When you have a hammer

My favourite genre of Youtube videos – of course there are genres of youtube videos – is what can be broadly described as: the one where an Youtuber has a thing – often a rare equipment and sometimes an entire facility.

On the tame side, the person(s) might have a slow motion camera, and they shoot videos using the slo mo camera. For example, of one of them getting inside a human sized balloon that is being filled with water.

Or someone with access to an chemical laboratory where they make pretty dangerous stuff. Or failing that flash freeze hearts in liquid nitrogen.

Or, the person might have a nickel ball, a blow torch, and the ability to get a Red Hot Nickel Ball by putting the blow torch to the nickel ball before dropping it on things. Like water. Or, frozen alcohol. So, if you wanted to know what would happen if a RHNB is placed on a watermelon, now you can know.

Or, if the red hot routine gets boring, you could try super cooling the nickel ball and dropping it in honey. Or, try a cannonball instead of the nickel ball.

Anyway, found a new channel. The hydraulic press channel:

TV heroes never fail to disappoint

I’ll try not to sound too stupid.

I know a few people who love Zindagi Gulzar Hai, a Pakistani TV series from 2012-13.

Chapati Mystery wrote up about the series, so I’ll quote a bit from that article.

People who love it, probably love it because:

[T]he serial’s politics is, however, emancipatory and feminist in certain ways: it pushes against son-preference, and affirms the right of women to be educated, employed, and assertive, albeit within the conservative norms of present-day Pakistan.

And yet, a little earlier, the article talks about how the series had ended:

Taking care of Zaroon makes Kashaf less cynical, less bitter about the world, and less militant. And, of course, she accepts her husband’s authority towards the end of the serial, announcing in her last monolog that it is not that bad, after all, to give in to him.[1]

So, I wonder, how would the fans of the series reacted if they had started watching it after having read this article, which talks about how the series falls short. Would they still like it? Would they still like it when it is pointed out that “Zaroon, a man-child .. remains so”.
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The method and the doctrine

Was flipping through the first pages of Feynman’s Lectures, when this popped up:

If, in some cataclysm, all of scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence passed on to the next generations of creatures, what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words? I believe it is the atomic hypothesis (or the atomic fact, or whatever you wish to call it) that all things are made of atoms—little particles that move around in perpetual motion, attracting each other when they are a little distance apart, but repelling upon being squeezed into one another. In that one sentence, you will see, there is an enormous amount of information about the world, if just a little imagination and thinking are applied.

And I thought, interesting choice, bro, but how does it help? There were philosophers in “multiple” ancient traditions who had this hypothesis, but they managed to derive nothing from it.

Anyway, a little earlier he wrote:

The principle of science, the definition, almost, is the following: The test of all knowledge is experiment. Experiment is the sole judge of scientific “truth.”

Actually this too sounds doctrinal. But it might be useful.

Grampa Bruce

I came home to find that Satya and Raja Sen had a discussion on Batman vs. Superman, and the discussion has been documented. I haven’t watched the movie and I will not.

I have many excellent reasons why I have decided that. On a perfect day (for me) I would explain all of those, but it has been an unusually hot day and I drank too little water. Now, I am dry and my head hurts from having my brain bounce about in the cranial cavity all day. So, I will just talk about one of the reasons why I have lost all hope of being happy after watching a movie. Any movie.

Nolan was good, was he?

Anyway, Raja Sen said:

He’s easily manipulated, doesn’t seem like a great detective …

In Dark Knight rises, as I remember it, after Brucey meets Selina – and let me say that this is how I remember the scene I watched in the theatre, I don’t have a copy now and I can’t seem to find a clip online with the point that struck me in it – after Bruce discovers that the safe has been cracked, and perhaps after Seline back flips her way out, Mr Wayne discovers that there is some powder on the safe.

And what does he do? Nothing. As far as I could see he does nothing.

I have spent too much time watching DefCon video, and even as a billionaire recluse, Bruce Wayne probably doesn’t quite have the time to waste on such trivial pursuits. But, even without that he is supposed to be smart, tech savvy. Why the fuck didn’t he respond? I could barely breathe after that, and when that stupid, stupid scene in the stock exchange happened — let me just say that if Nolan had been in the theatre, it would have been my pleasure to personally rip my seat off the ground and beat the Nolan with it. For that fucking useless shitty scene that forms a plot point that might have been written by Dan Brown, that asshole turned Batman into a person who might respond to a Nigerian spam email.

