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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Meetings need not be boring -why?

When I read this word ‘meeting’ immediately three things or three ‘Cs’ come to my mind i.e. Connotation, Context, Content.

Connotation of the word used;

Context in which the word ‘meeting’ is used or to be more precise context of the meeting;

Content i.e. the purpose or intention or meaning of the meeting.

This leads us easily to or rather quickly to know that the problem is not with the ‘meeting’ itself.

The problem is with what it referred to? Or what meaningfulness is impregnated to the event called ‘meeting’ sometimes also referred to as conference, seminar, brainstorming session and so on?

Here we are obliged to further ensure that the word ‘meeting’ is used in the context of corporate or collective social  gathering, otherwise romantic and friendly meetings over the week end and other similar get-togethers are interesting and voluntary.

It definitely means some sort of conventicular gathering to communicate with some common agenda conducted either in real structure or nowadays through virtual electronic media.

There are many components and aspects to meetings but there is one common factor for all those participating in meetings in whatever capacity or position or post. And that is -Time.

So, we need to address and be clear about what is time.

Cliché is Time is money –then it is mere currency- if so, we can get it anyway.

Stereotypical portrayal is Time is life- then it is mere chronology not in our control- if so, what is the use of bothering about it anyway?

Time is mind or mind space that we give to something or someone at certain times depending on the trade off we get out of it; the pleasure we derive out of it; the purpose we need out of it; the enhancement to some aspect of life that we derive out of it; the inevitability of giving it as a matter of fate-without psychologically wanting to -which is the worst scenario as in crisis or calamity or conditions of depravity.

We need to accept the common aspect of all is Time and understand what is really meant by the word Time.

Then, we can work out on all components of a meeting and make it meaningful.

Let us be clear that beyond the inevitable, official and formal requirement or terminology and the following aspects, namely, agenda, intention, purpose, debates, brain storming, conferences, seminars and goal need not necessarily have to be common to all participants in any meeting.

Or even if they do they may mean different things to everyone or at least may have varying degrees or intensities of importance or influence or impact for everyone.

When we take all these into consideration we shall ensure two way or multi-channel communication with clarity and achieve the intended purpose or meaning.

I intentionally refrain from using the words achievement or goal because then it implies that we are a mere tool to cause something and not the part of it either becoming or being part of it.

That does not mean that achievement or goal is not to be wished for or inadequate by themselves, they are undoubtedly motivating posts to be aimed for and attempted.

But when meetings transcend beyond results into mutual and ‘mental space time imbued relationship’ with whatever we do and with whomsoever we do then it is impregnated with more passion, maturity to deal with dispassion and meaningful compassion.

I am reminded of what Sri Sri Ravishankarji of the Art of Living answered spontaneously to a question posed by someone on how to deal with expectations or over expectations, at an event called ThinkEdu16 held at Chennai in Feb 2016

He used just three very effective words. He said, “You definitely need 'Passion' to perform effectively but 'Dispassion' to carry on with shortcomings and failures. He said when you succeed in Passion you enjoy, when you have this 'Dispassion' then you do not 'hate yourself' between these two if you have 'Compassion' then you do not hate or blame others. So he said you need Passion, Dispassion and Compassion -all the three.”

Life in general is defined and determined to a great extent by how we relate with ourselves, other people, events, activities, ideas, emotions, choices, decisions, things, ideals, thoughts and so on.

But primarily there must be at least some sort of ‘mental space time imbued relationship’ and not a mere remote wish or dry proposal without any relationship.

When this sort of ‘mental space time imbued relationship’ is created then that by itself generates greater involvement and commitment beyond externally enforced motivational materials and speeches.

That’s why we see people toil hard and carve for ideological identities and emotionally appealing activities more than they do for work or job or employment that they are paid for and because of which they eke out a living.

That’s why people never allow schooling to restrict their learning or office to interfere with their other works.

Still better when this sort of ‘mental space time imbued relationship’ becomes a sort of habitual environment then the communication itself graduates in status from being merely an activity from brain to brain, goes beyond heart to heart and  settles as heart to heart beat.

Therefore, when a conducive atmosphere involving this sort of ‘mental space time imbued relationship’ exists meetings cease to be boring and instead an event that everyone will be eagerly looking forward to happen.

