Tag Archives: feeling

The Mellow Heuristic

If our hearts were pure, we wouldn’t need our heads. To me, this is the most beautiful, most insightful statement on moral reasoning. We would never understand how much we really care about morality without fully understanding what this quote of Paul Bloom means.

For instance, I am an Aspie. Aspies are far less cruel than normal human beings because Aspies are more guilt-driven. Normal people feel shame when they lose in the status game. Aspies feel guilt when they do wrong. So, it is not surprising that Aspies often do things which lower their status, but does not leave them guilty. Similarly, normal people are more likely to do things which raise their status, but leaves them guilty. Or, perhaps they do not feel much guilt. It also seems to me that normal people value covert conniving skills more than moral rectitude, though they hide this even from themselves.

What possibly explains this? Rational deliberation plays more of a role in the moral attitudes of Aspies. But, I do not think that this fully explains this. This is probably not detached concern either. I believe Aspies are less cruel than normal human beings because they feel genuine compassion toward victims of injustice. In other words, the belief that thinking people are more rational, and feeling people are mush headed is not true. This is a false dichotomy. The truth is that it is impossible to think deeply without feeling deeply, without being emotionally sensitive.

I will explain. One of the most interesting observations of James Watson is that genetics would lead to a world where honest compassion for the underdog might become possible. This means that we do not live in such a world. It is obvious to me that we do not live in a world where true civility between human beings—let alone compassion—is possible. Honest, wholehearted compassion wouldn’t be possible without a high degree of safety, trust, comfort and reciprocity in human relationships. This wouldn’t be possible without more direct, verbal communication between people. If you think that there is enough of this in the world in which we live in, you are not a particularly introspective or sensitive person. But, it is not surprising to me that James Watson made this observation. From his worldview, he seems to be such a person. Continue reading

Lousy Women

Young Women's Republican Club of Milford, Connecticut in 1941One afternoon, when I went out for “lunch”, I saw lots of fat women playing cards in the restaurant. I was not in a good mood. I felt giddy after Mr. Old Fashioned’s meeting in which people ordered many rounds of tea and snacks, while he repeated, “The problem with India is that the debates are not based on facts. [Emphasis his.]” A girl sneered, “But, we know how good he is on the facts.”

I heard that Mr. Old Fashioned once tried to prove that Gujarat’s economic performance is not so good. Like a shrewd sleuth who untangles a mystery, he listed the facts and figures to prove his assumption. Soon, someone on Twitter pointed out that he had mixed up the figures of Gujarat and Jharkhand. Mr. Old Fashioned swallowed the mortification, and yelled at the young reporter who did the “leg work” for him.

I tried to read in the restaurant while I waited, but these women were too noisy. They played cards in the restaurant in the afternoons, perhaps while their husbands worked themselves to death somewhere in the same lane.

I can’t read when women are shrilling into my ears.

They shrill into my ears when I write about them. A year ago, an ex-colleague called me and screamed, “You called me a grim, joyless lady who wouldn’t crack a smile?” I said, “Ummm, well, Yeah.” trembling. She gave me a stern lecture on the consequences of violating the modesty of women. She said that I have so much angst against the “society”, but do not know the laws of the land, and how they are tilted in favor of the female race.

I have so much angst but know so pitifully little.

She said, “Many women might have done things to you. But, that is your problem. That is not my problem. You may write about any woman you want to write about, but you shouldn’t write about me. To write about me, you need my permission.” After she made me cow down, there was a note of triumph in her voice. She then mellowed, and began to list the specific laws that might be used against me.

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At times, it is their husbands. A few years ago, I used to talk to a middle-aged journalist on Facebook. I gathered that she stalked me when I noticed her “moon face” on my profile page every day. When I asked whether this is true, she removed me, saying, “You seem to be one of those stalker kinds my 16 year old daughter asks me to politely ignore. I know that you are otherwise a wonderful fellow.” I see the world through my pure, uncorrupted eyes. It took me many months to understand what she meant.

