A Rant Against Deepak Chopra

The first time I heard about Deepak Chopra was in Delhi, India, 1998. Someone was bragging about this desi guy who had made a name for himself in the USA and when my friend asked what does he do

“he writes superb books  on how to live a meaningful life”

Me : “so another fraud sadhu (or guru)”

And my belief in that fact has not changed. Deepak Chopra is a fraud.

He speaks in a melancholy way that mesmerises you. And words that could win you 80 points on scrabble flow with that sing song voice that make you feel very, very smart. Until you start paying attention to what he actually is saying.

 

If you don’t want to listen to a Dawkins version. Here is a Chopra talking about how you don’t have to age as you grow old.

 

To me this sounds like what astrologers write on daily horoscopes. Lots of generic fortune cookie statements that apply to 80% of the population. Chopra does the same thing except he uses the words “quantum” which could literally mean anything!

And then when people call him on his bullshit, he throws a hissy fit. Case in point, this letter from Lara Stein, TEDx Director & Emily McManus, TED.com Editor. A simple letter stating :

There is no bright and shining line between pseudoscience and real science, and purveyors of false wisdom typically share their theories with as much sincerity and earnestness as legitimate researchers.

Then they continue to expand on this statement which pretty much excludes shamans like Chopra. The main part of the letter, I think, was :

Marks of bad science:

  • Has failed to convince many mainstream scientists of its truth
  • Is not based on experiments that can be reproduced by others
  • Contains experimental flaws or is based on data that does not convincingly corroborate the experimenter’s theoretical claims
  • Comes from overconfident fringe experts
  • Uses over-simplified interpretations of legitimate studies and may combine with imprecise, spiritual or new age vocabulary, to form new, completely untested theories.
  • Speaks dismissively of mainstream science
  • Includes some of the red flags listed in the two sections below

The point of this letter is to ensure that nonsense is not give any promotion on TED’s platform. Anyone with a brain can see it. But our Sadhus printed this article on the purveyors of bad science The Huffington Post. First some gobble gook :

What the militant atheists and self-described skeptics hate is a certain brand of magical thinking that endangers science. In particular, there is the bugaboo of “non-local consciousness,” which causes the hair on the back of their necks to stand on end. A layman would be forgiven for not grasping why such an innocent-sounding phrase could spell danger to “good science.”

Huh? Re read this para carefully. What the fuck are they talking about? This is what really gets on my nerves. This kind of wording seems really smart and deep until you really try to understand it and then you realise that it is a huge cup of BS. Here is the crux of their argument :

TED finds itself on the wrong side of censorship, semi- or not. But this fracas actually opens a window. The general public — and many working scientists — isn’t aware that consciousness has become a hot topic spanning many disciplines, and its acceptability is demarked by age. Older, established scientists tend to be dead set against it, while younger, upcoming scientists are fascinated.

Freedom of thought is going to win out, and certainly TED must be shocked by the avalanche of disapproval Anderson’s letter has met with. The real grievance here isn’t about intellectual freedom but the success of militant atheists at quashing anyone who disagrees with them. Their common tactic is scorn, ridicule, and contempt. The most prominent leaders, especially Richard Dawkins, refuse to debate on any serious grounds, and indeed they show almost total ignorance of the cutting-edge biology and physics that has admitted consciousness back into “good science.”

CENSORSHIP!!!

These gas bags cannot prove that their theories are nothing but baloney, therefore, they think they are being muzzled! When I read the letter from TED, to me it reads that TED wants to IGNORE pseudo scientists.  And that is what Deppak Chopra is…..a pseudo scientist who wants to be recoganised as a revered soul with a quantum mind.

And there was this  :

But TED took the threat seriously enough that Anderson’s letter warns against “the fusion of science and spirituality,” and most disappointing of all, it tags as a sign of good science that “it does not fly in the face of the broad existing body of scientific knowledge.” Even a newcomer to science knows about Copernicus, Galileo, and other great scientists whose theories countermanded the prevailing body of accepted knowledge. Einstein believed in a static universe at a time when early proponents of an expanding universe were ignored, and the early reception of the now-popular “multiverse” theory was scornful. The greatest breakthroughs rarely come by acts of conformity.

