April 26, 2011

An Early Prediction

Obama Wins Reelection.


Considering the rate at which Republicans are dropping out, what if the Republicans fail to field a candidate?


No. Perhaps that's rather unlikely.


Well, the candidate is likely to be one of these: Huckabee, Romney, Bachmann, or Trump.


Game Over. Is that too tough?

If you like more details, read this:

http://www.spectator.co.uk/spectator/thisweek/6864563/part_6/obama-vs-the-lightweights.thtml

Greg Mortenson

What could be the motivation? Well, good stories sell. Novelists and storytellers have all the freedom in the world. Screenwriters even in biopics do not mind using a bit of artistic license to imagine a scene.


If you can use reality as the base and add some embellishment and fine tuning and a dose of heroism and sacrifice to make the story appear more heroic and more emotional, what's wrong with that?


The world is a bit too crowded with heroes and tales of heroism. So, it's a bit tough to stand out if one sticks strictly to the truth and nothing but the truth.


So, who are the heroes? Well, creating an appropriate image is incredibly important. Bill Clinton is living proof of that. Mother Teresa and Diana are dead proofs. No matter how convincingly Christopher Hitchens is able to demolish myths of heroism and saintly qualities around these personalities, the public perception is so strongly rooted in the manufactured image that it's very difficult and nearly impossible to change that image.


Did Greg Mortenson get inspiration even from 4-year-olds? Or, may be the parents of the 4-year-old heaven-returned kid took inspiration from Greg. Either way, their stories appeal very strongly to people as they want to feel reassured that in a world of Bernie Madofs and other assorted charlatans, there are still heroes around. And who does not want to go to heaven after death rather than just stopping to exist for ever.


Mark Twain did not have any trouble with the idea of just ceasing to be after death though. In fact, I think he would have enjoyed if he were around today. The art of stretching is being practiced by ever more talented individuals and the cunning employed continues to dazzle us all.

April 18, 2011

37 Revolutions

There's this well known quote of course: life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.


So, looking back after having completed 37 revolutions around the home star, I was trying to jog my memory and see how many of those breathtaking moments I could recall.


Clearly, a moment whose memory one's brain has chosen to discard cannot qualify as a breathtaking moment by definition.


And yet, our brain stores information is some crazy fashion which is probably not yet understood quite comprehensively by modern science.


One can think in chronological terms. One's childhood days. Growing up.


One can think of emotions. Happy memories and sad ones.


Time dulls pain. Time dulls pleasure too. Memories fade. 


Should we try to hang on to memories? How sharply do we or can we remember old events? Some claim that they can smell and taste and remember the colors and more.


May be, if one tries hard enough, one can. But life should be about looking ahead. And memories are in the past by definition. And yet the entirety of who we are is absolutely the product of all that we have been through. No more. No less.


Memory is everything.


Without our memories, we would do about as well as a tree that had been uprooted from the earth.


And so, I reflected on my memories. The sad ones and the happy ones and the angry ones and the milestone moments and the disappointments.


Perhaps the only thing that is inevitable in all this, the only true inevitability is the passing of time. Even more than death.

Being Christopher Hitchens

My debt of gratitude to Mr. Hitchens continues to grow. Not on a daily basis but every time I see an interview with him, I come out wiser after watching it.


As a polemicist, Christopher has chosen to take on many individuals who have become larger than life. Mr. Hitchens has been a scathing critic of the false piousness of Mother Teresa. He has also been critical of the people's princess business with respect to Diana.


Above all, Bill Clinton has been portrayed as a consummate and perhaps congenital smooth liar. That is where I came out with a lesson after watching Mr. Hitchens' interview yesterday.


Mr. Clinton, it must be axiomatic, has to be narcissistic. So, why am I rooting for him? Why are so many? Indeed. Quite a point.


It is perhaps yet another instance of how dangerously flawed we can be in our perceptions. We are perhaps giving a lot of leeway to Mr. Clinton because of his good looks. We may be doing this subconsciously without even realizing it. Perhaps, if Mr. Hitler was better looking with a better choice of style of mustache and perhaps a taller build, he might well have had a better chance of winning the Second World War.


Are humans designed to look for leaders? Do we have some sort of a herd mentality or a tribe mentality? Are we wired to follow charismatic leaders?


If the answers are yes, then it's quite a dangerous evolutionary baggage in today's world. I think, sadly the answer is yes. Hence, Al Qaida and Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein and Qaddafi and all the dictators of the world.


