Chapter 24

December 8, 2008 at 8:31 pm | Posted in Musing + Mulling, Uncategorized, World + People + Events | 6 Comments
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I am not much of a philosopher. The only philosophical question that has occurred to me is:

‘What is the point?’

No doubt, you will gasp at the profundity and utter sagacity of this insight. I understand. As deep and thoughtful as this question is (Socrates and Plato would agree), I feel rather concerned that humans do not ask it often enough. Especially the folks at the Parliament, the judiciary, and every law-making body of the world. Those grimy, balding. terribly self-important people with a preference for stale banana milkshakes and an ability to think some of the most pointless rules in existence. Lawmakers, some would call them. A bunch of doddery old fools, is the term I prefer.

Of the many strange and mysterious things and unexplained phenomena that abound in our world, including the  possession of so-called writing skills by Pete Wentz and the re-election of George W Bush in ’04, perhaps no other phenomenon is as mysterious or unexplained as the Law. Indeed, such is the complexity and inscrutability of this dreaded school of thought, that concepts such as the quantum theory pale in comparison.

Now, I’m one of those people who love complexity as such, but love simplicity more. But one thing that irritates me more than anything else is the ridiculous precision, the exaggerated, long winding descriptions, perfectly normal terms hacked to tiniest details, and the tendency to define every term that contains more than one syllable.

I mean, consider this:

The Income Tax Act, 2007

993
An individual ( “A”) is connected with another individual ( “B”) if-
(a) A is B’s spouse or civil partner,
(b) A is a relative of B,
(c) A is the spouse or civil partner of a relative of B,
(d) A is a relative of B’s spouse or civil partner, or
(e) A is the spouse or civil partner of a relative of B’s spouse or civil partner.

Or this gem:

(1) For the purposes of this section a company is a petroleum company if-
(a) its activities include any relevant activities; or
(b) it is associated with a company whose activities include any relevant activities and its own activities include the ownership, operation or management of ships or pipelines (as defined in section 65 of the [1962 c. 58.] Pipelines Act 1962) used for transporting or conveying petroleum or petroleum products.

Like, HELLO! A petroleum company is considered a friggin’ petroleum company when it deals in the damned petrol!

I would give more such examples. but I do not want you, my dear reader, to go into a deep coma.

The basic purpose of law is to safeguard our rights as an individual and make life safer and easier. But modern law does precisely the opposite. Statements and declarations abound on paper. Action is mistaken for  the passing of bills. I wonder if they would come up with an official declaration on that too.

(We’re the folks who pass rules/Never mind that we are a bunch of fools/If you should be stabbed or get your jaw broken/There’s nothing more we can do than pass a token/We’re afraid, that’s the law/We won’t do anything about a broken jaw/’Practical’ is a term for us that isn’t supposed to be/It’s not in the book, you see/Yeah yeah yeah)

Alas, I know I am pursuing a lost cause. I may be the only person on the planet to criticise the Law (the Law is the law, after all) but I do this purely out of concern for my poor little brain, which hurts every time I come across  legal mumble-jumble. It’s been like this for centuries, of course, and no one’s complaining but me. Well, next time I’ll make sure I stay well out of a hundred mile radius of a legal document.

Interstellar Overdrive

September 11, 2008 at 5:57 pm | Posted in Musing + Mulling, World + People + Events | Leave a comment
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Today dawned as another beautiful (*coughnonstopraincough*) day. The furious winds, the cold so deep you can almost feel it under your skin, the the smell of the earth, the vivid, lush green of trees, the cloud-laden sky stretching endlessly overhead, glistening raindrops, umbrellas, thick blankets, crisp toast, a steaming cup of coffee…

…hang on. We’re alive!

The Big Bang 2.0 Experiment certainly created no minor waves. Even a nose-permanently-engrossed-in-some-fat-book-or-the-other-and-totally-immune-to-gossip person like me couldn’t escape the wild anticipation, rumours, hysteria and frenzy all around me.

