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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Smileys

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Smileys were introduced to world wide web to supplement lack of body language into typed communication. Since typed words don’t differentiate between tone, humour, sarcasm or insult, it was useful to add appropriate smiley to signal real meaning. It’s been mostly used in right way too, which means to signal that you really are just pulling leg when you might appear taunting, or that you mean well in friendly way when you might appear condescending. Obvious possible drawback, as is case with body language, is the incongruity of smiley and the written content. Smiley can turn a sarcasm into a humour but it cannot turn an abuse into sign of goodwill.

What things have come to being is use of smileys to soften the blow while hitting harder and harder. So you can say all the mean things you want and append with an smiley. If other party retaliates, just point to smiley to show that you didn’t mean it, and he is overreacting. Thus you can have your cake and eat it too. Such double standards in word usage and weakness of commenter to be able to bear result of his accusation and unwillingness to entertain counterarguments are irritating at the best.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

This and that

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That killed 150+ and this killed 100+. That was done by violent outsiders and this was our own mismanagement. That will get lot of mention and this will be promptly ignored. But a life lost is life lost, no? Last time too when Delhi blasts happened, a train wreck in Kerala killed more. When Jaipur blasts happened, rampage in Jodhpur temple killed more. Who got more compensation (Delhi) and why (more dramatic) versus who should have got more compensation (Kerala) and why (direct government failure). Irony?

01/12/2008 11:50AM Edit: Sahara announces generous compensation to families of security persons. As much as I am happy with the move, I am also little dismayed. Did the soldier who was not deployed in Bombay but died in regular skirmish along border any less brave?

What to eat first?

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A question which has perplexed great minds since forever when given two objects to eat is what to eat first? Many a times in life one is given two perfectly acceptable and palatable eatables, one of which one likes more than other. Such situation can occur in choosing a food item in party, in taking a lunch in office, or in being forced to eat by parents. One would have to eat both, but one would have a clear priority and order of preference for each.

Eating what you like first is advantageous in that you eat when you are most hungry, thereby enjoy your favourite item best. You also avoid agony of waiting and not eating your favourite dish. In some cases, specially when mischievous siblings/friends are around, you also avoid the possibility of your dish being confiscated or robbed from you by said sibling. You would typically also avoid chance of time crunch necessitating less than comfortable way of enjoying. Disadvantage of this plan is that you will eat other stuff after your favourite stuff, thus washing away all the good taste in mouth.

Eating what you like last is advantageous in that you may have more time to savour it without queue of rest of the dishes waiting to be finished. You also end meal with long lasting favorable after taste, assuming you don’t rinse your mouth too much, thus increasing pleasure period. In some ironic way, knowing that your best dish awaits your may also provides pleasure of anticipation and hence more pleasure from eating. Disadvantage of this move are possible time crunch, confiscation, reduced hunger and subsequent reduced pleasure at later stage of eating meal, or agony of waiting if anticipation doesn’t please you.

I’ve been following second option so far, but now when I listed them both here, I am thinking that I may have to reconsider my life’s fundamental strategy.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Colours

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Colours are strange notion. What light we see is probably some random accident of evolution. Colours are merely different sizes of wavelengths. Yet, colours define our lives. Happiness is bright and sorrow is grey, wedding is red and funeral is white, red rose is love and yellow rose is friendship, etc. Green of greenery sooths us, and blueness of ocean calms us; bright red invokes danger, and dark night frightens us. We’ve internalized colours so much that we have given meanings to arbitrary difference is shades of light. Cultures have defined colours and colours have defined limits of cultural thinking. More developed a culture is, more names it has for colours. Ancient Greeks just knew four colours: red, blue, green and white.

Even though humans everywhere on earth can see all colours, not all languages have words for all colours, and if there isn’t a word for it, it isn’t really. To give common example, if a man cannot tell cyan apart from sky blue, does he still sees them differently? Scientifically, when asked specifically, yes, but not really in everyday life. Ask him to locate cyan wool and he will come home with sky blue. On the other hand woman can, and for her, world is different. Isn’t it interesting that our understanding defines our language but our language also defines our understanding. People who don’t have words for it find a notion difficult to comprehend. 

A research about words for colours in different cultures lead to following fascinating hierarchy:

  1. All languages contain terms for white and black.
  2. If a language contains 3 terms, then it contains a term for red.
  3. If a language contains 4 terms, then it contains a term for either green or yellow but not both.
  4. If a language contains 5 terms, then it contains terms for both green and yellow.
  5. If a language contains 6 terms, then it contains a term for blue.
  6. If a language contains 7 terms, then it contains a term for brown.
  7. If a language contains 8 or more terms, then it contains a term for purple, pink, orange, gray, or some combination of these.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Bombay attacks

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How do you fight an enemy who is not afraid of dying and instead covets death?
How do you yield or reason with with enemy whose only demand is world domination (khaliphate) and unconditional surrender of rest?
Is there a way out except wait to die?

Twitter search ‘Mumbai’Twitter BeakingNewsOn - Google Map Places of AttacksWikipedia entryIndiamike updatesContact Numbers

Blue domination

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Out of the blue...Why do we write in blue ink only?

I am referring to hand writing where blue pens and blue ink is most common colour. Sure, black is also used, and so is red, though much less frequently. Other colours are limited to only decorative usages. But why only blue? What’s special about blue ink? Internet search couldn’t help me but probably because I couldn’t search better because answer must be out there somewhere. Was blue cheaper to manufacture in early history of penmanship? Is it still cheaper or we are caught in web of historical convention? Is there any scientific proof that blue looks best on white paper, or was that mere unproven social wisdom in early history? Does it have to do with physical properties of blue ink? Are ingredients of blue most easily obtained, or blue was only ink early man could make? Was it accident of history with no reason, strengthened over time in convention, much like why we have red light for stop and green for go*?

*Even though red and green are colours most easily confused by a colour blind person, which is about one in every ten.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Post Secrets

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There is this blog called PostSecrets where people post anonymous postcards with their deep secrets. It’s good place to find weirdest thing people do, have, or think. It’s also a good place to reconfirm yourself that your habit of biting third page of a book isn’t unique and there is at least one person who does that. Humans are surprisingly alike in terms of things they think that only they do and nobody else does. For some, finding company is relief; for others, novelty lost.

