Posts filed under ‘Life-Theories’

Curious Cat, Butterfly Effect, 3 Buses Arrive at Once

There is a saying, but I’d rather say that it is an observational comedy quirk that one keeps waiting for a bus for ages and then suddenly, 3 of them arrive at once. This always rung true in an earlier life when I used to take the bus and I was always fascinated by this phenomenon as it seemed magical and annoying at the same time. Am sure, some graduate student somewhere in this vast planet is figuring it out but while science catches up, here is my imagination running wild explanation that involves a cute cat (colour me viral attention seeking but am told that everybody likes a cute cat, or rather the idea of a cute cat) and the principle of butterfly effect etc. –

Now that I thunk about it, I have also found that if one replaces the bus in an analogy reflecting life like an email or opportunity or guests or ideas et al., it has often held true. Well, your mileage might vary but the error could atmost be +/- 1 bus. No?

8 April, 2014 at 13:59 Leave a comment

IToonSJ #001 – Sitting Developer Life Cycle

8 April, 2014 at 13:26 1 comment

Call for Rise of Nation of Inner-AAMs

Whenever it passes muster that I doodle, just about everybody in India or those with roots to India mention the iconic so-called Common-Man character of R.K.Laxman to which Wikipedia has the following to say:

The Common-Man is the creation of author and cartoonist R. K. Laxman. For over a half century, the Common-Man has represented hopes, aspirations, troubles and perhaps even foibles of the average Indian, through a daily comic strip, “You Said It” in The Times of India. The comic was started in 1951.

When Laxman began to draw cartoons in The Times of India, he attempted to represent different states and cultures in India. In the rush to meet deadlines, he began to draw fewer and fewer background characters, until finally he found only one remaining – the now-familiar Common-Man who generally acts as a silent witness to all the action in the comic.

Being the contrarian that I am, just about everybody in India or those with roots to India is taken aback and fall from their smugness cloud when I reveal that I really do not like the so-called Common-Man character and that while I have no reason to disrespect Laxman as a person and even admire him for his art and drawings, I do not actually respect Laxman as an author and cartoonist for he has pissed on a great opportunity and platform. Rather than inspire people by making the recurring character an agent of change, he played his part, however miniscule, making the character hapless and clueless and in so doing, conditioned people to be suffering bovines happily quipping “arre bhai, India mein aisa hi hotha hai” with an annoying and lazy “chalta hai yaar” attitude. Before everybody in India or those with roots to India thinks that this is just my opinion, Laxman has on record parroted the same thing, “The Common-Man symbolises the mute millions of India, or perhaps the whole world, a silent spectator of marching time.”
Now one could say that maybe I am looking too much into some imagery. Could be but iconography is a powerful thing which is seldom acknowledged. Discussing imagery as iconography implies a critical “reading” of imagery that often attempts to explore social and cultural values. Allow me to make an observation. If we study imagery of icons – fictional or real – we can immediately see some patterns. For the sake of simplicity, if we just compare non-religious icons of USA and India, the noticeable icons and paragons of the Western world have been superheroes fighting evil and preserving the American way of life while the icon worthy of mention in India is arguably Common-Man who is a speechless village idiot whose inaction has created a rotting, stinking, corrupt, poor, sickening, diseased, infested, horrible, broken, polluted, communal, violent, uneducated… catch the wave, stench of an excuse of a country called India. Let this vomit throw up in your mouth and sink in.
A wise man once said to me that how we want to be treated by others is dependant on us and our actions and not the largesse and manners of others. I for one feel that the Common-Man has an Inner-AAM (Angry And Mad) that is just wanting to explode and do something about the cacophony around him. Since Laxman will continue to draw the Common-Man as a damsel in distress and sell books, give speeches, get honoured etc. by the bucketload while at it, I am taking the artistic liberty of bursting the bubble and bringing out the Inner-AAM of demure character and fight the evils, worms, leeches, maggots… get the drift, of politicians, businesses, terrorism, policegiri, supersitions, rowdyism et al. in the hope it will inspire others, yes, all of you and you, the 2 readers of this blog who could very well fall under the common-man definition or an attempt towards a definition by Udit Misra, to fight –

