Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Delusion That is God

Richard Dawkins in Lynchburg, VA promoting his latest book, "The God Delusion".

You guessed right, the next couple of posts are all going to pertain to organized religion, faith (blind at that) and morality and the evolution, if you will, of religion itself. And along the way maybe I'll discover a thing or two about my religious conviction or the lack thereof. I have a large essay brewing but don't hold your breath just yet.

As a precursor, just so that you can familiarize yourselves with arguments that are popularly made on both sides of "The God Delusion" debate, please do read this rather elaborate [email exchange] between an atheist, Sam Harris and a theist, Dennis Prager. You can also read about it [here].

Now, onto the master himself Richard Dawkins.

Part 1: Book Reading

Part 2: Questions and Answer session

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Bill O'Reilly Googly

Another one of many clips of O'Reilly spewing forth his lies as factual truths - this one exposed by MSNBC's Keith Olbermann. His language sure is caustic but very worthy of O'Reilly I am sure

Watch David Letterman splay Bill O'Reilly's guts. This is hilarious!!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Bill O'Reilly - The Spin Zone

I have a special soft corner for Fox's Bill O'Reilly. I am one of his biggest "fans". And with fans like me, who needs critics?

Bill O'Reilly thinks he matters because he thinks he represents objective public opinion in this country. His patronizing paternalism is absolutely insulting (to me atleast). He is the self appointed (annointed is more like it) savior of american culture and "The American Way" of life. Anything that remotely offends him is an attack on the country's values and morals and must be dealt with severity. He denounces all action/opinion that he doesn't approve of as a far-leftist conspiracy. He invites people over to supposedly debate topics but he talks 80% of the time and abusively interrupts his guest's talk time either by calling them names or in an effort to turn around their point (which they haven't had the time to make) to suit his agenda.

O'Reilly's modus operandi

Steven Colbert has a different word on every show. O'Reilly just has one - "Shut Up"

O'Reilly's attitude of self appointed guardian of morals and ethics - in this [clip] he rants on movies like Hostel, Saw franchise etc. O'Reilly - if you don't like it, do not watch it. But do NOT presume to tell me what to watch and what not to.

David Letterman pawns O'Reilly on his show.

and with regards to O'Reilly's journalistic integrity, you can make up your mind after watching this.

Watch O'Reilly try to play his usual game on his guests, but what do we have here? educated, articulate and in your face guests? something O'reilly was not prepared for. gives you a sense of his agenda.

Bottomline: see "The Best Of O'Reilly" and you will begin to understand his pseudo, self appointed authority and his infuriating paternalism on culture, politics and everything in between

Part III:

Part II:

Part I:

O'Reilly also has a problem that all the late night comedians are left leaning and thinks that there ought to be a conservative comedy show. Well, Mr. O'Reilly if you want to see one, either do it yourself or pay/support someone who wants to. You cannot make a call on their (current crop of comedians) persuasion and mandate/require that they have a conservative on board. What he wants is legislated/arbitratred comedians on air - much like Kamal Nath wants reservations for the OBC, SC/ST!! And for what its worth, its a comedy show. The last time I checked, comedy shows don't spew political theories/opinions for mass consumption. More of O'Reilly's infuriating paternalism.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Requiem For A Dream

One of my favorite movies - how dreams can be all consuming - body, soul and life. Actually, words fail me when I try to describe the absolute desperation of these blighted lives, lives so desolate, so bleak, so hopeless that it scares the living daylights out of me. The dread and barrenness of life is only exacerbated by the haunting background melodies and masterful direction by Darren Aronofsky.

Warning: may contain a few spoilers

Trailer 1:

Trailer 2:

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Music of the Gods

Iron Maiden- The Metal Gods

I know of atleast 2 readers who are going to jump with joy ;-) Up the Irons! you know who you are. To the uninitiated - if at the end of watching all these videos, your soul does not wish to jump, dance and sing in tune with the scores you see in the videos then absolutely no one, not even the God you believe in, will be able to save it, your soul that is.

I will be seeing them in 10 days and I am salivating in anticipation!

