Month: February 2018

Can artificial intelligence correctly profile humans?

If yes, then what is it based on? What are the parameters?

I read faces. I profile based on facial expression, and appearance. And I am almost always correct. I do not know how do I do it, I do not know what’s the rational a technique. This is somewhat the pure work of intuition.

If it would have been done by an artificial intelligence then could it be a work of intuition only? Or would it have to be based on a set of parameters? Is my intuition also a set of parameters? How intuitive really my intuition is? 🤔

Why is the concept of ‘culture’ is problematic

The existence and use of the word ‘culture’ has a fundamental problem. It is inherently selfish and the brewing ground of stereotypes.

The word culture, quickly makes us self-conscious, defensive and proud. We jump into defining the boundaries of it and desperately try to promote its uniqueness.

I want to question the fundamental necessity of it. Why do we at all need to define it, promote it, push it? Isn’t this whole concept equally problematic as nationalism?

I am a Bengali. And I am proud of it. And because of the beauty of Bengali ‘culture’ of openness and pluralism, ironically, I also deny participating in any blatant marketing of it. I carefully judge the limits of celebrating a culture and pushing it to undermine others.


23rd April, 2018; 10:15

Then suddenly while reading Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari:

”Ever more scholars see cultures as a kind of mental infection or parasite, with humans as its unwitting host. Organic parasites, such as viruses, live inside the body of their hosts. They multiply and spread from one host to the other, feeding off their hosts, weakening them, and sometimes even killing them. As long as the hosts live long enough to pass along the parasite, it cares little about the condition of its host.

In just this fashion, cultural ideas live inside the minds of humans. They multiply and spread from one host to another, occasionally weakening the hosts and sometimes even killing them.”

Is Donald Trump an accident or a planned accident?

Trump is an unfortunate accident, no matter what. But the question is whether it was a planned accident or it just happened and slipped through the cracks of democracy?

The first few chapters of Fire and Fury indicates that the campaign didn’t even want to win the election! They were genuinely surprised by the win and caught off guard, and completely dumb founded about how to handle the preaidency. If that’s the case, then I’d rather believe in what Bannon said about the Russian connection “It’s just a conspiracy theory. The Trump team wasn’t capable of conspiring about anything.”

They were just a herd of monekeys trying to buy fame out of a hastily run political campaign and disrupt the scene. ‘Accidentally’ they won.

Now, this accident is problematic, the existence of a character like Donald Trump doesn’t disturb me, but the fact that people voted for him and he became the POTUS is the scary problem there! This fact scares me that so many people were there to support this buffoon. That’s the single most depressing and scary part of this whole story.

If it was an accident then I would feel a little comfortable. But there are no accidents, as Master Oogway said 🤔

Why the phrase “search engine optimization” annoys me

Search Engine Optimisation, Google
Image: Shamelessly stolen from a search engine result without citing a source 🙄

The whole idea of search engine optimization is fundamentally lame. As the moral of the story is, search engines are still stupid and illiterate. They need to grow up, and they need to learn how to aggregate the content that I put up on the web the way I want, not the other way around. If they are not crawling my site and not understanding what I have put up, then it is their problem, their loss 🙄.

If my contents are worthy enough, then people will find it no matter what. And the search engines will eventually learn how to find it. If the don’t, then they will die. And that’s why my only focus is creating worthy contents, and not pampering the search engines. I don’t want to waste my time there.

It is all about discipline, it is about the discipline of putting the right text in right order, and optimising the images for better viewing, fast loading, I am up for doing all those just because that’s the right thing to do. But I am not going to listen to all the stupid advises about key words and modifying a writing based on crawlers’ taste. I write for humans. And humans are prioritised in my work rather than the search engine bots.

You better find me, or number your days. It is as simple as that. And true for anyone and any content and business.

A day with the curators and artists of Dhaka Art Summit

Fine Arts Department, Dhaka University, Muzharul Islam

Dhaka Art Summit is a rare festival of artists and curators from all over the world. The phrase ‘all over the world’ is not an exaggeration here! A group of around 60 artists and curators signed up for a tour of architecture by Muzharul Islam in Dhaka. Two of his masterpieces were in the list of places, the Department of Fine Arts and the Central Library of Dhaka University.

