My year in Spotify

I finally opened Spotify’s annual wrap-up (with the decade wrap-up included in it) and it was interesting to see the results.

First of all, I listened to half the music this year than last year. 2018 was when I started listening to music regularly, while working, traveling, and relaxing, and so I heard about thirteen thousand minutes of music on Spotify. But in 2019, that number dropped to half, because we got the family subscription of YouTube Red and a lot of music is only available as music videos on YouTube. I don’t know the numbers of YouTube, but it sure felt like half the time I was jumping on to that because the song wasn’t available in Spotify.

My decade’s favorite artist was Nucleya, who was not even on my radar before 2015. His album Bass Rani, and specifically the song Laung Gawacha with Avneet Khurmi, is just sublime! The next favorite was Lucky Ali, who has been my anchor since college. But this last decade, I’ve discovered American music too, so Sweater Weather shows up on my decade’s favorites list.

Coming to 2019, the year belongs squarely to Diljit Dosanjh. He’s one of those artists who keeps working, keeps releasing, and shows up everywhere. He’s like the Akshay Kumar of Punjabi music. He’ll have fun, make money, make his mark and act a little along the way (looking forward to their collab in Good Newwz). And the song of his that I heard the most wasn’t even released in 2019. It’s Laembadgini, from 2016. Some songs you just discover a little late.

The second song is Blackway and Black Caviar’s “What’s Up Danger”. It is just one of those perfect, pumpy songs that get you into a mood to get kicking! I heard it in “Spider-man: Into the Spiderverse” and I don’t think I’ve seen a more quirky, fun movie in a while. I had sworn off Spiderman movies after the first franchise got over, because I don’t believe that economics should be driving art of this kind. But this movie is an excellent exception. And the song that encapsulates it is perfect too.

The third one is Je T’aime by Sugi.wa and I gotta say, while the year was Diljit’s on the Punjabi music front, I also discovered a completely different genre that felt like a warm blanket and hot cocoa on a snowy day – chillhop. I’m not a big fan of listening to music while working, but chillhop just sets the mood right! I’ve even heard chillhop to relax, though less so. I think sugi.wa might be the greatest artist in that scene, and Je T’aime is one of the very best chillhop music I’ve heard.

Another thing I noticed on that list is that a lot more music came from TV than I’d assume. Game of Thrones’ Jenny of Oldstones and Sacred Games’ Kaam 25 both are high on my 2019 list, and rightly so. Jenny… is haunting and a sad reminder of what happened in that show. Kaam 25 is an anthem, maybe of an entire generation.

I also realize that we discover a few gems through Shazam too. Bad Karma by Alex Thesleff was one such. Lehanga by Jass Manak, which will no doubt show up in next year’s list, was also something I discovered randomly.

Check out the entire list here, dear reader –

Comments? Judgement? Pass it into the box below!

A few thoughts on food

Broccoli

During a conversation with my Mom, I realized that it is often a trend that the local food source is considered less nutritious than something from outside and far away.

For example, in India, the trend is that Broccoli from outside is more nutritious and less harmful than cauliflower.

In some sense, this is going to be true – anything that is mass grown will have less nutrients than something that is grown in small batches, in an organic manner, and from a nutritious variety.

But how can you say that the broccoli you procure is going to be nutritious, let alone more nutritious than what you already consume? After all, it’s most likely imported from elsewhere. If it’s an export product, specially one that is in vogue, farms are mass producing it elsewhere. So all you’re doing is replacing one mass produced, less nutritious food item with another, and having to change dietary habits and dish recipes to accommodate this new food item.

What’s the solution? Perhaps it is to buy small batch, locally grown food. Perhaps it is to institute a habit to look for nutrition information, or to talk to a nutritionist and figure out what your personal needs are.

All of these are expensive solutions. Organic food is often simply labeled as such to drive up the price, and there’s only so much you can mistrust your local supermarket or vegetable seller, and only so far you can go to get authentically good food.

The n minus one method of eating out

I realized something the other day – whenever we go out to eat, we tend to order just about the same number of dishes as the number of people. It’s not an exact science, but if you’re eating fast food or food court type meals you’ll do this. If you’re ordering a la carte at an Indian restaurant, YMMV.

This is common for more affluent folk. What’s also true is that most of the time, you’ll be ordering rich food that you’ll not be able to finish. A common thing to do then, is to either leave it at the table (a very Western habit) or get it packed.

Well, here’s an alternative – order less. Just one less dish than the number of people at the table. And if you end up finishing it all, you can either order a starter dish, or a dessert. Most restaurants would kill to get customers that order desserts, because generally desserts are more expensive than other food, which translates to more profits.

But for you, it wouldn’t matter. Instead of ordering a whole entree, or another dosa, you can get a nice sweet dish at the end of the meal, or even save the money you would have wasted. Most of the time you’ll be too full from the n-1 dishes themselves.

Nice research you got there. Be a shame if someone from the media tried to conclude it.

News media consistently gets research paper conclusions wrong, sensationalizing mundane results by focusing on edge cases or ignoring the fine print.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to get an AI to sum these papers up and see what it comes up with?

Of course, seed data should come from conclusions by both media and scientists themselves, as well as some laypersons to balance things.

On the default post category in your WordPress blog

For the longest time, my ‘default post category’ in WordPress has been ‘tech’ – a decision I made when I started writing more about my software work and ideas than anything else.

I realize now that that was a mistake. The default category should be general, so that when one starts writing, the immediate bent should not be towards technology but rather life.

It also allows me to permit myself to quickly open my blog and just post a photo. This is something I do not do, but want to.

So here it goes. Now the default category is set to general.