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Is the majority always right?

October 11, 2010 9 comments

No, this article has got nothing to with the democratic way of choosing a government in a country. In fact, when it comes to keeping a population of the order of millions or billions happy, there is nothing better or fairer than a majority.

What am I hinting at here?  The millions of decisions taken on a daily basis the world over in boardroom meetings and closed room discussions, where the majority is mistaken for correctness.  The majority could be right and more often than not, they are. But there is always a chance that the so-called minority is right.

In mathematical terms, if we define the problem as P (E) = percentage of people predicting that the event would occur. That means, in our case, if a group of people are sitting about predicting/suggesting the outcome of a certain event, the P (majority)>0.5>P (minority) and all of us would tend to agree that the event the majority predicted/suggested is more likely to occur. But probability is just that and the other event could also occur. Once the other event DOES occur, then P(minority) becomes 1 and P(majority) becomes 0.

There are three types of problems where I find this dilemma could come into picture:-

1)      SCIENTIFIC THEORIES: – Since ages we have been seeing that on most of the discoveries and theories, the society of scientists has remained divided.  Galileo Galilei and earlier Nicolaus Copernicus were the first to prove that earth revolved round the sun and not vice-versa. They were ridiculed by other scientists and philosophers. Galileo was also kept under house arrest for that matter.  Kepler also tried to prove it. It was not until the time of Newton when finally the theory was proven.  Galileo and Copernicus were wrong in a way as they said that sun was the centre of the universe, but that is still better than saying “earth is the centre of the universe”.

Scientific theories usually have to do with inertia and scientists in spite of their superior knowledge and education tend to discard new ideas and theories. One can say that any scientific theory could be supported by majority or by minority scientists. But ultimately, to be PROVEN correct, it has to be proved by strong empirical evidence or still better theoretical proof.

2)      DECISIONS DECIDING THE FUTURE OF AN ORGANISATION OR PERSON: – Here I am talking of those courtroom decisions and important strategic decision by companies. Often it so happens that a person comes up with an idea and gives arguments to support his theory. On the basis of his argument, he would like to garner support from the majority and push his case through. I would recommend a CONSENSUS here rather than a majority. A consensus means that the person has to get the support of each and every person. We are thus putting the decision of any single person to test to the greatest extent.  It might not guarantee the correct decision but at least we have tried our best.  The trial by Jury in US is a great example of this. I would recommend the movie ‘Twelve Angry Men’ for all those who have not watched it.

3)      DECISIONS REGARDING PERSONAL CHOICES OR OPINIONS: – BY personal choices, I mean the ‘n’ number of decisions we make or views we have on certain topics, books, movies, views about a personality etc.  Many decisions on ETHICS are also personal and a majority can’t always decide what is right or wrong for you. Some common crimes like murder of a human being are generally disapproved by the majority, or rather almost the whole population. But when it comes to killing other animals, the reference point of the matter and the argument changes for many and the majority shifts.

The majority here is very subjective and highly dependent on the group or the sample we are discussing and might not represent the views of absolute majority.  Let us take for example VEGETARIANISM. A vegetarian in a group with majority vegetarians can easily pin down a non vegetarian if he tries to argue against vegetarianism. Likewise, a vegetarian arguing against a majority of non-vegetarians would find it very difficult and would soon run out of arguments. No single person can be declared right or wrong here.

The same is true in the case of views on let’s say, a particular super hit movie.  Just because the movie was a hit or it appealed to the masses does not necessarily mean that the movie was well made. It might have been lifted from elsewhere or in some cases – the director might have held the audience ransom to a singular emotion or feeling barring which the movie would have lacked content. The majority would get away by saying that the movie was liked by all but in due time or in some case, even a generation later, the minority would be proved right. What I am saying is the next generation might find out flaws in the movie’s arguments or generally find the movie to be lacking quality irrespective of the reception it got on release. The opposite has happened in case of the now CULT CLASSIC Andaz Apna Apna. The movie was a definite flop when it released – in short, the majority didn’t want to watch the movie. But on being released on video, people eventually realized what a great movie it was and now almost everyone swears by the movie. As far as movies are concerned I have found myself on both sides.

