I Think

Arnab Goswami

To me dumb people are the biggest source of motivation as well as distress. When I see dumb people doing good, I either feel elated about the idea that if a dumbass can make it big, a smartass like me* can be bigger or turn querulous about the injustice in this world where dumbasses are rewarded and smartasses are in the trenches. I maintain a list of such people and one person who has been steadily climbing to the top of this list is Arnab Goswami.

You have heard me rant about media journalists often enough, I wont complain if you stopped reading here.

The Indian 24-7 news industry has quite a few players now, NDTV, CNN-IBN, Times Now to name a few**. Each has a list of celebrity anchors and reporters, Pranoy Roy, Barkha Dutt, Rajdeep Sardesai, Vikram etc to name a few. Arnab here is trying hard to make it to the list and failing real bad.

To me Pranoy Roy is the giant in this industry, it is him that all the wannabes want to emulate. Pranoy has had a long time to build the credibility and the image that is associated with him. And this is what makes us forgive his idiosyncrasies, like that (mis)calculated over-stretched pause before making a point, the occasional exaggeration of certain minor points. But when Arnab does the same, I feel like putting my foot through the tv. Especially when he does the pause. I think he thinks the pause sends across the message that he his thinking and thinking hard. Nice thinking, except that every time he pauses to think but follows it up with a question like 'so why did juju eat kaka-pee?' when we are discussing national security, you know the pause is more like this…

And then the think he does with his eyes, if only he would think as much as he blinks. It may seem that I am making irrelevant points here, I agree. I wish I could comment on some aspect of his work, but frankly there is nothing much about him beside the pause, blink and the irrelevant question.

*I am much smarter than the average joe. I realised it a month ago.
**I have left out Headlines Today, sensationalist channels dont make it to the list.

Posted via email from Just some random stuff

Advertisements
Standard
I Think

I am not the only guy…

I am not the only guy who is trying to be thrifty, even the government is at it. Some time last week, our FM Pronob Mokhergee advised his minister's to go cheap. And ever since, there have been a series of public displays of 'conspicuous austerity'*. Immediately following FM's order, congressmen have tried to show how much they will be following the order.

One minister said he is ready to travel economy class, another followed by saying he is ready to travel in train.. and today an MP in an attempt to go one step beyond and capture the front page has announced that he will be travelling only by jhatka vandi. Sadly he doesnt know of Jayanthi Natarajan's plan of travelling in share auto, who in turn is unaware of Mani Shankar Iyer's master plan of footboarding in 25 G. Then there was the news of SM Krishna being asked to vacate from the 5 star hotel where he was lodging. He has decided to stay in Pandian Lodge near central station for his upcoming visit to chennai. And then Shashi Tharoor went tiffening in a small hotel followed by cameras from all 24×7 news channels. I cannot wait to see Chidambaram having chaya in our cheta kadai.

Bottomline, govermentae chickanamaa irukku, namma yen irukka koodaathu????

*nice term, heard it on Barkha's 'The Buck Stops Here'

Posted via email from Just some random stuff

Standard
I Think

Book Banners

Every once in a while, our 24×7 news channels manage to come up with a half decent show worthy of being watched. The last edition of The Big Fight We The People was one, the topic of discussion was ‘Book Banners’, where the rights and wrongs of banning books were analyzed by a group of authors, lawyers and politicians. The authors and lawyers made some cogent arguments on why banning was wrong. The politicians talked like they had sugically replaced their brains with fish droppings.

Came to know some surprising/shocking bits of information. For example, Alice in Wonderland is banned in China for the absurd reason that the book “puts animals and human beings on the same level”(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice%27s_Adventures_in_Wonderland#Criticism). For the shocking part, here’s a couple. The RSS handbook(or manual or whatever) holds Christians responsible for the partition of India. Textbooks in Gujarat hold Muslims, Christians and Parsis as foreigners. I wish i can do more than just hang my head in shame.

