Monday, May 30, 2016

Raving about Mondays

I was born on a Monday. 30 years have passed, since that Monday, without ever wondering - that what was the day our calendars started on. It turns out, that 'twas a Monday, too. [January 1st 1 AD (Gregorian Calendar aka the modern calendar) - a Monday - was January 3rd 1 AD by the Julian Calendar - a Saturday starts the Julian]. Today, that I muse and resolve, is a Monday as well. Doshanbe pride!

Year Zero i.e. what preceded the first day of the first year, is a debatable subject, as both the Julian and the Gregorian Calendar, both enter 1BC when we roll back into the day before Jan 1 of 1AD. A way to consider it will be
1BC - (singularity of the divine birth) - 1AD
instead of
1BC - 0BC - 1AD
Because they incorporate a 0BC, astronomers (like Cassini) have been at odds at their chronology of events.

Funny thing: Gregorian Calendar was adopted in 1582, hence resolving the older ambiguities in a theoretical manner. The theoretical resolution resulted in 10 days being dropped - October 4, 1852 was followed by October 15, 1852.
[useful links: 0,1,2]

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

cinema = behavioral observation

Movies are all about behavioral observation. Gestures and vocalizations in response to environmental pressures, seeking to exercise autonomy through adaptive strategies. We humans have a narcissistic tendency to gloat in, and associate reward to having gained a new understanding behind, those gestures and vocalizations, in different environments. Observation is FUN. Cinema is a proof of that - we swarm to observe other creatures (preferably of our species) expressing themselves through gestures and vocalizations. Films grow old on us, or certain films seem outdated, because we have already observed same/similar humans producing the same response to the same/similar environmental pressures. There are some films which have a veneer of "new", by having people appear and talk different in visually different environments. The formula is out there.

Humans will keep watching humans doing the above, empathizing with them, and grow awareness, opinions, weltanschauung, which induces a "feeling good" feel-tone. When something leaves us in splits or tears or screams, the motto seems "Come in for therapy, come out therapized", and that the movie has served its purpose to induce a strong response - in the real world, a chance to cry, laugh or scream in abandon comes seldom, and we seek upon the combined efforts of the film crew to push us to that.

We watch humans because they can give closure to the expression of a thought. For this same reason, we don't watch animals much, because closures in expression and environmental interaction under influence are impossible to gauge. However, we do know that animals, alike humans, respond to environmental pressures  (or stress factors), and have their personal favorite stress factors. Animals try to put it out there, but we don't get it completely, unless we feel amused, and would like to continue in our observation, in building a framework beyond the human situations. Instead of cinema, sometimes I wish to watch animals channels like Discovery or Animal Planet because of the possibilities it offers on a thought plane, because of incomplete expressions (and not because death is a reminder that things end but nature exists).

Nil Battey Sannata: an eyes-closed loosely-a-review

So it goes, that I was mentally choked at an incident that led to missing out 20 minutes of the movie, which had me shut my eyes but experience the movie through ears. Watching the images was getting boring - I do that all day - and since cinema provides an escape, thought I might escape that which greatly manages to antagonize i.e. the experiencing-as-sight part.

To comment on the movie, aurally,
Audio: It was organic for most part.
Foley: Done well.
Soundtrack: I did not like the background score in some sequences.

Since the movie is simple to understand, even without seeing/focusing on the events on the screen, a larger review is also possible.
Story: It was interesting, but stagnated in development by the end. The DM interaction bit felt unreal. The negative development of the young girl was erratic, to show a complete reversal in the last frame.
I didn't get to see the last part, but it got my girlfriend teary-eyed by the end, so I figure I missed something there.
Acting: The lead ladies' dialog felt overdone in some parts.
Casting: Swara Bhaskar, the promising upcoming, was good for the lead role.
Direction: The scenes were directed with a nice attention to eye. Even the side characters are done well. A great debut for Ashwini Iyer Tiwari. The editing has been exhaustive and methodical. The post-processing could've been better.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

transom it right

It all started with a Transom knot, which is a simple lashing knot. For the dowels, whatever rod-dy was close was used, which happened to by a pair of weights (smooth plastic exterior), lashed at the hand-grip in their middle.