Tatti hai saab. Everything is shit. Never watch movies. That is the path to happyness.

Here are five

You must have seen this from Gary Provost:

This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety.

Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important.

So write with a combination of short, medium, and long sentences. Create a sound that pleases the reader’s ear. Don’t just write words. Write music.

I like the sentiment, but I don’t like the example of the five word sentences. I think, with minor changes, the sentences at five words each can still work well. Or perhaps, he was too good at writing to write a bad passage. Consider this, I think it has a nice rhythm despite being a bunch of five word sentences:

This sentence has five words. Here are five words more. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together can bore.
Listen to what is happening.
The writing is getting flat. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands something more.

OK, may be not the second set of sentences, but the first five have a nice rhythm, don’t you think?

The point the author made is not that sentences of the same word length should be banned – and how, I ask you, does the word length matter, the example sentences range from 5~6 syllables to about 13 – but that the rhythm, the music is important. So, why illustrate it by focusing on the word length?

Anyway, what do I know? I’m literate, hence I write. I just grind it out. Daily word count targets exist. Twenty is greater than five.

Will travel for food 2: the search for the one true Kulcha

After the trip to Kerala, I did manage to have another trip that turned out to lead to good eats.

Edit: 2016-03-14 21:40
The friend nomenclature continues from the previous post.

During an earlier trip in 2015, to Mumbai, I met [Friend D] who is currently working in Bhutan. “Come visit,” he said.

Well, that is how [Friend E] and I ended up visiting Bhutan. Since [Friend E] only has time off in December, we decided that we needed to go to Bhutan during the Christmas-New Year break. And the limited option for flights between Delhi and Paro meant that we eventually settled for a short four day trip. Before the Delhi-Paro tickets were booked, I had already planned my flights from Bangalore to Delhi and back so that I had 10 days between them. So, I ended up with 3 days on either side of the Bhutan trip that I had to spend in or around Delhi. I had already planned to meet friends and cousins before going to Bhutan, but I had to decide what to do after returning from Bhutan.

Eventually, that decision didn’t take much thought. The friend from Kozikode, [Friend C] whom I had mentioned in the previous post and who had guided me towards Paragon, is married to a girl from Amritsar. One of my regrets in life is missing the chance to go to Amritsar for their meal wedding. Moreover, Kulcha has been important for me. I thought I knew Kulcha. I thought I had eaten Kulcha. Turns out I knew nothing. Over the last couple of years, for the first time in my life, despite being in Bangalore, I have worked with people who are primarily from in and around Delhi. That has made me question what a Kulcha is.

There is the Amritsari Kulcha, which apparently, as served in the restaurants all over India, is entirely unlike anything anyone from Amritsar would ever put in their mouth. And at the other end, is the Kulcha that comes in packets from bakeries, and is more like a flat leaven bread than a cousin of roti or paratha. There was, I realized, a whole world of Kulcha that I needed to explore. I had to go to Amritsar.

The flight from Paro would deposit me at Delhi around noon. Then, through the rare instance of public infrastructure working in India, I would be magicked by the airport metro line to the New Delhi Railway station. Where, after a leisurely lunch, I could catch the evening Shatabdi to reach Amritsar around midnight. Eat the next day through, and take the morning Shatadbdi back the day after.

[This schedule was forced by the time my flight got back in Delhi, but I eventually realized that it was a bit of a tactical error. After comparing plans with a colleague who had visited Amritsar a few days before me, I have come to the conclusion that I should have taken the morning Shatabdi to Amritsar, and the evening one back the next day. More eating, less sleeping.]

Unlike the Kerala trip, I actually made a note of everything I ate during this Delhi-Bhutan-Amritsar trip. However, in the interest of not boring you, I’ll leave out most details.

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Will travel for food 1: Kerala

If I remember correctly, my resolutions for 2015 essentially included two goals: a) The old perennial, ‘get into shape’ b) Something that represented a shift for me, ‘travel more’. While I managed to end the year without gaining more weight, so, I’d say that goal a) was partly met, I did manage to work on goal b).

I don’t like to travel. Or, rather, while I like being in new places, I do not enjoy the process of travelling. Too much dead time during the process of moving from point A to point B. I also do not like a lot of touristy things. While I have enjoyed almost every activity oriented touristy thing I have got involved in, I am not sure whether it was the activity itself, or the company of people who dragged me along. I do not like to gawk at buildings and forts. I do not have the expertise to understand what a structure means beyond, “Wow! This is huge. What a resource drain.” While there are a few museums I really want to visit, I do not have this goal of going to see the Mona Lisa.