Fear Of The Dark (Rock In Rio)

Hallowed Be Thy Name - I have included videos from shows that are separated by 13 years - 1992's Live At Donnington and 2005's Rock In Rio. Bruce has aged like fine wine - he sounds better now than ever before.

1992 Live at Donnington Castle, England

2006 Live At Ullevi Stadium, Sweden

Running Free (Ullevi Stadium, Sweden)

Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son (Maiden England)

Infinite Dreams (Maiden England Video)

A few videos from Bruce's solo career:

Tears Of The Dragon

Accident of Birth

Tears Of The Dragon (Unplugged) - goes out of key a couple of times, but hey its Bruce!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Google Reader, Phlat and rants on software

I am a product of the web 2.0 generation - I want to not only choose what I consume but I also want to choose the manner in which I consume it. RSS is a big part of my day and I really don't respect any website/service that does not let me syndicate material. Take for example, an RSS enabled website say, a camera review website. They have loads of categories but I am interested only in one/some of them. But the dingbats have only RSS feed to every headline that ever makes it to their website. It leaves me to sort out (from amongst a vast sea of other websites doing the same thing) the wheat from the chaff. Sometimes thats all I do, throw the trash out and mark the posts that interest me but I don't have any time left over and these posts backup. Soon, they loose significance and I may as well delete them. I just wish that every website that categorizes their material has customizable RSS feeds for visitors to subscribe to. Just imagine if you could take a look at the categories I had on this blog (hypothetically speaking of course, since this is blogger and it doesn't have ANY such feature) and specify the categories you would like to read (assuming that you want read any at all) and your syndicator just picks up only those feeds. Take it one step further, the reader specifies tags and ONLY those posts tagged with the user's choice of tags get syndicated. Technorati tags are a start. Wouldn't this be nice to have? I would be thrilled!

Google announced its reader and I imported my opml into it in a flash to try it out. On Scoble's advice they actually made a video and had one of their engineers do the talking. Lamest video ever! Between deciding to focus on the engineer or on the computer screen, the script falls apart. Even if he didn't have a script, the whole point of making a video is to showcase the reader's USP features. Instead, it just wastes my time. That apart, the reader itself is excruciatingly slow in displaying posts from feeds and if you want to try changing the views around, your hair might even gray a bit! Another gripe is that they have all these buttons for the various operations I might want to do with each post right at the end. If I happen to be reading a very long post I would have to scroll ALL the way to the bottom and then click to share, tag etc. Why can't they just put these things at the top too? Its the same with their gmail - the reply, forward etc are right the end. Even the delete was at the bottom before someone had the sence to put a button right up on top. But, what I do love - tags (this is my new mantra), discoverability via their "share" feature and simple UI (its Google!). I haven't figured out this one yet, only some of my feeds are able to retrieve posts from the target site for as long as I kept scrolling down - a sort of infinite scroll bar. This is an awesome feature. I totally loved the scrolling and tags. The infinite scroll bar was a HUGE success for Microsoft (yes, I am afraid they were the first to do it. They do innovate there you know) on their live search.

Coming back to tags, wouldn't you like to tag (if you choose to, of course) the things that you want to visit later on your hard drive(s)? You remember them the way you want to and search for them using your own semantics. You have been unencumbered from remembering on which drive, under which folder your documents, music, videos sit awaiting your exalted return. Fixed, organized directories are a thing of the past! Tags are in, rigid categories/directories are out. Introducing Phlat, it turns your hard drive into a relational database. You specify your tags for how you want to remember anything on your drive. Key in your tags in the search box and voila! Of course, since its from Microsoft it runs on Microsoft desktop search (MDS). For another time - another rant on the lack of inter-operability and the division of the market by walled garden policies. But MDS is a pretty good product so one generally need not be too averse to installing it. I found it totally awesome - I have 300GB of songs/documents/emails/rss feeds/movies. I cannot manually look for anything, in fact I refuse to! Do try it out, I totally loved it. [download link]

I think I am going to start a new series on how stupid and frustrating the software we use today are. Let me start with Blogger - it is riddled with spammers and to take care of spam, the wise ones over at the plex decided to have word verification to prevent bots from trolling. They flipped the switch and all was well with the world once again. But, hang on, whats this? even the owner(s) of the blog HAVE to go through this word verification to reply to comments on their blog even when they are already signed in.

