Saturday, June 8, 2013

Smart Phones Dumb People?

Title : Smart Phones Dumb People
Author :  Parthajeet Sarma
Publisher : Good Times Books Pvt. Ltd.
ISBN : 938061956-1

"Has human race become dumb with smart phones in hands? As gadgets take over our lives, have we become less intelligent?"

Parthajeet Sarma tracks the journey of technology and its various magical wonders in our lives in his book - 'Smart Phones Dumb People'. He brings out the contrast between the worlds - one that is living in 21st century and the other that is still continuing in the 19th century. While smart devices are becoming all pervasive in lives of many of us, there are sections in our society that are still struggling at the widest and bottom most level at the Maslow's hierarchy of needs - food, clothing, shelter, clean water and electric supply.

The big question is - are the technological advancements good enough to address all problems immaterial of what century they belong to?

While talking about technology in wide perspective, he brings a big array of topics under the discussion ranging from comparison between innovation and invention, ecological (im)balance, entrepreneurship, stresses of modern lives, to corruption. He talks about how integrated system of university + industry + government is being explored for better results, how agrarian societies are getting metamorphosed to urban societies at an accelerated pace, how more and more people are heading towards cities leaving their village lives behind, and how fast paced city life make lap of nature in farms an enticing getaways for city people.
The impact of PAT at various levels in our lives is also explained in details. "Process Alteration by Technology is the application of the human intellect with modern technology in order to improve and alter business processes to bring in efficiencies, leading to overall development of industry and human beings."

Sarma brings in the personal touch to his writing by narrating some anecdotes picked up from his life, his experiences and his achievements. Though overall a quick read and relevant too, it felt like going through a set of lectures, speeches, talks or blog posts on varied topics. Found the title of the book 'Smart Phones Dumb People' a little misleading though. After having read the whole text which is very generic in nature, I feel the title should have been a generic one too to suit the content within the covers. Since a wide range of subjects are touched in the book, the narrative becomes jumpy at times. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


And just what does a paradoxically avid kid-lid reader, who already has some three big books banging hard due to their review submission date coming close and who is barely and that too rarely getting any time to do anything sane of late, do, when she unexpectedly gets a day- forcibly away from work??

Yes! Read a Roald Dahl. What else.

And I mentioned 'paradoxically' basically because, although I believe myself to have read 'kidlit' the most, among all the reading that I have chanced upon, the book I picked up today is only the second of Roald Dahl. And all that, because of an autobiographical extract of the author, that we were made to understand at school, and which had become torturously boring due to repetition.

Anyway, past is past. All I understand today is the simple fact that eventually and finally, my roads have lead me to Roald Dahl, the king of kidlit.

And here's the review of the book for you... Enjoy...

Title: The Witches
Author: Roald Dahl

I can bet that you would not agree that old grandma's bedtime tales of witches and fairies, of lands far away and their kings could ever have been true. Yes, I can bet on it. Because so did I believe - or rather not believe in the truth behind the tales grannies told. Until I stumbled upon this book.

A little boy gets to live with his grandmother after he loses his parents to a road accident. The grandmother, or grandmumma, as the boy calls her, is a retired witchophile - someone who has studied witches and knows a lot about them. She tells him tales about how she has seen witches take little children away, what do the witches look like, how can they be spotted, what they like and what they want and so on.

The little child does not believe all this, until he is approached by a lady - who tames snakes and has all the signs of a witch that grandma has told him. Luckily he escapes this time. But not the next time. The next time he is the unfortunate victim of not one, but rather, some 84 witches tall and strong. Or so to say, all the witches of England and their overall administrative head put together. Poor boy! But no longer a boy. He gets transformed into a mouse!

The good thing, however is that incomplete magic allows him to communicate and he has already understood properly, the reality of witches and all the evil plans they have, for finishing all the kids of England.

One must surely read the book and find out whether the transformation into a mouse causes a sense of revenge to bloom in the little one, or he plans to embark on adventures that only mice can. Do read the book and find out what happens to the boy-turned-mouse eventually! Trust me, the book ends exactly as it must.

I love to read kid-lit mainly because it is a delight reading what grown-ups write for kids, what kids actually derive from it, what they are supposed to derive, and most importantly, what obvious lessons these books give that we generally overlook.

It is strange that simple things reveal so much. Through this book, aren't the kids being taught to try overcome their greed and not accept offerings by strangers. Aren't the kids being taught that it is okay if some misfortunes strike you. You must pick your pieces and move ahead.

Well, one thing that caught my notice was the behaviour of witches. Whatever may be the case, the evil wants to hide behind the garb of normalcy! Often, what appears to be the sweetest, may be the most evil thing around. Something like a sugar coated poison. But nonetheless, the good thing is that there is, more often than not, some good always working to undo the wrong. History illustrates, that ultimately in the long run, it is the good that can sustain.

So, Goodbye Witches!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Born a few thousand years too soon!

Finished reading Hyperspace by Michio Kaku, mind stimulating concepts. I am sharing one here. Types of Civilizations - Type I, Type II and Type III. We are not talking about different social groups here on earth. We are talking about universe wide civilizations. What are these civilization types and how are they different? Let's start with ourselves. We just arrived on the scene, in last 100 years or so we developed some rudimentary scientific capability, we are not even Type I civilization, we are Type 0 and we don't count. The essential difference between these civilizations is determined in terms of their ability to harness more and more energy, as higher energy is the key to unlocking universe’s many mysteries. However, by no means does it mean that there won’t be yet more mysteries to unravel once what are known are unraveled. Type I civilization is what controls energy resources of an entire planet. It can control the weather, prevent earthquakes, manage and channelize volcanoes, harvest the energy of oceans and has explored the solar system. Type II civilization is that controls the power of the sun itself. It does not mean passively harnessing solar power; it means actively mining the sun for its energy, being able to divert it for a specific purpose, to energize massive machines, which cannot be energized by any other planetary energy source. This civilization will begin colonizing the local star systems. Type III civilization is the one that controls the energy of an entire galaxy. It has the ability to harness the power of billions of star systems. It has mastered Einstein’s equations and can manipulate space and time. They probably have also unraveled the mystery of multiple dimensions.

Michio Kaku reckons, that a civilization like ours, Type 0, given our rate of growth, may reach Type I status in a few centuries, from where we are at this point in our development. Thing to keep in mind, life on earth began3.5 billion years ago, we have been in Type 0 status for approximately 3.5 billion years! Given the exponential growth of civilization, a Type I civilization has the potential to transition to Type II in approximately 1000 years. That is when it gets the ability to create Federation of Planets, like in Star Trek. It has mastered the art of manipulating gravitational force by wrapping space-time and hence can reach nearby stars.

Advancing to Type III may take a few more thousand years. Type III civilization will be able to harness the power of entire galaxy, wrapping space-time will be routine way of commuting and doing trade. It will perhaps be able to harness the galactic center, which has millions of super massive Blackholes with virtually unlimited energy. Leveraging that energy, Type III civilization may be able to unravel the higher dimensions and throw some light on why the Big Bang happened.

Given what may lie ahead, I guess I was born a little too soon. I had like to believe that there is rebirth, so that I can come back again in future, to learn and know more about us and things around us!