Friday, January 02, 2015

Final Thoughts on The pK Controversy

The stupidity continues. Alright, here we go again.

Yes, it's about the pK controversy, once more. Before I begin, let me say that this truly was a masterstroke. So much discussion, so much praise yet so much criticism, so much anger yet so much money, for what was a strictly mediocre's just mind boggling.

Let's get the obvious out of the way first; pK isn't the "message" everyone thinks it is. In fact, it's so toothless that it doesn't even qualify as satire. All the film does is incessant finger-wagging at the symptoms. Unless the target audience were the most unfortunate/uneducated of villagers or the fortunate yet stupid urban/suburban dwellers, there is nothing new that pK brings to the table. Yeah, even Jaadoo precedes pK. From Ray's Mahapurush to Akki's OMG, these things have been done to death. The presence of peeing (no electrocution this time, thankfully), buttcracks, tharki, thokna, luulll and other "subtle" forms of humour may elicit more guffaws in the theater, but really, there is absolutely nothing new to be found here.

With that out of the way, let's get to the controversy bit. Is it anti-Hindu? No, that's complete rubbish. Does it focus heavily on Hindu rituals/practices/Godmen? Yes, but that's just the nature of the beast. If it were made in Italy, it would have focused on the Catholic Church. If it were made in Pakistan/UAE (slim chance, admittedly), it would have focused on Islam. Watch Religious by Bill Maher, and see how mercilessly Christianity is torn apart, although he asks the uncomfortable questions of Judaism and Islam as well. I mean what exactly was anti-Hindu in pK? The caricatures of priests and Godmen? Sure, not all are out to rob you, but you must admit, there are frauds aplenty.

Was it the idol worship bit? Well, idol worship isn't even a Hindu construct. The Vedic God is niraakaar (formless)...what we have in India is murti-puja, a way to focus/concentrate for the common man, via whichever deity you most relate to. The literal translation of both may be the same, but the meaning is not. You'll never find a mystic or a sadhu praying to a murti. Actually, the basic concept of idol worship as discussed in non Indic faiths is flawed. No one prays to a piece of carved stone. So that's that, if you're a believer, then this shouldn't offend you at all. I mean, unless you really think you're praying to that molded clay, you've no reason to be angry at pK.

Coming to the most controversial bit. Really...I mean really? That actor in the film was playing the role of an actor who was playing the role of Shiva. This is friggin Inception level depth. To find that offensive is crazy, to say that the film should banned because of it is even crazier. Heck, Amitabh Bachhan made a career out of squabbling with the Gods. It's not a big deal, let it go. Yes, I know what happens with other cartoons and paintings and caricatures, that's not the point. What's this..reactive intolerance? Criticism is okay, discussion is okay, calling for a ban or hooliganism is not. Anyway, coming back to the most important point. As I said, all pK does is discuss the symptoms. It doesn't even try to touch the right nerves, ask the right questions, or discuss the root cause (faith itself).

So, I don't see how/why anyone should be offended by it. I could offend more people with a single post, if I had that kind of audience. I mean, here is a film that tries to hammer a point by showing us a Pakistani embassy taken over by angels (it's like a Barjatya family in there), among a host of other severely cliched and heavy handed things. And this, they show in Brussels (Belgium), which may very well be the worst choice of place to make that point. There is nothing serious about the film, and I can't understand why people are taking the film so seriously, whether positively or negatively. It's just another it..don't like happy. Just stop being offended for....err...umm...God's sake!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Word on Equality

Every once in a while, some "good cop" feminist tries to make me understand my ignorant ways. Tells me that all they fight for is "equality", a few of the more intelligent ones direct me to Merriam-Webster for the definition and then go on about how there are so few women CEO's and what not. This kind irritates me the most. I'd rather have a radical killallmen hashtag types at my throat than one of these bludgeoning whatever little intelligence I have into oblivion. What they don't understand is that their concept of "equality" doesn't even start to make sense in the natural world. Equality, as a societal construct, simply corresponds to opportunity. Here's a little nugget that you'd do well to remember--Humans... Are... Not... Created... Equal. No man is born equal to another man, no woman is born equal to another woman, no man is born equal to another woman and vice-versa. Some are tall, some are short, some are geniuses, some are plain dumb, some can sing, some can dance, so on and so forth. For every woman who didn't become a CEO, there's probably the same or larger number of men who didn't make the cut either. But then that is logic, a language which seems to be spoken only by extraterrestrials these days. The only equality one should expect is equality in the eyes of the state, access to the same platforms and mechanisms. What you do with it or don't is your own problem, not anyone else's.

