Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Politicians and Philanthropy

When a politician announces they will donate all or part of their salary, it's usually a publicity stunt. Don't fall for it. Do your research. They merely want to get 6m Likes on FB. If they are so much of a social philanthropist, why even stand for a political post? In any case, their real competition is all those millions of selfless workers and volunteers who are giving their lives for the poor, and the country, and asking for nothing in return. Not definitely a place on the Time magazine cover. And by politicians trying to wear the hat of a social worker, they are helping shadow the contributions of the volunteer force, and making them insignificant over time. Why would that be? Because a political post has one thing that a volunteer doesn't. And that is power.

They (the politicians) are not willing to give up their power, are they? After all, why would they? Because that is the first thing that has attracted them on front stage in front of the CNN camera. Now anything noble they say on camera goes into history as waves of philanthropic wisdom. Indelibly branded in letters of fire on the hearts of the ill-informed. Having said that, I don't mean to diminish anyone's contributions, even if they are just words. But I instead challenge them to live up to their promise of selfless service for the people. Because, it's the people who have helped formed this government, and other democratic governments. The people are "higher" than any individual with power or a mic, more so, money.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Politicians, deeds and real planetary considerations

This blog post is a strange assortment of many different ideas, responses and a jumble of analytical and even non-analytical ideas that flirt the boundaries of "good" v/s "good-looking" and science v/s reality. So pardon the apparent brownian motion that the floating part of my brain indulges in.

I am starting to feel that there is a fine difference between "action" and "deed". Marriage is an institution started by humans. The deeds committed by the politicians are in no way a reflection of how the society operates. I wouldn't necessarily widen the scope of a political dynasty and it's deeds to be attributable to the overall performance of a national system. The moment you start questioning their performance based on their deeds, you start to realize there are many political leaders and well-regarded scholars around the planet that were popular in public life, but however had an outrageously "immoral" execution of their private lives. Perhaps certain centers of the brain or neural system are strangely in proximity, that create such tendencies. Have we done a clinical or even psychological analysis of this behavior. Perhaps that's what makes us human.

Is, to be human, to be perfect? The truly flawless, perfectionist exists in the imagination or in the movies. The fact that we screw up, is not because we are NOT Gods, but because we are just a bunch of sophisticated logic which may still have bugs. It's not that machines are more predictable about their malfunction. It's just that the patterns of human malfunction are a lot more complex and probably predictable in non-linear, polynomial or even polynomials with imaginary exponents.

Would an alien know the difference between good and bad? How would they define abuse of environment? Would our knowledge and control over our nature and environment give us more liberty to plunder it. Would our scientific advancement in terms of mastering the basis of life or even synthetic life, give us the license to re-invent environment itself or manipulate our existential dependencies on them? What exactly would constitute responsible "living" in a planetary system of NGC-58 that supports alternate forms of life.

That brings us to the next question. What is life really? Why can't I blame a dining table of larceny? Why is gambling unheard of in the ant colony? And why is it legal for birds to drink and fly? Or is it? Does it even matter? Is there such a thing as a good-looking tiger or peacock? And do hummingbirds become mean and nasty ever?

The three sensations of "pain", "pleasure" and "itch" are in close proximity in our brain. Is there a reason for this? Or is this the reason why we sometimes create rapists, murderers and lovers in our society, all depicted in movies as frequently the same character that commits these "crimes".

Now, there are two questions:

1. Do we judge politicians based on what they did in their private lives, or public lives or both?

2. Do we attribute their success or failures in execution while on job, to our ability or inability to elect or not elect an appropriate leader?

Now, my answer to the first question is, that I usually don't judge the success of any political leader's public life based on anything other than the actions they perform while executing their position as a leader or President of the country. Now this is complicated when their private lives get public. Another point ... human desires have no walls around them. I don't think religion or culture or any legacy plays an important role when humans have a physical or mental desire to seek pleasure. While this is common in animals, we tend to draw lines around morality when it comes to humans. The question I ask: Did all the Gods marry? What did Jesus do? What did Krishna do? When I start thinking about these fundamental questions, is when I like to tune out of this all together.

