04-2021 The man who knew too much

Who were the more treacherous ones ? The German thugs ? Or, The selfish English ?

Remembering the enigma 67 years after his death : Alan Mathison Turing

Based on :

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Turing

2. Alan Turing The Enigma, by Andrew Hodges, Pub.: Simon & Schuster (1983)

Alan Mathison Turing

Born: 23 June 1912, Maida Vale, London, England

Died : 7 June 1954 (aged 41), Wilmslow, Cheshire, England
Cause of death : Suicide (suspected but not confirmed) by cyanide poisoning

This is the enigmatic true-story of an intellectual giant who is the basis and reason for our modern digital world. Alan Mathison Turing OBE FRS (23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954) was an English mathematician, computer scientist, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher, and theoretical biologist. Turing was highly influential in the development of theoretical computer science, providing a formalisation of the concepts of algorithm and computation with the Turing machine, which can be considered a model of a general-purpose computer. Turing machines are a central object of study in theory of computation. In computational theory, Turing machines are considered rivals to Alonzo Church’s Lambda calculus. Although Turing’s proof was published shortly after Alonzo Church’s equivalent proof using his lambda calculus, Turing’s approach is considerably more accessible and intuitive than Church’s. According to the Church–Turing thesis, Turing machines and the lambda calculus are capable of computing anything that is computable. John von Neumann acknowledged that the central concept of the modern computer was due to Turing’s paper.

Turing worked for the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park, Britain’s codebreaking centre. While working at Bletchley Park, Turing, who was also a talented long-distance runner, occasionally ran the 40 miles (64 km) to London when he was needed for meetings, as he was capable of world-class marathon standards. He would often be seen riding to work, on his bicycle. To match his
prolific physical stamina, he had an incredibly bright mental prowess.

Turing is widely considered to be the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence. Despite all his incredible accomplishments, he was never fully recognised in his home country during his lifetime because much of his work was covered by the Official Secrets Act. On the contrary, he suffered utmost humiliation and shame, based on a flimsy and questionable event, and died a pitiable death.

During the Second World War, Turing worked for the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park, Britain’s codebreaking centre that produced Ultra intelligence. Turing played a crucial role in cracking intercepted coded messages that enabled the Allies to defeat the Nazis in many crucial engagements, including the Battle of the Atlantic. It is estimated that this work shortened the war in Europe by more than two years and saved over 14 million lives.

In 1952, Turing was arrested and charged with “gross indecency” under Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885. Homosexual acts were criminal offences in the United Kingdom at that time. Turing was convicted and given a choice between imprisonment and probation. His probation would be conditional on his agreement to undergo hormonal physical changes designed to reduce libido.He accepted chemical castration treatment, with DES (diethylstilbestrol), as an alternative to prison. He accepted the option of injections of what was then called stilboestrol (now known as diethylstilbestrol or DES), a synthetic oestrogen; this humiliating feminization of his body was continued for the course of one year. The treatment rendered Turing impotent and caused breast tissue to form, fulfilling in the literal sense Turing’s prediction that “no doubt I shall emerge from it all a different man, but quite who I’ve not found out”.

On 4 September 1939, the day after the UK declared war on Germany, Turing reported to Bletchley Park, the wartime station of GC&CS (Government Code and Cyber School) and created all the formidable magic which went against the Germans and their enigma machines. But in 1952, Turing’s conviction led to the removal of his security clearance and barred him from continuing with his cryptographic consultancy for the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British signals intelligence agency that had evolved from GC&CS in 1946, though he kept his academic job. He was denied entry into the United States after his conviction in 1952, but was free to visit other European countries. Turing was never accused of espionage but, in common with all who had worked at Bletchley Park, he was prevented by the Official Secrets Act from discussing his war work. According to the conspiracy theory, it is possible that the secret services considered him too great a security risk and assassinated one of the most brilliant minds in their employ.

Turing was appointed an officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1946. He was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1951, the anti-climax was reached in 1952 when he was arrested for homosexuality.

