June 22nd, 2018

Externalities, Inferences, and the establishing of contrived truth.9

There was never a doubt in my mind, and now there are many. Perhaps, they were always there; perhaps they just hid themselves very well, or perhaps, I have just started paying more attention to what transpires in and around me. Yes… perhaps.

Saab is more sure of himself. He does not second guess himself. “Can I or can I not?”, “Will I?”, “Can I really?”; these are not questions he is likely to pose himself. He believes more in forging ahead and finding the answer. If he can, he can; if he cannot, he cannot; if he will, he will; and if he will not, he obviously will not. It is that simple for him. It was hardly ever this simple for me, but it used to be simpler not very long ago. One wonders if all this second guessing is a consequence of having been too close to Jalali Baba for far too long, which is why one is a fool, and there are two more reasons one is:

The first is that there is little to wonder here. Jalali baba takes second guessing beyond an art form. He makes it into a compulsive behavioral disorder, much like everything else about his personna is. Staying close to him, and being his most favored disciple, until very recently at least when he liberated me from the shackles of his “peerdom”, had to carry its own externalities. ‘Externalities’ figures in my posts quite often, primarily because I like to think I still remember something from that course in economics which I had taken during my academic life. Life, Saab says, is little else than academic, which, if true, means that academic life should be classified as a redundant term, which it is not – not so far anyway, not to the best my knowledge. The best of my knowledge, in JB’s view, is not a very reliable source for knowledge; and JB’s view, to the best of my knowledge, is not much of a view to lend credibility to anything; which is all besides the point since all I wanted to clarify was that externality, if I remember correctly, is a fancy word for side-effects or by-products.

There is every likelihood that I do, in fact, remember correctly since I have been using this term for almost a decade now, and have hardly allowed it to fade from my memory. This decade-long usage in itself is little evidence to prove the correctness of what I remember correctly; the former pertains to the accuracy of the fact in question, while the latter has more to do with the accurate recollection of the fact – accurate or otherwise. There are four possible combinations of the former and the latter, which are as follows:

- Both the fact and the recollection are accurate.
- The fact is accurate, but the recollection is less than accurate.
- The recollection is accurate, but the information recollected was wrong to begin with.
- Niether the information, nor the recollection of it is accurate.

If one were to look closely at the four possibilities stated above, one would realize that whatever else they might help us in concluding, what they cannot help us in proving is that the information remembered as fact here is in fact accurate. More importantly, none of the above is lent more credibility simply because I have been quoting this information as fact over a prolonged period of time.

The second is that there is precious little that meets Jalali Baba’s approval, and this is common knowledge. Jalali Baba sets exacting standards, and raises the bar every now and then, since every now and then human ambition and endurance triumphs over Jalali Baba’s under-estimation of human potential, and over-estimation of human incompetence; and someone somewhere manages to come within striking distance of what Jalali Baba calls ‘cieling of human competence’, thereby making it mandatory to raise the bar, and with it the afore-mentioned cieling, once again. Saab is of the view that Jalali Baba can thus be credited with motivating the human race to realize its true potential, but Saab knows little about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which is a cornerstone of modern motivation theory. Hence it is safe to conclude that Saab’s stance on the subject is, at best, flawed. All Jalali Baba does achieve through his ever-rising standards and summary disapproval of all that surrounds him is perpetual second-guessing and a pervading lack of confidence.

I digress. Staying close to JB, I infer from personal experience, had to have its own externalities, mostly negative and rarely positive, since externalities, I seem to recall, can be both positive or negative. ‘Positive externalities’ is a fancy way of saying by-products, and negative externalities is an economist’s way of saying ‘side-effects’. This co-relation, I must admit, is entirely my own inference, and is unlikely to be found in any libraries, unless of course there are libraries somewhere which have had the good sense to accumulate my inferences into tomes of wisdom for the welfare of mankind. By-products are good since they can be sold for additional revenue, while side-effects are bad since they must be endured when mild, and cured when not so mild.I have hardly been able to sell anything arising out of my closeness with JB, which is an important bit of information since it leads us to multiple inferences. The first of these inferences is that even though I did make a provision for a rare positive externality arising out of being under JB’s tutelege for an extended period of time, empirical data suggests that such a provision was totally unnecessary, and may be discarded without fear of any negative externality arising out of such discarding. Another direct inference tells us that all externalities arising out of being JB’s lone disciple are necessarily negative, and hence I have endured much and must be cured of some; worryingly enough, at this point we do not even know for a fact if I have endured some and need to be cured of much.

