Skip to main content

On fables and grandmothers...

There is a hare and a tortoise who wish to have a race. The hare runs swiftly, goes ahead to win the race. Seems a plausible one line alternative to the classic version that we grew up hearing, doesn't it? But it would be difficult to find this version in Aesop's Fables.

Yet, it seems strange that we as kids accepted the story of the hare and the tortoise without doubt when our parents or grandmothers read it to us. Now, it seems hard to believe.

The trouble with the fables is that they are meant to amuse and instruct, and are written for kids. The writer assumes an ideal world, where everything goes according to some master plan that he may have in mind. Reality may be very different. What will happen when the thin ice breaks and a child sees reality for the first time, so far removed from the fables that he has heard?

Yet, the ideal world continues to haunt us throughout life. In school, we are always taught stuff in the ideal world. Non-ideal is too hard to deal with, so we conveniently ignore it. We go ahead to become engineers. Again, we are taught the ideal, and told that the world is non-ideal, so we need to deal with it. Some can, most of the others, so immersed in the ideal, cannot.

A friend criticised me for not sticking to one topic and drifting so much in the course of a single post. In an ideal world, with all things uncorrelated (a white noise process), it might have been possible. Yet, in the non-ideal head that I have, many thoughts are correlated, and it becomes difficult to control the drift.

Which makes me realize that the drift is indeed becoming dangerous. So, I go back to the main reason I wrote this post.

Indeed, most of the books that I read too may have the same ideal world described. Harry Potter for one. But I refrain from criticising that any more. The last time I criticised the series, I lost some friends on facebook. No, I shall refrain from criticising any particular book, but just mention some of the books wherein the world is too ideal to be real. Heidi, by Johanna Spyri, is a great book, with a lot of freshness and innocence, but the portrayal of life is too ideal to be true. Nevertheless, it remains one of my favourites.

Jim Stovall's novel, The Ultimate Gift too seems to be too ideal to be true. I mean, considering the spoilt brat that Jason was, would he actually go soil his arms working on a farm, just based on some crazy whim of his grandfather?

But now that I think of it, almost all books have a central theme, a protagonist overcomes intense conflict and against all odds, goes on to succeed. Would this not be true only in an ideal world, or in cases of extreme luck? I think so. Yet a book without an intense conflict followed by an eventual victory of the protagonist would not be as popular.

Why is it that we so like the ideal carefree world, in contrast to the cruel world out here? Why do we fool ourselves by thinking that such a world really is possible? It is indeed a dangerous act, to forget that we live in a really cruel world, and to seek comfort in the ideal world that writers would have us believe exists.

I missed posting on international women's day. Now, it is too late to post anything substantial, however, I leave you with this video of Harry Belafonte singing Man smart (Woman smarter)

Popular posts from this blog

Progressive Snapshot: Is it worth it?

I turned 25 last year, which in the highly mathematical and calculating eyes of the US insurance industry meant that I had suddenly matured into a much more responsible driver than I was at 24 years and 364 days of age. As a result, I expected my insurance rates to go down. Imagine my surprise when my insurance renewal notice from GEICO actually quoted a $50 increase in my insurance rates. To me, this was a clear signal that it was time to switch companies.Typically, I score really high on brand loyalty. I tend to stick with a brand for as long as possible, unless they really mess up. This qualified as a major mess up. As a result, I started shopping for insurance quotes.Two companies that quoted me significantly lower rates (30%–40% lower) were Progressive and Allstate. Both had an optional programme that could give me further discounts based on my consenting to the companies tracking my driving habits. Now, I am a careful driver – I hardly ever accelerate hard. I hate using the brak…

Build those noise cancelling headphones

So, here's another DIYLet me start by putting the cart before the horse. I shall start with the credits. This project was done while I was working on my Electronics Design Lab, along with my friends, Srujan M and Indrasen Bhattacharya. The work would not have been possible without the generous help received from the staff at Wadhwani Electronics Laboratory, who ensured that the only thing we did right was to leave the lab on time. This project would also not have been possible without the guidance of our dear and learned professors. It would probably have just about become additional dead weight on the head.Enough with the credits, now, I need to dive right into noise cancellation and how it works.The essence of sound is a pressure wave. The pressure wave, when incident on the eardrum sets into motion the complex mechanisms inside the ear, and after a long path, rather like the Cog advertisement, ends up making some nerves vibrate. The nerves send electrical signals to the brain, …

Reading List, December 2017

Brian Merchant, How email open tracking quietly took over the world, in Wired, 11 December 2017. [Online]: is no longer a secret that every website you visit silently tracks you in an effort to maximise ad revenue. What is less known is that emails also track you, through the use of tracking pixels and redirect links. These techniques were used by spammers and legitimate companies alike when creating newsletters or other mass email, in order to figure out their reach. What’s happening now is that private people are also using these techniques in order to create invisible and intrusive read receipts for email, which is incredibly frustrating from a privacy point of view.My solution to the tracking woes? I only open the plain-text component of email, which gets rid of tracking pixels entirely. Redirect links are harder to beat, and I don’t have a good solution for this.Dan Luu, Computer latency 1977–2017. D…