Monday, December 30, 2013

Dialogues with Hopeless Delusional Idiots ep. 2

So there are times when people are just out and out stupid and put out things in all caps and hurl insults rather than actually trying to argue anything.  We've all seen this, and it's the sort of thing where I could post something completely beyond the pale absurd saying that an actual creationist really said this, and you'd have no idea whether I was making it up or not.  Then there are those who seem otherwise well-adjusted and perhaps even normal on the surface.  It's only when you prod a little deeper that you find that these people are really hopelessly brainwashed.  This particular exchange is one of those latter cases.

This is from a discussion on Facebook about 3 years ago.  Obviously, I'm going to be leaving out real names, but it's not as if it really matters who specifically the person is so much as just being able to identify who said what.  The full discussion is actually quite long and involved multiple exchanges, so it will be difficult to really display it all in one blog post.  In between, of course, we had little moments where we had to stop because one of us would be out of town or something or because of text length limitations, we'd split the responses up, and so we would say things like "I'll have to continue this response in the next post" and so on, which isn't really relevant to the discussion, so I'm also leaving all those bits out.

Where it all actually began was a wall post from a mutual friend in which he linked to the news report about Craig Venter and his team successfully creating their artificial phenotype of bacteria containing an entirely synthetic genome.  It was billed in press as creating "artificial life", which is pseudo-accurate at best, and that's where a lot of debate soon came up, especially from the "Intelligent Design" crowd.  In any case, I put up a response saying that it was a great achievement on their part, and also addressing the fact that the ID supporters will say that it proves that you needed a designer just the way the Venter Institute's staff had to design this genome.  The key thing that gives away their fingerprint of design of course, is the fact that they encoded the URL to their white paper in the pseudo-genes of this bacterium.  If there was anything close to that for a hypothetical "designer" for all life, then you've got some sort of a case for ID...  and that's where the discussion began.

To begin with, I'll start with the part of the discussion that happened in the thread of the original post.  There are extremely long exchanges that happened afterwards when we took the discussion to PMs that I'll probably have to save for some follow-up posts.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Atheism as a Function of Wealth

There is an article making the rounds by a Chris Arnade which puts forth the thesis that atheism is an intellectual luxury for the wealthy.  There are arguments to be made that this is somewhat of a valid claim, but I can't say that I find his evidences for this to be particularly meaningful.

Here is the link to a reprint of the original article.

I was originally linked to the article by way of a Youtube video which more or less made the counterargument that the best thing we can do is really push for reform that helps to take people out of the poor lifestyles in which they live so that they are less likely to use religion as a crutch.  I have something further to add to this, but I'll get to that.  I have other points worth making about the article in addition to that.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Playing "God's Advocate"

One of the arguments I have been faced with is the notion that to be as much of a dogged rationalist as I aspire to be, one must be prepared to take the position of the adversary in a rational way as well.  So a challenge came forth to me to put out the most rational and thorough argument I can make in favor of religion and faith in general.  As much as it might give me pause to support religion in general, I still have to say that this makes for an interesting intellectual exercise, so I'm actually quite pleased to go through it.  And indeed, the one who dared challenge me to do so is fair in doing so, but simultaneously expects me to fail.

I will say, at least, that this cannot possibly consist of any arguments for the truth of a religious belief system.  Such arguments cannot possibly be made while still maintaining full intellectual honesty.  Rather, this would consist of arguments that posit that religion is, at least on some level, a positive thing.  A large part of this is going to rely less on intrinsic qualities of religion and more to do with human nature and the practical outcomes that connect these two.  Furthermore, I am leaving out such arguments as the ways in which religion has molded the fine arts (something I've mentioned in the past with respect to music) or the way it served humanity in ancient times -- these, I would consider elements that outline historical value, which although passable, are not entirely relevant in a qualitative way today.  I will refer to these as examples, but only in reference to a larger point. After all, this is supposed to be about the idea that religion is, not was, a positive force.

So you can go check outside your window for flying pigs, and then proceed below the jump.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dialogues With Hopeless Delusional Idiots ep. 1 epilogue

Before I continue with the primary content of this little series, I wanted to include some particularly hilarious responses I got from the first one.  Since the Google+ feed of comments/responses is directly visible at the original posting, I'm more or less not including anything from there.  Instead, I'm including some of the direct messages I get here and there (such as on Facebook, where anybody can message anybody).  Some of them are truly amazing, and I feel it is only right to include them so that everybody gets a good laugh.  Note that I'm only including the responses from delusional idiots in order to keep up with the theme of the series. I will say that I got a lot more positive responses than ones from crazed religious morons, but there is clearly a great deal more entertainment value in reveling in the inane stupidity borne of faith the world over.

