Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Mobile blogger App

Does this really work?

Edit : As I now found out it does !

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Jesse Pinkman

Jesse Pinkman. THE best TV character I have ever seen. I love the ultimate alphamale Don Draper, honest hardworking go-getter Peggy Olson, doc with a stick up his ass House MD, lovable & ultracool Vincent Chase and a million others. But Jesse is a league apart. Maybe its because of the reality and vulnerability. Maybe its because of Aaron Paul. Maybe its coz of Vince Gilligan. Maybe it's all of the above and some more. But what a dude. 

Many many people around the world can see at least some kind of similarity between him and themselves. I am no different. Smart as a kid. Got lost around late teens, dabbled in drugs. An extremely innocent, really good person at heart. A man whose word is his bond. Parents who are lovable in every other way except that they have reached their limits, their unconditional love is no more so and their patience has worn really really thin. I could go on forever. 

From the very first scene he was introduced in, I loved him. And I hate the character of Walter White. He's the person with great knowledge but also with the world's biggest stick up his ass. Always a loser. Left a girlfriend, research and million dollar company coz of some shitty reason. Underachiever all his life. Big time liar. A bad father, shitty husband and overall scum of the earth character. I especially hate him because of his extreme selfishness and harebrained ideas. The murder of a drug dealer/snitch and the messy disposal of two bodies in his home was too much for Jesse to take, he tried to shut it out with meth but to no avail. He went to where he felt he was safest in the world, back to his parents. My eyes welled up watching the scenes that followed. The way his parents & brother treated him, his beautiful drawings, his overall innocence. And of course the over-expecting, overly-ambitious parents had no more love or patience left to hold him by his hand and get him onto the right path. They were more worried about their genius younger son. Of course everybody has their own fucked up justifications for their actions. And more often than not they will pin those reasons onto something that seems like the greater good. After making his way through all that shit and finally piecing together something that resembled a happy life, the-man-with-the-biggest-stick-up-his-ass had to fuck it up by letting his girlfriend die, and of course he too had his greater good justifications.

Well looks another one of my posts has turned into a tirade of complaints. Projecting my problems onto something else to give me some peace of mind perhaps. The other day I was reading a TIME article on the US army suicide rates spiralling upwards and it felt a like a punch in the face when I read that 2 of the soldiers mentioned had blogs that had content that was clearly indicative of the authors' depression issues. I once heard that "Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is like expecting a lion not to attack because you are a vegetarian." Bitchin n moanin is just a humungous waste of energy. There are ways out of everything, sometimes the options might be tough, but we gotta choose whatever seems right and run with it. No point crying over things over which we have no control. Sometimes our families might not see us the way we think we really are. Can we hate them for that? We are pretty much here only because of them. The solution can be as simple as just moving away, making something of ourselves. Eventually they will come around, and if they don't then there isn't much that we can do is there. Even Peggy Olson had a mother who couldn't understand. Look at me, quoting TV stars and finding solace in their problems. I need to get a job!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Why Pray?

A question that has been in my head ever since I can remember. As a child, brought up by orthodox & religious parents, Sunday prayers was a given. As I grew up, the questions that I had about religion have been pretty much unanswered even now. Simple things like...
  • If god created everything, then who created her?
  • If there really is a god, then why is there so much suffering all around us?
  • What about kids born in warzones? Kids born differently abled?
  • Why are 'bad' people not punished and why are 'good' people unnecessarily tortured?
  • Heaven, hell, re-birth, karma, soul, ghosts, godmen, Jesus, different religions, violence in the name of religions.....what is the truth behind all this?
 ....and many other similar doubts. Though it felt like more knowledge was actually beginning to answer a few of those questions, repeatedly I found myself more confused than enlightened. I believed that scientists and other more knowledgeable people obviously had answers to all these questions. How could old, wise and/or famous people not know about these things? Surely priests or nuns could shed some light. But as it turned out, nobody knew. If you are going to begin to ask questions about god and religion, and if you are smart & stubborn enough, you can just about keep debating on and on forever. I myself have vociferously defended both sides of the argument. 

