Saturday, December 22, 2012

About Guns and Women

Two incidents in America and India respectively have led to widespread heated discussion. The incidents I refer to are shootout in a school in the US and Gang rape in India. While both incidents are obviously isolated, yet the discussion that has ensued in respective countries has had overlapping repercussions. America questions the freedom to own firearms and probably use the incident in India to justify lesser Gun Control and on the other hand India questions should we have greater freedom of owning firearms so that incident like what we witnessed doesn’t happen. Two seemingly different incidents have common factors; both are a reflection of the Politics and Society of the respective countries and both the incidents were equally gruesome, brutal and leave us horrified, shocked and with many answerless questions.

America Debates:
The firearm makers’ association has long lobbied in favor of allowing greater freedom in firearm ownership. The rationale behind such a step was that a country is not free, just and democratic unless ordinary people get to choose if they intend to own firearms or not. A society cannot be just if only criminals possess firearms, albeit illegally, commit crimes with them and yet ordinary citizens can’t legally possess firearms which could help them protect themselves. The legislation was welcomed and people felt that knowing that ordinary citizen possess weapons, crime rates should come down. The argument definitely sounds logical, favorable and convincing. However what was not factored in was the chance of these firearms occasionally landing in the hands of depressed, manic and deranged individuals who were capable of doing unthinkable shocking acts. The current incident was not the first time that we had a certain individual opening fire in a public place that lead towards loss of lives of children and adults alike, however the loss of lives of 20 children and 6 adults leaves plenty of questions to be answered. Some would argue that America needs newer rules of gun control and yet some would argue that if the school teacher possessed a firearm hidden somewhere in her drawer, lot of lives could have been saved.

For all the lobbying that happens, for all the firearms that get sold and for all the occasional shootouts that happen in public places what would be of interest to see is, if ownership of firearms had a strong co-relation with crime rates? Let me provide some comparative data

As the data would show, the % of homicides due to firearms in countries with lower ownership rates is not much different than the countries with higher ownership rates. Also America is turning out to be a bad example to quote if owning of firearms has to be advocated. Homicide rate in America is the highest among the countries with high ownership. The country that comes second with respect to ownership of firearms has an almost 50% lower ownership rate and a much lower crime rate compared to America. I think the writing is definitely on the wall and America has quite a problem on hand to deal with. I am not sure if it could afford to wait till another similar incident happens before rethinking gun control; however lobbying will not make it an easy job.

India Debates:
Various Women welfare organizations are fighting hard to mete out capital punishment to the perpetrators of the heinous crime of rape in the recent incident that happened in Delhi. Undoubtedly it is a heart wrenching, spine chilling and extremely gruesome crime that anybody could commit. The question being asked is a crime that leaves the victim dealing with a lifelong mental trauma, what would be the most appropriate and severe punishment that could be awarded to the criminals which is just and at same time exemplary enough to  act as a deterrent in the future. Some argue that capital punishment is most appropriate, others would counter argue saying, the victim has to suffer all her life so an appropriate punishment should make the rapist suffer as much, and hence propose chemical castration as the right punishment. Yet there are many who suggest that existing laws or any amount rules would never act as a deterrent enough, instead we should have lesser gun control and have access to firearms. There could be no bigger deterrent than that ever and would lead to reduction in all forms of crime.

Talking about Gun control, the above graph presented could not link higher firearm ownership and lower crime rates in any definite manner. In addition another data shown in the graphs below for America again don’t show any emerging co-relation either, the decrease in incidents of rape in America was not linked with corresponding increase in ownership of firearms!


 I think, the larger question that is being asked is who was responsible for such crime, police? Politicians? Society? The Victim?  It is true that the Politicians don’t treat rape as a key issue of discussion as it doesn’t give them any votes and police often lack the sensitivity to deal with such issues. I think the problem is with our Society at large and the views of Police and Politicians are only a reflection of the society they represent. I indicated in an earlier blog post that whenever such incidents happen the society has to take collective responsibility. Yes there are widespread protests, there are demands for capital punishment, and there are talks about ostracizing the perpetrators. However for a society where women can’t wear what she wants, can’t get married to who she wants to, can’t chose career as per her interest and a society where even birth of a girl child is at the mercy of the males,  in such a society such protests appear farcical. Rape is an instance of a disrespectful male that doesn’t think much about women liberty or freedom. The society that has so vociferously condemned the current crime would not blink to say that women should dress appropriately or should not stay out till late night or should have been married off in her teens. We are all equally responsible for what has happened we are all answerable to the lady struggling for her life and to her family and to all such victims. It is unfortunate but a society gets the police, politicians and crime it deserves.