Observations:
JB: *fingersfuriouslycrossed* Go CERN go!
CG: Oooh! A baby universe, isn’t that pretty!
SA: Seriously, what is the point of this experiment? Isn’t it quite ridiculous to think that we can artificially recreate the conditions which created the Universe? When will these self-pompous scientists learn?
N: Ah dinniken why they ur daein it, jist fir tae prove at whit a hale lot aff canny folks they ur? Bliddy tubes aw dem. This ain’t gonnae work.
SF: Shair they ken whit they ur daein! Int nae hairm in tryin, is there? Ah hope fir the bes.
GL: Typical right-winged bullshit to make money off some stupid experiment while millions of children continue die of starvation. What a waste.
BBD: They can’t mess with the world like that! God made it. Only God can decide what to do it.
My wee brother: OMGOMG we’re all gonna die!

As for me, *I* find the whole thing incredibly exciting. It’s a huge undertaking all right. On the whole, I think the whole LHC thing is quite…astounding and a wee bit scary at the same time. I must admit, something on a scale as big as this fascinates me and frightens me. We’re treading dangerous grounds here. This is something that cut right to the core. Messing with Nature is a dangerous thing. The answer to the Big Bang – Universe’s biggest riddle – is something we’ve always sought to find. And yet, when (and if) we do find it…would it all be the same?

Whether we materialise the Higgs Boson particle or not, whether we identify the nature of the invisible dark matter that constitutes 25 per cent of the Universe or not, whether we modify the architecture of space-time or not, one thing is clear: we’re getting closer and deeper to an understanding of the Universe all the time. There is something about this whole thing – the whole element of mystery – the endless search, the maddening nature of the questions, and the hunger for answers.

Einstein put it very well in one of his most excellent essays, Physics and Reality:

The very fact that the totality of our sense experiences is such that by means of thinking, it can be put in order, this fact is one which leaves us in awe, but which we shall never understand. One may say that the eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility.’ It is in the sense of creating some sort of order among sense impressions – by the formation of general concepts and relations between them – that the world is comprehensible. The fact that it is comprehensible is a miracle.

The connections of elementary concepts of everyday thinking with complexes of sense experiences can only be comprehended intuitively and is unadaptable to scientifically logical fixation. The totality of these connections – none of which is expressible in conceptual terms – is the only thing which differentiates the great building which is science from a logical but empty scheme of concepts.

Some physicists, among them myself, cannot believe that we must abandon, actually and forever, the idea of direct representation of physical reality in space and time; or that we must accept the view that events in nature are analogous to a game of chance. It is open to every man to choose the direction of his striving; and also every man may draw comfort from Lessing’s fine saying, that the search for truth is more precious than its possession.

Humanity has always been in the search for truth…since the beginning of time. In my opinion, our existence is threatened more by the possibility of giving up this search, than it is by Global Warming or warfare.

On a related note: I was quite taken aback at the number of people who thought that it was their last day on earth. I just hate it when people jump to stupid illogical conclusions concerning the ‘end of the world’. All that talk about the world ending in 2012 is rubbish as well. Weren’t we supposed to die in 2000, or on the of sixth June in 2006? =P It seems that every now and then someone will turn up with their own prediction of the end of the world. Guess I’ll go and make a prediction myself and massively publicise it…I decide to switch on the toaster tomorrow morning and BAM! the world doesn’t exist anymore! People will fall even for that… :roll:

PS. I wonder just what Einstein and Orwell would have said were they to witness this experiment.

On the Playground

July 8, 2008 at 7:31 pm | Posted in Verses + Vignettes, World + People + Events | 6 Comments
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The children are scattered all over the playground.

Two girls with fat ponytails sit on the steps. Their plastic dolls don’t blink or frown. They only smile. With their teeth showing. And when one of the girls yanks out a strand of hair, the doll doesn’t wince or protest. She just keeps on smiling.
The girls keep their play to themselves. They recite their doll’s dialogues in hushed voices. They have the dolls cry softly. Laugh delicately. Sing inaudibly.

Because the girls want to keep their World to themselves. They are careful not to let anybody else be a part of it. They don’t want them to shatter it, their world of silent shouts and whispered weddings.

