Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Geek Dad

I just finished two books by Issac Asimov- The Currents of Space and Cleon Emperor. For a change both were good fast reads, and I enjoyed them thoroughly. After reading a ton of literary fiction it is a delight to go back to my childhood novels. I remember I was mesmerised by the Foundation Trilogy, and then by Arthur C. Clarke’s Space Odyssey and the Rama series. So, when I am trawling the bookshops, I find a SF novel I have not read, I will invariably pick it up. Maybe, because I am a SF fan, I decided to stick to engineering, rather than change to Finance or Marketing and make obscene amounts of money.

Although Asimov is not a great writer, the sheer originality of his ideas catches one’s imagination. To dream of a galaxy wide empire, and then flesh out the details is laudable. The ability to fire one’s fantasies through sheer power of the ideas is the essence of SF writing. One is not looking for subtleties of literary fiction, but the ability of the writer to think of future (but realistic!) scenarios is much appreciated. Asimov is the original master of this art, and I would recommend the Foundation series for any kid.

Which is exactly what my kid does not want. I tried my best to get her interested in sciences, and Physics in particular by referring her to this excellent course –
Physics for Future Presidents. My daughter took one look at it and dismissed it. When I tried to urge her to at least have a look, I was labelled as a geek- an old one- but a geek nevertheless. I have to re-examine my life now. I am sure I did not start off as a geek, but became one over the years. Question- Can geeks be fifty years old?

Odds and Ends

Watching Aamir Khan on TV urging people to vote is really pissing me off. Now he is using kids to sell his idea, and I find that disgusting. We are suckers for kids pedalling anything; from cell phones to health drinks. I think using kids to sell ANYTHING is despicable, because the kids are not endorsing; it is just their parents who are making a quick buck. As a skeptic, I insist on finding out the truth- not that it is easy to find. So, if Aamir Khan wants to figure out the best candidate in my constituency, he would have a job on his hands. If we sieve out the uneducated, the history sheeters, the schemers, the manipulators, the power brokers, the free loaders, and the extremists, there is nothing left. So, all I have to say about this is – Won’t.

Delhi Chronicles

Now that the humble shoe has been declared a weapon of mass destruction, it has captured people’s imagination in ways unforeseen. Laid-off workers are promising retribution, disgusted voters are threatening action, and fringe elements are contemplating protests. This is not without risks as the original show thrower got jailed for three years. But the risks are dropping as the FM’s assaulter got away with a warning. And not all people getting shoes thrown at are unhappy. I noticed that the FM gave a smug smile after the the incident. After all, joining the club of people who have had the “shoe thrown at”, is pretty impressive. In fact celebrity seekers may be disappointed if nothing comes their way, and may decide that paying for this service is worth while. So, a new career shows up on the horizon – The Shoe Thrower- which will teach a student the right methods and attitude to throw a shoe. The shoe manufacturers are rubbing their hands with glee, as they envisage the profits to be made by this great advertising opportunity. So, we can have branded shoes sponsored by companies selling soaps and potato chips, thrown by disgruntled elements wearing T- shirts, also sponsored by companies selling soaps and T-shirts at celebrities who are endorsed by companies selling soaps and T-shirts. I shudder to think where this form of protest will go.

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