Monday, August 3, 2015

History Mania

For some time I have become interested in history. I never liked that subject in school because I couldn't connect it with anything else but now things are making more sense. I can fit various facts into places, make sense of this world, so history now makes sense. I guess there is a basic urge to make sense of things. Questions like how did we end up here? Where are we going etc. This is especially soothing when I see the stark difference between India and USA and ask myself why is India so poor? Well a bit of history makes it abundantly clear. India has been free for only 50 years so we need some time. Looting by the British had taken it's toll.

It all started with this video series made by John Greene called Crash Course World History Youtube Playlist link. It was interesting and fun to watch. I also like this show because it shows the future of content creation, where individuals not big companies create content. I liked it so much that recently after couple of years when I had money I donated a small amount through Patreon.

In Spring 2014 I started reading this famous book "India after Gandhi" by R. Guha. This really helped me put current political situation in India into perspective. I found out that Kashmir, North East were all old issues, the rise of BJP was relatively fast etc. This is a must read for any Indian.

I've been living in USA for a couple of years now and travelling around North East. I got to see lot of historical places like Gettysburg, DC, Philly etc. Monticello in Virginia was a real treat. To get a better understanding of USA I wanted to read a single best book for history of USA. Through recommendation from Reddit top 200 reading list and a  friend Marc McCann I started reading this book called "People's History of United States" by Zinn in Spring 2015. I'm still reading it.

That takes care of India and USA, but what about the rest of the universe? After Bill Gates recommending this Big History (https://www.bighistoryproject.com) course so much, I watched all of its videos to get a overall sense of this universe. I found out an interesting fact that for majority of time Life was single celled. Due to the huge scale of difference I wanted to see the timeline of the universe in log scale. Found a nice graph in this page http://matryoshka.org/2015/01/12/logarithmic-history.

Now after reading all this it feels good to know where we came from, how we got here and where we may be headed.

Friday, June 13, 2014

It's a dog eat cog world

Cogesh was almost ready for office. What would he do without his morning cup of coffee.

Cogesh settled comfortably on the bus seat. As the buildings rushed past him in the window so too did his mind along the memory lane into the past. He remembered how he and his brother watched Dragoncogs Z, got hyper excited and started sparring with each other. One duel got particularly too realistic which resulted in several scratches and a visit to the mechanic. Then how his dad came back excited from work on payday, lugging a bucket full of grease. Everyone rolled in happiness for days. Times were simpler then. For one they didn't have to deal with all these electronic people, not that he had anything against them. He just wished they learnt his language and integrated better with their culture.  

One day he would be the top gear in a sports car, that was his dream. His dad had told him, "Son, you could be anything", to which the Cogesh replied "I want to be a dog". Not a person to go back on his words, his father took him to a dog training camp. But this didn't go as expected and his dad had to retrieve him from the recycle bin for metals after the dogs mouth had their way with him. So Cogesh settled to a more realistic goal of becoming the top gear in a sports car. His grandmother worked in the Trans continental railways, his father on the Trans-Siberian Railway engine. So he he wanted to be the part of top gear in the fastest sports car. He was confused with the world, he was not sure if he was a special being in the universe or if he was just a small part of the machinery, replaceable, dime a dozen entity. 

He reached his workplace in time and started work. 
Cogesh at work.

He precariously positioned himself between the other cogs and shafts. He didn't really need to do anything. He felt he was made for this job, it seemed so effortless. Why would one want to be anything else? 

Later in the day he took a break from all the rolling and turning. He went to the coffee machine with his co-workers, discussing the latest sports. He turned on the coffee machine by pressing on the hand button.
The hand belonged to Bill. Bill had been recently promoted to the critical job of ON/OFF button in the coffee machine. As soon as the gigantic hand pushed his hand down he shouted at the top of his voice "make some coffee!!". The messenger boy was waiting for this. With this important news he ran like the wind towards the manager. Upon hearing the request from the messenger the manager immediately called the team and gave the order. " Sam start the boiler, Zhang roast the beans, Kuhu transfer the water.." and everybody rushed forth to complete their job in time. Zhang was starting to question if she was in anyway special but then an excellent joke from Kuhu made her laugh and forget it all.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Choices, Choices & More Choices

Now that the popular social networking site has introduced 50 more options for gender rights activists are pretty happy. Next they'll demand 50 more restrooms for each of those in every building. I can hear the janitors screaming everywhere. This explosion in the gender choices has caused some problems. Even before this it was hard for me sometimes to classify some new people that I see as boys are girls. Is that a really pretty girl or am I going to get a nasty surprise? Now imagine the same problem with 52 choices!! Recently when I met Ash my thoughts went along the lines of " I'm pretty sure she/he/it is not Gender Nonconforming because of the blue pants, not Gender Questioning because of the hair, probably not Gender Variant, doesn't feel like Genderqueer. That leaves me with only 48 more options. After years of dedicated research (aka relentless stalking) I've finally narrowed Ash down to two possibilities. Looks promising.

