Entry? What the hell is wrong with this font. [EDIT: Apparently it’s just fine once published]

So I was considering the consequences of Universe-Building.

You know, fictional Universes. The Potter-verse. Middle Earth. Westeros and whatever’s around that place. Comic book multi-multiverses, or whatever level Grant Morrison has taken them to. Actually, let’s ignore the last example set. Geoff Johns and co may do their best to retcon everything and create a cohesive universe, but these are comic books we’re talking about. Even the movies have started showing continuity issues – although they are better at the whole Universe building shtick.

Let’s consider Harry Potter. To compensate for my relative lack of experience here, I’ll link this (as it isn’t meant for reproduction). I can’t ascertain the validity of these points. They appear to be fine. There are, however, issues throughout – I’d advise you to read the first comment and subsequent replies to that main thread to clear any doubts.

Now, to discuss the matter. I quote  the author (of said answer) when I say

HP is a very good series. But no it’s not a well built world. It’s highly centered around Harry’s saga. Rowling hasn’t gone into depth with the Wizarding World at all and that’s what led to so many loop holes. She’s trying to cover a lot with Pottermore, but there is a lot of stuff unanswered.

I’ll have to agree. The person he was responding to had championed the series above all “modern crap”. Allow me to quote again. It’s sort of hilarious.

Being a HP fan, please don’t belittle it this way unnecessarily seeing as these new-age crap like Game of Thrones etc. are already trying to do so by passing themselves off as better well-made epics. (And please do accept my apologies if I came off as an ass in any point I made above)

(I’ll leave the parenthesis in. The fellow deserves to be understood). Yeah, it’ll be “new age crap” not “modern crap”. But if you’ll excuse that (I am profoundly apologetic and throwing around random words to sound photosynthetically philosophical and stuff), let us consider the travesty of comparing the Harry Potter World to that of A Song of Ice and Fire (which words to capitalize?) which, for that matter, existed before Dumbledore dropped the baby (from the tree top. When the .. No? Okay). George R R Martin wrote the series taking special care to build the world properly as he went – apparently having taken issue with Tolkein’s lack of economic and political structure in his epics – so much so that even a casual reader with no such heartfelt desire for economical measures has a fair idea of the power share and debt situation of Westeros, 200 pages into the first book. I didn’t really need to cover all this, the Quora link probably did it already.

The reader may have made a very mildly interesting, yet altogether useless observation – the manner of writing they are currently perusing involves a copious number of characters jumbled together to form a barely coherent narrative that in turn, conveys a message that could have been delivered by the words “I’m writing bullshit around my content”. I believe that would qualify as recursion. Also, I’ve barely even touched world-building. The entire purpose of this was to do something I’m not even sure of.

Let’s try stringing together random words.

The fourth Duke of Canterbury however the hell that is supposed to be spelled oh I got it right yay so yes the Fourth duke of Canterbury of horse can eat food from open caskets of chocolate ice cream sandwich. Talking of which, ICS is old. We’ve gone past Jellybean, KitKat, Lollipop, currently Marshmallow, and soon whatever Namey McNameface will officially be named. It also appears that I don’t know how Marshmallow is spelled.

I’m wasting time. Shit.

My last entry was on the day before ICSE English hah.

 

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Should we install more surveillance cameras in public places?

What do Marcus Junius Brutus from “Julius Caesar”, Gollum from “The Lord of The Rings”, and Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes have in common? Well, one is that they’re all characters from famous plays/novels/comic strips; but that’s not the point here. All of them – yes, even Calvin – thirsted for power. Now, power has a lot in common with your average narcotic. It can be used for the benefit of thousands (many narcotics are prescription drugs), but has some really dangerous side-effects. So what happens when certain people are given a whole lot of power which they are to exercise for the benefit of others?

This is precisely what happens with the use of surveillance cameras in public places. Now, surveillance cameras are pretty useful, because they were designed to be so. Their basic purpose is to record everything that happens in a particular place so that if something goes wrong, there shall exist a record of what had actually happened, thus saving a shit ton of money that would have gone down the drain due to litigation. Pretty useful. Aside from this remedial function, we also have guards sitting in front of screens and monitoring whatever the cameras record, so that they can raise the alarm if something seems a bit off.

