Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Missing Link...

The missing link is like a really creepy thing, thats like missing an stuff, an like its really wierd cause its a link, but it missing, and im like really, like finding it like really really awesome that the whole world in America also knows about the link thats like missing, cause its supposed to be something that has to do with our past and stuff...

Its aged between 12 to 24 , male or female, has either dropped out of high school, or probably will never go beyond high school, and lives in a silo in the Carolinas, Dakotas, Georgia, Utah, Nebraska and about 30 more similar states. Its called the missing link.

Arguably, no single nation has impacted the globe like the United States does. Not even the United Kingdom of the nineteenth century which boasted of an empire on which the sun never set, nor the persian or the roman empires. I say this because their impact was limited to their colonies, or the waters that their ships sailed by, or the nations that they traded with. You actaully whole continents devoid of any impact from these empires. Compared to that the United States with its policies impacts each and every individual on the face of the planet today in multiple dimensions. The most potent of which is the price of gasoline fuel.

So it bothers me when a nation that has such a profound impact on the whole planet, has a next generation that is actually getting it devastatingly wrong. What's the missing link? Every time I interact with an American teenager, and I compare my experience with a Chinese, Indian or even European teenager, I feel amused, confused and finally worried. How can a nation that seems to get every thing else right, get this basic fact so wrong. Fact is, the next American generation is living a fad, and is actually constituted of people who will end up working in Wal Mart stores making less than USD 3,000 per month. What's the missing link here?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

When life looks, nay stares at you through the gaps...

I get off the taxi at the airport, take my bag and head straight for the check in counter. As soon as I get in line, I take my iPod head phones and stick the ear plugs in, turn the volume to maximum and start reading the book i had bought last week at the Dubai duty free. Instantly, i go into a slumber, its just me, the book, and Cashmere.

The line moves slowly, at time rather hastily, I get these notions from the gap in front of me, its actually life staring at me through the gaps that I cant fill. Once in a while i feel my cell phone buzzer in my pocket, I actually have to come back to life once this happens. Pluck the ear plugs out, put the page marker in the book, take the cell phone out of my pocket, see who it is, take the call, talk a bit, yaddi yadda yadda, and am back into my shell with a flash. The line moves on a little in the mean time.

Finally its my turn to be at the check in counter, I hand the pretty thai lady my ticket and passport, pluck one of the ear plugs out to see if she has any thing to say to me, shes asking me if I have just one bag that I want to check in, I could have read her lips, didnt really have to take my earplug out for this one, I nod, she smiles, I wonder if she really thinks there was something to smile about, or is she just doing her job...

Soon as she gives me the boarding card in my hand, I have the ear plug back in my ear, shes explaining to me stuff about how I am going to get a connecting flight, and how my bag has been checked in all the way and I have to change a carrier at is staring, im just not interested any more, I'd rather listen to stairway to heaven.

I put the boarding card and passport in my shoulder bag, head for the immigration, destined not to let any one interrupt me in my sanctuary. As I make my way to the immigration counters, there is another line waiting for me, and out comes the book again, and I retreat to my shell again. The line moves every now and then, and the gap in front of me, stares at me from the corner of my eye, telling me to keep pace with the line.

Standing in font of the immigration officer, I pluck out both of my earplugs, he had to take a photograph of me, what a funny photo it would make with a headset settled on my head. They have those yellow markers with your feet marked out on them telling you where exactly to stand. When I was in school, they used to have this parade in the morning every day, and the monitors used to tell every one where to stand, we used to pray and sing stuff, and then all the classes would go off to their rooms, if you looked at the view from the top it looked like a train station with different trains coming in and going out, I believed that then and I believe this now. Only this immigration line looks more like an assembly line from the top with different pieces moving in to be processed and then moving out. Life is not even staring at me right now.

