Friday, June 26, 2009
Manoj responded--amidst boo's.
But when he was heard, it was with disinterest.
Rohit'd won the debate competition.
Manoj wasn't disappointed because he'd lost, but because he wasn't heard.
Rohit winked. "Now you know why I say I believe?"
But most importantly, reading this post will be nothing less than a mental workout, which I hope would be enticing for all those visiting my blog (excuse the vanity!), except for of course, if they're seasoned philosophers or logicians themselves.
Hope you enjoy the post!
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
This might be a touchy issue--to openly declare my admiration for a few blogs. Some others might feel left out. But I also feel, I owe these bloggers whose blogs I so admire at least a token of appreciation for making my life a richer experience.
As time passes, a few more might be added to the list.
Except for the first one, sequence in which I mention blogs bear no relation with the degree to which I admire them/their blog.
1. GS' Beats by G. Saimikundhan. I had come across this blog when I was experiencing a weird kind of low. A low I can't completely explain. A low of how the world is full of people I can't remotely respect, and could easily hold in contempt. Totally bereft of people I could look up to. And in midst of such low, did I come across this blog. I had felt an instant connection. As if I would never need to explain myself. And everything I speak would be taken exactly as what was meant to be conveyed. The posts are products of such honesty, such clarity, intelligence and boldness, that I had actually thought, how this person fit my criteria for worship when I had ironically declared how it might be impossible that I ever come across such a person!
When I'd finished my post on worship, I felt, the simplest thing I'd tell to one I worship would be "Wow! You exist!". And that's what I'd even today like to tell Saimukundhan. Thanks for being there!
With a few more exchanges, I found a few differences in our opinion and outlook, which have something to do with my being (maybe) more cynical, and I felt Saimukundhan has maybe something to learn about this world (which I've already learned!), and well he was dropped from that mental pedestal, but not far below, just ever so slightly. Some might feel, I admired him only till his views were identical to mine, but no that's not the case. I have admired him for providing me with a few answers that I did not have.
But that's not all. Every post will make you think. And if you're in no mood to think, he also has some of the whackiest posts for you.
2. A Mother's A Musings... by Newbie Mommy. A blog that had just awed me, especially my writing nonskills(!) Replete with emotions--all true and genuine, wisdom, humor wit, regrets, hopes. It was like meeting a person and not merely reading a blog. Again, I felt an instant connection. Things like needless modesty and circuitous explanations had become total nonissues. Though I wish Newbie Mommy would deliver more often :)I mean the posts. ;)
3. Mad Medicine: A Dr's dose of mayhem by Dr. S. Dr. S is a community doctor in South Africa. She has a very witty style of writing--mostly dealing with experiences at her extremely busy and taxing community practice. Her blogs span a very wide spectrum of human emotions, from witty, sarcastic, insane to most poignantly emotionally wrecking that have left me speechless. How she maintains her commitment to her practice, and preserves sympathy for her patients are matters of wonder. And I truly admire her for that
4. Frustration is just the beginning of medicineby deluded. A blog by a medical student who can easily surprise you by putting a most insanely intelligently humorous blog one day, and insanely emotional, the next. I also love the fact that he doesn't play it to the gallery, so to say.
5. Life - Just this and that by Just Me. This blog was a total surprise. Discovering it was nothing less than discovering a treasure; neglected treasure, if I may, and nothing less than a serendipity. I might end up doing injustice to her ability to write in various forms by venturing to state that her specialty is poetry. But then, that's what had impressed me the most about her blog. Poetry. She writes effortless poetry. The effort of juggling words around is never visible, maybe she doesn't need to juggle around. All the aspects--construct, poetic effects, meaning and content--come together to form nothing less than poetic monuments.
6. I loved three men called Pablo. by Tangled up in blue.... A blog I discovered very recently, and yet am including it in this list must be sufficient to convey how impressed I am with her writing. Oh yes, by the way, Tangled up in blue... is a medical student. Her blog has it all--poetry, stories, diary-like entries(!) and analytical posts touching upon issues of philosphical, political and social importance. Not to mention, her rich vocabulary, making me seek assistance of dictionary not too infrequently ;)
7. On The River Bank by Manu Sebastian. Manu is a law student! This blog is a collection of short stories. And, at an age of just 20, Manu has learned so much about people, the human nature, their interactions, their dreams, aspirations, their predicaments, their foolish confident convictions. And these wonderful characters, apart from existing in his stories, interact in mundane to most unusual circumstances. I see signs of a great writer in making. Or shall I say, a writer well made, and not recognized for many reasons, not in the least, one being distraction by his studies!
Some of the above bloggers are atheist/skeptics, but am including the following blogs as a separate category for one simple reason that they deal almost exclusively with issues integrally connected to religion, dogma and rationalism. Wonderful writers, no doubt these bloggers are, but by neglecting to touch upon their own personal lives or other aspects, the scope of their blogs becomes somewhat narrow for those interested in merely lighter topics. Though, I truly wish they start writing on other lines, too.
