Nelson Mandela on Education

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” That according to Nelson Mandela.

I object to the characterization of education as a weapon. Weapons are used as tools of destruction, not construction. Remember the distinction between tools and weapons: all weapons are tools (instruments; means to an end) but not all tools are weapons (“any device used in order to inflict damage or harm to living beings, structures, or systems.”)

Changing the world is a fine objective. Most people want some changes in the world around them and most people (though not all) want some change in themselves too.
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Criticizing Modern Indian Holy Cows Considered Dangerous

A little while ago, I saw this tweet — which I append below. It relates to the mainstream media’s response to Shri Mohan Bhagwat’s comment that “Mother” Teresa was motivated by her desire to convert people to Christianity. That seems really odd to me. I would have surmised that the fact that Teresa was basically in the business of proselytizing and converting would be as unremarkable as the fact that the Pope is a Catholic. Whatever she did — and she was remarkably candid about it — she maintained was because she was serving her lord and savior Jesus Christ. Christ wanted everyone to be saved through him. So what’s so bloody remarkable about noting that she was primarily motivated by what she admitted to: saving souls?

Anyway, here’s the tweet by @rvaidya2000:
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Richard Dawkins on the Monotheistic God

The god of the Old Testament is the same god that Christians adopted in their New Testament. Following the Jews and the Christians, Islam proclaimed the same monotheistic god. Who is this god? Richard Dawkins, a non-believer, characterized that god in his book The God Delusion thusly:

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

Every word in that description is justified — within the so-called “holy” books. Chapter and verse can be quoted to show why that god is “the most unpleasant character in all fiction.”

List of Pages on Teresa the Merciless

Here’s a list of pages that deal with the “Mother” Teresa. These pages don’t show up in the category “Mother Teresa” — hence this post.

Teresa: Ghoul of Calcutta by Hitchens.

Sunanda Datta-Ray: “Driven by Self-interest”.

Shields: “Teresa’s House of Illusions”

Kanchan Gupta: “A State Funeral?”

Wuellenweber: “Mother Teresa: Where are her millions”?

Hitchen’s Interview: “. . . to the poor she preached resignation . . . “

Deposition: “Mother of All Myths”

People I Admire

I admire a few public figures intensely. Among those who are still around, the physicist Murray Gell-Mann makes that short list. Among the dear departed physicists are Albert Einstein and Richard Feynman. Politicians mostly make it to my list of “Most Intensely Disliked” list but there is one exception: Lee Kuan Yew makes it to “Most Intensely Admired” list. My list “Economists I Admire the Most” has the usual suspects like Adam Smith, Friedrich August von Hayek, Ronald Coase, Milton Friedman — and James M Buchanan,Jr.
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Lee Kuan Yew is under Intensive Care

Lee Kuan Yew is in intensive care in a hospital in Singapore (Yahoo news.) I am afraid that he will not be around for long but I hope my fears are unfounded. I wish that India had had a leader of his intellect and dedication at the time of India’s political independence from British rule. Unfortunately for hundreds of millions of Indians, India got saddled with Gandhi and following him, Nehru. Both will be judged harshly by the generations to come but that is scant consolation for those who suffered in the past and for those who continue to suffer due to the idiotic policies of incompetent and idiotic leaders of India.

I hold most contemporary politicians in contempt and would rejoice to see the back of them. But I will deeply mourn Lee Kuan Yew’s passing for certain. I hope that day is still far away.

On Monkeys, Cats & the Generality Principle

This one is hauled from the archive. Why? Because these two articles are nice. Even if I myself say so. Also, I am very busy reading and so don’t have the time to write fresh stuff. Or perhaps I am just plain lazy. In any case, do check out the following.

1. Profiting from Conflict. The Monkey and the Cats.

Wars are generally very costly for most people but are always very profitable for some. It is also not too difficult to start a conflict. Envy, greed and covetousness lie just beneath the surface and can be summoned almost at will. Arms manufacturers and arms dealers have the greatest incentive for provoking, fuelling and maintaining conflict. Follow the money if you want to know why some parts of the world suffer chronic conflict.

2.On Constitutions and the Generality Principle.

Societies which have potential fracture lines can still avoid catastrophic breakdown provided the basic set of rules — the constitution — that constrain behaviour were such that it did not stress those divisions. The real danger arises when the constitution makes those fault lines explicit and laws are enacted in accordance with those rules which then discriminate for or against identifiable groups.

Questions, comments?