if awesomeness is measured with X*
I am sure everyone must be fed up with Uncle Sam coverage, however frankly speaking blogging wise this is a low hanging fruit, so here is what I think about Koran burning gimmick. As you might have guessed I am against it.
a. It is offensive to a lot of good people.
b. Just like minaret ban and outcry over Love Jihad, it is a emotive, and as such distracts from serious threat of global political Islam.
Having said I am underwhelmed by many of the arguments against it. They are
a. It is fascism. No, it is not. It would have be fascist if US govt were burning piles of Korans. An individual burning Koran, while arguably boorish, doesn't fascism make.
b. It will offend Muslims and boost Jihad. It is true. Burning Koran will offend Muslims. You know what else offends Muslims? US in Iraq, US in Afghanistan, US not intervening in Palestine, US intervening in Palestine, Jews in Israel, Jews in Europe, Jews in Planes, Muslims among Christians, Muslim among Hindus, Muslims among Buddhists, Muslims among Secularists, Christian among Muslims, Hindus among Muslims, Buddhist among Muslims, Sikhs among Muslims, Baha'i among Muslims, Ahmadis among Muslims, Shias among Sunnis, Sunnis among Shias, African Muslims Among Arab Muslims. I could really go on, but I hope you must have gotten the picture.
It doesn't make much sense to fret over offending Muslim sensibilities, because few ruffled feathers are not root cause of jihad, just like lack of democracy is not the cause, or the poverty, or oil.
The cause behind jihad is the supremacism intrinsic to Islam, unless it is excised be ready for more terrorism.
* where X = number of links
Monday, September 27, 2010
if awesomeness is measured with X*
All right let's continue as long as we are on roll, now previously we talked about Obama and Colbert, in this post we will see why O' Donnell may be a bad news. But first start with tea parties. For those not familiar with tea parties, they are localized popular movement against Obama's policies. Now while tea party in general has been Godsend to Republicans, miraculously rescuing it from the anticipated oblivion after the route of 2008, some of its choices, among them O' Donnell, have been rather questionable. Now at best I have a superficial understanding (mostly via Hot Air) of the specific races, therefore instead of nitpicking about the candidates, I will like to focus on the broader issue, viz. the rather troubling propensity of tea parties to circumscribe politics with a checklist of simplistic and absolutist positions.
It is troubling because
a.This approach is dismissive of a candidate's judgement, his temperament and his experience. A robust polity depends on all the three.
b. This approach is short sighted. A stable polity like US can not be transformed in a single go. It will take a protracted political battle to bring about the change, Therefore it is necessary to take a long term view which will involve legislative compromises, incremental advances, gradually substituting imprudent policies with prudent ones. Considering this, a unrealistic and puritan approach to politics will only set up for further disappointment and bitterness, ultimately resulting in reversal of fortunes.
There is much wisdom in Buckley's rule.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Let's talk about Uncle Sam a little longer. Stephen Colbert appeared before US Congressional committee on immigration in his blow-hard O' Reillesque persona (via Hot Air again). In a way this just furthers bolsters the argument that American politics is becoming an extension of personal, in this particular instance a result of excessive self-regard and at the same an acute need for peer approval among the demographic group termed as hipsters. This main characteristic of this phenomenon, let's call it colbertization, is trivialization of serious matters, accompanied with self-assuredness and self-righteousness that only comfort and security of living in United States can bring. In it it is reminiscent of what Heinlein termed as "Bread and Circus democracy",
"A perfect democracy, a 'warm body' democracy in which every adult may vote and all votes count equally has no internal feedback for self correction. It depends solely on the wisdom and self-restraint of citizens...which is opposed by the folly and lack of self-restraint of other citizens. What is supposed to happen in a democracy is that each sovereign citizen will always vote in the public interest for the safety and welfare of all. But what does happen is that he votes his own self-interest as he sees it...which for the majority translates as 'Bread and Circuses'
"Bread and Circuses is the cancer of democracy, the fatal disease for which there is no cure. Democracy often works beautifully at first. But once a state extends the franchise to every warm body, be he producer or parasite, that day marks the beginning of the end of the state. For when the plebs discover that they can vote themselves bread and circuses without limit and that the productive members of the body politic cannot stop them, they will do so, until the state bleeds to death, or in its weakened condition the state succumbs to an invader--the barbarians enter Rome."
