Letter to Nikola, written a century later.

SEND: through wireless ether, non-time specific

Calcutta, India

19 Aug. 17

Hi Nikola,

It’s been two years less a century between your autobiography first published in 1919 in the Electrical Experimenter and now that I first read it. I happened to find the copy titled “My Inventions” on the net. It’s a couple of decades short a century since your death too!

However, the feeling of connecting with you was so strong, that I thought, “What the hell!”(It’s a current slang phrase), “Let’s get on with it, maybe some vibration, some energy field or some time-wrap could take this message into the past.”

Everything is after all Energy & Frequency.

You said in your book, quote, “I am prompted to this prediction not so much by thoughts of the commercial and industrial revolution which it will surely bring about, but of the humanitarian consequences of the many achievements it makes possible. Consideration of mere utility weigh little in the balance against the higher benefits of civilization.”

By the way, today the United Nations is celebrating “World Humanitarian Day”. (Are you sniggering?)

You also say quote, “The greatest good will come from technical improvements tending to unification and harmony… (You gave example of your wireless transmitter)”.

News! You have been right. We have this thing called the internet, joined by fiber optics across the sea bed. (Like you professed in your book: a wire buried in the ground, insulated from interference). It has been revolutionary. It has connected like-minded people like never before and reduced the distances between countries. We have smartphones to talk, radios, microwaves to cook food and your discovery of alternating current to provide electricity, is still providing energy to most homes in the world, to power our many devices.

But they still haven’t figured how to harness the energy of the sun and direct it to water arid deserts. Or maybe we haven’t heard about it yet. Some countries, though, are working on a large model of the Sun! Interestingly they don’t have large deserts or arid lands.

About the use of electromagnetic frequencies for warfare, there are doubts that this might have already been misused for weather modification and the sorts. You did warn.

Well, they discovered the Van Allen radiation belts swathing around the atmosphere of the earth, in 1958 tells NASA. Maybe the time to build that free floating ring across the equator, enabling fast travel is now, though the supersonic planes have reached over 3000 km/hr by this era, we like experimenting with new ways to be mobile.

Must mention as a passing note that two things are still around, misinformation and your favorite journal, the Scientific American. The latter has a twitter account, which in today’s times means that it is thriving well into this century.

Do you know, they named a car inspired by you? The Tesla? They are however still looking to make such cars cheaper. The fuel used in electric cars is lithium, which is available in China, Australia and Afghanistan. And there is war-like situation on in at least a third of these places. It won’t be long before Electric car technology are competing with the traditional car models, and your Detroit car manufacturer; is threatened by the laws of demand and inventive supply (Twist of destiny, 🙂

There is sudden interest in you again and led me to wonder, why we didn’t ever learn about you in school? Ironically your invention brings the electricity to every working classroom of the world, illuminating the books, where we learn the name of Edison. (He didn’t actually invent the incandescent light bulb, did he?)

You say in your book, “My belief is strong in a law of compensation. The true rewards are ever in proportion to the labor and sacrifices made.”

On the world humanitarian day, here is hoping that with the same spirit/energy with which you tackled science and harnessed it for problem solving for good of the society, may each inventor in this era direct their energy towards higher benefits of the civilization.

END MESSAGE

 

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Planet Mirth

In the light of the controversial internal Google memo written by James Damore, here is a story, written strictly for amusement. The concept of gender issues was in my mind for a long time, what if women would behave in the way men do? What if the roles were reversed. Lets take a look at a life of such a man.

Once upon a time in a parallel universe, in galaxy far away, was a planet.

It wasn’t your ordinary planet. It was special. It was special because the dominating race were women.

The name of the planet was Mirth.

Every morning at day break, the men would wake up and make the breakfast and pack tiffin for the family. Then they would dress to leave for work. The kids would be dressed for school by the male member of the family. The patient father would lovingly pack their meals into their bags.

Sometimes their kind wives would leave them to the school & nearest train station in their family owned vehicle. If they got late by any reason, the male member would hire a cab and drop the kids off before reporting himself to his workplace, late.

He dreaded such days. His boss was usually a woman and he had to work in a team of many Alpha women. The last boss had been fired by the company for harassment and striving for a gender diverse workplace, the HR had recommended an Alpha woman to sort the mess created by the very feminine predecessor. His new boss believed in empathy and tolerance, but he knew that his excuse of not reaching to work on time would only be a reflection on his work ethic and perhaps lower his record.

With a sigh of relief to have reached the workplace on time today, he took the first few minutes to re-organise his desk and list out his tasks for the day. Almost covertly, he made a second list in his mind; milk, eggs, fruits…, notebook for daughter…

He glanced into the glass cabin ahead and could view his boss just entered.