Novelist Sinclair Lewis started a lecture to a group of college students with: “How many of you really intend to be writers?” All raised their hands. Then he continued thus, “In that case, there is no point in my talking. My advice to you is: go home and write, write, write….” With that, he put back his notes in his pocket and left.

With a quote of Swami Vivekananda, “It is our mental attitude which makes the world what it is for us. The whole world  is in our minds”, let me end now and discuss about how to make meetings meaningful and less boring later on.

I would like to share some links which I feel are relevant to some aspects of meetings discussed above including factors to make them more interesting.

Every relationship is a many faceted splendor and all the facets together contribute to the splendor, whether it is with persons, books, movies, any art, music, culture, tradition, gadgets, environment, vehicles or anything.
The splendor is revealed depending on what lights we use to see these facets. The bright lights are good attitudes, adjustments, aesthetic appreciation, compromises, collaborations, co-operation, contentment etc and the dark lights are confrontations, control and command mode behavior patterns, ego generated competing, manipulations, scheming, politicizing, hidden agenda, simmering discontent, lurking suspicions, ulterior motives, ingratitude etc   etc

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Unity - Variety and I -the IDENTITY in the middle of both the words

Let us etch the following four sentences in our hearts and heads.

1. “God is UNITY but always works in VARIETY" RALPH W.EMERSON

2.  Peace and Harmony are defined indirectly by wanting too much of same Identity in    everyone and everywhere and want of  Tolerance

3.  After all everything has an expiry date, including our mortal life.

4.  The curse of identity, which defines exclusivity, is a reality that interconnects us all.

One common feature in all these four statements above is that each sentence emphasizes the inevitable contradiction or the opposite or polarity.

And the middle letter in both UNITY and VARIETY is I- the Identity.

While data and information on any matter followed by analysis based on them leading to classification and categorization establishing certain distinct characteristics, features, factors, aspects either naturally occurring or purposefully attempted or forcefully injected reveals many things.

“Get out of your own way… stop the paralysis by analysis… decide what you want, create a simple plan, and get moving!” – Steve Maraboli.
But what it does at the same time is that it also seeks to label identities or insulate identities or assign or appropriate certain stereotypical portrayal of identities either to perpetuate or to promote or to put an end to or to divide humane race further with these labels.

Identities, especially unique ones are there as undeniable facts; getting wedded or welded to identities is also equally undeniable fact; glaring differences emerging out of these identities are also undeniable facts; privileges, prejudices, pressures, entitlements based on such identities are also undeniable facts.

But the mere fact of existence of these differences and identities need not necessarily lead to ideologically fixing or assigning all human beings into predefined labels thinking that everyone who may fit into such labels either subscribe to certain specific characteristics or deemed to be appropriating certain qualities.

The itch to stereotype and sensationalize especially sensitive shores of human relationships is rife with inbuilt dangers.

This presumption is the result of selective ideological fixations and brain washing propaganda.
This is the very reason we tend to mutilate the marvel of variety of human souls and spirits by trying to fit them in predefined boxes of labeled identities.
The problems that arise out of the excessive projection of and painting of all as subjects of these assumptions is that they get injected into the subconscious mind and pop  up at every perceived moment of  toxic intolerance or avoidable bias and phobia.

“All of us have our own inner fears, beliefs, opinions. These inner assumptions rule and govern our lives. A suggestion has no power in and of itself. Its power arises from the fact that you accept it mentally.” Joseph Murphy, The Power of Your Subconscious Mind

We must realize that the subconscious mind is the law of action and always expresses what the conscious mind has impressed on it. What we regularly entertain in our mind creates a conception of self. What we conceive ourselves to be, we become.”- Grace Speare.

Everything in nature is a manifestation of variety. With all species, flora and fauna including human beings- in their physical, ideological, religious, cultural, regional, social, political, intellectual, linguistic and artistic world – are expressions of this variety.

So let us neither perpetuate nor become a prey to any act that subscribes to such divisive identity projections through hazy prisms and crazy perspectives of perception –which by itself is very fallible. 

Unfortunately, in the whole world Life's socio- political churning process instead of becoming and being more rational, scientific and humane, seems to get struck in identities of various hues and colors indicating a mindset worse than that of the sixteenth century.

Identity crisis is becoming one of the greatest curses of this century        

The complications, dynamics and possibilities of Unity

What are required for global Citizenship or Worldology

The inevitable reality of polarity as a scientific factor

Xenophobia is the extreme folly

Invasion to accede territories as a sign of real estate veneration based patriotism is an outdated idea.