Right now, at this point in time, I feel that answering these questions are not so important. There are billions of drivers around the world but how many of us know how a car actually works? These days grown men don't know how to even change tyres, let alone ponder on the nitty-gritty's of the the internal combustion engine. For most of us, an automobile is a means to an end. It's something that gets us from point A to point B. For some it's a passion. Many of us rely on it, many don't bother, especially in these days of eco-consciousness and heavy traffic. Isn't it possible to draw an analogy here? I think yes. A religion is a means to an end. It's something that gets us from point A to point B. For some it's a passion. Many of us rely on it, many don't bother, especially in these days of stylish, celebrity endorsed atheistic/agnostic values and growth of scientific knowledge. 

The past few days have been crazy. I am usually cool-headed and optimistic, but recent events have pushed me to the brink and I've literally been losing it on more occasions than I am proud of. Of course I have a wide plethora of justifications to back up my shitty behaviour, or I can run to a shrink or a motivational guru to seek guidance. But today it just hit me that the very underlying reason that I am getting angry is because I am expecting something. If I get cut in traffic I get pissed off because I expect the other driver to behave with some decorum & decency. If my parents advise me I get pissed off because I expect them to understand that I am now an adult and can make my own decisions. Even though my brother's got a huge dildo up his ass I expect him to be nice at least to me coz I'm his older brother. If I do something for someone, I expect them to be grateful. All these pent up expectations have obviously not been met and this has turned me in to a mad, raving misanthropist"Hell is other people" wrote Jean-Paul Sartre. On the face of it, this looks deeply misanthropic, but actually Sartre was making an observation about the tendency of human beings to lack self-knowledge. We tend to project our worst fears, and our most deeply disliked personal characteristics, onto other people, rather than look inside and face them within ourselves. Thus, when we look at other people we often see the worst of what is in our own personality. Illusory superiority or above average effect is a cognitive bias that causes people to overestimate their positive qualities and abilities and to underestimate their negative qualities, relative to others.

Who am I really? How did I come to be? I originated from a microscopic drop of liquid that could very easily have ended up in a tissue paper or a toilet but did not. Average number of sperm per ejaculation is 200-300 million, and one, just one amongst that 300 million made me. If you consider the statistics of egg production and actual probability of getting pregnant, the odds of that particular sperm becoming me is mind-boggling. A chance of a one in a trazillion. Sounds yucky but it's true, some would call it a miracle. Everything else from there onwards is also nothing short of miraculous. A freakonomist could shower us with statistics, ranging from the odds of a conceived foetus becoming a healthy human being to the probability of a teenager surviving despite driving a motorcycle till his mid 20s. And after beating the odds so far, I am still here, I am an almost perfectly formed human being with a working brain and loving people around me. There have been no natural calamities or wars around me ever. Nobody raped or fondled me when I was a kid. I had more than plenty to eat all my life, which might have something to do with my borderline obesity ;-). So all in all, from a purely statistical point of a view, I am one hell of a lucky bastard as are most of us. And what am I doing? I am complaining that I don't have enough, getting mad at people for the lamest of reasons. Escaping to my own world when the going gets a little rough. This is why I need to pray everyday. This is why I need to be at a church or a temple or a mosque every single morning. I need to fold my hands, bow my head and show a little respect to all the crazy odds and little miracles that have made me what I am, which in one word is god. I need to remember that in the bigger scheme of things I am nothing. I am just  one amongst billions in a locker as seen in MIB. I need to lose that ego & get real. I don't have the right to be angry or miserable, ever.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Stop Whining & Start Moving

Mothers! Sometimes they just love you too much! After all the craziness I've been through lately all I really want is to actually start living, but my mom has other plans. She is already on the lookout for a bride! Something tells me that this story isn't going to end with "....and they lived happily ever after."

There was a time when I was on top of the world. I had everything. Literally. Long story short now I am the biggest loser in the world. No kidding. No job, no money, no friends, no family, no facebook account. If I dropped dead right now it wouldn't make a darned difference except maybe make the world so much better for it. I know it sounds depressing but unfortunately its also very true. Yeah I have thought about suicide. Start all over again maybe, if it works like that. But ask anyone who has put some serious thought into killing herself and you will realize that it isn't as easy as it seems, unless you have access to cyanide or something. How did it all get like this? Where did it all go so wrong? And of course the cliched "Why me?" It all started with wrong choices. Make a few major ones and your life quickly  spirals into a shithole that you wouldn't want your worst enemies in. How could I have been so stupid? So blind? So fuckin shortsighted? What can I do now? I have hit rock-bottom. I cannot realistically embarrass myself any further, I have already managed to do that to the max. There is only one way to go from here. Forward.

