Word of the Week #117:

Maladroit

From the brilliant minds that brought you Demonetisation ’16, comes another blockbuster that will melt your brains: Plastic Ban ’18.

And in the few days since its implementation, it has already shown to be as imbecilic.

Now, I do not mean to be overly harsh. The industry and the people at large did have three months to prepare for the switch. And on the very face of it, banning plastics does seem like a good thing to do, with respect to the environment, sanitation and other such concerns.

Plastic is one of the few things that can be described as being ubiquitous. Replacing it from every single application may be possible, but is it actually viable? And how will this discarded plastic be disposed of? Surely you cannot just throw it in the dumpsters and forget about it. If that had worked, we wouldn’t need to worry about it in the first place, right?

However, the biggest problem with such a step is actually quite simple: We do not have a viable alternative.

You cannot possibly sell cookies in paper packages, especially in the monsoon. They won’t last a day.

And what if I order some hot soup from a restaurant nearby. Surely, paper cups cannot hold that for long. Will you use metal cans? Those are actually not the most eco-friendly of materials. Glass is too bulky and fairly fragile. Not to mention, both are significantly more expensive. That does make a difference in an economy like ours.

What about silicone, though? It has almost all the upsides of plastics, but that is just the beginning. It is safe and durable. It is expensive, but not prohibitively so. Being based on silicon and not carbon, it is significantly better for the environment if disposed of correctly.

But therein lies the problem: Silicone is not biodegradable either.

Sure, it can be recycled, but that is predicated on, surprise surprise, proper disposal. And, if you are anyway going to do that, might as well get your plastics recycled.

Yes, that’s right. Many plastic products can be recycled. It would not be nearly as big a nuisance if all of plastic waste could be reused or recycled, but no. We want to dump it in a landfill, right?

plasgran-guide-to-plastic-recycling-grades

I am sure you must have encountered these labels, right? Usually on the bottom of a soda bottle or such… Ever wondered what they mean?

Well, this is the gist:

  • #2, #4 and #5 are the best. Use responsibly, and recycle. Plastic bags, which are primarily made from LDPE (#4) have been banned.
  • #1 is good enough, but try to avoid it. Interestingly enough, soda bottles made from PET (#1) have been exempt.
  • #3, #6 and #7 are bad. Avoid. However, thermocol decorations (#6) will be allowed till the end of a major religious festival in September. Because, priorities.

Unfortunately, our government seems to lack the nuance required to craft a thoughtful, thorough policy to implement waste disposal techniques that actually work. Instead they choose to harass local business owners and consumers for long-exsisting systemic failures.

It is quite clear that more thought and research goes into my weekly blog posts than in governmental policies.

Yes. Let that sink in.

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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 #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.

 

Word of the Week #77:

Credit

You know what I don’t get? Loans.

Well, yeah, I actually don’t get loans. You see, I don’t have any credentials or collateral to enable me to get one, but that is beside the point.

The real point here is that I don’t get loans. I just cannot understand the concept.

Really, you are just betting that you though even though you do not have the money now, you will have it someday. Of course, you won’t actually have that money because, well, you’ve spent it on the EMI.

Also, if you took the loan to buy, say, a new cell phone, or a car, or a nice TV, you must know that the item would hardly last as long as the term of your loan.

So, at the end of the day, you are bound to end up with neither the money nor the stuff, half-broken by the burden bearing down on your back.I will admit, there are times when you have to take a loan. You cannot be a doctor if you do not go to a medical college, and those things can be rather pricey. Here, at least you know you get to keep the degree. Same with houses and real estate and such stuff, at least unless you buy a sea-facing bungalow and, well, the rising sea level leaves it half-submerged. It can happen, you know…

And, of course, there are times when you just have to borrow, perhaps for a business venture. As they say, you need money to make money.

Or, perhaps you need it because your daughter needs an urgent surgery. You really cannot ask her to just sit tight while you earn that money with your own hands, right?

Some expenses are indeed unavoidable, and some burdens have to be borne.

So, in conclusion, I guess I do get loans.

I wonder why my government thinks otherwise…

Word of the Week #63:

Inclement

So, after getting thoroughly drenched earlier today, I can say that the summer is officially over, and monsoon has arrived, and with quite a bang, if I may say so.

Congratulations to the guys over at IMD, who forecast monsoon to hit us between 10th and 15th of this month.

While many might be overjoyed with that news, I happen to have rather mixed feelings about the rains, and not just because I am grumpy after getting soaked to the skin. Continue reading Word of the Week #63:

Book of the Week #32: [Guest Post]

Yashas:

She is back, Ladies and Gentlemen, and quite frankly, we could not be more glad!

And this week, she picks out a book that falls directly into her own backyard.

She says she hadn’t written this post with my blog in her mind; she just wanted to share her love for the book with the entire world, and isn’t that the very purpose of our blog?

Needless to say, I managed to badger her into sharing her words here. Such avaricious, you know.

For the uninitiated, might I elaborate just a little on the significance of the phrase “Pale Blue Dot”. It is actually a reference to the photograph of the Earth taken on 14th February, 1990, by Voyager 1 from a distance of roughly 6 billion kilometres.

pale_blue_dot
Pale Blue Dot

Really puts things in perspective, does it not?

So, here we go…


Shruti:

Pale Blue Dot,

by Carl Sagan

Literally the best book I have ever read!

You might think I am enlisting the book in that category because I am an Astrophysics student. I won’t deny that I might be ‘biased’ that way, but in all honesty, I feel that this is one book that every person should give a read.

Having watched and thoroughly enjoyed the Cosmos series by Carl Sagan, I couldn’t wait to read his books; although, I did wait. I watched that series more than three years ago! Insightful, inspiring and refreshing.

Was the Pale Blue Dot just what I had expected? No, it was much more.

This is one of the richest books I have read, in terms of content, style and language. Sagan has the ability to capture the imagination of even those people who are least interested in space science. His words are arresting, his style intelligent; what else could you expect from a world-renowned astrophysicist and science communicator?

Continue reading Book of the Week #32: [Guest Post]

Word of the Week #49:

Egregious

Fun word, right? Right?

WRONG!

Basically, as the owner of a bank, how do you make sure people do not run away with their cash, leaving you high and dry?

Why, simply increase the transaction fees… That ought to shut them down, right?

Well, it has begun. Continue reading Word of the Week #49: