Dan Brown’s Inferno: The The Book Book is is Repetitive Repetitive : Book Review

Finally finished the seemingly huge book Inferno by Dan Brown, and can I say, I am a tad disappointed.

I have only read one book by Dan brown before Angels and Demons
and thoroughly enjoyed it ,hence had very high hopes from Inferno.

Inferno is the same old stuff, A professor of symbols , a villain , some sci fi and globe trotting . All the symbols are based on a single work of Dante.

I am less disappointed with the plot than the narrative. Every thing starts with Robert Langdon finding a clue in Dante’s work , going to a particular fancy location(many times wrong) and telling himself how he has been here before and marveling at how he marveled the architecture with minute details and how this time would be different . It seems so repetitive that I felt the author had a fixed template to just fill in.

The action packed scenes just break when you try to fit in too much details about the surroundings.

Is it a bad book?

Not really , I did finish it ( I leave a lot of books midway if I do not like) . It has all the elements of a good weekend read, the pace is gripping but I had higher hopes from Dan Brown. I felt a lot of stuff could have been easily removed without affecting the impact or quality of narrative . Overall, I am sure this one should be getting made into a film .

 

Working Mothers should be ashamed of themselves?

Surprisingly, this actually was a topic of a recent Facebook discussion I was part of.

People who follow me on Facebook know that I generally get involved in long debates on Facebook (Swear will cut down on that :P), but of all debates, this one stands out.

So let me set the context: A woman “blogger” who left her career to take care of her kids posted the following video of apparently a day care owner ( which later turned out to be the mother herself)  mistreating a child, and made a statement that all women who leave their kids in day care  should be ashamed of themselves and I pity such women.

and this was the start of a long drawn debate where I debated mainly on 2 points

1. There are enough support systems in place, just because you chose to sacrifice your career does not mean that others should .No point taking working mothers on a guilt trip

2. This reinforces the stereotype that raising the kid is only a women’s job primarily .

Nevertheless this debate brings forward some interesting points to ponder

Do working mothers really have a negative impact on child’s upbringing? :

Now the statement that is often quoted by supporters of this idea is  that having a working mother negatively impacts the upbringing of a child as supposedly the child feels unloved etc etc etc, while the detractors say that this is an age old myth and on the contrary , it helps in overall growth of the child. So how do we solve this? Which belief system do we go with?

Working Mother

Photo credit:Ian Riley

Well we can turn to research. Enough number of research on this area has conclusively proven that having a working mother does not harm the child’s development in any way . Not only that, some studies have even suggested that children who have been in out of home care homes(Creche) are more likely to participate in extracurricular activities .

Yes, during the initial months of a baby , a mother’s presence is very much required but the question is till when?Should that imply that until the child grows up to be 6-7 years old , the woman should sacrifice her career?

In my debate with the woman , she mentioned she is old school and wants to listen to her kids problems in school etc etc ,so I assume her point was that till the kid is about 7-8 maybe ,women should Stay at Home, or perhaps forever till the kid is married .

Am I making a case for working moms? No, I am saying it is your own choice, your choice does not make you morally superior to women who choose otherwise.

 How does this mentality affect women?

Why was I against this status? Do I hate kids :P?

Well here it is how it affects women

  1. It makes women feel guilty for working, even if they are able to take care of their children
  2. Unless required financially , it basically strengthens the age old myth that women should stay home
  3. It absolves the father of almost any role in the upbringing of the child
  4. It assumes that women who work somehow do not know what is going on in the lives of their kids.As if only a stay at home mom is a good mom.
  5. It is a vicious circle You need to have kids anyways–>You will need to sacrifice your career–> why such long and expensive education –> why higher education–> Why education at all?
  6. It also affects the daughters to not be Career Oriented.
  7. It encourages stereotypes in workplace also : Eg: How can we call companies ,which do not want to hire women as they believe that they will not stick around long term.wrong?
  8. It takes focus away from the real solutions such as :
  •       Why can’t we encourage more offices to have baby care centers .
  •       Let men also take advantage of paternity leaves
  •       Increase paternity leave duration if required
  •       Encourage more companies to introduce flexi hours
  •       Better regularisation of creches .Eg: I heard of a few creches with CCTV which are  continuous monitored  .Parents can see their kids via Live feed from anywhere.You can literally stalk your kids :P.

So what happened to my discussion?

Well for starters, believe it or not : Because I was not agreeing to the point of view of a “Woman” I was labelled as a typical Male Chauvinist by a female friend of her , a comment which she agreed to When I tried to defend saying this is perhaps misplaced feminism and I could argue that you are not able to take an opinion from a man, I was told That I was a sexist :P .

So Because I said that We should not use these arguments to discourage women from working, and because I said that working women are as good as stay at home moms and because I said that this is strengthening the stereotype that women are the only ones responsible for child care ..I was a typical Male Chauvinist .

That was not all, it was theorised that perhaps  I had a bad childhood because of a working Mom or possibly my Wife/ sister were working and I was trying to satisfy my conscience by fighting for them….

To be fair, a few people expressed their silent support by liking some of my comments and another MAN(I suppose another typical Male Chauvinist ?) came forward and reiterated the point that there is no reason for working women to be ashamed .

Nevertheless, When I raised objections ,I was asked not to comment , my comments were selectively deleted and I was finally blocked so that I could not respond to the discussion where I was being called a typical Male Chauvinist :P ..What should I say, the lady wanted to have the last word ?

Not sure, should I be sad that a woman is trying to pull other women down or be happy that men actually are coming forward to at-least debate on this and that too from the other side.

