Posted in Miscellaneous, Uncategorized

So Begins the Healing (Or Does it?)

Like all of you, I would like to believe in the goodness of America and Americans, no matter what our politics is, no matter which end of the policy spectrum we are on and no matter who the President is. But just hoping that “Everything will be OK” is not enough. It’s easier said than experienced. Everything is not going to be OK till you and I actually make an effort to make everything OK. Everything is not going to be OK till we collectively (and not selectively) call out all the “-isms” that seem to have started showing up their ugly faces in our society of late in the guise of “politics” or hidden as “personal freedom”. Everything is not going to be OK till all of us stand up against the “newly” infused boldness to make hatred mainstream.

I have created an album on Facebook to share what the Post-Nov08-2016 America is beginning to feel like for some of us. All these images/videos (and incidents) have been reported after Nov 8, 2016. By no means, this is a comprehensive collection of every single hate related incident that has happened around the country. Only those that came to my attention.

I am not naive. I completely understand that these incidents reflect a small proportion of a vastly diverse but a very kind and a beautiful country.

So, what is my goal and why am I doing this?

My answer is “I don’t know yet”.. Just spreading awareness for now. That’s all.

Before you call me out, let me call myself out first 🙂 Yes, this is every bit of ‘social-media-slacktivism’ as you think it is, but I don’t mind if it comes across that way because I believe if you want to stand up for any form of social injustices, you have to start somewhere. And No, I am not trying to exaggerate or blow anything out of proportion. Simply highlighting the “new” hatred that is real and that’s being experienced by real people of this country.

And my hope is that all these initial euphoric emotions will fade away in the coming days. And my hope is also that we won’t try to “normalize” these things.
Not now. Not ever.

I have tried to validate these images/videos and the locations as much as I can (but certainly have not performed extreme vetting ). So, I definitely don’t guarantee that every image is authentic or has an authentic story behind it. If I find out there is such an image/video or story that is not authentic later on, don’t worry I will remove it from here. And my intention is also not to share every “-ism” based rant on social media. My focus is to only share images/videos that corroborate actual “new” hatred fueled incidents.

If you live in certain parts of the country or if your lifestyle keeps you in a secure bubble, then all these might sound and feel too farfetched or unreal and I completely respect that. But if these images shake you up a little bit, then that’s exactly what will act as the first step towards having active and meaningful conversations. Not here on social media. But within your communities, with your family members, friends and neighbors.

Don’t we all want to exercise our First Amendment rights to the fullest in order to keep the country safe for all?

Note:
______

Right now this album is not public and at some point, if it is needed, I will have to make it public. I hope I don’t have to. But since I shared the above on Facebook, I figured it is worth sharing it on my blog as well because the sentiments that I have echoed above are valid even without any images.  Though some of you reading this may not have seen the actual images that are there in the album, be assured that they all are disturbing. The only silver lining in all of this is that there is no death or major injury as yet, as a result of these hatred fueled attacks.

Posted in Humor - General, Miscellaneous

Know your Halloween Candy Giver Types

Last night, when I was walking around the neighborhood with my daughter (my son, who is 12 now went trick-or-treating on his own with a friend…sigh!! They do grow up fast..), I realized that I was enjoying this experience of being in the block in a semi-dark ambiance, running into known and mostly unknown faces. We normally exchange quick pleasantries and wish each other “Happy Halloween”. But since this kind of face to face exchanges with my neighbors (so many at a time) don’t happen that often on a regular basis, this experience has always been special.

All of us, the trick-or-treaters, walking around on a Halloween evening had a purpose of joy, one that of simply letting our kids collect candies (or whatever) and had a purpose of satisfaction, one that of seeing the kids’ faces let out bright smiles, when they walk back to the road victoriously after each conquest. Also, that hour or two is a great equalizer for all of us neighbors (we have some 200 plus houses in our subdivision). Because the evening of Halloween brings everyone in the neighborhood out to walk  on the same trail.