Thus, it is not to say that majority should not be taken seriously, but what I am saying is think twice the next time someone tries to convince you by saying he/she is in the majority and you are not. What say guys?

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Movie review : Moon

September 23, 2010 Leave a comment

The moon has been an object of fascination for human beings since time unknown. So near, but yet so far. So beautiful but yet full of craters. So barren, but yet so resourceful. Resourceful? Indeed, the moon has millions of tones of Helium-3 embedded in the soil blown in by lunar winds. Helium-3 is one of the potential raw materials for a nuclear fusion reaction. With natural resources on earth fast dwindling and nuclear energy fast picking up popularity, helium-3 harvesting is one of the best available options available.

The moon has been a part of almost all ancient cultures and has had an important role to play in the calendars, poetry, mythological stories and also deity worshipping. In the past century, after the advent of feature films, outer space has gained great importance and films like 2001: A space odyssey, Solaris and Alien have been hugely popular. The post is about the 2009 film MOON, a British sci-fi film starring Sam Rockwell. The film has been chosen over scores of other sci-fi films simply because it shows both advantages and moral hazards of modern technology.

The film revolves around a single character Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) who is stationed at moon whose main responsibility is to send helium-3 canisters to earth in a space module. His 3 year contract at moon is nearing its end. The process of helium harvesting is almost fully automated and Sam has a robotic assistant GERTY to help him with his day to day activities. He is in constant touch with his wife and (now almost 3-year old) daughter. One day while going for his regular round of Helium harvesting, he meets with an accident and while he is recovering, he is not allowed to venture outside by GERTY. But realizing that there was something fishy, Sam tricks GERTY and somehow goes out of the Lunar base and finds a look alike of him injured in an accident. The audience is made to realize at this moment that the Sam recovering right now is someone else and the one injured in the accident has never been rescued. The new Sam seems to realize gradually that all of them could be clones. But it becomes quite difficult for the original Sam to come to terms with the truth. The rest of the film is about how the two Sams take control of the situation and how they fight back.

The film is a technological marvel. Though the film does not reveal much about when the story is taking place, it can be reasonably assumed that it is set somewhere in 2050s. Let us start with the idea of ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE. The robot GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey) is highly intelligent and can converse with Sam on any topic under the sun. Not only that, it can also show emotions. Though it has a monotonous voice, it has a graphical display to show smileys by which it is able to communicate a number of feelings with Sam. The film also shows that GERTY has been programmed to take good care of Sam; it is not reluctant to take Sam’s life whenever required. Thus in a way GERTY almost symbolizes the present day human beings who develop relationships and can emote with fellow human beings but are smart enough to sacrifice these emotions when required.

The idea of parallel computing and co-operative robots has been captured well by the film. GERTY, physically is not a single robot but many different robots, the nearest physical unit to Sam communicating with him as and when required. At the same time, GERTY is sharing the same memory resources and probably a single core – processor. The film also has shown a very realistic picture of robotics. Instead of showing high flying robots like in films like Star wars, it has shown a simple 6-axis or 7-axis robot which is quite adept at simple mechanical tasks.

Space technology has really evolved and the film paints a very true picture of things to happen. A Lunar base has been set up on the moon, where an earth like environment is being maintained for Sam. The space modules which frequently transfer the Helium-3 between earth and moon also seem a highly realistic proposition.

And finally, let’s get into the main subject of the movie- CLONING. Man is being used by Lunar industries as a commodity and with the help of his so called wife and daughter, it has become very easy to play with his emotions and keep him under control. In fact, the ultimate aim of ‘getting back to earth’ is shown as the main incentive to Sam because of which he is bearing the pain of solitude. The cloning technology has not evolved to the extent that the same clone can be used for years together. Every three years, the clone requires a replacement as his body becomes weak and succumbs to the regular wear and tear of the highly demanding job performed in adverse conditions. Also, the inhuman way in which the clone is treated in the end also shows how inhuman man can get for earning a few dollars. Every clone is asked to sit in a module (supposed to take him to earth) and there he is incinerated.

