Archive for April, 2009

some people

Some people talk and talk
and never say a thing;
Some people look at you
and birds start to sing.

Some people laugh and laugh,
and yet you want to cry;
Some people touch your hand
and music fills the sky.

-Charlotte Zolotow

When two people of the first kind meet, fog meets frost, and they dully pass their dreary existence on this bleak earth in mutual tolerance.

When a person of the second kind meets a person of the first kind, the spring meets the snow, and perhaps a green shoot or two might possibly be drawn out of that cold, hard ground.

When two people of the second kind meet, heaven erupts and the earth rejoices, the trees shower forth blossoms of bliss, the wispy clouds perform their strange ethereal dance beneath the smiling sun, and in the distance,  one can hear the sound of church bells ringing.


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the guitar is hard again

So I’ve just restrung HY’s guitar.

The pristine white bass strings and the crystal clear treble strings beckon to be played, to channel a love song, or a Bach piece, or a bluesy chord progression. And I’m very inclined to oblige.

There’s just one problem: It’s a left-handed guitar, and I’m not sinister (in the original sense of the word).

But then again, how hard can it be? The strings are nylon ones, not steel, so they’re much easier to press. The chord fingerings and notes are just a mirror image of the fingerings I’m familiar with. All I have to do is apply my own tips that I give to my guitar “students”, and I’ll be playing to the likes of Paul McCartney and Jimi Hendrix in no time!

So I fit the guitar snugly over my right thigh, grasp the neck with my right hand, and hazard out a C-chord. So far so good. The fingering feels awkward, but otherwise OK. Now to see if it sounds right. I eagerly position my left hand over the sound hole, take a deep breath, and give it one good strum, and… (more…)

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love at first note

Captivating from the very first pizzicato

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Cryptographers have a sense of humour.

Or maybe they’re just nuts.

Read the following excerpts from peer reviewed papers and judge for yourself.

Inspired by Carter and Wegman, we use simple primitives which we call NUT (for “n-Universal Transformation”) since they are so cheap to implement. We propose construction methods for block ciphers that we call COCONUT (for “Cipher Organized with Cute Operations and NUT”), PEANUT (for “Pretty Encryption Algorithm with NUT”), and WALNUT (for “Wonderful Algorithm with Light NUT”).

Decorrelation: a theory for block cipher security, S. Vaudenay

Then this other bunch of guys comes up with a new cipher:

In this paper we will suggest a new block cipher called DONUT (Double Operations with NUT) which is made by two pairwise perfect decorrelation modules. DONUT is secure against boomerang attack.

New Block Cipher DONUT Using Pairwise Perfect Decorrelation, Dong Hyeon Cheon et al

(Don’t ask about the boomerang…)

I’m not surprised if, when cryptanalyst come up with a new, powerful attack that breaks all known ciphers, they call it Cryptonite.

And it pays to watch movies after all… Who knows? One day you might get to cite them in your papers! See citation 28:


The title of this paper is… <drumroll>… “Dial C for Cipher”. And in case you didn’t catch the allusion, the authors are kind enough to add a footnote:

Refering to the famous movie by Alfred Hitchcock Dial M for Murder[28]…

Dial C for Cipher, Thomas Baignères and Matthieu Finiasz

The same authors are responsible for another cipher, the Krazy Feistel Cipher. Why “Krazy” and not “Crazy”? There might be other reasons (remember what I said about them being nuts?), but take a look at the initials…

(do I hear clucking?)

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1 John 4:16

Don’t tell me that God lives;
Why do I care?
Show me instead that Love lives,
And then, perhaps, I’ll hear.

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An Easter bunny, of a different kind.

The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others… He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.

“What is REAL?” asked the Velveteen Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.

“But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

The Velveteen Rabbit, Margery Williams

Meryl Streep’s reading of the story, with George Winston’s music in the background, is particularly enchanting, but you’ll need to have half an hour to spare, and maybe some tissues nearby as well. It’s split into three videos.

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