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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.

April 16, 2007

comment on virginia tech shooting tragedy

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

March 15, 2007

What to eat -excellent article

The following article about nutrition is excellent. Escpecially read the 9 points in the end of the article.
Unhappy Meals - Michael Pollan - New York Times

December 8, 2006

Google Pagerank Algorithm Explained

The following link is a feature article, which explains the basic math behind Google's pagerank algorithm nicely -- I followed most of it, except the "how does the power method work" section:

How Google Finds Your Needle in the Web's Haystack

November 22, 2006

Getting closer

Why does having no barrier with other people, able to speak out inner wishes with other people, not having too much of self-respect, contrast sharply with perceived behavior characteristics of successful, respectable people?

August 26, 2006


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.

July 28, 2006

Identity due to force-feedback response to conditioning

Force feedback...!! It is the feedback that many gaming machines offer us in response to an instruction that we give to it. For example, in the car racing gaming machines, when we try to move the steering wheel in a particular direction to turn the car, the wheel offers us resistance in the opposite direction or assistance in the same direction to simulate real conditions like inertia of the vehicle, friction of the wheels, air, etc.

Isnt this similar to the response that we give to the conditioning the outer world gives to us, which eventually defines our identity and makes us what we think we are?

When somebody suggests us to do one particular thing, often we either tend to think he is right, and think "that is what I feel I should do", or we tend to think that he is wrong, and think "it is better if I do the opposite". Now, it might appear that this is very obvious, whats so significant about this pattern. I beleive it is. Because this suggestion actually does impact our thinking..! It actually changes our opinions either towards the suggestion or opposite to it, and makes it "change" - makes it different than what it was before -- in other words: "polarizes" it. And this is very often in essence the form in which "conditioning" occurs: polarization due to explicit or implicit suggestions.

This conditioning makes us develop opinions and choices; and the development of these opinions over the longer run makes us what we think we are, since we are after all, a "choosing bag". And our very manifestation in reality is our self-expression of our thoughts, our ideas, and our choices...

Though these are subject to change and conditioning very easily over time, we still appear to "feel" that they have some permanence associated with them and the resulting self-identity has some static or permanent nature, and one of our important goals then becomes to protect our identity, and to "exercise" it.

I have observed that for some people, following lifestyle choices ("exercising identity") becomes more important than everything else, even moral obligations.

Somehow I believe that for me, moral obligations are more important than lifestyle choices, but I am not very sure how strongly I believe that.

By the way, I also think that marriage makes us value lifestyle (greatly overlapping with family values) more and more and more....over everything else...

June 7, 2006

"The Clean Slate"

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.

Stock Options strategy for bull call vertical spread

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!

May 17, 2006

Going back home

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.

Rmackins wrote:
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
grkhetan wrote:


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.

the good things

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!

May 16, 2006


Sometimes you feel that you can analytically analyze each nut and bolt of a relationship. But then sometimes you realize, like I am doing now, that it is so hard to do that. A relationship is a heavenly creation which has so many varied emotions (security, love, ego, fear, greed, selfishness, fun, self-expression, etc etc) so much intricately involved, that it is in my opinion a fallacy to beleive that your analysis has completely described a relationship.

When relationships work, life feels so good that you are ready to give off all intellectual/analytical stress on the mind, and just relax in bliss, going into the natural state of mind, which is emotional.

By relationships I mean, of course, every relationship under the sun, including brother-sister, parent-child, husband-wife, boyfriend-girlfriend, friend-friend, teacher-student, colleague, parent-of-friend, etc etc etc etc.

Life is a matter of joy.

May 15, 2006

Truth or Happiness?

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.

March 31, 2006

Ralph Waldo Emerson - Essay - Self Reliance

Came across this very nice essay. A wonderful read.

Essay - Self Reliance - by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Translated by Adam Khan.

March 2, 2006

Being Twenty Something

A very nice writeup that came to me via email from somebody.

Thanks to Aloke for pointing out that it was written by "Brenda Della Casa", a NY based writer. Otherwise I would have risked getting a comment like this from him.

"Being Twenty-Something".

They call it the "Quarter-life Crisis." It is when you stop going along with the crowd and start realizing that there are many things about yourself that you didn't know and may not like. You start feeling insecure and wonder where you will be in a year or two, but then get scared because you barely know where you are now.

One minute, you are insecure and then the next, secure. You laugh and cry with the greatest force of your life. You feel alone and scared and confused. Suddenly, change is the enemy and you try and cling on to the past with dear life, but soon realize that the past is drifting further and further away, and there is nothing to do but stay where you are or move forward. You get your heart broken and wonder how someone you loved could do such damage to you. Or you lie in bed and wonder why you can't meet anyone decent enough that you want to get to know better. Or maybe you love someone but love someone else too and cannot figure out why you are doing this because you know that you aren't a bad person. (few words cut) Random hook ups start to look cheap. Getting wasted and acting like an idiot starts to look pathetic.

You start realizing that people are selfish and that, maybe, those friends that you thought you were so close to aren't exactly the greatest people you have ever met, and the people you have lost touch with are some of the most important ones. What you don't recognize is that they are realizing that too, and aren't really cold, catty, mean or insincere, but that they are as confused as you.

You look at your job... and it is not even close to what you thought you would be doing, or maybe you are looking for a job and realizing that you are going to have to start at the bottom and that scares you. Your opinions have gotten stronger. You see what others are doing and find yourself judging more than usual because suddenly you realize that you have certain boundaries in your life and are constantly adding things to your list of what is acceptable and what isn't.

You go through the same emotions and questions over and over, and talk with your friends about the same topics because you cannot seem to make a decision. You worry about loans, money, the future and making a life for yourself... and while winning the race would be great, right now you'd just like to be a contender!

What you may not realize is that everyone reading it, relates to it. We are in our best of times and our worst of times, trying as hard as we can to figure this whole thing out !!?

September 19, 2005

Purpose, consciousness

I think the world of consciousness is like the mathematical world -- the mathematical world is so detached from the material world -- (2+2=4) -- is true whether this world exists or not. (p->q && q->r => p->r) would have been true, even if the big bang wouldnt have taken place. I mean to say that, these are "mathematical properties" which have an existence independent of things/matter.

Likewise, I think consciousness is a property -- it is not limited by the life of the biological organism/material body in which it exists. Its a property and properties dont have lifetimes, but instances/manifestations of the property do.

And consciousness has this primary characteristic of "awareness". And I think "awareness" in itself is also somehow a universal, abstract, forever-existing-and-true property.

And consciousness has this amazing characteristic of "seeking meaning" (primarily for itself, but thence also results into seeking meaning for things)

Now, "meaning" is also a universal property, related to "causality", "reason" and "purpose", which are all universal properties.

So....consciousness seeking self-meaning despite the temporary existence of it's acceptable?

Final Viewpoint

I think the real destination comes nearer when we are able to hop from one viewpoint to another viewpoint, feeling home at each (understanding it and supporting it), and then when all have been done, coming to rest at a state where we feel comfortable and nice -- still not being rigidly attached to it.

