There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Daily Treatise: Another day, another loss

Daily Treatise: Another day, another loss
I've spent a fair amount of time and energy commenting on Paul G.'s latest post on America and terrorism (and so has he, I think). Feel free to check it out. I don't think I'll be doing any more writing till after my exams. Thats till 01-02-2005. So quit thanking God for small mercies and enjoy the respite while you can. 'Cause I'll be back (*Drumroll*).

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Benny Hinn and other things (or Hinduism 101)

So, today we have something different. A little religion, a lot of philosophy and a few thoughts that would probably be quite scandalous to the vast majority of followers of faith based religions. Why am I writing this? Because Benny Hinn who is a famous American evangelist preached here today amidst loud protests from the Hindutva brigade – much to my embarrassment I might add.

Let me say right at the beginning that if you wish to read on, you must keep an open mind. Nothing I have to say here in any way contradicts any religious teachings. But it does require something else, something very rarely associated with any religion. Reason. So read what I have to say and then think about it. I don’t insist I’m right. I’m just inviting you to look at life from a new perspective. If you feel that anything I say offends your religious sensibilities then feel free to say so. I will either reply, explaining my position, or I will change my statements and say that I did so and also say why I did so. Because that is the core of my belief. Reason. The heart of Hinduism.

There, bet you hadn’t figured that out by now. Bet you thought I was Muslim maybe, or possibly Buddhist. After all, what does reason have to do all those idols and the hundreds of gods and all those rituals?

I’m quite sure that all that stuff must be quite mystifying to people of other faiths who are rarely exposed to that sort of thing. No, I’m not going to try to demystify it. That’s impossible. It is mystifying even to me and I’ve been a Hindu all my life. I’m afraid that’s just not Hinduism. You see, that’s the biggest misconception people (including Hindus) have about Hinduism – that it’s a religion. Hinduism isn’t a religion, it’s a way of life. All the chanting and the gods – that’s all peripheral stuff. It’s optional (bet you didn’t know that either!).

In fact Hinduism encompasses a very wide range of beliefs – from denying the existence of a God (yes, Hinduism accepts Atheism as a valid belief) to Faith – as possible paths to “The Truth”, if I may call it that. Hinduism is nothing if not secular. The core of Hindu philosophy is that man has only one tool to help him understand his place in the universe (after all, that is the purpose of all religions) - reason. And while it may not always be adequate, it is all he has.

The defining concept of Hinduism was “Dharma” and “Karma” which could be translated as “Duty and Fate” or possibly, “Cause and Effect” (English is a very unsubtle and crude language and simply cannot capture the essence of even simple words in other languages). Hinduism eschewed the simplistic black and white definition of “Good” and “Evil”. Hinduism says that there are actions, and that these actions have consequences. It is one’s duty when initiating any action to attempt to understand all possible consequences of that action, and if those consequences are acceptable. This simple belief is very difficult to apply in practice and requires a great deal of thought. Far more so than any canned “Rules to live by”. If you think about it carefully you will find that ultimately this leads to many of the same rules. But now one has greater insight into their necessity. They are no longer "God's rules" or "The Priest's rules". They're your rules. And the reason you follow them is not because you're scared of going to hell (Hinduism has no such concept) but because you know that by sticking to them you're on the road to happiness and helping others along the same path too.

The reason behind this is that Hinduism respects the individual’s intelligence. It considers him to be capable of reaching the conclusions needed to help him live productively in a society and to find happiness for himself and help those around him along that path. It doesn’t believe in ramming them down his throat with a firm “There! That is what you must believe! You’re too dumb to understand why it must be so. If you have any problem with that then understand that it is God’s word and you can take it up with Him directly.” Hinduism firmly believes that sticks and carrots are for donkeys, not men.

So Hinduism accepts Faith because some Hindus reasoned that through Faith they might find the divine. Others denied the existence of a God, reasoning that there was no proof and so embraced Atheism. That too was accepted as a possible solution. Others explicitly defined their Faith as being monotheistic (yes, we have the One God concept too) or as having a holy trinity (Surprise, surprise) or polytheistic. Yet other possibilities were proposed and accepted. You must understand that when one starts from Reason and then moves to Faith, one has a firm grasp of why he (or she) did so. One is more open to new ideas and perceptions. One is more conducive to change. One is more likely to find happiness (a great many people confuse pleasure with happiness. Hinduism does make that critical distinction. But that’s a whole different story). On the other hand when one starts from Faith because they were told that Faith is the only way and all else is blasphemy, they are like people who’ve lost a leg. They must make their spiritual journey using crutches – the words and beliefs of somebody else.