But these good cops blame the whole wide world because of the inequality in the "outcome". There's a reason why Serena Williams and Nadal don't play against each other, why Tania Sachdev and Vishy Anand don't play together, competitively. Men and women are inherently, irreconcilably, different. Sure, both can have representatives that can do amazing things atypically, but as a group, both have different aspirations, qualities, and drives. They excel at different things.The concept that because a certain gender, caste, religion or sect forms a certain percentage of any society, so they're entitled to the corresponding percentage based representations in all walks of life, is ignorant at best. Gender ideologues, reservation/quota supporters, communists..they all make this patently idiotic assumption. It's like a mob of angry parents from one community rioting outside a school saying why none of their children ever gets in the top 10, although they form 1/5th of the class. It's like primary school teachers going on dharna because they don't earn as much as chemical engineers.

It's called agency, a term which seems to be lost not just on feminists but the majority of the world's population. Your actions, you decisions..will have a reaction, will have a consequence. Take the case of the wage gap myth that most treat as gospel. This stupid theory has been debunked time and time again by various studies, but it'll never die. The myth of male privilege will never die. They just won't let it die. Be it laws, policies, anything and everything points in the exact opposite direction, but these myths endear because of these good cops.

The only privilege in the world is either political or economical. It probably affects around .0001% of people in the world that occupy the highest echelons of politics, business etc. It has nothing to do with gender. For the commoner, it's just usual life with all the problems that come with it. Women have problems and men have problems too. I don't suppose anyone thinks that the millions of rickshaw pullers in India are more privileged than Sonia Gandhi or any other Twitter Tumblr keyboard warrior just because they're male...? I saw something in my newsfeed the other day..someone shared an article from a women's magazine. The punchline went something like this "Indian girls--grow up, get married, have kids..why?". Hmmm..interesting, last time I checked it went something like this for men, and this goes for my own generation as well "Grow up, get a job, get a house, get married, have kids". A reasonable person would probably not see much of a difference. A buffoon somehow sees male privilege in there.

If anything, the problem one should have with that line of thought is the expectation bias. That line of thought is not about bestowing privileges, it's about giving responsibilities. Now, admittedly, that is one thing I vehemently disagree with, but then I don't see it changing. Men always have and always will be held responsible for everything. From family courts, to separation settlements, to child support, to psych counseling. My body my choice, your body but not your choice...yet you are still responsible for every single choice that has or hasn't been made. Heck, even feminist discourse runs along those line.

Of all the homeless in the world and this applies to India too, 80% are male, most pavement dwellers dying under the wheels of some drunk lunatic are male, close to a 100% dangerous and sub-human work related deaths are males. Yet, by some twisted sense of logic, reasonably intelligent looking big-bindi stalwarts proclaim "poverty only affects women" on national television. What's even more disturbing, is that this line of thought gets applauded by other reasonably intelligent looking people.

Whether it's genital mutilation, legal extortion, health, poverty or domestic violence (a phenomenon that's been proven by thousands of studies time and time again to be a gender neutral issue)...the only thing people are willing to give half the world, is apathy. "We hold up half the sky!" --yeah, and men are just raving lunatics trying to bring the other half down. UN spends billions, states spend billions in awareness programs, commissions, centers, shelter homes for one, but give a big fat thainga to the other.And the one thing, which is most depressing about this is the fact that the really important issues like child abuse and health always take a backseat. Some lump it together with women's ministries and commissions and we all know about "women and children first" don't we. Yeah, absolute balls...children first!!, pregnant women second..everyone else, get in line. Now that would be equality. Now of course, men are free to put their mothers, wives, daughters, sisters in front...and most probably would, but as a concept...does nobody find this absolute disregard for male life apalling?

