If programming languages were religions…

If programming languages were religions…
By amz at 14:52
And now, for some off-topic:

“If programming languages were religions”
(Inspired by “If programming languages were cars”)

C would be Judaism – it’s old and restrictive, but most of the world is familiar with its laws and respects them. The catch is, you can’t convert into it – you’re either into it from the start, or you will think that it’s insanity. Also, when things go wrong, many people are willing to blame the problems of the world on it.

Java would be Fundamentalist Christianity – it’s theoretically based on C, but it voids so many of the old laws that it doesn’t feel like the original at all. Instead, it adds its own set of rigid rules, which its followers believe to be far superior to the original. Not only are they certain that it’s the best language in the world, but they’re willing to burn those who disagree at the stake.

PHP would be Cafeteria Christianity – Fights with Java for the web market. It draws a few concepts from C and Java, but only those that it really likes. Maybe it’s not as coherent as other languages, but at least it leaves you with much more freedom and ostensibly keeps the core idea of the whole thing. Also, the whole concept of “goto hell” was abandoned.

C++ would be Islam – It takes C and not only keeps all its laws, but adds a very complex new set of laws on top of it. It’s so versatile that it can be used to be the foundation of anything, from great atrocities to beautiful works of art. Its followers are convinced that it is the ultimate universal language, and may be angered by those who disagree. Also, if you insult it or its founder, you’ll probably be threatened with death by more radical followers.

C# would be Mormonism – At first glance, it’s the same as Java, but at a closer look you realize that it’s controlled by a single corporation (which many Java followers believe to be evil), and that many theological concepts are quite different. You suspect that it’d probably be nice, if only all the followers of Java wouldn’t discriminate so much against you for following it.

Lisp would be Zen Buddhism – There is no syntax, there is no centralization of dogma, there are no deities to worship. The entire universe is there at your reach – if only you are enlightened enough to grasp it. Some say that it’s not a language at all; others say that it’s the only language that makes sense.

Haskell would be Taoism – It is so different from other languages that many people don’t understand how can anyone use it to produce anything useful. Its followers believe that it’s the true path to wisdom, but that wisdom is beyond the grasp of most mortals.

Erlang would be Hinduism – It’s another strange language that doesn’t look like it could be used for anything, but unlike most other modern languages, it’s built around the concept of multiple simultaneous deities.

Perl would be Voodoo – An incomprehensible series of arcane incantations that involve the blood of goats and permanently corrupt your soul. Often used when your boss requires you to do an urgent task at 21:00 on friday night.

Lua would be Wicca – A pantheistic language that can easily be adapted for different cultures and locations. Its code is very liberal, and allows for the use of techniques that might be described as magical by those used to more traditional languages. It has a strong connection to the moon.

Ruby would be Neo-Paganism – A mixture of different languages and ideas that was beaten together into something that might be identified as a language. Its adherents are growing fast, and although most people look at them suspiciously, they are mostly well-meaning people with no intention of harming anyone.

Python would be Humanism: It’s simple, unrestrictive, and all you need to follow it is common sense. Many of the followers claim to feel relieved from all the burden imposed by other languages, and that they have rediscovered the joy of programming. There are some who say that it is a form of pseudo-code.

COBOL would be Ancient Paganism – There was once a time when it ruled over a vast region and was important, but nowadays it’s almost dead, for the good of us all. Although many were scarred by the rituals demanded by its deities, there are some who insist on keeping it alive even today.

APL would be Scientology – There are many people who claim to follow it, but you’ve always suspected that it’s a huge and elaborate prank that got out of control.

LOLCODE would be Pastafarianism – An esoteric, Internet-born belief that nobody really takes seriously, despite all the efforts to develop and spread it.

Visual Basic would be Satanism – Except that you don’t REALLY need to sell your soul to be a Satanist…

Thanks to jfs and other people on #aegisub for the suggestions. Keep in mind, this list is a joke, and is not meant to offend anyone. Also, if you’re a Muslim, please don’t kill me. 😉

In music and memory formation, silence is golden, researchers say

In music and memory formation, silence is golden, researchers say
Sunday, August 5, 2007 | 11:20 AM ET
CBC News

Researchers at Stanford and McGill universities say they have learned more about how memories are catalogued, by studying brain activity as people listen to unfamiliar symphonies with gaps between movements.

When the music stops, brain scans register a burst of activity, apparently drawing a line between one musical event and another, Daniel Levitin, a co-author of the study, told CBC News Online on Friday.

“Usually you associate brain activity with something going on,” he said. “Here it’s associated with something going off, essentially.”

Levitin, a  McGill psychologist, collaborated with California researchers Devarajan Sridharan, Chris Chafe, Jonathan Berger and Vinod Menon on an article published Thursday in Neuron, a scholarly journal based in Cambridge, Mass.

As he explained it, their work was based on a long-held view of the structure of memory.

“Memory is not like a videotape where you just remember an undifferentiated stream of activity in your life. In fact, memory is more like a DVD with chapter headings,” he said.
He offered an everyday example:

“If I were to ask you what you had for lunch yesterday and you had to start with when you crawled out of bed and sort of run through and fast forward, as it were, until you came upon lunch time, that would be a very inefficient way to access memory. But because lunch has a beginning and an ending, you can find it.”

Brain activity and music monitored

Marking such episodes “is a crucial process that the brain undertakes without our conscious awareness throughout the day,” he said. “It divides the continuous stream of activity and perception into discrete events, and what we were probing was the mechanisms in the brain that accomplish this.”

In the study, subjects lay inside functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanners as they listened to symphonies by the English composer William Boyce (1711-79), chosen partly because his music is not widely known.

Why music?