However, what this blog is turning out to be, specially in last few months, is a showcase of evils in people. Earlier secrets seemed genuine, now they seemed to be specially made to able to send to PostSecrets, or are secret not in real life but are about PostSecrets itself. Looking at these secrets is like looking dark deep evil inherent in human heart. Normal looking people doing intentionally mean things to others and finding pleasure in them. One can say that knowing depths of evils of normal people is good thing in the sense that one can prepare better. I feel it is destroying whatever small remnants of my faith in goodness of people. It feels bad to know that such people exist and it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

I can, of course, stop reading that blog but I cannot really bring myself to do so. Maybe because knowing others’ secrets is human curiosity, electronic form of snooping, perhaps. Now they have even brought out many books. You can never be too amazed by what people can make money on internet from. First it was milliondollarhomepage, then stuffwhitepeoplelike and now postsecrets. These guys are not even producing their own content! Gone are days of working hard to rise up in the society. These days people can be world champion in solitaire and win million dollars. May be I should take two year sabbatical and think of an idea which will make more money than years of toil and education.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Compelled to read

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I have this peculiar problem. Whenever wherever I come across any readable written text, I will read it, involuntarily. I mean, I can escape it, but I will have to consciously avoid reading. And wherever means wherever in line of my vision: on road, on walking, anywhere. Bill boards, notices, newspaper headlines, piece of trash, anything. This itself is a problem in the sense I read lots of junk which I don’t want to read, will never use, and this unnecessarily consumes my time and mental resource, trifle as they may be. Problem gets worse when I encounter same text multiple times. Examples are writing on front of my notebook, notice at gate of my bathroom, pamphlet at community notice board and so on. It is irritating, tiring and discomforting to repeatedly read what I’ve known by rote by then. I cannot seem to just see and not read any written content in front of me. Does this disease have any fancy name or do I call myself plain old crazy?

Monday, November 24, 2008

With me or get out

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If I come to your house and disagree with you, you can at best throw me out. If I come to your website/blog and do the same, you can probably, technology permitting, ban me there. The problem is, your house is yours, but your blog is public space, unless limited to selected readership. You are owner of your blog to the extent of what to write and how to maintain and frame policies, subject to laws of civil society. Triggered by this, two things irks me about blog owners:

First, those who disallow comments on their blog. It’s like speaking aloud something in public, but closing your ears. You may not have time or interest to read comments but disallowing is just too rude frankly. It is implying that what I am saying is important but what you say I don’t care. I know that one wouldn’t listen to such speaker in real world, but many seem to read in virtual world. One of the most prominent blogger of Indian blogosphere falls in this category and there are many less famous ones who do that too. Blogs are supposed to be interactive communication and if one so absorbed in his arrogance then she should write a private journal. And his response to this comment is my second, and bigger, peeve.

Second, those who reply to disagreement with ‘If you don’t like what you are reading, why are you still here?’ Hey, I can shout and abuse you in public, but if you don’t like what you are hearing why are you still hearing and responding back it. Of course, reading blog is choice than happening to hear someone in public, though if it’s on web, much like words in the air, knowing them is inevitable and notion of choice is diffused one. And one has right to reply back if he doesn’t agree notwithstanding original intention of speaker, since words are targetted at public at large. Again, if one doesn't want people who disagree with him to read then he shouldn't write in public. As long as your blog is open, it's as much my right to read and respond.

I think it is related to domain of what is extent of blogger’s right over his blog. If it’s in public, does he still maintains rights for not hearing or throwing out others?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Congo

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Congo Crisis These images from Congo Crisis hurts my heart so bad that only solution seem to be to just forget. Indeed, world has. And at such moments I wonder if it’s worth just to take over a country and run it from inside instead of just sending help from outside. Which country would want to do that, and will that work? My next thought is immediate annihilation of the world, for that’s only sure shot way I see sufferings of people can be eliminated. We, humans, are not worth living if this is how we treat ourselves. Also see ‘if you think life is tough?’

If you met God one day

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He says that he met God the other day. You know that he must be lying. You are intrigued, you hear about their conversation, but you are skeptical. Conversation seems plausible but somewhere you detect hint of fiction and some agenda behind narration. You finish by concluding it was nice story but you are certain it was a fiction.

The problem is what if it isn’t? Most people of world believe in some sort of superpower. Many are certain of His* existence, they are not fanatic, but are very religious. Few are fanatic, but then, it’s not about God for them anyway. Even then, you wouldn’t believe that someone met God. You wouldn’t even believe that you met God even if you just didn’t know why. It just seems impossible, ridiculous, filled with trickery, imagination and too weird. Of course, there are few who would see signs of God in fish, goat, almond or rock; will experience Him in prayer, peace, smile or nature; will feel Him in their life; but even they will not trust Him if they ever come face to face with Him. Is it not ironical, that even after so much belief, we are certain at some level that He just couldn’t possibly come face to face with us. All religions of the world have history which has God, or His representatives, walking on earth, yet none really believes that it could happen now. We trust His symbols and instructions, find inferences and meanings in random things, but we won’t trust someone, or ourselves, that He could come on earth and meet us.

Is belief really real? In an excellent Tom Hank’s movie The Green Mile a man has superpowers associated with God but he doesn’t fit the neat classification and imagery we’ve built on and is sent to electric chair for child murders. What if the story was true; we are most likely to do the same again. How exactly is God supposed to convey to us that He really is, if we just don’t believe when He Himself says so.

*I don’t think God is He necessarily, He can be She, It or something unclassifiable.

Rocket Girl

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That’s a name of Hindi movie from 1962. Can I be pleased at our progressive name from that era or balk at stupidity of the same? What does it mean anyway, and if anyone has seen the movie, let me know how does title relate to movie. My most vivid imaginations fail me.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Travelling solo

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What’s fun when you are watching a lovely sunset and think “it’s a wonderful view, isn’t it?” and there is no one to answer, “it sure is”?

Why would anyone want to travel half-way around the world, to spend couple of weeks worth of vacation, and come by himself alone? I am sure it depends on person to person but if people on popular India travel forum indiamike.com are any indicator then western tourists like to travel alone more often relatively speaking. I feel half the fun of trip is in the company. Any trip, not just international trip, in fact. Sure, travelling in group implies compromises about where to go and what to do, so smaller group size of 3-4 is preferable but wandering singleton seems overkill. Talking to strangers can be fun but that’s not excluded in group anyway. Could not being able to find a partner to travel be real reason, since travelling to India is not like hopping to Vegas anyway?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Being bigger just got better

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Supreme Court of Canada ruled that obese people should get two seats on airplanes for price of one. Court maintained that obesity is disability beyond one’s control and one-person-one-fair policy should be maintained. Their point is fair, though opposite side is fair too. Why should airline loss money for someone’s personal problem? Court has managed to fit obese person breadth wise but depth wise fitting is still up to individual!