So without further ado, I submit to you some truly magnificent morons.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

In Where I Hammer Thor...ium, Again

So, once again, I am being sent links from advocates about thorium.  This time, though, it's not about the LFTR or breeder reactors or anything related to that.  This time, it's a little weirder...  it's about a Thorium-powered car.  Now, I am not strictly ruling out the theoretical possibility of such a car just based on that description alone.  One of the nice things about thorium is that you can breed U-233 out of it with relatively low-energy neutrons.  Also, the part about making a thorium reactor small enough that it can fit inside a car is conceivable in principle, although what you'd have is many times more massive than a traditional ICE.  However, there are practical barriers to using it in a car, not the least of which include the public fear of nuclear anything (and no amount of reason or factual knowledge can possibly weigh in).  More than that, the mechanism by which nuclear actually does its thing is tremendous heat output, and it's a fairly huge challenge not just to carry that heat away, but in a car, you also have to prevent the transmission of all that heat to the passengers and also to just about anywhere else within a few inches of your core.  That's not easy.

Using steam to generate power in a car is not an entirely new concept, mind you.  BMW toyed with the idea of using a water-alcohol (vodka?) coolant to draw excess heat away from the ICE's exhaust gases to drive a small steam turbine.  Although it was providing power assist and not generating electricity, it worked in practice, but current hybrid technology probably yields better results overall.  With a nuclear source, though, you pretty much have to generate electricity, and you can generate lots of it on relatively little fuel.  The actual press release as well suggests that start-up times are around 30 seconds, which sounds reasonable to start superheating steam from a dead cold state.  Nonetheless, as you read into it, it's pretty obvious that it's a big fat hoax, and it turns out that all these claims go back a few years as it is, and they've unsurprisingly gotten nowhere.

So what was the obvious problem with it?  Well, that comes when you get a little more specific about the actual claims made.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Dialogues with Hopeless Delusional Idiots ep. 1

Yeah, I get email.  I also get PMs over various networks and forums, and so on, and there's a general rule about the internet -- No, I don't mean rule 34...  I mean the rule that only stupid exists on the internet.  In this case, it was a PM on a forum some years back where I was the as-yet-unassigned-as-a-name-but-essentially-filling-the-role-of "grumpy anti-theist" in a crowd full of people.  But although the blog may be relatively new (it's only been around a few years), being a grumpy anti-theist is not at all new for me.  Perhaps 10-12 years ago, when I was a naive undergraduate, I might have been more of an apatheist, and identified at least culturally as a Hindu, but I really couldn't help but call religious nutbars on their bullshit nonetheless.

So this particular message I got was a PM I got in response to some activity on a forum thread...  in fact, it was on a forum for which I was an admin.  The thread was mainly about religious indoctrination and the forceful instigation of religion on people.  And of course, one delightfully delusional idiot comes along and pretends that it's not true...  at least not of his religion.  Well, the fellow happened to be Muslim, but what I had to say as far as the issue of forcing beliefs on people really isn't exclusive to Islam.  Just so happened that the conversation was on that topic.  I feel that this particular exchange is a pretty good example to illustrate the degree to which religious nutbars can have an inordinately distorted view of reality.

Below the jump are his claim and my response inline.  Names are hidden, but not really significant in any case.  All the original grammatical and spelling errors are preserved (including my own).  In yellow are his words, and mine in white.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

On Vicarious Sacrifice...

So yesterday was the day associated with the festival of Karwa Chauth.  The fourth day (hence "chauth") after the full moon following Dusshera.  For my non-Hindu readers, I can summarize it as a day when women (by in large, married women) turn into Jesus.  Okay, that's a bit extreme, but the simple form of it is that it is a ritual of willful self-sacrifice (in this case, fasting) for the imaginary benefit of someone else.  It's profoundly nonsensical on the face of it and has no capacity whatsoever to be considered based in any way on reality.  Well, there are so many things I could say about it.  Many of the criticisms about it tend down the path of its inherent sexism because of the fact that only women really have to observe the fast with no reciprocal fasting on the part of the men.  Some argue that it puts the role of the wife as a tool for the spiritual aid of the husband and not as an individual unto herself.  Fortunately, it's not something observed in the part of India from which I hail, but that isn't the case with my wife.  Nonetheless, nobody considers going through it in my house because it's an utter travesty.