Importance of and role of relationships

The fact of genetic variety

Victimhood projection

It is better to avoid excessive projection of class, color or race as a social barrier and refrain from excessive victim hood projections as it contributes to make differences and prejudices into divisive forces and psychological perversions.

Why and how are perception itself is fallible

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Blank page, Language, Writing and Literature

Blank page, Language, Writing and Literature

Blank page indeed invites a romantic mood and motivates us to weave various patterns with a great tool called language and great activity called writing.

In brief language is the queen of sciences and king of arts because all arts and sciences can be expressed and explained fully; enjoyed and experienced at least to a certain extent through langue.

Language helps better understanding of many things. 

So there is no need to explain further as from religious scriptures to political speeches to all scripts, to research findings to song lyrics are weaved out of words of some language.

The greatness of language over any other medium like music, painting, science and so on is its unhindered, unlimited access to any or many or almost all dimensions of life known and perceivable to human beings.

In that aspect language is omnipotent in its influence and impact.

As a medium it uses two methods Oral [speaking] and written [writing].

Whether it is used to express and explain thoughts, ideas, concepts, facts, events, actions, reactions, feelings, imagination, stories, discoveries, descriptions, fantasies, social, religious, cultural systems, dreams are all determined by the favorite frame of reference of the speaker or writer.

Whatever is the frame of reference it is wrong and very narrow to generalize writings, all writings as having something to do with some political ideology or emanating out of some ideological basis alone.

There cannot be more degrading view about writing.

One person’s writings on any subject/topic may manifest a tinge of or totality of some regional culture; another’s may manifest a tinge of or totality of some local festival; another’s may manifest a tinge of or totality of the fantasies he/she dreams of; another’s may manifest a tinge of or totality of rational /philosophical approach in everything.

The hall mark of most ancient literature has been the unbiased, unconditioned and board minded expression in any topic they chose, never shunning anything out of any bias, that’s why as a civilization, perhaps Bharath as it was known then or India as it is called now, was the first country to have a detailed discussion even in atheism through scriptures. This link above contains a great observation on literature by a very scholarly living Saint from India

The following link leads to lot of other links, all containing many debates on various aspects of languages in general and some specific beauties and controversies in some languages. In short it gives a glimpse into the entire gamut of languages and I keep updating this link with all my latest postings related to language issues.

Literature's impact

Literature is a natural creative splendor which evolves according to its own dynamics unfettered by limitations of lexicon. Words, expressions, usage all play their part in that romance.   

Monday, February 22, 2016

Media Mafia and murky deeds

Let us not get misled by labels assigned by media to cover up truth.
There is no ‘activism’, it is a label used to mask and brain wash all gullible country men to believe it is so.

Let us not be naive. Reality is it is all international mafia with which our leftover Left, NGOs, Paid Media and some desperate political outfits which have no concern for either the nation or its citizens  operate India's ISIS i.e. Instigate and Sensationalize on Issues that are Sensitive.

They want to ensure Indians are always kept in poverty and ignorance without development so that they can continue to peddle the victim hood script with catchy and itchy slogans and nonchalant narratives of negativism as an ideology to nurture hatred against anyone who seriously works to develop the nation.

I would blame NSA and IB for not aggressively dismantling this malign cancer from Indian soil. Where are your drones, where are your spies, where are your informers....?

Please constantly do surveillance of all suspects and suspicious regions, hack their mails, social net works, mobiles and calls and follow their activities.

If you need please take lessons from Mossad and FBI.

Otherwise this malign cancer will spread its tentacle in all places with its various hues and colors Green pieces, Red chilies, White lies, Black deeds, Brown Guns [ Naxals & Maoist] Yellow journalism and paint whoever is checking these atrocities as Saffron.

If Government fails to treat the cancer then it cannot blame the cancer.

Evolution is a marvelous map of metamorphosis

Evolution is a marvelous map of metamorphosis that happens in all spheres of life-humans and whole of nature.

Scientific discoveries decipher and deliver the details of this phenomenon.

However, we need to understand  that this metamorphosis, mutations, maturing are not confined to biological evolution alone but are prevalent and pervasive in all spheres of life in all its activities-including our ideas, thoughts, knowledge acquisitions, technological advancement and so on.

