20 Dec 2005

Of Law and Lying

Posted by Oblivion in General | 9:58pm

Excerpts from a discussion between Philosophy students on Ethics and Lying:

"Well, you see the human being, in the human mind is a funny thing. We don't know--collectively as human beings--anything about the absolute truth. You have two people that witness a murder. One says the gasoline attendant went in [for his gun] and the fella shot in self-defense (even though he was committing a crime). The other will say the felon just opened fire and the man had his hands in the air. Or in a police shooting. The crowd says the man was unarmed and the police planted a gun. He had his hand raised--and the police shot him. On the hand the police say, 'The man was pointing a gun at us and we shot him.' Yet in the context of absolute truth, both might be in their minds telling the truth. Because you have elements that override both the police and the witnesses. Those are surprise and panic. And both can distort the truth.

"Einstein said when two people observe the same event, because they're two people, they see things differently, it's not the same experiment."

Are such insights ever taught at any Law school? I wonder.

Current Mood: Happy
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27 Nov 2005

What is Wrong with Euthanasia?

Posted by Oblivion in General | 12:25pm

Yes, what's wrong with euthanasia?

Should the decision to live or die not be a fundamental right of an individual? It makes some sense to have that decision rest with a legal body - although this is still debatable - only in societies where State takes care of the medical expenses. But in a country like ours, where an individual has to bear all the expenses himself, how sensible it is to deprive him of the decision to live or die? If he or his family cannot afford the expenses and government doesn't support either, what do we expect him to do? To go through suffering, shell out whatever money his family has, and die a miserable death?

It beats me. All that talk about euthanasia being unethical is all balderdash. Euthanasia is not same as suicide. To my mind, even suicide cannot be generalised as bad. It has to be dealt with on a case by case basis. Unless we provide a practicable solution to an individual's suffering, it's irrational to play with words and ideas about ethics of euthanasia.

Why has man let so much power to rest with State? It has a say in every damn thing that an individual does. Will we ever understand what freedom, even at a superficial level, means?

Current Mood: Happy
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26 Nov 2005

Authority and the Individual

Posted by Oblivion in General | 8:41pm

"You may not like it, but do it for the team", she said. Not at all a singular suggestion. All of us use it. Only, 'team' is replaced with family, community, race, religion, nation, etc, depending on our position. 'Doing something for others' is a virtue that has been ennobled by innumerable wars. What if 6 million Jews perished? Hitler did it for his race. What if Iraq has been razed? Bush did it to save the world from terrorism.

Drop a bomb, exterminate a nation, convince ten million neurotics that you did it for their security and you are on the short-cut to win the Nobel Prize for Peace. Pump bullets into hundred souls across the border to protect your country and you get a Param Vir Chakra. Close your eyes, get screwed while others have a ball and you make for a great team-player, a good family member, a sensible citizen. Man's recipe for being good is so simple.

Morally sunk as I am, I never see the line between virtue and vice clearly. I understand only one criterion - that of intrusion. Any kind of intrusion - regardless of the consequences - is fundamentally wrong. If B prefers Bach and C prefers Rock, the ideal state for both of them to be happy is - they appreciate each other's preference and enjoy the music in their own rooms. The moment one imposes his preference on the other, it makes for chaos. Sadly, the world is not lateral but hierarchical, so the man in power imposes his preferences on the powerless. As Hitler said, "A lie repeated thrice becomes a truth." Eventually, the ideal becomes a virtue. Politics is rife with flaunting every act as 'doing for others'. False promises, false gestures, and the gullible masses are taken for a ride.

Not that I dismiss everything that one does for others. It's the basic assumption and the association with virtue that I am unable to appreciate. Giving up on one's preferences and giving in to the majority's choice should be voluntary. It should be based on common sense and understanding, and not on the desire to live up to the ideal and fear of persecution. It should be as voluntary as it is between a mother and child. A mother doesn't think twice to give up even her life to save the child, if a situation demands. When neither desires authority, giving up is a joy.

Other than the cases of intrusion - as in case of criminals, eve-teasers, those cranky chaps making for nuisance on roads - I doubt if there are any situations else that deem an individual to be compelled by his group/society to yield. If a chap is minding his own business and has preferences different from those of the group, I do not see any reason why the group should find it odd or have problems about the same. Even in goal-oriented teams - as we have in sports - the concern of the team about a member should end with his performance. His personality and character should not be the group's business to evaluate.

One common criterion, promoted by management and self-help books too, is 'cumulative happiness'. The group's opinion and choice is always given more importance. While a member who stands by his preferences is termed inflexible, unadaptable, asocial, etc, the group forgets that it, in the first place, is being inflexible. This applies to any organized group. A group is always rigid because it goes by rules. Which is why, walking out of groups has always been a problem for those rare souls who wanted to walk out. Depending on what kind of a group it is, you are either persecuted or ostracized or shot dead - even when you have just minded your own business all the way. No wonder then that the desire for security, fear, and ambition are very important determinants of an individual's decisions. A noble and affectionate gesture as it might appear, sacrifice has done more harm than good in this world.

