Dec 17, 2010

The Truth is Out There..

This is not the Truth about Life, the Universe and Everything. Neither is this truth about the extraterrestrial 'X files' that is out there. Nor is it the Truth about some layman's doleful life that, when dared, gets intriguing.  This is probably the truth about the Indian State and one of its Estates. This is about how we as a state, are capable of manipulating the truth about what transpired beneath the tables, and between the cables, as well as the The Source could create the all-fooling Matrix. And this is also about how a sect of people called themselves the fearless media, go to the limits of the Source to extricate the Truth. The question is - Is their quest for the Truth ethically and philanthropically justified ?

Consider the recent furore over the breaking news that seems to break every other minute in the assorted news channels. The anti-corruption wave that has swept the country and the consequent actions/reactions/inaction by the state has brought many camouflaged  faces into the much longed limelight and has parallely put many millions of heads into a melanged state of fury, inquisitiveness (over who's next and what's next?), helplessness and probably hopelessness. There has been an overload of not-so-good information making it impossible for the average Indian's brain to process them, making the brains less efficient and completing a vicious circle.
Is this really necessary ?

Does the media really break the breaking news in a quest to bring the crooked to books ? Always ? Or do they have less noble intentions? Money, PR ratings, getting there first, makeup, flashlights, power to influence the votes, gambles with governments or hypnoses with the human minds -  you name it and they got it. Should I surmise that the fourth estate or the television channels let the dirty cats out of the bags just to enlighten or educate the public ? And what use is the information to the common man if he is not vested with powers to act on them? Junk ? And what use is of the information if it causes him distress? Let me know if you know.

Again, don't get me wrong. Am not saying that the corrupt must be let to thrive. The fact that they exist and propagate like malignant beings in the state is a symptom of cancer in the system. Am just imploring the media on the right treatment to root it out. Investigative journalism is truly commendable, but it must be handed over to the right authorities for arbitration. When broken to public in bits and pieces, it just creates a complicated jigsaw puzzle along with some pandemonium. Infact it alerts the wrong-doers to fix their leaks before its too late.

And the ethics of new making and news breaking -  Well, is there any ? If there had been ethics, there would have certainly been some love for the fellow countrymen or the larger mankind. I do not think there is room for any of these values in the news business. They mean business. The cables of the Wikileaks were pretty amusing to say the least. It gave us mere mortals, the true opinions  of the heads of the states, behind the screens, at the cost of their embarrassments. And yet, were they right in leaking the information ethically speaking? To leak or not to leak? That is the question!

There is a lot of hidden truth that mankind has made up - Truth taken to the volcanic mountains lying dormant for years, or to the depths of the Mariana Trench, laying unexplored. I laud the journalists who risk quite a lot to get to those places. But please dear media-men, make sure, your ends are noble enough to justify your means. Please break the right news at the right time in the right way. Democracy has given the fourth estate a few additional powers and sacred responsibilities to shoulder. Please,  have good heads over those shoulders.We are afterall your fellow countrymen and earthlings, I guess it doesn't take much to love us.

Nov 25, 2010

Queen of Sciences?

Yes, it is Mathematics. I am pretty sure that to the astute reader of this blog, this mathematically  knotty question of 'What is' the 'queen of sciences' is a no-brainer. How about 'whosaidit'. That's Gauss. That wasn't bumpy either. And now field this - Why did this great German mathematician call it the 'Queen' but not the 'King' of Sciences? Or why not 'Father' of Sciences? Well, am aware of many such conflicting phrases and sobriquets that extol one gender against the other(you don't have to spin-doctor against me), but not all of them have the same grounds of explanation. So what is the  plausible elucidation to the original question in specific reference to the context of Sciences?

I do not know the correct answer. And I cannot possibly find out from Gauss either. Maybe he liked women in a good sense.Maybe not. Whatever it is, this peek into the transcript of a letter that he once wrote to a prominent French female  mathematician is certainly a clue:

"But when a person of the sex which, according to our customs and prejudices, must encounter infinitely more difficulties than men to familiarize herself with these thorny researches, succeeds nevertheless in surmounting these obstacles and penetrating the most obscure parts of them, then without doubt she must have the noblest courage, quite extraordinary talents and superior genius. Indeed nothing could prove to me in so flattering and less equivocal manner that the attractions of this science, which has enriched my life with so many joys, are not chimerical, as the predilection with which you have honored it."

Not unexpectedly, this was in an era when women were banned from studying the subject even in Europe. The revolutionary crusader who was the subject and predicate of Gauss's letter was Sophie Germain. She was so committed to the science, that she contributed to it by corresponding with eminent mathematicians (including Gauss) under the false identity of a male. Her nom de plume was Antoine-August Le Blanc. There are more revolutionary stories of women soldiers who fought for their love of the quintessential truth that is - Mathematics.