However, as the saying goes: “quis custodiet ipsos custodes” – “Who will guard the guards”. Since we have all these cameras recording everything we do (in front of the camera), other people can see us doing stuff that we didn’t want those other people to see us doing. Was that a bit fuzzy? Okay, let’s say you’re in a shopping mall. You want to tuck in your shirt, because it is (quite obviously) untucked. It goes without saying, nobody must see you doing this. So, what to do? It’s simple. Go to a discrete corner of the mall, do the job, and come back. No harm done, nobody’s hurt. Except for one tiny detail: there was a CCTV in that “discrete corner”, and some faceless guard watched you tuck in your shirt while chewing listlessly on cookies. Okay, so what’s the problem? It’s just one random person, isn’t it? Well… correct. Now replace that guard with someone who holds a grudge against you/someone who’s bored and has the mentality of James Moriarty. Are you still happy with the incident?

Quite obviously not. That is where the problem with surveillance cameras lies: There’s no privacy. There’s (almost) no harm done if the “guard”- the surveyor is a responsible person, and doesn’t use anything to his/her advantage. The real danger lies in the irresponsible “guards”. There’s a devil inside everyone; and it takes little to ignite him (The evil devil is considered to be male, right? Right). Now, the danger exists. True. But there’s also the danger of litigation fees. Privacy matters as well. So what do we do? It’s simple. We already have a whole lot of cameras out there. Just don’t add any more, unless absolutely necessary. There. Job done.

So the idea of someone stealing your stuff is bad. The idea of someone else looking at you stealing other’s stuff is worse (if and only if you’re a thief, that is, Nothing implied here). Okay then, let me now address the biggest issue: why did I say that Calvin desired power? Well, just read the comics. He wants to become an adult so that others can’t bully him anymore (He also daydreamed about being Captain Spiff, but let’s focus on the scarier things).

Siblings.

Some of the greatest rivalries that the world has ever seen have been sibling rivalries. From Elizabeth and Mary’s family feud as to who should govern England, to the fictional passive-aggressive relationship shared by Sherlock and his brother Mycroft Holmes, such pseudo-enmity is usually the result of ideological differences which in turn rise from different (life) experiences. Now, while these differences don’t always snowball into massive vendettas, it’s pretty useful to know the most common causes, and the subsequent effects (arranging for a sibling’s death while he/she is in the forest, hunting, has not been included).

Causes. “Time” takes the throne here. Siblings are usually born somewhere between one to twenty years after one another (unless we’re talking about twins, in which case, please skip this paragraph). Now. Think. How many things change in a year? Let’s consider the year that just got over. Several regime changes, a whole lot of democratic elections, Mangalaayan, the landing of a probe on a comet, the release of “Interstellar” and Apple Inc. finally releasing a large-screen iPhone! So look. If so much can happen in a year, the experiences of two growing siblings separated by three-four years are quite obviously going to be different. Henceforth, there’s a difference in ideology, and the inevitable quarrels happen.

That said, there are a large number of secondary reasons. Primary among them: genes. Heredity is determined by genes. Now, there are over 70000 genes, and therefore a massive number of possible permutations. This ensures that the possibility of having two exactly identical kids is near zero. Other than that, we have differences arising from gender differences, different schools, different friends, and, in short, different (almost) everything.

Effects. The effects aren’t as flowery as you may think. Most siblings learn to live with each other’s differences, with the occasional fight that’s soon forgotten amidst all the laughter that follows. In fact, real disputes often rise out of issues totally unrelated to the overall experiences of life, instead taking root in a single issue; like matters of inheritance. However, there is the odd childhood enmity, usually seen in “power households” or families which have a lot of power. Case(s) in point: Tudors, Mughals, Ambanis.

As you may have guessed, I do have a sibling myself. No, the ten-year age gap, different genders, and genes haven’t driven us apart. Therefore, you’ll never see any sibling rivalry in our family. I love my books and toys and gifts way too much to destroy the supply.

Reading is the only Habit worth cultivating- Opposition

A person whose only cultivated habit is reading is like a gardener who only grows vegetables. Both books and vegetables are excellent specimens of knowledge and food respectively (with books scoring over vegetables when it comes to the taste), but they aren’t enough. It’s like saying that one can bullshit their way through an essay in the English Language Board examination by focusing solely on the theory behind writing and never really practicing. I don’t know why, but that sounds a lot like me.