Now, by associating myself with I Am Aam (a seller of t-shirts with a twist), I have brought out my Inner-AAM and have joined the fight to do my bit in the way I can by immortalizing the travails and adventures of Inner-AAMs across the length and breadth of India inspired by true stories. I understand that the suspense might be killing you and you want to see what it will be like and when you can see it but the key question, and perhaps the only question that should matter is, are you in? Are you going to bring out your Inner-AAM and join the fight? We’re all waiting!

P.S: Please go here at CWorks for the full-comic

27 February, 2014 at 19:26 Leave a comment

Invent Meaning of Own Life – Happier for Trouble

Somewhere on the interwebs, lost in all the noise, links, markups, tags, attribution, nous etc. a comic done by Gavin Aung Than at ZenPencils is doing the rounds as An Incredible Comic by Bill Watterson at ImgUR. Here is a teaser –

Am not the first to decipher that this is not a comic done by the honorary artist behind ‘Calvin and Hobbes’, monsieur Bill Watterson, as many people have beat me to it in this comments page at Reddit (here be dragons; you’ve been warned) but the hypertext led me to the source at ZenPencils and the root of the quote which is from a speech given to the graduating class at Kenyon College by Watterson on May 20, 1990 which has been beatifully illustrated by Gavin.
For those grappling to transcribe or frantically search for the exact text in the comic, look no further for it has been captured as well –

Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive.
Ambition is only understood if it’s to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake.
A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential — as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth.
You’ll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you’ll hear about them.
To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.

Hat-tip to my friend Nandita Ravindran for the rabbit hole who said that I was the first one she thought of sharing this with when she stumbled upon ImgUR.

24 October, 2013 at 17:53 Leave a comment

Sleep Cleanses Toxins, Gunk, Trash in Brains

What do our brains do while we sleep? Image courtesy of Katherine Streeter for NPR

Finally we have it folks. After millenia of having a crack at the mystery, with thousands of crackpot theories in vogue and spending exponentially more think-time and dollars on the research, theory, practicals and experiments on man, fish, insect and beast, 13 scientists of a melting-pot persuasion representing atleast 5 continents in their origins based in Rochester have some semblance of a partial explanation as to the function that sleep of the night-cap kind serves. Here is “Sleep Drives Metabolite Clearance from the Adult Brain”, Lulu Xie, Hongyi Kang, Qiwu Xu, Michael J. Chen, Yonghong Liao, Meenakshisundaram Thiyagarajan, John O’Donnell, Daniel J. Christensen, Charles Nicholson, Jeffrey J. Iliff, Takahiro Takano, Rashid Deane, and Maiken Nedergaard, Science, 18 October 2013: 342 (6156), 373-377. DOI:10.1126/science.1241224]

The conservation of sleep across all animal species suggests that sleep serves a vital function. We here report that sleep has a critical function in ensuring metabolic homeostasis. Using real-time assessments of tetramethylammonium diffusion and two-photon imaging in live mice, we show that natural sleep or anesthesia are associated with a 60% increase in the interstitial space, resulting in a striking increase in convective exchange of cerebrospinal fluid with interstitial fluid. In turn, convective fluxes of interstitial fluid increased the rate of β-amyloid clearance during sleep. Thus, the restorative function of sleep may be a consequence of the enhanced removal of potentially neurotoxic waste products that accumulate in the awake central nervous system.

