Rants, Smartphones

Its the season to fight over iPhones and Android again

Every September or October, people start debating one of the most important choices in their lives – iPhone or Android. Already Apple haters reading this post are thinking of making a witty crack about how the price of an iPhone makes the decision a choice between food and clothing for a year vs. a half eaten apple you can’t even finish and therefore an important one.

To avowed Android fans, the eagerness exhibited by many to buy an iPhone represents everything wrong in the world. They consider the devices overpriced and the people who buy them snobbish fools who pay more for outdated tech. Apple fans on the other hand say they love the Apple experience and that Apple ‘does it right’, even if some of the features arrived first on Android. Android users tend to proclaim judgment about the people who buy into Apple a lot more than the other way around. As an Android ‘fan’ who switched to Apple a couple of years ago, I speak from personal experience. After years of being an advocate of Android, I put my beloved Nexus 4 in the cupboard and bought an iPhone 6. What surprised me more than how much I liked the phone was reactions from people around me. To many, it was nothing short of betrayal. They called me a sell out and declared that I had gone over to the dark side. Most of it was light hearted, but at least a couple of people really took it seriously and seemed to have changed their entire opinion about me based on my choice of phone. Most people never listened to my rationale for the switch but now that another iPhone and iOS version launched, the “you were one of us!” chorus has started again, so here it is:-

I used to really like Android. I would root every phone I bought and change the ROM faster than some people would change their socks. I would install apps to automate all kinds of weird things and even change the kernel to try and improve battery life or performance or whatever. Many a nights I would go home late from work, get bored in 20 minutes and then get to work installing a new custom ROM, only to have something go wrong and end up staying awake most of the night trying to make my phone functional again. It was pure tinkering joy at times and as good as a whiskey and a sad song at other times. The takeaway from this story is, I was NOT a casual Android user. When self proclaimed Android ‘fans’ come at me for my choice to switch, I look at them like how Amitabh Bachchan in Agneepath would look at Hrithik Roshan in Agneepath, or how Sylvestor Stallone in Rambo would look at Tiger Shroff in Rambo (yes, that’s coming soon, believe it or not).

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TV Shows

How Game of Thrones lost sight of its own baseline reality and became a butt for jokes

Credit: Hotstar

If you are an avid follower of my blog, which is unlikely, you would almost certainly not have noticed that I didn’t review the last two episodes of Game of Thrones season 7. I have been debating with myself if that was because of laziness or a reluctance to waste my time on something pointless. I have decided the latter sounds better.

The show writers have clearly put very little effort into writing the story this season so why should I put effort into reviewing it in my obscure corner of the internet? I just realized that explanation excuses my laziness as well. If you’re a fan, hear me out before you come after me with pitchforks. Blame the show makers for letting you down instead of blaming me for pointing it out. As I always say, do not shoot the messenger! This used to be a show which was acclaimed for realism. Now it’s a butt for teleportation jokes.

I can sense the objection forming in your mind. That this was a show with dragons and zombies with a new name and that realism was never there in the first place. I whole heartedly disagree. I’m not talking about realism according to the rules of our world. That obviously will not be there in any fantasy story. However, even a fantasy story with dragons and direwolves needs to keep track of the baseline reality within that fictional universe. Would you have just shrugged and said “it’s fantasy anyway” if the Starship Enterprise had suddenly showed up in Mordor to give Sam and Frodo a ride to the top of Mount Doom? Obviously not. A fantasy story, any fantasy story makes the rules of reality in that universe clear. In Lord Of The Rings, the baseline reality is that there are multiple humanoid races with differences in physical and magical abilities. Lightsabers and starships don’t fit in that baseline reality. In Star Wars, the baseline reality is that there are multiple alien races, regular star travel and an all permeating force that endows quasi-superpowers to those who can harness it. The baseline reality in that story does not accommodate magic or Gods. If Gandalf or Harry Potter showed up in a Star Wars movie with a magic staff or wand you would definitely find it ridiculous, regardless of the movie being fantasy fiction.

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‘Kali’ movie review- A movie with an important message about the consequences of unbridled anger

'Kali'- a movie with a message about unbridled anger
Dulquer Salmaan in ‘Kali’. Credit: Hotstar

Like all Keralites, I grew up on a staple of great Malayalam movies with intelligent, realistic and often funny storylines without much of masala. Around the time I was in college, the good movies dried up. Over time as distance from the homeland (‘naadu’) grew, I gave up watching Malayalam movies altogether after I saw the Dileep starrer ‘Spanish Masala’ on a bus to Kerala. Dileep is the actor who was recently arrested for the alleged kidnap and assault of a popular actress but honestly he should have been jailed years ago for that movie. I could not connect to any of the stories being shown on screen anymore. The storylines sucked, the actors were old and desperate to seem young and there were too many slow motion shots. As time went by I started hearing about good Malayalam movies with new actors, writers and directors but I didn’t really believe it till I saw Dulqar’s ‘Ustad Hotel’ on DVD. Finally there was a movie that spoke to me. It had a young actor who carried off the role effortlessly without overacting, fantastic visuals and music and a story about a departed son of the soil finding home again that spoke to most of us who had left Kerala in search of education or jobs. After that I found that the Malayalam film industry was back to making topical movies again. I’m still somewhat behind and have a lot of good movies on my watch-list that I haven’t got to yet. Kali was somewhere way down that list but when a Maharashtrian in office started telling me, a mallu to watch this nice Malayalam thriller, I decided it is shameful not to. It turned out to be one of the better movies I have seen recently across languages.

