INDIA THAT IS BHARAT
In many of these columns Satiricus has done his bit of social service by trying to teach a certain class of the society the finer points of its profession. He is talking about the various modes of transportation that can be (and have actually been) used for a swift and successful getaway by bank robbers, ATM breakers and assorted practitioners of the profession of purloining. As he has eruditely explained to new entrants to this enterprise, these have ranged from a bicycle to a lawn-mower, and from a stolen car to a police car. But it now appears that even Satiricus’s expertise in this area has its limits. For the other day, to his astonishment and admiration, he read about a bank robber making his getaway in a taxi he had kept waiting. He took the taxi to a branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland in Edinburgh, asked the cabbie to wait, went into the bank, held it up at gun-point, collected the cash in a bag, came out to the waiting taxi, and duly departed. See? Such praiseworthy professional prudence ! The run-of-the-mill robber would have stolen a car to go rob the bank, but wouldn’t that have caused an unhappy hue and cry? A crying shame it would have been, no? And although a lawn-mower was indeed once used for a getaway, transportation technology has not yet progressed where every lawn-mower was faster than every car, so why take a thoughtless chance? And all said and done, taking a taxi to your place of work is the most legitimate activity. So in the considered opinion of Satiricus, who happens to have a degree in Law under his belt, the fact of the place of work being a bank and the work being robbing the bank does not at all affect the legitimacy of the mode of transport used. Rather, it happily highlights the fact that like all banking business the business of bank-robbing can also be conducted in legitimate ways.
Ignorance Of English Slanguage
Being poor in English, as is required by his profession, columnist Satiricus often looks up the Oxford Dictionary of the English language. He fondly believes that this has contributed to his scintillating success as a worthy wordsmith. For it has shown him that words are like leaves and where they most abound much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found. That is the secret of the success of this column—too many words to hide too little sense. But times have changed, and with them the English language has changed into the English slanguage. As a result the Oxford University’s dictionary of the English language has been displaced by a London professor’s Dictionary of Contemporary Slang. It contains not only hundreds of new words but also a whopping 57 words for a television remote control. Satiricus is impressed. For this shows him that “English as she is spake” is now only “spake” remotely and understood still more remotely. For let alone Macaulay’s Manasputras like us Indians, even English-speaking Englishmen may not know that for switching on their television they shouldn’t pick up the “remote”, they need to pick up the blabber or zapper or melly or dawicki or 53 other things. Oh well, Satiricus is not overly worried, for he knows that the more things change the more they remain the same, and in his case the only change could be that his ignorance of the English language may change into his ignorance of the English slanguage.
Satiricus used to say that if the world is going to the dogs it is good for the world, because often times dogs show sense that humans don’t. But now it seems if the world going to dogs is good, the world going to computers would be better. For while dogs show sense a computer is coming that promises to show common sense. This is the news coming from a university in the US, where a group of researchers including some of Indian origin has developed a new computer programme that helps a computer to learn common sense through pictures/images, understand those pictures, and label them on its own. “Images include a lot of common sense information about the world,” says Prof. Abhinav Gupta, one of the researchers; “people learn this by themselves, and we hope computers will do so as well.” Well, now, as common sense is a somewhat uncommon quality in the human world, Satiricus thinks this is a welcome development. In fact it would do the world a world of good if computers with common sense put some of it in us human beings. But would that not mean man made machine that was better than the man that made the machine? And in that case would soft-brained humans stand such software? Satiricus must ask his computer.