Archaic laws and policies, due process is damned, special privileges for one and special punishments for the other. I don't really like the term feminazi...but it gets pretty close actually. Your rights end where my feelings start--that is pretty much the gist of the discourse. Nothing but saint-like behavior will make the cut for one, for the other...well..just don't kill anyone. But what do we know, this is equality. no...I'm sorry (I blame my male privilege for that grave oversight)..we still haven't achieved equality, much more needs to be done.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Has Al Gore Been Smoking Pot?

Bl di Bla di Bla

The Newshour for Dummies

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Dangers of Religious Moderates

It’s been a while since I’ve written something controversial, or politically incorrect as some would say. It’s funny, the psychology of society; I haven’t even started and I already know it’s going to be controversial. Interesting, isn’t it? So what exactly drove me to write what I’m about to? Two things, basically, not really interconnected but not mutually exclusive either.

First, I recently read an article by Shahrukh Khan, which talks about being a Khan. I should mention here, to my discredit, that the article is more than a year old. Yes, I’m capable of finding rocks to live under for extended periods. It’s written beautifully of course, he’s a genius, and it’s a different matter that he has a tendency to go into goat mode on screen. Anyway, all of you who know me are aware how much I adore this man. As I said, the article is written very well, and I truly believe that he’s being honest about it. However, I must still disagree with the core point that he’s trying to make. Which brings us to our second point.

I recently saw a debate where Sam Harris was speaking on religious moderates and the implications of religious moderation if left unchecked. That got me thinking. Now, I’m not the sort of person who goes the extra mile to be politically correct. More often than not, one can find me speaking my mind. It’s a gift and a curse at the same time. But after listening to Harris, I realized I’m also a part of this moderate tribe in some ways. Saying it, but not really saying it, watching carefully, treading with caution. I said “some ways” because there are a few things I’ve always been clear on. Like the statement “all religions teach peace” or “all religions are essentially the same”. No, and you don’t even have to read the holy books to realize that. A mere glance at history should tell you that there are inherent and irreconcilable differences between religions, in both the teaching as well as the delivery. 

Christianity already had its field day with all the crusades, the inquisitions, the witch hunts and what not. However, there is a silver lining here—despite the violent past, Christianity revived itself. It has been a pretty modern and peaceful religion in the recent past. I mean, we even have the Pope and several high level clergymen willing to discuss things like pre-marital sex, homosexuality etc. Yes, there are some fringe elements who still employ coercive and/or exploitative conversion etc. and engage in random terrorism in North Eastern India, Northern Ireland etc. but otherwise, there’s not much to complain about, not on global level. But how did this happen? That is the bigger question. There’s not too much of a difference between the basic principles (ones that are of concern) of both Christianity and Islam. Both monotheistic, both totalitarian in nature, both condoning and sometimes even commanding slavery, torture and murder, and both based on messianic prophecies. Islam is much more strict and extreme of course. Apostasy means death and several other shenanigans. Christopher Hitchens often used to joke about this when people asked for his views on the persecution of Jews throughout history. He said, “When you reject 2 versions of the messiah in a row, you’re bound to have trouble”.

But I digress, back to the point. So what exactly happened that Christianity evolved? It’s pretty simple actually. The world went on, proper education systems happened, democracies came into existence, bilateral relations between countries prospered, free trade zones happened etc. People finally realized that God’s word does not make the world a better place. People realized that inclusion and tolerance are better than dogma. They realized it’s better to listen to good people around you than to blindly believe in ancient texts. People started questioning, a new wave of scientists, atheists, agnostics and skeptics came to the forefront. 