Did these guys just compare themselves to Copernicus and Einstein? OMFG!

Boston Marathon

Why did the Boston Marathon incident affect me so much?

I mean for a period of 2 days I was walking around in a haze. I was doing what was expected of me at work and home but all the time I was essentially….sad.

The only reason that comes to mind is the fact marathon is a sport that is physically taxing. A runner deliberately punishes oneself to point where the person feels an exhilarating pain. This act of running is highly individualistic and gives one a supreme sense of accomplishment. Running is simple and straightforward. No complications.  As a runner I sweat, I suffer and I look forward to that finish line. The world and it’s problems has no place in my life during my run. And in the last leg your energy is finished, your adrenaline is severely depleted, your will power is gone but the cheering of the crowd at the end adds a persistence to your legs that seem to drive through the cheers and claps, the high fives and the inevitable “you are almost there”. Most of the times it’s this factor that has forced me to finish with head held high and a smile on my face. And sometimes I have shed tears.

And then a bomb explodes next to you. An innocent moment utterly destroyed.  I know that this happens in rest of the world at an alarming regularity and they are far worse than what happened at Boston.

But this happened to a sport I love and it hit me very hard.

I am better now. I am looking forward to the Waterloo Marathon on 28 April. I will try and run my best marathon and say a silent thank you to those killed and maimed in Boston.

This marathon run is for them.

Ebook or Paper Book

The debate continues.

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Since at least the 1980s researchers in many different fields—including psychology, computer engineering, and library and information science—have investigated such questions in more than one hundred published studies. The matter is by no means settled. Before 1992 most studies concluded that people read slower, less accurately and less comprehensively on screens than on paper. Studies published since the early 1990s, however, have produced more inconsistent results: a slight majority has confirmed earlier conclusions, but almost as many have found few significant differences in reading speed or comprehension between paper and screens.

I have now more or less switched to ebooks. The convenience factor of carrying all your books is too good pass up. Moreover, I have noticed that I read more. However, I do find that every now and then I want to go back to my paper books and I always notice the difference.  Reading from a paper is far far better.

But then I come across a word I do not know and I try and invoke the dictionary on the paper book which then takes me back to my ebook.

The only hope is that the ebook screen becomes better. In the meantime, the debate continues!

 

Sad But True

This is quite the norm. I have seen it numerous times as I work on the IT side in banks albiet in a different form. A lot of my colleagues are on work visa and are paid 2/3rd of what I am paid. Eventually I know I will be let go and another person will be hired in my place. Sad but true. And there is nothing I can do about it. Everything is legal. Welcome to the new Canada.

The big banks she has worked for under contract don’t bring in temporary foreign workers to take Canadian jobs. Rather they send those jobs abroad through what they call “preferred vendors,” such as the India-based outsourcing firm iGate.
True, these preferred vendors may temporarily import foreign managers to organize the job drain. But typically, such managers do not stay long.
More to the point, the lower-paid foreigners who will eventually do the actual work rarely, if ever, set foot in Canada.

5 Top Songs Of Week 2 March 2013

1) They are out with their new album!! And it is much, much better than the last one.

2) More weird dancing by Thom Yorke. More scintilating music from him and Nigel.

3) The sheer staying power of this musician is astounding! And the fact that he is so good is just an icing on the cake. From David Bowie’s new album.

4) JK Wedding video (music by C. Brown). This never ever gets old.

5) How To Destroy Angels. This is one of the songs I am using constantly during my long runs. Just bought their new vinyl. Can’t wait!!

 

Review : m b v My Bloody Valentine

When I first heard them, it was on the soundtrack of Lost In Translation. Because I found the movie sublime and the music haunting, naturally I had to discover more about this band.

The fact that they had released only 2 albums so far kind of put me off. That is until I started listening to their music.

I have never really understood why their music attracts me so much. The distortions, the wall of sound, the repetitions that have just a little bit of hallucinatory effect. Not really sure what. When I saw them live a few years ago, the whole experience was emotionally draining. The music was loud despite the ear plugs and each song an assault on  all your senses. My friend actually made me walk out of there before the end of the show because she was feeling sick.