Nevertheless , if interested in a women’s perspective read this brilliant article by MARINA ADSHADE. 
Stay-at-home moms: Stop pretending you’re better. Signed, working moms
A quote from her article

 Parenting for us is not a hobby that we pick up on the weekends to amuse ourselves. Just as you do not stop being a mother during the hours your child is at school, we do not stop being mothers when we are at work. There are no part-time opportunities in parenthood.

Marketing:Buying your own brandname keywords- A trick by HootSuite

I have always been intrigued with why a company would buy keywords for it’s own Brand Name, eg: If someone is searching for Maruti, you know they want a Maruti and as per me Maruti stands to gain nothing by buying the keyword “Maruti”. There are various explanations such as

1. Preventing Competition from buying it:

Unless you have a very generic name such as Shaadi , your competitors may not stand to gain much . Yes, agreed that you may not want a customer to showcase their results when someone searches for your name , but it may not justify the high cost of buying a keyword of your own name. Do companies do a cost analysis to see if the Return of investment for buying those ads is justified? A simple test would be to see the CTR with and without your Ad for your Brand name .It may not make economic sense many times

If you have a distinguished brand name, you anyways should be the number 1 results in search. If you are not , it is an SEO problem, much more important to fix than a marketing problem. You are then wasting your money on ads

2. Display specific information:

Some advertisers may contend that they can display some specific information such as a coupon code to the user or point out the most relevant information. My point is ,that  it should be on your website and not search. Assume I am searching for makemytrip , why do I want to see makemytrip cupon as an Ad? I should be seeing it on makemytrip itself.I am anyways going to navigate there most probably  MakeMyTrip may be better off buying keywords such as “cheap flights”. How many customers could be lured by a competitor such as yatra.com when the user is specifically searching for makemytrip?

My point here is that advertisers tend to sometimes forget the intent of search and try to carpet bomb the user with ads. Intent is much more stronger than distraction(Ads are distractions at the end of the day) .

But finally ,very recently ,I accidentally stumbled upon a legitimate use of buying your own brand name  by looking at ads by  HootSuite .

HootSuite is a social media management website and it buys the keyword hootsuite. Why you may ask?

Well , this is my theory:

HootSuite knows that the user searching for HootSuite is genuinely interested in the product and possibly is a customer. Hootsuite now has 3 kinds of plans

  • Free
  • Pro – Available with 30 day free trial
  • Enterprise-30 day free trial.

It knows that a person who takes a free trial of Pro and Enterprise is most likely to buy the plan ,but most free customers may not necessarily convert .

It needs the free plan to hook the un-interested customers , but it would rather want the interested  customers to simply jump to pro or enterprise. If someone is interested in hootsuite and simply goes for a free account, it is a loss for hootsuite.

Hence , it uses it’s ad to direct users searching for hootsuite to the version of the site that ONLY has pro and Enterprise version but NOT free version.

Is it a good practice? I leave the user to decide about it. Is it a successful practice? Seems so.

Interestingly Hootsuite is using the same trick for other keywords as well, such as people searching for social media management tool. So my assumption that it might only be for people searching for hootsuite is incorrect .I am not even sure if they had this theory in mind? .

I have a hunch that hootsuite is possibly directing users to the free plan for certain keywords that do not display user intent of buying a Social media management tool,but till now I have not been able to find any. I find it ridiculous that when people search for free tool also, HootSuite ads directs them to it’s pro account creation page and not free. The free account is visible only if you go to their website via search results.

Nevertheless, I find this interesting, and this maybe a legitimate reason to buy keywords of your own brandname and still make good economic sense.

 

HootSuite ads

 

The fault In our stars

reading every word, afraid that I missed a line or just skipped the meaning, Not because I am not sleepy, but because it is almost impossible to put this book down. Impossible because the book is so damn perfect .

You feel like you know the characters , Hazel and Augustus are you, someone who are dying but still living, you feel the tinge when every time they say OKAY, how can an author make such a inconsequential word so damn meaningful ?. You feel the pain when they try to live a  normal life in spite of the abnormalities …..surreal beautiful heartbreaking yet ….I am at loss of adjectives now.

You weep when they weep , you laugh when they laugh , and you fear what they fear. It brings you face to face with mortality yet preps you up to live.

Pain they say is relative yet absolute.

I am not a fan of Sob stories, but this is no sob story, this is not about death or horrors dying , but about living , however brief it be. It is not about being heroic, but about being humane and embracing our fears , fears of oblivion , fears of hurting others .

The book will make you cry, will make you smile , ponder, question, accept ..It will take you through an emotional roller coaster while still keeping you transfixed at the miracle , miracle of life . I don’t even know If I am making any sense any more. John Green from nerd fighters…You are a Genius .

I will leave you with 2 of my favorite quotes  from the book

It seems, the universe wants to be observe .

You don’t get to chose if you get hurt in this world, but you have some say in who hurts you

Go read the book Fault in our Stars

Other books by John Green

Looking for Alaska

An Abundance of Katherines

Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Let it Snow

Paper Towns

Also , they are making a movie out of this book, which I Assume is equally good

Mortality

Sometimes, things happen that make you aware of your insignificance , impermanence the futility of it all.
When you tend to question why it is the way it is, does the question even matter.
How do we celebrate a life or mourn it’s demise , how do we define life or can we define it. Is it what you leave behind or what you took with you.
Yes sometimes things happen that make you aware of your own mortality.

Should you comfort yourself by believing in the soul and the religious texts which talk about rebirth or resurrection.? Or should you believe in much harder to digest the end.

Are memories a person leaves the real self ,? And if yes are you leaving behind you ..because one day.