He next saw the new receptionist walk into the boss’s room with her coffee and he could see them make a joke.

“Perks of being a woman!” he thought in his mind as he opened his emails for the day, taking his last breath of serene calmness. Left behind were the worries of home, children, fevers and colds; as he engrossed himself in this heavenly environment.

At noon, he spotted some movement in the foyer outside his window. His boss and a couple of sycophantic males from the office had stepped out for a smoke. Between puffs of nicotine, she was shouting at a remote working team member on her phone, hurling the choicest abuses. The phone call ended rather abruptly and the smokers continued their discussion about the cricket game in the evening.

He would have liked to go early and catch up the cricket game too, had it not been for the pending customer response sheets he had to enter into the system.

“Why couldn’t they automate the system?” He thought in his mind, knowing fully well at back of his mind that it would mean his position would be redundant.

His thought process was interrupted by the phone ringing.

“Honey, can you come to my office please?”

It was his boss. That’s strange.

He adjusted his clothes as he got up and proceeded to knock on the glass door.

He entered with a sweet smile into the ceiling-less room. Not even glass.

“We have a new position in the nearby town. We notice that you have been working hard, doing extra hours, even weekend if we need. It’s a management position. A new office that we are opening. Your work will be primarily liaison, a lot of travel.”

She gave a disarming smile as she asked, “Would you like to be recommended?”

He asked what the compensation would be.

“It would be pretty much be the same. Many people are looking at this position from the team itself. Many of them are very aggressive women. How interested would you be?”

“Well, can I think it over? As you know, my wife has a good job in this town and kids are also going to higher grade this year.”

“Okay. Is tomorrow morning enough time? Think about it, it would be good for your resume.”

“Sure. Thanks for considering me.”

As he left her cabin, he could feel the pierce of a nagging migraine about to set.

Hearing the door click back into position, Boss picked up the phone and dialled the HR with her well-manicured nails.

“I told the cute boy who sits outside my office about the position. I don’t think he would be interested. A married man. Can we give him some incentive to join?”

She listened on over the line in silence, her eyebrows moving upwards with every passing second.

“I know! I am trying to promote diversity here as well. If you don’t have enough funds, get some young unmarried man from a third world country. I’m giving him time till the morning to respond. He seemed desperate for a more challenging assignment.”

By five, he could see all the women in the office slowly depart one after another.

“To get ready for the game in the evening!” He thought in his mind.

By six, he was almost done with his entries for the day. He quickly wound up while messaging his wife if she could pick him on the way.

First message. Second message. She didn’t answer. Maybe she was driving already.

He quickly wore his overcoat as he stepped into the street outside. Some fog and dust from the cars. No policewoman was on the street today. Strange.

Remembering his errands, he thought, “Should I take the alley to the train station?”

This part of the town was known for its mugging gangs of women. They would move in groups of 5 to 6 in fast moving vans, snatching jewellery of other women, bags and wallets of unsuspecting men.

He wrapped his coat closer around himself and tiptoed into the dark narrow alley shortcut.

The stench was overpowering. In a corner next to the wall, a homeless women was relieving herself.

Looking straight ahead he walked on, faster and faster.

“I just have to reach that light post ahead”. He prayed to God in his mind as he heard someone whistling behind him.

He almost broke into a run and hit someone as he stepped into the connected street.

“Watch it, man!” said the policewoman.

He sighed a sigh of relief.

“What you doing crossing the alley? It was just a five minute walk around the block. You would be safer that way.”

“Sorry. Next time, I’d take that route.”

He quickly stepped down the subway towards the train station. Milk, Eggs, school homework, cooking, cleaning, dishes, discussion with wife about the job offer…

He felt as if his day had just begun.

END

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Re Skill Trap and the pumping balloon.

Stephen Hawking, recently said;

“We are living in a world of widening, not diminishing, financial inequality, in which many people can see not just their standard of living, but their ability to earn a living at all, disappearing…”

AI or Artificial Intelligence is said to loom as a threat on human’s race with a million articles on the impact of automation.

Debate over debate seems to rage on which job skills would be redundant.

Recently in the US, McDonalds has replaced some 2500 of its cashiers with automated touch screen kiosks. Elsewhere in India, 43 McDonalds restaurants are closing with estimated job loss of 1700 people.

An interesting tweeter observed that if your job is making and receiving emails and creating ppt/pdf etc, your job will probably be automated.

Elsewhere, the corporate money machines are gamifying the process of entry level jobs, by challenging their candidates to play a brain game to collect as much money as possible by pumping a digital balloon.