My answer to the second question, it is definitely our responsibility to ensure good alternatives available at the top when we go voting at the booth. It's always hard to choose between two evils. I don't think I ever saw a flawless candidate on the presidentential ticket in the world history that I have lived with.

The planet, to me is now more important than the deeds of the politicians I have helped elect. It really doesn't matter anymore who runs a nation and what they do. What matters is what we as a human kind can do to reverse the climate changes and prevent ourselves from being self-annihilated by moody tyrants.

People like Al Gore and Michio Kaku have encouraged us think about the big picture. They have asked us to look beyond politics, beyond wars, beyond economies, beyond power and beyond wealth and instead look at the basis of life and existence itself. In this bigger scheme of things, we have demonstrated a very poor ability to grasp that.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Listen to Santana's "I am winning" and do your work!

Tired of bailing out the fiscally irresponsible who you trusted so much with your hard-earned money? Wouldn't you rather spend time doing something else that will guarantee a benefit for yourself, just when your frustration is at it's highest. Tired of playing by the rules only to realize that all your tax dollars are being spent to bail out all the banks? Well, if you say yes to even one of these questions, you are not alone and you are not abnormal. Nor do you need any kind of help or counseling.

It's time you started thinking about "winning" because that's the going attitude of the day. The winning attitude is going to help keep yourself optimistic, and take charge of your life. You will find that you have stopped complaining and started working towards improving your life and your surroundings. Don't expect Obama to be your Messiah. He is not going to come and save you, and don't ever believe it when they tell that you have been living irresponsibly borrowing too much to buy homes, and which has what has lead to the nations' banking issues. You are probably the only element in the economy that has got it all right. You worked 12 hours a day for the last 8 years, paid all your bills, skipped half your vacations and in return all you expect is an affordable home that is not too far from your place of work. Market forces have determined how much your home would cost. You have not been going to auction houses and trading on mortgage securities. You have not been going on eBay and buying that piece of barren land in New Mexico that you have never seen. You have pretty much been rushing to get home from work in the commute traffic so you can pick up your child from school. You have been maintaining a family and working hard to keep your job while you find the employers are getting tax incentives to export the jobs abroad.

But while you were living responsibly and doing everything right, there have been a few who have been playing with mortgage securities and trading it in the world markets, using exotic derivatives for the purpose of immediate gains. And while you were working hard and shopping for your necessities and saving the little money left for college education of your kids, there have been people who have approved emergency funds to be taken out of the nations' treasury in billions of dollars for fighting a war in a foreign country like Iraq, which should never have been started in the first place. They have falsely promised you about national security and they have indulged in fear-mongering to make sure you do not stop them from using that money. And while you were filling $5 a gallon of gas, you have been told that India and China have been largely contributing to increased demand for world's oil. And then you also read the headlines in the news that Exxon has made a record profit of $37 billion in 2008, the highest ever made by any company. You also learn that 12 of the world's largest 15 companies are oil companies.

And while you have been told that capitalism is under threat, you find that companies like AT&T and Comcast lobby the government of the major urban cities of the country to prevent the proliferation of high speed internet via Wi-Fi max or other cool technologies. And you find yourself shopping in Walmart, Target, Costco, more often than the convenience store right near your home because you know your 5/1 ARM is due a month from now, and you are fearing that your monthly payments are going to rise. You also learn that these stores pretty much carry most products that are no longer made in this country.

And while you hope that skilled American workers need to return back to their jobs, you also learn that we are adding 1 million illegal immigrants into this country's population. You are also told that the welfare, education, hospital and jail resources are pretty much being utilized by the illegals. And you have been told that you are not American, if you say no to illegals. So you have been historically blackmailed and held on a social leash for the span of your life.

All this will drive you to lose. You would prefer being a loser. But don't. You could be winning. Because you did everything right. And when nothing works for you to motivate yourself, just listen to Santana's "I am winning" and tune out of reality.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

AOLers The Next Generation

Many in the enterprise software world don't know about linux based web hosting and don't trust home-grown web sites hosted entirely on linux sites. They have some sort of bias about their reliability. This is ironical, as some of the biggest entrepreneurs started putting together their sites right from the comfort of their home, by setting up a LAM (Linux Apache Mysql) combination on their Fedora or SUSE installations. This includes people like craigslist.org and digg.com, but the list goes on. Worst of all, these "AOLers", as I call then, don't know how to setup their own sendmail servers and host a domain on it themselves. They all happily flock to large brand name web hosters like Google, Yahoo and seek comfort and solace underneath this new web imperialism.

