Saturday, 23 July 2011

Annoying Collaborators

Swami Nikhilaananda said:
"He who sugarcoats, sugarcoats for a reason"

This has happened not once, not twice... Ok, don't ask me how many times this has happened, for I have lost count. And the problem is, it happens a lot. Either I have gullible sucker written on my forehead, or .... well, it's got to be the gullible sucker thing.

The other day, I had been to a mall with a friend of mine, and while I was waiting till my friend got back from a shop, this gentleman who was waiting for his friend to get back decided to begin a conversation with me just to pass time, till they got back. I was getting bored waiting, and so decided to listen to what he was saying. This man spoke very polished English, seemed sophisticated and smart. He began by talking about the weather and traffic, and later told me what he was doing and asked me what I was doing. He told me that he was working at Honeywell. You might be wondering how long this conversation must have lasted - not over five minutes. He then said that we must stay in touch and asked me for my phone number... Now this is the place where it gets awkward, because I didn't want to say "I don't give my number out to strangers" (An attitude I am now going to change) and so I gave him my number. He gave me a missed call, and I didn't save it. Who cares? Right? My friend came along and asked me who he was, as he went away with his friend, giving me a cheerful wave. I said, "I have no clue, some guy I saw" and I was looking at the "How long was I gone?" expression.

Well, soon enough, as expected, I got a phone call from him two days later. He reminded me that he was the guy I met in the mall, and I said "Oh yeah..." He then said "So, basically the reason I wanted to get in touch with you is because I am doing a business apart from my regular work, along with some friends of mine who are from IITs and IIMs. We are looking for some really bright, intelligent and enterprising people to collaborate with us on this, so that we can improve people relations [insert loads of more blah blah] and that really adds a lot to the regular income. You seemed like a really smart and enterprising guy, so I was wondering if you might be interested to join us"

My brain analysed this as:
Ok, he is flattering me - meaning, it is something unpleasant, and is definitely a trick somewhere. He judged me to be really smart and enterprising in the five minute conversation that was about weather, traffic and companies. He used key words "IIT and IIM" just to add credibility. He used key words 'People Management' - and all of this adds up to...[drum roll] You guessed it - Amway and Ebiz.

So, these pyramid schemes are some of the most annoying things that exist. Suckers are pulled into it (ironic, considering they are suckers) all the time, and once they realise that they have been had, they try to look for more suckers. I quickly told him "Is this anything to do with Amway or Ebiz?" and he paused and said "Yeah, as a matter of fact, it is to do with Amway. Any particular reason that you are asking this?" and I said "Yeah, I am not interested, thank you" and he cut the call.

I have got so many calls from so many random people - they talk, take my number (which I continue to give for some freaking reason - Note to self: stop handing out number to strangers) and then they call up as if they called, you know, to just talk - and then they use the same rehearsed sentences. It's uncanny... Every single guy says "IIT, IIM, People Relationship, Smart, Enterprising, Collaborate, Business"

The next time someone calls me with this, I am definitely going to ask them if they seriously think that this ploy will ever work for them. As for you guys, don't fall for this. Just cut the call.

***
Comments from Facebook

Chiranth Ashok
Glad somebody finally said this... can't believe all those ppl from "iit" and "iim" fell for that though...

Prashanth Harshangi
Swami Gulugulu said - "He who pees, pees for a reason"

Poornima Rao
the name says it all.. CHRONICLES:P

Skanda Guruanand
Hey! I dont know if its the same guy. I also got a call today, infact for the 2nd time in the past few months. Same story of iits and iims.

Nikhil Baliga
Must be the same guy - I got a call today too, and so I decided to "Chronicle" it :)

Skanda Guruanand
Good :)

Poornima Rao
look him up on FB and see if there is MARK AS SPAM option next to him:P

Nikhil Baliga
Haha, I would - Too bad I didn't listen to his name this time either.

Mithun Shroff
Its happened to me too..! I'm sure there are a lotta people who can relate to this..

P.S: I really like your writing style.. You should contemplate on writing a small story or a book (if you haven't already)

Nikhil Baliga
Thanks a lot Mithun :)

Madhura Basavaraju
enjoyed reading this :)

Amod Kumar Pandey
Poor you! But don't share your number like that.

