Straight Angle™: December 2007
Sunday, December 16, 2007


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[Reproduced from the latest edition of Thuglak, dt, 12/16/2007]

This is one of the reason that I read Thuglak. Such fun comes reading him and more so, that he is level headed and fair. Though I don’t completely agree with him on certain ideas- most notably his antipathy towards libertarianism, I do see his points. The other point that I don't agree is his views on women. I find it outdated and backward. But then, he might have a point there as well!

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Books to buy! 

Recently, I got a 100$ Amazon gift check. Needless to say, the next thing that I did was to draw up a list of books that I can buy- the list that you see below is a list that was drawn with the 100$ in mind and not on any specific interest gaining importance. Some of the books are impulse purchases and some more are here just to assuage my desire to have them in my collection- though I have already read them before.
  1. The Idiot - Fyodor Dostoevsky
  2. The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language - Christine Kenneally
  3. The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins
  4. The Intelligent Universe: AI, ET, and the Emerging Mind of the Cosmos - James N. Gardner
  5. The Brothers Karamazov - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  6. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
  7. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  8. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
  9. The Stranger - Albert Camus
  10. The Fall - Albert Camus
  11. Being And Nothingness - Jean-Paul Sartre
  12. A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini
  13. Oxymoronica: Paradoxical Wit & Wisdom From History's Greatest Wordsmiths - Mardy Grothe
  14. The Age of Paradox - Charles Handy
Tell me your choice- if that would be different from this, what would you suggest?

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Elections and Emotions 

An excellent piece of editorial in NY Times, on the Mitt Romney's recent speech on his Mormonist faith. When I first read about the US election issues (may be in May 2007), in Times, the caption read "Is America ready for a Mormon President?" or something similar. That caption did more to debunk my myths about the US society, than more than a couple of You Tube videos by Richard Dawkins and his "The God Delusion".

Though, Europe was the place Secularism in its current form that we know of originated, US had been a clear adherent, with the ideal enshrined in its constitution, as the First Amendment. While, there is no denying that the undercurrent of religion is there in all Societies, it is really unfortunate that a presidential candidate would find it necessary to give a speech like this to an audience of mostly Conservative Christians.

Where this gets even more interesting is, his Republican party has a known conservative bias- what with the current incumbent's ability to speak with and hear God's voice, there is no denying that the influence is ever present. But to make a speech that doesn't clearly distance oneself from the Church and goes one step further to say,
......religion does have a place in the public domain, and that those establishing the religion of secularism are "wrong."
is definitely not something that I would expect from a Presidential hopeful from US. When the world is much less a safe place to live, nations divided on religious lines are the last thing that we would want. What we need are not assertions of religious identities- but more of Humanitarianism.

As such, there are enough issues that need urgent attention- like the Subprime mortgage woes, the Iraq War, the Iran issue, Climate Change and Global Warming- these are those things that would affect every day life of most people in the world- not just US. It is indeed disappointing to see that there are hardly much of intellectual debate or fresh thinking in any of these issues- the most debate and haggling happens on issues, which are of secondary- but highly emotional issues.

I hazard a guess, that this is the way a Democracy work- I can see similar strains in India too- in Gujarat elections- look at the issues that are being discussed- not economy, not irrigation or power or infrastructure- but "Mauth ka saudagar", "Mercy of God", "Mercy of Sonia", "Hindu Terrorists"- where does that leave us?

I am left with a feeling that elections are more an emotional issue than the cold rational thought process that are associated with choice and freedom!!

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Hindu's pathetic logic! 

Sure, I was expecting an editorial from The Hindu on the Taslima Nasreen episode for long- it had been brewing for sometime in the Commy State, that The Hindu chose to ignore, till it can find some illogical logic to justify or rather gloss over the state of affairs there- Here comes an editorial true to the colours of Hindu- The RED- written all over it.

Let us go through the points raised by Hindu.
For all but the most fanatical, Bangladesh writer Taslima Nasreen’s announcement that she would remove from her book Dwikhandita the portions critical of Islam that were regarded as objectionable should bring to a close the controversy that sparked violent protests in Kolkata and earlier in Hyderabad. [ The Hindu, Dt. 12/05/2007]
There is no word on how appeasing to a mob demanding extradition would be a "Pragmatic Concession" as it claims in the next sentence. I fail to see any point in removing those lines-In the first place, I hadn't read the book- so, I really can't say if there are any offending remarks about Islam in that or not. The Hindu goes out of the way to say, that removal was a concession for fundamentalists, who "seem" to be beyond reason- look at the choice of words- Hindu says, the fundamentalists "seem" to be beyond reason- it is not simply beyond reason- if you were suitably powered and inclined, it might be beyond reason- but Hindu doesn't know if it is beyond reason.

However, the same editorial has these words-
Similar protests followed Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi’s disputing the existence of an ancient bridge between India and Sri Lanka across the Palk Straits as described in the Ramayana......
Note, here too the twisting of facts- the groups were not protesting doubts on the existence of the Bridge- they were protesting MK's venous doubts on the existence of Ram and his famous remarks about Rama being a "Drunkard". Such fun comes reading the editorials of The Hindu.

There is no word yet on Biman Bose's statement that Taslima should leave Bengal if her words would disturb peace or to the statements that there are many other books of Taslima that are offending[I am unable to get the link where I read this piece of news].

Such is the state of The Hindu!

But The Hindu does get one thing right-
The increasing use of Section 295A in the recent period has underlined the dangers of competitive intolerance curtailing the space available for freedom of expression. The section is clearly not in consonance with democratic and constitutional values and it is time it was removed from the statute book.
It might also help us ask how we ended up with this competitive intolerance- when we started appeasing one group over other- this is not restricted to religion alone- right from language, region, caste- the list goes on....

May be Democracy is all about factions and group interests!

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Swarnasrikrishnan/Male/28. Lives in India/Tamilnadu/Chennai, speaks Tamil, English, 

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