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Editorial

Journal Journal: Tribes in the 21st Century 2

While humanity claims to have progressed a great deal since the so labelled Paleolithic, Neolithic, Iron and Bronze age through the Dark ages, the rennaisance, the Industrial age and the Information age I notice that our tribal behaviour has changed little. Human beings still tend to group together in tribes. The affiliation for tribal groupings have differed, yet behaviourally we find solace in such groups. People of a company like to group with their own teams, some fortunate ones with their classmates, others with those who share their profession or interests. This grouping has grown into the web in mailing lists, forums, group blogs and more. In Singapore, I notice such elements of peer bonding between those assigned to the same regiment irrespective of background or ethnicity (in men) for all are required to serve in the army. Today, we also have the luxury, capability (communication and commutation) to fit into multiple tribes based on affiliations we have.

Recently reported ills of "westernisation" in India and the east including Nuclear families and urban migration have led to higher crime rates, lesser protection. I believe that this is because these places are in a delicate transit state as renewed tribal bonding is evolving and soon people will move together and confide within such groups bringing about a in-built societal restructure irrespective of upbringing related traits. During this period, there have been recent incidents of social unrest arising from transit lifestyle (live-in relationships, more frequent male-female peer bonding outside marriage) in a society less exposed to these. Unfortunately this transit has not been fluid due to societal inertia resulting in the lack of tribe formation (unknown neighbours hence unsafe neighbourhoods, reluctance to talk to strangers, isolation driven individualism). After a recent assault and murder of a BPO employee in Bangalore (the flagship of the Indian Outsourcing/Offshoring and Software Industry), the police issued an advisory which included as its first point "1. never talk to strangers - auto drivers, taxi drivers, et al." Incidentally traveling in groups or pairs is unmentioned in the security advisory. I find these two the most contributing factor to fragment society, delay the creation of new-generation tribes and increase insecurity.

The increase in the number of single-driver driven vehicles (both 2-wheelers and 4-wheelers) and isolation of individuals will only cause more FUD. I see the rampant lack of car-pooling. Software Companies hardly employ people and help them live close to the company and arrange for comfortable transportation with carpooling strategies to reduce traffic jams. A few companies stand out in trying to help out, but do not understand the variables they are dealing with. It is unfortunate that urbanisation in India, and perhaps in the rapidly Developing east has been at the cost of losing our tribal nature which we still possess as the greatest unifying force. "No human is an island," I can say this from personal experience. Despite a tendency to be more of a loner, I definitely love bonding into tribes of my own preference. Self imposed isolation for the sake of security and being only touch with fellow workers is recipe for disaster. If you can't find a tribe to fit into, create it. The amalgamation of humans into one nation will be impossible without understanding the social dynamics of bonding and tribalism. Communicating and being members of a gang as school and college-going kids has been observed as common behaviour. Although this is not encouraged if a group is experimenting with alcohol and drugs more frequently than studies or work, this tendency needs to be understood and grown within. Otherwise, for the sake of self identity, cultural, linguistic, ethnic and religious differences we risk fragmenting nations into smaller and weaker places taking several steps back in the timeline of development. Urbanisation of towns and villages, and slowdown of urban migration with more communication and commutation infrastructure may be a good step towards development.
Censorship

Journal Journal: The "Intelligent" debate

The recent ruling (WPost,Dec 22/2005,Page A28) by Judge John E Jones III looks very much against the right to freedom of expression. When we were taught about the creation of the universe and life, we were informed about all theories including evolution and creationism, and "intelligent design" wasn't a package available then. Today, there are advocates who claim that "intelligent design" is a possibility and is also highly probable. I see no harm in informing the future generation that there are groups who believe that "intelligent design" is highly probable considering the harmony of the Cosmos. It definitely doesn't go against the scientific theory of evolution which is proven to have happened and in a continual progressive state. Advocates of "intelligent design" merely hypothesise that this process is possibly bounded and is not progressing at the pace it should be because of several reasons they mention. Those advocates may even withstand a trial in front of a scientific committee with papers (which they have not yet accomplished). Clearly, creation science as the judge refers to this, already has strong critics from the scientific community who can easily disprove on the basis of scientific fact and established theory most of the arguments put forth (not all). However, there is no convincing proof that "intelligent design" is entirely false and scientists (including many eminent physicists and astrophysicists) would agree; the same as there is no convincing proof that "intelligent design" is fact. Until someone can concretely prove that no entity within or without this universe could not have had any part in creating cosmic harmony and the "evolution" of intelligent life forms, this is a possible alternative. I am ill informed, if this has already been strongly disproven, but I know this much that Darwin did not kill the idea of "intelligent design". He proposed the "Theory of Origin of Species", "Theory of Common Descent" and "Sexual Selection", "Survival of the Fittest" (attempting to explain extinction, which is under constant debate) to which we have sufficient evidence. He did this by observing the process of island speciation (and island dwarfism) unique to the Galapagos islands aboard the Beagle. Taxonomical classification was already achieved and in progress before Darwin's theory was in effect.