In the modern era, it has been commercialized into a sort of Hindu Valentine's Day where fanciful images of romantic love are tied to the rituals.  But just like Valentine's Day, none of those images have anything to do with how the day was originally defined.  Valentine's Day, for instance, was originally a religious feast that celebrated the execution of a martyr.  It only got connected with love in the High Middle Ages when courtly love was basically the primary M.O. of almost all literature of the age.  That too, it only became the dominant mode of celebration in the post-industrial era.  Karwa Chauth is much the same story.  It's only associated with love because mythological literature and Bollywood tells us so.  We associate Valentine's Day with love because Chaucer told us that's how it should be.  We like diamonds because N.W. Ayer & Son told us we don't qualify as humans if we don't.  We give out candy on Halloween because of commercialization of an older practice that involved bribing beggars for future prayers (at least, according to Shakespeare).

But commercialization and sexism aside, I have a problem with the whole vicarious sacrifice issue, as it seems to be a common thing.  The whole premise of Karwa Chauth is the idea that by fasting from dawn to dusk, a woman can provide a divine blessing for health and longevity unto her husband or some other significant member of the opposite sex.  Ummm...  seriously?

Monday, September 30, 2013

A New Theory of Computing

Anybody reading this blog knows I'm a coder.  I've been doing it for almost 30 years starting out from little toy programs straight out of tutorials to publishing papers on computer graphics to 7 years in gaming and 4 years in motion pictures...  and now embedded graphics platforms.  I've been around the block and gotten extremely jaded over the years.  Every experience I've been through has its moments which ring loudly with the words "Don't let this happen to you."  I could tell you stories about the way I've worked for people who were so utterly dense they believed that an octagon has 5 sides (yes, I'm being serious), and worked on codebases that were so riddled with cyclical dependencies that you couldn't link anything unless you compiled everything twice.  There is just so much power in the tools we have, but when you use that power irresponsibly, you get the kind of crappy software so many of us feel every package is.  Then I stumbled upon something new that really revolutionized my view of computing.  I want to share it with you today.

In one sense, it is entirely new, but in another sense, it is a rebirth of old ideas first hinted at as a deeper truth which underlay the works of al-Khwarizmi, Aryabhatta et. al.  It's really a very simple series of principles that many of the great technical minds out there like Bill Gates, Alan Turing, Steve Wozniak, Donald Knuth, Linus Torvalds, Dennis Ritchie and others have known for years.  It is something that the mainstream software engineering industry doesn't want you to know!  It is a truly intuitive, natural, and holistic approach to coding and it will completely overturn everything you thought you knew about writing software!  It is not a fad like eXtreme Programming, or Scrum, or anything else that appears as the new big thing every so often only to disappear shortly after.  And unlike all the charlatans out there, this isn't totally fake, and I'm going to give you the real secret right here, right now.  I am not being paid to provide this, nor am I trying to sell you a book.  This is free of charge and available to anyone and everyone.  The secrets will really be revealed here and now, just below the jump.

Monday, September 23, 2013

I'm Not Quite Dead Yet!

Yes, I know the blog has been kind of silent lately.  Mostly due to the fact that I have in the interim changed jobs.  When I first started this blog, I had been 2 years into my stint in the movie biz working on CG technology and research, and now I've moved on.  In doing so, I kind of had to close out a dozen things in my last few weeks at my last job (lest I leave things unfinished and walk out the doors with fairly significant stuff not available for people to use), and that meant being insanely busy.  With no lag time in between my previous job and my new job, it meant having to run like crazy for weeks.  As such, the blog went silent for a while.  But that was temporary.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Women Under a Cloudy Lens

A few days back, my wife posed a rhetorical question.  She asked why it was necessary for girls to leave their homes after marriage and enter the homes of their in-laws, while the same was not explicitly required of the men they married.  Considering the readership of this site is predominantly in the U.S., this may sound like a bit of an odd question, but it makes sense within the context of the pervading "old-fashioned" culture of India.  It is actually an in-built component of the definition of marriage over their, even if "entering" someone else's home is more of a paper entry.  It's something that even as the younger generation are starting to become more and more Westernized (at least in the urban parts of the country), and 99 out of every 100 Bollywood films espouses idealistic love-conquers-all romance that flies in the face of outdated parochial cultural attitudes about marriage and raising children...  and yet these tinges remain.