Reading a paragraph of the 1940s book ” The Future in Education” by Sir LivingStone, one ascertains that the norm of schooling after 14 yrs of age, was established just last century.

The rationale given that “it is the time when parents are most capable of earning money and children least capable of it.” It is also said to be “the best time for learning new languages, memorizing facts and even enjoying what to an adult is drudgery..”

Adult education on other hand was suggested to be given “to students who desire it, have the mental capacity to receive it and experience of life necessary to value and interpret it”.

Even after 70 yrs of educating and receiving education, most of us realize the rewards not corresponding to the time and effort gone into years of slogging.

He himself noted ” I doubt if any candid person, who has been a teacher or pupil in a secondary school, feels the returns correspond to the labour, time & money spent.”

So what do we do?

We go about to re-skill ourselves. The same employment machinery that requires “credentials” for “qualifying” to certain positions, now realizes that the last 17-18 yrs of the education machinery are mostly a wasted effort. New skills are needed to be “employable”.

We do what now?

We put in those extra hours to learn about something afresh.

And then?

A new technology and we spent the extra hours re-skilling ourselves?

And?

Some one creates a startup and endeavors to become a job creator rather than a seeker.

For the rest, the circle goes on, till their job is eventually automated.

 

 

 

 

This is the post that got me over one million likes……

free-pictures-14

Some people become coal miners. Others are born aristocrats with a silver spoon dangling so from their mouth, if it falls, is replaceable.

Look at the world. We have divided ourselves into nation states. Nation states whose boundaries are formed by the blood of other men, whose territories were annexed or our own which we fight to defend. Others, still are in the midst of fighting, fuelled by the generous doses of capitalist dreams. And finally some …… some still seeking their historic identities.

Do we really like to fight? What do we defend?

Humanity it appears, is on the edge.

Are we living how we intended to live?

With overloads of information and overdoses of media’s sensorial enrapture?

Sense, is a simple word. Sense may mean our human sensory organs. Sense may also mean our understanding in spite of them. Our Sensibility.

Animals also have sensory organs and instincts. We have sensory organs, but also sensibility.

Funny it is, we are slaves to our senses, not to our sensibility.

Each time we see that notification, a “like” we get, or a generous reply, it lifts us with enough dopamine for the minute. The minute over, we again check our status on our various sensory (social) media sites.

At the traffic signal, we take the time to answer our various communications, many of which can wait and many of which are not worthy of our time, but our giving it time, makes it worthy of us. At the same traffic signal, a teenager would pass nonchalantly with eyes fixed on a smart screen and ears tuned to the radio waves emitted by the sound signal on their smart device. Sometimes meeting with an accident mid road. Can we sense our worth now?

We take pictures not to keep memories by as a visual record keeping of our every minute of the lives. Sometimes we pose, and while posing dangerously, many also die. (selfie deaths)Then we exhibit these so called pictures on our sensory media sites and await the feeling of dopamine rush.

We wait. We wait.

The first like and we breathe a sigh of relief!

10 likes and some comments, we feel socially included.

100 likes, we feel socially honored.

1000 likes or more, we feel socially elevated. We revel in our sensory social position like demi – gods.

What have we become? A race of disconnected individuals? Our connection far greater to our devices than even to ourselves.

What does your sensibility say to you?

“Don’t do this…”

Doesn’t it?

That is proof enough of our being highest in the living hierarchy.

But, if it isn’t what you hear in your mind, I have no words left to describe you.

I shall not pose further questions to you, but continue my monologue.

The question itself is the crux. It’s the source of our identity. We base our identities on geographical areas, age, gender, profession, occupation or social and financial position. Our acceptance in those categories are crucial to our existence. Or so, it would seem.

Some time back, we were told that every human on earth has a unique set of fingerprints. Only suspected criminals were tested for fingerprints. Then our monitoring grew and we now have full biometric identities. India is trying to make the largest database of biometric identities of humans on this planet along with also very successfully increasing its real population to the largest in the world. I can’t own a phone connection (communicate) or a bank account (transact my savings for subsistence), if I haven’t shared these details with our nation state governance. Nor can I use an ISP to self-publish this article. (Share ideas)

What every marketer trying to sell us a frozen packaged preservative cocktail or a sugar laden drink, both of which our sensibility tells us isn’t right; revolves around our grouped identities called a “target set” or our forced grouping formed through these sensory inputs.

I go ahead and guzzle litres of fizzy carbonated drinks, thawing the chemical soups packaged for my “convenience” for the rush of mood elevating hormones released and which the “pretty” girl (usually) on TV alluded would make me a socially elevated demi god and a super mom.

We fail as humans and succumb to our senses.

