Disjointed threads… again

Gratitude and Humility, while not part of the Virtues should be or perhaps they are outcomes of Veritas, Garvitas and Honor

I felt like talking to you today and then wrote this (what was supposed to be a short post). This is a compilation of broken notes across a few hours over a couple of days. As context I was watching Kanye’s documentary throughout most of it besides the arguments between meals and other happenings at home. However, I am grateful for many things in life and want to be the ideal version of myself but I’m also struck by the amount of failure in my life. Failure on my part to evaluate situations, failure on the part of my parents, friends, society. Is this what life is? I hope not. I look at the sacrifices of people and the work they put in to achieve success and it exhilarates me.

A virtuous dog or a scheming dog

A few conversations I watched by way of podcasts or videos. The first one was JP’s conversation with Lex Fridman. I hadn’t heard a complete Lex conversation in sometime but this guest was important for me. A part of me wanted him to redeem himself and I felt he did ultimately. Jordan Peterson’s conversation with Lex Fridman was really great overall. I enjoyed the peeling of the scabs and the delving into different understandings of things. Scabs that had formed mostly for Jordan Peterson I think. While he is an introvert and has put himself out there at his volition, he does receive a fair share of bashing from the entities on the social networks (bots or not!). A few hours later I wasn’t in the greatest of moods right now and I’m feeling ridiculous. Even ‘ridiculous’ is not a genuine emotion. Maybe shame would be better. I hope I can be honest on this platform. What is the reason for this? Maybe home?

Then I also listened to Seth Dillon on Joe Rogan. Something that was said at the start of the conversation was to the effect that any comedy (or anything else) with an agenda becomes irritating. This guy (the “CEO” of Babylon Bee) seems he’s come on with so much going on. He seems disturbed and distracted and even looked defensive from the get go in the conversation. Maybe Joe does that to people in person perhaps because Joe is an imposing personality, I’m sure he is. Maybe it was just that Seth was nervous because this was a large platform. He was fidgety and jumped around on a lot of things to defend himself. A part of me also feels like I would perhaps be the same in some situations. I do unfortunately feel like he’s much like me with regard to the nervousness. Though the lack of eye contact though isn’t really much of my thing. Anyway, I don’t have the bandwidth to watch something that I’m not resonating with. And it’s not the ideas, I didn’t agree with the ideas from the get go. I wanted to see a strong defence of his position and that was not happening so I stopped watching it. Maybe I should continue exploring that thread about changes in my demeanour/ home. More on that later.

The background to this post was Kanye’s documentary… it was something that I watched and delighted me but left me in a dark state of mind. I will be biased in my reactions because I already appreciated the guy for his entrepreneurial spirit. However, it also left me sad because I was left drained by the reaction of the world around him. I remember a few years ago when I asked a close friend to watch one of his videos for what he had to say they were disappointed. They said “Don’t ever ask me to watch such a misogynist again”. This was a couple of years before the BLM walks throughout the US, during which the world came to terms with their lack of understanding of the various cultures around them. I don’t think misogyny has place irrespective of any culture and there are no ifs or buts about it. However, what might seem like misogyny might be a cultural misunderstanding. It might just be a lack of context to understand what the person is saying. At any rate the documentary jee-yuhs was really great. It highlighting an interesting take on a life that is going to be remembered for sometime and since this was one of the other things I watched I thought I should write about it.

Recently browsing through HackerNews I saw this post by an Indian entrepreneur who talked about how not getting the H1-B visa was one of the best things that happened to him. While that might have been a fair statement for him personally a lot of commentators on social media were commenting about how that is true and the tide is changing for India. India is now becoming a challenger to Silicon Valley. While reading all this all I could think about what the garbage dump right next to my house where people keep piling on just because. So then, I wrote a small revert which should be somewhere on the interwebs. So here goes… ‘Balaji recently wrote about a version of startup communities in his book The Network State. Although, he talked about first creating virtual communities and then agglomerating enough critical mass to enable people to demand physical changes in the infrastructure/ affect government in the real world. He also speaks highly of India in a related context because of the proliferation of technology supported by the fact that major technology shapers hail from India among other things.