But the bias is just too strong and stems from ignorance, helplessness and stupidity. I have given up on this new generation of graduates who come from some of our best schools, and don't do back-end programming, have never heard of C++ and haven't written a line of C code. And all they are exposed to is PHP and ASP programming. I should admit they write javascript, and know their HTML and CSS pretty well. But I have my doubts if they really understand C.S.

I have grown-up in a hard-core Unix environment, and have been exposed to all kinds of open source software long before Java even made it's debut. My first debates about this started when I was in school in Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. That's when I realized the power of Unix. Before this, my only background was Pascal, Algol, PL/M. I enjoyed my C programming courses. That's when I learned about the beginnings of a new open source world emerging. Linus Torvalds had not yet unleashed the wave of Linux which was to come years later in 1991, I believe. But we were already writing code and sharing it on the campus with various organizations that included the Math Olympiad.

Since then, I have been passionate about open source. But my ambitions go beyond open source. I believe that a vast majority of the population in the world will likely not be exposed to software, leave alone not being exposed to open source. So what people really need is free tools and apps that work on the web. But I should say, I am not really satisfied with what I see out there. I see a phenomenon of web imperialism. My frustration arose from spending a lot of time on google sites. Although I love some of it's features like hosting email and other apps, the web site hosting part just completely messed my mind. I just don't feel I am in control when all I want to create, is straightforward HTML. There is no way to get to the HEAD section of the page. This is ridiculous. I am now moving my stuff back to my linux boxes. As a hobby, I volunteer some of time helping non-profit organizations that would like to educate people about music. So yes, they don't have a big budget. What good is a tool, when it's only used only for storage and bandwidth management. So you just keep your videos, photos etc on these sites and use them remotely while hosting your domain on your own linux boxes? But what does google get from that?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Highlight any webpage instantly!

Rohit Chandra, who is a serial entrepreneur and a good friend of mine, is now on to his next mega-idea. This time it is a big web 2.0 splash with an interesting twist ... highlight any web page instantly, as if you have a highlighter. So when you send web links to people now you can have them focus on what you want them to read, rather than read a whole web page. In this busy world no one has time to read the whole webpage. What you want is a quick way to tell something that was so much possible in the classical world of pen and paper.

I like his website name:


This is a derivative of his own name. I know Rohit, ever since I met him in Informix, where I was a web architect for the world's first media project in Java in early 1995 when the web was fresh from the oven. At that time, I was building an SOA startup for network management. And in Rohit, I saw the fire that the entrepreneurs have. He was restless and would never give up thinking how he would change the world. A few years later he launched this startup called ECode which shook the world. It was his original patented idea and a real good one. Since then, I have been very impressed with his zeal and motivation to change the fabric of the web.

So what are you waiting for? Just go ahead and aim your browser at http://www.roohit.com and you will get addicted to this new way of highlighting web pages.

There's something about Rohit, I see him in the right places at the right time. He's got an amazing sense of communication and really stays on top of the fundamental aspects of what users need for the internet of tomorrow.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

James Robinson's music

Had gone to Cascal's at castro street in Mountain View to listen to James Robinson and his band. Fantastic combination of flamenco, latin jazz, turkish, italian and spanish rhythms. He has his own signature, very good chord work and intense melodic flamenco style finger work. There's a lot of energy he puts in, and he's got a stellar band of expert Congo drummers and a great backing rhythm/bass guitarist.

I love to support such talent, and bought all his three CDs. His website is:


and some links:

And my brother introduced me to him, as he was his instructor, so this was not a surprise, as I have been hearing great reviews from him from some years.

Presently loading all his CDs into my iTunes now.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

SangeetDhwani's Upcoming Mega Concert

SangeetDhwani is a non-profit organization which has held 30 concerts in the bay area. Here's their next major mega concert: