The travesty that was Bradley Manning’s trial is a topic for another forum. Reading about the court proceedings, what immediately struck me was the psychotherapist’s verdict on Manning’s behavior. He was suffering from “Post Adolescent Idealism”, said the therapist. His bashers took this and other psychological judgements that were passed on Manning (narcissism, obsessive compulsive disorder, gender identity disorder etc), as a clear proof of the fact that he was clueless and made the leaks for ‘personal’ reasons. Some of his sympathizers on the other hand were quick to claim that “post adolescent idealism” is not a pathology but a normal stage of human development. Reading all this, I underwent a severe, almost fatal bout of the WTF disorder (yes, What The F**k). Continue reading Post Adolescent Idealism? Why psychologizing behavior is APSD: Acute Pseudo-Science Disorder
So I was queued up at the university train-ticket shop. A middle-aged man was sitting on a sofa while his wife was buying tickets to some destination. Bound by my old habit of starting conversations with total strangers, true to form and tradition, I started a conversation with him. After the initial hi-hello, he asked me, “So what you are you doing here?” “I am a computer science researcher”, I said happily. “And what do you do?” “I am the Chief Economist of the World Bank.” Haha. Just like that! Continue reading World Bank and Mother India!
The night of the happy day when Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google had declared to the world that privacy was not that important and that if you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place, he had a dream that he had died and had ascended to heaven. At heaven’s door, he clicked on the button marked “Enter”. Continue reading Eric Schmidt’s Nightmare
I remember around 10 years back, a friend who is a doctor, went to an impoverished locality in Karachi with a team to vaccinate children against some disease(s). Their team was harassed by some ignorant and mostly illiterate people who felt that such vaccination campaigns are part of a “western conspiracy” to harm them. “Why are you sticking needles in our children?” and so forth. This reaction was (is) quite common in Pakistan. However, over the years, some progress had been made in raising peoples awareness about diseases and prevention. These are our local problems. But these problems are exacerbated and whatever little progress that has been made on the local front recedes very quickly, when the imperial machine dives into the thick of things with its cold brutal logic. Here’s one story: Continue reading Hippocratic oath or Hypocritic oath
Some nights back, my flight from Karachi to Islamabad couldn’t land due to bad weather in Islamabad and instead it had to land at Lahore airport. We waited and waited, with no official intimation of takeoff plans. Hours passed. I started feeling very hungry and so I went ahead and bought something to eat in a stylishly decorated and exorbitantly expensive eatery called “The Elbow Room”. Only after seeing the bill did I realize why the other passengers had not followed suit (no, the prices were not listed on the menu card). Continue reading I ♥ Game Theory; Let’s all be irrational, shall we?
One of the most important tenets of a rational outlook is to change one’s model of the world in light of new evidence, or persistent failure. I was watching the Oscar nominated flick, Zero Dark Thirty last night and was appalled by the implicit racism towards brown folks in general, and “Paks” in particular, as the film deigns to call us. As it was, I was already saddened by Aaron’s death and then came this movie.
But then I had an epiphany: Socrates was wrong and Thrasymachus was right! Thrasymachus, contra Socrates, had said that justice is what the powerful decide: might is right. I realized that everything would be all right if we accepted the Thrasymachus version of justice, which is so thoroughly substantiated by overwhelming empirical evidence. I realized that my model of the world was wrong. In fact all my values (i.e., model assumptions) that I had acquired since childhood were wrong, and deserved to be consigned to the dustbin.
I finally grasped that the world is supposed to be like this. There is no use vomiting blood and burning your soul. Continue reading Thrasymachus vs Socrates or: How I learned to stop worrying and love oppression!