Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Am i Ethical? - Part 1

Well for all those who know me would say.."of course not". Some would add things like "You and ehtics are 2 sides of the coin. You shall never face each other". And what does part 1 mean here? Jokes apart, i was faced with this question sometime back. It all started off like this:

I and my classmate were discussing about pre marital sex. He was saying, it was not ethical and i was saying "ethics is a matter of personal choice". So, he asked me "How do you say that?. Can i be ethical to myself and non ethical to others? What about the values my parents have imparted to me. We cannot afford to do such things in our culture, can we?"

This made me think...and i realized i had a lot to write. Hence i am spliting the discussion into multiple posts. This post is just a start.

Let me first understand What is ethics?

These are some of the answers i got[from friends, folks, surfing on the internet]:

  1. A set of principles of right conduct.
  2. A theory or a system of moral values: “An ethic of service is at war with a craving for gain” (Gregg Easterbrook).

  3. The study of the general nature of morals and of the specific moral choices to be made by a person; moral philosophy.

  4. The rules or standards governing the conduct of a person or the members of a profession: e.g. Medical Ethics

What the above means is that "Ethics" refers to principles that define behavior as right/good/proper. Such principles need not always dictate a single "moral" course of action, but provide a means of evaluating and deciding among competing options. The above basically means there is nothing universal about this. I shall discuss about the universal nature of ethics later. But the question now is, are ethics and values one and the same? Well, not really.

The terms "ethics" and "values" are not the same. Ethics is concerned with how a person who has belief in some morals "should behave", whereas values are the inner judgments that determine how a person "actually behaves". Values concern ethics when they pertain to beliefs about what is right and wrong. In general, values have nothing to do with ethics.

The next issue is in understaning, how universal are my ethics and values. Most people have convictions about what is right and wrong based on religious beliefs, cultural roots, family background, personal experiences, laws, organizational values, professional norms and political habits. For instance, my friend is convicted that pre marital sex is wrong.But unfortunately, these are not the best values to make ethical decisions by — not because they are unimportant, but because they are not universal. Well then, what exactly are universal ethics? Can ethics actually be universal? It seems like there are somethings which can be considered universal.

In contrast to above items which are based on consensus, concepts like trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship can be considered universal. But there is a catch. Personal and professional beliefs on the these vary over time, among cultures and among members of the same society but the basic concept remains the same. It then leads to say that all of the universal ideas on ethics like the ones above are meant for interpretation of the individual and has nothing implicit in it which makes it universal. For instance, lets take responsibility. There is nothing implicit in responsibility that makes it universal.For instance, there is always a continuous disagreement with some of the above concepts and its universality. No, i am not saying people should not have their opinion. NEVER. There is nothing wrong with having strong personal and professional moral convictions about right and wrong, but unfortunately, some people are "moral imperialists" who seek to impose their personal moral judgments on others.And the others are either forced to accept it or choose to accept it by obligation. This by itself is a contradiction to the above principles. For instance, i may argue the following: The universal ethical value of respect for others dictates honoring the dignity and autonomy of each person and cautions against self-righteousness in areas of legitimate controversy. This basically means i do respect ethics and its universality but then including notions of "respect" but then i do not respect your opinion of not accepting my convictions and believing them. This basically leads to collision..collision of ethics and values. How to handle this?...Well i am not answering that here coz thats a seperate topic in itself. I think its better i reserve it for later.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Valluvar and Tagore on Love

yaanokkum kaalai nilanokkum nokkaakkaal
thaanokki mella nagum.
thiruvalluvar ( 31 BC )
kural : 1094
adhigaram : kuripparidhal


when i look, she looks down; when i don't,
she looks and smiles timidly.

adhigaram : Describes an ontology. A semantic classification of the topics covered under this head
inbathuppaal: A collection of topics on love

find it toooooo beautiful and very similar to some lines from tagore's
"the gardener"

if it sets your heart aflutter, i will
take away my eyes from your face.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

talk with Talk

It's been nearly a year since Google launched Google Talk. Like so many of Google's non-search gizmos, it's been tagged as "beta" for an eternity. The rub here is that Google Talk hasn't really wowed the public in its infancy.

That's unusual. Google is used to being either a category killer or a silent killer. Look at the perfect simplicity of its landing page, or its AdWords and AdSense advertising programs. Look at the jaw-dropping beauty of Google Earth or Google Maps.

Google Talk? Eh. It's not exactly shabby, but it's not Google's finest hour. That's OK, though; Google doesn't have to hit them all out of the park. Perhaps Google Talk is like those alien baddies in the War of the Worlds remake, buried in the ground and lying dormant until the time comes to arise from its slumber and strike. Integrating the program with Google Checkout transactions, or tying it to AdWords' recent move toward "click-to-call" functionality, might be the elixir to make Google Talk a real monster.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The 30 min mockery

Today one of my friends got a strange email from his mgr as follows:

Please inform me if you are going to be away from your desk (office) for more than 30 min.

