The Space Cadet Fixation

Farce is funny when staged deliberately. It borders on the tragic when it is splashed across the front pages of the nation’s newspapers and is eagerly slurped up by the gullible even in high places.

Just the other day I was taken to task for not high-lighting the successes of Indians and instead focusing on problems that we need to solve to be a real nation of some consequence. Continue reading

Disgusted with Born Again and Stupidity

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. Our chief weapons are fear and …

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This one is too good to pass up. Myke sent me Jim Kunstler’s column about Pentecostals and evangelicals. The post is worth reading, including the many comments. For the record, here are the first and the last paragraphs of the post.

Last month media elder statesman Bill Moyers made a speech after receiving an award at Harvard in which he said that “born again” members of the Bush regime couldn’t possibly believe in the future if they truly subscribed to the doctrines of Pentecostal Christianity — since its theology includes the notion that the world has entered an “end times” scenario as described in the the Book of Revelations. Moyers went further, implying that people who explicitly and programmatically don’t believe in the future have no business running a government, the chief task of which is safeguarding the future.

Soon, the problems this nation faces will be so obvious and grave that George W. Bush and the Republicans and the WalMartians, and all the moneygrubbing TV preachers, and the people who can’t imagine an hour of leisure without engines ringing in their ears, and the offspring of all the bug-eyed lynch-mob cretins of yore will stand naked in discredit. The rest of the nation, the non-stupid, non-selfish, non-childish, non-believers in the idea that it is possible to get something for nothing will take a stand. It won’t be the end of the world, but it will be a political convulsion against a background of fire, proving that the future belongs to those who believe in the future.

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Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. Our chief weapons are surprise and fear …

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The Seattle Times of Feb 20th, 2005 reports that Indians see Bush as good for peace.

In the poll, 62 percent of 1,005 Indians described Bush’s re-election as positive for peace and security. Only 27 percent said it was negative.

In France, 75 percent viewed Bush’s re-election as negative for peace and security, as did 77 percent in Germany.

Bush is good for peace? Hmm. That’s a new one. I used to think that the average Indian was better informed than that. But I guess I am wrong. Why do they like Bush?

Chief among the reasons Indians cited for liking Bush is his stance against terrorism. Indians, who have long faced terrorist attacks from separatists in Kashmir and other regions, welcome Bush’s pressure on India’s longtime nemesis, Pakistan, to crack down on Islamic militants trying to cross to the Indian side of Kashmir.

Good grief! Which planet do these morons live on? Bush considers the military dictator General Musharraf a frontline ally against global terrorism. It is like calling the fox who feasts in the hen-house every night as the greatest protector of chicken. Bush has his reasons to trust the General because the General asks how high when Bush says jump. But these Indian cretins should know that Musharraf is the butcher who masterminded Kargil and has been funding the terrorists in Kashmir and the rest of India. And much of that terrorism is funded from the military aid that Bush sends the General. At last count the aid was of the order of a billion and a half dollars. That buys a lot of jihadis in Kashmir and in the rest of India.

Why do some like Bush? Because he did not say that he was against outsourcing and therefore he is better for business, never mind that we have to live in a bloody dangerous world because of Bush.

The booming outsourcing industry also appreciates Bush’s pro-business, hands-off policy toward the shift of U.S. software, back-office and call-center jobs to India.

Ajay Lavakare, co-founder and head of a company that provides computerized mapping services, is a self-described liberal who abhors Bush’s stance on abortion, gun control and the death penalty.

Yet from his perch in Noida, a corporate center outside Delhi, he worried last fall about Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry’s rhetoric against the offshoring of U.S. jobs.

“We all sort of heaved a bit of a sigh of relief when Bush won, at least from the individual business perspective,” said Lavakare, who developed the business plan for his company while he was a Stanford University graduate student in 1991.

“From a purely selfish Indian point of view, Bush’s re-election was good for India,” he said. The Indian results in the BBC survey may have been skewed somewhat in favor of Bush because the poll was conducted in urban centers, where most of the beneficiaries of offshoring live. Polling in rural India remains difficult because of limited telephone service and resources.

Damn right it is a selfish attitude. Not just that, it is ignorant, short-sighted and morally abhorrant.