Unless the kids are informed of another alternative, how could they go ahead tomorrow to prove or disprove it. Scientific method is based on argument and necessitates the existence of an antithesis for every thesis. No judge can pass a judgement to label creationism religious or otherwise because there are neo-modern religious doctrines that do agree with the absence of any intelligent design. Only a scientist (or a scientific research group) with enough research and findings can concretely establish or eliminate a theory, no matter who proposes it (a priest, Saddam Hussein, G W Bush, a kid in kindergarten), not a Judge. The USA is getting more and more ridiculous day by day. Further the news items do not mention whether the schools actually taught "intelligent design" as established fact, which would be wrong and needs correction. The panel proposing the syllabi for education should be reviewed as they would be responsible in that case. "Biological Evolution" too is a theory that has sufficient proof, but there are areas inside evolution like the process for speciation, the reason for speciation and the time taken for speciation that are difficult to explain and hence are scientifically debated.

Freedom of Idea and Thought let the ancient Greeks of Ionia create many of the fundamentals of science. Most remain anonymous and unknown (as Carl Sagan mentions in "Broca's Brain") except Homer (author of the Illiad, not from the Simpsons:TV Show). Many of their postulates were later put down by many half scientist-teacher-lawmakers (Aristotle, Demosthenes, Plato, ...) in later years. It took us a whole process of renaissance to get back to that freedom and therefore to explore freely with scientific method many different theories and propositions (even though some might have seemed ridiculous at first, like Einstein's theory of General Relativity.) In the middle ages, "Christian" Religion influenced Government and hence freedom of thought, ideas and reasoning. In 1992, the Vatican accepted that the World was round (not Flat.) Now I see Government and Judiciary influencing idea (whatever it might be). This is definitely repeating the same erroneous process that happened prior in history to set humans back by a millennium. Creationism was an early fad that did not attempt to rest on any scientific ideals. "Intelligent Design" attempts to fit within the structure of scientific thought, but instill similar (if not the same) ideals and is advocated _not_ by the Church or Religious orders or their Brethren. Any questions and alternate proposals to scientifically published fact is usually answered to by scientists and critics in a proper scientific manner. I have no idea, how the US Judiciary can rule or rule out any idea, however strong or frail. Rome laughed at an idea and politically fought it, "that humans could co-exist with just peaceful means" (it was absurd, for Rome was built by organised military, the sword and brilliant Generals.) Rome succumbed to it later and included it in their political agenda (as the Holy Roman Empire). I would also want to ask, would the judge have ruled the same had he been a mormon or the jury was in majority creationists?

The true problem is not whether to teach Intelligent Design or not, or whether to send your child for education in a state that does so or not, but to encourage schools to teach "Scientific Method" and "Organised thought process". The ability to question every theory & idea (however fundamental) alongwith the techniques to use must be instilled within the syllabi taught in schools. It is a shame that no article dealing with this recent shake-up over "intelligent design" stresses this. Sadly, education in India has in my opinion plummetted to one of its lowest levels I have ever seen. Few take up education as a respected profession any longer. The "Guru" of the past is history, "teacher" is no longer a capitalised word but merely one of the last resorts to earn one's keep. It is taught that knowledge was born in the east and spread by great teachers, I hope that time and circumstances will return to bring back such an era where knowledge is born, ideas questioned and debated and spread to a thirsting people. The information age is not truly about money, but about knowledge in all its forms and how best one can find & use it. The worst point is people expressing happiness that their state does not teach "intelligent design", without understanding that the point is not about this particular idea. Tomorrow another Judge may rule that religious parts of history like the crusades may no longer be taught or remove Salahudin's name from history textbooks and people may be jubilant. What Rot!
Programming

Journal Journal: Delivery and Deliverance

I have been creating software components (mostly system software), and managing teams doing the same. Whenever I was delivering a complete platform (Kernel+Drivers+Utils) with a product, I found that the process was much easier. The end product was easily taken in although I can't comment about the commercial success. However, whenever the delivery was a source code component that had to be plugged into someone's product I have found delivery very difficult with either complaints or a long time for integrating it usually impacting schedules and future work.

Sometime back I had the experience of delivering a full image that required a lot of comfort with linux systems to a team that had much less comfort. This too took much longer than I anticipated despite READMEs and explicit instructions. The impact of the delay was highlighted by the fact that I was working alone for the platform. Software delivery (in binary form) has in itself been a tough job, with support teams standing by to take debug reports and fix bugs. Delivering source code to those graduating to linux or switching platforms has always delayed. I believe that the best way of delivering any software component (outsourced or remotely worked on) is to have a partner at the receiving end, a shadow of the creator or be present at the delivery site. I have been in touch with a few friends on teams that make delivery, and I see the trend of on-site delivery of software. This seems to be a common trend in the software industry where most off-shoring requires an on-site presence. I would definitely like Deliverance from the issues created at Delivery to come from a different quarter. More Software Engineering research to work out a much better way to send and integrate so that Remote working (be it offshoring, or working from home) becomes much more easier than it is right now.
Software