August 19, 2005

Ancient Indian History: So mysterious

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, 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 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?


May 1, 2005

Practical vs the Spiritual

Just finished watching "October Sky" now. So maybe my mental perception has worn a temporary goggle.

But I feel that spiritual path (contentment, happiness by looking towards the self, group harmony by ego subduement, happiness of being, satisfaction in inaction, relationship bliss, loving and being loved as the only worthy emotions, submitting to God, realizing the singular collective consciousness, etc.) might actually be helpful or considered the best choice only in certain situations.

IN situations of mental turmoil, relationship problems, meaninglessness, deep sorrow, and such; spirituality can be a very enriching experience, and a sublime way of life.

But, under normal emotionally fit circumstances, does spirituality fulfil man's complete emotional apetite?

Having been under the belief that it does, I am now bent to think that it might not.

Man is a complex being -- and he exhibits himself in eclectic and diverse forms.

And his ego (sense of existence as a separate, individual, capable, entity) is one of the various embodiments of his conscious self.

All that is associated with the ego.... is that wrong? The eternal conflict within my mind between the force of individualization with the yield of biological bliss, and the force of submission to the collective with the yield of emotional/consciousness bliss; rages on, but I am now at the moment being driven towards the biological.

Ambition, the will to act, expression of individual voliton, self maintainence, etc. are taking on more meaningful roles in my vision of the scheme of things.

After all, why people remember actions and impacts of the individuals after they cease to exist, rather than their state of mind; or even if they remember their state of mind, why do they remember so as to get impacted by it themselves?

Is making an impact, to create egoistic meaning for the individual, a wrong thing to do?

April 3, 2005

relationships and happiness

I think, to be happy, you need to be able to form mature, fulfilling relationships with people.

Relationships can come in various forms. You can be a brother/sister, a father/mother, a son/daughter, a friend/girlfriend/boyfriend, a wife/husband, a colleague, a compatriot, a classmate, a mentor, a mentoree, a disciple, a preacher, a young person with new ideas, an old person with time-tested wisdom, a coproponent of a cause, a cofollower of a cause, a coseeker of fun, a person who has just passed that way, a trouble-alleviator, a happiness inducer, an old time friend, a new friend on probation, a person of the opposite sex, a provider of support and help, a provider of memes, a person to grow together with, a person to form a community with, a fellow human following humanity, and many other ways.

With any person, you can form a relationship in some form.

And when you are able to form many fulfilling relationships with many people, you will probably be "happy".

March 28, 2005


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]

September 10, 2004

Pre-laid pattern

The pattern is laid out. You just need to follow. And you are guaranteed a reasonably good time here. On earth.

If you start looking in orthogonal directions, be very very very sure about it -- the pattern has been formed after millenia of trial and error. Even if your methods are right, be sure its not very much in conflict with the system.


August 15, 2004


"Look, I said that. You didnt believe me. You didnt think I was worthy. are wrong, I was right."

"He doesnt pay attention to me. What does he think of himself?"
"He doesnt pay attention to me. Am I that bad?"

"I want to cry."

"See I can play. I am not as dumb as you think."

"See I have so many friends. And you have so less. Are you a loner or something?"

"Will I be good enough? Will I be good enough to fulfill this expectation?"

"Look this is more fun. See I know how to have fun. See I am more valuable."

"Look how smart and able I am. I can do this."

"He only thinks of himself. How selfish?"

"What do I care?"

"I dont care."

"Look ma, I am normal. I can do whatever people my age, my situation can usually do. For somethings, more. I know as much as they do. In somethings, more. I can earn money, and raise a family as other people can. I am not a dumb, retarded person. I am competent. "

"Are you happier with me? No? Even I am not happier with you."
"Are you happier with me? No? Ummmmm....Ummmmmm.....Ummmmmm"

"I am now more competent than before. I can do more. I am more capable. I am more knowledgeable. I have done this, and I have also done that. I am of a higher worth. Wow. I am happy."

"Hmm. I didnt think of that before. Because of what I did, all people can do things better. Their lives have improved. I have really increased my worth. I am really happy...."

"See now you can do more with my ideas. See, I am valuable..."

"See people, I have choices. I have preferences. I exist."

"I need to get in touch with him. I need to keep in good terms with him. He will be valuable to me later to achieve my goal. My goal of making my life better. Better means, more money, more security, more ways to have fun, in short, better in obtaining whatever I will so desire of."

"I need to meet him. I need to talk to him. I will feel better."

"I can be happy without you all. I dont need any of you. I am happier alone. I am not weak. I can survive."

"I cannot be alone. Hey, can you be with me? Please can you be with me? I really need you."

"Hmm. Let 4 of us all be together. Lets fulfill something we all want to do together."

"I am one of the better ones around."

"I am not one of the better ones around."

"Wow. This makes me happy. Lets do this."

"I really wanted to do good to him. If he doesnt want it, then why do I care?"

"Hey I feel good with you all. Lets go."

"Does he look at me?"

"Hey, he doesnt know as much as the other people in the meeting. He is a failure."

"Now I am impacting the company a lot. Now I am of a higher worth and am more meaningful. Now I can survive better and easier too. Wow."

"How can he treat me this way? What does he think I am. A person to be ignored?"

"He will be happy if we do this, if we do this. Lets do it."

"I know of a way to be happy. I will try to share it with people, so that they can be happy too. Lets share happiness."

"And this will continue. I am happy."

"I want to live."

"I want to be happy."


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.



June 13, 2004

This Life (Incomplete)

When, at times, I stop and look forward, I see, right through the bright lights close by, A short and long, straight and dwindling, dimly lit path. I see people, I see times. I see friends, I see fun. I see successes, I see happiness. I see love, I see bliss. I see misunderstandings, I see sorrow. I see hardships, I see misery. I see problems, I see depression. I see adventure, I see exploration. I see downs, I see ups. I see lefts, I see rights. I see importance, I see worthlessness, I see help, I see harm. The mysterious, Promising joy, love, success, the journey seems inviting, When the unpredictability of the voyage causes me to shiver, It scares me first, the journey through the path, A picture of something like an exciting journey When I look forward, I see an exciting journey. An unpredictable ride One part of me pulls me to one side, Dont believe them, they are illusioned! But arent they happy? I ask But you can be happy being disillusioned... Or can you? Arent illusions a means for happiness?


June 10, 2004

Just be happy

Dont try to be like others. Just be happy.

Is this just my social panacea or will work for other people as well?