Over the years, I have been listening to Loveless and Isn’t Anything with a fondness only reserved for the biggies (like Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin)

And now m b v has been released.

The moment I played the first song, it was like “Soon” had just ended on Loveless. The beginning “She Found Now”, “Only Tomorrow” and “Who Sees You” are an extension of the signature sound of the band. It’s quite curious to know that a lot of bands have come close to producing the My Bloody Valentine sound but none have achieved it. Even after 22 years! Anyway, upon hearing these songs I was thankful. The band is back and I did not have to break anything in frustration :)

The first three songs kind of lull the listener into thinking that this is another Loveless. Nope, this is where Shield’s changes direction. The next three songs are, surprisingly, pop oriented. One can actually “groove” to the music here. And just as the listener settles down to this new upbeat sound, Shield changes direction again.

This time to an aggressiveness that I have not seen from the band. The sound is largely repetitive (especially on “nothing is”) but unrelenting. I can just imagine being at a concert when this part of the album is played. People would be cringing and holding on to their ears for their dear life.

The album closer “wonder 2” is like being in a blender. Incoherent, no clue where the song is going and just like a blender is switched off to “calmness”, so does this song. It is not a closure like the one in Loveless with “Soon” but rather ends the album with a lack of cohesiveness that is endearing and can be a tad annoying.

But that encapsulates My Bloody Valentine’s  music. It can also generate a loathing and disdain for the pop oriented crowd. But for a lucky few it can generate love and a fanaticism for the band that is rare these days.

Top 5 Songs For Today.

Slow day. So here is what I have been listening to :

1) Haunting! Love this guy!

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2) I saw this group live with my best friend and till date I have termed the show as the best I have ever seen.

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3) Golden voice and golden lyrics. Salute to this genius

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4) This album deserve far more credit than it got. I guess you have to be a big fan of Edgar Allan Poe to like this musical opera. I thought the album was dynamite!

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5) I have always admired rap artist who are social commentators. It all started (for me) with Lupe Fiasco.

Sinead O’ Connor (How About I Be Me (And You Be You)?)

Sometimes a singer or a band on whom I have given up comes back to slap on my head and remind me why I fell in love with their songs in the first place.

This time it was Sinead O’ Connor.

Her new album How About I Be Me (And You Be You)? is a forceful reminder that the the singer is anything but out. Never really knew her numerous personal problems. It was only after hearing the album littered with heartfelt confessions about lost love and her  having a baby with a married man that I found that she has had a colourful (for tabloid readers although I am sure that they were painful for her) years.

The album starts, surprisingly, with a happy and a peppy song (4th & Vine). This catchy, hip-hop type song will win you over right away! Song is about falling in love and being very, very happy! The song kinda lets the listener let down her/his guard and then starts the emotional onslaught starting with “Reason With Me” a song about making wrong decisions in life. She continues to play the person in love with “Old Lady” and then takes a swipe at religious pedophiles in “Take Off Your Shoes“.

All songs here made me sympathise with her even though her personal life seems to indicate someone who does not fully grasp the  consequences of her actions. I guess in the end, the heart gets what the heart wants. All said and done, her tumultuous life means music that feeds your soul! And you should be eternally thankful for that.

Highly recommended!

Spotify Comes To Canada (Sort Of)

Update (11Jun2014) : Everyone, try Google Music. It is now live in Canada and is absolutely amazing! There are differences between Google Music Canada and Google Music USA but it is still worth the $8 / month.

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Finally! All I have been hearing from Will Band Of The Week and other music sites is “Spotify this” or “Spotify that”! And then when we click on Spotify we here in the Great White North, get – “This service is unavailable in Canada”. Frustrating! Just like Google Voice. And Hulu. And Amazon music. And the great content on netflix.com (and not the crappy version netflix.ca)

So when I casually clicked on the site last night to check what the status is….imagine my surprise when Spotify allowed me to download the software and within a few minutes, I was listening to the Liminanas! Wow! And I randomly searched some other bands on Spotify : Interpol, Japandroids, Great Lake Swimmers….they were all there. Now I can sample all the songs I want without any issues.