It's a bit funny when I hear the anti-gay crowd here in the U.S. talk about preserving "traditional marriage", and I think back to how we define that in India.  Really, the "traditional marriage" in India is closer to that which marriage actually was in ancient times.  It wasn't originally a union between lovers; it was a union between tribes, where young able-bodied humans (where able-bodied for a man meant he could fight well enough to kill your enemies and able-bodied for a woman meant she was hot enough to bed frequently) were the units of trade to cement contracts.  This is still reflected in India today where the culture views "marriage" as "marrying an entire family" rather than something between two people.  The local community including neighbors and distant relatives you've probably never met and friends, family doctors, and lawyers all expressing some vested interest in the success of someone's marriage, regardless of whether it really has anything to do with them or not.  Even to this day, we have a tendency to use the word "alliance" rather than fiance/fiancee.

Monday, July 8, 2013

NOMA and The Right Questions (Part 2)

Link to Part 1

Picking up where I left off, I pointed out my core issue with the NOMA argument is that it fails even on its own terms even if you disregard the utter inability of theists to offer the courtesy of "live and let live" while simultaneously demanding it of others.  It argues that science and religion are separate magisteria, but it simply has no validation on the magisteria of religion.  There is no reason to think that any of the questions that religion purports to hold answers for are even valid questions in the first place.  Being literate on the topic, of course, is exactly how you get into the position of asking the right questions, which is why knowledge is so crucial, and why it is similarly important not to equivocate knowledge with belief and opinion.

But that was the logic portion of my argument in the email thread.  Then comes the science portion, and it was triggered by such responses as these.

NOMA and The Right Questions (Part 1)

I know that compared to a lot of bloggers out there, I'm pretty verbose, and I try as much as I can to be exhaustive in my takedowns of various ideas.  That in its end, has also given me a reputation as someone who writes a hell of a lot and leaves nothing unturned.  It also earns me a lot of flaming emails, but that's often hilarious.  Of course, this blog isn't the only place where I go so wild.  In some mailing lists where I work, I also do much the same because someone is bound to say something ridiculous. For example, when I see someone asking for recommendations about reiki healers and such, I always give the best possible recommendation -- go to an actual doctor. They can do more for any one patient than all reiki "healers" combined can ever do for anyone.  In any case, I get known throughout my office as the "guy with the huge posts on [mailing list which shall go unnamed]."

Well, I felt like actually bringing up an example of an exchange I had with a few people about the NOMA(non-overlapping magisteria) argument for belief.  This is probably one of the least confrontational modalities by which people try to reconcile science and reason with religion.  It's the idea that religion simply deals with different topics and questions than science and mathematics does, so it's still valid within its scope even if not necessarily valid within anything that falls in the purview of science.  This was first advanced by Stephen Jay Gould, and I have a feeling that if he'd still been alive today, he'd probably not think this way at all.  There are simply too many examples which clearly demonstrate that religion brazenly trespasses on the territory of science and the religious extremists demand the supremacy of their irrational beliefs over fact.  But nonetheless, in a particular thread, I tried to address the other problem I have with the NOMA argument because that's what was originally brought up in the thread.

Here's what that looked like.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

DRM -- Prices and Values

So since I'd already done one post recently as a result of my former game development history, I figured I'd touch on one topic in gaming which is causing a lot of buzz right now, especially in the wake of E3.  This is regarding the respective DRM outlays that Microsoft and Sony are taking on their new consoles -- XboxOne and Playstation 4 respectively.

Looking at Microsoft's vs. Sony's respective press conferences at E3 earlier this week, I think anybody would say that Microsoft gave the better presentation out of the part.  Sony's was actually kind of dull but for a few moments, but then the DRM announcement came and all of a sudden, there was thunderous applause.  End result, people came out of the conference with 94% preferring Sony's console to Microsoft's, at least according to Amazon's survey.  This is far too strong of a bias to be explained away by fanboyism or sample bias, especially considering that prior to E3, Amazon was seeing pre-orders for the two consoles running a dead heat.  So clearly, DRM is one of those things that presents a serious issue for consumers.  But it also presents an issue for developers and publishers.