Journal Journal: The End of Support

Microsoft happily has announced and maintains no support for "prehistoric", "outdated" software like Windows 98 SE. I had to get someone who'd sent his kid his archaic Toshiba Satellite CD-8090 laptop which was in French (AZERTY keyboard too in a community that is used to QWERTYs and almost no DVORAKs). The Laptop even has a floppy drive (I don't remember the last time I actually used a floppy although I have a faint idea that this was just some 3-4 years back.) Trouble is the kid doesn't know French, and is in the 4th standard (primary education - India) and wants to play games on this box. I gave him a new uninstalled version of Win98SE that I had (I don't use Microsoft Windows *.* anywhere). Trouble started with getting the right display driver to everything else (audio, power management, name it!). Linux distros ran neat (Redhat 8.2, of course Knoppix, Ubuntu Breezy and Debian) - so the kid got a dual boot, though he'll take quite some time to figure out what he could do with the rest of it. Of course, getting the on-board soft-modem up is not yet done and I have enough work to give me my daily drills.

What I've found is that Hardware and Software get outdated so often that support for either or both is difficult to retain over time. Users are out there for decades together, but Hardware-Software cycles are at most 3-5 years (and usually lesser for most). The industry really has to rethink about support. We aren't talking mainframes here, but PCs getting outdated quickly along with the software they run. New applications require new hardware features driving the market, basically milking the cow (those who already have PCs) dry. At the same time, there's Negroponte with a $100 laptop idea, HCL/India with a $200~ Desktop trying to create new market space. But how long are these things going to be supported and by whom? I don't think this can go on for ever. Maybe it's time to think up a workable solution to this rapid cycle of outdated software and hardware. On top of it I'm working on a piece of hardware that was designed in 2001 and phased out in late 2003/Q1-2004, so I don't get datasheets, programmer manuals leaving me in the dark to figure out what each piece of hardware does.
Hardware Hacking

Journal Journal: Noisy Fans and PC Cabinets

Fans are a noisy thing and the moment the blade starts making contact with collected dust inside the cabinet, more trouble queues up. I wonder whether we should start redesigning the cabinets (both pressurising and depressurising ones) to a better trouble free design. The lesser mechanical components that can cause trouble, the longer we should be able to keep the machine up (hoping you have a good power supply.) Most of the cabinet mods I've come across are for reducing the noise rather than improving system efficiency. I've noticed the same that many "/."ers have reported, put my machine in an office environment - and I hear nothing at all, take it back home and I hear a racket (well, not quite, but something loud enough.)

Yesterday, I had trouble with an extra depressurising fan setup for cooling both my processor and my GeForce 5300 PCX2 (outdated today) card. It caught some dust and started making a rattling noise at random intervals after startup. Diagnosing which fan was rattling took some time, particularly the one inside the SMPS is dangerous enough as its load can blow a few fuses and render the machine unusable for over a day (I can't stick that.) I figured out which fan using a tough piece of paper, so I could actually relate to which fan was making that noise (not much luck if all your fans sound the same when they come into contact with dust or brush against something.) I then cleaned up the dust, refixed the fan with a different alignment, checked the depressurising and had a long test run just to make sure things were normal. While I've been thinking about self-cleaning houses and all sorts of far fetched (some cranky enough) ideas, I've never thought of the simple things - like creating a dust-free, noise-free cabinets. Now's the time to scan for rugged PC/Laptop cases to find out any of their tricks that might be of help. And oh yes, dust levels in India are an all time high, cleaning my keyboard is effort enough.
News

Journal Journal: The Global Weather googly

Of late, the recent weather has been hardly predictible. Living in India, I can only see the metereology department which was struggling to meet international standards suffer further setbacks with a more unexplicable system in operation. Low pressure zones form out of nowhere, disappear all of a sudden, cloud cover in the upper atmosphere quickly transpires to rain. Monsoonal winds without explanation change direction and heading (on what was supposedly a 2000 year old or even older trend.) All visible satellite pictures show nothing, while Infrared shows the low pressure zones that get suddenly filled with clouds. This just illustrates a weather cycle happening much faster than ever anticipated. It is hard to investigate phenomenon before one can chart out a pattern, and that's where the metereology people are having a tough job. Further, prior established and stable weather cycles stalled metereolgists from investigating phenomena that could change weather patterns and climate drastically.

However, scientists have suggested (on studying oceaning thermal conveyer belts) that the earth keeps changing climatic cycles over a 35 year period (Warning:PDF) (which further breaks down into roughly 17 year cycles). They predicted that these shorter cycles were indicative of a much longer cycle whose time duration remained unknown due to lack of dependable ancient records of weather. This would be a nice time to correlate and find any indication of the 35 year cycle being superceded by a multiple of itself. The recent weather pattern has not restricted itself to a period of a year or two but seems to be progressing and only providing for harsher and certainly unpredictable weather.

Many eco-friendly groups have started talking about "Global Warming", point out to polar icecaps melting and other related phenomena (glacier meltdowns, etc.). However no one has paid much heed to the possibility that human influence no climatic patterns is quite feeble in comparison to human influence on ecology and environment. The same groups labelled Humans responsible for the Holoecene extinction which too has been dismissed by many in the scientific community as only a coincidence in the absence of strong evidence to the contrary. Metereologists have been ignoring Geological phenomena (massive earthquakes and volcanic activity in Indonesia) and Geomagnetic connections to weather (on which all attempts insofar have failed.)

