Remembering Myself, Travestying Time…and Phonying towards Perfection

Thus Spake Luftmensch, Ep. 7: Lombroso and the Art of Spotting Uggos

When Cesare Lombroso, the 19th century Italian, the “father of criminal anthropology”, made the astounding statement that you could measure criminality based on a person’s looks, the world (his world) rolled on to its side, clutching its stomach, peeling with laughter. A person’s head was the repository of malignant, murderous secrets, secrets which could be excavated without prying open his skull but merely by looking. Among the telltale signs of the criminal were the enormous jaw, large ears, thin upper lip, tattooing, gambling, idling, and so forth.

Lombroso faced ridicule and opposition from various quarters of academia, explicitly on grounds of the pseudoscientific footing, obviously subjective data collection, and prejudicial assumptions, although secretly they worried about the Lombrosian yardstick of perfect form. The critics feared, with sufficient cause, that they themselves were not exempt from censure when it came to looks.

Continue reading “Thus Spake Luftmensch, Ep. 7: Lombroso and the Art of Spotting Uggos”


Quote #104

The end of the twentieth century, therefore, will probably see a generation to whom it will not be injurious to read a dozen square yards of newspapers daily, to be constantly called to the telephone, to be thinking simultaneously of the five continents of the world, to live half their time in a railway carriage or in a flying machine … It will know how to find its ease in the midst of a city inhabited by millions …

Max Simon Nordau. Degeneration. 1895.

Expecting Familiar Humans

My first snapshot of an animate being other than trees, trees, and trees. This dog is a crazily cheerful stray, never takes offense, follows random people around for no reason, and has a permanently lopsided ear.

Quote #103

Zina took him for a walk on the lead along Obukhov Alley and the dog burnt with shame as he walked like some felon under arrest but, by the time he had walked the length of Prechistenka as far as the Church of Christ the Saviour, he realised what a collar meant in a dog’s life. Furious envy was clearly to be seen in the eyes of all the curs they encountered and at Myortvy Alley, a lanky stray who’d lost part of his tail barked ferociously, calling him a “bloody aristo” and a “boot-licker”.

Mikhail Bulgakov. The Heart of a Dog. 1925.

Quote #102

Similarly, we do not know what is happening at the moment farther away in the universe: the light that we see from distant galaxies left them millions of years ago, and in the case of the most distant object that we have seen, the light left some eight thousand million years ago. Thus, when we look at the universe, we are seeing it as it was in the past.

A Brief History of Time. Stephen Hawking.

House by the Lake (2017, Adam Gierasch): Why Mothers are Always Right

Spoiler alert!

It has been so long since I watched a movie so perfectly horrible (after the 2011 film The Oranges) that warrants a ridiculous review at last.

The story of an autistic 10 year old girl who hates her parents especially her mother and leaves the ‘house by the lake’ to live forever in the lake with a killer beast strangely called the fishman. (It looks nothing like a fish.) The parents return to urban civilization apparently relieved they got rid of the girl. Why does it seem to be a pattern that the ‘defunctive’ girl who feels out of place among ‘normal’ people goes away (into a water body) with a kind and protective mythical beast who understands her? Reminding you of any recent film?

Continue reading “House by the Lake (2017, Adam Gierasch): Why Mothers are Always Right”

Quote #101

It is highly important for us to gain some notion, however imperfect, of the lapse of years. During each of these years, over the whole world, the land and the water has been peopled by hosts of living forms. What an infinite number of generations, which the mind cannot grasp, must have succeeded each other in the long roll of years! Now turn to our richest geological museums, and what a paltry display we behold!

Charles Darwin. The Origin of Species.

Thus Spake Luftmensch, Ep. 6: Problems of Mathematics

Being a Rant on the Gross Pretensions of School-book Mathematics.

I dreaded mathematics in school. One of the reasons was that it was a language insufferably alien to me. Another was that there could only be a single right answer (derived along a single path) to a Maths problem atleast for the ones we got in school. Confronted by the quintessential maths problem, the one involving workers and the days they took to build a drasted wall, I would be flummoxed trying to unravel the mysterious solution to this clearly rather taciturn question.

If a worker works 6 hours per day and takes 20 days to finish a wall all by himself, how many days will it take to finish if 3 more workers join him and they work 4 hours a day?

I don’t even know if this is a real question but that’s not the point. The point is I know nothing about those workers. If that single worker was me, I’d probably do less work when in company with three others who’d possibly be yapping politics and gossip as they worked together as a solid team.

Continue reading “Thus Spake Luftmensch, Ep. 6: Problems of Mathematics”

Quote #100

You will learn as you get older, just as I learned that autumn, that no father is perfect. Grown-ups are complicated creatures, full of quirks and secrets. Some have quirkier quirks and deeper secrets than others, but all of them, including one’s own parents, have two or three private habits hidden up their sleeves that would probably make you gasp if you knew about them.

Danny the Champion of the World. Roald Dahl.

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