7 Steps to Understanding Deep Learning

Deep learning is a branch of machine learning, employing numerous similar, yet distinct, deep neural network architectures to solve various problems in natural language processing, computer vision, and bioinformatics, among other fields. Deep learning has experienced a tremendous recent research resurgence, and has been shown to deliver state of the art results in numerous applications.

In essence, deep learning is the implementation of neural networks with more than a single hidden layer of neurons. This is, however, a very simplistic view of deep learning, and not one that is unanimously agreed upon. These “deep” architectures also vary quite considerably, with different implementations being optimized for different tasks or goals. The vast research being produced at such a constant rate is revealing new and innovative deep learning models at an ever-increasing pace.

Neural Network

Currently a white hot research topic, deep learning seems to be impacting all areas of machine learning and, by extension, data science. A look over recent papers in the relevant arXiv categories makes it easy to see that a large amount of what is being published is deep learning-related. Given the impressive results being produced, many researchers, practitioners, and laypeople alike are wondering if deep learning is the edge of “true” artificial intelligence.

This collection of reading materials and tutorials aims to provide a path for a deep neural networks newcomer to gain some understanding of this vast and complex topic. Though I do not assume any real understanding of neural networks or deep learning, I will assume your familiarity with general machine learning theory and practice to some degree. To overcome any deficiency you may have in the general areas of machine learning theory or practice you can consult the recent KDnuggets post 7 Steps to Mastering Machine Learning With Python. Since we will also see examples implemented in Python, some familiarity with the language will be useful. Introductory and review resources are also available in the previously mentioned post.

This post will utilize freely-available materials from around the web in a cohesive order to first gain some understanding of deep neural networks at a theoretical level, and then move on to some practical implementations. As such, credit for the materials referenced lie solely with the creators, who will be noted alongside the resources. If you see that someone has not been properly credited for their work, please alert me to the oversight so that I may swiftly rectify it.

A stark and honest disclaimer: deep learning is a complex and quickly-evolving field of both breadth and depth (pun unintended?), and as such this post does not claim to be an all-inclusive manual to becoming a deep learning expert; such a transformation would take greater time, many additional resources, and lots of practice building and testing models. I do, however, believe that utilizing the resources herein could help get you started on just such a path.

Step 1: Introducing Deep Learning

If you are reading this and interested in the topic, then you are probably already familiar with what deep neural networks are, if even at a basic level. Neural networks have a storied history, but we won’t be getting into that. We do, however, want a common high level of understanding to begin with.

First, have a look at the fantastic introductory videos from DeepLearning.tv. At the time of this writing there are 14 videos; watch them all if you like, but definitely watch the first 5, covering the basics of neural nets and some of the more common architectures.

Next, read over the NIPS 2015 Deep Learning Tutorial by Geoff Hinton, Yoshua Bengio, and Yann LeCun for an introduction at a slightly lower level.

To round out our first step, read the first chapter of Neural Networks and Deep Learning, the fantastic, evolving online book by Michael Nielsen, which goes a step further but still keeps things fairly light.

Step 2: Getting Technical

Deep neural nets rely on a mathematical foundation of algebra and calculus. While this post will not produce any theoretical mathematicians, gaining some understanding of the basics before moving on would be helpful.

First, watch Andrew Ng’s linear algebra review videos. While not absolutely necessary, for those finding they want something deeper on this subject, consult the Linear Algebra Review and Reference from Ng’s Stanford course, written by Zico Kolter and Chuong Do.

Then look at this Introduction to the Derivative of a Function video by Professor Leonard. The video is succinct, the examples are clear, and it provides some understanding of what is actually going on during backpropagation from a mathematical standpoint. More on that soon.

Next have a quick read over the Wikipedia entry for the Sigmoid function, a bounded differentiable function often employed by individual neurons in a neural network.

Finally, take a break from the maths and read this Deep Learning Tutorial by Google research scientist Quoc Le.

Gradient Descent

Step 3: Backpropagation and Gradient Descent

An important part of neural networks, including modern deep architectures, is the backward propagation of errors through a network in order to update the weights used by neurons closer to the input. This is, quite bluntly, from where neural networks derive their “power,” for lack of better term. Backpropagation for short (or even “backprop”), is paired with an optimization method which acts to minimize the weights that are subsequently distributed (via backpropagation), in order to minimize the loss function. A common optimization method in deep neural networks is gradient descent.

First, read these introductory notes on gradient descent by Marc Toussaint of the University of Stuttgart.

Next, have a look at this step by step example of backpropagation in action written by Matt Mazur.

Moving on, read Jeremy Kun‘s informative blog post on coding backpropagation in Python. Having a look over the complete code is also suggested, as is attempting to replicate it yourself.

Finally, read the second part of the Deep Learning Tutorial by Quoc Le, in order to get introduced to some specific common deep architectures and their uses.

Step 4: Getting Practical

Deep Learning Montage The specific neural network architectures that will be introduced in the following steps will include practical implementations using some of the most popular Python deep learning libraries present in research today. Since different libraries are, in some cases, optimized for particular neural network architectures, and have established footholds in certain fields of research, we will be making use of 3 separate deep learning libraries. This is not redundant; keeping up with the latest libraries for particular areas of practice is a critical part of learning. The following exercises will also allow you to evaluate different libraries for yourself, and form an intuition as to which to use for which problems.

At this point you are welcome to choose any library or combination of libraries to install, and move forward implementing those tutorials which pertain to your choice. If you are looking to try one library and use it to implement one of each of the following steps’ tutorials, I would recommend TensorFlow, for a few reasons. I will mention the most relevant (at least, in my view): it performs auto-differentiation, meaning that you (or, rather, the tutorial) does not have to worry about implementing backpropagation from scratch, likely making code easier to follow (especially for a newcomer).

I wrote about TensorFlow when it first came out in the post TensorFlow Disappoints – Google Deep Learning Falls Shallow, the title of which suggests that I had more disappointment with it than I actually did; I was primarily focused on its lack of GPU cluster-enabled network training (which is likely soon on its way). Anyhow, if you are interested in reading more about TensorFlow without consulting the whitepaper listed below, I would suggest reading my original article, and then following up with Zachary Lipton’s well-written piece, TensorFlow is Terrific – A Sober Take on Deep Learning Acceleration.


Google’s TensorFlow is an all-purpose machine learning library based on data flow graph representation.


Theano is actively developed by the LISA group at the University of Montreal.


Caffe is developed by the Berkeley Vision and Learning Center (BVLC) at UC Berkeley. While Theano and TensorFlow can be considered “general-purpose” deep learning libraries, Caffe, being developed by a computer vision group, is mostly thought of for just such tasks; however, it is also a fully general-purpose library for use building various deep learning architectures for different domains.

Keep in mind that these are not the only popular libraries in use today. In fact, there are many, many others to choose from, and these were selected based on the prevelance of tutorials, documentation, and acceptance among research in general.

Other deep learning library options include:

  • Keras – a high-level, minimalist Python neural network library for Theano and TensorFlow
  • Lasagne – lightweight Python library for atop Theano
  • Torch – Lua machine learning algorithm library
  • Deeplearning4j – open source, distributed deep learning library for Java and Scala
  • Chainer – a flexible, intuitive Python neural network library
  • Mocha – a deep learning framework for Julia

With libraries installed, we now move on to practical implementation.

Step 5: Convolutional Neural Nets and Computer Vision

Computer vision deals with the processing and understanding of images and its symbolic information. Most of the field’s recent breakthroughs have come from the use of deep neural networks. In particular, convolutional neural networks have played a very important role in computer vision of late.

Convolutional Neural Net

First, read this deep learning with computer vision tutorial by Yoshua Bengio, in order to gain an understanding of the topic.

Next, if you have TensorFlow installed, take a look at, and implement, this tutorial, which classifies CIFAR-10 images using a convolutional neural network.

If you have Caffe installed, as an alternative to the above tutorial (or alongside), implement a convolutional neural network in Caffe for classifying MNIST dataset images.

Here is a Theano tutorial which is roughly equivalent to the above Caffe exercise.

Afterward, read a seminal convolutional neural network paper by Krizhevsky, Sutskever, and Hinton for additional insight.

Step 6: Recurrent Nets and Language Processing

Natural language processing (NLP) is another domain which has seen benefits from deep learning. Concerned with understanding natural (human) languages, NLP has had a number of its most recent successes come by way of recurrent neural networks (RNN).

Andrej Karpathy has a fantastic blog post titled “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Recurrent Neural Networks” which outlines the effectiveness of RNNs in training character-level language models. The code it references is written in Lua using Torch, so you can skip over that; the post is still useful on a purely conceptual level.

This tutorial implements a recurrent neural in TensorFlow for language modeling.

You can then use Theano and try your hand at this tutorial, which implements a recurrent neural network with word embeddings.

Finally, you can read Yoon Kim’s Convolutional Neural Networks for Sentence Classification for another application of CNNs in language processing. Denny Britz has a blog post titled “Implementing A CNN For Text Classification in TensorFlow,” which does just as it suggests using movie review data.

Step 7: Further Topics

The previous steps have progressed from theoretical to practical topics in deep learning. By installing and implementing convolutional neural nets and recurrent neural nets in the previous 2 steps, it is hoped that one has gained a preliminary appreciation for their power and functionality. As prevalent as CNNs and RNNs are, there are numerous other deep architectures in existence, with additional emerging from research on a regular basis.

There are also numerous other considerations for deep learning beyond those presented in the earlier theoretical steps, and as such, the following is a quick survey of some of these additional architectures and concerns.

For a further understanding of a particular type of recurrent neural network suited for time series prediction, the Long Short Term Memory Network, read this article by Christopher Olah.

This blog post by Denny Britz is a great tutorial on RNNs using LSTMs and Gated Recurrent Units (GRUs). See this paper for a further discussion of GRUs and LSTMs.

This clearly does not cover all deep learning architectures. Restrictive Boltzmann Machines are an obvious exclusion which comes to mind, as are autoencoders, and a whole series of related generative models including Generative Adversarial Networks. However, a line had to be drawn somewhere, or this post would continue ad infinitum.

For those interested in learning more about various deep learning architectures, I suggest this lengthy survey paper by Yoshua Bengio.

For our final number, and for something a bit different, have a look at A Statistical Analysis of Deep Learning by Shakir Mohamed of Google DeepMind. It is more theoretical and (surprise, statistical) than much of the other material we have encountered, but worth looking at for a different approach to familiar matter. Shakir wrote the series of articles over the course of 6 months, and is presented as testing wide-held beliefs, highlighting statistical connections, and the unseen implications of deep learning. There is a combined PDF of all posts as well.

It is hoped that enough information has been presented to give the reader an introductory overview of deep neural networks, as well as provide some incentive to move forward and learn more on the topic.

