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May 15, 2008

Views on same-sex marriage

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.

May 25, 2005

Small Town Life vs City Life

(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?

November 9, 2004

Cars (Incomplete)

So I started the drive from Fremont BART.

I didnt know where I was going,
But I thought I knew the general direction.
Somebody had advised me.

I also had the map with me,
But the map was very vague,
you could hardly trace through it.

I started out slowly.

I saw many many cars,
all going in various directions,
I wondered where they were going.

I saw some of them going in one direction,
I joined them.

We had fun

August 2, 2004


I look ahead, and I see uncertainty.

Things will go right and things will go wrong.

There'll be really nice people, but, they'll be different.
They might want different things, they might expect different things,
I might want different things, I might expect different things.
There'll be love, there'll be joy,
There'll be disappointment, there'll be distress.
But thats how fascinating people can be.

There'll be responsibilites which I will try to accomplish, but might be harder than I think.
I might fail, and fail often.
Maybe I wont try hard enough to succeed.
Maybe I wont be capable enough.
But thats how it is, and is going to be.

There will be occasions which will be unexpected,
There will be challenges that I havent forseen,
They will be hard,
But they will be sweet.

There will be those desires realized,
there will be those cherishable moments,
but just so that I can enjoy these more,
there will be those moments that I will always wish would have been otherwise,
and those unfulfilled dreams, that I will keep longing for, ever.

With fear, with might,
With self-doubt, with confidence,
With apprehension, with curiosity,
With repulsion, with acceptance,
With pessimism, with optimism,
I welcome life.



June 15, 2004

Free Will

I think free will does not exist. Because I believe in causality. I believe that everything in the world is caused by something else. When I see a computer placed before me, I know that somebody did place this computer here. When i see the electrons on the screen forming shapes, I understand the reasons behind it are the signals going in from the CPU and the hardware manufacturing based on mathematical laws. In other words, there is a deterministic law-governed sequence of events as the cause of any event at any time and place - the sequence will start right from the beginning of time to the event in question.

There is nothing that I can think of which will _prevent_ me from including human caused events in this set of "explanable" events.

What one thinks he *wants* to do, has a perfect scientific reason on the the level of atoms (or whatever is the lowest level, say, quarks) for him wanting to choose this particular thing.

[Ofcourse, the uncertainty principle tells us that determinism doesnt work at very low levels, but we can hardly attribute free will to the undeterminism of this kind.]

We get a hint of this lowly determinism at higher abstract forms of realities as well. For example, me wanting to choose to eat chocolates can be explained by my experience in life, where I was exposed to a lot of chocolates, and the moods I was in when I ate those initially, the emotions expressed by those eating chocolates around me, the psychological game I was playing at that point, etc etc. Most of the behavioral patterns (in other words, free will based choices) can be easily traced to some experience, or genes.

My being good or bad can be traced to events that happenned to me. All of my behavior, from small to the large, is a result of what I observed in early childhood upto now, and what I was told. Apart from the genes ofcourse.

Now I want to my right hand to the left. Oh! I moved it. Is that free will? I dont think so. The whole thing - me wanting to move the right hand to the left, and then my moving it, and then writing this down, might have a perfect scientific explanation that explains it all. So even though, I feel that I have free will, even that feeling is just a deterministic result.

But this should not be depressing. Since who cares whether what we are actually doing is being determined by us or not? I can "feel" illusorily that I am doing what I want to. Thats it. This feeling of having free will, though false, is all that we need to feel responsible for our decisions. The actual reality should not matter.



May 10, 2004

What do you think you are?

OR "Shared Reality, part 1"

All of our reality, what we see, what we understand, what we judge, what we desire, what we even think - all of this DOES NOT ORIGINATE FROM WITHIN YOU BUT FROM SOURCES EXTERNAL TO YOU, AND HENCE IS UNIMPORTANT.

What you are, is different from what you think you are, since what you think you are, is based on your specific experience of life. And that experience is external to you, and hence cannot be used to describe you, especially when one has very less amount of control over the external surroundings. All action that you do, which influences the surroundings, was itself determined by your experience upto that point of time. And the same argument can be applied repeatedly. Ofcourse, genes also have a role in all this (and not a trivial role at that), but the role of experience cannot be undermined.
[And whether genes are part of your experience is one interesting offshoot that we dont want to get into at this point]

To appreciate the role of societal experience in making what you are, try describing what you are, given the context of your current reality.

You will begin with your role in society - you are a student, or you work here, etc (how and what services you exchange with the society), how you relate to other people (how and what emotions you exchange with the society) and then you will describe your hobbies, what you like and what you dont, what path of life that you have gone through (what experience has this society given you), what are your behavior patterns (how your experience with society has caused you to behave), and then some people might give their goal of life (how their mind has analysed the information about society to come up with a goal, which was itself based on their experience in life) and so on.