May 31, 2004

Outcast (Incomplete)

When a normal sociable cultured person encounters a person who puts pure rationality higher than conventional social and cultural values, he steps back, looks at him once, and then never looks at him again in a way he used to see him earlier. Within one second, he has outcast him out of his social circle for life, without having a shadow of doubt for his decision and with no second thoughts. Why does this behavior pattern as universal as it is? Because this has meaning, and can be justified in a sense. If you start valuing your objective reasoning to come up with values, then you have already lost your social life. If you believe that objective reasoning is the right method to come up with all of your behavior, then you have stepped out of the normal social life, and will have a difficult time getting back. Within reasoning mode, you tend to explain all behavior, and purposes. You are very likely to come up with conclusions which are quite different from the conventionally followed values. And you know what, they might even be in conflict with them. A social and cultured person submits himself to the right and wrong taught by his society and culture. Though, he is not foolish, and he also reasons, but believing in pure rationality leaves a normal social person in a state of


Inner Self (Incomplete)

Did I miss something by not extending my inner self outwards for all people to see? Was my fear of rejection justified as a reason for doing nothing all my life but trying to mold myself in order to make myself pleasant to others? Would doing nothing but seeking enjoyment not have helped me better become part of a shared enjoyment percolating over groups of people?

Maturity (Incomplete)

Maturity is reaching a state, where you can behave in your best interests under all conditions, specifically by requiring no elaborate conscious thought analysis to arrive at that decision. It means that you have gone through life, understood what is that you like, what is that you want, how to get it, and how to get your best interest out of any situation. And have actually programmed all of that as your direct non-deliberated emergent behavior.

Science and Technology (Incomplete)

Science and Technology - what have they given us? They typically satisfy your second-rate desires, which are like convenience, and productivity, etc But what have the satisfaction of these desires given us? They are only useful to keep a human employed .. But have the humans become such a society where we need to find and elevate second-rate unimportant desires to such high levels in order to be employed to survive? Ants, and fishes have so less productivity that they need to spend their life for their survival. And yes, they dont exchange services. Or do they? For example, the bees divide their work into three types of bees. But they do not show growth in productivity. Yes, that is the reason they dont have time to reason.


The West vs the East (Incomplete)

I "want", hence I suffer. This is really true. It is desires that cause you suffering when they are not fulfilled. And invariably, most (or many) of them can never get fulfilled - it is simply not practically possible, one realizes if he thinks about it. Ok you say, I know this - this is a saying so common that its actually a cliche. But then, I have also realized that: I "want", hence I "do". The basic driving force of all action is a desire. No desire, no action. A Stone. No Stone? Get Desire. The basic desire to live is a desire not unlike all the others like "I want to drive an aeroplane". Nobody can forfeit the desire to live. Its the way your body is made. Suicide is not a withdrawal of all desires, but it itself is an action which follows a desire, the desire to commit suicide.


Is Intelligence Good? (Incomplete)

--- wrote:
> I pose a question to the group in sincerity (unlike some of my
> rantings!). Is the intellectually superior person more of a benefit
> to society than the average person? Is there a positive correlation
> of intellegence and success, and where is intellegence a liability?
> Does intellegence breed socially undesirable traits (sociopathy,
> megolomania, feelings of isolation and persecution) or mearly
> acts as an amplifier for these traits?
> I have not settled on an answer and would apprieciate insight on
> this matter.
> Res Ipsa Loquitor
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> It is better to be intelligent than average. Ignorance
> isn't really bliss. But knowledge isn't bliss either. Knowing
> about the suffering of others is itself painful.
> On the positive side, knowledge helps relieve suffering.
> As long as intelligence is combined with other traits like
> sympathy and tolerance, it's possible to achieve goals,
> and the pursuit of knowledge keeps life interesting.
> Jay

Define "good" :-
for self: He should be able to be happy.
for society: The society should benefit from his existence. In what way? That
they should be happier because of his existence.

[Is good for society more important than for self? Umm. Well, they are more.
However, when both can be achieved be at the same time, it serves the most ppl.
[But this is digressing from topic]]

Define "intelligence":
Option 1: He should have good analytical skills. Empty, isnt it?
Option 2: He should be able to best meet his ends. What are his ends? Here in
comes the non-intelligence-related-attitudes. His ends will be to achieve a
particular combination of good for himself and good for society with a
particular importance distribution.

If you choose option 1, then I dont think intelligence helps. It might in fact,
be bad for both himself and the society, because of the associated negative
social tendencies (and usually functional social interactions are a big part of
reasons for happines)

If you choose option 2, then goodness for himself and the society depends on
the importance distribution that the person has. If the importance distribution
is favorable for either, then good intelligence aids it. Bad intelligence
suppresses it.

However, your question was more like "how being intelligent affects the
importance distribution?", so I havent even answered the question yet.

Well, if the person is intelligent enough (as per Option 2), then he must have
figured out the most appropriate importance distribution from where he is
seeing the world. I am only intelligent as per Option 1, and to figure out the
appropriate importance distribution is beyond me.



Shared Reality 2

(consider as second part of this post)

We tend to create our own version of reality for ourselves, which then provides us with a consistent (hence sane) view whereby we can measure all things and impose meaning on the world.

It is really tough (I think) to be brave enough to create our own reality without wanting confirmation and approval from others.

It is easier for us to form shared meanings and shared realities. It seems to be human nature to do this. Maybe this came about naturally during the evolution of culture, where we were using communication of realities for mutual betterment.

Being in a shared reality makes us feel more secure and we feel more confident of our beliefs, since many other people share those beliefs with us. Then they are always there so that we can share the results of our adventures of life in this reality and measure our progress.

In fact, culture itself is a broader form of a shared reality.

Its been said that shared realities help you be happy:

This page states some factors necessary for a successful marriage, and 2 of the 3-4 factors are related to the couple having similar shared realities so that they can share that among themselves.

This page tells us that happy people form happy virtual realities and are able to sustain and nurture their happiness in them.

A person who starts thinking of shared realities as mere shared realities might get confused, and just wander around purposelessly - and he might be unable to generate a minimal, consistent axiom set (drawing from many different shared realities) whereby he can create a satisfactory reason for happiness. [am i talking about myself here?]


May 21, 2004

I am. I think I

I am. I think I am.

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?


April 26, 2004

Social Exchange

All social communication is actually transfer of "memes". (Memes are elements of know-how, which gets transferred from people to people, and undergo darwinian evolution by selection, and thus whole human cultures develop)

Memes were originally useful as primarily for exchange of survival tips, in both their raw and highly abstracted forms.

Today, with the relaxing of survival troubles, memes also have taken other secondary roles. Examples of such roles are generating happiness (which may or may not directly relate with survival), ways for producing fun, and satisfaction of other not-directly-for-survival desires.

People act like a bag of memes. They collect and retain memes of their choice, useful for their own ends. Then they tend to be friends with people who can be the source of their most desired memes.

In fact, society can be viewed as a huge marketplace of memes. People advertize and sell their memes, and gain social currency in doing that. The more desirable memes a person, the more is the demand for that person, the more socially rich he is.

This concept provides for a consistent way of looking at a large part of the working of society.

"He is fun", tells one about another. What does that mean? He has the memes that can give you fun, so go and get some of them from him! So that you can then spread some of them to yet others.

Here I assume that memes are behavior-generating elements as well, since behavior is very much a result of his past experience, and his experience can be imagined as consisting of memes or as producing behavior which can generate memes).