This happened over 4000 years ago, when the majority of modern religions didn’t even exist. The concepts proposed – that we cannot be sure of the truth and must each decide what we think is appropriate and follow that path, and that all those paths could be correct or none of them at all – was so advanced, that even now, no religion in the world has even considered it. Even the simple step of accepting that “Good” and “Evil” are simply a matter of human perception and not absolute concepts is beyond modern religions. Think about it. The Inquisition most certainly didn’t. Neither do all those people in the “Hindutva” brigade in India who flog Hinduism as a means of getting votes and generally shame all Hindus with their own, selective version of what Hinduism is. I must admit, they make me ashamed to even nominally belong to the same “religion” (it isn’t, but for the lack of a better word…) as them.

More on this topic later. It’s already quite late and Advanced Computer Architecture looms ahead.


The last three entries were from another blog - my first one - which was on a tecnical site. While visiting it for entirely different reasons, the blogging capability of that site caught my eye and I just tried it out. But, I figure a pure blogging site is more appropriate so I'm shifting the three entries I have here and continuing with my writing through

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

My apologies

My apologies for the tone of my last entry but that smug attitude irritates me no end. So I will leave that there unedited and perhaps some good will come of it.
I just spent 15 minutes typing out another entry and then hit some shortcut by mistake and lost all of it. Aargh. Anyways, its 01:30am and I'm just trying to delay returning to my studies for just a bit longer so I'm not really complaining.
Incidentally, I'm still trying to figure out theSpokes resident community and have been reading a few blogs (my first) and its interesting. As a consequence I'm tempted to inflict a little more of my writing on you, the unsespecting reader (victim?).
Oh, and I just can't seem to get some of these editing controls to work. Like the colours and the fonts. Maybe its Firefox. Probably not though, cause its all just regular HTML (Bold, italic, and work). Ah well, problem for another day. I'm not in the mood for figuring out stuff right now.
So, the least I could do is try to entertain you (sort of ) and heck I need some entertainment myself. But at 2 am my sense of humour is quite feeble (and my friends would claim that the time has nothing to do with it), so I'll just mention that teacher of mine who said "OS/2 was an operating system developed for use on machines used for International Business". (The text book said something to the effect that OS/2 was developed by IBM). There. My feeble joke for the day. Oh, and speaking of text books, we get something called the EEE (Easter Economy Edition) where a text costing $20 is reprinted locally (and legally) and sold at around 250 bucks ($5). So there.
Ok, I'm losing it (I just typed "loosing" first - this is getting bad). I'd better start studying.
PS: I have friends studying in the US who take text books back as gifts.

Peace plan rebuttal

This is some old stuff I found on a blog, but heck I just cant resist replying to this:

Edit:Popularly, but falsely called (thanks to lostinKatmandu, refer comments).
The Robin Williams Plan for Peace

original post 12.10.2003 | 8:00 pm

Leave it to Robin Williams to come up with the perfect plan ..... what we need now is for our UN Ambassador to stand up and repeat this message.

Robin Williams' plan...(Hard to argue with this logic!)
I'll try:
I see a lot of people yelling for peace but I have not heard of a plan for peace. So, here's one plan:

1. The US will apologize to the world for our "interference" in their
affairs, past & present. You know, Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo, Noriega,
Milosovich and the rest of those 'good ole boys.' We will never "interfere"
Yes please. About time. And don't forget Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Pakistan, As for Hitler and Mussolini, if it wasn't for Japan's strategically stupid Pearl Harbour attack the rigteous US of A was planning to sit out the war.

2. We will withdraw our troops from all over the world, starting with
Germany, South Korea and the Philippines. They don't want us there. We will station troops at our borders. No one sneaking through holes in the fence.
Finally, they get the message!

3. All illegal aliens have 90 days to get their affairs together and leave.
We'll give them a free trip home. After 90 days the remainder will be
gathered up and deported immediately, regardless of who or where they are. France should welcome them.
Yeah, we "Asians" sure as hell wouldn't mind our people coming back.
I'd just love to see NASA function without "pure" Americans. Pity Albert Einstien isn't alive or you could have given him 90 days notice too!