If you look at all of this, you will find that you are trying to speak about yourself, but actually you are only speaking about your experience in society and its effects. [You are also speaking about your genes here, dont get me wrong, but you are also very significantly speaking about your social experience]

Now comes the litmus test.

Imagine that you had spent your life in a hypothetical situation in the African jungles, with some totally different people as your parents and your community, under totally different circumstances. There the conditions had been so difficult that nobody could be certain that any person in the area would see the light of the next morning, because the wild animals living around the community would attack every night. Where your parents had been killed when you were two. Where you spoke in an African language, where you hadnt even remotely heard of the existence of a thing as electricity, where the only task you did in your life was collecting food for the next week by hunting wild boars.

Now imagine what would your reality had been, had you gone through this. Think about all of your personality traits - would they have been the same? Or so would anything else?

The best inference comes, however, when you imagine instead of this african jungle with lots of people, you had been living in African jungles at a time when you were the lone human on the planet. You were in africa, but alone. Alone on the whole planet. Though you had company from the wild animals living around your house. You had grown up among these animals, and you hadnt seen another human in your whole life.

Now imagine and think.

What would you say about yourself (assuming that you knew spoken language, which you wouldnt) given these circumstances?

Would that be similar to what you describe as yourself now?

If all of our reality including what we think about ourselves is so dependent on our experience then where do "we" come into the picture, separate from the experience?

The point is - you dont exist separately from your experience. Atleast in the way you imagine yourself to exist.

Its a question of where to draw the line.

You might want to draw the line at the soul (or whatever metaphorically it means), and say that you are your soul, and the rest - your body, your brain, this world - are nothing but your experiences. And hence at this level you can not differentiate between descriptions of people, since they all can be completely described by the previous sentence. And hence, spiritualists would call everyone God or an "equivalent" part of God (Hinduism: you are part of Brahman, everyone is atman, God is Parmatman)

Then you can draw the line at the continuity of the complex thinking process in your complex brain as the seat of conciousness, which is you. [brain became so complex that its complex thinking started to have illusions of awareness, and of becoming conscious] So whatever you take in from the senses, becomes your experience. It will appear that you yourself will change with experience, since the brain changes its neural connections based on the experience it gets. But this will not happen if you take the meaning of continuity of the thought process as the continuity of the thought process separate from the brain the thought process runs on, and the contents of the thought process itself. If we look at it this way, then it almost becomes similar metaphorically as a soul, although with one point of difference - souls are said to be permanent, and this is not. (I personally feel that the soul actually metaphorically appears quite similar to this continuity of thought; for solving the permanence problem by looking at the phenomenon itself - of developing a feeling of consciousness after reaching a complex state of thoughts - as being permanent, while only this instance of the phenomenon as temporary) [.. plz read this past post for on this continuity of thought as consciousness...]

[ In the above two cases, you count gene as part of your experience: you got the genes from the society in the first place, you got them from your mother and father, who met each other in the society exchanging emotions, and then got their genes themselves from their parents from society]

Then you can draw the line at the genes. You can say that you are your genes, and you produced a brain as your "extension" in order to help you replicate yourself. (I guess that Richard Dawkins has some theory like this in The Selfish Gene, a book which I really want to read whenever I can find time) You then change according to whatever your experience, but the way you change is a property of the genes. So you can be completely described by only your genes, and experience is secondary. So "you" are just a characteristic of a brain which was developed in the way the genes are, and it was developed because of the genes. So in effect "you" are the "genes" themselves. [This is a not an uncommon place to draw the line, when people from one country try to prove they are superior than the other country, they are trying to say that their genes are stronger. And even more pertinent example is all racist wars like the Hitler against the Jews stuff]

And finally you can draw the line at your genes+experience. So in effect, this is saying that you are nothing but your genes AND your experience. (And actually you had no control in defining/shaping either for yourself.)

The distinctions between drawing the line at different places is generally not clear to us when we interact in this world in practice, I think, and we usually tend to overlap one way with another.

Anyway, its late night, and now if I glance up, I think that I should have written this during the day.. :-) ...would have turned out much better because my brain would have been thinking straight rather than skewed.

(related next part)

April 30, 2004

What is "me"? (ver 1.1)

This was among the very good articles I have found on K5. (I am not a very regular reader there though).
[UPDATE: The story seems to have been taken off, since some dimwitted K5 readers didnt give it votes high enough to be published... I am trying to contact the author to get hold of the story. For now, read this summary: The article asks questions about exactly what "I" is. Is it just a state of your memories? If yes, then if I put my memories exactly in your brain, will you become I? If I put the exact state of the brain in a robotic brain, will the robot become me? If my brain is gradually replaced with artificial cells, will the resulting robotic brain be me?]
[UPDATE: I have got the new location of the story from the author. It is at]

Have a look at that article, before continuing reading this post.