1. Atheism: Proving The Negative by Matt McCormick. This blog is a very systematic compilation of almost all the possible arguments for and against theism. Posts also deal with social, political and economic implications of religiosity. The reader will also find some interesting experiments related largely to human psychology. He is a Professor of Philosophy.
2. Nitwit Nastik by Nitwit Nastik. A good compilation of articles related to atheism, religious extremism, superstition. Basically, everything rationalist. Some articles will also increase the reader's general knowledge, in particular, popular science.
3. The Man on the Couch by The Couch Clown. This is a budding blog, with lot of potential. The blogger, a law student has a very incisive writing style and meticulous dissection of complex issues who has up till now largely dealt with issues relevant to irrationality in India. Hope to see more frequent posts from him.
PS: First time, when I had published this post, I had made some mistakes with linking of the blogs. That has been corrected now.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Appalling no doubt the piece of news was to me. If I remember it correctly, I had already become quite skeptical about God's existence even at that time. So this post is not about how theists could also go morally corrupt, but how the guiding lights of religion (theism) could themselves be atheists!
Just for a moment think about the following issues:
1. How do Godmen indulge in irreligious/immoral/illegitimate/unethical acts?
How many times have you come across incidents of religious leaders held in high regard being apprehended for illegitimate and/or immoral acts? I can remember a prominent Hindu leader being convicted for murder. A prominent religious mentor to a former Indian prime minister held for some scam. Day in and day out we come to know of how some Godman is found duping his followers. A temple's basement in Vadodra, Gujarat had been found to be the place of illicit drug trade in night hours. There are a few charges of Christian priests indulging in pedophily. And it is common knowledge as to how sleight of hand and even elaborate stratagems are employed by these same Godmen to perform "miracles". Almost none of the large religious organizations is free of hushed whispers of rampant corruption in their sacrosanct sanctums.
Have the above people told their devotees that it is morally alright to do what had brought them infamy? More precisely as example, have you ever come across a Godman urging you to have sex with someone who you have not married, or to rape or to kill, or embezzle large sums of money? You remember the strongest reason you are given to not do all of these and other things that we include under an umbrella term - "immoral"? That reason is "God will not like it. God will be angry (of course, it is not said in such simple-childish terms, but in more sophisticated manner like "karma" or "God sees everything", etc.)."
How then they indulge in the same activities they proscribe for their followers? So, do these people think God will not get angry if they themselves do the same immoral things? What makes them think God is going to apply different standards to judge them? That they've been performing special rituals all their lives, that they've been "close" to the God by way of always being in physical proximity of some statues? Do they really think the omnipotent, omniscient God cannot see them sell narcotic drugs right under God's nose? The real answer is they just do not believe in existence of God, or think God to be impotent!
2. What does it take for a Godman to climb up the religious hierarchy?
All the major religious organizations have a hierarchy. There are fewer people on the top, and proportionately more at the bottom. The one at the top enjoy greatest respect and privileges. No one right from the birth is declared the Pope, or the head priest of a community. So, what criteria are used to determine who should ascend to those coveted positions? One might casually answer that it is the one most pious, most devoted to the God, one most liked by the God that ascends. What are the objective units to measure piety, devotion and intensity of God's love? None.
Most likely, a lot of bargaining, cajoling, canvassing, bribing go into such ascension. Basically, at the heart of such affairs is what we would otherwise in other spheres of human society unabashedly term as dirty politics. What does this indicate about our Godmen? That they are not free of worldly temptations themselves. They desire power, money, respect, luxuries at any cost. A most passionate singer would not be much bothered about how much laypersons praise them, would not be worried about where in the hierarchy of public perception do they fit. They would just sing. A true Godman should just devote his life to the God (whatever that entails, but most definitely not indulging in dirty politics). Can anybody deny that such people are simply not interested in God, or that other materialistic things fuel their desire much more? That they have no moral right to tell others to shun the worldly distractions and follow the path of God? At least not till they sufficiently demonstrate through their own deeds that they mean what they say.
Okay, so why am I even talking about thse issues? Many people openly concede that Godmen are not to be trusted. But then, they visit the same places of worship, consider the dwellings of same Godmen as sacrosanct. They themselves donate obscene amounts of money to the same religious institutions that are run by such double-faced "leading luminaries of religion". They respect them to utmost degree when meeting in person. They have greater contempt for, maybe, a waiter in a restaurant earning his money through respectable means as than a Godman caught selling drugs (for who they actually have greatest degree of respect reaching levels of worship). They wishfully think how their own Godman is great and take pride each time a Godman of some other sect is publicly shamed. When the Godman they revere meets the same fate, they are quick to go in denial - "it's a conspiracy", or "See, God is now punishing him."
But is it not ironic and tragic to no end that still the Godmen of the same species are revered and worshipped, entrusted with money and human life (think of young child priests being initiated into priesthood), with our decision-making (Godman are frequently consulted in matters of family decisions) and even our morality ("perform such and such ritual and your sin would be forgiven by the God")? If you're a religious theist, have you thought, who other than the same Godmen have shaped your religious beliefs and moral convictions? You might think it is your parents, but no who is the original source? No, not their parents. It is the very same Godmen - either from this generation or previous ones.
