Saturday, December 22, 2007

Atheism = Not Collecting Stamps

Link via India Uncut

In a nutshell,

"Atheism is a religion in the same way that not collecting stamps is a hobby".

Most boneheaded religious fanatics fail to get this simple point.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Whose planet?

Hyderabad has this huge crowd of street sweepers maintained by the municipality. Night falls, traffic lessens and they come out, in their shabby light blue uniforms with glow strips, brooms and small carts in hand. Sweeping Hyderabad's streets and lanes.

They should be kept off the streets for a month.

Let the the garbage pile up. And let us realize the porcine attitude we have towards public cleanliness.

Admit it. We are without any civic sense. I only have to go and stand on the steps of my office building at around 1700 hours to prove it. There's a fast food place right in front of it inside the building compound. Along with other shops. And a huge red garbage bin next to it which is never so full that you cannot throw something in it.

Still, people saunter by, grab a sandwich or a roll, and drop the paper plate, cup or small plastic packet wherever they are standing. Yes, right there. In the middle of the steps. In the middle of the road. As if they are standing
inside the dustbin. Imagine them doing the same thing inside their drawing rooms. 'Done Ma!' screams the kid, carefully dropping the leftovers on his house's marble clad floor, and pouring some water from his glass over it for good measure. Does this image seem ridiculous? How? You take such good care of your house. You should. It's your property. But the road is not? Is that what you think the reason is? An unsaid stepmotherly attitude towards what is (or what you think is) not yours?

How long does this attitude take to encompass the lakes? the trees? the few places which have real green grass? None at all. We do it all the time.

It's time we grew up. And realized that the environment
does belong to us. Because if we don't, soon there won't be any environment left to write blog entries about.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Nation to be led by a ...whoa!

Ever since India's president wannabe Pratibha Patil confessed to having conversations with a spirit or some such nonsense and this, naturally, made front page news on most national newspapers, I've been wondering about the logic behind such a confession. Either the person is amongst the seriously deluded who believe
in Sai Baba and similar frauds and thus have hallucinations from time to time to maintain their insanity, or she is trying to project an image of being having divine powers to the gullible, of which millions abound, to cover up the other bad news about her that has been exposed recently.

Thanks to Jayeeta for this image - feel free to put it up on your blog.

Monday, June 11, 2007

A long way to go

Got this today morning on my IBN-live Google gadget -

Essentially, it's about a 'school' where women are taught to be submissive and obedient towards their husbands and in-laws. This is supposed to be in accordance with Indian culture and traditions.

Yes, we Indians have a fine culture of sati, dowry deaths, treating women as property. I can go on. And before the self-righteous self-appointed moral brigade starts throwing comments like 'It has become fashionable to demean your own traditions and culture' and 'It's all due to Western influence that we're losing our culture', let me put forward some points.

Speaking out against regressive and abusive practices is NOT demeaning one's culture. Every culture has traditions which have certain elements which are simply not acceptable from a moral and rational perspective. It is perfectly possible to discard these elements and imbibe what is good and progressive and thereby enrich the culture itself. Culture is not static. Those who believe it is, are, simply speaking, delusional.

As for the Western angle, the people who make such comments are simply not aware of how cultures intermingle. I'm not claiming to be an authority on cross-cultural interactions, but nobody has the right to decide what or what not should be read, worn, talked about, seen or practiced by others as long as it is not harming anybody.

Coming back to the article, it says a lot about the state of gender equality in India when you read the parts about women actually eager to join the school.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Celestial Rot

What is it about astrology that people find so fascinating? The answer is so obvious that I could have just stated it without asking the question. People like to hear good things about themselves, their future, their close ones, their jobs. In addition, people also like the possibility of actually knowing the future and thus being smug about being prepared for what's supposedly going to happen. It's a comfortable feeling to know that not everything is beyond control in the chaos that engulf one's life. This comfort factor is the most abused and misused of human feelings, unscrupulously manipulated by charlatans like astrologers and godmen in the most obscene manner possible. In the end it all boils down to ill-earned money, fame and power for these frauds.

Astrologers usually push in a little of bad, and then a hint of good in their 'predictions'. After all, nothing should be perfect, right? This sweet and sour mixture is what makes these predictions more believable to the gullible.

In India, it's very common for astrologers to have a side business of selling precious stones like sapphires and topaz. These are supposed to hold miraculous powers of warding off evil. Needless to say, such astrologers push more sour content into their predictions and thus open up an avenue of selling those pieces of rock at exhorbitant prices to their clients.

It's a fact that the best known astrologers of the world are very good scholars of the human psyche. Take Linda Goodman, for instance. Her fantasy books (Star Signs, Love Signs) are amazing bestsellers. Read a section, and you'll know what I'm talking about.

The sad fact is people don't realize that this pseudoscience (should I
even call it a science?) has so permeated our lives that it's almost impossible to imagine the common media without it. Take the daily horoscope. It's ubiquitous like the comic strips, the crossword, the editorial in the morning newspaper. So much that I wonder if people even think notice it anymore other than to read it for 'fun'.

I'll end this with a small example. Go to - the main page of one of India's most respected newspapers. Click on the Science/Health section. Yes, the Science section. Scroll down. On the right there's a small dropdown box for horoscopes. Yes, my good man, scientific horoscopes, no less!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A must read

Slashdot has this set of concise and succinct points in the comments section of the article about the Creationism 'museum' in Kentucky. Oft-repeated, but the poster does a great job of summing up (and rebutting) the common 'arguments' that creationists spout.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


India recently made it's first commercial space launch when the PSLV launched an Italian satellite into orbit. No doubt it's a proud moment for India and the scientists who made it possible.
What caught my eye was an small article in the Times of India which mentioned that the launch was scheduled for an 'auspicious' hour (Indian rituals are mostly conducted based on what astrologers and other charlatans decide to be 'auspicious') and that the scientists visited a temple to 'pray for it's success'.
Were propellant and the scientific expertise and manpower that we possess not enough to launch it? Did we have to resort to age old superstitions at such a proud moment?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

What kind of atheist are you?

I'm the 'Scientific Atheist'.

Where are we going?

A recent post on Pharyngula points to what can only be described as a ridiculous parody of science. But I guess such a reaction would only come from a person who has not encountered these things before. Reading the comments on that post led me to this. In short, it's a 'Christian science fair', and schoolchildren are actually awarded for 'experiments' which 'prove' Creationism. What is horrific are the supposed conclusions that they arrive at and are applauded for the same. Here's a sample from that page
  • God designed women for homemaking
  • Dinosaur and Man walked together
  • Using Prayer to Microevolve Latent Antibiotic Resistance in Bacteria
How regressive can this get?