Years of walking around the block with my kids on Halloween night has also given me a unique perspective on how each house (including ours) prepares for the Trick-or-Treat affair on October 31. And how I can classify these candy givers. Of course, this is a fun exercise and I could have done this classification based on what candies they give or based on so many other factors. But I decided to take this approach.

Here you go:

Halloween Candy Giver Types.jpg

Which type are you?

Posted in Miscellaneous, Terrorism

Guns and Knives -Are these the arms we need to bear?

“a well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

The above is the actual text of the much talked about and heavily polarizing second amendment. Everyone knows why this passage is so controversial because the passage is not only obscure, but in my opinion completely unintelligible. The vague text of the second amendment has been left to multiple interpretations at so many levels.

Unfortunately, one of the challenges with America is its obsession with its constitution. A vivid democracy is one that evolves with times. A vivid democracy is one that adapts with the changes around. A vivid democracy is one that doesn’t look past the context of the original text and instead reinterprets the text based on the current context. A vivid democracy is one where its citizens are able to embrace the nuances of the metamorphosis of the country’s character in relation to the rest of the countries’ characters. In my 18 years in America, one thing I have learnt is that America is nowhere being that vivid democracy. As a proud American, how I wish it is!

The intent of this blog post is not to get back to harping at those second amendment huggers for their obsession with guns. But instead I want to offer a completely different interpretation and may be, just may be, this could evoke a conversation that in the next 20 years or so may bring in a true “amendment”. (After all, these are amendments, duh, which many fail to understand to begin with).

Today’s attacks on the North American internet services were triggered mainly by a program called Mirai (It is actually an IoT Botnet). What should be scary is the fact that Mirai could be used to get on a host to initiate DDoS attacks on several services very rapidly and very easily. I am not much familiar with how these work exactly, but I am knowledgeable enough to know that this is dangerous stuff. Really dangerous stuff. DDoS is Distributed DoS. What happened today (I am glad that Dyn has been able to mitigate the risk after 11 hours of battle) is just the tip of the iceberg. With our future seemingly floating towards IoT in every aspect of our lives, it is hard to ignore what happened today and move on. If an easy to use program like Mirai could be used to make every single home appliance as a host in an IoT future, imagine the extent of the paralysis that these attacks will eventually cause on our lives. It is just a matter of time before dozens or even hundreds of Mirai clones swarm the dark spaces of the web. These will be easily available for the cyber terrorists who derive pleasure from attacking other computers.

iot

Now, imagine an organized group launching such attacks.
Taking it one step further, imagine a foreign government that puts together a “cyber military” to launch such attacks on the US, unannounced.
Even more dire would be to imagine a scenario when multiple governments come together to attack us and they are not just DDoS attacks but more penetrative hacks, syphoning private financial details and even pumping actual money out of our financial systems.
How threatened are you by this possibility?

In my opinion, this is real terrorism of our future. And this is exactly what we should really be prepared to defend ourselves for. In this context, let us revisit the second amendment. Shall we?

What are ‘arms’ in this newly interpreted context? You think a gun will help you overcome a cyber threat? How archaic is that thought? How so 17th century is that idea? An armed militia that needs to fight a dictatorial government in future (or a foreign enemy) should have arms that make sense for such a fight. Cyber Warfare is the last place where a gun would come handy in case you want to be a soldier.

Arms in a cyber warfare are not guns and knives, but they are knowledge and brain power needed to develop the required cyber skills to counterattack and mitigate the incoming attacks.

Let me say this again. The future attack that you and I should be worried about is the one when a tyrannical government (local or foreign) engages in a cyber warfare with you and me. And what we need to do to fight back is to be able to have an armed militia that knows how to take on these cyber attackers through their/our knowledge and skills.

So the meaning of “arms” changes completely in this context and hence what we all should be fighting to protect is an individual’s right to bear these “arms” (knowledge).

Posted in Miscellaneous, Uncategorized

A world of perpetual chaos

I woke up this morning to the news of an attempted coup in Turkey.
I woke up yesterday morning to the news of the Nice terror attack.

Being in a different time zone the past few days had meant that my waking hours were filled with a certain emotional feeling that is hard to describe. I don’t enter a state of gloom or depression these days, immediately after I learn about such tragic news like I used to. But I do sense an emotional feeling which is hard to describe.

