secret to long lasting institutions

The vatican is pretty light on it’s foot when it comes to dancing with the winning social trends in the long run. Small wonder that it has survived as an institution intact for so long, 16 centuries in fact. Take that you current day multinational behemoths like Walmart, GE, and the likes. Even institutions like the the venerable constitution of the United States pale in historical comparison. Another close one, albeit with many changes, is the Magna Carta, with eight centuries under it’s belt.

There’s some secret to the papal legacy that needs spreading around. Maybe it’ll make for someone’s PhD thesis, or even another book or two.

here’s the blurb

BELIEVING that God created the universe in six days is a form of superstitious paganism, the Vatican astronomer Guy Consolmagno claimed yesterday.

Brother Consolmagno, who works in a Vatican observatory in Arizona and as curator of the Vatican meteorite collection in Italy, said a “destructive myth” had developed in modern society that religion and science were competing ideologies.

more at


social network experiment

Social networks are back and they’re increasingly popular (+1 for the internet). It’s not a new phenomena. They’ve been around since people have been socializing. There are good examples of people in the history books who’ve been amazing social networkers. Travellers like Marco Polo were a good example because of the ad-hoc networks of people he created and connected.

What makes it different now is the ability to bridge huge geographic distances using technology. The internet, cell-phones/sms are allowing people to share experiences and create social bonds where it was impossible before.
Places like and are all well and good, some neat things have happened because of them. What is truly amazing are things that have come out of communities formed from interest pooling. Look at Wikipedia, it now has more entries than the Encyclopaedia Brittanica. Look at the Gutenberg project which has over 18,000 freely downloadable electronic copies of books published. Take a look at flickr or frappr.
I’ve edited some articles in Wikipedia and am a member of some groups on flickr. I have contributed bits of code to some opensource projects. I have come to be a little aware of the power of social networks. I wanted to see if I could actually get the ball rolling on a network of my own creation. I will obviously have to nurture what I create and spend inordinate amounts of time maintaining it and making it useful to a larger group of people. After a while, the hope is that it will take a life of it’s own, sort of evolve with interested community members helping it’s growth and sustenance.

With that in mind, I created Planet Nepal Wiki. It caters to a small subset of humanity. The primary goal is to capture bits and pieces about nepal, cultural nuggets and the like, that is not normally captured in written form. The sort of thing that is passed down orally through generations which have a potential in this increasingly uniform global landscape to completely disappear. The secondary goal is to create a community of users and contributors who have a vested interest in capturing that information, out of interest, a sense of cultural obligation or whatever. It may transform to be something else, I don’t know. I can’t make that call. That is part of the characteristics of social experiments. The crowd makes the decision. I have some awareness of the implications of that. There is less control, there is no heirarchical decision making body, the goals of the project are very prone to change, even the contents. Basically, there is uncertainty.

But that’s the challenge. To experience a different mode of working.

We shall contribute, and wait and see.

viva à l’inconnu (pardon my french).

On to the Planet Nepal Wiki then.

the age of micro-wars or the ghost of battles past

The drivers behind micro protests in the last century used to be PETA, greenpeace, EFF, ACLU. Now it’s the likes of students on myspace, unemployed youth with cellphones, motorcyclists using aol, bloggers with commentaries as swords. Anyone can start the ball rolling, millions of potential Che Guevaras out there.

Here’s an article that tries to look at the other side of connectedness:

One of the baseline assumptions of U.S. foreign policy is that “connectedness” is a good thing. Linkage to the global economy fosters the growth of democracy and free markets, the theory goes, and that in turn creates the conditions for stability and security. But if that’s true, why is an increasingly “connected” world such a mess?


some links to protests and micro-insurgencies:

On March 1, 2006, South Central Farm was served with an eviction notice by the sheriff’s office. It stated that the farmers had to evacuate the premises by 03/06/2006. On the morning of March 3rd, protesters stood outside City Hall, in the rain, in downtown Los Angeles and showed their support for the farmers.


Riot police clashed with protestors yesterday as an estimated 220,000-450,000 students marched in cities across France. 420 protestors were reportedly arrested and 18 police officers injured.


Nearly 40,000 students from across Southern California staged walkouts to protest proposed immigration legislation Monday, blocking traffic on four freeways and leaving educators concerned about how much longer the issue will disrupt schools.


An effort to stop radical anti-gay protesters from disrupting soldiers’ funerals is hung up in the Illinois Senate, as proponents wrestle with union concerns that the law could be used to curtail legitimate labor protests by cemetery workers.


Several hundred people have protested in northern Afghanistan against a decision to dismiss a case against a man who converted to Christianity.


A Colorado school is in upheaval following the suspension of a teacher who was recorded comparing President Bush’s rhetoric to that of Adolf Hitler.


On Tuesday, we stood and turned our backs on attorney general Alberto Gonzales. The country’s highest-ranking lawyer came to our school — Georgetown University Law Center — to convince the American public that the government’s wiretapping program is legal. As America’s future lawyers, we stood to oppose the Bush administration’s bulldozing of our constitutional protections in the name of the war on terror. We stood inspired by the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.”

.. and so it goes.

two-facedness of organizations.

I’ve heard about Penn and Taylor and their Showtime show Bullshit. I’ve seen posters advertising their show. I didn’t know what their show was about until I came across some postings about their show on PETA, yes that animal-rights organization. I believe it’s released on DVD as their second season. I’ve been wanting to post something about this for a while. I just didn’t have the motivation till now.

The show tries to call bullshit on tried and tested or popularly held beliefs, sorta like a contemporary occam’s razor for cultural trends. I may not agree with everything they show. Their interviews are with selected individuals chosen to support the byline of the show. Not that that’s different from how a lot of other shows are done. All hail to them. But even with that lens of skepticism, the show on PETA struck some chords in me.

To quote

Between 1998 and 2003, PETA put to death over 10,000 dogs, cats, and other creatures that the group publicly calls “companion animals.�? Not counting those that PETA held only temporarily — for spaying or neutering — the group killed over 85 percent of the animals it took in during 2003.

This site has some numbers on PETA’s dirty little secret.

There was even a times square billboard put up by the Center for Cultural Freedom (the name of that organization by the way, is all red flags, suggestive of a lobby group).

I’m not saying PETA is bad. What they’re trying to do is a worthy cause. But because it involves people, who come in all shapes and sizes and with varying motives, like every other large organization, they can have skeletons in their closet. You should watch that show, do your research and make up your own mind.

The larger question is, does every large organization have two faces?

hunting exotic animals, we have ranches for that and are proud of it


Just ran across Anuj’s post about hunting ranches in Texas. I mean, seriously, is that for real?

I thought the parody in The freshman was a product of someone’s brilliant imagination.

I must’ve been sleeping while the world went crazy on it’s head, or hmm.. Texas went crazy.

Talk about a change in values. Uggh..