[Fun is required for a person's psych in order for him to be happy and want to live, thus increasing survival duration.]

This is the way the social transaction of memes takes place.

Notably, the most popularly exchanged kind of memes differ in different cultures and communities. For example, in under-developed and developing countries, the most exchanged memes are those more closely related to survival in a biological and social sense. People want to know ways they could find efficient ways of utilizing resources, ways they could create a new business that would earn them livelihood, ways they could be happy in deteriorating circumstances by following spirituality or some such, etc. In developed countries, simply-fun-n-cool type of memes are more desired for. People want to know what are ways to get new cool music (Kazaa), has Tom Cruise has yet come out with some new cool movie, some cool place to hike and camp, etc. This might actually cause some people to be not very "functional" (functional means capable of finding best ways to for self-survival), since coolness does not always correlate very well with basic survival.


April 24, 2004


Whether you have what you expect to have, determines (single-handedly?) whether you are happy.

So what did you expect?

Life is such a complex affair when you look at relationships. Relationships bring "expectation". And guessing expectations of others is so difficult that it becomes very easy to misguess one. And there you go, you come very close to breaking the whole relationship.

Breaking of expectations is sorrowful. And breaking of relationships is even more so.

If there were a way in which people could read other people's minds, then life would be entirely different. The whole social construct would change.

Since you will know other people's expectations, you will avoid all the misunderstandings etc and avoid breaking most relationships.

We can actually try and simulate this in reality. Just dont keep your expectations from friends to yourselves. Say aloud your thoughts. Talk them way. If you expect your friend to take you along with his girlfriend to the theatre, tell him. If you expect your roommate to clean up after he eats in the kitchen, tell him.

This will surely make life a little easier. Instead of spending millions of mind hours in guessing what others expect you to do, and then spend millions of mind hours trying to solve problems due to unfulfilled expectations, you have your solution gifted to you.

The next stage in this would be letting your acquaintances know of all your thoughts. This will be difficult to do in reality, but can be speculated to solve a certain class of social problems. Tell whatever you think to everybody around you. Tell him that you didnt like his banging the door while coming in today. Tell him that he was a jerk to think like that. This will sound bitter but maybe people will adjust to such social conditions over time. But probably this will solve a lot of communication problems.

So lets try to talk every thought out at all levels of acquaintainces and friendships; lets lend a ear for others' thoughts; lets make all friendships into close friendships.

This might make this world a much better place.


April 12, 2004

Awareness or Action?

Today, while discussing philosphical stuff with one of my work friends Shib Jana, I suddenly came up with this metaphysics:

"You", as a "being", are composed of two aspects:-

- Biological
- Consciousness-related (spiritual?)

Biological aspects, are concerned with your role as a biological organism. You must try to survive, and reproduce. You must do whatever you can to ensure your survival.

Consciousness is about awareness. It is about being aware that you exist, aware about the things happenning around us.

Ego is a function derived from your Biological instincts. It extrapolates your biological instincts into a lot of instincts at a higher level, many of which "appear" to be the part of another aspect of "being", such as "social". I am not yet sure whether social aspects can be considered "completely" derived from Biological aspects, but, for now, I think they mostly do. (except some aspects which are more "human", in the sense that they do not necessarily correlate with survival in the best possible way as in "animals". )

The "To be or to become?" question that I posed in one of my previous post basically poses a choice between "to be" or "to become", the former connotates with "sole awareness", and the latter with "action".

I think that "to be" is to exist as you are, and to not attempt change in either you or your world around you. It points to a no-action state, where in, the awareness of everything is enough action. So this fulfills your consciouness-related aspect of the being, and only that.

The "to become" is related to action, and I think that "action is inherently driven by ego". Yes. All action is inherently driven by ego. Ego tells you to get up from your bed every morning, to have a bath, to go to work, to have food, to talk with people, to love people, to hate people, to rise up in society, to earn money, to marry, to have children, to raise children, to do acts of goodwill, etc etc etc.

Thus the whole society is driven by Ego.

Many saints (religious/philosophical) advocated egolessness as the "right way" to be. I think they wanted us to undermine the Biological instincts, and just relish in the consciousness aspects, which of course are unavoidable. Since they are unavoidable, they thought about us as just "conscious" beings, with the biological aspects not exactly natural to the consciousness aspects. I think the word "spiritual" also connotates with this aspect - the conscious as against the biological.

So, the dilemma is clear - to be or to become?

(awaiting more explanation, as all of my posts are)


April 11, 2004

To be or to become?

The question is whether you should become something or you just be something if you happen to be.

Whether you need to be smart, or just be smart if you happen to be.

Whether you need to be good, or just be good if you happen to be.

Whether you need to be helpful, or just be helpful if you happen to be.

Whether you "should", "only if it is fun" or "if it happens to be".

"To be or to become?"
Many moral, social and cultural dilemmas appear to me as mere decorations of this fundamental question.

(More elaboration when I can put some time into this)

April 1, 2004


An email to my past fellow interns at light line:

I think I have realized that working at Murali's place had an incorrect impact on our thinking. The internship imposed upon our minds the concept of high and low, the concept of fundoo people and non-fundoo people, with fundoo-ness being the purpose of life.

But after 3 weeks on my current job (which is my first one), I currently am of the view that the US work culture supresses the distinctions based on intelligence, and considers all people, in general, "equal".

The stratification of people based on their merit, was more of an artifact due to the struggle for survival environments we found in India and at Murali's place.

In a more prosperous place, with less struggle needed for survival, life is more desire-based rather than need-based, and hence people can be divided on the basis of their effort for fulfillment of their desires rather than on their abilities to be able to survive in a harsh environment.


March 21, 2004


In my reality, this is the way things should be done. This is the way things are done. This is the way people behave. This is the kind people are. These things happen. These thing should happen. This is good, this is bad. This is life.

My version of reality is based on my experience.

Your version is based on yours.

A person normally prefers to stay in his version of reality, and learn new concepts only if they create minor conflicts with the existing concepts in his current reality.

It often happens sometimes, a person makes the mistake of trying to wander through other people's minds and alternate versions of reality to generate the absolute. He works hard. He studies, he compares, he analyzes. He thinks, he feels, he observes. He somehow tries, subjectively and objectively, to try to reach the absolute point, where reality fits seamlessly with all experiences, all views, all emotions, all abstract "must-be"'s. He tries to create the right reality.

But, from my experience, I have concluded that to come up with this absolute version of reality is indeed, impossible. No matter how much time you spend, no matter how much you analyze, no matter how intelligent you are, no matter how skillfully you try to solve the problem, you will not end up solving it all. There is no right, there is no wrong. Everything is indeed relative. No person can go through all the myriad experiences that each of us goes through. No person can analyze, generalize, and summarize all morality.

But should this fact deter us from pursuing enhancements to our reality? Should this stop us from going out, talking with people, and trying to create a better "right"?

Should we still try to debate and find the correct view when we know that all views are inherently flawed?

