Sunday, November 8, 2009

Noam Chomsky-the student

"At the discussion, which took place over the course of a few days at the Abbaye de Royaumont outside Paris, Lévi-Strauss sat patiently said nothing as others spoke their piece or pontificated, or pleaded and shouted their oppositions. But his doodles of cats and other real and fantastical animals were stunning, and those he left behind were the objects of a fierce competition among some of the conference’s participants, including myself. On the way to our last lunch, Noam Chomsky ─ who had dominated this conference of Nobel-prize winning biologists and world-famous mathematicians, philosophers, psychologists and anthropologists as I have never seen anyone do before or after ─ walked up to Lévi-Strauss and said in a shy sort of way: “Perhaps you remember me, when I sat in on your class at Harvard with Roman Jakobson?” Lévi-Strauss looked at Chomsky and said: “I’m sorry, but no.” Those were the only words he would utter in the conference room."

more here [link]

Thursday, July 2, 2009

What happened?

What happened just after I posted the last post is this.

Wordpress gives you some awesome features, what blogger does is it gives you all the freedom. Which means Wordpress is easier and fashionable, the dynamic Blogger requires skill. I have experimented with html before, but that is it. I couldn't make this blog any sexier on my own. So I searched for free templates with exciting options and I came across a Philippines website. When I installed the template it started showing google ads. Advertisement is something I hate. I know, speaking from an econmist pov, advertising is benefial for costumers since it increases the competition of the products, and the informed costumers now have options. But information is not as plain as it seems. If you are acquainted with "promotion focus"/"prevention focus" like psychological jargons, you would know that cost of being misled outweighs the benefit of product information.

Anyway, I didn't have any adsense account, I never wanted to, and now there was an ad prominently sitting under my first post. Sometimes, it would be a disgusting one like LK advani's prime ministerial ad. No matter what I tried, the ads stuck. I changed templates, deleted entire css code, posted in forums, followed suggestions, deleted the particular adsense codes they suggested. Nothing worked. So, I changed to the classic theme. The ad was gone. But when I reverted it was still there. I had to keep the blog in classic theme forever. But I missed not being able to put up gadgets. I especially like the list. I wanted to have a book list.

Then a couple days back, I realised I could import the blog, save it, delete it, create a blog in the same id/name and import it. Blogger says you can do it. It worked. The old links I have given elsewhere is still working. And the stupid and irritating ad i gone. I am so relieved.

So now, after several months I am back.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Soul Murder

I saw 39 women and 104 men in the course of 100 weeks. 95% of the patients were black. Reviewing my records, I see that all 39 of the women reported emotional, physical, and sexual abuse; of the 104 men, 13 suffered all three kinds of abuse, while 91 suffered only physical and emotional but not sexual abuse.

From my experience, the most destructive form of abuse is sexual, because of the betrayal and devastating confusion over who is friend, who foe. Many patients during a first visit, despite my probing inquiry (no relative? not a grandfather? no mom's lover? no neighbour? no babysitter? no priest or preacher? no teacher?) deny sexual abuse, but admit to it later. I have found that it is for good reason that sexual abuse of children has been termed “soul murder”

Victoria Lewin-Fetter writes in The Lancet

The article she responded to was mainly about the child abuse in high-income countries. It says the official figures of child maltreatment of these countries are only one tenth of the reality. (please have a look at the article to know various forms of child abuse). What' more! A recent study is able to identify a gene in the brain (hippocampus- a region known to control mood) that is marked in people who were abused as a child and committed suicide as an adult. It is NOT confirmed but the researchers suspect a history of child abuse predisposes suicide in adults (genetically). If so, its murder ? And not just of the soul.

Shall we pause and ask about our very own country? Let me gather some information.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Michelle Obama serves the homeless

What would be your response to the presidential patronage to homeless?

I have a conflicting opinion. One the one hand, I believe when Michelle Obama does that charitable act of serving food to the homeless, it reinforces the belief "we can't do no more". And probably "the homeless should be happy that they got to eat". That also strengthens the arguments that, the homeless chose their state of penury. That, its either their fate or their own making. As a friend once said to me in not very different context, "you can take a donkey to the river, you can't make it drink". Except for the chronic alcoholics and drug addicts, I dont think anyone else would prefer that life over anything else. May be some anarchist too, but then they would like to venture out far away places or the wild and wont be tied down to the routineless destitution.

On the other hand, denial is not cure. There are homeless is your country and you have to acknowledge it. Only then you can take steps to provide a solution. And of course, you cannot let them starve till you find homes to put them back in. So probably it is a humane gesture, not just charitable. But it must be followed up by some policies, some endeavor to give them some place, some dignity.

