So I recently watched: The Trial of the Chicago 7

As I write this, hundreds and hundreds of Farmers are protesting against some new laws about 200-250 KM away from where I am. They are staying almost in open in the night and the winter season is in full flow right now. Almost none of them have masks on by the way. And there have already had a huge scuffle with the Government via the Police.

Democracies like ours give us rights to protest. But sometimes the size and motivation of the protests grows larger than what can be handled. Also, there are powers in the authority who believe that such protests are not worth the time and they must be dealt with iron fists. And then there are clashes when both the government and the governed are equally adamant.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 is a movie by Aaron Sorkin. So you can expect amazing dialogues and conversations when almost all of the movie is a courtroom scene. It deals with the fag end of the Vietnam War when citizens of US were getting tired of the length of the struggle. The war was just being dragged to satisfy the ego of a few but it was resulting in large number of casualties of young Americans. Drafting of youngsters into the army was becoming a big deal. So many voices started to crop up in order to curtail the unnecessary war efforts and pacify the government to backtrack.

Many organisations called for protests in Chicago. A large number of students, citizens, African American rights groups, and the quintessential 70s junta comprising of the Hippies marched towards Chicago to protest

However things turned ugly and violence ensued. The movie deals with the trial of 7 leaders who called for the protest.

I have always been a fan of courtroom dramas and this movie delights me to the fullest. The cast, led mostly by Sacha Baron Cohen and Eddie Redmayne, and supported by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mark Rylance, and Frank Langella, is solid by all means. The movie gives you enough ground to understand the serious perspectives of all sides. But the scenes are mostly stolen by Cohen’s one liners which lighten the mood and makes you wonder, what kind of mentality and movement was there, when the name of the revolution was called ‘Flower Power’.

I liked The Trial of Chicago 7. It is a compelling courtroom drama and raises the important debate about Protests and Rights in a democracy.

P.S.: Cohen played Abbie Hoffman who was a hippie rebel. He wrote a book called ‘Steal This Book’. Imagine what happened to the book when people saw it in the bookshops.

Pygmalion Placebo

In this post on the A Learning A Day daily blog by Rohan Rajiv the Pygmalion Effect is mentioned.

Pygmalion Effect, also called Rosenthal effect, says that if you and everyone around you believe in something, there are more chances of you making it happen. In other words, high expectation lead to better results while lower expectations lead to poorer. It is a bit similar to the Placebo effect in Medical Science.

Right now, there are 3 or more Vaccines with high efficacy are peeking from the horizon. While there are skeptics, there’s a huge populace which is betting on its success. Even if they end up being reasonable in effectiveness, this effect might make it more effective.

Same thing works with confidence. Isn’t it?

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Highs and Lows, Positives and Negatives

Every day we experience positive and negative emotions. They are amplified with the readings on Glucometer, Oximeter, Blood Pressure machine, and what not.

Some highs are good, some are scary. Some lows are needed, some lows aren’t.

When to give up? Is a question which keeps popping up once in a while each day. But seeing everyone else fighting and somehow winning gives us hope. People at least have tried to stay hopeful despite dramatic drastic situations.

There’s so much around to feel bad about. In loads. We should try to hang on to whatever good is there, I think. Even if good is scarce, we still need to and have to keep trying and hoping that good news would be around the corner.

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Do you have it in a different Color?

These days, as part of caregiving to folks in my family, I have to visit the pharmaceuticals shop at least once a day. Everyone is slowly improving, thankfully, but the medicines list is never ending. When I go there, I try to stay as outside as possible while people keep flocking in with, and sometimes without proper masks to buy their own medicines which are also similar versions of what I came for buying. This means that the issue of infection is obviously more prevalent than what newspapers report. Mind you, newspapers are already reporting huge numbers which are jaw-dropping in their own sense.

Anyway, the mask buying thing is pretty interesting. I have seen several people who come and buy the masks as if they are buying vegetables or a piece of clothing. Of course, safety is what they should intend for, but their concern is not how good the mask functionally is. Many people ask for different colors than usual White or Gray or Surgical Aqua Green Blue. They want designer masks. They want masks with sockets in them so that ‘Oxygen can flow normally’. I didn’t see anyone asking if the mask is meeting the specification or not.