Original source: http://www.kdnuggets.com/2016/01/seven-steps-deep-learning.html/1

Deep Learning Libraries and Frameworks

At the end of 2015, all eyes were on the year’s accomplishments, as well as forecasting technology trends of 2016 and beyond. One particular field that has frequently been in the spotlight during the last year is deep learning, an increasingly popular branch of machine learning, which looks to continue to advance further and infiltrate into an increasing number of industries and sectors. Here are a list of Deep Learning libraries and frameworks that will gain momentum in 2016.
1. Theano is a python library for defining and evaluating mathematical expressions with numerical arrays. It makes it easy to write deep learning algorithms in python. On the top of the Theano many more libraries are built.
· Keras is a minimalist, highly modular neural network library in the spirit of Torch, written in Python, that uses Theano under the hood for optimized tensor manipulation on GPU and CPU.
· Pylearn2 is a library that wraps a lot of models and training algorithms such as Stochastic Gradient Descent that are commonly used in Deep Learning. Its functional libraries are built on top of Theano
· Lasagne is a lightweight library to build and train neural networks in Theano. It is governed by simplicity, transparency, modularity, pragmatism , focus and restraint principles.
· Blocks a framework that helps you build neural network models on top of Theano.
2. Caffe is a deep learning framework made with expression, speed, and modularity in mind. It is developed by the Berkeley Vision and Learning Center (BVLC) and by community contributors. Google’s DeepDream is based on Caffe Framework. This framework is a BSD-licensed C++ library with Python Interface.
3. nolearn contains a number of wrappers and abstractions around existing neural network libraries, most notably Lasagne, along with a few machine learning utility modules.
4. Gensim is deep learning toolkit implemented in python programming language intended for handling large text collections, using efficient algorithms.
5. Chainer bridge the gap between algorithms and implementations of deep learning. Its powerful, flexible and intuitive and is considered as the flexible framework for Deep Learning.
6. deepnet is a GPU-based python implementation of deep learning algorithms like Feed-forward Neural Nets, Restricted Boltzmann Machines, Deep Belief Nets, Autoencoders, Deep Boltzmann Machines and Convolutional Neural Nets.
7. Hebel is a library for deep learning with neural networks in Python using GPU acceleration with CUDA through PyCUDA. It implements the most important types of neural network models and offers a variety of different activation functions and training methods such as momentum, Nesterov momentum, dropout, and early stopping.
8. CXXNET is fast, concise, distributed deep learning framework based on MShadow. It is a lightweight and easy extensible C++/CUDA neural network toolkit with friendly Python/Matlab interface for training and prediction.
9. DeepPy is a Pythonic deep learning framework built on top of NumPy.
10. DeepLearning is deep learning library, developed with C++ and python.
11. Neon is Nervana’s Python based Deep Learning framework.
12. ConvNet Convolutional neural net is a type of deep learning classification algorithms, that can learn useful features from raw data by themselves and is performed by tuning its weighs.
13. DeepLearnToolBox is a matlab/octave toolbox for deep learning and includes Deep Belief Nets, Stacked Autoencoders, convolutional neural nets.
14. cuda-convnet is a fast C++/CUDA implementation of convolutional (or more generally, feed-forward) neural networks. It can model arbitrary layer connectivity and network depth. Any directed acyclic graph of layers will do. Training is done using the backpropagation algorithm.
15. MatConvNet is a MATLAB toolbox implementing Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) for computer vision applications. It is simple, efficient, and can run and learn state-of-the-art CNNs
16. eblearn is an open-source C++ library of machine learning by New York University’s machine learning lab, led by Yann LeCun. In particular, implementations of convolutional neural networks with energy-based models along with a GUI, demos and tutorials.
17. SINGA is designed to be general to implement the distributed training algorithms of existing systems. It is supported by Apache Software Foundation.
18. NVIDIA DIGITS is a new system for developing, training and visualizing deep neural networks. It puts the power of deep learning into an intuitive browser-based interface, so that data scientists and researchers can quickly design the best DNN for their data using real-time network behavior visualization.
19. Intel® Deep Learning Framework provides a unified framework for Intel® platforms accelerating Deep Convolutional Neural Networks.
20. N-Dimensional Arrays for Java (ND4J)is scientific computing libraries for the JVM. They are meant to be used in production environments, which means routines are designed to run fast with minimum RAM requirements.
21. Deeplearning4j is the first commercial-grade, open-source, distributed deep-learning library written for Java and Scala. It is designed to be used in business environments, rather than as a research tool.
22. Encog is an advanced machine learning framework which supports Support Vector Machines,Artificial Neural Networks, Genetic Programming, Bayesian Networks, Hidden Markov Models, Genetic Programming and Genetic Algorithms are supported.
23. Convnet.js is a Javascript library for training Deep Learning models (mainly Neural Networks) entirely in a browser. No software requirements, no compilers, no installations, no GPUs, no sweat.
24. Torch is a scientific computing framework with wide support for machine learning algorithms. It is easy to use and efficient, fast scripting language, LuaJIT, and an underlying C/CUDA implementation. Torch is based on Lua programming language.
25. Mocha is a Deep Learning framework for Julia, inspired by the C++ framework Caffe. Efficient implementations of general stochastic gradient solvers and common layers in Mocha could be used to train deep / shallow (convolutional) neural networks, with (optional) unsupervised pre-training via (stacked) auto-encoders. Its best feature include Modular architecture, High-level Interface, portability with speed, compatibility and many more.
26. Lush(Lisp Universal Shell) is an object-oriented programming language designed for researchers, experimenters, and engineers interested in large-scale numerical and graphic applications. It comes with rich set of deep learning libraries as a part of machine learning libraries.
27. DNNGraph is a deep neural network model generation DSL in Haskell.
28. Accord.NET is a .NET machine learning framework combined with audio and image processing libraries completely written in C#. It is a complete framework for building production-grade computer vision, computer audition, signal processing and statistics applications
29. darch package can be used for generating neural networks with many layers (deep architectures). Training methods includes a pre training with the contrastive divergence method and a fine tuning with common known training algorithms like backpropagation or conjugate gradient.
30. deepnet implements some deep learning architectures and neural network algorithms, including BP,RBM,DBN,Deep autoencoder and so on.
Upcoming Deep Learning events in 2016:

List of Machine Learning tutorials

Following is the extensive list of machine learning tutorials. I will keep updating it.


Interview Resources

Artificial Intelligence

Genetic Algorithms


Useful Blogs

Resources on Quora

Kaggle Competitions WriteUp

Cheat Sheets


Linear Regression

Logistic Regression

Model Validation using Resampling

Deep Learning

Natural Language Processing

Computer Vision

Support Vector Machine

Reinforcement Learning

Decision Trees

Random Forest / Bagging



Stacking Models

Vapnik–Chervonenkis Dimension

Bayesian Machine Learning

Semi Supervised Learning


How can I be as great as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Richard Branson?

Answer by Justine Musk:

Extreme success results from an extreme personality and comes at the cost of many other things. Extreme success is different from what I suppose you could just consider 'success', so know that you don't have to be Richard or Elon to be affluent and accomplished and maintain a great lifestyle. Your odds of happiness are better that way. But if you're extreme, you must be what you are, which means that happiness is more or less beside the point. These people tend to be freaks and misfits who were forced to experience the world in an unusually challenging way. They developed strategies to survive, and as they grow older they find ways to apply these strategies to other things, and create for themselves a distinct and powerful advantage. They don't think the way other people think. They see things from angles that unlock new ideas and insights. Other people consider them to be somewhat insane.

Be obsessed.

Be obsessed.

Be obsessed.

If you're not obsessed, then stop what you're doing and find whatever does obsess you. It helps to have an ego, but you must be in service to something bigger if you are to inspire the people you need to help you  (and make no mistake, you will need them). That 'something bigger' prevents you from going off into the ether when people flock round you and tell you how fabulous you are when you aren't and how great your stuff is when it isn't. Don't pursue something because you "want to be great". Pursue something because it fascinates you, because the pursuit itself engages and compels you. Extreme people combine brilliance and talent with an *insane* work ethic, so if the work itself doesn't drive you, you will burn out or fall by the wayside or your extreme competitors will crush you and make you cry.

Follow your obsessions until a problem starts to emerge, a big meaty challenging problem that impacts as many people as possible, that you feel hellbent to solve or die trying. It might take years to find that problem, because you have to explore different bodies of knowledge, collect the dots and then connect and complete them.

It helps to have superhuman energy and stamina. If you are not blessed with godlike genetics, then make it a point to get into the best shape possible. There will be jet lag, mental fatigue, bouts of hard partying, loneliness, pointless meetings, major setbacks, family drama, issues with the Significant Other you rarely see, dark nights of the soul, people who bore and annoy you, little sleep, less sleep than that. Keep your body sharp to keep your mind sharp. It pays off.

Learn to handle a level of stress that would break most people.

Don't follow a pre-existing path, and don't look to imitate your role models. There is no "next step". Extreme success is not like other kinds of success; what has worked for someone else, probably won't work for you. They are individuals with bold points of view who exploit their very particular set of unique and particular strengths. They are unconventional, and one reason they become the entrepreneurs they become is because they can't or don't or won't fit into the structures and routines of corporate life. They are dyslexic, they are autistic, they have ADD, they are square pegs in round holes, they piss people off, get into arguments, rock the boat, laugh in the face of paperwork. But they transform weaknesses in ways that create added advantage — the strategies I mentioned earlier — and seek partnerships with people who excel in the areas where they have no talent whatsoever.

They do not fear failure — or they do, but they move ahead anyway. They will experience heroic, spectacular, humiliating, very public failure but find a way to reframe until it isn't failure at all. When they fail in ways that other people won't, they learn things that other people don't and never will. They have incredible grit and resilience.

They are unlikely to be reading stuff like this. (This is *not* to slam or criticize people who do; I love to read this stuff myself.) They are more likely to go straight to a book: perhaps a biography of Alexander the Great or Catherine the Great* or someone else they consider Great. Surfing the 'Net is a deadly timesuck, and given what they know their time is worth — even back in the day when technically it was not worth that — they can't afford it.

I could go on, it's a fascinating subject, but you get the idea. I wish you luck and strength and perhaps a stiff drink should you need it.

* One person in the comments section appears not to know who Catherine the Great is, suggesting that this is "an utter lie" of mine + "feminist stupidity". But Catherine's ability to rise, and strategize around discrimination, holds interesting lessons for anyone.

How can I be as great as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Richard Branson?

How do I begin analyzing data using Python?

Answer by William Chen:

Check out Harvard's free data science course.

The homeworks (with solutions) walk you through a number of data analysis, mining, scraping, manipulation problems with Python and iPython notebook!

Check out Coursera's free data science course

Link: Coursera

To specifically play with data science and python, check out their Twitter Sentiment Analysis in Python assignment.

Check out my more comprehensive answer at William Chen's answer to How do I become a data scientist?

I curate material on learning data science at Learn Data Science. Follow that blog or my blog at Storytelling with Statistics to get updated of new content!

How do I begin analyzing data using Python?

When companies such as Facebook, Google, YouTube,Twitter and Quora started off, were the founders aware from day one that they may change…

Answer by Dustin Moskovitz:

Of course not. It took at least 6 or 7.

Seriously though, Facebook was such a phenomenon *right away* at Harvard that 80% of the students were using it within the first week. It was very easy to see that there was nothing particularly special about Harvard that meant real-identity social networking would be successful there and not other places. We weren't completely confident that we would be the ones to replicate the model, but we were absolutely certain that some product like Facebook would become extremely popular and change the world in all the ways it has.

When companies such as Facebook, Google, YouTube,Twitter and Quora started off, were the founders aware from day one that they may change…

What are important things and advice to know that people generally aren’t told about?

Answer by Marcus Geduld:

1. Marry your best friend.

I am truly amazed that I have the most successful marriage of all my friends — going strong after fifteen years. Most of my friends are amazed, too, because, growing up, I was the geek who couldn't get a girlfriend. I had almost no relationships until I was in my mid twenties. I got married at 29. I'm now 45 and still deeply in love. Meanwhile, I have seen so many of my friends get divorces and/or grind their teeth through loveless, combative relationships.

What I've noticed about these people is that, 90% of the time, (a) they got married really young and (b) they mistakenly thought that long-term romances work best when when they're based entirely on lust and trivial shared tastes (e.g. "We both like the same bands.")

Sometimes, I hear people say things like, "I've been dating this guy for a year. We get along okay, but sometimes I think about leaving… How do I know if he's 'the one'?" This makes me really sad, because it's so obvious to me that my wife is 'the one.' Why? Because she's my best friend. Whenever anything good or bad happens to me, she's the person I want to tell! When I need advice, she's the person I run to! When I need to laugh, she's the person I joke around with!

If you don't know that the other person is 'the one,' he or she is not. And though it sucks to be alone — believe me, I know: I was alone for years — it's better than settling. Don't settle. You'll still be alone. It is very possible to be alone while being in a relationship. Many people are.

(Let me be really clear about what I mean by "don't settle." I don't mean "look for someone who is perfect." No one is perfect. I mean that if you feel luke-warm about someone, he's not the one. If the person you're with makes you continually unhappy, she's not the one. Don't settle for that because you think "it beats being alone." It doesn't. You evolved to think it does. Your selfish genes want you to mate. Your brain will continually tell you that nothing is worse that being alone. It's wrong.)

The other sad thing I hear is "Bill is my best friend. We have so much in common. He's always there for me. We talk for hours. I completely trust him and we have the exact same sense of humor … but … I don't know … the spark isn't there…"

When I hear this, I don't say anything, because it's none of my business, but I want to scream "GET OVER THIS 'SPARK' THING! STOP BELIEVING IN HOLLYWOOD VISIONS OF CATCHING SOMEONE'S EYE ACROSS A CROWDED ROOM! Jesus Christ! You found someone you connect with on so many levels, and you're not getting down on your knees and proposing?!? Do you think you're going to find 30 more people like that in your life?!?"