I was able to think on the exact same lines as I read each line of the article. My thinking process went so much identically, that I could almost correctly expect the next statement. I mostly have the same opinion as regards to the conclusion as well. (This proves that myself and the author think along the same lines, and those lines must be precisely logical ;-) ).

I believe that its the continuity in the thought process of this brain, that is me.

About identical brains with identical memories being me or not, I dont give a damn about that, since if I make two identical cups, does one become the other??? Well, no. So even if you make a molecule by molecule replica of me, having precisely the same memories, that wont be me. I am here. Right here. With this set of memories AND this set of molecules.

And if you pull the switch off my brain, and a second later restart it, so that I even have the same set of molecules as I had before the switching process, that WONT BE ME. Since that continuity has been lost. As soon as the continuity breaks, I no longer exist. [Point to think about, what happens after one recovers from coma, is he himself, or somebody different?]

So my definition of me would be:

this continuity in the thought process inside this brain with this set of molecules and this set of memories

Even if you gradually replace each molecule in my brain with artificial ones, that wont be me, since you would practically have to stop the brain momentarily before placing the new one. If however, you were able to replace the molecules by new ones without stopping the continuity, then I think I will remain me, since this process will be identical to the death of neurons and birth of neurons which keeps happenning all the time. (and not to mention replenishing of molecules by the new food and blood that come into the brain)

Actually there is a quick game on "identity" here:

which ends up with pointing to a longer article on personal identity:

This game is okay, but I found their game on morality better. Wow, they do have a lot of games to try out.

I now think that the consciousness in the person dies as soon as he goes into coma. After coma, when he wakes up again, he is not what he was before. This is another consciousness. Since the continuity was broken, the previous consciousness can never come back. Its does not exist any more.

However, nobody will be able to realize this. Since the onlooking people will think that he is the same person since this new consciousness will have the exact same memories and genes and hence behavior, and will behave identically to the original consciousness. The irony is that the person will himself not know that he was born (not a good word in this sense) just now, since he will have memories and body of the previous consciousness.

It might appear that then the breaking of continuity is not such a big issue, and that the definition of consciousness is wrong. But thats what I feel "I" am.

The continuity of thought, regardless of anything else.

Yes, now I have changed my definition. ;-)

I dont care about his memories, and his molecules, what we care about is this continuity in the brain. If you are able to even change the brain itself somehow, without breaking the continuitity of this thought process in a brain, then the new brain will be the same "him".

What do you think?


March 21, 2004


When I look at the Moon, the moon calls me,
When I look at the Ocean, the ocean calls me,
When I look at the Forest, the forest calls me,
When I look at a flower, the flower calls me.

When I look at a mountain, the mountain calls me,
When I look at the sky, the sky calls me.

When I look at a building, the building calls me,
When I look at a car, the car calls me.

When I look at him, he calls me,
When I look at her, she calls me.

When I look at Him, He calls me.



The winds of time, blowing upon the sands of life,
Inevitably blow away the stones that lie on it:
The stones of ego, material desire, and immortality,
The only stone that fiercely withstands this test,
Is the stone of Love.


July 8, 2003


This is a quick scribbling of thoughts I did some 5 years ago, when I was in the beginning of my bachelors study. At that time, I was very fascinated by the Stars - with the fuel to the fire being Startrek and some Discovery Channel Programs:

"The Stars"

If you were ever gazing into a dark starry night, far away from city lights and noise, you would have felt the loneliness of mankind. Distances so great that one cannot even imagine separate this tiny Earth from the heavenly stars - and the distances between galaxies still increasing at incredible rates every moment. The silence of the night and the silence of the stars will inevitably drive you to that simple question - Is there someone out there? Then we unfailingly are driven into thinking that there may be someone of humane qualities, someone who could feel emotions of sadness, anger, joy, happiness, the same way as we do, someone who will be anxious to meet us out there, waiting for us to respond.

Infinite stars, infinite planets....and abundant life. People living like we do, laughing like we do, crying like we do. Isn't it our duty to meet them? Isn't it our duty to help them? Isn't it our duty to progress with them? To learn new things, to explore, to go where no man has gone before? Are the people on Earth enough? Wouldn't you like to meet some more - some different things? Yes, it is almost a fact that there has to be life beyond the solar system. Billions of billions of billions of stars and life on just one planet of one star? No. A big NO.

Shouldn't we just leave now? Isn't it late? Find the means and leave for the stars - is what I feel I must do now. But the means are not there. I am just waiting for someone to announce that the first spaceship is waiting to be filled.

Or may we wait for someone to be found in the skies or wait for them to find us? This seems a more better and realistic solution. But this should happen fast. We must, MUST HAVE TO find them. It is our moral obligation to our Galaxy. In the same way, as we help our neighbors - our citymen, countrymen and the Earth people.


