Unto the canopy termini

In the middle of a conversation this morning, my friend wondered aloud as to whether there were any advantages to teaching history forward in time (i.e. with causality) instead of backward. Neither of us being historians… rather, both of us being far too quantitative in our thinking to be able to reason like historians at a … Read more

AI beat humans at DotA but the game was rigged

I started writing this as today’s post but at some point it morphed into an article for The Wire, to be published tomorrow morning. Sharing it here in full nonetheless. Earlier this week, a team of neural networking algorithms beat a team of five human players at a game called DotA 2. To appreciate the … Read more

Specificity and incompleteness

These days, I can’t remember either the good news or the bad news. When someone talks about the good news – likely a centrist or someone who hasn’t thought their political views through – I nod along, keen to counter them but just feeling so tired. When someone talks about the bad news – which … Read more

A dull review

There’s a new book by Alan Lightman out, titled Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine. Irrespective of others’ appreciation of it, I expect to find the book preposterously dull if Michael Shermer’s review in the Times is anything to go by. “Does a scientific understanding of the world erase its emotional impact or spiritual … Read more

For solitude

Climate change is gradually turning the abundance of space into privilege, at least if it already wasn’t before. In a warmer world, in which we will surely prize the efficient use of resources, physical isolation will be a luxury. Not everyone will forswear all the land they have currently to occupy, but the more conscientious … Read more

No rest for tall people

Yesterday, I travelled first class in the Shatabdi Express, from Chennai to Bengaluru. I’d been looking forward to the journey because of the extra legspace in the offing, and the ability to sit in a train for five hours without having to manspread, curl up (to the extent possible), give up and pay for some … Read more


xkcd does the best nerdy comic but oglaf is the comic I never knew I needed – and it’s probably the best ever. It’s wry humour + sex, often featuring erotic fungi and The Blind Gibberer, and even more oftenly situated in the sort of medieval setting that Dungeons & Dragons campaigns are. Most of … Read more

Liberation from the clock

Laura Vanderkam writes in Fast Company about a three-minute habit that changed her life: keeping track of how she spends her time during her waking hours, with a spreadsheet. Much of her piece is directed towards mitigating parental guilt – that Vanderkam might not be spending too much time with her children, or when she … Read more

The sadness of Johnny Depp

Rolling Stones has published a fabulous profile of Johnny Depp, written by Stephen Rodrick. It’s about 15 minutes’ worth of reading long and I highly recommend you read it right now. The profile’s power comes from excellent writing and a narrative that makes you come really close to feeling sad for Depp but never truly … Read more


I’m sorry, my dear followers, to have to disappoint you (or, quite possibly, induce a sigh of relief) but today’s blog post will have to be just these lines. My laptop died yesterday, I got a cold, lots of anxiety, a mild fever and a migraine, and I’ve got a hectic weekend coming up. I’ve … Read more