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Abort, Retry, Ignore 2

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The more things change, the more they remain the same. Considering the dormant state of this blog, this may be the question for the answer that given by Deep Thought!

Abort, Retry, Ignore?

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Written by kowsik

March 10, 2012 at 05:10

Posted in civilization, death, life

‘Anna’hilation

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Americans had their Obama sometime back. The idea is neat. Times are difficult, everyone wants someone who shows the way. God is death but faith is not. On comes this guy who makes every one believe that this person stands for the exact same things as themselves. No one bothers to find out what (& who) he stands for… no one even wants to. The worst part is that most of the people did not even bother to think through what it is that they want, and whether they are fine with the consequences of their ‘want’s. To sum up l’affaire Obama, every one forgot what it is that they wanted in the frenzy of wanting Obama to win. They got what they wanted (Obama) but it did not solve any of their problems. They are not happy either.

India always follows America, even when it says it follows someone else. Ask the Russians. We have now created our ObAnna. The government is rotten. We have as a prime minister someone who does not even have the decency to go and ask people to elect him in some constituency. He is proudly a Rajya Sabha Prime Minister, in other words, he has shown us the finger. The government is rotten, both at the center and in the states. Conscientious citizens were busy watching IPL (or whatever else it is called) during the elections, so they are now pissed at everyone else for the present situation. So everyone sees what the Americans did in their elections. Minus the voting part, the whole idea is deemed copyable. The people now create their own Ob(ama)Anna, completely forgetting that Obama did not solve any of the problems in America. I guess it is not about solving our problems, it is about wanting something and getting it. Even if it is creating a Benevolent Dictator for Life (BDfL). Should not the fact that this person and his coterie, are eagerly volunteering for the job warn us about this idea? Well, we are the descendents of those who sold each other to the East India companies. This can’t be the first time we are screwing ourselves over… it certainly won’t be the last.

Rahul Gandhi is right. They are two Indias: those who vote and those who don’t. I think the former are happier of the two. The latter are creating this BDfL to reduce the happiness-gap.

Written by kowsik

August 24, 2011 at 08:19

Posted in life

Rambling on Reading

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Reading is often a pleasure. Not always for the same reasons though. Reading can also throw up frustrations. You read about a good book, look forward to reading it, even enjoy reading it and later be at loss for words when it comes to describing what it is that you have learnt from the book. Raskolnikov‘s internal monologues were long, his thoughts and actions violent, particularly appealing to any young man who wants to take arms against a sea of troubles. But how many of us can quote any of this ramblings from memory? Zosima the elder recounts his life and advises the youngest Karamazov on many matters that a young man is confused about. How much of that speech, which lasts for an entire chapter, can one recount? What about the ‘The Grand Inquisitor‘. Or any of the various descriptions of Tolstoy that transplant us in those scenes that he describes? One remembers the gist of it, but is it enough? One can’t escape feeling inadequate for being unable to quote at will the passages that one liked while reading them in the book. The nagging doubts about whether what one remembers is congruent with what was written can derail quite a few trains of thought.

Two books that I want to be proud of having read are prominent examples in this regard. Robert Pirsing’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” is one. Alan Bloom’s “The Closing of the American Mind” is the other. I had completed reading the latter yesterday. A faint, lurking at the corners of  consciousness kind of doubt about my understanding of the book spoiled the last hundred pages (of the total ~400) of the book for me. I did learn something from the book. The origins of the modern university and the incompleteness of the modern sciences for one. The present university where the various departments would be rated on their financial performance makes one wonder if we can ever re-scale the heights from which we have fallen. Bloom’s wisdom (I don’t know what else to call it) can be inferred from his simplified-for-laymen outline of the foundations of the present democratic system that we all follow. From being someone who believed that philosophy was bullshit, I am a convert now. And this is where my frustration lies. After closing the book I can’t boast of having understood what I have read. I have doubts, and I know that it will require many more years of reading for me to understand (or challenge) Bloom’s description. Having experienced this path in the relatively simpler natural sciences, it is frustrating to be aware of something but letting it remain out of one’s reach.

Written by kowsik

January 20, 2011 at 22:47

Posted in life

Brits with Gifts

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Almost four hundred years (395 to be exact) back representatives of the British crown visited Delhi in the hope of a commercial treaty while promising access of European goods. The previous time around Afghanistan, as we know it now, was yet to be born. The Russia-Turkey-Iran triangle would end up in the creation of Afghanistan. A side effect would stop the Sun from setting on the ’empire’…

Now, we have a representative from the same place, again talking of commercial treaties. Afghanistan is a hellhole that may end up in the creation of a couple of new countries. What are the odds that this time we will fare any better? Obviously there is no comparison in relative strengths between the two countries now with that when Jehangir was ruling. In fact the relation is almost the opposite. But again, then as now, the subcontinent never had any shortage of those who invite outsiders to settle local scores.