Anybody who knows me, consider me an eternal optimist. Looking back so far at this post I don't think there's a shred of positivity in there. Sometimes the smallest most inconspicuous things can get you low.

“We can affect people around us so much with our moods. A depressed person can make a room gloomy and a sweet nature can cause the lion to lie down with the lamb.” -Polly Horvath

A new research shows that the best and the worst experiences in people's lives do not involve individual accomplishments, but that it is the interaction with others that makes them important. This is the first study of its kind that underlines the importance of social connections for people's happiness and fulfillment. “Most of us spend much of our time and effort focused on individual achievements such as work, hobbies and schooling, however this research suggests that the events that end up being most important in our lives, the events that bring us the most happiness and also carry the potential for the most pain, are social events -- moments of connecting to others and feeling their connections to us,” says co-author Shira Gabriel, PhD, associate professor of psychology at University of Buffalo.

Real life Sean Parker vs. the reel one
I was a perfectly fine individual just a couple of weeks ago. Yes I was the same guy who has been a 'gentleman of elegant leisure' for the past few months, but at least I knew what I was doing and where I was going. People always talk about being a man's man, an alpha male and all that. Everyone wants to be a Tyler Durden or a Don Draper or a Mark Zuckerberg. People who have seen 'The Social Network' are all praises for Mark Zuckerberg's ingeniousness and ruthlessness. Movies, books and popular culture in general seem to be telling us that those are the characteristics that give you an edge in today's world. Eduardo Saverin is considered to be a big loser while Sean Parker is the coolest guy on the planet. But is it really so? Nobody says it better than Tyler Durden himself :

" Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars, but we won't. We're slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off...

...We're consumers. We are bi-products of a lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime, poverty, these things don't concern me. What concerns me are celebrity magazines, television with 500 channels, some guy's name on my underwear...

...You are not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your fucking khakis. You're the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.”

People are so conditioned in this way of thinking that most of what is written here might be considered bohemian. So what happened in the last few weeks that transformed a cheerful, optimistic chap into this screw-it-all suicidal hippie? One word - parents. My break from my career got them so worked up that they decided that an intervention is the only way to put me back on the materialistic path of success. Hey don't get me wrong, I love my iPad, Xbox and my VW just like anyobody else. It's just that I have my way of getting where I want to, I am here as much for the journey as I am for the destination. I love my life and what I am but my family thinks otherwise. They think that I am the biggest loser and junkie since Lindsay Lohan.

So what can I do about it? I can try in vain to get them to see my point of view, but come on, after more than a century of combined life experience they are not going to start taking lessons from some know-it-all yuppy with an almost overdrawn bank account. One of my best friend works at Google, pretty much top of the food chain you could say. So when I committed career suicide she tried to get me back on track by quoting stuff she learned in her six-sigma & project management  trainings, stuff like milestones, 5 Whys, Cost-benefit analysis, SWOT analysis and blah blah. After patiently listening to my friends 2 hour long motivational speech, I asked her what her milestones & goals were like and surprise, she didn't have any. Yeah, she did have a fair idea of what she wanted to do and what her dreams were but she never wrote them down or planned her daily routine around them. Hell she didn't even think in her wildest imaginations that she would end up in Google, in fact she doesn't even remember the exact details of sending a resume there.

So whats the takeaway? For one, the entire motivational industry is highly highly over-rated. Each person has her way of dealing with things. Look around, observe, read, listen, absorb and let your mind do the processing. You will be amazed at how many times our minds actually give us the right directions especially when you don't set rules on it. What I can do is stop bitching about it and move forward. "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I don't know about most people, but for me things never work out the way I predict it. And that's a problem. I need to stop planning too far ahead. Especially a person like me who has severe symptoms of ADHD. After years of conditioning by motivational books on planning ahead, setting goals, being in control every step of the way and all that shit, it doesn't really work like that. All I need to do is remember that. The trick is to ride the wave. Almost like surfing. Your thoughts might be confused or muddled, in that case think hard about whatever it is that's getting you stuck, then forget about it. Your mind has the amazing power to fish out relevant info from your memory & experience and use all resources on hand. It will work in the background and BAM!! suddenly the solution just seems so obvious to you.