The "spark" doesn't last, anyway. I'm not saying that sex dies or anything. I'm just saying that incredibly exciting, new romance feeling inevitably fades. But, if you're lucky, what comes next is much, much better. You spend years in that loving, warm place with the person you know you want to grow old with. And if you have good communication with someone, the spark can come later, even if it's not there at first.

Lots of people seem to learn this after a long time and a lot of pain. They marry the "bad boy" or the "hot chick" instead of their best friends, because doing so is more exciting. Then those marriages — which are based on nothing — fail. Sometimes, if these people are lucky, they later marry those best friends who they should have married in the first place. If they're unlucky, they can't, because the best friends have moved on.

See also:

Marcus Geduld's answer to Marriage: What are some tips for young people wanting to get married?

Marcus Geduld's answer to Marriage: What is the secret to a lasting marriage?

2. There's no such thing as a "grown up," and if you try to be one, you'll wind up becoming a poser at best and a killjoy at worst.

First of all, if you're waiting for that magic time when you're finally there, give it up. As I ease into the middle age, I can see it will never happen. I will never have learned what I need to learn in order to be a grownup. I will never be 100% confident. I will never stop failing…

People who seem like they have it all together are either faking it or living such incredibly boring lives that they never face any challenges.

Let me be clear that I am a responsible person. So if all "grownup" means to you is "someone who does the dishes," then — yes — I'm a grown up. But it's not like when I was younger, I was a child … a child … a child … a child … and then I reached some particular birthday and — boing — I was an adult.

God, I hate people who think it's important to be grown up. They are no fun at all. They are the people who, if you show any enthusiasm that goes beyond what you have to do at your job, inevitably say, "Looks like someone has too much time on his hands!"

Don't be that guy!

As you go through life — especially when you pass through your 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s — continually ask yourself this: "When was the last time I played in the mud?"

It is vital that you play in the mud! You must do this or you'll lose your soul! I am somewhat speaking in metaphor. If you don't like mud, that's fine. But when did you last finger paint? When did you last get into a pillow fight with your friends (or with your spouse?) When did you last sing a loud, off-key song where all the lyrics were nonsense words? What was the last time you did something utterly pointless that was great fun?

Playing Scrabble doesn't count. (I say that as a huge Scrabble fan.) Playing tennis doesn't count. Those activities are great, but they're too regimented. They are too much about rules. They don't involve cutting loose, letting go and being vulnerable. (By vulnerable, I mean doing stuff that may lead other people to say "Act your age!")

Getting drunk or high doesn't count, either. If you can only dance around in your underwear when you've had three (or ten) drinks, you're doing it wrong. One of the reason drugs don't count, is because they put you in an altered state that is disconnected from who you are when you're not drunk or high. Your goal should be to become someone who always has a little bit of play in him — not someone who is super-stern and serious and needs chemicals to unwind.

I know that letting go this way is really, really hard for some people. If it's hard for you, ease into it. No matter how hard it is, surely you can finger paint when you're alone in your room! Make yourself do it until you can do it without shame — until you can let go and enjoy getting paint on your nose. You will wind up living longer and having less stress in your life.

And though you can start this in private, try to work towards doing it in the company of someone else. Play is fundamentally a social activity. You will never feel as close to another person as you will when you roll in the mud with him.

Despite the way I sound, I am a very shy person. I don't, as a rule, go dancing in the streets. But I have a few close friends (and a really fun spouse) with whom I can do those things. Those friends keep me alive! I wouldn't trade them for ten million dollars!

One last thing: if you have kids, what's your relationship to them? Are you very much the mom or the dad. Do you feel like they are the kids and you are the grownup? Or do you feel like they're your friends and you enjoy playing on the floor with them? Of course it's important to be the grownup for them sometimes. But see if you can ease yourself into a different kind of relationship with them? When did you and your kids last have a snowball fight?

3. Most grownups stop learning. Don't.

I spent many years as a teacher, mostly teaching computer classes to adults. These were folks who were being forced to adopt new technologies for their jobs. They were very unhappy. They would say, "I don't understand this stuff! I'm just not one of those computer people."

What I gradually learned, via long discussions with many, many students from many different occupations, is that this wasn't true at all. Their problem — though very real — had nothing to do with computers. It had to do with the fact that this was the first time they'd been asked to learn anything new in years. They would have had just as much trouble if their boss had forced them to learn how to knit, juggle, or play the guitar.

Even many people we think of as smart do very few new things every day — things that stretch them. Here's an example: I used to work for a large auction company (think Sotheby's or Chirstie's.) This company employed a lot of "experts." An expert was, for instance, someone who has spent decades studying French ceramics. Having done a lot of studying, he can now look at a vase and instantly tell you when and where it was made, what it's worth, and whether it's an original or a reproduction. I am not making light of this skill. I certainly couldn't do it.

But let's take a look at what it involves: the expert had to spend decades cramming information into his brain. He had to get to a point where that information wasn't just in his brain but also instantly accessible. Doing all that grunt work was an incredible feat, and the expert has good reason to be proud of what he accomplished.

But if he's like most of us, he learned most of his knowledge in his 20s. Starting in his 30s, he began coasting. Coasting feels really good and most jobs are built to let experts coast. You know you're coasting when you can go to work and instantly know how to fix any problem. You're coasting when you can look at the vase and instantly know when and where it was made.

You're coasting if all your problems at work are things like annoying co-workers and long hours. If you never (or rarely) need to do exhaustive research or work out complex problems on paper or white boards, you're coasting.

I'm a computer programmer, which means my job is pretty intellectual, and I coast way less than a lot of people: but I still coast about 75% of the time. A lot of the code I write is boilerplate stuff. I'm "solving" problems that have already been solved, and all I need to do is copy, paste, and make a few tweaks.

Doctors coast a lot of the time (at least general practitioners do). They hear the same symptoms over and over again, and in most cases, they can do their jobs very well by doing mental "database searches" and regurgitating answers that worked in the past. This is also the case for non-trial lawyers.

If you're a "smart person" like me, and if you work in an "intellectual" field, it's humbling to ask yourself, at each point in your day, "Am I stretching my intellect? Am I coming up with a new solution? Am I facing a new problem that I've never faced before?" How much of the time do you do this? 10% of the time? 5% of the time? 1% of the time? How many years have gone by without you having to face a real intellectual challenge?

Incidentally, the jobs that we think of as intellectual tend to be the least intellectually demanding (with some exceptions, such as Mathematician and Brain Surgeon). The "dumb jobs," such as auto-mechanic and football player tend to involve a lot of continual, on-your-feet thinking.

What's wrong with coasting? Nothing, necessarily, if it makes you happy. But we're moving into a time period where it's harder to get away with it. The pace of change has quadrupled and we're getting hit with new technologies daily.

But the bigger problem is that "if you don't use it, you'll lose it." You need to continually give your brain a workout or it will grow sluggish. We all know those people who have retired at 65 and then spent twenty years sitting in front of the TV. What's sad is that we accept that people in their 80s are going to be sluggish. But that's not a given. They don't have to be! You don't have to be. If your job isn't challenging you, find ways to challenge yourself. 

Note: most people get frustrated when they fail. This is one of the reasons why they quit trying new things. Trying new things inevitably leads to failure. But understand that, if you're trying anything challenging, it's going to take you at least a month to succeed at it. A month is the minimum. It's more likely that it will take you six months.

So if you, say, try to learn the guitar but "fail" at it after a few hours, you haven't failed. You can only fail at the guitar if you try to play it for six months and, during all that time, make no progress.

See also:

Marcus Geduld's answer to Education: How much does grading matter or motivate students to learn?

Marcus Geduld's answer to Mathematics: Why do so many people hate mathematics?

4. If you're an artist or "creative person," stop trying to "be original."

Your goal should be to tell the story you're trying to tell. (Or play the melody or fill the canvas with color or whatever.)

When I'm not programming computers, I spend my time directing plays. I run a classical-theatre company. Here's the main lesson I've learned over the years: if I'm directing, say, "Romeo and Juliet," my job is to tell that story. Let's say that, in order to make the story clear and exciting, it turns out that Juliet should be wearing a red dress in a particular scene. But I go see another production and notice the actress in that production is wearing a red dress in the scene in which I was going to put my Juliet in a red dress!

I will feel that very human urge to make my Juliet wear a blue dress, because I don't want to be accused of copying or "not being original." I need to get over it. It's not about me! If it happens to be a case that a red dress tells the story better than a blue dress, then my Juliet needs to wear a red dress. Art is best when the artists serves the art rather than the other way around.

This general rule applies to many things besides art.

See also: Marcus Geduld's answer to Research: How do I overcome my thought that there are so many people smarter than me?

5. If you focus on what's fair and what's unfair, you'll stagnate.

John: Someone keeps stealing pens off my desk! Whenever I need a pen, I can't find one!

Mary: Well, pens don't cost very much. Why don't you just buy a bunch of them once a month? Just think of them as perishable items that have to be replenished.

John: I shouldn't have to do that! It's not my fault the pens go missing! People need to stop stealing my pens!

Mary: Okay. What can you do to stop them from stealing your pens? Do you have a cabinet or something you can lock them in?

John: No!

Mary: Can you tell your boss? If there's a security problem in your office, maybe he can…

John: I've tried that. He doesn't care! He says it's just pens. That's not the point! It's stealing. Stealing is wrong!

Mary: You're right. It is wrong. It sucks that your boss isn't going to do anything about it, but I guess that's the way it is. And it seems like it's causing you a lot of anxiety. Wouldn't you feel better if you spent $2 on pens once a week? You could just assume they'll get stolen and get new ones when you need them. That way, you'd know you'd always have a pen!

John: Why should I be the one who has to buy new pens?

Mary: You shouldn't be, but you are.

John: That's not fair!

There's nothing wrong with striving for fairness and justice. But if that's not possible, it's pointless to fall into a mode where you're constantly stressed out and throwing your hands up in disgust. The pen problem literally used to drive me crazy. Then I took Mary's advice. The truth is, I earn enough money that buying pens a couple of times a month is no big deal. I wish people wouldn't steal from me, but I'm just not going to worry about it. A couple of dollars a month let me check a worry off my list. That is money well spent!

6. If you're not failing, you're doing it wrong.

We need to raise our kids so that they expect to fail and so that they understand that after failing they should keep going. I have finally gotten to a place where I dislike not failing. I am suspicious when I don't fail. Not failing generally means I'm playing it too safe. It means I'm not growing or learning. It means I'm keeping myself from finding all sorts of solutions I could be finding. But the only way to find them is to play past failure.

I recommend keeping a Failure Diary. When you fail at something, try writing it up the next day. Examine the failure in as much detail as you can. Make sure you use failure as an opportunity to grow. I publish excepts from my Failure Diary here: Failures: On Stuff I Did Wrong

See also: Marcus Geduld's answer to Why do we get frustrated when learning something?

7. You can't reason with a lizard.

If someone is hysterical or angry, it's pointless to reason with him. Don't try. The "lizard brain" can't use logic. Understand that you're dealing with a cornered animal, not a calm philosopher.

See also: Marcus Geduld's answer to What Would You Do If X?: What would you say if someone said that you were fat? and read the comments, e.g. http://www.quora.com/What-Would-You-Do-If-X/What-would-you-say-if-someone-said-that-you-were-fat/answer/Marcus-Geduld/comment/2266135

8. Stop reading the newspaper.

You don't really have to stop. If you enjoy reading it, by all means read it. But if you're one of those people who gets deeply stressed out every time you read the paper or watch CNN, consider stopping. Why are you constantly putting yourself through this stress? Because it's one's duty to stay informed? Why?

Okay, I understand why. We live in a Democracy and blah-blah-blah. Fine. But you're not required to live a life of stress. It doesn't help you or anyone else for you to be stressed all the time.

And just knowing that there are starving people doesn't help those starving people. If you have a plan of action, by all means carry it out. Otherwise, give yourself a break. If you feel terribly guilty when you're not informed, then just give yourself a two-week break. You don't have to stop reading the papers for life. But get out of the habit of being addicted to stress and sorrow. Your blood pressure will go down.

9. Do something that's not for money.

Make sure there's something pleasurable in your life that is completely disconnected with money. In our culture (in all cultures?) money comes with all kinds of baggage. Find something you like to do that will never make you any money.

If you're a waitress who longs to be a professional actress, acting in plays for free doesn't count. It's great, but it's not what I'm talking about, because you're hoping to one day quit waitressing and make money acting. Keep that dream alive, but find some other activity to be your non-money-pleasure. Say, "I like sketching (or whatever) and it will never, ever make me any money. And if someone offered me money to sketch, I'd turn it down, because I want one thing in my life that is forever disconnected from money."

And it can't be something connected to duty. Yes, you don't get paid for raising your kids, and, yes, a lot of that job is fun. But parts of it are a duty. So it doesn't count. Knitting counts. Playing basketball with your friends counts.

Hanging out with friends doesn't count. It's fun. It's not about making money. But it's not a specific activity. You need something that will jolt you out of the belief that most of us have — that anything you spend time and energy on must be about money.

10. The hour before bed is for you.

Don't work right up until bedtime, even if you "have to." Take half an hour — even 20 minutes if it's all you can spare — before you go to bed to unwind in an engrossing way. (Do this even if you're really tired and would rather not stay up an extra 20 minutes.)

By which I mean don't just sit on the sofa with a glass of wine. If you do that, it's too easy to start thinking and worrying about work. Spend that time reading a chapter of a fun thriller (not a "classic" that you think you "should" read) or watching an episode of a sitcom that makes you laugh.

Think of this as your duty. It will help you get your work done better the next day. It will help you get to sleep.

11. There is no such thing as highbrow and lowbrow.

Or if there is, who cares? School has bamboozled us into thinking Shakespeare is superior to "Gilligan's Island." As someone who directs Shakespeare plays and reads "King Lear" for fun, I'm here to tell you that the only great art is the art you love.

Life is really fucking hard. You have to deal with losing jobs, getting divorces, paying taxes and fixing the toilet. Don't add to your troubles by telling yourself — or letting someone else tell you — that you're a moron because you prefer beer to expensive champagne.

If something is beloved by experts, "refined people" and scholars, there probably is something wonderful about it. If you want to spend an hour with me, I'll explain to you why Shakespeare is wonderful and what you'll get out of his plays if you spend some time studying them. But it's not a requirement. You're not in school any longer. (Or if you are, you soon won't be). There's no teacher waiting for you to turn in your homework.

I am not a better person than you because I read Shakespeare. I read Shakespeare because I enjoy it. If I read it because I "should," I'd be a fool.

Art is primarily sensual. It can sometimes politicize people or give them intellectual ideas, but what art does best is feed you: it feeds your eyes with colors; it feeds your ears with sounds; it feeds your nerves with "what's going to happen next????" Life is short. If "Star Wars" feeds you more than "Hamlet," enjoy your feast!

If you feel guilty about watching "American Idol" when you "should be" watching "Masterpiece Theatre," then agree to challenge yourself once a month. Once a month, you'll go to a museum or watch a foreign film. The rest of the time, watch and read and listen to whatever makes you sit on the edge of your seat. Whatever makes you sing and dance.

If you're an "intellectual" like me, take a break from the Bergman films and Shakespeare plays once in a while. Sure, sure. "American Idol" is the death of American culture or whatever. But watch a couple of episodes. It's pretty engrossing and fun.

Get out of the habit of labeling things as high and low. There's stuff that feeds you and stuff that doesn't. There are acquired tastes which don't feed you now but which might feed you in the future, once you get used to them. As soon as you get the urge to categorize one thing as "art" and the other thing as "just entertainment," try to stop. There are different sorts of meals, and it's great to live in a world with both caviar and Pop Tarts!

UPDATE July 2, 2014:

12. Collaborate on a project that you care about with a group of passionate people who also care deeply about it.

I was talking with some theatre friends recently, and I realized with a shock that we are blessed with something many people lack: collaboration.

Most people collaborate at work, but unless they're working at their dream jobs, the goal is more about making money than they project itself.

My friends and I don't get paid to do theatre; we do it for love.

And what I've come to understand is that there's something important about working with a group of people towards a shared goal that the whole group cares about.

Musicians in bands and orchestras understand what I'm talking about; People who play team sports get it, too.

I suspect we evolved to do this. Early humans lived in small, hunter-gatherer tribes, and they had to collaborate every day or die. The sad thing is, many modern people don't experience this, even though their minds and bodies are crying out for it. If you feel like something is missing in your life but don't know what, maybe it's this.

– Collaborating at work doesn't count, unless you and your coworkers love the job; unless you'd all do it for free if you weren't getting paid.

– Hanging out with your friends doesn't count. It's important and fun, but it's not what I'm talking about. When you hang, your focus is on yourself and your companions. I'm specifically talking about a group of people focused on a shared project.

– Internet projects don't count. You need to be in a room with a group of people, working together. It's great if there's a physical component as well as a mental one. I'm not necessarily talking about tackle football. Playing musical instruments is physical. Working in a soup kitchen is physical.

– And it doesn't count if, even though people are helping you, you could do the project all by yourself. It must be a project that will fail unless all hands are on deck.

There are many ways to make this part of your life: collaborative arts, team sports, group games, volunteer work, etc.

Many religious people get this through their communities. Secular folks, like me, have to find other paths to it.

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What are the wittiest lines you have ever heard in any Bollywood movie?

Answer by Vineel Pratap:

Faijal: Picture chalein? Karan Arjun. Chal na Shahrukh-Salman dono hain.
(Shall we go to watch a movie? Let's watch Karan Arjun. It is starring both Shahrukh and Salman Khan.)

Mohasina: Haath Pakdoge tum?
(Will you hold my hand during the movie?)

Faijal: Maa kasam nahi pakdunga.
(I Swear on my mother I will not hold your hand.)

Mohasina: Godi mein popcorn girega, to dhoondoge nahi andhere mein?
(If popcorn falls in my lap, will you feel around for it?)

Faijal: Maa kasam nahi dhoondenge.
(Swear on mother, I won't)

Mohasina: Sat ke baithoge?
(Will you sit very close to me?)

Faijal: Maa kasam nahi satunga.
(Swear on mother, I won't.)

Mohasina: Toh apni Amma ka saath jao na, hamara kya jaroorat hai.
(Then go with your mother to watch the movie. Why do you need me to come with you?)

Source: Arjun 23rd June 2013 Written Episode Review

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Is this the best selfie ever to be taken?

Answer by Mihir Soni:

Thanks for A2A.

This is the most beautiful selfie i have ever seen.

40 Weeks and a Mirror by Sophie Starzenski

The miracle of pregnancy is so wonderful that women willingly go through morning sickness, back aches, and a pain that men can not even fathom to bring a new life into the world.

Argentinian photographer Sophie Starzenski documented her beautiful progression in a simple set of ten photographs. With her Canon blocking her face, she captured a monthly shot of her body’s transformation in a mirror. The selfie snapshots show her growing bump, with a special surprise reveal at the end. She calls this series “Proyecto Pyokko” (Pyokko is a nickname for her  new bundle of joy).

And finally!

Source :- Pictures of the week: 40 Weeks And A mirror, by Sophie Starzenski

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Introducing ggvis

RStudio Blog

Our first public release of ggvis, version 0.3, is now available on CRAN. What is ggvis? It’s a new package for data visualization. Like ggplot2, it is built on concepts from the grammar of graphics, but it also adds interactivity, a new data pipeline, and it renders in a web browser. Our goal is to make an interface that’s flexible, so that you can compose new kinds of visualizations, yet simple, so that it’s accessible to all R users.


ggvis integrates with Shiny, so you can use dynamic, interactive ggvis graphics in Shiny applications. We hope that the combination of ggvis and Shiny will make it easy for you to create applications for interactive data exploration and presentation. ggvis plots are inherently reactive and they render in the browser, so they can take advantage of the capabilities provided by modern web browsers. You can use Shiny’s interactive components for interactivity as well…

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Who was humblefool?

Answer by Lokesh Khandelwal:

Harsha Suryanarayana, popularly known as humblefool to the coding community, and as Lord among his friends and the people close to him. We lost him in an accident on the night of 15th June'14.

Now everybody knows that he was the best coder India has ever produced. He was one of the first red coder from the country and continued to dominate until his last SRM. He was the TCO world finalist twice, and Google Code Jam(GCJ) once. He worked on to make DP his strongest area (for the non-programming people, DP is Dynamic Programming and is one of the toughest things to master in programming). I have had the privilege to spend some time with him and know him more closely and that is what I am going to share in this answer.

For the last one year, Lord was working in a start-up (that he co-founded with Animesh Nayan) MyCodeSchool. I was selected in a 10 day Winter Coding Camp 2013, organized by the company, where he gave awesome lectures. But the 15 days internship MyCodeSchool, Hyderabad, (May-June '14) is how I came to know him more as a person.

Lord had this amazing passion to spread and share knowledge. This was one of his last conversations with Animesh :
Animesh: "If we can make some money, we can help more people,"
Harsha: "May be, we can enable 1000 people to help others."

I also came to know that he gave up Microsoft in his college just to train the college team for ACM ICPC. He never went behind big companies, his wife works at Google and he could have easily been a Googler himself. He worked for his passion. "You do not need too much to live. It's all the social conditioning that makes you desire a big job and a fat salary. You can live with less and  be free." This is what he used to say. 

Contrary to the second part of his TC handle(humblefool), the first part is completely correct. Lord is the most humble person I have ever met. With the knowledge and experience that he had, he could have easily commanded us all. But instead, he was always open to us, and on many instances came for our opinions and suggestions. You would never know that you were sitting next to a person of his stature. 
Now you will never associate such a geek in other domains. But Lord was awesome in every field. Maybe that is why he is called Lord. Many know that I defeated him once in chess(that too on time) because I posted it on facebook. No one except me knows the second part of the story. He came back strong and forced me to resign from that game. Played tennis and he beat us all most of the time. Always a winner in stratego. Banged on karaoke, he hit the best score 98 twice (even without any practice). He single handedly won Counter Strike against two of us (FYI, we are not noob at CS). He was a complete all-rounder. 

His thoughts were always full of clarity and vision. I had a half an hour bike ride with him,(we had all gone to Prasad's for a movie, and not everyone could fit in the car, so I was the fortunate one to come with him), I discussed my career and future plans with him, and he made it crystal clear for me. What a moment of pride it was for me!!! Wearing his TCO '07 bag while he was driving, I made sure I showed it off to everybody as if it was mine.

Memories flashback, as I write, and take me to his birthday, we had planned a surprise for him. Never had I imagined that it would be his last. A photo on his birthday treat. (Harsha is the righmost).

Harsha is a true legend. He has been an inspiration and idol of many indian programmers. And as Animesh puts in, "He has chosen to go to heaven because God needed a genius programmer there".

May his soul rest in peace. RIP Harsha, RIP the Lord.

Edit: You may also like to read Animesh Nayan's answer to What's the story behind humblefool's money and rating?

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Why I Switched to Julia


The following story, which I originally posted to The COBE Blog, explains why I began programming in Julia. Since then, I have found that Julia improves the performance of my other econometric estimators. However, Julia has a major disadvantage in that it lacks informative documentation and tutorials, much less accumulated discussion on sites like stackoverflow. This blog is meant to record the skills I am learning in Julia over time, to serve as a tutorial for economists and others learning the Julia programming language.

Is Julia the Future of Computational Economics?

Jorge Luis Garcia and I are currently estimating a structural econometric model of game-theoretic parent-child interaction. Using the standard implementation of Python (the code is written entirely in NumPy and SciPy with data prepared by Pandas), the optimizer ran for 24 hours, then terminated due to the 5,000 iteration limit. It was converging smoothly, but never quite arrived.


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fslr: An R Package Interfacing with FSL for Neuroimaging Analysis

A HopStat and Jump Away

I use a set of neuroimaging tools, but my language of choice is R. FSL, which is from the University of Oxford’s Functional MRI of the Brain (FMRIB), and stands for FMRIB Software Library, is one tool I commonly use. I wrote some wrapper functions into an R package called fslr and wanted to discuss some of the functions.

FSL – what is it?

FSL is has a command line interface with shell-type syntax as well as a GUI (which I generally don’t use). It has a lot of functions that are good for general imaging purposes – fslstats and fslmaths have loads of functionality. Using FSL during your pipeline is fine, but I don’t like switching between shell and R too much in an analysis and like to have scripts that don’t jump around too much, so I created fslr.

