Under the bed of stars

The twinkling bed of stars
Blanketing the tranquil lake and grass

Shall we call God, the notion/entity/force that makes life non trivial?
Not this vague undefined sense of purpose, as much as the enrapturing beauty.
What makes the twinkling night sky, or the painted clouds, so much more charming than the marvels of lamps, buildings, and concrete.

Is what is inside everything, this life force, this star stuff, what is most worth celebrating?
Perhaps yes.
Give up your life, for all it is worth.
Squeeze all the juice out, for what else was it made?
Live.

 

What is the purpose of life, in the eyes of the universe?

What is the purpose of life, in the eyes of the universe?

So, nothing is going to matter. And that is the same as saying, nothing really matters.
You want to feel happy, or make a difference? All of that, will sublimate. Will be vaporized with more than a nuclear fusion. Quite literally disappear as being sucked into a black hole, according to some theories.
You might as well die right now, because it’s not going to matter.

What can you do, then? Everything, almost certainly, and inevitably, seems to remain a zero sum game.
A goal that you can choose, with surprising triviality, that will really matter, is to change the nature of the game. Fundamentally.
This, in entirety, seems to be oddly out of the scope of our usual thought process. It appears obvious on the face of it, but all of society, a large part of [deep] wisdom, and so on, condition us to believe that things are pretty hunky dory on the whole. I’m not sure what Stockholm Syndrome really is, but I have a strong feeling that being kidnapped in this usual structure of the universe, has made us fall into the belief that things are how they ought to be. This aim to justify the nature of the universe’s game as appropriate, adequate, and not entirely inconsequential, might also be the source of the attempts of justification of the universe with notions of Gods, religion, apart from all the lines of wisdom appreciating and embracing death, among other things.
[everything here is speculation, and is more than likely to be wrong, or not correct – especially in a proper nature of causality. But then again, nothing can actually be known because we’re all going to die anyway, right.]

-One question in the air I cannot address right now – where does our consciousness come from, what would/should drive us to make any difference, or even be under the made up belief that we might be able to do the same?

I’m going to assume, that all of us want to make a difference. I cannot imagine why you’d want to live anyway if you’re okay with being entirely inconsequential. Apart from choosing to be hedonistic. Sure, go ahead with that if you want to; not something I’d condone, because in a utilitarian sense for things that will matter, and investment of resources aptly, I think it’d be better if you’d die, really.

So, on an average, when asked explicitly, people are really okay with the general structure of the universe and how life happens, because nothing can be done about it. But at the same time, there’s always a part of the crowd trying to fight out of it.
People have frequently dreamed of immortality, amongst other things.
There is a fascinating oxymoron that seems to have happened here, on the presumptory observation that people have reduced how much they believe in immortality, than before.
In times of believing in magic, when people didn’t know the reason behind things, they were willing to believe that one ritual or another, would help them live longer, for no well defined / substantive reason. This may or may not have succeeded in helping people live. And regardless, people would die. In a time of magic, immortality seems to be a more manageable belief, when you’re not really looking for a reason to explain phenomena.
In today’s world, when we don’t really know what death is or how it happens [citation needed] – {Feynman’s paragraph on how finding an immortal person, shall not change any established thoeries, etc}, as in, we know _reasonably/rationally_ of *no* reason that says people/life should die. Somehow, in today’s world, we have embraced death and given up on immortality much more, I think. (This again might be specific to my narrow set of observations and people I’ve been exposed to, but is the general belief I gather and mostly used to have).
Random note, interesting thing to see: There are systems I here, of people in Europe and the US who’re depositing money over their life so that their dead bodies are frozen for 40-50 years, so that they can come back to life if technology reaches the stage where dead bodies/people can be brought back to life. So there is a set of people who believe and have hope. There is also a narrow set of people, who’re actually working to make this happen, if not with the whole immortality-ambition, more ‘realistic’ smaller goals.

I think it’s pretty trivial, that we should embrace the desire to change the game. Because that’s the only thing that’ll matter. It might not end up being achieved; humanity is totally likely to die much sooner than technology or knowledge evolve to the requisite extent. But *insert cliche about having hope here, because there’s not much else we can have*.

To be able to act, we will draw the line somewhere, about how deeply we will philosophise. To get work done, you need to be able to decide not to become an arts student, because… I will try to elaborate on this later, but yeah. I will believe that there will be something beyond the edge of the universe. The aim of humanity, to impact the universe, to be able to rise in size to touch that edge, to challenge it, and to reach beyond it.
I only spoke about immortality above.
If you’re willing to entertain the thought of this possibility, it should be a logical follow up that you be willing to drop all social, or trained human pretenses, that ageing, weakening, etc is a compulsion.
But immortality would free us of this strongly imposing deadline of the notion of time. We would not need to travel faster than light, or break physics as is known today, to be literally able to go beyond our solar system, and quite likely beyond the galaxy. Spread like the virus we are, resilient, evolving, fairly smart, and pretty eager/desperate to reproduce.

