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September 2005

No need to lament over the fate of athelets whose sport we don't care about

Link: Dancing with Dogs: This is too sad.

This is what we do to sportspeople with real talent and then wonder why it is that a country with over a billion people sucks so bad at winning anything in the Olympics and other world arenas. Penury makes player sell medals! :

    Penury has driven a woman powerlifter from Orissa to sell all the medals she has won in national and international meets.

I don't understand why are we obligated to support a sport that we don't care about. Does anyone think that the Indian people will gather in millions to watch a weight lighting competition? Just because somebody has a talent doesn't mean others are obligated to appreciate it. Western countries are rich and government has plenty of tax-payers money to waste on developing talents that only a few care about. But I am sorry, we can't afford to do the same. Instead of lamenting the fate of such athlets maybe we should stop sending them to the Olympics, the Asiad and other International competitions and save some more of the tax-payer's money.

Markets can take care of supporting sportpersons if there are enough interested "customers" to watch them and get entertained. There is no need for the government or the elites to tell us what we ought to be interested in or not. And there is also no need to engage our pride in the International sports competitions.

Is Indian philosophy a broken clock?

Atanu Dey talks about how there is a convergence between modern cosmology and ancient Hindu wisdom:

The ancients in India dreamt all that stuff up, of course. And the physicists of today are dreaming more such stuff. And from time to time, there are surprising convergences between the two.

He quotes Carl Sagan, explaining the one episode of COSMOS focussed on India,

As far as I know [India’s] is the only ancient religious tradition on the Earth which talks about the right time-scale. We want to get across the concept of the right time-scale, and to show that it is not unnatural.

In the West, people have the sense that what is natural is for the universe to be a few thousand years old, and that billions is indwelling, and no one can understand it. The Hindu concept is very clear. Here is a great world culture which has always talked about billions of years.


Finally, the many billion year time-scale of Hindu cosmology is not the entire history of the universe, but just the day and night of Brahma, and there is the idea of an infinite cycle of births and deaths and an infinite number of universes, each with its own gods.


And this is a very grand idea. Whether it is true or not, is not yet clear. But it makes the pulse quicken, and we thought it was a good way to approach the subject.

I keep coming across such claims and from very respected people. About how Maharshi Kanad talked about atoms and molecules well before the modern science. About how Ayurveda had surgergical procedures well before modern medicine and so on. I don't doubt all this. In fact, I am pretty sure these claims are true.

But sometimes I wonder if Hindu (ancient Indian) philosophy is more like a broken clock. Getting it right exactly twice a day alright but its hands not moving at all!

Maybe we are all responsible for not making it move, busy as we are admiring its ancient wisdom. We have made it a vintage piece in a museum. Marvelous but dead!

How to infer good news from media

Link: Coyote Blog: Update on Iraq.

... but we all know the media has a bias toward negativity that trumps any political biases it might have (after all, your local news station learned long ago that "your kids are happy and healthy, story at 11" is not a very good way to tease the evening news). ... In fact, you can even sort of deduce the successes from the major media coverage.  When the NY Times stops writing about blackouts in Iraq, you know that the electrical system is fixed.  When the WaPo stops writing stories about shortfalls in re-enlistment rates, you can infer that the rates are back up.

There ought to be a blog(s) to monitor when media stops writing about various negative things and infer the good news from them.