Dumpkoff! can't you see they might spam their own blog.
Yes, that must be it then.

More on its way.

Update [10/02/06]: Google reader has an infinite scroll bar for all my feeds and not just for a few as I had previously noted. I really love this feature, now I can scroll as far back as I like to retrieve much older posts without having to go to the target website and search through their archives.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Lights! Action! Camera!

Photokina 2006 is on and all the beauties have been revealed! I have been wanting to buy a DSLR for ever and this year feels right. The usual contenders are Canon (traditional favorite), Nikon (another traditionalist and favorite), Sony (this year's wildcard), Olympus (very strong contender) and finally, Sigma (another favorite).

The rumor mills have been chugging away the past couple of months. Canon, Nikon and Sony threw out their offerings before Photokina itself. I just had to see what Sigma was going to throw up and boy did they kick up a dust storm!

Canon EOS 400D/Digital Rebel XTi
reviews: DPReview, LetsGoDigital (EOS 350D, EOS 400D), Imaging-Resource, CameraLabs

Nikon D80
reviews: DPReview, LetsGoDigital, Imaging-Resource, CameraLabs

Sony Alpha 100
reviews: DPReview, LetsGoDigital, Imaging-Resource, CameraLabs

Sigma SD14 (just released, no reviews yet just specs)
reviews: Photokina Report, Official website, DPReview, LetsGoDigital

And for the sake of completeness,

Olympus E400 DSLR
reviews: LetsGoDigital, DPReview, Imaging-Resource (E330, E500), CameraLabs (E500, E400)

If someone wants to yell Panasonic! I suggest you poke around these wonderful sites and you will find reviews for them too.

These are my contenders. I am drooling over the Sigma but the price isn't out yet and I do not want to refinance my car just so that I can own one and I am not going to work any harder either. so there!

Update: the D70's kid brother (and the D50's younger brother) - the D40, is here. The D40 is an entry level DSLR that is surely up against the E400.
Reviews: LetsGoDigital, DPReview, Imaging-Resource,

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Underground Man

I am done with reading Dostoevsky's "Notes From The Underground" and it is as much a classic (contradictory as it sounds, existentially speaking of course) as Kaufman says it is. It was eye-opening - after reading Nietzsche (my favorite existentialist) not everything that comes your way impresses you. You sit back with an enlightened, heightened consciousness trying to come to terms with this, for the lack of a better word, education. After the initial excitement of reading and comprehending (atleast partly and with repeated reading) one of the seminal works in existentialism, you actually think and apply your own filters to this lode. There are some themes - of alienation, torment and hatred - which I will explore in another post. I urge those who can and want to read it.

The next existentialist in Kaufman's taxonomy is Kierkegaard. I have no immediate wish to read up on Kierkegaard's works, so I will stick to Kaufman's expose on Kierkegaard's flavor of existentialism. Watch this space for more.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Abou Ben Adhem

I was flipping through my book of poems when I chanced upon a poem I had read during my school days - its relevance to the present world scenario can hardly be ignored.

Without further ado, James Leigh Hunt's "Abou Ben Adhem"

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,,
An angel writing in a book of gold -
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the prescence in the room he said,
'What writest thou' - the vision rais'd its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answer'd, 'The names of those who love the Lord'
'And is mine one?' said Abou. 'Nay, not so,'
replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerily still; and said, 'I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men.'
The angel wrote, and vanish'd. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And show'd the names whom love of God had blest,
And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Sunrise at the Angkor Wat

I was in Cambodia last winter and shot the sunrise at the serene and majestic Angkor Wat, I definitely thought that many of the smaller and lesser known temples far exceeded the Angkor in elegance and beauty but then the Angkor was never about intricate beauty. Majesty and scale are its hallmarks.