The thing behind this, what will _really_ enable us to become superhuman, if we aren’t already some level of this concept, is knowledge – science, and rationality. It is known that one of the most critical instruments to our evolution was the ability to write. What that did, was enable us to compile, archive, and pass on our knowledge. For the coming generation, to stand and see not only on the shoulders of the stories of their elders, but the shoulders of millenia of growing and accumulating thoughts.
[cracked article]
And only around four to five centuries ago did we start to think critically enough, to be aware of what we know and how we know it. I am pretty sure I can say that this has cause an unequivocal rapid increase in the general progress of knowledge, and simultaneously, humanity. The rise in life span, living conditions of the average human, and how far we’ve reached into outer space.
So there are two things we’re going for, that we need to not forget.
The first being, that we’re doing this for ourselves. For humanity, and general life. This is what we have, and what we need to forge ahead with. Why we need compassion. And love. This is something I severely lack really, so I think you shuold substantiate this for me.
And the second thing, is ahead, far far ahead, beyond the horizon, we believe that we will transcend a boundary. It might not be anything conclusive. It should not be, I believe. It’ll probably be like the first moon landing. A small step for one man, a giant leap for mankind. We will have come a long way, and there will always be something ahead to go to, to look ahead into.
The tool, and task we have to accomplish this, is [refine] our mind, our intellect. I do not know if this is what makes us unique, but there is really no such need, even. We have this. We need to think, be not stupid, work to increase/improve the world’s cumulative knowledge, and empower ourselves to up, up and beyond.

Really, your hopelessness and nihilism might turn out to be right all along. And we might all just die in vain. It’ll only be so much fun if all you did throughout the ride was scream and be happy while just accepting that it’ll end at the same place it began. If we have the option of believing we can break the roller coaster off the track and into the skies, and work to make it happen, why the hell not. We’ve been made to sit on the ride anyway. That’ll make it a hell of a ride. And worth spending the time.

Meaningless Megalomania - SMBC Comics

Because I like to repeat and rephrase, again and again. Once more.
Hold your hands. Respect life, and give it utmost value. It is your tool, weapon, and all you have.
Enjoy the ride you are on. But don’t believe that it has to end, that you have to come back with no change really. Do what you can to change it, loose some screws, rock the boat, and tell everybody to do more.
Believe that you can make this ship you’re floating on, fly. And there’s a wonderful sky above. Look above occasionally to appreciate the beauty, and then get to making it happen. Hell yeah.

—-
This comes 3-4 days after I first wrote this essay. I find this delightful, that it’s happening. I also felt a bit sad to read the linked article about how Google did try to do something radical with green energy but gave up because they felt they were failing. But I find it most jarring/sad, is that an author for the MIT Tech Review, writes this article, and does not hesitate from putting “LOL” in the title. It’s odd that this is so much outside the scope of normal human thought. To manage real progress, we’d have to believe in the possibility of a utopia, or at least getting closer to one. There’s really no point in staying alive, otherwise.


In a similar time span, this comes to my attention. Which sounds beautiful, amazing, and everything good all at once. There are people not only dreaming of this, but making it happen. There needs to be more people who work at this end, for this to be meaningfully accepted, and be a useful part of our system, rather than just something lazy slobs take up to be smug with their lives. But it’s great nevertheless.

Another comic on the SMBC one’s lines.

 

What I want to do in my life

I like being/interacting with people. I don’t think it’s particularly productive, but I find it personally pleasing.

Pleasure is definitely something one should be living for. Largely, if not entirely.
Playing, eating delicious food, music, reading, thinking, people, all that stuff.

Learning, I believe, is another thing one should live for. ~Expand on this at some indefinite point of time in the future.~
I do not know clearly why, but I believe the ability to think, is of a great value. It is kind of what… makes us human, I think, in some weird short-sighted/egocentric view. One must try to enhance one’s personal knowledge and experiences, and as far as possible, the sum total of human knowledge/wisdom/thoughts. As G.H. Hardy’s quote, for me, implies, the most important, and everlasting things, are new ideas.

“A mathematician, like a painter or a poet, is a creator of patterns. If his patterns are more permanent than those of others, it is because they are made up of ideas.”

– G.H. Hardy

Compassion, I have come to believe, is a legit thing to uphold with importance, in one’s life. To empathise with the world’s (beings’) pains, life, and try to cause an overall betterment. I can be as focussed/narrow as helping one’s own self, or family, to slightly wider in trying to help the poor people; to being as wide as the entire span of all living things (as far as possible without conflict of interest), and work for the betterment of their conditions. The rational Harry, seems to have programmed himself to hold sentience, with an incredibly high regard. I can’t see precisely why, but it seems like a nice moral to stand by.
† I recently kinda buried a kitten. Essentially we just carried it downstairs in a plastic bag, and tossed it into the grass.

We had played with the kitten. There were two things that went by me. One, was that I was able to look at the body of the cat, and wonder why there had happened to become large holes of wounds on its body. Others around me couldn’t bear to, as a mixture of sadness and disgust. I could not understand what switch I lacked in my head, that I felt no such disgust in particular except wanting to know why that wound was there, when I was looking at it carefully. The other feeling, of sorrow, was fairly interesting. It was perhaps subdued because I did not have any strong attachment with the kitten. But there was still a soft feeling of loss. Some of it was simply of the lack of the fairly cute and fun kitten in the room. But there was some feeling of the loss of a being. It was perhaps rather forced. I see it as a rather voluntary and conscious thought. But nevertheless, there was a life in that body, which was lost. I felt sad.

And the vaguest term, the thing that seems to be of greatest importance – of objective value – to have in one’s life, I glean, is productivity. There is seemingly no value of a person, not just in a capitalist, consumerist society; but in the basic carnal, physical (and possibly even spiritual) sense of the world, who is not producing. So perhaps, the main question is, what must you be producing?
What counts, as a good output?
Having listed the things above, the answer, albeit in subjective terms, appears to be rather clear.

