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As California legalized same-sex marriage today,
I never write on this topic -- but given this big judgement, I want to write down a few thoughts on this for the first and the last time.
People who support gay-marriages make these same arguments over and over again, and here are my answers to them:
1) If you dont like same-sex marriage, dont do it!
This argument is ridiculous, since if it were rational, then no laws could ever have been made. People can only control themselves by default, but millenniums ago people came together to form societies so that they could live together and decide on some common laws that make sense, and are agreed on by most people, and then enforced on the whole society. Like murder is wrong. They didnt think, if somebody thinks murder is wrong, he should not do it. Or child-sex for example, both the adult and the child may have agreed, but we all consensually agree that a child may not be able to make his own decisions correctly and wisely.
2) They give a history where women had no voting rights, right to property, etc and then slowly the rules came to be as they are today, where equality reigns supreme.
Just past rulings do not imply that any future rulings will be right. Lets decide on this now given the context of the present and the actual argument being made. Just because in the past we have become more and more liberal, it does not imply we should continue to do so without considering the current argument.
3) Gay marriage is a right!
Ridiculous. Nobody is telling you to not do anything here. Nobody is telling you to not live with your same-sex friend/lover or whatever you call that relationship. The fact is actually that you are asking the society for some privileges, not that society is infringing on your rights. You can do whatever you want to -- if you want to mentally consider that you are married, please do. But "marriage" and "family" are society-supported institutions. . so if you are asking for society to consider you as married, society has its own right to evaluate according to its own rules! Until societal rule is changed, gay marriage is not a right!
Now my own arguments:
1) Biology: As humans, only heterosexual couples can have children. Our society should view "marriage" and "family" as a group which can have and raise children, and have a lasting growth of relationships. This serves as an institution which represents our very meaning of life -- the very way we have reached this stage, the very way we grow ourselves, the very way we live.
2) Impact on children: As the next generation teenagers grow -- they will study at school that marriage can be both hetero and homosexual. They will see gay couples around in the society. And this will cause them to choose their own mate in either sex. This will cause a lot of emotional problems and relationship issues. The whole way we related to each other way will collapse. Although this is not a critical problem, since it will stabilize in some way or the other, what is a problem is that, half of these kids might end up in a gay marriage. Which will immediately cause half of the population of the new generation in the country to be infertile. This will raise very serious issues to the country -- ranging from social, sociological, to the economical, and to America's ability to retain its title as superpower.
More arguments could be made, but these are ones that come up at the top of my mind, and with the time I have.
I wrote a comment on this Blog post for an astrology related event.
A comment on this page regarding the shooting tragedy at the Virginia Tech is pasted below --- my view is that basically voilence, sex, drugs, and other misbehaviours should be removed from media (books, movies, internet, videos) and faith and spirituality should be reinforced in this country and culture, in order to avoid tese things. The first thing that should be done though is to stop sales of guns, handguns, rifles, etc. to each and everyone (except the police) and call back all guns that have been sold/registered.
Many will again be asking “Why”
I believe that Darrell Scott, the father of Rachel Scott, a victim of the Columbine HIgh School shooting in Littleton, Colorado, answered that question in his address to the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee. What he said to our national leaders during this special session of Congress was painfully truthful.
They were not prepared for what he was to say, nor was it received well. It needs to be heard by every parent, every teacher, every politician, every sociologist, every psychologist, and every so-called expert! These courageous words spoken by Darrell Scott are powerful, penetrating, and deeply personal. There is no doubt that God sent this man as a voice crying in the wilderness. The following is a portion of the transcript:
“Since the dawn of creation there has been both good & evil in the hearts of men and women. We all contain the seeds of kindness or the seeds of violence. The death of my wonderful daughter, Rachel Joy Scott, and the deaths of that heroic teacher, and the other eleven children who died must not be in vain. Their blood cries out for answers.
“The first recorded act of violence was when Cain slew his brother Abel out in the field. The villain was not the club he used.. Neither was it the NCA, the National Club Association. The true killer was Cain, and the reason for the murder could only be found in Cain’s heart.
“In the days that followed the Columbine tragedy, I was amazed at how quickly fingers began to be pointed at groups such as the NRA. I am not a member of the NRA. I am not a hunter. I do not even own a gun. I am not here to represent or defend the NRA - because I don’t believe that they are responsible for my daughter’s death. Therefore I do not believe that they need to be defended. If I believed they had anything to do with Rachel’s murder I would be their strongest opponent.
I am here today to declare that Columbine was not just a tragedy — it was a spiritual event that should be forcing us to look at where the real blame lies! Much of the blame lies here in this room. Much of the blame lies behind the pointing fingers of the accusers themselves. I wrote a poem just four nights ago that expresses my feelings best. This was written way before I knew I would be speaking here today:
Your laws ignore our deepest needs,
Your words are empty air.
You’ve stripped away our heritage,
You’ve outlawed simple prayer.
Now gunshots fill our classrooms,
And precious children die.
You seek for answers everywhere,
And ask the question “Why?”
You regulate restrictive laws,
Through legislative creed.
And yet you fail to understand,
That God is what we need!
” Men and women are three-part beings. We all consist of body, mind, and spirit. When we refuse to acknowledge a third part of our make-up, we create a void that allows evil, prejudice, and hatred to rush in and wreak havoc. Spiritual presences were present within our educational
systems for most of our nation’s history. Many of our major colleges began as theological seminaries. This is a historical fact. What has happened to us as a nation? We have refused to honor God, and in so doing, we open the doors to hatred and violence. And when something as terrible as Columbine’s tragedy occurs — politicians immediately look for a scapegoat such as the NRA. They immediately seek to pass more restrictive laws that contribute to erode away our personal and private liberties. We do not need more restrictive laws. Eric and Dylan would not have been stopped by metal detectors. No amount of gun laws can stop someone who spends months planning this type of massacre. The real villain lies within our own hearts.
“As my son Craig lay under that table in the school library and saw his two friends murdered before his very eyes, he did not hesitate to pray in school. I defy any law or politician to deny him that right! I challenge every young person in America, and around the world, to realize that on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School prayer was brought back to our schools. Do not let the many prayers offered by those students be in vain. Dare to move into the new millennium with a sacred disregard for legislation that violates your God-given right to communicate with Him. To those of you who would point your finger at the NRA — I give to you a sincere challenge. Dare to examine your
own heart before casting the first stone!
