Thursday, June 29, 2017

Book Review: Strategic Thinking

' by RUTH B MOTT is a short guide about strategic thinking. The author introduces the topic, as nothing but thinking in a systematic way, using appropriate tools and adopting new techniques for approaching various issues.
Mentioning it as a process of thought for achieving a desired outcome, the author begins the short guide with a discussion about the skills necessary for such a thinker. Ability to see the big picture, ability to bring together right people, the knack of changing directions quickly, etc. Thereafter, the book talks about methods for using Strategic thinking 
to develop a Strategic Plan, Ability to think and draw conclusions quickly, Organizational control, Formation of alliances, etc.
 Each point discussed is well elaborated, that too with examples drawn from real life situations.
A helpful guide for a busy leader in the making.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Lesson from Japan

Amakudari ("descended from heaven") is a Japenese word describing the reemployment of government bureaucrats after the termination of their service with the government. This is an important part of Japanese economy, and the practice is well integrated into the framework of the Japanese employment system. In Japan, they consider amakudari as an extension of the mutual commitment of employer and worker within the tradition of lifetime employment. 
The Japanes tradition, that whenever a government official is promoted to the highest position (Vice-minister), all those of same age or older resigns, I think, makes this a necessity too.
And it seems, such a system fosters strong links between business and the state, which is also a top reason for the commendable performance of Japanese industry.

Sunday, June 25, 2017


This book depicts a public debate between Christian Evidence Society (WT LEE) and National Secular Society (GW FOOTE). The debate seeks to prove that the Theistic doctrine of the universe is essentially reasonable, because it can be vindicated by lines of argument and processes of reasoning admittedly trustworthy in other fields of inquiry. It also seeks to assert that Atheism, as a doctrine of the universe, is utterly unsatisfactory.
The opening argument by the theist begins with a set of questions designed to unsettle any independent, eager, or keen mind. Like, how could an ordered universe arise from a non ordered state of physical units? How could an intelligible universe arise out of a mindless physical condition? How could an universe manifesting law have arisen from a condition where no law can be found? How could an universe without a moral nature produce beings with a moral nature? How could a number of elementary substances called atoms have produced the unity everywhere manifested in nature? How could life, the power which moulds and builds up organisms, and preserves them from the disintegrating influences which act on mere matter, have been produced from the non-living? 
The opposing side also is ready with quite a number of questions.
The atheist also, like opponent, puts forward a flurry of arguments.  Atheism per se does not deny the existence of God; it only affirms the eternity of matter. The issue with theism is that the theist's mind is not large enough to comprehend the universe.  Morality is a part of natural evolution, without anything supernatural in it. If God imposes morality upon us, why is it not the same in all parts of the world?
Thereafter both of them take turns to show the weak points in others' propositions. The debate comes to an end with observations from the chair: That the topic was discussed with a due regard for the sensibility of the listener. And that it was an enlightening debate with a good deal of useful information. 
But for the archaic language, and the abstract arguments that seemed to perpetually veer around ideas of God, this is an informative book. This book also, like most others dealing with this topic, does not forward any testable ideas for morality, though it propounds it as an essential part of the human. I specially chose this book to read, since I wanted to know what was the idea of the past generations as far as  moral behavior was concerned. (Mine is a rather different idea, which is the theme of my book, The Unsure Male.) 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Fake news, another excuse

Of late there is much discussion about the ease with which news can be manipulated using modern technology. And about how, this can be used to influence the free expression of our choice, an important feature of democracy. 
Should there be such an alarm about fake news? Aren’t we all free to choose the news, each of us would like to be influenced by?
I agree. Modern, especially digital technology offers convenience, ease and the opportunity to influence outcomes. So also are the facilities available as part of the same technology or that can be instituted at short notice, to check for such interference. In such a case, I feel the society need not worry much about this issue. A ‘digital war’ may go on between the ones who would like to influence, and the ones who would oppose or would like to influence in a different way.
In fact there is nothing great in this. Our propensity, to blame something else for all the faults on our part, has been in existence since the dawn of history. It is well known. After every crime, especially those involving injury to people, a standard headline to read is: “The accused was under the influence of alcohol”. The more I thought about this, the greater, my conviction became. That such an excuse is being freely accepted by society to prevent us from blaming abjectly, a fellow human. Else, we might have to admit to the prevalence of people among us, who are naturally blameworthy. Read:
Now, luckily we have one more excuse to protect our brethren from the ill effects of whatever they do – FAKE NEWS

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Is it natural to be spiritual?