One needs to work, in a way that is compassionate. Building with a ‘love’, for people/animals/things.
That helps in building the total knowledge of the world.
And in a way that one enjoys.

And doing the best that one can do. Doing the best that one believes can be done.

Nothing else, in my opinion and understanding of the world is lasting, or more importantly, matters.

 

I want life, to be worth living

I want to experience a genuinely life threatening experience. Where my decisions, and those of around me, are literally, matters of life and death.
Movies are replete with such scenarios. All of drama and literature around us, especially the good sort, makes everything that happens in the story, critical, and essential.
How many chances does one get, to really make a decision that will affect his chances of life or death, in a substantial manner? I want the chance, to be able to literally value my life. To be clearly aware of the possibility of dying.
I don’t know why. There is that silly statement – toss a coin to make a decision, so you’ll know what you want to do depending on which side you’re hoping for. I’m rarely in a scenario so stupid that I need to resort o a coin toss, but even if I am, I can easily distract myself by the coin itself (probabilities? I’d much more often be tossing a coin simple to see how the results’ distribution wavers from, and still tries to remain close to half, and so on), to the extent that any hope or feeling about the decision is stalled till a side of the coin comes up. Though I’m much better with simply weighing pros and cons.
Just like that, I also think that in facing death, it’ll be rather easy to preoccupy oneself with avoiding death, such we’ll not be aware why we’re running away from death at all. What is there in life, towards which we’re running? Or are we literally just driving our lives away from death? Doesn’t the truth of this, feel horrible?
I want to be get a jolt of feeling. Something that tells me everything that I have. What really is my life worth living for? Why go on at all?
What will I most noticeably value if I was about to die. What reason will I have, to want to live? It feels terrible that I don’t already have an answer to this. I can’t concretely say, that this is something, apart from just generally having fun, for which I will defend my life. I will fight for my life.
I personally like that line a lot. You should live, for something worth dying for. That the purpose, is so strong, so overarching, that I can confidently die, if I know that it is a step to complete this job. It must be a beautiful feeling. Say, when the freedom fighters, swore their lives for the nation’s freedom.

Without a purpose, this entire life is such a waste. What am I breathing for? eating or drinking for?
I don’t think it’ll be any time soon, when I will know what I should be living for.
I hope I find it soon. I hope you find it soon. And we will die for – and when – our purpose shall be fulfilled.

 

About speech and symbols

You may have seen this pretty funny narration by Russel Peters.

When I was thinking about thinking about how people listen to, and comprehend phonetics, and how it is influenced by their own speech habits, one of the things I noticed was that people seem to hear the same sound, my pronunciation of my name, differently (with respect to how I believe I pronounced it). I don’t know at what step their comprehension of the sounds change. Because the agents involved which matter, include their comprehension of the word, and association with something they have heard before. And secondly, the only way I know what they heard, is how they say it back to me. It was most pronounced (as in, noticeable) when Mo heard my name, and tried to spell it, by writing it on the board. I’m not sure what he wrote, but as far as I remember, it was on the lines of Vasheesh. I don’t know why that happened, but that’s how stuff seems to happen. You know what’s most freaky about this? It’s like the colour you might be calling red, might be entirely different from what I call red, and we won’t know until we’re naming the identical colour in front of each other. Maybe kids should be trained to identify sounds and corresponding symbols/phonetics too, like is done with colours.

And on that note, I come back to the thought regarding which I put that video in there. That African dude, in English expressed that pronunciation (apparently) with an !x. But that’s no symbol in English that we’re taught to comprehend, right? I’m fairly certain that in whatever native script he writes his name, there exists a well defined symbol for that pronunciation. Which makes me think, why not such a symbol in English? Or Hindi?

One what basis, did the makers of the language choose this belief for what would be the consonants, the basics of the pronunciation of all the words to exist, and decide that these are adequately many. Clearly, the hindi script with 33 consonants (and not just because of the number) covers many more pronunciations as basic, as compared to the English alphabet, with just 21 consonants. The dude behind the Hindi alphabet definitely was more organized and did his job with deeper thought (I’m not going to say it’s much ‘superior’ to English, because the English alphabet is much more made by evolution over ages, rather than a singular focussed job, which was probably the case with Sanskrit and that Panini dude (and just pre-emptively, I know he’s primarily the grammar dude, but he probably did contribute to the preparation of the alphabet or something)), which is probably why I did mention that the Hindi alphabet even has some worth in memorizing, as opposed to the English alphabet.

But nobody I know (apart from the Africans it seems) so far has been meticulous enough to include pronunciations in their language, like a click.  how badass is that. The only (escapist) reasoning I can imagine for this, is that most pronunciations out of our normal voicebox can, in effect, be expressed using the symbols (and in the case of English, accent marks) that are covered in the alphabet. And they thought that’s enough. But bleh. Losers.

You know other pronunciations which aren’t really out of the larynx, and I think deserve symbols? The ‘tch’ sound. And the cluck (generally used to express disapproval or disagreement). Do tell if you would like having a more fundamental symbol to explain a standard pronunciation you like (or don’t like) to make.

Random note: Mandarin, as far as I can tell, doesn’t seem to be made out of basic letters of pronunciation at all. It seems to be made of glyphs which stand for words or phrases in entirety. I wonder then, how they decided how to pronounce whichever symbol. And how they choose to build new words and choose their pronunciation. Seems kind of living on the edge, if you know what I mean. 😛

 

Titled: Rant

How I, wasted my life so far.

