A new year and a new semester has started, so I wanted to just post a couple of updates before I get lost in the sea of work.

A recent trip to Kodaikanal, a hill resort in the southern state of Tamil Nadu with friends was a refreshing change to the routine existence I have managed to carve out. The various spots we visited, the hundreds (possibly thousands) of pictures we took, and most of all, the experiences I had were definitely the highlights of the trip.

Remember Prompt Replies? My little experiment in fiction in which I used daily prompts from The Daily Post to craft a connected story. I figured that instead of spamming this blog with chapters of the story, I could move it to a blog of its own. Not only would it keep this blog clean, but it’d also provide a nice home for the story. That’s why, Prompt Replies has moved to a new home.

These are the small updates I have for you now. More fleshed out, longer posts are arriving soon and as always, thanks for reading.

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So, over the past week, I’ve found certain articles that touch upon the very topics that mine did in the weeks prior. I’ve read them and I felt it would be great extra reading, if you’re interested. Just jump over to those articles after you’re done with mine (or not) and enjoy the influx of new knowledge into your life. 🙂

I wrote a lengthy (by my standards) post on why robots and automation stealing human jobs in the future won’t be such a bad thing as some make it out to be. A crucial factor, that will drive the future robot revolution in the workforce is Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI has been trending for many years, but particularly, for the past two. Just a couple of days ago, Google’s AlphaGo won a Go tournament against Go grandmaster Lee Sedol 4-1. That’s right, 4 for AI, 1 for humans. Nonetheless, there are several misconceptions floating around about AI and it’s potential impact on our lives. Gizmodo took it upon themselves to clear up these myths. Their article also points out that human lives will be made better by having working robots in our industries. Here is an excerpt from the story.

“Over the next couple of decades AI is going to destroy many jobs, but this is a good thing,” Miller told Gizmodo. Self-driving cars could replace truck drivers, for example, which would cut delivery costs and therefore make it cheaper to buy goods. “If you earn money as a truck driver, you lose, but everyone else effectively gets a raise as their paychecks buy more,” Miller said. “And the money these winners save will be spent on other goods and services which will generate new jobs for humans.”

Everything You Know About Artificial Intelligence Is Wrong on Gizmodo.

I also enjoyed reading Tim Lott’s brilliant piece on Alan Watt’s and his take on Zen Buddhism. Zen is a great way to achieve happiness and above all, peace of mind, in a world that is filled with paradoxical truths and double standards that brew stress within us. I’ve always been interested in Buddhism. A better way to say it would be that Buddhism has always sparked a curiosity within me. I don’t subscribe to the views of any religion or philosophy – I make my own rules as life goes on – but Zen will always be relatable to me. I’ve shared my thoughts on mindfulness and the need to acknowledge the illusion of control before. Tim Lott expands upon this with the interpretations of Zen by Alan Watts and Tao.

The emphasis on the present moment is perhaps Zen’s most distinctive characteristic. In our Western relationship with time, in which we compulsively pick over the past in order to learn lessons from it and then project into a hypothetical future in which those lessons can be applied, the present moment has been compressed to a tiny sliver on the clock face between a vast past and an infinite future. Zen, more than anything else, is about reclaiming and expanding the present moment.

It tries to have you understand, without arguing the point, that there is no purpose in getting anywhere if, when you get there, all you do is think about getting to some other future moment. Life exists in the present or nowhere at all, and if you cannot grasp that, you are simply living a fantasy.

For all Zen writers life is, as it was for Shakespeare, akin to a dream — transitory and insubstantial. There is no ‘rock of ages cleft for thee’. There is no security. Looking for security, Watts said, is like jumping off a cliff while holding on to a rock for safety — an absurd illusion. Everything passes and you must die. Don’t waste your time thinking otherwise. Neither Buddha nor his Zen followers had time for any notion of an afterlife.

Zen, this liberal doctrine that teaches us to value the present moment, instead of reminiscing of moments past or worrying over moments yet to come, is one that has always attracted me, be it the stoic nature of a life lived in Zen, or the absence of a hard and fast moral code that lays out the path for me.

Off-beat Zen on Aeon.

So, I’ve finally given up and adopted the popular advice almost everyone has heard before: get a newsletter going. But the fact is, I’m not rich enough or free enough to manage my own mailing list and schedule campaigns and what not.

So that’s where TinyLetter comes in. It’s a super-simple way for me to make a newsletter and send it out. And it’s an even easier way for you to subscribe! Shameless plug there. Now let’s get on to what the newsletter is actually about.

What I’m planning to do is send out 5 of the best articles I’ve read over the week. The email reaches subscribers on Sunday morning, so they have 5 articles worth reading, in their inbox. So, basically, it’s hand-picked curation of the best of the Web. In your face, algorithmic curation!

I’ve always had a problem with scheduling time to create more content, so I’m trying my best now to post at least thrice a week. To motivate myself even more, I’ve added a section in my newsletter that lists what I’ve written that week. It’s meant as a way for me to write something just to fill up that list, but hey, you can read it if you want. 😛

And worry not, there will be no spam or sponsored content on the newsletter. The only time you will get the email is on Sunday morning. Five links to read that I recommend,. three links to posts I’ve (hopefully) written and nothing else.

If I’ve somehow managed to get you interested, you can signup over here. It’s really easy, just enter your email address and you’re done. If you’re still feeling a little unsure, well, TinyLetter is owned by MailChimp, one of the leading email marketing services, which a lot of companies and publications use.

So that’s all for this unscheduled update. Please sign up for my Weekend Reads newsletter and tell me how you’re feeling this week. Have a great day everyone! 🙂