Sunday, November 28, 2010

i'll talk to god myself, thank you very much

so walking in the streets of beirut, an old lady was asking for handouts. she was sitting in a strategic location, where a pole narrows the sidewalk enough till you can't pass by without noticing her. she was sitting there asking for help, and exclaiming in a loud voice how she's asking god to bless you.

which made me think.

(a) i don't need your help in asking god for anything. if i were inclined to do so, i would speak directly to him myself - not sure what value you add in the process. you don't exactly inspire a preferred relationship with the creator

(b) i think your product is bogus. i mean, wouldn't you say it's quite inefficient for you to ask god to bless me in return for me to help you, instead of asking him to help you directly? surely all the time and energy you spend asking god to bless people will be much more effective if it's channeled directly at you? as such, your prayers are not incentive at all for me to help.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

we're all socialists at heart - even americans!

obama has been a victim of his own ambition. i've read an excellent article on businessweek. however, i would like to quote a few points in there:
"Political equality is a sacred idea to Americans; economic equality, however, is not"
"The United States, according to this study, is a nation of people who would like to spread the wealth around. They just don't know it.
Can it really be that simple? In part, this work fits into a proud tradition of social science research demonstrating the basic ignorance of the average American."
"Yet studies have also shown that voters have an impressive ability to absorb information that contradicts their beliefs without letting it change their minds."
really these snippets do not give the article its justice, though it does do a good job of some american bashing. apologies to ethan in advance.

but it also highlights a bigger problem in human psyche: it is dangerous for intelligent people to try to explain things to idiots. see an intelligent person will stop at points they don't understand, they will put in the effort to understand. an idiot will just apply their own prejudices and assume they "got it". long live idiocy!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

the dubai class chasm - in one sentence

"let the guys from almusalla come to friendly challenge class - we'll pay for their metro"
- ahmed, in difc

Monday, November 08, 2010

the social network

i have recently watched the social network. excellent movie. excellent writing, excellent acting, gripping drama and so fucking relevant. excellent movie. in fact, i left the theater thinking this: will our kids grow up and be shown this movie in schools, as a historical overview of their social environments. i mean it brought to mind the bigger question of whether facebook will become the default interaction environment?

i mean, how many times do you email a friend to touch base? maybe to share docs and stuff, but just to say hi, or organize an outing, or to share pictures, facebook is the place to go. think of this: how many times do you find posts on facebook where people post something like "lost my phone, inbox me your numbers" or "got bbm, my pin is xxxx". so facebook is becoming the default mode of communication, more essential than a mobile phone.

which brings to mind another interesting conflict (got a few hits in the news recently): google vs facebook. why would a search company have beef with facebook? two points, (a) small one, google is trying to flex its social muscles, with things like buzz and latitude, etc. so facebook's dominance is tough to break. (b) big one, facebook is a world closed on itself: google can't search it. google's search capability, linked to its ad revenue, is the company's bread and butter. the fact that google had its applications open to facebook but not vice versa, finally dawned on them as a point of contention, and now they closed the interfaces. in other words, if facebook won't share info, google won't share either. interesting.

so this takes me back to my original point: will our children be facebooking or googling? which one is more important? the case for google is simple: it democratizes information. the ability to reach a very specific piece of information quickly and with relevant results is google's secret. it's an amazing ability that can't be binged or yahood. for facebook: it's simple as well, it's simply connecting people. the ability to get and keep in touch is amazing. i think that google is more important, but that's the engineer in me. some will identify facebook, for those who value human interaction more than human intellect.

one thing has to be kept in mind though, which is sometimes missed. both these companies work towards one common goal: money.