Susheela Sadashivaiah
general impt gyaan..well written :)

Mahesh Saka
hehe, well written.. but good that you've realized those quickly.. I was almost into when I could just prevent that happening :)
and, yes, share mobile no. with them, but not yours, your enemy's ;)

Nikhil Anand
i never said tht ..i said "She who sugarcoats, sugarcoats for no reason"..:P:P:P

Nikhil Baliga
hahahahaha :D Nikhil Anand, what a coincidence :P


Goutham Kamath 
I have a long and funny story abt EBiz, the guy who approached me never talks to me now

Nikhil Baliga 
Haha seriously man, it is horrible when your friends or relatives come up to you... It becomes really awkward. And do share your story

Deepak Nayak 
Nikhil Baliga did some known person approach u for any of the mentioned products?

Sandeep Shet 
Lol.. It happens to me all the time too  Once you get to know the "modus operandi" you will know for sure that they will ask for your number. Politely say "I don't share share my number with strangers, nothing personal", and don't forget to ask if they are from the Amway business and watch their faces, the few seconds of their expression are worth watching

Mithun Shroff 
Include Qnet in your list too..! I've got fed up with all those "meetings"..!

Niyaz Puzhikkunnath 
You gave your number to a "stranger in the mall" and it turned out to be a poor Amway guy? Be glad... I thought he was hitting on you, which BTW does happen a lot in Bangalore.

Anyway, if you are interested, I have a good business opportunity to discuss with you...

Nikhil Baliga 
@niyaz hahahaha

Aditya Kiran 
I remember an episode of friends, where chandler and monica get fake numbered... that seems a socially acceptable non rude effective way to wiggle out of these situations, don't ya think?

Sandeep Shet 
True.. but the other guy gives missed call then and there to check if u have given the right number, i mean to say to give u his number.  It will be really awkward if the other guy realizes that he is fake numbered. Isn't it more painful than blatantly refusing to give ur number?? Justsaying

Nikhil Baliga 
That's exactly why I don't give fake numbers :P

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Situation, Perception and Reaction

Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"Before you react to a situation, ensure you perceived it rightly"

A very interesting observation that I had is the way in which people react to a situation. Let us assume we come across a situation or topic of discussion where one of, say, two stances can be taken. Now, say this topic of discussion is a pretty widely discussed topic where people normally take one of two sides. When a new person now makes a point that doesn't seem to align with your thought, it is quickly termed as one that is against your view and a defence quickly gets established. These arguments are very interesting, in the sense that debates that follow either digress or dilute. And quite often, extrapolation and judgements are made based on limited knowledge that is possessed.

There are quite a few examples for this that I have come across personally. A simple example would be this post where I asked if homosexuality was indeed natural. A quick look at the topic will take you to a position where you will sit on a stool, looking at two options - Ok with homos or not ok with homos. The topic will make you think that the post is anti homo, and this culminated in some people saying that being or not being homo is purely a personal choice. Which was funny, considering I have myself written in the post that it is a personal choice. This is the result of improper and biased approaches to topics.

A similar response can be seen for this post where I said that the Indian government is not acting - Acting can be anything, the argument being that a tough stance needs to be taken. The result of this, was arguments were made about neighbouring countries being nuclear. Though examples of attacks were mentioned in the post, no suggestion of attack was made - again, this is an extrapolated inference. These inferences are normally made by people who think in digital and argumentative ways.

A third example can be given in this post where I discussed about how newspapers and media should be unbiased while providing news. If you read the comments in the post, you will see people how people get it grossly wrong, and have deviated significantly from the main point in some cases, while in others just don't have the ability to accept the other side. Just because one side has more supporters, the whole momentum swings towards it. Which is incorrect.

Another important point is tones of argument. Which was previously discussed in this post where emotions creep into arguments, ending up in attacks on persons, name calling and what not. A perfect argument is one that discusses pros and cons and comes to a logical conclusion, much like the principles of Six Thinking Hats.

To summarise, it is easy to wag tongues - But before that, ensure you got the premise of the argument rightly. For you don't want to be barking up the wrong tree. While an argument might, at the outset, seem like it is pointing towards something, it necessarily is not - For language can be used to precisely put information across. As in the case of the homosexuality post, I didn't say it was right nor wrong, but I asked if it was natural - and people got misled...

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Terrorists hit Mumbai. So?

Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"We are men of words and not of deeds... Like a garden full of weeds"

Ok, terrorists strike again. Blasts happen. People die. Others panic. Others in other parts of the country rapidly start tweeting and tweeting more. Then, people go on Facebook and start posting comments about terrorists, asking them to go to hell. Then people comment on those posts, saying that Mumbai will bounce back. Media (News channels) go all hyperactive - Conduct debates after debates. They get Pakistanis and Indians, journalists and generals, ministers and other blah people and get them to talk something big. They analyse. Some time later, people will post pictures and videos.... Few days later, life returns to normalcy - Some people say that Mumbai is city of life, nothing stops blah blah. Yeah, ok, Mumbai sprang back.