The Fine Arts building doesn’t need any selling, people immediately fall in love the moment they walk in here. Three bus full of guests showed up by 09:30 in the late winter morning at Charukala. The tour was originally supposed to be guided by Nurur Rahman Khan. Muhtadin Iqbal, Sujaul Islam, Farhana Nizam Chowhdhury and me had to take over the role as NRK had to suddenly travel to India.

I explained the group how radical it was when Muzharul Islam decided to design the Charukala building back in 1952. If you look around the works of that time of the world, very few architects were actually taking on the mission of modernism this way. This building was capable enough to compete with any work of that time and still today. With the help of the founder of the Institute Zainul Abedin, Muzharul Islam got the opportunity of freedom of thinking. Mr. Islam got this commission right after coming back from Oregon, and it was his first built project. Eventually it was also the first modern building of South Asia.

The entry to the building disappears in the space, there is no defined entry per se! You were walking in the street, you crossed a threshold and suddenly you get inside the premises! This subtlety of arrival at a place is uncanny, it gives me a feeling as if the moment I embarked on the plinth the architect gave a smirk smile from somewhere, saying “see what I just did there!” Damn you Mr. Islam!

Then it all flows around like liquid space. With gentle, tricky thresholds between public, academic and administrative spaces. Few subtle elements like the perforated jali walls and the spectacular stair, those two walls and the stair gives you an outsider an invisible instruction that this is your comfortable limit, you may not go beyond this area just like that. The fluid space flows around the curve walls of the galleries within the rectilinear flat-plate structure like a magic.

Then the academic spaces begin, the climatically oriented and intricately crafted elements of design! Look at those brick walls and the wooden louvers! He custom-made those bricks just for this building and closely supervised the masonry works throughout the project. The whole idea of pavilion-like structure that perfectly fits into tropical climate is visible all around. You keep going, then suddenly the building turns into an arc, embracing a pre-existing pond. The corridor takes a slight turn towards North, and abruptly ends at the walkway around the pond, with a stark beauty and surprise.

When he was asked how did he come up with this design, his answer was simple, he said that, he just followed the landscape. The site was like a garden full of large trees. His idea was to flow the fluid spaces in and around the trees without cutting any one of them, then embrace the pond. Unlike other projects where people design the landscape around the building after the design, here the landscape was already there, and he designed a building around it.

I showed one of my favorite spots in the compound, the ‘Sculpture pond,’ some curators took refuge there.

We all went to the Central Library of Dhaka University. Which originally was designed as the main public library for Dhaka City. Later the University acquired it as their own. And they have ruined it. This beautiful peace of architecture is now a place of disgust. Extremely poorly maintained, notoriously dirty with no respect to design and art, they have managed to kill everything that was beautiful about this building. For architecture enthusiasts, I’d say, don’t go there to see anything, if you go, then go there to protest. Such utter disappointment from Dhaka University management! Shame on them!

Penelope Seidler, Prajna Desai, Cara Manes, Jeanette Plaut, Jay Levenson Director of International Program and Martino Stierli the Chief Curator, Architecture and Design of MoMA wished to visit two more sites in Dhaka before going back to the hotel or the Summit. Martino’s interest was seeing the recently built mosque by Kashef Mahboob Chowdhury, the Gulshan Society Mosque, and the Aga Khan Award winning project of Marina Tabassum, the Bait Ur Rouf mosque in the North of Dhaka. Along with that, they wanted to visit Bengal Institute and meet Kazi Khaleed Ashraf there. We all hopped on to the van I brought along with me with our driver Tamim. The route was ambitious, as both Bengal Institute and Marina Tabassum’s mosque are far away from the city.

Starting from Charukala towards Gulshan via Hatirjheel, we stopped at Holy Artisan Bakery for lunch. Holy Artisan relocated themselves at a small scale near the Gulshan-2 circle after the devastating incident in 2016. But they are still the best place to eat where I can blindly take any guest with confidence. Everybody loved Holey!

It was quick to reach the Mosque by Kashef. It’s a massive building in terms of being a mosque. Everybody was startled by the fact that it is multistoried and so big, vertically! Personally I am not a big fan of this project though.