Heart-broken, humiliated by the very people whom he saved, embarassed, insulted and treated as an untouchable, Turing put an end to it all in 1954 by biting into a (suspected but not confirmed) cyanide-laced apple (he was just over 41 years). There was no autopsy performed and there was no coroner’s report on his death. Only a haphazard, half-hearted “investigation” was done and only speculative reasons were found. In 2009, following a campaign (by brilliant people like Stephen Hawking), British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an official public apology on behalf of the British government for “the appalling way he was treated”. Queen Elizabeth II granted Turing a posthumous pardon in 2013, some 59 years LATER than his mysterious death.

And 8 years after that, in 2021, the UK Government released a 50 Pound currency note in his honour, 67 years after his death/suicide (See: https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/banknotes/polymer-50-pound-note ). Since he died when he was just 41, he should have lived up to 108 years (67+41) to see all these reconcilliatory gestures (aka eye wash).

Will any of these gestures make him rise from his grave ?

Who were the more treacherous ones ? The thugs Germans ? The selfish English ?

*****

03-2021 Defend yourself without fighting back

Last week’s incident of trying to rob me at an ATM taught me some lessons on how to defend myself better.

  1. Do not panic. Keep your eyes open and watch the culprit’s moves.
  2. Stand firm, and resist as much as you can.
  3. The culprit may be armed and desperate to rob you. Be prepared to defend yourself.

One handy tool I recommend, is to keep a can of pepper spray hidden in your palm when you are alone, like
the situation I was in. Take a look at these videos :

Not very expensive. Costs about Rs. 400 for a 55 ml can, in Amazon India.
Your safety is in your hands

***

02-2021 : A nightmare in broad daylight — AXIS BANK ATM

It happened in broad daylight at about 0930, on Sunday, 25 April 2021, at the ATM of AXIS BANK on Old Airport Road, Bowenpally (ATM #APCN69811) .



As I was busy withdrawing cash, a middle-aged man enters the ATM from behind me, in spite of a clear sticker on the gate that only one person is allowed to enter at a time. His intentions became clear from what followed. When I started objecting and asked him to stay outside, he created a loud and aggressive ruckus, obviously to confuse me and divert my attention. Suddenly, he pounced on me and tried to snatch the money which had just popped out of the ATM. By instinct , I resisted and prevented him from grabbing my money. Frustrated by not being able to get what he wanted, he punched hard on my nose 3-4 times. This resulted in a fracture in the nasal bridge bone and very serious injury to my eye. Seeing the blood and also seeing that people had gathered outside, he quietly slipped out and fled the scene.

AXIS BANK ATMOf course, I called up the police and lodged a formal complaint along with what is called a MLC (Medico-legal Certificate) from a reputed hospital nearby. Now the football match between the police and others will start. The Police has other things to do.

The bank — AXIS Bank, obviously could’nt care less. The Bank is busy dilly dallying and inventing lame excuses and diplomatically-worded hollow promises.

If AXIS BANK is serious about customer safety, all that they have to do is implement some simple security measures. Here are a few suggestions to make roadside ATMs safer for users like me:

  1. Introduce a mechanism by which the ATM cabin can be bolted from inside. It should be possible to open it only from inside, or by authorised personnel, from outside (using a special tool).
    Such latches are common in the toilets of all trains and planes.
  2. Provide a PANIC /SOS button plus a hooter inside the ATM cabin. The hooter/siren itself may also be placed outside the ATM cabin. Often, mobile phones may not be of help, since the culprit can easily snatch it while you are trying to dial for help.
    Such “alarm chains” are provided in all passenger wagons in all trains.
  3. A hotline from the SOS/PANIC button to the nearest branch of the bank, or to the nearest police station, will help locate the distressed ATM easily and rush rescue teams to the ATM.
  4. Install appropriate sensors to detect the entry of more than one person into the ATM cabin and activate the panic hooter/siren.
  5. Provide CCTV cameras which monitor the street outside.
  6. Display prominently an emergency 24×7 phone number. And ensure that help arrives urgently. The 12 digit numbers being used now is of no value in an emergency. Use a number of not more than 3 digits like 100, 108
    The above emergency SOS/PANIC number should be displayed prominently in the ATM cabin, as well as on the ATM monitor screen, and should be visible from outside the ATM cabin.
  7. Introduce sentries/guards and patrolling squads at all ATMs
  8. Introduce a more closer and meaningful relationship and arrangements with the local police and law enforcing agents.
  9. Regularly audit safety/security of all ATMs. Publish all security breaches and incidents and the remedial actions taken.
  10. Introduce pronto all other security arrangements not listed above.
  11. Adequately compensate the victims for any loss or bodily injury or death
  12. Provide insurance cover to ALL its customers for incidents like this.