The film thus is one of its kind capturing various human emotions and technological evolution at the same time. The film also shows the ultimate victory of human mind over technology, ironically, though the latter is a result of human mind itself. The film was a limited release but nevertheless picked up two BAFTAs. It features in the 39th position in the top 50 sci-fi flicks on imdb.

Hopefully, my article was able to TAKE YOU TO THE MOON AND BACK.

I had written the above post for the System Consulting Club blog. You can find it here as well…

http://sysconclub.blogspot.com/2010/07/high-on-sci-fi-moon.html

Be-imaan Munni 2

September 21, 2010 1 comment

CONTINUED from BE-IMAAN MUNNI

……..and while John was out shopping, drank the whole bottle of the rat-poison.

He waited for an hour. Then Another

Nothing happened. Later he came to know that John had actually used up the whole rat-poison and the bitter liquid which Sid had drunk was actually vinegar. It did not take long for John to understand that Sid was contemplating suicide. Sid too became wary of John. He realized that as long as John is living with him, he would not be successful in his suicide-bid.

One day, he called John and told him.

Sid: “John, I no more need your services. I am happy with whatever you have done for me, but now I think I can handle everything on my own.”

John:“But….”

Sid:“No John, I can look after myself. Take 15000 rupees from the almirah as your next 2 months salary and also, you can take my bike. I can write a letter saying I am giving you this bike lest someone suspect you of stealing it. Just write down the letter on a piece of paper and I shall sign it.”

 

John was hesitant to leave and did not give in, especially since he knew that Sid would try to commit suicide. They had never discussed this earlier and finally John gathered courage to speak up

John: “I don’t want you to go away from this world. Please Mr.Siddharth, don’t do this. In army, many a times, some of us lose limbs, and we reach a stage where we start hating ourselves, but none of us ever commits suicide.”

Sid laughed at him.

Sid : “What? Go away from this world? I am not going anywhere”

John: “You are lying; I know you tried to commit suicide. Please don’t do it “

Sid: “You have been mistaken, John. How could you even think like that? Why should I suicide? See, I am so happy and content with my life.”

 

Eventually, John was convinced and Sid was all alone in his house. He started revisiting his suicide plans. This time he wanted a fail-proof plan. So he decided to visualize each and every detail of his plan before executing it. He went about collecting information about various possibilities. By this time, he had a number of options enlisted – jumping into a water body, hanging from the fan, or lying on the railway tracks for a train to come and end his life.  He liked the last option very much.

On a dark and stormy night, when most people would be in their homes, he planned to complete his plan of action. He covered a lot of distance to reach a place which was not at all crowded.  The storm and the rain and the muddy place made his task even more difficult.  He finally reached the railway tracks and lied down on the tracks. It was raining intermittently and he had become all wet. The storm had grown fierce and he started shivering. There was no sign of any oncoming train. He patiently waited for an hour and he could now hear the vibrations of an oncoming train. He was relieved and thought, “Finally, the end is near”. The sound grew stronger and stronger, but then nothing happened. The train went and passed by the other track. Sid was heartbroken. He started crying but nevertheless continued waiting for some other train. By this time, he had almost given up hope, when suddenly the sound of another approaching train gave him a ray of hope. When the train came nearer, he felt someone shove him off the track.

Sid:”Who are you? Why don’t you just let me die?”.

The other man:”I am Pritesh. Come on man, say thanks. I saved your life”

Sid:”Do you know I got this opportunity after such a long time. You ruined it.”

Pritesh:”Ruined what? ”

Sid: “ I was waiting for that train to take my life and you came in between”

Pritesh:”Goodness me. I thought you got stuck in the mud or something. “

Then he laughed a lot.

Sid: “what are you laughing at?”

Pritesh: “Nothing. Was wondering why you would do such a thing”

Sid:”Can’t you see? I can’t see. I am blind”

Pritesh:”Oh, so that’s the reason. Come on, suicide is not an option. Did you consult a doctor?”