The next architectural destination was Marina Tabassum’s mosque Bait Ur Rouf near Tongi. This is one of the project where I take anyone with absolute confidence that they will be blown. And it exactly happened that way. Everybody was stunned by the beauty of this little piece of architectural masterpiece in the middle of nowhere in a remote corner of Dhaka. This mosque is the answer to where modernism and religious structure should go. A perfect harmony of minimalist modernism with spirituality and local community. You have to see it to believe it.

প্রযুক্তিতে বাংলার দুরবস্থা

আমাদের দেশ এমনই ডিজিটাল যে আজ পর্যন্ত ম্যাক এবং আইফোনের জন্য নির্ঝঞ্জাট বাংলা লেখার কোন উপায় বের হলো না। কোন রকমে, ঠেকাঠুকা দিয়ে লেখা যায়। কোন উন্নতি নাই অ্যাপগুলোর। আইফোনে রিদমিক ভালো ছিল, আপডেটের অভাবে এখন অকেজো। ম্যাকের জন্য যে অভ্র তারও একই অবস্থা। আপডেট নাই, কিবোর্ডের নির্দিষ্ট বিন্যাসগুলো অপরিচিত, ব্যবহার করা দূরহ, আমি ফনেটিক ভালো পাইনা।

ম্যাক এবং আইফোনে সরাসরি বাংলা ব্যবহারের কিছু ব্যবস্থা আছে, কিন্তু সেগুলোর আদ্যপান্ত বোঝা মুশকিল, কিবোর্ডের নির্দিষ্ট বিন্যাসগুলো এলোমেলো। অন্য ভাষার তো কম্পিউটারের সম্পুর্ণ পরিচালনা পদ্ধতিই সে ভাষাতে পাওয়া যায়। যেমন ফরাসি উইন্ডোজ বা ফরাসি ম্যাক পুরোটাই ফরাসি, সেখানে কম্পিউটারের আপদমস্তক সেই ভাষাতেই, ব্রাউজারের ঠিকানা লেখার যায়গা ছাড়া আর কোথাও কোন ইংরেজি নাই একটুও। উইন্ডোজ বা ম্যাক এর মত জনপ্রিয় কম্পিউটারের পরিচালনা পদ্ধতি কেন সম্পুর্ণ বাংলায় নাই আজও? কেন আমাদেরকে এখনো বিজয় বা অভ্র বা এমনকোন ‘সফটওয়ারের’ দারস্থ হতে হবে বাংলা ব্যবহারের জন্য? এই দায় কি মাইক্রোসফট আর অ্যাপলের একার, না কি আমাদেরও?

ভাষার সম্ভারে, সাহিত্যে এবং ঐতিহ্যে বাংলা দুনিয়ার যে কোন প্রধান ভাষার সমকক্ষ। ভাষা ব্যবহারকারির জনসংখ্যার দিক দিয়ে পৃথিবীতে আমরা দুনিয়ায় ষষ্ঠ। কিন্তু প্রযুক্তি এবং ইন্টারনেটের মেইনস্ট্রিমে বাংলার অবস্থান জঘন্য। এই দায় আমাদের প্রযুক্তিবিদ এবং উদ্যোক্তাদের।

আমাদের বড়মুখওয়ালা ‘উদ্ভাবনী উদ্যোক্তাবৃন্দ’ মুখ ব্যতীত অন্যকিছু কি নড়াবেন একটু দয়া করে, অন্তত এই ভাষার মাসের উসিলায়? না কি ফেব্রুয়ারি এলে “বাংলা চাই” স্লোগান দিয়ে আইপুনে ইংরিজি টিপতে বসবেন আবার? বাংলা তো শুধু চেয়ে বসে থাকলে হবে না, পাছাটাও একটু নাড়াতে হবে।

The haze you are seeing today in Dhaka is not fog, it’s pollution smog

No the above ranking is not an average. It is the situation of a specific time, right now at 22:43, February 3rd, 2018.

But it is 492 in PM2.5 air quality index! It means you need industrial-grade mask to breath outdoor, anything else is doing serious harm to yourself. Don’t take this lightly. Check the latest details here.

The accepted safe range of PM 2.5 index is 50, up to 100 it is somewhat ‘ok.’ When it goes beyond 100 you should take action to avoid outdoor exposure.

