Sunday, November 29, 2009

Black and White

Happiness research - Self help books (Blink, Dale Carnegie etcetera) - Ayn Rand and Objectivism - Free market economics (Reaganomics, Thatcherism) - Paulo Coelho and his Alchemist - Jonathan Livingstone Seagull - Abdul Kalam (not the person but those who choose to exploit his name and ideas) - Chetan Bhagat - the Indian casteist, superstitious, selfish, shallow careerists & cheats - BJP fans - Israel lovers - I find all of them related somehow. Mainly because someone who is one of the above/fan of one of the above will be/will be a fan of/ most of the others in that list. Of course this is a bloody black and white statement, but I find this true at least 80% of the time.

India is growing for sure. There is so much optimism everywhere. People are venturing out. Still - there are so many bigots, so many casteists, so many jingoists, so many racists, so many male chauvinists, so many selfish assholes, so many ultra-superstitious - so many cheats - out there. But they all work hard, and hence the economy will keep growing (lead by Narendra Modi and Gujarat).

Well, let me make my statement a little less blanket. I am mainly talking about the vocal class of India - because they are so vocal that they make you feel prejudiced about the whole country. The vocal class is mainly urban, brahmin, etc. But in sheer numbers, they run into many millions. The rural India - well - I am so ignorant about them!! But traveling across villages in Karnataka and Tamilnadu always makes me optimistic - though there might be undercurrents that I wouldnt have seen (casteism, superstitions, etc - of course - but at least the overall mentality is not to win over by any cruel means).

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Why evolution fails?

I am amazed by the level of stupidity that can be written in the most famous newspaper in the world. Here's a column by Olivia Judson about why evolution fails, etc in NYT. For starters, evolution doesnt fail, evolution just happens! Whatever she has written starts from a stupid premise, IMHO. Her previous articles, about happiness etc, are based on similar silly point of views. IRRITATING. All the more because she looks so hot, and overall it just looks like a hot, dumb girl writing stupidity! Whateva.

I somehow feel irritated about all the sheer volume of happiness research going on.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Empty, sick, feverish, lonely etc. :(

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The limit of growth as a techie

In IBM, where I worked, for example, the hierarchy is termed as bands - band 5 and less belong to security, janitor etc, band 6 is a beginner programmer, 7 is generally an experienced programmer/architect/manager, band 8 is a senior manager/senior architect, band 9 ,10 are more senior (in terms of hierarchy, not experience); and then they have executive bands: A, B, C etc (named in alphabets, but need not be A,B, C - I dont remember exactly) - the point is - in one of the introductory talks, the HR person told: You can grow vertically in any of these fields: for eg: she knows some techie who grew to become band 10 at a technical position, for the first time in the history of organization. For that person, it seems IBM India created a new technical position. OK, good.

Really? You can grow to any level being a techie? That there are so many managers in band 10, and many more above them (executives), but there is only one techie (who is doing technical work) at band 10 (well, may be you have one CTO at executive level, but that is that). In reality, if you are a techie, chances are that you will soon be bossed over by a manager younger than you (by age or experience). In my experience, I saw many techies, architects or "subject matter experts", moving to management. Once you become a senior architect, you become some kind of stuck in terms of career growth (vertical sense), unless you move to management. Because in all big technology companies, the technology part is actually secondary(at least the belief is like that), what matters is business, and this logic creates means that the herd will be lost without a shepherd (i.e a manager).

This is disappointing news in my opinion. The techie is obviously more intelligent than manager (whose only skills are to keep away from spilling anger, standing irritation silently and putting up a brave/happy/confident face at all times), but the manager ultimately rules a techie. What a sad fact! It is not an IBM thing of course, check out the google wave presentation video; the senior techie and his manager. Thats how the world works! Techies will spend all nighters and do some smart work and send an email to the manager, and the manager will reply "Great Work!" meaning zilch, sometimes not even understanding what is the work that the techie did.

So a techie will be stuck somewhere in the hierarchy for sure, unless he becomes a manager or an entrepreneur himself, or move into academia, where to a good extend he can be his own boss.

(Well the point is not just about having a career growth all through you life and dying one day; its more about being ruled over by a silly/less skilled/less intelligent person just because you chose the intelligent job)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

On Big Bang Theory

I took a deep breath and made a comment in: "Cosmic Variance", a science blog with plenty of big shots (like profs from Caltech). I felt peeved that someone was saying that the sitcom "Big Bang Theory" will humanize science and make young people take it up. Here's my comment:

"Shows like this humanize science, and who knows what ten-year-old kid will see an episode and start thinking that physics is a career to which real people can actually aspire."

I am so sorry but I feel this is a silly opinion. Big Bang Theory has resulted in making normal people stop talking science without being labelled as boring. I mean, we friends used to visit pubs, and make grand discussions, etc, not in the boring way BBT makes it out to be, but in a really cool way. But it aint cool any more. The way Sheldon rolls out "boring" facts has made making a casual, yet an interesting observation about something scientific (simple things like why we have seasons), "uncool". Only Penny is cool; others are so boring. Yes, I agree that the characters in BBT are boring, but Science is not! But BBT has resulted in making people feel that Science is boring, only talks of "sexiest man alive" and discussions about characters in sitcoms are cool and fit for "conversation". But in fact everything is cool, and its all up to different people decide what is cool for them. "People love these characters" - oh yea, somebody love science and yearns to be a Raj or Sheldon after watching BBT? And Sheldon, he is an aspy, its not his fault, but the show makes out as though its his character fault, he is selfish, impolite etc. Laughing at him is actually impolite. And there are so many brilliant scientists and engineers in India who dont do frequent dates (thanks to the culture), yet is cool in their own way. There is not a single cool scientist in BBT. In my opinion BBT gives a view that - ok you can do science in the labs, but the moment you come out of it, talk like Penny and be cool.

To paraphrase Feynman's response to a lady who thought that he's a cool physicist due to his "extra curricular" activities (like Samba, or drumming, or so many other things), unlike the usual, boring scientists - "I take offence at his complement of yours. I consider scientific pursuit as the highest form of human intelligence, and is not boring by any means".

I love BBT, but I differ on the impact it causes to Science. I also feel bad that people like Sean, who are at the top of research hierarchy, being at Caltech and working in theoretical physics, can make such silly observations.

Sorry about the harsh opinion.