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25th December 2008

I dont give a …

A friend of mine and I were having a conversation on relative merits of public healthcare vs private. After a few heated debates, he was frustrated with the state of affairs vis-a-vis the existing infrastructure. And when pressed on whether he favors free health care for all, including non-citizens, he said “I dont give a rats ass  about …….”

This got me thinking. Why do people say “I dont give a rat’s ass”? I dont recall anyone asking him for a rats ass .. “ugh, excuse me sir. Do you perhaps have a rat’s ass to spare?”. Nope. Well, lets say he did’nt have one at hand, but planned to catch one and then skin it off the rat before hading it over. Would you not think that he might atleast consult the rat? I mean why would he presume ownership over a rat’s ass — to be handed over to anyone who happens to engage in a debate … 

Well lets say he did have a couple of spare rats ass. And lets say, I wanted to give one, but did not have one handy. But I do have a few cats ass. Could we trade? Is there an exchange market for rats ass? I imagine that there must be a public trading company — dealing with various sorts of behinds. I also imagine that no one really gives away an ass to anyone. Coz, if you reallly think about it, have you really heard one say “Hey buddy, do you want a rat’s ass?” –Nope. Not even if a person is in a particularly thrifty mood. So, in essense its possible that this company just hordes them - and one could count the number he or she has accumulated. Never to give it away to anyone .. but maybe you cannot say “I dont give a rat’s ass” in a heated dialogue until you prove that you had one to give away just in case …. or else, you would be presumed to have lost the debate …

Turns out that its not just the rat’s ass that is denied when one engages in a heated conversation. Sometimes the person does not “give a flying f$%k …”. Wow. How can some give one if even they meant to? Would the person not mind a stationary one? You see, I’m not really in a mood for a flying one at the moment — never really tried it … and have really no plans of. Doesnt sound particularly easy or enjoyable.

In the same vein some people ask “Who gives a shit?”. Well who does? You tell me! Do you really know someone who otherwise would be giving it away?

Some people on the other hand leave me confused. They go “I could’nt care less …”. Now, does that mean that this person has found the least amount possible to care about the topic and go no further down? Possible. But at the same time, he can sometimes say “I could care less”. Now wait. Which one is it? Really? Are you saying that you already cared enough about it - but its possible that you care a little bit lesser. Does that mean that we can continue on this topic — till you throw up and say “I could’nt care less”.  Would that be the time to stop?

I know, I know. Who cares? I dont. Could’nt give a damn really … (yea, I do have some spare damns - just wont give one. Now, leave me alone.) 

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22nd December 2008

What is Power?

What exactly is Power?

Of course, there is the dictionary definition and better yet, if you are one with a abstract bent of mind, this wikipedia page here can keep your cerebrum occupied.

A colleague of mine started this discussion while we were walking to grab a bite of sandwich for lunch at the office. The discussion started off with “Who is the most powerful person on earth?”.

Was it George Bush? (typical of Americans - we always assume that this is the center of the world and we are the most powerful- hence our President, by logic, would then be the most powerful person on earth ..). But given how many funny youtube videos are going around on poor Bush and also given the fact that a mere journalist could manage to hurl a shoe at him, and survive to gloat about the incident, this idea does not seem like a such slam dunk conclusion.

And before those of you with a religious bent of mind intervene and say “Well its God. He is the most Powerful”, lets get that out of the debate as we clearly set out to find the most powerful “person” on “earth”. From most indications (in most religions), it turns out that God lives in Heaven - so lets just concentrate on humans here. Well then, is your Boss the most powerful at work? .. and you are the most powerful in your own house? (as an old joke goes: I have absolute power in my house - and I have my wife’s permission to say so ..)

Well, before we can hope to have a meaningful debate on the subject it becomes necessary to define “Power”.Is Power the ability to influence? Is it Authority? Hmm .. maybe, but then most authority is given either explicitly (via elections) or implicitly (via societal relations etc.)  So really, a President of a nation hardly can be the “most powerful” if his power essentially came via a group concensous. It could as easily be taken away by the same group. Well then, is a dictator in some banana republic powerful? Possibly, but then he/she is just one coup away from certain annihilation. Is Power obtained via one’s position in an establishment? The reverse might be the case. In most socialist countries, its the union of workers who have “power”. (As they say in India. The “office boy” is the real person with power. If you want your work done, there is no way it can be done withought his blessings).

“Knowledge is Power” said another colleague - joining in on the discussion. He argued that a man can influence another man, if he happens to know information that the other man either needs, or wants to prevent from being known to others (in case of a blackmail).  Although this might be true in the case of one individual or atmost one selected group of people, it can hardly be extended to a worldwide contest.  

As we can see, defining what Power is and thus engage in a debate of who is powerful was not going to be easy.So, we started to attack the problem from the other angle. i.e. let us quickly dismiss what is NOT Power.

For e.g. in case of Authority figures, if the authority figure has to explain his actions to anyone, he really is not powerful. (e.g. President - has to answer to the people, media, impeachment judge etc.) Also, if your “influence” is over a select few in given context - then these individuals are not in the fray …

Could we then define Power as “the ability to influence an outcome without fear or care of repurcussions on a consistent basis at all times”?  

I would like to introduce another notion of Power.Power could be the ability to not care or worry about any external influence one oneself. In other words, instead of devising means to influence others, how about feeling the Power within by knowing exactly how to control one’s own self and the way one feels. If one could do that - and not get boged out or care about external factors - it sounds like real Power to me.

We never really concluded on either the defintion of Power or answered the original question that prompted it … can you?

What Say?

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19th October 2007

How you doing?

“Whazzup?”, “How you doing?”, “Hows it going?”

Greeting a fellow human has taken many forms and has evolved to a great extent in most cultures. How did it start? What did the first person who “greeted” another do - grunt in a particular way (as language was not developed yet)? How did the recipient of the greeting respond?

“how you doing …” as enacted by the character Joey in Friends is less of a greeting. George Carlin says it the best in one of his books Napalm and Silly Putty”. Excerpt:

You say to a guy, “How are ya?” He says, “Fine and dandy.” Not me. I never say that. You know why? because I’m never both those things at the same time. Sometimes I’m fine. But I’m not dandy. I might be close to dandy. I might be approaching dandy. I might even be in the general vicinity of dandyhood. But not quite fully dandy. Other times, I might indeed be highly dandy. However, not fine. One time, 1978. August. For about an hour. I was both fine and dandy at the same time. But nobody asked me how I was. I coulda told ‘em, “Fine and dandy!” I consider it a lost opportunity.

How do humans feel? What are the range of emotions? In the age of the “Web” this site -> http://www.wefeelfine.org/ has taken upon itself to help humans explore their feelings and express them online. APIs are available to obtain data on the world is feeling - a rendition of which in a Java applet form can be found on the site (click the lick “Open We Feel Fine”)

So, how you doing? and What Say?

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5th October 2007

What Say?

The Web had already grown into a medium where anyone can have their Say. This has now been taken to its zenith with the advent of blogs, twitters and social networking sites. So I thought, if thats the way the world is going, why not you Tonse? Hence this blog. What Say?

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