How French Fries Conquered Nuclear Warfare

The world was in a state of suppressed dread over the prospect of Nuclear war. Nuclear Code-rattling in parts of the world had raised the spectre of a global nuclear fight. Several nations considered the possibility of being pulled into the vortex, often against their will.

Much time was devoted to finding peaceful solutions. Everyone wanted peace. Yet wanted to fight.

A solution was found.

Food warfare.

The Earth was producing so much food that a problem of scarcity had turned into a problem of plenty. Compared to 5 billion tonne of food in early 1960s, earthlings now produced 18 billion tonnes of food annually. This translated into over 2 tonnes of food per human on earth every year.

Including all competitors for food, it was tough for each eater to down 2 tonnes of food every year. One-third of food fit for human consumption was wasted anyway. This wastage could be put to good use.

As an instrument of war.

The spatial distribution across the Earth’s landscape meant food surpluses in some geographies. Mirrored by food shortages in others. Same held true for the distribution patterns of food wastage. Fat supply, too, was in abundance in some developed geographies, with scarcity in others.

War strategy would be simple. It would involve taking stock of food wastage – the low hanging fruits, pun unintended – and ICBM-ing food on enemy territory. For instance, a targeted, sustained fat shower would induce the erstwhile undernourished regions to help themselves to these freebies. Rather than grumble about bombardment, the attacked could find occasion to thank their enemies. Their governments would be grateful as well. What they struggled to solve for decades would be solved by an enemy. In a jiffy.

Selling the idea domestically would be a piece of cake too. Belligerent nations with food surpluses could wrap the war idea in truly humanitarian robes. Fat/protein/fruit/vegetable/carb bombardment on enemies that did not have basic human nourishment needs was a virtue. Who could disagree? They could point to the patchy record of aid interventions. Bombardment of enemy territories that needed basic necessities of life would be the most bona fide way to solve longstanding problems. This would also solve pesky food inequality questions. Past wars had developed a bad name as narratives weren’t packaged as altruistic intentions.

Scenario impact analysis would paint a picture of enemy populations feasting on so much food that folks would begin dying of overeating. The same outcomes from nuclear war would be realised. Achieved through humanitarian means. After the first waves, late movers would begin seeing the benefit and indulge in barter warfare. Mutual surplus food items would form part of attack arsenals.

As the world settled into this new scheme of things, longer-run implications would involve cutback in defence spending, and increased allocation to building surplus food arsenals. Watching the benefits of food warfare, potential warlords/dictators would take a leaf of this book, and step up massive food spending. What worked on enemies could work just as well on their own.

As a means of subjugating Peoples and winning wars, food would emerge as the most widely palatable weapon of mass destruction.

Was the world ready to ruminate on this?



Credit Seeking In Crypto Land

HaLin is a fan of Fermi Problems, inverting intractable issues, and conjuring up humorous solutions.

This Radical Proposal is a humorous missive on a serious topic. How credit would look like in a crypto world.


Crypto Earth Bank

One of the successes of paper-based monetary systems is the ability to let citizens ‘own’ other people’s money. The fractional banking system, through the multiplicative effect of credit, enables consumers and businesses to have access to capital that they do not own. This system, despite periodic boom-bust cycles, has succeeded in delivering economic ‘growth’. Cash + credit = ‘wealth’. Throw in more credit and voila! more wealth is created.

Earth Bank Crypto (EBC) currency could be created by converting the stash of current notes and coins in circulation in the world (around $ 5 trillion) and distributing it equally to the world’s 7.6 billion people. Each of us would get around $ 658 equivalent of EBC in our decentralised Earth Bank accounts. This is all the cash that each of us would start with. (This would have the happy consequence of silencing wealth inequality activists. Everyone would be equalised by a stroke of computing power).

No central bank, or governments, would be needed to play Class Teacher to keep errant students in check. Or so the idea would be, in theory.

True to our innate nature, though, several would aspire for more wealth. To satisfy our economic needs and unsubtle aspirations at wealth enhancement, we would urgently need access to cash that we did not own.


The Greedy Lend To The Needy

Unused crypto balances of holders could be lent out to those in need of money. Transactions could be recorded on the blockchain, so the trail identified borrowers at all times. To repay, with interest, the borrower would need more crypto. For instance, A borrowing EBC 100, would have to repay EBC 105 at year-end. The borrower would be able to repay with interest only if they managed to garner new cryptos from the existing pile. Borrowers that consume EBCs away with no thought of repayment would be in a bind to repay their crypto debts.