Should we take part in the marathon, when we know that it has no end?

Furthermore, should we take part in that endless marathon, when we know that we ourselves are here for a short time?

I dunno.

However, this reminds me of this Robert Byrne quote:

"The purpose of life is a life of purpose."



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.


December 1, 2003

Society (Incomplete)

Society can be looked at in various ways. One of them is for exchange of services. You give some, you get some. The more you give, the more you get. A measure of what you give, is money, and you try to get as much money as possible to get more services from the society. Then society is for memetic growth. Memes simply means bits of information. In the same manner as man undergoes the process of genetic evolution, the society undergoes memetic evolution. The memes that are better, more useful, more desirable, gets passed on more, and thus is selected for further evolution. In fact, all of science, arts, and everything in the human society is somehow related to memes. For example, Newtons theory was a meme, and then people used that meme to build more memes, and so on. Memes are also small small things, like how do you cook, how do you exercise, how do you talk, etc etc Then the third important way society is used, is for exchange of emotions.

November 17, 2003


If I wanna stay with these guys, I'll have to listen to 'em. I mean, this society.

July 11, 2003

Its about the Picture

Its about the picture.

The picture you create.

The picture of the world.

The picture of the world as you see it.

An image of the world.

And people like to create happy, cool, fun images.

This evening, listening to George Michael's "Careless Whisper" in my headphones and reading the past blog archives of Dan Trachtman on his beautifully wonderful site, after watching the past webcam shots of Krismay, my image of the world at the moment is the cool, fun, hip-hop American-style modern image of life, that young people today have and like to have.

Have fun, hang out with girlfriends, boyfriends, dance, listen to music, meet new people, go to discos/pubs, watch television, relax, you will have a non-decreasing salary, hang out with people at work, etc : that's what's life.

But this image is never constant. It is fragile, temporary, non-existing, imaginary, illusionary, ....

To demonstrate, I will switch the song to - George Winston's wonderfully melodious piano "December"...after 1-2 minutes, I am feeling gloomy, the world's really a sad place... people are born, they come to like people, then they die, then the people they liked cry - this is repeated again and again and again - in a similar way as the periodiicity of music... lifes really a sad place after all...thats what's life.

After switching to one of my favorites - Skeeter Davis' passionate "The end of the world", I am feeling emotional in addition to gloomy.... yes, passion, love, deep love, I wanna love somebody, very passionately, very emotionally, very deeply, I wanna love nature, how beautiful's nature, how bad is leaving, how bad is dying, small people have so many expectations, to recieve love, if they dont recieve how bad they will feel, oh god, better to not have expectations, all should be happy and laughing all the time - thats whats life.

The funny part is I can choose an image by switching songs. I can choose an image by selecting different people to be with.

There you go - thats taste. Choosing an image to see life as.

Hmm... this is very similar to the stuff I keep and the world are not good or is not warm or is not happy or sad...these are all the judgemental adjectives imposed by humans. Its the way we choose to look at it.

Oh...let me switch to Randy Travis's innocent "Good Intentions" before I close. :-)


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)


Changing self

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.


June 18, 2003

Culture note to prospective students

This is a copy of a mail I wrote today to a mailing list of Indians who were about to come to the US and join USC for Graduate/Undergrad studies:

[During my experience of 2 years in the US, my thought process and understanding of the world changed dramatically, and the basic purpose of this mail is give you a head-start into the broadening of perspective that took took some time to get to me.]

Everybody knows that there are cultural differences between India and America...but knowing only that is not enough.

One must know them in "some detail", and also an idea about "why" they exist in the first place.

Not knowing enough is a source of lot of problems - many people just dont like the things out here for a long time (months, years) after coming here and keep hating the US and US culture. (not all of it, but several aspects of it)

Yes, thats Culture shock for you, even if the person is not ready to accept that he is going through it.

The first thing one must know is: (my theory) Culture is just a "local" maxima. Ways of doing things in a culture are modified slowly to go towards a local maxima, and *not* towards a global maxima. And Global Maxima is very hard to define and identify -- the very definitions of good and bad change as you cross cultures, and a global maxima (absolute morality and perfect society), in fact, probably does not exist even in theory.

In other words, an *open mind* is the most important thing you need when you move to a significantly different culture - in this case - you are moving from a collectivistic relationship-based lawless (almost) society to an individualistic acheivement-based law-abiding society. Just remember this sentence always - "What is right and what is wrong was told to you by your culture - they are not *absolute*, they are *relative* to your culture."

Agree with this and you are more than half way through.

Now you need to understand what a culture shock is and what are the different phases for that - read this -

And this, a little smaller than the above:

Then you need to read what exactly are the differences in the cultures.

These are slightly bigger than the above, but important:
(on the link page, look at lower right - you will see a heading "Cultural Adjustment", read the four (small) pages linked from there)

There's one more - this one's a little boring, but read as much as you want -

This link is optional - it talks about business related cultural differences, but the information present is huge.

If you have read much of the above links, then you are going to have a better time in the USA.....I guarantee you!!

For the people who have become interested in this topic, here's some more material - rather more formal/academic - its about a study by Hofstede(1983) which postulates that differences in cultures can be understood in terms of five parameters and he in fact measured the five parameters for lots of countries.
explains the parameters; the actual scores on parameters of various countries are here:

USA is the most individualistic country in the world according to his measurements.

Then there's this interesting study on the link between corruption and collectivism - yes, its what you expected - collectivist countries have a higher rate of corruption than individualistic countries:

Hehe, they even calculate that there is a correlation of 0.7 between collectivism and corruption.

I cant possibly believe that you are following this email upto this line. Go check your mail (again).



May 12, 2003

This is the movie comment

This is the movie comment I just wrote at the Internet Movie DataBase (IMDB) for the movie Natural Born Killers:

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).


May 4, 2003

Being what I am

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?


April 6, 2003


This is a mail I recently sent.

> your reasonings may well justify common human behaviour as u see around u, but is that all?

is there more?

> can u blow it up to explain or rather speculate the reality?
> can u explain all there is in this world? this remarkable creation, with all its diversity, the laws that govern it etc?

"remarkable" is evaluative. "Remarkable" means nothing. If I create a world which is just one square including a little creature and nothing else, then if that creature thinks that the square is really a remarkable creation, then it hardly matters. Its completely subjective.

Even if it is remarkable, so what? Do simple non-remarkable worlds not require a creator and only complex ones do? Then, how do you draw the line between simple and complex?

The "remarkable" and "diversity" subjective evaluations are unnecessary parts of your argument.

> law implies a lawmaker just like any product un this world implies a maker.

then for exactly the same reasons, a lawmaker implies a lawmaker-maker. If you define the lawmaker to be without any creator, then we can also define this world as being without a creator.

> the consumeristic attitude that u advocate for is a direct result of denying the existence of god.
> it simply promotes hedonistic selfcentered sense gratificatory attitude that u may see around u there.
> is it good to continue with that? sleeping with our own enemies?
> rather u must strive to get freed from this selfishness and other vices. rise above all this. don't be a miser!

to state that that consumerism and hedonistic self-centered sense gratificatory attitudes are vices you need to make some big assumptions. [Update:See the above post for the assumption.]

