hotel taj/Shelly Paul Image by Shelly Paul


Algorithm – method for tracing predictable patterns

When Úrsula Iguarán, matriarch of Buendía family began to go blind in her old age, she devised a clever method to keep the impaired vision a secret. She accomplished this successfully by observing, processing and storing data.

While walking down the verandah one afternoon, she nearly tripped over her daughter, Amaranta who was sitting in the shade doing needlework. Amaranta reacted sharply and asked her mother what was wrong, to which, Úrsula responded that it would not have happened if she was sitting in her usual place. The ensuing conversation and some reflection made Úrsula realize that the sun’s position changed slightly throughout the year, which caused her daughter to move to that extent each day from her usual place into the shade, until one day she obstructed her mother’s carefully memorized path.

Úrsula listened, deduced and memorized the patterns of all her family members and realized during the process that her family lived in predictable patterns, so much so that she could pin-point where everyone was at any given moment on any day. Her mental map was so accurate that one time, she helped locate her daughter-in-law’s misplaced wedding band through an aberration in the pattern.

This is the technique Google search, Facebook and other social media websites uses today to understand the behavior of their users and hopefully convert that into advertisement revenue or create emotional hooks by customizing user experience thereby making the user feel special.

unhappy queen Unhappy Queen / Illustration by Lekha Murali


Mythology – A study of myths
Myth – figment of collective imagination

It was a time when sun was the only clock. It was long before the era of verified and meticulous documentation, long before the ancient languages had rudimentary scripts developed by primitive linguists.

It was a time when people began exercising vocal chords to express themselves, when the evolving species was still figuring out which of the weeds agreed with humans and that carrion could be detrimental to one’s health.

The tribes would huddle around the communal fire and try to dine with whatever food, that was the result of the latest experiment. That’s when they talked about the things they could never fathom.

Without awareness, their imagination took wings and built extraordinary worlds where magical people lived –

Charity – Alms, Philanthropy

You try to get out of the grocery check-out line after paying for the purchases, when the cashier pops the question, ‘Would you like to donate a dollar to such-and-such charity?’ You look around and see a lot of cardboard balloons with names on them, which brings to mind a related TV commercial, and you wonder how much of your charity buck goes to the ad agency.

The corporations who are the latest human beings, are charitable too. ‘For every product you purchase from us, we will donate 50 cents to such-and-such charity.’

Coercive philanthropy in thirty seconds:

"...(Jose Arcadio Buendia)went back to being the enterprising man of earlier days when he decided upon the layout of the streets and the location of the new houses so that no one would enjoy privileges that everyone did not have." From the novel "One Hundred Years of Solitude", by Gabriel García Márquez, translation by Gregory Rabassa'
marionette
Image by Shelly Paul

When the economy began to self-destruct, the government of the nation of Dystopia took drastic actions to mitigate the catastrophe. It resorted to well touted austerity measures.

A majority of government funds were diverted from various departments to stem the financial hemorrhage, which resulted in a budget crunch. Since a balanced budget is paramount, after much deliberation marked by tormented debates and emotionally charged discussions, the elected members to the parliament decided with a heavy heart to stop funding essential services to the public.

Since the public needed these services at any cost, the government made the inevitable decision to privatize core government services. Everything, from schools to prisons, was contracted out to private entities. To pay the private contractors, taxes were raised on the majority of the population. The billionaires and the zillionaires were shielded from any tax increase, since

How did Mother India get to a point, where an innocent young girl was raped, torn apart and discarded on the side of the road bleeding, to death? While an angry nation spilled out on the streets to protest, a tender, fifteen year old was being gang raped in Bihar. Yet another young rape victim from Punjab killed herself after being subjected to the pornographic interrogation by the police.

In an effort to diminish the protests, the shameless and irresponsible police along with the criminally negligent government have the audacity to blame the atrocity on the victims themselves, by talking about cosmetics and discotheques.

What has make-up and disco got to do with a woman being raped?

balinesecouple/Shelly Paul
Image by Shelly Paul

….while, on Planet Primitive, in the nation of Dysfunction, it was the year 140 BTLM(Before The Lone Man). A hundred thousand men had gathered in the nation’s capital to protest the passing of a bill into law.

The throng of protesters gathered around the parliament building spilled on to the adjacent street, flowing to the other end where the wrought iron fence surrounded the Presidential palace.

The protesters chanted slogans and banged on the fence from time to time, expressing discontent. The placards and banners they held cried out the deplorable state of men in the matriarchal nation of Dysfunction. Any minute now the parliament would finish voting on the ‘Neutralization Bill’. The air was thick with tension.

Within the compounds of the Parliament and the Palace stood a barricade of the Women’s Elite Police force, armed with taser and guns, ready to go off at the slightest provocation. A tall wrought iron fence separated the mob from the police. The clamor was growing, the police tense, and braced for the uproar.