Is spirituality natural? That the early humans were enamored by light, fire, rain, thunder, etc., and founded the origins of spirituality in it, is the observation I encountered the most. I find no reason to think so.
I think the discovery of lenses with the property of magnification, initiated our journey into the spiritual world. Because that is when humans would have come to realize that there is something more than what we can see, everywhere. And spirituality is all about transposing that into something which is more in sync with our life. As humans succeed in bringing more and more abstract ideas into the realm of the real, the person of god continues to change its appearance. From fire, earth, and water, to faraway places, planets, and space, and to more abstract propositions of each, the concept of god fluctuates, keeping a safe distance with, or moving in the shadow of, the current umbrella of knowledge.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

What makes human society Different from others'?

 How did we acquire human-ness? I mean erect posture and bipedal locomotion; manual dexterity and increased tool use compared to other animals; and a general trend toward larger, more complex brains and societies.  What enabled our ancestor species to create complex social structures composed of many cooperating and competing groups, like families, kinship networks, and political states? Why did our ancestors start social interactions between themselves, or establish an extremely wide variety of values, social norms, and rituals, which together have come to form the basis of human society?
Most common answers pointed to changes in living circumstances. Like access to food surplus, domestication of animals, and the use of metal tools, leading to the formation of permanent human settlements.  
Our forefathers seem to have continued to live in settlements. Perhaps, domestication of wild lfe would have been better when our forefathers lived thus. Over a period of time we lost our ability to confront life on our own, unlike all other species. And we had to continue living as a settlement to enjoy domesticating ourselves, and many other forms of life. And whatever we see today as human-ness is the result. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Peace, and No peace

What is the true reason behind the absence of peace in human societies? Is it desire? So says many. From time immemorial to these days, this is an excuse which has the support of most people, especially religious leaders.
But, I think facts speak otherwise. What has desire done? Nothing but leading mankind to a path of progress. All our inventions and discoveries owe a lot to this. It made man do, all that he did.
What else could be the cause?
We are always under the influence of four variables that affects peace. The desire to progress, Progress itself, The desire to go back to the past, and, Past itself. In one look itself, one can say: progress is natural, linked with the arrow of time. And progress cannot cause any disturbance, as it is nothing but moving in sync with times. Whereas regress certainly can, as every step we take will be against the forces of time.
Then. that is the cause. We show an ardent desire to travel back.
But, why we long to go back to our past? I think we are just choosing an easy option, since it is difficult to travel forward. You see, the desire for progress calls for greater intellectual involvement, which all people cannot.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Book Review: 'The Myths and Realities of Teamwork'

'The Myths and Realities of Teamwork' by David Wright.
This is a very interesting take on something I thought I knew too well. In the beginning itself, the myths are introduced - that teams are made of harmonious people, team conflict is to be avoided, most people like to work in teams, it is an essential need of success, and that the management encourage teams. Thereafter, each of these myths are explored critically, telling us how all these in fact have many other facets, some of which, not known to me. And how we can put those to our benefit. Like how, 'the passion for a common goal can be allow conflict, if it helps in achieving goals'. Or how to go forward, when one third of every team likes team work, another one third remain neutral to it, and the remaining one third oppose teamwork.
Next chapter deals with the basic skills for teamwork including meeting skills, which play a significant part in a team’s success. This is then is followed by a discussion about the skills that should be nurtured to achieve high results. Skills like idea formation, good feedback, effective critique, assertiveness, etc are analyzed here. Next chapter discusses various techniques with practical suggestions for bringing creativity in to teamwork. How to have an effective mechanism of feedback is described here. A formal method of feedback, titled BIF feedback, is introduced in this book. Lastly the book examines the question of ledadership, offering a new thought in the direction of 'leadership to all'.
This is a novel approach to a much discussed topic. Both the myths, some of which I thought were facts, and the realities, most of which were outside my view, added immensely to my ideas about teamwork. I never knew some of the angles, the author has chosen to observe the vast area of productivity, ever existed.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Book Review: Free Will - An Examination of Human Freedom