I often blame others for poor circumstances in my life. It is sometimes a matter of compulsion for me to believe, that an incorrect or bad or misappropriate decision for my life was made by somebody else. This is incredibly often true for things my family chooses for me, because I am the lame kind of stuck up, as well as laid back kind of guy, whom you wouldn’t normally find, who simply to avoid inconveniene in his life, lets his family decide for himself. The family is rather cool – they don’t really impose their decision as much as should ideally be required for me to concede, but I let them do it. Isn’t family, especially the experienced elders, supposed to make a better more informed decision than I?

That’s not what this is about. This is actually supposed to be a rant on how remarkably stupid our purivew about ‘education’ and life experiences are. And how I objectively (as far as possible) figured out why I cared so much about what kind of friends I will make at the colleges I go to.

I spent the first upto class 10 being a lame stupid kid. I probably have not been as lame as other people probably have been – by which I mean, that I’m rather sure there exist people who spent upto class 10, with as much or more facilities than I had, being much lamer. That only offers the slightest reprieve to me. Because I know that a lot of people spent upto class 10, with as much or fewer facilities than I had, doing far cooler stuff. And I could blame my family for that too. But I don’t like to. I hate blaming others for circumstances in my life. I do it, especially a lot lately, but I hate myself for that. Because any mistake in my life is and can only be my fault. So I believe. Plus, even for the upto class 10 lameness, I really ahve only myself to blame, because I definitely had an above average exposure to random cool stuff I should’ve wasted my time doing, which my brother’d told me about, but I was too lame to understand then.
And by class 11, I like to think I had some semblance of thought and instances of coolness in me. I was still remarkably lame (mostly still am, but definitely was back then). But I thought, we will do cool stuff along side this lameness called the JEE preparation. It was still, theoretically, only supposed to be a learning experience wasn’t it?
It probably was/is. Though I wouldn’t advise it to anyone. At all.
It is probably a better learning experience than a lot of other experiences go, like some of my somewhat lame ‘friends’ (read: acquaintances) who did not do anything else cool in their life, studied for the boards and the ‘AIEEE’. I can particularly say that because I’m pretty sure I did better than them even in that one exam they studied for with particular focus. But that’s again off topic.

But that’s not a learning experience worth wasting one’s time, life, and everything of two years with. For some reason, my brother did, and probably still believes, that the JEE prep and IIT experience is worth putting an effort for. Maybe I’ll get out of IIT some experiences better than I would get out of other IIT colleges. Maybe I was so laid back/stupid/whatever-might-cause-whatever-happened-and-which-I-probably-shouldn’t-be, that I didn’t even get out of the JEE coaching stuff whatever I ought to have, and probably why I failed in the JEE, and why I’m so (self inducedly) sad with the follow up consequence.

But what I believe, after seeing really cool people do their thing, dance, or sing, or hike, and/or play Dominion or whatever else, along with doing math, or probably whatever else they want to do, and nothing else if so they choose that: one, it is important to, at least some extent, be decisively sure about what learning experience one really wants or values – the JEE coaching thing can be, for the sake of lyricism, ba called a journey through which I experience lots of failures, very few successes, but don’t really remember _learning_ anyhing valuable. You have a free of cost life, and lots of not very costly routes you can take to experience failure, and even get monetary or other more satisfactory returns than an idiotic notion of getting good marks, in a test testing absolutely nothing that will be of any value to you in pretty much any of your remaining ‘real life’. I probably didn’t have the exposure, or surity, that I could say I definitely want to do math, or whatever it is I want to do (which I’m tempted to say is math, but still can’t be infinitely sure). An experience is just a superficial thing.

 
Experiences are perhaps what we live our life for, so just taking on a journey because it has experiences, which you don’t know the quality or return pleasure value of, is stupid.

Experiences

I believe that I live essentially for the experience of life. It’s fun. Sometimes it’s not. But as the hypothetical ‘they’ say it, that’s life. But it’s rather clear that one should try and optimize one’s life for maximum fun. Not for some superficial kind of maximum experiences. I will do this simply because it’s an experience. That’s probably okay if you’re trying out a new piece of food, because it’s likely you’ll like it (unless you aren’t the experimental and liking new food kind of guy I am), but probable that you won’t like it too. It’s stupid when you take up JEE coaching because you believe it’ll be an experience, alongside which you’ll be able to do other cool stuff you dream of doing. It, or so I believe by coming this far (which isn’t really far, it’s just an exasperatingly slowly covered little distance), is extremely stupid to take up the JEE experience, screw your life for two years, in hope for a probable four years of more enjoyable experience. It doesn’t remotely, seem worth it. It’s okay if doing the JEE thing is so beneath you, in terms of aptitude and capability, that you will pull it off simply by virtue of your coolness, and aren’t really missing out on any piece of your life in the parallel time period. But you must make sure you’re not overestimating yourself when you believe that in yourself. And I can tell you if you actually believe that, you’re almost definitely overestimating yourself. Not because the JEE is tougher than you think (it probably is, though my brother says it isn’t), but because when you’re cool, you don’t really acknowledge it or are even aware of it – you just are. That’s mostly what I believe from the extremely cool people I’ve seen al around me, and have felt pissed at how uncool I am. But my obsession with being cool is probably the clear reason why I am not cool enough.