If human behavior can be explained and understood, then everything becomes swallowed by it, since everything you think of, believe, find out, can be behaviorally explained.

For example your following of ISKCON can be explained by:
1. You like the company that fellow ISKCONites give. Just like the same way an al-qaeda member likes the company the other al-qaeda members give.
2. You like the ISKCON way of doing things - go in a temple, feel loved, eat prasadam, etc. In other words, you like the emotions like love etc.
3. You like the philosophy propounded by ISKCON.

The origins of these can further be explored like this:
1. As a human being, you like the emotion of love, since the emotion of love correlates well with survival and reproduction instincts of the human being. Emotion of love promotes mutual help for better survival for all beings involved, and leads to sex, which is necessary for reproduction and survival of the species.
2. The philosophy of ISKCON works on similar levels - it incites more into you a feeling of "good", you feel good if you assume ISKCON is good, it is all emotional correlating well with love, and joy. Your body is designed to like some patterns in the sense data and try as best as possible to get those patterns to repeat. Since we all have evolved from the same ancestors, the patterns that all our bodies like is similar, and we have named those patterns "good".

Imagine a planet, where a species like us lives, and the reproduction mechanism is somehow through "separation of individuals" rather their coming together and copulating. And imagine the survival chances of the individuals are better if they stay away from each other - if they come near each other then - some sort of chemical reaction kills them. In this case, the feeling of hate and separation would be considered "good", and the friendship and togetherness would be "bad". They would be more feeling better if they believe in "Nihilism" and feel bad if they believe in God and what ISKCON says, etc.

One's whole behavior is just simply the result of training that you got socially after you were born by looking at others and the world; and the training that our genes got from long periods of survival and reproduction where they learnt which forms of sense patterns are more correlated with their survival and reproduction and learnt to like them.


March 27, 2003

Self-interest and drives

A human is a being that wants to survive and reproduce (this tendency is from the self-replicative nature of the genes and cells), hence he works for his survival and reproduction. That gives rise to self-interest. He works for his survival and reproduction. The genes want him to live, and does not care about the others, hence his basic motivation is to make sure that he himself lives. This is the origin of self-interest.

The society is an abstract entity which is formed by a group of people depending on each other for mutual help in surviving and satisfaction of other desires, and hence it likes people to be not too selfish and care for others too.

However, it is interesting to note that societies in general tend to resist selfishness within the society, not between the society as a whole with another society. For example, consider a country, selfishness is resisted within a country, but one country's people may have societally acceptable hatred for people of other countries.

This concept can be easily seen in this example: Egotist tendencies are opposed by a society in general, i.e. if a person favors himself incessantly and strongly, then other people in general will not like it, and this is not viewed as correct by most societies. BUT if we extend our identity (i.e. ego) to a bigger group entity, for example, a country, then its okay if I cheer for my country and very strongly show favor for it against other countries. This behavior is acceptable to all societies, but this is nothing but egotitistic behavior, since we have extended our identity to a group identity and by whatever favor we show to the group entity, we are actually giving ourself egotistic pleasure.


February 14, 2003


It is not sufficient to look just from where you are: it is also essential to look from far and beyond.

How to look from far and beyond in space and time? It can be done by yourself staying at a place which is far beyond your place, or by reading books written by those from far and beyond, or by going to the Internet and gaining information about the thoughts around in places and times far and beyond.

Or otherwise you are just a frog in the well who thinks that the world is only water and frogs...


February 11, 2003

Education comparison of US and India

I had mailed a friend about the comparison of a typical US undergrad engineering education with that in India. Here is the mail:

Hi xyz,

This is abt the discussion we were having abt the comparison of the Undergrad Computer Science/Electrical Engineering education in India and the US.

It may seem that since Indian students have to take a lot more courses in EECS they have a more thorough preparation in the tech field and get better education - there are the following arguments against that -
1. The education viz professor and teaching quality in those courses is really bad.
2. You are forced to take each course you may or may not be interested in. Many people in India are not interested in the major itself, leave aside specific fields in the major (for ex. graphics).
3. The focus is on rote learning - exams are made to test your memorization of the topic - here the exams test more concept based and there are a lot of homeworks.
4. Infrastructure and facilities are lacking which contribute to lack of or inferior lab equipment/facilities.
5. The course structure here is at the cutting edge.(CS445 - build robots and take part in a competition)
6. Many undergrad CS people at USC end up taking all the 400 level courses and 2-3 500 level courses too so they too get a reasonable background in the things they are interested in.
7. Here undergrads, if they are good, have the opportunity to participate in world class research.

Besides, the students here get a better education apart from getting a reasonable background in the Tech area, because:
1. No person I would say is interested _only_ in computer science. Generally all people have some interests in other areas like music, dance, physics, history, geography, psychology, philosophy, astronomy, etc. People in India have to suppress their interests or develop it personally on their own. Here they can take a few courses in the areas they are interested in - it facilitates "learning what you want to". If they are particularly interested in a particular area people, then they do a double major, for ex. in CS and Math, EE and Phys, etc.
2. More social activities on campus - more parties, more clubs (want to fly a plane? join the flying club at USC), more facilities like the Gym, having friendships with people in different majors (giving a broader perspective of life in general), opportunity to participate in totally different activities like writing for the college student newspaper, etc. : all these develop a better well rounded individual.

In India, there are the following advantages:
1. Because of very high population and all people trying to get into engineering or medicine, the competition is intense. People study a lot and excel themselves, they have to become bright and expert in order to survive itself. This leads to some quite bright and expert people coming out of the system. (Note: This advantage is kind of incidental since it is rooted in the disadvantages of high population and non-availability of other majors which also lead to many other disadvantages.)(Note: In the US, bright people are spread out in different majors - and brightness is rooted in interest, and not as a necessity )
2. Taking courses in which one is not interested in has a chance of helping you later on, when you can suddenly apply the things you learned there to other problems in other areas of the field. (this point is debatable)
3. In the US, effort is made to make a course easy to the student - i.e. student concerns are taken into account while designing the course - because of the philosophy of not to unnecessary trouble a person. This might lead to easier undergrad courses. (this point is debatable)
4. Education is cheaper. (this might be a significant advantage but becomes milder when you consider that community colleges in the US are dirt cheap yet of not bad quality)

Overall, the US education system is freedom oriented (learn what you want to), and Indian system is forced (you gotta learn this).

I undoubtedly feel that the American education system is superior.

Education is dependent on the development of the country in general. And India has progressed a lot, and is improving at a rapid pace. I think in 50 years, India will be quite developed and near world class.