If B sleeps with a gorgeous girl and his ten friends also want to not miss out on that, and he persuades her to 'do it for their happiness' (assuming the girl is unwilling), I doubt if the chaps who go by cumulative happiness theory agree that she has done a noble deed. If cumulative happiness is the sole criterion, then the equation should not change even if the girl indulges in an orgy or gets gang-raped. If the willingness of the girl takes precedence, then there should be a line beyond which the group's preferences should be ignored, no matter what. And if we at all admit that an individual's choice should always matter, then this should be applied across groups.

Good leaders - to my mind, those who respect freedom of others and do not go by any ideals or beliefs - are rare (ironically, such people never become leaders). And it's very dangerous for a group to be led by those who rely heavily on the terminology and perspective of people like Dale Carnegie, Deepak Chopra, Robin Sharma, etc. Or, for that matter, anybody's. But these guys are more dangerous. It's easy for leaders to lead a homogeneous group. To my mind, regardless of the performance of the team, such leaders should be deemed inefficient. But that's not how it works. The governing priciple is, to borrow from Orwell - "All men are equal but some men are more equal than others." Power reigns.

What is a good action/decision? If cumulative happiness is not the right criterion to measure the same, what is? Is there any such thing as good/bad action per se? If everybody minds his own business, will there ever be any conflict of preferences - whether among individuals or groups and individuals? Some questions may not have absolute answers, but it's good to ask them nonetheless.

(P.S. Apologies to Russell)

Current Mood: Dismissive
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18 Nov 2005

We, The People

Posted by Oblivion in General | 7:47pm

When it involves screwing others, people remember and adhere to rules more strictly. The defining lines of evil/bad/wrong become very clear when one is on the judging position. The lawyer, the policeman, the TV reporter, the journalist, the old man reading the newsmagazine, the chap watching the newscast on the TV set,... everybody siezes the opportunity to become Lord Krishna. Persecution mania is so deeply rooted in human psyche. Homo sapiens is a mistake.

Current Mood: Happy
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12 Nov 2005

The Road Not Taken

Posted by Oblivion in General | 12:50pm

Creation hymn from the Rig Veda, quoted by Amartya Sen at TIFR, Mumbai, during a public lecture on Science, Argument and Scepticism, on November 5th, 2005:

Who really knows? Who will here proclaim it?
Whence was it produced? Whence is this creation?
The gods came afterwards, with the creation of the
universe. Who then knows whence it has arisen?

Whence this creation has arisen - perhaps it has
formed itself, or perhaps it did not - the one who
looks down on it, in the highest heaven, only he
knows - or perhaps he does not know.

When did this jewel of scepticism sink into the murky bog of dogmatism?

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: Maksim

24 Oct 2005

Monday Morning

Posted by Oblivion in General | 11:12am

Monday Morning

I also always wanted to quit on Monday morning. Every Monday morning. Only, I quit very few times. Something is missing...

(btw, I love this ad. Stunning visuals, great copy, fabulous score.)

Current Mood: Happy
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22 Oct 2005

My Obituary

Posted by Oblivion in General | 1:50pm

And now, good rest!

Current Mood: Happy
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22 Oct 2005

Law of Convergence

Posted by Oblivion in General | 3:59am

Law of convergence.

Paraphrasing Shakespeare,

Golden moments and dreams all must
As ashes and ruin come to dust

Current Mood: Happy
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20 Oct 2005

Sanity - Commandment 1

Posted by Oblivion in General | 11:01pm

"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."
- JK

Current Mood: Happy
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16 Oct 2005

It Happens One Day

Posted by Oblivion in General | 4:39pm

There will be a day after which nothing will make sense ever again. One is unlucky if he misses such a day.

Current Mood: Happy
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6 Oct 2005

At the Lounge

Posted by Oblivion in General | 12:45pm

He then looked at him
And uttered a noble truth
"Fragile is this life!"

Current Mood: Happy
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1 Oct 2005

Haiku Day

Posted by Oblivion in General | 4:50pm

All alone today
Walking under the blue sky
Soulful bliss is mine!

Current Mood: Happy
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9 Sep 2005

Booker 2005 - Part II

Posted by Oblivion in General | 11:03am

The shortlist is out. Coetzee hasn't made it! Rushdie hasn't either, but it didn't come as a surprise, courtesy the reviews. The list (in alphabetical order):

Banville, John
Barnes, Julian
Barry, Sebastian
Ishiguro, Kazuo 
Smith, Ali
Smith, Zadie

Now that Coetzee is out, I bet on Ali Smith. 10-10-'05 will tell.