Just make sure that at least 99% of the time your mind is in peak working condition, and by that I mean don't fuck it up with unnecessary shit. Now what is 'unnecessary shit' is totally dependent on the individual. No kidding. Some people might have peak performance when they have coffee, for some it might not work. Few of us need to have 8 meals a day, some work just fine on 2, maybe even 1. Loads of us have somehow experienced pot in some way or other and can handle it, but a few of us can't. I am one amongst that few. For the majority it might seem hilarious but the fact is that weed is like heroin or crystal meth to 10% of the population. I for one am a totally different person when I am on it, and trust me it doesn't make me a better person in any way. Don't get me wrong, I love the high and immediate reduction of mental chatter, but it also makes me dependent on it. it makes me forget about everything else I need to be doing. Every other buddy that I have smoked up with seems to have no such effect at all, they just carry on with their normal lives just fine. Oh yeah, except for one friend of mine, the guy who introduced me to the whole cannabis culture. He committed suicide when he was 22 for the lamest of reasons. So there you have it, it's not the same for all. Don't be fooled by all the info out on the web or the comments left on messageboards, they can be very misleading about so called non-addictive & addictive properties. If kids can kill themselves just by gaming, then you can be pretty sure that the same rules don't apply to everybody. Each one needs to find her own thresholds and talents and do the best with what they have.

The Killing Room

If you haven't already seen this movie then please do so. A psychthriller masterpiece. I came to know about the US government sponsored craziness called Project MKULTRA after watching this. The Americans aren't so much better than the North Koreans or the Iraqis after all. And yeah all those superhero comics and the Bourne Identity series does have more than an inkling of reality. God Bless America!

Project MKUltra, or MK-Ultra, was a covert, illegal human research program into behavioral modification run by the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) Office of Scientific Intelligence. The program began in the early 1950s, was officially sanctioned in 1953, was reduced in scope in 1964, further curtailed in 1967 and finally halted in 1973. It controversially used unwitting U.S. and Canadian citizens as its test subjects. MKUltra involved the use of many methodologies to manipulate people's individual mental states and alter brain functions, including the surreptitious administration of drugs (especially LSD) and other chemicals, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, isolation, verbal and sexual abuse, as well as various forms of torture.

The research was undertaken at 80 institutions, including 44 colleges and universities, as well as hospitals, prisons and pharmaceutical companies. The CIA would operate through these institutions using front organizations, although sometimes top officials at these institutions would be aware of the CIA's involvement. MKUltra was allocated 6 percent of total CIA funds.

Project MKUltra was first brought to wide public attention in 1975 by the U.S. Congress, through investigations by the Church Committee, and by a presidential commission known as the Rockefeller Commission. Investigative efforts were hampered by the fact that CIA Director Richard Helms ordered all MKUltra files destroyed in 1973; the Church Committee and Rockefeller Commission investigations relied on the sworn testimony of direct participants and on the relatively small number of documents that survived Helms' destruction order.

In 1977, a Freedom Of Information Act request uncovered a cache of 20,000 documents relating to project MKUltra, which led to Senate hearings later that same year. In July 2001 most surviving information regarding MKUltra was officially declassified.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Robber's Cave Experiment

Muzafer Sherif is a famous social psychologist important to the psychological understanding of groups and its members.  His main contribution is known as Realistic Conflict Theory, and accounts for group conflict, negative prejudices, and stereotypes as being the result of competition between groups for desired resources.  Sherif validated his theory in one his most famous experiments, "The Robber's Cave".

Sherif argued that intergroup conflict (i.e. conflict between groups) occurs when two groups are in competition for limited resources. This theory is supported by evidence from a famous study investigating group conflict: The Robbers Cave (Sherif, 1954).

