Saturday, December 23

The Stuff to Space Principle

" The number of things that are essential for a trip increase proportionately with the volume of the suitcase being considered for their packing, and the increase continues ad infinitum"

I've noticed that everytime I have to go on a trip and start out with a pile of stuff that I ABSOLUTELY have to pack, and a specific suitcase (preferably the smallest that I have) to fit it in, there's never enough space. So I rummage in the closet for the next biggest suitcase, and inexplicably the pile of things that have to go in ALSO increase. And I can actually spend a really long time trying to get the two variables to correlate to a manageable extent (my final and last ditch effort is to give a stern talking-to to the pile of stuff that has to go in the case).

This is my oh-so-subtle way of intimating my loyal readers of my imminent departure to colder climes (cos unlike birds and other rational creatures, we sophisticated humans, move to colder places in winter sometimes), for the holiday. Yipppeee. More on the other side of the year. Have a great christmas, you guys.

Friday, December 22

A Rose by any other Name...

Its amazing how giving a holiday a particular name, can change how people behave over huge chunks of time. Case in point, ever since Christmas slipped into view wayyy over the horizon (lets say around late October), people have just been so nice. I'm talking about strangers here, regular random people on the road. People smile at you, they step back and let you go ahead of them in line (this is NOT an urban legend, this middle-aged looking man did ACTUALLY let me go ahead of him at the post office), and you know how when you want to change lanes on the freeway and noone will let you? or when you've missed a turn and you need to get on the right hand lane IMMEDIATELY and noone will budge an inch? Well, since November I haven't had it happen to me EVEN ONCE. And that's saying something. I wish we could just call the whole year Christmas. What a lovely world that would be!


Kaushik was talking about "The Best Blog that was Never....", I say what about a "First Time Ever My Blog Has.."? I had a First Time Ever moment this morning! The First Time Ever My Blog Has been Spammed (at least I think it has). What a(n?) Eureka moment. Askinstoo, I thank you.

And in case you think Askinstoo is some Latin God or something, (s)he's not! Its the name of my (Alleged?) Spammer, enshrined in immortality.

Goo Goo Dolls

They have long been a source of great wisdom to me (next only to Calvin and Hobbes, and I mean the boy and the tiger, not the philosophers! though of course the boy and his tiger ARE philosophers in their own right, even if they aren't acknowledged as such! I think I should stop writing in parentheses, they tend to take over the post).
Listen to these lines, and marvel with me.

"There's nothing you can do about,
The things you have to live without"

Well, do you bow before their philosophy?


Betcha all of you think that this is gonna be more about Gods and Dawkins, but no. Haha! Gotcha. Its about this sobering thought, that different people have independently told me that this blog makes no sense. I triumphantly point to the name of the blog, and say but I warned you! And one of them even imputed that my stay away from home has made me a lunatic. for thought.

Thursday, December 21

The Deed is Done

Finally, finished The Book! Yayyy! My verdict: He simply hasn't proved what he set out to prove. And for a scientist of his calibre, its disappointing. But worth a read, if only for the ease of his language and his truly interesting sense of humor. Some people just have it in them to write oh-so-comfortably. Reading them is a pleasure cos there are no false notes, no abrupt sentences, no hard to follow and tangled up arguments, no jarring words that don't fit in. Agatha Christie never had it, but Dawkins does, in oodles at that. Such is life.

Stating the Obvious

Apparently I've started doing just that! All my posts state the obvious. So to continue the trend, Onward Ho! as Bertie'd say:

I work on the 12th floor of a tall building surrounded by roads. What's so special about that you blink at me. Well, I was looking out the window and I could see all these orderly cars, each sticking to their lane, weaving through the traffic, stopping at the stop signs. And then this ONE car, he comes out of nowhere (and I use the gender pronoun knowingly!), drives most bizarrely, startles a bus out of its wits, and narrowly avoids slamming into a pedestrian (an innocent bystander, who must have thought his number was up). I watched all of this from the anonymity of my 12th floor window and I found it hilarious. Yes, I did! I was having a smashing time. And then I finally got it. The question on everyone's mind is "If there is a God, where the heck is he? There's terrorists lurking behind every pillar, and burglars stalking innocent quarry and violence waiting to be confronted around every corner, right? The world is awful, unfair, unjust, cruel, and where the f*@# is God?". At least this OUGHT to be the question on everyone's mind. Well, today I rumbled it. He's lounging at his 12th heaven window and laughing his ass off! It must be FUN! Betcha he's thinking of Menahim Begin's wise words, "Civilisation is intermittent"!

