alochana

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Kashmir

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Every once in a while, The Hindu shows us why it’s a class apart

Pakistan invokes the ‘K’ word

Special CorrespondentNew Delhi: Pakistan on Tuesday responded to India’s call for the United Nations to act against the Jamat-ud-Dawah and other organisations linked to the Mumbai terrorist attacks by saying it would ban the outfit if asked by the U.N. to do so. But it also added the diplomatic equivalent of a non-sequitur by invoking the ‘K’ word and calling for terrorism’s “root causes” to be addressed.

Speaking at a special session on terrorism of the Security Council, Pakistan’s U.N. ambassador began by saying he was “deeply troubled” by what had happened in Mumbai. “The best outcome of the tragedy,” he said a few seconds later, “would be the resolution of the issue of Kashmir.”

Exercising its right of reply, the Indian delegation responded by stressing the important issue was that terrorist groups had used Pakistani territory to launch attacks against India. “That country must take real action against those groups, instead of bringing up extraneous issues,” an Indian diplomat told the Council.

All we now need is for some one to state what is obviously the subcontinent version of the Godwin’s law

“As any discussion between India and Pakistan approaches a state requiring concrete action, the probability of either side raising the Kashmir issue approaches one.”

Led Zeppelin, I think, puts it best

PS: For full fundaes on The Hindu, read Aadisht

Written by kowsik

December 10, 2008 at 17:16

Ayas

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Aggressive Atheism –> Fanatic Proselytism

Aggressive Feminism –> Polygamist Societies

Aggressive Liberalism —–> Totalitarian Regimes

Aggressive Alpha-male determined societies –> Stone-Age

Irony, that’s one natural resource that we will never run out of!

Written by kowsik

August 22, 2008 at 10:19

vac

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Contemplating on the self, Ambi had warned me once, is the brachistochrone to self-destruction. Contemplating on the self, or something in that ballpark, is often quoted to be the path to enlightenment. From these two preceding lines, should I infer that Ambi is disagreeing with the quoted others (that would make these people disappointingly normal), or should I infer the opposite (according to some this is obviously true)?

Clearly, I am bullshitting because I have no idea of what ‘enlightenment’ is. This brings me to the often depressing inquiry of “what fraction of my life is spent on not bullshiting?” I had started off by wondering about the fraction of time spent on bullshitting but realized that, by definition (of bullshit), it would be impossible to answer it (this topic looks like one of those fractal stuff). I am sticking to the Harry Frankfurt definition of bullshit here, ‘bullshit is when we don’t even bother to verify whether what we say is true or untrue,’ that state of apathy to what comes out of our mouths (or should it be the diaphragm?)

Now that I begin to think of it, to be not bullshitting, one must understand the meaning of the words that one utters. Effectively every word that denotes any feeling, every adjective & adverb (and so on) requires to go through this ‘if-loop’ before it is said or written down. But what do we compare these words with in order to decide whether they should be used or not? Clearly, cursory knowledge of the synonyms of a word is not sufficient for its usage to be cleared of the bullshit label, if we apply this constraint strictly, how many words are left for our usage? Words that we can use honestly. May be this filtering would spare only those words that we have learnt the earliest in our lives.

Written by kowsik

August 14, 2008 at 11:00

prakruti/vikruti?

with 7 comments

I find this post marginally insane. For once I have a problem with every single paragraph of a post. For God’s sake… sorry, its author belongs the the ‘God Delusion‘ school, so why bother! In any case, coming to Postdoc’s post:

The entire article is about mother nature being this chaste virgin and how humans, through their industriousness, have been violating mother nature. I know, it’s not a new theme, but when the dude appears to begin to lose it, it is a thing to be arrested, or at least ticketed. I also know that Postdoc should have the freedom to go on a rant every once in a while, this my corresponding counter-rant.

Nature is beautiful in NatGeo. But when you are out in it, it is– as Murphy puts it– ‘a bitch’. When you are out in the wilderness/nature, it is a battle for survival, much as it is in the concrete jungle. The average man is spared the Freudian guilt because, not only has he (thankfully) no access to Disney/NatGeo but also because, he is enduring the battle for survival every day. Only when you are asked to live up to an ideal do morality & guilt come in, this is one such case. I find the attitude in this post to be in the same league as that of most doomsdayers and moralists, damning the entire mankind by comparing it with a dream, obviously we fall short– what chance has reality got against a dream?

