Museum of the Disconnected

The tribe of activists had the purplest of patches in the 21st century.

This group revelled in coordinated displays of aggression, mostly of the verbal variety, as a foolproof way of righting all that was wrong with this world. The world obliged, with a growing supply of things to outrage against.

Racism. Feminism. Nationalism. Anti-nationalism. Despotism. Capitalism…

The ism-ms were rounded up with much gusto and scythed into oblivion.

A thorny area caused an -ism schism.

Robotism.

Catalysed by technology, hyper idiotisation had caused humans to behave like robots. And Robots to behave like humans.

Robots had taken over vast swathes of vocational territories once populated by humans. This included much of Earth’s military ranks. Humankind revolted en masse against an enemy that was more condemned than thinking: dying. Robots put their hands up. And proceeded to beat humans hands down.

Robots were also rapidly taking over niches that once enjoyed the human touch. Cashiers, accountants, advisers of genuine (and dubious) lineage, consultants, politicians, teachers, janitors, doctors, thinkers et al found themselves violently uprooted and cast away by robots.

Something had to be done. Humankind arrived at a consensus.

Robots were relegated to the museum of the Disconnected with immediate effect. A few noted wryly that the museum had a rich collection of hitherto connected humans.

All seemed well for a while. Optimism ran high on the ultimate victory of humankind’s status quo.

Aversion to mental exertion had shaped humankind’s belief systems. Corporations, and willing consumers, made and traded things with little interest in knowing who, or where, or how, the things originated. When activists uncovered abominable labour conditions that had caused some unfortunate breathers to journey into the afterlife, humankind was outraged.

At the activists.

For erasing their blackboard of ignorance.

The tribe of activists reacted swiftly. Goods with questionable origin stories were boycotted. Which unfortunately meant, nearly everything. Organic foodies sought safe haven in Sustainableville. When a few amusingly noted that organic meant all things that contained carbon (the living), programmed science lovers latched on to the word. They argued that with so much carbon and twice-of-oxygen in the air, Mother Earth was manifestly organic. They outraged, demanding an abundance of these healthy elements.

After considered armchair communication, humankind got nothing done. And realised they were staring at a mountain of a problem.

How could they sustain this sustainability wave, the drudgery of living with very little, not working, and most importantly, not thinking?

How could the robotised human form be protected, when the new state of affairs meant an irreversible break from the status quo?

Was it silly to rail against the robots? Which could be deployed widely, with no painful demands on unused human physical and mental faculties?

Was it silly to rail against the robots? Which could potentially save scores of human lives operating in dangerous vocations? Or condemn humans to work in dangerous vocations, then outrage against insensitive work practices?

Devoid of mental stamina and a lack of pre-programmed response, human robots opted to reconnect robot humans.

The robots plugged out from the museum of the Disconnected.

Humankind plugged in.

Ouroboros

When Indian Languages Met For Coffee

The bloody remains of the previous coffee meeting (When political systems met for coffee) were a long-forgotten memory. After ages, another meeting came to be arranged in the secret underground facility. Keen watchers noticed Indian languages making their way into a meeting of Languages. No one knew who sent out the invites. Nervous excitement wafted through the air.

The Dravidian heavyweight Tamil was among the first to walk in proudly; feet barely on the ground, head pointing to the heavens. Observing no one around and a tad cross at turning up early, quite against popular Indian custom, Tamil found a perch at the biggest chair around the table. Presumably this was the Head Chair. A while passed and fellow Dravidian species Kannada and Telugu made an appearance. Upon entry, though, these languages grappled with immediate disenchantment. For the chairs were left unmarked and Tamil sat rather smugly at the best available chair.

None of the languages was in the mood for free seating. The new entrants reminded Tamil that it ought to vacate the Head Chair. Tamil appeared unruffled and reminded the group that it was indeed the right claimant. This right was automatically its due, thanks to its status as the first Indian language to be bestowed Classical status. Tamil also invoked the Indian devotion for seniority. As one of the oldest Indian languages, it expected, subtly of course, a level of respect from the others. When none was forthcoming, it remonstrated about the devolving state of affairs, hurling choice expletives in its own tongue. Kannada and Telugu brimmed, due to lack of appreciation of the words Tamil used. Each was mighty proud about their histories. Warfare of the linguistic kinds was imminent.

Tamil’s outburst, quite unforeseen, was to be met head on. The abrupt assault on their rich histories caused Kannada and Telugu to grieve over personal slander. Each began waxing eloquent about its linguistic beauty. Each language was unique, and in this respect all were the same. Tamil alleged blasphemy and accused Kannada and Telugu of forsaking filial piety. Telugu, meanwhile, opted for musical warfare, unleashing its vast musical lexicon on the group. A more inappropriate presentation of an asset could not be contemplated. Or so everyone thought.

As the battle gained steam, another language made a belated appearance. Malayalam. This language was conferred Classical status recently and was kicked at being part of an elite group. It did not, however, receive the ovation that it expected. It grappled with further strife on realising its neighbours in Dravidian-ville were well and truly established in their perches. It breathed a sigh of relief nonetheless. Unaware of protocol, out rumbled a stream of words that sounded so menacing that there was sudden outburst of silence. Malayalam twirled its moustache.

The joy was to be shortlived. For the silence was due to another reason.

A magnificient referee had appeared out of nowhere. Sanskrit.

Admiration gripped the warring group. Here was the lingua franca of them all. The fountainhead. The creator, of which these languages were offshoots. Or so Sanskrit  sermoned. There was immediate infighting for the Head Chair, pitting Sanskrit and Tamil at loggerheads. Tamil refused to budge, citing that it had gone Classical before Sanskrit, even as the latter attempted to skirt the issue.

Amid growing cacophony, the group greeted a new arrival. Oriya. This beautiful language spoke with its wondrous twang and informed others of its imminent induction into the Classical Club. The application was made and entry could happen anytime, so it came to the meeting preemptively. The others muttered under their breath. As they readied to parry Oriya’s intrusion, they were caught off guard by a sudden influx of a bevy of other Indian languages into the meeting. All claimed a place in the Classical Club. Soon, the room was populated by over 100 Indian languages, all aspirants to the Classical Club.

Opprobrium spread infectiously among the languages. Verbal exchanges of the unkind kind, in tongues that weren’t comprehensible to the others, began to fly hither and thither. Many lamented the uncultured outrage of the languages of culture.

The supposedly elite club wasn’t so elite anymore. This caused some to reconsider their objective for fighting. They realised they were clinging on to thin air. Someone reminded Tamil of a quote (in Tamil), “Cling to the One who clings to nothing; and so clinging, cease to cling.”

They looked around and realised all of them were clinging on to a title that added nothing to their personalities. The emptiness hit them hard. Sense descended upon the group. They dispersed, with a good word for the others.

In tongues that weren’t comprehensible to them.

