From commandment to reminder

Do ToDo lists intimidate you? They do me.

On the one hand, ToDo lists are incredibly useful. They make sure we get things done, and don’t forget.

On the other hand, they can be intimidating. They are a voice in ones head that continuously mutter, “You have to do me, you have to do me, you have to do me”; ad nauseam. They can be a sort of debt, which one is eternally guilty of not paying. They can even feel like some impending doom…

Hence, do the pros of ToDo lists, compensate for putting up with the cons?

Let’s…


On Forgiveness, Justice and Pain

To forgive, they say, is divine. It is often difficult for us humans to forgive; certainly compared to other things we excel at, like erring.

I’ve tried to forgive whenever I can, and a few times have even been successful. However, this article is about failures. More specifically, some reflections on two reasons why I’ve been unable to forgive.

Justice

For you to forgive me, I should have wronged you. Without this wronging, forgiveness is meaningless. …


On Titles, Levels, Salaries and Effective Experience

What’s the difference between a “Software Engineer” and a “Senior Software Engineer”? Is a Senior SWE in one company better than a plain SWE in another company?

The problem with “titles” like “SWE” and “Senior SWE” is that there is no standard convention around what they mean. Technically, anyone can use any title.

This article summarizes how I think about “titles” in general and how I “translate” titles into other particular factors.

Titles and Levels

Most established tech companies have a progression of titles. Titles are also usually associated with some numerical “level”. For example, Google has (had?) the following titles and levels.


Solving Sri Lanka’s Problems with Five Precepts

Corruption is a common topic in Sri Lankan conversation. And many wonder why I’m usually silent when it comes up. Those who’ve known me a short while assume that I might be a direct or indirect supporter of the maroon team or whoever the corrupter is. Those who’ve known me longer know that I’ve been similarly silent when discussing the green(ish) team’s corruption. Hence, they assume that I might be apathetic or might have given up.

“Don’t you care about these problems?”, you might have asked.

I have a simple answer to this question. “No — I don’t care about…


A brief history of the Men’s ODI Cricket World Cup, and some predictions

Today (March 17th) is the 25th anniversary of Sri Lanka’s first and only win in a (Men’s ODI) Cricket World Cup. We celebrated that win for months, perhaps years. From time to time, I still watch the epic final, the hammering India got in the semi-final and the inimitable “Chokra” song.

Image Source: The Guardian

The days around the 1996 World Cup were incredibly dark. A terrorist attack on the Central Bank killed 91 people and injured over 1,000 just a few weeks before the final. Australia and the West Indies refused to play in Colombo, citing security concerns. …


On freedom from Chocolate and Mosquitos

Heaven is an integral part of most religions. For many theists, heaven is the end goal and where one desires to spend eternity. Life is a mere test of a few years that will determine entry.

For atheists, on the other hand, heaven is a curse. At best, it distracts people from life; at worst, it motivates people to do horrendous things on earth so that they might reap rewards in heaven.

I belong to neither camp. I’m intellectual honest and humble enough to say, “I don’t know”, if there is a heaven or hell, or when and how one…


Fixing Sri Lanka’s Carb Problem

On the one hand, all humans have similar dietary needs. A healthy diet should contain macronutrients (Carbohydrates, Fats, Proteins, and Fiber), micronutrients (Vitamins and Minerals), fluids (water), and in combination, provide enough calorific energy.

On the other hand, within these similarities, there are differences. For example, there are significant regional differences in how humans consume milk.

Lactose intolerance is high in East Asia and low in much of Northern Europe. Evolution probably played a role here. In regions where milk was a crucial part of the diet, humans who could process it quickly had a survival advantage — those who…


CoViD-19 in Sri Lanka

The Letter, the Spirit and the Statistic

“Is there Community Spread of CoViD-19 in Sri Lanka?” is a question that gets asked from time to time. And nearly 14 months since Sri Lanka’s first CoViD case, there still seems to be a lot of debate and disagreement.

Sadly, much of the discussion lacked one crucial component: a clear explanation of what “Community Spread” or “Community Transmission” means. Those who had some definition tended to be overly literal and seemed to miss the concept’s spirit. Finally, attempts at quantifying or measuring Community Spread generally lacked in consistency or statistical rigour.

This article is my (possibly feeble) attempt to…


Yet another layperson’s guide

Imagine if everyone in the medical profession had no idea what temperature and its consequences meant. Ignorance of such a fundamental concept would result in confussion and carnage. Statistical Significance is like temperature, but significantly more significant and consequential. Not just consequential to the medical profession, but to anyone or any profession doing experiments, making claims on data, and or theorizing.

I have written and talked about Statistical Significance often. And to many, I might be preaching to a choir. But when something is important, there is no harm repeating it. …


A Metaphor

An Objective Universe

Suppose you observe a flag flying in the distance. And suppose you ask yourself, “What color is that flag?”

The following snippet of code can represent this act of observation:

const flag = Object({
name: 'flag',
color: 'red',
weight: 'light',
texture: 'soft',
})
function observe(x, attributeName) {
return x[attributeName];
}
>> print(observe(flag, 'color'))
'red'

Your observation would tell you that the flag is red. In this universe, we assume that (at least around the time when the flag was observed), the flag and the flag’s properties (like color) are both constant and objective.

A Subjective Universe

But what if the universe…

Nuwan I. Senaratna

I am a Computer Scientist and Musician by training. A writer with interests in Philosophy, Economics, Technology, Politics, Business, the Arts and Fiction.

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