Click on the image to see the picture in its actual size (2544 x 1696). If anyone is interested in the EXIF data, I will put that up too.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Word Play

Chris Anderson, author of "The Long Tail", in his blog introduces a fascinating (atleast to me) idea of the interplay of words, their frequency of occurance as opposed to their length, their contextual meaning and juxtaposition.

To quickly summarize his thesis, Chris cites Zipf's Law which states that the frequency distribution of words as a function of their length has an exponential distribution and the rank of these words shares a power law relationship with their frequency of occurance/usage. This was based on analyzing James Joyce's opus Ulysses and was stated, at the time, to hold true for the english language. Chris then cites Wentian Li who proves that this is the case for all languages including imaginary ones that constitute words banged out on keyboards by monkeys. Chris then concludes that Zipf's Law is more of a mathematical law in total rather than one governing and explaining linguistic features of a particular, or for that matter any, language.

Just thinking about this, one can already see that certain words (like "I") are more likely than certain others with the same length (I can't think of any right now but you are free to fill in the blanks). And this, I am sure, is a feature of the english language. There might be different relationships in different languages but there is enough evidence to suggest that all languages (real and inventented) do not follow the power law blindly. Rules of linguistic construction are the anamolies and these rules, in my opinion, were first formalized by years of talking/speaking before they were codified into a written language system. I am no linguist and certainly no expert on the evolution of languages and am shooting from the hip here but Li, in my opinion, has over generalized Zipf's Law.

Edit: A fun way to learn about the Long Tail phenomenon

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Heart Of Existentialism Pt. 1

I have been reading (yes reading. You can stop laughing now) Walter Kaufman's "Existentialism - From Dostoevsky To Sartre", a wonderful thought provoking book on the philosophy of existentialism. Why I sought out this book and what I think of it is irrelevant to this post. What is relevant, is his scholarly insight into the stalwarts of the existentialist movement, the essence of their philosophy - its evolution and impact, and unmatched clarity of thought and presentation. I have distilled some passages from the afore mentioned book for the interested reader. All text in (bold) italics constitutes passages from the book while my fillers are in plain text. I urge the reader to chew on the general philosophy, savor the ideas and themes, relish it and bask in all its glory.

Kaufman introduces Existentialism with - "Existentialism is not a philosophy but a label for several widely different revolts against traditional philosophy. Existentialism is not a school of thought nor reducable to any set of tenets." He presents various passages, essays and letters from philosophers and litterateurs who, in his opinion, influenced and shaped this movement. Of these scholars, he says "The three writers who appear invariably on every list of "existentialists" - Jaspers, Heidegger and Sartre - are not in agreement on the essentials. Such alleged precursors as Pascal and Kierkegaard differed from all three men by being dedicated Christians...If, as is often done, Nietzsche and Dostoevsky are included in the fold then we must make room for an impassioned anti-Christian and an even more fanatical Greek-Orthodox Russian imperialist. By the time we consider adding Rilke, Kafka, and Camus, it becomes plain that one essential feature shared by all these men is their perfervid individualism."

"The refusal to belong to any school of thought, the repudiation of the adequacy of any body of beliefs, and especially of systems, and a marked dissatisfaction with traditional philosophy as superficial, academic and remote from life - that is the heart of existentialism."

Though Kaufman has extensively translated, in his book, many essays from each of the philosophers he mentions, I am going to cull out, modifying the tone if the need arises and present excerpts to paint you, my interested reader, a pseudo-indivdualistic landscape of existentialism. I again urge the reader to savor and relish the myriad textures and hues of individuality that Kaufman, through the philosophy of existentialist giants, paints.