Some enterprising savers, meanwhile, would take to making markets themselves. They would ask for an interest as compensation for their troubles and to protect against defaults. The interest rate they would desire would vary as per varying urgency demands of borrowers. With time, demand for EBC credit would outgrow the rate of growth of EBC itself, leading to interesting outcomes.

The demand would cause the price of EBC and the borrowing rate to go up.

The insatiable growth for EBC credit, and subsequent lack of easy access to new sources of funds, would lead to a wave of defaults. Borrowers and other affected parties would blame usurious crypto lenders. They would urge the Earth Bank to print new crypto. Or let them tap into more unused cryptos, if EBC had a finite limit like Bitcoin. New EBC, or unused cryptos, would have to be passed on borrowers, so they could make whole on their debts.

This would, in all likelihood, lead to a fork. Either the Earth Bank would have to loosen its constraints, and print new EBC to bail out the world. Which would resemble the  present fractional banking system.

Or CreditEBC would come into existence.

With a sole purpose of being used as a transaction medium for EBC credit. Forks, specifically created for credit, could ‘speak’ with other crypto currency through a market observable exchange rate. Rising demand for CreditEBC would cause its price to rise. Unable to access either EBC or CreditEBC, the weakest borrowers would eventually come unhinged. Leading to defaults. And a few suicides.

Earthlings would find that this system was similar to the present system.

The decentralised Earth Bank would be in the same position as commercial banks today. Hoping that not all EBC depositors demand their cryptos back at the same time. And praying that not all borrowers went under.

Cascading defaults would lead to a systemic too-big-to-fail problem. Not unlike the present situation, where banks rely on central bank for bailouts. A consensus would be needed. Finding themselves out of a job, bands of people around the world – who earlier called themselves governments – would try to create a new role for themselves. As overseer of the Earth Bank. They would also aspire to resolve newly created inequalities. Decentralised computing power, overseen by a global band of people, would determine crypto creation. Forks of the inedible kind, built after a consensus was struck, would lead to new crypto currencies.

The blockchain sought to break free of the institutional imperialism of governments and quasi-governmental institutions.

The Earth Bank could take the Earth right back to status quo.


When Ad Hominem & Hypocrisy Met For Coffee

Ad hominem was itching. For a round of verbal warfare.

Anticipating a riveting joust, Ad hominem roamed around, armed with the choicest weaponry from the word arsenal. Knowing his temperament, wary folks chose wisely to distance themselves from his homilies.

But not Hypocrisy.

Hypocrisy was often found advising others to avoid crossing paths with Ad hominem. But staying true to his name, he did the opposite. With a deliberate effort, Hypocrisy loomed large in Ad hominem’s line of sight, and proposed a conversation over a cup of coffee.

Ad hominem launched into a violent takedown. He railed against the current state of the world, and the nature of its inhabitants. He squarely blamed humans of being cultists of Hypocrisy.

They waxed eloquent about touchy issues with thoughts that generally reflected those of the next in the cult. The next, in turn, reflected the thoughts of their nearest neighbour, and so on. Neatly, as if a clustering algorithm had aggregated the like-minded. Each professed to be unique and yet were clustered together. Many appeared in one way under the public eye, while mystically shedding their skin in the private confines of their dwellings. Liberation could spread its wings the fullest within the stifling confines of concrete.

Hypocrisy acknowledged with a lordly sneer.

Ad hominem continued. Even nation states were fans of Hypocrisy. They preferred to dress it in the fine linen of realpolitik. They lied, and were lied back to in return. They revelled in protocol infused roundtable diplomacy, bilateral, trilateral, multilateral diplomacy, multitude of summits in exotic locations, and yet, seemed to get nothing done. Those in power vehemently condemned their counterparts of the things they indulged in themselves. Hypocrisy was alive and well amidst them.

Hypocrisy jumped at this, rudely interrupting Ad hominem’s monologue.

He countered that nation states didn’t seem to get anything done since they frequently blamed others of Ad hominem’s namesake problem – ad hominem fallacy. Rather than focus on the issue at hand, concerned parties got down to attacking the narrator. This potent weapon of taking down the protagonist shifted the problem of having to bring down their potent arguments. Those in power vehemently condemned their counterparts of the things they indulged in themselves. It was ludicrous to give credence to their arguments. Hypocrisy said this proved they were disciples of Ad hominem.

