Tag Archives: opinion

Doomsday scenario: In true perspective

Some shallow people have jumped to the conclusion that Hurricane Sandy is the start of the Doomsday show. They cite the movie 2012, as being prophetic.

Poor fools. What do they of Doomsday know, who only of Doomsday know.

[An aside: We are doomed if we have to continue to live. Here. In hell. In the way that we do.

This old joke makes the point better:

An old man and his wife die and reach heaven. Heaven is sensational – fairies and flowers and good days till eternity.

The old man gets raving mad and starts shouting at his wife.

The angels are worried and ask him, ‘Sir, what is the problem?’

‘Nothing,’ says the old man, ‘this woman made me exercise and live a life of purity so I lived till 90. I could have reached here 40 years earlier, if I had not met her@#$!’

The only assumption in this joke is that we would actually land in a place called heaven.

But assuming there is a better place than earth, it would be pain silly to stick to this oil slick infested, Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber infested, mosquito infested, power-doped world.]

But back to the main subject – the theory that Sandy is Act One of D-day. I do not think so. It is too localized, in real global terms, and as far as Hurricanes go, not big enough. Like Hollywood and CNN, Sandy thinks New York is the world.

The prowling Mayan and Inca agents, who did regular rounds on my blog (see earlier posts), have gone missing. Instead, there are lot of American tourists – eager, full of money (I presume), but with little knowledge of Doom – who are visiting my doomsday pages these days. They are looking for decent ideas for upper-middle class type Doomsday – something like Sandy, in fact.

Had these people paid attention to Bible, and its description of plagues of Egypt, they would have realized, doomsday is a serious business – not a CNN coverage of Iraq war. It is more like Vietnam and Afghanistan. Doomsday is not likely to be TV friendly – it would unfold slowly and painstakingly, the way great empires fold up and give way to barbarians.

The signs are there, and have been there for some time now, that the western civilization, and liberal-democratic world order for that matter, would give way to barbarians in the coming decades. And that would spell a doom for the world as we, on the internet, know it.

I would not speculate who the barbarians would be this time. It could be the right wing fanatics of the capitalist kind, or the right wing of the Church or Mosque kind.

But there is time yet, to push back the hordes to another age. Let the Doomsday speculation lead to genuine introspection on climate change. Let it make us think again on religious intolerance. Let us take slogans on sustainable living seriously. Let 21st December be a doomsday for those habits of 20th century that have outlived their use. Let us not hide the alternate-to-petroleum-technologies from the world. Let us not get bullied by dictators or fooled by the bankers. Let us not take the fashion of Paris Hilton and Lady Gaga seriously.

Let us not forget that for majority in the poor world, Doomsday would in fact be a day of deliverance from injustice and pain.

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Doomsday scenario: Invitation to a picnic

The following advertisement, published a few days ago, had caught my attention:

“The Extreme Right Wing Association invites likeminded people for a Doomsday picnic on 21st December, 2012.

The interested people may contact xxxxx at xxxxx for bookings.

Kindly note, the seats are limited and there shall be a selection process, the details of which will be made available on request.

Needy candidates may apply for a fee waiver, along with a lack-of-income certificate.”

I contacted xxxxx, and applied for the picnic, with the sole aim of getting to know what mischief was afoot.

In hindsight, it was a big mistake. I seriously believe my doomsday is likely to be earlier than the date of the picnic.

The ERW Association is rightly named – it is far too much to the right of sanity. It is a collection of hard boiled devotees of all major gods of the world. Their passion and faith brooks no logic or argument. (Incidentally, that was the first test in a series to determine the suitability of the candidate for the picnic – but more of that later.)

The location of their headquarter is New York city, near the UN building. But they have branches all over the world.

They have adequate finances – and are patronized by the dictators and the democratic leaders alike.

But enough of the organization. Let’s come to the picnic part.

The organization has faith in the ultimate destruction of mankind, but is not too sure of the Mayan-calendar-end date. So that the members may not feel too let down by a non-event on the D-date, the leaders of the organization felt that a picnic would be good diversion to keep the flock happy and together on a potentially important date.

The process of selection of candidates is on, but I have found that the quotas for major religions are already full, and only some seats are left for the people of religions like Zoroastrian, Babhai, Navajo, Candomble, Chinese Folk Religion, Dayak, Eskimo and Cheremis and some for the new religions such as Cao Dai, Ikuantao, Wicca, and Scientology.

What the association plans for this picnic is interesting. There shall be hate speeches, suicide bombing shows from around the world (this shall be organized live and will be seen on giant TV monitors), workshops to exchange ideas on worst social practices, bonfire with burning of bleeding-heart liberals (or their effigies, I presume), gladiatorial shows and many other such activities.