Of Dostoevsky's "Notes From Underground", Kaufman opines "is the best overture for existentialism ever written. With inimitable vigor and finesse the major themes are stated here....." He goes on to say "...the drama of the mind that is sufficient to itself, yet conscious of its every weakness and determined to exploit it. What we perceive is an unheard of song of songs on individuality: not classical, not Biblical and not at all romantic. No, individuality is not re-touched, idolized or holy; it is wretched and revolting, and yet, for all its misery, the highest good." He points out an important trait of romanticism that contrasts itself sharply with core of existentialism - the celebration of the self, the individual with all its faults and shortcomings. "Romanticism is flight from the present, whether into the past, the future, or another world, dreams, or, most often, a vague fog. It is self deception. Romanticism yearns for deliverance from the cross of Here and Now; it is willing to face anything but the facts. No prize, however great, can justify an ounce of self deception or a small departure from the ugly facts. ....... Man's inner life, his moods, anxieties and decisions are moved into the center until, as it were, no scenery at all remains.... he [sic, the man whom Dostoevsky has created] believes neither in the original sin nor in God. For him, man's self will is not depravity; it is only perverse from the point of view of rationalists and others who value neat schemes above the rich texture of individuality.

I am sure the astute reader already sees a pattern emerging here - celebration of the self, the overlordship of individuality, atheist in nature, lengthy self observation and understanding and above all absolutely no self deception - the dark, grimy underside of human nature is celebrated with much the same gusto as love and happiness. In any celebration of individuality, the differences are stressed, studied and exphasized over the similarities. Also, interestingly, lengthy self observation and understanding oneself without any self deception affirms psychology as another concurrent theme in existentialism. Keep in mind Kaufman's words that existentialism cannot be reduced to some tenets. I leave you to contemplate these points. Their import will sink in only, in my opinion, with some inrospection. I will return to post more nuggets from the other existentialists that highlight other themes in existentialism, hopefully, broadening and pushing the boundaries of your consciousness.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Over and Over and Over

Dio's powerful vocals, Iommi's plodding doomy riffs and trippy leads and cryptic/philosophical lyrics - the very makings of many a Sabbath song. Ponder over these lyrics for a while till I am back with some worthwhile to write.

Sometimes I feel like I'm dying at dawn
and sometimes I'm warm as fire
But lately I feel like I'm just gonna rain
and it goes over, and over, and over again, yeah

Too many flames, with too much to burn
and life's only made of paper
Oh, how I need to be free of this pain
but it goes over, and over, and over, and over again

Yeah, sometimes I cry for the lost and alone
and for their dreams that will all be ashes
But lately I feel like I'm just gonna rain

but it goes over, and over, and over, and over again

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Motörhead: I Ain't No Nice Guy Anymore

When I was young, I was the nicest guy I knew
I thought I was the chosen one
But time went by and I found out a thing or two
My shine wore off as time wore on
I thought that I was living out the perfect life
But in the lonely hours when the truth begins to bite
I thought about the times when I turned my back & stalled

I ain't no nice guy after all

When I was young, I was the only game in town
I thought I had it down for sure,
But time went by and I was lost in what I found
The reasons blurred, the way unsure
I thought that I was living life the only way
But as I saw, that life was more than day to day
I turned around, I read the writing on the wall

I ain't no nice guy after all
I ain't no nice guy after all

In all the years you spend between your birth and death
You find there's lots of times you should have saved your breath
It comes as quite a shock when that trip leads to a fall

I ain't no nice guy after all
I ain't no nice guy after all

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Downtown Philadelphia

Canon S2 IS in night mode. It was still twilight outside and the prolonged exposure has over exposed the horizon. That apart, the city and the Schuylkill river have come out in striking contrast - deep blue/black as opposed to the lights of the city

Friday, July 14, 2006

The fury of the maker's hand

I am infuriated.

Let me repeat.

I am infuriated -

1. at the incompetence and the pig headedness of the people I am surrounded by.
2. because I am dependant on these nincompoops.
3. because the outcome of my actions involve many people and as is the case, most of them are clueless cretins and do not comprehend that their dispirited existence will cost me dear.