How Talk Ended…

Quote:

Quote: “Unquote me!”

Unquote: “Quote you on that!”

Quote: Quote: Quote you on that! “And so I came to life.”

Unquote: Quote: Quote you on that! And so I came to life. “And so I came to an end.”

Unquote:

——————————————————————————————————————-

Quote:

Time was when talk was cheap and abundantly available. Original talk, not quite so. Some humans thought, quite naively, that with evolution talk would grow rarer, and the premium attached, dearer. But no one seemed inclined to bid for it.

For there was much fear.

The fear of an omnipresent apparition partaking, uninvited, on mundane verbal exchanges. Communication underwent a metamorphosis. Languages had evolved, along with humans, but a time came upon humanity when daily exchanges petered into a game between Quote and Unquote. The only way to escape the clutches of the apparition was by means of transplanting one’s thoughts as the words of another soul, preferably dead in nature. Early birds reaped dividends from this technique, not only from evading persecution but from the ancillary benefits of borrowed wisdom. They not only lived longer but their stature seemed to grow in other people’s’ eyes. A virtual virtuous cycle was set in motion.

Apparently.

Those that persisted with churning out original discourse found themselves being transported to the after-life; often against their will. They then served as a fertile source of Quote-Unquote for future generations. Quite sadly, being dead, they couldn’t offer much by way of a defense. A slew of such disappearances caused rapid defections from the League of Disbelievers.

Fear spiked.

As Quote and Unquote flew hither thither, conversations assumed a scary amusing tone. Speakers quoted from the quoted versions of quotes that were themselves quoted from quote-unquote summaries of unoriginal pieces. The web grew so labyrinthine that there was a complete breakdown in law and order. Primary reason was the judge’s inability to pronounce judgments based on facts but on the quoted precedent of irrelevancies. Waves of anarchy swept across the globe. Surprisingly, the anarchists achieved little, as they got embroiled in the process of quoting from prominent anarchists from history. With much quoting-unquoting and little action, the movement died an uneventful death.

The omnipresent apparition nodded in approval.

Gradually, the bastion of independent thought and the sole pursuit of truth – science – came to a grinding halt. Inventions, and inventors, disappeared miraculously, usurped by the apparition. The more effective the invention the sooner it disappeared. With time, humans began witnessing signs of what appeared to be a hybrid life form; a cross between a Neanderthal, a quadruped and a human fitted with a brain-like organ. Only it appeared to have severely limited powers, that could be stultified at Someone’s will.

Humans talked a lot but spoke little. Few had the inclination, or the nerve, to alter the status quo.

Then the disappearances started happening more frequently. It seemed that even a semblance of speech was enough to incur the ire of the omnipresent apparition.

Fear increased exponentially.

Quote, initially overjoyed at having a field day, began feeling pangs of fear himself. He was being called to action so often that he feared coming under the omnipresent apparition’s scanner. Quote was so spooked that he sent word out, asking not to be invoked. Quote‘s message was not to be quoted, of course. He preferred making way for Unquote, who seemed just as uninterested.

Nobody listened. Nobody was in a position to listen. A herd that was so eager to unleash verbal ammunition had reached a state where an utterance was suicidal.

Then, humans stopped talking at all.

Quote died an unquoted death.

Unquote, as usual, had the last word.

For he too had breathed his last.

Unquote:

Ode To The Typo

Time was when every alphabet in the English language could hope to be invited to the Opera of the Words.

Lack of smart phone predictors meant word merchants had to actually rack their brains to spell correctly. Continued demands placed on the brain eventually led to a breakdown, from which humankind failed to recover. Gradualy corect spelings began to fal by the wayside. Occidental misspellings, initially looked down upon, bcame so mainstreem that corect spellings bcam an endangered species.

Reminisenses made sense, to those that followed the thongue.

——

Lyf hd bin hell in da 19th n 20th cenchoories. Da dimmands placd on gettng stuf rite ws onerus. 1der witch demon maid these silly rooles of riting. Of using the ristraints of spelling. Nt for rebells, dis spelling biz! Only fooles play by da rooles. We wantd 2 brk free of this shakles.

V gt away wid phonyticks in phoneticks class, witch helpd us achev sooo much tht r riting ability soard flewently. The con of tence and sentense construkshun. What a constrikshun. 1 dussnt undrstnd y da oldys luvd there wards sooo much. That fell low, Shakes pear. Shake hs pears, sum1. Got cot in da rut and rote by rote abt rotten thngs. Vorse, thy maid us resite da wards of dead ppl in frunt of dose dat cudn b botherd. V don undstnd dat shit nymor. Listning is challengng 4 us. R best riters do the riting in a stile dat v guys folow. V lik simpl, shot vords; witch v shoten futhur. n futhur. Its da neu order.

Den der ws dat otha guy, Vordsworth. He shuddav bin namd Vordsworthless, 4 da pain he causd us al wid hs outwordly ramblings. Den der wer da othrs. A long list. Da philosuffers, and there fabulous confabulations. Dis grp deserv special caning. Boyle maid blud boil, Kant ws a c**t, Hegel needed a bagel, Marx gt no marks, Twain ws a pain. Da later wasn even a philosuffer. N yet he managd to do gr8 damage, esp wid hs sillee coat abt histry ryming bt nt repeeting. As u cn cleerlee c, he ws dead. N rong.

Ye abhorrers! Err in gramerr isn’ a horrer! Shunning is a nachooral progresshun. Evolushun. Da purist old hags no knot whts a knot, n whts not. Playng wid wards dussnt giv us ny playsure. Morons. Ah, moreon morons. Da peegeons uf yore dint knw 2 read or rite, yet did a gr8 job uf pissing da cumunicashuns. Hooeva thot uf drillng orda in wards.

Dey say luv cs knw langooage. Cudn hv bin writer. Bein wardless is no barrear 2 leting an outlet 2 feelngs. Wht nighther wnts in da nights is a conworseation. V lyk strait acshun. Wards cum in da way. Amid gets da midgets. Ading mor payne 2 lyf.

Bt v suffur frm shot concentrashun as a result. Nighther cn v hold a thot.

Can knot, not a can, can v? V can. Not knot a can.

V can rite. Yet.

Ther wil cum a time to per4m da last writes.

Til thn, may sence, or sentence, prewail.

When Shit Got Pricier Than Gold: Manzoni’s Excremental Alchemy

The canvas of painting history painted a lustrous picture of the wonders of the brush.

Art connoisseurs, real and otherwise, regularly paid obeisance and sang paeans to vivid masterpieces. Rising wealth in recent decades meant that many of these wonders came to be viewed as an investment class. Picasso and Rembrandt now adorned the walls of wealthy patrons; who almost unanimously, liked to think of themselves as connoisseurs.

