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The Murder of Mrs.Satyavathi Venna and her grand daughter,  Saanvi Venna is a horrific crime. This crime targeting two defenseless people, one a 61 year old lady who’s visiting and a 10 month old baby is indeed heinous. Raghunandan Yandamuri, a 26 year old neighbor  belonging to the same community ( as in hailing from the same region in India) as the victims is the alleged murderer. The facts seem to be clear; he seems to have been in dire need of money and planned a kidnapping of the baby with an intention of making the parents pay. The plan went wrong and he ended up with two murders on his hand. He sits in a Pennsylvania jail.

A lot of people on the internet think he should be lynched publicly. Especially people who are from the state of Andhra Pradesh for whom this is a new experience. Crimes like Murder or Kidnaps are not an anomaly, either in AP or in the US. What is new in this case, is the crime being committed in the US by somebody belonged to the same community. Indian on Indian violence is very rare and within that the sub culture of Software consultants( of which many are from the state of AP) rarely are known for breaking the law. The initial comments on various websites were filled with enormous hate for Yandamuri — which is understandable. That is the initial reaction in all of us. Wanting to seek revenge for a senseless act that took two human lives, especially people who could have been our own mother and our own daughter. Once the initial rage has subsided it is important to take a deep breath. I was especially reminded of this article [ hat tip Instapundit ] about mob justice in Nigeria. Cultures that do not have a robust justice systems like Nigeria and India ( I am not putting them under the same degree of lawlessness, but I know there is a lot of room for improvement in both countries). People do not trust the government to deliver justice and thus take matters into their hands delivering what is known as mob justice instantly. That is where the western societies differ. People place a higher level of trust in the authority and delegate this responsibility to the justice system.

Now, since the crime is committed within the US, it is expected that the trial takes place in the US as well. So all the people who want to lynch Yandamuri, please think again. Let’s not behave like a mob and instead place our faith in the US justice system. Meanwhile, have the Venna family in your thoughts. They did nothing to deserve such a tragedy in their lives.

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Photo courtesy: The Hindu

I like Viswanathan Anand. I really do. As a chess fan it’s heartening to see him be on top. But is it the function of Government to hand him 2 crores of the Tax Payer’s money? Rewarding somebody who’s already made it should not be a function of the government. I am sure Jayalalitha can afford to give 2 crores of her own money for photo-op with Anand.

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Kumble is arguably one of the finest cricketers India has produced. I have a great deal of respect for the way he played and comported himself during his career. Now, he apparently turned into some sort a corporate guru. His advice to companies is to play to your strengths. This bit caught my attention:

“A good case in point was the second qualifier where the playing conditions (being slow and low) seems to have played on the mind of the franchisee (Delhi Daredevils), which chose to leave their top fast bowler from the playing XI – a move that clearly backfired.”

I think Kumble fits in right with the MBA types. Explain something after the fact. And this is par for the course in sports commentary, the need to attribute some reason, any reason, for a loss. He goes on to say KKR won the title because: 

“Quite often, teams that are not used to winning, get bogged down by their past track record and are unable to pull themselves together to cross the finish line. The winners this time proved that shedding past baggage and living in the present is a key ingredient for success.”

So, had KKR lost after playing brilliantly until the last over, this whole scenario could have been…wait for it…the resilience of Dhoni’s Super Kings.

Err…Mr.Kumble? Any thoughts on KKR leaving out their explosive batsman Brendon McCullum for the final to replace him with, umm…what’s his name…Manvinder Bisla? 

 

One of my favorite quotations was from Wittgenstein:

Apparently, Wittgenstein asked a friend, ” Why is it that people say it is natural for people to assume that the Sun went around the Earth, instead of the other way around?”

The friend replied, “Well, obviously, because it just looks as if the Sun is going around the Earth.”

To which Wittgenstein replied, ” Well, what would it look like if it had looked as if the Earth is going around the Sun?”

The point is before we knew any better it was just common knowledge and common sense that the Sun went around the Earth. Various myths exist as to how the Sun starts early in the morning and then rests in evening, etc. It took really intelligent people to put the pieces together and deduce that it is not the case. I always remember this story when somebody argues it’s only common sense that such and such is self-evident without bothering to check facts.