But let’s a step back for a minute. What is so great about Spotify? I mean, all the music I want to listen to is available at :

– CBC Radio 3
– Groove Shark
– You Tube
– Songza

Why should I be so happy that Spotify has come to town? Well, one thing the mobile versions of the above listed apps sucks! I mean:

– CBC Radio 3 : Just has a stream. You can’t really search for the music you want to listen to, except on the full site.

– Grroveshark. : The mobile version is really, really bad. The full site is great but the mobile version….really?

– You tube. Again, all songs are there to sample but you don’t have it streamlined for music. It it mostly – search and then you might get lucky with related videos. And where is Google Music for Canada?

– Songza has awesome curated stations (just like 8tracks). But not a dedicated music site for those who want to sample new albums.

Which is why Spotify is really high up on my list of preferred music sites.

But, why “sort of”?

Because they are refusing to accept my credit card to pay for upgraded version since it has not been officially launched here in Canada! I want to pay but…”not right now”, says Spotify!!

Of well, I will continue listening and sampling music from Spotify. For example, just listened to Sinead O’Connor’s new album. Bam! She is back with a vengeance! (Will review it soon.)

My Running Has Taken A Severe Beating

This has been my running in the 6 months….a downward slope.

Screen shot 2013-01-15 at 10.08.22 PM

Am trying to be more focussed and pay more attention to my running but these are the hinderances that I face :

> My wife. She hates my running. Does not get it at all. Especially if I have to do a long run. Anyway, the situation has been improving. She is on a drive to reduce weight so we do not argue that much before my runs.

> Work. Seriously. Don’t know what changed in the last 6 months or so. Workload has increased like crazy! Sometimes am spending nights working.

> Cold weather. I don’t mind running in the cold but when I want to got for an hour I just tell myself…awww shucks, who is going to get dressed and then warm up and then run in the cold. Might as well spend time on the treadmill. And then I see some thing that I need to do around the house and before you know it…..it’s too late to run.

My new year resolution? Nothing stands in my way of running. Nothing.

Let’s see how long that resolution lasts :)

Top 5 Songs To Get Me Through Today

Today is one of those days.

Wife off today and constantly complaining about her staff. Man, if I had a dime for every time she needs to rant about her clinic, I would have paid off her debts!

Daughter just being opinionated. She woke me up this morning to let me know that she will not be wearing her snow pants. I don’t what it is with not wearing snow pants. Her argument boils down to “the key word is snow. Where is it?” Even though it is -10C outside!

Work is a pain! So much to do. And the fact that the teams are spread over China, Malaysia, India, USA and Canada does not help.

So what is one supposed to do?

MUSIC!!

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5.

Jodi Foster At Golden Globes

Why cannot anyone look and see this speech and think that it was a most poignant and astonishingly brave speech! She came out by saying she always was “out”, why she fiercely protects her privacy, thanked her mom with very moving words that had everyone crying and said she looked forward to the next 50 years.

Good for her. Great speech! Hope to see more from her in the coming years no matter how quiet she tries to stay.

Minds Of Children

My daughter got a book from the library titled “I Survived The Attacks Of11SEP2001”. Why she picked this book, I have no idea but I think the covermight have had something to do with it. Tall buildings on fire; People running; bold letters of the book title in red.

She read the first chapter and suddenly, she was full of questions. Why it happened? How it happened?

And this question really threw me off : “Did they arrest the pilots?”

In the mind of a child, there is no concept of mass murder, no concept of someone deliberately harming another human being for no reason. In the mind of a child, your actions may lead to damage (even that is alittle hard for a child to comprehend “why would they hit the buildings?”) but everyone has to face the music after the act.In the mind of a child everyone is pure. It is us adults who ruin that feeling and ruin the mindset that is desperately needed.

But then again, she needs to see what the world really is….sometimes a beautiful place and sometimes a heartless monster. I can only hope her thoughts will remain on track that they are on right now for as long a possible.