The dolls don’t mind, because they don’t have one to do so.

Over there, by the swing, the children sway to and fro. They lurch forwards only to be instantly pulled backwards again. Whoosh. They rise higher and higher, chests heaving with each lurch, but just as they put out their fingers to reach out and touch the invisible wall, they are summoned backwards again. As though the Swing is determined to let them go only so far. The breeze cuts through their hair; or do the children cut through the breeze?

A queue of children await their turn on the swing, getting more impatient with each lurch.
The Swing knows.

A few girls huddle on a grassy patch, their self-willed skipping ropes resolutely refusing to be perfectly Skipped.

‘England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales
Inside, outside, inside, on!’

But the ropes don’t obey. They get caught up in the feet every time.
One, two, three, four. The Ropes refuse.

On the seesaw two kids play.
Up.
Down.

Up and Down are like two siblings who never seem to agree. They always fight and never seem to last long, because Up becomes Down and Down becomes Up.

The voices of the children drift over the lazy air.

‘Queenie, Queenie, who’s got the ball?
Are they short, or are they tall?’

The Queenie sees with her ears.

’Are they hairy, or are they bald?
You don’t know because you don’t have the ball!’

She turns around. And listens with her eyes.

The children play.

They don’t know that the swing that controls them is only another form of the society that they will live in as adults.
They don’t know that their precious stories will inevitably be splintered, modified, and crushed someday.
They don’t know that the ropes that rebel are nothing compared to those they will come to know when they grow older – the superficial, the ignorant, the narrow-minded tunnel visioned ropes of human beings.
And the seesaws are only a feeble reflection of the world they live in, riddled with inequalities and injustices, that crashes around them everyday.

They just play.

A boy with curly locks squashes ants on the porch.
Here comes a candle to light you to bed.
A girl fumbles with a yo-yo.
Here comes a chopper to chop off your head.
The class bully intimidates the kids on the merry-go-round.
Chip chop, the old man is dead.

The Peace and Power Riddle

June 4, 2008 at 5:25 pm | Posted in Musing + Mulling, World + People + Events | 3 Comments
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It is entirely possible for tomorrow to not arrive. It is easy, say, for humanity to wipe itself clean off the surface of the earth by nuclear warfare, or get wiped off by one of the natural calamities we have been instrumental in creating ourselves.

Either way, the conclusion is the same.

Lately, every major political leader, in every country of the world, has been screaming from the rooftops for World Peace. World what? Peace, you say? Well, you’re fooling yourselves, folks, for you’re as near towards getting world peace as My Chemical Romance are towards being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

What right do people in power have to demand peace, anyway? It’s them who demand peace while plotting to wage wars, who keep on babbling away about human rights while violating them from the first day of assuming office themselves, who don’t see any difference between making speeches and making weapons. It’s easy enough for them to talk peace, demand peace, propagate peace, market peace, while peace is something that they’ve never had and never wanted. While the Darfur conflict gets keeping worse and worse, the people who are in position to stop it continue to sit and close their eyes. US still hasn’t drawn troops out of Iraq. Suicide-bombers are being manufactured like packets of cereals. You show me one of these politicos who want peace who are prepared for it.

What about people who do care? Who, truly and genuinely, want the world to be a better place? Are they seeking an ideal that doesn’t exist? Are they being optimistic and foolish? If optimism if foolish, how does pessimism make things better? If you’re an optimist, you obviously want things to get better and hate the current mess it is in; if you’re a pessimist, you still hate it. So whether optimistic or pessimistic, we all agree on one thing: the world’s current situation sucks. (Oh yes, even the optimists, for being an optimist doesn’t mean that you have to see the bright side and ignore the dark side altogether.) That much is certain.

The 1960s saw the peace movement in various parts of the world, but half a century later, we’re no better off. Where does the problem lie? Is it illogical for peace to be possible at all? Okay, hang on, we’re not talking about something abstract here, we’re talking about our lives, for fuck’s sake. Then is it to do with the framework of international policy? Partly, so ably outlined by George Bush: If you’re not with us, you’re against us.

