Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Flying Spaghetti Monster!

Sheer Genius! I didn't know that this was such a recent religion! :)

Details at:

Thursday, April 12, 2007

OBC reservations: The government's rebuttal to the supreme court objections

I thought one argument against removing creamy layer by the government was rather interesting. It appears to me that a clever attorney could very well shoot the govt with their own argument. Points 1 and 3 looked relatively vague to me so I just include point (2) below.

Why creamy layer cannot be excluded?

There is a danger that the top qualified candidates with adequate cut-off marks, may be cut off as Creamy Layer. At the other end, candidates who are not in the creamy layer may be cut off on the ground that their marks are too low as compared to the cut-off point. The result of this will be "leakage at both ends" and flow of quota seats to the general category, defeating/ truncating the policy of reservation.


So what the government is really saying is the following. They anyway cannot benefit the "needy" and the "deserving" people of backward castes, since such students in all probability haven't even had a good schooling background and therefore would be in no position to compete in a university with students whose schooling has been good. And they therefore want the seats to be taken up by "creamy" students, whose economic background and schooling are already strong, even though such students are by no means the "needy" and the "deprived" students one talks about when supporting the idea of reservations.

And thus the government can merrily go on with their farcical "upliftment" of the backward without ever addressing the real issues. With an argument like this the government is implicitly admitting that the only way to uplift the backward is to ensure that they receive good education right from the primary level and that quick-fix solutions at the university level do not reach the intended receipients at all.

So the solution is really to ensure the free and compulsary education for schoolchildren, which was envisaged in the directive principles of the constitution. Of course, such a task is undoubtedly harder than a quick fix solution like passing an OBC bill. It would firstly require that the government has enough money to pay for enough quality schools and teachers, which would mean that the government would have to embrace economic reform quickly and get rid of the perpectually loss making companies that it owns .

It would also have to dump foolhardy expensive schemes such as the rural employment guarantee bill (wherein the idea is essentially that you will "employ" people for some length of time, whether you need them or not... basically dole out free money). Such bills stand in sharp contrast to projects such as the golden quadrilateral project, which involved building good quality highways, consequently employing a good deal of unskilled labor "gainfully". And such projects could easily be paid for by tolls collected from transport vehicles using the highway.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

More on Neil Tyson...

I knew a fair bit of Dawkins's view due to his books + fame. I found Neil deGrasse Tyson's arguments very interesting too most of which he had written in his article titled "The perimeter of ignorance". A web-search should throw up this article.

He was arguing with multiple examples that people tend to invoke God right at the limits of their understanding. When the boundary of their understanding gets extended, they stop invoking God for those things, but instead invoke him for the updated list of things that they do not understand.


Some Random Thoughts on Science vs. Faith

Most of this blog post material is fairly contextual. It is based on the following books I've read:
1. The Selfish Gene and The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins...
2. In a much smaller way on the book "The Meaning of it all" by Richard Feynman

In addition, the following are also relevant:
1. The "beyond belief" conference videos online at: This had Richard Dawkins as one of the speakers. Neil Degrasse Tyson was another speaker I was very impressed with.
2. "The God Delusion" and a couple of other documentaries made by Richard Dawkins online on youtube.

I watched a few videos of Richard Dawkins (the selfish Gene guy, and a
hardcore atheist) and others from a workshop/meeting held recently.

While my views match those of Richard Dawkins almost entirely, I
feel there is one issue that doesn't seem to get addressed too much
when discussing topics like these.

I have no doubt that there is immensely huge conflict between
science and religion. However there is certainly non-trivial
inspirational value to having faith that a force larger than yourself
is there to back you in your trying times, and in achieving any lofty
goals you may have. Feynman talked a bit about this in his book "The
Meaning of it all".

He simply states that he has no idea
how to derive the inspirational value that faith offers, while
maintaining a scientific temperament where doubt and scepticism are
major virtues.

In one of these videos dawkins talked a bit about having "faith
in faith" i.e. as an atheist taking the stand that faith in God might
be a good thing for some people. It is certainly not much problem if
some other people have value to derive out of faith, but it seems
rather hard if you want to derive that value yourself.

I personally don't see much inspirational value in having God as the
creator, preserver and so on, so these potential areas of conflict
with scientific discoveries are not present. I guess these are
additional concerns if a person derives faith by aligning with an
organized religion.

It unfortunately appears that most people have to make a
compromise somewhere; either have faith and sacrifice clarity of
scientific thought to some degree, or lose out on the potential
inspirational value. Between the two, I'd probably prefer the latter,
though I'd very much like to reap the benefits of inspiration.

I first read the book "The Power of Positive Thinking" by Norman Vincent Peale in 2002 and it had a huge impact on me. Peale was a minister at the marble collegiate church in New York and his book would probably have been nowhere as impactful if not for the references to God. The book in a nutshell tries to convince you of the following idea. You have immense potential and have much more strength to counter adversity than you would think. There is a power larger than yourself and you can tap into the huge reserves of potential it offers, by praying to it in your own way, and by also realizing that you have a massive power backing you in your endeavors. I read the book "Tough times never last but Tough People do" by Robert Schuller, who is apparently widely considered a good successor to Peale. This book however had hardly any impact on me. Undoubtedly Peale's books were far more potent due to their references to God.

A couple of sessions in the beyond belief conference addressed this issue of alternate sources of inspiration, but they didn't seem to be very convincing. The speakers certainly did a good job with the idea that the universe is a wonderful place to be in, far more complex and intricate than what religions and philosophers could imagine etc. However they didn't address the issue of self-belief and hope.

Any online pointers/thoughts addressing this specific issue? Any web search result
seems flooded with people debating about the correctness of different
beliefs etc., and never addressing this specific point, making it hard
to get more thoughts on this.


First Post

First blog by me. Just checking out how it works