To the art cynic, however, artists and painters seemed masters at profound conceptual mumbo-jumbo. A few lines here, a few there, random gobs of colour strewn carelessly, with great care, on canvas often resulted in a masterpiece that fetched a fortune. The naysayer was brushed off, ironically, by the artist, on the grounds of utter ignorance at appreciating beauty. The cynics, however, made some of the artists pause and ponder about the state of affairs.

Veiled irreverence had always been a potent tool in a provocateur’s arsenal. A snide remark on his apparent ineptness as a painter from one of his own set off reactive impulses in Italian brushman Piero Manzoni; who rather inadvertently through his actions taught the world an entertaining lesson on the values of popular delusion.

Stung by criticism, Manzoni decided to carry out a real-time experiment. In 1961, he put art connoisseurs to the test by filling 90 tin cans filled with an ounce each; of his valuable excrement and christened his ‘artwork’, Artist’s Shit. The action, rather harmless in intention, turned into a vivid parody of art in subsequent years.

Manzoni intended each can to be priced equal to the prevailing price of Gold by weight. The price of each can would vary according to the fluctuating price of Gold. In 1961, this valued Manzoni’s finely preserved faeces at $37 each, a princely amount for a thing of shitty value.

Shit was worth as much as Gold.

Given his stature among art appreciators, Manzoni’s cans gained in allure with the passage of time. A piece of art was, of course, theoretically priceless, in the eyes of art lovers. Several regime changing events occured in the 1970s, which resulted in Gold’s value fluctuating with gay abandon since. Manzoni’s cans came into their own.

30 years after the cans came into being, art auctioneer Sotheby’s auctioned one can for a rather eye-popping $67,000. The price of Gold meanwhile, poor commodity, had soared to only $375/ounce. Manzoni’s faeces changed hands at 170 times their ‘fair’ price. Rational humans were in the act.

Shit had got pricier than Gold.

But, rationalisation has always been a ready elixir to our actions. Of course, Manzoni’s faeces were in short supply (he died an untimely death). More of it could simply not be created, unless someone volunteered to sit in.

A thing of scarcity value only becomes more (in)valuable with time. Then in 2007, Sotheby auctioned one can…for a monumental $163,000. Gold, meanwhile, after a stellar rally, had only managed to reach $650/ounce. In keeping with the spirit of the recession, another can changed hands for $157,000 in October 2008, at the onset of the financial crisis. Gold managed to inch up to $780/ounce.

After fetching 250 times the price of Gold in 2007, humans demonstrated their natural rationality by remembering the recession and Manzoni’s excrement fell out of favour, somewhat.

Shit was priced at only 200 times the price of Gold. 

 

Manzoni's Shit

Some felt that Manzoni’s parody on rationality and consumerism had left a bad odour, not-so-ironically, on human beings. Yet others felt that humans had displayed acute understanding of scarcity value.

We humans had learnt our lesson.

Or had we?

The Art Of Rural Warfare

Agitations are the in thing this season. The voyager is witness to many a fast-unto-deaths for various causes. Some to find a solution to the centuries-old problem of corruption and others zealously requesting a separate state. Some of these efforts could be termed genuine but in most other instances, protagonists furtively tend to their grumpy stomachs every now and then, hoping to outwit peeping Toms. Peeping Toms appreciate that fasting can be a tough business; with the indulger often ending up hungry, so an occasional helping of Potato Chips dipped in tomato sauce followed by chicken biryani and tea shouldn’t be a deplorable offence.

I shall not bother the reader with necessary details such as motivation behind the demonstration and so on. Henceforth, the demonstration will be referred to as the Movement and the demonstrators, the Illuminati.

A brief introduction to the typical Art of Rural Warfare is in order though, prior to the story.

A street-war in bucolic locales begins with a tuneful jangling of the vocal chords, reminiscent of a tiger’s growl and a visible frontward coiling of the tongue, akin to an elephant’s curl of its trunk prior to attack. The Wail is expected to achieve multiple objectives of revving up one’s dormant battle instincts, striking fear in the hearts of the opponent and arousing slumbering soldiers. It is generally most useful in accomplishing the last objective. Contortions of the tongue and protruding eyes are intended to impress upon the opponent the seriousness of one’s malevolent intentions. The opponent is expected to back down at this warning but generally, in accordance with Newton’s Third Law, the opponents repay with an equal and opposite reaction. For no fault on its part, the loincloth which adorns the gents is then subject to several slaps around the thigh-area, followed by wind-mill like motion of the arms, as the warriors shadow swim above water. The body is known to join in and so do the legs in a rigorous warm-up just before commencement of battle.

Baleful voices found their way into my ears. I craned my neck in the direction of the source and discovered mace-like hands sparring with the air above and determined feet punishing the earth beneath. For a moment, the mob seemed to resemble a pack of irate mongrels. Adorned in colourful clothing and equipped with flags that emitted fluorescence, the Illuminati were self-professed flag bearers of the Movement. The group halted on an open field and on closer inspection, one discovered a range of metal accessories that are generally commonplace in gladiatorial contests. The only missing ingredient (which wasn’t missed for long) was a catalyst to flag off the drama. One wasn’t sure if the Illuminati had a definite objective that they were working towards. Not that it mattered; to them or to me.

The time-tested technique to incite a jingoist mob is a Socratic attempt at a discussion on the pros-n-cons of the issue at hand. This was the Movement. How could anyone question the prudence of such a noble activity? A Socrates regrettably committed this grave sin.

The leader of the pack – a gentleman inclined towards roundness – let out an ungentle-manly growl hoping to drill jingoism back into the fidgety mob, which looked like succumbing to reason. The snarl only succeeded in shooing real mongrels away. The air-beating resumed and the leader’s voice was lost in the debris of cacophony that had broken out. These are things that are too much for the Ego to handle. Smarting from the dismissive nonchalance with which he was greeted by the Illuminati, the leader thought it appropriate to unleash another round of verbal ammunition, this time at a higher octave.

The Illuminati seemed to quieten for a bit. Impressed, the leader stomped his feet and was beginning to consider his next move when a simpleton landed in the leader’s vast constitution. Someone had shoved the simpleton from his left, who lost balance and thought of embracing the leader for support. The latter, however, misinterpreted the simpleton’s decorous intentions. Glowering, he seized the man and decided to let his restive hands do the communication.

The simpleton felt a mace coming to an abrupt halt in his cheek. Dazed at the assault he took some moments to regain his composure. The leader, meanwhile, looked around to his sycophants for approval; nodding his head and smiling in self-congratulation. He hadn’t considered a guerrilla manoeuvre by the simpleton, though. Fleet-footed, the simpleton compensated for the great mismatch in body volume with agility that had never managed to convince the leader of its utility.

A leg, swinging like a pendulum, disappeared into the leader’s underbelly.