The daily beast has an article arguing that President Obama lacks empathy (via Hot Air). I confess that I find this empathy argument weird.
Obama was never empathetic, he was always a narcissistic dilettante much like Nehru. The reason Obama, and before him W, was elected, is because American politics has become a collective form of personal relationship dynamics.
Bush was elected because not because of his policies, or wisdom, or record, but he was considered a drinking buddy, a decent down to earth guy you could drink with, as opposed to blow-hard Al Gore.
Obama, in contrast, was more lie a high school romance. Candidate Obama was like a cool dreamy boyfriend, and American electorate, a needy, clinging teenage girl with low self esteem.
Well as it often happens cool guy turned out to be a jerk. Better luck next time, please elect Chris Christie.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Slowly darkness enveloped him.
Slowly he regained consciousness, of course strictly speaking this was not true, as he didn't possess any material body, his existed, for lack of better word, as an Idea. The new sensations were strange to him, he could sense the physical world, but in the same way we normally watch TV, he was not part of it any longer. He, again for lack of better word,felt detached. Finally he was free of emotions which bind and prod men.
Gradually he grew comfortable with his new surroundings. Although he didn't posses any sensory organs, his sensory perception was beyond what biology could device or mind can imagine. Tentatively he started to explore. He found that he could observe any phenomena irrespective of its location in the universe or the physical scale at which it took place. He could simultaneously investigate the nebulae and the subatomic particles. And yet even he had limitations, he was not detached from the material realm, he was bound both by time, logic and more importantly existence.
Many eons passed, after he had observed, investigated and deduced everything he could, he grew restless. He dimly remembered when he belonged to material world, he had prayed for an answer, yet the answer still eluded him. Space time undulated through what was his ethereal manifestation in a pattern which if he was still human would have been recognizable as brooding.
He was in this mood for some time before he became aware of another presence. That other being had been there for quite some time, but until them he had missed him. He sensed that the other was very similar to him. He kept observing the other for some time. The other remained still.
Finally he spoke to the other (he could do this by warping space time continuum), "Who are you", he added hopefully, "Are you God". The other replied, with amusement, "If that's what you wish to call me", "What do you mean", He was confused, ""Where am I", and after a pause, "What am I". The other explained, "Since you prayed for me, you begot me". He asked not convinced, "What if I hadn't prayed for God"."I don't know". "How can the God not know", He was incredulous. The other was patient, " Is it that incredible! I, The God, am the manifestation of your act of believing, I can not fathom what non-belief could have brought forth. Suddenly he understood. He asked plaintively, "Do you have the answer". The other ruefully replied, "No, I don't have, countless time I have appeared, only to dissolve without knowing what lies behind it all".
And for the second time, he begged in sheer desperation. He begged and begged for an answer.
Slowly darkness enveloped him for the second time.
And for the second time He regained consciousness. It seemed as if He had been dreaming for a long time. Though it didn't make sense, for now not only He transcended physical world, but also boundaries of time and logic. He knew what had happened since the beginning of universe, the big bang, but beyond that the truth was hidden from Him. He started thinking.
After many eons had passed, He came out of his reverie, now He had a way to find the answer. But for that, the universe as it existed didn't fit. He knew what He had to do. Almost instantaneously the space time continuum encompassing the universe folded. Universe ceased to exist. There was nothing but Him.
Now He had to begin again. He was not sure what He will do next. But that was OK. He was patient, for time had no meaning for Him. He will think of something.
Shamelessly plagiarized from Clarke, Asimov, and Heinlein
Monday, September 20, 2010
Rationalism is the last refuge of unimaginative, but aphorism is the last refuge of superficial.
Thus spake doubtinggaurav at 10:43 am
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Regarding any political establishment four factors come to play. First, it is formed for some noble (as perceived by its members) purpose. Second, no matter how noble the purpose is in reality sooner or later preservation and expansion becomes its one of the main focus, if not the primary focus. This dismaying fact is just inevitable result of human psychology. Third, the assumption behind formation of any such organization, which is the members of organization are better (whether in matter of faith, chivalry, or intellect) than the common populace. Fourth, as the establishment favors the conformity, the unstated assumption to judge any member is zealousness with which he adheres to the specific dogma of the establishment. These four factors, assumption of nobility, assumption of superiority, will to power and pressure to conform profoundly affect the self identification of the individual members of the establishment, essentially engendering what I like to call "second foundation complex", sort of vanguard to shepherd the unwashed masses, the only force standing between barbarism and civilization, and the engine to carry out the great commission.