Hypocrisy also took the opportunity to counter Ad hominem’s charge of the issue cultists. He pointed to their opponents. They always seemed to bring to question the character of the inciter as a time-tested means of destroying their argument. This was classical ad hominem fallacy behaviour. In a throw up between Ad hominem and Hypocrisy, the former won hands down.

Bystanders marvelled at how the two tried hard to help the other win honours.

Things turned ugly soon after.

Ad hominem said Hypocrisy proved true to his character, in uttering such absurdities. Ad hominem blamed Hypocrisy of hypocrisy.

Not one to take things quietly, Hypocrisy parried and retorted Ad hominem of falling prey to his basic nature. Hypocrisy blamed Ad hominem of ad hominem fallacy in his attempt at discrediting Hypocrisy.

Bystanders marvelled at how the two tried hard to help the other win dishonour.

How things had changed so quickly.

Some saw a reflection of both in each other.

“What did you read last year?”

I play a fun game at the end of the year. I ask my well read mates to recommend their best reads for me. The book recommendations came pouring in. A curated list resides at the end of this edition, as a gesture of my gratitude. In the spirit of this column, I’ve recalled my preferred story telling pal – visual art – for fun insights into what everyone recommended this year.


Top genres?

Recommendations by Genre: Colour and size reflect interest (yellow: highest, red: lowest)

Top Genres

I wonder if the present state of affairs around the world had some bearing on dystopia taking top spot. Biographies and anthropology too put their hands up. Many of you seemed to be engrossed in lifeless people and potentially lifeless futures. Most of you, I’m glad, are alive and well.


Top authors? 

Recommendations by Author: Colour and size reflect interest (yellow: highest, red: lowest)

Top Authors

George Orwell’s classics were dusted off bookshelves. Sapiens and Homo Deus pushed Yuval Noah Harari to battle with Orwell, but dystopia triumphed. Many of you were interested in lies. I’m fairly certain that several dashed off to quench their thirst for fibs in the fountain of Google. Your lies sent Seth Stephens’ breezy read into top 5. Dawkins and Ramachandran reignited interest in evolution and our brains.



Books by Genre, Page Length, Rating (yellow: highest, red: lowest)


Low Goodreads ratings could be a function of low readership, and/or inferior content quality of books. The red fest indicates that you read gems off the beaten path. Or perhaps, your books were quite unreadable. I hope it is the former.

Humour, philosophy, sports were among the shortest in length; war, politics and biographies were the longest. I’d rather the opposite.

For those that missed being part of this book fest, it is never too late to send in your book recommendations.

Finally, my fun forecasting game. What genres will top in 2018?

Happy 2017 and, to a hopefully happier, 2018!

2017 Reading List

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.


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.


The Lessons From Kim K’s buttocks

Your unfriendly blogger’s asocial instincts earned a two year incarceration sentence from social media. What a wonderfully instructive time it was to be.

Your blogger wasn’t missed. At all. So humbling.

Facebook got stupider, Twitter seems to have had a hostile takeover from trolls, and the world seems to have moved into planet Instagram. Kim K’s buttocks have left this blogger flummoxed. How could one compete for attention spans when faced with such well-rounded personalities?

This blog’s somewhat deliberately convoluted outpourings and brand of humour got lost in the heap of vainglorious selfies, including strategically beefed up snaps of food, animals and other such drudgeries. A picture indeed spoke a thousand words; possibly more. Perhaps this blogger was adopting an obsolete medium to announce a vapid comeback to the internet.

In an unfortunate development, it appears that most of this blog’s friendly followers – who actually cared to say welcoming things to mostly unwelcoming posts – seem to have passed on. One hopes not all, at least, have passed away.

The assembly line of human reproduction cranked up its efficiency. More babies were probably created in the past two years than earlier periods. Social media is fast proving to be the best census collector. It somewhat corroborated HaLin’s Law of Instagramming: every n babies lead to exp(n) rise in Instagram’s pictures.

Even less reason to seek refuge in the written word.

Worryingly, Google announced its intention to combat ageing. More babies, old living longer. Worrying. Very worrying.

Other unusual developments came to be. Iran donned a conciliatory attire, Putin scaled back from his geographical journeys accompanied by the military, and some governments tried to ban pornography.

But but, there is hope. Godliness – particularly the extreme variety – is on the rise.

This blog will have enough to write about: in obscurity.

Perhaps it is prudent to include an image of Kim K’s buttocks to attract attention.

So long.

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.