Your Manager

Now suddenly a thought struck me...what if i were in my friend's position and i wish to go the the toilet and also anticipate it may exceed 30 mins? What should i do? Then followed some beautiful mechanisms to tackle my problem. Here goes....

Suppose i am in toilet expecting i shall be back in 5-10 mins and it takes more than 30 mins for whatever reason and let us say i do not have my mobile or something..then what am i supposed to do? I have the following options:

1. Leave a message on YM for my mgr every time i go to the toilet.
2. On the 29th min, come out of the toilet using the following approach:

a. come 29th min and u zip back my pants and decide to flush or leave it open and come out of the toilet. If you had flushed go to step b else go to step c
b. come out after flushing, wash hands(if u need it) and come over to ur cube(waiting and praying for the arrival of the 31st min hopefully praying no meeting is being scheduled in the next 2 mins),and get back to the toilet. Now follow step d.
c. If u do not flush, come out leaving the toilet stinking hoping no one enters the same toilet u used, and follow everything in step b till you get back to the toilet. Now follow step e.
d. If u find that the toilet u used is empty and u wish to use it(inspite of the nuances you had earlier created) Use it till you are are satisfied and come back from the toilet satisfied. Make sure you also time yourself when u enter the toilet. If u exceed 29 mins, come out and go to step a. If u are done within 28 mins come out satisfied and go to step h. If u do not find the toilet empty, go to step f.
e. If u find the toilet u used and u still find it unflushed, then it could be possible that someone else had come in the meantime, used it and left it unflushed too. Or it could have been left unflushed right after you left on the 29th min too. If you are hygiene loving person, you may wanna flush it and get back to your process before the 29th min or else you may continue on the unflushed toilet itself. Once you are done, come back from the toilet satisfied. Now go to step h. If u do not find the toilet empty, go to step f.
f. While(1) {
flag = search(nearer room, same sex, free toilet) ;
if(flag == found){
go forward and continue the process you followed before u left the previous toilet .
Now go to step h.

h. You have successfully mastered the art of following guidelines when leaving for toilet. Please document this gyan so that others can use it. File a bug, mark its priority. Also in the meantime, wait for further meetings/discussions on the same. Make sure you also get it prioritized.

The above algo has obvious flaws but is somewhat very close to what i would do given i am in this situation.

3. [ I love this option. My personal favourite] Come out of the toilet and shout in the open saying i am in toilet and will take another few mins on the 29th min.

What i am interested in knowing is which one would be preferred.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Google Condoms

An interesting read on google's new innovation: Google Condoms

Friday, July 07, 2006


Like any other insane creature on this planet who has nothing else to do...i too decided to write a book. Do not ask me about what it was as that is not important. What is important is what i write in it. So i finished up my Copyrights page, Acknowledgements, Prelude and other things. The next section was Disclaimers which looks something like this:

Warnings and Disclaimers

  1. This book is a work in progress. It contains quite a few mistakes and typos. I would greatly appreciate your constructive criticism. You can reach me at :

  2. Reading this book impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery.

  3. This book has been found to cause drowsiness in laboratory animals.

  4. This book contains twenty-three times the US RDA of fiber.

  5. Caution: FLAMMABLE - Do not read while smoking or near a fire.

  6. If infection, rash, or irritation develops, discontinue use and consult a physician.

  7. Warning: For external use only. Use only as directed. Intentional misuse by deliberately concentrating contents can be harmful or fatal. KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN.

  8. In the unlikely event of a water landing do not use this book as a
    otation device.

  9. The material in this text is fiction; any resemblance to real things, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

  10. This is by far the most amusing section of this book....
  11. Finding the typos and mistakes in this book is left as an exercise for the reader. (Eye ewes a spelling chequer from thyme too thyme, sew their should knot bee two many misspellings. Though I ain't so sure the grammar's too good.)

  12. The techniques and methods in this text are subject to change without notice.

  13. This is a chain book. If you do not make seven copies and distribute them to your friends within ten days of obtaining this text you will suffer great misfortune and other nastiness.

  14. The surgeon general has determined that excessive studying is detrimental to your social life.

Now once you have read the above plz leave a comment as to whether i have missed out on something so that i can peacefully go ahead completing my book.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Socialist Classic

The lovers sat on the deserted riverside,the full moon above them.He held her close.Their lips met.

'Darling', she said ,'there is something on my mind'.
'Tell me honey',he said.
'Have you read Karl Marx's Das Kapital?'
'I haven't .I have been wanting to.'
He began undoing her blouse.

'Have patience',she said.'Let us read Kapital.I brought it along with me.'

He took his hand off her and said,'As you wish.' They lit a lamp by the riverside and began reading.

After many months,when they had finished the four volumes of Kapital,he resumed his petting.

'I love you',she said.The moon shone over them.


PS : Readers are requested to get hold of four volumes of Das Kapital and fill in the blanks.If they do so,this little story will become the lengthiest Socialist-realist novel in contemporary literature.