Oh, then there’s this bloody religion business. My God is better than yours. How convenient! Brainwash the masses into hating each other for having a faith different than their own. Religious fanatics will do anything for proclaiming superiority of their respective religions; they’ll kill for it, die for it, anything but live and let live for it.

But when you take it all together, it all boils down to one single thing. Power. It’s power what drives politicians and policies, religions and races. The two World Wars were wars over power. The holocaust and Hitler’s ‘Final Solution’ were the direct outcomes of his thirst for power. The Cold War, the gold rush, the dot com burst, you name it. Aren’t they all to do with humanity’s never-ending quest for power?

The ruthless force that makes men shine like stars, or crushes them to dust. Isn’t it strange, when Nature had already made us the most powerful species from the start? There’s power and there’s money, that loom over the earth as bullies, making people commit stupid, cowardly things. Power is a bully that creeps in and intimidates us in every decision or choice: even the choice of survival, for natural selection itself is a fight for power.

And there you have it. There’s nothing you can do about it – hunger for power is hardwired into our brains. And power isn’t a bad thing in itself – it’s its handling that plays the devil. So as long as there’s fighting over power, there’ll never be world peace. So the question facing folks everywhere today – politicians, economists, philosophers – is how to control the balance of power and guarantee lasting peace. Marx asked the same question and said the solution was a classless society where the Power was to the People. But hey, the Soviet Union didn’t work out, did it?

Dictatorship, democracy, anarchy…what really is the best way of making power make way for peace? The solution seems elusive…one hundred and ninety-five countries, various cultures, and contradictory socio-economic conditions. Dictatorship is definitely off the list. Democracy is reckoned to be the best way of governance so far but then what is to account for bureaucratic selfishness and shortsightedness?

And anarchy…I’m not sure that it’s the best way – indeed, even if it is a good way at all – but it seems to me that anarchy is the only system which puts faith in humans’ capability to govern themselves, not by a bunch of people that supposedly represent them. It trusts them enough for them to practise freedom – but then just where do we draw the line between the required and excessive freedom? And would that freedom be preserved at all and not be culminated into another dictatorship? Is it possible to eliminate the element of power after all?

Ah, maybe I’ll just leave it to the economists until I can work out a theory of my own ;]

Another Year Gone By…

December 31, 2007 at 6:10 pm | Posted in Life as I See It, World + People + Events | 2 Comments
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So 2008 is here. Well, almost. In a few hours’ time, we’ll be saying goodbye to 2007 forever. On the threshold on another year, just like last year. Seems like only yesterday. Time flies, doesn’t it?

But before I welcome 2008, time for a quick retrospect.

2007 passed in a haze of quick happenings, confusion an chaos. So much happened. But when you look back at it all, it seems like nothing much happened after all. Funny.

What has 2007 taught me? An awful lot, and here’s what I’ve learnt along the way, with the incidents associated with each one of them still fresh in my mind.

  • Your life doesn’t centre around some silly examinations. Academic acheivement doesn’t matter at all – what adds upto success in a person’s life is their ability to make it on their own in the real world – not by going on a basis of handful certificates.
  • Surviving the worst brings the best out in you.
  • There’s more to Newton than I’d thought. Much more.
  • Anticipating the outcome only makes things worse. Worry isn’t the answer.
  • Be comfortable with the way you are and don’t give a fuck about what others think of you.
  • Showing emotions is not a sign of weakness. It only shows that you’re comfortable with the person you’re with, and your own self.
  • Friends are fleeting…cherish the times together while you can. Letting a friend down is one of the worst things you can do.
  • Fiction is, in fact, more important than fact. Your imagination is probably the biggest asset you can have.
  • Racism, sexism, and all other forms of discrimination still continue to exist, people continue to remain indifferent, wars continue to be fought, blood continues to be split, stock market continues to rise and fall, life goes on. But good people do exist, people that strive, that never give up. And that is what matters.
  • Take life as it comes, don’t worry about the uncertain and don’t dwell on the past.
  • It’s never too late to explore a new idea.
  • All things, good or bad, must come to an end. That’s the way.
  • Life is too short. Honestly.