I don’t agree with many of the views and feel like India is missing a key piece. We are not a single country (never have been as goes popular meme goes). It is hard for us as a nation to optimise for success because we have too many competing priorities at the local, state and lower levels. The exaggerated impact of diversity stemming from diverse cultures is too much to handle and optimise for one country’s leadership in my humble opinion. I want to think differently but unfortunately the ground reality is telling for e.g., if you only look at the garbage dumps across various cities despite a national campaign of cleanliness. We as a people needed to be made aware in 50+ languages that we should hesitate from destroying our surroundings and not trash them.

It is easy to think that a 5Gbps connection with air conditioning and organic rations just arrive out of nowhere as it sometimes does in many industrialised/developed countries in the West. There is basic infrastructure that is needed not just to stimulate the economy but also allows for those lowest in the social rungs to benefit and operate like normal human beings do in the West. This is nothing new of course and we all have seen the disparities in large Indian cities. Some even tend to compare it to what is happening in SF and other large cities in the US. My experience is that the environment I was in, both in Singapore and US brought out the best in me. I could spend my intellectual bandwidth on things that actually mattered to the larger society around me. One could say that the return on investment (action/thought ratio) was much higher because I was enabled by basic infrastructure. I didn’t have to care about rowdy neighbours or worms in chocolates or dysfunctional municipal services (comparing the occurrence of these disturbances among others to problems like gun violence is a bit ridiculous in terms of the impact they cause on day to day life for an average common person).

All this is not to say that India is doomed and there is nothing happening here or possible in the long term future. I’m just opining that it takes a lot of basic needs to be satisfied for a society to operate optimally. Without being too cynical, Kunal Bahl had a basic foundation to leave MS and build Snapdeal (after pursuing a great education in the US). It’s not impossible and is a worthy dream that many if not all should pursue but the popular narrative that India is now ripe to be the next Silicon Valley is not realistic. And to me it feels like most technology (only) solutions to societal challenges are like a band-aid. The solutions need to be deeper and cultural, and as much of a curmudgeon this might make me seem, Government needs to be involved in those solutions. Not just government marketing and branding as has become popular these days but actual government action. It will be hard for a large part of the population to see beyond the marketing so yes, it will be an uphill battle.’

Being back home has been a rainy trip

Coming back closer to more personal things, life has started to become not be easy at home. It never was, but I had been away from home to have an objective perspective. Remember when I was yet to come home? I remember it. I was so very much looking forward to it and I realise that even now it is a fleeting moment and I should cherish each moment of it but things are starting to get to me. These things are assumptions, ways of thinking, reactions to occurrences, etc. I know that this time will be gone and I will miss it but what of it right now? The mistakes one makes are mostly exclusive of what anyone else has done with/to/for you in life. It takes a little bit of self reflection, which also depends on very personal situations. Yes, externalities impact our lives but there are always options and sometimes we need to make choices whatever hand we are dealt. Sometimes when I listen to people around me talk it feels like an unreal conversation. Not bad, not good, just unreal and disconnect from real life. Opinions and realisations framed by personal takes that are so far from reality and sometimes just seem so bizarre. Empathy isn’t only a method for feeling kindness for another person it also is method to maintain one’s sanity. If gratitude and reality is forgotten life can become hard. There needs to be an effort to see situations from different perspectives in order to not get completely delusional.

A large part of my circle is not curious about many things. Maybe life has taken a toll on them and it has made them this way but it feels like they have just been living… They don’t understand how the world works and don’t endeavour to understand it either. Sometime it feels like they don’t want to understand and don’t really have the intellectual bandwidth to push themselves either. To them people are good or bad based on how they look, their family name or something of the sort defines others around them. Maybe it’s alright because they are a product of their environment and their environment has not been very conducive. I want to give them the benefit of doubt because they are family. A characteristic that I’m not too please about is when a strong willed person is not very bold but is aggressive. It can lead to streaks where enough conviction can lead ridiculous conclusions that are fed by self belief and it becomes a self perpetual cycle.

Contemplating the choices in life, mostly bad and fortune of having been in the right places

I was reminiscing about my first few weeks in ATL when I had just started with my first role post MBA. Yes, I was excited but I knew for sure that I wanted to start BJJ as well. I didn’t ask anyone about it and I was just drawn to it because of everything I followed on social media and otherwise. It wasn’t easy. I had a massive (relatively, by my standards) loan to pay off and I also wanted to send money back home. The pay wasn’t the greatest but it was something much more than I had ever been paid. The net effect of everything was that I decided to start BJJ and I remember the first few months when I used the local bus to move around. I caught the local bus down in ATL just to get to the BJJ gym right after work. Work wasn’t easy either. It was good office work that wasn’t paying as much as I should have been paid but whatever I still grit my teeth and made sure that I was doing what I needed to do… After all I was only going to get to the gym to get beat up. Haha… now three years later as a blue belt I can say it was all worth it. The bike falls, the broken ankle, the bruises and all the rest. Feels good to have achieved something. At least that’s the story I’m telling myself, what is your story?

A Podcast and its Host

As an individual concerned about freedom of speech I have always appreciated what the US evolved into following its independence from the British colonies. As a consumer of balanced viewpoints, I appreciate what Joe Rogan contributes to the social consciousness. As a student of the scientific method data analysis, deep study of processes and implications is something that I appreciate as well. I have had many arguments with friends in which I have tried to convince them about the need for a platform like JRE.

I am not completely sure about where the responsibility of a podcast host lies in the spread of information. There are instances where I am convinced that the conversation he is having is just conversations. Not everything I talk about is backed by data. It is barely even structured conversation at times. However with a platform also comes a responsibility about the message you are spreading. Is it the host’s responsibility to ensure what is being conveyed is legitimate? What if it is just friendly banter? Don’t we have conversations where friendly banter becomes toxic? What do we do when that happens? We acknowledge our ignorance about the topic and resolve to visit the conversation again with more information. We back of and acknowledge the unintelligibility of that exchange of words.

As a frequent listener of the JRE show I am aware that exaggerations and hyperbole are part and parcel of the conversation. Sometimes just as times as when we have non-structured, non-factual conversations with friends. However, the only difference, in this case, is that the conversation is being conducted by 1.1M people and sometimes more, even if it is only one-sided. Many times I am left with a cursory understanding of the topic but a deeper understanding of the guests on the show. Who are those individuals, what makes them nervous, what are they excited about, and sometimes the reasons behind what drives them. If someone is a brilliant performer that show will not give you anything but a presentation. I am aware of this.

The reason I chose to write this short post is that for a long time now the example of Uttar Pradesh has been coming up on the show time and again. I am completely aware that the state is run by a corrupt politician who has the hopes to become a leader within the national political scene of the country. This is a fact which is far removed from the current state of the world, which classifies areas around the world by their response to COVID. Policies, how the people reacted, the numbers, the hospitals, the facilities, and all that comes along with the COVID conversations.

For me, the canvas is viewed from a different lens. I am aware that U.P. (Uttar Pradesh) is a state that is deeply divided based on a caste system, religions, and other political parties that are trying to grab and/ or consolidate power over the people in that state. Corruption is a word that should have been used in the first sentence when U.P. was mentioned but I am bringing it up now. Corruption is rife within the state. Nothing positive in my recent memory has ever come up about that state. U.P. has the largest number of crimes per capita in all India. One could say that’s probably because the state has a very developed population and they’re a law-abiding people. However, the sentence before that would directly contradict this hypothesis. Further, U.P. also has one of the lowest literacy rates in the country. I hope this provides some context about the state.

The use of alternative medicines like Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine to combat COVID. While I am writing this I hate the fact that this has become my corner to rant about COVID but I am torn by conflicting emotions about an individual who has shaped many of my ideologies. I grew up watching and listening to Joe Rogan. At first, it was Fear Factor, and then of course it was JRE. U.P. is one of those hell holes in India where I wouldn’t send any of my friends and families. I would do everything for them to avoid that state in the country. India is an amazing country where ingenuity and getting things done in the spirit in most but U.P. has never in the recent times been an example of anything positive.

I collected some very basic data here to contradict the claims of people like Bret Weinstein, Dr. Peter Corey, and Dr. Robert Malone. I have enjoyed listening to the conversations of all these people and I understand that most of these people feel like they have a ‘responsibility’ to shine the light on things that the ‘common man’ doesn’t understand. However, if they are good actors in the theater of JRE and other places the information they convey could be damaging. In certain instances, it has proven damaging and no one has paid the costs. So here’s the data about U.P. in comparison to two other states in the country.

Incomplete data in 12 rows that tells more of a story than a 3:06:17 hours long podcast

That 0.84% number which shows what part of the population had covid?! That’s the nail in the coffin for me. U.P. solved COVID before COVID even started. Like the rest of India that was banging utensils in March of 2020 and singing “go car-on-a go go” to stomp the epidemic U.P. had already started to stomp the pandemic by denying that there ever was a pandemic in the first place. In such a situation whether the state “covertly” used alternative treatments to rid the people of their ailments or connected with aliens to get a cure from the future it does not matter because COVID did not exist in the first place for them. They never actually tested the population at a rate that could determine the progress of vaccinations or medications. All their claims of cures and flattening the curve are based on slogans, marches, hand waving, and affinity towards whatever the public wants to hear on Instagram and other social media. To trust that something worked or did not work for that matter in that state is a disaster. If you don’t trust Fox or CNN you cannot even use the letter “t” for any conversation based on data from the U.P. government. In this case unfortunately there isn’t even any data available.

The Tragedy of the Commons and Decentralization

The post yesterday wasn’t up to the mark. Unfortunately, I feel like I was probably under the influence when I wrote it. The truth is that I was not. That would be a romantic idea of how a blog or book could be written. The fact is that I was just under the influence of the noise that there exists because of the world around me.

What should be the public policy to regulate the dissemination of information? In my opinion, the answer to that question can come either from an expert or simply a person who is observant about the world around them. However one needs to be mindful of all the factors and drivers of such a decision. This is the question about a policy for a policy. As someone recently told me it’s not a unitary or binarily dimensioned problem but rather a multidimensional problem. That is a very accurate description of many challenges that need to be solved in the world today. Identification of those factors that make the problem multidimensional should be step one of problem-solving. That also means defining the problem so that it could be understood by someone not familiar with the subject. This is almost thinking like a consultant. Perhaps a part of me is happy about this realization.

The topic in question is ‘the dissemination of information.’ The first question that comes to mind is dissemination to whom? Is it the people of the nation, is it the people in authority who may or may not have a certain political affiliation (‘always‘ would be the answer to that wonderment). Dissemination for the purposes of my examination here will be the spread of information to the common public. Even within the common public, it is specifically that part of the population that lacks a sense of determination. I particularly call it determination because not only does that take some sort of fortitude but also a sense and skill of separating what needs to be evaluated from what doesn’t. In some sections of the audience reading this that specification could be applied in a meta way on this topic and one could almost apply that filter to the very question that I raised.

In order to understand public policy one almost needs to understand what impact certain regulations or laws can potentially have on the public. If not in a prolonged sense of time at least in the near future. That understanding in itself needs the discernment of people and systems. Interactions of these drivers and an understanding of those drivers independently. Maybe not an exhaustive understanding of Jungian and Freudian psychology but just what drives people to behave a certain way. The outcomes that people desire are another topic of consideration.