Emotional intelligence

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It seems awfully true that people don’t want to be proven wrong or corrected often, even if it is in unbiased objective manner without meaning to belittle them. Of course, this is another thing a rational person cannot understand about people. At some level of rationality, one may as well have to realize that humans are not logical machine but emotionally driven characters.

From Slate:
Q: My boyfriend and I…have a really strong relationship in almost every way. But here's the rub: My boyfriend is…always honest and rational. Unfortunately, these last two qualities have caused a bit of strain. […] sometimes his argumentative style and calculating rationale are applied to our relationship. In many situations, I feel as though I am the one who has to compromise because he always wins the argument. I know my positions are reasonable, but I just can't articulate them as well as he does. I have talked to my boyfriend about this, but I think he has a hard time seeing my point of view — that though my feelings may not always be logical or rational, they are still valid. Am I being unreasonable for wanting a little bit of slack […].

A: I don't know what his IQ is, but his emotional intelligence comes in somewhere around "dolt." […] take mine [word] that he's an arrogant twit who's got you confusing bullying for brilliance. It's also possible he has some kind of disorder that leaves him unable to process the feelings of others. If so, he should be seeking help, or else he is destined to go through life alienating co-workers, friends, and loved ones like you. …[he] seem[s] human, [but his] lack of emotion and empathy means [he isn’t] quite. So give your mastermind a copy of Emotional Intelligence and tell him it's about a subject in which he's deficient, but it's important for the two of you that he learn.

I don't agree with her answer but I understand essence of what she is saying.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

New features

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ScreenShot00028 Few admin announcements. You can now subscribe not the just the RSS feed but also through daily digest email (link on right) which will look like this. If you are new, then “Click for Random Post” link on right is a interesting way to browse through past archives. Bookmark icons lets you bookmark this blog in various offline and online services and Subscribe icon lets you subscribe feeds into reader of your choice. I’ve added translation flags at the top so if you want to try, you can read this blog in odd nine languages. If your language is not reflected, let me know. I have also added a real time voting type feature called “reactions” which is at the bottom of each post. If you like what you read, please vote with a click so that I know your tastes.

Translations Reactions

JEE exam

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Living a significant part of my life in Kota, the epicenter of JEE in India, makes it difficult for me to be immune to vagaries of juggernaut that is IIT-JEE. Whole economy of city is shaped by coaching institutes and allied services mushrooming to cater to large number of students. Internet cafes and game parlours, sweet shops and snacks corners, alcohol and drug peddling, late night restaurants, student food catering services and student hostels and guest houses are some of the new industries that have flooded the city in last 15 years. City’s layout, events, culture, crime scene and environment is shaped by crowds of teenage boys and girls. Combine this with the fall of traditional cement and power industries in Kota, and everyone is itching to get a pie of the money flow which these students bring. Hard earned money of parents, spent without reservation, many times by taking loans, in hope of better future for their wards, but spent mostly carelessly by students, revitalized and fuelled many of these industries.

JEE season was season not to be missed. Everyone and their uncle had someone in family taking JEE or planning to take one. Middle or upper class neighbourhoods boasted multiple aspirants in each street. And before JEE ruled out multiple attempts, competition was even fiercer. Days before examination, air would be tense and final results brought both jubilations and sorrow. Lucky few who managed to crack JEE became superstar overnight. They were actively sought by aspirants for tricks and tips to bell the cat, and often found themselves at loss at what to say, which was, of course, not an acceptable answer. The Kota phenomenon, and the fact that I and both of my brothers undertook JEE within span of five years, kept me in loop about JEE for long. That JEE was also my life’s biggest success did help in keeping sweet memories about whole experience. Every JEE pattern change, treatment of Kota by JEE administration, dynamics and politics in coaching institutions, JEE cut-offs and hits and misses, tragic stories of people who cleared JEE but failed 12th, etc. were animatedly debated and discussed in the home. These reasons accounts why I still have fascination, anxiety, goose bumps and whatnot about reading or hearing about someone taking or clearing JEE. Never before though, had I known what goes on inside JEE results.

Recent years have seen some interesting information about JEE ranking procedure thanks to Right to Information Act. One fact that lead to this post is 2007 decision by JEE administration to keep subject cut-off to 20%ile marks in each subject. Due to negative marking and tough nature of examination, cut-offs were often in single digits. Final ranking was based on aggregate total marks in all three subjects. So some scoring 5% in one subject but aggregating 90%ile will have better shot at clearing than someone with respectable 50%ile in each subject but poor overall percentile. Some say, it’s wrong, others, don’t. While I don’t really feel like analyzing it much (for which you can go here, here, here, here, and here) I think that a more respectable cut-off but not as high as 80%ile suggested by some would do better. In lieu of this, cut-off for 2009 is made average at 50%ile. But it seems more like knee-jerk reaction rather than consistent and fair evaluation. On the other hand, we’ve to understand that JEE is not 10th class and 5% is JEE cannot be compared with fail marks in 10th. Another thing is that JEE would be better by taking people who are genius in some subjects and stupid in others rather than who are average in all. That is the difference between good engineering and good school education. Assuming, of course, that JEE differentiates between smart and dumb, than merely between lucky and unlucky.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

If you didn't click it, did you really do it

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If a tree falls in the jungle and no one hears it, then did it really fall? If you visited a place for tourism and didn’t take photographs, did you really visit that place?

I wished to write a full blog post on this topic but I found it difficult to verbalize what I wanted to say. There is this strange nagging feeling in me which says what is a point of visiting a place when you cannot photograph it for later. Thing is, with internet and television documentaries, visiting a place for seeing something is least important since that can be done at comfort of home. It is more about outing, socializing and experience. I know that something is wrong in that but I still feel that way. I don’t know if I am weird or unique in this. And it’s not about showing to others too.

Not down the drain

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I think organ and blood donations are the best donations one can give. To donor, they are cheapest thing to donate. They are not hard earned but freely given by Almighty. Blood replaces itself fairly quickly without any additional effort on donor’s part and organs (eyes, liver, kidney, etc.) are practically waste for donor after death. Any use is better than being burned or burried*. Blood donation requires very minimal pain and time and organ donations doesn’t even require that. To recipient, they are gift of life, one of the most valuable gifts anyone can give to anyone else, and way more than valuable than typical sums of money one can manage. It’s like giving your garbage to someone who uses it for their life support system.

