Monthly Archives: May 2008

Karma

The idea of moral causation has long been held in India, but the doctrine of karma was formulated and explained by the Buddha, a spiritual teacher thought to have lived about 2,500 years ago. Some believe that he was a human who became enlightened; others that he was a god.

–BBC

My god! And I thought BBC usually knew what it was saying!

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Hitler: Anything good in him?

I am going to be blasted for saying this. I may even be picked by all the evil ppl out there and dragged to some deep dark dungeon for saying this. But, here it is: What is wrong with admiring Hitler?

Consider this; I am sure the reader will agree that Germans, like all people, are an intelligent and sensible lot who are capable of thinking for themselves. Germany in early 1900s was also a developed and technologically advanced nation and Germans were known for their industriousness and for their engineering skills.

Germany’s population in 1930 was 65.1 million. Hitler came to office in 1933 and WWII was started in 1939. From 1933 to 1939, Hitler amassed an army, built up his navy, trained his soldiers, got strategy etc. Meaning that the war machine was already churning.

Now consider before Hitler came to power. Hitler came to proper prominence in 1930. Before that, he was noticed as he was rising up the ranks of the German Worker’s Party. He quit it to form the National Socialist Party. More about this rise here.

Now as mentioned earlier, Hitler won the won the elections in 1932 and took office in 1933. So, for all practical purposes, he had 2 years to actually persuade a nation of 65.1 million people that his ideas and his way of thinking were for their good. He managed to “brainwash”, for lack of a better word, a developed nation that they should inculcate a system of Aryan supremacy.

Who has ever managed to achieve that before and since?

PS: An interesting article on Hitler’s rise to power:

The above article has some interesting points worth noting and elaborating on:

Why would Hitler and his associates turn a blind eye to an impending terrorist attack on their national congressional building or actually assist with such a horrific deed? Because they knew what government officials have known throughout history — that during extreme national emergencies, people are most scared and thus much more willing to surrender their liberties in return for “security.” And that’s exactly what happened during the Reichstag terrorist crisis.

Any similarities with what’s going on in US today since 911?


Supreme Court to a new People’s Court, which, as Shirer points out,
Soon became the most dreaded tribunal in the land. It consisted of two professional judges and five others chosen from among party officials, the S.S. and the armed forces, thus giving the latter a majority vote. There was no appeal from its decisions or sentences and usually its sessions were held in camera. Occasionally, however, for propaganda purposes when relatively light sentences were to be given, the foreign correspondents were invited to attend.


Another similarity to the Military Tribunal becoming increasingly popular in US today?

Enfin!!

So, my so-called study week started like this.

On tuesday evening, I pick up my French Sec 4 book and decide to see how much I can remember. This is what I read:

Sentence: L’année prochaine, nous serons plus d’informations à ce sujet.

Meaning: Next year, we would have more information on the subject

That meaning I figured out 4 days later. This is what happened:

Though Process: hmm, what the hell does L’année mean? That sounds damm familiar. *Looks up the dictionary*. Ah! Its year! Now what does prochaine mean? *And so it happens to all the words until we reach serons and find that it’s not in the dictionary! *

Though Process: What rot! I have never had to look anywhere else for a word during my school days! Sure this word is in the dic!

A long time later, thanks to google, I kinda figure out that serons will not be in the dic as its a conjugaison of a verb, thus, only the root form will be found in the dic. And very nicely, I had no idea what the root form was!

4 days later, my french health was a bit better. Needless to say, it’s something I never what to repeat again.

Never forget a language learnt, especially if you plan to use it again. Its no joke relearning it! 😦

Head Spinners

Time travel is impossible as exemplified by the famous grandfather paradox. Imagine you build a time machine. It is possible for you to travel back in time, meet your grandfather before he produces any children (i.e. your father/mother) and kill him. Thus, you would not have been born and the time machine would not have been built, a paradox.

Perhaps the craziest of the time travel paradoxes was cooked up by Robert Heinlein in his classic short story “All You Zombies.”

A baby girl is mysteriously dropped off at an orphanage in Cleveland in 1945. “Jane” grows up lonely and dejected, not knowing who her parents are, until one day in 1963 she is strangely attracted to a drifter. She falls in love with him. But just when things are finally looking up for Jane, a series of disasters strike. First, she becomes pregnant by the drifter, who then disappears. Second, during the complicated delivery, doctors find that Jane has both sets of sex organs, and to save her life, they are forced to surgically convert “her” to a “him.” Finally, a mysterious stranger kidnaps her baby from the delivery room.

Reeling from these disasters, rejected by society, scorned by fate, “he” becomes a drunkard and drifter. Not only has Jane lost her parents and her lover, but he has lost his only child as well. Years later, in 1970, he stumbles into a lonely bar, called Pop’s Place, and spills out his pathetic story to an elderly bartender. The sympathetic bartender offers the drifter the chance to avenge the stranger who left her pregnant and abandoned, on the condition that he join the “time travelers corps.” Both of them enter a time machine, and the bartender drops off the drifter in 1963. The drifter is strangely attracted to a young orphan woman, who subsequently becomes pregnant.