Mumbai didn't "spring back" - People who died, are dead. Ask their families if they sprang back. Basically, we are so adjusted to this kind of life, we see the same things happen over and over, and yet, we go through the same cycle as that mentioned in the first paragraph. Read the first paragraph again - we did the same thing for every other attack that happened against India.

Why is it that this is happening so often in India? Why is it that such incidents don't happen in the USA? Why is it that these incidents don't happen in Israel? One attack on these countries, and they go all out against their enemies. USA has been known to be an unscrupulous country, but hell, they destroyed the whole of Afghanistan and half of Pakistan to get one man. We have one man with us for the past couple of years, and apparently lakhs of rupees are being blown to "maintain" him. It's one thing to lose money in scams, and a whole other thing to lose it on maintaining a terrorist. That too, in a country where people are dying of lack of food. They fired a rocket at an Israeli and Israel bombed an entire airport.

Do you notice a trend? These two countries are accused of being unprincipled. They don't care. Look at China. They flout rules left, right and centre. Nobody questions them. Even if you do question them, nothing happens. They have the guts to do it - Something India lacks. We also lack the will to do anything. All we can do is talk and talk, and organise more debates and talk. There is no action, and that's why I am not surprised. We all post and tweet and comment. We lack the will for action... I really pity the state of affairs. We need to learn to be like Israel, USA and China -a country which should not give a damn, a country that others should be in awe of or fear... I really wish we had Sardar Patel or Indira Gandhi at the helm right now. They would have torn apart the enemy. Reminds me of the move "A Wednesday"

***
Comments from Facebook

Pradeep Nayak:
I second that Nikhil Baliga. I have noticed on twitter especially people reacting to the chaos. Keep tweeting and tweeting condolences, a lot of them abusing the system, a few cracking jokes on the situation and the government, and what not..Next there will be debates on news channels, people argue and blame and point fingers. What we lack is RESPONSE... As your rightly said USA responded and that was a intellectual decision and while we only REACTING to the situation which is only instinctive

Aditya Padaki
True. But a direct comparison between USA and India cannot be done. USA doesn't share its borders with any of those countries. India shares with a nuclear power. Israel also does not share a border with nuclear power. To retaliate against India is so much more easy than the others. Infiltration easily takes place, no matter how secure the borders are, it is tough to control infiltration always. There are a lot of such factors. But some solution has to be found out and tough stance should be taken. But direct military options may not be the best choice considering our location.

Moreover, all the other countries you mentioned have a perfect head count of the people in their country and their identities. Its not so in India. So controlling becomes even tougher.

Krishnaraj Bhat
I agree If there was Sardar Patel at that time, things could have been different today in India:-)

Dhanabal Lingasamy
America gives $800 million to pakistan...they ofcourse use it to bomb india..il blame america equally for this blast as terrorist :)

Nikhil Baliga
‎Aditya Padaki This is the same attitude that will keep us down all the time. Understand that Pakistan knows that we think like this. There will always be that nuclear fear, and we will never retaliate in that case. Which will make this to go on and on.

Whether you take a direct stance, an indirect stance, a covert stance or bomb all terrorists... we should have the balls to take a stance. There is no point in just sitting and engaging them in dialogue. That's like 'Pouring water over a rock'

Aditya Padaki
We need to carefully analyze the severe repercussions (if any) of any stance/decision taken. The Japanese are suffering even today (nearly 70 years later) because of what happened then. It is by no means a small thing and we cannot take anything for granted. Understand that they don't in any least manner hesitate to use them; its by no means a difficult decision for them.

There is no point in showing that we deal everything with an iron hand, if we lose the bigger picture. Taking a firm stance is no doubt of at most importance, but choosing what stance we take has to be very carefully done, definitely not as a knee jerk response.

Nikhil Baliga
Haha and that's what's the difference between Patel, Gandhi, me and the rest of them (and you)... Things don't have to be knee jerk - things need to be firm and strong. I don't know if you remember the story of the snake that decided to pursue Ahimsa at the words of a sage, but got beaten up by people. At which, the sage told the snake - I asked you to follow ahimsa, doesn't mean you shouldn't hiss and look threatening...

A nuclear option is easier said than done. Pakistan as a nation will cease to exist. The damage on India as a nation may or may not be large depending on how far they can reach. All of their major cities are too close to the Indian border, and foreign pressure on Pakistan will undoubtedly be too huge for the remaining part (if it is there) of Pak.