For some reasons of sanctity of dead body and various myths prevailing about it, organ donations remain very low, even in advanced countries. Similar rumours float abound for blood donation. I have convinced myself about fallacy of these rumours and decided to donate blood as and when possible. One thing though bugs me, and I am not sure whether it should. In India, donated blood can get spoiled due to improper testing, refrigeration and storage facility and I dread my donated blood flowing down the drains rather than in the veins. I am sure of sanctity of the act and still I somehow love my blood enough to not want it to go waste. Why should that be so? Some part of me says that even though it’s free, my blood is my stuff not to be given up so easily. I think I should take that remote chance for general usefulness of donated blood.

*Zoroastrians (Parsi) of India believe in this thought and hence they dispose their dead bodies by leaving it on "death towers" to feed crows, eagles and other predators. They believe that that's the best use of corpse in feeding to others.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Agreeing to Disagree

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If you have even ventured in any argument, then it's inconceivable that you would not have encountered the phrase “let us agree to disagree”. What it means is that both parties decide that they no longer want to continue the argument to persuade other party to change its opinion and that both decide to end the argument without reaching the conclusion knowing that differences exist. What it might really mean is that one who proposes to ‘agree to disagree’ thinks that other party is so stupid that talking to that it is like talking to a piece of wood and time can better be spent elsewhere than trying to bring some sense into other party. Or in simpler words, discussion is pointless.

Logic is, after all, logical. There are facts and there are premises. There are unstated premises called assumptions. Following well established rules of deduction, conclusion arises from facts, premises and assumptions. If both parties to a argument are rational and logical, then both must agree to conclusion, given that they agree to facts, premises and assumptions. If they don't, they can construct another argument whose conclusion will be that piece of disagreement. Hence going sufficiently backward, logically speaking, one can reach a point when both parties agree to common starting point.

Hence, a logical argument must end at some point in time and at that time, both party must subscribe to same point of view, which could be original position of either party, or third completely different position. There cannot, however, be a position when two parties can ‘agree to disagree’ in purely logical argument except when they don’t agree on some fundamental assumption. This deadlock typically arise when one party deviates from logic and doesn't admit to conclusion arising from agreed upon premises, facts, and assumptions. Hence, the moronic implication of real meaning of agreeing to disagree.

Actually, I've not been completely fair. Sometime time constraint or mere futility of proving a point may prohibit both parties from continuing to construct arguments to prove premises and assumptions. However, most typical use of the phrase is not because of time limitation.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Reflections from The Wonder Years

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These days I am going through seasons of 1990s serial The Wonder Years. It’s a simple story of a kid in American suburb set in 1970s. It’s about his family, his friends, his exploits at school, his love interests, and challenges of young adolescent life, and I like it very much. I noticed few things and I take this opportunity to generalize about American family system that I’ve observed, contrasting with my own experience in India in 1990s. Things have most likely changed in India, probably towards American way. Clearly my experiences are limited to small town schools I’ve attended and there are more generalizations in this post than one can handle so proceed with caution.

Sibling rivalry is well documented social concept however it seems to me that extent of it is much higher in US. I mean, impression I get from people, movies, news and books is that siblings almost always hate each other in American household and while their may be real love deep inside, for all practical day to day purpose there is no love observed in terms of helping, caring, or playing but interaction revolves mostly around taunting, ridiculing and isolation from each others’ concerns. Siblings do, of course, fight in India, but they are not in position to not be able to stay in room for long without taunting each other and involvement in each others’ activities is more. This isolation grows as they grow up and move out, and like with their parents, meetings are generally limited to Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Related issue is about hating parents. Life cycle of relationship of a American kid with his parents follows many ups and downs. Usually, a child starts by admiring their parents to be the best people in the world, soon to find them the worst people in the world in his teens, to find them slightly irritating appendage to his normal life in twenties, to come back to realize their normality in his later years. Discontent between teens and parents in universal, because of generation gap and difference in level of maturity reflected in wants and needs. Yet, the way most American adolescents hate their parents to the core seems way harsher. They cannot see eye to eye each other on almost any issue, consider involvement as interference, don't want to appear in public with them, and in general, want to minimize relationship to basic provision of shelter, money and food. There is cultural element of respecting elder people and hierarchy in India, but still, difference is too large to be explained by merely this.

Popularity in school seems to be goal in life of a teenager. School I went to had its share of popular people but there was no cut-throat race to be popular or ‘cool’ nor there was any stigma or ridicule with not being popular. Probably because in India dating scenario and concept of football captain and cheerleaders is non-existent at this young age. Yet, kids as portrayed in US are seem to be obsessed with coolness and would do anything to become popular such as drugs, drink and smoke. Concept of school factions is not far behind. American schools seem to have clearly identified labelled factions of students such as nerds, cool kids, rich kids, bullies, losers, sports studs, etc. I am sure my classification is mostly wrong but what I want to impress upon in strong desire of a student to belong to one or many of these ‘clubs’ which typically have very codified rules of membership and are generally exclusive in nature with regard to their interactions with students outside the group. I don’t recollect such phenomenon in Indian schools where friendship was based on mutual agreement rather than group charter.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Suicide: Bravery or Cowardice

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Is suicide, volunteer infliction of certain death on self, the greatest act of bravery on part of an individual or the act of cowardice?

Former view arise from the intense human desire to live, even amidst worst of the circumstances, even after bearing numerous hardships, because of natural instinct to survive at any cost. We see this among people who suffer throughout their lives but still continue to live on, among people who lived for days drinking their own urine and eating whatever they can lay their hands on, among people who commit unspeakable act to sustain themselves. Of course, there are people who sacrifice themselves for their country, for their faith, for their family or fellow human beings, but nobody killed himself but for greater good, at least in his eyes. Therefore, suicide can be considered ultimate act of courage.