I have this cynical attitude that Indians are stupid. I am sorry but they are friggin’ lobotomized retarded myopic money-grubbing semi-literate slobbering morons who deserve all the shit they get if that gobal survey is an indication of their analytical skills and moral sense.

I am seriously disgusted.

De-Linking Teaching and Testing

If the industrial age was characterized by increased specialization and standardization, then the post-industrial modern age — often referred to as the information age — is subject to even greater specialization and standardization. Since education forms the very foundation of this information age, one should expect greater standardization and specialization in the production and delivery of education. Continue reading

Pakistan Finally Recognizes the Services of Communists

An item in the Nagpur local newspaper The Hitavada caught my eye as I had breakfast. “Surjeet, Bardhan to visit Pak next week” read the headline. Surjeet is the General Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Bardhan holds the same post in the sister communist organization, CPI. The paper reported that they were to be felicitated and accorded the status of “state guests” by the Pakistani Government. Warmed the cockles of my heart, reading that piece. Here at last, I said to myself, is dedication being finally recognized and rewarded.
Continue reading

In search of equanimity

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more; it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Those lines from Shakespeare’s Macbeth are a sure-fire way of deflating any false sense of importance one might have while going about one’s business. Blogs, especially, are tales told by an idiot, and this one is no exception. All this strutting and fretting does not amount to a hill of beans. In equal measures I get hate-mail and praise-mail. To prevent the emotional swings between highs and lows in response, I try to recall Shakespeare’s lines above.

Equanimity is not something that is easy to achieve and I think I fail fairly miserably on that front. There is a story, a Zen story, which exemplifies equanimity to me better than any other.

Once upon a time, in a certain village, it so happened that a pretty young unmarried woman became pregnant. The parents were furious and upon questioning, the young woman confessed that the old Zen master in the village was responsible. This enraged the parents and they went to the Zen master and berated him without restraint. They told him that he has to take care of the woman and the child. The Zen master listened to all the abuse without a word and when they had exhausted themselves he simply said, “Is that so?”

He took the young woman into his home, looked after her, and when the child was born, took care of both mother and child. Then one day, the woman was overcome with remorse and went to her parents and confessed that she had lied and it was not the Zen master but a young man from another village who was the real father. The parents were absolutely horror stricken: they had falsely accused and then burdened an innocent man. So they went to the Zen master and fell to their knees and took a long time telling him how sorry they were for what they had done to him. The Zen master listened to them patiently and all he said was, “Is that so?”

I know that I would like to have that Is that so? attitude. But I also know that perhaps in this lifetime, I may not get there. The poem IF by Rudyard Kipling does have a bit where he talks about treating triumph and disaster as imposters.

A close friend of mine drew inspiration from the poem when he was struggling with his PhD thesis. You can see reflections of the lessons from the Bhagavat Gita in Kipling’s poem. For the record, here is the poem:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream–and not make dreams your master,
If you can think–and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings–nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!

The Institute for Indian Technology in Bombay

Over the last weekend I spent a little time at the IIT Bombay, the alma mater of many a successful and celebrated Indian, resident as well as non-resident. IIT — the Indian Institutes of Technology. Sometimes called the Institutes of Indian Technology.

I had gone there to sit on a panel which was deliberating such weighty matters as policy for encouraging open source in education. I had little to add to it but still I was given a nice desk weather station (has a hygrometer and thermometer in addition to the clock). Neat little gizmo, made in China, of course. Continue reading

Spirits from Vasty Deeps

One of my favorite bits from Shakespeare. This one is from Act 3, Scene 1 of The First Part of King Henry IV:

Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.

Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
But will they come when you do call for them?

The “vasty deep” is so evocative. I see visions of deep dark oceans with strange creatures never seen on earth dwelling there. And spirits that are powerful and perhaps evil.

Anyway, what I like about that bit is that one can proclaim stuff but that does not mean that it becomes real. Much inflated rhetoric can be seen for what it is by recalling Hotspur’s question.

Yes, you can call the spirits from the vasty deep. But that doesn’t mean that they will oblige.

Note: The system is behaving strangely because there are changes going on in the background. Comments are iffy at best. So do email me if you cannot post. Thanks.