Read the post and comments again - the emphasis is not necessarily on, while not entirely ruling out, war, but on a strong reaction rather than dumb ass debates and discussions. What we need is action...

Dolly Singh
First think should be Killing Kasab in public place.. He shouldn't be hanged.. he should be killed slowly.. with lot of pain.. And then attack Pak in such a way that they dont get chance to use their Nuclear power..of course war does not get any good for any one but If Pak wants a war, WTF, give them a war!! Pak map should be removed frm world map..

Aditya Padaki
‎Nikhil Baliga - Dude, look at that nation! It is totally in chaos. Govt. has no control over its military. Fanatics don't hesitate to do anything and they don't think of what would follow. Firm and strong are the need of the hour no doubt, but in what direction is important, is all I am saying. And oh yes! They can reach a very great distance into India. We will win the war, but at what cost? It will an irrepairable damage which will slow the country down by decades. You are only ASSUMING stuff to your convenience (that they will not retaliate in a certain way), which is a very wrong way of deciding anything. You need to take into account the worst case scenarios and analyse their implications for the future while making any important decisions.

Clever (and probably cunning) action is the need of the hour. (on the lnes of Saap bhi mar jaye aur lathi bhi na toote - Yuktihi shaktehe gareeyasi...) I right away agreed with your point that just debates and discussions won't help. What I told was the comparison you drew between India's response and the response of other countries (US, Israel) was wrong. Completely different situations. You cannot compare and take decisions based on them.

Prajwal M Sudarshan
Nikl,we all have different opinions on how the government should treat this issue,and as usual the Govt will do whatver it has done in the past.nothing changes by talking about it,as you yourself expressed.the question is,what should WE do?starting blogs and forums wont help coz vr not Anna Hazare,and ive heard enough about electing youth into the governemt to change it.unless you have a few million stashed away,Entering politics is out of the question.so instead of arguing as to what the government should do,what can we do??

Nikhil Baliga
‎You suddenly went into war - which I said should be an option. You cannot forever keep cowering at their nuclear arsenal and sit is what I saying... You and I can sit and have armchair discussions all day long. For a family that has lost lives, it is pathetic that we are not a strong nation. So many people keep dying, and we do nothing about it and that has to change

Prajwal M Sudarshan - Yup! You are right in all aspects and I agree with you. And your question is a million dollar one :)

Gurudatha Pai
Nikhil Baliga I agree with you but perhaps I agree with Aditya Padaki more. Yes, we need to show a response, a response that has implications far beyond what we as common man perceive the situation. Like you said, war is an option but it is beyond the last option. I say that because, there is too much at stake here. You might want to think India has military superiority over Pakistan, that is if you consider our full military but full military is not available, considering China is a "chaddi dost" of Pakistan and we don't know the alliance of other neighbors. About nuclear arsenal, it is only a "strategic deterrent". It has seized to be a front line weapon for us. It is certainly not the case for our neighbors who once in Kargil claimed that the uniformed soldiers are in-impersonation of their military and are militia. They might just claim they don't have lost control over their nuclear assets and that they have been compromised. And this is not even considering the cost and casualties of war. It is not an easy fight but heck we are not fighting anything right now!

Nikhil Baliga
‎Gurudatha Pai - I repeat... An action is important. If you clearly read the post, you will see that I am not talking about war - I am definitely citing examples of attack, but what I am stressing more on, is an action. Now, what action has to be taken is left to those in power.

At the very outset, you can rest assured that I am fully aware of all of the facts that have been stated above, including Pakistan's nuclear capabilities, China's belligerent attitude towards India, China being Pakistan's all weather friend and all that. I also read the paper where Indian defence chiefs keep talking about worst case scenario being war with two nuclear powers. I am also aware of India's position...

And that's where decision making comes to picture. I have, at no point told that we have to declare war on them. I did say that it is an option. What I am saying is that we seem to have become a soft target, similar to one of those soft professors in colleges, where nobody cares for when she raises meek voices of protest against noise making students. A strict teacher is one people are afraid of - And that is where the fear of repercussions come into picture

Notice that a country which can be bombed time and again, a country that raises meek protests and talks and does nothing is a country that will not be feared. Go ahead and do a Google search on India and nuclear abilities. We are nuclear and so is Pakistan, but we are not a feared nation... People go on and on about abilities of USA, China, Russia, France and Britain. Do you know what separates them from us though we are nuclear powered? Clout - And this clout is what we lack.