So, when you pick on a life experience, think thoroughly about what you want out of it. The JEE is not, by my standards or interests, a learning experience. It is an experience, which was unduly sorrowful and not fun for me. But it is not a learning experience. Like school. School was a fun experience for me. I learnt stuff, but _school_ per se, was not the learning experience. I learnt out of my experiences. When I say learning experience, (and I did not know this explicitly when I got into the JEE thing thinking it’s a learning experience), I mean an experience in which I get to indulge in reckless learning. Learning, like an other experience, holistically seems entirely equivalent to getting to do bungee jumping or any other experience – they have a similar thrill, fun and factor of newness. I haven’t done bungee jumping, but I have had a few learning experiences. I can’t imagine the former being any *much* more fun.
A suitable learning experience, is apparently, rare, and tough to pick. It’s not easy to tell, that you’re really going to learng nothing with a particular focus in the JEE coaching, and it will end up being a lot like school – a jumble of entirely pointless ‘studies’ which you’re doing simply to pass an exam at the end of the ‘journey’.
A real experience is wholly contained within itself. Counterinituitively though, on R^2 with a usual topology, every experience is like an open set. There is a neighbourhood around every point, and it is not bounded. It is within itself, but with no pin-pointable boundary.
So if the JEE is a closed set, with an idiotic bound at the JEE, it is sequentially closed at the same event, but it’s complement is what’s really fun. =)

 

 

 

 

 

Being a global communicator

I just noticed how it is an effort for me to talk to pretty much any of the Assamese people.
Ziv said a very interesting thing: People with their own accents and language, actually ‘hear differently’. I thought the problem was only an incapability of rendering the same pronunciation I was saying. I say my name is, most elementarily broken, ‘Wish-aysh’. The latter half’s vowel pronunciation, in the rare case that you don’t understand, is pretty much the standard way any one enunciates ‘A’ as the first letter of the alphabet.
There were three different pronunications the Americans piked up on pronouncing my name. The few people who knew my name by spelling and tried to generate the phonetics for themselves, pronounced it a Veesh-aaish. The aai is the best approximation I can think of, for a stretched ay sound almost like the vowel part of ‘ack!’. That was David [Roe] and Susan, as far as I remember. Then there was a mixture of Wish-eesh (which I find the most acceptable incorrect pronunciation, because I spell my name with an ‘e’, which pronounced like an… e, is mostly fine), and Vaash-eesh. That was the most confusing. I would say my name and this was one of the most common things they heard my name as. And I’m pretty sure it is not a fault of my speech, because people in India can understand my name rather easily.
Also because the best pronunciation Dan and a few others picked up because I spent some extra time getting my name across to them, and because Henry made up funny ways of saying it, went like Veesh-aysh. Next time I meet them, I need to tell them about the shorter e in the first half of my name. I was also envious about how I didn’t have as cool a single-syllable name as all of htem have. My name is so pointlessly.
Another interesting thing happened recently which had happened before, but I hadn’t noticed it in the same context. Proper regional Biharis are compelled to pronounce my name first as Bish-aysh. It’s not like they can’t say V. It’s just that they default hear any V as B. And try to say it like that. They would only switch to V when it seems compulsory. B apparently, on some level, is a more convenient consonant to pronounce.

So, the point of this narration, was less to get across the correct pronunciation of my name – more to comment on how it is not entirely easy to talk to Americans – I need to repeat myself occasionally if they weren’t paying enough attention; or even with locals of Indian states. I momentarily felt annoyed. I seem to not ‘belong’ to any place, where I can be comprehended easily. And I just realized that I do. It’s been a long time since I spent time there, but I really do belong in Delhi, in terms of communication. Also the really cool part about that is, I can talk, to a large extent, anywhere with Hindi, and/or English. I saw the point/coolness of being ‘global’. Of being in a metro where the kind of exposure I have had, does not regionally localize me, because if I were able to talk perfectly to Americans or to the Assamese, my communiction with the other would be much more dithered, and undesirably tilted towards incomprehensibility.

 

I believe in magic (and some college-hatred)

This will not be about what it was supposed to be. It was supposed to be about how much IIT Guwahati and its hostel sucks balls. And how I hate my life, feel suicidally depressed, and terrible, for having landed myself in such a situation. And how, at a certain point of time, I was actually stuck in a rut how trying to blame myself rather than my parents for my ending up at a place so undesirable in nearly all criteria. That was what it was supposed to be about. But it will not be.

Lately I received lots of pep talks. Talks only seem like pep talks when you’re depressed or sad or feel like you really need one. I have recently been feeling an unusual excess of sadness too. Maybe it’s with how I’ve been sucking up my life more than usual. Maybe it’s that just-getting-out-of-teen age. Which is maybe equivalent to the next maybe option of maybe life hasn’t given me as much ‘challenging’ or ‘depressing’ situations before. Maybe, though by most chances I believe, it’s just that I haven’t been taking been taking sorrow and ‘stress’ and stupid things seriously so far. And I don’t think I ought to. I also think I haven’t been taking lots of life-ey things seriously, since a long time probably, which maybe I ought to. Somewhat. At least a bit more. But apart from that, stuff’s cool – always ought to be, and always will be. Unless I choose to believe it’s not.

For the sake of lyrics I’d say IIT Guwahati is [cool] – but I don’t say this because of the specifics of my brother’s recent pep talk which causes this essay to not be about what it was supposed to be – so, I have to say: any thing is, what we choose to make of it. I’d believe that anyways much more than anybody else I usually know. But I might have to put this in a better setting, and mix this with a story that was supposed to be distinct, to make it much more profound.

