Atanu Dey On India's Development

March 13, 2015
by Atanu Dey
2 Comments

Friday the 13th, Pi Day the 14th & Beware the Ides of March

But first, if you are superstitious then be wary since it is Friday the 13th. If you know anything about numbers, and you live in the US, then you can be irrational on Saturday which is Pi Day.
piday

This pi day stuff works only in the US convention of writing mm/dd/yy for dates.

But whatever you do, beware the Ides of March.

March 10, 2015
by Atanu Dey
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The Man Lee Kuan Yew Admires the Most

The politician I admire the most is Lee Kuan Yew. Why? Because he is intelligent, learned, wise and gets things done. He is authoritarian — but without authority, you cannot get things done. All great leaders are authoritarian since they have to lead. The problem is not authority; the problem is authoritarian leaders who are stupid. Countries end up in the bottom of heap because of stupid authoritarian leaders. Two notable authoritarian leaders in India’s history are Nehru and MK Gandhi. How wise they were is clear from the evidence: India is a desperately poor country. China too had its fair share of stupid authoritarian leaders. And like India, it was awfully poor. But its fortunes changed. How? Because of one man.
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March 8, 2015
by Atanu Dey
1 Comment

Daylight Savings Time is Plain Idiocy

imagesThe year’s in the Spring. And the clocks spring forward an hour. It’s daylight savings time from today to Nov 1st. The persistence of generalized collective idiocy can be explained by some kind of social inertia. Daylight savings time is a prime example. It was meant to reduce energy use. A little bit of thought should be enough for one to realize that there cannot be — in this present day and age — any energy savings by futzing around with clocks. Continue Reading →

March 4, 2015
by Atanu Dey
3 Comments

An Informed Citizenry is the Bulwark of a Democracy

Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826), one of the Founding Fathers of the US and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence is believed to have written that “an informed citizenry is the bulwark of a democracy.” Bulwark — a defensive wall — is against something or someone. I don’t know the context in which Jefferson wrote that (or even if he did write it at all) but I’d like to think what he meant was that an informed citizenry protects democracy from the possible tyranny of the government.
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March 3, 2015
by Atanu Dey
4 Comments

Problems and Solutions

There are problems. That implies solutions. Whether or not you can find a solution to any specific problem cannot be granted. It cannot be also be granted that you know the solution or are even capable of finding a solution. The solution may exist but you aren’t given the capacity or the means to solve it. Then it is not a problem that you should concern yourself with. Live with it.

Quite often a situation is defined as a problem. It may not be. It may be that that’s just the way things are. Being able to distinguish between situations that you can do something about or not is important. It’s not a problem if no one can do anything about it. Get used to it.
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March 1, 2015
by Atanu Dey
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People I Admire – Part Doh

After I wrote that post on “People I Admire“, I began thinking that I should start listing my heroes. So let’s make this a series. Here’s part 2 of the series. I will mention two people. One of them used to be my neighbor at the Convent. Did you know that I spent one year at the Convent? Yes I did, although it was naturally not a functioning convent when I lived there. The other person is someone I haven’t met but I would dearly like to meet. He works (and I guess, lives) in the SF Bay area, and therefore I can claim that he’s a distant neighbor. They share one thing in common: they are both black — or to use the more politically correct term, they are African-American.
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February 27, 2015
by Atanu Dey
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Nelson Mandela on Education

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” That according to Nelson Mandela.

I object to the characterization of education as a weapon. Weapons are used as tools of destruction, not construction. Remember the distinction between tools and weapons: all weapons are tools (instruments; means to an end) but not all tools are weapons (“any device used in order to inflict damage or harm to living beings, structures, or systems.”)

Changing the world is a fine objective. Most people want some changes in the world around them and most people (though not all) want some change in themselves too.
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February 24, 2015
by Atanu Dey
7 Comments

Criticizing Modern Indian Holy Cows Considered Dangerous

A little while ago, I saw this tweet — which I append below. It relates to the mainstream media’s response to Shri Mohan Bhagwat’s comment that “Mother” Teresa was motivated by her desire to convert people to Christianity. That seems really odd to me. I would have surmised that the fact that Teresa was basically in the business of proselytizing and converting would be as unremarkable as the fact that the Pope is a Catholic. Whatever she did — and she was remarkably candid about it — she maintained was because she was serving her lord and savior Jesus Christ. Christ wanted everyone to be saved through him. So what’s so bloody remarkable about noting that she was primarily motivated by what she admitted to: saving souls?

Anyway, here’s the tweet by @rvaidya2000:
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February 23, 2015
by Atanu Dey
1 Comment

Richard Dawkins on the Monotheistic God

The god of the Old Testament is the same god that Christians adopted in their New Testament. Following the Jews and the Christians, Islam proclaimed the same monotheistic god. Who is this god? Richard Dawkins, a non-believer, characterized that god in his book The God Delusion thusly:

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

Every word in that description is justified — within the so-called “holy” books. Chapter and verse can be quoted to show why that god is “the most unpleasant character in all fiction.”