I am afraid to introduce any topic in most discussions because I find that people lack a basic understanding of most things. This of course seems very egoistic of me but here I will also admit that there are others with whom I would very much engage in such debate very willingly as well. Most of the people that I pull into a debate wither away at the slightest thought of what it would mean if they were wrong about the position they hold. I, on the other hand, enter into conversations with the utmost confidence in my abilities to derive a conclusion from a given set of facts. My position might be incorrect due to the number of facts that I have taken into consideration but that understanding can always be updated and I am conscious of that result. Drawing conclusions is not the hard part for me. Neither is the emotional turmoil of being caught on the ‘wrong’ side of the debate.

So how does all this relate to the dissemination of information? I many times have experienced people failing to draw conclusions from a given set of facts. It is not the failure of their awareness but the failure to be curious or draw conclusions once those facts come to light during a conversation. This leaves me with a sense of concern about people deriving accurate conclusions from the information when presented to them. This concern was raised out of something that is now also a promise of the decentralization movement. The decentralization of information, technology, and resources among other things. However, I think it’s a valid question to ask – Is decentralization of information a good thing or bad when one is aware about ‘the tragedy of the commons’. A resource of any type gets optimized for individual consumption when released to the commons. This conversation will continue, perhaps for a few more units of measurable time in my head, at the very least.

The heat and the unreal journey

It’s the 25th of July (I wanted to write June) and these Olympics are a bit weird. I’ve usually been excited about the international games and yet I have close to zero idea of what is going on in the games. This is perhaps one example of how beginning of the second decade of the 21st century left us. Lot of lessons, with new found joys after a bundle of tragedy, all in all confused about what is required to be done in life.

After pondering about and around the idea of a sauna I finally visited one a couple of weeks ago. I visited an infrared sauna. It was not the worst idea. When asked about the benefits of a Sauna my answer is a veiled joke about the “heat shock proteins”, a JRE listener would feel in on the joke. This comes as an edit to an earlier entry because after a few hours of me having written this Joe actually posted something on Instagram (used to be a “social” network a few years ago) talking about the benefits of Sauna. I would like to exclaim ‘who would have guessed?’ ironically of course.

I wanted to summarize a few experiences from these past few weeks. Things are always passing by and making a note of the things that have added value to the experience is probably helpful. “No, he’s twelve” – these words, atleast I hope, are not forgotten too easily. The human experience is not simple and conversations about experiences and the experiences themselves makes one realize what things need to be paid most attention to in the day to day on goings. Another sentence was “… Grass grows here…”

They are tirelessly working at it and everyone ignores them because it is inconvenient. I’m not sure what this actually related to but perhaps it relates to workers that immigrate to the United States. There will be another country but for now the USA is one country that allows people to come in and work. It’s not easy and there are other places but if one can figure out the way the machine works. I still don’t know what that means for tme. If we could agglomerate the best learnings into another place it would probably look similar and eventually end up having similar problems. So for now yes there are people that are tireless working, maybe not in the most efficient way but they are working harder than the residents of this country because they have a dream that they are pursuing. This might be the country where entreprenuership is at the helm of existence and value that one could add to society but I still can’t start a company.

What a force of science! The faith in replicability, hypotheses framing and statistics is unparalleled.

One side is corrupt and the other side is inept. Lighthouses that actually meant to function are being taken down by the forces of both. How am I contributing to either? None, I’m just standing my ground and documenting my journey. What will the developing world do in the face of these challenges? Will they follow like always or do they have answers from before hand like they always have? Someday there will be a dam burst and when everyone will be looking for answers they will be narrated through an audiobook that will talk about the unreal journey this was for it’s time.

I don’t want to listen to what someone has to say and I don’t want to look at the world from anyone’s perspective because I think they are all incomplete and flawed. A perspective can help fine tune the whole but it cannot be followed as the only perspective. Human vision is flawed and so is the analysis that follows any perception. The level of nuance required to lead an inspiring life is exhausting but much needed at times.

Love that is not proclaimed. It started again because it feels that life itself is filled with pain. On the other side the other entity didn't need to be implored but neither does it need to be ignored. Things they have to say, important or not they still hold their sway. This might have appeared helpful then but is it even mentionable at all now? Typing away whenever there is conflict as if it has something to say.