Sunday, September 28, 2008

President precedent?

I always thought that Pakistan was a parliamentary democracy (when it was, i.e.) that was similar to India in many respects. The same federal structure, the same judicial structure and the same administrative structure.
So I was surprised when I saw Asif Ali Zardari visit Washington and address the UN as the head of state. I was under the impression that like India, the PM was the head of state for all practical purposes while the President was a titular head.
Did the constitutional changes that Musharraf made, also include the clause that the Pres will have greater authority than the PM? Haven't they rolled back those changes?
Or not as yet?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Have you ever....

Been in a meeting in which you're not needed?
You can do cool stuff like writing blog posts....

Some sense of humour

A fast track court has sentenced four people to death and awarded life imprisonment to 11 others in connection with the murder of a Dalit 15 years ago

These guys have some sense of humour, seriously.
If the link hasn't expired, you can read the article here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Devil's Delusion

Is a direct reply to Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and others who believe vehemently that god does not exist and use science and logic to convey their viewpoint.
It is an enjoyable read, mainly because of the belligerent feel of the book.
One cannot but help feeling that the author, David Berlinski, is totally pissed off with Dawkins and others of his ilk.
Strictly speaking about logic, though, I find the book getting its logic right 80% of the time, mainly when it exposes the logical flaws of the aforementioned atheists.
Clearly, that is the purpose of the book. To totally take apart these guys even if it is by nitpicking and taking small quotes and making fun of it.
The cosmological argument is discussed in great detail and Thomas Aquinas' views are given predominance here. Now Thomas Aquinas' views on an expedient/contingent god are complex, and on a first reading I had to literally ask myself, WTF? What exactly is this guy(Berlinski, presumably speaking for Aquinas) trying to say. Aquinas' arguments do not, logically, prove the existence of God.
However, one of the good points worth mentioning is the apparent leap of faith that scientists are willing to take when it comes to predicting that we will have a GUFT, that explains how everything works. (Why it does, will still be unanswered). This is compared with the leap of faith that believers in God take. There is a difference between firm belief and cautious optimism. The former, of course, attributed to theists, while I am attributing the latter to the attitude of scientists in general. I do not think that all scientific atheists are of the firm opinion that a GUFT will be 'revealed'/discovered in the near future.
One more point, Berlinski has, on several occasions in the book, supported his analysis, with mere quotations from people who are supposedly credible sources with infinite wisdom. Quotations cannot prove anything. Nothing. They are merely attention deflecting devices that are used when your core point isnt strong enough.
In his zealousness to 'take the case' of Messrs Dawkins and Co, Berlinski does go overboard most of the times, but I must admit, reading this book has had a positive after effect for me. I've looked up topics/personalities that I would never have bothered to otherwise and it did get me thinking on a couple of good points.


Since mainstream Indian Television (I will not call it TV!) has been unavailable for the past year or so, I've made it a point to watch clippings of videos put up on websites like the Times of India and IBNLive at regular intervals to catch up with the goings on in India.
Now IBNLive does a very good job by hosting a large number of video clippings, of nearly all the major programs that run on air in India. Most of the times, these clips load fast, stream well and are void of problems like poor clarity, etc.
Good job there, IBN, you have a much better site than other mainstream Indian media outlets, at least than the ones I've visited.
I have a complaint, though. In the so called 'discussions' that take place, the program hosts always seem to have made up their mind as to which side they are on. The questions seem to be directed at the participants with that conviction in mind.
My complaint is this: If you are so convinced as to what the real problem is/what the solution is, then why invite people from opposite views to present their case?
Why not pass off your judgment to the viewer. Why don the greasepaint of discussion/debate to cover your prejudice/pre-conceived notions.
Right from the question that people are supposed to respond to (Don't organizations like the Bajrang Dal need to be banned just like organizations like the SIMI? TYPE QOTD YES/NO and send to 5525), to the questions asked to the participants and the flippancy with which opposing(opposing the host's view, of course) viewpoints are dismissed, the whole god-damn attitude that some of the show hosts seem to have is irritating at times, though you might at some point of time even agree with them. Your prejudice, no matter how logically correct it may be, is no cause for being dismissive of other peoples' views, especially if you're asking them to participate in your show and thereby sustain it.
Stop it IBN, it's just not correct.