The persons who told you God exists, (perhaps) themselves do not believe so!
I had conducted a really famous experiment, which had received widespread media coverage:
9th May, 2009
A team of researchers headed by Ketan Panchal at the Center for Promotion of Mental Derangement (CPMD) located at Silly-con Valley in Madland have found a link between screaming and increased lifespan. This interesting result comes after an intense research of 10 days.
The study design involved capturing a female gorilla in a cage, and prompting her to shriek (the primate version of human screaming) by male onlookers of her own species. This the onlookers accomplished by teasing and taunting her. The consequent unexpected outcome was that she had screamed her lungs out--not in the figurative sense, but anatomically. The forceful expulsion of air from the lungs that accompanied each act of shrieking was found to eject bits of lung tissue out through the mouth. This made the researchers aware of an entity called 'screaming one's lungs out-osis', and also of the veracity of a similar sounding popular saying.
But the greatest positive of the result was increased lifespan found in the onlooker gorillas. It was found after a followup of 20 years that all the 50 onlooker gorillas had lived 2 years more than their expected lifespan, which was found to be significant after statistical analysis. However, the female subject was found to have exhausted at the end of 10-day experiment, and had totally stopped vocalizing anything at all. Her lifespan was found to have shortened by 5 years below that expected for similarly matched female gorillas. But for want of larger sample size, no causal association between screaming and decreased lifespan of the screamer could be established.
These startling results, though found only in primates, have given hopes to and prompted debates between sociologists and economists alike as to what should be the appropriate number of human volunteers per thousand population to prolong the lives of their fellows.
Scientists are hopeful of reproducing the similarly encouraging results also in humans. But their current and greatest impediment is the unavailability of human subjects for screaming as very surprisingly, applications from volunteers for onlooking have far exceeded all expectations
The CPMD welcomes participation from consenting volunteers for screaming, preferably females in their early 20s who may mail their willingness to participate to the following email address. An audio file sample demonstrating their ability to scream will be much appreciated:
As is the case with any ground-breaking revolutionary scientific finding, even my research finding was met with lot of skepticism, so much so that some mediapersons were *rolling on the floor laughing* just like the male gorillas in the highly confidential pictures below, which I had to release to assail these doubts.
[Click on the above photographs for greater *clarity*] What I have included in the brackets in labels are the scientific proofs for the organisms being what they have been labeled as, and that they are not actually humans posing as Gorillas (not unlike ZooZoos) .
But unlike what most of you deludedly sane people would like to believe, I did receive a few--okay, to be statistically precise, ONE--positive responses for volunteering as a human screamer.
I am publishing the said email response below:
"yes yes yes, I volunteer. Please have me. Please please please :)"
For absolutely arbitrary reasons let us call this respondent "Ms. Human Guinea pig wannabe"
[I assure you, I had not received any response like the one you read above. You *really* think it's possible for someone to respond to such patently silly inhumane experiments?]
And thus went my response:
Dear Ms. Human Guinea pig wannabe (of course, that's not how I'd addressed her. Remember, this was an *official* communication?),
The CPMD wishes to thank you for your interest in famed experiment--'Health benefits of screaming one's lungs outosis'.
After a thorough scrutiny of your application by our selection committee, we regret to inform that your candidature as a screaming volunteer was deemed as 'ineligible'.
Keeping with the principles of accountability and transparency, the Center cites following reasons for the aforementioned rejection of your application:
1. The tone of your application. Our selection committee apart from experts in other fields, consists of lexico-psychologists, who are adept at gauging the mental health status from a person's choice of words. We are afraid their opinion of your application renders you unsuitable for our study. The motto of our institute is promotion of mental derangement. The excessive amount of enthusiasm as measured by our experts using the latest instruments, implied that there was no margin for further mental derangement in your case. And as you might reckon, including you in the study, thus, would defeat the Center's primary purpose, viz., promoting mental derangement.
2. The pitch of your voice in the audio sample received along with your application. The pitch of human voice consists largely of two components, loudness and frequency. On attempting to play the audio file you had sent, two audio output devices (called speakers in everyday English) were found have developed perforations in their diaphragm. This, our experts in acoustics, fear was because of the frequency of your voice, which exceeded the upper human hearing limit of 20000 hertz, and was audible only to bats. The institute certainly does not align its interests with prolonging the lifespan of bats. The loudness (amplitude) of your voice was found to be 400 decibels. We wish to inform that a 160-decibel sound is sufficient to perforate the tympanic membrane (poke hole in the ear drum). Also, to the utter disbelief of seismologists (those studying earthquakes), your audio sample had managed to create shockwaves which had measured 4.2 on the seismograph. An earthquake of over 5.5 on the Richter scale can lead to large scale destruction.
3. The enthusiastic onlooking volunteers suffered irreversible mental and acoustic trauma. They were rendered incapable of further participation in this study, and in fact their period of stay in the hospital remains indeterminate.
We wish to involve you in our future endeavors for promotion of mental derangement, and will keep you updated on latest developments.
Needless to say, the experiment is still open, and vounteers for screaming are solicited
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