4. All future visitors will be thoroughly checked and limited to 90 days
unless given a special permit. No one from a terrorist nation would be
allowed in. NO ONE! If you don't like it there, change it yourself and >don't hide here. Asylum would never be available to anyone. We don't need
any more cab drivers or 7-11 cashiers.
Uh huh. While you're doing that, why don't you stop selling arms and advanced tech to these same nations. Bet you didn't know Pakistan got 6 pc3 Orion recon planes to "patrol the Afghanistan border". See, the problem is the PC3 is a maritime recon aircraft. Afghanistan is roughly a thousand km away from any sea. So, go figure. Oh, and in case you didn't notice all you people out there, Pakistan's top nuclear scientist has been peddling A-bomb recipies all over the place(includeing N Korea). America's "top startegic ally in the fight against terrorism" has been distributing nuclear bomb tech. So get your facts straight before talking. As for cabbies and cashiers, I'd say the biggest immigrant role is supplying brain power. So why don't you say "We don't need any more cab drivers or 7-11 cashiers or intelligent people."
5. No "students" over age 21. The older ones are the bombers. If they don't attend classes, they get a "D" and it's back home baby.
That should apply to everyone, what? or you must have some real dumb students....

6. The US will make a strong effort to become self-sufficient energy wise.
This will include developing nonpolluting sources of energy but will
require a temporary drilling of oil in the Alaskan wilderness. The caribou
will have to cope for a while. The Sierra Club, etc., Will have to deal
with it.
Go right ahead. Best of luck. Talking doesn't make it so. Anyways, lower demand means cheaper oil for the rest of us. We're paying 50 bucks a litre around here. For all you non-metric system whiners thats around $5 a gallon.

7. Offer Saudi Arabia and other oil producing countries $10 a barrel for
their oil. If they don't like it, we go some place else. They can go
somewhere else to sell their production.
(About a week of the wells filling up the storage sites would be enough.)
Absolutely. About a week of $2.001 a gallon would also be enough.

8. If there is a famine or other natural catastrophe in the world, we will
not "interfere," They can pray to Allah or whomever, for seeds, rain,
cement or whatever they need. Besides most of what we give them is stolen or given to the army. The people who need it most get very little, if
Thanks. Saves us those long term loans disguised as aid. In any case whatever goes to any army of any country is GIVEN to them by the American government. Like the Taliban. Like the Al-Queda (yeah, they were funded by the CIA when they were startups during the Afghan campaign of the 1980s)
9. We will ship the UN Headquarters to an isolated island some place. We
don't need the spies and fair weather friends here. Besides, the building
would make a good homeless shelter or lockup for illegal aliens.
I think the rest of the world wants a UN, American opinion notwithstanding. Send it over if you don't want it. The only reason we'd want the UN to be there is to keep an eye on the American nukes. Because, the most trigger happy nation in the world (and the only one to use nukes - Hiroshima, Nagasaki - and radioactive material in a war - I'm talking about those depleted Uranium shells used in the Gulf war which have given thousands of people cancer, bet you smug folks didn't know that) is sitting on 30,000 nukes. And by past behaviour is ready to use them if it doesn't get its own way, much like a wilful child. Heck its an open secret that after Hiroshima Japan was ready to surrender, but no, they wanted to test a fusion bomb so they dropped it on a city full of people (Nagasaki) for chrissakes.
10. All Americans must go to charm and beauty school. That way, no one can call us "Ugly Americans" any longer. Now, ain't that a winner of a plan?
Won't work.

"The Statue of Liberty will no longer say 'Give me your poor, your tired,
your huddled masses longing to be free.' She's got a baseball bat and she's
yelling, 'You want a piece of me?'" -
I thought you'd want to send The Statue of Liberty back to France too...

For in this sleep before an exam, what dreams may come...

You know, the best time (for me atleast) to indulge in creative thinking and/or any kind of experimentation is right before an exam. My mind is so totally geared towards avoiding anything even vaguely resembling studying that I find myself coming up with some pretty damn impressive ideas - even if I do say so myself - because I'm so focused. But thats only some of the time. At other times, I try new stuff. Like blogging.
So here I am, one day before my Internet Programming paper (more importantly, five days before my Compiler Design paper which I haven't prepared for and which scares the crap outta me) experimenting with my first blog.
Now, I'm ostensibly blogging my Imagine cup activities. But since we haven't started work thanks to the exams, there isn't too much to say. Heck, even our topic isn't finalised yet. We're still tossing ideas around. Thats all we have time for. That and blogging ;-). Anyway, I guess I'd better gird my loins (gruesome imagery there) and get back to Perl and Java. And if I'm feeling strong, Lexical Analysis, Syntax Analysis and the rest of Alfred V. Aho's terrors for innocents.