(Education *above* undergrad level i.e. graduate level in the US is without question superior than India's - it is not even worth a discussion)

(Education in branches other than medicine and engineering in the US is superior than India's without question again - not worth a discussion)

(Education *below* undergrad level in the US is good or not is a debatable issue - since they have choice of course selections atleast as early as the 9th grade - so many people dont take all fundamental courses - some people avoid courses they hate like math, geography etc. Anyway the quality of life in general is high in the US, and there are lots of facilities and infrastructure for learning if you want to, the US has a stronger performance than India in the international math and physics olympiads - so I would give the edge to the US here too)


Note that IITs are not considered here. They will be considered in a later post.


January 26, 2003

What to do in Life -- emotionally

I just hit upon a mail which I had sent two years ago to a mailing list consisting of people who were heading to the US for studies.

Hi friends -

I am going to pen down some of the thoughts which are coming to my mind now. If you can spare some 2-3 minutes, I dont think they will be wasted if you read this.

You know, I think that interaction and communication between people helps people live.

Imagine a person living in an isolated island. What will he do? He will inevitably die of loneliness.

Fortunately, we are in a world which contains a lot of people which ensures that we do not get bored of life anytime. Talk to people, and see their reactions - a whole lot of diversity is present, perhaps due to the huge number of variations possible of the human genome, and the huge number of possible experiences a man can have. This makes this world and its people hugely diverse in nature and form. This adds very heavily to the richness of the human life.

When you live this life, make sure, you see and experience a lot of it. Make sure you meet people with attitudes opposite to you - I am sure you will find something fascinating and interesting in them too. The variety and richness of human life is there - in front of you - waiting for you - to come over and have a taste of it. Make sure you do!!

Meet and talk to different people, strangers - and you will find happiness in times of sadness.

Talk to rude people, and see if you can find their lost corner of softness by your talk. If you try, you may fail, but to surely succeed sometime.

Personally, I have found every man I met, to be a source of inspiration. Of course, every decision by every person is the result of his some decades of experience in this world, which will be totally different than you had, and provide a different perspective to life and things, which even to know is fascinating by itself.

This is related to this egroup, since we are just about to take a step towards this end, and to experience life in a big way in different surroundings and different perspectives, which is one of my motives behind US study.

Let's explore Life! It is Beautiful, filled with more pulchritude than you had thought...You just require that aesthetic sense.

Read this today, and read this tomorrow, and read this a year later, and you will be able to always apply this differently to the situation you are in. In other words, keep reading this, at different times, and you will feel better.



January 22, 2003

Nothing is right or wrong

Nothing is right or wrong. Nothing is good or bad. Incidentally I used to say a few years ago - "There is no right thing you can do."

What you know as right and wrong is what others have told you.

The things that really feel right to most people like "make a good person live instead of killing him" are also not properly defined since there is an ambiguity in the word "good".

Removing the word good - "dont kill a person whom you dont know" will feel good to almost all people (NOT ALL PEOPLE) but that is also told to you by your genes. Yes. The genes want to survive and reproduce ... and hence.

Nothing is right. Nothing is wrong. All are imaginations - formed for making decisions for humans (conscious beings) - the universe doesnt need anything to be right or wrong - since it does not make any decisions - it just works according to laws.

Remember when anyone tells you anything is right or wrong - its what others told him or or what he thought from his very limited experience or what his genes are telling him - nothing is actually, really right or wrong!


December 11, 2002

Yoga and other ancient beliefs

See what this computer science professor has to say about Yoga

See over 500 research papers on the effects on Meditation

I have now begun to feel that ancient Indians were smart people. Their thoughts, techniques, religion, culture are quite remarkably developed.

Only thing is that their knowledge and understanding of the natural world was quite limited, and hence they incorrectly tried to give purpose and meaning to this meaningless universe (more in a later post) by imagining a God who created this world for a purpose and has control/influence over all this. Then they made temples to worship the Gods, the concept that I just cannot stop laughing at.

Our knowledge about the world has certainly changed but our body hasnt.

Hence their thoughts on mind and body are still valid - like meditation and Yoga.

Anyway, maybe the concept of God, faith, and worship was invented just for people to be emotionally stronger and be more moral - after all they empirically knew how the human mind behaves.

But I am of the opinion that they came out with the concept of God out of their curiousness and when they saw their belief in God resulting in the positive effects of morality and psychological strength, that concept just got ingrained stronger in their minds.


November 23, 2002

Internet Life

Let me give myself as an example here.

The time I devote to social activities has been decreasing. Why?

Because the transfer of information (views, lifestyles, facts, anecdotes, news) that usually take places in our social interactions with people, can also be done on the Internet.... I am devoting more and more of my time to the internet where I do exactly this type of transfer of information.

I do it through web surfing, email, chatting, and mailing lists and newsgroups. In websurfing, I do surfing for news, searching for information via google, and looking at people's web pages where I can come to know their life styles and thoughts. Some people have online diaries also called blogs from which I can learn a lot about their lifestyles, anecdotes, opinions, activities etc. And yes slashdot.

From my time on the Internet, I have come to know about more things, issues and gained more general knowledge than ever before.

Once I just found on one person's site that he loves the game of "Set" (a card game) very much. Then I found the same thing on some another person's site. Aroused my curiosity, and google found me the homepage of the Set Game Company. I saw that it has won some awards, and immediately purchased it from that site itself. The game arrived at my house 2-3 days later, and after playing a couple of times, me and my friends have got fond of it. (Its a good game, purchase it) So I got to know of a game that I would probably have never known otherwise.....

So, what do we see here? As the impact of the internet grows more and more, reaching more and more people, and people start spending a larger proportion of their time on the internet, will the social activities die down ???? People will only use the internet to satisfy all their social needs. And with webcams and videoconferencing becoming common-place, it would reinforce this.

Well there are disadvantages to "internet sociality", there's that lack of personal touch.

And importantly this can not replace many social *activities* - like going out to a restaurant, or to play, or for hiking, or for outing, for a party etc.

But, it can very surely reduce them.

I am afraid that it may make routine chatting (face to face personally - barring at social "activities") almost entirely extinct.

Now when I am chatting with somebody, I realize that what I am getting from him is his journal - which can be online too. The need for interaction is still there, but email and online chatting can curb that out.

That day is not far when you see your friend's latest online journal entry to be:
" Just woke up today, and came online to check out the journals of friends to see what's up with them.
....oh! what a coincidence! Everybody has this same thing as the latest journal entry!"


October 21, 2002

Eugenics / Dysgenics

I will complete the rants in my last post sometime later.

For now, I will pen one other flash of thought I have had -

Why is ability to have children related to social ability?

Why you need to have a good personality to impress others so that you can marry others...and then have children?

This will motivate the growth of people with strong social skills...rather than those with strong overall skills and evolutionary abilities....

This is horrendously wrong.

If a scientist is brilliant, and lets say he made contributions that had impact on the whole of humanity....but he is not good socially, and people dont like his company...then he will probably not have any children....his genes will be lost....they will not survive to continue to be in the human pool...they will vanish....