Random attempts at correlations aside, this is the first time that I am hearing about a British PM who appears to be trying to be nice to India (avoiding the K-word for example). I know that the bar is set rather low by the husband of the Queen and the Milliband guy, but at least some one has crossed it. Not every thing has changed though: the British press still refers to the terrorists who attacked Mumbai as ‘gunmen’, ‘related to Kashmir’ etc.

Written by kowsik

July 28, 2010 at 09:21

Posted in life

Memory remains

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I have quoted Lady Bracknell in the past, and I will quote her again. In fact I am considering sticking to her sayings whenever I am in need of a quote. We live, as she pointed out, in the age of surfaces. The alarming behavior of the French on beaches in summer forces me to wonder if Lady Bracknell might have been optimistic about the surfaces. Or, may be it was her age. Or may be I am stupid. I should stop digressing so often.

Coming back to surfaces. Some one allowed someone else to drill an oil well in a place that no one should have gone to in the first place. The fish have a right to their privacy and we have violated it. As with the Empire, so with Karma; strike back they will. Now there is oil in the Atlantic and President Obama is pointing fingers. And he is running out of speeches. In the middle of all this, and also Pachauriji’s talent at writing and making Nobels out of typos, we have lost perspective. Pelicans were swimming in oil even back when the  then President Bush (41) asserted that “this aggression will not stand“. The dude approved of the attitude and was silent on the pelicans. We moved on then, we will move now. There are more important things in this world than that oil in the Atlantic (which will eventually float to the surface anyway) and we should (atleast) occasionally talk about some of those.

For example, I came across this video:

One of the commenters on this video claims that Metallica start their concerts with “Ecstasy for Gold” by Ennio Morricone. Turns out that they even had it in one of their albums. But that is just a digression. I should make a resolution about those…

The concert, called  “Monsters Of Rock ’91“, was in 1991 in Moscow during (but, hopefully, not related to) the dissolution of the Soviet Union, when Gorbachev was the president of USSR. Supposedly the first such concert in the USSR, this may also have been the last. just before the country fell from being a superpower to a net exporter of mail-order brides. And this is putting it rather mildly. Now that we know what happened in the years following this concert, this video inspires, for the want of a better word, gloom. The song itself, one does wonder whether there is a method to this madness.

In school, one of the few things that I could do better than most other students in my class was remember the names and locations of countries on the world map. What happened in those places was never of much interest, unless if it involved cricket. As with all things innocent, it had to end. News of the attempted coup against Gorbachev was one of the events that had generated an interest in the non-sports pages of the newspapers. I remember making an effort to staying awake late in the night to watch “The World this Week”, hearing of events vaguely related and often apparently unrelated; tanks rolling around in Afghanistan, dudes with rocket launchers on shoulders, Hekmatyar, Rabbani… long before we heard of the Taliban. By then even kids like me realized that those rocket launchers were not that cool. At about the same time, Kashmir had suddenly gone to hell. The connection was not so apparent for kids who had only recently started following news. A parallel thread resulted in our introduction to suicide bombers. Then masjids got demolished, stock markets got bombed and mafia was no more the innocent vehicle of Amitabh Bacchan’s stardom. One can list all the relevant interactions in one’s life and still don’t know what to make of it. Or, one can quote wiser men than oneself to convince ourselves we-know-no-what… I choose the latter, and choose not to disturb Lady Bracknell this time.

The sense of helplessness that history induces forces us to wonder, “what’s a man to do?” A few years back we recommended the growth of sidelocks to uninterested IIScians. Earnest that idea might be, but it has its limitations. What I need now is religion. I think I will watch a Bond movie tonight.

Written by kowsik

July 17, 2010 at 08:40

Posted in life

Drive

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Love has had a lot of press-agenting from the oldest times; but there are higher, nobler things than love. A woman is only a woman, but a hefty drive is a slosh.

P. G. Wodehouse

What are the odds that Tendulkar/Federer/Woods ever gave this advice to their less disciplined juniors? Ambi definitely did.

PS: For some reason this post has been lying in the drafts for a long time.

Written by kowsik

April 7, 2010 at 09:05

Posted in life

Malvolio

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“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em.”

— Malvolio, scene v, “Twelfth Night”, William Shakespeare

“Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them. With Major Major it had been all three.”
— “Catch-22”, Joseph Heller

Ignorance of the contents of the letter that Malvolio ‘stumbles upon’ may make  Heller’s quote appear ingenious– as one of those funny lines that almost make  sense. In light of Shakespeare’s genius though, the quote acquires a new colour. It is one of  those moments of faith when a man bows down before his God with  exclamations of unworthiness that barely leave his lips. Heller’s self-confessed mediocrity in comparison with Shakespeare is just that.  Heller might admit to this description as long as we don’t use ‘religion’ to describe it. But then, the Bard covered the topic of names too!

 

Written by kowsik

November 16, 2009 at 19:25

Posted in life