Monday, January 30, 2017

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert

There have been five mass extinctions in the past. This book, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History shows that we are currently going through the sixth one. And that we, humans are responsible for this undergoing mass extinction event. And, that there is still hope and more importantly, evidence, for improvement.

This book starts with history and slowly comes to the present. It includes amphibians, mastodons, auks, corals, forests and agriculture, and also why we, homo sapiens, made the Neanderthals and homo erectus extinct, among others.  A chapter by chapter summary of the book is available on Wikipedia. 

Here are some excerpts.

The trunk in elephant-like animals evolved five times separately!

Georges Cuvier: The father of paleontology

Darwin and his guru, Charles Lyell

We humans are the worst.

"Long periods of boredom interrupted occasionally by panic."

Back to school.

Human impact on world geology.

Ocean acdification and mass extinctions.

Are we living in the twilight of the corals?

Twilight indeed.

Speculating why more species live in the tropics.

Who would have thought some species can migrate so much in response to ecological changes?

Climate change and borders.

We, and all other species are cold-adapted.

Insects are everywhere, and outnumbering everyone.

Islands on land: indeed.

Humans: contributing to extinctions since prehistoric times!

Neanderthals: cultured or not?

In little parts, we are all Neanderthals.

From The Madness Gene, the second to last chapter.
A very eye opening and overall knowledge expanding book.

Saturday, January 28, 2017


I just saw the movie Dangal.

Aamir Khan's weight gain for the movie felt very inspiring. It is very easy to fake things, but some people take the hard way and leave us awestruck.

The movie, based on real people, was very good. I surely did not feel like having wasted my money after watching.

Throughout the movie, I had one complaint: why was Aamir's character, Mr. Mahavir Singh Phogat telling his daughter what to do from the stands during her bouts? I felt this was some bogus way of showing a female wrestler perform well. But in the final bout, when there was no Aamir there, Geeta remembered what her father had told her while teaching her how to swim: Don't expect your father to save you from drowning every time. And she went on to win the fight without any guidance from him. This teach-a-man-to-fish rather than give-a-man-a-fish moment felt great, not in the least because it proved that my problem was misguided!

One thing I thought was not right was that in the final bout, the Australian wrestler looked at least a few kilograms heavier than Geeta.

I always thought that there is needless hype around Aamir Khan. But at least in case of this movie, I was wrong.

Friday, January 6, 2017

The best advertisements

(I have no idea of what advertising is or how it works, so feel free to enlighten me.)

I just saw this Havells wires advertisement, the tiger vs dragon one.  "वो fire  है, तो मैं wire है!" Could have been funnier in Punjabi.

Till the end I was not sure what product the advertisement was for. More importantly, I did not care.

The product at the end was just a happy coincidence. The coincidence part made sure the product wasn't forced.

Now I might be biased due to any number of things, or this one advertisement might have been too good to cater to the "rules", but this is what advertisements should be like.

Any idiot can go around screaming about their product, but that does not give the consumer any value. (Consumer here is the person watching the advertisement, since the advertisement itself is the product here.)

What are some of your favourite advertisements?