Quit Already

Why does political office seem to have no retirement age? Some of those old farts shouldn’t be running anything more complicated than a walking stick. No offense to old people in politics, but Jesus, just quit when the people whose lives you’re deciding upon are like two generations removed from yours. I’d gladly pay more taxes to fund their pensions if we can get them to stop running this country.

2013 in review

Seeing as how this post  is going up in Feb 2014, it will be clear to you that 2013 was not the year I successfully overcame my procrastination habit. It was a really good year, though, overall. I set some ambitious goals for myself, which in hindsight make me seem pretty vella, since I actually found the time to do them while holding down a regular day job at an ad agency, but it’s mostly just plodding along daily, doing a little at a time until mountains are made out of molehills; and am glad I’ve achieved most of them. Some of the highlights below:

  • I finished two courses online, on Coursera, and received certificates with grades: Fantasy & Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World (66.7% grade) and Introduction to philosophy (57.5% grade).
  • 154 books read, though some were short stories and comics, so it’s not that big a deal. 23,066 total pages, Goodreads informs me.
  • Wrote a 44,000-word novel, which is still in the first draft, and should’ve actually moved into draft two or three, but I’ve been too lazy and procrastinatory to do that. Soon. Also entered a 5000-word snippet of the novel to a competition hosted by DNA and Hachette. No reply from there, so I’m not hopeful.
  • Entered three short story competitions, with three different and stories. Won one, and the anthology by 21 authors including me will be published in March this year by Notion Press.
  • Quit smoking: everything. I think for good this time.
  • Began learning Spanish and Python programming. Status: incomplete.

Thank you for reading!

I got bit by a stray dog – part 2

I’m the first and now also the second person most people know who’s been bitten by stray dogs. Last night while rushing to withdraw money from an ATM I kicked a stray who, with evolutionarily-programmed reflex, turned around, whimpered, barked, and bit me; this scene took maybe less than two seconds. I, with my own evolutionarily-programmed reflex kicking in, heard the barking and felt the bite, and jerked my leg away, albeit too late to prevent any damn thing. Some damage was done, particularly an inch of jeans torn and two shallow bite marks along with slight drag marks where, presumably, the jerking of the leg avoided deep punctures but consequently created the lesser drag-tears. So I went home, found Savlon, cleaned the wound, applied some 12-year-old rum, for good disinfectant measure, that my brother’d stashed, daubed the wound dry, and applied Betnovate-N. Then I sat back and opened a browser and Googled “What to do in case of a topical dog bite,” read that I should mostly show the wound to a doctor, and maybe get an anti-rabies injection just to be on the safe side. Since my last dog bite was 5+ish years ago, — same situation, same leg, different dog — and since these particular injections, the Doc later informed me, offer immunity for only 5 years, I grudgingly got off my ass and went to see him, the family Doc, who injected me with a tetanus shot, cleaned the wound and bandaged it, gave me a prescription for injections I’d need to get and take over the next week; 3 of them, spaced about 3 days apart. Took my first anti-rabies shot this morning.  Doc told me to take these shots every 5 years, so I’m immune to bites from dogs, rats, even jackals, he helpfully added. In passing I asked the Doc if there’s any vaccine to make me less prone to colds and coughs, complaints I regularly suffer from. He looked me in the eye and without any trace of humor said “Leave Bombay.” I left him and went to the office.

Surveil This

obama-nsa-surveillanceThese days when I say something in confidence to anyone over the Internet adding “I hope this will stay between us” I mentally append that statement with “and Google/Facebook, the Indian government, NSA, very possibly the Chinese/Pakistani government, and assorted other smaller players in the lucrative and burgeoning ‘Invade People’s Privacy’ space.”

The Invisible Man, by H. G. Wells – A Thesis

         invisible

This thesis was written as part of a MOOC I took. More info here.

          The Invisible Man is a lesson in how a person behaves when his insecurities and subsequent obsessions lead to the possession of a means, at any and all costs, of near-limitless power, and the pitfalls of such.