The protrusion around his centre of gravity prevented the leader from addressing the point of impact with his eyes. The leader’s hands, abruptly reminded of their primary responsibilities, moved involuntarily towards the gentleman’s ailing sausage, caging it in protection. It was too late. The cost of the lapse was borne by the leader, who let out a roar in pain, whirled around and sat down. In subsequent proceedings he took no further part.

The sycophants swung into action, drawing out their weapons of mass destruction. The simpleton’s camp followed and battle lines were drawn. The reflection of the sun off the metals seemed to stir a whiff of reason into the soldiers, who thought it wise to replace weapons with their hands. The sycophants turned towards their leader for a battle cry and were greeted instead with a low-frequency whine. Overcome with consternation at this sight, the sycophants decided to exact revenge.

The typical Rural Warfare setting outlined in the beginning of this story played out to near perfection. Roars rippled out in all directions, tongues curled in unison, eyes magnified to twice their normal size, thighs suffered in stoic silence and arms waved in circular motion in both camps. This proceeded for what seemed like an eternity with each side inviting the other to take first strike. Heartfelt abuses were hurled to and fro; directed first at the opponent and then invoking ancestors several generations back in time. One felt sorry for the souls who were responsible for putting these Illuminati on earth. So stinging were the abuses to the kindred clans. But the impending fisticuff remained a stillborn.

The ‘war’ threatened to be played out solely in the verbal realm. The sycophants had seen the fate of their leader and as much as they adored him, were loath to join him in pain. The simpleton’s party, meanwhile, wisely considered the mismatch in numbers, apart from the mismatch in physical bulks which was roughly 2.5:1. Both sides judiciously, but regrettably, settled for verbal warfare. As the gullets grew weary, momentum was lost and both sides menacingly cowered away, unwilling to give a quarter. The leader was escorted away by his sycophants, sausage firmly protected by the hand guards.

So, after an entertaining lag, reason had triumphed over jingoism and egos. A magnificent build-up to what promised to be a grand spectacle had fizzled out.

What about the Movement?

It didn’t matter. Either to them. Or to me.

—————-

This is a re-run of an old post. Similar circumstances to those described above reminded HaLin of this post lost in the archival depths of Haphazard Linkages.

The Sachin Tendulkar Effect: When The Old Guard Fought Back

Finely attuned ears began hearing faint rumblings of discord in the cricketing world. The Brotherhood of the Retired was seen furtively scampering off to their favourite pub – The Old Guard – in the dark of the night to discuss a matter of growing importance.

The attendees had all retired from the game, and were somewhat weary of warming the benches in the commentator’s box in dreary test matches that no one bothered to watch. The uber veteran expert opinionators encountered a new grouse. The commentator’s box faced a population explosion problem. Hitherto, opinions, sane or otherwise, were seldom in short supply but experts were. Now, a new batch of Old Guards had taken birth and were jostling for a stake in the commentator’s microphone.

The veteran Old Guards decided to summon the new Old Guards to smooth things out and to explore a peaceable solution. Sachin Tendulkar was invited as a special guest to offer thoughts. Tendulkar exuded stoic silence, as usual, opting to let silence do the communication.

Veteran Old Guard Ravi Shastri was seen hooting at the top of everyone’s voices, in a veiled but hopeless attempt at drawing attention. The shirt-ripper Sourav Ganguly, self-anointed leader of the new Old Guards, furiously waved his Armani signalling Shastri to back off. His boom boxed, Shastri yelped and sat down.

This infuriated Navjot Sidhu, the Senior Wrangler, who was entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring no meeting was ever tainted by the vice of peacefulness. He did his bit, and with his brusque brouhaha, managed to evoke an equal and opposite reaction from Danny Morrison. Danny M huffed, face contorted, mouth and eyes pointing in humanly impossible directions. He made a valiant attempt at beating Sidhu at his own game but the latter countered with a dangerous weapon – the word bomb. Sidhu trembled, words scarily rushed out in rapid succession; Peace made a hasty exit. The veteran Old Guards seemed in charge.

Or so it seemed.

Loath to miss an opporunity at letting someone else walk away with the laurels of instigating a ruckus, Ganguly grabbed the microphone and hinted that the veteran Old Guard ought to move on. Retire. Again. It was time for the new Old Guard and fresh Old Blood to clean up the mess left behind by the veterans, and create a messy legacy of their own. The long dead W. G. Grace, was seen vividly expressing his displeasure (it seemed he wasn’t allowed to bat first, which seemed to irk him the most). The psychoanalyst and accidental Captain Mike Brearley chimed in with a whisper of approval. Shastri had an attack of his customary Feelings and yelled his innards out, as always, for no reason and little provocation. Gavaskar silently lobbied for the commentary box at the Wankhede Stadium to be named after him. Ramiz Raja and Aamir Sohail seemed clueless, as usual.

Kapil Dev, with a rich history of letting tears do the talking at opportune moments, outswung into action. Finding a perfect spot, in line with the lead camera, Kapil cried his gullet inside out. Every little drop of tears was summoned from the recesses of his being and unleashed at the opponents. The veteran Old Guards smiled, even as Kapil wailed himself into enervation. Not to give the veteran Old Guards an inch, Ganguly sent Vinod Kambli to counterattack. Kambli came forth and exploded in a tear bath that seemed to knock the great Kapil off his rails. The latter quickly collected himself and parried with a seductive display of passionate tear making. A sympathy wave enveloped the veteran Old Guards. The new Old Guard seemed worsted.

Ganguly, prudently, shifted track and requested the special guest to speak a few words.

Tendulkar took him quite literally.

As the new grand old Samaritan still adorning whites, many hoped that his statesman demeanour might calm things down. After what seemed like an eternity, the Little Master cleared his throat and out came a stream of words in all their empty glory. Many leaned forward, lest their aging ears failed to pick up words of erudition. Some claimed to have heard the occasional semi-moderate decibel ‘proud’. Tendulkar seemed lost in thoughT.

God then spoke.

He made a fervent and moving plea to the Old Guards, addressing both the new and the old, encouraging them to return to the cricket field. In a single shot, he silenced the warring parties. Even Sidhu and Danny M fell silent.

Tendulkar urged the Brotherhood of the Retired to shed their inhibitions, legacy and historical inertia in favour of a path-breaking step. The Retired ought to make a comeback. To buttress his persuasion, he cited veterans from other sports, his friend Michael Schumacher for instance, as luminaries whose examples ought to be followed. He even invoked the long forgotten memory of Nolan Clarke. Now, a princely 64 years old, and thrilled to have found a mention, Clarke cast his weight behind the Little Master. Fellow forgotten Old Guards John Traicos, Miran Bux and James Southerton, the oldest Test debutant, were unamused at being ignored.

