Posting previous daily logs today. I am phenomenally out of sync. When the lockdown began the idea was to write at least 500 words everyday. It began lagging behind on date. Yet, in the city there was enough spare time to do this (what else can one do switching between drawing room and bedroom all day?) Then it broke down completely, into logging a few words everyday . This happened after moving out of Bengaluru and spending three months of absolutely fabulous days in Wardha with plenty of outdoors and work on the farm. I’d say that the demand on time increased from all the activities that were suspended during lockdown in a city and also due to the post-surgery recovery period of my leg. However, at the end of every single day, I have put down a few bullet points about the day. Those will be parked here in batches.
It is 155th day since the Covid-19 pandemic hit India with its unknown, uncertain and hard to figure intensity and destruction. While it continues to be the same in its uncertainty, there has been a psychological shift. There is an acceptance that has settled in among people. People react with a combination of resignation and matter-of-fact emotion about these days of the pandemic. There is no vaccine yet. There is no let down in number of infections in India. But people have ran out of money and patience. The level of mental stress and anxiety is deemed to be at an all time high – with personal and professional worlds getting deeply altered in ways that no one ever anticipated. Many have not been prepared to live through a time like this. Neither they know how to get through this. A great variety of emotions, troubles, feelings and ideas are hitting all of us.
What will stay unique about this pandemic is that the whole planet is living this situation. It is not a group, a state or a country. It is all of us inhabiting this planet. And we are not coping well as I see, read and watch around.
As it currently stands, there is a surge in Covid-19 positive cases in Sweden. The country didn’t go for a lockdown like others. It was being watched closely by other countries to see if lockdown indeed is pointless. But it appears that Sweden’s cases picked up with some latency.
Meanwhile, the UK is re-opening. Pubs are opening even before there’s a decision reached on opening schools. I sense a bit of relief in people I speak to in Bristol. Pubs before schools is an interesting articulation of the nature of these times.
Meanwhile, the US has withdrawn from the WHO. Among other fractures, the pandemic has also laid bare the fact that unconditional cooperation among nations is an illusion. A divided world seems to be the natural order, from Asia to North America. In Brazil, President Bolsonaro has tested positive for coronavirus. He was dismissive of the virus threat and spread of infection until now.
In India, more than 20,000 people have died from Covid-19. These days are turning unprecedented and nothing like what is known in our generation. It has lasted more than what the world anticipated and affected our lives in more ways than imagined.
For the day, this short clip of Michael Holding explaining why black lives matter. His is an almost enlightened perspective on history and how black-white differentiation exists. (via Hari on twitter) https://twitter.com/runbikehurry/status/1280873834871209985?s=20
It comes back to this – history is written by conquerors. By those who emerge as victors. Which history are we reading, matters for other things to matter.
Plenty of unstructured time these days. Some of it is spent prospecting for new trails to ride. Cycling is a few months away. This morning, I drove around instead of cycling as it began raining from early hours. Later, I stayed in and read through the day besides some work.
This opinion piece on racism ‘Call A Thing A Thing’ on NYT – https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/08/opinion/racism-united-states.html is interesting because often things hit hard when you call them for what they are. Circuitous references to the problem only frustrates.
On AI and algorithmic fairness, read this https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02003-2? short piece which sort of attempts a sociological analysis of AI. The author writes –
Through the lens of power, it’s possible to see why accurate, generalizable and efficient AI systems are not good for everyone.
For one, any AI application is designed to achieve a defined intent. The intent is a vested interest. So, by implication the power distribution within the app ecosystem among users and owners of the application is bound to be different! Perhaps, there is excitement about discovery of power-theory in the author’s mind.
Dove into analytical reports on market and economic outlook. Two reports from Blackrock are worth noting. Blackrock’s Mid year outlook – https://www.blackrock.com/corporate/literature/whitepaper/bii-2020-midyear-outlook.pdf. The second on macro perspective – on ‘policy revolution’ and ‘labour market support’
It does seem to carry a sharper articulation of dynamics that are likely to fuel the changes in pandemic and post-pandemic financial years.