I am beginning to make a good many inferences lately, and this I infer, is a direct consequence of an earlier inference that the thought process is capable of functioning on its own, and without the not-too-gentle prodding from Jalali Baba, and that there is little wrong in any such thought process. This was an inference borne out of the realization that yours truly was Jalali Baba’s lone disciple, and not having Jalali Baba as their spiritual misguide had not deterred quite a few other people, the rest of the world to be precise, from launching into the thought process game entirely on their own. The damning evidence, of course, was the possibility, distant but real, that these people had fared rather well, which is a less dignified way of admitting that they had done better than yours truly, who had been led to believe for the longest time that having Jalali Baba as the spiritual misguide entitled him to exclusive rights to doing well in the thought process exercise.

There’s a little piece that plays when Elliot is done talking with his cellmate towards the end of the movie “Bedazzled”, and it is brilliant. What is amazing is that I have seen the movie at least a dozen times, and I had never noticed it before. Perhaps, I was never in the mood I am today. Perhaps, one of the pre-requisites to get into that mood is to have seen the movie a dozen times without having noticed that lovely bit of music. After all, everything we are led into today is a consequence of all the things we were led into in the preceding units of time. We are where we are, because we were where we were; wherever we were when we were where we were, whenever we were wherever we were before we got to where we are. It might sound a little convulated and a tad contrived, but its the truth.

Cricket Classics.7

1999. Sharjah. Pakistan Vs. Srilanka.

Pakistan 196 all out.

Srilanka 173/2.

Result: Game tied, with Pakistan taking the last eight wickets for 23 runs.

What a game! What a team!

Wasim Akram – where art thou?

Thank You.12

Waking up in the middle of night half a dozen times to discharge orally the contents of my stomach. Bad.

Having wifey by my side in a flash each of those times, Good.

Waking up in a hospital bed, connected to a bottle of saline liquid hanging from a stand on my right. Not good.

Finding wifey sleeping in a chair on my left, with her head resting on the bed… Words fail me.

I try and refrain from complaining, but I fail miserably in being thankful enough for the blessed life I live.

The midnight morning conundrum, where conundrum is a new word I had learnt months ago6

There ought to be rules against staying up this late doing nothing. Its 1:00 a.m. where I am, and I am where I am more often than not at this hour. Its raat ka pichla peher, and there are people going about wishing everyone good morning already. There ought to be rules against that too. First of all, it is not going to be a morning until another few hours; since it is not a morning until one of the three things has happened:

1. The sun has risen, or indicated that it is ready to rise.

2. Its time for the sun to rise.

3. One has had a good night’s sleep.

You see, its hard for me to comprehend the concept of a morning if it does not entail a sunrise. One’s a fool, and might choose to have one’s good night’s sleep at an odd time of the day, and I must therefore attach lesser importance to the condition that makes it binding for a morning to wait until a fool has undertaken a task. One can, however, be left at liberty to assume a morning for oneself once one has had a good night’s sleep; but to make it mandatory for everyone else to consider it a morning since one has had a good night’s sleep is not only utterly irrational and unfair, it also smacks of a deep rooted undemocratic way of life. Everything undemocratic is not irrational or unfair, however, everything undemocratic is liable to invite a carpet bombing campaign from a country far far away; and that folks underlines just how serious a matter we are dealng with here. It is safe to infer already that every person who thinks the morning starts at midnight, and I hope you see the irony of a morning starting at midnight, is inventing weapons of mass destruction in his backyard, and wears shoe-bombs for recreation. You might as well strangle the darned terrorist and claim your reward for bringing down a future insurgent.

Secondly, even if one were to, for a very short period of time, entertain the ridiculous notion of a morning beginning at midnight, one would be hard-pressed for an explanation, were one required to offer one, for calling such an untimely morning good. How can there be anything good about a morning for anyone who is up and about at that late an hour accepting greetings from fools like one? The available data suggests that either he is working that late, and there is a real possibility of one not finding anything good about anything under those circumstances; or, it must be inferred that he is staying up this late doing nothing, and there is little about staying up that late doing nothing that can be classified as good, which is why I maintain that there ought to be rules against staying up that late doing nothing.

Introducing Saab, the man not the auto-maker, and the Japanese auto-makers’ Conspiracy.5

Jalali Baba is eccentric, Chillate is chilled (and bitter), Aamir Zaki’s Signature is brilliant, Hot cakes sell like Toyotas; and I am full of facts, no one is interested in. I am also full of posts no-one offers to put up for me. Jalali Baba has accused me of being full of certain other organic compounds, but we have a difference of opinion there. That is saying a lot about how strongly I feel about the subject, since I am not one to differ with my own spiritual misguide on matters less important than life and death. If there is one person who can actually afford to entertain a difference of opinion with Jalali Baba, it is Saab; and I am not Saab. Saab is hardly spiritual. Saab is absolutely misguided, hence the difference of opinion with Jalali Baba.