Nothing seems to be doing the trick when it comes to Islamic extremism though. That silver lining seems to grow darker paler every passing day. It’s pretty clear, something much more sinister is at work here. Sure, the crusaders attacked and killed in medieval times, but the modern Jihadi’s are ready to blow themselves up! When they aren’t doing that, they’re beheading little children and holding their heads as trophies. What is it exactly that commands such devotion? What kind of mind thinks this is holy? Do they really believe it to be the word of God? Does it have something to do with how they’re brought up? Does it have something to do with Madrasa teachings? I don’t know, but what I’m trying to say is that asking these questions shouldn’t be taboo.

Al Qaeda is planning the final Jihad, starting with India. ISIS has been doing things that make my blood curdle, then I go into fits of rage, and cry some times. It doesn’t take a particularly weak man to cry looking at the picture of a 4 year old little girl’s headless body. You pick any part of the world, and you won’t find it difficult to find examples of nutcase Islamic outfits. It’s been happening for quite a while now, and it shows no signs of stopping. A cartoon gets published and the whole world cowers in fear, an author writes a book and the whole world cowers in fear again. Bookstores get bombed, heads of state issue fatwas, one of the most modern societies of our times (Denmark) is forced to ignore its own constitution, Supreme Court judgements are overturned, Parliament gets attacked, trains and buses are bombed, markets are bombed, consulates are bombed, temples are bombed, churches are bombed, Red Cross offices are bombed…goes on and on and on. I’m sure, it’ll probably take the whole week if I continue with the examples of utter savagery. 

So what are the moderates saying about this? Well, the usual, but now they have two versions of it. First, it was “All religions teach peace”, now a significant number of them say “All religions are bad”. In a nutshell, first they played the 3 monkeys of Mahatma Gandhi, and now they’ve based their reasoning on a logical fallacy – because two things are more similar than dissimilar, therefore both are the same. See, this might look like a very noble stand to take, however, please note that the net result is still a big fat ZERO. Just sitting there and parroting the same lines ad nauseam is not only dishonest, it amounts to abetting violence in my opinion. This is possibly what a Jihadi thinks when he listens to all the moderates –“Hmm…so all these learned people feel we aren’t really any worse than anything out there. Oh well, that isn’t so bad, carry on brothers”. What you’re doing is providing an escape route to the extremist, when you really should have been the loudest and fiercest critic. Saying “oh they’re just mad men” doesn’t mean anything, and it accomplishes nothing. It is you, with your cowardly reason and pseudo-morality who is responsible for the terrorist stereotype in the first place. 

If good Muslims, and well-wishers from other groups don’t start tackling this issue head on, then I fear we’re doomed. If you really think these people are simply misled, well then the onus to bring them back to the civilized world lies with you, whether you’re a Muslim moderate or just generally a moderate. So Mr. Khan, I’m a big fan, and I know you’re not a terrorist, but I do have a suggestion. I take this as my first step towards shedding the extra kilos of “moderate” in me. You’re such a big personality, you’re media savvy, you’re pretty tech savvy as well, and your communication skills have always been above par when it comes to Bollywood. You’ve made a lot of noises in the last two decades; business, film-making and even social issues. Why is it that you cannot make a noise for something that clearly affects you much more than anything else? Trust me, you make the right noises and you’ll see some change at least. You make the same noises and you thrust everyone back into a self-pitying state powered by victim-hood syndrome that does more harm than good. More than that, it abets skipping of vital introspection.

P.S.—Please make Don 3 as soon as possible.

P.P.S.--As I post this, Arnab Goswami is rattling my eardrums about how deeply hurt he is about something idiotic Mohan Bhagwat said...again. Someone somewhere is harping about how all of this is a big fat conspiracy to malign a religion of peace. Facebook warriors are more interested in playing Sherlock Holmes to identify the funding channels ('s the big bad USA). What next, Global Warming messing up their heads?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

How to Tell If You're Arguing With an Idiot

We've all been in these situations, and it's pretty nasty. So here are some pointers that should help you in deciding when to run away. Not an exhaustive list by any means, but should give you a good idea of what to look for.