I expect AXIS BANK (and all other banks) to announce the steps they have taken to improve safety and security for their customers. The bank is morally responsible to ensure the safety and security of all its customers within its premises (including all ATM cabins) .

***

PS: Please forward this message to your bank and to all your friends. Take care and stay safe. You can also send your suggestions and comments to drpartha@gmail.com

Your safety is in your hands.

01-2021 My new fall-back mail ID = A larger footprint on the Internet

June 2021

new email ID








I have created two new fallback mail IDs: profpartha@drpartha.org.in <<< This is my first fallback.

OR try my Second fallback: p1partha@yahoo.com

**This is in addition to my regular/main ID which is very popular as always : drpartha@gmail.com.**

“Hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst”, they taught us in school. I suddenly remembered this wise advise when scanning my daily emails on gmail. I wanted to be ready to face the nightmare of being cut off from my emails (at gmail). I thought about the highly unlikely event that gmail becomes defunct or extinct. Or when gmail becomes inaccessible to me (password gets hacked, or gets corrupt or is forgotten). I wanted a fall-back option and wanted to make it easy for all my correspondents to bumplessly accept the change. I have now created a fall-back email-ID for myself :

profpartha@drpartha.org.in

To make the transition from my regular/main ID to the fallbackID (only if you wish) as bumpless as possible, I have taken several steps. I do not intend closing my regular/main mail ID in the near future (at least a few years more). Although an alternative fallback ID exists, I advise people to use the main/usual ID (gmail) until I ask them to switch over to my fallback ID. You can also use the fallback ID, if you wish so. Or you can be more cautious/prudent and send a copy each to both IDs.

This mail ID has a distinct user name (very different from the earlier one). It uses my own domain name (unlike the main ID which is on gmail). Every mail you send from here, gets an autoresponse (so you know your mail has reached me). The mail is saved here (at drpartha.org.in) and a duplicate copy is forwarded to my usual/main mail ID (gmail). People have got used to prompt responses/reactions from me for all the mail they send me. And when some email goes unresponded, they may conclude that I am dead (an inevitable possibility). See Quand je ne serai plus la.

There is one more innovation built in this mailID, to stop spam robots. Try sending a message from your mailID and you will be subjected to a test. Fail this test, and you are locked forever outside the gate (blacklisted).

Although I watch both mail Ids regularly, I might be a bit slow in answering mails sent to my fallback ID.

You just cant miss my footprints any more.

Keep in touch,

Thanks,

partha

07-2020 Beware of impostors

Impostor Do you want to trust your child’s future to a fraudster ? What can your child learn from this impostor ? Shoddy and indifferent attitude born out of incompetence and ignorance ?

There are a whole lot of unscrupulous swindlers out there, to milk you dry and ruin your child’s future, Beware !

Ask this author why some words have been circled in red in the image above.

06-2020 — Beaches of India welcome you !

In a great honour, India is now among 50 countries that have at least eight beaches winning the clean-beach certification by the Foundation for Environment Education (FEE), Denmark. The list includes Puri’s Golden beach and two beaches of Karnataka, among others. Blue Flag bearing beaches are considered to be the world’s cleanest beaches. So far, FEE has awarded the tag to 4,664 beaches, marinas and sustainable boating tourism operators from 50 countries.

A beach should meet 33 stringent criteria relating to environmental, bathing water quality, educational, safety, services and accessibility standards in order to qualify for the certification.

