• February 23, 2024

Nightmares never end

Something needs to be said about one specific aspect of the human condition. A fear that refuses to go away no matter what you try. The fear of a sudden crash, a devastating shock to the system. A paralysing, catastrophic blow that breaks your back. To offer one example, let’s look at the Ukraine-Russia war.…

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Leaking

The priorities of a nation define its future. Let’s consider ours. The country’s poor people are telling you they are sunk, and if the flood were not enough, shrinking purchasing power would likely kill them. The elites of the country and the media tell you there is only one topic of discussion that matters —…

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Put mud?

Back in school, a classmate asked a substitute teacher to translate the Punjabi phrase, mitti pao. If you are really interested in the expression, idiomatically, it will translate into something like: bury it, let bygones be bygones, or water under the bridge. The teacher, barely a few years older than us and by the looks of…

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The happiness ceiling

It is not the first time I have asked you to pay some attention to the metaphor of man’s expulsion from heaven. Nor will it be the last. What does it tell you? Here is Adam, with a blank slate, with a partner made for him, in the paradise of all places. And that is…

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The empathy bridge

The question was chiefly about the west’s moral imperative to take responsibility for climate change and freak disasters like the flash floods that have inundated one-third of Pakistan this year. But in the run-up to the question much had already been said about the rise of climate deniers like Donald Trump in the west. This…

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Circle of abuse

One step forward, three hundred yards back. Notice even in these desolate times, I have not lost my sense of proportion. For instance, I could have said one foot forward three lightyears back. But there is no frame of reference. At least three hundred yards as an expression is quantifiable by the human mind. And…

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Dogma and policy

To the reading world, Karen Armstrong needs no introduction. She is best known for her seminal works in the field of comparative religions like ‘A History of God’, ‘The Battle for God’, ‘A Brief History of Myth’, and ‘Transformation’. But it is her second autobiographical account, The Spiral Staircase — My Climb Out of Darkness, that…

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Don’t look down!

The title of this article is a play on the name of a famous apocalyptic Hollywood black comedy and political satire called Don’t Look Up. I have mentioned the film before and this is no time to reproduce the summary here. You can do it on your own time by either watching the movie or fittingly…

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The problem with narratives

Power trips of political triumphalism can be more potent than any intoxicant. You do not want to stop when you think you are winning. Notice the emphasis on thinking. If perception and reality were the same, we would have found little room to disagree. But they are not. Reality is like the blind men’s elephant.…

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UnSTEMmed

Many video streaming services have invested heavily in original South Asian content. Consequently, it is hard to open such an app and not find it overflowing with Indian content. Here and there, you may find something from Pakistan too, but it is rare and hardly original. One wonders about the decline in the art of…

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A word to the gatekeepers

They say divine providence granted a man two wishes as a reward for an act of selfless heroism. He wished for a tour of paradise, a wish that was instantly granted. He took the tour and spent time there to his heart’s content. When it ended, he was asked to make his second wish. Mortals…

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Ancient sky, death spirals and pyrrhic victories

What is common between James Webb Space Telescope and former Trump NSA John Bolton? Nothing, to be honest. The first unlocks ancient mysteries without drawing too much attention to itself. The second, Bolton, is, pardon the rudeness, a prima donna, an attention hog. It is always me, me, me with the latter. And yet both…

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Talking to the Taliban

A week before the fall of Kabul, my piece titled ‘Behold the wooden horse’ appeared in this space on August 7, 2021. Bear with me as I quote from the article to see if I had a point. Kindly note that to improve the flow, the quoted paras do not follow the order in which…

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Kobayashi Maru

As the tale goes, once upon a time in a kingdom far, far away there lived two unemployed brothers called Modified and Modied. One day the older brother Modified (let’s call him Mod) said to his younger, hey Mo let’s go search for jobs in a foreign land. They both agreed and one hot dusty…

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Proof of synthetic sentience

Since AlphaGo defeated a human player some eleven years ago, the field of Artificial Intelligence or synthetic sentience development has covered the evolution of centuries. This is how it is supposed to grow. But about five years ago, when I was obsessively trying to write a long research work on the need and possible methods…

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Seduced by the right

Conjure the image of Oscar Wilde’s Happy Prince in your mind with a few amendments. Our version of the statue is privileged, unpopular, high-strung, feckless, jaded and mostly fatigued. And in this version, the other character, the helpful swallow, is replaced by a selfish magpie. The statue is so unpopular that the people of the…

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Between 2 Bushes

Two fundamental observations at the start. Human beings by nature are basically a decent bunch. That is to say that if there is no earth shaking crisis in someone’s origin story you are going to witness more decent souls. I know we can go on debating this for a long time but this is my…

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