The bartender then goes forward 9 months, kidnaps the baby girl from the hospital, and drops off the baby in an orphanage back in 1945. Then the bartender drops off the thoroughly confused drifter in 1985, to enlist in the time travelers corps. The drifter eventually gets his life together, becomes a respected and elderly member of the time travelers corps, and then disguises himself as a bartender and has his most difficult mission: a date with destiny, meeting a certain drifter at Pop’s Place in 1970.

The question is: Who is Jane’s mother, father, grandfather, grand mother, son, daughter, granddaughter, and grandson? The girl, the drifter, and the bartender, of course, are all the same person. These paradoxes can made your head spin, especially if you try to untangle Jane’s twisted parentage. If we drawJane’s family tree, we find that all the branches are curled inward back on themselves, as in a circle. We come to the astonishing conclusion that she is her own mother and father! She is an entire family tree unto herself.

Petit Fille de L’Inde

Petit fille de l’Inde
Aux yeaux d’ébène
Tendre comme un fruit mûr
Tu pétilles de vie
Main que feras-tu demain?
Moi, de l’avenir dit-elle
Je ne sais pas sûr

Petit fille de l’Inde
Au cœur pur
Douce comme le velours
Tu caresses la vie
Veus-tu aller danser?
Je ne sais pas dit-elle
Je dois demander à Maman

Petit Fille de l’Inde
Aux nattes chatoyantes
Sage et obéissante
Tu croques la vie
Aimes-tu voyager en evoin?
Je préfère dit-elle
les transports traditionels
Qui, dit-elle je préfère
les vaches
Celles qui, un jour, me feront voir le Monde
Lentement main sûrement!

— Le poème m’a été inspiré par *ahamkar*

This was a poem written to me by my French tuition teacher. We used to call her only Madame.
J’espere que vous lirez ci madame, où que vouz habitez 🙂


Rough Translation:

Little Girl from India

Little Girl from India
With eyes like ebony
Tender as a ripe fruit
Sparkling with life
But what would you like to do with your life? I ask
Me, I look into the future, she says
But I am not sure what it beholds

Little girl from India
With heart as clear as crystal
Gentle as velvet
You carress life with your touch
Would you like to dance? I ask
I do not know, she says
I need to ask my mother

Little girl from India
Shimmering like a woven cloth
Wise and compliant
You sail through life untouched
Would you like to fly? I ask
I prefer the olden form of transport, she says
Its more fun riding on a cow
But one day, I will go around the world, she declares
Slowly, but surely, I will!

— this poem was inspired by *ahamkar*

Nota Bene

In 1790, the French National Assembly decides to create a decimal system of measurement. The metric system is born.

This came after the storming of the Bastille but still before the declaration of a republic and the execution of King Louis XVI. But revolution was in the air: “National Assembly” was simply the new name the upstart Third Estate had given itself.

The assembly was acting on a motion by Bishop Charles Maurice de Talleyrand. Under the ancien régime, France measured with an inch, foot and fathom (pouce, pied and toise) about 6.6 percent larger than their English counterparts.

The first meter was based on clockmaking: the length of a pendulum with a half-period (a one-way swing) of one second. Responding to a proposal by the French Academy of Sciences, the assembly redefined the meter in 1793 as 1/10,000 of the distance from the Equator to the North Pole.

The system was elegant. All conversions were based on 10, with Greek prefixes (deka-, hecto-, kilo-) for multiples and Latin (deci-, centi-, milli-) for fractions. The gram unit of weight was defined by the weight of one cubic centimeter (aka milliliter) of water.

The new “Republican Measures” became legal throughout France in 1795 and were made compulsory in 1799 when definitive platinum meter bars and kilogram weights were constructed. But resistance to the new measures lasted for decades.

France also used a quasi-metric Revolutionary Calendar with each month consisting of three décades of 10 days each. (Revolutionaries even attempted a metric day of 10 hours of 100 minutes each of 100 seconds each.) But Napoleon returned France to the Gregorian calendar in 1806.

The current International System of Units — or SI, for Système International — is based on the Treaty of the Meter signed in Paris on May 20, 1875. The United States was a signatory, and the metric system is the legal system in this country, although the legal alternate English system remains more widely used. (An online conversion engine can make translation easy.)

The meter was formally redefined in 1960 as 1,650,763.73 wavelengths in a vacuum of the orange-red light radiation of the krypton 86 atom (transition between levels 2p10 and 5d5). The new standard was 100 times more precise than the old. The current definition, adopted in 1983, makes the meter the distance traveled by light in a vacuum during 1/299,792,458 of a second.

That’s 39.37 inches to counter-revolutionaries.