I was reminded of the above anecdote, when I read this article: Salt, We Misjudged You. The juicy part,

The idea that eating less salt can worsen health outcomes may sound bizarre, but it also has biological plausibility and is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, too. A 1972 paper in The New England Journal of Medicine reported that the less salt people ate, the higher their levels of a substance secreted by the kidneys, called renin, which set off a physiological cascade of events that seemed to end with an increased risk of heart disease. In this scenario: eat less salt, secrete more renin, get heart disease, die prematurely.

So, it’s entirely possible that the advice that people are being given — to eat less salt is dangerous than than otherwise. And yet, the know-it-alls freely dispense the advice like, don’t eat salt, don’t eat fat, don’t walk in the sun, etc. When the facts don’t fit the hypothesis, just change the facts. The article ends thus:

The British scientist and educator Thomas Huxley, known as Darwin’s bulldog for his advocacy of evolution, may have put it best back in 1860. “My business,” he wrote, “is to teach my aspirations to conform themselves to fact, not to try and make facts harmonize with my aspirations.”

Don Boudreaux, of Cafe Hayek, links to some great essays by the free market economist, the late Manuel “Muso” Ayau. 

An Excerpt from The Just Distribution of Wealth:

The other day during lunch, one of my daughters (in high school) told me that in class the students had been asked: Isn’t it unfair that there are luxurious churches and homes, when in other parts of the city and country there is so much poverty? The question seemed misleading to
me for several reasons. First, because it evidently begged the answer that any young person of a charitable nature would give. Second, the question insinuated the existence of a false cause and effect relationship between wealth and poverty. And, third, I consider this to be an attempt to take advantage of young people, to exploit their lack of experience, their innocence, and wholesome feelings in order to instill in them, using devious means, a dangerous idea that has caused much damage in the world.
Aware of this, I gave my daughter the following response: If the poverty of some is due to the wealth and luxury of others, then wealth is bad, and I am against it. If the poverty of some is not due to the wealth of others, then I am indifferent to wealth. But if it turns out that poor people
would be more impoverished if the wealthy didn’t exist, then I’m in favor of wealth.

Indeed. The above essay was written in 1964 and close to fifty years later, a majority of people subscribe to the notion that wealth is only created by exploiting others. 

Satyameva Jayate

Great Bong informs me that there is this new cutting edge show called Satyameva Jayate, and the great Aamir Khan is the host. Celebrities were tweeting how cool it is that Aamir Khan picked up the mantle to slay the dragons of social injustices. I had to check it out. Since I am too cheap to pay for Cable and I don’t get Star Plus,  I checked it out on Youtube. Great bong indeed sums it up quite well. Indeed, this is a show aimed at the middle class guilt, just like how cool it is to support Anna Hazare’s movement without actually going into the deeper issues. After watching the show — which began with issue of female foeticide,  I have a few questions for Aamir Khan, the producers and all the people gasping at how great it is that Aamir has brought this issue to the fore.

1. Are you against abortion in general or just the issue of sex selection?

2. If you are pro-choice (a Woman’s right to choose — which is the most secular response, then you consider foeticide to be fine, but just not the female fetuses when the sex is already known.

3. If you are pro-life, then all abortion should be wrong, in which case the issue is not sex selection, but abortion in general.

4. How should contraception be perceived? In the course of the show, you invoked god and said he/she wouldn’t accept this kind of interference( I’m paraphrasing) from us. Isn’t Contraception the same thing?  Aren’t we interfering by somehow altering the master plan?

5. An issue raised was that there will be a shortage of girls for men to get married( or it’s already happening). Why should I care? What’s the role of an individual in society? Making sure future supply of girls to the next generations so everything stays balanced? Why?

My intent is not to promote abortions based on gender selection, not I am a hardcore pro-lifer. But I think there is a lot more to it than sex selection bad, accepting god’s will good kind of reasoning. I am trying to understand the principle behind it and why the force of the state should come down hard on the Ultrasound clinics or doctors. I am having a hard time understanding the cognitive dissonance of people who say Abortion is fine( it’s killing embryos) but selected embryos getting a special status as children.

Shots Fired

Long, long ago, Hollywood was truthful before they themselves became Zombies.