Sid: “Yes of course, an eye replacement will help but I am not getting any donor. The near-by eye bank is running empty. And then of course, I don’t have the money to pay for the operation”

Pritesh: Come with me. You are already very wet. Come to my home. We will find out a solution”

Then Pritesh took Sid in his car to his home. It was a huge bungalow. Sid dried himself and Pritesh offered him a fresh set of clothes. Sid changed and they sat on the dinner table.

Pritesh:”So what if I promise you a pair of eyes within a week and also I pay for the operation?”

Sid:”You are kidding. Why would you help me?”

Pritesh :”You must have realized the size of my home and also may be how rich I am. I could easily get you a pair of eyes through my contacts and also easily pay for your operation. You can pay back the money in due time as we are now good friends”

Sid: “I can’t believe it” And he started crying.

Pritesh and Sid talked a lot.

Pritesh later on dropped Sid home when the storm subsided. While getting into his car Pritesh said, “We will meet at ‘Tomahawk’s bar’, a month later when you would be having your vision back”.

A week later, Sid got a call from Appollo hospital saying arrangements had been made for his surgery and an ambulance would come to pick him up.

The operation was successful. Two weeks after the operation, Sid was discharged. Doctor had advised Sid not to strain his eyes much but nevertheless he started painting and sketching. He was getting restless as he wanted to meet Pritesh urgently. He tried calling his number but no one would pick the call. Finally the D-day came and he reached Tomahawk’s bar.

He was waiting near the bartender expecting Pritesh to come up any time and talk to him. After some time, the bartender approached him and asked him”Sir, are you Mr. Siddharth?”

Sid:”Yes”

The bartender handed him a sealed envelope. Sid opened the envelop, there was a letter inside. The contents were as follows:-

“Hi Sid,

Hope this letter finds you in good health. Hope my eyes are serving you well. Ok, now let me tell you a story. The day I met you at the railway tracks, i had come to the tracks for the same reason – suicide. My reasons were a bit different – I was actually reasonably rich but recently had suffered heavy losses in the business and was under heavy debt.  Because of this, my wife Munni Lakhani had lost interest in me and had started going out with other people. Because of this, I was depressed as I used to think that her love for me was true and had planned to commit suicide. But that stormy night, I frankly had no idea you were planning to suicide and thought of saving you before my death. But your story gave me a new idea. I could indeed help you with my eyes and also pay for the operation by selling off my bungalow – my only property left, which otherwise would go to Munni. I pledged my eyes and personally for you and soon I will suicide and of course to take care that no damage happens to the eyes- I would cut my veins.

Now, you have been restored your eyesight and Munni is left with nothing. Let her find someone else!!”

Sid folded the letter and put into his pocket. He shed a tear for Pritesh and smiled wryly thinking about Munni who would never know what true love is.

He quietly walked away thinking about how fate was playing different games with all of them.

Be-imaan Munni

September 18, 2010 5 comments

Guys, This is another one of my short stories. Only the title is in hindi. Its an english story 😛 .

The usual disclaimers ….

Disclaimer  : The below story is a work of fiction and the characters including the character names in the story are all fictitious. Any resemblance in name etc to any person living or dead is a matter of sheer coincidence.

———–Story Begins————

“Don’t move! Stay still. Gimme 5 more minutes.”

“Come on, Sid. Finish it fast. My neck is aching!!!”

“Patience, darling, patience. You are posing for Siddharth– the world renowned artist”

“Not yet. You are…”

“And you, darling would be as famous as ….lets say, Mona Lisa”

“Stop building castles in the air, my Leonardo Da Vinci”

“Oh, You don’t have faith in me…”

“Of course Sid, I was just talking about the Mona Lisa part”

10 minutes later….

“Yes Munni. We are done. Now put on your clothes and get going!!”

“What? No other plans?”

“Plans? Plans as in…”

“Don’t act smart! Just look at me. Are you in no mood?”

“Munni, I gotta give the finishing touches to the painting! The dinner is kept on the table. You can leave after having the dinner. Bye!”

“How Rude!!!!”

