u Notes from the Underground: September 2006

In which I gaze at my navel..

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Figuratively, of course.

But it's all the Lalbadshah's fault.

I am thinking about: whether I like a laptop or a desktop better. Which one should I buy?

I want to: watch Roger Federer live, preferably at the Wimbledon. I am going to start saving seriously now.

I wish for a boxful of Simpsons DVDs. Oh, and I also wish for all these things. No, more relevantly, I wish I had the time to read all these, without affecting my 15 credit hour 10-week quarter, and without losing touch with more of my friends and without missing any more good movies, and without missing my "daily workout" (heh) and without missing updating my blog regularly and blah blah blah.

I hear: fingers tapping on keyboards at the computer centre I am in. (check out the cool map.)

I wonder why I wonder. (Ok, that was copied from Feynman.) Or how I wonder.

I regret: hmm.. no regrets right now.. I am fully charged and optimistic. (Although I might regret a few years later that I went for a PhD :) )

"I" am: the sense of continuity and unity that a set of neurons frantically maintain so that "I" can "focus my attention" on those aspects of the environment that need to be processed and "thought about". "I" am a fiction that some genes have found it useful to construct in order to process information more efficiently which can ultimately help perpetuate themselves further. But am "I" fictitious, really? "I" am real enough within "myself" - in fact, nothing is more real to "me" than "myself". The world just plays itself out in the theatre that is "I".

(Update: This stuff is mostly inspired by this fantastic anthology I read some time back - The Mind's I. Read the Wikipedia article on the book. Also, don't take the above stuff too seriously.)

I hate sycophants. Just to clarify, I also hate wife-beaters and the like , although I dont completely agree with this interesting story about wife-beaters.

I dance: with my eyebrows knit, looking a little like George Bush, apparently. Needless to say, I also dance pretty bad.

I sing with a distinct nasal tone. I think its because I thought Kumar Sanu was the coolest singer in the world when I was young, and tried singing like him for a lot of time, and now am stuck with a nasal tone. Apparently I even talk with a nasal twang.

I cry when I see some kinds of sentimental movies, even though the rational part of my brain is all "what the crap is going on in this movie!" I cried when watching Black, that Rani Mukherjee movie where she plays a blind girl, all the while thinking what a cheesy and manipulative movie this was.

I am not always: so pretentious.

I write: so I can look back at all this ten years down the road and laugh at myself.

I confuse: Koreans, Chinese and Japanese. I thought distinguishing them would be easy before I came to OSU (implicitly), but now that I had the chance to test myslf with larger samples (the campus just brims with Asians - Mongoloids outnumbering Indians by maybe 3 to 1), I find that I do no better than chance. Test yourself if you are too confident about your abilities, I bet you would find it tougher than you imagined. Once they talk you can figure out better - if they struggle with their English, they are probably Chinese or Japanese (but there are quite a few exceptions ofcourse.)

I am: done!

Any reader who wants to be tagged, can consider themselves tagged. Heh. Aint I clever? Or maybe I am pathetic. Whatever.

The best lines I read today

Monday, September 11, 2006

Nonethless, even before investigating carefully, you can be confident that the politicians are up to no good. After all, has it EVER happened that politicians required the recitation of something uncontroversial and of unquestionable educational value, say the laws of thermodynamics? Of course not.
That's from Bill Poser - one of the diligent folks over at the superb Language Log - writing on the Vandemataram hullabaloo. More wisdom from GreatBong on the same issue.

A note to comparers of religion

Sunday, September 10, 2006

(Very soon, I'll be putting up a personal update. Short note: I am doing good, and am more or less settled, except for that I dont have a phone nor a computer at home and therefore no net access at home.)

(This post has been waiting in the drafts for a long time.)

I have been in a lot of arguments where people try to compare religions and claim that this or that aspect of Islam or Christianity is inferior compared to the ancient wisdom of our Vedas. I have a lot of issues with the claim that the Vedas are a repository of ancient wisdom, and it seems to me that the Vedas contain as much crap (although of a different kind) as any other religious text. But I won't try to argue that here. I have a more substantial point to make: we should stop evaluating religions based on their scriptures and start evaluating them on the practices of those people we normally understand as followers of that religion. In the case of Hinduism, for example, the relevant way to evaluate it would be to look at the practices of Hindus through the centuries and see if they were right or wrong. Similary for Muslims and Christians. It won't do to cherrypick verses from the Upanishads or the Gita and then triumphalistically claim how secular or tolerant your religion is. If you dont agree with the religious practices of Hindus through the centuries, then stop making the vague claims that "Hinduism is a great and tolerant religion". If you call a population who have relentlessly hierarchified and stratified their society and denied basic human equality to a quarter of their fellows "tolerant", then you'll also have to call the apartheid regime in South Africa tolerant - and make no mistake, the system of untouchability has survived for far longer than the apartheid regime. Yes, yes, there are voices that have shouted out against this in our history, but to me what is remarkable is how acquiescent the large majority of the population was in the face of such practices, and how far and few in between such dissenting voices were. It is not just the caste system that bothers me about Hinduism. Recently I've been reading a book called "Being Indian" by Pavan Varma (a former IAS Officer). There are a lot of interesting ideas and observations (both positive and negative) in the book, but one of the ideas is that Hindus/Indians care less about morals than power and wealth, which is somewhat true of most humans but spectacularly true for Indians. Mystical crap about the Brahman and the Atman that no one understands is hardly important when contrasted this blatant amorality and immorality.