On the same note (though it might appear unrelated), why dya think most Gods either don't have a mum, don't like their mums, or at least are downright rude and insensitive to their mums? Its cos they don't want those broads poking around their lives. Imagine if God's mum was on the best of terms with him. What's the bet she'd have had him away from the window, and cleaning his act up, by now? Telling ya, those Gods are canny chappies.

The More you Have...

The more you get, I think! The people who are loved, who have a happy life, a normal life, a safe life, who think the world's their oyster (to paraphrase Shakespeare), they're the ones who're easier to love. So they get more love. Their lives get happier, normal-er, safer. And the ones who don't get love to begin with, end up NEVER getting any, cos its so hard to love them! Talk about vicious cycles.

Wednesday, December 20

The Pitfalls of Stereotyping

I was on the bus this evening, when three African American guys got on. Big (as they tend to be), speaking in the version of English that's peculiar to them, dressed in punk regalia and I had an accute case of the jim-jams. Irrational, I know, but it was getting dark, and there wasn't anyone else on the bus (other than the driver, let me add, lest you assume that it was some surreal encounter), and I was just inexplicably jittered. Got me thinking about stereotypes. They abound, don't they? I've gotten so used to grimacing at stereotypes, be they ever so casually mentioned, and scrupulously purging my vocabulary (and I suspect my consciousness) that I had forgotten what the word meant. Truly!! Ergo, it was an almost epiphanic moment today when I realised that the reason a stereotype BECOMES a stereotype is cos there actually exist a large number of people belonging to a particular group who act/dress/speak/think in a particular manner. As Wiki wisely says, stereotyping "may express sometimes-accurate folk wisdom about social reality". What would we do without the Wisdom of Wiki?

Truly Worthy Verse

Lord Justice Bowen claims, quite lyrically one feels,

The rain it raineth on the just,
And also on the unjust fella.
But chiefly on the just, because
The unjust hath the just's umbrella

Heh! Pretty snappy, no? And of course this has NOTHING to do with the verse in Matthew 5:45.

And for those who would like to know what exactly it has nothing to do with, I enclose herein:

For he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.


I'm completely embarrassed to admit that I've caught myself quite a few times trying to hide the Title Page of The God Delusion. It seems to attract really weird (And sometimes downright accusatory) looks! Especially I suppose cos its the holiday season (and what is it about the holidays? People are actually being nice!) and the book seems quite paganish I suppose. Still, leaves a bad taste in my mouth, such an unworthy impulse as it is to pretend I'm not reading a book called TGD. Its like when you're out with a friend and he/she does something totally far-out and you just sorta edge away and pretend you don't know her, whistling nonchalantly under your breath. I caught myself almost doing it with the book. Much shame comes.

Riding With Strangers

Don't you love sitting on the bus, surrounded by strangers, and just drifting off into this limbo, cos just for a while you don't have to rush around or make any immediate decisions, or talk to anyone or do anything! You can sit there in your seat and space out, gather wool, think anything (as the Five for Fighting guy exhorts). I've been missing out on that for a while now (cos of the Current Obsession, viz. Dawkins). But this morning, I closed the book firmly (which made quite a thump, cos its a hard cover) and just sat like a lump the whole way into work. Such fun! And y'know how you tend to think in third person (at least I hope you do!)? Lately I've realised that I'm framing sentences in my head like they were meant for an audience. The wicked ways of blogging, I presume. *Sigh*.

And Still More on Dawkins

Promise, no more than a sentence on this. He claims that if we removed the concept of God but RETAINED the heritage involved with national culture, and diversity we'll be fine. Does anyone else see the fundamental laughability in that?
(OK fine, twas two sentences but not too bad, right?)

Tuesday, December 19

No fortune... better than this, one feels. Orkut greets me with the good news that "You and your wife will be happy in your life together". You'd think that they'd at least do a gender search type thing before proclaiming these fortunes. Or maybe this is truly the age of political correctness. Hehe.

Update: You know that thing when you think of something and then everywhere you look you see it? It happened to me!
You gotta check this out, you guys, the things that Orkut fortunes make you do! Its a menace to society I say!

The Fickle Finger of Science

A long time ago, I read an article that has since held me in its thrall. Apparently there is a phenomenon called Sleep Debt. It causes all your hours of amnesiac wakefulness to accumulate until you have a hoard of sleeplessness waiting to pounce on you and lay you low (with exhaustion I presume). The dreadful spectre of all this sleep debt stacking up in the bank frightened me into trying to sleep as often as possible (and you all thought I was lazy, hah! Now you know and I hope you feel sorry!!). And I even added a corollary to the Theory of Sleep Debt, my Theory of Karmic Sleep Debt. It involved karma, and reincarnation, and eternal sleep. Its complicated. So, imagine my disappointment to read in Wiki that this theory has been disproved completely! And apparently the sleep debt can only accumulate over 20 hours and no further! All those wasted hours when I was sleeping *sigh*.