That said, there's a lot of information out there that demands culling and correction.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

This is not from The Onion

Bryan Fischer proves rather conclusively that there are plenty of ways to be more stupid than previously thought possible.  I've seen plenty of clips of him on Right Wing Watch wherein he tries to make the claims that bigotry and misogyny are all good things because Jesus.  Or that gay marriage is actually a socialist conspiracy.  Or that birth control causes tiny micro-babies to collect inside the womb...  seriously, this guy is for real.  And then I see this gem, and I'm just speechless.

Unfortunately, the video is apparently blocked from embedding, but here's the direct link --

I...  what on Earth...?  Seriously?  I don't even think a word can be invented to sufficiently describe the stupidity I see here.

First of all, even if we didn't already have gluons in the standard model,  and have experimental observations of their existence...  let's just say that this is an unsolved problem.  So he's using the god of the gaps fallacy, no surprise there...  but then there's the little point of "now we know".  Now?  People looked into the atomic nucleus and only now found Jesus?  Boy, that guy's pretty tiny if they had to look down there to find him.

Now Jesus is an elementary particle?  Gluons died for my sins?

Lo, is it not written?
That the lord so loved his baryons that he sent down his own vector gauge boson to the nucleus to save all matter!  Right.  Sure.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

In Where I Throw My Hat in the Ring...

I'd largely been avoiding this whole drama with Thunderf00t and his recent outlashes against feminists, most of which got him kicked off of Freethoughtblogs.  Main reason I was avoiding it is because it's something of a childish battle with both sides being partially right, and neither side having the maturity to own up to that reality.  Recently, however, one of the fields in which it had taken a turn was in regards to video games.  As a former game developer myself, I've seen all sorts, and it's hard for me to say I have never had any skin in that game.

Well, there's little doubt that the gaming community is filled with its abject lack of maturity, or at least it seems that way.  It's more accurate that the "mature" gamers are also the ones who tend to keep their mouths shut, so of course, it seems like the crowd is made up almost entirely of idiots.  But I think you can say the same thing about almost any online community,  so you've got a bit of a serious sampling bias here.  And the problem with all the people who have a problem with it is simply that they don't acknowledge that bias or look any deeper...  making them ultimately come off every bit as stupid as the communities they impugn.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Worst of All

A recent question was posed to a group of atheists on a forum about the worst bits of the Bible.  Among the common counterarguments that any nonbeliever has against the "objective morality" argument is that the Bible espouses some pretty darn vile moral lessons.  Rarely do we ever get into the topic of whether or not objective morality even exists, because that is a topic that can trail off on a wide variety of tangents that can't really be resolved that easily.  The reason the "Biblical morality is reprehensible" argument is used is because it at least points out that even if there is such a thing as objective morality, the Bible certainly isn't the source of it.  The other thing is that it's patently obvious to anyone who has bothered to read the darn thing that it has some pretty deplorable attitudes about just about everything from slavery to misogyny and rape.  That, and it is lacking sorely in even offering a position on several moral question that we know ought be addressed, such as pedophilia or domestic violence.

So the question that was posed partly split the case two ways between Old and New Testament.  Presumably, this is because of the argument about how the Old Testament was a lot meaner and harsher than the New Testament...  despite the fact that the New Testament is where the concept of Hell and eternal torment enters the picture.  It was to ask what people thought were the worst moral precepts of two sections of the Bible.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Review : Richard Swinburne's Existence of God

Often times, it is easy to criticize the religious for not being fully abreast of the knowledge on a subject that they so easily reject.  Pretty much all creationists who reject evolution reject some caricature of it.  When those who are more knowledgeable about a subject try to explain these sorts of things to the ultra-dense monuments of ineffable stupidity like Ray Comfort, they will simply have no clue what you're talking about, and take their ignorance as the correct attitude...  because apparently, ignorance is a good thing in their world.

Still, there are always times when the apologist tries to lead you down a path of looking up various sources in favor of their position.  Now, most of the time, it's someone I'm actually already familiar with like Lee Strobel, Dinesh D'Souza, Ravi Zacharias, or William Lane Craig.  When someone points me to a source I haven't actually read, though, it would be hypocritical not to actually follow through while simultaneously demanding the same of others.  And if there's a halfway decent argument (which there typically is not), or at the very least, if it takes some effort to find the flaws, then I'll at least look for it.

