July 6, 2020

Congo, where the time travels in reverse

Tim Butcher writing in Blood River: A Journey to Africa’s Broken Heart

WanderLearn Podcast epsiode featuring the author

Blood River: A Journey to Africa’s Broken Heart

I had previously mentioned this book while talking about how cheap Chinese imports encourage commerce in places where there is no local manufacturing.

Books Africa
June 24, 2020

Bhuta and Daiva

Sometimes an official forms asks me to fill my religion. But they do not have Animism as an option. While interesting that a recent research on my ancestral belief is from a Japanese researcher.

Panjurli (boar spirit deity) headpiece used by dancers. (Image from Wikimedia)

Generally, Bhūta rituals are treated derogatorily by intellectuals and outsiders. However, local people worship ghosts, the dead, ancestors, heroes, animal deities, forest deities, mountain deities, earth deities, and tribal guardian deities. They are important and intimate objects of worship for the locals. In some situations, Devas, the god worshipped by higher class, are mixed or coexist with the lower rank deities called Daivas or spirits called Bhūtas. During rituals, pāddana narratives on the origin myth or historical story of the Bhūtas and Daivas, are chanted before the main rituals, most of which are filled with tragic atmosphere. Often the emotions of envy and grudge are also chanted about, depicting complicated historical background.

Link: Bhuta and Daiva: Changing Cosmology of Rituals and Narratives in Karnataka

June 11, 2020

Longing for the early days of the web

When people long for the days of the early web, the glorious idiosyncrasies of personal sites and forums, they are really longing for a time and a space where people were free to communicate their own values. Now that space is owned and rented to the highest bidder. A site like LinkedIn wraps you up into a tiny, uniform package, sets you in an enormous data warehouse next to millions of other tiny people just like you, and sells the lot of you.

Link: Ruminations on outsourcing our values

My feelings are same too. I miss the chaotic days of personal homepages.

June 2, 2020

Layers of a city

I stumbled upon a podcast episode discussion the making of the movie Saint Jack in late 1970s Singapore. Skip to around 9 minutes.

The Plot Thickens: Bogdanovich, The Misunderstood

Travel Singapore
May 3, 2020

The canary in the black ink

What book is this? (I have not blocked the title, this is the way it appears in the bookshop).

Usually, this time of the year, I am in Rangoon. This book cover brings back memories of the 1990s Burma; sometimes, we would see magazines or newspapers with such blocked out articles or pages thanks to last minute visits by the censors. Either the editor could not find a harmless replacement article, or it was some brave editor who let the blocked section go. It was akin to the Canary In The Coal Mine” that sent a signal that some controversial incident had taken place.


Still, looking for the book? Clue: The author worked as a police chief in colonial Burma.

March 4, 2020

An iOS Shortcut for your library’s Overdrive/Libby search

Some public libraries now offer digital books via a service called Overdrive/Libby. Often when I am reading an article, I want to search for the name of the book or author to see if there is anything in the Overdrive collection related to the text. I made an iOS shortcut that lets me search for a book from a highlighted text on a web page.

Select the text that you want to search Search Overdrive

Select Share to open the Share menu. Select the shortcut to run. Search Overdrive

The Shortcut searches for the selected text on Overdrive search engine. Search Overdrive If the book is available, then you can borrow it.

The shortcut does not store any data from the resulting website. It just runs a search using the public search URL from your library. I have a mailed Overdrive to see if they can enable call to their app, so that search and borrowing can be more fluid.

On the topic of Overdrive, I got a new Kobo.

I like e-Ink readers. I have used a couple of Kindles over the years. Kindle is economical for me as I buy e-books from the Indian Kindle store, which has perhaps the cheapest ebooks anywhere. But Kindle does not work with Overdrive based library digital book systems (outside of the US). Hence, Kobo. Another positive is the integration with Pocket, a read-later app.

Trying Kobo reader with Overdrive