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Routing Madness

A first Visit to any city is always associated with equal amount of excitement and anxiety. While the excitement is well understood, point to ponder about is what are we anxious about? I guess the anxiety is always about the new people we are going to meet and what their reaction would be towards us. Visitors who land in cities unknown to them have some form of ‘visitors’ or ‘strangers’ or ‘outsiders’ tag stuck to their foreheads. I don’t know what exactly it is, twitch of the nose? Move of the eye?  Unsure walk? Providers of a service, like cab drivers, are very good at figuring that out and sometimes exploit it as well. Last thing we want upon reaching a place is, to be conned.  I remember a funny scene from a not so popular Bollywood movie; the scene shows a bunch of friend land in a city unknown to them, the cab driver recognizes instantly that these are “out of Towner’s” and literally takes them for a ‘ride’;  While going round and round in circles around the city one of the friend notices seeing a particular shop again and again. When the person asks the driver that I thought I saw that shop an hour ago, the driver answers to that saying ‘it’s a very popular shop and has a branch in almost all localities of the city so don’t be surprised if you see it again and again’ quite convincing isn’t it?

As humans we always look for assurances. Personally I have this need to feel a bit more in control about matters such as explained above and still keep my adventurous side alive. Today Mobile Devices, Global Positioning System, (GPS) and Google Maps have played a tremendous role in allaying my fears and soothing my nerves. They are making unfamiliar cities familiar. By making these cities familiar they are helping me feel connected to the place. Cities and towns open up to me and speak to me like never before. Presence of GPS and Google Maps in the city I am visiting means that I know distance from the Airport to the hotel, I can calculate approximately how much it would cost and how much time it should take and also figure out what are the interesting things on the way.  It has never failed me till date and has the capability of picking up even the seemingly obscure locations/landmark. With this control back in my hand and nerves soothed, I can focus more on enjoying my journey and talk to the people around with greater assurance. It has helped me focus on people and helped me to strike up interesting of conversation with strangers and make friendships in places that I could have never imagined before.

Technology always, like many others things, is a double edged sword, used appropriately it reduces distances between humans and used in excess creates imaginary distances where none existed. Sometimes we feel more comfortable to SMS our neighbor than walk across and have chat! Nonetheless I would still inspire everyone to trust GPS/Google maps as it makes life easier when travelling. I have often surprised cab drivers or friends with the amazing level of accuracy with which I could guide them or drive them to the required destination. The irony is, that I needed satellites residing miles above the surface of the earth to help me feel comfortable in going from one place to the other on earth.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Matter of Consciousness

CS has been approached in as methodical a manner as possible in my last two blog posts, about the same subject, I also have tried to take a much more structured approach and use my own CS to understand CS itself. Approaches like these, while attempting to get an objective view of a seemingly subjective topic, leave many philosophical conundrums unanswered. I explore one such conundrum here.

In general, all of us do think we fairly understand how the world functions, also based on what our belief systems are, we do also believe that we understand how world would have evolved. In many ways, topics taught in schools and colleges, are taught as definite and well established facts. Such incidents definitely have the power to strongly influence our views and thinking on various matter and almost certainly stop us from questioning some of these assumptions that are passed off as facts. Ofcourse, as long as not closely viewed, the assumptions definitely seem to work just as fine hence we also do not scratch deeper than the surface. Review the two scenarios

Scenario 1:
Without thoughts, there is no content of CS
Without memory there are no thoughts
Without time there is no memory
Implies ~Without time there is no 'content of consciousness', what is left is only the "level of Consciousness".
Implies that level of Consciousness is timeless and should have been even present before Big Bang created the universe
Implies matter emerged from CS

Life emerged from non-living matter long ago
When non-living matter combined in a particular manner and under particular circumstances life was created.
Only if there is life is there a question of Level or Content of CS
Implies CS emerges from matter

CS from Matter or Matter from CS!

This probably is the biggest conundrum that there could be.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Life of a Lie

Life of a Lie

Lie Lie Lie
We get better with every try
Lie once said never dies
It remains permanently etched in our lives

Lie is in our happiness
Lie is in our identity
Lie is in our feelings
Lie is in our relationships
Lie is in our love
Lie is in our truth
Lie is in our whole life

It is so convenient to tell a lie than tell the truth
It is so easy to fall in a trap than choose
Well, let us allow people to be happy in their cocoon
Let us allow people to continue to make other people a buffoon



Random: December 2012