My daughter’s death will not be in vain! The young people of this country will not allow that to happen!”
— Posted by Al Montreuil
Progressive -- means not fearing to loose old ways, and seeking better and new paths, towards progress.
I used to think that I am a pretty non-conventional thinker, and progressive on many fronts, but I recently found that I am not as progressive.
Such things you come to know about yourself when you are looking for marriage mates. The process involves analyzing where you have been so far, what you stand for, and where you want to go and what you want to be -- since the decision, which comes once in a lifetime, changes life forever. And we must know a lot abt ourself before making the plunge.
Does a sense of acheivement excite you most in life? Then you are likely to be progressive.
A nice quote about a non-progressive lifestyle:
To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich, to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconcious, grow up through the common -- this is my symphony.
- William Henry Channing, clergyman, reformer (1810-1884)
Marwaris (an Indian community) are progressive on the money front (do what they can to get more money) and conservative on the family front.
Progressiveness is one imp characteristic that we should match in our lifemate.
Whatever you say, is gone. It can never be undone.
Be best at all times -- be what you are at all times -- be what you should be at all times.
If you are unsure whether you should say a thing, stop right there, and think twice before saying it.
Life can change because of it, to be never undone.
To really understand oneself and the world better, one should start with a clean slate.
Erase all the criss-crosses of the chalk on it, all the dust that has settled on it, and wipe it clean with water and cloth.
Then restart writing on it, this time do it very carefully and slowly.....
Start with "Should I live or should I die? Why should I want to live?" Give this question some deep thought.
Then go to "What should I do with my time here? What do I want?". Throw in the "Who am I?" and "What have I been doing all this time?" in there somewhere.
After posing various questions, and writing the answers down, which can take days, weeks, months or years, you should have a new perspective on which to make judgements, decisions, etc.
Once the slate is clean, and has statements which only have been put there with deliberate thought, we become open to new ways of thought -- this is its biggest advantage. So at that point, you view whatever you had learned, or got misguided in the past, in a completely different light.
However, I have noticed that this sometimes, at least in my case (see this post and this post) and someone else's I know, results in an individualistic outlook. If one really starts thinking -- "what do I really want", he goes in the "alone, egotist, its-my-life" individualistic approach.
At that point, Yoga, meditation and in general spirituality start helping. Getting to know the world consciousness start having more meaning. "God", "religion", "spirituality", "yoga", "meditation" all start looking as synonyms of non-egoism and dissolved-boundaries-between-self-and-everything-else.
Science, spirituality, psychology, philosophy, technology, culture, relationships, etc start looking as the mirrors of the a kaleidoscope using the light of "ego" and "the non-living".
And then you go crazy, and visit a shrink. Just kidding! :)
UPDATE: Rishi pointed to his very splendidly written insights in this blog post, which I commented to as well.
I have found a new strategy for playing the "bull call vertical spread" in stock options.
Here's what you do, around 2 to 3 weeks before the expiration date of the month, sell the at-the-money call, and buy an in-the-money call by 2-3 strike prices.
The benefit of doing this is that since the extrinsic value is the highest for the at-the-money call option, we sell that options since we know the extrinsinc value is going to be wiped out at expiration. To hedge it, we buy a lower-priced call option, which does not have much extrinsic value, hence time does not work against us in this leg. So overall, time works in our favor. Hence, the breakeven of this trade is below the current stock price. So if either the price stays at its value or increases in the next 2-3 weeks, you make money. If it goes significantly below then you loose money, but the money is not that much since you did a spread and hence your investment was low.
Apart from this strategy, I usually do call spreads for a longer term like 6 months.... theres another neat trick I do -- if the stock price moves against you significantly, then you buy back the short leg of the position which will be very profitable. Hence when the price moves back up, you can make more profit on long leg of the position!
"Lost"'s 2 seasons (I have seen all the 48 1-hr episodes), I beleive, come close to being the best TV series that has ever been made of its type.
"Lost" is an outstanding intellectual and cinematic acheivement, and a source of unparalleled entertainment.
The plot is "very" interesting, it pulls you in like a black hole, and you are thinking about it day and night. These questions will keep revolving around your mind - "Why did he do that", "why did that happen", "who are these people", "what happenned in the past", etc.
The characters are very well developed, and I almost developed a liking for each of them and they became my friends... in fact, i used to be sad for days when something happenned to any of them?
A lot of thought was put in to making each of the episodes, and each of them feels like a good movie in itself. The character background stories are excellent.
Overall, "Lost" has everything at its very best -- creativity, drama, character development, adventure, suspense, wisdom, entertainment, acting, direction, story, cinematography, philosophy, psychology, mystery, etc. You even learn more about life by just watching it!
Very highly recommended to all!!!!!!
Watch it from the 1st episode to the 48th episode, without missing a minute, and you will be most rewarded. You can get the first season dvd online, and then the second season you could download from itunes.
(SPOILERS, dont read ahead)
As a personal note to myself, I think I want to write down what questions are remaining to be answered for the next season:
- what was the monster security system?
- what was libby doing in the mental asyllum and how did she know Hurley? how did she recover?
- does not-Henry know a lot about Dharma, did he press the button? How did he open the gates that had come down in the hatch? Why did he lie to Locke?
- what was Dharma, Hanso, hatch, etc?
- what abt the 4-toed statue?
- why were the dharma observation books outside with nobody to see?
- what were the others?
- how is Desmond's girlfriend involved in the electromagnetic anamoly search?
- who was rusedski?
- what was claire's child operation? And why are these others interested in children?
- how did this others approach with "whispers"?
- was walt able to appear in places he wasnt supposed to be?
- how was john paralyzed?
- why was the hatch so important that Echo's priest brother said it was? And why was the question mark that important, since it actually harmed Locke's faith in the hatch?
- how did the others' genarate lists of people, even though they didnt know them, and what was its significance?
- how did the boat reach so high?
- what is the significance of the numbers?
- why did desmond's boat come back to the island?
- did Michael know that he doesnt have to take these 4 people to the other's camp, and just somewhere else in the middle?
-what was the parachute loaded with food, who came along with it?