Death of a Daughter

December 28, 2007 at 9:42 am | Posted in World + People + Events | Leave a comment
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Benazir Bhutto’s death came as a shock to me. It wasn’t as thought it was totally unexpected but, it was still a shock. She knew she was putting herself in danger the moment she decided to return to Pakistan. But she also knew that she wanted to secure her country’s future.

I can’t help but marvel at what a brave woman Benazir was. On the day of her arrival in Pakistan itself, there had been a suicide bombing which killed and injured several people. But she remained steadfast. Death had been familiar enough to her – I had read about how they hanged her father, and killed two of her brothers. And now herself.

Did she know that the same fate awaited her? In one of her interviews on BBC, she said that whatever happens, happens. It’s not in her hands. When her time comes, it will come and she will have to go. And she did. But she didn’t deserve to go like this. She was their only hope for a stable and secure future, a true democratic government.

What terrorism has demonstrated time and again is that humans will stop at nothing to secure their interests. How many lives are slaughtered in the effort, how many families ripped apart, it doesn’t matter to them. No, what matters is their goal. Their goal is as terrible as the means they employ to attain it. What do they attain? Violence breeds violence. Hatred breeds more hatred. Nothing can be achieved this way.

But what is Benazir’s legacy? I’d say that it is her willingness of self sacrifice. One of her friends recalls how she could switch from being the bubbly, pretty Asian girl of her Oxford years to the Prime Minister of a nation laden down with the gravitas of her office. The Benazir who refused to cry in front of the guards when led away from her father’s cell. She was a remarkable woman in many ways, being the first woman leader of an Islamic nation not the least of them.

In its obituary The Times said: ‘Pakistan’s most charismatic leader, the daughter of Pakistan, daughter of the Muslim world, championing modernity, a mix of east and west, rest in peace.’

The Perils of Indifference

December 6, 2007 at 2:43 pm | Posted in World + People + Events | Leave a comment
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Sometimes I begin to lose faith in the human race. Well, anyone would, if they were living in the 21st century and experiencing things that make it look like the 6th century BC.

Iran, one of the deepest concerns of the civilised (note I said civilised – the Iranian politicians are certainly not included in it) world, can be bad on so many levels. Just how much, I’m not sure.

The Times reported that the Iranian government is cracking down on women who supposedly sport “western” clothing. This means, that women wearing jeans – Jesus fuck, jeans – have to be punished under the Iranian law. What the fuck?!

I can’t believe that people are letting this happen. I can’t imagine how I would be able to survive if I had to live covered in a bloody veil all the time. Punishment for wearing trousers, that is fucking insane! But that’s only the half of it. Discrimination against women has always been a part of the Islamic ideology, but Christ, I didn’t know the fucktards had some male-inclined policies too. Iranian men sporting long hair are also to be punishable under law.

I don’t know what the worst part of this whole business is:

1. The implementation of such policies in the first place
2. The plight of the people who have to put up with this shite, through no fault of theirs
3. The world’s apathy to such policies, and their continuation in the 21st century

George W. Bush, surely the dumbest politician the world has ever seen – invaded Iraq on the grounds of possession of weapons of mass destruction, and is concerned over Iran’s possible development of nuclear weapons – wouldn’t his time have been better devoted if he’d just done something to stop all this crazy shite?

Why is the world silent? Why don’t the people in power do something? What does the United Nations stand for? What are Amnesty International doing? What is our talk of human rights worth?

Elie Wiesel said in his speech, ‘The perils of indifference’ that when the holocaust took place and they were forced into concentration camps, the Jews were convinced that apart from Hitler and his faithful lapdogs, nobody else had wind of this business. He talks about the shock they went through when the discovered that the rest of the world governments knew about the Holocaust. The governments were silent, they let it happen, they didn’t intervene. Wiesel said that this was terrible, the indifference to so many people on such a large scale. In this speech that he made in December of 1999 – just at the dawn of a new millennium – Wiesel expressed hope that the new millennium would not witness such a disaster; that whatever happens, people wouldn’t tolerate an event like that ever again. That this time, people would intervene.

The holocaust, one of the worst events in modern history – was more that half a century ago. And today, all these years later, where do we stand? Have we become wiser? I think not. If there are things like guns being handed over to minors, religion-influenced government policies, suicide bombings by teenagers, if these are all the crazy things happening again and again, and being tolerated by the world all over again, I don’t think we’re much better off than we were a thousand years ago.

The world has so many problems. Will they never end? Is it impossible to even make an attempt? All of them can be dealt with one by one, if only both the world governments, and the people, come together and decide to fight them – not for the sake of their own families, religions or for their countries – but for the human race, and other creatures – as a whole.

Oh, and as for the Iranian people…honestly I’m so mad that they have to bear with this. It isn’t their bloody fault. Religion is evil enough on its own, but when it is allied with greedy and hungry politicians, all hell is sure to be unleashed. The worst part is, if you try to protest or so much as voice your opinion in the country – you and your family will be hunted down and shot down cold, by the state itself.

I wish I could knock some sense into the sleeping politicians and ‘leaders’ (retards, more like) out there. I hate the indifferent people as much as the supporters themselves. This can be ended! Talibanism and extremist religious policies can be curbed. It will take time, but at least we can try! If only people weren’t so selfish, so indifferent, we would have less that half the suffering in the world.

World Disabled Day

December 3, 2007 at 3:37 am | Posted in World + People + Events | Leave a comment
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Some days ago, I was listening music off my mp3 player. Because of curse of my teenage life that is my stupid little brother, one of my earphones was broken (even though he wouldn’t admit to having breaking it). I knew that he was the one who’d screwed it up. Anyway, until I got a new set of earphones, I had to listen from only one end of the earphones.

I felt very self-conscious. I thought I looked incredibly foolish, to be listening from just one end of the earphones. Like something incomplete.

This made me think. Here I was, with one end of the earphones missing. And somehow because of it, I felt self-conscious. And then I thought, what about those people who’re physically challenged? What about them, who instead of a tiny little thing such as earphones, have an entire arm or leg missing? What must those people be going through?

Today is the World Disabled Day. People moan and complain about things such as the weather, traffic, concerts being cancelled and what not. Yet, I have rarely seen the disabled people moaning about their condition. Well, admittedly, I don’t know those many physically disabled people personally, but whenever I’ve spotted some of them – at parks, shops, restaurants or out on the streets – I have never been failed to be struck by their remarkable tenacity, their strength to bear their condition, and their general – and astounding – enthusiasm towards life.

It’s a shame, really, that many of us, so-called “normal” people are so weak inside. The tiniest things upset us. But these people display remarkable courage. Their struggle has moulded them. Physically weak they are, yes, but mentally – far, far stronger than any of us.

Being physically challenged must be painful to the person, not just physically itself but also mentally. The lowliest people are those who look upon such people with ridicule. I don’t find anything amusing in that in the least. Worse still are those who put on a fake show of sympathy. The physically challenged people must have enough to be dealing with, without us mocking them or telling them how awful it must be to be in their place. The ‘normals’ pitying the challenged ones – it makes me sick. Hypocrites, all of them. Why the fuck do they need to make a public display of being sorry?

The weak are not to be pitied. Pitying them only makes it worse – it makes them out branded as ‘different’ forever. Moreover, people don’t need pity. No one does! What they do need is sympathy. Sympathy, not pity – and here it’s sympathy in its subtlest form – love and care.

I have always felt for the mentally and physically challenged ones, but I have never pitied them. Instead I have been awed by their strength. And so today, on the World Disabled Day, have I done my bit? I didn’t visit a physically or mentally challenged people’s home – I wish I could – but sticking as always to my philosophy, I don’t believe that you have to show your support on a particular day. Just feeling for these people – genuinely, deeply – and directing efforts into making their lives easier, is all you have to do.

All the pain in the world cannot be eradicated, but that pain can be lessened.

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