I am infuriated.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

All That Glitters is not Gold Pt. 2

This definitely seems like a comparison that has far exceeded a reasonably valid scope - Chennai being a threat to Detroit. The article talks about the infrastructural revolution taking place in Chennai and how it is fast becoming a center for automotive and manufacturing excellence, how government has reformed policy to make all this happen and how the doors are opening but not open yet amd how ever increasing international recognition is transforming the manufacturing landscape in Chennai.It is here that this comparison (with Detroit's might) takes flight. The tone and the comparison with Detroit and the suggestion that Detroit's auto manufacturers are shaking in their boots because Chennai exports engine valves seems a little far fetched (though I am not excluding this future possibility) and designed just to fill the Indian balloon with more hot air. As always, a comparison with China follows suit.

[Warning! ONLY interested readers and insomniacs proceed]
In September 2005, I had linked to a tangible statistical comparison between China and India vis a vis their trade volumes as percentage of GDP, sectors that contribute most to trade (export and import) and finally a look at social indices such as literacy rate (adult and more importantly, women), poverty rates etc. The numbers speak for themselves.
[Link] to my earlier post and to save you, my assiduous reader, the trouble of an extra mouse click I will reproduce all the relevant links in this post. [Link] article by Shankar Acharya, the Chief Economic Advisor to the Govt. of India. He rules this as a no contest in favor of China. Not to worry though, James Waterton says the future is indeed colored saffron. His a case against China is [here] and one for India is [here]. As the adage goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words" comes to mind as these numbers are visually pie charted in this [report] by Deutsche Bank. [hat tip: New Economist]. I urge the reader to take some time out to carefully read these documents and as a thought experiment, introspect on the state of India's society and economy. Read this Deutsche Bank [report] on their thoughts on India becoming a major economic powerhouse. Though all this reading is quite involved, it will lend some form and structure to the opinions you may have formed while going through Shankar Acharya's column and Deutsche Bank's visual comparison of the two economies.

The sad state of the much lauded "world's largest democracy" is on full display - The hindu [reports] that the DMK government in Tamil Nadu is actually making good on its poll promise of dishing out free color TVs. The "beneficiaries" have also been identified. I cant think of which is worse - the DMK actually fulfilling their promise or that the next time around the shrewd public will want more thereby raising the ante for electorate sellouts. Since this largesse comes at the expense of tax payers, maybe I should be thankful that the AIADMK wasnt elected - they had free computers as part of their electoral bribe, I mean promise. The immaturity of our democracy is reminiscent of cargo cults in the Pacific says Atanu Dey. To learn more, visit these links [1] and [2]

[Update: Atanu's blog seems to acting all of a sudden, will let you know when it behaves]

[Update 07/05/06: Atanu informs us that his blog is back up!]

Saturday, June 24, 2006

All that glitters is not gold Pt. 1

I am, quite frankly, tired of reading and hearing about how India and China are the next global economic superpowers - the cliched contrasts of abject poverty juxtaposed to astounding wealth, how inspite of the education and health sectors being in disarray India churns out "world class" graduates who are spearheading this breakout. But what exactly are these graduates good for? For joining the workforce as customer service agents? For seemingly to shine as part of technical support? Thats the impression I get from reading all thats out there on India's economic boom. I know better than to believe everything I read but in order to improve the abysmal signal to noise ratio I have decided to link to articles/commentary/essays/blogs of eminent scholars who call it like it is.

Tomes have been written about their socio-economic growth and scholars have endlessly exchanged letters and written countless books opining what they see about their (India and China) future. Though all this makes for fascinating reading, most of the recent ones have become rather cliched and often just regurgigate thoughts and ideas that have long since been accepted as the state of affairs. Of course, once an objective effort is made into investigating the claims to superior economic status of the two nations, social indices and a whole lot of other measures of development in industrial and allied areas follow suit. It is in these numbers and their interpretations that the truth lies. Hope follows closely.

