Category Archives: Media Matters

Moral Policing, Socialistalgia and Millikan’s Special Drops, Fussing About Speed Math and Thanks to Gowtham

Firstly, a thanks:

Many thanks to S. Gowtham for his encouragement and tagging me on his blog. 🙂 I am honored to be tagged by such a photography/net/computers/physics/ football-fan whiz as Gowtham!

Secondly, an addendum to my last blog:

constitutionofindia

The Government should realize its responsibility to safeguard the individual rights of its citizens, as guaranteed by the Constitution. The opinions of Yeddyurappa, Ghelot, Thackerey, etc. are little more than frustrated attempts seeking to subvert the Constitutional rights of the people. Such concerns for the “Indian culture”, may or may not be legitimate, according to your point of view, but they are most certainly illegal and/or un-Constitutional. Moral policing is an intrusion into the fundamental rights that the Republic of India stood for, when it was created by the visionaries of the Constituent Assembly.

Thirdly, a criticism:

Of late, I’ve seen a lot of people talking about this: http://ibnlive.in.com/blogs/sagarikaghose/223/53147/panties-and-perverts.html . Much like today’s TV media, Sagarika Ghose presents only those facts which support her point of view. Let’s first ignore the fact that it is a personal blog, which is anyway considered as veda vakya, given Sagarika Ghose’s reputation as a journalist. If there was a rigorous framework for journalistic ethics (like there is for academic ethics) this would consitute gross malpractice, in the spirit of Robert A. Millikan’s special oil drops.

collage_nehru_etc2

Choose your heroes.

It is an utter insult to the collective intelligence of Indians that this blog is popular. Now, like Mrs. Ghose, I would like to clarify at the outset that I don’t support the actions of Sri Rama Sene, or any other self-styled Sene (except the Indian Military 🙂 ).  But this article is too much! It is ridiculously socialistalgic (new word alert: socialist + nostalgic) about the Nehruvian utopia that India was.  After a tough decision to ignore the following…

  1. A silly Historical example about the “foreign hand” of the Portuguese in the preparation of mithai
  2. The gross generalization of the “Sex and the City” lifestyle of today’s urban youth (as opposed to the pathos of the “then” youth, whose lives were inspired by, Maxim Gorky’s works, I suppose)
  3. Authoritative descriptions of Iran’s recent socio-political history. a loud WTF for her proposition that what happened in an autocratic Iran ruled by a puppet presidency in 1970s is what is happening to India today. Sigh, media watchdogs where are you?
  4. Curious use of “rootless cosmopolitanism” – a word with a very curious, soviet, anti-semitic history, with reference to Karnataka’s “migrant workers”.  In effect, she is dismissing the “roots” of 45 million non-(Indiranagar, Koramangala, Electronic City) Karnatakians
  5. An alarmist, sensationalist, so-CNN-IBN-NDTV-TV9-AajTak’ish cry about how “Every aspect of public life that is characterized by freedom and affluence is under threat and a potential target of violence.

…I will cut to the chase and say “WTF?” about this (I quote):

Which is why the battle for freedom and the battle for progress must be a sensible and a rational one; it can’t be a trivial battle where we fling coloured underwear at maniacs. We must learn from the Nehruvians of the 40s and 50s who were incredibly westernised, but deeply rooted; many of whom were rich but lived modest tasteful lives. They drank, they smoked and they romanced, yet they were discreet and embodied a tradition of Indian elitism that was rooted in both excellence as well as tradition. C. Rajagopalachari was considered a scholar in three languages-Sanskrit, Tamil and English. Rukmini Devi Arundale may have been deeply influenced by the Theosophical Movement but dedicated her life to reviving Indian dance and music by founding the Kalakshetra academy. Sarojini Naidu’s favourite poet was Shelley but she took pride in the fact that she could speak Urdu, Telegu and Bengali. However westernized their minds, India’s nationalist elite could not be accused of living in a cocoon of extravagant privilege or having their pleasure spots guarded by armed commandos

It looks like Mrs. Ghose completely missed the point about why people are flinging pink underwear! Not surprising coming from the kind of “insight” we get from her programs on cnn-IBN. Nothing hurts a bigot more than the fact that others don’t take them seriously (eg. Freakonomics description of how KKK was brought down). It is only when people start taking bigoted idiots seriously that you feed their egos and give them legitimacy. Besides, the much derided “today’s youth” are not flinging their underwear to achieve development. They are smartly doing it only to trivialize the role of Sri Rama Sene in the society.

And what better time to get socialistalgic than when capitalists are faltering.  (let’s forget that Public Sector Companies, those pillars of socialism, never made any money; with their only significant contribution to the society being housing colonies in Bangalore, which are now generating big income for lucky old employees)

Seriously,  the upper middle class elite of the 1940s , represented by Nehru (!) and co.were in-tell-ehhhk-chual.

They read Shelley. We like P. Diddy.

They knew Telugu, Urdu and English. We live in India without knowing our own mother tongues.

They lived tasteful lives, drank tea on teak tables in their back yards, and sipped from the finest transluscent Chinaware, attended by the most sofishtikated butlerrgaLu’s and Badmashes. We? Jusht drink coffee at work places from Made in China polysterene cups. How tasteless.

Isn’t it silly to compare aam admi like you and I to Mr. J. Nehru, Rukmini Arundale, Rajaji, Sarojini Naidu and co, and make nostalgic references to the supposed elite of socialist India?  If this isn’t socialistalgia, what is? All right, we will try to emulate them… only because Mrs. Ghose has read about their lives and feels socialistalgic.

And now, you can get back to watching ibnlive… err, not quite, there is some more:

Fourthly, fussing about speed math:

Can you consider the ability to do “speed math”, a serious, extraordinary feat of mathematics? (Ref.: Discussion with my friend)

The contexts were these: [here], [here] and [funnily, here]

The person in question claims that he can mentally calculate “Factorial value of a 10 digit number”. The factorial of a ten digit number would have 10^9-10^10, i.e billions of digits. Let’s say he does calculate it. Then to write it down, it would take years. And who will have the patience to verify it? He is probably using Stirling’s approximation, which would still be a tall claim that you did (7,655,167,881^(7,655,167,881)) in your mind… Yet, we get back to the question – so what? Of what use are you to the mathematical sciences and all the other sciences and engineerings which rest on this, if you can multiply 7,655,167,881 7,655,167,881 times in your head? Try proving the Reimann conjecture instead.

XKCD.com

Cartoon credits and courtesy: XKCD.com

(No offense intended. I do respect speed mathematicians for their extraordinary talent.)