A sense of exhaustion, perhaps. A vexing sense of helplessness.  As I read the news, there of course is a sense of shock to begin with. This lasts only for a few seconds. Then I try to read more about the tragedy. That invariably results in me trying to gather more information. And more. Eye witness accounts. Political experts’ views. Twitter reaction and more tweets. Facebook comments. Journalistic opinions. Video footages. Soon, I find myself involuntarily connected to a limitless stream of information resulting in that utter sense of helplessness.

Why am I unable to help avoid these tragedies? Why don’t I have control over any of these?
What can I do to solve these issues? How can I contribute?
Often these questions arise and I struggle to answer them.

Since such incidents seem to happen more frequently like what we’ve been witnessing in the past few months, that urge to be out there to help seems to fade away resulting in a sense of helplessness, because before I have time to analyze one tragedy, there comes another. Pushing me to a corner of absolute numbness.

…and the world continues to dive deep into a perpetual state of chaos. Or so it seems to me, thanks to the limitless information supply line I am connected to.

Posted in Environment, Miscellaneous, Uncategorized

Of Mighty Men and Measly Gorillas

I am sure you have read about or heard of the Harambe murder.
So, before I talk about anything else, please go ahead and sign this petition if you truly want to have a meaningful conversation come out of this tragedy and to affect a very real consequence follow the heartless murder of a helpless animal.

In case you missed the link above, here it is again..

harambe.jpg

As I uploaded the image above of Harambe, I had to pause for a moment and stare deep into this majestic but helpless animal’s eyes. My eyes became a bit moist.

Look, I am not going to pretend like I knew exactly what happened leading up to the murder of this gorilla, on that tragic day. But I have read, heard and seen enough video clips to understand what happened. More than 48 hours later, I have also had the opportunity to not let my impulsive emotion type this.

But…

Today, when I read the mom’s unapologetic reaction to the whole episode and her remorseless words, it made me angry.

Her audacity to thank “GOD” for saving her child infuriated me.

And finally, when I saw Cincinnati Zoo Director, Thane Maynard give an official press statement stating that they would do it all over again if this were to happen again…..it just tipped me off.

We as a species deserve to go extinct and that may be nature’s only way of restoring balance in this planet, because human beings have just lost control of their own arrogance. And I hope, when that happens, we are treated just like the way Harambe was murdered.

Till then, I will keep shedding tears for every Harambe out there..but whenever I can, I will fight to save a few.


Things I have decided in principle, to implement asap:

1) Will never visit the Cincinnati Zoo till a meaningful action is taken (including punishment for Thane Maynard and officials who MURDERED Harambe).
2) Teach my kids about endangered species a bit more. We talk about it all the time as a family. But now, I want to work with them to identify either a long term ambitious project, which we as a family can work on or pick a more short term goal which is related to help conserving endangered species. Will keep a tab on this.

Posted in Miscellaneous, Uncategorized

Hello America, This is 2016!

This is 2016. And we are talking about United States of America, the self proclaimed “most advanced country” in the world and unquestionably the center of all economic power & the most critical global influencer.

And yet, we have states like Texas, who have systematically fought the abortion laws by making it harder and harder for women to get abortions. Texas, the most populated state in the country has only about 10 abortion clinics in the whole state (down from 40 a few years ago), making the average distance per county to be 111 miles for the nearest clinic, if a woman needs it.

If this is not a systematic display of state’s misogyny, what else is?

I really can’t fathom how in 2016, in the most advanced country in the world, would men get to dictate what women should do to their bodies, that too in the most cruel and inhuman ways.  Now, “It’s more complicated than a simple women’s choice” argument is complete b***sh*** and you know that, if you ever want to bring that up. So, please shut up and accept is it a simple case of men exercising their authority over women. Period.

Also, if you start claiming that these laws are about “women’s safety”, again, I would say “Please stop spitting crap and shut your t**p, because you have no idea what you are talking about.”