Provision has thoughtfully been kept for celebrating the unlikely event of a real Doomsday happening on that date, with permission to picnickers to indulge in rape and murder in non-picnic areas.

My trouble started when I passed the first test – that of believing passionately in the existence of God. The second test, to demonstrate my hatred for the non-believers was also almost up-to the mark. It was the third paper where I did poorly – where they test your hatred for people of other religion.

I got a call from xxxxx, when the result of the third paper was declared.

“Are you a phoney or something,” he accused, angrily.

“W..Why?” I asked.

“For a person who is supposed to be such a passionate believer, how come you say you can tolerate other religions?” he asked.

I had no answer to that one. From then on I was a suspect in the eyes of the organization.

By now I know too much about them – but that is not my fault. After I did well in the first test, they sent me lots of catalogs about their work around the world, and their plans for the future. They had jumped the gun – the barrel of which is now pointing directly at my skull.

I now have to prove my innocence – just like the Afghan youths, or the Congo tribals caught in the middle of a civil war – by doing something bad to a person of another religion. And bad here does not mean throwing ink on their white robes.

So you see where I am stuck? If I fail, I am doomed, and if I succeed, Interpol will start writing a notice on a recycled paper about me and would paint its corners red.

Two things I have not yet understood. One, why these fellows from the association do not dislike the Interpol – in fact they flaunt their red-corner painted notices with sheer pride. And two, why they like each other so much – they never harm members of a right wing, even if they are not from their bloody religion. In fact, how do they work with each other so well.

Most of the members of Extreme Right Wing are looking forward to the picnic on 21st December. To confess, I am too – if only to ensure that I survive to see the Doomsday.

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Doomsday scenario: What could have been…

I saw the following news item today (26th October, 2012):

Guatemala’s Mayan people accused the government and tour groups on Wednesday of perpetuating the myth that their calendar foresees the imminent end of the world for monetary gain.

“We are speaking out against deceit, lies and twisting of the truth, and turning us into folklore-for-profit. They are not telling the truth about time cycles,” charged Felipe Gomez, leader of the Maya alliance Oxlaljuj Ajpop.

My first reaction was – “Et tu Mayans, then fall doomsday.”

But does one really need to be that pessimistic?

I fear one does. (Warning: Those who did not pay taxes this year, and those who have purchased costly Doomsday kits are not likely to find this article amusing.)

The doomsday is every-day, like mothers’ day, for we are dying every day – of cancer and pollution and terror and apathy. As on date, a one-off climax seems unlikely.

A shame really, for it could have ended a number of things at one go – like – religious hatred, dependence on petroleum, global warming, celebrity news, politicians in general and Obama-Romney election campaign in particular.

The suspicious characters snooping around my blog (see earlier posts on the subject), seem to have changed jobs. Or else they now know that I too am clueless, and are snooping around Assange now. If they are, they are wasting their time. All that they would get there would be clueless US officials exchanging cables (in times of internet) with their embassy staff around the world, discussing, confidentially, what is commonly known and openly written about in newspapers.

It doesn’t take ‘intellegence’ to know the kind of dope that Assange would give them:

“Top Secret: US Embassy at Tehran to Washington: Iran may be on to something. Our sources saw a masseur going into the Presidential compound. Kindly advise further action…..”

(A return cable from Washington, three days later) “Hire that masseur. Independent verification shows he is good. We hinted to NYT that Iran is on to something. The idiots read too much into the tip and published a front page scoop naming un-named sources in foreign office that Iran has already tested a nuclear device of unknown power. Try to limit the damage in your private talks with the authorities in Iran. Convey our private apologies. We will, however, not confirm or deny the reports here. Chio.”

This sort of intelligence gathering does not lead to world wars, even of the Saddam kind. In fact, with the Saddam fiasco, all dictators have lost appetite for stupid ‘satellite / cable / channel’ wars, where they are sure to lose, whatever they do. No one is likely to succeed where even masters like Comical Ali failed to win laughs or audience sympathy.

Doomsday would have had a salutary effect on World Economy, which seems to have become a problem child, always seeking attention. The cockroaches, the most likely survivors of any medium sized doomsday, would have cared two hoots for New York Exchange, or the right rate for the dollar. It would also have solved the dilemma over EU, which has been exercising the minds of Europeans since the time of Napoleon.

Meanwhile, the kids can be given following essay topics to keep them occupied: What I will do on the Doomsday, or, What I will tell God when I reach heaven on Doomsday. They just might come up with something remotely funny. As for me, I give up on this article, which seems to be going nowhere, just like our world.

