Thursday, February 27, 2014

β-endorphins beguile me. That is what happens when allopreening - which i have become used to - becomes a concept that is sesquimyriadic kilometers apart. 

But I manage. Parallel concerns. Things flying and things crashing. Mounting excitement over things to come, at the same time increasing headaches over the way things could come - divine comedies growing in number.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Anything but books

The day's end has pushed a sense of urgency into me. So I thought I should blog. It will calm me down, and, though not change the temporal nature of things, but will afford me some mental space to both accomodate, as well as stretch related thoughts - the play dough - into new shapes. Urgent things make me feel confrontational, and being a pacifist, waving the peace sign and all, confrontations impulsively feel wrong ("confrontations are bad, m'kay?"). Feeling wrong, the only affordance is to feel even more of so.

Affordances remind me of the day that went by. I went to the World Book Fair, something that I find myself visiting year after year, as if I were the biggest book nerd out there, when in reality I return with a bagful of brochures and peeves.

I went nuts seeing this on the shelves (Simon & Schuster). 
Do I need tell about Ylvis and the fox?

My number one peeve with the Fair is the fair itself. Too many people in too little space. Bodies bumping, brushing and bruising against each other. Somebody always there to burp or fart within an arm's distance. Broken toes for sandal-men like moi. The human body offers some ambiguous affordance, especially one that isn't ours, which we assume to be pliable and yielding.

This being India, I would be mocked for my sentiment, since we have the phenomenon of religion, which attracts discomfort as if that was the redeeming part of the experience. Hordes throng to temples during the big festivals, chanting and pushing. Armies march through the alleys of old Delhi during Muharram, bleeding and singing. There isn't an inch of space to move; the only people expert at deftly moving through the crowds being the pickpocket gangs. Despite all that, you see really happy people. [wonder how much business physicians and policemen get in the aftermath] Let's not digress.

An additional feature of this Book Fair, which is uncharacteristically taking place in Feb, was the equation of jackets - everybody had one on as they came in, and through the stalls you would find sweaty people walking in discomfort, ultimately giving in to the urge to take theirs off, dead baggage in hands, and then, later fumbling with putting it back on again soon as they stepped out. Being weather-agnostic, I managed fine in a shirt, and didn't have to go through the experience of this particular observation (yes, I don't empathize, but sympathize, on this occasion, which is rarity since clumsy misfortunes are my thing).

Peeves apart, there were only a coupla stalls I enjoyed. One was Roli, which was selling books , and the other a hobby store, which was selling anything but books. The former is doing some creative/innovative stuff (see: CMYK bookstore), but it was the latter that managed to get some currency outta my pocket - creative stuff is hard to sell, hobbies aren't.

Among the books, there was something else - I found myself toying with monoculars, binoculars, magnifying glasses, compasses, and other things that I imagine would save lives on one of the days in the coming coupla' months filled with high-energy adventures and misadventures. Now I have a list of items - totaling more than any books could've - to order through that hobby store. To convey cool, I got baby brother a counter, the exact one as in the Axe commercial to keep "score" - wtf moment on realizing that in India it's being marketed as a "pooja/mantra/rudraksh-counting" aid.

Either side of the Book Fair were spent at Mandi House. Tried Triveni Art Gallery's rooftop tea cafe, which was a bland and uninspiring affair that neither me nor Ghoru are gonna be reminiscing. The nukkad-wale stalls seemed to offer better fare, which we should check out next time, or maybe after we're done with the adjacent Bengali market which has been recommended often.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Google FAIL Heisenberg FAIL

Google Search

Generally, I do with what changes Google brings to its core product - Search. There are people who have kept a word count on the google landing page, tracked the page size, or the response time, or the images used, over the years that the page has evolved (or devolved?). But I manage, without making a fuss. But a recent UI change has me peeved. 

search for "cool tees"

search for "micromax canvas 4"

search for "seraphim proudleduck"

Notice how the context changes? The next time I have to read what comes up next to "Web". The next time I'll have to find "Images" in the navigation bar. Why, Google, WHY?!

There are over 1b searches performed on Google in a day. Let us fix the number at a billion for convenience.
Say, even if 15% of the people change the context of their search - from regular search, to images, or videos, or maps - which now needs 1s on average to locate and click on the relevant button on the navigation bar, as against the few ms earlier.
Let n = 15 % context changes = 150,000,000 searches
Let t = 1s
Nett time loss of the world per day = n * t = 150,000,000 seconds = 2,500,000 minutes = 41666h = 1736 days = 4 years and 9 months
WOW. One design change leading to almost 5 years of loss for the planet each day.

