Random Thoughts

M vs. M; They Fiddled When Rome Drowned

M vs. M
They Fiddled When Rome Drowned
Creativity and Dim Bulbs
Anatomy of Applause
Eating and Swallowing
Just One of 3 R’s May Survive
Balls Falls, Ontario
Think it Through

M vs. M

You may laugh at it or cry over it, an inexorable attribute of our polity as of now is that who is the future PM of India will largely be determine by two M’s of UP. Yes, Mulayam Singh and Mayawati. So whether another M – here I’m referring to Modi, Narendra Modi – will dominate the national scene after 2014, will be decided by the efforts of another two M’s – Mistry and AMIT Shah.

Gujubhai Madhusudan Mistry of all the people in the world has been selected by Rahul Baba to spearhead the revival of the practically defunct Congress Party in UP. Won’t he start with the outsider tag? Other stalwarts in the Party had their own favourites. Well, Rahul Baba knows better. Anyhow, as of now it appears that Mistry will have to fight on two fronts simultaneously: discontented remnants of the Congress establishment and, if there’s still time, Amit Shah, Modi’s Man Friday.

Altogether there are perfect ingredients for the famous UP political khitchri – the speciality dish of the state.

I can make a safe prediction. You can put your money – as I propose to put mine – on a Gujarati to be the winner.

They Fiddled When Rome Drowned

What do you deem is more important: loyalty or competence? Loyalty can always be fake and opportunistic. Well, I’m assuming it is genuine. Competence needs no proof other than results to vindicate or repudiate it.

Which of the two attributes is more important in the estimation of Rahul Baba or for that matter in the official Congress Party guidebook of what’s what? Vijay Bahuguna was chosen over popular local boy, Harish Rawat by the Party High Command – a euphemism for Soniaji and the heir apparent - as chief minister of the tiny hill state of Uttarakhand more on account of loyalty than competence. How short he is on the latter criterion has been amply borne out by the perfect mismanagement of the relief measures after the devastating rains and floods ravaging the State.

It is reported that Prince Charming has now shown his displeasure to Bahuguna over how he handled the situation. But don’t forget the great inconvenience that the mess caused him personally. When the hell broke loose in the state, he was abroad celebrating his 4 3rd birthday. (How can our leaders celebrate their birthdays in the searing heat of Delhi? It must be in cooler climes and more congenial surroundings.) When the situation was fast worsening, Bahuguna himself slipped into Delhi planning a trip abroad to acquaint Rahul firsthand how things were. And of course all PR strings are pulled in Delhi. And next to managing the flood situation is the problem of managing the network of TV channels in the Capital.

Creativity and Dim Bulbs

All of us, except the exceptionally dull lot like me, have experienced creative moments of life. A new idea occurs, a bright scheme strikes you. Have you ever analysed if there was something special in those rare moments.

I’ve run into a study which says turn the lights low when you want to think creatively. A dimly lit environment, they explain in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, “elicits a feeling of freedom, self-determination, and reduced inhibition,” all of which encourage innovative thinking.

However, the researchers note, creativity consists of two distinct phases: generating ideas, and then analyzing and implementing them. The latter requires analytical thinking and, in a final experiment in their study, participants did better on that task when they were in a brightly lit room. Creativity may begin in the dark, but it shouldn’t end there.

Can you now imagine why the upper-end restaurants are dimly lit? Apart from not knowing what you’re really eating, you can think creatively what to do after the dinner. Don’t you let out the secret to your partner!

Anatomy of Applause

You always thought (as I did) that the amount of applause someone gets is proportionate to the degree of his performance (say, for instance, as a public speaker.) Here is something which will disillusion you. The BBC News tells us: “The quality of a performance does not drive the amount of applause an audience gives, a study suggests. Instead, scientists have found that clapping is contagious, and the length of an ovation is influenced by how other members of the crowd behave.”

Another study of applause almost confirms this: “They say it takes a few people to start clapping for applause to spread through a group, and then just one or two individuals to stop for it to die out.”

So the clever among our applause-hungry leaders must be planting few hirelings to set the ball of cheering and clapping and also make sure it doesn’t die its natural death.

Eating and Swallowing

Have you ever wondered how our eating habits have changed radically in recent years, in at least two distinct ways? First, we increasingly indulge in that accursed American style hopping from one to the other thing, called multitasking as we consume our meals, munching as we work at our desks or watch television. Secondly, and, to the dismay of nutritionists, our food has higher concentrations of sugar and salt.

There is according to the researchers a reason for the latter. People eating or drinking while mentally distracted or jumping from one task to the other without completing either require greater concentrations of sweetness, sourness or saltiness to feel pepped up. A mildly sweetened dessert may be delicious when you’re concentrating on each bite, but it tastes bland if you’re eating while your attention is fixed on the task next on the agenda of the day.

So, concentrate on eating when you’re on the dining table. Chores of the world never end and they would still be around when you’re gone.

Just One of 3 R’s May Survive

When I passed out of primary School – these days they say graduated – I was supposed to have learned at least three R’s – called Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. In those bad old days, arithmetic also included learning lot of mental calculations. We learned tables up to 20x20. So if necessary we could say in a split second that 19x18 =342. Today, if I ask my grandson the same he’ll immediately grab his smartphone and blur out the answer. And heavens forbid if he couldn’t access the electronic aids, he would take half an hour to figure out the answer. So, the arrival of the computer age dispensed with the need to learn one R.

Regrettably, another R is on the way to disappearing i.e., writing. I started my education with quill and inkpot. Today’s children haven’t heard of such things using which William Shakespeare scribbled his way to immortality. No need for any such pursuit. No place in today’s education for cursive handwriting. Just master the art and craft of effortlessly pounding the keyboard.

Toronto Star recently reported the case of a school-going 14 year lad, who taken to passport office by his parents, had problem signing his name in the application form.

The wired world of Email, tablets, laptops, and smartphones (getting unrecognizably smarter by the day and threatening to replace quite a few current appliances) are all conspiring to see the end of another R. This time it would be the turn of Writing to go. Shall we get ready the curriculum of new age primary schools where, to lighten their burden of homework, children will be taught only one R i.e., Reading.

Who knows when would it be the turn of first R too to go?

Balls Falls, Ontario

No visit to Ontario or for that matter to Buffalo area is complete without a visit to Niagara Falls. But have you ever visited Balls Falls? No, I’m not pulling a fast one. When you visit Niagara next, do make it a point to visit Balls Falls too.

There is a simple fable associated with this odd sounding name. This small town was established in early 19th century by one Jacob Ball. The family was the recipient of land on account of the unwavering loyalty to the British Crown. And on that land stood two waterfalls. Hence the name Balls Falls.

In 1962, the descendants of the Ball family sold the land to the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Area. Soon came up the small pretty tourist attraction called Balls Falls.

Yes you’ve guessed it: it must have been called to start with Ball’s Falls. Over period of time the apostrophe got dropped. What must have been Ball’s Falls became today’s Balls Falls.

I think while making this small grammatical change somebody should have suggested to drop the s in Falls. How about the name being just Balls Fall? They do indeed. Don’t they?

Think it Through

“If other people are going to talk, conversation becomes impossible,” said the art-for art-sake American painter James McNeill Whistler. Next time you and your friends sit and discuss something, stay as quiet as you humanly can. Spend your time keeping a count of who talks the maximum and who, the minimum.

Invariably, the one who talks the most makes the claim that he’d a good listener.


More by :  Sakshi

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