The rise of the right wing

Make no mistake, the dynamics of the world are changing. The far right is taking over country after country as it increasingly seems as though the dominance of ideologies left of centre that followed wartimes are receding into the background. At first thought this could be in part due to the fact that the horrific memories of war are disappearing with every new generation, giving rise to polarising nationalism that caused the last two wars, and, undoubtedly, a curious sense of religious pride — both small-minded and pointless ideas in my opinion. However, facts speak otherwise: support from youngsters has been historically low for Donald Trump, the republican frontrunner in the American election, and the man who thinks “bigly” is a word; the Brexit polls last week saw thrice as much support from the older populace than youngsters; and India, where the nationalist, right-wing, RSS-backed Bharatiya Janata Party came into governance years before, did not see any unusually strong support from the youth — no more than other sections of society in any case. Continue reading

The trouble with democracy

Today is my birthday. (Thank you.) Today is also the day Britain’s fate was decided in what many believe to be a democratic vote — whether the country will remain in the European Union, as they should, or whether they will leave. (The country voted to leave and its capable Prime Minister, David Cameron, scheduled his resignation.) The foremost problem with the Brexit vote is a fundamental one: democracy is broken. I have said this before and I will say it again. Democracy is a fine idea, but it is also an ancient idea that has not been updated with the times and the growing population. Continue reading

On simplification in popular science

Albert Einstein’s famous book, “Relativity” begins with a quote by Ludwig Boltzmann: “Elegance should be left to shoemakers and tailors.” Over the course of one’s study, nearly every physicist can attest to this. For a subject that is praised as the epitome of elegance, developing physics can be uncharacteristically ugly and raw. Not every equation is as beautiful as that pop star, E=mc^2, or Euler’s lesser known but similarly elegant e^{i\pi}+1=0. Like a lot of other things in life, the road to the final, elegant equation happens to be hard and turbulent. And one of the biggest components of such an elegant solution happens to be simplicity. Continue reading

Weekly musings: iOS 10, VSCO and Priime apps, and Warcraft

Quite a lot has happened this week, but there are three things on which I have some thoughts to share. First is Apple’s updates at WWDC this year for the rebranded macOS, some bold changes to iOS 10 etc. Second is the rather bad update (in my opinion anyway) that the VSCO iOS app recently received; it had been my photo management app of choice for years but that may change if things remain as they are now for long and Priime, the app that works beautifully and replaced VSCO entirely during my recent trip abroad, could replace it. Continue reading

Sri Lanka, day 2 — Galle

I had heard a lot about Galle, the beautiful, colonial fortress town on the southern tip of Sri Lanka, and today was rightfully all about Galle. As I said yesterday, a perk about visiting Sri Lanka is that every nook and cranny of the country is no more than a few hours away from every other nook and cranny. Galle, it is said, was where King Solomon sent his ships. The solid Portuguese-Dutch fortress encircling the old town is also supposedly the reason why Galle fort (as it is called colloquially) still stands untouched today in spite of the calamity that was the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami while much of the main town of Galle outside the walls of the fortress was sadly wiped out: “Thousands died,” explained our driver, looking out into the sea just one last time as we prepared to leave Galle late in the evening and head out to the Colombo–Galle expressway, one of the many testaments to the government’s excellent work to rebuild parts of the island nation severely affected by the catastrophe. Continue reading

Sri Lanka, day 1

The initial flight to Colombo, LK, was delayed by about five minutes. This, believe it or not, is the first time I have experienced a delayed flight; given how often and how many people complain about it, it might come as a surprise to you that I have, till date, never seen a flight come in late. Quite the contrary: flights have come in early, and I remember a flight last year even landed with ten minutes to spare. In any case, it was raining heavily and little was visible outside and we had soon reached our cruising altitude that our captain explained was 35,000 feet and a ground speed of 820 km per hour. Continue reading