Thursday, October 2

God and the Ivory Tower-

Some interesting stats on religion kannu. Made me surprised, but as a citizen, we need to control religion, it's too dangerous to let loose. Just like any other ideology which is totalitarian as well. 

God and the Ivory Tower- By Scott Atran | Foreign Policy


The era of world struggle between the great secular ideological -isms that began with the French Revolution and lasted through the Cold War (republicanism, anarchism, socialism, fascism, communism, liberalism) is passing on to a religious stage. Across the Middle East and North Africa, religious movements are gaining social and political ground, with election victories by avowedly Islamic parties in Turkey, Palestine, Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco. As Israel’s National Security Council chief, Gen. Yaakov Amidror (a religious man himself), told me on the eve of Tunisia’s elections last October, “We expect Islamist parties to soon dominate all governments in the region, from Afghanistan to Morocco, except for Israel.”

On a global scale, Protestant evangelical churches (together with Pentacostalists) continue to proliferate, especially in Latin America, but also keep pace with the expansion of fundamentalist Islam in southern Africa and eastern and southern Asia. In Russia, a clear majority of the population remains religious despite decades of forcibly imposed atheism.Even in China, where the government’s commission on atheism has the Sisyphean job of making that country religion-free, religious agitation is on the rise. And in the United States, a majority says it wants less religion in politics, but an equal majority still will not vote for an atheist as president.

Wednesday, October 1

The Revolution That Wasn’t


Here's an excellent overview of the train crash disaster that is Egypt. Let me lay my opinion up front. The brotherhood presidency was bad but overthrowing it has really made a bad situation worse. A liberal democracy does not happen overnight. Look at India. It took years. It made many mistakes. But it's a good country. Same with the uk and USA. Some common themes. Enlightened leaders. Rule of law. Freedom of speech. Army under control. Free media. Religion firmly kicked in the balls and controlled. Good institutions. Free judiciary. But egypt keeps on making mistakes and keeps on being stupid. What? 5 revolutions in the past century? 

The army is the biggest problem. Second problem is the religion and the religious leaders. Third is the judiciary. And and and. Thousands have now died and now it's back to what it was few years back. Disgruntled Islamists. Army in command. Economy fucked up. Population in distress. 

The solution is clear but the Egyptians don't have patience. Heck the Egyptians laughed at Pakistan and there's an Egyptian quote which said that they don't want to become Pakistan. But with the democratic transition in Pakistan, Egypt will do worse. They would be lucky to be like Pakistan. I do not have a good prognosis about Egypt. Another decade of decay beckons. 



LRB · Hugh Roberts · The Revolution That Wasn’t

Hugh Roberts

  • The Rise and Fall of Arab Presidents for Life by Roger Owen
    Harvard, 248 pp, £18.95, May 2012, ISBN 978 0 674 06583 3
  • Adaptable Autocrats: Regime Power in Egypt and Syria by Joshua Stacher
    Stanford, 221 pp, £22.50, April 2012, ISBN 978 0 8047 8063 6
  • Raging against the Machine: Political Opposition under Authoritarianism in Egypt by Holger Albrecht
    Syracuse, 248 pp, £25.00, October 2012, ISBN 978 0 8156 3320 4
  • BuySoldiers, Spies and Statesmen: Egypt’s Road to Revolt byHazem Kandil
    Verso, 303 pp, £16.99, November 2012, ISBN 978 1 84467 961 4

Western opinion has had difficulty working out what to think, or at any rate what to say, about Egypt. It now seems that the pedlars of hallucinations have been cowed and it is no longer fashionable to describe the events of 3 July in Cairo as a ‘second revolution’. But to describe them as a counter-revolution, while indisputably more accurate, presupposes that there was a revolution in the first place. The bulk of Western media commentary seems still to be wedded to this notion. That what the media called ‘the Arab spring’ was a succession of revolutions became orthodoxy very quickly. Egypt was indispensable to the idea of an ‘Arab spring’ and so it had to have had a revolution too.

Tuesday, September 30

Why wonder is the most human of all emotions


Einstein said that the common element between genius and childhood is curiosity. Never lose the ability to be curious. Asking why. Poking and prodding. Forever searching and being in a wondrous frame. Like I take pics. I like small things and big things and commonplace things. Wonder. Don't be cynical and stop looking at things. Step outside your comfort zone. Not just on holiday. People rush about the world when wonders are below their noses. 



Why wonder is the most human of all emotions – Jesse Prinz – Aeon

When I was growing up in New York City, a high point of my calendar was the annual arrival of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus — ‘the greatest show on earth’. My parents endured the green-haired clowns, sequinned acrobats and festooned elephants as a kind of garish pageantry. For me, though, it was a spectacular interruption of humdrum reality – a world of wonder, in that trite but telling phrase.

Wonder is sometimes said to be a childish emotion, one that we grow out of. But that is surely wrong. As adults, we might experience it when gaping at grand vistas. I was dumbstruck when I first saw a sunset over the Serengeti. We also experience wonder when we discover extraordinary facts. I was enthralled to learn that, when arranged in a line, the neurons in a human brain would stretch the 700 miles from London to Berlin. But why? What purpose could this wide-eyed, slack-jawed feeling serve? It’s difficult to determine the biological function of any affect, but whatever it evolved for (and I’ll come to that), wonder might be humanity’s most important emotion.

Monday, September 29

Islamophobia and Its Discontents | The Nation

Couple of things here son. First islamophobia exists. People are genuinely and irrationally afraid of Islam and Muslims. Not a new thing, fear of the other has a long history son. People have hated Jews, dark skinned, anybody who is different. So one has to protest against this islamophobia strongly. 

That said, this lady protests a bit too much if you look at her examples. Those jokes are ethnic jokes and rather than islamophobia this exhibits thin skin and lack of sense of humour. So not convinced  with her argument. 

Just like many countries like Pakistan or Saudi Arabia are trying to stop any debate or discussion about Islam claiming that Islam cannot be criticised or debated. Sorry, that's not islamophobia. Islam is just yet another way of thinking. It's not sacred that I cannot debate and disagree with it. But that doesn't mean I hate it's adherents. Wrong thing. 

There is much to know and love in Islam as there is to detest and despair. Just like in Christianity and Hinduism. 



Islamophobia and Its Discontents | The Nation

Thirty years ago, no one outside the halls of academe had heard of Islamophobia. Yet today it is virtually impossible to open a newspaper without encountering either the term or an argument against its use. The word began to appear in print in the late 1980s, when Muslims in Western countries—people of starkly different racial and ethnic backgrounds—began to notice similarities among their experiences with hate, intimidation or discrimination. But almost from the start, there was a parallel effort to discredit this neologism: it was assailed as a fiction, at best the product of a culture of victimhood and at worst a very dangerous myth. Thus we have Islamophobia and “Islamophobia,” one with currency on the left side of the political spectrum and the other a common target of the right.