She seemed not to mind when we talked on Twitter much later. But, one day, her husband, a low IQ Malayali idiot messaged me on Facebook: “Stop stalking my wife or I will !@#$%%%.” WTF. What could have happened? When she noticed that her hair was graying and that she no longer has quite the same effect on this moron, she might have hinted that she has a secret admirer on Facebook. These stupid men believe anything their women folk tell them.

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Once when I saw two South Indian women “writers” telling each other that their men think of them as Idli-making morons, I said, “But, you people make beautiful Idlis. :* ” One among them, a plump young woman lashed out at me saying, “Spare us those “kissies”. You don’t know what I am getting into.” She was hinting that the law was skewed in her favor. The other woman, Kavitha, sounded calm and serene. I thought, “This is a nice auntie.” But, then she started selling her “yet-to-be-published” book to me. A few months later, when I walked into a book store, I saw her book. 

Everything You Wanted to Write About Freelance Journalism (but didn’t know whom to ask)”

By Kavitha and Charu.

That evening, I was ROTFL:

“If you aren’t sure of what you want your article to achieve, you’re going to have a hell of a time convincing an editor.”

“The key to a good interview is to understand exactly what you need with the person you’re interviewing.”

“You don’t want to plagiarize. None of us do. Do you cut and paste information from the internet? Do you use several sources, including wire services, books and research? We all do, but there’s price to be paid for this quick access to information. It means that it is easier than ever to plagiarize without even knowing it. It also means that if you do plagiarize, intentionally or not, anyone, with a bit of digging, can find you out.”

A few weeks ago, when everyone was whipping Pankaj Mishra on Twitter, I noticed Kavitha tweeting, “You can write for the foreign media, even if you are not establishment elite, like Pankaj Mishra. Buy my book.”  😛 

The Brilliant Marketing Campaign: The Times Of India And Deepika Padukone

finding-fanny-wallpaper-17-12x91When I see condemnation of the journalistic standards of “The Times of India” littering my newsfeed, a question posed by Gail Wynand whose media empire spread like bubonic plague comes back to me: “Do you think it took no talent to create the Banner? The critics of the Times of India do not know that it takes breathtaking creativity to create the largest selling English language newspaper in the world—in a country where most people cannot read, let alone read an English language newspaper.

It is an ancient method of swindling, but virtually everyone is hoodwinked because it is instinctively shrewd. But then, human nature has changed little since the 17th century frauds took to the streets to put on a show, stir up the masses and sell dubious medicines to large numbers of people. It did not matter that the show did not have anything to do with the medicines they were selling—By any stretch of imagination. But, what are the principles involved? Robert Greene tells us:

Appear as news, never as publicity

“People pay more attention to what is broadcast as news—it seems more real. You suddenly stand out from everything else, if only for a moment—but that moment has more credibility than hours of advertising time. The key is to orchestrate the details thoroughly, creating a story with dramatic impact and movement, tension and resolution. The media will cover it for days. Conceal your real purpose—to sell yourself—at any cost.”

When her new movie was released, The Times Of India reporter posted a video of Deepika Padukone’s cleavage. Continue reading

A Civilized Human Being

Anton Chekhov once said that civilized human beings have compassion for other people besides beggars and cats. Their hearts suffer the pain of what is hidden to the naked eye. I think Ayn Rand fits this description. If her analysis of the human society is so perceptive, this is why. Even her most competent admirers do not really understand her controversial arguments because they do not even notice cruelty and fraud. They are not genuinely pained by it. Someone has to point it out to them. This is not a very productive way to learn.

I believe it is a lot like people not being able to read social cues intuitively. Someone has to point this out to them. That is an uphill struggle in which they might never really succeed because their direct introspective knowledge of their own mind is not much of a guide here. They have to use their intelligence and not their intuition. They might eventually understand why people act the way they do, but in a slightly different context, they will still not be able to apply what they had learned. The people with Asperger Syndrome are a good example.

For instance, rational people are surprised again and again when people do not respond to logical arguments. They are surprised again and again because they are deeply moved by logical arguments. They probably will never understand why others are not moved by them. To fully understand why, they will have to get inside others minds and read them. But, this is impossible to do.  Continue reading