Thursday, March 31, 2011

How we lost it

This is from Neil Tyson's tweet:

Causes of death worldwide in March 2011 - Starvation: 3,000,000. Malaria: 250,000. CarCrash 100,000. Quakes&Tsunamis < 28,000

It seems we are not really worried about human suffering or deaths. We selectively hear interesting stories, stage-lights, the drama, the headlines, a record breaking quake, a tsunami, nuclear accidents and we still pretend that we understand and share human suffering.

Well we don't. All we care about is our fat bottoms. Someone else's drama makes our entertainment.

And media wouldn't sell if there was no demand.

How awfully we lost it.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Films - Kamal

Our hero Kamal emerges from the woods almost on the verge of collapsing while spinning in enthusiasm. He is holding a small piece of paper, supposidly a letter from his sweetheart.

The spin action continues on the banks of a small garden, around a pole (hence we now know Indians must be familiar with pole dancing), then back on the grass.

Unexpectedly Kamal decides to jump off from the garden bank on to a pathway and this is when things get weirder.

Kamal takes us with surprise when he suddenly leans back in an attempt to roll back on to the garden. Certainly there is no shortage of athletic moves in this film.

In the next move in what I call the most bizarre dancing scene in the history of World cinema Kamal shows us how not to roll on the grass.

The camera pictures him in horizontal position and for some reason rolling continues despite him worrying audience that he might in fact injure himself.

I tend to think perhaps he is desperately trying to communicate his excitement due to the letter he received. We would never know.

I also urge you to wait until you watch wrestling scenes of Kamal with his sweetheart.

Regrettably we have a small surviving segment from this masterpiece.

This movie is one of the best in its class. When it comes to action and entertainment Kamal delivers.

Ten out of ten.

Friday, March 11, 2011

That little box

Our brain’s wiring is changing.

I am a programmer.

Early in my career back in mid-eighties nineties when we were confronted by a problem and needed information, we had no option but seek documentation, read lengthy manuals, and sometimes pay truckloads of cash to ‘consultants’.

When we needed to learn a new programming language or grasp a new technology such as a new API or operating system we had no option but to read thick manuals and sometimes attend courses.

Our brain pretty much operated on its own with input mostly taken from static material. This was after all how our brain was wired through education systems of pre-Internet era.

We were used to the idea that our consciousness is unique and isolated. It seemed the best way our mind’s clockwork could operate was when we were in complete solitude provided that we had every material we need in front of us.

Nowadays I hardly open a book for solving problems. In the past few years I learned three computing languages (out of seven) through Google.

At work every other second my mind reaches out and extends its memory through that little box, Google search.

That little box almost became a cyber-extension of my brain. It seems all I need is a well functioning short-memory from my biological end and whatever my frontal lobe is capable of.

My thought process is no longer driven by a static, hardwired and error-prone organic memory which is subject to birth, physical and age related weakness, but by a more dynamic, accurate, ageless and colossal machinery.

That little box makes me smarter, I make better judgements, I think faster, and I can reliably test my assumptions at a much faster rate. Despite my age my productivity at work increased in several orders of magnitude.

I am no longer Homo Sapiens. I am remade as Cyber Sapiens.

These are exciting times for our generation. We are lucky enough to witness the best of both worlds and we are representing a generation at the dawn of post-Internet human brain evolution.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


In my article Mixed Feelings I wrote about inevitable decline of printed books. Sadly everyday I see evidence of my prophecy being verified.

Angus & Robertson and Borders bookstores are closing down.

We are loosing forever that romance, that warm feeling of visiting a nearby bookstore and simply browsing books for pleasure.

In middle ages for a decent copy of a book or a manuscript an average urban wage earner had to pay at least a quarter of his annual income. For peasants buying or even seeing or touching a book was an impossible dream.

Within a millennium the cost diminished by a factor of 1000.

For many hundreds of years despite endless catastrophes, fires, burnings, wear and tear, paper continued to carry the knowledge of humanity which is estimated to be around 10 EB (1 exa-byte is 10 to the power of 18).

And now like LP records we are beginning to see books thrown into the corners of moldy second hand bookshops.

On the upside e-books will easily be accessible and transportable. E-book will continue to carry the flag it took over from its overweight but humble cousin.

I still think socialising is a big part of book reading experience.

Perhaps it is time to design new bookstores (e-book stations) with Wi-Fi access, comfy chairs, coffee and cookies, smooth background music.

Patrons sit down, relax, chat, review, download and buy e-books in special discounted prices.

On the walls of the e-book station images of authors shifting, instants from their life are projected, Tolstoy in his farm, Hemingway in Africa.

In that corner a famous author is digitally signing his newest e-book which is automatically downloaded and overlaid in e-books of his audience.