The field experiment involved two groups of twelve-year-old boys at Robber’s Cave State Park, Oklahoma, America. The twenty-two boys in the study were unknown to each other and all from white middle-class backgrounds.  They all shared a Protestant, two-parent background. None of the boys knew each other prior to the study. The boys were randomly assigned to one of two groups, although neither was aware of the other’s existence. They were then, as individual groups, picked up by bus on successive days in the summer of 1954 and transported to a 200 acre Boy Scouts of America camp in the Robbers Cave State Park in Oklahoma.

At the camp the groups were kept separate from each other and were encouraged to bond as two individual groups through the pursuit of common goals that required co-operative discussion, planning and execution. During this first phase, the groups did not know of the other group's existence. The boys developed an attachment to their groups throughout the first week of the camp, quickly establishing their own cultures and group norms, by doing various activities together like hiking, swimming, etc. The boys chose names for their groups, The Eagles and The Rattlers, and stenciled them onto shirts and flags.

Sherif now arranged the Competition Stage where friction between the groups was to occur over the next 4-6 days. In this phase it was intended to bring the two groups into competition with each other in conditions that would create frustration between them. A series of competitive activities (e.g. baseball, tug-of-war etc.) were arranged with a trophy being awarded on the basis of accumulated team score. There were also individual prizes for the winning group such as a medal and a multi-bladed pocket knife with no consolation prizes being given to the "losers."

The Rattlers' reaction to the informal announcement of a series of contests was absolute confidence in their victory! They spent the day talking about the contests and making improvements on the ball field, which they took over as their own to such an extent that they spoke of putting a "Keep Off" sign there! They ended up putting their Rattler flag on the pitch. At this time, several Rattlers made threatening remarks about what they would do if anybody from The Eagles bothered their flag.

Situations were also devised whereby one group gained at the expense of the other. For example, one group was delayed getting to a picnic and when they arrived the other group had eaten their food. At first, this prejudice was only verbally expressed, such as taunting or name-calling. As the competition wore on, this expression took a more direct route. The Eagles burned the Rattler's flag. Then the next day, the Rattler's ransacked The Eagle's cabin, overturned beds, and stole private property. The groups became so aggressive with each other that the researchers had to physically separate them.

During the subsequent two-day cooling off period, the boys listed features of the two groups. The boys tended to characterize their own in-group in very favorable terms, and the other out-group in very unfavorable terms. Keep in mind that the participants in this study were well-adjusted boys, not street gang members. This study clearly shows that conflict between groups can trigger prejudice attitudes and discriminatory behavior. This experiment confirmed Sherif's realistic conflict theory.

Once the "counselors" (in actuality, the researchers) presented them with challenges that affected all of them—for example, restoring the camp's water supply, or starting a stalled truck that was going to acquire food for the camp—the groups quickly set their hostilities aside and worked as a cohesive unit. What could explain this? Why would young boys quickly bond together, develop an instant dislike for a rival group, and then set it all aside to work with that group when presented with common goals?

The events at Robbers Cave mimicked the kinds of conflict that plague people all over the world. The simplest explanation for this conflict is competition. Assign strangers to groups, throw the groups into competition, stir the pot, and soon there is conflict. There is a lot of evidence that when people compete for scarce resources (e.g. jobs, land etc.) there is a rise in hostility between groups. For example, in times of high unemployment there may be high levels of racism among white people who believe that black people (or asylum seekers) have taken their jobs.

Breaking Bad

Must-watch TV show. I love the guy who plays Jesse Pinkman.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mad Men

Mad Men is one of my all time favorites, its much more than just a TV show.

Things I love about Mad Men*  :

  • I hate bullies and I always root for the peppy underdog - Mad Men wasn't picked up by any major networks because they thought that nobody would be interested in an advertising drama set in the '60s  which involved a lot of on screen smoking and drinking. Come on man! Grow some balls will you? What would happen if the Louvre or Tate rejected art because they were nude? Keeping aside the extremely top-notch writing and production values, this was a bloody good story about advertising in the 1960s, and was looking at recent American history through that prism. It still amazes me how far we have come in some aspects since then and how we never learned many lessons and still keep repeating the same mistakes even in the 21st century. I never knew or heard about AMC before this show and hats off to them for swimming against the tide and making something truly beautiful which nobody else had the balls to do. Let those big networks keep making 'Two and a half men' and 'Everybody loves Raymond'.