One of the main problems I…

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Why we’re all so obsessed with deep learning


You might have noticed the flurry of activity lately around deep learning. It’s an approach to data analysis centered around stacks of artificial neural networks that, for lack of a more succinct definition, can teach themselves to understand complex patterns and the many little features that comprise the data they’re on which they’re trained. It’s the talk of the town among media types, entrepreneurs and computer scientists not just because it sounds so cool, but mostly because it works.

We’ve covered many of its early applications already — recognizing what’s in pictures, who’s in pictures, how words are related in text and what people are saying. A lot of the research being done in universities, which then gets trained on massive amounts of web data inside places like Google, Microsoft and Facebook, is already making its way into consumer services and even commercial software near you…

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What does it mean when a girl smiles at you every time she sees you?

Answer by Mark Eichenlaub:

It's simple. Just use Bayes' theorem.

The probability she likes you is

P(like|smile) = \frac{P(smile|like)P(like)}{P(smile)}

P(like|smile) is what you want to know – the probability she likes you given the fact that she smiles at you.

P(smile|like) is the probability that she will smile given that she sees someone she likes.

P(like) is the probability that she likes a random person.

P(smile) is the probability that she will smile at a random person.

For example, suppose she just smiles at everyone. Then intuition says that fact that she smiles at you doesn't mean anything one way or another. Indeed, P(smile|like) = 1 and P(smile)=1, and we have

P(like|smile) = P(like)

meaning that knowing that she smiles at you doesn't change anything.

At the other extreme, suppose she smiles at everyone she likes, and only those she likes. Then P(smile) = P(like) and P(smile|like) = 1.  Then we have

P(like|smile) = 1

and she is certain to like you.

In the intermediate case, what you need to do is find the ratio of odds of smiling at people she likes to smiles in general, multiply by the percentage of people she likes, and there is your answer.

The more she smiles in general, the lower the chance she likes you. The more she smiles at people she likes, the better the chance. And of course the more people she likes, the better your chances are.

Of course, how to actually determine these values is a mystery I have never solved.

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What is the best flirting line you have ever heard?

Answer by Umang Jain:

A very confident James Bond walks into a bar and takes a seat next to a very attractive woman.

He gives her a quick glance then casually looks at his watch for a moment.

The woman notices this and asks, “Is your date running late?”

“No,” he replies, “Q has just given me this state-of-the-art watch. I was just testing it.”

The intrigued woman says, “A state-of-the-art watch? What’s so special about it?”

Bond explains, “It uses alpha waves to talk to me telepathically.”

The lady says, “What’s it telling you now?”

“Well, it says you’re not wearing any knickers.”

The woman giggles and replies, “Well it must be broken because I am wearing knickers!”

Bond smirks, taps his watch and says, “Bloody thing’s an hour fast.”

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What are some of the best roads/routes in India?

Answer by Saumya Srivastava:

If you really want to see India, hit the road.
I find Manali to Leh road the best and the most scenic/adventurous road route in India.

Driving through this route is slightly tricky,  especially for amateur drivers. It is best to have some experience in  hill driving before you set out to traverse difficult mountain terrains.

If you plan to ever take this route. Here's what you should follow – Road trip to Leh

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What are some of the best roads/routes in India?

Answer by Siddharth Agarwal:

One of the most beautiful roads that i've ever driven on, the road from Puri to Konark. The canopy makes it appear absolutely splendid. Make sure you don't speak much when traveling on this route, else you'll miss a lot!

The ride from Shillong to Cherrapunji was equally mesmerizing, if not more. The early morning fog, the mist in the air and the splendid beauty all around. I couldn't have asked for more! 🙂

Update : Adding a few more roads that should appear on this list.

The road joining Jammu and Srinagar. You're in for a surprise as soon as you exit the tunnel! And a view from the same route.

The road connecting Gangtok to Lake Tsomgo, absolutely stunning! You're above the clouds, literally!

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What are some of the best roads/routes in India?

Answer by Pavan Jayaprakash:

Northern India, especially around the Ladakh region, is undoubtedly the most popular destination for motorcycle tours in India. The route there, to what feels like the top of the world

A bike ride to Leh Ladakh by any means is not an easy one since most parts of the road are at altitudes of 13,000 feet and above in the Himalayas.

The place is best know for bike and cycle enthusiastic .

More Info on Ladhak:

Biking through Ladakh: A beginner’s guide
Five Memorable India Motorcycle Tours
Ride to the Top of the World

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What are some of the best roads/routes in India?

Answer by Gaurav Chhawchharia:

NH 1D (and other roads in J&K)

This picture is taken somewhere between Kargil and Srinagar.

UPDATE: Additional photos, all taken along NH 1D

Signboard on the road along the LoC just after Kargil towards Dras.

Baralacha La covered in snow.

Suraj Tal, second highest lake in India.

A canyon near Sarchu.

More Plains, one of the highest desert in the world.

Note: All the pictures are taken using a 3.2MP point-and-shoot camera in 2009. The entire route is so beautiful that the quality of the camera (or even the skills of the lesser photographers like me) doesn't prevent the photo quality from being good.

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What are some of the best roads/routes in India?

Answer by Vaibhav Dwivedi:

From my experience, the route from Gangtok to Nathu La pass is pretty breathtaking! Its very close to the Indo-Chinese border in Sikkim and thus is used a lot by the army.

I don't think these photographs do justice to the same!

It passes right through the Himalayas!

A look from the road of the Tsango lake.

The road close to the Chinese border.

An army man looks on as we cross an army post.

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What are some of the best roads/routes in India?

Answer by Sathvik Ashok M:

To travel through the village of Maravanthe on NH-17 ( now NH-66) connecting Mangalore to Goa is a one of a kind experience.

The scenic beauty on this strech is attributed to the Maravanthe beach on one side of the road and the Suparnika river on the other side.

Its the only one of its kind in India.

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What is the most powerful photo you have ever seen?

Answer by Prabhat G Singh:

The 43 most powerful images ever taken

The Man who didn't salute Hitler.

Sergeant Leonard Siffleet was fighting in the Australian Army, but was captured by the natives and handed to the Japanese. Held for about two weeks and tortured, Siffleet was to be executed by beheading by a Japanese office, Yasuno Chikao.

The mushroom cloud rising over the city of Nagasaki. Its size is both astonishing and horrifying.

an American Marine cradles a near-dead infant pulled from under a rock while troops cleared Japanese fighters and civilians from caves on Saipan in the summer of 1944. The child was the only person found alive among hundreds of corpses in one cave.

Partisans in Russia hanged by the Germans.

A crow's feast of a dead soldier.

Pile of hair of Holocaust victims. The hair were actually removed and processed to make thread and a few other things.

Bodies of Holocaust victims dumped in a pit.

A prisoner burned to death by the SS, still lying in the position in which he died.

Slave labourers at the Buchenwald concentration camp. Weight reduced from 160 pounds to 70 pounds in 11 months.

" Digging in the Italian village of Valdaro–near the city of Mantua, a setting for the famous Elizabethan tragedy–they uncovered a startling double burial. Dubbed the "Lovers of Valdaro" by the media, the pair were huddled close together, face to face, their arms and legs entwined, seemingly in an eternal embrace.

In 1947, 23-year-old Evelyn McHale jumped from the observation deck of the Empire State Building onto a limousine which was parked below. Photography student Robert Wiles heard the explosive crash and shot this photo soon afterward"

Tank man, or Unknown protester. A demonstrator stands in front of a line of People’s Liberation Army tanks during protests for democratic reform. Photo credits: Charlie Cole

Auschwitz, inside a gas chamber. Photo credits: Kligon5

Australian Scott Jones kisses his Canadian girlfriend Alex Thomas after she was knocked to the ground by a police officer’s riot shield in Vancouver. Canadians rioted after the Vancouver Canucks lost the Stanley Cup to the Boston Bruins. Photo credits: Rich Lam

Eight-year-old Christian Golczynski accepts the flag for his father, Marine Staff Sgt. Marc Golczynski, during a memorial service. Marc Golczynski was shot during his second tour in Iraq just a few weeks before returning back home. Photo credits: Aaron Thompson

Young German Prisoner being rounded up after Stalingrad.

A firefighter quenches a koala after 2009 black saturday bush fires in Victoria, Australia. Photo credits: ABC.net.au

Prisoner stares with no fear at Heinrich Himmler, one of the chief architects of the holocaust and chief of the gestapo. Photo credits: unknown

A mother comforts her son in Concord, Alabama, near his house which was completely destroyed by a tornado in April of 2011. Photo credits: Jeff Roberts

Word Press Photo winner in 1991. US Sergeant Ken Kozakiewicz (23), gives vent to his grief as he learns that the body bag at his feet contains the remains of his friend Andy Alaniz. ‘Friendly fire’ claimed Alaniz’s life and injured Kozakiewicz. Photo credits: David Turnley

A child gives a heart-shaped balloon to a policeman during riots against austerity measures in Bucharest. Photo credits: Ioana Moldovan

American troops on D-Day Normandy landings on June 6, 1944.

The 1968 Olympics Black Power Salute: African American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos raise their fists in a gesture of solidarity at the 1968 Olympic games. Both of them were expelled from the games later on. Photo credits: Associated Press

Heart surgeon after a 23-hour-long successful heart transplant. You can see his assistant sleeping on the floor. Photo credits: James Stanfield

Man being reunited with his dog after 2011 tsunami in Japan. Photo credits: unknown

Terri Gurrola is reunited with her daughter after serving in Iraq for 7 months. Photo credits: Louie Favorite

French man in tears while German troops occupy Paris.

Russian flag raised on the Reichstag in Berlin during WWII.

Russian soldiers during WWII.

World Press Photo Winner 1993. Boys raise toy guns in a gesture of defiance during the Palestinian uprising, began in December 1987. Photo credits: Larry Towell

Man Falling from the World Trade Center on 9/11. Photo credits: Richard Drew

Young man just found out his brother was killed. Photo credits: Nhat V. Meyer

Alcoholic father and his son. Photo credits: James Lee Stanfield

Myanmar citizen in front of the remains of his home near Yangon After 2008 cyclone Nargis. Photo credits: Brian Sokol

Dog sits for the second day in a row at the grave of his owner, died after the Rio de Janeiro landslides in 2011. Photo credits: Vanderlei Almeida

“Wait For Me Daddy”, October 1, 1940. Five-year-old kid reaches out for his father while he is in line marching on his way to a waiting train. Image credits: Claude P. Dettloff

Afghan man offers tea to a soldier. Photo credits: Rafiq Maqbool

Russian soldier playing an abandoned piano in Chechnya in 1994. Photo credits: unknown

Flower power. Photo credits: Bernie Boston

Upset woman after Japan massive 2011 earthquake. Photo credits: Asahi Shimbun, Toshiyuki Tsunenari

A starving boy and a missionary in Uganda. Photo credits: Mike Wells

Alvaro Ybarra Zavala (Photographer), Congo, November 2008

Alvaro Ybarra Zavala: 'Years after I took this picture, every time I see it I feel scared again.

This picture isn't that scary, until you realize the soldier had a severed hand in his left hand and what looks to be severed penis in the right.

From Alvaro's Memoirs
The situation was very tense, people were drunk and aggressive. I was with two other photographers most of the time, but at this moment I went back to the road alone. I saw three soldiers smoking, playing with their guns, and felt safe, I don't know why."

Then I saw a man with a knife in his mouth, coming out of the bush – he was holding up a hand like a trophy. The soldiers started laughing and firing in the air. I didn't think about it and began shooting. He walked directly at me. People surrounded us, celebrating. I thought, "Don't do anything crazy, just act like you're part of this crazy party."

When I got to the hotel, I showed the other photographers. They said, "Do you realise you could have been killed?"

Only then did it hit me how dangerous it had been. Years after I took this picture, every time I see it I feel scared again.

I really hate this shot. It's the worst face of humankind. I always ask myself, "Why do I do this job?' And the answer is: I want to show the best and worst face of humankind. Every time you go to a conflict, you see the worst. We need to see what we do to be able to show future generations the mistakes we make. The guy with the knife in his mouth is a human being like the rest of us. What's important is that we show what human beings are capable of. The day I don't do that with my photography is the day I'll give up and open a restaurant.