It is our inherent desire -- it will be their inherent desire - TO MEET.

What is so good about meeting? One may ask. But I think perhaps that is what we have been doing since brith....meeting new people and making them happy - and maybe perhaps that is the reason for which we live.

I many time feel that I can sense their ship coming toward us -- on the way right now and reaching us any moment. The moment of the HISTORY OF MANKIND. The most significant achievement man has ever made. And with most impact on humankind.

These silent - mysteriously silent stars speak a lot. As if inviting us to to come their way. The pleasant cool appearing stars are in fact very hot and firing and fatal if we go too near. But whatever they may be, they are a symbol for the life revolving around them - the peace, the pleasant, the anxious - the life around them.

What one will get by living on the earth. The earth has bound us with responsibilities, duties but the thing that matters to God and not to earthlings is that WE GO AND SPREAD.

Thats why I imagine myself on a space ship bound for the stars - feeling that I have succeeded in my life - doing a thing for man - what man must do.

Date: somewhere in 1998

Link to this in text format


June 20, 2003

On Human Behavior

People write their scripts early in life1. They decide what is the basic pattern of behavior they will follow throughout their time here.

For example, one will ask others to show care for him, if they dont agree, then he will hate them. This basic pattern seems a very simple one, but a significant amount of behavior of many people is just based on this one rule.

There are many such possible rules (or patterns).

It seems strange that a thing as complex as the human mind, will generate so much behavior that is based on just one such simple rule as this.

Finding the dominant rules for a person, is equivalent to understanding that person. When we say, "Bhargav is a very simple guy", or "Rukie is a very simple girl", we say that we unconsciously understand the basic rules that govern that person's behavior.

But understanding the rules explicitly, consciously, clearly goes much further ahead in understanding that person. You can almost make a computer program that would behave in the same way that the person does.

Let us get a better feel for those basic rules.

One basic rule that I have found to be very common is: "I want people to love me."

Other common one is "I want to laugh."

Though these look simple, they exist in more sophisticated versions in practice, and this makes them useful. For example, the "I want to laugh" rule may be expanded for some person to " I want to laugh. I will try to seek out people who can provide me this. A person who will make me laugh are good people. Those who cannot, are of no use to me and I will find them boring and uninteresting, I will try avoiding them. " And even more.

Some more are: "I want to think. I will go towards people who make me think.", "I want to cry. I will do something silly. And then cry. All those who can provide me this, I will be attracted to them." As I said, these rules take sophisticated forms when you actually apply to people.

These rules are based on mostly on how the person will interact with other people.

But, that is whats a person is. A behavior generator. And more specifically, he creates meaning by putting this behavior in front of other people that can store and communicate information. What meaning will he create if he behaves in an isolated planet, where nobody else who can store/communicate is present? SO, basically, when you derive rules for his generation of behavior, you define him. You define that person. All that he means.

The irony is that this whole meaning of a person that is present only in the human society, has no meaning outside our humandom. And that makes us ask the importance of this meaning. How is this meaning important to Star Sirius. How is this meaning important to a stone? How is this meaning important to the universe at large? In No Way. There is no meaning outside our humandom. Only humans know that Mother Teresa was good, Edison was good, Einstein was good, Buddha was good, Hitler is bad. The culmination of the irony is that even that meaning is not shared with all, all have a different meaning of the same thing depending on individual views.

Back to scripts - you can almost make out the structure of friends that a person will have based on his scripts. For example, "he will have some who will satisfy his need of humor, he will have some who will satisfy his need for intellectual discussion, he will have some who will give him the pleasure of telling that he acts smart, he will have some who will remind him of his good old days, he will have some who can make him emotionally intense" etc.

All of this can actually help in practical life.

But there is an extension of this, that may actually have dramatic uses.

The extension is - "identify your own scripts".

Introspect. Introspect your behavior. Why do you behave this way? What do you want? Where are you going? What are your basic desires? What are the patterns in your behvior, what are you scripts?

This will not be short. This will occur over a period of time. You will come to understand (yes in the same way mentioned above) yourselves more over time.

Then you may find some patterns are not good for you, and have harmed you previously. You will make a goal to remove them from whatever that is "yourself".

This will be a really hardest thing to do. You will find that the basic rules are so ingrained in you, that they are a part of "you".

However, repeated attempts will give results after some time. And you may actually succeed.

When you succeed, you will have changed yourself. You will have reprogrammed yourself. A program changing itself. Much like a LISP program.

(1. This sentence is taken from the excellent book "What do you say after you say Hello" by Eric Berne. The rest of the expansion is mine. I dont know what was his idea or how he expanded, but could be very similar to this. However, I would still credit this whole concept to him)


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