29 May 2022

Digital Junk?

As we get ready to move houses, one of the obvious conclusions that we have come to – like anybody else who moves houses every decade or so – is that, we have accumulated too much stuff thru the years. They occupy space, never are used and meaninglessly take up space and time. (Some of the boxes that were moved from Dallas to Atlanta in 2007, we realize regreattably, are still unopened).

Here is another observation on those lines… pictures and videos!! If you are like me, you probably take a lot of pictures and videos (this wonderful thing called smartphone has made it so easy that we take multiple shots of essentially the same scene – just in case something is amiss). Some of you are probably as fastidious as me and transfer them to a main computer and then keep one to three backups. And some of you may not be as diligent. You just buy a new phone with much more space!!!

You know you will never forgive yourself for losing any picture of the kids growing up and all that.

Here is the uncanny question I have for myself these days. Let me ask you… How often do you actually go back and see those pictures that you had taken so that you can enjoy them in the future? Sure, once in a while, that database comes of use (you know, like settling a debate with the spouse on which hotel you stayed in when your family visited a city and all that). But really, how many photos have you gone back, watched and enjoyed – let’s say three months after it was taken?

How about videos? For me, that is even worse!!!

So, just like all those stuff we bought and stored that are of no use to us… are we also creating digital junk for ourselves? I know storing does not take much time or money. But backing up them does. And we perhaps lose the magic of the moment when it happens… because we were too busy trying to save it digitally for the future.

What do you think?

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28 May 2022

Saturday morning run

Brought out the second pair of ON shoes for the first time. Was very afraid after the experience of trying to break in the first set of ON shoes. This was much easier. I was probably conscious of getting hurt and kept the speed slow. In any case, at the end of the run, everything seemed A-ok!

Category: Running | LEAVE A COMMENT
27 May 2022

Book Review: Prisoners of Geography

This is an intriguing book and a must read for anybody who is remotely interested in geopolitics. The author basically talks about how geography has driven the security or lack thereof of all countries. In spite of technology today, high mountains, deep seas and wide rivers drive most of the geopolitical calculations of every country. This stems from the need to protect trade and security of its citizens.

The book caught my attention right in the first chapter. Very well timed. This was written way before the Ukraine war. But once you read this chapter you will realize why Russia attacked Ukraine. In fact, the author predicted that it waas inevitable. While the author does not condone war – and like all of us – is numbed at the deaths and atrocities, he points out the history of the Northern European Plains – thru which over centuries many many countries have attacked Russia. In fact about once in every 35 years!

Some of the fascinating facts you will learn will include why Europe has so many countries. Part of the reason lies in geography. Most of the major rivers in Europe do not meet. This formed early boundaries for individual spheres of influence – often giving rise to a cities on the banks where people gathered for trade. Eventually, they became the capitals.

Also how Africa’s tardiness in progress can be traced back to lacking any deep, natural harbors (but beautiful, beautiful beaches) and all those impressive rivers having waterfalls ever so often. Ruling out any convenient modes of trade or transportation.

He continues to give a great narrative of how China’s actions – trade wise and military wise, the India-Pakistan conflict (which he predicts will never end), Korea and Japan, The Middle East – so much of the countries’ political decisions and policies are dictated by simple geography. Once you understand the geography of their borders, a lot of their actions are understandable (may not be condonable).

The other thing the author points out is the lasting negative effects European colonialism has had as they – and this includes the Belgians, French, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese and worst of all, the British – who arbitrarily drew country boundaries when the left (have you noticed all the straight line boundaries of countries in Africa or the Middle East?) that paid no heed to the kinds of peoples who live there and thereby ensured that geopolitical conflicts will be a permanent thing.

The most fascinating part is the last chapter. He describes how the melting of the Arctic cap will open up more trading lines, bringing down the importance of the Panama canal and the Suez canal and how different countries will have aggressive postures to establish their primacy in the Arctic. This includes countries like Russia, the Scandinavian countries, US, Canada and such.

Again, an outstanding read. Two thumbs up.