Later view arise because of choice of suicide as act of last resort, naturally. Person committing suicide has somehow decided that living is not something he can easily continue due to too much pain it inflicts on him. Since he is escaping the pain of living, instead of braving it, he is choosing easier option of ending the life, therefore, by definition, continue living would have the greatest act of bravery, and suicide cannot be the same. Suicide is thus an act of cowardice, not at all the biggest in any way, and way braver than in most circumstances.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tiranga on Moon

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As much as I’d love to be pleased by planting Indian National Flag on moon, hitting moon with metal probe painted with tricolour is not what I had in mind. So if you had vision of cloth/plastic flag fluttering on the moon (from vibration impact, not wind), I am sorry to disappoint you. ISRO informs that:

The Indian flag was painted on the sides of Moon Impact Probe (MIP), one of the 11 payloads of Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, that successfully hit the lunar surface today at 20:31 hrs (8:31 pm) IST.

Racial intelligence

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Followers of this blog would have realized by now my nature to ruminate upon strange topics and try to take a position on them. One of the fascinating topics of this nature corresponds to question whether difference races differ in their inherent intelligence level. Since affirmative answer is going to spark off debates about discrimination and racial superiority, official answer remains inconclusive.

There is this phenomenon in scientific research which goes something like this. When a scientist does an experiment on controversial unsettled problem (viz. global warming, gender difference), he is wary of his results if they come out against popular understanding or politically correct notion. He will most likely recheck his data, hypothesis and methodology, and may even redo the experiment before publishing it. Since scientist is a a part of society, he fears repercussions for his unorthodox findings and need continuing government funding to carry his research. If results come out confirming the popular view, scrutiny is less and publication is faster. Consequently, one can see many results clustered around well known view with only few outliers. For example, any report declaring woman more intelligent than man is going to get published faster than one claiming otherwise which may never see light of the day (source1, source2). This is not to say that scientists always bow to public pressure or science is not self correcting, but correcting a popular notion is fraught with risk and slow compared to correcting a non controversial notion. These are very reasons, I believe, that official answer to intelligence difference in races is indeterminate. While I leave you to read this Wikipedia link to go deeper into various arguments for and against, I present my simplistic understanding.

Human race has originated from Africa and slowly travelled to rest of the world (see this nice graphics). In generations it took for early humans to move from one continent to another, evolution must have been happening, however slowly. Hardships of travel would also have eliminated weaker members of the group. So while all people of world are homo sapiens, it is reasonable to think that continents inhabited later were inhabited by people who are evolutionarily better human beings. Among other things, human evolution would have had something to do with brain size and intelligence. Therefore, difference races must have different inherent intelligence ceteris paribus, however small. Of course, this is all true in generic term and gives you no excuse to consider person next to you more or less intelligent than yourself. Plus, education, development, diet and many other things might compensation or even hide the minute inherent difference. Lastly, all things may not have remained same.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Damn you SRK

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With repeated utterance of a common everyday phrase Main Hoon Na in your blockbuster of the same title, you’ve completely ruined the phrase for common man. Now whenever this simple phrase is it spoken, instead of emphasizing the conviction of speaker, it appears cheap imitation of the movie dialogue.

Betterment of Human Race

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Eugenics is science of betterment of human race through selective breeding by accelerating the natural process of survival of species and adaption to changing environment. We can all agree that human race, while the most intelligent among all species, has not achieved its true potential due to presence of some less than desirable elements in the society. Call what you want them: genetically defective, mentally unstable, criminals, psychopaths, self serving; but world would be a better place without some of them. And more importantly, a better place with more people with desirable traits, such as intelligence, philanthropy, fairness, empathy, call what you want them. However, natural selection running its course is extremely slow and can be actively interfered with like what humans have done when developing better variety of tomatoes or chicken. Ethical question of day is whether eugenics is acceptable or not.

Negative eugenics proposes forceful elimination of undesirable elements and forceful/volunteer development of desirable elements. What is desirable is perhaps not so much matter of consternation than what is undesirable. Not only there is angle of empathy and humanness with fellow human being, there is whole subjective issue of where to draw a line. If mentally ill is undesirable then is stupid not? On the one hand there is purely scientific and social enquiry of defining (un)acceptable traits, on the other hand there is issue of implementation. As experience tells us, any subjective law in hand of government becomes a tool for persecution of some group by some other more powerful group sooner or later. Yet, some traits can be inarguably considered undesirable. Will you then support?

Positive eugenics proposes only volunteer development of desirable elements. This is done by active counselling and support provided to people with desirable attributes to facilitate their mating and procreation. What is desirable can in general be accepted but then question of love is not far behind. Will human beings accept artificial selection over natural instinct? There is another question of impact of positive eugenics without negative eugenics. One view is that positive eugenics alone will not help world much since there are so few of people with desirable traits while whole world is replete with people with undesirable or non-useful traits. Contrarian view suggests that we need only one genius to propel development far beyond what many stupid people can hold back to. In either case, would you prefer this?

Is there merely an emotion angle to whole issue or some icky factor about playing god? We seem to have played god with everybody but ourselves lest we open Pandora’s box. Or may be not, as use of death penalty and rules of monogamy suggest? See more interesting stories about past developments and experiments in eugenics in this damn interesting article.

See comments on this post for further clarification of my views.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Financial crisis

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It must be it, for what other reasons do poor girls have to not been able to afford skirts longer than knee length for interview dress for summer internship placements at IIMA?

It’s that time of year in business schools of India when first year students vie apprehensively to gain an internship opportunity in world’s top finance, consulting and marketing firms. It’s also that time of year when being girl suddenly becomes way more useful. I am not sure though if that’s a good thing for ladies themselves because if they are given lucrative opportunity because of what gender they belong to, their use still remains age old and conventional, though masked. Of course, use be damned if job can be secured in this economy, is still not a bad objective. Of course, all this assuming big IF holds.

Century

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This is this blog’s 101st post, and the biggest number ever for any blog that I’ve ever attempted writing. This post is here to freeze state of the blog as of today for future reference. In last 102 days since the beginning — of which I was on holiday for 26 — I have written under 30 category heads with highest share, obviously, that of my opinion. Category Count If wordle.net is to be believed, then I seem to write most about “people”. Results seem suspect to me, though! ScreenShot00022 Tocloud.com has more comprehensive but less visually appealing word cloud. Though comparison is not fair due to time frame involved, my top 5 posts by page views have been:
  1. Mirror cracking material
  2. History and psychology of clapping
  3. Alcohol as legalized drug
  4. Adultery should be criminal offense
  5. Observation from loo

To salvage the your visit to this narcissist page, let me present to you few of the pictures that have me in split. Click to enlarge.