Here I would like everyone to benefit from perceiving better this process of evolutionary trends providing explanations to many activities and aspects of life by reading a wonderful book titled ‘The Seven Mysteries of Life’ by Guy Murchie.

The beauty of this book over that of other great and excellent scholars of evolutionary biology is that it is not written by an evolutionary biologist so is devoid of subject based confirmation bias and also peeps into all areas of life rather than merely confining to biological or physical realm alone.

This book has inspired me to look into or study any topic or subject without any ideological preconception at the same time not to omit studying the origins, history and contributory factors to and the purpose to the growth or development of the subject or topic.

Life is lively and is always in motion and evolution operates with its own dynamics to effect   changes constantly.

So, it is difficult to grab either one but we can grasp and understand the dynamics of both  through various methods and the loads of existing literature and documents available in various subjects.

Therefore life in all its wonder has to be enjoyed and lived and evolution in its entire splendor has to be experienced as an inevitable metamorphosis.

That’s why even any definition with axiomatic certitudes eludes what we mean by terms like Reality, Faith and Truth because everything in life, or to be precise life itself on the whole, is an unmapped atlas which gets its maps based on our choices, beliefs, actions, reactions, thoughts, attitudes and understanding and it is in our hands to make each one of these continents as great and as good as possible.

The beauty of life consists in the unknowns and the unending searches and researches –the unending process of evolutionary trends in everything.

Here I would like to share some of my observations and a very limited selection of some readings that I have enjoyed.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Why I will never use the word Intellectual for paid journalists and writers

My reply to Ergo today

1.Your sentence hisses more than a poisonous snake as 'his analysis''his facts and figures'

2. "an intellectual is one who says what appears to him to be correct on the basis of his analysis of his facts and figures available to him then."

3. Sorry again 'says what appears to him'- I think there is a spelling mistake or omission. you meant probably 'what appeals to him' or 'what appears to him in his dreams or as per the script given to him by his ideological pay masters'.

4. Facts are facts though you are at liberty to give your own interpretations or judgments on it but not facts selectively available for or cherry picked out of context rather I should say 'scum cleaning' by these perverted writers -I will never misuse the word intellectual for them.

5 . We have one thing in common I too 'I am neither a historian, nor a sociologist, nor a RSS branded nationalist.

6. But my tolerance level signals me to ignore a person who forces his mother to prostitution for his survival and any one who projects a prolonged perverted version of anti -nationalism to eke out a profession.

7. No individual is 100% perfect nor is any nation and both require wise and sane advises, suggestions, criticism for course correction ,modification or improvement but not contemptuous condemnation.

8. Denigrating a dignified profession like writing imbued with only negativism through hidden agendas and ulterior motives is the pathetic last resort of unworthy souls- I can only pity them.

9. There are many things that are wrong with India, Hinduism - I am not even jumping to justify by saying so it does in other nations and denominations.

10. But proper positive support and unbiased analysis will help rather than presenting tailor-made analysis ensconced in pleasant words to suit a conclusion for which one gets paid or out of which one gets popularity is a very cheap activity.

Ergo balayogi • 3 days ago

I disagree with you Sir. This is sociology as well as history. In such subjects, one man's meat is another man's poison. There are no fixed posts to hold onto tenaciously. Points are made and demolished only to take another form. In this confused scenario of free for all, an intellectual is one who says what appears to him to be correct on the basis of his analysis of his facts and figures available to him then. If his analysis leads to a conclusion that is not to your liking, no wonder he is not intellectual for you. That is what is happening here: Sen and Guha are not intellectuals for all those who don't like their conclusions. For them, Bhatra will be a better intellectual only because his conclusions are exactly what you like to know and accept. But for others, not he but they who are intellectuals.
Hope I have made my point clear. What about me? I am neither a historian, nor a sociologist, nor a RSS branded nationalist. So, I enjoy watching the show enacted by different players on the stage.

Intellectual, Intelligence, Intelligentsia

Intellectual, Intelligence, Intelligentsia 

I love words of English language and therefore I strongly object to author’s misuse of them.

Just because someone appropriates and assigns some labels misusing certain words with positive connotations for extreme forms of negative identity, repeatedly scripts such labels in desperation, it becomes all the more important that sane and sensible people must not reuse them.