Aside these, what was more disturbing and distressing was the line of thinking of our politicians. The congress representative in the show, whose name i dont remember, tried his best to steer the topic away from the issue of censorship to effectively policing the internet, and rambled on about how we are incapable of knowing what our kids are watching. Seriously, pornography and copyright violation is what he was concerned about and stayed as equivocal as possible about banning books. Jayanarayan Vyas, a guy from Modi government made the most depressing comment about why Jaswant Singh’s book was rightly banned. According to him, our society holds certain values close to our heart, and anything that is not acceptable to a large section of the society will be banned. Clearly, he hasnt heard of Socrates, Galileo, Darwin, Turing etc. And then there was this Saleem or Siddique guy(dont know which party he represents) who was supposedly instrumental in banning Satanic Verses, he said the reason why that book(satanic verses) was banned was that Prophet was maligned with 4 lettered hindi words(BC,MC are 4 lettered?), and that Hindus and Christians would have done the same had it been rama or jesus. For you sir, here is a must watch clip from Monty Python.

I think banning books is the starting point of banning thought. We are slowly reaching a point of intolerance like the one captured in (Ray Bradbury’s) Fahrenheit 451. We are marching to a place where each of us will strongly affiliate ourselves to one or more groups and weakly to several. As a consequence every piece of opinion will turn unacceptable to some of us. And banning one will be reason enough to ban all and in turn ban reason. It sounds hyperbolic, but never underestimate the power of human stupidity.

Edit: Got the name of the program wrong

Posted via email from Just some random stuff

Standard
I Think

The Birthday Tax

Sometimes I can be a dick, a big tactless dick. Only recently I got into an altercation over a forward email and came out as a spectacular dick. I could have avoided it, but it was too good a chance to avoid. I dont deny I enjoyed it. But sometimes I am compelled to be the dick. And between voluntarily being a dick and being forced to be one, I prefer the former.

In the course of social evolution, people have developed the quality of appraising anything in general and people in particular. We try desperately to stereotype people into categories. Take for example my case. A software engineer, who has been working in a decent establishment is expected to do well off. I am in fact well off in an objective way, as far my primary needs of food, shelter, clothing, freedom of thought and action, good friends are concerned, I am doing remarkably well. But this is not the wellness that the society had in mind when pronouncing that I am well off. It expects a well doing s/w engineer to have coffee in Barista, luncheon in Basera, evening chat at Ananda Bhavan, dinner in Kumarakom, the occasional weekend at Geoffrey's, a Honda Unicorn to roam around, a 1200 sq ft apartment in OMR… I could go on. But being a guy with a fair share of domestic responsibilities and a dislike for needless* spending I play cheap in most places. The point is people expect the likes of me to be something which disappointingly I am not.

Coming to the being forced to be a dick part of the story. The software industry had developed this tradition of having team lunches, dinners, treks, trips etc to promote camaraderie among colleagues. These occasions are seen as essential stress relievers these days. I dont remember my father ever needing one, but maybe that explains why he is so gruff. A team of reasonable size has enough reasons to go on a treat, product releases, weddings, a new car, birth of a kid, birthdays and so on. I suppose this custom started as a innocuous voluntary activity where a willing person would offer to treat. And another did on a different occasion. People started taking turns and at the same time, the team grew in size. Slowly, the whole thing snowballed to the tacit yet freely spoken social protocol where one person has to treat others once in a year, and to avoid controversies and to attain utopia, a fixed amount of a measly thousand five hundred would be given 'willingly' by each member of the team on the occasion of their birthdays. Quite naturally, I am the only dissenter and the dick of the team.

Funnily enough, I have been reading this book called Consolations of Philosophy, which though not deeply philosophical is consoling enough. The author looks up to lives of various western philosophers to draw consolations for sentiments such as frustrations, feeling of not being loved, economic difficulties and so on. The first consolation ironically is for unpopularity and the philosopher cited is none other than Socrates. Socrates if anything was guilty of questioning the status quo. Despite being offered a chance to renounce his philosophy and avoid death, the philosopher chose to defend his beliefs rather than rat out. Admittedly I am not in such a predicament, nevertheless I run the risk of unpopularity on account of being a cheapskate, in which case I shall draw consolation from Socrates and move along without selling out.

*atleast to me, I have my own need based spending that others may find needless, for example my dad thinks my spending on books is needless. 

Posted via email from Just some random stuff

Standard