Apparently, that is a pretty long list of female mathematicians that matter. My question for this post is however, larger than that long list. What percentage is this list in the large realm of mathematics? It is certainly quite humbler than the male contribution ratio. If you need more stats for women in math, you could take a look at this.  The causal factors for the lower turnout of women in this field,  if not obvious, are cultural and gender based demarcation. But that's certainly antiquated.

What about now? There is quite negligible gender discrimination, and yet why hasn't the stats leveled up as yet? Girls seem to outsmart the boys in math in high school, however the boys have the last laugh in PhDs (in the 'Queen of Sciences'). Is it that the average genius-woman loses charm in the queen of sciences and prefers to be an adept obstetrician or an enterprising engineer or a satiated home-maker? Is it that to the above-average woman who loves colors and spices finds math quite devoid of them both? Does mathematics appeal to a woman's feminine senses at all?

One of my friends points out - "Statistically true, but what I have observed is , women dont like them (Maths) much easily. for what ever reason.. but once they like it, there is possibly no difference that one can say between men and women in this subject".
Before you embark on a journey to ponder about femininity and mathematics, here is a cue - Florence Nightingale, best known for her nursing accomplishments, was also an adroit mathematician. This page has more details.

So the number discrepancy question cannot be answered by just the stats that are enlisted. And you know what I think about stats, don't you? The fact that women mathematicians existed and exist is a tribute to the dexterity of women in this Science. I'd like to give the last word to my friend in this context.  Once a woman finds beauty in infinity, there is no stopping her, infact we know that she can turn into a male if the world wants her to.And going by the number of battles that a woman fights in whatever era, Mathematics is definitely the "Queen" of Sciences.

Apr 24, 2010

Family Doctor

Are you someone who takes some common pills for common-cold? Do you love to look more feverish than fever itself when you have one and flaunt your flu? Do you atone your once-in-a-while restaurant sins  with 'Digene' or 'Eno'? Or are you someone who does not prefer those extraneous  antibodies and depend on your own body to corroborate its internal police force and resurrect itself during those "minor, 'mostly harmless' injuries" ? - Or maybe, one of  those 'home-made organic medicine' lovers. You could be one of these categories, or a few of these, or even none, and yet, there are fair chances that you would have had a family doctor, for atleast a while..

A family doctor is not that just that  doctor at the clinic in the corner of the road who treats your occasional childhood wounds. He (or she) is someone who you grow up with, someone whom you can talk to about your favorite cricket player or your most-hated school teacher, as he checks your throat and pulse, someone   who can see through your 'little too detailed' or 'rather skimmed' description of your physical problem and diagnose (and prognose ) with a knowledgeable nod, someone who does not 'blow up' your frantic symptoms or 'play down' your insignificant secondary references. Simply put, a good family doctor knows how your body and soul work.

Quite often, the family doctor is a physician, who practises general medicine. Of course, there could be specifications and specialization - for each listed and unlisted organ of the body. Largely, the family doctor caters to many or all families in the neighborhood. He is someone, whom old friends can visit together in an evening walk to get their blood pressure checked or get a minor new nuisance treated. Habitually, the doctor prescribes the same set of medicines for a specific illness for a specific patient(unless he has more medical-representatives than patients waiting outside his door, with newer formulation of newly discovered compounded medicine), and there are a few smart patients who could map the medicine to the illness with data-mining from past history, and yet, to get the  family doctor's good old touch, they go see him.

I grew up having a good family doctor. I vividly remember being a 'patient' patient waiting outside the doors of the clinic, looking at the various poster children and re-reading the phrases -  'Sshhhh...Doctor is in....', 'Silence' and 'Doctor is in/out' hanging. There were a few diagrams of some colorful part of the body and some interesting parts of the skeleton. I tried to concentrate hard on a few of them associating them with my biology lessons and explaining them to  my beaming 'patient' parents. If there was a new illness explained with some symptoms, I correlated them with mine circutitiously and concluded the worst. I was that kind. It was then, that my dad decided that he should discourage my becoming a medical professional. He was more concerned about the benefit of the society.

Our doctor was a petite person, and greeted everyone with a broad mustache and a warm smile. He did not talk much, but made some quirky comments when he found my rattles medically funny.Atypically, he had a good handwriting and even a layperson could read his prescription. I'd like to believe that he took a special paternal interest in me, and my rather 'scientific' queries. I have just a couple of words for his treatment. It worked. It still works. I first call him up whenever I have a medical issue I cant ignore - and he responds with the same quirks followed by his prescription. Inspite of a huge personal loss, he still caters to the needs of his patients and has permeated the lives in so many households.

Thank you dear doctor, I think you are one of a kind..

Mar 8, 2010

Pretty Woman

Its International Women's Day. Frankly, until last year, I hadn't found the logical grounds of celebrating "Women's Day". I mean, what were we supposed to celebrate? Womanhood? And what does it actually mean? Celebrating the biological characteristics associated with the gender or the sociological fashion quotient or the political cry for equality? I had always considered myself to be an impartisan specimen of the race, rather than a tendency towards my gender emancipation. One of the good things about growing up is that what seemed incomprehensible becomes less fuzzy and likewise the contrary. I grew up..