- who was henry gale, and who and why was he killed?
- why did rusedski edit the tape?
- why didnt they have automatic insertion of the numbers in the hatch, and why didnt they have reinforcements of people? what was the "incident"?
- how did the polar bear reach there?
To this post, about "being twenty something", there were some good comments. For more visibility, I am pasting one of the nice comments that I got, and one of my comment that I made in response.
I have been out of England for two years to Australia for one year and then Korea for another. By the time I came back a year ago it was like everything had grown up and i hadn't. I'm not sure i really want to grow up but I can identify with the comment move forward or get stuck in the past. It's difficult though.
With the pressures of modern day society we have it so much harder than our parents. Every one has a loan, no-one can get a house because they're so expensive, a degree does not guarantee a well paying job and even if it did, would i want to be doing something related to what i chose to study 10 years ago?
I think i want a job that gives me the opportunity to travel (never would have guessed it), is socially concerened and doesn't require me to sit in the same chair for months on end. I think I know how to get it but i may have to sacrifice these things in order to get to it.
I have been travelling around because I don't want an ordinary life but in the end, our roots stabilise us and sometimes you can't see what you actually have for what you want. My family is the most important thing to me. That is why I have moved back to the city I was born in. They are always there for me no matter how scary the world is.
For now i'm trying to stop running and let the grass grow a bit. I'm in the mind set that something will turn up, as long as I keep on looking.
Posted by: rmakins | May 13, 2006 11:48 AM
I understand what you face. I do face some sort of a similar situation.
I have come here to the US for the last 5 years. And whenever I visit my hometown, I have this weird feeling. My hometown is a small town in India, and the cultural gap between there and where I am now (San Francisco, USA), is so huge, that I become confused as to who I am, and what I was supposed to be, where I was heading, and where did I head to... I see my family there, cousins, and get this so-weird feeling that their development paths diverged from mine 5 years ago, and somehow something doesnt feel right -- the people have become somewhat different, or maybe I have changed, or maybe my perspective has change, or maybe all of these. But connecting with them in a similar manner as before just does not workout.
Being in a different culture changes you slowly, slowly, until you stop recognizing yourself. Changing cultures, is not a simple thing to do, and requires emotional strength beyond what I have.
I still beleive that going back to my hometown might give me the highest meaning for my life that I could ever give, but I am ever so afraid of the consequences of looking back, not confident at all whether that is the best way of doing things, especially when the world, wholly, is moving forward. Sometimes, emotions and biological survival play games against you, and world is so confusing.
At other times, I feel that being in ignorance is actually bliss, as I see many people around me who have similar situations, just loving the present with a care-free mind without stepping back and looking where they are.
Somebody has said rightly, "take it easy". But others have also righly said, "do what your heart says".
The problem is that hearts are prone to mistakes.
Good things about me are not mine. I think most of my moral inclinations, my malleable mindset, whatever few virtues that I have, have been borrowed, directly learned from others surrounding me.
I think that if we always try to look at the better sides of people, their virtues, and appreciate them by heart, then the world feels a very nice place to be in. We see goodness and happiness all around us, and feel like being in heaven. And then slowly, we start getting those good things into ourselves, and become a better person. Thus, the ability to perceive only the good in people helps us become good ourselves, and make us feel better as well. Its a win-win situation.
It is said that we get molded based on the company we keep. Bad company, bad friends yield a bad person. But I think if we try to see only the good in our friends and acquaintainces, we become like as if we had the best company of all!
One exercise I can imagine being done in this vein is -- a group of people should sit together and take turns recounting the good virtues of the people they have met in their lives. This will be an amazing exercise, and will allow people to know each other better, know that there are so many good people in the world, know that good is abundant, and in turn will make them better people themselves!
A conscious decision must be made as to which direction does one consider important -- truth or happiness.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar wrote something like -- "Wisdom is a burden, if it does not make you free". I think this higher level statement implies that wisdom is of no use if it is directed towards just imposing what is right or just finding what is right, and not applied towards finding happiness for self and others.
This is completely true, I beleive. I have been on the wrong path many times. My intention often turns out to be "find what is right", instead "lets be happy".
I have experience now which says that -- happiness is the better path, looking from the holistic point of view.
For example, "judgement". These days I have gotten stronger opinions about morals and rightdoing, as I now look at behavior from a very keenly observant point of view, and find many "wrong" intentions in daily normal behavior. For me, "ego" also falls in the wrong category, and this is one of important reasons why I find all behavior "bad" these days. However, I do find the right ones, dont worry. In fact I find more right ones than bad ones than many other people do, and hence I consider myself close to many people.
But I recently found that it was not helping me. Judging everybody was taking me nowhere. I needed to like the people as they are. Even though they are bad, they always have a good side, if not apparent, sometimes we need to dig it out from them. And most people need love and love can be the means of relationships. (these days, when it is becoming easy to live, people are more tending to not needing love with other people, but i am sure, if they have the proper experience, they will ultimate realize it regardless of how individualistic they are).
And then, when I found somebody who was really not understanding how things work and his/her lack of empathy was causing trouble for everybody, instead of finding solutions to the problem that lead to peace and happiness for all, my ego and anger started rising and I started finding ways which gave support to them (ego and anger) instead, causing bad consequences. However, hopefully I have realized soon, and I can swerve the future.
Let us all be successful in findling joy for everyone. Let was walk vehemently on that path, with determination to never fail.
God help us in doing this.
I had come across "Huzefa Mehta" in my stepz dance class at cisco a few months ago.
He just came back from travel from galapagos islands and ecuador with his wife and two small kids.
Just learned that both he and his wife are avid travellers, divers, doctorates, etc.
He maintains travel articles on the web:
Must see are the photo slideshows he sometimes attaches to his articles. For ex, click on the first link on this page:
Read his biography:
Must say, they are probably the most travelled people I have met in my life till date that I know of!
They are amazing....and inspirational!
"These days, I get around XYZ spam/junk mails everyday!!!"
"These days, I get the African fund transfer fraud emails 4 times a day!!!"
The number of spam mails coming to our inboxes has become a means of "boast" these days. :)
When saying these numbers, we often try to say that 'See, I am so "popular" and "famous" and "known in various circles" '.... :-D
This is a heart rending tale, of how inhumane things could be in Delhi.
