July 25, 2011

Why My Father Hated India by Aatish Taseer from the Wall Street Journal

Ten days before he was assassinated in January, my father, Salman Taseer, sent out a tweet about an Indian rocket that had come down over the Bay of Bengal: "Why does India make fools of themselves messing in space technology? Stick 2 bollywood my advice."


My father was the governor of Punjab, Pakistan's largest province, and his tweet, with its taunt at India's misfortune, would have delighted his many thousands of followers. It fed straight into Pakistan's unhealthy obsession with India, the country from which it was carved in 1947.

Though my father's attitude went down well in Pakistan, it had caused considerable tension between us. I am half-Indian, raised in Delhi by my Indian mother: India is a country that I consider my own. When my father was killed by one of his own bodyguards for defending a Christian woman accused of blasphemy, we had not spoken for three years.

July 16, 2011

Beware!

Penis cutting and cutters are in the news again ...

Take precautions men!

Also, if you thought your nice dog will sooner starve than eat your dead body (if you happen to die in your home and no one is around except the dog), well, think again.


July 15, 2011

Last Words: Rebecca Watson and Richard Dawkins

Here’s the substance and sequence of events as I see it.



• Rebecca Watson had an elevator encounter that she felt uncomfortable with. She talked about it on her blog. She has every right to do so.


• PZ Myers picked it up on his blog. Thus far, this is like a conversation about dating techniques.


• Dawkins decides to get into this debate. He equates Watson’s experience with the great amount of suffering that women face in various countries including threats to their lives. Dawkins trivializes Watson’s experience as ‘zero-bad.’


• On the face of it, it seems like these are two distinct and unrelated issues and there’s no reason for anyone to compare these two experiences. Or is it?


• One is aware of problems such as date rape and various forms of sexual crimes which take place on campuses. Problems that are unique to the so-called advanced nations. Backward nations meanwhile are faced with the age-old issues: everything from killing female fetuses to killing female infants to injustices to young females to forced marriages to dowry harassment to death punishment for adultery, etc. I have clearly left out other forms of cruelty.


• Could it be that there’s something common in the male mindset which enables males to commit the first set of crimes in the rich countries and the second set of crimes in the poorer countries? It seems there’s after all some thread which links these two sets of crimes.


• So, Rebecca Watson’s encounter can be placed in the broader spectrum of persistent male mindsets. And then we can all conclusively agree that the elevator guy was egregiously in error. There’s after all a continuum from innocent offers of coffee to a situation where an acceptance of such an offer is construed to be an invitation to have sex. And when the female later makes it clear that the two matters are distinct, that often leads to misunderstanding, violence, and possibly rape.


• Dawkins erred in looking at it as an isolated incident and ignoring the historical baggage.

July 12, 2011

Privilege and other thoughts -- Rebecca Watson and Richard Dawkins on my mind

When household robots are around in the future, I wonder how they will be designed.

Suppose, you want to have water. You can get it on your own.

Suppose you are busy and want someone else to bring it for you. You would request someone in your family to bring it -- Johnny, can you get me a glass of water, please?

You will not say -- hey, fucker, why don't you move your ass and get me some freaking water?

I would imagine Johnny won't be so pleased (and worse if it was your wife that you were addressing and not Johnny) if you adopted the second tone.

Now imagine you have that household robot. Would the robot be designed to respond the same way no matter how politely or impolitely you asked it for water? Or, may be, Hitachi or Honda will program it in such a manner that if you ask it for water in an impolite manner, it will coolly bring the water (hot) and splash it on your face.

July 09, 2011

Ultimate Bucket List

  1. Have one billion babies.
  2. Travel 5 billion light years in every direction starting from Earth. But if you have seen one galaxy, you've seen 'em all.
  3. Become a cheetah, an elephant, and a snake in my reincarnations ... oops, that will require me to die first. But anyway.
  4. Touch the sun and burn my fingers ... oops, it's HOT!
  5. Launch the space shuttle to the Moon with my bare hands ... remember how you launched those paper airplanes as a kid?
  6. Dip my finger gingerly into a black hole ... oops, my finger tip just vanished!
  7. Live to be one billion years old.

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