What should a discussion about free will focus on? I think Magnus Vinding, through this book 'Free Will - An Examination of Human Freedom' has chosen few important features.
 We must go beyond framing this entire subject in terms of: “Do we have free will, yes or no?” Because no one-word answer to this question tells us anything of relevance.
In fact our own freedom in view, for instance that our intentions, motivations, choices and actions do have an impact and do make a difference in the world, while at the same time keeping moral anarchy and fatalism at bay.
I liked this book. The book draws some final conclusions about what is true about human freedom, including what is true about what we ought to believe about it, while focusing directly on this question itself, rather than the contemporary style of debating on the finer, abstract, philosophical aspects of free will.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Thought of the Times

Humans, again

We know how to treat rational people. Take for example a rational criminal, that is, a thief, a pickpocket, or someone like that who does engage in crimes, for certain reckonable benefit. We always look carefully at the crime, examine the evidence, and mete out to the guilty, the most appropriate punishment. 
But, think of an irrational criminal. Depending on the criminal's (irrational) excuse, whatever reaction the society may show, will vary. Mostly that will be some sort of approval, but sometimes may even amount to half hearted opposition if the said act is unmistakably dangerous to others. In case the excuse borders on things like religion, one can be sure of support, whatever may be the heinous acts one wishes to do, from some part of the society. 
We just don't register any act as a crime, as long as it is irrational in nature.
Why don't we consider irrational crimes as crimes? Simple, anything irrational, benefits us a lot more!
But why have we left it so? And why we are yet not in realization of this. Also of other beings, who indulge in unregulated fights for rational reasons like food or mate, but move in unison for all other things. Are other beings quite clear about this?

Monday, June 12, 2017


'EIGHT LECTURES ON THEORETICAL PHYSICS' by MAX PLANCK is a treatise on some of the fundamental questions of the world. In the frst lecture, the many facets of consciousness is discussed. Unlike popular perception, the book proposes a different look. We must continue to say that man thinks, reads, writes, loves, hates, starts wars, fights, and so on. Actually, all this happens. 
Next lecture continues from there. Different states of consciousness is introduced, like, sleep, 'waking consciousness,' self-consciousness and 'objective consciousness'. The idea of man as a conscious machine is what is covered next. The book speaks of man living under two kinds of influences. The first kind consists of interests and attractions created by life itself: interests of one's health, safety, wealth, pleasures, amusements, security, vanity, pride, fame, etc. The second kind consists of interests of a different order aroused by ideas which are not created in life but come originally from schools. These influences do not reach man directly. They are thrown into the general turnover of life, pass through many different minds and reach a man through philosophy, science, religion and art, always mixed with influences of the first kind and generally very little resembling what they were in their beginning. 
Taking each of these as a centre which directs man's vision, next lecture investigates into the arrangement and functioning of these centres. All that we have learned goes into man's development, proceeding simultaneously in each and every aspect of human personality. Hence we have two lines of possible development, which are knowledge and being. 
This book discusses at length, one question that interested me a lot. Why are we what we are? Though the answers are not clear enough, the usual pitfall of excessive slant towards philosophy being the culprit, this book identifies it as a critical question.
Third lecture reflects on mcro and macro states, and the relationship of entropy, in the atomic theory of matter. Next lecture describes the calculation of entropy of an ideal monatomic gas in a given state, how S=k log W is to be computed. Which is followed by derivation of equations governing heat radiation, which take as a basis the electro—magnetic
theory of heat radiation, taking the rays as electromagnetic waves of the same kind as light rays. Further reflections about thermal action, followed by a discourse on relativity brings the book to a close.
This is an intersting book, and tells how, many of the fundamental notions are to be challenged. Like the prevailing ideas mention, "that a stone can only fall downwards, that water flows not up hill, but down, that electricity flows from a higher to a lower potential, and so on. This is a mistake.  A stone can just as well rise in the air as fall downwards ; water can likewise flow upwards, as, for example, in a spring; electricity can flow very well from a lower to a higher potential, as in the ease of oscillating discharge of a condenser". A very informative book, especially for those interested in the history of science.

