing transforms into another. Similarly in all the Metamorphosis issues the theme is of transformation. Also one of the characters is named M. C. Square which I think is a sort of tribute to Escher.
Also there is one quote in Skin Deep # 1 from Escher, which is quoted below.

The crossing of the divide between abstract and concrete,
representations between `mute' and `speaking' figures leads us to the
heart of what fascinated me. - M. C. Escher

In the later Volumes when Kabuki is in the reformation center, one cannot but help to think that there is an influence of Alan Moore's V for Vendetta and thus indirectly of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four. Somehow I a find myself bumping into Orwell every now and then, is there a deep connection, or is this theory ladenness of data as per Thomas Kuhn on my part?  Particularly the character of Akemi the way she builds up the morale of Kabuki has very strong resemblance in which 'V' builds up Evey's mental state

 If it can be taken from you, it was never you to begin with.
After they take away all they can what remains is you.
Only in these situations, we truly know who we are.
The passing of notes on Origami constructions of different animals also reminds us of the same modus operandi in case of Evey's build up by the Actress in V for Vendetta.

Though the masks form an integral part of the style of the Kabuki dancers in Japan, the kind of attachment that our lead female Kabuki has with the mask resembles the character of V. Under their masks both have scars on their face, but as one the characters in Kabuki puts it

 I think your scars are far deeper than the eyes can see.
Which I think is true in both cases of V and Kabuki. There is a trauma attached to the scar behind the mask, which they cannot forget, they do not want to forget. What they remember is revenge which RGV quoting in Rakhtacharitra [Blood History]  from Gita says:

Revenge is the purest form of emotion.
The masks gives them a new identity, which they can relate to. The masks that they were have become them. They cannot be separated from them. They have become their identity, which they cannot forsake, at any costs.

This post is not complete, will update it when time permits.

* Quotes
** Circle of blood
# 3

One must aim beyond the target. One must aim a long way. Our whole
life, our whole spirit travels with the arrow. And when the arrow has
been fired, it is never the end.

# 4

When in the company of deceptive hearts, be only honest, and your
opponents will fool themselves.

I am a reflection, trapped in the world of a little girl.

# 5

I am invisible, untraceable... like tears in the rain.

But I love the intimacy of books. I love the physical act of turning
the pages and the tactile sensations of fine rice paper contrasting
with an embossed hardcover in my hand.

But then, everybody has their own ghosts, don't they?

Kai, is life a straight line or a circle?
Both and neither. It's a spiral like your DNA.

There is no morality in virtual reality. What kind of person will he
grow up to be?


She is going to break your heart into two.
Its true.
Its not hard to realize.
She is going to smile to make you frown,
what a clown.
'Cause everybody knows
She's a femme fatale
The things she does to please
she's just a little tease.

It is time to master duality of your nature you must decide who you
really are.

I play my games, but the hand of fate is much quicker than the lie.

Just as the locusts cloak the sun, my perceptions blinded me.

The warrior unencumbered and willing to go further than his opponent
would always win.

I swallowed the locusts, and with it my fear

Look at the swan skimming the water. Angel wings of ivory feathers, its
eyes veiled in a mask of black. Its beauty rivaled only by its very
own reflection. Ghostly and regal, it seems to glide effortlessly on
the ponds surface, but below the surface... its feed are peddling like

We are faceless pawns.
Funny thing about pawns. If they make it to the other side, they
become the most powerful player on the board. That is where I am
going. The other side.

I am armed only with the power that my physical presence commands.

I feel the burning of their gaze and it keeps me warm.

A voice in my head tells me the bullet had my name on it.
I tell the voice that they misspelled my name.

# Fear the Reaper

A city whose technology has surpassed its humanity.

If you gaze into eyes of the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.

Sometimes there is no comedy, there is no tragedy only a closing
curtain. Sometimes the curtain falls slowly, sometimes it just falls.

We are only faces, yet we are faceless... nothing but a pack of cards
in wonderland.

I am drifting in the dark halfway between the Sun and the Moon.

** Masks of the Noh

Crying and laughter... pain and desire are sisters.


Time always catches up with you.

Never in words had I experienced the chilling satisfaction of words.


Nothing is black and white anymore, it all blurs together.

** Skin Deep


I used to get lost in the shuffle, now I just shuffle along with the

I think your scars are far deeper than the eyes can see.

The crossing of the divide between abstract and concrete,
representations between `mute' and `speaking' figures leads us to the
heart of what fascinated me. - M C Escher

The transformation takes place within our minds.

The only way to define your own identity is to be completely alone.

I don't seek to find myself.
I seek to loose myself.
Escape is a burning hope.

If horror is not your friend it is your enemy.

** Metamorphosis

You have an interesting way of putting things. And interesting places
to put them.

If it can be taken from you, it was never you to begin with.
After they take away all they can what remains is you.
Only in these situations, we truly know who we are.

Your yesterday is about to collide with your tomorrow.

Your environment reflects your internal disposition.

You can't face the future until you resolve the past.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Thinking Humans

There is at least one philosophical problem in
which all thinking men are interested: the problem of under-
standing the world in which we live, including ourselves,who are
part of that world, and our knowledge of it.
- Karl Popper

Conjectures and Refutations

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

शिवाजी महाराजांचा आत्मा [The Soul of Shivaji Maharaj]


 I am grateful that you are honoring my statue. But perhaps if you show equal enthusiasm for principles, I would be a hundred times more happier. [July 1928]

 What Shankarrao Kirloskar  has written about 80 years ago still holds true today!

जे शंकरराव किर्लोस्करानी ८० वर्षां आधी व्यक्त केले ते आज पण तेवढेच खरे आहे!
शिवाजी महाराजांचा आत्मा 

सन्दर्भ : शब्द व रेषा - शं. वि. किर्लोस्कर

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Year Resolution!

My New Year Resolution is that I won't be purchasing anything from the Malls anymore. As far as possible I am going to avoid the `Mall Culture.'

Lets see how far I can go...