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A pragmatic gentleman’s advice

Let us hide in the bunkers
The long winter has begun,
Let us learn to say yes
In many languages.
 
Let us store our literature and philosophy
And take out the catalogues,
Time for redemption is not now
Let us order some pizza.
 
For too long we remained silent
Enjoying the joyrides,
Now let the others slug it out
And kill each other on TV.
 
Our blood has turned cold, our muscles are weak
(Where is the remote?)
Do not stress yourself
Over wars lost long ago.
 
The times will change once more,
It always does,
Till then do not worry so
About the massacre at the square.
 
Do not read stories of heroes to the children,
They get wrong ideas,
Let us spend the winter reading comics
In the candle light.
 
***
 

Choose the right nonsense

Nonsense should be pure
Unalloyed, unpretentious.
It should be honest
It should relieve the soul of its sorrow
And be the language of the underdog
And be subversive;
It should be the vulgar laughter
At the naked emperor;
It should be mad hatter’s tea party
That we all attended when young;
It should be PG Wodehouse and Edward Lear;
It should be found in the books
That are issued most times
In any library.
 
Beware of the nonsense
That is hidden behind statistics
And jargon and experts’ opinion
And in the intellectual humbug
Of those who attended the university;
Such nonsense is dangerous,
It has to be exposed, everytime,
Before it does any damage
Before it is too late.
 
When you have to choose
Between the two, I suggest,
Go for pure nonsense-
And the world may yet be saved
Much misery.
***

Dark Knight Rises Review: A conversation with my ten year old son

((Warning: Reveals the plot. So those who intend to watch the movies please do not read any further))

It was late in the night when I came out of the theater, having watched the latest Hollywood flick, The Dark Knight Rises, with my ten year old son Tintin. Both of us had had a whale of a  time – great action, superb story and some tasty popcorn.

Tintin: Awesome. (He gave his verdict.)

Me: Yes, great movie. Less humor than Spiderman, though.

Tintin: That Miranda Tate was a villain. I was so surprised. She was the kid in the well?

Me: Yes. And the Catwoman was not so bad after all.

Tintin: (With a scowl of disapproval) She was bad. She got Batman into the trap of Bane. Imagine if he had failed to escape. But why did Miranda hate Batman?

I explain the plot to him. That Miranda was a victim of the ‘system’ and hated it. Batman was the defender of the city of Gotham. She wanted to destroy Gotham and Batman was in her way. I also explain that Gotham city symbolized the World, but more specifically the Western Civilization, while Bane and Miranda can be equated with today’s terrorists and Maoists.

Tintin: (Confused) Why were the poor people being tortured and put into prisons?

I realized that I had opened a Pandora’s box. I decided to change the track to bang-bang.

Me: Did you notice that Batman rarely uses guns. Most of his fights are hand to hand.

Tintin: That’s why Catwoman said she did not believe in his no-guns policy, when she shot Bane?

Me: Batman wants to restore order with minimum of bloodshed. He normally wants to put criminals into jail, and not kill them.

Tintin: But they said jails were full. Why?

Me: (falling into the trap again) Jails are full because there are extremely rich and extremely poor people. When the poor are exploited, they resent. When they rebel violently, they are thrown in jails.

Tintin: (with conviction) That’s wrong.

Me: (trying for a quick course correction) That is what the movie says, but people cannot be allowed to kill innocent children. For example, even if our system is wrong, you are not responsible. Why should a terrorist kill you?

Tintin: (thoughtfully) The terrorists are wrong.

I sighed. No one really understands who is wrong and who is right any longer. Up till now such dilemmas were part of the vocabulary of the ‘bleeding heart liberal’ intellectuals. But now such questions are being posed in the popular culture by superheroes. Difficult times ahead for the next generation.

Me: Yes the terrorists are wrong. By the way, Alfred the butler was really happy to see Batman living a normal life as Wayne at the end of the movie. (I tried to draw his attention to the good ending.)

Tintin: Ye…es, but what will happen to the people who were in the prison?

I realized the movie had had a deep impact. I quickly changed the subject to the upcoming flick Superman, to avoid getting deeper into world politics and ruining the moment.

But I could not help but thinking that the movie had damned both the system and the challengers. The movie itself gave no answers – Batman could only just restore the fragile old order. It raised questions that probably the next generation will have to answer. For me, that was not a ‘good’ enough ending, but I guess, for the moment that is where we are. And in that sense it was an honest movie, definitely a cultural milestone.

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Why Social Networking activism sucks: Another top ten list

Booo. Ok, this is sure to raise the hackles of the social-network activists, but then, who is afraid of them anymore?