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What are some of the saddest lines you’ve ever heard or read?

Answer by Rahul Gopi:

Endings are not bad and many ends aren't really an ending. Sometimes it involves a sense of future a belief that every exit line is an entry..

The lines below make me sad- though it ends with a positive note..!
Loved her a lot n 'Loved' is always past..:)

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What are some good photographs depicting friendship?

Answer by Hemant Kumar Singh:

Watch this video  – Anything for love …

A Group Of Women Surprised Their Friend With Breast Cancer By Shaving Their Heads

After their friend Gerdi McKenna was diagnosed with breast cancer, a group of women headed to the hair salon to do something few friends would consider. Ten of them shaved their heads, and one cut off more than 15 inches of hair.

When Gerdi arrived, the women pulled off their matching beanies to reveal their now bald heads. The look on Gerdi’s face was worth more than a head of hair ever could be.

Next, the ladies did what any group of women sporting fabulous new hair do’s would do— they had a photo shoot.


Source : – BuzzFeed

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What are some good photographs depicting friendship?

Answer by Vivek Agrawal:

How can someone forget this…

5 Friends Take The Same Picture Every 5 Years For 30 Years








We plan on doing this for the rest of our lives, no matter what — Up  until there’s one guy just sitting in the same pose! Even then, maybe  someone will take a picture of an empty bench for us.

Source: 5 Friends Take The Same Picture Every 5 Years For 30 Years

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What are the coolest photos of international borders?

Answer by Patrick Crosset:

Belgium – Netherlands

Poland – Ukraine

Sweden – Norway

Canada – USA

Mexico – USA

Belgium – Netherlands – Germany

Bangladesh – India

China – India

Portugal – Spain

Austria – Slovakia – Hungary


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What is the most passionate/romantic line you have ever heard or read?

Answer by Nilay Bhadade:


"When you love someone you just, you…you don't stop. Ever. Even when people roll their eyes or call you crazy. Even then. Especially then. You just- you don't give up because if I could give up… If I could just, you know, take the whole world's advice and- and move on and find someone else, that wouldn't be love. That would be… That would be some other disposable thing that is not worth fighting for. But that is not what this is." — Ted Mosby, How I Met Your Mother Season 9, Episode 17

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What are the best memes on Indian guys?

Answer by Anonymous:

I don't understand Quora. Apparently, it is supposed to be full of "intellectuals". But when I saw the answers to What are the best memes on Indian girls? I was so disappointed in Indian guys.

Most of them were about guys whining about how life is so unfair to them.

I had to create these memes to show that life is not exactly how they choose to look at it.
(sorry for the same image again and again, I'm new at this!)

1. And this is by "educated" guys too

2. The all-too common hypocrite

3. Happens in a group of guys – rating women "hot or not"

4. The friendzone conundrum

5. Because only guys can love their parents!

6. "Respect your mother, mofo!"

7. Because drinking automatically makes women "sluts".

8. "The rapists are bastards man!!  ….check out the ass on that girl!"

And some special ones dedicated to IIT guys since there seem to be so many here

9. "Because I'm from IIT…duuuude.."

10. If you don't look like Brad Pitt, don't expect to land Angelina Jolie.

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How are Generative Stochastic Networks trained?

Answer by Yoshua Bengio:

There are many ways that neural networks can represent a conditional probability distribution. In the experiments reported in the paper, it is with classical sigmoid output units, each of which represent the probability that an output variable (here the i-th bit X_i to be reconstructed) take the value 1 or 0. In that case, the random bits X_i are assumed to be conditionally independent, given X_tilde. You can choose other kinds of distribution (any parametric distribution, by making these parameters a function of the neural network outputs; here the distribution is factorized Bernoulli, each with probability p_i = sigmoid(a_i), where a_i are the pre-sigmoid outputs of the neural net).

The neural net is trained as usual, by back-propagating the log-likelihood of the outputs (which is the same as the cross-entropy, in the above example). The only difference with ordinary neural nets (but similarly to dropout) is that noise is injected in the neural net (in the inputs and possibly hidden units as well).

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What are the coolest photos of international borders?

Answer by Ugam Kamat:

To design road travel between Hong Kong and China was a nightmare for many Engineers and Architects. As we all know it, China is a Left Hand Drive Country and Hong Kong is Right Hand Drive. NL Architects designed it in such a way so as to prevent chaos and facilitate smooth road travel. This is nothing short of an engineering marvel.

NL Architects have designed a conceptual bridge for the Hong Kong border, featuring roads that would loop over each other to allow for the fact that traffic must drive on the left in Hong Kong but on the right in China.

Called Pearl River Necklace, the design would link artificial islands to form a bridge between Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macau.

NL Architects pitched this project for the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities International Design Ideas Competition.

So, this is what the Connection looks like.

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What is the most passionate/romantic line you have ever heard or read?

Answer by Gagan Gupta:

Some of them have already been covered. So

"There is no dearth of women you would want to sleep with, but there would be only one woman with whom you would want to wake up."


a dialogue from Veer-Zaara.

Backdrop: An Indian, Veer, is falsely jailed in a Pakistan jail  from 22 years. Court has agreed to listen to him but only one woman, his Love, knows the truth. But if she testifies, it would stain her and family's name. Her marital life would be destroyed. So, his Lawyer is trying to persuade but he is choosing silence.

The fact that he is willing to spend an entire Life in some foreign land's jail just to protect the honour and happiness of his Love is romantic.


Saamiya (Lawyer): Let Zaara testify. Just only once and we will win the case.
Veer: Never.
Saumya: Why don't you try to understand, we are losing this case? Court has no time for prisoners like you. Many prisoners are given chance after their death. You will die here.
Veer (reflecting): Zaara must be a mother of two now. She would have 21-year old daughter and 19-year old son. She would have passed through every good and bad phase of her Life. She must be living in peace and,

Tomorrow, if you drag her to court and ask who is Veer Pratap Singh? Questions will be raised. What is their relation and no one will be able to understand the answer. In one instant, her husband will give her divorce and her Life will be destroyed. She must be living with peace. For the last 22 years, I have been protecting her honour. How can I trample it now and go home?

I wouldn't be able to do it. I wouldn't.

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What is the one key reason you will vote for Narendra Modi in the upcoming elections?

Answer by Akshay Agarwal:

AAP is a fledgling party. It has to learn a lot not only about the functioning of the government but also about how to survive in politics. The way AAP responded to the attacks by BJP and Congress on the first day of Vidhan Sabha would not impress many people. Never even once in his speech after the debate did Kejriwal answer the questions that were posted by Dr. Harshwardhan and Mr. Lovely. Right from the first day of its formation, AAP has been vocal about its stand against corruption. But there are a lot of other things apart from corruption. The party's stand on various national issues like foreign policy, economic policy etc. has not been very clear among the voters. One needs to have experience to develop flawless views on such matters. Its not that i have anything against AAP. But somewhere i do feel that staying in the opposition for 5 years will definitely help AAP develop as a more matured party and contribute to the nation in a much better way.

Coming on to why I would vote for Modi, I would say that I have seen what he has done in Gujarat and whatever he does for India it would be much better than what UPA did.

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What is the one key reason you will vote for Narendra Modi in the upcoming elections?

Answer by Shantanu Prakash:

He's the best option we've got in the current political scenario. He's done it before (in Gujarat) and he can do it again in the bigger stage. His progressive economic policies in gujarat have been praiseworthy.


Im 20. and i came of age in the congress regime. And I didn't see any communal riot of that big magnitude. Thankfully. I'm skeptic of the BJP in that front. I sincerely hope they dont impose their hindu agenda onto the society as diverse as ours. (Passing community targeted bills etc.)
I want them to loose a bit of their conservatism. we're a growing modern society. I dont want to see couples being chased on valentines day. (mind u, i'm not saying modern is western. modern is free and aware of own rights.)
And then again i hope BJP have people to lead individually in the Human development and Rural and Finance sectors of the government. India has been building it's human capital since ever.

AAP have been promising as well! But it is led by a man who has been an activist for 15 years. he has to learn and adapt. their virtue is honesty and incorruptibility, that i'd vote for! But on a national scale you have to think on formulating and implementing long term policies which will be better for the country. and giving electricity at lower prices isn't that. it may work for delhi, but it wouldnt for India.

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What is the one key reason you will vote for Narendra Modi in the upcoming elections?

Answer by Akshar Prabhu Desai:

He is the best PM candidate India had in last several decades.

2014 elections is essentially about how to bring Indian economy back on track with 9% growth. The kind of mismanagement that Dr. Evil Singh, Antonia Maino and her leftiest friends in NAC have subjected the Indian economy to has pushed India back by few years compared to say China.

If anyone claims contrary then that person is misinformed.

All other issues such as welfare vs growth, corruption , national security etc. come as prerequisites to that 9% growth. But none of these issues ensure 9% growth. For example Communists were in power in Bengal for many years, no one really questions their financial honesty. But they totally ruined the state. So corrption free does not neccessarily mean good.

Narendra Modi shows tremendous promise when it comes to economic growth. He has changed political discourse from secularism, welfare, tokenism to a more metrics oriented and development oriented discourse. When it comes to Modi his opponents are forced to look at malnourishment, state of road, rural electrification etc. to criticize him instead of looking at his caste or the car he drives.

Have you ever heard a debate or analysis of rural electrification in Maharashtra or Malnourishment in Andhra Pradesh ?

Narendra Modi if he becomes a PM is likely to be more business friendly than Congress or Arvind Kejriwal (leftist). His vast administrative experience and decisiveness will certainly drive the economy on an upward curve.

Why Arvind Kejriwal is a bad news.

AAP is leftist party supported by yuppies. Arvind Kejriwals core team consists of prominent radical left individuals such as Gopal Rai. They have already articulated their socialist policies for Delhi which are likely to have adverse effects down the line. If they paritcipate in general elections it will lead to a fractured mandate thus helping Congress party.

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What is the one key reason you will vote for Narendra Modi in the upcoming elections?

Answer by Amrudesh Santhanam:

By the way, Kiran Bedi made a good strong pitch for Narendra Modi yesterday (9th jan). She says that we need a strong and highly experienced leader from a national party that can give a stable government and it can only be him. Congress of course is not even in the game for 2014. While Kejriwal is good, its too early for them to play a big role in National Politics. They should form a fairly strong opposition though to keep BJP working well and without corruption.

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What is the one key reason you will vote for Narendra Modi in the upcoming elections?

Answer by Ayush Agarwal:

I was a supporter of Arvind Kejriwal before the delhi elections.But after the elections I've started disliking him.Few reasons are
1.Arvind kejriwal is giving freebies.This will damage the economic system.The subsidy provided may have been used for various schemes and works.This hero kind of an act may give him popularity but it is not going to help in building the nation.Instead of giving subsidies he should have focussed on making people able to pay the taxes or bills.
2.The economic model of Arvind Kejriwal closely resembles to that of the congress party.Has the "Food security bill" helped the nation? the ans is NO.
It was only intended to earn popularity that may help them in the elections.
3.AAP is planning to give 90% reservation in the colleges of delhi.Now can anyone defend AAP on this.thi will also help them to gain votes in delhi.But Sir this is what you have planned for the nation.This will prevent many students from being admitted to the top colleges of this nation.
If Arvind sir planned this for the nation then I am sorry that he is no good than The Congress.

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What is the one key reason you will vote for Narendra Modi in the upcoming elections?

Answer by Anurag Dwivedi:

It would be a vote to NDA ( and not Narendra Modi ) against UPA because of their better economic policies. Some facts to substantiate my claim are :

An Analysis Of NDA And UPA Govt up to June 30, 2013 :-

1. Average GDP growth:
1998-2004 (NDA) : 6%
2004-13 (UPA) : 7.9%.

2. Current Account Deficit:
2004: (+) $7.36 billion (surplus).
2013: (-) $80 billion.

3. Trade deficit:
2004: (-) $13.16 billion.
2013: (-) $180 billion.

4. Fiscal deficit:
2004: 4.7% of GDP.
2013: 4.8% of GDP.

5. Inflation:
1998-2004: 5%.
2004-2013: 9% (Both figures are averaged out over their respective tenures).

6. External Debt:
March 2004: $111.6 billion.
March 2013: $390 billion.

7. Jobs:
1999-2004: 60 million new jobs created.
2004-11: 14.6 million jobs created.

8. Rupee:
1998-2004: Variation: Rs. 39 to 49 per $.
2004-13: Variation: Rs. 39 to 68 per $.

9. HDI:
2004: India was ranked 123rd globally on the human development index (HDI) in 2004, with a score of 0.453.
2013: India has slipped 13 places to 136th globally on the HDI in 2013 with a score of 0.554.