Digital media wins. Over distance. Time. Social space. And us, the Humans.

Then we often make a mistake and offer the excuse,

“I, after all…… am human!”

 

PS: As you can see, I did not get any likes for this post. That was to engage you as an audience.

 

 

 

 

Baby steps to Branding a city

When these pictures were taken, the elections were in full swing in West Bengal, one of the eastern state of India. I gauge that the predominant Blue and white paint which is adorning each pavement, divider and most buildings, has been done in the recent past. And if you are traveling at night, be greeted by blue and white led lights twined around what would have been once, charming lampposts. Said to be reflective of the colors of the present ruling political party, it seems a bit overdone.

Other hilarious such instances which can be recalled in other states is a Shivaji statue sprouting up in all places and planned to be erected on an island in the Indian Ocean; another one decided to erect party symbol, Elephant sculptures, in her particular state.

Ironically however, the color choice is quite apt for the city. The colors are associative of the saris of Missionaries of Charity and Mother Teresa who lived here many years. Blue and white are colors which are extremely soothing in the hot and humid weather. I recall standing in a fort in Jodhpur, Rajasthan and looking below at the sea of houses painted in a hue of blue. The local boy informed me that “neel” a local coloring agent used for clothes is added to the white wash of outdoor structures and is said to keep the houses a few degrees cooler in this desert state.

So Yes. Blue and white is good, but in limited quantities. City populous and artist community opinions should be considered before widespread branding affecting the city space. Maybe some out of the other 20 million who inhabit this city could have good ideas on what their surroundings should be like.

 

Colour (s) of the Year 2016.

pursuit of imagination

Every year, colour company Pantone releases a shade what it calls the “Colour of the year” which is then popularized by its use in products and fashion. Last year it was Marsala, a reddish brown hue.

When Pantone announced not one, but two colours of the year for 2016, it was somewhat surprising deviating from its tradition of a single main colour.

If one thinks deeply, can there really be only one colour for a year? In the landscape above, the morning sky seemed to have “followed” Pantone’s colour direction for the year. In its vastness it enveloped not just the pink “rose quartz”, but also the blue “Eternity” shade and also shows how it can be blended together.

Smarty Pants

If you were ask in India what is the current buzzword, supported by marketing efforts of course, you would get Make in India, Digital India, Smart Cities among some more floating on the social net.

All of a sudden we are considering being “Smart”. Silently we whisper to each other “What is meant by Smart”? Is what is meant “Smart” by them the “Smart” we understand? (Do we really?) We then look up to the architects of the word and ask , “What is Smart?”.

The self appointed architects reply with a mock shock,

“You don’t know?… “See.”

They point towards a country and its city demonstrating some glass, shiny metals and a lot of automation technology.

“Oh!” We look amazed at the trains that go on hyper speed and the doors that open and shut automatically, sensors that send information ahead to someone and someone or something who supposedly makes life simpler in this maze of productivity with people like working ants going about their jobs.

“We can do that?!” we look on mesmerized, silently wonder how many potholes we have avoided that day and how much water to expect in the municipality tap. This smart city appears to look like heaven.

“We can accomplish that?”, We ask again in disbelief!

Nods the architect. “A few trillions here and there, but it is possible.”

“Where are the Trillions coming from?” we ask still in disbelief.

“FDI mostly. Fourteen countries have shown interest.”

We whistle in further disbelief.

“Wow! Fourteen countries will tell us how to live smartly.” Impressed at the achievement. We close the latest edition of Shiv Puraan. Old Sops of life. Lets embrace the new.

“Who..”, we ask further, “..would be living in these smart cities?”

“Smart citizens.” They answer. “Smartly qualified with smart education”.

We applaud!

“How..” we ask, “Would you find these smart citizens?”

The architects now loose patience at this inevitable question and blurt.

“You have too many questions! You are not Gift-ed. You are certainly not smart and don’t qualify to stay in a smart city!”

Disappointed, we start looking at the map and looking for the other non smart cities to live in.

“Don’t worry,” the architects console, “We may be working towards an inclusive society where even the lower income group can be accommodated.”

We breathe a sigh of relief. When we go to discuss this at our daily pavement dwellers meeting over a boiling broth of today’s Dal, most have the same question:

“Will the pavements be really clean? They won’t trouble us every six months for pavement leveling?”.

“We don’t know about clean, but they promise they will be smart.”

“Smart?” asks the pavement mother, cradling one kid on her lap and another suckling on her breast.

We go on to explain what is meant by “Smart”.

“See….” we point towards that country with that city gleaming in the night.

The pavement dwellers rub their eyes in disbelief.

( to be continued.)