Although I think that there are slight inadvertant exaggerations in the story, most of it will be true...
Absolute must read.
Thanks Aloke for the story.
Update: This blog post made me recover some respect for Indianness. And yes, now I am beginning to have slight doubts on the validity of the story.
Alas, how strongly do I feel the need to lead life without harming anybody's sentiments. Is it possible? Is it recommended?
A mail sent to some Indian friends (was reading a little about Indian philosophy the past few days)
I found an interesting article on Ancient Indian History; it is long, but consists of lots of references to various books, events, and books, indicating that it has some substance. However, according to the organized world, this essay will fall into the category of indian religious fanatics' opinions, considering the hugeness of the dates. I searched some other articles of Prasad Gokhale on http://groups.google.com, and he seems to have studied Indian history a LOT. He is presumably a PhD in Mech.
(This is a local copy of the article)
Since I know that most of you wont be reading the article, here is the chronology he develops:
Swayambhuva Manu 29,000 B.C.
Veda (early stages) 23,720 B.C.
Samhita (Taitiriya) 22,000 B.C.
Manu Chakshushu 17,500 B.C.
King Pruthu 16,050 B.C.
Manu Vaivasvata 14,000 B.C.
Indra-Skanda dialogue (Mahabharat) 13,000 B.C.
Glaciation period 8,000 B.C.
Dasharadnya War 7,000 B.C.
Ramayana 5,500 B.C.
Orion period 4,000 B.C.
Greeks separate 4,000 B.C.
Rajatarangini begins 3,450 B.C.
Gonanda-I of Kashmir 3,238 B.C.
Mahabharata 3,138 B.C.
Veda (last stages) 3,100 B.C.
Saptarsi era begins 3,076 B.C.
Saraswati-Sindhu Culture 3,000 B.C.
Gautam Siddharta born 1,887 B.C.
Gautam Siddharta Nirvana 1,807 B.C.
Mahaveer Jain born 1,862 B.C.
Chandragupta Maurya 1,534 B.C.
Ashoka Maurya 1,482 B.C.
Ashoka Gonanda 1,448 B.C.
Kanishka 1,294 B.C.
Kumarila Bhatta 557 B.C.
Vruddha Garga 550 B.C.
Aadi Shankaracharya born 509 B.C.
Harsha Vikramaditya 457 B.C.
Shatkarani Gautamiputra 433 B.C.
Chandragupta Gupta 327 B.C.
Shakari Vikramaditya 57 B.C.
Shalivahan 78 A.D.
Huen-Tsang 625 A.D.
Kalhana (Kashmiri historian) 1,148 A.D
About Aryan Invasion Theory, I suggest reading the Wikipedia article:
This has only concrete evidences (although this is only upto 3000 BC).
My personal opinion on reading some articles on the web is that there was no Aryan Invasion; I think we have been here a long time; our scriptures show evidences of being here a long time. We and dravidians are mostly of the same heritage, only they forked out sometime from the Vedic people via Sage Agastya. Harappa civilization was part of Vedic civilization; We dont show enough aggressiveness for me to believe that we were Britishers of the 2nd BCE millenium, invading terretories.
Secondly, some of our scriptures show highly developed mental maturity. In fact, even Egyptians making that Great Pyramid in 2600BC show great mental maturity. This all goes to show that we, as humans, havent developed in mental capacity as much we tend to think; its only cumulative knowledge growth that we are standing upon.
Thirdly, the ancient past of India, as little as we know of it, feels very mysterious and exciting. What were they doing thousands of years ago --- riting scriptures which document the motions of stars, planets, sun and moon to such accuracy; creating social rituals, festivals for social life, trying to fill the mundane life with meaning such that even we today are dependent on their meaning-generating principles; writing stories which require great imagination and social presence; creating religion, which demonstrate extraordinary emotional development of the mind; generating thoughts of the highest philosophical calibre (even contemporary thoughts on meaning of life http://users.aristotle.net/~diogenes/meaning2.htm matches so much to, say, this hymn 10.129 from the RigVeda, written anywhere between 2000BC-20000BC:
Non-being then existed not nor being:
There was no air, nor sky that is beyond it.
What was concealed? Wherein? In whose protection?
And was there deep unfathomable water?
Death then existed not nor life immortal;
Of neither night nor day was any token.
By its inherent force the One breathed windless:
No other thing than that beyond existed.
Darkness there was at first by darkness hidden;
Without distinctive marks, this all was water.
That which, becoming, by the void was covered,
That One by force of heat came into being.
Desire entered the One in the beginning:
It was the earliest seed, of thought the product.
The sages searching in their hearts with wisdom,
Found out the bond of being in non-being.
Their ray extended light across the darkness:
But was the One above or was it under?
Creative force was there, and fertile power:
Below was energy, above was impulse.
Who knows for certain? Who shall here declare it?
Whence was it born, and whence came this creation?
The gods were born after this world's creation:
Then who can konw from whence it has arisen?
None knoweth whence creation has arisen;
And whether he has or has not produced it:
He who surveys it in the highest heaven,
He only knows, or haply he may know not.
); developing building capacity so much as to be able to make the pyramids; etc etc etc etc etc etc
Even though the conditions to live that time were so difficult and our "power" so low, that entire civilizations could get wiped out just because a river dried (like the Harappa civilization got wiped out around 3000BC when the Saraswati River dried, they speculate); the human spirit got us through to where we are!
Why does the past always look so beautiful and fascinating?
Today, I decided to look at life with me as an individual, and a living and desiring one at that, rather than looking at life as a bunch of things.
Today I decided to love life rather than things.
Today I decided to connect myself with my past, and to better understand myself -- where I am coming from and where I belong.
I suddenly feel happy and living. Suddenly I know what to do -- suddenly I understand what I want -- suddenly confusions reduce, and problems reduce; and especially masochistic tendencies and habits can be identified and toned down.
Suddenly I understand what I must do to make myself happy, and fulfilled.
We must. We must love life and not things. We must love ourself as a living, desiring-to-be-happy individual rather just a non-entity between logically proceeding world and life.
We must look at life with a consideration of people's emotional needs; and structures which were formed to satisfy those needs including social ones such as family, religions, cultures, and economical such as abstract entities (like a company).
