Friday, February 29, 2008

Kunal's Law

I have decided to boldly go where practically everyone has gone before, and coin a law named after myself. Seeing as pretty much every eponymous law is a corollary of a more famous law, I have decided that I too should take this expeditious route. Hence, I present this humble offshoot of Occam's Razor:
If a phenomenon can be equally explained by the decline of human civilization and by people responding to incentives, it's probably the incentives.
Seriously, you see this every day. You see people everywhere point to this or that example of something they think is going wrong and say, back in the day people were smarter/politer/nicer/less corrupt. Evidently, the new generation has lost these qualities, and hence the (presumably) bad situation we're in right now. F'rinstance, here Ramanand complains about people wasting food at buffets, something that I have heard many people decry. Now while he does not directly ascribe this to the inexorable descent of the human race to savagery, some (Hi Grandma!) do so. However, there is another, incentive-based explanation for this, as Harish points out in the comments. In buffets, you don't know how good the food is before you eat it. You serve yourself extra, so that if its good , you don't have to stand in line again. If it isn't so good, however, you waste it.

There is probably an incentive-based explanation for every phenomenon blamed on the decline/decadence/whatever of modern society. Like divorce rates, something thats regularly blamed on modern decadence. You might, of course also attribute rising divorce to the reduction of incentives (such as social ostracization, female equality, etc) to stay on in bad marriages. This is also somehow far more likely an explanation than the human race suddenly losing its moral bearings. Yet, somehow people seem to be much fonder of the first explanation.

So, the next time you decide to tell somebody that आमच्या वेळी असे नव्हते *, remember to apply Kunal's Law first. Oh, and if it turns out that someone came up with this first, just remember to comment on his blog and remind him to change the name on his post to "Kunal's Law".

* - old Pu La Deshpande quotation that means, literally, that "it wasn't this way back in our time".


Barack Obama is secretly Matt Lantos Santos

Or is it the other way around?

You have got to love this US presidential election for the huge amount of entertainment it's produced.

(Tip o' the ha': Ezra Klein.)

(PS: The title original spelling of the title wasn't a misspelling, I swear. It was intentionally spelled that way to catch future plagiarists. I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you meddling commenters!)


Sunday, February 17, 2008

New Featured Quote

How many times do I have to see footage of Danes licking ice cream cones and riding bicycles as though this were the final station of moral human development[?]
- Celia Farber, writing on the Scandinavians-have-it-much-better-than-Americans cliche at Dean's World.


The Shocking Implications of US Policy

If you're reading this, you're probably an Indian. You're also almost definitely computer literate (unless someone prints out my posts for the less digitally blessed. I believes this actually happens to other, better blogs). If so, read on. This is super-duper seriul. This is far worse than Global Laming. This is worse than ManBearPig. This is some bad shit right here.

Okay, so most of you probably agree that the United States government does some pretty stupid shit sometimes. They go to war for silly reasons. They put people in jail for taking pain medication. They enact boneheaded copyright law. They enrich little fishing villages in Nicaragua. The list goes on.

But two particular boneheaded policies, put together, are potentially the biggest threat to the Indian nation since a chappie named Robert Clive joined this little trading company in order to score discount opium. Consider the facts:
  1. The US government has an absolutely zero-tolerance policy regarding child porn. Which is absolutely fine, you say. Kiddie Porn is terrible. And I agree. It is terrible. But the US government is especially anal about this. Any pictures or video, whether or not meant for distribution, involving anyone even a minute under eighteen years old, will get you a mandatory minimum sentence of a couple of decades.
  2. The US government also claims jurisdiction over crimes committed in foreign nations, by foreign nationals, and in some cases, against foreign nationals (that is to say, if the word "against" can be used meaningfully while talking about victim less crime). Witness Guantanamo Bay. Witness the arrest of David Carruthers. Witness the case of Marc Emery.
In isolation, both these positions are stupid, but not exactly world-changing. Put together, however, a far more sinister implication emerges. That implication is this:

Every single person who has seen the DPS RK Puram MMS is in violation of US Federal Law. What's more, the US Justice department has the precedent, and indeed the obligation to arrest anyone who has shared, saved, or even just seen the clip. If the US Government has its way, every computer-literate Indian adult will be incarcerated in a Federal gaol.

Be afraid, India. Be very afraid.

(With inputs from KR Aadishtan and Sarika Chuni.)

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