Arriving with Cows

A small bit of dialogue from the wonderfully satisfying movie ‘Arrival’ that i didn’t quite catch while watching, was about the Sanskrit word for “war” and its etymology.

One linguist thinks the word, gavisti, comes from “argument,” when the right answer is “a desire for more cows.”

Now as an Indian, this was a bit of an eye-rolling moment. I mean yes we revere the cow, traditionally to the point of the proverbial holy cow.

But would the culture that produced a war epic like the ‘Mahabharat’ really call it an argument for cows? The war was over land and kingship, rule of law and righteousness. It makes the whole thing sound a bit silly when described as ‘a desire for more cows’.

Then this LA Review of Books article mentions the little detail in passing, that “war” has a fundamentally pecuniary meaning.

And pecuniary meaning ‘relating to or concerning money’ comes from the Latin pecu, meaning — wait for it — cattle.

So yeah. Thats a little bit of anthropological history embedded in language like layers of sediment, or the rings of a tree.

Source: What We’ve Got Here: “Arrival” – Los Angeles Review of Books

The Four 4s

How to derive every number upto infinity, using only four 4’s and math operators.


Firstly, how do people even begin to think about numbers this way?

That said, its fantastic to see people enjoying something so completely.

The Great Wall of India

Source: The Wall – Medium

 Speaking of silly walls across countries these days…this is one of the most delightfully absurd things I’ve read in a while.

Who knew that in the 1800’s the British built a 12 foot high wall (giant thorny hedge really) across India to stop the smuggling of salt, opium, cannabis, sugar and who knows what else and —  wait for it — made the Indians pay for it.
By 1872, the Line had a staff of 14,000 people taking care of it!
The Wikipedia page on this ‘Inland Customs line’ is breathtaking.
In another truth-is-stranger-than-fiction detail, the engineer behind it was AO Hume, who also helped in later years to found the INC (probably when he came to his senses.)

Google, democracy and the truth about internet search

With the rise of bigoted right-wing mobs everywhere in the world, coinciding with 15 years of Online search engines, it’s worth asking these questions — how impartial should Google be to information?

For Google’s mechanical search algorithms, the answers to auto-suggested searches like ‘Are women evil’, ‘Are jews bad/are Muslims bad’ are all: *yes, and here are thousands of pages and videos that say so, some with ‘proof’ in the title*
If you ask ‘Was Hitler bad?’ you get on the top of the page, ’10 reasons why Hitler was one of the good guys’.
Digital tech massively empowers the ignorant as much as it spreads knowledge. Yet we know from TV and print about human nature, that sensationalized bad news attracts people more than informed good news.

Link: Google, democracy and the truth about internet search | Technology | The Guardian

HyperNormalisation 2016

Political technology, Russian Theatre, shapeshifting narratives, politics as drama, and the social media echo chamber — this 15 minute excerpt from a Oct 2016 documentary is stunning.

Full film:

Six Crypto-Currencies Approved for the AppStore

I have only a laypersons understanding of Bitcoin etc, but it seems Apple has a list of 6 ‘approved’ Crypto Currencies that ios apps can connect to. Really mind-boggling how far we’ve come so fast. Wasnt Bitcoin invented a few years ago?

p.s. The cryptocurrency guys are complaining “only 6?”. I’m like: There are more? Theres like ‘Dogecoin’ in that list, and it started as a joke!

Bitcoin, Dogecoin, Litecoin, Ethereum,
the DAO and Ripple

Source: These Are the Six Crypto-Currencies Approved by Apple – Rumor