So I pass by the duty free again, dont think I want to buy any thing this time around, there is just enough time to search for the smoking room and puff one away before i get on thi nine hour long flight. The old Bangkok airport had so many of those, there was one at every corner, I ask the Star Bucks lady for directions, she says its on the second level, im not even interested in asking her where level 2 is, i am on the top level, have to go down listening to Hysteria by Def Leppard. I was in high school when this came out, my friends and I would blast this in our car as we did those drive bys, life actually existed then, I didnt really have to wait for something to happen for me to look at life, I was living my life.

The smoking room has two more people in it, I sit down, light my cigarette, read the book, finish the cigarette, walk out. There were people in the room, people I could have had a peep inside the life of, and let them have a look at what I was living through, but I would rather listen to Hysteria, those were the good old days.

Passing through security, through the passage into the plane up until my seat was pretty much transparent. My seat is in the middle, the worst kind. There is a yound lady on one side, looks english, and on my other side is an old man, looks like an arab. So I stash away my bag, hop into my seat, take the book out, and retreat into the comfort zone.

And then the song ends, as soon as the song ends, I hear a loud snore, the arab on my left is snoring like crazy, I in advertently turn to look at him, out of impulse I turn the other way to look at the lady, and she is staring at the man as well. Our eyes cross, I pluck my ear plugs out, to say hi, the snoring is just too much, and I dont want to socialize, so I nod, she nods, I put my earplugs back on, turn the light on and embed myself into the book again...

One of these days, I am going to stop flying economy, and I am going to cut down on my travelling, and I am going to relocate to the south of France, and I am going to write so much more, maybe paint as well, watch movies all the time, read books the rest of the time, goto wine tastings, I am going to live life one day...

Life looks at me, stares at me, every moment, telling me now is the moment and that it is passing me by, I would rather live in the past, or the future, knowing that life is right now, whats gone is gone, and what is to come is no more than a dream.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Good Life...

200 million africans suffer from chronic hunger every year. Food being scarce is something that is unheard of in the first world. Not being able to own your own yatch is more likely to be an issue, animal rights, gay rights, abortion and the likes are key debates. Do we allow for the killing of whales or not because its a species that could become extinct is more of an issue. Greenpeace takes pride in not accepting donations from companies or from the corporate sector, feels the kyoto protocol is a key accomplishment, and not for a moment am I undermining the importance of having a cleaner atmosphere, a greener earth to live upon, after all this all translates into the good life. But picture this, Greenpeace spent in 06 a total of 121.399 million Euros. Their biggest area of focus, marine operations and forests combined comes to almost 32 million Euros. By contrast the total aid to Africa is USD 104 Billion, almost all of this to the sub saharan Africa. The biggest contingent of that aid goes to Nigeria almost 10.8 billion dollars. A major donor to the cause is Japan.
The total Crude oil production from Nigeria and Angola alone stands at 284 Billiob USD. Almost 80% of the revenues account to ExxonMobil, Shell and Chevron. All of that goes to bring in the good life to the west, at the expense of lesser humans, to whom living is luxury!

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Tolerance Dichotomy

Every one you know talks about it, large multinational corporations, small and medium sized enterprises, government organiztions, non government organizations, semi goverment organizations, housewives, old home residents, day care center workers, well pretty much every one else on the face of the tolerance to bias, be it gender, racial, ethnic, religious, or of any other type.

The Dichotomy
If the views of the entire population on earth were to be plotted on a band, white being completely tolerant, and black being completely intolerant, one would see a very nice little standard normal distribution of it. Population 2 standard deviations away from the mean are the ones that are absolute on their stance on tolerance, and for the purpose of this paper we are only going to discuss them. I will try and develop a typical psychographic profile of both sets of segments of the popultation i.e. the libertines and the fundamentalists.

The Fundamentalists
Fundamentalists are defined as people who believe in a basic set of principles. These principles found the building blocks of their beliefs, these are beliefs that define life, its meaning, give it direction and perhaps a culmniation as well.

A clear set of principles gives them a clear direction, leaves no room for confusion, brings in conviction into whatever they do. Unfortunately, with the conviction in belief also comes in the conviction to help those who lack this belief. Hence the notion of preaching, help those who dont believe to find the righteous path.