If a moron is referred to as a master by someone that does not require everyone to address him as a master, more so sane people must refrain from doing so.

So please know the meaning of the word intellect, intellectual and intelligentsia through as many references as you want and for heaven’s sake do not use them for people like Ramchandra Guha in any context.

JNU and the epidemic disease of humanity

      First facts in JNU case

2. Unfortunately, in the whole world Life's socio- political churning process instead of becoming and being more rational, scientific and humane, seems to get struck in identities of various hues and colors indicating a mindset worse than that of the sixteenth century.

3. Identity crisis is becoming one of the greatest curse of this century

4. In ThinkEdu16 conference in concluding session Sri Sri Ravishankar answered spontaneously very well to VC of a university in very simple terms how to avoid irrational depressions due to high expectations and corresponding disappointment.

5. He used just three very effective words. He said you definitely need 'Passion' to perform effectively but 'Dispassion' to carry on with shortcomings and failures. He said when you succeed in Passion you enjoy, when you have this 'Dispassion' then you do not 'hate yourself' between these two if you have 'Compassion' then you do not hate or blame others. So he said you need Passion, Dispassion and Compassion -all the three.

6. I think this simple mantra can contribute enough moderation and sense of balance which is the ultimate test of a matured person.

7. No one starts and must not start or cannot start all aspects of life in moderation.

8. Aggression, passion, influence, impact , intensity are the things the spice up the adventure of life but then everyone must grow out of these experiences into a matured balanced person acting with moderation.

10. But it is also high time that all individuals and institutions which feel responsible for youth, future generations, and posterity of humanity must emphasis and consciously promote  virtues of moderation, tolerance, forgiveness, compassion, accepting facts, happiness, contextual relevance of whatever is done  etc as most important tenets of emancipated human beings practicing a universal religion.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Art of content writing

           Brief anatomy of content writing-design and development.

1.    There are no stereotypes to content. Content writing is a journey from conceptualizing to delivery with paying attention to appropriate micro details and providing a macro perspective to the recipient.

2.    Content must be structured in a process that evinces recipients’ interest, eject doubts and entice their entire attention.

3.    Content must be carefully carved context specific, topic specific, business specific, culture specific, subject specific and so on and so forth. So, content must be tailor- made according to the specific requirements.

4.    This also includes the degree or quantum of importance given or priority emphasized to certain aspects of content depending on whether the appeal has to be more to the emotions, intellect, interests, reasons, sentiments, passions, humor, philosophy, ideology and spicing it with anecdotes or stories or quotations.

5.    And based on the above factors one must decide whether there should be more images, more verbal communication, more illustrations, more audios and more videos.

6.    There are certain techniques to lure the initial attention by pandering to the confirmation bias of the targeted audience and then slowly slip them surreptitiously or lead them directly to the desired goal of the content depending on the situation.

7.    The techniques can be easily enhanced and embellished with enormous advantage of multiple modern technological tools.

8.    Data, facts, opinions, ideological innuendos, diplomatic terms, provocative expressions, statistical justifications, catchy slogans, scientific or philosophical reasoning, pleasing verbal seasoning are some of the ingredients used with references wherever is necessary.

9.    Content provider must conceptualize like an architect, create like an artist, construct like an engineer, carry on like a diplomat, cascade with verbosity like a lawyer but ultimately deliver the desired result like a sincere and successful surgeon.

10.This applies to most spheres be it content for publicity pamphlet of a product, scientific research paper, philosophical idea presentation, sacred sermon  delivering , political or film or play script writing or story or novel writing or article writing.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Menace of media mafia against India

Menace of media mafia against India

Sorry folks this is just the tip of the iceberg. Unfortunately it is a huge international mafia that operates.

The dynamics of international political mafia's operations are tough to understand and tougher to handle.

Their operations are highly sophisticated and manipulations are done through insiders and mass opinions molding industry which generates perception bias.

There are some interesting documentaries free on the net each running into minimum of 2.30 hours but you learn the history of a few generations and how the atlas can be really shrugged and geographical barriers thrown out of the equation totally in an age of great connectivity.

There is a lot more that is rotten with many institutions including media and hoards of self proclaimed intelligentsia which is funded by forces inimical to India's growth and development.

There are many other unpleasant facts omitted about media here. Just do a check on NewsX karthikeya sharma brother of notorious murderer and son of Cong MP.