However, such outlooks, which focus upon a person's biological and related origins, may make a person oriented excessively towards the self.
We should try -- and try hard, since that might be necessary -- to find ways which fulfil all people towards what they actually want.
(the following includes big general statements, which, likely are false as a principle, but are true in specific circumstances)
(to others, all of this might sound like a cliche)
I just visited Brownsville, TX, a small town in southern tip of Tdexas; on the border with Mexico. I loved that place somehow, despite it being very hot at this time of the year. While there, I had memories of my own town, Akola, India, where I am from (I spent my first 18 years of life there).
Something about the town immediately struck a chord within me.
The town was small: in a small little place, you have everything: restaurants (like Mexican (alas! they dont have veggie options there), Subways, McDonalds, etc), hotels/motels, theatres (small ones), clubs, shopping malls (small), etc... Just there were like 2 main roads, one going north, and one going south; and everything about the town, was just a few miles up or down these two roads. This gives a feeling of closeness and oneness. You feel like the town is yours, all of it, and you are a collective part of it.
The people: they were nice, in a small-town kind of way. There was an air of satisfaction, and content. There was a closeness; there was an omnipotent feeling of kinship with the fellow man. People made friends with other people, not because that friendship would provide them "fun", or some other "material help", but just because everybody is meant to be a friend, for reason or no reason. People were not trying to outsmart each other; people were trying to come together as if getting together as a water stream to overthrow the strong muddy barriers of troubles; creating a synergy for mutual life progress.
The town was small enough that everybody seemed to know everything about it; and hence cared for all of it. Town's economic development was seen as a harbinger of joy to all town-people, not as an individual opportunity.
People were not crazy for self progress; they didnt want to do "such a great thing that the whole world will watch". They wanted to do only enough to live a well-to-do life. They didnt want to change the world, they wanted to change little more than the town.
Whereas city life, I feel, while offering better material quality of life, and better opportunities for progress, has one important shortcoming. People want to become rich, and achieve big things, want to do more impact. It operates on the cutting edge, where people are doing things which few in the nation have done before. People want to become bigger and more important, by doing bigger and greater things. There is a glaring difference between qualities of life between different people in the city; and this makes a good reason for discontent and having bigger distance from others.
"Everybody is for himself" speaks loudly the whole city culture; and people are always confused with how close or distant they must be from their friends and acquaintances and strangers.
Ofcourse, it does not mean that city people are behaving badly, or doing something wrong. Rather, it is inherent in the very nature of the city.
I feel that many nations, developed or developing, might be facing a similar situation. For example, this kind of divide is visible in India too -- say between Akola and Bombay. So the absolute amount of development doesnt affect this phenomenon a lot, but their qualitative differences does.
Cities are on the cutting edge of progress; they are venturing out to develop (and market) new ideas and products. Whereas towns are satisfied with just catching up slowly to the cities, which they are never able to do (at least in the short term).
People more ambitious who are in towns, migrate to the cities, so towns tend to maintain their characteristics; and cities tend to collect a lot of smart people.
The ambitious and individualistic city life; the content, peacefull, collective town life; which one would you choose?
(This has been cross posted from my hidden personal blog, so is more personal than other entries here in this blog)
Whenever I talk to my mummy and daddy, I feel different.
I feel that I have a life. I feel that I know how to live happily.
Its a very weird -- different experience.
Everyday I am thinking of what to do. It appears like such a difficult choice. Whether to go this way or that way. Meeting so many different kinds of people having so many different kinds of lives -- ideas about lives -- that one becomes confused.
When I talk to my parents, I feel I am okay... I am leading a fine life with a fine job, and a fine everything else. I just need to enjoy it.
Its so different.
In the traditional model of life, that my parents have (we are from a small town in India, having our own little way of doing this), I have to just be a simple person following what the values and cultures of traditional life tell...its not about self expression, its about how much you know about "what should be done according to what our society says". Its a completely different model than what we have here -- "what do I want to do?". This difference in the focus over an individual is obvious, glaring, and widereaching.
Its something related to this other observation: When I meet some people, I see that they are dynamic, and are always looking for ways to enrich their life, looking for new ways to have fun, looking for new things to learn (for some: "and analyze"), etc. But there are so many other people, who appear so simple: they look like they are not trying to be happy, they are just happy intrinsically...they have some kind of bliss or some deep contentment written over their face -- they dont need to do a lot to be happy -- just basic simple things will make them happy or sad. They dont confuse or over-complicate their lives. They stick with the basics. They are not the kind of people who will invent theory of relativity (since intelligence, sometimes I feel, is a consequence of some kind of a disturbed, unstable mind); but neither they need someone to do it.
The latter kind of people are easier to love, and befriend. By easier, I mean, I feel like talking to such kind of people more. I feel like being around them. They wont talk about weird new ways of looking at life, but they will pull together a subspace filled with care, support, love and closeness.
When I am very sad, I hardly think about any intelligent thing. I think about my family and love. I think about simplicity of love. I yearn for care, and not analysis.
And look at me...what I have become. I try to analyze everything. I try to analyze happiness and life. I analyze people, and culture. I analyze engineering problems. I try to make analysis as the basis of my behavior.
Its such a burden now that I think about it.
Simplicity is divine, complications are a bane.
God bless Life, simple and complicated, and all that goes with it.
In fact, I have found that I have been subconsciously so sad about loosing my feeling side, that, with my new thinking side, I try to "simulate" or "virtually create" a feeling side, an action which gives dual results, thought mostly a negative in the long run.
Is, just being too thinking alright?
Basically, when I read Eric Berne's "What do you say after you say Hello", I probably went deep into the thinking side. I would kind of recommend the book, because it will broaden your perspective of the world a lot, but at times I have been so frustrated with this kind of broadening that I almost was of the opinion that all books by Eric Berne existing in the world should be burned immediately. :)
Eric Berne was an enlightened person - I think more intellectually enlightened than many founders of religion like Jesus, Buddha, and others. Maybe other people also were. (like Freud? I dont know)
I think, basically psychological study ultimately boils down to a spiritual study of a human, if pursued in specific directions. Like, for example, nowadays, people are developing the field of "positive psychology" -- studying happiness and other positive emotions in humans, rather than the usual focus of psychology on mental disorders. [The emphasis on negative emotions by psychology can be seen in this quote by Sigmund Freud -- "The first human being who hurled an insult instead of a stone was the founder of civilization." ] Now, this positive psychology will probably in the long run, with the clockworklike organized fashion that western study proceeds, result into recommendations which are similar to spiritual recommendations that religions produce...