So I was suggested to read one of the works of Richard Swinburne which I actually hadn't read before -- The Existence of God (2010).  At least insofar as Swinburne's antics in the public eye, I've not been impressed, but supposedly he applies more rigor when he's writing.  Fine, here's my review.

Friday, March 15, 2013

More On the Dishonesty of WLC

William Lane Craig never seems to appear in any venue without demonstrating his inordinate intellectual dishonesty.  Even when given an relatively short amount of time to work in, he still shows he can be as dishonest in a moment as he is throughout an hours-long debate.  This is nothing really new per se.  Apologists everywhere constantly change the rules of discourse just in order to give room to their propositions because they know they have no capacity to stand up to a strict rigor.  Of course, in any instance that the bullshit is exposed, they always change their story, and without exception, they distort the position of their opposition.

WLC does enough of this in the course of a debate that were he Pinocchio, his nose would grow long enough to circle the Earth.  But he's deft enough in doing so, that most of the time, his lies are difficult to refute on the spot, though they are easy to refute when you have unlimited time to look up sources.  When he does lie about the opposition, he does it somewhat more brazenly, and it is in an effort to goad a response so that his opponent spends more time defining his own position than in arguing back (since a debate has limited time for each side, this leaves less available time to really form an argument).

Nonetheless, it's always funny to see him go and just keep on demonstrating that he has no concept of intellectual honesty, and basically never will.  It's a wonder that he ever got anybody to debate him given his track record.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

If Only You Understood...

So often I hear the argument from people that I fail to understand their position.  How many times have you heard a theist counter an atheist by saying that don't understand their religion?  "If only you truly understood where I'm coming from..."

Embedded in this sort of sentiment is the fallacious assumption that anyone in the same circumstances would arrive at the same conclusion.  That anyone who agrees with you on one point will agree with you on everything that follows from there.  That anyone who empathizes with your position will honestly believe that everything you arrive at from that position is correct.

Let's get one thing absolutely straight here.  Whether we're talking about religion or anything else, when you're pining for me to "understand" your position, chances are very high that you are lying.  What you seek is not "understanding", but agreement.  You aren't looking for me to say "I get it"...  You're looking for me to say "you're right."

Friday, January 11, 2013

Fox News Hates Math... and facts

During the tail end of the election, Nate Silver ran a meta-analysis of the running polls which predicted an overall likelihood of Obama winning of 79%.  The actual analysis was a pretty exhaustive and thoroughly explained collective statistical analysis that looked at the populations that were sampled and how that affected the electoral result.  Note that the statement was that he had a 79% chance of coming out the winner (that too, specifically in terms of electoral votes) -- not that he'd win with 79% of the popular vote.  Either way, the point is that it wasn't his opinion.  It was the cold hard math.  Which is precisely why conservatives railed on him for being a political ideologue because the idea of math pointing to Obama's victory.

Because, well...  math has a liberal bias after all.  Since it's true.

So then Fox News' show, The Five, where they pit four magnificently idiotic conservative bullshit factories against a phony liberal who feigns ignorance of everything, just came out with their latest enemy -- algebra.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

M. S. Gopalakrishnan 1931 - 2013

I've written at length on this site both about the typical atheism/skepticism topics, but I've also written quite a bit about music, mainly Indian classical music, of course.  Once upon a time, I made feeble effort at Carnatic violin, though now I'm far better a singer than a violinist -- though I should punctuate that point by making it clear that I'm not much of a singer, either.  But there was a reason I was originally interested in the violin to begin with.

Today -- Jan 3, 2013 -- that reason passed away at 2:00 AM in Chennai of what was apparently respiratory failure.

Parur Sri M.S. Gopalakrishnan was and still is my favorite violinist ever.  Here was a guy who could emulate vocal intonations to the finest detail...  maintain laser-precise pitch and rhythm at any speed...  imitate the sounds of other instruments...  and practically pronounce the lyrics of every song he played, whether he used all the strings and all his fingers, or he played on one string using only one finger.  Of the Carnatic violin "trinity", he is actually the youngest (by a margin of 1 year), and the first to go at the age of 81.