Koushick Souriyanarayan makes your software

The standard Android camera doesn’t allow the user to switch between the front and back cameras of the phone while filming. This was precisely the functionality my daughter wanted for her Youtube Channel, so I looked at the App-store for alternative cameras and found some popular, heavily sponsored programs that didn’t quite deliver. After uninstalling those, I decided to try out an app that had been downloaded only a few thousand times, created by a guy from Bangalore with the beautiful name Koushick Souriyanarayanan.

The app is called Flipcam, available for free on the app store – no advertisements. It worked perfectly. This is actually the first time that I consider donating for a free app.

When I studied computer science in the Netherlands at the end of the last Millennium, professors told me that we would become “designers” and the executors who would follow our orders and “type in the code” would live in places like India. The condescension was hard to miss. I am glad to see the reputation of Indian IT people shift: they are judged based on merit rather than how much money (or rather: how little money) they can charge for their work.

Wages have been steadily increasing in India, but there is still a huge global disparity. For example, a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology earns on average ₹612.50 ($ 8.00) per hour. While the software industry in India is large and the biggest, TCS (Tata IT consulting systems) with its 448.000 is the largest IT consulting firm in the world. Yet, on their website they proudly announce “The Home Office will Remain: TCS featured in Germany’s FAZ newspaper”. The world is still skewed. Software is still “developed in California, produced in India”. Brands and “intellectual assets” are still predominantly in the hands of Western corporations. That domination is artificial and can’t hold much longer. India’s huge reservers of brainpower and entrepreneurship won’t allow it.

This is for the Kaushik Souriyanarayanans of this world. You make our software. The world can do without the fiscal inefficiency of channelling our money through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in order to solve India’s problems.

Koushick Souriyanarayan makes your software was originally published on Meandering home

Reading: Sunbathing by David Baker

David Baker is an American poet and professor of English born in 1954. His poetry books have titles like Never-Ending birds, Changeable Thunder, or The truth about small towns. I liked this poem at first sight.

The subtle rhyme and rhythm of the first verse, until “I suppose he is”, is a fine poetic craftwork. Both – chokes, Yabs – dab, shrubs – budging, yelping – help.

The dog is store-bought, we associate a certain type of people with that. We would befriend our own dogs in animal shelters. The chain (not a leash) is too short. What happens next in the poem is strange. The I lies in the sun (we assume it is a late afternoon). Why does the I say he is dying? Is the sight of the choking dog unbearable? Or is it the pup that says “I’m surely dying”, the line set italics to indicate that? The I and the dog are conflated in these lines. The author asks for help because he identifies with the suffering dog.

But in the second verse it is the cruel neighbor’s life that is ticking away like my own (my emphasis). The I also identifies himself with the cruel neighbor. This leads to inaction: I’ll stay right here in the cool shade. The crying of the dog is now perceived as the expression of the sadness of both the author and his neighbor. The explanation that follows is straightforward: both men are single and lack physical intimacy. Their chains are mental.

The last lines sound classical and remind me of Emily Dickinson. The yelping little pup reminds us of our own mortality and the poet is telling us implicitly, I believe, that we should not sit idly by when we see another being in pain, as death “comes quickly enough on their own, sweet time”.

Reading: Sunbathing by David Baker was originally published on Meandering home

The economy now

Those essential services, the doctors nurses shopkeepers farmers truckers, plus we the people sitting at home playing with themselves or each other while connected to the global brain via the Internet – that IS the economy now. It might be hard enough to save that economy, so let’s stop talking about the abstract beast ‘economy’ which was nothing but an upward redistribution scheme selling the masses fake happiness to compensate for their fake work.

The economy now was originally published on Meandering home

Make philosophy relevant again

Misunderstanding: After studying “ethics” for many years in university, I don’t know more than the average person about how to behave. I know far less. In that sense, such endeavor is the epitome of uselessness.
On the other hand, not knowing seems to be better (and you rightly ask, where does this judgment come from?) than thinking you do know.

At any rate, I think that a student of philosophy should study real stuff. Philosophy should not, in my opinion, be limited to the study of texts that philosophers have produced. This is precisely how the subject earned its label “navel-gazing”.

Philosophers should wander, literally, on campus. Between a faculty of their choosing and the reinstated interfaculty of philosophy. They should be trained to become the people asking the annoying fundamental questions.
Down with the “courses on Derrida” and the “Habermas-studies”.
Philosophy is more relevant than ever. Philosophers should be trained to be sharper, grittier Yuval Noah Hararis.

“Years after I left the faculty of philosophy, where I had been trained to fence with dull texts, I began my philosophy education…

Make philosophy relevant again was originally published on Meandering home

Burning further apart

Eucalyptus trees depend on fire to release their seeds. Plants need CO2 for their survival. The ignorant, as well as the evil, can point at facts like these to undergird their complacency and inaction in the face of climate change. The ease with which they appear to convince themselves that any worldview matching their lifestyle and habits is the correct one, is chilling.

And if they, the ignorant and the evil, are confronted with scientific evidence, there is always the narrative of Fake News. They can always contrive a story that explains the facts and adheres to their own very low standards.

What happens if you push them further? Do they admit they were wrong? No. Sadly, only very few have that greatness of spirit.

As the fires rage in Australia, climate change deniers are seeking refuge in ever murkier conspiracy theories and pseudoscience. The stories that they are telling themselves, and are spreading on the Internet, become so complex and unverifiable that they will essentially become articles of faith. And we don’t have a cure for faith.

As the fires rage in Australia, climate change deniers are seeking refuge in ever murkier conspiracy theories and pseudoscience.

This is what worries me. To ‘save their face’, continuate their lifestyle, remain accepted by their peers, their minds are compelled to believe a concoction of ad hoc observations, fossil-fuel propaganda, and cherry-picked best seller authors that is very hard to disprove – because it is not a verifiable theory.

Climate change-related disasters pushes the ignorant and evil to the construction of a narrative that is intractible and immune to scientific evidence to the contrary. The best example we have of such idiocy is the Flat Earth Theory. I am afraid we will see theories of a similar level of narrative sophistication in the conversation on climate change. With the powerful vested interests and their ability to manipulate elections in mind, I am also afraid this will be the dominant narrative anywhere outside of disaster zones.

This new narrative could be religious (“God is testing us; this is the punishment for nonbelievers”) or conspiratory (“The elite wants us to pay more taxes”). It will be entirely delusional and proof of the absolute lack of greatness of the ignorant and evil.

 

 

 

Burning further apart was originally published on Meandering home