Kali is not one of those movies that will make a lot of money or get talked about a lot like ‘Premam’. It has no songs and isn’t that glamorous or much of a rabble rouser, in spite of the name. It is however a fantastic thriller which really makes you totter on the edge of your seat at times. But first and foremost, this movie has a very important message for an audience that is used to movies glorifying anger and reckless ‘heroism’. Most of our movies, no matter which language shows the usual trope of a righteously angry hero losing his temper and rushing to face the villains without giving a damn about being outgunned or outnumbered. The heroine will gasp and look all worried at first but then the expression on her face along with that of all spectators on both sides of the screen will change to awe. This ideal of masculinity is what we have been sold for years and years and a surprising number of people believe it. If someone wrongs you or your girl when you’re out, what’s the first thing you’re supposed to do? Guage the situation and surroundings? Or lose your head and get ready for a fight? How many of us will admit that it might be better to guage the situation first? Are we men if we do not react? Hell, even while writing this I’m wondering if someone will misunderstand and think that I am a coward or that I’m advocating cowardice. Advocating caution and prudence just does not work as this is the first thing in everybody’s head (including yours) when you do, which is exactly why you need more stories like the one in ‘Kali’.

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TV Shows

Game of thrones S07E05 ‘Eastwatch’: Fast forward to all the reunions and team ups you wanted or didn’t know you wanted

Drogon facing off against Jon Snow

Credit: Hotstar/HBO

Spoilers ahead

Remember when you used to yearn for certain characters to meet up or re-unite and didn’t get what you wanted for seasons at a stretch? All that is in the past. The show might have been cut to 7 episodes this season but the fast forward button has been punched repeatedly to more than compensate for the lost time. Here’s the list of reunions and team-ups across the 7 kingdoms that was achieved by sheer disrespect for time and distance along with shoutouts to fan theories:

Reunions: Completed vs. Pending

✔ Jaime – Tyrion
✔ Gendry – Davos
✔ Jon – Tormund
✔ Jorah the friendzoned knight – Daenerys Targaryen, breaker of hearts
✖ Grey Worm – Missandei
✖ Jon – Psycho Arya & Creepy Bran
✖ Jon – Samwell the last Tarly
✖ Jon – Ghost, who’s been gone long enough thanks to Drogon burning through the CGI budget
✖ The Hound – Mountain, because Cleganebowl HAS to happen

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TV Shows

Game of thrones S07E04: Last episode’s budget & logic trims paid off

Daenerys Targaryen

Spoilers ahead:

For the last few episodes, Daenerys Targaryen really wanted to burn stuff and all the older people except for one cool grandma kept telling her ”you can’t burn this, you can’t burn that”. You could see the petulant question “What can I burn?” behind her entitled and impressively pliant eyebrows in every scene. This episode she heard about another ally biting the dust courtesy of an army led by one Lannister and the myopic plans of another and asked the question (no not that one) to Jon Snow and he said no, you can’t burn the Red Keep. “Well if I can’t burn castles or armies holed up inside castles, might as well burn them in transit” was the logical conclusion of that discussion and oh boy was it fun to watch. Well, not for Jaime but we’ll get to that.

It made strategic sense as well. Of course it might have been better if she burnt the Lannister army on the onward trip instead of the return one but for that you need scouts or spies for intel, you know the kind of thing Varys was supposedly good at providing. It’s actually quite unfair that Tyrion gets all the heat for failed plans. His job is to scheme and Varys’s job is to provide information required for those schemes. Otherwise he’s just a bald Eunuch who can’t fight but still hangs around the likes of Grey Worm who has completely gotten over being a Eunuch recently. But anyway that was so last episode. This episode absolutely killed it.

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Modern Code of Conduct, Rants

Kids These Days ~ Aaj Kal Ke Bacche

If there’s one thing several generations can agree on, its that the next generation is headed down the wrong path. Of course, each successive generation will disagree if they hear the previous one say it but if you manage to get them all to say it at once, you will then get to see them look at each other in shock before the older generation starts admonishing the next one for speaking out of turn, which they never used to do back in the day.

Douglas Adams, genius author of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and a man who knew where his towel was had this to say about the subject:

“Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.”