All comments apart, climatic modeling and consequently weather pattern modeling needs to be re-worked. More variables that were previously unknown are undoubtedly influencing the conditions. Identifying these variables and correlating them will help us create a more accurate model allowing us to predict weather better than ever before. So lets move forward and do it while we can. I wonder if the Japanese Earth Simulator project can help out in this regard.
Wireless Networking

Journal Journal: The Electromagnetic Cauldron

The world's population has seemingly reached a maximum it has probably not seen in at least the last two millennia. Demographic analysts point out that in developing, highly populated countries like India and China, the population of younger people aged between 18 and 30 would constitute at least 60% of the whole or more. This immediately spurrs an economic growth, coupled with extreme urbanisation. The resultants have been noticeable. On one hand the economies of such countries have shown a positive growth line, on the other, the problems of rapid urbanisation and volumes are cropping up.

Recently, most magazines have been talking about the presence of many disorders - anxiety, sleep disorders, depression, hypertension and have conveniently labelled them as "stress induced" disorders. Looking at this from an bird's eye view, it would seem that a huge 60%+ working generation would mean heavy competitiveness in turn inducing severe stress levels. This has been verified by the huge increase in prescription and consumption of anti-anxiety/depression/dyssomnia drugs. However, stress levels in prior economic depression in the same demographic class of population and all classes affected severely have been different in nature. While they did induce anxiety and breach hope that took a huge effort to restore, dyssomnia, depression or hypertension were not commonly reported. Today, in an economy which is on a positive spur, people are showing symptoms of these new disorders and are being treated for the same. Worse still, in some countries the young populace attempt to treat themselves (without medical supervision) with mood altering drugs only escalating the problem.

Attempting to trace aetiology, it would seem that the world is now filled with more Electromagnetic radiation, particularly microwave radiation and Radiowaves (RF) than ever before. Both the Microwave and the RF spectrum in complete are known to produce an effect called dielectric heating in organic compounds. (The same effect is employed with a lot more energy in a Microwave oven at ~2.4GHz.) Researchers have confirmed that usage of a mobile phone can raise the surface temperature of the brain by 0.6 degree celsius to 1.0 degree celsius. The same is applicable to any tissue composed of organic matter. Studies were originally done to find the effect of microwave cooked food on carbohydrate content and two opposing schools of thought were formed; one claiming that microwaves could "demetabolise" carbohydrates further than normal cooking, while the other mentioning that the effects were of hardly any significance. Microwaves have the tendency to produce the following effect on higher life forms:
  • dielectric polarisation of organic molecules.
  • dielectric heating of water and other organic compounds within biological tissue.
  • sensory stimuli to the brain of its frequency unrelated to the amplitude (or power) of the microwave.

The power levels of aerial microwaves is roughly 0.45mW/cm^2 if mobile transmission/reception equipment (phones (Radio), wireless networking devices, beacons, etc.) are in use close to a biological organism (more likely to be human.) This power level is too faint and yet can produce the 0.6...1 degree celsius heating of cellular tissue with the dielectric heating effect. This effect has been studied prior and has been dismissed as a minor one. However the effects of polarisation are less repeatable as any disturbance to a catalyst or a source chemical in a biochemical reaction can produce adverse effects at any stage of the biological reaction. The results will depend on the part of the body; e.g. the brain is most sensitive to extremely minor levels of chemical changes - any reaction disruption can alter numerous brain functions while the cause may remain untraceable due to complexity.

The third effect is derived from the fact that a 15Hz light strobe can induce epilepsy in a person with a epileptic condition. The effect is due to an attempt to interpret the frequency that results in an unanticipated state of the brain that creates a reset, observed as an epileptic fit. There are certain people with disorders who, upon noticing a zebra crossing or a certain pattern also suffer from one of the symptoms of epilepsy (usually resulting in temporary loss of consciousness of variable time frames.) This is also spurred by the brains attempt at interpreting input. While there is no concrete evidence presently that microwaves of frequencies beyond 400MHz uptil 1800 Mhz can be sensed by any part of the human body; the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. There is evidence from studies that electromagnetic radiation within a closed room [Faraday chamber] (conducted while studying clairvoyants, psychics or UFO abductees) have experienced the feeling of a "presence" of someone inside the room; The room however during such studies, was devoid of anyone but the person and furniture (non-metallic usually). Similar effects have been observed with ultrasound frequency ranges also. The reason for such "perception" of a presence is unknown.

Down the same stream of thought, the universe is filled with background microwave radiation termed "cosmic microwave radiation" which are being studied. The sources have been sought for during solar eclipses. It is hypothesised that about 500,000 years (solar time frame) after the Big Bang, a relatively cool black body of about 2.7K started emitting cosmic microwave radiation that is prevalent throughout the known universe. Bursts of Cosmic microwave radation can be observed during several astronomical phenomena.