  • Subtle Messaging -  I hate being told what to do. Some might consider it arrogance but it's just that I strongly believe that nobody gets any benefit from a lot of advice. I am more a man of action. I love learning things by observing others, judging whats right or not by myself and then implementing it, I don't want anybody shoving things down my throat even if it's with a silver spoon. Even though smoking and drinking is shown in almost every other frame in Mad Men, its shown with a high dose of reality. Recently I saw a path-breaking Malayalam movie called 'Spirit' which broached the topic of alcohol abuse and involved a lot of on-screen tobacco use. Like Mad Men in every other scene there was a lot of smoking and drinking, but there also was a subtitled health warning in all those scenes and huge warnings before and after the movie. What could be the reason for this? It could be because of  regulations, but on more research it seems that there needs to be only one health warning right before the movie began. Then what could be the reason for flooding us with these warnings? Maybe the director Ranjith was trying to be a self-righteous messiah. The worst possible reason could be that the film-maker believed that the audience are retarded and despite the fact that the entire movie graphically depicts the harm caused by alcoholism (a man vomiting his internal organs bathed in blood is graphic enough for me!) Ranjith still believed the audience wouldn't get the 'subtle' message and so wanted to be sure by adding a bazillion health warnings all over the movie. When I watch Mad Men, it's literally like watching another person's life in detail. Right from the very first episode and throughout its entire 5 year run, Matthew Weiner has masterfully incorporated the gory side effects of substance abuse but its never in your face. We can see the lives of characters we adore disintegrating right before us, the lessons to be learned are right there in front of us. That's the tasteful way of doing it.
(*this is a list in progress)

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Agnosticism is the view that the truth values of certain claims—especially claims about the existence or non-existence of any deity, but also other religious and metaphysical claims—are unknown and (so far as can be judged) unknowable. Agnosticism can be defined in various ways, and is sometimes used to indicate doubt or a skeptical approach to questions. In some senses, agnosticism is a stance about the difference between belief and knowledge, rather than about any specific claim or belief. In the popular sense, an agnostic is someone who neither believes nor disbelieves in the existence of a deity or deities, whereas a theist and an atheist believe and disbelieve, respectively. In the strict sense, however, agnosticism is the view that humanity does not currently possess the requisite knowledge and/or reason to provide sufficient rational grounds to justify the belief that deities either do or do not exist.

Thomas Henry Huxley, an English biologist, coined the word agnostic in 1869. However, earlier thinkers and written works have promoted agnostic points of view. They include Protagoras, a 5th-century BCE Greek philosopher, and the Nasadiya Sukta creation myth in the Rig Veda, an ancient Sanskrit text. Since Huxley coined the term, many other thinkers have written extensively about agnosticism.

Personally I'm torn between atheism and agnosticism and guess what, Brad Pitt says he is too, well that's a relief. 

Have you seen 'Senna'? Its a must-watch for all human beings with an IQ above 0. Ayrton Senna has always been considered as the greatest racing driver of all time, especially by other racing drivers including his predecessors, contemporaries and kids who grew up watching him like Sebastian Vettel. I love this guy. Everything about him is almost superhuman. So when I heard him talk about god with the crazy passion that he has, I almost wanted to be religious myself. I have always been at cross-roads with regards to god, mainly because I try to apply scientific rules to the whole concept. The one major question that has always troubled me from childhood is if god made everything then who made him? This question used to make a lot of sense to me but lately I have my doubts. Everybody thought twice about life after seeing 'The Matrix', I know for sure at least I did. Something I read around that time put this question into my head : Can the human brain really understand itself?

In the words of Leonard Mlodinow : "The brain is a decent scientist but an absolutely outstanding lawyer.” In other words, we’re experts at spinning out elaborate stories for why we believe what we believe—or about why we’re special. It’s no wonder that every psychological study that asks a large group to self-report about a given skill always elicits the same result: everyone considers himself or herself above average. It’s an important self-defense mechanism, argues Mlodinow, since happy people simply do better than unhappy people on just about every metric. “Our internal computations, which we believe to be objective, are not really the computations that a detached computer would make but, rather, are implicitly colored by who we are and what we are after.” 

“Evolution created the human brain not so it could accurately understand itself but to help us survive.”