In fact, the culmination of the discipline of positive psychology might probably be a formulation of a new philosophical, spiritual, cultural religion/society itself - who knows. :)
Btw, most women/girls are the epitome of the "Feeling" person, I think.
[UPDATE: I am orignally an INFP, though converted over time to INTP, but still hold both personalities]
When I was reading about Myers-Briggs-Jung personality types, I saw this trait about Feeling/Thinking. In their concept of personality types, they have four traits: Extravert-Introvert, Sensing-Intuiting, Thinking-Feeling, and Judging-Perceiving.
This Feeling/Thinking trait clicked immediately. I suddenly understood a lot what is happenning to me.
The thing is -- I have been moving from the Feeling type to the Thinking type. And now that I have moved over extremely over to the Thinking side, I have realized that my current depression/sadness is rooted in the demise of my Feeling side.
Feeling was good -- it helped me form relationships with people, it made me have simple minded desires which fueled me onto things. Feeling makes you create a very simple-minded framework of likes-dislikes-desires for yourself, on which you make most of your decisions and choices. You expose this framework to others, and people relate to each other by mixing and matching these frameworks. I think that for being loved, it might almost be "required" to have such a framework.
Whereas "Thinking" is different. You think to make choices, rather than just using some simple emotional framework. I have gone to the extreme end of this line. I think before I even emote. Even the slim emotional framework that still remains in "Thinking" people has become slimmer for me.
This has caused a lot of changes. A lot. Not many of them for the positive.
To live in this world, you need to be atleast slightly tilted towards "feeling", otherwise, you will have a hard time remaining happy and conforming both at the same time. Not that you will understand happiness at that point.
Feeling side is important for relating to people. With no feeling side, it is difficult to have normal emotional relationships with normal people.
[UPDATE: I am orignally an INFP, though converted over time to INTP, but still hold both personalities]
Anouncing my new blog -- Commune -- this will be a normal blog, wherein I will write conventional stuff - like my life, whats happenning, etc.
The "How are you doing?" greeting that is very frequently used in the US, is philosophically quite different from the "How are you?" I was used to hearing in India (which may have British roots).
With "How are you", you are asking about the state of the persons being. You are asking whether he is happy, whether he is sad. It lays importance on the state of the mind or the state of being as an important attribute that people like to know about others.
On the other hand, "How are you doing?" asks you how are you doing, not how you yourself are. It implies that every person must be doing something, probably for his livelihood, or for fun. The importance is on action. It assumes that every person is in a state of constant action. His state of being is not very important, but whether he is having fun whatever he is doing. The activity he is doing is not considered separately from his emotional state. But that he derives his emotional state from the activity he is doing. Or that he has to pursue some activity to reach a better emotional state.
This implies that people generally dont care about whether the other person is happy or not. They are busy having their own fun doing their own little activities.
This is my life man. Your life is yours.
I dont care whether you actually are happy, just have fun doing whatever it is that you are doing. :-)
Celebrating the second anniversary of the blog. :)
Welcome to the United States. The 7th most developed country (PDF) in the world with the second highest per capita income of US$34K (Luxembourg is first). The country with 8 of the 10 richest people of the world.
But when any person from a non-Western country comes in, he sees a different picture of reality. People are always worried whether they will be have enough money to be able to survive their old age. They devote their life to plan their finance so that they have retirement money. They choose to have less children or none at all so that they dont have to spend much money. They don't want to marry since an eventual divorce is unaffordable. They do not have enough money for college. They do not have enough money to pay the doctors, they have to take insurance. They dont have spare money to give to their brothers, sisters, parents, children, nor their spouse.
Is there something wrong here, or is this, as usual, a result of my myopic insight and very limited knowledge?
Anyway, this does not alter my admiration for a country which became the world superpower in as little as two centuries...
UPDATE: I now think that my direct experience with Americans is too less for my views on them to make much sense.
Even to do a task has been a nightmare for me these days. I start about a task enjoying it, and taking my own time for it, and then I am frequently pinged by my work assigner that the task has to be completed.
It is a strange thing for me. Uptil now, whenever I did something, I did it for enjoying it coolly, slowly, and taking my own time. For example, completing my school homeworks, or spending hours just surfing for what I wanted to. But, a company works on deadlines, and it has to complete a given task in a particular amount of time. And yes, its got to be completed. Whether you really got time to enjoy it or not, whether you liked doing it or not, is not particularly important.
In fact, doing a task to get it completed is a concept which I am not able to appreciate even if I try to. It does not satisfy the romantic in me.
But it appears that its got to be done that way if you wanna survive.
And maturity is in learning how to survive.
If I wanna stay with these guys, I'll have to listen to 'em. I mean, this society.
2 years before, just some time after I joined USC, I was thinking of buying a bike to traverse from home to school. But there was this hesitation I had. I used to come by the school tram (bus) from my apartment to the campus. Though bikes looked appealing since they increase productivity and reduce effort, they will make me more alone... When travelling on the tram, I got to meet fellow students, some whom I already knew and some whom I didnt, and thus could use that time for socializing. When travelling on the bike, I was alone.
Later I found myself in a parallel situation when I was thinking about buying a laptop. I used to use computers in the school public labs and I met a lot of people there. In fact, most of the new people I had met were those I had met in the public labs of the school. If, however, I used a laptop, then I would have to sit in the library in a cubical alone, and surf there. Or maybe use it at home further reducing social interaction. The desktop is even worse: you wont leave your home at all if you get one!
Yes, its quite obvious - use public things and you are surrounded by the public, use your own things and you are surrounded by your own things...
Attend schools and you will meet other students. Pay the teacher to come and teach you at home, and you will meet just the teacher.
Live on earth and you get 6 billion people. Buy a whole planet all for yourself, you get the planet.
I have been up all night, so I am probably spilling out non-sense.
This was one mail I sent to usc2k1 yahoogroup on 31 Oct, 2002 - those days I was having this high anti-smoking thing. If you dont care, ignore this post.