Don't get me wrong, it is not that now, I want to celebrate Woman's Emancipation or Equality or cheer-lead the Women's Reservation Bill. I have no reason to do so. It is just that these days, I sense the essence of womanhood better. I can comprehend the whys and wherefores for celebrating womanhood - its quite irrational a rationale, for the woman epitomizes the emotional part of logic. She is the yin of yin-yang philosophy. It is this emotional acumen that helps her pave through the familial maze seamlessly. And the intelligence to discern when to give in and when to stay put that aid in decisions and the vicissitudes of life. Not to mention the ability to multi-manage (or micro-manage) different manageable material at home and workplace..

More often than not, the power of the woman lies in her ability to submit herself. She gets an inscrutable invincible power when she gives in. It is with this power of submission that she has the last laugh.

So who is this pretty woman? Let me try to elucidate..She is the chef of her own kitchen and the mistress of the spices. She is both the warden and angel of the house. She gleefully goes through physical pain, and still stands them - petite and proud. She is a heroine not oft-noticed. Cosmetics accentuate her looks, Kancheevaram and Pashmina adorn her wardrobe. Gold and the stones emblazon her somatic curves, gray matter floods her neural curves in the brain. For generations , the age-old cliched forward about the multi-roles played by the woman from being a daughter to a friend to a wife and then to a mother and parallely a careerist and the tenderness and justice rendered to all the kith and kin involved is usually networked across, during these times. It is still being forwarded every year because, womanhood has stood the test of time. She has made it happen!

There could be quite a few differences between that apple alluring Satan inspired Eve and the modern-day pretty woman of today. And quite a few similarities too. Just like any race or a part of it, women have evolved over time. They have broader views of the society, taller peaks to conquer, and tougher paths to tread. With the right support-system ,her strong will and that emotional acumen in her little grey cells, the pretty woman is set to march on to newer frontiers...with the head firm on her shoulders and heart tied to familial roots.

PS : If you think this blog post is poetically cliched and unwarranted, you should probably grow up too...

Jan 25, 2010

Logically Emotional - A Eulogy

I've never completely comprehended what the sixth sense means, despite belonging to a species that is widely acclaimed to possess it. Is it the ability to "think" or the sense to emote or a sub-conscious prowess to interpret the mystic, not so obvious thing or is it nothing at all?? In any case, the human species is quite capable of all these, manifest in different degrees in different specimens. There are humans who are more logical and there are those poor emotional creatures, who react and not respond, and there are those salvaged souls who supposedly connect with their "inner selves". For a healthy mental state, one would do well to adopt a melange of all these variants of the sixth sense, in the right proportions.

Quite often, the brain is associated with thought, while the heart is associated with emotions. I don't think I need to provide examples to illustrate that, there are far too many movie dialogues than there are IEEE papers to counter them. The biological truth is that, it is the brain which controls both. The heart probably pumps slower and faster when one emotes. When a human emotes, the logical path of the neurons in the brain are turned off. In short, we stop thinking when we are emotional. And thus the "emotional fools" continue to exist ever after...

Logic is quite well defined. Simple math or science! 2 and 3 give 5, when added and produce 6 when multiplied. Problems are easy to solve logically, when the formula is known. The tougher part is variable definition and formula derivation.Emotions, on the other hand are quite complicated, for the math involved, if at all any, is quite differential. The tougher part is problem solving. They are at times productive times of fright, fight or flight, (the classic case of running away when one sees a snake rather than thinking mathematically on how to handle it). Human relationships are founded on emotions.. joy, sorrow, pain, anguish, ecstasy, embarrassment, humiliation,sarcasm, sympathy, empathy. And logically speaking, emotions also force the brain to consider the untried track.

I like emotions for an unconventional reason though - without them, there wouldn't have been art, in specific such a rich World Literature. In Wordsworth's words "Poetry is a spontaneous overflow of emotion, not the emotion of the actual experience, but the emotion recollected in tranquility". As can be seen, there's quite a lot of emotion out there...A eulogy, in particular is usually replete with sorrow, hope and probable abstract beauty (if you are fond of words and their connotations). It was a surprise indeed, when I first saw this particular piece of eulogy. The poet seems to be quite rational while expressing the sentiments beneath..illuminating the all potent choice that is bestowed on to the race.

"You can shed tears that she is gone, or you can smile because she has lived. You can close your eyes and pray that she'll come back, or you can open your eyes and see all she's left. Your heart can be empty because you can't see her, or you can be full of the love you shared. You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday, or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday. You can remember her only that she is gone, or you can cherish her memory and let it live on. You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back. Or you can do what she'd want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on."

How I wish the species discerned this subtle choice and handled emotions with the right logical elements. The world would then be a better place to live in..Is it an emotional wish?