Friday, November 03, 2006

Civlizations Part I - Astrology

Well, we are 6 years down into the new millennium – but some things will never change. One I could never understand is the ever growing interest of people in sentiments, beliefs and other similar stuff which they believe can bring them good fortune or bad omen. Astrology, auspicious days and times, animals, gold and precious stones – the list never ends.

The not so surprising element is the people from so called developed West are not exception. In fact, they believe more in this stuff than the ‘uncivilized/under-civilized’ and under-developed African and Asian tribes.

Even the rockets and space shuttles are being launched only after huge calculations and debates to decide the so-called auspicious date and time, sometimes even putting aside the weather and geographical conditions. I still remember the spam of forwards I got explaining the bad time the exploded ‘Columbus’ space shuttle had entered the earth’s atmosphere and several reasons trying to prove that it was a bad time for the US when WTC was attacked.

These mails gave me a lot of fun as I know the truth and many of us know, thought not willing to accept.

If one realizes what actually happens in this world and what affects one’s success or failure, then that person can really enjoy all these stuff – whether it is astrology, lucky stones or something else.

Let’s start with the science of “astrology” (Yes, Indian government claims “Astrology” as a science and tried to introduce a diploma course on this in all universities).

Astrology is a group of systems, traditions, and beliefs in which knowledge of the relative positions of celestial bodies and related information is held to be useful in understanding, interpreting, and organizing knowledge about personality, human affairs, and other terrestrial events

As said, generally people try to get a glimpse of their future by doing different calculations using one or more of these factors –

1. Date and Time of Birth – Not sure of the exact rate, but it can be assumed at least 1000 births take place at the same time in the world –
a. Is the fate of all these 1000 persons same throughout their lives?
b. At least, can twins (with same birth date, parents and equal atmosphere, climate, opportunities, economic conditions, etc.) be guaranteed with same future? (I can recall so many Bollywood, Hollywood movies involiving separation of twins – one grows in a police house, one grown by a thief – Ha ha ha)
c. Even, if the birth happens at the same time, the exact date-time differ from time zone to time zone and country to country. Babies born in New Zealand and Pacific Islands have a difference of one day in their birth days – though their birth places differ by 5-10 kilometers.
d. This reminds me Dec 31st 1999 when lot of pregnant ladies in UK pleaded with doctors to time their delivery to 1/1/2000 to get the distinction of their baby to be the first to born in the new millennium, forgetting/ignoring/not aware that the new millennium would start only on 1/1/2001 and secondly, the sun would have already set in Australia and Japan and thousands of babies would have already born in the new millennium.
e. The current Gregorian calendar practiced all over the world was proposed only in 16th Century.
f. So, since the Date and Time of birth cannot exactly affect the future of a person, the sun signs, zodiac signs, birth stars can be struck off. But let’s see what is in them.
2. Sun signs – The names and the member stars might be different, but almost all types of astrology based on solar calendar believe that there are 12 sun signs – identified by 12 constellations (group of stars) in which the sun reside for 12 months of a year –
a. Well, any person with basic primary school education must have learnt in their science academics that the universe is vast and the stars which seem to appear closer to each other and make so called constellations are, in real, separated by thousands and millions of kilometers. The ancient and medieval astronomers identified some patterns in the way the starts had appeared when seen from the earth, grouped them and named them in the shape the group resembled – for example, Polar Bear that when seen from the Europe appeared in the extreme North (hence Polar) and the shape was like the animal, bear. Similarly, Orion, the Hunter and his two dogs, Cannis Major and Cannis Minor.
b. They named the path the Sun appeared to take when watched from the Earth as Zodiac and selected 12 big constellations which appeared to fall on or nearer to this path and named them as Zodiac signs. Luckily for them, bulk of these constellations shaped up in animals (Aries – goat, Taurus – bull, Pisces – fish, etc.)
c. They termed that the sun stays moves from one zodiac sign to another every 30 days, generally every 14th of a month to 15th of next month.
d. Depending on the date of birth of a person, the zodiac sign in which the sun is believed to reside is assumed as the Sun sign of that person – The bulk of the western astrology is based on these sun signs! – Even I get a junk of forwards on different types of foretelling based on these sun signs - if you are a Sagittarian, you will get a huge amount of free money this month, blah blah!
e. Some firm believers may impart science to this sighting the seasonal changes that take place when the sun ‘moves’ into Capricorn on Jan 14th and similar stuff.
f. But, in first place, how can a group of stars separated by thousands and millions of kilometers affect a living being staying in a small village on Earth, one of the planets revolving around a small dwarf star called Sun, which is no way comparable to huge stars in the Milky Way (again conceptualized by man) and unexplored areas of the universe.
g. The basic truth – Sun is a star and immovable object. Only Earth moves around the sun and obviously, that gives the impression that the sun moves from one zodiac constellation to other.
3. The above logic holds good even for the Lunar signs – According to some civilizations, including India, the moon affects the lives of people – Moon resides in 27 stars for each day (some times less than a day and some times more than that) in a month and this repeats for 12 lunar months – the period for which a moon stays in a lunar sign.
a. To add, moon is a satellite of earth – So the Earth should affect the living things on moon (if any), if the logic of Sun affecting the people on Earth is applied.
4. Solar Eclipse (total or partial), Lunar Eclipse are not exceptions to this. In India, the temples of Hindu gods are closed on the day of Eclipse and some special pujas (act of praising the god) are performed after the close of eclipse. So, even Gods are affected by the eclipses!!
5. I don’t want to talk much about the other types of foretelling like – using Cards (Western, African), Parrots and other birds, etc.