Clout is something that India lacks and thus, we will be like the gnat on the bull tail (Aesop's fable) or worse, the gnat on the cartwheel (Aesop's fable again) where we continue to be jingoistic and think we are great, and go on and on about our country's glory (which perhaps ended at the Vedic period). We are not even a regional power with China growing so rapidly next to us, we continue to be compared with Pakistan rather than China. What is it that we lack? Abilities, talent, resources? We are the best in the world in those, aren't we? And yet, we sit and get bombed - and that too in Mumbai, no less... Kashmir, I would have accepted

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Homosexuality - It's a queer topic

Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"I wonder how people call homosexuality natural"

Let me begin by saying that this post is not intended to hurt the sentiments of gay people and/or unhappy people. But I am really curious about the curious (and bi curious) case of ... well, queer people.

Let me be honest. I find it rather queer. I am no well learned person, nor have I done research. So, I'll use simple logic - Nature has two types of organisms in higher life... Males and Females. And they are to be attracted to each other, so that they mate and procreate. Attraction is in order to bring them closer, with the intent of procreation.

Now, this would mean that it is necessary for attraction to be between the opposite sex. And that's why I find it queer to see attraction among people of the same sex. And that's why I find it unnatural.

Next question - If it is was not unnatural, you should have seen homosexual behaviour in at least some other animal as well. If you do find some references to this, please post comments. And don't bother giving me the gay penguin example. Yeah, one of the penguins ditched the other when the female came up. I think that penguin had become gay due to lack of choice - like how many prisoners end up in jails... I am asking for an example where an animal had plenty of opposite sex partners, and CHOSE to be gay.
[Ashwin provided this link. Interesting read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexual_behavior_in_animals]

If you say 'It's about emotional bonding and not just procreation' then I would say 'Perhaps'. Because I am talking strictly in terms of physical attraction.

I also wonder why HIV/AIDS is on the rise among homosexual people - What's the reason for 8% Indians who are involved in M2M to be afflicted by HIV/AIDS while the rest of the population are only at 1% ? I mean, don't the same rules of safe sex apply? (I got this statistics from BBC)

Anyway, personally I find it weird to see guys kissing guys - but hell, it's their life. So, if you have an opinion (or no opinion), go ahead and participate in this poll. Just to see what other people think. Don't bother telling me about 'Freedom of Expression' and 'Democracy'. I'll either yawn or barf.

(This post is basically a response to the health minister backtracking after making comments - Mr Minister... Please grow a spine and stick to your points)

Friday, 1 July 2011

Google+ : A quick review

Swami Nikhilaananda said:
"Google+ is awesome, and will definitely dethrone Facebook"

Google finally released Google+ which is Google's response to Facebook. So, is it really worth it? The answer is - YES. Don't worry if you feel this post is biased against Facebook. My focus in this post is to highlight Google+

Ok, how does Google+ stack up against Facebook? First of all, Google+ scores over Facebook for its very clean interface. The font size is decent, similar to what Facebook had till it reduced it. Now its a pain.

Google+ also uses a lot of nice animations here and there - something very nice to see on a web interface. With rotating and sliding and swishing movements, it's a little more lively.

Google+ notifications look a lot like Facebook notifications. However, one thing that I liked in Google+ is that you can see the notification's target page right there in that pane, without having to switch to that page. Something you have to do in FB. Say two friends commented on two different posts of yours, in Facebook, you will get 2 in the notification, and clicking on the links would open only one of them in one page. So, you would have to open them in two tabs - In Google+, you can see it in the notification area, respond, come back and respond to the next. Very neat.

Google+ also felt faster than Facebook.

Google has a lot of advantages over Facebook - Google already has a lot of services in place, including chat, mail, Picasa and the biggie - Android. Facebook released chat and mail a lot later. Google also has video chat already in place. And all these are integrated. You can directly import a lot of data into accounts without creating from scratch - Most of us who have Picasa albums already in place will love this feature.

Circles will prove to be the best feature of Google+ against Facebook. The reason is - When you post status updates and/or photos, many times, we want to limit the viewership. In Facebook, we can choose who we want to hide from, but this is a one by one choosing method, which is tedious when you have hundreds of friends and hundreds of people who you want to hide things from. Even friend lists seem useless on Facebook - I wonder why they didn't do that yet.

Now one of the top questions people will have - How will they get people to use Google+ ? With time, they will succeed for sure. Orkut was so widely used, here in India, that when Facebook was used by people worldwide, Indians were in very large numbers still scrapping. I hated FB at that time due to its very cluttered interface. Today, nobody knows what Orkut is? And if Google develops Google+ rapidly, which they will, FB will start losing out people slowly. Many people are already bored with FB. Google+ should be able to get these people in by introducing innovative features. Then by word of mouth and invitations, they will topple FB.