Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Free Content License They Used 1800 Years Ago

In my Pahlavi (also called Middle Persian) classes we've started reading a new text called "The Book of Wars (or Works) of Ardeshir-e Bābakān" which belongs to some 1800 years ago. Here's my rough translation of its first paragraph:

In the name, power, and help of the Creator Ohrmazd, the Glorious, the Great, wishing health and long life for all good-doers especially those who have this (text) (re)written.

Imagine if we had something like that last phrase in the GNU FDL (or other licenses)!

A note about the text for the curious:
Although the book is very interesting from a historical or linguistic perspective, it's not the most honest kind of history. To the contrary, it is part of a grand struggle by the Sassanid Empire, not only to legitimize their government, but also to remove their predecessors the Ashkanians (the Parthians) from the face of history. Interestingly, the government they were trying to remove from history is, to this very date, the longest ruling government in the history of Iran, having ruled more than 460 years. You will be surprised to know that they succeeded in this quest to a very large extent. The Ashkanian Empire is hardly ever mentioned in later texts. This fact, along with the fact that Sassanids destroyed almost everything their predecessors had built, makes it very difficult for us to get to know about what was probably the coolest government we've had in our history: a federal (and to a large extent democrat) empire.

Update: I did a little bit more research and found out that my assumption that the book is written 1800 years ago may not be correct. Apparently, for all that we know, it is written some times during the reign of Sassanids, which make it any time between 1800 and 1400 years ago. Still I guess it is old enough!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Of the Confusion, and of 3D

You know what my problem is? It's having two many interests. Well, at times it can be in an advantage, but generally it means I'm divided between doing all the things I like and learning about them.

One of these many interests of mine which I had forgotten for many years is drawing. As a kid, I used to take drawing classes. Once my teacher told me, "you know what, you're quite good at drawing. Do you like drawing?" I answered, "I don't know!" He looked at me in some strange sort of way, like it's the strangest thing in the world not to know if you like something or not.

Now that I come to think about it, at that time I was feeling quite the same way that I do now. I knew I liked drawing, but I didn't know if it's the right thing to like. It's a few months that I'm thinking about this again. And now, I have more problems. I have already channeled my abilities to other fields. But since I am already confused about what I'm going to do after graduation, maybe a little more confusion is not much important.

My other fields of interest are programming and computer science (especially formal language theory, compiler theory, data storage, and graphics), and linguistics. To add to the confusion, my current field of study is computer hardware!

Back to the drawing problem, I'm beginning to feel like Saint-Exupéry in The Little Prince. Since it seems too late to pick drawing again, lately I've been trying to remedy my situation by studying about computer graphics (from a programmer's perspective) and also 3D modeling and animation. These subjects have turned out to be very fascinating. The following is one of my first attempts to model something non-trivial. It may not be great, but I'm pretty much proud of it! It's my own pair of eyeglasses modeled using Blender, a great piece of Free/Open Source software.

But, yet still, the confusion remains.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Mighty Fortress

Do not lose your faith. A mighty fortress is our mathematics. Mathematics will rise to the challenge, as it always has.
Stanislaw Ulam
I've not been able to post anything new to my blog for a long time. My mind has been quite busy to think of anything to write. I also haven't had enough time, nor it seems I'm going to have for a while. Anyhow, I was reading this thought provoking article today, when I saw the above quote from Stanislaw Ulam which I really liked. I thought I would post it here, even if it is only as a reminder to myself.

I never thought I would admit this one day, but I really love math!