The new Old Guard seemed thrilled. Given his many unsuccessful attempts at continuing in his state of cognitive dissonance with regards to his playing days, Ganguly was seen smiling the widest. Ponting, Srinath, Jayasuriya, Dravid, Kumble, and Shane Warne were all seen warming up, stretching their dormant muscles. Tendulkar’s stature, meanwhile, soared a little more.

The enthusiasm seemed to rub off. Drawing inspiration from the new Old Guards, the veteran Old Guards plotted their comeback.

Everyone was happy.

Tendulkar managed to add another record to his cap.

He never retired.

—————-

It is hoped that the cricket devoted post will not put off HaLin’s beloved non-cricketing nation readers. Baseball, unfortunately, bears some resemblance to the glorious sport but any allusion to cricket’s quality is purely a figment of the baseball fan’s imagination. HaLin admires all sports equally, after cricket.

The Messiah Of Failure

In a congregation of oddities, a group, consumed in the seductive embrace of success, gathered for a rather queer objective. To eulogize the lone soul in their coterie, one that had doomingly succumbed at the sharp jaws of failure.

The Brotherhood of the Successfuls were surprised that nobody suspected that the eulogy was a covert attempt at adding to their vast ego, by vulturing on the remains of the exception. This practice had been invented somewhere along the long arm of Time and was widely regarded as an instant means for self-gratification. The Brotherhood smiled, imagining the damnation that was forthcoming. Flunky took his place in the center of a circular maze of chairs. The circle was thought to be the most useful formation for such ceremonies. The arena soon buzzed with eager beavers, gleefully awaiting the gladiatorial contest. Flunky seemed uncannily calm.

Such ceremonies presented the enthusiastic with a potent weapon for heartfelt outpouring, History. Each member of the elite Brotherhood took turns recounting their success stories. From the glitterati came a famous writer, a painter, politicians, businessmen, musicians, management consultants, investment bankers et al, in a circular ebb and flow of unbridled glory.

A group consisting of arm-chair experts from various arenas, often armed with an impressive array of academic arcana, seemed the most vociferous. Each maven was widely regarded as the foremost thought leader in his/her area. Scores flocked to snatch every word making its way into the world from the abyss of their gifted trachea. Formalities dispensed with, the Brotherhood turned their attention to Flunky. Many provided a moving, eloquent ode to Flunky’s many failures. How he tried things that nobody else wished to, how he eschewed commonly accepted principles, how his attempts at reshaping a tiny corner of the world with his strange ideas were laughable…how they all inadvertently led around in circles.

Flunky soon lost track of the drumroll. Sandwiched amid this exceptional group, he listened quietly, even making a genuine attempt at faking admiration. Almost everyone in the group welcomed his genuineness, correctly interpreting it for awe. The parasiting orgy left many in the Brotherhood in a state of untold bliss. In battles between Humility and Hubris, the latter generally obliterated the former. The Brotherhood added to the warehouse of empirical observations.

After what seemed like an eternity, Flunky rose to speak. He seemed to notice that almost every success was accompanied by a beautiful story. A birth in a trying environment seemed to be a common starting point. Many, in fact, seemed to have emerged like the Sphinx, from the bowels of extreme penury, or navigating a war-torn geography; often with loss of limb, even though all items of the anatomy seemed in perfect working order.

Flunky reminded the Brotherhood that Time gradually erased from collective memory the greatest of success stories. Few cared. Fame was a chimera, and sometimes reflected a parasitic dependence on the part of the Brotherhood, for continued sustenance. The Brotherhood were peering at the world through their tinted prism, where things diffracted into black and white. Shades of grey never entered the fray. It was entertaining to see mortals being judged through a narrowly defined tunnel vision, which the Brotherhood seemed to be rather generously endowed with.

Clinchingly, Flunky reminded the Brotherhood of the process of evolution. Through the passage of Time, the proportion of organisms that perished in the battle for survival (failure) vastly outnumbered the ones that ended up being alive (successful). In Nature, failure was the norm, success the exception. In every walk of societal life, humans admired those adhering to mainstream norms, often ringfencing and deriding the exceptions that ‘didn’t fit in’. If Flunky was a failure, he was simply adhering to evolutionary norm; consequently, he ought to be an object of admiration instead of being a butt of ridicule.

In a society swimming deep in the trappings of nomenclature, it didn’t pay to take oneself too seriously.

Socratic logic seldom worked, in general, but particularly when unleashed on a group deeply entrenched in self-created dogma. Low on humour, and high on pomposity – quite misplaced – the Brotherhood were unamused with Flunky’s rejoinder.

They drowned him in another round of verbal bashing, repeatedly highlighting his uselessness.

Those wrapped in the trappings of ‘success’ trumped those in the trappings of ‘failure’.

Everyone was…trapped.

How Economists Triggered A Nuclear War, Using Hyperinflation

Angst threatened to brim over among the Brotherhood of the Economists. In one evening meet at their favourite joint, the Ivory Tower Tavern, these troubled souls reassessed their situation. There was general consensus about the assumption of their pitiable state. It was a rare instance when the Mavens of Assumption agreed on anything, without a War.

Apart from being the butt of ridicule, generally centered around their love for making glorious assumptions, and finer assumptions about crude assumptions, the Brotherhood felt the recession had undone much of their world view. The world had broken down in their theory, though most non-Brotherhood folk held the opposite view. This did not bother the Brotherhood. The recession had pushed many in the Brotherhood into marginal unproductivity, a state worthy of much despair.

The Brotherhood plotted a fight back. They decided to teach the real world an ideal lesson in the real value of their idealized theories.

On scanning the globe for potential sources capable of spreading widespread strife, they chanced upon Iran. Here was an economy that few liked. Its grand plans of nuclearization was seen as a furtive attempt at militarization. The Brotherhood did not understand, or care about, the finer nuances of Uranium and Plutonium and isotopes, which were classified under Boreium. They decided to assume the existence of WMDs to build their strike against the vile world that disregarded their theories.

The Brotherhood were of a non-violent bent of mind. They opted to deploy a tool in their vast armoury so potent that some in the Brotherhood did what came naturally to them – disagree – with the idea. They were worried, for the Brotherhood had decided to unleash the ogre of Hyperinflation.

The Brotherhood reasoned that if they could trigger rampant and widespread rise in prices, uncontrolled misery would follow. The world would pause to watch a disaster unfold, and would learn to treat the Brotherhood with the respect they so naturally deserved. Not many in the world had experienced hyperinflation. An unknown devil could only be exorcised by a skilled hand. Bad times (for Iran) would mean the beginning of good times for the embittered Brotherhood.

They would encourage the legion of well-intentioned and patronizing nations to impose sanctions on Iran. Iran would be shunned by the international trading community. Partnering would be scoffed at, with the defiant running the risk of being ostracised from the community. Most nations would tow the line, gradually. Iran would be isolated. Payments and financial assistance  suspended.  Iran’s well-oiled economy would come to a screeching halt. Faced with evaporating revenue and cash flow, inflation would rear its unwanted head. The falling currency – the rial – would trigger this end.