To be continued...

Monday, July 31, 2006

SE - Laborer Part I

Industrial Revolution changed the world in the 18th and 19th centuries. Even now, a country’s development is based primarily on the industrial development achieved in the country. India is no exception.

Still, many people who start their work on the blow of siren in the factory early in the morning, work in shifts and leave home to spend happy time with their families in the evenings.

The late 1990’s and the early years of this decade have seen a major IT revolution in India – a lot of software companies emerged as major sources of employment in the job market – with every youth trying to enter the IT field irrespective of the educational background – be it a mechanical engineer or an electrical engineer or a graduate in biology. The author is one of them, working as a software engineer in a famous IT services company for the last 2 years.

After 2 years of working as a robot with no scope for personal life, staying 100s of kilometer (or miles) away from the family, I thought to make a retrospective of myself and the kind of living I live. It has lead to a comparison between me, i.e., a software engineer who earns a hefty 5-digit salary per month and a labourer who earns barely 1.5K – 2K pm. The results are quite astonishing as well as depressing for me.

An ordinary factory laborer has fixed shifts. He works only 8 hours per day.
A software engineer has no fixed timings (even though they are, they cannot be followed practically).

The laborer can claim O.T.s (overtime allowance) for the time exceeding the 8 hours.
No such luck for an S.E. It’s quite natural to work late nights, 10-16 hours per day on a regular basis.

The laborer has ample set of fixed leaves per year.
An S.E. can boast an average of 10-15 leaves per year – But rarely a PL approves a leave (You know, project deadlines is the standard reason).

A laborer has an employee union which takes care of his/her needs in the organization – to protest against any policy which questions his/her rights.
SEs are not that united. They never unite and involve themselves in such things.

A laborer enjoys the life with very few tensions holding a carefree attitude – He spends the day earnings in food, movies and drinking.
An SE views a movie only if tickets are available online for the 2 or 3 multiplexes in the city – that too on a weekend. Rarely, gets a chance to view a movie on the weekdays. Eats whatever he/she gets or relies on sandwiches/puffs/burgers/soft drinks… He too spends bulk of his earnings on food, drinks and movies, but rarely enjoys them.

A laborer has only one tension – whether he’ll get work the next day.
An SE has a lot of tensions – indifferent attitudes of boss and teammates, cell phone, SMSs, credit card and mobile bills, taxes, reports, presentations, follow ups, blah blah – but none of them is really a tension.

Well, the comparison goes on, but my feeling and my experience as a software engineer says that an SE is same as a laborer – he’s a software laborer, majority of them, leading a life worse than that of a normal laborer – except that he works in A.C. and earns a five digit lump sum salary at the end of the month.

I’ll continue the analogy in my next blog.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

While I was in my undergraduation, I used to be very quick in my arithmetic. I used to do huge calculations and would be ready with answer while my classmates were still operating their gizmos. I rarely used calc in my exams.I boasted of this quality and claimed as my strength in my resume.

Now, unfortunately, time has come to remove this from my strengths to my weakness. In these 2 years, I haven't had the opportunity to use my calculating or mathematical skills. Now, to calculate monthly expenses for the room along with my roommates, either I have to search for a calc or have to come office, log on comp and use Microsoft Windows Cacl:-(.

But I learnt a lot in the job other than coding (which I hardly do). I became a DTP expert (do a lot of work with fonts in design doc for my proj). I excelled in excel - do all stuff. Got hold of shortcuts which make my friends in accounts feel jealous of.

So what! I am a s/w engineer, not a clerk or an accountant. I don't need arithmetic skills any more. No need for me to write any exams with puzzles and arithmetic. I need to know more about using excel for estimates and managements. I need to learn Powerpoint to make presentations. I need to sharpen my word skills to prepare better templates for my project docs.
And many more!

So, why people need to study so many subjects in Comp. Engg. if one has to work on docs and code?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Blog. blog. blog. Heard this word 3 years back. Have had in mind - one day, I shall have one blog. But what should I write in this.
I write a diary (of course, once in a week or so). It's enough to release all that I have in my mind - why shud I share my thoughts with someone, that too unknown?
But, there it is. I found out. I can share my thoughts with people of different cultures, different identities, different mindsets. So, went myself thru some.

Shud make a start. errrrrrrr. Already started. Need to continue.

I promise to confuse all of u with my peculiar thoughts...