Now, get this clear: I am not, in any way, demeaning the habit of reading (my comparison to vegetables should have made that pretty obvious. Both are healthy and unpopular). Reading is probably one of the best habits that a person could cultivate. However, it’s not the only habit worth developing. There is no single habit that is worthy of bearing that hallowed crown; because human development requires a multi-faceted approach and there is no single habit which can provide all of this.

What’s the big deal if we take a one-dimensional approach? Let’s enter the hypothetical situation world. Our protagonist, Mr. X, reads books (we choose a specific gender to make the pronouns easier). Let’s rephrase that: the only thing he does is read books. He does breathe, eat, go to school and so on and so forth, but he does not play games, or watch television and the like. What happens to X? Let’s divide it the effects into multiple “aspects”. First, the physical aspect. X does not play games, or engage in any form of physical exercise. Therefore, his physical state is understandably in tatters. Then comes the General Knowledge aspect. X reads books, but exists in a dream world. Since he does not read or watch anything else, his knowledge of the world is nil. Now, say: would you want to be X?

Now, you may argue that reading is the only habit that needs to be perfected. No. To continue with the gardener analogy, there’s no point in growing many beautiful vegetables and keeping a one square metre patch for fruits, because the fruits won’t grow well. The results are pretty much the same.

Reading is definitely a great habit to develop and culture. Such a habit needs to be developed in order to read boring essays like the one you’re reading right now. However, remember this: there’s a life outside of reading. There exists a world out there – an imperfect one, but it’s the real one. Unless some of those conspiracy theories I read about recently are true.

Studying Fiction is not about whether it is real; it is about whether it tells the truth

“Go not to the elves for advice, for they will say both yes and no”. Elves don’t exist. They aren’t real. Then why on (middle) earth should anyone study The Lord of The Rings (which is the source of the above quote) if it isn’t real (if one follows the logic of the proposition here)?

Let us revisit the title “Fiction”. Can fiction be real? Well, the circumstances may be so; but the plot has to be of the author’s creation for the work to be accorded with that title. So a work of fiction is not – and by definition, can not – be 100 percent realistic. There will be non-real elements, situations, and whatever else floats the author’s boat. So the “real” aspect of the proposition’s argument is null and void.

Does fiction tell the truth, then? Let’s reconsider Frodo’s statement. Okay, so elves don’t exist. Which other creature behaves that way? Well, humans do so. Taking this into consideration, we observe one thing: both humans and elves advise in the same manner, but for totally different reasons: elves do so for the abundance of knowledge that they possess, and humans advise in a conflicting manner for lack of the same. Tolkien has, in one line attributed to elves, effectively demonstrated how little humans really know. So he is telling the truth; and that is what really matters.

Now the third (and pretty insignificant) part: do we really need to study fiction? Aren’t we just supposed to sit back and live through whatever world the author has created for us? As the previous example shows – yes. Many authors have this (mildly annoying) habit of not explicitly specifying what they really want to say, choosing instead to hide their opinion in a maze of ciphers and symbols (which are often deciphered to “yield” a story that the author had absolutely no intention of expressing, but that’s art for you). So yes, as long as these authors continue with their symbols and non-cryptographic ciphers, it is necessary to study fiction to understand what the author wanted to (or did not want to) say.

As Wadsworth said “Life is real…”. Now, however beautiful a fictional world may be, it is not life. Therefore, it is not real. I do know of many who would love to get the “One ring to rule them all” for its magical invisibility properties, but they’re the ones who don’t see the truth – that with great power comes (the) great responsibility (of going all the way to Mordor and casting the ring into the fire).

My definition of Success

Let me ask you a question. Was Julius Caesar a successful person? Well, he did remark “Veni, vidi, vici”- “I came, I saw, I conquered” – a phrase that show his supreme self-confidence in himself, but does this make him successful?

In order to decide as to whether a person is truly successful or not, the first thing we need to do is arrive at a comprehensive definition of success. Success can be defined as the personal milestones that one passes by as one walks along the infinitely long treadmill that is life. Didn’t get it yet? Okay, now visualize. Think of life as a very long road – a road that is constantly pushing you backwards. In order to move forward in life one needs to walk at a constant speed. Along the road are various milestones in the shape of goals. These are the goals set by the person who’s walking. When the person reaches the goal, he/she can be said to be successful, by his/her own standards.