Even media houses with pronounced political affiliation we can either welcome or ignore as per our wish but the real poison is the leftover Left of India which dominates this arena of mass opinion molding industry called media.

The hope is social media.

I have been writing reams and reams of material on the menace of media mafia. The most unfortunate thing is in India there is good media too but they are either not visible or people do not choose them. why can't people start a movement to stop buying newspapers like The Hindu, stop watching channels like NDTV, India Today, Times NOW etc.

Don't worry in a short time from now FB will be flashing important news items like Flipboard the work is going on. That's why they started criticizing Mark's meeting with MODI too much and are also sponsoring articles against twitter's impact.

Modi correctly prioritizing rectifying all that is wrong with India:–poverty, lack of governance &hygiene etc

Addressing issues relating to the wrongs caused to India over wrong portrayals of India and its civilization are not the priority.

Reforms involve restructuring which disturbs status quo addicts whose profits and prominence get reduced.

However the present Government did two great mistakes:-

One , the government has failed in informing in easily understandable terms and educating the public about the long terms benefits, inevitable changes and short term inconveniences in the forms of adjustments to be made to achieve those long term goals etc or probably it was too naïve to believe that media would be interested in imparting information in national interest and still not investigating scam of UPA Govt using tax payers’ money to sponsor the trips abroad along with PM MMS of only certain select private media houses why? And also why government has not yet probed all links of all media personalities because of their pronounced anti- India tirade? These must be done in national interest because the media is a greater security threat both internally and internationally.

Two, failed to put a gag on all outfits that are trying in all seriousness or claiming to address issues relating to the wrongs caused to India over wrong portrayals of India and its civilization. These are not our priority now and the worst part is these activities become a very easy tool for media that assigns labels, propels propaganda and tags everything to the government in power; even the ones engineered by their pay masters and these also give room to divide Indian society to facilitate consolidated vote banks of divided groups.

Tastes are 6

First as on date the labeled basic tastes are 6 and not 5 as indicated in this article.

It is called as arusuvai in Tamil with the 4 famous ‘Ss’ of which one is missing in this article and which is predominant in Indian curries, though for want of appropriate vocabulary in English, the native English speakers use adjectives like pungent, acerbic, astringent etc though they could have coined an adjective out of these two major chemicals whose presence mainly contribute to those sensations namely ascorbic acid and Capsaicin.

So, tastes are basically six with the four Ss-Sweet, salty, sour and spicy along with  bitter and umami, though initially humans labeled it as only four leaving out umami and spicy.

There are innumerable factors that go to make taste and honestly even to restrict it to 6 is doing injustice to human biological sensations and psychological sensitivity.

On most topics of science I refer to the great writer who incidentally was not an academically anointed evolutionary biologist but a professional pilot. However his works are one of the best in evolutionary biology which every student, teacher and writer must read namely Guy Murchie, especially his work ‘THE SEVEN MYSTERIES OF LIFE’. In this work he writes about taste in chapter 8

Taste is basically like smell except that it is less sensitive, requiring about 25,000 times as many molecules to elicit a sensation because it deals primarily with molecules in solid and liquid form rather than gaseous”

Chapter 8

“ Twenty-one Senses of Chemistry, Mind and Spirit

SO WE ARRIVE at what are often called the visceral or chemical senses, meaning those that enunciate the appetites for food, drink and, in some cases, physical love. And right off we encounter smell and taste, which work chemically and are thought to be the most experienced of all senses. If this is true, it is presumably because chemistry deals primarily with molecules, which are the material units composing the world, including all its organisms, and which therefore interact with creatures directly rather than indirectly through waves of radiation or compression, as in the cases of vision and hearing. Thus when organized life evolved on Earth several billion years ago, the first way it could sense anything almost inevitably had to be through direct contact, naturally at the molecular level, as earthly life had not yet organized larger units except such structures as crystals which, if they are definable as alive, may also be regarded as molecules or more accurately, supermolecules.

So did smell and taste (originally one sense) come into our world. At first the smell-taste organ (if it could be considered such) must have occupied practically the whole body, making the viruslike creature in effect a living nose or tongue. Then, as macroscopic life appeared, the organ retained its central forward position at the business end of its owner, while the snout took shape and, doing so, started to create the face.