So maybe the whole concept of god is not meant to be understood at all. How many of us drink? Do we all know exactly how that Bacardi is made? Hell, we do not even know what goes into making it. Thanks to popular culture, some of us know that potatoes are used for making Vodka, rice is used for Sake and somewhere in the distillation process there are worms and fermentation involved. But that's just about as far as our knowledge into the finer aspects of booze production goes, but does that stop us from enjoying the alcohol high?

Five arguments for and against the concept of god, as seen on listverse.com :

5. Ontological Argument

First formulated by St. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, then taken up by Alvin Plantinga. “God exists, provided that it is logically possible for him to exist.”

This argument is quite brazen in its simplicity, requiring not only a belief in God, but a belief in the necessity of God. If you believe he is necessary, then you must believe he exists.

The Counterargument: Criticism typically deals with the Ontological Argument committing a “bare assertion fallacy,” which means it asserts qualities inherent solely to an unproven statement, without any support for those qualities. It is also criticized as a circular argument, revolving from a premise to a conclusion which relies on the premise, which relies on the conclusion.

4. Moral Argument

This argument is very old, and states that God must exist for the following reason: 1. An aspect of morality is observed. 2. Belief in God is a better explanation for this morality than any alternative. 3. Belief in God is thus preferable to disbelief in God.

The Counterargument: This argument is technically valid, provided that the three constituents are accepted, and most critics refuse to accept the first. Morality, they argue, is not universal. Murder was perfectly fine for the soldiers of the First Crusade, who slaughtered every man, woman, and child in Jerusalem in 1099. Thomas Hobbes argued that morality is based on the society around it, and is thus not objective.

3. Argument from Degree

This is one of St. Thomas Aquinas’s “Five Proofs of God,” and still causes debate among the two sides. Here is Aquinas’s statement of it, which I have translated from Latin, for a sense of thoroughness:

The fourth proof originates from the degrees discovered in things. For there is discovered greater and lesser degrees of goodness, truth, nobility, and others. But “more” or “less” are terms spoken concerning various things that approach in diverse manners toward something that is the “greatest,” just as in the case of “hotter” approaching nearer the “greatest” heat. There exists, therefore, something “truest,” and “best,” and “noblest,” which, in consequence, is the “greatest” being. For those things which are the greatest truths are the greatest beings, as is stated in Metaphysics Bk. II. 2. Furthermore, that which is the greatest in its way, is, in another way, the cause of all things belonging to it; thus fire, which is the greatest heat, is the cause of all heat, as is said in the same book (cf. Plato and Aristotle). Therefore, there exists something that is the cause of the existence of all things, and of goodness, and of every perfection whatever. We call this “God.”

The Counterargument: The most prevalent criticism of this argument considers that we do not have to believe in an object of a greater degree in order to believe in an object of a lesser degree. Richard Dawkins, the most famous, or infamous, Atheist around these days, argues that just because we come across a “smelly” object, does not require that we believe that we believe in a “preeminently peerless stinker,” in his words.

2. Argument from Reason

One of my favorites, with very intricate abstraction. C. S. Lewis (who wrote “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”) came up with this. It begins as an argument from design, and then continues into something new. Very basically, it argues that God must exist, because, in Lewis’s words:

“Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It’s like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can’t trust my own thinking, of course I can’t trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God.”

The Counterargument: It sounds powerful, and the final judgment on it is still out there. But its primary weak point is that, in the strictest sense, it is not a proof of God’s existence because it requires the assumption that human minds can assess the truth or falsehood of a claim, and it requires that human minds can be convinced by argumentation. But in order to reject the assumption that human minds can assess the truth or falsehood of a claim, a human mind must assume that this claim is true or false, which immediately proves that human minds can assess the truth or falsehood of a claim. But none of this has anything to do with God’s existence. Thus, the argument is better treated as a disproof of naturalistic materialism. However, given that most Atheists use naturalistic materialism as the foundation of Atheism, is is a very viable argument.

1. Cosmological Argument

Thomas Aquinas’s most famous proof of God refuses to go away. You’ve probably already heard of it in some form. It was around before Aquinas, at least as early as Plato and Aristotle, and in basic terms, it goes like this:

1. Every finite and contingent being has a cause.
2. Nothing finite and contingent can cause itself.
3. A causal chain cannot be of infinite length.
4. Therefore, a First Cause (or something that is not an effect) must exist.