Perhaps, I do not enjoy being a tourist. I’d rather stay in a new place for a while. The only reason for a short trip for me is to meet friends again, and eat at new places.

Last January or February, I realized that I should travel more – especially to eat, or to meet people. Now that the year is over, I am happy to report that I did manage to average about one non-work related trip each month between March and December. That might not seem like a lot, but it is a start, and I am happy about it. I even managed to do a couple of trips where I had managed to work out what I wanted to eat and go for it.

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cory doctorow and the player one

[This had been lying in my drafts folder since 15th September 2015. ]
Quick Edit 2016-03-09 07:42
After letting the post remain in the drafts folder for nearly half a year, after scheduling the post a couple of weeks ahead, I still didn’t realize I got the good doctorow’s spelling wrong in the title till Satya pointed it out. Now my shame remains for all to see in the url.

Anyway, the post ->

In ready player one, it is incidentally mentioned that Cory Doctorow was elected the president of OASIS, and his presidenship was known for the protection of user rights. In Ready Player One, OASIS, an MMORPG/Virtual Reality universe through which people access school, information, entertainment, etc, is, of course, a closed system that has replaced had been built on top of the internet, replacing the web as the dominant usecase for the internet.

And while reading the book, I wondered whether Cory Doctorow would really support it. It is opaque (think creator god mode) and controlled by a corporation. Listing is not necessarily free. Someone who is not on it is excluded from a lot of things in life. How does that fit with Cory Doctorow’s politics and philosophy?

Consider the internet

Consider the web. For most people, the web and the internet are the same. Five years ago, the human endpoint on internet rarely did anything other than access web pages (plus, send email and perhaps download torrents). If someone was you were on the internet, they you would usually just need a browser (and perhaps a torrent client).

All of ‘internet’ could be queried by you. Though all of that might not be accessible. But, since it is an open standard, so, if the local newspaper was not interested in publishing a particular piece of news, you could put up the news from your block on your blog.

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The protagonist of a shounen manga stares into the abyss

This is something that has been on my mind for a very long time. I had decided that I’d do a post on it, but as with every thing else, the post never happened.

Satya called me up yesterday and during the conversation he mentioned that he had recently been reading a lot of Manga, including 12 volumes[1] of Toriko.

“Do you think you can read beyond those 100 chapters?” I asked.

Because Toriko is a typical Weekly Shounen Jump series, with a problem typical to long running[2] battle style manga[3]. Which is what I wanted to write about. But first, some context. Just as ‘Naruto’ is about ninjas in a ninja world and ‘One Piece’ is about pirates in a pirate world, Toriko is about the ‘gourmet world’ where ‘gourmet hunters’ go off and hunt monstrosities which are then cooked by their chef partners.

There are a few problems specific to battle style manga, especially with those from Weekly Shounen Jump. As I see it, publishers do not want popular series to end, they want the fans of those series to continue buying their magazines. Many Shounen publishers seem to have decided that long running series need to fall into one of three categories – harem (e.g. Nisekoi), gag (e.g. Saiki Kusuo no Psi-nan), or battle (e.g. Hunter × Hunter).

Of these, I presume battle manga work the best for the mangaka. Need time to plot ahead? Why not waste a few months in a long long fight, while also locking the audience in for the period[4].
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The precious sight of you gives me life

I had tweeted about this, but forgot to blog.

I have long had a soft corner for the Madhya Pradesh Tourism’s ads. For example, every year when holi comes around, I remember this ad:

However, after comfortably coasting along for years, Rajasthan Tourism has finally came out with a very wonderful series of ads this year. This one is my favourite:

What I love the most about these Rajasthan Tourism ads is the song. Since I don’t understand the language, I am grateful to a Udaipur based blogger who has transcribed and translated the words. The words go:


The land is wearing anklets
The sky is wearing bangles
Clouds in a happy frenzy take different shapes
The beautiful round, revolving earth

I was reminded of this after watching Mai Dhai sing on Coke Studio PK Season 8.

I have set to cook a delicious meal for you
Come to my house to eat this dish
The precious sight of you gives me life

[Edit: 2016-02-24 18:32]
From this behind the scene video:
Mara ghara na padharo, thana joa joa jiya
Come to my house, it is by seeing you that I live.