To add to these general characteristic, we have the circumstances peculiar to sec-lib establishment. Basically sec-lib establishment is an alien organism within the host body. The establishment predominantly constitutes of the deracinated Indians, intellectually and spiritually Macaulay's children. Historically they self identify not with their Indian brethren, but with the British colonizers. Brought up in an environment where the western and the modern is appreciated, and Indian and the traditional is sneered upon, they develop a western and irreligious outlook which outside the immediate circle of the peers is at odds with the a deeply spiritual and traditional country.
This contradiction presents an existential dilemma to the establishment, much like Islamic rulers of Delhi, they feel besieged by the surrounding Indic civilization. Subconsciously they realize that Hinduism is the core of Indic civilization. They also realize that it is our traditions with all their quirks and follies which are an obstacle to their vision of a irreligious and westernized future. This threat of being subsumed by something which they consider far inferior to themselves, and the frustration at being unable to convert unwashed heathen masses to their superior and enlightened outlook are what ultimately drives their hostility to the Hinduism.
It is important to realize their game plan. All their self righteous outrage about Gujarat riots, or Mumbai riots, or Shri Rama Sena, or Discrimination against Muslims is just smokescreen. Their aim ultimately is to annihilate the Indic civilization.
And they will not stop.
Unless we finish off them first.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
You know what riles me most is this Kashmir vs. “rest of
It really breaks my heart to see no one among our “intellectuals” has the cojones to call this Azaadi nonsense for what it is, a Islamist movement to obliterate the kaffir past and unambiguously belong to the community of faithful i.e. Ummah.
Thus spake doubtinggaurav at 11:23 am
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Thursday, September 09, 2010
Look guys just admit it already, I am a freaking genius. Here is what I wrote way back in 2007,
Islamic fundamentalism is a bigger menace than communist thuggery. It is a tiger which one should not be riding.
And in 2008
As I pointed out earlier, the rise of Islamic politics in
Things are turning out exactly as I feared it would. It is a good read, even though it has the usual “I am a pox-on-both-the-houses independent thinker” greatbongish disclaimer.
The bad news is things are going to get worse, the good news is we don’t really care.
Thus spake doubtinggaurav at 12:01 pm
Monday, September 06, 2010
(From where we left )
Now it is my contention that failure of Indian state is a result of our inability to resolve the tension between Individual and Citizen. Let's see why is that so.
Of the two roles Individual is naturally predominating. This is because, self interest is more deeply ingrained in human genes. In order to bring the balance between the two, cultural training to suppress selfish instinct and reinforce altruist one is required. I believe that we have simply failed to form a culture which imparts such training.
There are quite a few reasons for this. First around six decades under totalitarian rule of Gandhi-Nehru dynasty have spawned a culture of scarcity, thus ensuring that even any natural altruistic instinct is eradicated, result, at social level, it is everyman for himself.
Second factor is the mechanism whereby cooperation and by extension altruism is strengthened. This mechanism is the affinity that an individual has towards others. Now this affinity is strongest among members from the same gene pool, next to genes, it is dependent of shared culture, religion, language and decreases as the social interaction decreases. The other factor affecting affinity is the power differential among members. All things remaining constant greater the power difference, which is reflected in social status, lesser the affinity. Thus people with same social status have greater affinity among themselves than among unequal status.
This has unhappy implication for Indian democracy. As a consequence of caste system even at local level Indian society is highly stratified and hierarchical, this is why while there is affinity within the caste group, the affinity between two different caste group is much weaker. Add to this caste hierarchy and historical social inequality in form of caste discrimination due to it, and the result is a society is where there is a high level of distrust and more important resentment and anger among different castes groups situated in the same locality.
This combined with the first factor has two consequences first the more benign one unless the underlying conditions change politically Indians will continue free loading, the more alarming concern however is the struggle for resources between different caste groups is leading to a powder keg situation where all that is required for conflagration is a small provocation, which may make phrase a million mutinies literally true.