How important it is then to have the power of education! And how important to have thinkers who can put things clearly!


We all owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Hitchens for taking the blinkers off our eyes.


And so about that quote from Horace Mann where he challenges everyone to do something for mankind, to win some victory for mankind.


As we judge our own lives on that yardstick when the time comes, I want to say to Mr. Christopher Hitchens that he can rest assured that he need not be ashamed at all.

April 14, 2011

Style Over Substance

It's remarkable and scary to think about how easy it's to fool the human brain. It's sad or scary to see how many small-minded humans occupy so much of the space and wield so much power.


It's also sad or scary to see so many members of the public being so vigorously interested in matters that are essentially trivial.


A survey comes out showing that Jennifer Lopez is the most beautiful woman in the world.


Angelina Jolie holds forth on the problems afflicting Africa. George Clooney too. Or Bono.


Pop music stars attract so much frenzy. People care about royal weddings. And other kinds of famous people's weddings too.


People are interested in the private lives of other people.


And wealth. Yes.


How rich people splurge interests those who are not rich. The yachts. Big houses. Furnishings. Cruise liner trips. Vacationing in style. In private islands.


And looking good. Self improvement. It has come to encompass only one's physical good looks. Cosmetic surgery scales new heights.


Sports. Achievers in sports acquire great wealth and suddenly. Not to mention female models.


Banking and finance becomes a lucrative career. Why? Because there's great money to be made. Doing what? Something quite esoteric and apparently complicated.


People in some professions seem to earn a lot of money. And we live in an individualistic, free-market economy world. So people with great wealth are considered to be great successes. And then that becomes conventional wisdom. It almost becomes a birthright of sports persons or movie stars or bankers to become millionaires.


How else can one explain the continued flourishing of odious monstrosities such as Goldman Sachs?


When tragedy strikes a few millionaires, that becomes a gripping story. When millions suffer great tragedy, we choose to ignore that.


Our senses, evolutionary products of animal origins, are uncertain guides.


Is it that we subconsciously count ourselves as a member of the same tribe as other successful people? When we fill our brains with information about celebrities, we are also developing a deep attachment with their well being or lack thereof.


We become connected at a deep level with the rich and famous and glamorous. The faceless millions are excluded from being part of our tribe.

Tales of Pills

April 03, 2011

Enough Already.

It's ... what, about three hours since India won the Cup.


Are we done celebrating yet or are we going to go on and on ...


I'm already dreading being around in 2031 when the 20th anniversary of this great win will come around.


It's tough to extrapolate how much more sillier the media will get from where they are now and how much more silly their questions will get.


I'm sure they will Sachin how he 'felt' back in 2011 when we won the Cup. And I want to say already: come on, give the old man a break, will you?


So, I'm ready to move on with my mundane life.


What's next? Let's see ...



  • Well, GoDaddy's CEO has shot an elephant and expectedly, PETA is up in arms. He's going to get the Scummiest CEO award from PETA ... apparently a brand new award that PETA has invented just for him.
  • The final death toll is yet to be determined in the grim Japanese earthquake/tsunami. The search continues. And the nuclear meltdown disaster continues to unfold too as a unique sideshow.
  • A scary near miss happened with a Southwest plane developing a hole in its fuselage.
  •  Republicans and Democrats are fighting a budget battle obdurately which might yet lead to a government shutdown.
  • And of course many Republicans continue to test the waters before they finally, finally jump into the fray to be the candidate for President in 2012. Obama will win of course. So, relax.
  • Oh, Elizabeth Taylor died a few days back. No,  really. Today is April 02, 2011.
  • And finally, India's population has been tallied at 1.2 billion. That merits a blog post all its own.
  • Oh, India's tiger numbers have increased too.

India Wins The World Cup

India does not get many opportunities to celebrate. Patriotic fervor is a strange beast.


When else has something of similar magnitude happened?


August 15, 1947 was a day of celebration of course when this nation took birth in its modern avatar.


The triumph in the war of 1971 was decisive, unambiguous, emphatic.


The World Cup cricket win of 1983 was a remarkable coming up age victory as India was a dark horse then.


The Kargil skirmish did not have any "Mission Accomplished" moments though it too was portrayed as a great battle won.


The 2011 Cricket World Cup victory is now added to that list of historical milestones.
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