The Road to Tyranny

Slowly raising the temperature allows a frog submerged in water to get accustomed to its ever-worsening condition until it gets cooked to death. So goes folk wisdom regarding how to cook a frog. Though a pointless exercise, it does serve as a good metaphor for how countries gradually advance on the road to tyranny — in very small, nearly imperceptible steps.

But it is possible to notice small objects and minute changes if one gets sensitized to them. It is hard to notice a commercial jetliner at cruising altitude from the ground without its telltale vapor trail. However, if someone pointed you to it, it’s easy enough to track the nearly invisible object in the sky if you pay attention.

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Government of India Carries the White Man’s Burden

Doing Good is Always a Good Excuse

If you want to be loved and admired by the people, do good to others. Unfortunately that only works sometimes. But if you wish do well for yourself, even if it means that it causes harm to others, make the people believe that what you are doing is for the good of others. That’s always guaranteed to work. It has worked like a charm in the past, works now, and will work in the future. Public perception trumps reality. Billions spent on false advertising attest to the fact that it works.

The past masters in this game of duping the public into believing blatant falsehoods are governments of all stripes, be they communists, socialists, fascists — and especially democracies.

One of the more important lessons to be learned from the British Colonial regime is the absolute necessity for governments to hoodwink the public. The British rulers cloaked their imperial drive with the noble enterprise of helping the natives as part of the “White man’s burden” to better the “half-devil and half-child” (phrases that the bigoted racist Rudyard Kipling so memorably penned in 1899.) Continue reading

Ask me anything — Hope for Humanity edition

All problems that humanity faces will ultimately be solved through better intelligence. After all, it is human intelligence that produces all that we have for our survival and prosperity. Nature-provided raw materials are strictly speaking worthless without the application of intelligence. Until very recently, all we had was human intelligence and human labor to get things done. More recently, human labor was augmented with machines. Machines are ultimately the product of human intelligence and human labor. Now we are getting to the point where human intelligence would be augmented by artificial or machine intelligence, and then in short order artificial intelligence will surpass human intelligence (just as machine labor has surpassed human labor.)

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Personality Cult Disorder and the Naming of Roads

Getting around in most Indian cities is no cake walk given the awful traffic. What makes the experience worse is that quite frequently addresses are hard to locate. I was in Delhi recently and was trying to locate L-1/18 in Hauz Khas Enclave. It is never easy. I’ve been there about half a dozen times, and each time it involved a good deal of driving around because the numbering is random and unpredictable.

Why Indians have not figured out the simple street numbering system used in much of the world is a mystery to me. Another mystery is the naming of streets. Street names manifest what I call a “personality cult disorder” or PCD.

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