Our collective energy is being focussed in trying to curb the virus infection in multiple ways possible. But trying to change public perception regarding Science of the Mask is an art in itself. There have been several animations and videos but we are still far from making everyone understand the importance of a proper mask which is the 1st thing we should have done.

P.S.: Seth Godin reminded us all that Google is not your friend. It is just a tool that was free but might not be future. Today is World Backup Day so why not start here: https://takeout.google.com/


Photo by Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash

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The Pen is, of course, mightier than the Sword

I like Etymology as Science. Words of any language evolve and take shapes and forms of their own which might mean a lot different than the source.

One word which is interesting to me is ‘Pen’.

The word ‘pen’ is derived from Middle English pen, penne (like Pasta) which meant “enclosure for animals”, or basically a Cage or the more obvious ‘penitentiary’ or Prison. Ink Pen would’ve been a cage for Ink. From that, we moved on to Ball Pen, stylus, and so on.

While Pen originally meant to enclose or shut off things, it changed into something which resembles freedom and lets us imagine things.


Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

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Social Media ID Portability, a thought

We already have MNP or mobile number portability in India. That is, the ability to keep the same phone number but freely moving across different Service Providers. That helps us to choose the best plan for ourselves and keeps the Service Provider companies’ exorbitant price hikes in-check. We also have multiple Cloud Services providers, Data Storage providers, Banks, and so forth where we can change our service providers to choose what suits us.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I was listening to this podcast by Guy Kawasaki where he was interviewing Dr. Sinan Aral, who is an MIT Professor and has written a book called: The Hype Machine: How Social Media Disrupts Our Elections, Our Economy, and Our Health–and How We Must Adapt.

Dr. Aral suggested this strange-sounding but still worth paying attention to idea: Why can’t Social Media companies act like Social Service Provider? Each of their users (i.e. us) should be free to change the service and move over to another while taking all of their data and friend lists with them.

For example, say I have 800 friends on Facebook (I had 1000+ but one day I cleaned it up) and say I am not on Twitter (I am but I just tweet about the weather). But I am done with Facebook’s privacy rules and constantly showing up of ads on my Timeline. So, if I want to move on to somewhere else, I have to lose all my data then and there. I would lose all my private messages, photos, comments, and so on. Instead, I should have the ability to either download everything that Facebook has recorded with my account (which is after all a unique ID). Or, I should be able to port it all to another social media website, say Twitter. Of course, each one has its own functionalities but in general, they all have Text, Photos, Replies, and private messages as their primary functionality. Moreover, I should also be able to connect to (via APIs) any user (or block them everywhere) from any other social media website.

This idea would help regulate not only the companies who just flaunt the monopoly and power they have over people’s lives, but it would also increase accountability on part of the user. Basically, all these companies are just service providers and they should behave in such a manner. Really interesting if this happens!

One downside from user’s perspective is that this would need a user to lose their anonymity to an extent if they show up with their real name on Facebook but you want to say whatever comes to their mind on Twitter as anonymous. But we need to choose what we find more precious, our data or our freedom of expression.

You can listen to the full podcast here where he talks further about other things which make Social Media what a behemoth it is:

Diwali Lamps

Final Word on Crackers on Diwali

Let’s give it a try. By not bursting firecrackers this time? I know it is a cliche but have we really given it a go, completely ever? Obviously, I cannot force or coerce anyone. I am just thinking out loud.

  • What if, the next morning of Diwali, roads look a bit cleaner, devoid of white and red leftovers of the crackers, half-burnt sparkle sticks, crushed flower pots, and rockets gone haywire?
  • What if, the air feels a bit lighter than the usual next day? Easier to breathe for non-asthmatic people too.
  • What if, instead of spending 2 hours outside the home, you reconnect with family and friends, just by having a conversation?
  • What if, money spent on Firecrackers can be put to some other use?
  • We have known Diwali to be full of loud noises throughout the evening and late into the night. What if it is just silent in decibels? But all the shiny and fancy clothes, houses, markets, and shops staying intact.
  • What if it works out and we end up liking it this way?

Let’s give it a try.