Siddharth or Sid is an upcoming artist and Munni is his girl friend of three years. Munni belongs to an affluent family. Sid is quite well-to-do and Munni is happy with him. Siddharth leads a very simple life and spends all his time painting. The relationship started with Sid finding a special interest in Munni and she had instantly become his ‘inspiration’ for most paintings. In due course of time they had fallen in love with each other.

 

It has been two years since that evening. Sid has put in a lot of hard work and has put his paintings on exhibit at as many venues as possible. He also earned a contract with the police department to draw sketches of crime suspects. Creating new and innovative designs for book-covers of a famous publishing house earned him a reasonable amount of money and respect.  Now he had enough money saved away and with generous support of bank loans, he could open an art gallery of his own. He did open a gallery, though it was a modest one in terms of size, location and facilities.

Sid and Munni had planned to get married a week after the inauguration of the gallery. The inauguration was attended by heavyweights of Mumbai art culture and also some lesser-known bollywood stars. The event also got decent page 3 coverage. It was a life Munni had dreamt of even while she used to go around with a poor Sid. Now she was happy that she had made a good choice and she was genuinely happy for Sid, for whom, so much hype and media coverage was getting quite difficult to handle.

29 Feb 2008: Mumbai:

Both the bride and bridegroom were very happy as they were going to start their life anew.

Munni: “Sid, almost none of your relatives came to the wedding”

Sid: “It’s ok darling, anyhow I don’t have many of them and none of them bothered to talk to me when I wasn’t this famous.”

Munni: “Still !!! They are your relatives. I was feeling kinda embarrassed with almost no one to introduce as your relative”

Sid: “Forget it! It’s such an important day of our life, such an important moment and darling, you are spoiling my mood by continuing with this boring discussion about my so-called relatives”

Munni: “ “Ok fine !!! Forget it. What are tonight’s plans?”

Sid: “Lets see. Nothing special as such. Your dad said he had a suite reserved for us at the Taj”

Munni: “ “Yup. That my dad’s wedding gift for both of us. Didn’t you like it?”

Sid: “Oh, I loved it. So nice of your dad that he booked us a room. An innovative idea. It would have never crossed my mind”

But fate had other plans for Munni and Sid. Their car met with an accident even before they could reach the Taj and both of them were critically injured.

After a few days, both of them were discharged from the hospital, though Munni could fully recover from her injuries, Sid lost his eyesight forever. The glass pieces from the windscreen had done permanent damage to his retina. It took some time for Sid to come out of his state of shock. He lost not only his eyesight but also his means for daily bread and butter.

When Sid would get up in the morning, he would miss the rising sun. He could hear the birds chirping but could never ever see them. The various colors and hues with which he would give life to his painting were now mere strangers – they were all in his mind, but could ne’er see them. Munni took care of him in the two months following their marriage. But soon she started getting irritable. It became clear now that she had married him for the sole purpose of money and her love for him was secondary. She started neglecting him and asked him to hire a household help for assisting him with daily activities. Fate had worse things in store for him.

Sid wanted someone to look after him. After consulting his friends, he availed the services of John – a war veteran who was quite impoverished and as a result used to work as domestic help at blind peoples’ homes. He had taken special training for the same.

 

One day Munni did not return home from a kitty-party she had gone to attend. Sid called up her dad and was told that Munni no more wanted to stay with him and he would soon be getting a divorce notice. Sid was crest-fallen. Soon, he took to drinking. He spent hours together in the near-by bar. Slowly his mental condition deteriorated. He visited a psychiatrist and was prescribed some anti-depressants. The drugs were not of much use as he was unable to overcome the grief.

Suicide had now become an option for Sid. He made up his mind to end his life with a bottle of rat-kill. One day, he complained to John that there were rats in his room and asked him to get rat poison. He somehow, made himself aware of the location of the rat poison, and while John was out shopping, drank the whole bottle of the rat-poison.

He waited for an hour. Then Another. Nothing happened.

TO BE CONTINUED……….

What do you think? What will happen to Sid? Take a guess…..leave your comments….