Now, stop for a moment. Think. Think of someone you know. Someone who, say, is not as well-off in life as you are. Would you consider that person to be a successful person? Now, on the whole, you may be more successful, but, right now, focus on individual events. Events where that other person succeeded, and you did not. Done? Now, the whole point of this exercise was to emphasize on one point: success is a personal measure. Earning billions a year may be trifle for Bill Gates, but it is definitely a big deal for you (Unless you’re Warren Buffet. If you are, what happened, Mr Buffet? I thought that you adhered to a strict work discipline. Stop reading this essay and get back to work).

Remember what I said about the treadmill of life? The thing about this treadmill (about how it was actually a road constantly pushing you back?) is that it’s actually like a real treadmill. Let’s take a hypothetical situation in which a person just stops walking. What happens then? All those people who have (don’t try this home) tried to stop moving on a moving treadmill without slowing down first know. First, you momentarily move back. Then, the pause. After that, comes the fall-forward-with-a-splat-and-break-teeth moment. If you’re very unlucky, you’ll die. Now, the point I’m trying to make here is, if you want to leave life as a successful person, you’ll have to stop at one “milestone” and not go any further. However, you can’t just “stop”. You’ll fall back and crash. What you really need to do is continue moving, only at a slower pace, so as to stay in the same position. For example, look at Steve Jobs. He forms Apple Inc., gets fired, forms Pixar, and gets hired back to Apple as CEO. After that, he started stealing ideas, but that just kept him at the pinnacle.

So there you are. Success. That famed creature that eludes the halls of those who desire it most. That powerful drug that makes people strive harder to achieve something. That intangible desire that always makes people want more. The reason I’m writing this essay (Success in examinations is mandatory in our country).

It is better to be born Intelligent than to be born wealthy

Scrolling through YouTube in search of new music, I realized that there are thousands of songs pertaining to love, depression, wealth, and the like. However, no (popular) song deals with “Intelligence”.Think of it. Have you ever heard a song that goes “Intelligence can come at birth-time, and last for,a lifetime…”? Probably not (though if you have, one must marvel at your ability to find such esoteric music).But why is this the case? Isn’t intelligence far more relevant than wealth, especially in the modern world? Bill Gates did say something to that effect.

Taking this into account, one begins to wonder as to whether it is better to be born wealthy than to be born intelligent. After all, it is the rich people who are named in songs, and who doesn’t want to be immortalized in music? Now, this is where the catch lies. There’s no point in being born rich with absolutely no intelligence. Why? It’s pretty simple. As the proverb goes, anybody can earn money; it takes a wise person to keep it. A rich person with no brains is a Bassanio in the making. On the other hand, a person born of poverty may earn enough to be classified as “wealthy”, if they apply their brain-power to this purpose. Then again, there’s also the argument that such people are possessors of “Intellectual Wealth” which is far greater than “Materialistic Wealth”, but that is essentially the same argument put forward in alternative wording.

That said, it cannot be denied that being born rich has its benefits. First of all, rich kids get to go to posh, “refined” schools where the quality of education is often very high (once again, this is of no avail if the kid has absolutely no intelligence). Second, it’s easier to expand a capitalistic empire than it is to create one; so the intelligent one who is born wealthy has a clear advantage here. Last, and the most important point- those who are born rich get to play video games, as and when they wish. What, that isn’t a valid point? Okay, then there are only two significant conditional advantages. Not enough to tilt the balance in favour of being born rich, to be honest.

Enough of theory, a real-life example is in order. Case Study: Steve Jobs. Born poor, he went to university, dropped out due to financial troubles, started marketing a computer that his friend had made, and within a year had founded Apple Incorporated, which went on to become the most influential tech company in the history of technology, and recently declared a profit of $18 billion in the fourth quarter of 2014. He died before the $18 billion came, though. How very inconsiderate of the cancer that killed him.

Jobs is just one in thousands of such people. Okay, not everyone makes $18 billion in three months, but what they do earn is well above average. Admitted, there are a few who die poor (for example, Nikolai Tesla) but that does not make them and their intelligence worthless. Tesla’s inventions and ideas help power a vast majority of the electronic gadgets that are probably all around you right now. That said, I really don’t expect to hear his name in a song on YouTube.