The Libertines
The libertines are the set of people who follow their heart. Right is what is felt right, that is the one and only rule defining life. Furthermore what is right is not for the group but for the individual. And hence originates the notion of living in harmony with everyone else.

Giving liberty to the population at large leaves the onus of respect to each and every individual and hence the persistent cause of people making their views heard and demanding for respect and appreciate of these views. Abortions, gay marriages, wearing scarfs to school, who is to say if there should be laws against these, yet we see libertine societies argue over these variables.

So what is right?
I am not a libertine, I believe in a certain set of rules. So the question that pops to ones mind is what are rules? Declaring that to murder, rape, abduct is wrong is a set of rules, and I support all these rules.

Every society develops its own set of rules to live by, liberal countries like The Netherlands and Scandinavian states put in a lot of trust in their citizens to work out for themselves what rules they want to live by. So whether it be carrying a certain amount of weed in your pocket, or being the first ones to acknowledge gay marriages, libertine societies cannot emphasize enough the respect for free will.

The other end of the dichotomy is states that adopt faith as their governing basis. Most prominent examples are countries like Saudi Arabia. Religion sets in black and white what is wrong and right for the people. The people also put followings of the faith on top of their own, and so women must cover from head to toe and no one eats during the day for the entire month of Ramadan. These are of course rules that actually tell you how you are going to live your life, how you are going to dress eat and socialize.

Religion is not the only faith that puts rules in black and white, an equally robust school of thought is Socialism. Just like states that put religion as the basis of government and economy, socialism albeit in a highly mature form puts a similar structure in order. History has been witness that this system has never worked. From the catholic strong monarchies of middle ages, to the Soviet Union and its allies, never has a black and white rule resulted in happy masses.

There is an obvious difference between rules that declare to murder is wrong, and rules that say men and women shall not enter from the same door in an office.

The Right Set of Rules
Depends totally on the society, just as one sets rules for their children in the house, how strict or how lenient you want to be with them is a measure of how well behaved they are and how likely they are to act in a responsible manner when left to their own devices.

The question now is, when you impose responsibility on an individual, what are the odds of them owning up to that responsibllity and start acting professionally as opposed to start abusing the authority that comes with the responsibility. An example is the ticket checking mechanism that most european countries have in their public transport busses and trams; there isnt one. It is left to the individual to be responsible and honest to himself and to the state.

The right set of rules is then the set of boundries devised in a society which the citizens of that society are likely to abide by. Consider the social security rules and regulations in England. The rules are really meant to provide a basic living standard to the entire population. however, when individuals start abusing the authority and actually quit their jobs to start living on dole, is when one questions the appropriateness of the rules.

What Defines a Libertine and a Fundamentalist Society
It is my belief that given the choice, all socities would opt for freedom of expression and speech. No society would really want a religion to set the basic living rules. Faith is personal, sure it has its effects on a culture or a geography, but its effects are probably less than those of the movies, music, television programs or of blog sites like the one you are reading at the moment. Rules/boundries have to be set based on the level of education that a society has, the average age and related demographics and psychographics. If China is predominantly a smoker nation, you really would not want to ban smoking in public places and bars in Shanghai as they have in Singapore or London.

For any society to breath freely, it has to move away from using religion as its guiding light, and follow the hearts of the people, identify how much liberty they can absorb and then give them that liberty.

Gradually, the level of maturity of people is bound to increase, to the point where you have a utopian society, policing which is not a requirement. Personal beliefs are taken as personal beliefs, and tolerance is the order of the day.

Thats right, the tolerance dichotomy has utopia standing right at the other end of where the fundamentalist society of today stands. So while i started off with a mild critique of how fundamentalist socities are formed, and I still respect their views, I truly belive they have to move towards freedom of speech and expression if the members of that society are to flourish as engineers, artists, doctors or businesspersons.