Next part at BE-IMAAN MUNNI 2

The Bangggg

September 11, 2010 3 comments

First things first – I have never been a great fan of Salman Khan’s acting skills, be it comedy or action and it has been some time now that I have watched a movie along with a hooligan crowd. But watching Dabangg along with the so called ‘non family’ audience was an experience in itself. The crowd was literally cheering each and every time Salman was making an entry into the scene (For that matter, the crowd even cheered some of the Child Salman’s dialogues 😛 ).

I had watched Salman in ‘WANTED’ and liked it. The so called ‘Tollywood’ touch was there to be seen in Wanted as it was made by Prabhudeva and was basically a remake of Pokiri. But interestingly enough, there were glimpses of the Tollywood action to be seen in Dabangg too. Salman Khan to his credit has for the first time (at least to my memory) played a character with negative shades. And he has sported a moustache for the first time (Technically He had sported a beard for Suryavanshi as well as Heroes).

Coming back to the movie, Dabangg is set in rural part of North India, probably UP – where power and politics hold sway. Chulbul Pandey (Salman Khan) is a corrupt cop who usually steals from the thieves themselves and calls himself Robinhood Pandey (Though he almost never ever is seen giving anything to the poor). He is utterly fearless (the literal meaning of Dabangg) and is very confident of his capabilities. Most importantly, his childhood experiences have been shown as the major reason of him being that way. He had lost his father at an early age and his mother (Dimple Kapadia) had married another guy (Vinod Khanna). They together have another son – Makkhi aka Makahnchand Pandey (Arbaaz Khan, who incidentally is the producer of the movie). As usual, his step father hates Chulbul and Chulbul grows up to be an angry young man. The emotional discord between Salman and his Step fathr and half brother sets the tone for the movie. During the course of the movie he falls in love with Rajjo (Sonakshi Sinha, Shatrughan Sinha ‘s daughter) and eventually marries her. There is also this political leader – villain Cheddi Singh (Sonu Sood) whose interests clash with those of Salman and quite predictably they end up in a bang-bang fight till death climax. But between all these, Sallu’s original style action and dance sequences, the umpteen witty dialogues and some interesting twists and turns keep you engaged.

Acting and presentation – Full marks to the whole costume, styling and presentation of Chulbul Pandey. Almost throughout the movie, Salman is seen wearing full sleeves, which in itself must be a first<!–[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 <![endif]–><!–[if gte mso 9]> <![endif]–>. The shirt does come off eventually in the climax (the shirt is ripped apart by his angry, tensed, taut musles). The moustache, the hairstyle and some amount of personal touch from Salman himself makes the end result just so perfect for the character. Salman’s role, I must say was not a very difficult one but still he is probably the only one in the industry who could carry this character with such panache. The attitude and personality of a bad cop combined with perfect comic timing is executed superbly by Sallu. Other actors – Arabaaz Khan, Dimple Kapadia and Vinod Khanna were no great shakes. But Sonu Sood as the antagonist did complete justice to the role. Few words about debutant Sonakshi – apart from donning the role of a completely homely – gaon ki gori in her debut movie, which many of the current crop of heroines would find it difficult to do, she has put up a very decent performance in the limited number of scenes she has got. Her eyes do the talking most of the time and I must say, she looked extremely pretty in the film. Anupam Kher and Mahesh Manjrekar were royally wasted.

Cinematographer Mahesh Limaye I felt has not put in great efforts to capture the rustic charm of the countryside but yes, the main focus of the film being action, the cinematography has been commendable in that respect. The action sequences have been choreographed by the much experienced stunt director from Telugu cinema, S Vijayan who had also done it for Wanted.  Now we know from where the Tollywood touch was coming. The opening scene of Salman is a mis-mash of action sequences lifted from Shanghai Noon, The Matrix, and The Transporter etc. The music by Sajid Wajid and Lalit (Of erstwhile Jatin- Lalit fames) was awesome to say the least.  As expected, the crowd went mad when Munni Badnaam hui started off. The background score (not sure who has done it) was very catchy – a kind of music you have in those Spanish tap dances and it really gelled well with the film. Thinking about it, the tune was such that it was indifferent to action, comedy or romance and was easily fitted into any context.  Direction by Abhinav Kashyap was quite good, considering the fact that he had to direct such a big personality in his debut movie.  Being Anurag Kashyap’s (My fav 🙂 ) brother must have helped him a lot I suppose.