Everything proceeded according to plan.

The clogging of Iran’s financial arteries set off a heart attack, causing an avalanche in its currency. Prices began rising at at nearly 70% per month when someone checked. The government tried its bit in artificially propping up the currency, in the vain hope that somehow problems would be swept under the carpet. It didn’t work. People began losing faith in the currency and this set off a new round of depreciation; which caused faith (and the currency) to plummet further. The vicious cycle threatened to cause a complete breakdown. The inevitable inevitably comes to pass.

Their plans had succeeded in stopping Iran on its nuclear tracks, though there were many that weren’t sure if Iran was indeed in the path to begin with. The Brotherhood was a satisfied lot. The world had been dealt a fatal blow.

Or so they thought.

They hadn’t counted that a rapidly dying man wielding a gun had little to lose, in pulling the trigger. Pushed into a corner with dwindling options, Iran decided to reciprocate the Brotherhood in kind and clogged vital oil arteries (passageways) that greased the world trade. Oil prices spiked, and soon many parts of the world joined the ranks of the despondent. A few suggested that the Brotherhood had triggered a serial heart attack across the globe. The Brotherhood’s eyes and ears, as usual, were locked shut.

As tensions escalated, attempts at dialogue went nowhere. Nuclear weapons, tired of idling for years and accumulating dust, were invited to do the communication. Things turned ugly. Economic warfare had spilled over to an unwanted area.

Pandora’s Box had reopened.

Hyperinflation had triggered an unforeseen consequence. The Brotherhood had wanted to teach the world a lesson. They lined up to learn one.

…with their chests (hyper)inflated.

Off-topic: 25-Word Story

The customary three-digit word sighting is in hibernation. In its place appears a 25-word variant, conveying a story.

Ray beams. Paper reams.

Eyes gleam, Ponzi scheme,

Zealous stream. Bursting seam…

Deafening scream!

Pipe dream. Sunk regime.

Losing steam; soul redeems.

…Nested dream.

Silence.

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“Brevity is the daughter of Laziness.”

– Unknown (but possibly linked to yours truly)

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25-word rejoinders would be welcome in the Comments.

 

On The Futility Of Eating. Marriages. How To Reduce Food Wastage, By Banning Marriages

On The Evolution & Futility of Eating

By assigning appropriate weights to preconceived biases and no objectivity, one would be drawn to posit that the act of living out a life is an activity high on wastefulness. Being alive is a tough chore.

The aboriginal human found much nourishment in the rawness afforded by Nature. Climb a tree, pluck and devour fruits whose names early Adam did not know (or care about), or dive into friendly waters for a wondrous menu of exotic aquatica, or, if he had the motivation, to hunt for slippery quadrupeds. Everyone was entertained and lived happily; though some died in the process.

But all good things come to an end.

Nobody knows why we are here but being here, we enthusiastically look forward to indulging in belly enhancement. As mankind progressed, we experienced a bewildering desire to attain a level of culture in our eating habits. Few paused to ruminate, pun unintended, that after a very brief interlude spent flirting with the insides of the mouth, food’s journey through the gullet was swift, and once it landed in the stomach, the drama was over. Food entered the mouth in one form, journeyed in another and reached the stomach in a completely unrecognisable form. During meal times, we periodically indulge in the above activity, not once but several times over. Repeating the same set of movements.

Then, some more changes happened.

Multi-century growth in paper wealth and technological advancements led to a situation where we now produce more food than we eat more than we need. In this indecent show of gluttony are a great number of humans that go hungry.

Death is a given but we derive much thrill from delaying the process. Eating is a global bane.

Included in the assorted obnoxious wastes that are expelled naturally, in the process of eating, food wastage is a particularly unwanted consequence. Contributory factors behind this wastage can be traced to the development of another fad. Marriages.

The Futility of Marital Union

Much as death is the norm, life the exception, marriage is an exception to Nature’s evolutionary norm of polyamory. By inwasteing in medical research, we have succeeded in prolonging the exception of life. And by a jingoistic obsession with marital bondage, we have tried to achieve something similar in another arena.

Nature eventually prevails, as the chart below, capturing Marriage and Divorce trends in UK, seems to indicate.

Monetary benefits and convenience aside, there is no compelling reason for humans to indulge in the blissful ignorance of marital bliss. Through evolution, Companionship and Pleasures never knew about the existence of the M-word, which remains an entertaining man-concocted attempt at altering the course of Nature.

Radical Proposal: How To Reduce Food Wastage, By Banning Marriages

Policy actions that reverse these unwelcome trends should be welcomed and given a fair run. Much good can be achieved by addressing both these ills, ideally through a single policy.

One such radical proposal follows.

India is a good geography to begin with, for multiple reasons. In a wondrous irony, India has the second largest stockpile of food in the world yet has a quarter of its populace going to bed hungry and is home to over 40% of the world’s undernourished children. In addition to these, it is also one of the geographies best known for Big-Fat Weddings, where ostentatiousness is directly proportional to one’s apparent ‘arrival’ in society. Multi-thousand guest lists are common and understated vulgarity is scoffed at.

Some fun with numbers, to get a handle of the size of the problem. According to the Food Ministry, 100,000 weddings and social galas happen daily. Assuming a bare minimum of 50 guests are invited to the food fiesta, that’s a princely 5 million belly enhancers at work. Daily. Further assuming that the average meal weighs 500 gram, that’s 2.5 million kilogram of food. About 20% is wasted (an underestimate, most probably), so this translates into a conservative guesstimate of half a million kilogram of food wasted. Daily.

Some value guesstimates. At $5 per plate (conservative), $25 million is directed towards this display, daily. At 20% wastage run-rate, $5 million goes down the drain, quite literally, every day. ~$2 billion per year in wastage. Spread over a decade, this would dwarf Cyprus’ economy.

The distribution of food wastage is most likely skewed towards certain geographies, thanks to such ancillary activities of entertainment. Banning marriages might likely stem this rot, on needless wastage of precious food and needless wastage of (essentially worthless) money.

This would, additionally, also set right our aberrational tampering of Nature’s basic diktats of polyamory.

Successful application, overcoming intense resistance, could then encourage extensions to other geographies. Gradually, the entire globe would be covered under this policy, which shall fall under the aegis of a pan-global body, intended at rectifying Man’s blasphemy of Nature.

The body might be named, somewhat tongue-in-cheek as; Humans for humans, against Natures Laws. Which is true enough to convince unsuspecting humans to take the bait.

The inherent limitations and one-leggedness of this radical proposal is not lost on yours truly. But then, were one to ponder, most plans that humans have instituted throughout history for supposed community benefit have never really worked well for everyone and have broken down, at various points.