It turned out fun. Though the knot is supposed to be for smooth objects, synthetic surfaces (like plastics) are still a problem to hold in place. But the knot itself is non-slipping, and for the test subject used - the weights - the bulbous ends made sure they don't fly off randomly. The new configuration, coupled with a rope end, was like creating a chain weapon, with which I improvised a workout routine. Furthermore, tying a bowline across my frame at the other end of the rope, the (bio-)physics of a drag harness workout were realized.

Coincidentally, my nephew P-buddy called sometime later, and I eagerly shared the specifics with him, with the intent to deter him from institutionalized/paid bodybuilding (i.e. gyms and akhadas); that led me to blog this.

Games at DFCP

Social structures in games
1 team, of 12-15 punjabis, at cricket
1 team, of 8 afghanis, at football
1 small family unit, of 3"desi"s, at cricket
1 team, of 15-20 kids of seemingly-diverse ethnicities, at cricket

a play on the leg side by the punjabis, and their ball would roll to the afghani ground. a mistimed attempt at the goal by the afghanis, and their football would roll to the punjabi ground. a bad swipe to miss the ball by the desis, and their ball would roll to the afghani ground. a square cut by the diversity kids, and their ball would roll to the punjabi or afghani ground. but those busy playing didn't quarrel.

hawseholes catholes

WotD: Hawser
What: Rope for mooring or typing ships. Big ones. Thick rope. Ones seen on the dockyard.
Hawsehole: Nub drilled in the hull for passing Hawser rope. aka Cat Hole ("you cat hole")
Hawsepiper: Seaman Officers who have "come up through the hawsehole" ie rags-to-richers

Movie trail 2016 Apr-May

In the recent span of a month, here are some movies accomplished, and my score:

Order by watch (chronology)

[2015] Meru: 9/10
Meru is a mountaineering movie. The project was dope. It is personal and intense, the best way a mountaineer's life has been represented so far. Anker, Chin, and Ozturk are fantastic climbers and human beings.

[1989] Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro:7/10
This is another old gem (much like Ruby, but not Sapphire or Diamond). The content is powerful, and well expressed. They took the eyes into a ghetto, and showed the overlapping issues that play, and how people accidentally fall into the buckets of good and bad by the way they react to it by their capacity of human understanding.

[2016] Aligarh: 7/10
The direction and cinematography of this movie had me impressed. The university scenes are well portrayed, including the demeanor of professors. Though it was confusing about the very issue it tried addressing - ie that of gay rights.

[2015] Charlie Kay Chakkar Mein: 5/10
Before I could watch this, I gave it out to a friend, who reported back with a raving review. I didn't feel the same - the movie reeks of bad acting, the script is unconvincing, the scenes look staged much like a tele soap.

[1986] Hannah and her Sisters: 8/10
Intelligent content can trump over rich content anyday. Multimillion dollar movies of today still don't manage to captivate the audience as well as this one - with simple camera angles in domestic settings - does. Michael Keaton's character is hilarious. All characters are relatable, in some way. All individuals are given a space to mature on the screen, which is what makes the movie feel larger than life, though immersive in none but the banalities of life.

Order by release (Date/Yr)
[1986] Hannah and her Sisters
[1989] Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro
[2015] Meru
[2015] Charlie Kay Chakkar Mein
[2016] Aligarh

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulder of Giants - Isaac Newton
The audio-blogs I've been listening to, since yesterday, have built up on this same notion - using the giant past,  compiled history of culture, sciences/anthropology/sociology, to explain the present reality in consideration of a future understanding of reality. Nonplussed I did start, but little tidbits of information stuck as interesting.

One, that we have usurped from culture its share/hold in/on the society. Not that we've demolished culture, we have more of disrupted and rejuvenated it in postmodern terms.

Two, that the pace of technology has made pseudo-understandings obsolete. Scientific rigor has left us with little mumbo-jumbo to believe in, and also little time to delve in or encourage more of such. The market of several philosophies that also exist as professions has been going down.

