Pratik

Nerve Endings Firing Away

March 1, 2024

04:52 PM ▸

We should now repurpose the term ‘bloggers’ for people who try out different blogging platforms and systems. Those who do more writing than “blogging” should be called a ________ (10 points)

February 29, 2024

04:22 PM ▸

A meme I read on some social media platform (maybe Instagram Explore) said - Patriotism is the belief that your country is the greatest because you were born in it. I couldn’t stop doing…

GIF of Eminem in the movie Eight Mile rapping in front of a crowd in a dark basement club with the crowd rapping with him

06:35 PM ▸

Off to “see” a live taping of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me 🎙️

February 28, 2024

05:13 PM ▸

Congrats to the ‘Uncommitted’ campaign in Michigan for exceeding 100K votes. That’s the number I had cited to be considered a good protest vote 🗳️ I hope the Biden campaign reaches out to discuss a tangible outcome (establish a Palestine state before Nov is not one) that will get him their votes.

10:22 PM ▸

Bluesky got hashtag and mute filters support in one update! They’re churning out updates quite fast since opening up. I still can’t get past the Dorsey stench to (cross)post more often there.

10:53 PM ▸

I don’t understand why the SCOTUS can’t hear the Trump immunity case tomorrow and deliver a verdict on Monday. I mean, what else is more important? Also, didn’t they do that in 2000 for Bush v. Gore or do Justices in this generation not want to work as hard anymore? 🗳️

February 27, 2024

03:58 PM ▸

What should we learn from today's Democratic Primary in Michigan

Michigan holds its primaries today for the Democratic and Republican parties. Both results are a foregone conclusion, but in a typical media frenzy, we supposedly have to watch with bated breath how “Uncommitted” vote in the Democratic primary. As if the threat of Trump being reelected wasn’t enough, the Uncommitted campaign is lobbying people, specifically Muslims in Michigan or again, specifically, in the city of Dearborn, to vote “uncommitted” instead of for Biden to lodge their protest vote to advocate for an immediate ceasefire by Israel in Gaza1. But this is a democracy, so yes, people are allowed to vote for their cause, but let’s look at the goalposts they have set to declare victory, which the media will then use to say, _Dems in Disarray_™.

The campaign says they will have achieved their goal if “uncommitted” gets 10,000 votes. If you consider the higher end of the estimates, there are about 70,000 Arab Americans (not just Palestinians) in Dearborn, Michigan, and maybe some more in metro Detroit. So why only 10,000? Because that was the margin by which Hillary Clinton lost Michigan to Trump in 2016.

They chose that number because it’s “about the same as Donald Trump’s margin over Hillary Clinton in 2016.” (That’s a downgrade from last week when Elabed (Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s sister) told POLITICO in an interview that they hoped to draw 20,000 voters.)

(Source). Eh? How about Biden? Well, he won Michigan in 2020 by 150,000 votes. So even if every Dearborn Arab American voted “uncommitted” in 2020, that would’ve halved Biden’s margin. But then we are also hoping other sympathetic non-Muslims would vote “uncommitted” if they agree with their cause. Politically, if that happens, that would be very bad news for Biden if it gets close to 100,000 if not more.

But 10,000? I’m not sure. I understand why the campaign wants to set a low bar, but if they truly wanted to reflect the Muslim sentiment, it would be higher. But let’s understand why that 10,000 number is insignificant, even unmoored from Hillary Clinton’s loss.

But that’s a low threshold, given that “uncommitted” earned about 20,000 voters in the last three Michigan presidential primaries — which sprung up without any organized efforts behind promoting the “uncommitted” vote. In 2020 and 2016, just over 19,000 people voted “uncommitted” during a pair of contentious and highly publicized Democratic primaries. Even more telling, in 2012, when then-President Barack Obama faced zero opposition on the primary ballot in the state, “uncommitted” still earned nearly 21,000 votes.