Book Update: More on Dawkins

I know I'm going on and on but its only cos I'm knee deep in this book and its confusing me!
Dawkins thinks: Religion is pretty evil as a force of division, i.e. it divides people and hence, causes wars, bloodshed, violence, so on and so forth.
I think: The flipside is that religion provides a sense of identity doesn't it? And is as strong a cohesive force as it is a divisive force. And honestly I don't see universal cohesion in the presence/absence of religion. Also, as a point of interest neither of the biggest wars in modern history has been directly because of religion! Does that say something?

Pearls for Swine

Yeah, that's the phrase I was looking for! Perfectly capsulates the intention of Dawkin's book (though not to him, of course).

And talking about Pearls for/before Swine , considering its origin, describing the God Delusion as such is even more delicious, huh?

PS: For some reason I felt convinced that there was a PGW by that name, somewhere in the past I hear a bell clanging, faintly and dolorously. Or is that just my hyperactive, perfectly-evolved-for-deluding-myself-brain talking?

Book of the Hour: The God Delusion

Where is the Dawkins I read before I knew a thing about genetics, and adored? The one who seemed to be telling me things I didn't know, things I wanted to know, and things I was glad I knew after talking to him (cos honestly reading his books are a lot like having a conversation with him, or at least how I'd imagine a conversation with him to be!). Y'know I wouldn't even be here, where I am, doing what I do if I hadn't stumbled on Selfish Gene and the Blind Watchmaker. But he's disappeared, kidnapped no doubt and replaced by a dubious imposter, who seems to have lost all touch with reality. An imposter who wants us to believe that without the moral policing of the religious fraternity, we, as a people would remain on the straight and narrow. Huh?! Is he living on an earth that I have never been to? An alternative, parallel reality that I can only imagine, and wish existed in my reality, perhaps.
Atheism is superior to religious belief in all ways, and more importantly necessary for further evolution of our species, claims the venerable Dawkins. He seems to forget that if this were indeed true, natural selection would take care of it and we wouldn't need to be writing and reading books that postulate its necessity. Some interesting stuff he has in his book (as always), including the root of morality (though I preferred Ridley's The Origin of Virtue), the evolution of altruism, the game theory, the possibility of evolution of our brains to accept and in fact crave delusions such as the one of God, and immortality, and reward in a world beyond this one. He talks about how children who listen to their elders and betters (heh!) tend to survive and hence populate the gene pool with much higher frequencey than children who don't. So, child-brains are an effective breeding ground for pertinacious 'viruses' of the sort that religion is. A lot of it makes sense, but to me atheism is a journey. One that each of us has to make for ourselves, and which some of us might never make. But it is an individual pilgrimage (and yeah, I'm reveling in the religious allusions of that word), and not one for which we need a messiah.
Dawkins claims that statistics would suggest that atheists are more 'moral' than the more pious of our brethren. He shares some examples, and to do him justice admits that there are obvious flaws in the argument including the much skewed population that is considered in the first place. The number of atheists who are out of the closet are very few, and generally pretty well educated, so yeah, I'd EXPECT them to have a well grounded sense of morality. I like Dawkins' views on morality though, there are some that I share (though it was a blow to me to that these ideas weren't uniquely mine!).
I haven't finished reading the book yet, but from what I've read it isn't one that I'd recommend. I know that some people are fascinated by evolution, and its effects on human behavior and society, for them it is indeed an interesting book. But the evangelical aspect of it is something that sticks in my craw. Atheism is my hobby horse and I don't like it subjected to the same processes as any run-of-the-mill religion.
Things to Think about :
1. Is religion absolutely necessary for human beings to stay 'good'?
2. Does doing away with religion benefit the human race as a whole, not just morality-wise?

From an absolutely selfish (and therefore extremely human) standpoint, I would like to point out that all of the world becoming atheists does not seem to me a harbinger of good tidings for the human race. I shiver at the thought of what would happen if all thought of eternal reward or punishment was removed from the minds of all humans. I see the flipside of the coin though, and I realise that the thought that there aren't '72 virgins' (Dawkins' suggestion) waiting on the other side of the veil would prevent certain people of certain religions from doing things of a highly dubious nature. If an individual has the independence of thought to consider different aspects of life and decide against religion and God of his/her own accord, then I would gladly leave questions of morality in his/her hands without a second thought to its advisability. But if there was a mass conversion to atheism based on a 'preacher man' then I'm not sure I could rest with the same confidence. I still cling to the belief that if it was for the good of our species atheism would have been embraced a while back by the world at large. But it hasnt. So I wonder...