One's personality is both a composition and reflection, but if I have to choose one of them, I will choose reflection as the "self" is more important to me than "me". One's composition may change, walking across the cultural landscapes and climbing the social ladder but one's self is tied to one's reflections. The fun part is that reflections are not bound to "Time-Space" barriers ( it is not time-space) and respective mental constructs, which have grown so thick over ages, that they had reduced the image of humans to Sisyphus, rolling different sizes of boulders on hills of different heights.… As the name of this Blog indicates, knols are my perspectives on topics of interests, sweet/bitter experiences or just doodling :)

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Chop chop chop VS. Balancing: A tribute to Asma Jahangir

An elderly lady had advised my mom that for the children to become independent, it was very important to supplement their education with some trade apprenticeship. She had taken that advice by heart and encouraged us to master at least a trade: 

When I was a high school student, I started working in the evening shift as an apprentice at a woodwork factory. Part of the job was chopping the logs to prepare them for turning. I loved that part of the job. All I had to do was chop chop chop. I wished the trade just required one tool and that was an ax, then, all woodworkers were the happiest people among the population. Chopping released all the anxiety and made me feel good. I understood that chop chop chop was one of the best escapes, if not the only great escape. 

Another part of the job was balancing of the chairs. I hated that part. Wood, fresh out of the lathe machine was very sensitive to humidity and changed shapes and cracked during balancing. Balancing was mostly done by the chief technician. I understood that balancing was very stressful till one acquired the required skills and experiences. 

Back to today's main story:

Today, lots of people are offering their tributes to Asma Jahangir (the human right lawyer) for her lifelong stands for the rights of all ethnicities, religious minorities as well as women, laborers and other oppressed parts of the society. 

Photo Source: 

All along, I saw Asma Jahangir as a strong voice for the balance in the society. In every forum, she criticized sections of the governments and the society for their chop chop chop worldviews/strategies as the sole solution for the country's problems. Asma struggled all her life to convince the government and the people to adopt a balancing worldview (instead of temporary feel-good escapism for blaming and targetting a vulnerable part of society). Today, she died but the majority of the population and the government still love the feeling of the chop chop chop. On majority pages of everyday news outlets (both social and MSM) one encounters the suggestions for chopping this and chopping that. Chop chop chop has become a dominant culture and is rising. And we definitely are going to miss Asma a lot.  May her great soul rest in peace. 

Friday, February 2, 2018

Playing with Gephi

Other than during middle school time, when the primitive computer games were popular, I don't remember that I liked the computer games. But recently, I find myself liking a lot playing with computer programs (particularly python, specifically, its scikit-learn library and jupyter notebook)  and data analytics software. I have just started with Gephi and is already in love with it. Following is my first Gephi attempt. It's very crude (as data are all coded and without the reference to an original data table or a description of it, it's not much informative.). However, I like the endless possibilities that it offers in a time when we are submerged in relational datasets. I hope you enjoy my first attempt (even if you don't get anything out it. 😜)

Saturday, January 20, 2018

End of History: A Class-One Student's Perspective

Each time we rethink a memory, we stretch it a bit. The following memories were some realizations that since have been stretched several times:

Realization 1:

At the new school, I rapidly excelled in drawings which were the combinations of basic geometric shapes. First I learned to draw a mountain (Isosceles triangles in a row), a sun (yellow circle), then, a house in the front of the mountain, a man next to house, a car on a line (road) and tree at the end of road and a pond in front of house (just rough blue coloring of the bottom half of the page). Once I mastered this drawing, I thought there was nothing to add to the drawing. For me, it the End of History (Francis Fukuyama's hypothesis that the current system is the best that humanity could achieve. Since I thought, I had mastered the art and there was no further room for improvement, it was my "the end of history").  I didn't miss any chance of expressing my view of "The End of History". I filled pages of my notebooks, blank spaces of my books (Although, it was tolerated but occasionally I get punished for them), drew on walls and streets with charcoal (a bakery was part of our house, so plenty of charcoal) and went to classes during recess in search of chalks and clean blackboards to draw. 

I was very content with my mastery. For first two years of my schooling, I struggled to learn alphabets and numbers (and that my impatient parents were very disappointed with my inability to learn and kept asking for pieces of advice from anyone who had to offer a solution) and in a new school (which was recommended by my father's friend), I learned reading, writing and drawing effortlessly. My father didn't mind it much but my mother didn't appreciate blackened dresses and hands. I kept drawing on everything. My view of the world had stopped with those limited number of objects and I couldn't see any possibility of improving upon it. But that didn't affect my enthusiasm for expressing myself.


Realization 2: my youngest maternal uncle visited us after their Iran tour. He was a couple of years older than me and taught me to draw tulips (for the memory of the fallen soldiers), tanks, fighter jets, and helicopters. I had never seen tulips and helicopters before. The only tank and the fighter jet that I had seen were the ones that were parked in the parks of the cantonment area which appeared to me as oversized toys. It was the first time I heard about Iran-Iraq war and that people died in the wars. It dawned on me as I learn to draw new objects, I start seeing the same object anew. There was no "the end of history" moment. It was just a temporary satisfaction with the level of the mastery (So was the case with Fukuyama's hypothesis).


Realization 3: I learned from the discussion of adults in the bakery that if Pakistan and India went to another war, India could drop an atomic bomb and we all could die in a blink of an eye (Pakistan was not a nuclear state at the time). I had no idea what an atomic bomb is but the idea everything could vanish in a blink of eyes, terrified me. I received pocket money in the morning and during the day, I kept looking my father and anytime I spotted my father or my grand-maternal-uncle, I taxed them. Each time,  received additional money, I was in heaven. The list of the objects that I could draw was growing and I started reading story booklets. In addition to group plays, these additional pleasures made the world too sweet and I definitely didn't want it to end in blank of eyes. But I couldn't unlearn that cursed knowledge that our world could end.