Pi and iota Rule and Rock Too much work?
Angular MomentumMain tumhare pair pakadta hoon, mera sir mat khao!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Obligation of contact

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Recently I was witness to a musical stage show on Dussera evening. Show was very bad and people were soon disappointed. Showman was trying to engage audience by asking them to chant with him, raise their arms, clap, sing along, and repeat after him. While people in general found show flop, people in front rows near stage complied with his requests way more often than people in back rows, and one can see gradation in audiences’ response. One possible explanation is that people who bothered to sit in front were more excited and enthusiastic than others because of which they either came early to occupy front rows or made their ways to front later. This may explain initial enthusiasm but doesn’t explain continuing enthusiasm after show went on for a while and proved itself total disaster. To believe that front seaters found show more appealing than the rest doesn’t make sense unless an extraordinary coincidence of nature put together people with high enthusiasm and low threshold of acceptance together on that particular evening.

Alternative explanation, which I believe is more plausible, is that people in front were close to showman, and thus more in ‘contact’ with him than the rest. They were better equipped to see him and his antics in full, could catch his facial expression, and occasionally make an eye contact, specially when is urging them. Such close contact brings itself with obligation to comply. Even though both were stranger and non response wouldn’t entail future repercussions, natural human instinct forces one to comply with requests of other when made under eye contact. It is same instinct which forces one to smile at stupid joke of stranger and answer a question asked in general but looking at one in particular (viz. in classroom). Same instinct forces us to avoid eye contacts when we want to ignore someone. It would have been hard to ignore someone who so passionately asks you to raise your arms and sway when directly looking at you.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Who said or what is said?

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There is an old saying which goes something like this: great people discuss ideas, good people discuss incidents, ordinary people discuss peoples. What it essentially means that irrespective of the persons involved or means of putting forward, idea is only thing worth discussing and should be judged on its merit alone. Yet, there are many many instances I’ve observed where otherwise sane and sensible people dismiss an idea purely based on how it is presented. I am particularly referring to derision for anonymous comments and posts in blogs and forums.

While it is correct that multiple anonymous comments makes referencing difficult and often these comments are vile without getting into sensible debate, some anonymous comments deserve respectable reply. Reasons for anonymous commenting can range from need for registering to be able to comment, to need to hide real identity in archive-able web, or to prevent discussion getting biased from identity of commenter. However, many a great bloggers too summarily dismiss anonymous views in light of argument that if a person doesn’t have confidence to give a name to his views, they don’t deserve a response. This point is fallacious on two count. First, history is replete with people who anonymously published great insights and discoveries to avoid prosecution while shaping the world at the same time. Second, what is in the name, after all. A person named ‘anonymous’ calling himself ‘Jack’ wouldn’t prove that he is really Jack, and if he is, so what? How many Jacks are there in the world. Even if you can pinpoint Jack living at so and so address, are you going to his house to fight it out?

Another argument that quickly derails the stimulating debate is the poor grammar of the commenter. Poor grammar is reflection of poor English, not poor intelligence. It is way too obvious to be reiterated that poor grammar and vocabulary don’t imply poor idea.

It’s disheartening to see people dismissing anonymous posters regularly in mailing lists, discussion forums, blog comments again and again even on most popular platforms frequented by otherwise intellectuals without any regard to message of the post. What should matter is what is being said, rather than by whom and how.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Drain from nose

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When I was young, I used to tease my brothers about the drain like structure connecting upper lip and nose saying that it is pathway for nose mucus to travel directly into mouth (naak ki naali). Something, cannot really recollect what, reminded me of this again. Little google search revealed that this part of body is called philtrum. While some speculate its purpose as snot funnel or natural mechanism to allow air into bottles when drunk directly from, others say that it is mark of angel’s finger at baby’s birth as sign of blessing. Science is little less magical and informs that philtrum (meaning “magic potion” in Greek) is nothing but mark (raphe) left from merging of right and left side during embryonic development. Other signs of such mergers are line in middle or our tongues and dents under our chins. Philtrum supposedly helps human express much larger range of lip motions than otherwise possible thus enhancing verbal and nonverbal communication. Erik and Ilona speculate that “groove…indicates sexuality and productivity in spiritual life, work and hobbies”. Length and depth of groove suggest prowess of man while people with shallow groove are not good at dealing with public. Straightdope mentions that “ridges protect a particular sensitive spot in the skull where three bones meet, two from the sides and one from the top” and “[if] they fail to appear, the child is born with an unfortunate condition known as 'cleft lip'.”

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Guilt of abandonment

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That’s what marketers must mean by consumer loyalty.

I don’t have any stake in success or failure of Yahoo! or Google or Microsoft. Yet, there was some weird kind of loss, a guilt of abandonment, a feeling of cheating, when I shifted my Yahoo! email — which I’ve used successfully over last eight years — to Google email. Shift of consumers to better and efficient products is what drives innovation in the market, rewards innovators and punishes laggards. Yet, there is feeling of betraying your old pal. Same has been experience of moving away from Yahoo! Groups, Yahoo! Messenger and Yahoo! Photos to corresponding Google services. I’ve used Bloglines for over four years and resisted moving to Google Reader for sake of supporting former. When I finally gave up last month, I felt bad. Perhaps it’s the human tendency to support underdog, second runner, which is cause of such reaction. Perhaps it is desire to keep competition strong for front runners, so that industry doesn’t become monopoly and later entrants can have confidence of finding support in meantime it takes to develop technology to compete with behemoths. I know that these companies didn’t really bother about me personally, and in many cases actively ignored me, but still, long familiarity brings pangs of separation, a tinge of guilt, a sign of infidelity.

If any of these companies were to fall, some memories will be lost. Memories of my first ever email address, memories of first ever web presence, equivalent of childhood on the net.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Association defines use

There is a game which involves calling out first word that comes to your mind when another word is uttered. Psychology tells us that these two pair form inherent association in our mind. A thing can do multiple things but is usually well known for one of things, which becomes its primary association. And if an object is associated with a particular use, that use becomes its prominent use and breaking the association becomes tough task.

People in developed world have interacted with mobile phones before people in developing world. At that time mobile was purely for wireless telephony purposes. Over time, mobile also started providing chatting, photography, videography, internet browsing and gaming services. Yet, for earlier adapters it is psychologically difficult to redefine association of mobile from with telephony to with other uses. On the other hand, users in developing countries who saw mobile along with all other features for the first time around found its association natural. That is one reason that early adapters still don’t use many value added features of mobile that new adapters use. They, and me, feel separate need of camera for pictures; computer for internet; and mobile for telephony. It is, of course, wrong to suggest that differences are rigid, yet it is true in general sense, and process of adoption of uses is slow in earlier users.