On the other hand, if you are good socially, and have a good personality then it is almost certain that you will marry, and have children, in fact, many children (2 or more). [ "Many" is important, since if you have just 1 child, then you are reducing your type of genes from 2 - you and your wife - to 1, so having 2 children is a must - having more increases population - so 2 is preferable - leave 3 or more children to the nobel laureates ].

People in the scientist/techy/philosophers (usually high IQ) group are brilliant and have lower social skills, so, on average, they tend to have 1 child or often none. So their genes are reducing rapidly.

End Result: Avg IQ of people is lowering.

The Indians (not red-indians, but from country India), in the ancient times, realized this (Indian civilization is very old - they had enough time to find this out), and then did a very ingenious thing to avoid this to happen.

I dont know how they achieved it....but they did it.

Whats that ingenious thing? That thing is this:

They sow the word into society, they made it a custom of society, a tradition, that parents should decide the girl their child has to marry. And they must do compulsory do it for them, at the age of around 25-30. So even if you are not liked by a girl enough that you marry, the parents will get you married anyway. And then they made having children almost compulsory for a married couple, as a societal tradition.

Now this results into a society where everybody ends up getting married whether they have good social skills - and then have children. (Note: those who are not capable of living upto their adolescence die anyway, and hence the gene pool gets rid of such people.)

This does not increase the average IQ, but this atleast works to make it relatively constant.

I have a feeling that one other thing they did worked towards increasing it. That thing is they sowed the culture of "untouchability". People were identified who were very incapable in terms of abilities, and they were termed untouchables, and made all "normal" people stay away from them. They had realized that the sons of incapable people will also be incapable, and so they effectively outcaste them and their children - thus their whole family - from the soceity. They ended up having less children. So effectively the average IQ increased. (Note: This untouchability concept has been abandoned in India in the past century or so)

In the United States, a free society exists, and this "decreasing average IQ effect", called as dysgenics, is prominant here - as compared to India, where it is almost non-existent.

The US must do something about this.

If you are a scientist or consider yourself more evolved, then please have children. :-). It will help the civilization.

Do checkout this related article on eugenics/dysgenics.

Comments welcome. I will shortly make a yahoogroup on this topic on who want to discuss the topic. I will edit this post then to include the name of that group.


October 20, 2002


Well, mind frequently thinks about the best things that we experience in our lives.

Sometimes I feel that observing is one of the most interesting things to do... Observing people interactions, relationships, emotions, self-concepts, beauty of the complexity in society, evolution of technology, evolution of culture, evolution of science, evolution of knowledge, evolution of thought, evolution of life, philosophy behind life..........just Observing. Even in this passive state, one can obtain unbounded joy and satisfication - by just observing, trying to understand, and correctly or wrongly trying to form rules that govern these observations.

In fact, in a predominantly active life, I fear that one may fail to experience the joys that mere observation provides.

Both are a means of transfer of knowledge: actively communicating with people exchanges ideas, knowledge, cultural memes - we come to know, for example, whether we have a meeting today evening or there is an exam tomorrow; similarly, passivity may include activities such as observation of phenomenon, reading books, browsing the internet, thinking, meditating, writing something, etc, which are basically the gathering of new knowledge (learning) or finding new concepts to relate things (analysing/understanding) .

However there is one component, that is more prominant in one methodology, and close to absent in the other. Transfer of Emotions.

Active communication has good transfer of emotions, which is absent in the passive method. Not only does it transfer emotions, but also lets our brain unconsciouslessly form the "meanings" of such emotions when we observe them in other people.

After alll, many of our emotional meanings come out of distributed learning and behaviour.



October 15, 2002

East and West

I attended a Seminar on "Goal and Purpose of Life" by a Swamiji on campus yesterday. Though he was not that learned he reminded me of the logic present in the Hindi Spirituality Theory. I believe that Hindi Religion Minus the mythology leaves you with a good "spiritualistic" theory. This is a reasonably theory and might be claimed to be having some logical reasoning behind it.

This thing reminded me of philosophy. That there are so many mutually inconsistent but individually irrefutable philosophies that have been invented since centuries. The Hindu (Vedanta) Philosophy is one such philosophy out of thousands.

I felt I needed to learn more about philosophy.

I had a long debate after the Hindu talk with a fellow Indian at USC - Parikshit, he was on the side of Hindu religion, and I on the side the western society. Well, it was a fruitful debate. We both learned different perspectives. I now think that Hindi spiritualistic theory is a sound theory (of course, a theory among thousands - doesnt make it true - in fact, i dont think it is true, but just that it is sound enough to be a valid theory), but going deep into it requires reading a lot of books, which i dont have time for. I also brought from forgotten memories to conscious mind that Meditation is a thing worth looking at. More control over mind and thoughts? Useful for me!! In that debate with him, I told him that pre-marital, ex-marriage sex that is normal in the US (and a taboo in India - hence very low there), is not immoral, and does have some advantages, and no significant disadvantages. So its not bad. He, however, was of the view that it is bad, only marital sex is ok. I managed to convince him that ex-marital, pre-marital sex, if done in a controlled, "non-addictive" manner was not wrong.

Then today after the midterms, I attended a Philosophy Club meeting on Neitzsche, and was a pillar at the meeting with all the other attendees being philosophy majors, and I being the only know-nothing person (no background at all in philosophy!!). Most of what was said went above my head. However my going there was not a waste. I learnt the progress the American society has made -- they now have research going in philosophy at so many schools here -- now even when philosophy generates no money. In India, theres no thing as research - in any field. Conclusion: When you crave for money, the society benefits overall, even for things which dont have monetary benefits. (more in a later post) I also learnt from the meeting about the analytical thinking, individualism, independent thiniking, that is present in Americans, which is completely absent in Indians. These Americans had potential in them to do something in life, unlike many/most Indians. Living in such a materially prosperous society has lots of advantages!!!

There was one person in that meeting who particularly impressed me. He was simply brilliant. He was a philosophy grad student at our USC Philosophy Department, aged 29, and was able to speak at the level of the faculty member who was giving the talk. He was simply - in one word - brilliant. The way he talked, the way he argued, the way he analysed, the knowledge he had....I thought - oh America has so many great people - it will go very high, higher than it is today. The American system is great..

I came back to my lab, and tried to find his site -- now this person must have a great background - in everything. I found his site. I learnt a lot about him. His website was good. I liked it. That is, until I reached his life line page, where he mentions in detail the events that happenned in his life, chronologically.

Now this hit me badly and unexpectedly. Read that page. His life has been mostly only travel, sex, girls, datings, break-ups, drugs, etc etc. And no firm life. He has been mostly depressed because of his such a life - because of no parental love, no "one wife", too many break-ups, parent's divorce, etc etc.

Maybe I was wrong. Maybe Parikshit was right. After all, the "customs/traditions" in India of being close and loving to parents, and having sex only after marriage and only to one wife, divorce in the very difficult circumstances, a sound family, marrying before age of 25-26, ...does have some advantages.

But then, why is the Western society so prosperous and Indian society in such a bad shape....maybe there's some other reason for that....maybe Indian values do make sense.....

I am still thinking...........................


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