Probably, humanity survives a nuclear winter but there will be real THE END OF HISTORY for many cultures, societies, ethnicities and countless species of organisms.

Saturday, November 18, 2017


I don't like to stare at people. It's rude. Yet, I kept watching this guy who had obvious similarities with the Edmund Kemper, a character from the Netflix-TV-series, "Mindhunter". I took interest in the series, as the show was like "thought-experiments". I wanted to know that when one pre-defines things and goes to the field with a subjective-perspective, how things appear to him? In the show, the agent, Holden Ford had a subjective-approach and the psychology professor, Wendy Carr had an objective-perspective. But during the show, it appeared to me that the calm, curious and intelligent perspectives of the subject (serial-killer) Edmund Kemper were more forceful than the methodological-perspectives of the agent and the professor that studied him. 

Anyway, my purpose is not to review the TV show here, but to provide the background for the conversation that I had with Ustad after I discussed the related issues with him;

I told Ustad about my experience and the thoughts around it. Based on physical similarities of a character, I looked at the guy with a subjective-perspective.

"That's a common-place experience!" was the reply of Ustad. "You don't even need to have basic literacy to understand the pictorial and visual expressions. It's an innate ability to connect the visual expressions with the familiar environment..."
"So, you think that my brain had borrowed the character of Kemper from the show as a visual representation of the term, "serial killer"?" I interrupted Ustad.
"That's my best guess!" he answered. "Look! it's a common phenomenon if you pay attention. For example, the combination of beard, Afghani dress, and turban have become a visual representation of terror and the combination of clean-shaved face and western dress have become the expression of liberalism?"
"I kind of agree!"
"What I have been interested are the ways most of the people use these symbolic representations!" Ustad continued.
"I didn't get you!"
"Appearances are multilayered. It's genetic. It's cultural. It's economical and it's political and yet, people tend to politicize appearances. Don't get me wrong. It's not just the negative-tagging of the appearances but also the positive-good-doers also promote using appearances as advertisements of their work...."
"What do you suggest?"
"I guess, there is no quick solution for it. We are evolved to make quick decisions based on the appearances for our safety. I hope that artificial intelligence could help us to overcome this problem.  When all people are connected and a large amount of data about them become easily accessible,  then, AI could help us to see beyond appearances and that's are individual's personalities. Artificial intelligence, unlike humans, does not have long biological evolutionary history and could access to public data and swiftly search for large amounts of data and make better decisions.  

Friday, October 27, 2017

Back to the "Opium of the people!"

We were back in our favorite spot, the Eastern bypass road, with our bag of oranges:

I laughed, "You know what happened, this morning?"

"I'm listening!" The Ustad replied.

"I went to the tandoor (Bakery) for buy naan. There were customers before me, so I had to wait. Sitting on the front steps, two elderly men discussed politics, passionately. Both of them talked, simultaneously. Although it sounded more like an argument than a leisurely chatter, the people there watched the argument like some sort of comedy show. One of the men lost his temper and called the late Benazir Bhutto a name and the other man responded by punching him in the face. And, then, there was a freestyle wrestling. I guess the wrestling of old men was so rare that instead of stopping them, the small crowd started cheering them. I was getting late for college so I couldn't wait for the result of the match. All day, I kept thinking about the political arguments of those elderly men. If they were young men, I would blame the enthusiasm of the young age, and forget the event. They were retired men and belonged to a small tribe that had no influence in local, provincial and national politics, whatsoever. If it was a pleasure-chatter, it would make sense but fighting for something, they had no role made no sense to me...."
"I also have a neighbor who stops me, each time he sees me and breaks the news that never happened. " Ustand laughed. "But his news and analyses are very interesting, full of surprises!"

From bypass, I could see all sorts of flags. Usually, it was the brown-clouds (polluted air) that covered parts of the city that caught my attention but that day, I especially noticed the assortments of the flags.

"I think, politics is more potent opium than religion!" I commented.
"Even if had the power to ban on religion and politics, people find other means to argue!" Ustad responded, "Most of the time, it is not religion or politics that creates conflicts but men's self-love. Politics and religions become tools of expressions for those self-loves..."

I thought, Ustad was also "breaking a news", so,

"But there are people who sacrifice themselves for their religions and political parties?" I disagreed.

"Let me explain!" Ustad smiled.
"I'm listening!"
"Unlike most of the animals, humans give birth to the "immature" babies that are dependent on their parents for everything. When they grow up, while they strive all their lives, they remain dependent on others and the process of growing up never cease. You can imagine that humans never become "mature" and that's the reason for humans addiction to the idea of perfection, maturity or becoming no.1. Basically, humans know that they never achieve perfection, so, they seek it through other means, like a connection with a perfect being (God) via a "true" religion, or a best political system or finest culture or becoming no. 1 this and that. You know what I mean..."
"Yes, I got your point!" I replied, "But are you suggesting that narcissism is a byproduct of social life?"
"What I meant was that humans have an innate desire for liberation from imperfection or maturity and all the affiliations like religion or politics or other stuffs are mere expressions of it, whether, they realize it or not. Some may claim they love God or a saint or an ideology or things like that, but in fact, these all are expressions of the desire to be true, good or things like that..."
"Please don't mind!" I told Ustad, "but I find reductionist perspectives of things not beautiful."
"Well, then, your God is not beautiful!" Ustad laughed.
"Does it matter?" I laughed, too.
"God is the ultimate reductionist!"