Taste is basically like smell except that it is less sensitive, requiring about 25,000 times as many molecules to elicit a sensation because it deals primarily with molecules in solid and liquid form rather than gaseous. And the primary tastes are but four in number: sweet, bitter, salty and sour; each key taste molecule having its own lock receptacle in what is called a taste bud on the human tongue, palate or throat. This means that each primary taste is tastable only in its own location: sweet at the tip of the tongue, bitter at the back, salty on the sides around the tip and in the throat, sour on the sides of the tongue farther back. Like smell, taste is very ancient and fundamental, and I feel no doubt that, when we know more about molecular structure, we will see geometric reasons why applesauce tastes good with pork, mint with lamb, cranberries with turkey, ketchup with baked beans and so on.

In the meantime the study of taste is increasingly bewildering. A couple of sample findings of research in the chemical senses indicate that the flavor of a common brand of coffee is a synthesis of about four hundred compounds (most of which are smelled more than tasted) while the formula for a different and more sophisticated artificial flavor "requires as many as 20,000 separate pieces of information." And this no doubt throws light on why man has been able to invent cameras, phonographs and associated techniques to record, amplify and transmit sights and sounds but has not yet devised any comparable method of recording, amplifying or transmitting a single smell or taste.

Relativity is another factor that makes smell and taste hard to comprehend. If, for example, you put on one side of your tongue a salt solution too dilute to taste noticeably salty but then add a little sugar on the other side, you will instantly begin to taste the salt along with the sugar. The opposite happens when you start with dilute, tasteless sugar on one side and add salt on the other. Furthermore, to most humans, a salt solution will begin to taste sweet when diluted down to .03 parts per million, particularly if it is cool, the amount of dilution needed to make this happen being roughly proportional to the temperature. On the other hand, although Epsom salts taste salty on the front of your tongue, they turn bitter when pushed back to the hind buds. And if you try many kinds of chemically graded salt, you will notice them tasting progressively bitterer as you get to salts of heavier molecular weight. The taste of salt of course is largely electrical (due to ionization of its constitutent atoms) and every sort of electric current has its own flavor: a gentle direct current savoring subtly sour when the positive terminal touches the tongue but "like burnt soap" when the flow is reversed, while an alternating current that smacks of astringent sourness at 50 cycles turns steadily more and more bitter as it escalates toward 1000 cycles.

Such relativity is not merely mental but rather an objective part of the natural and paradoxically complex simplicity of the chemical senses which, unlike senses that become electrical only in the final transmission of messages to the brain, may function electrically all the way from their first contact with whatever they perceive.

This is not to say that there aren't real differences of taste between individuals, for we all know such differences exist. Ordinary sugar, for example, is tasteless to a small percentage of children while saccharin tastes bitter to a few yet sweet to their brothers and sisters.

And there is a synthetic chemical called PTC (for phenyl-thio-carbamide) that tastes intensely bitter to an average of two people out of three all over the world but utterly tasteless to the third person. And the common food preservative sodium benzoate tastes like almost anything or nothing, depending on who tries it. But there is such conclusive evidence that these phenomena are objective that a chemist named Arthur L. Fox has formulated a genetic theory of taste on his finding that 26 percent of people consider PTC bitter but sodium benzoate salty and like almost every kind of food, while 17 percent with different taste genes register both these chemicals as bitter and dislike most sorts of food.

Indeed, of the four primary tastes, bitterness turns out to be the easiest for a human to detect, perhaps because it signals danger in the form of poison. But there always seem to be a few unlucky people who just can't taste anything at all, and them I would call "smumb." They aren't necessarily the same ones as those who are smuff and their deficiency is more serious - but fortunately medical researchers have discovered that most of them, even those who've been stone smumb for years, can be cured within a few days by taking small doses
of the trace metal zinc.

Animals naturally vary in sensitivity to taste, some insects going so far as to walk on their "tongues" and to taste with their feet.