“We used music for a couple of reasons,” Levitin said. “One is it’s fun. I mean, you want to give subjects something to do that’s going to hold their attention, of course.

“But the other reason is that music turned out to be a very fruitful window into studying the brain because music activates virtually every region in the brain that we’ve mapped so far.”

The researchers were looking for “that neural circuit that is involved in event segmentation, or in lay terms, noting beginnings and endings,” Levitin said.

“So we chose these musical pieces that were unfamiliar to listeners but had very clear transitions between movements.”

They found, as they expected, that there was a flareup of brain activity during each brief silence, Levitin said.

It started in a region of the brain called Brodmann Area 47, or BA47, “a tiny little area about the size of your pinkie” found on each side roughly between the eye and the top of the ear, he said.

But it was nothing like the sort of nervousness evoked by the old Hollywood cliche, “‘It’s quiet out there. Too quiet,'” he said.

“When we put people in the scanner and we have them just exposed to silence, you get something different. These processes that we’re studying kicked in because it’s a very pregnant silence, as it were — a silence that was between the ending of one movement and the beginning of another.”

For a psychologist interested in memory formation, the findings are exciting, he said.

“And to get on the cover of Neuron is a big deal in my field. That’s like a Top 10 record.”

Noise: the silent killer


From the last three months I was feeling too aggressive and too irritating. Grown peevish with myself. Though I knew my mood was getting too awkward but I couldn’t help. Friends were avoiding me and work just looked burden on me. Then one of my doctor friends expressed his concern at my condition and examined me. After that he came to conclusion that I was suffering due to high exposure to noise. It startled me! Can noise have such an impact on me? It led me to search for answers. And here is what I found.
The word “noise” is derived from the Latin word “nausea,” meaning seasickness. Noise is among the most pervasive pollutants today. Many of you may have been woken up by the sound of your alarm clock or the music from the radio. We experience noise in a number of ways. On some occasions, we can be both the cause and the victim of noise, such as when we are operating noisy appliances or equipment. There are also instances when we experience noise generated by others just as people experience second-hand smoke. While in both instances, noises are equally damaging, second-hand noise is more troubling because it has negative impacts on us but is put into the environment by others, without our consent.
Noise pollution, human-created noises are harmful to health and welfare. Transportation vehicles are the worst offenders, with aircraft, railroad stock, trucks, buses, automobiles, and motorcycles all producing excessive noise. Construction equipment, e.g., jackhammers and bulldozers also produce substantial noise pollution. Barking dogs, lawn mowers, motorcycles, airplanes, car stereo systems, and traffic generally have combined to such a degree that noise induced irritation, annoyance, discomfort, and hearing impairment have become a significant public health issue, certainly enough of one to motivate a political response.
Subjected to 45 decibels of noise, the average person cannot sleep. At 120 decibels the ear registers pain, but hearing damage begins at a much lower level, about 85 decibels. The duration of the exposure is also important. Apart from hearing loss, such noise can cause lack of sleep, irritability, heartburn, indigestion, ulcers, high blood pressure, and possibly heart disease. One burst of noise, as from a passing truck, is known to alter endocrine, neurological, and cardiovascular functions in many individuals; prolonged or frequent exposure to such noise tends to make the physiological disturbances chronic. In addition, noise-induced stress creates severe tension in daily living and contributes to mental illness.

How damaging Noise can be?
Many people are exposed to dangerous levels of noise without even realizing it whether it be from loud music, a motorcycle, airplane, lawnmowers, or even driving on the highway with your window open. Even if we are sitting outside our homes or going for a walk we are subjected to loud noises which damage our health whether it is the passing of a garbage truck or the sound of a car horn. Many young people listen to their car stereos very loud on their way to school or work, this is damaging to their health not only because of the amount of noise but also because it is done consecutively every day.
Most of the Psychological Effects of noise depend on the pre-existing physical and psychological state of the individual. Some of us, already living in noisy surroundings, may be more tolerant to Noise. While the others, having the privileged of a peaceful neighbourhood, may easily get irritated by the same sound. The ‘irritation threshold’ will also be low for neurotic persons or for someone who is already annoyed or unhappy. From sufferers’ point of view, it is any sound, which they would have stopped if they could. It is undesirable, unpleasant and untimely sound, which can be continuous or intermittent. Besides this, with the vast diversity of human culture and individual preferences, it can be empathized that, One man’s music can be other man’s Noise.
Almost everyone has had one experience of being temporarily “deafened” by a loud noise. This “deafness” in not permanent, although it is often accompanied by a ringing in the ears, and one can hear another person if he raises his voice. Likewise, normal hearing comes back within a few hours at most. This sort of partial hearing loss is called Temporary Threshold Shift (TTS). The human ear is a delicate and fragile anatomical structure on the other hand it’s a fairly powerful physical force. These muscles act quickly but not always. In cases of long term exposure to moderately loud noise, the onset and progress of noise induced deafness is very gradual and by the time the individual is already somewhat deaf, he/she many not be aware of the deafness until the deafness starts affecting the person’s ability to hear normal conversation, telephone rings and doorbells etc.
Although noise is an integral part of civilization, it would appear that unless some definite steps are taken to reduce the present inordinate levels in both industry and community generally, more people will become auditory cripples.
Planners need to know the likely effects on the noise pollution in a community of introducing a new noise source as well as increasing the level of an existing source. Policy makers, when considering applications for new developments, must take into account maximum levels, equivalent levels, frequency of occurrence, and operating time of the major noise sources. If awareness and precautions are not taken to stop noise pollution there will be a future epidemic of hearing loss. Noise pollution is a serious problem that must be taken seriously.

(Murassa shamshad is a student of Government Medical College and can be mailed at murassashamshad@rediffmail.com)