The Blue Flag Beaches recently (Oct. 2020) certified by FEE (Denmark) include :

  1. Kasarkod in Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka
  2. Padubidri in Udupi, Karnataka
  3. Shivrajpur in Gujarat
  4. Ghoghla in Diu
  5. Kappad in Kerala
  6. Rushikonda in Andhra Pradesh
  7. Golden Beach in Puri, Odisha
  8. Radhanagar in Andaman & Nicobar Islands

Besides the above, you have an awesome choice of beaches to visit and serene islands for a weekend getaway (or more). The length of coastline of India, including the coastlines of Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal and Lakshwadweep Islands in the Arabian Sea, is 7517 km. Length of Coastline of Indian mainland is 6100 km. Coastline of Indian mainland is surrounded by Arabian Sea in the west, Bay of Bengal in the east, and Indian Ocean in the south.

04-2020 Quand je ne serai plus la …..

I wrote this post when I saw the latin phrase Memento Mori (Remember that you will die).
Just after that, my friend passed away and I learnt about that by accident, only four years later.

It can happen any time. It will happen to all. When my time comes, I do not want my friends to wonder why Partha does not answer mails or phone calls. I usually answer all my mails promptly and regularly. There must be a reason, if you do not get a response/reaction from me. If this ever happens to you, for an unreasonably long time :

  1. Send one or two reminders to my main/regular ID drpartha@gmail.com, and then try my fall-back mail ID
  2. Take a look at my twitter account https://twitter.com/profpartha (@profpartha)
    I usually post some stuff there regularly, at least 2-3 times a week. When the tweets stop coming, the inevitable has happened.
  3. Call up home by phone to find out.
  4. Find out from my next of kin :
    • premap2@gmail.com
    • parishramp@gmail.com
    • prayathna@gmail.com
  5. inform all our common friends and contacts
    (send this page to all who might be interested in knowing about me)

Thank you in advance, since I cannot thank you when the time comes.

Adieu,

partha

PS:

THIS ANNOUNCEMENT WAS MADE ON 2020-11-02

(my 70th birthday)

03-2020 RIP Kryzstof Cetnarowicz

kryzstof

My friend of 40 years, Kryzstof Cetnarowicz, seems to have left this world sometime ago. I got to know this sad news thanks to a chance conversation with the wife/widow of my PhD guru.
Kryzstof was a Professor at the AGH University of Science and Technology , Krakow, Poland, where I met him last in 2009.

aghlecture

In fact, Kryzstof had invited me for a talk on the role of non-functional specifications in software engineering, at his institute.

It was also a beautiful holiday for my wife and me. Thank you Kryzstof, may peace be with you forever.


To come, to know, to learn to part, is the sad tale of many a human heart.

Adieu cher ami.

Quand je ne serai plus la ….

02-2020 Mysteries of Indian TV !

There is a lot to learn from Indian TV !

  1. Why do Indian police stations always have a world globe on the Inspector’s desk when policemen never cross the street if the other side is not in their jurisdiction ?
  2. Why do they show warning messages whenever there is a scene showing smoking or drinking ? Why dont they delete those scenes altogether instead of showing those meaningless warnings ? And, why is there no warning with scenes involving other crimes like murder, bank holdup, rape …?
  3. Are maths teachers always grumpy , sadistic people ? Or is maths such a horrible subject ? Why do we always malign maths and maths teachers ?
  4. When there is a conductor in front of an orchestra, why does he seem to follow the orchestra rather than the other way around ?
  5. What is the blue liquid they show on commercials for sanitary napkins and diapers ?
  6. Why do they show toilet basins in grand detail and in closeup when they try to sell toilet cleaner liquids ? Don’t they know that most of the times these disgusting commercials are displayed during during dinner time or when people are having meals ? Why don’t they learn some decency or discretion from those selling diapers and sanitary napkins ?
  7. Why do they show only men for promoting products for bad mouth odour ?
  8. Why do they use only women for promoting under arm deodarants and rollons ? Idem hair remover creams ?
  9. Are sports shoes worn only by men ?
  10. Why do all detergents, cleaning agents etc. claim to clean 99.9 % of the dirt/germs etc ? Any one can prove or justify this precise figure ?

If you have watched some more absurdities like the ones above, just let me know on drpartha@gmail.com.