(for people who can "read")
One evening outside SAL:
S (with a cigarette in one hand): Hi, A!
A: Hi! How are you? Hey, do you know something? Smoking is bad for health.
S: Huh! Nothing new! Everybody knows that!
A: What do you know about it?
S: I know its bad for health man..!
A: What else? Any details?
S: Err...Forget it yaar. Feels great when I smoke. Thats what I care for.
A: 50% of all people who smoke die _due_ to their smoking. So will you like it if the cause of your death is smoking?
S: Err...I dont mind dying a few days earlier. After all, everybody has to die someday, isnt it? Umm....Anyway, I am going to stop smoking someday, then everything will be alright.
A: So you are also one of I-can-always-quit-tomorrow group. Thats where everybody goes wrong. Less than 10% of people who start smoking are able to stop it.
S: Duh! Come on, now dont bug me!... How're your courses? I have to read lots of papers for CS555, man. I am fed up. Have you read them?
A: You know what, I know of one paper, which I can say will be one of the most important things you _ever_ read in life. Well, it was for me.
(A takes out a document of 4-5 pages which is actually a printout of this pdf file: http://www.acsh.org/publications/booklets/iesmoke.pdf)
A: This will be one of the most important things you ever read in life.
(S looks at the paper)
S: Hey I dont have time to read _this_!!! You've gone mad...Look I am leaving.
A: This is more important than your CS555 papers. Better miss one CS555 paper and read this.
S: Huh. I'll see.
(That night, S casually picks that paper up and tries to see what its about. Once started, he does not stop until he has read all of it in 15 mins. He thinks about something after that. That night he smokes a lot to satisfy himself. But, from the next day, he stops smoking. Then goes on to live a better, longer, healthier life than he would have lived if he would have continued smoking. Alas! He still could not reach the health levels of the people who never smoked.)
End of boring story! :-)
Now read the paper!!!!
The paper is a must-read for all: smokers, non-smokers and ex-smokers.
1. Smoking accounts for almost 500,000 deaths per year in the US alone, or one in every five deaths.
2. Cigarette smoking contributes to a remarkable number of diseases, including coronary heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, peripheral vascular disease, peptic ulcer disease, and many types of cancer.
3. Many adverse effects of smoking dont cure themselves when you stop smoking.
4. People who smoke for as brief a period as 10 years show a substantially higher rate of death, disease, and disability.
(the conversation was, of course, fictional.)
After turning into a more contemplative person a few months ago, who asks "why?" to everything, I developed some conceptual insights into the way things work, and more importantly, into the reasons behind human behavior.
Then when I began to read some philosophical (or other) material, I found many of the things I had discovered myself were already discovered by people before and well documented. Of course, not that I was expecting that I was the first person to discover them, but...
Moral Relativism (or cultural relativism) was an idea that I realized myself over a period of some weeks last fall. Though it is a quite simple and obvious concept that everybody who has studied philosophy (or related disciplines) or read related books knows(or even by experience), knowing it by your own realization is a totally different experience than just reading it from a book or hearing from a friend.
The process is quite interesting. First you dont see anything, and believe them as just other oddities of life. Then you begin to see some patterns, and that is all you see. Then you see the common generator of the patterns. Then, applying the classic generalization and reductionism of Mathematics (and Science), you arrive at a concept that can explain all observed things perfectly. There. You have achieved enlightenment. (For this thing atleast). As time passes, you confirm it n number of times with new observations, and the idea sinks into your brain. It then becomes part of your basic knowledge, and you think of it as an obvious concept.
Reasons of human behavior can be a particularly interesting area to think about. Whats a human desire? What does a human want? What is the difference between different people? There are dozens of questions like these.
The concept of money as "a means to exchange services with the society", which is so obvious that it is money's definition, is quite enlightening. Atleast seemed to me, when I realized that sometime ago. From money, you go to services, society, economy, jobs, survival, work, the importance of science, the importance of technology, etc.
And yes, thinking about Darwin's Theory of Evolution can be the most enlighening of all things. The direction of human existence, human life, human behavior, human society, human behavior become suddenly clear. That all organisms including humans are just trying to survive and reproduce is an idea people knowingly disagree, but is the most important fact, I think so. It is the most important first thing you need to understand if you are to understand anything.
There were many conceptual insights (they were to me, may not be to many people) that I developed, a few of which I mentioned above, that have made my understanding of the world dramatically better.
What suddenly triggered this?
Why did I start thinking after 22 years of age? What was I doing upto that time?
The primary cause of this is changing a country, a culture, a civilization. This is a time which forces you to think about the basic assumptions about life you have made without even thinking about them. Then afterwards, it is just a chain effect.
Moving to another quite different country for some elongated time period is one thing I would recommend everyone.
There are three different ways a movie can be evaluated according to me: 1. How the viewer "feels" during and immediately after seeing the movie. 2. The art, skill and talent put into making the movie. 3. How it changes the viewers of the film in the long run from the aspect of knowledge, understanding, perspective, behavior, morality, culture, etc.
An important question is - which one of those questions is the most important?
The movie critics mostly assume the second question to be the most important. A typical film viewer assumes the first one to be the most important. What do you think about the importance of the third?
From the 1st questions point of view, the movie will cause the viewer to be "highly disturbed". Many people will simply reject this film, and will not even be able to sit through the complete movie. I myself had to garner up lots of courage to just keep my hand from pushing the stop button throughout the movie. The movie is "real bad" if you think the answer to the first question is the most important for you, and hence you should stay away from the movie.
From the 2nd question point of view, although I do not have much knowledge of film critiquing, I can estimate that the movie is quite good artistically. The movie's direction, music, special effects, screenplay is quite good.
However, the 3rd question is the most interesting for a movie like Natural Born Killers.
The intention of the movie, as the makers of the movie would want to emphasize, is to make the general public realize that proper "culturing" of kids, young people is necessary for the society to sustain itself. If there is no concept of morality induced into people, especially when they are young, they may grow up into anti-social elements. And morever, the current state of American Society is lacking the culturing exactly which is essential.
So the questions raised by this movie in my mind were:- Is it necessary to have a proper culturing of the masses for them to behave morally? Or will they "just understand"? Is the right to expression of ideas by way of showing violence on the TV screen and the big screen more important than telling people what is right and wrong and how to behave yourself? Is the media' role more as a user ratings seeker or as communicator of culture?