The Protagonist is Griffin, whose Albinism has made him conscious and insecure of his appearance to the greatest degree. Making a shift from Chemistry to Physics, he focuses particularly on the behavior of light. This behavior may subconsciously stem from his insecurities. He drives himself to understand how light travels through particles, and will go to any lengths to achieve his goal of making things completely invisible. He may subconsciously be wishing for a way to rid himself of his Albinism.

He robs his own father, who kills himself soon after. Griffin feels no remorse at this. He has no compulsions on experimenting on a Cat and putting it through suffering and disposing of it when done. He is impulsive and not prone to think through the circumstances his actions may beget, which is shown when he proceeds to turn himself invisible and realizes it’s not the glorious and powerful event he had imagined, but comes with its own unique set of troubles.

We see Griffin lock up a man in the man’s own house, rob and leave him without concern for his welfare. Furthermore, at Iping, he robs the Vicar, is irascible and prone to outbursts of violence towards his hosts. He comes across Kemp and decides to make him privy to his secrets and ideas of a “reign of Terror.” By now Griffin has lost all grip on realityHe cares not for right or wrong, but sees himself as an Overlord with Super Powers.

          The conclusion of Griffin being murdered by a mob shows us what happens to a person, whose insecurity-led madness goes too far. His scientific discovery destroys him instead of being a boon.

You can view the previously published theses here.

 

Dracula, by Bram Stoker – A Thesis

Bram-Stoker-Dracula-Novel-Cover

This thesis was written as part of a MOOC I took. More info here.

  Bram Stoker was Irish and was brought up as a Protestant in the Church of Ireland. Dracula is a powerful lesson that promotes Catholic teachings and tries to inculcate faith in the power of the Holy Bread and other Holy paraphernalia.

The Holy Wafer, referenced heavily in the book, is part of the religious ceremony of Mass in Church. Stoker’s referencing it as being among the sacred objects that shun Dracula points to his possible intent to direct people to go to Mass and partake of the Holy Bread. Other symbols such as Holy Water and the Crucifix are also representative of the Church and its power.

Central European folk beliefs considered Garlic a powerful ward against Vampires and could be why Stoker adopted Garlic as a major symbol.

Dracula is the embodiment of immortality in life, whereas Christian belief tells us that what is truly immortal is our soul and that the body is an inconsequential vessel; we must shun immortality in life so as to hope for immortality in the afterlife.

What Dracula gives to others is eternal life on Earth. As far as can be perceived in the book, there are no instances of anyone having died with a Vampire’s bite. What, then, is so bad about eternal life on Earth that the protagonists seem to despise and wish to be rid of? Could it be Christianity’s influence of the eternal soul being better than the eternal body that could be behind their purposeful actions?

Throughout the book the characters ask for God’s forgiveness or wish for deliverance from Evil. Harker’s journal – “There is something of a guiding purpose manifest throughout…. Mina says that perhaps we are the instruments of ultimate good.” A direct reference to “God’s will be done”.

All in all, Stoker’s religious background seems to have been expressed powerfully in Dracula, whether deliberate or not.

You can view the previously published theses here.

 

The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury – A Thesis

martian

This thesis was written as part of a MOOC I took. More info here.

The Martian Chronicles teaches us the lesson of history repeating itself, told through the tale of conquest of other lands, in this case, of Mars.

Bradbury mentions the impact of humans upon their own civilization on Earth, and what we would do if we were to find another land for the taking, the same way Cortez of Spain invaded Mexico.

In our present time and maybe the near future, we may not have imbibed well the lessons of the past, and now that we have incredible technology, we may very  well destroy ourselves in the same breath as achieve a utopian society. Like children who can’t understand what to do with new toys, we will end up destroying our own world and then do the same with other worlds if we’re not careful as a collective race to bring our impulses under control.

Bradbury paints the human race as immature and incapable of  dealing with technological advances in a rational manner that preferably benefits humanity as a whole. Instead, we can’t think beyond our own selfish motives, like, for example, the guy who sets up the hot dog stand for profit and out of a deep optimism, or the guy selling suitcases, also for profit, but out of a pessimistic world view.
We see that regardless of whether we fought with bows and arrows or fight in this day and age with Rockets and nuclear weapons, our Humanness will win out in the end, most likely to the detriment of our own race and world, and to a greater extent any other civilizations we come across.

You can view the previously published theses here.