Quote: Emotional Education

The knack of our species lies in our capacity to transmit our accumulated knowledge down the generations. The slowest among us can, in a few hours, pick up ideas that it took a few rare geniuses a lifetime to acquire.

Yet what is distinctive is just how selective we are about the topics we deem it possible to educate ourselves in. Our energies are overwhelmingly directed toward material, scientific, and technical subjects and away from psychological and emotional ones. Much anxiety surrounds the question of how good the next generation will be at math; very little around their abilities at marriage or kindness. We devote inordinate hours to learning about tectonic plates and cloud formations, and relatively few fathoming shame and rage.

The assumption is that emotional insight might be either unnecessary or in essence unteachable, lying beyond reason or method, an unreproducible phenomenon best abandoned to individual instinct and intuition. We are left to find our own path around our unfeasibly complicated minds — a move as striking (and as wise) as suggesting that each generation should rediscover the laws of physics by themselves.

– Alain de Botton, The Book of Life, An Emotional Education

HT

Search for Vikram

It has been about 5 days since my last post here. When we last left Vikram, we had left it incommunicado close to the surface of the Moon.

Since then, there has been a lot of speculation with little or no information. There is no information from ISRO including what it seems to be doing now. Information is coming in at a tangent, from astronomers studying Doppler readings of the Lander and the Orbiter.

ISRO’s last official update (at the time of writing) states that it had located the lander and that it was trying to establish communication with it. There was a lot of speculation initially about the status of the lander. Many foreign observers (like Jonathan McDowell, Cees Bassa, Chris B etc.)said that the lander had very little chance of survival knowing the speed at which it was travelling at the time ISRO received the last telemetry from the lander. ISRO released information to some sections of the media (PTI report ) that the lander was intact but toppled. This was not found as an update on the ISRO website.

Science reporters then began to question ISRO’s claim that the mission was 90-95% success. Vasudevan Mukunth for The Wire considered the method by which they arrived at the success rate. Jacob Koshy writes in The Hindu with much more depth and history for the reasons why this quote now looks like a way to airbrush the failure. There has been no official response yet. S M Ahmed who had an instrument on board the Moon Impact Probe of Chandrayaan 1 discusses possibilities as to the fate of the lander on his blog.

The lack of information now has people studying the few statements that ISRO has already made. A story in India Today seems to re-interpret ISRO’s message to say that they were in touch with Vikram till about 400 m above the surface of the Moon and not 2.1 km like many media reports have since claimed.

Meanwhile, Ryan Watkins, a planetary scientist tweeted that NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) will look for Vikram on September 17. LRO’s camera has a resolution of 0.5 m at an orbit of 100 km. It is believed that at this altitude, the images would not discern enough detail to let us know whether the lander is intact. There were reports that ISRO will lower the orbit of the Chandrayaan 2 orbiter to take a closer look. The orbiter has a camera with a better resolution than LRO. We got word from Edgar Kaiser, an amateur radio astronomer today that Chandrayaan 2 orbiter has now lowered its orbit above the South Pole.

Chandrayaan 2 orbiter orbit change detected on Doppler. Image: Edgar Kaiser

This seems contrary to rumours that K Sivan, ISRO Chairman has asked scientists to move on and focus on future missions. There were also some fairly stupid remarks from DRDO Chairman saying that PM Modi’s hug enabled ISRO to find Vikram.

While I’ve mostly given up on chances of locating Vikram intact we can await efforts from Deep Space Network (DSN) to hail the lander in hopes that it will be able to contact it.

Doppler seems to be bursting various balloons of hope that ISRO has created. It seems to be breaking news about the orbiter and lander. In space, you can’t lie. Covering up mistakes makes the situation much worse than needs to be.

On WhatsApp forwards

We all get numerous messages which are fake on WhatsApp and forward it without giving it too much thought. Thejesh GN has written on his blog about these forwards, with suggestions on how WhatsApp could handle fake news. 

It is important that you verify things you hear on WhatsApp from another primary source. If you trust the person sending you the forward, do question if he/she thinks the news is true or not. I would suggest using Google News and to visit a news publication you trust or visit the organisation/individual’s website.

Pulimurugan (2016)

Pulimurugan is an action film starring Mohanlal and Kamalinee Mukherjee.

It’s been a long while since we went for a movie. We only had a wedding reception chalked in to attend in the evening and so had booked to watch Aanandam in the evening. When my aunt called to ask if we could catch Pulimurugan for the morning show, we decided to go after getting the wife’s assent.

Pulimurugan has two or three strand story. There is the story of the protagonist’s life, the story of the constant struggle between man and animal for land and the exploitation of the forest by miscreants big and small. The story interlaces all of these and their meeting points make the movie interesting for me.

The protagonist of the movie is a tiger hunter but he only hunts for man-eaters. This leads him to constant skirmishes with the law, which does not allow for the killing of tigers. The protagonist turns hunter because a man-eater kills his father when he is only a child. As an adult, the same protagonist admits that it is the humans who are the real trespassers and not the animal.

The protagonist’s innocence having lived in the forest his whole life leads him to break the law transporting forest produce (sandalwood and ganja) illegally from the forest. The miscreants treat him as an asset in their trade. The protagonist at one time admits that humans are worse enemies than animals in the forest.

The last thing that everyone I asked seems to have been going on about was the wonderful action scenes. The action scenes are beautifully choreographed and shot. There are some wonderful close calls that almost take your breathe away and have you at the edge of your seats.

All in all, I loved watching the film and would recommend that you watch it too.

 

 

Middle Management

C Gopinath writes in The Hindu Business Line on the lack of attention on mid-level management in relation to the news related to Wells Fargo. I found this paragraph to be instructive and applicable to many organisations in India today:

The problem lies in a managerial culture that has eviscerated the role of the middle manager. Mid-level managers are key to an organisation, translating the policies of the top to operational systems and procedures, and in reverse, interpreting and communicating issues and market intelligence from the bottom. Thanks to new ERP systems and misplaced process re-engineering, the role of the middle manager has been castrated. ‘Yes managers’ have come to occupy those positions. They tell their bosses only what the top wants to hear.