 

Facebook and Twitter warriors have just lost it. Posting, liking and sharing their way into the glorious midnight, they have totally missed the fact that they have managed to make themselves obsolete in a record time. Trust me, they have. Ok, don’t trust me, but they still have. [This is the type of logic that is currently in currency, so what the heck, I can use it too.]

[A much better and impactful article has been written on the subject, long back in 2010, by Malcom Gladwell in The New Yorker and can be seen here: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/10/04/101004fa_fact_gladwell The article has following arguments, not used here: the social networking relationships are based on weak ties, the activism is remote and not really connected with the people, activists and others ‘signing up’ do not have to invest their money or future in it, movements are leaderless, incoherent and lack strategy etc.]

 

This fall of the social-network activism however gives me a perfect opportunity to launch another awesome top ten list. Here goes, whoopiee…

[Disclaimer: This is an ‘extra-lite’ version writing style. This article is also beta-version, which means, I am not responsible for any errors.]

 

  1. From un-informed, unverified to deliberate falsehood. Facts are not sacred on the social circuit, and opinion is freer than ever before. The status updates are worse than gossips – more malicious and untrue. Once people lose faith, they rarely find it again in the same place. This has reduced the power of social media to influence.
  2. Intellectually non-rigorous. Simplistic.  H L Mencken famously said – “For every complex problem there is a solution that is simple, neat and wrong.” Social activists really love these types of solutions. The world is actually not made up of simple problems and simple solutions. “In fact the social media activists are creating problems and obstacles for those trying to solve problems” [Note this last sentence –106 characters with spaces. This is the type of smartass opinion you can expect on fb/twitter.]
  3. Too easy. It has become just too easy to launch an opinion. Stronger the opinion, more likely it is to elicit responses. Just try to explain a complicated problem with a complex argument and see how many of your friends go through it. In fact I would be linking this article on my fb, and I know hardly anyone would take the trouble to read it. Not because they don’t love me (they do, often), but because that is the nature of social media – it has led people to expect simple, eye catching things, like ads, not like art movies and documentaries.
  4. Emotional and irrational. However much you dislike rationality, whatever a society or an individual gains in life, it does through solid rational processes. I write poetry, and the writing part of it is always rational and methodical, though the inspiration and arguments in it are often romantic and irrational. Heavy duty reliance on the emotional leads to silly ultra-nationalism, terrorism, social disruption, phony posturing and no classes and no studies on the campuses.
  5. Absence of expertise and domain knowledge. The activists dabble in anything that catches their fancy (like I am doing here). Such efforts are generally useless and benign, but can be dangerous for society if done in excess. Mediocrity rules supreme, and trust in experts is undermined. I would not like to have a social media activist flying the plane I am on, nor would I trust him with guarding our borders, or running our country.
  6. Too easily manipulated. It is just too easy to create a fake pic of a God-face on a rock, or a graphic proving anything, or launch a campaign with half-truths and strong opinions. Only the manipulators are empowered, though thankfully, with the decline in the influence of these platforms, the manipulators are only looking silly school-kids now, not awe-inspiring conspirators.
  7. Panders to lowest common denominators. This is a big problem. Huge. Imagine a situation when there are tensions between two countries – social media activists would ensure that a war does take place. Then they would shed croc tears over the innocents killed, and blame all and sundry for the mess.
  8. Limited reach. Reach is touted to be the biggest strength of social media. But that is a myth. These platforms are populated exclusively by a section of the aspirational, often frustrated, middle-class. These are not the people who generally vote or participate in street demonstrations. Language and digital divide is no doubt the biggest handicap, but attitudes are no less responsible for turning many people away.
  9. Cowardice and snobbery. It is the medium of the coward. People who are afraid of confronting their tormentors directly find this medium convenient to vent their ire. But soon their ire turns against all and sundry, and they start to revel in becoming ‘rebels with multiple causes’. Unfortunately, such rebels have started to make an appearance in society outside of the social media networks, sowing confusion and muddying the already confused state of our affairs.
  10. Assists in faking of information, emotions. It is hardly a surprise that one of the more popular pages on the fb is Faking News. At least they are honest. People are faking emotions, personality, facts, photos… anything, with glee. Attacking icons, respectable leaders, companies, cooking up conspiracy theories, proposing dubious solutions – they are hardly the material on which we can build our future.

These are strong charges, seriously made. My appeal is:

(a) be wary of what you read on social network, do not believe anything without verifying;

(b) be careful what you share, repost or like; and

(c) if you feel strongly about something, step out and revolt, defy, revolt. Don’t hide behind fake identities and the anonymity of the net.

And yes, do press the ‘like’ button, just below the three stars that you see here. 🙂

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