Delete Facebook Not

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A few days ago, I came across a picture courtesy NDTV,  of a PETA protest somewhere in a metropolis of privilege, where we have a tiger carrying a sign that says “eating meat contributes to species extinction”. Before I could wrap my head around the irony of that image, I see, floating on my facebook news feed, #DeleteFacebook, yes on my Facebook feed, people using Facebook asking people to not use Facebook, and suddenly there is too much iron in my life.

Now of course all this talk of boycotting Facebook comes from the whole Cambridge Analytica revelations, CA being a data analytics company that allegedly “illegitimately” used data scraped off from Facebook users to micro-target key demographics in the US elections,

I am sorry, but what part of the recent “scandal” about Cambridge Analytica is the scandal? That Facebook sells your data? I am sorry, but have you not heard of the first commandment of modern business—that if you do not pay for a product, you are the product?

Who do you think pays for Facebook’s valuation, their stock prices, and the salary of that friend you are jealous about because he works in Facebook?

You ! Your data, your preferences. That is where Facebook’s core value proposition is, the ability to provide “hooks” for analytics engines, of course if you cross Facebook’s palms with silver.

Surely, you cannot expect them to provide you a platform for sharing your brain-droppings, totally gratis, now do you?

This is Facebook we are talking about. Not NREGA.

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Empathy and the Global Corporation

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Bezos

New York Times recently ran a shocking “expose” on Amazon with the ominous title “Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace” and the even more scary sub-heading “The company is conducting an experiment in how far it can push white-collar workers to get them to achieve its ever-expanding ambitions”. The article is worth reading. There are stories of people crying at desks, of employees seen to “practically combust” (not sure what that is, but I think I get the general drift), and then this:

A woman who had breast cancer was told that she was put on a “performance improvement plan” — Amazon code for “you’re in danger of being fired” — because “difficulties” in her “personal life” had interfered with fulfilling her work goals. Their accounts echoed others from workers who had suffered health crises and felt they had also been judged harshly instead of being given time to recover.

A former human resources executive said she was required to put a woman who had recently returned after undergoing serious surgery, and another who had just had a stillborn child, on performance improvement plans, accounts that were corroborated by a co-worker still at Amazon. “What kind of company do we want to be?” the executive recalled asking her bosses.

To counter this corporate PR disaster, Jeff Bezos then sent a note to  his employees, where he referenced a LinkedIn post of an employee who wrote a rebuttal. While taking issue with some nominal factual inaccuracies, what the Amazon-employee says isn’t radically different from what the New York Times article tried to put forward. Ezra Klein in his excellent post on Vox explains why he thinks that’s the case [Link] (I agree) but here is my very personalized TLDR.

The Amazon employee, if you go through the note, is not really challenging the basic premise of the story. All that the man is saying, and many would agree with him, is this.

“Yeah these sissies are complaining cause they were not good enough to work in the greatest company on the world (To quote: Not everyone is qualified to work here, or will rise to the challenge. But that doesn’t mean we’re Draconian or evil. Not everyone gets into Harvard, either, or graduates from there. Same principles apply) but there are many people who are great at their work here, are motivated to work nights and weekends, and feel adequately compensated by it.  Take the heat or get out of the kitchen.  Booyakasha”.

Without judging the tone and tenor of his post, or sentences like “Yes. Amazon is, without question, the most innovative technology company in the world” (Psst Tesla) , I find the employee’s very alpha-male response extremely honest, as it pretty much lays out the world view of those that “win” in our present corporate environment.

James T. Kirk: Why would a Starfleet admiral ask a three-hundred-year-old frozen man for help?
Khan: Because I am better.
James T. Kirk: At what?
Khan: Everything.

Yeah. That kind.

 

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The H-Man

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As able to change form and shape as Mystique (see above pictures), as able to manipulate metal and currency as Magneto, as unstoppable as the Juggernaut, as immortal and as surgically enhanced as Wolverine, as able to manipulate minds as Charles Francis Xavier (how else can you explain how pretty women all over the world swoon with O-Reshamia-sms whenever he is present), it was long known that Himesh was even more powerful than an Omega level mutant, making him the most awesome X-Man  in the history of the universe.

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Earth Shattering Arguments

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Our exams often generate and encourage stupidity and push forward the least talented of the lot. I am not an IIT student, and will not pretend to know much about the CAT since I didn’t crack it, but it is rather interesting that almost none of our wonderful IIT-ians (for whom such pitted battled are being fought) have made any earth-shattering discoveries or inventions

I tend to avoid writing posts that are critical follow-ups of posts from other blogs. There are several reasons for that—the principal one being that by discussing such posts, I give them more importance/mindspace than they deserve. As a result, there was an urge to let this Annie Zaidi post about reservations (Update: The OtherIndia website was down for a few hours and it’s up again. One difference: my trackback to Annie Zaidi’s post has been removed–it was there earlier. Ahem ahem.) pass outside my off stump, with a sad shake of the head.

The post itself can be summarized as follows: Since the examination system is bad, merit is not a criterion for admission into IIT/IIMs. Consequently, the “merit” argument cannot be used to deny quotas to OBCs.

I am not going to spend time in analysing the logical consistency of the above argument—-just like I would never worry myself by trying to understand the causalities in “Military Raj” or “Mirchi–It’s Hot”. [Of course it very well may be that so astute is the logic, that “stupid” people like me, who made it through the education system, are blinded by its sublimity and our refusal to comment on it is a blatant ruse to hide the fact that we have been perfectly “gotcha-ed”.]

However, there is one line in that paragraph that compels me to comment, and so against my better judgment my bat is drawn in to the shot outside the off, conscious not to edge it to the slips or “play on” onto my own stumps.

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Research…….

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I did my PhD in Computer Science from Stonybrook.

An excellent research university with a very strong science focus, Stonybrook had one of US’s most dissatisfied student bodies. The main reason was that there was zero campus life—-Stonybrook was as dead as Julius Caesar. So much so that a site dedicated to bitching about life at Stonybrook reportedly takes in more hits than the official page.

But this lack of life was not all that bad really.

Having nothing to do, people could concentrate on research—–mobile bar code readers that revolutionized retail, nuclear magnetic resonance……..serious, important stuff……but overall “in tune” with Stonybrook’s mortician-like image.

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