Sunday, June 11, 2017


A pessimist is never disappionted
Sometimes, one's mouth is like a zipper. By the time one knows it is open, it has already embarassed one
Learn from your parents' mistakes. Use birth control

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Saturday, June 10, 2017

about Threshold

Let us talk about physical systems. Things we have built that work mechaninally, electrically, etc. What ensures that these entities work properly. We constantly monitor certain operating parameters of each and every component that make up the particular system/equipment, sometimes known as thresholds, and see to it that none of those cross certain limit. When a malfunction occurs anywhere, the first thing we look for is to locate, where such a thing took place, and when located, we make it ok, and the thing is back to normal.
Why don't we follow such an approach in our social life. Now, wherever we find an eruption in human society, we suddenly wake up with a horde of corrective actions, most of which, to our own discomfort. Instead, why don't we establish a threshold for all our transactions, monitor all those continuously, and take corrective steps whenever any of those cross the set threshold? Why wait for a malfunction?

Friday, June 9, 2017


'ECONOMICS OF GLOBALIZATION - A HANDBOOK' by GAUTAM MUKERJEE is a welcome guide to clarify the growing sense of unease about all that globalization brings, which raises more questions than answers.
To the leading proponents of globalization, the secret to economic prosperity lies in finding ever-expanding markets.
For many among us, especially those who adorn leading positions, globalization is seen to be by far the best way to achieve economic development and end poverty for big chunks of humanity. This book begins with the history and mechanics of globalization, where tha author traces it all the way back to the early civilizations of Sumer (modern day Iraq) and the Indus Valley (an area that overlaps India and Pakistan) both of which existed log back, and explores its theoretical underlining. Topics like, what globalization means for the environment, the changing nature of work, wages and the complex world of finance and investment are examined next.
The discussion on globalization per se, now begins with a brief commentary on the events which led to it. Namely, the  remarkable advances in the processes of industrialization, a healthy amount of global profits, and a stable monetary value keeping the U.S. dollar high. How this caused the United States to emerge as a shining example of free market economics that other nations desired to emulate.
Next chapter describes the structure of globalization which is a combination of technological progress, elimination of trade barriers, and globalization of finance. Which is followed by thoughts on the globalization of economics, especially it's two extremes - convergence that can result in sharing of prosperity, or divergence that can make the world more polarized. The overall benefits, like, compression of space and time, speeding up of communication, fast movement of resources and capital, etc are discussed here. This is followed by an analysis of the environmental stresses due globalization.
What follows is a review of new challenges, our society may have to face, as a result of globalization. Like considerable changes in the distribution of income both within and between countries, which can create economic and social tensions. And how such instances may call upon governmental intervention frequently. Also, the way globalization increases the exposure of countries to external shocks but limits a country's options when it comes to balancing the domestic economic conditions with those of their trading partners. 
In completion, the book wraps up the subject with a look at the policy questions, and the long-term prospects for the global economy. And in the concluding chapter, the book also examines the puzzles and paradoxes associated with globalization.
This is a concise but effective description of the many facets of globalization. Some of these are not widely known and I learned a lot.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

A new psychology?

Today, we understand that infectious diseases like flu, chickenpox and pneumonia are caused by microscopic organisms – bacteria and viruses. This, the germ theory of diseases, in fact opened our eyes. Without this knowledge, we might have never developed ways to treat and prevent such infections.

In a similar manner, why we don’t have a theory for psychological issues? In fact all our issues in the behavioral plane can be grouped as misplaced or incongruent responses, whether as actions, reactions, or other expressions. While seeking the origin of such incongruence, one thing is becoming clear. Our adherence a particular set of responses, which we term as the appropriate ones, is what is making our current response, unacceptable. In fact, as our adherence to any such established responses can effectively make each of our natural responses, into an issue. In short we can say that conditioned behavior is acting like a germ. Whatever psychological issues are there in our midst could be happening as a result of some of the impediments we impose on our conduct, either on our own or by others.