Sunday, February 05, 2006

What Stopped the SawStop

Yesterday I came across this video which showed a device that could stop a table saw in 5ms if the skin touches it. At that time I just thought "Cool", and forgot about it. But today I read this article which explains why the industry isn't using it. I've always believed that of all the economic systems, capitalism is the best. As Ayn Rand put it, "Money is the barometer of a society's virtue." But when an entire industry puts money before safety, like now, and like they did with cars and Ralph Nader, I wonder, what now? Should money be held as the highest virtue even when it puts the society at a greater risk? I am confused... so capitalists, objectivists, libertarians, tell me what would you have done?

Why Rang De Basanti Got It Wrong

I was planning to write a lengthy post explaining why Rang De Basanti fell far short of all the hype. But then I read Suyog's post on desicritics and I think it sums up my feelings pretty well. Read the post if you have watched the movie. Especially if you gave it 5 stars.

*** SPOILER ALERT - Don't read if you'll be watching the movie ***

Here's my two-bit: the biggest problem, morally, with the movie was the way in which they got their "revenge" over the defence minister. Notwithstanding the ridiculously easy way in which they killed the defence minister, the movie seems to be conveying that killing the corrupt politicians and bureaucrats is the only option left to cleanse our political system, just like it was for the revolutionaries. But the fact remains that, the times are different, the circumstances are different; and moreover, the revolutionaries adopted violence for the sake of the nation, while the contemporary characters did it for a very personal reason.

As Suyog said rightly - "you don't need to be against the system to beat the system - you can be in the system and rectify it" - violence was not just not the only option, it was also the wrong option. When violence is the answer for all the wrongs done to you - and once done, you try to inspire other people to fight their wrongs too - then no matter how noble your reasons were, as your actions inspire more and more people, their reasons for adopting violence would become more and more twisted, ultimately reaching the point where their "reasons" won't remain reasons at all, rather they would just be excuses for them to propagate their fanatical beliefs.

Don't understand what I am getting at? Say someone with "institutional authority" did some wrong to you; and you use violence to counter that. Then someday someone else with "institutional authority" would do some wrong to someone close to you - again violence is the answer. Slowly and slowly, the person who is wronged moves from your close ones to people you know, and from there to those you don't know - but they belong to your community. As time passes by, you feel your whole community is being wronged, and you decide to fight for all of them. In the meantime, you realize that the wrong-doer is not a single individual, but an organisation. And then its not even an organisation, its the institution. Finally, its a whole nation that's wrong. So now you fight a whole nation... Sounds too exaggerated? Maybe. Maybe not. Do you remember Mohammed Atta? No? Well, now you do.

The most ironic part of the movie was when Karan Singhania asked Indians over the radio that to counter corruption, they should join the armed forces, politics etc... Dude, what did you do?

Ok, enough. I didn't think my two-bit would be this lengthy, but I guess I just love to rant. That's just how I feel about the movie. My reaction after watching the movie was "What a terrible ending"; now its changed to "What a terrible message to send to Indians on R-Day"...

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