(Or why Youngistan is bad news)
Good evening (or a bad one, I don't care either way). Those of you who visit this blog to actually read it (instead of looking for Tanushree Datta's photos) might have noticed one theme, among many, of the political posts, viz. while Indian entrepreneurs have succeeded, Indian state has been a massive colossal failure. Now while this observation, call it contradiction or paradox or whatever you like, has its epigrammatic moment, it has kind of bothered me, but it's only been recently that I understood why. The way it is put, it gives the impression that Indian state and the Indian entrepreneur are distinct, an obviously misleading impression, as the Indian state represents (or is supposed to represent, at any rate) Indian people! Taking this to conclusion it's the failure of state is actually that of Indians.
This raises further question, viz. why have Indians failed to establish functional democracy (as opposed to what exists which can be best characterized as cargo cult democracy). There is no single factor to explain this. Yet one factor, significant enough, has been the inability (and as a consequence failure to frame specific institutions of state to address it) to understand the dual role of an individual in a democracy.
Before that a minor digression to explain the title. In classical physics matter and energy are considered to be distinct phenomena with particle a characteristic of matter and wave a characteristic of energy. Quantum physics shattered this picture, tuned out matter and energy are different aspects of the same phenomena, with wave actually representing probability distribtuion of locating particle in space.
In the same way a man has two roles in all forms of democratic society, one as an individual, the other as citizen.
It is expected that man as individual will work for himself, if we want to be retentive about it, the technical description for such behavior is optimization of self defined utility function. Now entrepreneur as an individual seeks to maximize his well being, the way he does this is by creating value, which ultimately benefits others, however the main objective remains self interest.
This can be contrasted with man's role as citizen. Citizen is better understood as a part of the social experiment, and therefore it is his responsibility to ensure that all the social institutions, ( including state) function to ensure the welfare and prosperity of the society as whole. Again if one wishes to be retentive about it, this roughly means the optimization of aggregated utility functions.
One more digression is required here. The use of "self defined" may suggest that the utility functions are arbitrary, and that is true if one goes by logic alone. However historical evidence and our experience suggest otherwise. Not being a credentialed expert I can only speculate that for a healthy society the utility function somewhat resemble the Maslow's hierarchy*. Here healthy society means any society which, in addition to the previous qualification, is fit enough to survive in present and also in future, the time scale being civilizational. This then suggests aggregation of individual utility function must be combined with an utility function which applies to the society as a whole. Again this is just my speculation, but this will mean addition of religion and philosophy to Maslow's hierarchy.
It is not difficult to see that there is inherent contradiction between these two roles, with Individual being a self centric role and Citizen an altruistic one. The resolution of the tension between these two roles is the key to a functioning democratic society.
(To Be Continued ...)
* Yes I am hooked on Maslow's hierarchy. Hey don't judge me at least I don't snort Data unlike Data Nazi.
Saturday, September 04, 2010
Here is a confession. I find the level of political discourse in Indian blogospehre quite underwhelming. The problem is that the interlocutors tend to be tunnel visioned, missing out the big picture in their argument. Consequently the arguments tend to be limited to exercise in logical correct, an examination of X follows Y follows Z. And yet the chain of causation, no matter however long or however convoluted, must end up somewhere. This beginning is the first principle. Now people talk about first principles all the time, but what no one realizes is that first principles by very definition are not established by reasoning. In fact if we strictly adhere to logic, the very notion of first principles seem quite arbitrary, the chain of cause and effect being turtles all the way down. A prime example of such an argument being this post (though someday I intend to rebut it, that day is not today) As it happens though first principles are not arbitrary, anchored as they are in human psyche, his instincts and belief system. To give an example, my first principles, for lack of any better words, are traditionalism and cultural nationalism. Now I didn't happen to stumble upon these principles by accident, but because identification with tradition and culture is an aspect of human instinct. Same must go for liberals and libertarians. Identifying what motivates the politics is therefore as important as the actual politics. Any investment in such an endeavor will be worth its while for we will be better placed to appreciate why people think the way they do, and why it is futile sometimes to engage in debate.
* Argument from motivation