This is especially impressive in that it was theorized by the Ancient Greeks, at a time when the Universe was not known to have had an origin. Today, we call this “the Big Bang,” and the argument has changed to this form:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The Universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the Universe had a cause.

The Counterargument: Sequentially speaking, these three points are true. But the second point requires the Universe to have had a cause, and we still aren’t sure it did. “The Big Bang” is the most prevalent astrophysical theory today, but it has its detractors, most arguing that because the mathematics that leads back to a big bang do not function at the point immediately prior to the big bang, those mathematics were invalid to begin with. Better than this, however, is the argument that this proof of God commits the logical fallacy called “infinite regression.” If the Universe had a first cause, what caused that first cause? Criticism declares that it is unfair to argue for every thing’s cause, and then argue for the sole exception of a “First Cause,” which did not have a cause.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Why oh why?

I love Julian Assange, he is one of my inspirations to get into coding and his outlook on life and the world is something truly worth emulating. But he should have played things slightly smarter I feel. When you are in a position where you are going to be pissing off a lot of seriously powerful people & institutions, you need to make sure that those very same people don't get to you so easily. Dominic Strauss-Kahn (DSK from henceforth) once famously predicted that he feared he was going to be tarnished in some kind of legal dispute very soon because he was trampling on the feet of the king-makers of France & worldwide. You don't believe me? Go google it or look up his article on wikipedia, I'll be damned if I am goin to post a link here for that, you lazy asses. DSK was a well respected politician in France and internationally. Being the chief of IMF his thoughts & words had considerable value for everyone affected by the global economic crisis, his opinions were featured in the Academy Award winning documentary the 'Inside Job' and if you have seen it you know that he isnt one to mince his words with diplomacy or ass-wiping for the higher ups, he says it like he sees it. And see where it got him? Not very powerful or respected now is he? He got it coming to him just as he himself predicted would happen, and the end results being that someone who was viciously hated throughout France (read Nicholas Sarkozy) almost won a second term in office, someone draped in medicority and whom nobody knew about till very recently (read Francois Hollande) became the French president and what about DSK? Oh well he just got embroiled in a fake sexual assault case in the United Fuckin-States of America and pretty much lost everything he had, reputation and political ambitions included. So whats the lesson to be learned? Pretty boy there isn't such a thing as 'Truth shall win no matter what" or "Good always defeats evil" or "the do-gooders will get free entry to heaven". If you are gonna play against the villains of this world, know that they outnumber you by at least a ratio of a million is to one, they have very very very powerful friends, they will go to any extent to fuck you in the ass while they are sipping champagne in their personal jets landing on their private islands while being blown by virgins. So inspite of all this if you are going to play with fire, then at least be fuckin careful. It wouldn't hurt to take a couple of lessons from the internationally (in)famous Banksy. Probably he should be your PR advisor. So Mr. Assange, despite repeated warnings from your own buddies (read Daniel Domscheit-Berg aka Daniel Schmitt) you decided to hog all the limelight while you screwed the ultra-secretive governements of the most powerful & rich countries and corporates, so now pay for it with a few sexual assault cases and some quality me-time courtesy of the US or Swedish Penitentiary systems.
Take a few lessons from him on how remain anonymous & cool at the same time

Saturday, May 26, 2012


I have been avoiding all kinds of distractions since I woke up at 11. Had to give in to the temptation and have a cola sometime back though. Still on it.

Update : Once again drifted into wrong philosophy, the one that includes denial and discipline. Its just not for me. I need to remember that I always need to be myself, thats the easiest philosophy to my happiness. Somehow my instincts know exactly what I want and has all the resources required to ensure my success and happiness. Sounds crazy but it might have something to do with sub-conscious, unconscious or whatever. All I need to do is listen to myself and do accordingly, no more fuckin highly detailed plans, milestones or goals for me. All I need to know is the general direction in which I am sailing. Keeping it simple, listen to all my own needs - short, medium and long-term ones and take the next action based on gut feeling. All my life I have been trying to connect the dots looking forwards, it doesnt happen like that, at least not for me.