Opinion is a strange thing. It hardly matters what it is, until there is one that differs from it. Jalali Baba is aware that his opinion is thus lent added credibility when Saab commits the blasphemy of differing form it; and this is perhaps why Jalali Baba bears with Saab’s incredible incredulity. Saab’s disagreement proves little else than the vanity of an assumption that Jalali Baba’s opinion can be the subject of any skepticism at all. Vanity is a sin. Saab will rot in hell, and so will his assumptions.

Backaches are spiritual equivalents of physical nirvana. There is as much spiritual about backaches as there is physical about nirvana. It is another one of those facts no-one is interested in. No-one except Saab of course. Saab indulges with backaches; he entertains them, tames them, pampers them and looks forward to them. They afford him an opportunity to lie on his aching back, and contemplate less the fate of a world plagued by indifference to him and infested with Jalali Baba’s disciples. Saab sees me where he goes. It is primarily because I go where he goes, but there could be other reasons too; reasons only Saab and his psychiatrist can uncover through dedicated and long sessions that cost Saab a fortune.

I worry about Saab. Saab worries about the world, and its fate; until backache sets in. Then he worries about having to get well, and having to drive one of the Toyotas or the Hondas, the kindly Al Futtaims have imported into the UAE with the sole purpose of keeping the orthopedics busy. Did I not mention a conspiracy by the Toyotas, Hondas, Mitsubishis, Mazdas and the like? Turns out the conspiracy is hatched not only by the car manufacturers but also by their agents across the country. The Futtaims have joined hands with the Toyota and Honda chaps, while the Habtoors and Galadaris are in cahoots with Mitsubishi and Mazda respectively. Saab is aware of this elaborate conspiracy too, and much like yours truly, a victim of it as well. It is a conspiracy to exploit the orthopedics, and to give them bad backs through long hours. Perhaps there is a certain wisdom in it all, how can they hope to actually treat a pain they have not personally experienced? One feels though, and one is not being a complete fool here, that the Futtaims, Habtoors and the Galadaris have allowed passion and overzealous attempts at forcing empathy to interfere with their ambitious drive towards fulfilling their obligations towards bringing about an excellence in the medical fraternity that is borne out of nothing less than personal exposure to misery.

Its all very well being passionate and overzealous about the whole “medical excellence through personal exposure to misery” philosophy, until one, or as is the case here, a handful of chaps decide to cause the misery that the medical fraternity must be exposed to.

I realize that I have omitted a few important facts that are central to ensuring that the pieces fall into place magically, so here goes:

Long ago, Saab and I had an opportunity to evaluate the facts that were available to us, which were limited in number, but convincing enough in the empirical evidence they provided through sheer pain. The facts were thus: Saab had a Toyota, I had a Honda; Saab developed a bad back, I developed a bad back; Saab shifted to a German car, and I to a Korean car that had recently acquired American nationality; Saab’s backaches vanished, mine evaporated; I reverted to a Toyota, and the backaches struck with a vengeance; Saab stayed wiser than I for sometime, and then fell to the temptation of a Toyota A/C – he slept with a runny nose, thanks to the magical air conditioning; and woke up with an enhanced sensation of having a back, and an aching back at that, thanks to the Toyota seats. We put two and two together, and then we put the rest of the facts together, and got to the conclusion that the Japanese cars had excellent air-conditioning and fuel economy, and extremely non-ergonomic seating systems, if they had a semblance of a system in their seats that is; the only thing systematic about those seats is the pain they cause.

Yours truly was the first one to hazard a guess as to what was amiss where, which in one word was: comfort and consideration for the “sitter”. Not one word you say, ask George W. Bush. He has often used such one words. A guy who can go about destroying countries, and killing people not only with impunity, but also with the support of an Oxford educated pet, ought to know a thing or two about the correct usage of the queen’s language. Saab was more adventurous with his take on the facts, and he felt that it were the Toyota/Mazda guys trying to deliberately give us all bad backs, so when the Japs launched their world-wide campaign to retake the world through military forays, we would be in no position to lift our guns and march. It turned out later that the Japanese actually offered the agents the option of choosing what seats would be installed in the cars that would be sent to their territories, and that it were actually the agents that were asking for these backache causing seats.

This was baffling; why would they want to give us, their own people, bad backs? It was at this point that one was reminded of the golden rule about assumption, which was that one must assume the best on another’s part, until there was reason to assume otherwise. One is not always a fool; so we tried to assume the best on the agents’ part; and the only plausible explanation was that the agents want us all to have bad backs so that the orthopedics are kept busy, and since there are so many of these Japanese cars around, it was apparent that the agents did not just want the Orthopedics busy, they wanted them terribly busy, busy enough to give them bad backs. Working with the golden rule again, we got to the conclusion that they wanted the Orthopedics to have badbacks so that they could experience first hand the pain they had to treat, and at this point it all fell in place – magically or not.

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