1) Emotional Instability
Responding with too many LOLs, hmmmphs, huh!, doh!, LMAOs and expletives. They can't process logic and reasoning. Their brain simply rejects rationale, and finds solace in these outbursts.    
Example - Genetic research and biological studies have shown that we are only a pair of chromosomes away from the big apes. Response - LMAO..ROFL!!, I can't help you if you believe that.

2) Rogue-like Behaviour
If you corner them with solid evidence/logic on one topic, they start talking about something else, enter hibernation mode or simply shut down.
Example - Research/studies show that African Americans and Mexicans commit most crimes in the US, it needs to be addressed. Response: You're a racist and Sikander ne Porus se ki thi ladaayi! and now I'm off to sleep. (Okay, bad example, but you get the picture)

3) Comprehension Disorder
This is a pretty severe disability; they can't tell an analogy from a direct comparison just as they cannot tell their head from their posterior.
Example - The Muhammad Ali vs Joe Frazier Fight of the Century was like watching a Pitbull vs Wolf fight. Response: Huh! You’re a bigot, did you just call liberal African Americans dogs?

4) Logical Fallacies (This is THE most important, so I'll be thorough with it)

A.  Ad hominem - Attacking the other person rather than countering the claims or conclusions.   
Example - There is substantial evidence that divorce/dowry/violence laws are gender biased and susceptible to misuse. Response: You're just a misogynistic pig who hates women.    

B. Ad ignorantiam - They just love this. They know it is right simply because you can't prove it is wrong.
Example - Watch any religious fanatic go on and on about "intelligent design" and what not.                                                         

C. Association/Causation/Coincidence/Effect – They get these jumbled up and can't differentiate between them. Reversal of cause and effect..Treating coincidence as a predetermined effect...Intentionally reducing a wide set of possibilities to only one or two.
Example - Watch any gender ideologue go on and on about Patriarchy and how anything and everything that happens in the world is a carefully thought out evil scheme.

D. Authority - Speaking from authority is a frequently used tactic. Using “he said so/she said so” as the base of an argument.
Example - Mrs. X said so in this article, I'm saying the same, therefore I'm right and you're wrong. Mr. Y said the same thing in an interview, therefore I'm right and you're wrong.

E. Analogical Fail - Another thing they cannot seem to resist. They have this habit of comparing people, things or situations which are not analogous at all. Even if by a stroke of luck they do find something analogous, it will almost always be inconsequential to the argument.

 F.  Broad Strokes - A very important tool in the hands of religion apologists. Basically, because two things are more similar than dissimilar, therefore both are the same.
Example - All religions teach peace and compassion. 

5) Fact-Farting
This is actually a pretty creative ability they seem to possess. You must be wondering how I came up with such a filthy term. Allow me to explain - you see, they have this peculiar knack for mentioning "facts" and "stats" conjured out of thin air. And as we discussed earlier, about their inability to tell their head from their posterior, it becomes pretty clear where these smelly facts erupt from.
Example - Anytime someone's throwing 9 out of 10, 8 out of 10 or any other bogus statistic without evidence. 

6) Blatant Hypocrisy
Thaali ka baingan as they say..changing their tune every minute to suit their argument.
Example - We should have secular Government and Laws. Response –Yes. Then we should also get rid of caste/religion/gender based laws and policies. Response - No, because oppression, because minority, because penis.       
7) Playing the Victim
The hallmark of an idiot. They twist honest/direct approach into personal attacks and proclaim the argument is over and they've won.
Example - That thing you quoted is a total fabrication. Response: Did you just call me a liar? How dare you! You lose, I win.

8) Shaming
Usually, a tactic used as the last resort, but may surface earlier. "How can you say such things to me?", "I never knew you were like this", "I'm scared of you now", "I'm disappointed in you", basically anything to appeal to your good nature to make you bow out.