Dialogues- the film had some great dialogues – some very cheeky one liners and some serious ones.  The comic timing of Salman made sure these dialogues have the kind of effect intended. The dialogues where Salman tries to woo Sonakshi are also full of subtle sarcasm and dry humour.  And the fact the main protagonist is a pretty ‘patthar dil’ guy, we are saved from those endless melodramatic dialogues. In fact, in a supposed to be very emotional scene, Salman comes up with a really silly dialogue (and the next moment he bursts into tears too).  One famous dialogue which comes to my mind is “ Thappad se darr nahin lagta saab, pyaar se lagta hai” and also the famous “hum tummein itne ched karenge ki conphuse ho jaoge ki saans kahaanse le aur …..”. This one appears twice in the film 😛

In short, a must-watch film. All you Salman Khan believers and non-believers – please go and watch this movie. Specially non-believers to start believing. A sure shot hit and by the way, to quote Wikipedia under the RECEPTION head

“Early reports indicate that Dabangg could record the highest gross for the opening day, beating the previous high from “3 idiots”. Dabangg is likely to be the top grosser Hindi movie of all time.”

I am loving this…..

<!–[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 <![endif]–><!–[if gte mso 9]> <![endif]–> <!–[endif]–>Salman is seen wearing full sleeves, which in itself must be a first. The shirt does come off eventually towards the end (the shirt is ripped apart automatically by his angry, tensed, taut muscles).

Right or Left?

August 29, 2010 3 comments

Following on from my previous post,  is handedness observed in other animals? As the term itself is HANDedness, it is pretty intuitive that animals are mostly footed and only the other primates and bears use hand to some extent.  The polar bears are rumoured to be left handed but it is just that – a rumour. There is no scientific evidence for the polar bears being lefties. For all other primates other than humans, though they might acquire a liking for a particular hand, they do not have any preference as such. The reason being that the left and right sides of the brains are identically sized. In humans, as most of you must know, one side is bigger than the other. The lefties have their right brain slightly bigger and vice-versa. The right brain is supposed to control verbal skills and left brain is supposed to control all the quant skills and calculations. Thus, lefties are believed to be more artistic and righties more mathematical.

There is another category – ambidextrous people. By definition, they are people who can do any activity with both hands with equal ease. There are very few people who are ambidextrous in the true sense. But some do become ambidextrous – knowingly or inknowingly. For the record, three of my close friends have been non-right handed. Only one of them is lefty in the full sense. The other two eat/write with the right hand and throw/bowl etc with the left hand. Probably, at a young age, they started writing with the right hand because their teachers/parents told them that is the right way. Thus they are neither lefties nor righties not even ambidextrous – currently and are more of cross-dominant i.e. they have one hand assigned for each task. So how do you determine whether a person is a lefty or a righty in a flash? Throw something at him? No!!He would catch it with the hand nearest to him!!. Make him throw something, the action should be instantaneous and he should not be given enough time to decide which hand to use – he will definitely use his dominant hand to throw.

For a long time, the handedness was believed not to follow Mendel’s genetic rules. Mendel’s rule basically could give an idea what traits a child would have depending on his parent’s traits. For e.g. Mendel’s rules could determine what would be the color of the eyes of a child whose one parent is brown eyed and the other blue eyed. But in this case, two righty parents could have a lefty kid and two lefty parents could have a righty kid. But as late as 2007, a new gene has been discovered – LRRTM1. This gene determines the asymmetry in the brain size and in a way determines handedness.