In response to Smitha's comment and before I introduce commentary on developmental policies, I reiterate the importance of hanging back a second to take a closer look at various indices of social and economic development will give us a better picture than just outrightly denouncing India's apparent economic advances (whether it is as notable as it is made out to be is a matter to be seen). India is a nation that houses most of the world's poor people, life in India is stained with poverty but when a country makes rapid strides (India's growth being a documented 7% - 8%) it is important that this growth be reflected in all sections of society. Policies that try to ensure that this growth be reflected more or less equally across social strata rein in the growth rates of forward sections and invest more resources (effort, money and time) in trying to improve the lot of the lower classes.But there exist certain drawbacks of equality centric policies as they aim to improve the lot of the masses under the working assumption that the masses can be banded together as a collective. It is my personal opinion that there are deepset inherent inequalities in Indian society that preclude any attempt to address the society as though it was one. Also judging by the sheer mass of Indian society, lifting them collectively out of poverty is a monumental task both effort and time wise. As opposed to equality centric policies there exist progressive policies that recognize that rapid growth first benefits only certain sections of society and only certain regions of the country but they aim to share this growth and wealth by allowing it percolate down to the lowest classes. These policies work on the assumption that no section of sociey is denied access to this growth or denied partaking in it. The reservation I have about these policies is that by ensuring that all sections partake in the nation's growth they might be able to lift the lower sections out of poverty (poverty as defined by world bodies), but since they don't ensure equal access to growth/wealth the more progressive sections, on account of their greater accessibilty to wealth and resources pull away much faster from other poorer sections resulting in greater inequality - greater inequality even though the masses are progressively moving out of poverty. A little irony eh?

[hat tip: The Middle Stage, Pankaj Mishra's resistance to temptation]
With that I introduce few links to some excellent commentary on the very same topic. To coincide with the release of his book "Temptations of the West : How to Be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet, and Beyond", Pankaj Mishra argues that the value system of the free market model that heralds us as emerging economic powers is a western one that assumes that the end result of economic growth is a western lifestyle with its attendant consumerism. Though his arguments get a little less convincing as he progresses, The Middle Stage attributes this to the difficulty of a comprehensive analysis of a topic of this magnitude. In reponse to Mishra's column, Salil Tripathi replies with his own piece arguing for a progressive economic policy. Mishra replies and Tripathi counters. I urge everyone to carefully read these essays/letters and follow up on most if not all embedded links so that you are aware of the complete picture. These essays are instructional to the novice (like me) and showcase opposing theories of India's (and China's) economic explosion.
More articles by Pankaj Mishra and Salil Tripathi.

[cross posted on Frost Bite]

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The free market economics of "justice"

I've read enough free market 101 books to understand and appreciate its (free markets') philosophy and do lean towards a liberal view that the government is responsible for maintaining an atmosphere condusive to engaging in trade, one can consider this atmosphere as consequence of maintaining law and order. I have a few misgivings, unlike true free market liberals, of the morality of totally free markets and their apparent self correcting nature. I do believe that the government, as part of its responsibility in maintaining law and order, ought to protect the interests of the minorities without, I repeat for emphsasis, without getting regulatory in nature. Though the government represents the majority, the rights and interests of the minority have to be protected keeping in mind that policies framed by the majority can be very well done at the expense of minorities. Just because the majority wants it doesn't make it right. Though I have used the example of policy framing in order to make a point, the analogy can be easily extended to protecting (without getting protectionist) minorities (economically speaking) in a free market that potentially could get immoral. This fine line within which a government must confine itself is transgressed so often that it doesnt exist anymore, much like the case of many a socialist Indian government. It is when the government's policy becomes regulatory and when the markets march to the beat set by the government that everything starts to fall apart. There has been so much said about the detrimental nature of socialist indian policies that nothing I say can add any fresh perspective nor can I say it any better.

Yazad Jal presents us with a free market look at how justice will prevail in a true free market.[Link] The central idea of this post comes from the ideas proposed in "The Market For Liberty" by Linda and Morris Tannehill. The authors being true libertarians re-think the role of government in a revoultionary way and in the book, deal with "private arbitration agencies in managing with disputes and criminality, the role of insurers in providing profitable incentives for security, and private agencies in their capacity as protection services." [book review]

Though I tend to be liberal, being a total libertarian and actually believe heart and soul in the spirit of the said post is a little hard for me. Maybe reading the book and thinking of counter arguments will give me a better perspective and a convert I may become. Time (and the markets) will tell.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Long live Dr. Raj's memory

the viral "If you come today video"

the next "if you come today" -
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls and childen of all ages, presenting the anthemic "Love me or hate me"!