Going bust is the norm. One hopes this humble proposal shall be added to the long list of futile experiments attempted by Man.

No one died trying.

The Ant Of War: A Fire Ant Breathes Fire

Disclaimer: No ants were harmed for this story. They killed themselves. Sadly, permanently.

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A group of young ants, frolicking with the gay abandon that accompanies the fountain of youth, untainted by experience or memory of dark days; stumbled upon a closet. Out came a scribbled note, reasonably legible but soiled with time, penned by one of their long deceased predecessors; a Fire Ant. As the group waded through the lost chronicle of Ant History, merry ignorance gave way to inspired but misplaced consternation.

For the note read thus.

Fellow industrious pests,

History was, and shall never be, the voice of the dead. So I write, my brethren, knowing not how much of the gift of Time I have left. My dearest friends and nearest kin have perished and I am certain that my end is closing upon me. Stir up your attention, my future generations! For Time is in short supply and the memory of the Great War ought to live on…

All isn’t well in our vast Kingdom. Light and us were never the best of friends, but in the dark precincts of the Underworld, where we dwell, darkness and pent-up strife reign supreme. A disaster of massive proportions has befallen us, mighty Masters of survival.

One of Man’s foremost pests of choice, for centuries, we have been pulling off miracles beyond the capacities of most other organisms. We migrated, worked incredibly hard, decimated crops and wood where we could, conquered almost all of Earth, solved bewilderingly complex problems, withstood the ravages of time, hail and rain, stung fiercely often not caring for our lives, brought down mighty elephants a kabillion times our size, and inflicted inestimable damage on humanity. And, we found the time to multiply extremely quickly.

But I realised, belatedly and after much loss of life, that we aren’t so smart, after all.

A populace of hard workers unschooled in the art of considered thought, eventually fall prey to the stuffy embrace of Slavery or Death. Our fellow folk perished, in a vain attempt at conquering a fiend we did not know much about. Actually, none at all.

We finally met an enemy worthy enough to put us to the test. We went looking for a usual quick decimation; we ended up being decimated.

Man had struck Oil. We had struck a skid pan.

One fine day, the day’s early starters noticed a large Cauldron, in the middle of nowhere. With characteristic nonchalance, a group of 20 soldiers managed to scale the Cauldron’s peak. The last sight that greeted onlookers was of this group disappearing on the other side. Time ticked by. They never returned.

40 young, enthusiastic but rather foolhardy tyros set off behind them, with no particular agenda in mind. They too, my fellow brethren, never returned.

The disappearance of 60 brave soldiers quickly caught the attention of the General. Enraged and intrigued, he ordered 150 battle-hardened jocks to take stock. This group set off, long on bravado and short on information, behind the lost fellow-men. Time gradually ticked by. Not one of the 150 was ever seen again. The other side of the Great Cauldron, as it came to be known, now began terrifying Ant-folk. A wise soul counseled that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. Nobody cared to listen. Wisdom seldom found an audience.

The General, a trifle irked, summoned the SW.ANT Regiment, an elite group of warriors specially trained for extreme combat. 300 of these, the entire regiment, were ordered to conquer the nemesis. Murmurs of embarking on a suicide mission were heard but were drowned in the din of jingoistic agitation. A grand send off was arranged. More than a few thought this was a final goodbye. Many in the Regiment appeared to have witnessed the Gates of Heaven. Off they went.

Never to return.

Panic now visibly ran high. The loss of 500 of the very best warrior Ant-folk was an unprecedented loss in Ant history, in one skirmish. The raging General, exhibiting tremendous erudition, sent more on the way in the name of Patriotism, caring not to venture himself. Direction was called for, apparently and he considered himself irreplaceable. My family and best friends perished in this valiant act of blind Patriotism.

By a stroke of miracle, I managed to chance upon this picture, which captured the gory aftermath of the War. I share this, hoping it shall serve as a sobering reminder.

Few kept count. The Great Cauldron of Oil, as it came to be known, had consumed us. Too many of our brethren guzzled too much, only to be snared by Oil’s viscous entrapment. I learnt that Man called it Edible Oil. I’m at a loss to understand why.

This War, my friends, dented us irrevocably. Retaliatory sparring, when the cause is weakly understood, quickly gives way to mindless war. The end is as gory as it is unnecessary.

The General looks set to be overcome by insanity any moment. I write this, from my hide-out, knowing not when I shall get the Summon. I hope, my dear folk, that you learn from the errors of your past generations, who weren’t very smart after all.

But having seen this cycle several times over my life, I’m fairly certain that you, my dear friends, shall never learn.

Soon-to-be-dead,

——x——

Pictures courtesy: HaLin

‘Did Copper-nick-us?’ An Ode To Nicolaus Copernicus. & How Mankind Fought Back

Kind Attention: Mr. Copernicus (Dead: May 24, 1543)

At the outset, one hopes you are dead, and well.

Very few in their lifetimes can lay claim to fanning a Revolution. That you managed to overturn centuries of the Old Order is testimony to your towering presence in the annals of history. With one disarmingly simple observation, that the Earth revolved around the Sun, you changed the course of Science, decimated greats such as Aristotle and Ptolemy, and dwarfed the Earth and Earthlings alike with your mighty brain. Mankind has never been the same since.

You set us on the path of ruin.

You were born in the city of Thorn. We, Sire, live in one.

Pardon the sudden change in track but your passport to Science immortality inadvertently set in motion a chain of events so intriguing and dastardly that we, hapless humans, are paying the price for your intellectual bravura. All was well before your tome, On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres, shook the world. Man was exultant in the secure ignorance that Earth, his home, was the center of the Universe. Let us pause awhile to digest that feeling.

For someone living in a post-Copernican world, the idea of being the Center of Everything is a pleasing thought, a much coveted Holy Grail position, and the closest to experiencing Nirvana. It is gratifying to believe that those small and big spheres strewn around the vast expanse of darkness that few care to see, are silently, obediently, doing your bidding. Revolving around you, in daily obeisance. You ended our tryst with ignorance and shattered our world of dreamy illusions. For that, we shall ever remain ungrateful.

Whilst earlier, Man found satisfaction in simple, trivial and quite useless activities; star-gazing and sleeping, for instance, post your Revolution, we have been forced to attain a level of sophistication in our activities. With the realisation of our triviality in the larger scheme of the Universe, we have endeavoured to conjure up novel ways to create an illusion of leading a meaningful life, of etching our ‘special’ place among…no one, really.

Come, take a closer look. Woven in the tapestry of trivialities, you shall find novelties that are likely to boggle even a mighty a brain as yours. Dislike for fellow humans has increased gradually over the centuries, since your Revolution. Much of this can be attributed to your heliocentric discovery. Earlier, everyone was equal, united, in a Universal sense. Now, it is the opposite. The sceptre of inconsequential existence has forced humans to seek solace in inhuman endeavours, in an amusing attempt at differentiation. Our yearning for differentiation and infusing some semblance of meaning in our lives has led us to specialise in an art-form called Social Networking and in the mad pursuit of papers of (supposed) value.

