Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Jokes and a twisted nation.

Any civilization in the world is bound to have it's own jokes. The element of laughter is present in all forms of human life. Unknowingly however, jokes give up a lot about how the society itself thinks. Is it a free society or is it not? Many such questions can be answered simply by looking at the jokes we tell each other.

A joke makes us laugh simply because of the punch line. The punch is something we do not expect. It is not something which happens a lot and hence makes us laugh. The nature of laughter itself is for another article and so we will abstain from it here. On giving some thought to it, do jokes also imbibe in children certain traits specific to the society they grow up in? Let us have a look.

A google search for "top 100 indian jokes" returns some websites. A casual look is enough to show a few things. Some of the jokes I want to use to illustrate my point are:
A teacher asked her class for sentences using the word "beans"..
My Father grows beans," said one student. "My father cooks beans," said
Then little Johnny spoke up: "We are all human beans."
This shows that one would not expect the use of the word 'beans' in 'human beings'. Thus the punch which gets us cracking. The more unexpected the punch, the harder we laugh.

As a old man was driving down the freeway, his car phone rang.
Answering, he heard his wife's voice urgently warning him,
"Herman, I just heard on the news that there's a car going the wrong way on Route 280. Please  be careful!"
"It's not just one car," said Herman, "It's hundreds of them!"
This popular one gets us cracking the first time and consequently loses it's mirth.

What we miss however is that a lot of the jokes we tell are sexist, racist and many other things deemed unworthy of society. We overlook them in jokes as they appear harmless.

A lot of Indian jokes involve sardars. A lot of English jokes involve blonds. Both based on the crux that the sardars and blonds have less than average intelligence. This may seem harmless enough but when repeated in front of a child in formative years, it embeds into them the idea that some people are less intelligent than most.

Then comes the racist side of jokes.
Father's day, the most confusing day in the ghetto.
What might be funny to us as grown adults, with our preconceptions already wired into us, might be instructive for a child. As there is no way of insulating children from the mirth of society, we must ask, do we really want our children growing up with the same preconceptions we have now? Do we really want them to make the same mistakes?

Jokes might lighten us but joking around in front of a child is a serious responsibility. They are powerful tools of social regimentation.
1. top 100 indian jokes
- http://binscorner.com/pages/a/all-time-best-50-jokes.html
- http://believenext.blogspot.in/2012/05/best-joke-ever-top-50-hindi.html
- http://top10wala.in/top-10-hindi-jokes-ever/
- http://best100sms.blogspot.in/2010/02/best-100-hindi-sms-jokes-to-send-to.html

2. top 100 jokes
- http://www.jokes-best.com/
- http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/top-100-jokes-edinburgh-fringe-4075470
- http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/culturepicturegalleries/11034196/funny-jokes.html
- http://shortestjokes.blogspot.in/2013/03/top-100-funny-jokes.html

Monday, June 8, 2015

My post on HN frontpage

Ever since I have started logging on to HN I have loved it. The people are beautiful.

Finally one of my posts is on the front page!! Yay!
I just felt like putting this here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Listening to paintings

Is beauty dependent on the medium which transmits it? Is a beautiful painting itself beautiful or is it the representation of something which is beautiful? These questions come to mind often when seeing "A thing of beauty".

If one assumes that beauty is in itself an independent thing then one can assume that beautiful things may be translated from one medium to another. Can my visually impaired friends one day see a beautiful painting and understand it?

Introducing audio sight.A piece of software which I wrote to let people without sight experience paintings. A painting goes in one end and an mp3 file comes out the other. How cool is that? The idea was to translate beauty from one medium to another. In a minute we see how that is done but first we have a look at some samples.

That was Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night converted to sound. It made some sort of sense, although if you look at the things I had obtained in earlier versions of the software you would be very surprised.

Now for the method.

A simple enough task, given that the picture is already digitized. First we re size the picture to smaller dimensions in order to have some sort of melody going on.

After that we start taking one column at a time from the left side. Each pixel in the column dictates what note to play and how long to play it.

With that as we proceed from left to right, we obtain a melodious sounding audio file, which is dictated by the painting and not just something random.

Is beauty dependent on the medium?

The audio did not sound very melodious to me even though I am no art fan and so I conclude that the beauty of a painting lies in the beholder of the painting itself.