We see this in new generation familiar with computers from their birth. Ask me to write and expect me to pick up a pen and paper. Ask them to write and expect them to pick up their laptop. Technology has already changed meaning of familiar words and phrases. There was a time hard drive meant a long tiring drive by car and memory was thing you couldn’t buy in the market. To get people to redefine association, and hence enhance new innovating uses, is one of the most difficult job of marketer.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Moving

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There was a time when moving was heartbreaking. Because my dad works in a bank, we’ve moved from one city to another nearly every three years as far back as I remember. Every few years we will load our whole household into trucks and leave behind friends, memories and part of our life. Every few years we will learn new geography, adjust ourselves to new layout of home, meet new people and invest in building relationships. Each of these moves will require learning new things, forgetting few things, apprehension of change, and bucket loads of crying. My childhood is scattered in many streets and neighbourhoods, among many friends, none of whom can be called childhood friend completely, in many schools. There was a time when this change was aching.

In recent years though, I’ve moved from one place to another so frequently that no permanent connection develops. Something at the back of mind warns of impending separation. Everything becomes transactional and short lived, rather than emotional and long term. Even when I am at a place, there is no feeling of home. There is no more pain. Alas, there is no more sense of belonging too.

It’s inevitable in globalized world where people are global citizens and residents of multiple places. Some call it belonging everywhere. I feel it is belonging nowhere. Who misses you when you move out? What do you miss when you move out? If none and nothing, then an anchor is lost. Like a ship which sails oceans to oceans, docking temporarily all around the world, never able to call any shore its home, feted to wander wide expanse forever.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Real India

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India is as diverse country as one can be. Everything changes practically every hundred kilometers, including food, clothing, rituals, language/dialect, customs and culture. So it’s not surprising that ultra modern hotels and shopping malls and slum and poverty both constitute India in equal right. Yet, there is a feeling in some of us that modern India is not real India. What that means can be good question to start with. Sometimes it seems that we are so enamored of our poverty and underdevelopment that any progress seems violation of sacred past. Of course, we, here means those who are not poor. However, real reason, I suspect, is that progress robs India of its Indianness since because of whatever reasons progress has come to mean western methods and cultures. We have not been able to completely assimilate progress with Indianness, some of which is just not possible, and other is not attempted.

Whatever be reason, I feel at peace and am very happy whenever I am at railway station or in train. Railways of India represent a interesting picture of the country. Railways bring out juxtaposition and amalgamation of people, normal people, who are still Indian in many ways. It’s not really easy for me express myself but somehow I feel educated folks are sometimes so cut off from Indianness that seeing normal people is a joy. A joy, some may correctly critique, only those can express who don’t have to live in that Indianness everyday, a some kind of from the top view.

It’s not often I see women in Saris or Salwar Kurta in college campus or in offices. Seeing women is these dresses gives me peace knowing that someone is still holding on to elements of our culture. Children in public places appear more enjoyable to me than those brought up in strict polite mannerism in upper class households. To large extent, I find pleasure because I see my childhood in that. Our family travelled through rail enough that I see my family in any normal family. Regular people who think that drinking coffee at Cafe Coffee Day with 50/- is prohibitively expensive and buy food from street vendors. Regular people who mind spending 100/- for a lunch or dinner. Regular people who carry their drinking water with them. Regular people who carry achaar and pooris with them. Regular people whose notion of privacy has not cut them off from the humanity around them.

I think more than real or normal India, it is desire for simpler past, a nostalgia of earlier times, which makes me find pleasure in their company. I don’t know why, really. Though, I enjoy watching other people — which is one reason that psychology is odd man out in category of things I write — and railway crowd is best place to do that.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What is “match”?

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Matchbox is what is outside packaging and matchstick is what is inside content then what on earth is “match”?

In defence of IIT coaching

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IIT coaching bashing is ubiquitous trend in media, public, politicians, and even alumni and IIT administration in last couple of years. Rise of numerous coaching institutes all over India, specially in Kota, but also in Delhi, Hyderabad and Chennai fuel ire of those trying to control quality of input to these premier institutes of India. Not only these coaching centers charge exorbitant fee, they also train students to crack the IIT entrance exam by rote memorization, pattern recognition, systematic targetted attempt, rather than focus on fundamentals of learning. Side effect of these gruelling two year long coaching (some even target students as early as class 9th), which are driven by desire to extract maximum money out of maximum students, is that pupils have stopped paying attention to regular high school. A symbiotic nexus is developed between schools and coaching centers where student skips classes in school all year and studies in coaching without inviting any penalty from school in lieu of appropriate payment.

It’s true that JEE doesn’t measure real engineering potential. How best to measure quality of input into IIT is something left to administration. Given that, though, you can’t blame students to wanting to get into given rewards that await typical IIT graduate. In India where higher education is in shambles, government controlled, politically driven, encumbered by whims of local politics and moral policing of administration, few institutes such as IITs which have world class infrastructure, teachers and reputation become cynosure of all eyes. Given possibility of lucrative job options after graduating, appeal to students to focus on learning rather than clearing exam may be at moral high ground but is simply not practical. People work according to incentives, not with appeal to morality, at least most don’t.

In a free market, demand creates its own supply. Mushrooming coaching institutes cater to this intense demand for getting into IITs by setting shops which increases chance of doing so. Price is usually outcome of tug of war between demand and supply. Some coaching centers, which have been able to differentiate themselves by higher success rate naturally attract higher demand, and consequently charge premium fee. So while fee is high, it’s outcome of market forces. If government feels about affordability of poor people, it can start its own subsidized institutes. Given state of public schools in this country, one doesn’t need foresight to see what is going to happen to those institutes.

IIT coaching institutes to IIT aspirants are what sports coaches to Olympics aspirants. They both train pupils to achieve their goal, and only their goal, without regard to all round development, which, if any, is incidental and not part of plan. I don’t see how can one be wrong but other right. And each person deserves the right to be trained. What matters is the quality of input. It should be immaterial if quality is innate at birth or developed by hard work. Assuming, quality, of course, as measured by JEE, which is subject to debate.