So, what do you do? Usually, it's advised that you excuse yourself as soon as you see things mentioned in the first point. Although you may take your chances by going as far as number 4 or maybe even 5, depending on how well you think you know the person. But, do NOT let it go any further, under any circumstances. Not only will you be left with a very bad taste, you may very well lose some of your own IQ points.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Word on Modi and Why You Shouldn't Vote

Time to be politically incorrect again, yes; it’s become a pet peeve of sorts. So, Narendra Modi, NaMo, Voldemodi, Modi-vational, the much maligned, much championed CM of Gujarat, who at this rate will probably end up with more aliases than Lord Krishna. Now, I’m not a fan of the guy (he does give the impression of being an extremist, admittedly), although he seems to display pretty good administration and leadership skills, relatively speaking.

In all the brouhaha, past and present, two things I take issue with –

1. Genocide – I’m pretty clear on this one. The chain of events, the numbers, everything simply points to riots. Genocide is what the Nazis did, what happened in 1984 against Sikhs, what happened to Kashmiri Pandits. I’m still open to explanations though.

2.  Government’s Complicity – Now, this one is a bit trickier, I admit. It may very well be true, I don’t know and no one else knows either, except Mr. Modi and those close to him. As it stands, all investigating committees and the Supreme Court have given him a clean chit. The Special Investigation Team led by Mr. Raghavan actually even mentions that Gujarat Police did everything to control the situation.

So, what does this mean? It means that people put more stock into anecdotes and journalistic media (which, by the way, is widely regarded as the most dishonest profession in the world) than the Supreme Court. I mean, sure, you have every right to do that. Believe whatever you want. The junta becomes the judge and jury on the basis of allegations. Sure, you have every right to do so, but it won’t be very wise if you act on it.

 I am not trying to change anyone’s mind. I’m also confused. You have his supporters and you have his distracters. You have the journalists and local people with stories of Government’s complicity; you also have other people with rebuttals to those. What am I supposed to believe? As a rule, I never believe in anything people say unless supported by evidence, facts or at least something that hints towards a majority opinion, a la consensus (sometimes, even that’s not enough for me). We are primates after all, faulty by default, prone to lying, exaggeration and skulduggery.

On the other hand, we have our agencies and the Supreme Court that believe he is not guilty. Now, let’s not kid ourselves here – with India’s history (read non-existent) of conviction and incarceration of politicians, we can’t put our blind faith in these decisions either. This leads us to an impasse – and what I’m trying to say here, ladies and gentlemen, is that we maintain status quo.

Yes, please DO NOT vote. No, I’m not saying please do not vote for him, or do not vote against him. I’m saying do not vote at all. If you find yourself at an impasse (not sure if he’s guilty or not), stay at home when the day of voting arrives. Why? Let me explain –

1) If you vote FOR him (or the BJP), you run the risk of being party to the election of an extremist Prime Minister.
2) If you vote against him (or the BJP), you run the risk of being party to denying the country a Prime Minister with great administration and leadership qualities, again, relatively speaking.
3) If you vote for someone else (or some other party), you run the risk of giving one the advantage over another who could have made a great Prime Minister. 

Let’s take Nitish Kumar (RJD) as an example. Sure, he’s also a very good administrator and a pretty affable fellow, to say the least. He still doesn’t have the charisma and the presence that Indian leaders have sorely lacked for quite a while. We need a Prime Minister who isn’t afraid of taking hard decisions, someone who doesn’t find solace in eternal cootchie-cooing with absolutely rogue neighbours. Yes, I am looking at you China, Pakistan, Bangladesh. 

We need someone who speaks, speaks with heart, with conviction. Take our manifestation of a lullaby Prime Minister as an example – a koala getting up from a drunken stupor can motivate you more than Mr. Singh’s hour long speeches. Okay, that was mean, I quite like him as a person actually, but he's not a leader in any sense of the word. Now, I’m not saying Mr. Modi displays all these leadership traits in obscenely significant droves, but he does seem to have an upper hand vis-a-vis his adversaries.

 Finally, both questions still loom large. What if he’s guilty, what if he’s not guilty? And that’s why it would be a disservice to the nation if you’re at an impasse and yet choose to act on it. So yeah, please do not vote at all. I realize it’s an irresponsible and cowardly thing to do, but I don’t see any other solution. Those who've made up their mind, well, you've made up your mind.