September 23, 2012

Trying to Defend Religion

It's tough to find a single good thing about religion. Let me try.

Shivam Vij argued at Kafila how and why he' s a Hindu and not a terrorist. I am wondering what's the thing about being a Hindu that appeals to him.

He says Hinduism is a religion of peace. So what? Many people also say that Islam is a religion of peace. Which doesn't seem to be the case right about now considering the violent reactions of Muslims in many of the world to the silly Prophet Mohammed film.

Muslims always react with violence to similar acts that they consider to be 'insulting' to the Prophet. Islam is a religion where there's no scope for argument. The case is permanently closed.

That is of course not unique to Islam by any stretch of imagination. Closer to home, Hinduism has many mythologies which are funny and ridiculous and otherwise intelligent people somehow suspend their disbelief to agree with obviously stone-age notions.

September 11, 2012

Who After Manmohan Singh?


The irony about Rahul Gandhi's failure is this.
People may be rejecting his charms -- such as they are -- but in its place, what are they opting for?
I think they're opting for something worse. I think people are becoming ever more conscious of various local identities based on religion, language, caste, etc.
So you have regional Hitlers springing up all over the country.
Since you mention Uttar Pradesh, the guy who eventually won, one Mulayam Singh, is apparently known to run his district in such a manner that the district is 'untouched' by the rule of law or the machinery of law enforcement. Mulayam is The Law there.
Then there is the satrap named Narendra Modi who taught a lesson to the Muslims in 2002 and runs a financially uncorrupted administration focused on development of the state and now based on his record in Gujarat, aims to become the Prime Minister of India.

September 10, 2012

Preparations for the Afterlife

So how do people prepare for the time when they are dead? How well prepared are you? You could say that some people tend to be better prepared than others.
People like Steve Jobs had cancer and battled it. Some forms of cancer like what Jobs had or what Christopher Hitchens had are incurable or on the borderline between curable and incurable.
If you happen to get one of these ailments, of course you know that your time on Earth will soon be up. Not that anyone is ever immortal. So far.
So I don’t know if it really matters much if we happen to get a form of cancer or inoperable brain tumor or glioblastoma like Ted Kennedy.
And what does one do about one’s vast wealth after one’s body becomes one with nature?
Well, luckily or unluckily, most of us in India don’t have to worry about such matters as not many of us are billionaires with our personal 30-storey buildings.
But here are a few examples of some famous folks and their instructions about stuff to be done when they died.

Solution to the Economic Problems of America

I read the cover story on Newsweek which talks about whether a college degree is all that it is cracked up to be.
I don't even want to talk here about stingy and weird American parents who pretend to be martyrs or heroes just because they 'paid' for their kids' college education. I mean ...
Anyway, here's a look at the economic brute facts of life for Americans and people of other advanced/developed nations.
Some things appear obvious to me as an Indian:


  • Americans whose mother tongue is English should not have to go to university to learn English. Not in the 21st  century.
  • Less lawyers are better.
  • Progress is unidirectional and not cyclical. The assembly line of Ford is not going to be re-invented. Ever. Hopefully we'll also never again be making airplanes and tanks by the thousands in assembly lines. Thousands of women are not going to be sitting at telephone exchanges. Managers typically work without secretaries now.
  • We live in a world of robotic assembly lines. The new jobs will be in clean technology or shell oil exploration or other new areas where humans have not been made obsolete yet.
  • In a few years, driving cars will become unessential or deprecated as a skill as we move towards a world of driverless cars.
  • Genetics and biotechnology and healthcare will produce jobs.
  • High technology manufacturing such as microprocessors and nanotechnology will be the wave of the future.

September 09, 2012

Let Us Build A Second Moon

I have had this idea probably since a decade and a half.
My idea is simply this: why can’t there be a permanent full moon out there in the evening sky? Of course, those of you who have always been city dwellers need to get out of your cities and go into the countryside and experience a moonless starry night for yourselves and see the dazzling vista that it presents. And you need to sit on a sea beach on an evening when there is a full moon in the sky and experience something which is awe-inspiring and timeless. We need to find time in our busy lives to spend some time in the lap of nature and reflect on the grandeur of the universe which has been there for almost forever and unless we humans do something drastic selfishly, will go on almost forever as well. Why I use the word ‘almost’ is because, of course, nothing in nature is permanent – nothing really lasts forever. Even the mountains and the oceans and indeed this planet that we inhabit and the moon that we admire and the sun which gives us almost all of the energy – all these have a lifetime. All of these came into being some time in the distant past and will eventually turn into something else after millions and billions of years.
But on the scale of a human lifespan, so much of nature appears unchanging and eternal.
The Moon, for instance.
So, my idea regarding a second moon is what if we send a second moon up into the sky. Well, not another moon in 3D exactly, but something that will have the circular disc shape of the natural Moon that we see on the night sky of a full moon day. So, my idea is to send a structure into geostationary orbit – say, a honeycomb structure. We certainly have powerful geostationary satellite launchers in the United States and Russia and Europe and even Japan and China and India have taken strides in that direction.
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