Here’s the other story (which was written right in between this other post, but is a distinct story. Yes, I’m that cool.):
I believe in magic. And not Science. 😮
Magicians never surprised me. That might clearly be an overstatement, but I never had a problem in believing that if there is not a clear mechanical trick or so called ‘sleight of hand’ involved, it might very easily be ‘real magic’ – something that science can’t explain and would mostly be compelled to call paraphysics or something. I mean, I really like the concept of The Matrix – and I’m not saying the part where machines are harvesting humans for energy. The part where ‘there is no spoon’. And the part where the ‘rules of nature’ are simply established by a program which creates the ‘illusion’ of a life for us. I mean, among other things, because I was recently exposed to some thought about quantum physics, I would draw a parallel with how it almost makes sense, that physicists find lack of elegance and overcomplication a valid enough reason to not like a theory to believe in. Because if anybody made a program to describe the universe (which by most chances somebody did), he (or she) would try to make it as elegant, simple, and least default memory using. Least runtime memory too, I’d believe, but I guess you get the point.
That part. It might be because I never grew out of the I-believe-in-fairy-tales-age. Oh yes, I really do (believe in fairy tales, that is). It is also supported because I once got to participate in an activity like that. Where four people (including me) raised a rather heavy person, each of us using just pairs of fingers. And we weren’t using clever physics, balancing, or supporting ropes. We were made to do the equivalent of meditate, and we just did that.
That’s not what this story is about at all (well, it probably is somewhat, but not really.)
This is about how I recently got this amazing thing called a folliculitis. Now if you aren’t clever (in temrs of vocabulary), haven’t heard or read of it before, and just imagine the doctor saying it to you in a somewhat heavy accent, you’d think it was something. It’s preceding symptom, I can tell you, even moreso.

On a slightly irrelevant note, I rarely got ill after I broke my head two years ago. And yes, the second anniversary of my skull (mastoid, specifically) fracture, is on the coming 13th of September. Meet me, greet me, gift me.
By rarely got ill, I mean I spent the winters extremely often without sweaters, and didn’t get a cold beyond occasional coughs. And that coincided wth the time when my belief in magic got far too strengthened because of myself, Richard Bach, and random stuff.

So, it started with an extremely arbitrary and painful swelling in the back of my head. And that swelling grew radically within a period of three days. Scarily so. It swelled, and it got more and more painful. So much so, that by the time I’d decided going to the doctor, I was entirely looking forward to finding myself having brain tumour, or something comparably cool. 😉
What was unusual was that I had gotten used to willing my ailments away, mainly cause they had been so insignificant – I would have coughs, I would believe that I wanted to be healed, and that they weren’t there anymore, and within a day it would be so. So my whimsical self liked to believe, of course. This swelling, wasn’t as easy to believe in the absence of (if you get what I mean). And I finally went to the doctor. And he used this scary (sounding) name, wrote it in a mostly inscutable scrawl that is customary of doctors, and gave me an antibiotic.
My mother believes in popping pills randomly, whenever she feels like them. That is not really true, not at all like how I make it sound, but I still like to make it sound like that. She self medicates in antibiotics, for random pieces of time, so on and so forth. I believe in a rigor in medicine – antibiotics are supposed to be prescribed, and consumed for the directed amount of time, and not more or less, without instruction. Not that I believe in medicines. I like placebo tests, the statistics behind them and how it works, and how homeopathy fails placebo tests and random stuff like that. But I don’t believe in medicines, and in that they work. And I took that pill for a week, and _it “magically” fixed_. You have no idea how stunned, impressed and weirdly happy I was. I found it incredible that medicines actually work. And on a bit of meta-though – I was surprised at my own surprise. Did I really believe in magic and _not_ in science? For some reason (that I know or think truly justifies my belief, but is beyond the depth of this article to discuss), I believe in magic and not in science. And I can’t remember what else I’m supposed to tell you here, so I’ll just tell you that folliculitis turned out to be the name of an inflammation of a follicle. Not _the_ follicle. _A_ follicle. A swelling of the bloody small dot any of my hair grows out of. That ridiculously lame. And I was hoping brain tumour. What terrible poor luck I have.

So that incident made me try to abandon my stark belief in magic, and try and believe a bit in science too. I did recall how whenever math worked/works, I felt happy and surprised. The VM tests, and I’m pretty sure the JEE, and every exam, actually fits the Gaussian Curve (or Erlang distribution, I don’t remember/know for sure). How cool. I still do. Math can be established by experiment. Especially shit like probability. How far fetched bizarre, and unusual. Don’t you think?

 

 

Solving life (momentarily, and only in a narcissistic sense)

Every failure in my life is my own fault. And I will change that.

My life is in my own hand.

Travel doesn’t seem to help, except provide me with lots of wasteful time. In-flight entertainment being the most banal of them all.
Solution to my life:
(precursor: I don’t want to leave it to a last moment decision. :/ But that’s the best I’ve figured out yet.)

DCE does seem better than B.Des.

Merits of B.des.:
I will learn stuff about design – Ps skills and things, which I will definitely use in the rest of my life; web designing; and will be involved in cool projects. None of them I will fail to do in my real life.
Demerits – not a science degree. I lose out on other’s opinion, and programmes which are science specific.

I feel so lame, because the answer just slipped out of my hand again.

Because apart from getting to be trained in math, the one thing I imagine would be tough to do myself, the only merit of dce is a science degree. And rare chances I even find any cool people. :(

Doing math is in my hands. Doing design in my hands (even more so).
Being in cool projects is in my hands, doing awesome math is in my hands, and just being amazing is my thing.

