Word of the Week #116:

Pivot

Now, before you get your hopes too high, let me just clarify that this is not a Ross Geller appreciation post.

Although, now that I think about it, that too is long overdue…

No, today we talk about this one trick that politicians and their spokespersons use when asked a difficult question.

The truly inept ones will start by lying, and end up looking foolishly out of depth. Of course, for some individuals, this is their go-to move.

The skilled ones, however, will follow a simple routine to dance around the discussion until the interviewer and the audience are too confounded to carry on.

I could teach you how to do it, if you’d like…

Step #0: Catch the interviewer, or the camera, in a dead eye stare. Establish a position of benevolent dominance.

Step #1: Catch a keyword, or a phrase, from the question and shoot off into an unrelated tangent. This way, it looks like you have answered the question, but you have not.

Now, most interviewers, either trying to seem polite or adhering to a strict timeline, will let the question go. Some reporters, however, are more tenacious than others, and will keep repeating the question. What do you do now?

Step #1 (a): As a novice, you might try to dodge the specifics and continue to move farther and faster on the tangent. This may exasperated the interviewer enough to lose balance, or simply leave the audience too disinterested to care.

Step #1 (b): Once you are experienced enough, you will be able to take this chance to paint the interviewer as a biased, and rude, opponent, instead of being a neutral observer. This is meant to sow seeds of mistrust towards the media, and will usually polarise the audience.

Step #2: Blame it on the opposition. This is, of course, the most basic tactic but its efficacy is almost alarming. Irrespective of whether this blame is justified, the audience will be distracted from the facts.

Step #3: Equate the interviewer with the opposition. Firmly establish a bias against yourself. YOU are the real victim here.

Step #4: Counter. Since you have already established that the media is the opposition and the opposition is guilty, you can now force your interviewer on the defensive with some sharp questions and allegations of your own.

  • If he tries to dissociate himself from your allegations, he undercuts your opponents in the process.
  • If he tries to justify your opponents’ actions, he further consolidates the perception of bias.
  • If he tries to dodge the questions or deny the allegations, he seems evasive and unreliable.

In any of the above, you are the winner.

Step #5: Accept your victory, and assure the audience that things are better with you in charge of the situation.

See. Simple, right?

Of course, don’t blame me if you try this on your college professor and get into trouble, okay?

Class dismissed.

Advertisements

Word of the Week #103:

Vexation

Generally, I love science fiction, especially the futuristic ones.

And while I do enjoy a good post-apocalyptic dystopia, tonight I am talking about the more urban futurism, the kind one would expect from something like I, Robot or Avatar or Fifth Element, or even Altered Carbon, more recently.

I love how these stories transport us to a wonderful world where the realm of reality has been expanded upto, and often beyond, the limit of our expectations.

The brief escape they provide can be valuable…

This escape, however, comes at a cost. The stark contrast they offer to this ridiculously mundane world of ours can be quite disheartening, and even infuriating at times.

Sure, technology has advanced by leaps and bounds over the past couple of decades, but it has not even nearly caught up to what was promised in Back To The Future.

And do you know where this contrast between what is and what could be becomes the most jarring? Why, the banking sector, of course…

Have you been to a bank, lately? Since the advent of e-banking and such, we don’t have to, as often as we used to, so we don’t have necessarily care as much. However, an occasional encounter is enough to remind us exactly how archaic and patchy our banks still are.

I mean, an entire afternoon to reset your net banking password and linking your PAN to your account is not reasonable, okay.

And the removal of what doesn’t work is really the bare minimum. There are still way too much we can do, and it is annoying when nobody does it.

Now, is it fair to blame them for not living up to our expectations? I don’t see why not.You see, the technology does exist. If you won’t use it for banking, of all things, then where will you?

As consumers, it is our right, nay, duty, to keep whining about mediocrity, and to keep dreaming about excellence.

As a great man once said, the future must remain bright.

Word of the Week #99:

Lambent

So, if you were to take a quick look at the events that transpired throughout the past week, you might end up feeling quite dejected, or you might just stop feeling altogether.

Yeah, it has been that kind of a week, where we feel let down by the world around us.

I talk about the real world, of course. My world is still pretty cool, and that is what keeps me inoculated from everything real. And this is a part of art that we do not seem to discuss nearly as much as we ought to.

You see, in today’s world, art is too often evaluated by the impact it is supposed to have on the world around it.

Black Panther released last weekend, and its portrayal of minorities and women is the discussion that seems to dominate the media.

Last weekend was also the NBA All Star weekend, and an initial part of the proceedings was usurped by reactions to some Fox News anchor’s racially insensitive, extremely demeaning, and frankly quite stupid comments about the greatest basketball player of our generation.

It is gladdening, of course, to see artists and athletes using their platforms to try to change the world for the better. Their excellence grants them this prerogative.

However, that is not where we begin, right?

Art is not always a beacon that guides the entire world.
Sometimes, it is just a flickering candle that illuminates a single soul…
And sometimes, that is enough.

Word of the Week #96:

Vitriol

We are at a very interesting point in human history.

Why interesting?

Well, on this very day 70 years ago, a man who preached peace and brotherhood to a torn and troubled people was shot and killed for his troubles…

Of course, this was 70 years ago. You would assume things have changed since then, right? Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that is not true.

The sort of ideology, or rather dogma, which led to that assassination, as well as countless others thereafter, has not been exterminated from our society. Instead, it has thrived. Every passing year, its voice only seems to grow louder and bolder, as the common man continues to sit idly by.

One cannot do much but wonder why the world works this way, right?