"Love me or hate me,
Kiss me or kill me,
Oh darling, do something to me"

well, love it or hate it is what I say. After watching it a few times, I think some of the late 60s and 70s hindi films have equally good (or bad, depending on your point of view) music scores. I think this video just got famous on account of Dr.Raj's popularity with the viral hit "If you come today". Of course, "If you come today" is altogether in another league.

Friday, March 17, 2006

The Torture Garden

After a couple of months of silence, I am back with a worthwhile post.

What would you expect from a 25 yr old with a PhD in Bioinformatics, a Masters degree in Applied Math and Computational Biology and Bachelors in Physics?

Sounds like a poster child for someone destined for the hallowed halls of MIT, a National Lab, meritorious awards exhorting research skills and academic excellence? You wouldn't be too wrong if you did decide that it was so. But Asya Schween, the 25yr old in question, did something out of the expected. She seemingly "threw it all away" and turned into a very unique photographer. Even this turn around might fail to register high enough on the 'sit up and take notice scale', if there was ever one. But one glance, even if it were fleeting, at her work is guaranteed to do that. She creates self-portraits - creates a setting with the right lighting, takes a picture of herself, spends hours on photoshop and other manipulation software and produces masterpieces - each serving as a looking glass into the human psyche often coughing up raw human emotions in their undistorted, dusturbing form. Each portrait offers layers of intrigue and insight into the human psyche. Peel off one and understand the emotion attached to it and you are presented with another that betters the previous layer.

[Here] is link to an article about her in Bending Light magazine. In it you will also find poster child behaviour for Freudian psychology at work. It is almost fascinating to see his theories take to life.She is a troubled soul and from this "torture garden", the darkest of flowers mirror the grim underside of the human psyche.
Check out her landing page on the devianART community [here]

"Mother, Look!"

I will leave you to ponder Asya, her work and more importantly, her mind with this quote [used in her interview in Bending Light] -
"Either way, I would hope that my work, the thing I make so many sacrifices for, would outshine my dull, uninteresting, predictable, petty, small-minded personality. In other words, I hope my work is much more interesting than me."

Monday, January 30, 2006

Links for today

Steve Jobs is the new [mickey mouse]

of bubbles and [2.0] - Web, Publishing, Media. [Top notch article!]

Since I work in a small cash strapped company, the "VC" always looms over us. Should we look for venture funding, trade freedom to set policy over having liquid capital? [Here] is a good discussion and/or call to reform the VC industry. Scoble chips in with some of his demands of VC 2.0 [here]

Monday, January 23, 2006

The power of Math

"Math Will Rock your world" declares this Business week [article]. Not a revelatory declaration if you ask me, but does present an interesting set of companies as evidence. If you didnt already know this God only help you.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


check these links out -

Google stocks [hit] a low of $445 after topping a whopping $475.xx a week ago. Read what this forbodes for the industry. Very interesting read.

The Dubya administration subpoenas Google for refusing to comply with their demand that Google turns over search records - it is their intention to find out how many kids are searching for porn by looking at data that is totally disconnected to the age/sex of the user. Go figure! head over to the Search Engine Blog for this masterful [article] on the whole issue. It gives a lot of insight on what this sort of legal action actually means and hopes to achieve. Interestingly, MSN and Yahoo were also asked to turn over data and the statements that they have provided do not say "No. We have not provided any data". Well, if they didn't provide data, they would be in court now. They aren't. Meaning that they did comply and turned over records to the Dubya administration. This is being touted all across [Memeorandum]. Google will suddenly become the cynosure of all privacy groups, the poster child for freedom and privacy groups many of whom are already sueing Dubya. Is there a stock resurgence in this for Google?

Important stock tip: Buy into hype. Sell before reality crashes the party!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Am baaaaaaaaaaack in the saddle again!

after a long work related hiatus and a vacation, I am back to spam the 2-3 people who read my blog. Woe betide them!

ideas for old unfinished posts and for swanky new ones galore!