Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Against Religion

Just can't resist putting in my blog these wonderful lines said by Bill Maher in his documentary movie Religulous (Video link at the end):

The plain fact is, religion must die for mankind to live. The hour is getting very late to be able to indulge in having key decisions made by religious people, by irrationalists, by those who would steer the ship of state not by a compass, but by the equivalent of reading the entrails of a chicken.
George Bush prayed a lot about Iraq, but he didn't learn a lot about it.

Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking. It's nothing to brag about. And those who preach faith and enable and elevate it are our intellectual slaveholders, keeping mankind in a bondage to fantasy and nonsense that has spawned and justified so much lunacy and destruction.
Religion is dangerous because it allows human beings who don't have all the answers to think that they do. Most people would think it's wonderful when someone says: "I'm willing, Lord. I'll do whatever You want me to do."
Except that since there are no gods actually talking to us, that void is filled in by people with their own corruptions, limitations and agendas.
And anyone who tells you they know... they just know what happens when you die, I promise you, you don't. How can I be so sure? Because I don't know, and you do not possess mental powers that I do not.
The only appropriate attitude for man to have about the big questions is not the arrogant certitude that is the hallmark of religion, but doubt. Doubt is humble, and that's what man needs to be, considering that human history is just a litany of getting shit dead wrong.

This is why rational people, anti-religionists, must end their timidity and come out of the closet and assert themselves.
And those who consider themselves only moderately religious really need to look in the mirror and realize that the solace and comfort that religion brings you actually comes at a terrible price.
If you belonged to a political party or a social club that was tied to as much bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, violence and sheer ignorance as religion is, you'd resign in protest. To do otherwise is to be an enabler, a Mafia wife, with the true devils of extremism that draw their legitimacy from the billions of their fellow travelers.

If the world does come to an end here or wherever, or if it limps into the future, decimated by the effects of a religion-inspired nuclear terrorism, let's remember what the real problem was:
That we learned how to precipitate mass death before we got past the neurological disorder of wishing for it.

That's it. Grow up or die.
See you in Heaven.

Who knows?
Yeah, exactly.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

And the top performer award goes to…..!!

My Dear Fellow Indian IT Nerds,

Is it that time of the year when you are scratching your head trying to remember what you did last summer, winter, spring and autumn? If you are one of us – a clueless cubicle dweller – the chances are that you have been suddenly asked to submit your appraisal and have been given less that a week to write down the reasons why you won’t be able to drive a car to work next year. In case your metamorphosis has not yet begun, and you still call yourself a human, you probably loathe this time of the year. I pity you if you are na├»ve enough to believe that your manager will read your attempt at inglis essay, your first since high school. Please tell me that you are not planning to write original accomplishments rather than just use those of the last year (which of course should be from the year before and so on…going back to the time when you copied those from a poor bastard who was leaving the company).

Do you really think your manager is going to evaluate you and give you the rating you deserve? Even when giving you a good rating may mean that the cost to his/her project will increase? Knowing that you will probably move to a better role outside his/her project or maybe will just take the hike and leave the company? What is more probable – that you will get an excellent rating because you are critical to the project right now or because you did very well in the project that just ended?

Oh dear! You child! This is a clever process. The scam of the century! It is one of the best device created by those who have paid hefty bribes in name of MBA fees to ensure that the rating you get is what they want not what you deserve

I empathize with you. I know that from your viewpoint, the so called “Yearly Appraisal Process” is the stupidest thing MBAs have ever created. It shows lack of creativity in those who consider themselves above human race.

I share your disgust and so I being one of the optimists, I came up with a better method of evaluation. And I am going to just give it away. I would love to receive a Nobel but considering situation of my fellow techies I’ll just give it away in hope that some MBA will pick this idea, put in some management jargon that no one understands and write a book with an eye-catching title. My mission is to change the world – of every cubicle!

So here it goes. 

I love playing games – the virtual ones that do not carry much risk of physical injury. As a kid I used to play a lot of Super Mario and Contra. Later on, there were PC games especially shooting genres such as Counter-Strike and Max Payne and racing ones such as NFS. I am not much into X-Box and PS but I hope you get the idea – I like video games!


The good thing about these games is that they are highly objective. There are set rules. As long as you play by the rules – shoot as many as possible or outrun everyone else – you win! Plain, simple and fair.

Now where do you think our appraisal process stands with respect to these games? If your Boss says that you will be tested for completing code X on schedule do you really believe him? Is that the rule? Or is it that you are actually supposed to prepare all his spreadsheets and presentations on schedule after you drop his/her son to school? Yes, there are some who walk among us, who understand this cryptic language, but they are just freaks or worse – future MBAs. 

My proposal therefore is to learn from the kids. Envision a system where you will be awarded points for each achievement, as and when it happens. This will be much like the points you get when you shoot a guy or blow a wall in Contra. For example, if you resolve a service ticket of low complexity then you get 10 points. You implement a project of 50 hours and you get 30 points.

Every project will have to create a cross reference chart, which maps an expected achievement against the number of points which will be awarded for it. The achievements can be weighted as per the goals and priorities of the project and the organization. For example, if it is a big thing for your organization to deliver value added innovations to your clients then they can award more points to such an activity. No longer will your manager have to bother you with sermons about being proactive and innovative. As rules will be clear, you will simply have to choose from the chart which extra-activities fit you best and will make you top point-holder. (In case you are one of those who do not have much work to showcase during the year because you were never allocated any work - you are actually lucky! – you will also be able to choose some generic activities from this chart and build up your points).

Some (read managers) may argue that such a process will take a lot of time to create and will be a waste of time. You can easily counter them by pointing out the useless processes that you are often asked to document and the highly employee terrorizing policies that HR loves to create are also similar waste of time. However, in name of flushing out inefficiency and increasing productivity, we must endure the pain.

Your manager will also not like the idea that he/she will have to approve your accomplishments on a daily basis. If my idea is implemented at organization level then an automation tool may be created (like the one that you probably already use for claiming your work hours). Your manager will then have to just approve the points that you claim against an activity.

I have thought of a name for such an evaluation system – Metered Rating System (MRS). The MRS spits in the face of the “Bell Curve” – the favorite of MBAs! The accumulated points will show a much better picture of where a person stands, in relative and absolute terms.

With MRS you will no longer need those goals and achievements that you copy-paste at start of the year and then forget about during rest of the year. You will no longer dread that one day, when you sit down remembering your accomplishments and realize that you have deleted all your appreciation mails. Most importantly, your evil manager will have no excuse to deny you a promotion or a hike when you can proudly show him that you have earned maximum points. The system will be objective, transparent and fair.

If you are convinced that my method has potential to ‘put a ding in the cubicle’ then please go ahead and share it with your manager or HR. All the best!

Yours truly,

PS: I had the audacity to share my idea with my managers. They called a meeting and for next hour I was the star of the comedy circus!