So what do I want out of college?
I want a superficial degree. And courses.
The courses are supposed to help me do/learn math (or design, but the former is tougher for me), in an organized manner – one so I’m formally trained in it, two so I can claim to have course experience for further studies.
Ooh, I also want to study semiconductors and all.

And I want company. But Uncollege says that not tough to find. I’m going to mathcamp. I’ll find awesome people where ever go. Because I am awesome.

So we’re joining DCE unless we get a science degree at an IIT. Basically anything better. It seems I am in optimizedly worst case scenario in my life, where everything has to dangle down to last moment deicisions.
But that’s cool.
This too shall pass. And we’ll always remain awesome.

 

The prequel to Goodbye JEE: Sucky Education systems

So, today I’ll tell you what the problem with the education system really is. Obviously it’s not that many exams like the boards and the JEE stress the students. Please. If people can commit suicide after/due to failing in the class X boards, you can do nothing to remove the stress of children. The stress is a problem. But their cause is not the exams. Point one.

The aim of the life of a student, it seems, is to get marks in exams. My parents have actually used almost exactly those words at times – “We have so many duties to fulfill in our life. We ask you to just do one thing. Study and do well in your exams.” Right now, I find the possibility of this statement ever having existed, humorously ludicrous. But I’m fairly sure it was said to me. And I kind of accepted it. Kind of. In that I never really ended up getting marks (I probably didn’t study either, but that’s very arguable and subjective. What can you say for sure? I surely didn’t get marks (up to my parents’ standards, that is. But I won’t argue about the subjectivity of that. I shared their disappointment, so let’s accept those standards as an absolute) And my mother definitely did say to me that not getting marks was a definite indication of not having studied well enough). This might not be impressed upon everybody as explicitly, but every student in school (at least ‘above’ a certain level of… caring about… I don’t know… marks) thought that getting marks is not just an obligation, it’s a duty. I don’t disagree, really. If you’re going to school, getting marks is a fair enough thing to choose as your job. For starters, that’s what everybody thinks ought to be your job. And secondly, it makes you employable. Somewhat. At least in theory, you can claim your marks, and either get a job directly (if you’re in some kind of a hurry) or you can claim your marks and get into a college, and get some more marks there, and claim those, and either continue to become a post graduate and get some more marks, and then get a job, or have spent an adequate amount of time having lost your mind, and go ahead and do a doctorate, and become a university professor. (On a side note, my school’s head of department of mathematics claimed to be a Dr. If she actually got a doctorate in math, and ended up as a school teacher, I would imagine many possible remarks about her performance, or the college she got that from, but shortly put, God save humanity.) So in an indirect, twisted manner, marks are making you employable. Yay, go examinations.
For 12 to 16 to 18 years of our life, our parents pay schools, to prepare us to be in a status where we can pay for ourselves. And eventually make kids of our own for whom we pay schools so they can get out of the schools to pay for themselves. It’s a nice self perpetuating thing.
What happens in this time span? We push off, for ourselves, the point of time where we’d be busy making ourselves survive on our own capacities. In theory, we’re spending more time to generate a greater worth for when we get into having a job, we’ll be paid better. But rarely, if ever, can that really happen in an education system. Where can it happen? In a place where you do stuff. Not school. Outside of school. That place you’re delaying being in. That’s the place that’s going to determine and build whatever relevant faculty you need/have to survive there. Unless you want to be a school teacher/professor/something on those lines. Then, following school and college makes some kind of sense. Though even there, I don’t think that’s the best way to be an accomplished academician or professor or thing.

Going back to the self perpetuating process: It’s all nice, except that I believe the fundamental problem, is somewhere in the start. And somewhere before it as well. I don’t know why schools exist, and I don’t know why everybody collectively started believing that one’s job should be to get marks.

/strikeout{I’ll tell what reasoning I think is given. Schools were made to mass educate children, with basic skills, so that they could all be said to have such and such knowledge, and have the basic aptitude to be able to do this class of tasks. Because, somebody thought that _everybody_, should really know this stuff and that. Really. They can’t be worth anything if they don’t know this stuff! And then exams came out of the}

The rationale behind school is something on the lines of training children with basic skills essential to whatever they may want to do in their lives. The point of examinations is to gauge how competent in the same skill, the people managed to become, so that this measurement can be used to variegate the value of employing their skill in something hopefully relevant. Sadly, this system, if ever sensible for the existing layout, is definitely not appropriate for today. There are few things that make you competent, at probably any point of time (in civilization). Basic skills, I find it hard to imagine, were one of these essentials. Today, you do not need to have a basic skill level to be able to do things. You do not _need_ to know a programming language, to be an able programmer (at least no in the algorithmic problem solving capability.) You can always learn whatever language you need to use, to solve a problem, as and when you require it. You need to be able to solve the problem. And you don’t need to know how to solve problems, off textbooks.

Being asked a problem in reality, is generally somebody looking for an answer. Not somebody who knows the answer and is testing if you can tell him the same thing back. Because he did tell you that answer at a previous point of time.

In today’s world, school has no meaning. It is teaching nothing of any value, and is doing nothing except stuffing people with idiotic prejudices and opinions about what matters (not about stuff that matters. Fill with opinions making people believe that weird entirely irrelevant stuff matters. Media does a better job of that perhaps but school is one of the places we’re also conditioned to believe in that the media is important and we ought to pay attention to news). I mean, in India, people aren’t even gleaning knowledge from the education system. People still believe in the left brain-right brain theory, and we’re still taught the diagram of taste buds on the tongue (last I checked, to say the least) – and it’s not like the books aren’t doing anything to dispel these myths, however pointless knowing them, or of their accuracy, might be – more often than not our books teach these things.