As to the balance in nature: I don’t think there is one, if we are talking of a balance that ensures that any perturbation will bring it back to the initial state. I don’t even see the need for such a balance to exist– if it were not for some of the ‘spoiling of the nature’ level destabilizations, mankind would never have come up.

While it is patently absurd to argue that perturbations to the existing nature happen only due to humans, one might still argue that some of the perturbations are due to humans. I agree, but one should understand that perturbations happen, if not by us, by the nature in our immediate vicinity, or at higher levels (nature, as the dinosaurs found out first, is the entire universe). Here is where I find the biggest contradiction in the post. For some one having (not just ranting) serious problems with religion’s views like creationism, the author takes a condescending on the ‘lowest common denominator’ (‘lcd’ from here on). As far as I understand history, human civilization evolved in the same way that life evolved on our planet, survival of the fittest. If we want the religious people to accept and internalize this knowledge in their world-view, how hypocritical would a denigration like ‘lcd’ be? As to whether ‘lcd’ is bad for us, it has been the way evolution happened, and for some arcane (is it?) reason that has been the way progress in most aspects of our civilization has been. In short, if we want this ‘ugly’ ‘lcd’ to go away, we have to give up the present civilization and be ready to live in the forests and deserts (not oceans, of course). Incidentally, all the so called ‘cruel’ cultures happen to be the cultures living closest to nature, so I am not sure if any of us would want to take that risk. While I feel some pain when I see the deserted concrete houses and stuff like that,  a sensible/fitter way would be to try to find a way to avoid that (alternative to concrete?), rather than blame the ‘lcd’s. I am taking so much offence at the word ‘lcd’ because I am one. And I think that art is as much of a luxury as soap-operas are, that’s some red pill that I wouldn’t mind if taken by Postdoc though I am sure he thinks his pill is redder than mine.

Now to the most politically correct condemnation ever: religious intolerance. My only disagreement here is about the effect of religion. Religion does not divide, in fact it has been the most successful unifying mechanism ever. The only problem seems to be our missing the forest for the trees. With religion, you have <10 broad divisions on matter of faith, without it, the number will be much more. If we can’t find a way around <10 broad divisions, how can we manage to do any better in the absence of religion? As to intolerance, it has always been there. Sistine Chapel was in a region and period where there was no intolerance because the other groups were wiped out. Is the author ok with a state of tolerance and high-art if it is attained through a wave of intolerance? ‘IED’-art? Mirabai was a victim of intolerance, I almost fell through the beauty in that line. That’s another probem with beauty, most of the time it is rhetoric, the same thing that the author accuses religion of.

In short the author sounds like a character out of ‘American Beauty’. I believe this is the age of the market forces, we ‘lcd’s deserve better. On a serious note, I think attitudes like those exhibited in the post of interest are the ones that lead to totalitarian regimes, all the while condemning it in letter.

PS 1: I have serious problems with the abuse of the word ‘beauty’, in a way not much different from Postdoc having problems with the abuse of nature– just as we are a part of nature, part of beauty lies in our gray matter.

PS 2: In my opinion ‘art’ is a corrupted spelling for a word that should be pronounced with f-silent. We all know what they say about opinions, we can leave it at that

Written by kowsik

August 3, 2008 at 09:13

Jagannath?

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Caste-System, or the benefits of confusion

Politics in India are caste-based. In other words, caste is the classification/unification that is politically the most significant. On the face of it, going by a plethora of hazy principles, it appears to be a bad practice. Not so, I believe, if we ponder a little on the obvious (and hence trivial) observation like this:

“India is a country of no majority, just infinite minorities. No caste has more than 20 percent of the population, and the ethnic/caste dynamic is increasingly transforming toward class/interest politics.”
Teaching India

In a democracy, by definition, the common man gets to choose who rules the country. However, the common man has no motivation to make informed opinions on issues that do not concern his daily life. In a country like India, this means that the common man does not care about anything beyond his immediate security and wealth. It is a tempting blunder to add pleasure to be a concern, so we won’t.

Thus democracy works in a manner that is not entirely obvious. Different sets of people choose their local leaders whose decisions they follow, these leaders have their own leaders and this hierarchy ends in political parties. In the electoral process the representatives of these parties contest against each other and those with larger support bases reach the parliament. Those among these representatives, who are elected by the rest, ‘rule’; which means they get to chose which bureaucrats get to influence their decisions because, government is not a trivial thing that should be left to the common man 😉

In such a system caste forms the lowest level of selection, people choosing the local leaders. Since there are no majorities among the castes, there can be as little action directed at a section of the population as possible. Obviously, it is much safer than economic and religious based politics whose logical (and often inevitable) conclusion is in a Communist or Theocratic (either-way Totalitarian) regimes that exterminate all dissent.