And it angers me once again, that the Supreme Court has been roped into opine on a case, while in my opinion there is really no case to begin with, as it is a case of violation on the part of states like Texas to deny abortion to anyone – Violation of the original Row vs Wade ruling, which incidentally is the law of the land.

Here is John Lever’s take on this.

Meanwhile, I really hope that the huge vacuum left by the evil justice Scalia actually works in this case’s favor as it is being heard in the Supreme Court this week.

Posted in Humor - General, Miscellaneous, Politics - General, Uncategorized

Mr. Trump – Dr. Seuss Edition

Today is Dr. Seuss’s birthday..
So, How would Dr. Seuss decribe Mr. Trump?
Just a little imagination…

Dr. Seuss Clipart.jpg

Bump, Bump, Bump..

Did you check the latest polls that gave a jump?

He is no wump with a single slump. He is a man called Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump just got a Super Tuesday jump, after one bump after another bump.

When he takes a dump through his mouth, Mr. Trump gets a seven point jump over every single wump who is running against Mr. Trump.

So, if Mr. Trump wants a bump, he just takes a clump of a dump on the rump of the chump, while he is on the campaign stump.

Posted in Miscellaneous, Uncategorized

When is the Next Wednesday in America?

It must be Wednesday in America.

Oh, wait, that was till the names of the suspects involved in the San Bernardino shooting tragedy were officially relased & confirmed late last night.

It must be another day in America.

While I’m not surprised at how easy it is to have fear engulf your minds only to manifest into wilder emotions such as anger, what I am surprised about is how media and politicians continue to stoke that fear, not realizing that once they spit those words of hatred targeting a particular community out, even if they did it in a speculative tone, they lose control of the discussion or the course of action that follows — all triggered by those words.

Even though the pessimistic me wants to say that America and Americans have long given up the debate on gun control just because they decided to completely sit on their fear and pride & do nothing, even after a humongous tragedy like the mass murder of young school kids in Sandy Hook, right now, the optimisitc me wants to think we have a choice. We do.

We could take the Islamophobic route and live in fear & thereby generating more anger. Or take a more practical approach of looking at the larger problem in our hands — Guns.

Because, when it’s time for the next Wednesday in America, for all you know, the mass shooter could be a non-muslim or even a white christian.

Posted in Miscellaneous

After thoughts, but no prayers…

Killers/Terrorists have a religion and an ideology. They always have. Right throughout the history of mankind. As it is obvious now, the religion of the killers involved in the latest attacks on innocent civilians in both Beirut and Paris in the last couple of days is Islam. And let’s be clear. There is absolutely no ambiguity in that.

But can muslims defeat the ISIS threat by disowning it?
No. I don’t think so.

Also, looking at it as a civilizational conflict could just mean, we are actually laying a road that would lead us into a path of long lasting and perpetual wars.

And all good, regular muslims have nothing to apologize for. They don’t need to be pushed into a corner to defend their beliefs, as they aren’t the culprits here. Not at all. But please, please let them not deny that they have a problem within. That extremist Islam is like cancer. They need to acknowledge it. Early detection is better than any alternatives. Else, they and the rest of the world will literally run out of cure.

Why are the Islamist extremists so annoyed with the western world, especially with Europe right now? Is it something to do with how many European countries handled the muslim refugee situation unlike what they were expecting?

For the most part, Europeans were fairly open to immigrants from these terrorism torn muslim countries. Some even went as far as embracing the immigrants with genuine warmth. May be that shattered the worldview of many Islamist extremists and may be this actually incensed them? After all, the caliphate extremist worldview is that we are different, we hate each other and that we are eternal enemies.

An ideal response to these extremists is to show them that we aren’t different at all and we certainly don’t hate each other. And more importantly, show them we can be eternal friends.

Easier said than done huh? Because when we look at the smaller picture – like how we, within our own country, can’t tolerate one another for things that are really, really trivial in comparison to the religious extremism that is pushing humanity to the brink today….Yes, it certainly isn’t easy. Almost impossible.

And this sadly makes me very less hopeful of our ability to tackle the gravity of religious terrorism and all things bad with religions in general.