Developing motor skills in your non-dominant hand is not very difficult and humans can learn it with enough practice. Lefties do it usually because they are forced to do it one way or the other Righties don’t usually do it but can take a shot at it. Yours truly (me, the blog writer) has learnt the same and achieved some success. What I have realized is you can do most routine actions – like throwing with left hand and with lots of practice, doing it in a rhythmic way, you can even take aim and hit the target pretty accurately. The above was an example of an action where you needed more of force/strength and less of dexterity in terms of the usage of fingers. Fingers are used the most while writing. So writing with left hand is difficult – but how difficult? I pretty much write decently with the left hand as well. My handwriting with my right hand is nothing to write home about and so the left hand is not doing very badly at that. Then which are the actions which are most difficult – the ones which need both dexterity and force – brushing teeth. It’s very difficult to reach the inner parts of your mouth from various angles that too with the right force so as to clean your teeth.

As they say- it’s all in the mind (literally too). There is nothing in this world which man can’t learn by practice. Thus, I am reiterating the well known proverb – practice makes a man perfect!!!!

Left or right?

August 29, 2010 6 comments

Ever wondered why you use one hand more than the other or for that matter, why are you right handed? Yes, I am confident that most of you readers are right handed and hence the earlier question- why RIGHT handed. Less than 10% of people around the world are left handed. Sorry lefties!!! Most of the further discussion would be from the perspective of righties!!!! ‘Us’ would mostly mean righties!!!

The majority of tools and equipments are suited for right handers, more than left handers. The door knobs are one such example though these days I myself have seen a number of left handed knobs. The taps and screws are another example which I find interesting. For us Indians, who usually eat with our hands, tap is not a problem as more often than not we have to open the tap with our left hand. But imagine tightening a screw or capping a bottle. Right now, to tighten the screws, you follow a clockwise direction – remember – tightening requires more pressure and accuracy most of the times and you would like to have your hand in a comfortable position for the same. To loosen the screw, only the initial jerk is necessary and the rest of the action is pretty straight forward. Yes, clockwise is much more comfortable than anticlockwise while tightening and vice-versa. The primary reason is the set of muscles in our hand involved. You can refer to supination (for clockwise movement) and pronation (for anti clockwise) for the details of muscle movements.

Another tool is the scissor. Most scissors are for right handed people – handle blade and all. A right handed scissor is one when you hold while cutting, the hand having the thumb faces outside. For lefties, this could be a problem, even if the screw is a little loose as all control is lost.

Lefties also face another problem – that of writing. Usually most of the lefties hold their pen/pencil in a peculiar fashion. They are forced to do it because otherwise, they might smear the ink of the previous letter written with their own hand. This is true for most of the written languages.

In sports, handedness plays a major role. Let’s take cricket – India’s favourite sport. Though bowling and fielding determines whether a person is righty or lefty, some people do wrongly believe that a left handed batsman is a lefty by birth. Actually, the terminology used should be top handed or bottom handed. Yes, a left handed batsman who is a righty by birth is top handed and a right handed righty is bottom handed. For top handed people, it is more like they are hitting a back hand shot (lets say in a game like tennis) with some support from the other hand. So if you are playing a game like tennis or badminton, your preference for backhanded shots might determine your preference in cricket. Now, which is better – being top handed or bottom handed? A left handed batsman has his dominant side – the right side facing the bowler which will give him more confidence. Not only that, there is this concept of right eyed and left eyed people i.e. a right eyed guy uses more of his right eye than the other. Most righties are right eyed and so on. So a top handed batsman would not only be using his dominant side, but can also see the ball more clearly with his dominant eye nearer to the ball. So he has more time than the bottom handed batsman and can execute his shots much better.

No prizes for guessing why Sourav Ganguly had such sweetly timed square cuts. Sachin Tendulkar is more of an enigma. I have read that he uses both hands and I have seen him autograph with his left hand. But I am not very sure if he has practiced that as he still bowls and throws with his right hand. In one particular match, I remember him trying to throw with his left hand and believe me it was not a pretty sight to watch. The ball somehow did reach the keeper’s gloves and the batsman of course couldn’t complete the single. But Sachin himself was all unbalanced and had thrust himself in the air.

Rafael Nadal is right handed but plays tennis with his left hand. It seems he used to play a double handed forehand. This gave his uncle and idea that Nadal could play left handed tennis. Now he  uses a double handed backhand too.

I guess this is enough for now. Read my next post to understand the science behind handedness.

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