Culture Matters

Zulu cultureThe ever wise wiki states that the word culture “is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and norms found in human societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, customs, capabilities, and habits of the individuals in these groups” and that “humans acquire culture through the learning processes of enculturation and socialization, which is shown by the diversity of cultures across societies.”

Human cultural diversity never ceases to amaze me. It’s wonderful that there is so much diversity in the way people live, think, behave, work, relax, worship, and do those things they do. A monocultural world would have been not just boring but it would have been a danger to survival. The logic of life dictates that diversity is essential for survival. That said, I wish there was less diversity in some aspects of human culture — the tolerance of littering. Continue reading

The Management of Air India are SEFs

As commercial airlines go, Air India is nothing to write home about. Air India ranked third-worst performing airline in the world, reported Economic Times in Jan 2017. Air India’s all-round dismal performance–customer service, timeliness, cabin service, heavy commercial losses, etc., etc.–is not surprising considering that it is a Government of India enterprise. Nothing that the GOI does is ever done competently and well. The bureaucrats and politicians are perhaps the least competent in the world, barring a few African banana republics.   Continue reading

On Technology, Prosperity and Dysfunctional Ideologies

We take it as a given, almost a fact of nature like the seasons or the geography of continents, that different parts of the world enjoy different levels of prosperity. But there’s nothing “natural” about this since this is almost entirely within human control. The differences are stark, and at one end of the scale, heartbreaking. Consider the extremely rich first. Luxembourg has an annual per capita income of over $110,000, Norway over $100,000, Switzerland around $85,000. Those are small countries and outliers with perhaps little to tell us. But the US is large and has an annual per capita income of $53,000. Why is it so rich?

At the other end of the scale are Burundi and Malawi with only $200 or so annual per capita incomes. Why are they so poor? The richest countries are around 500 times richer in per capita terms than the poorest. What accounts for this inequality in incomes of countries? That question has engaged the attention of people for hundreds of years — starting with of course the great Scottish economist Adam Smith who inquired about “The Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations” in his famous 1776 book.
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A Sense of Justice & Fairness

Stated in the abstract, the case simple and outrageous. Let’s call them parties A, B, and C. Parties B and C own land which person A wants to grab. Person A somehow induces person B to disappear from view, and then accuses party C of murdering person B. Then a court convicts three people of party C for the murder of person B and throws them in jail. Fast forward 11 years.
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Our Greatest Weapon

Used to be that might was determined by the size of your muscles and how many men you could command to do your bidding. Time was when you had to club someone over the head to get them to submit to you. Things have changed and with it has changed what determines might. The world has changed with each revolution. The agricultural revolution privileged foresight over just plain sight. The industrial revolution gave power to those who had knowledge of science and technology over those that didn’t. The post-industrial information age has once again redefined the rules. Continue reading

When in Rome, only Monotheism

I gather from Kanchan Gupta’s piece — “In Rome, Durga is not welcome” — the officials in Rome are jerking around Hindus who want to celebrate puja. But for the efforts of the Indian Ambassador, Mr Arif Shahid Khan, this year’s Durga puja celebrations in Rome would have been a disaster. A deep bow for Mr Khan in appreciation of his help to the Hindus in Rome.
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It’s a joke, you stupid cretins

Getting things ass backwards is not a crime. Most people act stupid from time to time but are not congenitally stupid. But when organizations, and people who are high up in such organizations, get things ass backwards and persistent in doing so for decades, the results are neither pretty nor trivial. A shining example of the consistent ass-backwardness amounting to criminal stupidity is being reported.
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A Posthumous Apology to Alan Turing

On Sept 10th, Alan Turing received an apology from the British government 55 years after his death. Following a petition to 10 Downing St signed by 30,000 people, Gordon Brown formally apologized to the man who was so persecuted for being a homosexual that he committed suicide.
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Lynching is too good for them

There are some topics that make me see red. In that state, I cannot even think rationally, leave alone write coherently. I am so angry that this is not going to read well for sure. But this has to be said. Those who are ultimately responsible for the violence against the Indian students in Australia should not be lynched. Lynching would be too good for them. I am not talking about the red-necks and skinheads (or whatever their Australian equivalents are) who attack foreign students. I am talking of the Indian politicians and bureaucrats that have brought about the conditions that force Indians to go abroad looking for a decent education to places where they are viciously and mercilessly attacked.
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