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November 23, 2012

James Bond: The spy we love

If James Bond would have ever existed in reality, every intelligence and spy agency on this planet would have tried hard to recruit him by paying the highest compensation ever paid to an agent. Ultimately, our world would have become a peaceful place to live after mafias, mad scientists, militias, secret groups, rouge organizations, separatists, smugglers, evil industrialists, extremists, terrorists, traffickers, warlords, warmongers, conspirators, psychopaths, fundamentalists and international criminals brought to justice, punished, put behind bars, pacified, paralyzed and eradicated.
 
Sadly, this is only a great dream or a finest fantasy that novelists, fiction writers and movie makers show to all of us. Our world is full of multiple threats, dangers and challenges which are posed by several evil-minded, anti-social, psychopathic, rogue and extremely ambitious individuals. We live by dreaming and hoping that someday this much-loved-on-screen secret agent or the super-spy would show up and save us from them and turn the world into a peaceful heaven. That's why we all secretly love him and want him badly around us like a super-hero who never takes credit openly.
 
James Bond is the adventurous, charismatic and smartest character in the history of world's commercial cinema. This character is depicted as a great people reader, a personality profiler and more specifically a master 'mind reader' who always stays ahead of the curve. Upon confrontation, he can judge people very accurately and sense their potential moves quickly. He has a tonnes of tricks under his sleeves to tackle and fight physically, technically and tactically. He is well-equipped with sophisticated and advanced gadgets, devices and vehicles to assist him in surviving and finishing his missions successfully for his own country and the whole world.

"You only live twice. Once when you are born and once when you look death in the face." - Ian Fleming

He is dropped at very hostile places with minimal yet effective equipment to finish the deadliest operations (to save the world!). Only truly lethal weapon he has is his own brain. His success in missions is highly dependent upon reading a targeted person(s) just by analyzing expressions, gaze, gestures, postures, para language, fidgeting and movements. He has to make snap and accurate judgments in the given situations and act upon his plans in no time. He mostly acts upon his own gut feelings. He invades, gathers necessary information or intelligence, rescues his love interests and escapes with great speed, elegance and explosions.

James Bond: Celebrating 50th anniversary on screen
 
We strongly like the way he has been portrayed in movies as a individuals who is cool, calm, confident, calculating, outstanding and in-control of himself most of the time. He puts on costly suits, wears dark glasses and drives fast cars which give him his identity. He aims straightly, shoots precisely, reacts smartly, acts swiftly, chases boldly, fights fiercely and punishes mercilessly. Body language of James Bond is remarkably distinct. He walks slowly, stands confidently, gesticulates rarely, smiles faintly, blinks hardly, looks directly, observes meticulously, listens attentively, talks smoothly, speaks firmly and introduces himself uniquely by saying, “My name is Bond…James Bond!”.
 
In fact, secret agents, undercover officers and spies don't work, look and act not the way they are depicted in novels, movies or TV series or shows. We just can’t watch secret agents, undercover officers and spies in parties or round the corner as the most handsome and smart super-spy we love does exactly the same in movies. Real life secret agents, undercover officers, spies and detectives don't at all appear, move and walk in public as they are depicted in commercial action movies.

However, what all they have in common is black glasses, goggles or sheds on their eyes most of the time while walking and moving around people so that the people can hardly notice that they are being observed, analyzed and profiled by the expert and experienced eyes which can pick subtle clues from every body movements. It's always worth remembering that Devil lies in details and spy lies in disguise.
 
It's not at all secret that every independent and sovereign state or nation has its own defense framework and infrastructure which is consistently kept on its toes by a group of intelligence and counter-intelligence officers, agents, spies and analysts who work within and beyond the boundaries of the state or the nation to protect its people, government, sovereignty, assets, infrastructure, institutions, boundaries and international relations.

The Master People Readers

Without any shadow of doubt, the secret agents, spies and detectives posses the highest accuracy rates in reading people (and their minds) than ordinary people i. e. about 80 %. It is only achieved by sharper senses, rigorous training given by field experts, strong mental preparation, enhanced observational skills, better knowledge about human behavior, thousands of hours of practice and above all the ability to listen to the gut feelings. Hand-to-hand combat and weapon training is just an addition for self-defense and escape.

There are many famous TV series or shows like Lie to Me (Micro-expression analyst), The Mentalist (Great observer), Byomkesh Bakshi (Indian version of Sherlock Holmes) and many more which essentially have a protagonist, a hero or a central character of a crime investigator or a detective with sharper observing eyes, greater analytical capability and better judging skills. There might be just a kind of character or a hero in your own country too. Unlike licensed-to-kill agents, they don't prosecute and punish the offenders and criminals on their own and leave the same job to local police and the court.
 
Sherlock Holmes: Sign of Superiority of the face
 
Work of a typical crime investigator is mostly confined to visiting crime scenes, collecting samples, analyzing photographs, examining video and audio tapes, interrogating people, tracing suspects and conducting laboratory tests. However, secret agents and spies are like the thinking and moving (and mostly “killing”) machines with definite missions in their minds. They are ready, equipped and prepared to act upon every signal of suspicion,hostility, threat and danger given away by individuals (and their silhouettes and shadows too), entities, circumstances and situations.
 
Being a successful and long living secret agent or a spy is all about having greater situational awareness, a longer attention span and fanatic fixation on details. Also, an agent or a spy has to be physical strong, athletic, agile, clever, resourceful, adaptive, enduring and technically stronger. Moreover, staying highly motivated, controlling emotions and committed to sacrifice own wishes, urges and desires is critically important.
 
An ordinary looking person that suddenly turns out to be a secret agent or a spy before our eyes is the most fascinating because of the typical predatory skills, traits, characteristics and qualities it has are sophistication, self-control, stealthiness, confidence, cleverness, courage, precision, patients, deceptiveness, disguise and extreme speed.

The real James Bond(s)

Ian Fleming
Many of us may not know that Ian Fleming, the maker of James Bond character, was a naval intelligence officer serving for United Kingdom (UK) during World War 2. He and his team spied for Allied forces to defeat Germans (Nazis). What he wrote in novels about the super-spy James Bond was entirely based on his own life and of those individuals who inspired him professionally. Otherwise, he could not have brought that much realistic effects, fineness and details in his scripts.
 
He worked with and closely observed many secret or undercover agents putting their own lives at fatal risk, almost exactly like his super-spy character does to change the course of world’s history and politics. Few of his team members were working as double-agents too, spying for both Allied forces and Germans. They succeeded in distracting and deceiving Germans (Nazis) by providing false intelligence, inputs or information.

[Special Note: This article is dedicated to all those
intelligence officers, undercover agents, spies, detectives and investigators who sacrificed themselves in their honest attempts in saving the world from going under the total control of the
evil side of the human nature.]

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November 01, 2012

Botox hampers emotional awareness

Botox (Botulinum toxin) is a new magical substance in shelves of today’s cosmetic therapists and beauticians who cater their "youth-maniac" clients. Given “ever-youthful face” fad in modern metropolitan society and corporate work culture, this medicine helps in vanishing facial wrinkles that are caused by natural aging process, severe illness or abnormalities.

Like its apparent advantages in an impression driven environment, the beneficiary(?) has to weigh a great setback in its social life. As Botox is administered in small patches of skin to make it look young, it ultimately hampers one’s ability to read emotions in others. How?
Regaining youth or losing emotional ability?
Actually, we all give and get facial feedback unconsciously. It’s not necessary that facial expressions are always noticeable because many a times we try to keep face expressionless. However, unnoticeable muscular activities do occur that can be detected by seasoned eyes or computer software with sophisticated imaging devices.


Remarkable purpose of involuntarily muscular movements is detection of emotions in others. Brain understands emotions in other by simulating corresponding muscular movement on face of an observer. Movements might be too tiny to remain unnoticeable by third person or even two persons who are participating in an emotional melodrama.
In future, machines could read human emotions. What about us?
Botox paralyzes muscles that cause wrinkles on facial skin and thus face looks reflated and swollen. However muscular movements are inhibited because Botox interferes with signals that brain sends to facial muscles. Though it gives a person so-called youthful look, lack of muscular movements hampers core abilities of expressing and detecting emotions.

A person can find itself as emotionless as if it has been forced to stay poker faced for a long time. A research done by Prof. Dr. David Neal (a professor of psychology at the University of Southern California) underlines side effects of Botox on emotional awareness stating clearly, “If muscular signals from the face to the brain are dampened, you’re less able to read emotions.”
Poker Face: Magnificently Dull

Even though many of us don’t get Botox injected, we don’t capitalize facial muscles at fullest. Staying poker for long time is also likely to hamper our ability to both express and read emotions in others.
 
Particularly, in the metropolitan environment, where large population is forced to use and share limited physical space, we incline to keep our faces almost emotionless while commuting and invading - sharing physical space.

It helps us to isolate ourselves from strangers on social grounds but it might hamper our emotional awareness too. Issue gets multiplied by working conditions where casually interaction with others is almost impossible or not (assumed as) required. Not expressing emotions on face could lead us to social devastation.

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