On Society and Moral Policing

For better or for worse, women have always generated a lot of angst and debate in society. Wars have been fought. Cities have been burnt. Philosophies have emerged. Policies have been abolished . Policies have been framed.

Recently, the news has been ridden with stuff like:

MLA blames women for eve-teasing
Women should dress carefully…
Women should dress ‘carefully’: NCW chief
Misogyny in popular culture: Indian cinema is equally culpable
Rajasthan: MLA calls for ban on skirts, gets one

Of course, where there are ‘regressives and conservatives’ there are bound to be ‘progressives and liberals’. I will paraphrase some of the clichés and platitudes most favored by liberals.

Wearing revealing clothes isn’t a license to rape a woman
It is my body and I’ll wear whatever I like
The problem in the society is due to the misogyny in movies
Movies featuring rapes and item songs are ruining the society

The SlutWalk thing, which is invariably supported tacitly by liberals, had plenty of posters like Stop Staring: This Is Not an Invitation to Rape Me

The point is, the liberals say moral policing of women’s way of dressing is wrong, and even misogynist in this rabidly patriarchal society, while censoring entertainment media for the moral good is necessary and recommended. I find this stance inherently contradictory. The statements boil down to these two questions:

  1. Does a woman who dresses in a certain way invite sexual harassment, or even assaults?
  2. Does a form of entertainment featuring women in a perceived negative light instill and propagate such morals in the society that lead to the negative consequences embodied in the first question?

There are, in general, two categories of people: those who generalize their answer with a “yes”, and those with a “no”. I find both stance stupid. So now I have to show two things – why is the liberal stance contradictory and why is the generalization stupid. Let’s analyze.

The two questions are specific instances of the general structure – Looking at provocative things leads to bad action. Actually, the question can be reduced further, by leaving out such subjective and loaded words like “provocative” and “bad”, but this is the form that interests us (also, we would eventually arrive at this specific case from the general case, so let us start from here directly).

When we apply this structure as a rule to the above questions, how can one produce a TRUE and another FALSE? This is why I find the liberal stance contradictory. Does it mean there are different kinds of provocations, kind of weighted by their evil?  No. How provocative is a provocation depends on a particular person.  It is a conditional thing and cannot be generalized. Causality in society is conditional. I’ll show how. To answer “why?” one would have to go into a proper social psychology study. But instead, let us do a simple thought experiment.

Imagine an open roofed room separated by a wall making two rooms. Let’s call the left side the “wrong side” and the right side, well, the “right side”. Let the whole population be divided into three groups, not necessarily equally. The first one belongs to left and the second one to right. People are free to jump across the wall. The third group stands on the wall. Walking up to the wall and climbing it is a necessary step to stand on it. The actions moving up to the wall, climbing it and jumping across are caused by a provocative thing. Jumping shows committing to the action. Thus the left side has people who have finished the action as provoked completely.

Let there be a series of provocative things exposed to the right side population emanating from the left side. It shouldn’t difficult to see that not everyone not already on the other side would jump across. Neither do everyone who walks up to the wall climbs it, and nor do all wall standers. Some jump across and remain there. Some stand on the wall forever. Some wall standers almost jump. Some wall standers fall. Some never budge from their position, wherever they might be. Some keep jumping across. Some stand close to the wall. There are endless scenarios.

Let’s see how this room metaphor works with the provocations cited in the two questions. If the left side room is filled by rapists and the right side room is exposed to a woman wearing ‘sexually provocative’ clothing, what would happen? The truly pure might avert their eyes (I we stop and think, we can see that probably these are the most vulnerable and unsure of themselves, so have to resort to forceful aversion by closing their eyes). Many might ogle. Many of the oglers might fantasize. Some might molest. Some might attempt to rape. Some might succeed in raping. Similar thing will be observed in case of the left room being filled by murderers and rapists and the right room exposed to sleazy and violent movies. Because it is a conditional thing, generalization is stupid (In fact, all generalization is stupid :p). Not only stupid but lies, misleading and dangerous.


PS: I have said “jump across”, which implies people from “wrong side” could come over to “right side”. Does it mean people reform? Well, that’s another story for another time.


The end of the decade

Alright all you dimwit foolish arses (that includes you too Star World, Star Movies, HBO, History Channel, Discovery, NatGeo, NDTV, CNN-IBN, Times Now and all the other TV channels and publications in India) going around town how good or bad the last “decade” was, on net, in person, and basically everywhere, here’s the news – 2010 was the fucking first year of the second decade of the second millennium since the birth of a certain Jesus of Nazareth. The decade ended on  31st December 2009.

I am so fucking intrigued at the lack of basic intelligence in people.

Anyway, it isn’t yet any late to make amends and stop sounding like a bunch of fucking fools who have their heads up their arses.