The morning began with a twenty five kilometer ride, with a push to the next village on the road that I have been doing for the past couple of weeks. Riding makes for a good start to the day, though by the mid-day physical fatigue sets in. That makes a good time for reading. For today, these:
SofBank’s Masa profield in Forbes. The man’s sense of scale and bets are quite an outlier in the industry – https://www.forbesindia.com/article/cross-border/worlds-billionaires-masayoshi-sons-last-laugh/60637/1
ITRA announced guidelines for post-covid running events – https://itra.run/news/337. This was expected. Although even after these assurances I think the days of large crowds and swell of runners are past us, at least for a while. On the same track, here is an interesting piece on keeping things simple, especially fitness. https://thegrowtheq.com/we-make-fitness-too-complex-and-that-is-dumb/
I agree with the argument – staying fit has been made needlessly complex. There are phenomenal gains in being wholesome which by extension means a simpler approach to workouts and diet.
Two things about this day makes it certain that preference for living in rural areas will continue to determine professional and personal choices. To explore the large, rim-like spread of a low-rise hill range around the village where the farm is located, I bought a mountain bike. The road bike is severely limited in its ability whereas much exciting trails are in the hills. So, an MTB is on its way.
The other is about the diversity of birds that I spot around the farm. One can sit watching birds for hours here. From Bee-eaters to Ibises, the landscape has them all. I need to get better at identification and at avian acoustics. The birdsong on most days is such a curry of sounds with me trying to identify the birds from those sounds. As of now, only a dove and lapwing are identifiable. Lapwing is the avian feature of the farm. There always are a couple, calling above the farm, flying low. They feel like they are in panic but maybe that’s just the way they communicate with each other.
As for the pandemic, the conversations around vaccine development continue to intensify. It isn’t the science that is limited in its ability. Science is limited by the society and what it allows for. True scientific progress seems contingent upon the society’s ability to comprehend situations and allow for the advances that science tries to make, often by disrupting our social ideas.
I read Pankaj Mishra’s long piece on India and what he articulates as flailing states. The piece felt a bit stretched without managing to sharply articulate his concern about governance and India. https://lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v42/n14/pankaj-mishra/flailing-states
On Mumbai and cycling – https://www.globalrailwayreview.com/article/103779/mumbai-mobility-future-post-covid-19/
Watched Suhel Qader’s birdwatching talk organized by NPTEL. The guy is fantastic! Learnt a whole lot of things about tracking birds through daily observations. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfXJwtvcXyA
I am lagging behind by 12 days. The gap is widening. There are plenty of distractions. This needs to be fixed and time for writing needs to make a non-negotiable part of the routine.
Reactivated Strava profile today. And this time with a paid subscription. I find it useful to keep track of routes and daily stats on riding and pace. Or perhaps it is just plain desperation to resume athletics. Need for metrics die hard. I guess true enlightenment for me would be when measurement and metrics would cease to matter.
Ran the first 100 meters since the surgery today. It was a short clip as we hiked back from Farm 2. The leg felt steady, though the foot was hitting the ground weirdly, not the usual way. For the remainder, worked on the farm.
Farming ecosystem needs more knowledge on crops and efficiency improvements.
Listened to two podcasts. One on changing norms. The other was a conversation with Paul Romer on fighting the pandemic .
There’s a quarantined person in a village that is close to the farm. The person attended a wedding. That wedding has got the district numbers spiked up.
Although, our district seems like an island as of now.
Day began with a cycle ride in the morning. We hit new averages and speeds and time. It makes for a good start for the day. One of these days, we heard a villager calling out, perhaps in jest, to his friends, “Watchout. Corona has arrived.” when he saw us riding past the village.
One thing is clear – there is so much work needed in the agriculture sector in this country. The market for agri inputs is full of imported pesticides. With high prices, the returns on a crop diminishes further for farmers. Farming ecosystem lags behind knowledge advancements in agri. That’s a space for improvement.
Lockdowns have begun again. Bengaluru has a week long starting today