Other creatures, notably fish, may be trillions of times more sensitive than man with taste buds so densely distributed over their body surfaces that they literally swim in a sapid sea. There is the uncanny account of a coho salmon raised in a California hatchery who, when a year old, was dumped into a strange stream several miles away and allowed to migrate with his fellows down to the ocean. But at spawning time the next year he appeared back in his original tank, having followed the familiar flavor into his home stream, threaded a particular culvert under U.S. Highway 101 which enabled him to enter the hatchery's flume and storm sewer, from which he finally wriggled up a four-inch drainpipe past 900 elbows, climactically knocking off its wire cap and even leaping over the screen
that surrounded the drain!
Close cousins of taste of course are the twin senses of hunger and thirst. Hunger has long been known to be turned on by rhythmic contractions of the empty stomach and, more recently, by a decline in the sugar content of the blood. Indeed a transfusion of low-sugar blood from a starving dog into a well-fed one will make the latter hungry for the same reason that high-sugar blood from a satiated dog will ease the pangs of a hungry one, Yet hunger can hardly be as simple as this. In fact certain researchers have recently found that the ratio of ions in the brain may regulate hunger and specifically that rats who have eaten to satiation can be induced to resume eating voraciously by injections of calcium ions in the cerebrum. Others predict that, when we fully understand it, hunger will turn out to involve a "hunger hormone," conveyable, if not normally from organism to organism, perhaps in some degree from organ to organ through lymph and blood.

Thirst is about equally mysterious but obviously different from hunger and much more compelling, at least to a water-dependent creature like man, as is proven by the fact that a man can live more than a year without food but, to the best of my knowledge, seventeen days is his world record without water. This record was made in 1821 when a prominent Frenchman named Antonio Viterbi committed suicide by refusing to drink, but of course he may have taken in a significant amount of moisture in whatever he ate. Doctors now say he probably would have survived if he had accepted water on the fourteenth or fifteenth day, but by the sixteenth it was almost certainly too late. There are cases on record of castaways deprived of fresh water for two weeks who were rescued just in time and managed to survive. Presumably all these sufferers were in humid environments, did not sweat and kept evaporation from their bodies to a minimum.

Something to consider also is that the thirst sensation is less influenced by the total amount of water in the body than by the amount of water relative to certain solids, particularly salts. And this accounts for the classic equation of thirst that assures the bartender he will sell in the end more than ten times as much in drinks as the cost of all the "free" salted pretzels, popcorn and potato chips he "gives" away to his customers to bolster their thirst. It also relates to the discovery in 1952 that a fraction of a drop of a salt solution injected into  the hypothalamus at the base of a goat's brain will immediately make the animal thirsty, which, in combination with later evidence, seems to have pretty well proved the site of thirst to be the hypothalamus. Strange as it may seem, drinking beyond a certain quantity of water hour after hour increases rather than decreases thirst because the body loses salt in urine and salt deficiency produces thirst, a kind of thirst, however, that can be relieved only by salt.

While on this subject, I should explain that the reason castaways are warned against drinking saltwater is not to deny that the watery   96.5 percent of it may immediately relieve them but only to avoid the ultimate problem of getting rid of their lethal excess of salt.

Most mammals, including man, cannot eliminate salt in urine at the rate of more than about 2 percent so, unless one can be sure of soon receiving enough fresh water to dilute one's urine that low, to drink seawater (averaging 3.5 percent salt) is to take a deadly chance.

The most dramatic thing about thirst has to be the kind of death it brings when a man is lost, say, in a hot desert, a grim dissolution witnesses describe as unfolding in five fairly distinct stages. First comes the protesting phase of increasing discomfort and querulous disbelief (with 3 to 5 percent of body water lost). Second, the feeling of having a mouth "dry as cotton," tongue sticking to teeth, a lump in the throat that no amount of swallowing can dislodge, a face tight from shrinking skin (water loss 5 to 10 percent). Third is the burning agony of having the tongue shrivel into a knot, eyelids stiffen, eyes staring as the victim irrationally tears at his clothing or scalp, bites his arm for blood or even laps up his last drops of urine (10 to 20 percent). Fourth is the stage of the skin cracking apart (more than 20 percent of water gone or too much for any chance of recovery), lymph and blood oozing out, eyes weeping blood, arms digging aimlessly into the sand. And fifth, the final or living-death stage of gentle writhing on the ground and, often, calm acceptance awaiting the end.

The third stage is usually the worst, for nature seems to have evolved pain to save life before it is too late. But after the blood begins to thicken and dry and the damage becomes irreversible, the pain eases progressively away - which suggests why those who die of thirst are so often reported to be joyous in their final hour - even as one of them was heard to murmur, "I'm melting, I'm sinking... I'm drowning in an ocean of unexplainable peace."