Three, that we have made transmission of human thought unbound. We have exponentially increased our capacity to make copies of an expressed thought or theory. Things can be instantaneously shared, and made communication a sort of primitive form of telepathy. Billions of thoughts since the invention of written language that would've died with the moment now survive. A thought dying is much rarer now. This effect can counter the earlier one, and mumbo-jumbo that does exist, is more localised, but more appropriate for a population with a reduced world-view which is still possible due to human indulgences in their "self" lives.

Four, that a concept like Minority Report is immature. We can never predict behavior or draw generalities from analysis of situations. A more realistic system would be one that predicts and prevents liability deaths, as in accidents, that can be deployed city-wide. Otherwise, the things that can kill you in a bad moment, are too many to model. Trust me, I live among the most number of people in a country like India.

Demographic-Economic Paradox

The "traditional wisdom" goes that more the hands, more the income. It is an outmoded understanding of how we work. Fertility has been shown to have a negative correlation with the income factors. There is also a negative correlation with development index of nations.
As a former Indian minister of population once quipped,
"Development is the best contraceptive.", Karan Singh
Factors generally associated with increased fertility include - 

  • religiosity,
  • fertile parents,
  • intention to have children,
  • marriage and cohabitation,
  • maternal and social support, 
  • rural residence, 
  • familism,
  • social pressure,
  • homophily,
  • patriarchy,
  • single nuclear family households,
  • governmental monetary family allowances.
The argument that religion and development goes hand in hand.. is patently untrue. The real baby-boomers turn up to be among the religious folks. That is not to say that religion still plays an important role to prove oneself socially, and somebody who will have time to make babies might also endorse religion, and gain some confidence seeing the children grow up in an inclusive environment. The post-everything societies of today, however, don't need such endorsements or as many children. We do not live in an age of faith healing and marauders anymore. If religion is the cause, then it better reflect upon itself before it is attacked for promoting abundance in human numbers; if it is the effect, then it is in a losing battle, a shrinking market.

If today was not upon us, we would be having a hard time fighting the will to go on. We would get married nearing our twenties, and endorse all kind of stuff for sustaining our devolving mental states. We would go crazy playing a mature individual in a gas society. We would surrender our psychological neoteny, as proscribed, and take on roles in the social hierarchy, as prescribed, and have to pretend to be happy play-acting.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Power couple of grand-scale mountaineering

Romano Benet and Nives Meroi are the most legendary mountain-climbing couple I've come across. Their individual accomplishments aside, few hours back, these two summited Mt. Makalu, completing 13 of the 14 eight-thousanders.

In true alpine style, all of Nives's and Romano's 8,000 m climbs have been completed without supplementary oxygen and without sherpas. It has been said that "(...) their style of mountaineering belongs to another era."
1994 K2, attempt
1996 Everest, attempt
1998 Nanga Parbat, summit (Nives becomes the first Italian woman to summit)
1999 Shisha Pangma, summit
1999 Cho Oyu, summit
2003 Gasherbrum I, Gasherbrum II and Broad Peak summits (in 20 days)
2004 Lhotse, summit
2006 Dhaulagiri, summit
2006 Annapurna, attempt
2006 K2, summit (Nives è la prima donna italiana in vetta)
2007 Everest, summit (Nives becomes the first Italian woman to summit without supplementary oxygen)
2008 Makalu, attempt (winter expedition)
2008 Manaslu, summit
2009 Annapurna, attempt immediately abandoned
2009 Kangchenjunga, attempt immediately abandoned 
2012 Kangchenjunga, attempt
2014 Kangchenjunga, summit
2016 Makalu, summit

Note: Nives is the more popular of the couple - having a Wikipedia page even in English. Romano Benet,  only Wiki-d in Italian, has an introduction that Google cheekily translated as
Romano Benet ( Tarvisio , 20 April 1962 ) is a mountaineer Italian .
It is one of the largest Italian mountaineers, known for the exploits of the wife, also a mountaineer Nives Meroi 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Ranjit v Katrina

I had to appear
I had to disappear

I had to be powerful
I had to be powerless

I had to gain
I had to lose

I had to suspend
I had to choose

I had to make
I had to break

I had to command
I had to beg

I had to rise
I had to fall

I had to consolidate
I had to dissolve

I had to tell one
I had to tell all

I had to feign goodness
I had to feign badness

I had to lie to reach the truth
I had to scream the truth aloud

Friday, May 06, 2016