It is quite possible that the attempt of ancient astrology to correlate times of births to long term behavioural patterns was born out of residual effects of such radiation influenced by planetary positions. The newly emergent infant brain would get acquainted with a certain level and alignment of the radiation while behaviour would be abnormal when these radiation levels and alignments change as planetary bodies change position. The planets would actually be playing shields to cosmic microwave radiation affecting level and alignment. However, modern astrological calendars never mention the cause of the behavioural changes but merely correlate planetary positions to birth times and later to life spans; and hence have been deemed scientifically incredible. Further Neutron star collision or another black body that presently (solar time frame) stopped radiating could have been producing far more radiation (and influence on life forms) in earlier times of human evolution. This is utter speculation at the moment, but the possibility can be explored so that it can be either proven to exist or otherwise.

However, it is undeniable that all living organisms, are immersed in heavy microwave radiation, which has only increased in the last few decades due to the increase in wireless communication and satellite usage. We are sitting inside a faraday chamber in both planetary and universal scales. It is high time that we conduct a scientific study to scale and understand the influence of such radiation on life, whatever the influence might be. Human curiosity has no bounds.

Robotics

Journal Journal: The Blind Watchmaker and defective watches

As the never ceasing argument on intelligent design seems to persist, I have been pondering on it for a little while. Religion, in propogating the idea of a creator, professes intelligent design. While the essay on the "Blind Watchmaker" and Dawkins' book of the same name explore the analogy quite thoroughly, my thoughts are far simpler. If the professed "creator" was a perfectionist, there are many ways in which an idealist paradise could be created such that it could never be disrupted. Having not done that, the idea of the perfectionist creator is in itself flawed, though the creator might still exist.

In simple words, allowing life to be constructed as is, without the ability to harm other life within its own species would be easy to such a creator. The moment a conflicting thought arises, it can be biochemically erased and reset, thus creating an impossibility for intra-species harmful/criminal behaviour (something we humans excel at, particularly because of our dominant numbers.) This does not necessarily curb freedom of thought, choice or action; only the impossibility to hurt others irreversibly is in-built biologically.

We humans think of a creator due to our own creative instincts and strengths, and yet we do make imperfect creations as we are not "perfectionists" by design. However, if the religiously professed "watchmaker" was a perfectionist, his creations would be "perfect" in accordance with his own laws (those that religion claims God passed to Man). Self Imposed restriction on disruptive behaviour by whatever means of control (ref: "A Brave New World", "1984") by any species capable of mutually assured disruptive behaviour has been shown to be impossible in works of fiction. To prove the point further - no systems of civilisation have lasted long enough since its creation, always succumbing to disruption of one form of the other.

However, within the religious definition of "God, the Invisible King" (referring to H G Wells' paper) and His perfectionist superhero portrayal, He seems to have fallen short of expectation. In short He has created something that can create, destroy and self-destruct. The arguments for the absence of the idealist paradise in the present context and the promise of it after life (post-death) seems less plausible. So not only is the watchmaker blind, but he imposes no rules nor boundaries to what could stem from creation, he is better referred to by his scientific name Evolution.

The conclusion is definitely strong: factually life after life(death) is enclosed in FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt). The only opportunity is here and now within this context without bother about the watchmaker. There is nothing wrong about improving one's chances of survival by whatsoever means (relatively fair or foul), so long as one can accept it within their own rules of thought and action. The riddle of existence can be explored with the scientific method which has proved useful to the Greeks, and later taken us through the renaissance. This pursuit can be restricted to whoever stays interested in it, after all no life form seems to get enough time (as individuals and as species).
Businesses

Journal Journal: Nepotism, Cronyism and the Barter system

Recently while dealing with a couple of firms, I've noticed that firms are many a time willing to drop their prices in return for a favour. While this is usually translated as good for a favourable economic climate within categories of groups of bussinesses, I see this form of Nepotism as the continuance of the Barter system. Further, I see that even the whole "Free/Libre Software" or "Open Source Software" community is actually closer to a Barter system practicing Nepotism or Cronyism. Yes, there's always the claim of being a meritocracy with these groups, but many self-labelled meritocracies are usually systems supporting nepotism. So long as different minds seem to agree (more in friendly terms) that a certain person is "like-minded" (rather than capable or meritorious), they are interested in admitting him/her into the community. In more accurate terminology this might be closer to cronyism where the relationship is a sort of long-standing friendship created through sharing of like minded thought or argument. This tendency of socio-political networking seems to be a basic pattern in many forms of grouping.

Modern social networking has found new ways of development. Networks like Orkut, Hi5 (and loads of others) have become popular. Entrepreneurs tend to create new teams based on networks they develop and try to exist initially in economic eco-systems created through them. This form of social behaviour has been at the root of "Dynastic Politics" (often used in a derogatory meaning). In India, I see both Nepotism and Cronyism termed as Communal preference. There are enough examples of companies, where people are coalesced on the basis of some communal group. I am sure such patterns of social grouping can be observed at almost any level. Even the "Indian Heritage System" of marriages (a.k.a arranged marriages) within communities is indicative of a long-term existence of such social grouping. The heart of civilisation seems to be rooted on the very phenomenon that united groups of humans into tribes. Julius Caesar named Octavian, his Nephew (Latin:Nepos - Nepotism) in his will for succession of property, having had no legitimate male heir to bear his cognomen. Looking at legal social structures, I see that such grouping coupled with exchanges of favours within them are far ahead in numbers than of any attempting to follow idealist principles of "universal brotherhood".