Duh, I say. Is it huh, I hear you say? From a mish-mash of coverage of this seminal development and dissemination in various places (and counting) like NPR, Science Blog, Associated Press, Times of India and Zee News, allow me to plainspeak. Essentially, brains sweep hemselves clean of toxins during sleep. In mice, their brain cells shrink, allowing cerebrospinal fluid to flow easily around them. The fluid can then clear away toxins. The study reveals brain takes out the trash while we sleep in findings that give fresh meaning to the old adage that a good night’s sleep clears the mind for sleep gets rid of gunk that builds up while we’re awake which while explaining the function of sleep, may also provide new clues to treat Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders. These waste products included amyloid beta, a protein that when accumulated is a driver of Alzheimer’s disease. In order to help remove the waste, cerebral spinal fluid is pumped through brain tissue. The process is sped along during sleep because the brain’s cells shrink by about 60 percent, allowing the fluid to move faster and more freely through the brain. The whole operation takes place in what researchers call the glymphatic system, which appears to be nearly 10 times more active during sleep than while awake. The body does this sweeping only during sleep and not continuously during wakefulness for the sake of energy efficiency and performance in day activities.

I would not be much of a self-acclaimed scientist and card-carrying blogger if I did not put my spin on it now, would I? We may not have hundreds of mice lying about to dissect their brains about and 2-photon microscopes in the garage but this study appeals to us because this ‘cleaning trash’ theory is something we all innately have internalized to explain, if only to ourselves, why nature has made sleep mandatory that takes up roughly half of our lives (counting the sleep from when we are young and senile which is a lot). Life is short and then we have to sleep. Doh! Not to drill holes but there is a lot more to be explained about sleep, especially in humans who also sleep recreationally with naps, siestas, kunukus etc. and under stress when we are ill, hit on the head etc. What happens and what is the purpose of sleep in these situations? Seriousness apart, that sleep cleanses our brains of toxins makes one wonder about death which is but indefinite sleep. It seems to me that death is that one last big cleanse. It is nature cleansing the planet of our toxic insignificant existence in this mortal coil. Sweet dreams, bitter visions, sour nightmares et al.

19 October, 2013 at 14:48 Leave a comment

Swinging Bachelor – Word Play

Bachelorhood is given a bad rap by society and I wonder why when the benefits to the individual and society far outweigh the costs. If this were a debate, first argument is more bachelors means there will be no progeny and less population and by association, less pollution considering that the carbon footprint of humans is huge. A second argument is that research shows that bachelors on average live about 5 years lesser than married guys thereby clearing the stage for more jobs for younger people and less burden on society. Am sure there are other well made arguments made by people who gave far more thought to the matter than myself. So, jumping the gun, rather than being spoken with relief and respect, why then is the term ‘swinging bachelor’ always used condescendingly and with contempt? What does it even mean and what is the origin of the term? Has it come into being to depict how bachelors swing from one woman to another? While am a staunch celibate[1], just could not cease and desist on not doing the following…

I for one think there are conspiracies galore afoot. It could be a feminist conspiracy to condition men into settling down and make women the bosses of every happy-go-lucky sod. It could be a capitalist conspiracy for bachelordom is like socialism because wealth is distributed rather than hoarded. I wish I could expand but some humanities graduate must be doing a thesis on this very topic and it is best we go in search of it rather than go hyperbole and make anecdotal stand-up statements.

[1] Married types ask, ‘How SJ can you make do without sex’? Answer: The same as you! Only difference is I cope better knowing that it is purely my choice

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24 August, 2011 at 20:53 3 comments

Discovering Ideal Job – Formula, Process, Steps

There are two kinds of happy people. One kind love what they do. Other kind do what they love. Then there are the lucky buggers we all envy. We all know atleast one of their kind for they always have a smile on their lips, a sparkle in their eyes and a spring in their step. They are the ones who do what they love AND love what they do. In other words, they have drunk from the holy grail of “ideal job”. Yep! It very much exists and better believe for this formula/process/steps by none other than Vishwanath Poosala is what I was pointed by the powers that be when I sought an answer by penance for this ultimate key to the pursuit of happiness…

When the head of Bell Labs (India speaks), better listen. Am on it and good luck.

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    18 August, 2011 at 01:44 Leave a comment

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