Wilkommen, Bienvenu, Welcome... Sziasztok!

Welcome to The Lotus Position, an intermittent collection of extempore navel gazings, ponderings, whinges, whines, pontifications and diatribes.

Everything is based on a Sample of One: these are my views, my experiences... caveat lector... read the Disclaimer

The Budapest Office - Castro Bisztro, Madach ter

The Budapest Office - Castro Bisztro, Madach ter
Ponder, Scribble, Ponder (Photo Erdotahi Aron)

Guest Nutter/Kindred Soul: Bill Bailey


Saturday, 29 November 2008


Just stumbled across this, which I thought I would share.

It was apparently written circa 1997 "to purge the irritation" arising from wholly unjustified criticism of my (probably extended use) of metaphor and analogy in describing certain computer algorithms for optimisation. [If I recall correctly, I probably described a piece-wise linear optimisation as a Darwinian Ecosystem... at length, with examples, and possibly diagrams]

The original Sonnet XVIII by the Swan of Avon

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

The alternative version, as preferred by computer scientists with no poetry in their hearts:

Can I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thy beauty is not an objective fact!
Beaufort defines the strength of wind in May,
Not buds that subjectivity must rack!
Always the sun by Stefaan's law does shine
Though sometime is his colour index low,
But comfort is by human mind defined
And how to speak of it I do not know.
Knowing summer, and his mean duration
Why worry whether it be long or short?
Who can hold with idle speculation,
When analogy is with danger fraught?
So long as facts are facts that men can see
I'll have no truck with subjectivity.

Emetic Stuff.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

And the 240,000th word is....


Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Obama - McCain: 349 - 162 (Approximately)

I stayed up till about 04:10 last night watching the BBC's Presidential Election results broadcast, just long enough to hear Ohio called for Obama, at which time I think he he had 207 electoral college votes to McCain's 95 and the outcome seemed clear.

This morning it is all over - perhaps not technically a psephological landslide but a dramatic result nonetheless.

And the speeches... how different it might have been: it was said last night that the voice of the true McCain, the voice of the independent maverick, had been sacrificed to the perceived need to grab "the Republican base" (the base which Sarah Palin so memorably "energized") - certainly I found the negativity and, at times, nastiness of the later stages of the Republican campaign unedifying in the extreme - but in defeat John McCain seemed to have refound his voice.

I thought his conceding speech simple but powerful. McCain in defeat was a far, far better man than McCain the candidate: patriotism verging on jingoism is almost de rigueur for candidates to high office, but in his unnecessarily gracious acceptance of defeat, McCain's simpler and humbler patriotism shone through, particularly when he referred to Obama as "my president" when he could have referred to him by the formulaic phrase "next president of the United States" without ungraciousness; I warmed to him then, even as I shuddered at the contumeliousness of the response from the Republican faithful.

Had it been possible for McCain to retain his authentic voice I think the outcome could have been considerably closer.

As for Barack Obama. I'm no fan of political speechifying, but I was impressed by the powerful balance he struck: it was a speech that inspired by calling upon those qualities the American people define themselves by - strength, industry, honour, inclusiveness - without for a moment sounding like a platitudinous roll-call. He speaks well and thoughtfully, and at times movingly.

A remarkable election indeed... I feel America re-awakening, as if from a troubled sleep. America is beginning to believe again.

Historic Stuff.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Fireball over Budapest

Breaking news...

22:22 Nov 1, heading East-West a brilliant fireball (well, brilliant compared to most meteors)... duration 1-2s. It started as a bright point of light - which I thought was an aircraft light at first - but then immediately developed a sparkling orange trail... and then went out. (from Central Budapest looking North East, elevation about 45 degrees, trail length 10-15 degrees).

Haven't seen a meteor like that since... oh, maybe a couple of months ago - could have sworn I saw a daylight meteor streaking South-North (ish) to the West of Budapest in the evening glow...

Rare Celestial Stuff!