What I am trying to say is that there is no reason to rue existence of such institutes which simply cater to much needed demand. It would be useful if government changes incentives of the system to eliminate the need of coaching, if it so desires, which I don’t think is required. By changing entrance test pattern and making it more wholesome, by increasing supply of IIT seats, by giving more weightage to high school, by launching publicly sponsored coaching classes, and so on. And indeed there have been changes in these directions in last few years to partial success. If there is an exam then there will be training for it, so even changing pattern of exam has merely changed the syllabus of training centers. Since there is nothing fundamentally wrong with coaching centers to cater to public demand, I think any change targetted at reducing influence of these institutes, rather than targetted at improving efficiency and quality of system, is an attempt in wrong direction.

Fun election facts

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From 20 things you didn’t know about elections

Humans are not the only ones that vote. When it is time to find a new hive, honeybees vote for the best location, even though they can’t count. After scouts return from casing possible sites, they dance. The bees that dance most vigorously will recruit other scouts until one site wins.

For more than 500 years the doge of Venice was selected by 30 members of the Great Council who were chosen by lot, who were then reduced by lot to 9, who then chose 40, who were then reduced by lot to 12 who then chose 25, who were reduced by lot to 9, who then elected 45, who were reduced by lot to 11 who then chose the 41 who finally elected the doge. We are assured by researchers that this actually worked reasonably well in avoiding corruption and the influence of special interests.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Reflections on US and Indian society

Even when living in India, it’s not easy to escape US presidential elections: elections in world’s oldest democracy and most powerful country, elections that shape, to use hyperbole, world’s future. Nothing I write can add more value since everything has already been written to death. But elections are also time when social differences in US and India magnify. I merely wish to highlight my understanding of differences in American society and culture from that of India from my brief interaction. Clearly, my limited window to opportunity provides only limited view.

When I was new in US, I used to think that India can catch up to US, in terms of standard of life, infrastructure support, freedom and public attitude in next twenty years. More I knew about US and more I knew about India, I am not sure now if even fifty years are sufficient. There are surely many many things good in America, and if it were to be either this or that, I would rather want India to become US than to remain India. But, and you knew that was coming, Indian brief history has also few amazing things that over 230 years of American couldn’t master. Indian public takes these for granted but you need to see US to appreciate them.

India is known for its continuing caste discrimination, and we do abominable things done to people of lower caste even to this age. Witch huntings are infrequent but steady news even in 21st century India. Treatment of women in India leaves much to be desired. I’ve met many people who want their sisters and mothers to leave India if they can manage that, since even if you are in educated non-chauvinistic household, scums of society are constant menace to normal life of woman. Despite that we have had people of all caste and all religions in various top political and administrative positions without batting an eye lid. We might have quibbled over tyranny of Indira Gandhi and foreignness of Sonia Gandhi, but that she was a woman was not even a point of debate in India. In limited history one can consider it coincidence but among over 40 elections, US still has not been able to select woman president says something to me. This year too, people exclaimed aloud about Democratic nominee: woman or black, both first time in American past. And with rumours about Obama aplenty, seems like this election will be run on purely false propaganda. And it’s not a small point that spouses of ministers and presidents in India are practically unknown public persona. We may vote based on caste, but we don’t vote based on ‘who is sexy’. Not that either is better.

Undoubtedly there is more religious freedom in States but our experience of living life of unbelievable diversity since ages has taught us something which is different than there. Sure, we’ve riots, but India officially remains secular country and celebrates festivals of all religions, not something you can say about US. In my office in Los Angeles, a Jewish colleague took offence to my ‘Merry Christmas’-ing him, something that didn’t even think about since saying Happy Diwali to Christian and Happy Eid to Hindu has never been a problem here. Some people have commented that secularism in India and US takes different forms. We believe equal treatment of all religions by state, they believe separation of state and religion. I am not expert into give philosophical explanation to this but a crude analogy will help you what I mean. There have been objections in US about putting a picture of Jesus in public school or a Christmas tree in airport lounge since it is mixing religion with state. Indian schools have had pictures and symbols of all religions together. Indians have been taught about “unity in diversity” throughout their cultural history, but meaning only becomes clear now.

To me it appeared political correctness or religious antagonism gone too far when US stores had to advertise ‘happy holidays’ rather than ‘merry Christmas’ so as not to offend their non-Christian customers. I feel that it is ruining the whole fun and meaning of festival. If Diwali, Eid and Christmas just turned into ‘holiday’ in India, I would find it very bad. Therein lies a difference, I think. Maintaining and celebrating distinct identities of all religion, rather than eliminating that identity itself completely.

08/11/2008 03:02AM Edit: See what I meant?

Monday, November 3, 2008

I am 91% male

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Based on my browsing history. Good to know.

Also based on user profiles, who are visitors to top sites?

New model of arranged marriages

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Biggest flaw for arrange marriages, unlike love marriage, is the unavailability of the option to to go back. At the end of courtship/acquaintance period, each person/family has to decide whether they would like to enter into nuptial agreement or not. If yes, then search halts and relationship is settled. If not, then search continues, one at a time, until relationship is settled. At no point, during search process, there is option of going back to previous party, which was once passed over. Even if neither of both parties has committed with other third party, social pressure and structure of the process prevents backtracking.

Now, search for life partner is driven by desire to find best suitable fit for a mate. However, there is no option to evaluate all and make optimal decision. At this point risk of missing out best partner increases since one has to make decision before considering all alternatives. If best match occurs later in the search process, having experience of hindsight, one can conclude the search and settle the deal. Even though this still include risk of missing potential better match, chances of error are less due to prior sampling. However, if best partner is met in early stages of search, chances of making error are high due to no prior sampling of candidate pool and unformed baseline.

Subsequently, I propose a solution which removes this handicap to an extent. Each party will not be required to declare yay or nay soon after meeting but will keep decision undisclosed and move on to next candidate in search process. At any point of time, one party can demand clear answer from another, however, it will have to bear risk of asking too early (and hence high chances of disapproval) or asking too late (and hence high chances of settlement elsewhere). At all time, both parties in process will keep running list of preference order. At some predefined date, after which one party cannot wait any longer for marriage, it can run down the list until it finds an compatible match and agreement from other side. Decision from each party will be function of preference order of other party, cost of future search, and extensiveness of past search.

This will help in cases where marriage is not imminent yet search starts quite early, which constitutes most of the cases. If marriage is urgently desired then both existing and proposed model will converge. However, system of arrange marriage being what is, entrenched in years of social customs and meanings, this system is unlikely to be adopted, even though, it is consistent with current rules of matchmaking process and not insulting to either party.
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