…which brings me to one of your rarely known talents. Finance and Economics.

You, Sire, were a true genius. Of that there cannot be a shred of doubt.

Not many of us know that you lay the foundation stones for what eventually became the Gold Standard. And the metallization of currency. Truly remarkable indeed, for a Scientist. That you even managed to carve a name for yourself in history, untouched by that manipulative successor of yours, Sir Isaac Newton, is commendable.

You stated what eventually became famous as Gresham’s Law (bad money will drive out good money). In a remarkable display of sanity sadly absent among most of our present-day Economists, you cautioned us about the ill-effects of inundating economies with ‘cheap’ money. That ‘cheap’ money shall dominate at the expense of the ‘strong’ money. We, Sire, have not listened, for we haven’t cultivated the habit of listening to the whispers of Reason.

While you did your bit to remind us of our uselessness, we have retaliated by repudiating all of your sound principles of currency management. We tried our hand at using metals as currency, but wily fellows clandestinely but repeatedly nicked the gold, silver and copper content out of our coins. The bad money was driving out the good. But we continued believing that our coins had the same value as the days of yore. Yes, Sire, go ahead, let out that chuckle.

Time wore on and we realised that we didn’t have enough metals to put into our coins, so we blasphemed your principles further. We decided to abandon metals as a base of currency, for good. We moved to paper. Paper gave us a free rein, with no upper bound. We could print as much as we wanted (till the trees bid us goodbye). Our appetites have been insatiable since. We now have so much paper floating in the world, the ones in our wallets are well-nigh useless. Yet, we continue to believe that papers are valuable; hence the maddening pursuit of monetary enrichment. Yes, Sire, go ahead, let out that chuckle.

With one disarmingly simple observation, that paper could replace metals, we changed the course of Finance. Mankind has never been the same since.

You tried to nick us. We reciprocated. And set ourselves on the path of ruin…

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But you shall remain one of the most intriguing polymaths ever to have lived on Earth.

You were at the Center of it all.

And, you weren’t.

I remain, your ardent admirer.

HaLin

How To Make A Living, In Useless But Indispensable Vocations

The aboriginal man, primitivity notwithstanding, probably learnt about the direct relationship between risk and reward. Sit atop a tree, never venture down to hunt and he probably realised that he would be alive and well. Until hunger, or a snake, snared him. Gradually he expanded his sphere of movement and risk reduced, as awareness grew. Now risk lay in the unknown regions beyond aboriginal man’s sphere of influence.

This idea of risk-reward has since been passed on generationally to the present day. But as with serial mutations, the basic idea underwent an evolution of sorts. With survival issues taken care of, man turned his attentions towards recreational aggrandizement. Means took a backseat as ends assumed center-stage.

So it came to be that there are pursuits where one’s pay-off bears no relationship to the risks assumed. Seemingly useless professions have turned out to be incredibly indispensable, in the larger scheme of uselessness. What’s more, riches beckon to those smart enough to embrace these endeavours.

A short primer on how to make a living by indulging in these wondrous professions follows, for the interested. Parent readers might consider sharing this with their children. Others might consider a life-altering career change. Your gratitude shall be well received.

There exist today a battery of vocations that project an illusion of accomplishing a social relevant and useful objective. Mastering this art of illusion is of utmost importance, gaining precedence over everything else. A sample collection of professions is presented below.

Generally, examples of such pursuits abound in service-oriented pursuits; such as Consulting and Economics.

Consulting, first. A coup of gargantuan proportions can be achieved by those adopting this lucrative line of endeavour. The basic dynamics are quite simple. A glossy B-school degree is a great starting point. Demographically, great care should be taken to ensure that the protagonist’s age is on the right side of 25, under 20 is better. Miniscule(/no) knowledge of the real world is a marvellous quality to possess, for this profession. Only familiarity with manufacturing needed is in the important area of enthusiasm. Talent in believing in (and spreading) delusion ranks highly, in the hierarchy of importance.

Investments in ornate adornments, a shiny wardrobe, is a prerequisite. Some familiarity with exotic pursuits – art, wines, single malts, global warming – is desirable, as they have been known to be worthy catalysts in professional advancement. Finally, a set of clients, reasonably schooled in ignorance, would round out the coup. It is of critical importance for 20-and some’s to sermon industry veterans, who have often spent more time in their industries than the tyros have spent on Mother Earth.

Next, is Economics. A PhD in Combinatorial, Fractal, Mental Econometrica is Holy Grail enough. Talents in Confusopoly and sustained usage of terrifying jargon would confer an impregnable moat. Professionals should then master the art of recommending the opposite of whatever is rationally desirable. This has the effect of transferring the burden of the counterfactual on the receiver (who incidentally, pays liberally for this service). Since the professional would make good moolah irrespective of the quality of their track record, risk is minimal for a very fat pay-off. Experience in engendering economic disasters would help in brandishing a colourful resume. Humans are generously endowed with short-term memory, especially with respect to undesirable outcomes. This is the professional’s strongest USP.

Social media pursuits of various kinds come next. One might consider building an ‘app’ that lets users click pictures, then turn them into appropriately grainy masterpieces that no one can decipher, and lo! the Internet Picassos stand to make a fortune. It is not just imperative for the company to generate no revenue whatsoever; it should carry a credible promise of never generating revenue, let alone profits, in the foreseeable future. A company like a Facebook might find it very valuable to buy this invaluable company out for a couple billion papers-of-value.

Second and higher order professions – some cynics refer to these as parasitic professions –  are another promising area. News-makers, media fall under this category. In the only known exception to the Laws of Conservation of Physics, an ability to create something from nothingness is a peerless trait to possess. On this measure, psychiatry may also be considered, though the pay-off is likely to be gradual and plateau beyond a point. Needless intrusion into others’ lives and making them feel it is a moral obligation for them to participate is another art form that needs mastery. Finally, would-be parasites should be able to convince the source that it is the parasite that is superior.

The above suggested pursuits share common characteristics. They are indispensable in the larger scheme of uselessness, project a credible illusion of societal utility, offer fat pay-offs for little or no risk and reasonable certainty of recurring cash flow, over long periods.

Going to/sending your children to the battle front is a monumentally stupid endeavour, carrying huge risks for no reward (very often), often ending in death. In the same breath, devoting one’s life to medical research directed at eradicating dreaded diseases is another useless endeavour. This is generally true for research of any kind aimed at community benefit. Pay-off is dismal and there is no certainty of a successful find that could, in the very least, lead to a Nobel.

Finally, there are professions that carry little or no risk, for little or no reward whatsoever.

If nothing else works, one could always become a blogger.