February 23, 2015
by Atanu Dey
0 comments

List of Pages on Teresa the Merciless

Here’s a list of pages that deal with the “Mother” Teresa. These pages don’t show up in the category “Mother Teresa” — hence this post.

Teresa: Ghoul of Calcutta by Hitchens.

Sunanda Datta-Ray: “Driven by Self-interest”.

Shields: “Teresa’s House of Illusions”

Kanchan Gupta: “A State Funeral?”

Wuellenweber: “Mother Teresa: Where are her millions”?

Hitchen’s Interview: “. . . to the poor she preached resignation . . . “

Deposition: “Mother of All Myths”

February 21, 2015
by Atanu Dey
8 Comments

People I Admire

I admire a few public figures intensely. Among those who are still around, the physicist Murray Gell-Mann makes that short list. Among the dear departed physicists are Albert Einstein and Richard Feynman. Politicians mostly make it to my list of “Most Intensely Disliked” list but there is one exception: Lee Kuan Yew makes it to “Most Intensely Admired” list. My list “Economists I Admire the Most” has the usual suspects like Adam Smith, Friedrich August von Hayek, Ronald Coase, Milton Friedman — and James M Buchanan,Jr.
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February 21, 2015
by Atanu Dey
0 comments

Lee Kuan Yew is under Intensive Care

Lee Kuan Yew is in intensive care in a hospital in Singapore (Yahoo news.) I am afraid that he will not be around for long but I hope my fears are unfounded. I wish that India had had a leader of his intellect and dedication at the time of India’s political independence from British rule. Unfortunately for hundreds of millions of Indians, India got saddled with Gandhi and following him, Nehru. Both will be judged harshly by the generations to come but that is scant consolation for those who suffered in the past and for those who continue to suffer due to the idiotic policies of incompetent and idiotic leaders of India.

I hold most contemporary politicians in contempt and would rejoice to see the back of them. But I will deeply mourn Lee Kuan Yew’s passing for certain. I hope that day is still far away.

February 15, 2015
by Atanu Dey
0 comments

On Monkeys, Cats & the Generality Principle

This one is hauled from the archive. Why? Because these two articles are nice. Even if I myself say so. Also, I am very busy reading and so don’t have the time to write fresh stuff. Or perhaps I am just plain lazy. In any case, do check out the following.

1. Profiting from Conflict. The Monkey and the Cats.

Wars are generally very costly for most people but are always very profitable for some. It is also not too difficult to start a conflict. Envy, greed and covetousness lie just beneath the surface and can be summoned almost at will. Arms manufacturers and arms dealers have the greatest incentive for provoking, fuelling and maintaining conflict. Follow the money if you want to know why some parts of the world suffer chronic conflict.

2.On Constitutions and the Generality Principle.

Societies which have potential fracture lines can still avoid catastrophic breakdown provided the basic set of rules — the constitution — that constrain behaviour were such that it did not stress those divisions. The real danger arises when the constitution makes those fault lines explicit and laws are enacted in accordance with those rules which then discriminate for or against identifiable groups.

Questions, comments?

February 13, 2015
by Atanu Dey
2 Comments

The Great Indian Bamboozle has to Stop

[Edit note: This piece was written & published elsewhere in Oct 2013. The Indian political scene has changed somewhat since then, thankfully under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi but evidently not enough. True that Rahul Gandhi is no longer relevant but clearly sleazy politicians like Kejriwal and his minions are successful in bamboozling the public in Delhi. This piece is, unfortunately, still relevant.]

If the people of the village, in the best traditions of their hallowed democratic processes, elect the village idiot as the King and Supreme Ruler of the village, it is hard for me to bring myself to find fault with the village idiot. It’s not the idiot’s fault that nature dealt him a lousy hand in the random genetic draw of life. He’s a congenital idiot and made no demands on being recognized as a paragon of wisdom and virtue. Based on that principle, I indicted American voters for electing some of their recent presidents, a few more than once. I can see no reason for not applying that principle to India.
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February 7, 2015
by Atanu Dey
2 Comments

2400 hours of electricity for Delhi — every year?

Kiran Bedi is funny. Unintentionally of course. Here’s why. (Click on the image below to get to the tweet.)

MWSnap151

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So 2400 hours, instead of just 24 hours? Is that the total number of hours that Delhi will have electricity? And if so, total for how many years?

That reminds me of one of Steven Wrights jokes.

I went down the street to the 24-hour grocery. When I got there, the guy was locking the front door. I said, ‘Hey, the sign says you’re open 24 hours.’ He said, ‘Yes, but not in a row.’

I like his humor. He points out the obvious. For example, “Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time.” Or, “It doesn’t matter what temperature the room is, it’s always room temperature.” More of his insanity here.