       It used to much simpler in my great,great ... grandfathers day. He would never have had any problem identifying the gender, the answer would in fact be trivial. He wouldn't have to bother with any of this courtship, fighting for mate bullshit. He would reproduce when he damn well pleased without begging anyone. That's right, he was a prokaryote. Any identity form to fill in those days would easier, for the question of which sex there would be only one choice. All your sons would look exactly like you. In fact everyone would look exactly the same due to population not having much genetic diversity. Well there would be a minor problem of me mistakenly kissing my headmaster instead of my girlfriend, and wanted posters would be less effective, you win some you lose some. Ah good old days.

       Enough of this daydream, I live in the present and I have to deal with it. Ash is here. Finally! I've been waiting for so long. I gingerly remove her coat trying to control my eagerness. What a sleek tail she has. Wait... what?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Four Seasons of Grief

Poem inspired by this painting by my friend Namrata (Blog Link)

Cry in Summer, feeling like a bummer
Cry in autumn, I'm really at the bottom
Cry in winter, even though I'm a painter
Cry in spring, what grief will it bring

Monday, November 25, 2013

Multi Level Attack

Q:What's more dangerous than a rampaging Elephant?
A:A rampaging elephant carrying bag full of angry bees.
I extended this further on both the sides of scale and this is what I got
Multi Level Attack

What we have here is a ruthless, mask wearing disgruntled office employee Elephant wielding a Nunchacku and carrying with it 4 bags of Religious Fanatic Viking Honeybees. 24 of such Elephants are packed into a ginormous bullet called bullet2.0.  Hundreds of such bullets serve as ammo for a 300m high Gattling gun. Tens of such Gattling gun are fixed onto a 3Km long arrow. Fifty such arrows are fixed as spikes to a 60Km tall club. Thousands of such towering clubs are built like monuments around a mini planet. Tens of such mini planet revolve around a belligerent star. Hundreds of such star revolve around a emotionally unstable black hole.

Now any non timid bacteria this might say bah, I'm not scared. But those honeybees are no ordinary bees. They are Religiously Fanatic Viking Honeybees. They are covered from head to tail with Pathogens of all kinds. And not just any ordinary pathogens. These pathogens have antimatter suspended in between their organelles.
Now this is dangerous. If any such black hole comes after you, no matter if you are a big fat mean planet or a dwarf termite you are in trouble.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What if buffaloes grew wings?

Karan told Wei " Hey did you read the papers? There's a new virus that's causing the buffaloes to grow wings!!". Wei wasn't amused, "That's a pathetic joke Karan". Karan replied " No seriously, some mad scientist's experimental virus escaped." I'll show you the videos online. And he showed videos of buffaloes spontaneously growing wings in hours and flying around the barns. One showed a particularly crafty buffalo air raiding the fodder storage, scaring off it's arch enemy the dog and flaunting it's wings in front of the jealous cows, singing "why should cows have all the fun?". 

Karan told wei "I wonder when will our buffaloes grow wings. I always wanted to ride a pegasus, this is close enough.". Wei shuddered at the thought of their huge barn filled with flying buffaloes. What if they fly off with the barn? What worried her perhaps the most was the thougth that Pigeons pooping on you - funny. Buffaloes doing the same - Not funny. Now Bullshit will not only hurt you psychologically, but also physically. But she also thought it's a golden opportunity to invent a BS protector. 

Karan exclaimed "I know how to put them to work, let's build a flying buffalo drawn carriage. Travel all over the clouds. We can have hybrid airplanes which uses gasoline for take off and buffalo power in the top. OK at that altitude the buffaloes will probably turn into frozen meat, but with thick enough jackets maybe we can pull it off, or in this case they can pull it up. Anyway the airspace will get crowded from all the loose buffaloes. Commercial air planes will probably have to be fitted with laser blasters to blast any buffalo in the path. After all no self respecting plane wants to be hit by a buffalo at 800km/h."

"You and your pipe dreams!" said Wei and off she went to watch the latest adventures of Bickey Buffalo, the cartoon show featuring anthropomorphized buffalo who only wore a bandana.