So, having lost track of what I started with almost entirely, I’ll just say that again, and assume that point to be concluded. The aim of a student’s life happens to have ended up being, obtaining marks. With almost no purposeful sub-aim as part of the education system. To do anything better, you need to break out from the system. And you’re not doing anything a teacher, or the system expects you to be doing, or is probably even remotely capable of helping you do.

The second point, with regard to what the problem is (having stress, and people thinking exams are the cause), is that the students aren’t having fun. Now I could go on and on about how students could having fun. By doing something that they want to, for starters. And being able to pursue it in whichever crazy direction they want to go ahead with it. However purposeful, or for the random sake of it, it may seem to be being done. Of course, there are a lot of reasons for why, doing that is not feasible. Teachers aren’t smart enough, might be one of the noticeable reasons, though only one which comes at the end. Of course there are other things. How can we call this school? School is supposed to be a painful experience by definition, right? It’s supposed to be all the pains we learn to manage, so we can cope with doing th work in our elderly lives, doing things we don’t want to, have no passion for, because that’s what school conditioned us excellently for. Who has the right, to do whatever they want to, huh? How could school drive this ridiculous notion ever? Of letting students have fun, and do whatever they want to.

How would you test a process like making glass paintings, or composing music, or designing logos for companies and stuff, if that’s what somebody picked as their activity of interest? I mean, at one location or another, in specialist schools too, they do make a testing procedure out of these things. I don’t think they do much to actually make the person more excellent. I don’t think Coldplay, or Rahman, reached the level of doing things that they do, because of any school examination. They reached their levels, simply by doing their thing. I don’t think they even went to any kind of music school. And I’m not saying school would’ve been bad, if it helped them get exposure to the techniques of playing instruments. It would’ve been bad if it imposed upon them a need to learn stuff they didn’t feel like, to a depth they thought unimportant, with the aim of being able to pass the final exams.
Oh wait. It seems like I succumbed to saying exams are all wrong too. So of course, the next logical deduction should be, let’s make exams to be easy so people aren’t stressed with facing them. Oh we’ll make them objective too, so you can ask one or another kid around you. We’ll pretend we don’t want that, with pretentiously strict invigilation and everything. Because we have money, and we like to spend it. So why not on teachers who have nothing in their lives except to sit in a classroom for 18 hours, 3 hours for six days in a span of 2 or 3 weeks, doing essentially nothing. I find it appalling that creatures like those exist at all. Couldn’t they earn more in that time, simply by begging on the streets? At least they’d not begin to die of that sedentary and jobless lifestyle. That’s kind of what the board seems to lean towards. The exams becoming lame and easy, being the more important part, than the invigilation.
No. The fix is not necessarily to remove exams. Or make them easier. The aim, should be to make them: one, fun; and two, challenging. Kids likes challenges. Look at any kid and how he tries to lap up things you say are out of syllabus, especially in a topic he finds interesting. I liked math. If a teacher offered to teach something out of syllabus, I’d be far more interested in that than anything else. And I’m pretty sure anybody who’s been interested in any subject, knows about that eagerness. Don’t try and challenge a kid wrt everything. Challenge him in what he’s interested in. I like math. Then don’t ask me to sit for exams apart from math. And the math exam that is, should not be a 3 hour stretch of repeating rote techniques I’ve been trained to perform. It should be a year-long work on a problem, as tough as I can try to handle – or maybe tougher – and one in which I can collaborate with every person I can find, in whatever way I can think of. That’s how I understand real world problems are faced. Maybe not with year-long time lines, but pretty much how. How much a kid proceeds with this problem set given to him, is a perfectly valid way to gauge his competency [so I believe, of course]. Sitting in an exam hall and attempting questions? Rarely, if ever.
When one fantasizes about such things, it is more than trivial to accept that it is almost impossible for a real world school to work like that. Among other reasons, because my structure, I myself don’t think encompasses everybody. Even if schools never wasted their time suppressing the creativity of the students and desire to do whatever they want to – I don’t think every person will be able to find a direction. I don’t know how to account for them. If you set a lower bound on coolness: if you’re any lamer than the current education system and you can literally go kill yourself, that’s a system that works on good enough. Whatever we’ve done, is good enough. Let’s try and drive this need of good enough even lower into the ground. Let’s not ask the students to study for a JEE to get into an IIT, but study for an ISEET. In Seth Godin’s words, we are running a race to the bottom. Where the least we expect out of students, amongst other things, are as worthless as can be. When does this end? It ends for the very best, when schools (and all education systems) finally realize that they’re not really helping. It is almost completely impossible for them to serve any real purpose.
So, what’s the point I’ve been driving at? That people should realize schools aren’t important. They shouldn’t even exist. People should understand, that learning and experiences are. And that’s what children should be conditioned to love, to want to indulge in, all the time. Fun is foremost. And we should be taught, from the day zero, to have fun. Given some guidance, on fun. But never restrained. Never told that the real life is supposed to be work, the very opposite of fun, and things like that.
And following up on that, school should be fun, and really worth it too.

//You may or may not be able to tell this post was written over numerous days of entirely discoordinated and broken thought. If it doesn’t make sense, and/or appears totally incomplete, you only have me to blame. You’re welcome to point out any such things, if you’re in a shortage of other more relevant things to point out to me, in any case.