So it is in our best interest to save the existing caste system. It stabilizes the system enough to make it look like a Juggernaut, slow to move but unstoppable.

Looking at it this way, it is not at all surprising that our textbooks demonize religion the most, and caste-system the second most. Over a period of time as people get conditioned against the caste based politics, owing to their contempt for religion-based politics, they will gradually move into the communist system of politics government which, our text book authors believe, is a good thing to happen! Once there, people don’t have to bear the burden of the political process! The hazy principles that I mentioned at the beginning are nothing but this conditioning, not very unlike the religious conditioning that we hate. How we select one school of condition over some other, most probably, is the issue that determines everything.

Before some one jumps to any such conclusion, I have to clarify that I am not defending untouchability. What I am supporting here is the sustainance of diversity, not oppression.

Written by kowsik

July 16, 2008 at 03:06

RUNga

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Fear not, good news has come: Balayya is back. After killing half of AP in his movies (and there-by losing all his fan-base), he has decided to take on immortal (no-more mortal) targets, like his dad (NTR!) Such is his efficiency these days that he deserves the title, “Yamaia!” In what can only be his ingenious solution to the global warming, he has decided to transmit the excess heat released by mankind to revv-up the Earth, rather than warm it. By remaking this old devotional movie that NTR seems to have done a good job in, he has made sure that his dad is spinning crazy in his grave. The visible effects of this eccentricity seem to be the recent quakes in China. Strange are the ways of Balayya…

Back to the title, ob’ly I couldn’t stop myself from youtubing… and found this GEM from the original:

The opening lines mean, “It’s a leather bag with nine holes, whose collapse is certain. So, realize the danger (you fools)…”. These guys talk like leather merchants but, I have a feeling that they are not! Beyond the not-so obvious metaphysical interpretations of their song, I think there is a profound issue being demonstrated in this video. I haven’t seen the movie but, thanks to my grand-mom, I have a vague outline of this story: “Dude is shown THE path that leads to liberation by his parents but, as do all of us, follows the road of excess that surely must lead to the palace of wisdom (but doesn’t, as concluded by a certain William Blake)… As with any such story this involves his transformation from the dark side to the way of the force. The dudes in this video most probably give the much needed force for this change.”

Now, to the issue: In most stories there is a pattern, at the beginning things are in a reasonable state. Progressively things get worse and then, there enter a few characters whose sole purpose in the story is to the throw light upon the change of outlook needed by the protagonists to overcome the sad state. This makes sense too, as most of us do have someone or other pointing out something ‘wierd’ that we keep doing when we are down. Among literary examples, Siddhartha had his Gautama, Philip had his Cronshaw… the crudest examples being the ‘inspirational speech’ givers in most of the sports and rebellion movies (Independece Day?) The best that Hollywood ever managed was Captain Koons

I agree that this is a well composed satire on what has been their foreign policy and all that, but it is not the best in this category. The best, of course, are in old telugu movies: the wandering rock-stars like those in the above clip. They are awesome, and That is the truth.

Written by kowsik

June 26, 2008 at 11:37

Posted in civilization, humour, life, theory

Tagged with

?

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In general, but not in particular

Where do we err, in raising the question, in dwelling upon it, or in not knowing of an alternative? Those who don’t know the question are a contended lot, so are those who know the answer. Just like in an error function!

The question, invariably, boils down to who we are: “Mir or Mirza?” Does it matter? Should it matter?

Written by kowsik

May 18, 2008 at 12:29

Posted in courage, cribs, death, life, theory

chuck-raa

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The more I think about the events of the past few years, the more I am getting convinced of this century being a ‘repetition’ of the last one. 20th century began in the midst of the rise of a new power: Germany, and this power was not ready to wait for its time to come. It’s desire to matter inspired rapid growth, which meant heavy industrialization that required vast resources: material & man-power. The greater its power grew, the greater were its demands… we all know where it went.

It’s appears very difficult to refuse to see the similarities that the present-day China has to the old Germany. It also betrays an almost resentful desperation to change the world order: to reach the cliched ‘natural place’ at the top of the order. It is also being appeased everytime it steps on others’ feet… How long? How long will this last, will China ever be satisfied? Will it stop demanding its neighbour’s property? Will it stop financing civil-wars to control natural-resources? If the parallel between the challengers is obvious, so is the one between the superpowers of the day: Britain and USA. Both naval powers, both derided for being more material than aesthetic, both lands of free thought, both spreading their influences (soft & hard) far and wide, and both at a state where they would rather avoid an open confrontation.