So when the numbers come out tonight, you will have some standards to compare to. There are other candidates on the Democratic ballot, but I guess voting for them wasn’t an option because their position on Israel is similar to Biden’s? Anyway, meanwhile, in our reality, Biden’s re-election problems lie somewhere else:

But polling has consistently shown that voters still have reservations about Biden’s handling of the economy, even in a state like Michigan, poised to benefit from the administration’s focus on reviving American manufacturing.

(Source). So, can we get back to wondering about the “economic anxieties” of the working whites who clearly are getting what they wanted but yet can’t bring themselves to vote for a Democratic candidate?

Meanwhile, Biden is busy trying to prevent Republicans from shutting down the government on March 1st.


  1. I won’t get into the logic of how Biden is expected to call for a ceasefire from Israel. If you say, he should push to cut funding for Israel, you are asking to upend 75+ years of American foreign policy, whether you agree with it or not, immediately when you are not even sure if that’s what the majority of Americans believe. ↩︎

05:20 PM ▸

Today, ChatGPT gave me a reference to an academic journal article that doesn’t exist. The authors are real but the article doesn’t exist in their works.

05:43 PM ▸

No matter how much I rant on my progressive left friends, I would never ever want to hang out with their rightwing counterparts. They’re another level of weird.

A screenshot of tweets discussing if it’s odd for a man to eat an ice cream cone alone, showing poll results and people’s opinions.

This was in context of Biden going out for ice cream in NYC.

February 26, 2024

11:22 AM ▸

The Venn diagram of people whose personal life will be largely unaffected by who the U.S. President is and the people who say the election year on their social media timeline is stressing them out is one big giant circle 🗳️

11:39 AM ▸

The Palestinian Authority’s President, Mahmoud Abbas hasn’t faced a presidential ballot since he was elected in 2005 and is…88 years old 😂

12:08 PM ▸

I was reading about why the U.S. vetoed the UN Security Council vote on the Gaza ceasefire. It apparently wanted to make the ceasefire conditional on Hamas releasing the hostages. Sounds fair to me. Do opponents not want Israeli hostages released? 🗳️

In the regular scheme of things, Hamas may have not expected for Israel to respond as strongly as they did because of the hostages but since Israel clearly did, shouldn’t Hamas release all hostages so then Israel would have no justifiable excuse to continue military action. The Hamas fighters at this point seem to be using hostages as shields but don’t seem to care about other regular people in Gaza being the collateral damage.

As I continue to think, this shit is complicated.

02:45 PM ▸

In Defense of President Biden's Age

The hand-wringing about Biden’s age rankles me on both the personal and professional front. On the personal front, both my parents suffer(ed) from dementia. My mom passed away in late 2022 due to complications from a dementia-related illness. She was 73. My dad is currently 73 but has been receiving treatment for dementia-related illness for the last 14 years. It started when he was 60, so he’s not that old, right? If you have a loved one with an illness, you soon start hearing from people who also had loved ones with the same disease. The ages of such people have ranged from the early 60s to the late 80s, with the disease’s onset occurring at different times.

Once diagnosed, it progresses rapidly and is kept in control with heavy medication. With my dad, all it took a casual acquaintance or even someone meeting him for the first time (like our friends in Austin) was spending ten minutes conversing with him. He would forget things they talked about in the first five minutes, and this was complicated by my dad’s behavior, as it is with most dementia patients, to act as if he hadn’t mentioned the thing he forgot. The people would cast furtive glances at me, and I would nod to them as if to say, I know, I know, you are not the forgetful one here, and I’ll explain later. Once, he even told his personal attorney that he knew of a person with the same name, to which the attorney replied that he was that person. You could see the look of confusion on my dad’s face, but given his personality, he rarely admits that there’s something wrong.