It reminds me of George Carlin, the late comedian, who once said, if some of the golf courses were dismantled in USA, all homeless could be sheltered in. He was, of course, joking!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Wrong Indians In Obama Team

There are two so far, Sonal Shah and Sanjay Gupta. Both are with highly objectionable background. Economist and former head of Google philanthropic team Sonal Shah is for her VHP affiliation. She went on to renounce it fearing being dropped out. But she never was.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta is a neurosurgeon and a jounalist/TV-host for CNN. He touted for the Surgeon general post in Obama administration. He opposed Universal Health Care System, Obama's (and Hillary's) election plank. Not only he opposed, he misquoted wrong numbers from Michael Moore's film and accused Moore of "fudging fact". Both of them than had a debate in Larry King Live, where Gupta continues to advance his hollow arguments. Find out Moore's refutation of Sanjay. The reason, as widely believed, in that he represents the interest of the health-care industry. Read New scientist, Paul krugman and Dissident Voice.

There are opposition to both Shah and Gupta.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Uncanny Obituary

Occasionally, but disturbingly often, we hear news of "an iitian killing himself". In this country where poor farmers' suicide is a political joke and politicians' security is of crores-worth seriousness, cost of life is relative. And the iit administration understands it. This is what the dean, student affairs infroms in iitb.newgroup[1]

With deep regret, we announce that Mr. Balakrishna Gupta, a second year Ph.D. student in Chemistry committed suicide in Hostel 12. The reasons are not believed to be related to academics and much will be known after the investigations are completed. A condolence meeting will take place early in the week and I shall inform you once the same is fixed.

Prakash Gopalan
Dean (SA)

And like most of the political murders, the mystery of "a suicide in iit" is never solved. The result of the investigations are never revealed. And the administration believes- as so clearly the dean does here-and convinces junta[2] that the reasons are not academic. So then concern junta in iit debate the cause and they blame walls, corridors, fixed-beds

1. iitb.newgroup is an online platform for iitians to interact hosted by computer center.
2. Junta is an iitian term for the people.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hullabaloo In H1

We, iitians, are always discontent about something or other. And particularly about Mess, throughout the year. I had a friend, whose genre of humour was sarcastic, used to start cursing the mess manager from the time he entered dinning hall. If you could laugh its okay, otherwise your stomach would be filled with his vitriolic outpour. Thats usual in our hostel.

Last saturday, someone knocked my door and invited me to the hostel GBM[1]. The hostel PA[2] system was blaring continually till then. It seemed, dinner that night was unpalatable. In the meeting vociferous management students have kept the front rows, agitated. The warden with a deceivingly charming smile and the assistant warden(probably, you never know!) quiet and quite uninterested were at the dias. Junta was hesitantly standing or peeping inside. And the accused, the mess workers, dressed in their usual dark-coffee colored clothes were just themselves, obfuscating any attempt to look inside their collars.

And the proceedings began. Sshhh...every 2 sec. one would hush, cause he thinks he has real issues while others were just blabbering. As he begins, the hushed ones and more fresh voices would barge in and the GBM would become a fish-market, sometimes with the smell. Anyway, as a curious onlooker I had put on my satirical journalistic glasses.

The mess workers were called to the front, and asked to sit down. The mattresses were packed, some sat down on the floor- one moved a guy for a place on the mattress, another smiled and occupied an empty seat on the bench- others chose not to. Its hard to remember what was the first question asked to them, but they were told the 'cucumber" in salad was bad and who cut the bad cucumber into the salad should be held responsible. No name came out. Someone was impatient. He said, if messing in all other hostels were good, H1 had to do something. Grass is greener at the other side of the fence huh ? Many more complains pour in.

Warder explains. He had been a witness (thanks heaven, not victim :D) of the sordid saga for almost eight years now. There had been complains, meetings, talk about rotating the mess staff between hostesl, submission of memo to HCU, nothing seemed to change. He categorically said, "there is no solution for this problem. you cannot force them to cook good food for you". While I searched for a response to this pragmatic pessimism, an overly excited panchhi[3] blurted out, "we need to explore every possibility, if needed use 'force'." While I busted into a mouthful of laughter then, wardern started to articulate the length and unedning process of "force". It is then when the blame is shifted entirely to one person. That cook is supposedly the worst of all, does not give a damn to any threat. Sometimes back the HCU tried to force him to take VRS, which he denied and HCU was left at its wits end.

One mess worker is allowed to speak. He says, dont talk about time. We are the most flexible mess in terms of dinning hours. They are, I agree. They serve you 15min before and upto 1 hour late. The demagogues catapult, what is the use of time if its not edible.

Then someone responsible comes up. He tries to reason. "Out of seven days, do u get 5days good meal or not". Junta is hesitant to agree. "The idea of a good food is personal, isnt it", they point the worst as their standard of bad. "How many of you appreciate for a good meal", I do, I do...all of them join the corus. I dont think I ever did. I have not seen anyone ever doing that.

I get impatient, I had told santosh to call me after 10mins. He did, I moved on. Reminding myself the Rs 1.75 meal we used to have in West hostel back in my college and Laksya. "No amount of make up would make a monkey look like a Man" thats his difference between Mess food and Home food.

In the whole affair, the Hostel Mess Manager was surprisingly never called, he was absent anyways, never accused. Except for the fact that all effort to rectify him has also failed previously.
1. General Body Meetin
2. Public Annoucement System
3. An iitian