In Dhaka, below 100 is a luxury, you can see two digit ratings only during the monsoon. I have set my personal limit at 200. If it is above 200, I wear a mask, and I specifically avoid riding Pathao/bikes. If I’m Ubering, the windows are locked and AC running.

Install the AirVisual app or visit this page regularly before you go out in this city!

Coffee 😌 and iPhone 8 Plus 🙄

Coffee bean and French Press

That’s my daily elixir of life and work. Coffee. I can’t live without. Ever since North End started roasting beans here in Dhaka, the whole coffee scene changed. Now if you look carefully, it’s whole beans from North End stored inside a blasphemous Nescafe jar! And right beside it the ubiquitous french-press.

Thank god, beans are slowly taking over the notorious Nescafe! Interestingly enough, when people think tea, they think of real tea-leaves here, they don’t think about some suspicious soluble substance like instant coffee! They know you need to brew it to get tea and throw away the leaves. But when you say ‘coffee’ in general terms in Bangladesh, people understand ‘instant coffee,’ they think coffee by default is supposed to be a soluble powder. All credit goes to Nestle and their marketing for this mess of course! People started to know coffee without knowing they are getting shit in the name of an elixir. So at office without compromising, even if it is expensive, I buy my own beans, grind them, and press them or brew them in a drip-machine. Yap, we’ve got a grinder too, just to make sure we get the freshest coffee from grinding it right before pouring water.

After experimenting with several different beans (single-origin and blends) from all over the world, I now have comfortably settled in North End’s regular Espresso blend, it’s the safest choice, readily available, never fails. Often-time I mix around 10% French Roast in it, to enhance the burnt smokey flavor. I can’t take French Roast on its own, it’s too roasty and loses the complex taste.

If you are wondering what is iPhone 8 Plus is doing in the title of this post, look at the photo again. You must have noticed that blurred stem of the press? That’s iPhone 8 Plus’s faulty ‘portrait mode’ that artificially creates a low depth-of-field effect. During the first few days of the phone I didn’t realize it’s artificial blurring; silly me, of course it is 🙄 But who cares, oftentimes, this phone takes remarkably good photos! Although the low-light performance of iPhone 8 Plus is nowhere near the mighty Pixel-2.

Day 1 of Dhaka Art Summit 2018

Dhaka Art Summit is one of the big events I look forward to! It’s one of those defining festivals of Dhaka that makes this city proud. I feel proud myself to be able to visit this show in my own town!

I like the fact that how they keep it completely open, no tickets, no registration, anyone can simply just walk in. This is exactly what I miss nowadays in most fancy places and events in Dhaka. That simply-walk-in comfort, without much of the annoying security protocols and nuisances, aha, no flinging of those useless, stupid metal detector wands.

Also the types of people who come in here is remarkable. I think brining in new people who would have never visited an art exhibition is a critical measuring point of a show like this. Which DAS2018 has ‘somewhat’ managed to do well. I saw people talking selfies (which is ok!) who I could tell from overheard mutters that they absolutely have no idea about what is going on here. Well, that’s the power and beauty of art, that it is just there, for literally anyone to see, hear, observe, experience and interpret the way they want.

And here comes the play of diversity! This year, DAS2018 is quit diverse! It’s a lovely set of curation, ranging from obvious to out-right daring. Here is the link to the programme brochure to give you some clue. Dhaka Art Summit aptly doesn’t confine itself in a traditional shell of what we used to know as ‘art.’ It embraces various media including music, video, architecture etc. although, I would not say it is something radical. DAS is still conservative at a global scale, but for Dhaka it is quite an eye-opener rebellion for local art scene.

Samdani Art Foundation deserves praise and thanks for creating, nurturing and funding such a remarkable show of an international significance.

New found chocolate love: Magnum Espresso

Dark chocolate + coffee, the combination couldn’t be any better! I never tried a Magnum chocolate before, they are not very popular/known here. The taste is very good! Although the texture is a little odd due to its 3% cocoa nibs content, I like smoother options. It’s a 50% cocoa solids bar, with 45g sugar per 100g bar.

Noticed that Equadorian cocoa thing, I’m a big fan of any chocolate coming out of that country!

But one fine-print made me think, the Magnum brand is owned by Unilever! Come on, leave at least a few things out of corporations!