To come this far, to show how you don't get accessibility? Which brilliant front-end engineer could come with such a horrific design modification? Does Google deliberately want us to fuddle with the links, aim for inefficiency, and make our browsing miserable?

This is self-explanatory.
It is sad to see that the REAL heisenberg doesn't show up when you look for him. You get a character, (albeit one brilliantly played by Bryan Cranston).

Image search for "heisenberg tees"

Image search for "heisenberg"

Image search for "werner heisenberg"

If our heroes are chosen by how cool they are, let me remind the world that the cool of (Werner) Heisenberg exceeds any characters that could use his name. He was a proud father... of Quantum Mechanics... at the age of 28! A Nobel Prize at the age of 31! He used to hang out with Niels Bohr and Wolfgang Pauli - can you imagine a more glorious fellowship, if not in fiction! Oh, and when he'd get time off, he would go out mountaineering.

It's time the world gets this right.

Friday, February 21, 2014


You know what that is?
It's called the morning. I witnessed one after about a month. Yes, this is how lazy I'd become... hows laziness for a vice! 

Blaming the laziness on the winters would be a poor excuse, for much of those days were spent in Mumbai and Pune, where the January cold is more like late October of Delhi - sans the fantastic sunrises; back in October (of 2013) I was logging miles with enthusiasm (in Delhi). There are some very embarrassing chapters of broken resolves when it comes to outdoors and fitness in those days. I owe an apology to Maaaane who has now tasted the high of climbing the highest mountain in the world and also the low of my false promises of working out a training routine together.

It has now been two consecutive days that I've been out there.  Happy that I didn't miss the best of the winters (which kinda means the worst, when all extremities complain and cold hits the face like a hammer when out riding the bike at the speed of sound).

Oh, and I had carrot and beetroot juice after a long long while as well this morning. Good times.

Posted via Blogaway

Monday, February 17, 2014

Animal Magnetism

No I'm not talking about the pull of cute puppies

Here's a perfectly good example of popular pseudo-science: Animal Magnetism (aka Mesmerism, named after its theorist, Franz Mesmer). It had a sesqui-centennial run, from the 18th century and into the 20th century (1770s-1920s) - in the first half of which it was considered an important specialty in medicine. What was it about? - that there was an invisible natural force exerted by animals that allowed healing and correction of ailments.

A lotta such pseudo-science comes from the past. Even our popular disease, malaria, is a compound of the latin words 'mal', and 'aria', with the literal meaning "bad air" (now we know its not air, but the female Anopheles mosquito that does it). Makes for somebody's bread.

Mesmerism is now believed to share the concept of life force with the presently-popular oriental sciences (pseudo-sciences?) of Reiki and Qigong. The lifecycles of such pseudos is interesting to track/predict.

Watch the animus magnetismus scene from Herzog's Stroszek to get a laugh outta mesmerism.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Play in animals (and sciences)

David Graeber argues that play is inherent at every level of organization among interactive biological systems. Sadly, this play is identified as anomalous behavior, just like altruistic behavior that is seen as a problem, and the proposed theories try to rationalize our play with an ulterior motive of profit, as if we're economic actors whose only drive is to maximize profit.

Reading about the play in our lives was also a reminder that the worst times I could live through are when I'm trying to be "appropriate". Under the sway of play, we go a longer distance, and do a lot more. A state of play means being lesser conscious of ourselves, but by being such, does our consciousness expand or shrink?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Here again!

It is unfortunate that this has happened, but it shall be overlooked now that it is no more. Here's me scribbling again, blog.

Being in a situation where the day draws me into thought and the hands often grip some writing instrument, this kind of laxity is surprising. The more I think, I think, would mean the more would show up here, but the relation has been inversely proportional, and hence my blog would suggest a period of drought - emotional, mental, temporal - when it is anything but that.

Today is a nonsense day called valentine's, but I've pruned out as much nonsense out of it, and am enjoying it, overlooking the city of Jaipur. I'm in the pink city, after all, so something pink had to mingle with my being; some love had to find its way through, after all, and it did - over the entire year. Last night it had rained, and I had barfed, and also gone off to an uncomfortable slumber with climbing body temperature (is it viral? is it dengue? is it malaria?). I didn't think I would keep a normal face today, but things improved overnight, and right now I'm sans any fever or feverish thoughts.