The reason that has led me to think in this direction is because of the almost unexplainable rioting in France that spread to Germany, the prevalence of an unexplainable nexus between multiple rebel/millitant/anarchist/terrorist groups. They too seem to be such a grouping only facilitated further by modern communication and commutation means. Ultimately it seems that the adage "Birds of a feather flock together" may actually have an entirely different interpretation in the 'social' context. The pursuit of creating the global village is therefore exponentially difficult due to linguistic, ethnic, communal, religious, ideal and relative barriers.
Media

Journal Journal: More Indian Cricket and the SMS tide

The fourth consecutive one-day cricket match against Sri Lanka was also played well by the Indians at Pune despite the Sri Lankans recovering form and composure. The Indian strategy while bowling the last 10 overs (and quite some luck) saved them. The "supersub" batsman (Raina) did the last minute work with another fiery batsman supporting him, after what seemed like a falling pack of cards soon after the Captain made a "stupid mistake" (which he honestly admitted to in the presentation ceremony.) It was really nice to see Indian cricket being non-complacent so far. But the big question starts now, if India can hold down an improving Sri Lankan team in the next three matches of the series (after having won it) and play sport for sport's sake, that would be big. The new rules of Powerplay and Supersubs coupled with a few more subtle rule changes in One Day International Cricket has definitely made the game more interesting.

One more interesting statistic that got published in the newspapers is the revenue that has been generated by SMS contests. This has been on an average close to INR 55,000,000 (or 5.5 crores) per match. The commercial exploitation of sports as an entertainment medium has taken quite a turn with telecom networks profiting from it. A similar response has been with the "Kaun Banega Crorepati-2" (India's 'Who wants to be a Millionaire') equivalent. Fast Moving Retail, Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) has now proven itself as a powerful revenue generation source in developing nations such as India. This does bear similarities to an earlier surge in postcard traffic for TV/Media related contests. This surge which came unanticipated forced the Government to refuse subsidised postcards and provide an alternate pricing to cope up with volume and gained huge profits. The tide seems to be shifting in favor of SMS providers (primarily mobile telecom carrier) and they seem to have their commercial models set right. Future businesses may recognise and adopt the potential for low price, high volume, fast moving retail solutions in developing environments as mutually beneficial.
Entertainment

Journal Journal: Cricket's Diwali

This being the festival lights oft celebrated with noise (loud unwanted sound from 'crackers') we had a nice treat from a committed Indian cricketer. "Dhoni" was the Indian cricketer who turned around what almost certainly looked like a defeat into victory. He had a knock of 183 runs off 143 deliveries (having kept wickets for 50 overs and batted for another 46.) He scored 60% of the 298 runs to be scored and also ended up with the highest score by a wicket keeper besting Aussie Adam Gilchrist's 172. He made the Sri Lankan keeper who had a magnificient 138 look small. For once it seems the Indian cricket team is looking forward to winning all the matches they get to play with an aggressive mindset rather than be complacent after consecutive victories. Of course, time shall tell if they keep this mood and momentum going further which any cricket lover would love to see. The one good point about the match just a day ahead of Diwali was the Srilankans changed their equation and came out stronger. They dismissed India's legend Sachin Tendulkar with Vaas, the guy who's always meant bad luck to Tendulkar at several earlier matches (a smart bowler indeed.) Incidentally the highest one day score of an Indian cricketer is 183 taken earlier by Saurav Ganguly considered an expert batsman himself. Dhoni with a higher strike rate equals the same record this year after having had a previous highest score of 148! So finally, we're seeing a Diwali present, a full team package in the making under a strong Captain & Coach combo.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Trains, Public Behaviour and Territory

I recently paid a visit to my town of nativity 'Erode' for a masonic meeting. This, being a festive season the oft-neglected AC Chair car was quite well occupied on the trip to Erode and on return it was full. The journey towards the city was less eventful. The place was harldly crowded despite the festive season and moving around was easy, thanks to several friends (brethren) who cordially offered their services despite all their duties.

The flood news in the south was an obvious exaggeration of a resultant of a short period of Heavy rains. I saw green crops, with almost little or no water logging and something that would turn into a healthy harvest (contrary to Television doom-sayers; the media for one is an exaggerating and irritating thing riding on 'freedom of the press'.) The Railway administration had carefully designated fast and slow patches of the railway track.

While returning I noticed the obvious lack of concern of a certain passenger to ensure cleanliness of the compartment while his kids were converting it into a toilet of sorts due to misbehaviour. He later moved on nomadically as seats were freed, littering every place he could occupy. This was mostly irritating and disturbing behaviour which no other passenger was willing to act against, appeasement and abeyance to avoid unanticipated trouble from complaint. It also caught me off from being able to read through a not so interesting work of Philip K Dick, "The Penultimate Truth".