I disagree with that last bit. We usually start doing it way before 35. When I was in 2nd year of college, we were talking about how the new kids just don’t get it. But I guess that could be because I didn’t have a way of making a career out of the new stuff that the first years brought with them. Now I’m literally making a career out of technology that was developed after I was 15 so I guess I have another 5 years before I can find my high horse.

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War For The Planet Of The Apes was mis-sold as a war movie instead of the excellent character drama it is


Spoilers ahead:
The art of making trailers has progressed quite a lot but sometimes I wonder if the director and writer of the movie ever bother talking to whoever is making the trailer to make sure they capture the essence of the movie right. I’m not very familiar with the industry but I think whoever made the trailer for this movie wanted to create a really short film based on their own ideas about what the story should be rather than give a teaser for the real one. Every trailer for War For The Planet Of The Apes hyped up a war that Caesar didn’t start but means to finish. In fact that exact line is repeated in every single trailer. In the actual movie however, he only says “I didn’t start this war”. He never says “but I will finish it” unless it was part of a deleted scene which we haven’t seen yet. The posters were equally misleading, such as the one at the beginning of this post.

How can anyone look at that poster and not expect an epic battle between humans and apes? But this scene never happens. There is never a single sequence in the whole movie that has two armies facing off in this way. There is a skirmish in the jungle in the beginning but nothing like this.

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TV Shows

Game of Thrones S07E03 ‘The Queen’s Justice’: The story picks up pace at the cost of intelligence

Spoilers ahead

Still of Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones S7 episode 3

Game of thrones used to be an incredibly entertaining and intelligent series that also surprisingly educated the audience about how different reality is from fantasy, in spite of technically being a fantasy series. As of season 7 episode 3, it’s still entertaining and still has an unpredictable storyline which makes it difficult to guess winners and losers or distinguish between heroes and villains but it seems to be losing a lot of the intelligence that made it so effective in doing those things.

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Air Vistara’s condescending women’s day gesture is surprisingly popular among women

Air Vistara has launched #VistaraWomanFlyer, an initiative supposedly launched in March, 2017 in association with women’s day, but hitting the newsreels in late July for some reason. According to the Vistara website, they will ensure that “only a window or aisle seat is assigned at check-in”, and make sure that “uniformed Vistara staff will be available at the baggage claim area holding #VistaraWomanFlyer Arrivals Assistance placards, to assist women travelers with their luggage and with the booking of airport-authorized taxis, as well as escort such customers up to the taxi stand upon their request”.

Reflect on that for a moment. They will have staff with placards implying that a ‘woman traveler’ automatically needs assistance with just about every aspect of traveling. If you’re a woman and thinking that this is chivalrous instead of condescending, ask yourself if you would mind if someone stood outside a shopping mall parking area with a placard offering to help women with parking or at a car rental place with a placard offering help with driving. How about tuition centers offering free special classes for math then? Doesn’t sound as great does it? Gender stereotyping doesn’t stop being ridiculous just because it is sugar coated with the appearance of chivalry.

Do only women need assistance with luggage or car rentals in a new city? What about an elderly man with a walking stick? If asked this question, the airline will definitely say that their staff would help elderly men or disabled men as well on a case by case basis. Why not do that for women as well then, instead of waving placards to reinforce stereotypes?

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Tech Culture

Playing the devil’s advocate for Fakebook/Facebook

Recently I wrote a post blasting Facebook, calling it Fakebook and implying that everyone on it was just trying to win a very shallow popularity contest. I would however like to clarify that I do not believe that everything everyone does on Facebook is meant to make themselves feel better at other people’s expense. I do think a large portion of the user base does log in just for that but I think some people genuinely do not, and another significant portion does it without realizing that they are.

There are people who genuinely want to see what their friends and family is up to, see pictures and other evidence of them doing well and genuinely be happy for them. I know a few people like that and I wish I knew more of them but point is, they do exist. You just get overwhelmed by the assholes and don’t notice that they are still around, which is not very encouraging for them I guess. Apart from this altruistic crowd there is also another category of accidental assholes, to which you and I both probably belong. This group is both at the receiving and giving ends of the trauma at different points in their journey.

For convenience, lets take Mr. Pappu as an example (no, not the politician). Pappu fucked up somewhere between high school and college. Or maybe Pappu was born into circumstances that didn’t let him do as well as his peers. Maybe a bit of both. As the days go by, Pappu sees his friends surpass him in every way. That he could still live with, but everyday as he struggles with his demons or to make ends meet, he sees people he once called friends brag about their success, or talking about how traveling fulfills one’s life when Pappu cant even make bus fare. Several of his old friends post about how everyone should follow their dreams, when 1. Pappu needs to pay bills and 2. Pappu doesn’t even know what the fuck his dream is! Maybe he can have one when the nightmares stop.

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