Cosmos

(The following is an excerpt from Carl Sagan’s Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, a 1980 TV series. This excerpt is form episode 10, “The Edge of Forever.”)
If the general picture, however, of a Big Bang followed by an expanding universe is correct – what happened before that? Was the universe devoid of all matter and then the matter suddenly somehow created? How did that happen?
In many cultures, a customary answer is that a “God” or “Gods” created the universe out of nothing, but if we wish to pursue this question courageously we must, of course, ask the next question – where did God come from? If we decide that this is an unanswerable question, why not save a step and conclude that the origin of the universe is an unanswerable question? Or if we say that God always existed, why not save a step and conclude that the universe always existed?
There’s no need for a creation, it was always here. These are not easy questions. Cosmology brings us face to face with the deepest mysteries, with questions that were once treated only in religion and myth.
“Who knows for certain? Who shall here declare it? Whence was it born? Whence came creation? The Gods are later than this world’s formation. Who then can know the origins of the world? None knows whence creation arose or whether he has or has not made it – he who surveys it from the highest regions. Only he knows, or perhaps he knows not.”

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Success

“Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it”

Viktor E. Frankl, (1905 – 1997), Man’s Search for Meaning

In 1991, Man’s Search for Meaning was listed as one of the ten most influential books in the U.S. by respondents in a survey conducted for the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club.

Slavery – Part 2

Anarchy, the wiki states, “is a society being freely constituted without authorities or a governing body.” The word could also mean, according to the Merriam-Webster, “a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority” but I use the word in its literal sense as “without ruler.” I do not need nor want a ruler.

I am a political and philosophical anarchist since I reject being ruled by anyone. I am an autonomous, self-directed being who is committed to being free from the arbitrary will of others. I believe and act in accordance with the simple principle which Abe Lincoln elegantly stated: As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. Continue reading

Slavery

The notion that the individual owns himself or herself is the essential, axiomatic, necessary, defining condition of a civilized society. It’s axiomatic in the sense that it is a priori, self-evident, categorical, certain and beyond dispute. It’s apodictic — a necessary truth, an absolute certainty not requiring proof. It’s an assumption the truth of which if not assumed can never be established.

It’s necessary because without self-ownership, there can be no freedom. Civilization and freedom are inseparable concepts. The essence of civilization is the freedom of the individual. Continue reading

Licenses

The news item reads, “UP makes it mandatory to obtain license for home bar.” It’s just one more small step on the road to serfdom.

The population should be alarmed at the proliferation of the license mandates and the steady encroachment by unaccountable bureaucrats into the private lives of citizens. The license-permit-quota-control raj continues relentlessly imposing its will on a powerless people. This would not be tolerated by any population that values freedom — which in our case we do not have.

Licenses and permits may be justified only under specific circumstances. For example, if the activity could lead to harm to others, it would be permissible to require that a person is sufficiently skilled in the activity. An untrained operator of heavy construction or transportation equipment could kill innocent people. Pilots of commercial airliners must be certified to fly. Continue reading

Right to Bear Arms

I took a Vistara flight from Mumbai to Bangalore a week ago Sunday. In preparation for the flight, I checked out their website and came across their ‘kirpan’ policy which states:

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Carriage of “Kirpan” by Sikh Passengers

A ‘Kirpan’ with a total maximum length of 9 inches (22.86 cm), but a blade not exceeding 06 inches (15.24 cm), is permitted for carriage by a Sikh Passenger on their person, within India.
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Kirpans[1] serve a function that is motivated by religion. The airline rule permits those who profess the Sikh faith to carry a weapon on board a commercial flight that is not allowed to non-Sikhs. This is discrimination based on religion.
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Hello from Bangalore

I’m visiting my friend KM and his family in Bangalore (aka Bengaluru) after many years. The weather in this city is better than any other major Indian city’s. If I were to live in India, I’d choose this city. I took the picture above from the 15th floor apartment in a development called Brigade Gateway in Malleswaram — it has everything that you’d need: residential towers, school, hotel, mall (Orion), hospital, mega store, parks, gyms, restaurants, office complexes, etc etc. Continue reading

Elon Musk on Laws

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you are prepared to understand why Elon Musk is a remarkably intelligent man.

I’m not saying that you would have become capable of judging his business sense or his rocket designing abilities by reading my blog; what I mean is that you have a pretty good understanding of how governments fail and what should be done to reduce the harm that governments do. Here’s a rough edited transcript of what Elon said in an interview, part of which was published on YouTube on Sept 3rd, a few days ago: Continue reading

AMA – the Ganesh Chaturthi edition

Ganesh Chaturthi greetings. After many years, I find myself in Mumbai during Ganesh puja. It appears very subdued — understandably so.

In the normal course, I usually visit India twice a year. But this time I am back in India after a bit over two years. Nothing much appears to have changed in Mumbai — the streets are mostly dug up and under construction that proceeds at a glacial pace. Ganesh is the Remover of Obstacles. The BMC (the public works corporation of Mumbai) is the Anti-Ganesh: it is the Installer of Obstacles.

It’s been a while since I posted an Ask Me Anything. So ask away. And listen to Kishori-tai. Continue reading

Amazing Internet

These are two remarkable facts about our modern world. One is that it is incredibly amazing, and the other is that we’re incredibly blasé about that amazingness. Our attitude is just boring ho-hum. It takes effort to step back and realize how astonishing our world is — even compared to only a couple of decades ago. I think it would do us good to pause once in a while and admire what humans have been able to achieve in a relatively short period.

Here I will point out a little bit of that amazing stuff that I experienced yesterday. Continue reading