This lack of treatment of public property as one's own I believe comes from short-sighted territorial outlook (yes we are close to Dogs, and Dogs do not litter in their sleeping places unless they're sick.) Universal brotherhood and friendship, I realised comes only out of far-sighted territorial outlook; a phenomenon which should in the modern context cross patriotic concerns and boundaries of home, hometown, home state, community & country. Only then does one possess the capability to treat others and all property with equal respect as one's own; Hence, have the capability to relate to individuals who are not genetically related (or within one's own pack.) Stephen Covey addresses the same (perceived territory) as "Circle of Influence" and "Circle of Concern". According to him, the former cannot expand unless the latter does. Coupled with the lack of concern are concurrent issues of lack of etiquette, education and genuine nobility (the mindset, not the birthright).

Perhaps this is what should be worked against through "social science". The perception of larger circles of concern (hence territory) must be inducted into the minds of people through methods of persuasion (hidden, smooth or even harsh.) What most anthropologists are worried about is the possibility that class or communal behavior (or both) may deeply be rooted into primates from mammalian pack behaviour. Such behavior is directly tied with territorial perception. Overcoming a biologically rooted pattern may be far more difficult than a behaviorally or memetically induced sense of perception.
Programming

Journal Journal: Deadlock Handling

I've noticed this happen to me and several other coders I've worked with. Especially when you're dealing with new processor architectures or poorly documented ones, you run into black holes and suddenly things stop working. The normal tendency is to rev up and go at it again and again till it gets working. Only to notice the same old result cropping up again - hardware lock ups, system hangs or worse still "nothing happens..." (ever played SpaceQuest?) I've been sucked into this quicksand of blanking out more than once, and I've tried to get out of it the same way only to find myself drawn deeper inside; and frustration aggregating.

Drawing the analogy, the best way to stay afloat quicksand is supposedly to stay as still as you can to slow down the process. After about two days recently of hammering away at a problem, I finally decided to try Sherlock Holmes' method of dissociation. I started concentrating on something else entirely and left this at the back of my mind. The third day, I just had one go at it, after having formulated the best means to wriggle out of the situation and it worked. I wonder where Conan Doyle found an association between music (playing or appreciating) and subconscious thinking to have captured it in Holmes. This is something that'll be worth the try the next time I find myself in a fix.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Brotherhood and Fellows'hip

There are several clubs and organisations operating in my town, enjoying good membership. At least three of these organisations are built to propogate universal brotherhood and charity. Each of the organisations I am referring to have their principles (which remain unknown, unfathomed an unexplored by over 85% of members and are slowly being lost for ever; I have had the sad opportunity of seeing this happen before me.)

So why join such an organisation at all? The most common reason for people getting together in such organisations is to enjoy many a drink with comrades in a neutral location (many a time, at someone else's expense.) Intellectual conversation is a regular absentee, more frequent then regular absentees. Slowly this makes the intellectual person either lose faith and leave or lose his intellect to a liquor. This deranged following of alcoholic fellowship once led a Doctor to talk about how a male hip is different from a female hip during a meeting. Partially it was a joke, but on the other part it was frustration vented out.

Charity and Brotherhood are farce definitions to these people, the only time I can see people uniting is when they are ganging up to trouble, irritate or derail a common foe. I call this ganging (not unity or brotherhood.) Any similarities to Nazi Germany here? The resultant is a slow injection of disbelief in morality, ethics and principle into strong advocates and followers of them.

Well, what's the answer? I'm coming to set ya right and you're not gonna like this one bit! It'll be like setting a dislocated shoulder, it'll hurt. - IATIA (This volcanic venting has been inspired after reading Wittgenstein; although I don't quote him here.)
User Journal

Journal Journal: Service Companies and Rampant Incompetence -India-

Here's a list of things that have been occupying my mind recently:
  • Water for Borewell digging to be delivered in time.
  • Car remote keys to be replaced.
  • DSL Internet connection to be restored after ISDN switch/port misconnection (at telcom service provider).
  • Roads in town dug up in a haphazard manner to lay sewers that obviously wouldn't work due to lack of capacity.
  • Getting Repairs done at our house in Bangalore.
  • Viewing promised channels on Direct to Home TV setup and a Cable TV setup.

On all the above accounts, I notice one thing in common. The lack of delivering in time and complete disinterest in satisfying the consumer. One might wonder if I am dealing with bullish monopolies (geographically) in these areas. The answer is no, the lack of QoS pervades everybody; each as bad or worse than the other.

Digging a borewell for water requires approximately 4000L of water a day for a planned quantum of work. This needs to be delivered at a specific time every day. "Arbitrary Time Dilation", a pervasive disease in the Indian psyche has made this impossible stalling work, causing a backlog of water reserves for the next day.