10. Subsidies:
2004: Rs. 44,327 crore.
2013: Rs. 2,31,584 crore.

Score : NDA (8) – (1) UPA

Source: Chidambaram and Modi: Close encounters with facts

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What is the one key reason you will vote for Narendra Modi in the upcoming elections?

Answer by Abhinandan Patil:

Consider this situation.

You are damn hungry and need to eat something ASAP.

There are three cakes from three different bakers on your table. The first one looks very bad. The second one looks just fine, but not that great. The third one looks great.

So simple right? Taste all of them and eat the one which tastes the best? NO. Come on, there has to be some catch.
You can pick just one cake among the three.

NOTE : Looks and the taste of the cakes are completely unrelated.

Cake 1:
You've been eating the cakes from the first baker from 10 years(many of your ancestors visited the same bakery too) and you know it tastes terrible. These bakers have been in town from a long time. Their forefathers used to make good cakes occasionally and they think they have inherited the same qualities. They sell cakes to poor people like you and I and make more profit by overcharging. They also mix a special ingredient in their cakes. There are many family members working in the bakery and all of them make individual profits too.

This is just a rough picture of what the first cake might look like:

Aww, looks dirty. :/

Cake 2:
Now, Jignesh Patel, your friend who stays in the adjacent lane has been eating cakes from the second baker for quite some time. He tells you that the cakes are generally good. But one day, there was some misplaced order to their place which got him and his neighbour fighting. It was kinda big deal, both of them were badly hurt.They both are kinda cool now,you know, they hangout together and all that. He constantly tries to persuade you to eat from the second baker. But you had to avoid, because, you know, it was not possible since you had bought plenty of coupons of the first baker already.

Assume Cake 2 looks like this.

Kinda cool, but, but, where's the icing?

Cake 3:
Man, this one looks great. But wait, it's the the new bakers in town. Uh ho, these people just have the one outlet and not many people have tasted their cakes. And the master baker refuses to work sometimes, he sits outside the bakery with a shawl over his head if doesn't get all the ingredients he wants. Basically not much is known about the quality and consistency of these bakers.These people also seem to have a special ingredient, they claim that their kitchen is open to all and everybody can inspect their baking methods. These bakers are planning to give free cakes to those who haven't paid their previous bills.

Looks yum, doesn't it?

Okay, now you know. No points for guessing who these bakers are.

Which cake would you eat?

The one that looks amazing, but might turn out to be stale?
The one that your friend recommends?
The one that you've been eating(suffering)all these days?

Before deciding, please go back and read the note.

Whatever cake you decide to eat, remember, they make you buy coupons for the next five years, so be careful!!!.

PS: Jignesh Patel is fictional character. Any resemblance to anybody living, dead or a Gujarati is purely co incidental.

PS: I am adding a few things because of some comments which say I haven't answered the question.

I was very plump during my childhood and now I'm one of the skinniest people on earth. Thanks to timely blows from Lee and Ali, you know, those adjacent colony guys. But my health deteriorated mainly because I ate cakes from the first bakers all this time. They overcharged, made me poor and gave me tasteless stale cakes. Meanwhile Jignesh Patel looks healthier now, may be he has put on some weight after eating cakes from the second bakers.

 Time to pick the cake,

First one? NO!
Third? Looks tempting, but, but, they give free cakes to people who don't pay their bills, and I pay my bills :/
Second? Well, I think I'll listen to Jignesh this time.

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What are some best memes about women?

Answer by Ikshita Khanna:

Yes, it's coming from a woman herself, had to swallow all my pride writing this but at the end of the day this is what the truth is xD

#1 Either Way
Either you look at it… Women always reach the same conclusion.

#2 Stating The Obvious
Never, ever, ever agree with a woman …. when she is putting herself down. In fact, that is the one time they don't want you to agree.

#3 Can A Woman Really Have A Male Friend
If a woman's says "he's like a brother to me" you may want to check up on that. Or maybe she thinks sleeping with her brother is okay.

#4 Her Salary Vs. His Salary
A committed or married couple always seem to share the man's salary, while everything she makes is hers. Now who said men are smarter than women?

#5 You Should Know What She Wants
Just because she doesn't know what she wants, you should. If she doesn't get what she doesn't know she wants, she will throw a fit. Get it?

#6 Don't Ignore Me, I'm Ignoring You
Nothing is worse than ignoring your guy and he doesn't notice, except if he ignores you back. Then you have to stop ignoring him to tell him that you are ignoring him. It's exhausting.

#7 Looks Versus Comfort
Most men complain about all the pillows on the couch because there is no room to sit. To a woman,appearance is more important than comfort. Just look at their shoes.

#8 Outside Girl Vs. Inside Girl
Women have learned how to present themselves in public. When you are home with them, it's an entirely different story.

#9 How Does She Know Men Are All The Same
She must have tried all men to make a statement like that. However, in reality, "men are all the same" is kind of redundant. They are the same in that they are men

#10 Why Women Hate Each Other
It could be true that women are the only ones who understand women and that's why they hate each other. Or they don't understand each other either and that's why they hate each other. One thing we do know. They hate each other.

#11 Always Want What They Can't Get
The grass is always greener when it comes to women. Those with curly hair spend hours and tons of money straightening it, while those with straight hair do the same to get it curly.

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How can I transform my innocent wife into a sexy babe?

Answer by Ayushi Mona:

I will answer this without judgement.

1. Your wife agrees to this.
2. You love both avatars equally without having any psychological good girl versus bad girl hangups .

Step 1: Let her make friends and socialize with other women in your circle. Most women are not innocent anyway. If her  "innocence" is a result of social conditioning where she thinks that "sexy" girls are bad girls, then having the right circle of trusty, confident friends will open her.

Step 2: Do adventurous things with her. Go for a wine tasting with her. Or a weekend getaway. Or paragliding. Help her to broaden her experiences. The more exposure she gets, the greater her confidence will be. Confidence is sexy.

Step 3: Gift her romance novels. Spa treatments. Sensuous things will open up her senses.

Step 4: NEVER ever hint that you would like her to change. The day you say , why can't you be like this and why can't you be like that is the day she'll channelize rejection into her mind subconsciously.

Step 5: Every woman has a latent, sexy side. Spend time to figure what she likes. It's not rocket science. A sexually satisfied partner finds it easier to accept the partner's whims

LASTLY, step 6: Get into shape yourself. Do not be a pot bellied Indian husband who wants an impish, sex kitten for a wife. Discover yourself and discover her.
Confidence and romance will help her turn into that sexy babe you asked for.
All the best!

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What happens in your mind when you meet your crush?

Answer by Anonymous:

  1. Don't say anything stupid.
  2. Smile a little.
  3. Not that much, she's gonna think you are weird.
  4. Now you are not smiling at all.
  5. Act cool. Whoa, she's looking gorgeous.
  6. Okay you are now staring at her.
  7. Dammit she noticed you are looking.
  8. Avert your eyes.
  9. Don't. That's impolite.
  10. Just try to be "sexy", give a little nod and look away.
  11. Notice your posture. Posture's important.
  12. What is it with your arms, do they always hang like that? Cross them, no. Hands in your pocket, nah. Arch on it, NO! What do I do with my arms? Figure out the arms dilemma.
  13. She asked you something. But what did she say, dammit pay attention!
  14. Answer her.
  15. Don't talk in single syllables, that's just rude.
  16. Shit, she's disinterested now, no wonder.
  17. Look down, mourn.
  18. Replay that conversation in your head.
  19. Imagine every other scenario.
  20. Imagine you said something funny. You are a funny little fella!
  21. Imagine you were charming, confident, polite, likable and charismatic. Basically everything you are not.
  22. They all turn out to have decent outcome it seems, save that for the next time. Ctrl + S, saved in memory.
  23. Okay, now out of the wonderland.
  24. Remember when you were looking down and imagining fake and made-up interactions with her. Well all the while her leg was in your line of sight and remember you were being funny, so you were smiling all the while too! She most probably picked up on it. Good job, now you are a certified creep too.
  25. You probably haven't said anything in a while.
  26. Contribute something to the conversation.
  27. "Yeah the political scenario in our country is abysmal. It's like we are sheep and we are given to elect between wolves and lions as the king of the jungle. Either way we are gonna get….." Wait a second, why are they all making googly eyes at you? They were talking about Raajneeti, the movie. D'oh!
  28. Yeah, everyone's laughing now! Laugh a little, not so little that she thinks you have no sense of humor, not so hard that she thinks you are a try-hard.
  29. She has to go now.
  30. Raise your arms and waive. Wait, no one else is waving. She's gone now. Well that went well. Progress! Until next time.

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Why are so many educated Indians fixated and crazy about USA?

Answer by Balaji Viswanathan:

Indians are fascinated by successful nations of all types. In fact, we celebrate anything successful (students, businesses, nations, etc.). Success is the currency. When I grew up in 1980s, Japan was the rage. Singapore used to be the big topic of discussion in th 1990s. In the present era, China is the most discussed topic. There is nothing wrong about being fascinated by the positive attributes of other countries. 

In the medieval period, Europeans were fascinated by India and China. They risked their lives to reach our lands and trade with us. On the other hand, we were smug and never tried to understand their culture nor visit Europe to see why those guys were so interested in trading with us. We quickly found the folly of such an approach. The Europeans learned the best practices of all cultures, while we were left like a frog in the well to eventually become slaves. 

Moral of the story: the person who tries to understand other cultures and bring the best stuff back to theirs own wins, while the person who lies fixated on his/her own culture loses.

Why is the US celebrated so much?

  1. Economy: It is a sheer economic powerhouse. Its GDP stands at $15 trillion. That is more than its top 5 competitors put together. An average American earns 10 times that of an average Chinese citizen and more than 20 times than the average Indian. In terms of aggregate size, the GDP of just the state of California is bigger than all but 8 nations.
  2. Education: It hosts more than 80% of world's top 100 universities. That is a mind-boggling number given that only 5% of humanity lives in the US. We can talk all about our ancient universities, but the fact of the matter is that at present we don't have any institution to compare with Stanford, Harvard or MIT.
  3. Technology & Communication: It is still the fountain of innovation and well ahead of others in bringing new startup ideas to the market. Think about this: The majority of the world's Internet communication is managed by a handful of companies (Google, Facebook, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Pinterest) located within miles of each other. Not just social media, but a variety of great serious ideas spring out of the US.
  4. Markets: New York sets the pace for world's financial markets. It has the world's largest stock exchange and close to half of the world's market cap is tied to the exchanges in New York. Although London, Frankfurt and Tokyo are also important for some of the individual markets, New York still rules like a king.
  5. Transparent systems: US has historically developed an economic system that is more transparent & trustworthy. It has a more rigorous accounting setup and failures like Enron are the exception rather than the norm. This inspires the world's investors to associate themselves with the US markets. On the other hand, Indian and Chinese systems are less open, less transparent and they are less rigorous by accounting standards.

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Why is it difficult to date an Indian girl in general?

Answer by Abhinay Korukonda:

How dating works in Western culture

1) You approach a girl
2) Ask her out. If she says yes, you go out with her. If she says no, you don't or you try again or you go for another girl.
3) If she says yes you go on a date and have fun
4) A few more dates and you call it a relationship and after you get into a relationship and then have fun blah blah…

Indian dating

1) Approach a girl
2) Basically there is no term called "Ask out" in India. If you go to a girl in your class or office and ask her for a cup of coffee, she'll give you an angry look or punch you in the face.
3) Since there is no term called "asking out", you become friends with her, because that's the only way you will get to know her
4) Let me introduce the term "Proposing"
What proposing means in other countries: Permission to marry
What it means in India: Permission to be in a relationship with her by saying "I Love you".
So you take your time and you propose (Indian way), there are chances that you get friendzoned mostly, but if you are lucky she'll get into a relationship with you. If you get friendzoned you'll probably feel really bad that you wasted your time as you didn't know that the girl you liked didn't like you back in the same way.