The answer is simple.

2012-03-14-GEORGE-CARLIN-on-assassination.png
Source: Zenpencils

Word of the Week #89:

Contraception

Well, I am not sure what prompted our enlightened leaders to take this step, but here we go:

No child’s play: Condom ads banned from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. in India

NEW DELHI: The government on Monday strictly asked TV channels not to air advertisements selling and promoting condoms because these are “indecent especially for children” and can create “unhealthy practices” among them.

Yes. This is smart. After all, nothing screams “unhealthy practices” like using a condom, right?

Hurling abuses at one another, making galling jokes about women and the elderly under the garb of comedy, and spewing vitriol at those who disagree with us, both literally and figuratively, still find place on primetime television. After all, isn’t that the true cornerstone of our society?

But condoms are “indecent especially for children”…

And, yes, this is a country that already has a larger population than it can sustain, where sex-education, and really any rational discussion about sex, is taboo, and where medical facilities are sporadic at best.

FUN FACT: While five million abortions occur annually in India, only 10% of those are performed within the structures of a high-quality hospital.

Let us consider this graphic:

Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 12.08.36 AM

And these are official stands taken by the teachers and administrators of the states, not some random guys sitting under the banyan tree… Of course, those may be the same people.

The thing about sex education is, if you don’t get it, you will never realise how much you need it. Therefore, the opposition to it does make some sense.

After all, we all fear what we do not understand, right?

Anyway, in case someone is wondering, let us take a quick rundown of all the places where discussion about safe sex does not occur:

  • Home
  • Primary School
  • High School
  • College
  • Public places
  • Urinals, or at least one would hope
  • Television

So, what do we have left? Newspapers? Radio? Yeah, if we were trying to reach middle-aged men, those mediums would be perfect.

For everyone else, we seem to have only one path forward: This, right here.

The internet remains, in most regards, the land of the free. Let us use it to talk about the right things.


PS: To the ones who would counter that some ads did take it too far, I would like to say this: Would you ban water if one man drowned to death?

Word of the Week #84:

Paternity

Do you have children? If not, would you like to?

And no, that is not an offer, only an enquiry.

It is just that lately, due to recent changes I mentioned last week, I have been pondering over the challenges of being a parent. Only the challenges, unfortunately, and none of the rewards, because, well, are there any?

I generally like to think of myself as a ‘silver-linings’ kind of a guy, but in this case, I just cannot see beyond the dull greys.

Children are stupid. That is just a simple truth. Sooner or later, they will find a way to put themselves or you or someone in grave danger.

Sure, they may seem cute while they are clean and quiet, but you cannot expect them to stay that way for too long.

Being a parent is tough, it is often said, but there are many who would disagree. In fact, even I would disagree. Being a parent, in and of itself, does not seem all that tough.

However, being a good, responsible parent, one who can strike the right balance between care and discipline and is attentive and neither too aloof nor too clingy on a consistent basis, now that is a tall order.

Interestingly, I forgot to pack any nightwear for my trip to Bangalore. Now, if I cannot even be trusted to be responsible for my luggage, how can I even comprehend being responsible for an entire new life?

On top of everything, we never receive any training whatsoever for what is undoubtably the most important endeavour one can undertake, but thank goodness I spent decades learning how to calculate the area of a cordate.

To be honest, I do not even like this idea of unilaterally creating life and then nurturing it according to our will. It is almost too much power for a single individual. For one, if I have noted anything in the past couple of years, it is that too many people are too stupid.

Of course, it is not entirely a unilateral prospect. Bilateral at the very least, right?

So, until I do not have a willing partner, it is all moot.

And, well, looks like it will stay that way for at least the foreseeable future.

Word of the Week #82:

Narcolepsy

We have seen this happen to the people around us, have we not?

One moment, they are awake. They are talking, or singing, or cooking, or playing, or even driving. Whatever they may be doing, you know for certain that, at that particular moment, they are wide awake. And, the very next moment, you see that they are not.

We cannot say that they have fallen asleep, though. That would not be quite right. Nor can we call this a stupor.

If anything, I would call this a variant of a ‘pre-lucid dream‘.

You must have seen this, right?

For instance, let us say you are hanging out with a guy, narrative to him your latest escapades, perhaps with a little creative editing of your own. Now, towards the beginning of the story, he is all ears. Head nodding, hair bobbing, and, if your story is good enough, lips parted in an inaudible chuckle.

You grin back. Take a sip of your Thums Up, because, what else would you rather drink. By now, however, he is no longer awake.

He just lies slumped in his seat, shoulders drooping and neck arching to the front. He is already caught in the dream.

You try to resume your story, but he is oblivious to your babbling. He is held captive by the bright colours flashing before his eyes.

So, you have seen this, right?

It is already a wide-spread disorder, and it may well be one of the greatest threats our society has ever faced.

Yeah, I know hate-morgering-extreme-right-wing-pseudo-nationalism is pretty bad. I hate it too. But trust me, this is worse.

You see, unlike sheer stupidity, which some people just do possess and some just do not, this can affect almost every living human on this planet… Except maybe the poorest of guys, but really, they already have their hands full…

Your parents may say that you are the ones trapped in this, but we all know that even they are as vulnerable as you; perhaps even more so, one may argue.

Unfortunately, there is no real cure either. I mean, you could wake them up with a quick whack to the head, but really, how many of them can you handle by yourself? And for how long?

Be smart. Save yourself.


PS: You have seen this, have you not? 

No? Odd.

Well, the dream is somewhat lucid. Maybe you could try to wake up.