The "Authorised Maruti Service Station" (who sold me my car) in my town has been regularly promising to fix my car remote keys. (One key in the pair has a fault that drains the battery in less than a week, and the battery ain't rechargable.) I have suggested to them at least two(2) months back that they could replace the remote control system which they fitted in the first place and has been faulty since day one. I hardly see one bothering to listen, finally I had to have someone purchase an alternate kit and fit it to the car. These people claim to be ISO 900x certified and "Maruti certified" (automaker certification), I am convinced that certification and accreditation provide no credentials and QoS and don't work. Earlier, they did a fiasco with fitting up a Maruti Van (the first ever Maruti-Suzuki model launched in India) by underestimating effort involved in changing the headlights. The same company, while I was about to acquire a car loan for buying a new car from them put a gentleman in charge of liasing with the Bank who confidently told me that my loan would never get approved (it got approved the same day he said that, after a chat with the Bank manager.)

After a moderate thunderstorm, my ISDN telecom carrier went poof and that was the end of my DSL access. In India calling Telephone or Electricity Departments for support is akin to screaming at the wall. You need to know someone inside who will request staff to attend to the problem. (Yes, continuation of service is a restrictive privilege.) After I explained the problem that my DSL router was not seeing the router outside, they still couldn't fix the damn thing; and on shifts, the second person informed through the contact was unaware that the problem had been reported to her counterpart earlier in the morning and insisted that I should have done that. Finally, the contact (being a higher level manager) sorted it out early next day using a team that was on special duty (the day being a central holiday.)

The roads in my town have been dug up recently, the work having been disparately contracted to different contractors without an overall linkage and management plan. The resultant is horrible - roads that have caused my dad to have his car exhaust pipe [on a car with low ride height] attended to at repeatedly. The abysmal 2ft diameter pipes to be laid as sewers have necessitated these contractors to dig 6ft under operative roads with little or no traffic warnings. Worse, during a recent tropical shower, any existing signs fell into the pits causing injury and death to citizens caught unawares. During a recent visit by the CM, part of the roads were laid in astounding speed in acceptable quality levels. The work is back to a standstill with half the town dug up and there is no hope that this sewer system will ever be networked and function in the near future. Further, roads laid a week earlier by the National Highways Authority (who took no trouble to collaborate with local authorities) were dug up immediately after. Commuting within the small town has become a nightmare, even if you're walking. The malhandling of the situation goes on despite newspaper coverage with a separate item on the same (apart from letters to the editor.)

We proposed a plan for repairing and slightly restructuring our house in Bangalore where my grandparents lived for over 3 decades (of retired life.) Getting a contractor in the "Software Capital" [bah!] who promises and delivers what he promises is a pipedream. The local authorities are very friendly with people from other states (sarcasm: full). They are almost impossible to deal with when you aren't a native of that state. This is a direct ill effect of linguistic state creation (thanks to the "architects" of India.)

Due to lack of sports channels in the Cable TV setup (allegedly a political ploy as a certain politician owns stake in a MSO distributor) throughout my state, I decided to get a DTH service from a firm that has an awful selection of channels except for two(2) sports channels. They had a premium movie channel (MGM/Zee/Select) which they discontinued without notice one silent night and despite angered viewer feedback, aren't bothered to do so. The Cable TV setup frequently disconnects service or changes channels at will. Despite the fact that all Cable TV setups are controlled by a local alliance, nobody is assured of any quality of service. Most technicians are even unaware of the type of cable or boosters or basic microwave theory to help provide better service (analog television). A combination of the lack of interest in providing customer service and technical incompetence.

Be it the government or a private service firm, gross lack of curt towards customers, coupled with indifference and incompetence dominate Indian companies. Once a delivery date/time is promised, Time delays are a norm, rather than the exception, and delays of delivery from one day to several weeks are quite common (after the salesman acquires his initial/advance payment.) Report a problem, and the first thing they say is "There's something wrong on your side." In a country where some business institutions have the line "The customer is always right." written in their offices (authored by M.K.Gandhi, creator of the "Gandhian Philosophy/method".) I had the same problems with a commercial Mobile Phone service provider from whom I took service for Internet access, and my connection was cut with no apparent explanation and never restored thereafter despite dozens of phone calls where they don't take the trouble to greet you by your name or even phone number.

I believe that this would persist because of public appeasement of all the ills that span both public and private sectors. Chauffers, maids and almost anyone you would want to employ are by default considered unreliable with an attitude towards pilfering. Even these people along with their ills are incompetent (and in many cases illiterate.) I am sick of hearing about the Indian economy boom; a side effect of Foreign Institutional Investment(FII) and not reflective of any growth. The bust is here to come, because all the required factors for it are deep-rooted and no one has any plans of working about it. Recently someone complained about the credentials of an educational institution and the credentials of its very founders, and got slapped with a defamation suit with no attempt made to answer the questions asked. I ask around and people tell me, "that's the way things work here." It is time someone woke up and changed this, and I don't care even if this is a dictator coming out of the masses. (reason: During the last war with Pakistan, due to a country-wide emergency alert, strikes were banned and services were perfect with the Government institutions. Workers could get fired for not reaching offices in time!)

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... though his invention worked superbly -- his theory was a crock of sewage from beginning to end. -- Vernor Vinge, "The Peace War"

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