Current Mood: Happy
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1 Sep 2005

Birthday Trivia

Posted by Oblivion in General | 7:01pm

30-strong team
30 birthdays per year
1450/- - spend on each birthday
43,500/- - annual spend on birthdays

What the team-members get:
Clicks of digicam/mobilecam
Between 10 and 15 hours of socializing

What the birthday boy gets:
All of the above+a gift voucher+cake smeared on his face, with lot of giggles forming the background music

For those who like, it is:

For those who don't:
...don't know

If I am the birthday boy, it would mean (for me):

That this has been on my mind for some time suggests that I might develop birthdayphobia in six or seven years. There are takers for birthday parties, yes, but then there are takers for everything in this world. Suit oneself. So, let those who enjoy it, enjoy. Chaps suffering from birthdayphobia and prefer attention deficit better be left alone. I like this model. World may not become a better place, but everyone's priorities are respected.

(p.s. the luxury of having a blog is that one can write nonsense at times and not give a damn!) 

Current Mood: Happy
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20 Aug 2005

58 and Going...

Posted by Oblivion in General | 3:22pm

Independent India is 58 years old. Time for retirement. More than anyone else, India needs it. It resembles an old man who had spent his youth in slumber and has now lost his way in a thick wood. With priorities having gone utterly wrong, he is now destitute of sanity. His only reason for pride is his glorious past.

The fuss about Independence Day, year after year after year, makes any sensible person puke. It's very predictable, so absolutely predictable like that march of soldiers. You know what movies they will show on the movie channels, you know what kind of imagery they will flash on the music channels, you know what the prime minsiter will say in his address to the nation, you know what cover stories the newsmagazines will come up with, you know what questions the half-cranky anchors will ask the three-fourth cranky teenagers on the streets, you know what symbol will be most flashed at your eyes, and you know what they will blabber in all those useless talk shows.

For kids, it's another holiday. For adults, it's entertainment day at home. For jingoists, it's a festival. For politicians, it's another day to kick on the old man's ass. For media, it's a day for big money. At the end of the day, after having watched in silence his birthday celebration, the old man is tired, beaten, abandoned and sick. But, heck, nobody cares! I have three meals a day, a nice job, good bank balance, so the old man can go to the dogs.

The old man has been rendered spineless. The whole system of politics, juidiciary, legislature, and media sucks. The specimen called politician was dead and gone with Gandhi and gang. They may not have had practicable ideals and were not sharp at anticipating the consequences of their decisions, but they at least had appreciable missions and commanded good amount of respect by virtue of their education and personality. After them, we have been ruled by goons and people don't mind it! Worse, they still go and vote, fueled by incorrect understanding of franchise and the so-called sincere citizen!

Amid all this hopeless chaos, we have these high-adrenaline, impatient, and vain youth (am also among them) - the future of the nation. Flash some skin, pierce at some places, speak in a bastard accent, use four-letter words at your will, talk of brands and places, begin or end every sentence with 'cool', 'man', 'dude' and other such non-expletives-but-expletives-actually, blame everything on Gandhi and Nehru, gyrate the hips at a pub with booze beside and loud music in the background, and flaunt everything. To complement, learn the tunes of  om jai jagdish... and aye malik tere bande... If you are a girl, also learn how to - and where to - put a bindi and how to wear a saree. That's enough, and the media finds in you the rightful mix of tradition and modernity. East meets West. Crossover. My foot!

Civil servant is extinct. We are ruled by the gun. Try to speak truth and you will be a statistic. Everybody knows what happened to a certain 'Tehelka'. The real goons are out there in the Assembly halls, while thousands of innocent people are behind bars. Media doesn't have guts to find out real stories. Government is a bunch of cranks playing football with you and me. Surprisingly, neither of us minds! As Coetzee says, "Man gets used to anything. Anything." Soldiers kill civilians to meet their 'weekly targets' and frame them as militants, and the rest of the country hails them as saviours! Human rights? Show me something 'human' and we can talk of rights. A small rumour effects a riot. And I am still sold the concept of India being a 'democratic and secular nation'!

To go one up, one always meets these chaps who come along and say, "hey buddy, don't be so cynical". Oh yeah! why should it bother anybody anyways? Why not enjoy another round of gossip at the coffee table and let the old man, as we said, go to the dogs? Come on, he is just 58 now, and he can go on for centuries. Chill!

I don't know what the old man thinks, but I feel it's time for retirement. Enough of experimenting with goonocracy. Renounce. Let go. Begin anew!

On second thoughts, it's just asking for the moon. Tagore prayed to let his country awake into the 'heaven of freedom', and nothing happened. So, what the hell would happen if some 'cynics' and idlers write useless reflections in diaries or blogs or magazines? For modern man, taking out time for reading itself is a monumental task. Anything beyond is unthinkable. So, shit happens, papers polish it and print, we read, and get on with our lives. Reminds me of the sentence in The Fall: "A single sentence would suffice for modern man - he fornicated and read the papers."

Old man, happy birthday anyways! 58th.

Current Mood: Happy
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