So unlike in Western culture, you have to probably do a lot of hard work to date an Indian girl in India…

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What are some of the most badass photos ever taken?

Answer by Prateek Sharma:

Bear Grylls exemplifies what badassness is about.

This is my favorite scene from his show where he's about to let go of the helicopter and skydive to the lonely island visible in the background.

The clipping: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v….

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What are some of the most badass photos ever taken?

Answer by Rahul Shankar:

Some photographs of nature always amaze and terrify me all at once.

Supercell thunderstorm in Montana 2010. 

(Image credit – Sean Harvey http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap101130.html)

Undersea volcano in Tonga 2009 (http://www.fludit.com/inspiration/incredible-photos-of-natural-disasters.html)

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What are some of the most badass photos ever taken?

Answer by Sonja Harris:

Photo: Tiananmen Square student protest
Taken: June 5 1989
This photo was taken during the Tiananmen Square protests and shows a student halting advancing tanks. Unofficially entitled, Tank Man, the photo’s subject was thought to be 19-year-old student Wang Weilin, though these claims were never substantiated and his whereabouts never known.

Source: http://www.virginmedia.com/science-nature/technology/iconic-images.php?ssid=4

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What are some of the most badass photos ever taken?

Answer by Sam Mathew:

John Lennon giving the autograph, with his future killer Mark Chapman, few hours before death.

Destroying the Berlin Wall

Osama bin Laden with his family visiting Falun in Sweden in 70′.

The Beatles at the beginning of their career.

Elvis Presley in the army.

Meeting of Pope Pius XI with Adolf Hitler.

The new capital of Brasil – Brasilia is being built.

Che Guevara and Fidel Castro.

One of the first McDonald’s restaurant.

Titanic, 1912.

First Google Team, 1999.

An example of racial segregation.

Evolution of the Coca-Cola bottles. Years: 1899, 1900, 1915, 1916, 1957, 1986.

The Beatles, 1957. John Lennon – 16 years old, George Harrison and Paul McCartney – 15.

ENIAC – computer constructed in years 1943-45 in USA.

Charlie Chaplin and Mahatma Gandhi.

Albert Einstein among other scientists.

Jesus Christ from Rio Being built.

George W. Bush being told about 9/11.

Ku Klux Klan member being operated in one of the hospitals in Alabama.

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What are some of the most badass photos ever taken?

Answer by Gaurav Raj:

Oh Boy!, I've a huge collection of such photos.
 Below you shall find a collection of some of the most bad-ass photos ever taken. (Most of these photos were in black and white, yet the  color artists have added color to these images to bring these historic photos alive. Thanks to the front page of the internet i.e. reddit)

  • Vintage Acrobatic insanity

In this heart-stopping photograph we see three brave acrobats performing on a ledge located on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building in New York City.

August 21, 1934.
Jarley Smith (top), Jewell Waddeck (left), Jimmy Kerrigan (right)

Source : Photograph via Mapes on Reddit

  • Hanging out on the Brooklyn Bridge, 1914

In the amazing photograph below, we see a group of painters suspended on cables of the the Brooklyn Bridge. The photo was taken on October 7, 1914 by Eugene de Salignac.

Source : Photograph by Eugene de Salignac/Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives

  • The 126 billion dollar photograph

In this epic group photo taken on June 26, 2012 by Michael Prince for Forbes Magazine, we see twelve well known philanthropists with a total net worth of $126 billion. This photograph, which graces the cover of the 30th anniversary issue of the Forbes 400, crowned an incredible event. In June, 161 billionaires and near-billionaires came together in New York at the Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy, a chance for the most successful people on the planet to use their resources and the mind-set that built that success to try to solve the world’s most intractable problems.

From left to right we have: Warren Buffett (who has pledged 99% of his net worth to charity), Oprah Winfrey, Bill & Melinda Gates (who have given away an estimated $28 billion so far), Peter Peterson, Leon Black, Jon Bon Jovi (who Forbes ranked the most charitable celebrity last year), Marc Beinoff (pledged $100 million toward a new Children’s Hospital), David Rubenstein, Steve Case, and Marc & Laura Andreessen (who has pledged to give away more than half of his VC earnings).
Source: Photograph by Michael Prince for Forbes

  • Hanging out high above the Hoover Dam

Nearly 80 years ago, the Hoover Dam was built in Black Canyon on the Colorado River. A striking testimony to the perseverance of the human spirit and the ingenuity of the American laborer.

Source: Photograph via The American Welding Society (AWS)

  • Japanese Archers circa 1860

Source: Colorized by Jordan J. Lloyd (photojacker on Reddit) | Photo Chopshop on Facebook

  • Big Jay McNeely driving the crowd at the Olympic Auditorium into a frenzy, Los Angeles, 1953

Source: Original Photograph by Bob Willoughby

  • Joseph Goebbels scowling at photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt after finding out he’s Jewish, 1933

Source: Original Photograph by Time & Life Pictures

  • W.H. Murphy and his associate demonstrating their bulletproof vest on October 13, 1923

Source: Original Photograph by National Photo Company

  • Young boy in Baltimore slum area, July 1938

Source: Original Photograph by John Vachon

  • Group Shot of Criminals, 1921

This negative was found wrapped in a paper sleeve on which is written: ‘Group of criminals, Central 1921′. The subjects are not named.

Source: Photograph via The Historic Houses Trust

  • Masked detectives and civilians, 1933

This photograph was published in Sydney newspapers in 1933, apparently at the behest of the then Commissioner of Police to demonstrate to a sceptical press and public that police could in fact operate undercover.

This was apparently in answer to a suggestion that so distinctive was the build of the average detective, effective undercover work was out of the question. The men seen here are a mix of detectives and civilians. The figure third from the right is believed to be Sergeant Frank Fahy, aka “The Shadow”, the force’s most effective undercover operative at the time.
Source: Photograph via The Historic Houses Trust

Edit: More to be added

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What are some of the most badass photos ever taken?

Answer by Jason Bernard:

Samuel Reshevsky, age 8, defeating several chess masters at once in France, 1920.

Norwegian chessplayer Magnus Carlsen with blindfold, beats 10 Harvard educated Lawyers in chess.

The best thing is that when Magnus signed the boards afterwards, one of the lawyers asked if he could instead write down the full play sequence–and he did!
Thanks Audun Bie for the info.

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Who’s the best Instagram user you follow?

Answer by Sandhya Ramesh:

Edited to add one more account because this one is equally awesome too.

Murad Osmann.

His username is muradosmann. muradosmann on Instagram

He travels a lot with his [really hot] girlfriend, and posts pictures of her leading him by the hand to all of these different places – a very innovative idea.

Here are some pictures:

He's a photographer and she's a model. Of course.

Ballet Zaida

His username is balletzaida. balletzaida on Instagram

He posts pictures of ballet dancers at different, unexpected locations.

The photoshoots are almost exclusively in SFO.

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What are some significant good things that happened in India in 2012 that didn’t get much media attention?

Answer by Megha Ghosh:

Here are 15 good things that happened in India in 2012 but didn't receive much attention:

1. On January 4th 2012, India's first online Braille library was launched by the National Institute of the Visually Handicapped.
India’s first online Braille library launched

2. The researchers from IISC demonstrated a complete cure for Alzheimer’s in mice using a  plant extract used in Ayurvedic system of medicine
IISc scientists claim breakthrough in Alzheimer’s drug

3. Sachin Kukke of Bangalore won the global YouTube Space Lab science competition
Bangalore kid wins YouTube science contest

4.Eight young scientists won the  Scopus award instituted by the National Academy of Sciences and Elsevier, a leading  provider of scientific, technical and medical information products and  services.
Awards for eight young scientists

5. A rocket designed by the students of ISRO’s Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) was launched in May.
First student-designed rocket launched by ISRO

6. A paper on space debris published by  Sourabh Kaushal and Nishant Arora, engineering students from Kurukshetra University, got international recognition. They received the Dr. Kalpana Chawla Young Scientist Award 2012
Haryana duo's paper selected in 11 international conferences!

7. 11-year-old skater Rohan Ajit Kokane  broke a world record by flattening  himself enough to skim under poles just 6.75 inches from the ground.

11-year-old Indian roller skater breaks world record

8. A team of 5 from BIT Mesra, Patna Campus won the People’s Choice Award at the Imagine Cup 2012.       
Indian team wins at Microsoft Imagine Cup 2012

9. Anna University scientists H Abdul Shabeer, RSD Wahidabnu and H Abdul  Zubarto developed Cellphone Accident Preventer (CAP) to combat fatal road accidents caused by drivers’ mobile phone use.        
Indian scientists develop device to prevent mobile phone distraction

10. Ramesh Gorakh Gholap, a physically handicapped candidate,topped the  Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC) Main exam 2011.
Physically challenged man tops 2011 Maharashtra Public Service Commission exam

11. Dr. Aditi Mukherji won the “Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application, Endowed by the Rockefeller Foundation.”

Indian scientist wins International award for Field Research

12. Ashoke Sen, a professor at the Harish-Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad, won the first Fundamental Physics Prize
Indian scientist wins world’s biggest prize in Physics

13. India won the men's and women's Kabaddi World Cup
India retain men’s and women’s Kabaddi World Cup title

14. Harine Ravichandran, a 16 year old girl from a small town in South India designed a regulator to stabilize voltage. Her project got special mention in Google Science Fair 2012.
Indian Student’s Socially Innovative Project Inspires Google

15. Chintan, an Indian NGO, was chosen for America’s first Innovation Award for the Empowerment of Women and Girls.
Indian NGO Chintan chosen for first US Innovation Award

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What is the biggest irony of India?

Answer by Hemanth Kumar:


Despite the hues and cries over Indians racially abused abroad, we tend to forget the fact that we are one among the most racist people in the world.

A survey shows India and Jordan by far the least racially tolerant countries. In only two  of 81 surveyed countries, more than 40 percent of respondents said they  would not want a neighbor of a different race. This included 43.5  percent of Indians and 51.4 percent of Jordanian.

In that map, red implies  that more people said they “would not want neighbors of a different  race”.


  • We look at the world first through the skin color, then  caste, then geographical  coordinates, and so on..
  • We dismiss Africans as habshis; we contemptuously categorize South Indians as madrasis. Mock people from Andra Pradesh as Gultis. South Indians were derisively referred to as "yandugundu walas" and "lunghi walas".
  • The kind of racism faced by Northeast Indians are exponentially higher than the South Indians. we call them ‘chinkies’ but often do our best not to mix with them. We prefer them to live apart, keeping their own company almost living their own lives, separate and away from us. For most of us, the Northeast is another country only accidentally and peripherally Indian
  • There's a special Wikipedia page dedicated to discrimination against the people of Bihar -> Anti-Bihari sentiment.
  • We reject Brides/Grooms based on their complexion. Lighter your skin color, higher your chances of marrying to a guy/girl of your dreams.
  • Nandita Das, who has starred in over 30 movies, has been repeatedly  asked to alter her dark skin. "When I am on a film set     playing an educated upper-middle-class character, the crew will tell  me, 'I know you don't like to wear makeup to lighten your skin, but  this is an     educated girl you are playing, so it would be appropriate for you to  look fair,' But what does that say about me?" Das asks. "I'm educated  and I'm dark."     It is as if filmmakers cannot wrap their heads around the  possibility that dark skin can be associated with success, even when it  is embodied for them in     the very person with whom they are speaking.
  • Fairness creams! "Now, with India's economy soaring, more and more men from smaller cities  and towns want to have their skin lightened and attract fairer-skinned  brides, who often come with larger dowries in this largely dark-skinned  country of 1.1 billion. Experts say the trend is a startling sign of  so-called aspirational products in India's growing markets." – Excerpt from the Washington Post article In India, Fairness Is a Growth Industry
  • Indians  are tolerant when they live in other countries.  In India, they don't even tolerate each other if they are from a different caste.
  • We make these atrocious advertisements


  • A must read article. 'India Is Racist, And Happy About It' – A Black American's first-hand experience of footpath India: no one even wants to change            
  • Prime minister Manmohan Singh "Dalits have faced a unique discrimination in our society that is  fundamentally different from the problems of minority groups in general.  The only parallel to the practice of untouchability was apartheid." – Indian leader likens caste system to apartheid regime


I'll leave you guys with this wonderful meme

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