Where does India fit in? Are we the old France? Are we the old Poland? Or, worse, are we the old Russia? What about Australia? Africa, though, will have to wait for another century… and when they do get to a stage where they demand compensations, I wonder how they can decide about who to start with?

My parents saw wars, it’s almost certain to me now that I will have to see a world war. Will I — who grew-up getting bullied — fight in the trenches? Am I going to be in a nuclear attack, or just hear about it? Will I get killed in a battle? Will I kill any one in those battles? My first thought is a wish that I not die in the world war, a sober one though is that India should come out of the war a better nation, the last is whether it matters at all? 6000 years and we still refuse to understand that every thing that grows later decays; from whence it grows again, thus continuing the cycle.

PS: I think water is going to be one of the objects of contest in those wars

Written by kowsik

April 19, 2008 at 05:57

vicāra

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Statistically supportable/Scientifically Explainable/Reasonable Odds?
(in no premeditated order)

1. “Youngest kids having loudest voices”, is explained by Darwin’s theory

Could this have been the motivation for Darwin’s theory (something about mothers and necessities)

2. Existence of an analogy between the temporal extents of civilization/nations and that of humans

3. Persistence of the analogy between microscopic and macroscopic structure even for social interactions

4. Laws of the jungle explaining all human interactions

5. Existence of an implicit symmetry in life itself:

“Babies haven’t any hair;
old men’s heads are just as bare;
between the cradle and the grave
lies a haircut and a shave.”

— Samuel Hoffenstein

6. Existence of an acceptable/reasonable convergence of science and religion

That this convergence leads to a gradual loss of the scientific method bringing us back to the middle-ages (is it covered under No.3?)

7. That there is an answer to the questions of life

a) That Douglas Adams was right about the answer

b) That Douglas Adams was right about the question

c) That Douglas Adams was right about the Earth!

8. Entertainment industry is all about the Chicken & the Egg problem (the unfertilized one) at another level (is this covered under No.3?)

Should this be rephrased as “No.3 operates in more ways than we can comprehend”? Or is it a combination of No.3 & No.4

9. Astrology was an attempt to model observed trends, devised when date & time were still described in terms of positions of heavenly bodies

10. “You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everything else.”

Written by kowsik

March 23, 2008 at 12:41

Posted in life, theory

Arthaath?

with 8 comments

“How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
…”

Bob Dylan must have been a big pain to his parents, there are only so many questions that one can answer without losing it. Pontifications over the futility of existence don’t usually lead to Bob Dylan. But as they say, stuff operates in mysterious ways… mistaken ways too as I am being forced to realize, forcing the questions:

How many mistakes must a man make before he grows any wiser? How many times must a man repeat a mistake before he grows through it? How often must we be reminded of the schism, between `what we do’ and `what we believe in’, before we accept it? And how many repititions of this does it take for us to evolve? Does it have any implications regarding the unnamed quesions of life?

That our actions are determined by habit, but not by reason, is what stops me from taking solace in the expectation that the questions of life can be answered by mathematics. While it is true that mathematics is the one infallible achievement of mankind, it raises at the same time the possibility that it may not be of much help in answering our most fervent questions. Our most accurate understanding of any natural phenomenon is in the form of nonlinear equations. Even for the most seemingly trivial processes, though we know the equations predicting anything with `reasonable’ accuracy takes us atleast a 1000 times as much as the entire duration of the actual event itself! Same goes for most of the fundamental constants, starting with “pi”… Even if math provides us the answer, can we understand it? Or, are we at that stage of evolution where there is a significant increase in the role of reason in the behaviour of living beings? Is mathematics just a continuation of the series of changes since the loss of our tails? Is it the case that we have the right tools, but we don’t know what to do with our tools?

What does this outlook have on my favourite topics: “Is there a point to life?”, “Is there a point in wondering about whether there is a point?”, “What if the best way of life is that of persistent introspection?”, “What if it is a path of uninterrupted observation: Introspection – Analysis?” “Is such a life any better than an `unexamined’ one?”, “Our thoughts are only as real as we ourselves are, should that be of any consequence?” etc. I don’t know, either that or I don’t want to know! Think as much as I can, I can’t seem to escape from the fact that I am still a creature of habit!

As Bob Dylan himself concludes, “The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind”

Written by kowsik

March 2, 2008 at 10:02