So, anyone diagnosing Biden on TV by saying, see, he looks so old and talks slowly, so naturally, he must be suffering from dementia is mistaken, anecdotally (and scientifically, as I show later). How a person looks gives you absolutely no indication of any sign of mental illness. Trust me, that’s what confuses most people who know my dad coz their first reaction when told about his illness is, but…but he doesn’t look that old. I think I’ve explained the “talks slowly” thing before about Biden.

On the professional front, I’m working on two large longitudinal cohort studies that examine this exact issue - studying contextual factors that affect mental decline, including but not restricted to education. The research field strongly suggests that aging brains aren’t necessarily declining brains:

Using cognitive neuroscience methods to study aging has unexpectedly revealed that, contrary to previous thought, aging brains remain somewhat malleable and plastic. Plasticity refers to the ability to flexibly recruit different areas of the brain to do different jobs. In contrast to the earlier, largely pessimistic view of aging, neuroimaging studies suggest aging brains can reorganize and change, and not necessarily for the worse.

In fact, older adults show enhanced emotion regulation, so if you don’t want someone impulsive at the helm, you may be better off choosing someone older than someone younger, all things considered. Also, Biden cycling versus Trump riding the golf cart should let you decide whose cognitive ability may be better, thanks to recent research:

“(T)hose who incorporated both aerobic exercises, such as swimming and cycling, and strength exercises like weightlifting into their routines – regardless of intensity and duration – had better mental agility, quicker thinking and greater ability to shift or adapt their thinking.”

As Aditi Gurkar, a geriatric medicine scholar, explains:

Although age is the principal risk factor for several chronic diseases, it is an unreliable indicator of how quickly your body will decline or how susceptible you are to age-related disease. This is because there is a difference between your chronological age, or the number of years you’ve been alive, and your biological age – your physical and functional ability.”

If you profess to believe in science and had no problems with the COVID-19 vaccines, then I would’ve pegged you not to judge Biden’s mental ability by his age. In fact, we have a related and ongoing research paper in the works that looks at the persons' basic science knowledge and belief in the vaccine’s efficacy, and the early results are as you would expect. But perhaps we should toss in political affiliation as a moderator in there. But judging from the conversations these days, would it show not to have an effect?

The debate between the two candidates is so different. Even in 2016, no one was bothered about Trump’s age. Even on the Democratic side, if Bernie were sworn in on Jan.20th, 2017, he would’ve been 75 years old and 79 by the time he ran for reelection. If he had a record like Biden’s, I seriously doubt anyone on the DNC would’ve raised the issue of his age. You cannot stop the Republicans from throwing out any wild accusations as they are wont to do, but I think the rest of us ought to know better.

04:34 PM ▸

Exploring MastoFeed for Crossposting

You may have noticed many posts and photos on the timeline today. I’ve been (mildly) sick, so I took off from work. I spent the day writing about things that were brewing in my head. I have also been testing MastoFeed for crossposting various things to my two Mastodon accounts. The free service (hence dot org) lets you turn on and off different RSS feeds to crosspost to your Mastodon account.

You sign in with your Mastodon instance, so each account can have different feeds. You can tweak individual feeds on what you want in your crossposted content using the variables - (TITLE), (LINK), (IMAGE), (SUMMARY)1 and even include custom text - (e.g., New Post!) or hashtags for all crossposted content. Finally, you can choose the visibility (Public, Unlisted, or Followers-Only) of your crossposted content regardless of the default for your Mastodon.

BTW, in a day of change, I also realized ‘tags’ for Bookmarks is a Micro.blog Premium feature. Oh well…I may remove my ‘Fave’ page.


  1. You need to include either TITLE or LINK ↩︎

11:03 PM ▸

⚽️ Tickets booked for Austin FC v. Philadelphia Union at the Q2 on March 16th. Holler back if you're going be there too.

February 25, 2024

05:06 PM ▸

Family in-law weekend. Much politics was discussed and I was actually arguing for Gaza with my FiL who is not even the anti-Muslim person among my extended Indian family.

February 24, 2024