Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Morals

Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing the right thing -- Isaac Asimov

I proclaim my right to be discriminated against!

While I'm not as much of a traveler as some of my other friend, I have lived in quite a few places. My family belongs to an area on the UP/MP border which is called bundelkhand. But I have lived in Indore all my life. Then for my undergrad I moved to the heart of UP – Kanpur. I have lived off and on in Hyderabad for about six months. I have visited several cities in my country – north and south, east and west. And now I have been in the US for more than a month. However, I strongly resent the fact that in the 23 three long years of my life, have I ever felt like an outsider. People have been very nauseatingly nice to me and I have never once been discriminated against based on caste, religion, race, gender or economic status.

Frankly, I find it disturbing that my 'real identity' should be neglected in this way. I am urban, elite, educated, north India, upper-caste, hindu and male and not discriminating against me on any of those bases is, to be very frank, highly offensive. Such a complete null and voidification of my true identity has left me hopeless in these dark and oppressive time.

My only hope is Raj Thakre who has finally realized that everyone's identity needs to be respected and there is no better way than to discriminate against them based on regional affiliations. Those countless Bihari's in Mumbai, who have now been living there for so long that they don't even remember the name of their original villages in Bihar, should be thankful to him. I mean, how could they even consider calling themselves Mumbaites and forget about their Bihari origins. Would that not be a big disrespect of Bihar and Biharis? Raj Thakre respects your identity and he wants you to always remember it. That's why he's burning and beating the hell out of you guys.

Raj Thakre is my true hero.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Humanities on Campus

"The theoretical broadening which comes from having many humanities subjects on the campus is offset by the general dopiness of the people who study these things." — Richard Feynman

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What Sets Religion Apart from Other Faiths?

In life we are governed by faith. We believe in a lot of things. I believe that if I push something it will move. Newton made a law out of it. We believe that the law is valid everywhere in the universe. But do we really know that? Have we pushed every thing in the universe with every possible force? We have not. Where does our belief spring from, then? It is a matter of faith.

Then there is religious faith. People believe that there is God -- with a capital G -- and he tells us to lead our lives in a certain way.

There is economic faith. Some believe free markets are the door to salvation. Others believe it's central planning.

What sets religion apart from other beliefs? It is the fact that religion is seen not as something man made but god given. Who asks you not to sin. It is not the pundit or the padri. It's God. Atributing a faith to a superhuman entity propels it beyond the realm of questionability. And it is this non-questionability that is problematic with faith of any sort.

Religion is not the only non-questionable faith. The theory of racial supremacy espoused by Hitler was one such faith. He attributed to aryan supremacy to genetics: something that was beyond human control . It was just something that mother nature, God, whoever did. It was not changeable. It was not questionable.

Other faiths can succumb to unquestionability too. Just a few days back I was talking to a friend who insisted that capitalism was the “most natural” manifestation of human “nature”. It was unquestionably the most natural system of economics. She could as well have been reading out from the scriptures.

Moral of the story. Faiths that are unquestionable are dangerous.

PS: I wonder if the concept of questionability links to the concept of falsifiability in science. If yes, then questionability becomes a fundamental principle of what is called “rational” thought. Please note, however, that questionable does not mean false. It just means that there must be a method to “test” an assertion. Anything that is not testable is irrational.

Related Posts:

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

The reason I didn't like the book is that it appeared unfocused and even immature to me. The film is a lot sharper and more focused. Of course, the theme of the novel, like all Palahniuk books is breaking the status quo, questioning the system, taking more responsibility for you life, etc. etc. You can imagine why I like him. In Fight Club, he is doing the same thing but he's not clear on it. Which makes sense because this is his first novel. For example, the scene where Tyler and Marla have sex, Marla says - “I want to have you abortion.” Now that makes no sense at all in the context of the story. It is just thrown in, for the sake of shock and awe. And it's a politically offensive thing to say. I mean, you can't just throw out abortion that lightly, can you? I think his later novels are more restrained in that sense. He is fond of using shock as a tactic and throws out a lot of gross stuff at you but makes a lot more sense in his other novels.

The second reason why the novel does not work is that the whole split personality thing does not come out very well. In the film, the visuals support the whole build up. When you watch movie for the first time and your realize that Tyler really is a fictitious person, it hits you like a brick. Suddenly everything starts making sense. Many of the scenes have been done brilliantly; I think all of them have been done brilliantly.

Also, the protagonist comes out a lot more as a hero in the movie than in the novel. I can't bring myself to like the protagonist in the novel. In fact, I kind of hate him for being this sick, perverted bastard. In the movie, I love him, being from the same class (very nearly) I can identify and sympathize with him.

Interesting

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Magyk by Angie Sage


Magyk by Angie sage is a fantasy novel for young readers. Although it is not remarkable in any sense of the word, it really is a very good for light, fun reading for young adults.

Magyk seems to be a delightful mix of Enid Blyton, J K Rowling and Terry Pratchett. In that order. Set in a purely magical fictional universe it narrates the adventures of young wizards and witches who do nearly adult stuff.

Rating – 2/5 (Time pass)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

To be or not to be

A very interesting article/news report from the Indian Express about how Ahmedabad schools insist on mentioning caste on the kids's report cards.

This report is another example of the strange dilemma that India faces.

1. On one hand knowing caste leads to discrimination. Yes, it does.
2. On the other, not knowing, deprives the so called lower castes from getting the benefits that the govt. gives them.

To be or not to be, eh?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

I'm at the Ohio State University

I wonder why everyone is thinking I'm studying at Purdue. I'm not. I decided to join the Ohio State University instead.