Thus there seems to some interesting thought provoking stuff out here (the questions are not new - but it still raises questions - which most movies just dont do), but there exists a PRIMARY PROBLEM with the movie which is quite obvious.
The film might be thought provoking in the right sense to only a small fraction of the viewers - perhaps those who are willing to think. However, for the vast majority of the audience, the film may have the opposite effect to that what it wants to have. It will teach them voilence. The film will serve to do exactly what it tries to say as "wrong": it will show audience that violence is not a wrong thing - violence is normal.
This is a very strong negative, and instead of 9 or 10, my rating for this movie is 7.
Comparison with Stanley Kubrick's A ClockWork Orange:
The Stanley Kubrick Masterpiece was way above this movie.
1: Disturbing, though much less than Natural Born Killers. 2: Artistically much better than Natural Born Killers.
Clockwork Orange raised more deeper and more novel questions than Natural Born Killers.
The questions directly raised by Clockwork Orange in my mind were: What is the basis of morality? Why should you behave morally? Why are most people in the world behaving more or less morally? How would you convince a person to behave morally? Is simply establishing association between immorality and feeling sick enough? Is simply establishing association between immorality and getting punished enough? Is morality only important for not getting punished or is there something higher? Is establishing an association between immoral behavior and feeling sick equivalent to convincing him what is right and wrong? Is religion only for convincing people to behave morally? Can religion give a logically sound reason for behaving morally? Why should I care about others? Is today's politics only about trying to win votes, or they really try to think about the people?
And the basic problem present with Naturally Born Killers that it may actually germinate violence in the viewers is not present in Clockwork Orange because Clockwork Orange shows more cultured and less anti-social behavior than harmful.
In Conclusion, watch ClockWork Orange(my rating 10/10), and avoid Naturally Born Killers(my rating 7/10).
I never try to be what I am.
I try to be what people would want me to be. Ofcourse the people who are given this role are mostly chosen by me.
Do you try to be what you are, or what others want?
These days I am using Red Hat Linux 7.3 for my job.
I must say, that KDE 3.0.x feels somewhat better than even the Windows GUI..!!!
Before using Linux, I used to use Solaris installed in the public labs here at USC, but it was not installed to be beautiful looking, instead just for student homeworks.
Now using Linux, I have realized that the Windows GUI and the ease of use is only an illusion....
Give me Linux anyday over Windows....I am going more and more away from Windows....its been almost 8 months since I last used Windows by choice.
Hey, I have got an oncampus job....(finally).
And this is a job that I would really love to do. It involves device driver programming in linux on a custom made Intel StrongARM processor board.
its been a long time since my last post, so I thought of writing in.
I am going thru a not-so-good patch of my life.
No job, no internship. And other things also not good.
just to complete that -
it finished at 64.
anybody who's done it before?
64 continuous hours in woken up state - almost all of which is just sitting in front of computer and studying.
its now 60 hours.
And surely, will go on for a few more.
Testing the flexibilty of the body, and mind.
Anybody broken this record of mine, 60 hours of continuous(almost) study? And most probably i will survive a few more so it could touch 68-70 or something.
Its been 34 hours since I woke up. And out of those 34 hours, i have spent around 26.75 hours in front of this computer which i am now sitting.....
and its not over yet.....i intend to complete a half century of hours being completely awake - studying at that.
well....so much for sleep.....!
I was not feeling good not blogging today.....so this mail.
I have to complete a term paper by the morning 8. This is 4:39am. Then i will sleep for 3 hours, and begin studying Compilers for which the finals is at 7pm.
Then after the finals, i will go home and sleep for 3-4hours. And then come back and start working on the 565 project. It will take 3 days, with 18 hours per day. Then after it becomes more tight.
I have 565 project demo.
Then I have to read 80 (!!!!!) research papers before the 555 finals on 7th, along with one BOOK for the finals on 6th of 581. This is even theoretically impossible if a day had aroun 80-90 hours.
What is required if I would like to avoid this the next semester is discipline, sincerity, regularity, ability to kill will and study class notes, etc.
I will try it next sem.
Bye for now.
hey i remembered a funny incident that happenned quite a while ago.
I was a college student, when Email had made its way into India, as usual well after the other developed countries.
I didnt know much of email, internet or anything.
while playing a computer game, I got stuck, and I tried very hard to proceed further in the game, but could not. There was an email address given to contact if I wanted some help - it was in the US.
I did not know anything about email.
But, then, since I did not know any other way, I decided to write an email.
I wrote one. It was a big one. Maybe enough to fill about 1-2 A4 size pages using standard fontsize. I described what powers I had gained. What enemies I had killed. What level had I reached. What secrets I had discovered. So that he understands the complete situation and suggests me a way to proceed. Otherwise how will he be able to answer? So I sent that BIG email.
I thought, who checks email often? So it will be probably a long time before he replies.
Maybe the postal email had had influenced me into thinking that.
After 3 weeks, I thought that maybe he had replied or not. I was doubtful. But I said, what the heck, lets try checking email anyway. If the reply has not been made, I will check again after some weeks...
I checked and found to my utter surprise - 2 things -
1. The reply had been made within hours of when I had sent that mail..........could it be possible? Email is a miracle!!!
2. The shortness of his reply. Maybe one or two lines. He just gave me a URL where all the info about how to win the game was written.
He He He.....
I still remember that....
But I still believe Email is a miracle!
hey I have the final exam of one course tomorrow, and I am wasting time blogging.......:-(
nothing much to write at the moment...
Homeworks, Homeworks, Projects, Term Papers, Exams, Research Papers, Textbooks, Class Notes, Job Searching,.....Eating, Sleeping, Talking, Communicating, Checking to see that we dont run into anyone, Being Rational, Planning, etc etc etc etc etc
How can people do this....incredible....marvellous creation - a man is!!
I am definitely not one of those marvellous creations......from where will I take time out of Surfing and Blogging, to do all these....... not for me......
I am becoming more and more indisciplined, and that is taking me nowhere.....
I must get organized, disciplined, sincere.....
Well.....thats what I have been saying to myself all my life.... :-)
This is my first post....so this is basically for testing....:-)