Shawshank Redemption – the tunnel length


(Note: Despite my best efforts, the maths formulas tend to show up awkwardly every now and then. Please let me know if you see that happening; I’ll revert to regular text based formatting.)

I watched Shawshank Redemption  again a couple of nights ago, and every time I watch it I wonder about the length of the tunnel that Andy carved out. I couldn’t hold it any more and I attempted to unravel the mystery. I did all the maths in my head while lying in bed staring at the dark, so did a lot of generous rounding offs to get nice numbers, and have reproduced the same numbers here. This is what I came up with

Andy joins the prison in 1947 and manages to escape in 1965. Let us assume that he started carving the wall from 1950 onwards, everyday. That is 365 x 15 number of days or 5475 days in all. Let us round it off to 5500.

It is shown, when Red recounts, that Andy disposes the dust in the yard. The dust doesn’t seem to be much in quantity. Let us assume it was 200 grams per day. That makes it 200 x 5500, that is 1100000 grams in all. Or 1100 Kgs.

The tunnel appears to be cylindrical (I am still amazed at the pains he took to carve a near perfect circle. May be that is what took him that long to finish). And by the glimpse that we get of it from the inside when the warden punctures it, and also by the way Andy crouches while crawling through, it appears to be about 2 feet in diameter. In metric that is 0.6 m. Using a couple of simple formulas that we learnt in school geometry and physics, we can estimate the length of the tunnel.

Density is mass divided by volume.

\rho={m\over v}\dots(1)

Volume of a cylinder is

v = {{\pi\times d^2\times h}\over 4}

where d is the diameter and h is the height. But in our case since it is length that we are after, let us use ‘L’ in place of ‘h’. That gives us.

v={{\pi\times d^2\times L}\over 4}\dots(2)

Using (1) and (2) we get

{\rho = {{m\times 4}\over{\pi\times d^2\times L}}\dots(3)}

Taking pi to be 3.143 and using the other values that we have, putting them in (3) we get

\rho = {{1100 \times 4}\over{3.143 \times 0.6 ^2 \times L}}


\rho = {4400\over{1.1315\times L}}

that is

\rho = {3888.71\over L}

and after transposing L and p we get

L = {3888.71\over\rho}\dots(4)

If we can get the value of p for the material of the wall, finding the length is trivial. Remember, the got length will be in meters. Could the length be in hundreds of meters? Was the “wall” just an extra thick wall (since it appears that Andy was in a corner cell) or did it include a series of stacked walls? Was the exit right on the other side of Andy’s cell? Did the tunnel go in a straightish line or was it akin to mining? Did the tunnel continue into the ground?

We have no clue. At least I, who have only seen the movie and haven’t read the novel, don’t find a clue. However, some analysis of (4) is going to help us.

The density of the wall material is the most important variable. If the tunnel length is to be in hundreds or even tens of meters, the material of the wall must be not very dense. Check out this link that lists densities of over 300 materials. http://www.simetric.co.uk/si_materials.htm. We realize that any material that is fit to be made a prison wall out of has to have a density that ranges from 2000 kg/cu-m to 2500 kg/cu-m. Let us assume 2250 kg/cu-m.

With this density, from (4), we get 1.72 m, or 5.6 feet. An average man is 5 ft 10 inches tall. Andy seems a taller bloke than that and could be about 6 ft 2 inches tall. That would be 1.86 m. Huh, but we see Andy crawl out a fair distance, don’t we! Something seems amiss in our assumptions. If we look at the contributing variables, we find that in order for the length to be more, more wall material must be carved out for a longer period and/or the tunnel must be narrower. The latter is inconceivable albeit Andy’s narrow frame.

So let us update our assumption to 500 grams of dust being disposed everyday. With this we get

L = {9721.61\over\rho}

Plugging in the density, we end up at 4.32m or 14 feet. This implies that Andy, with his height of 1.86m, crawled 2.32 times his own length. Meaning, once he entered the tunnel and lied down such that his feet were placed flat on the imaginary door at the opening, he had to crawl one and a third more of his own length when his head would touch the imaginary door at the other end of the tunnel. (What this also implies is that with his arms outstretched, he had to crawl only just about his own body length but the crawling mechanics won’t agree with this. Just a thought anyway)

Somehow, 14 feet feels too small for our romantic idea, doesn’t it ? The only remaining factor that could fulfill our craving for a longer tunnel is time. Red tells us that Andy asked for Rita Hayworth’s poster in 1949 but we have no clue how far into ’49 did he ask. Let us assume he asked for it half way through and started his attempt immediately. With this updated time period, we have 180 days more to the already assumed 5500 days giving us 5680 days.

If we rework our equations with 500 gms of dust, carved out of the wall having density of 2250 kg/cu-m, disposed off for 5680 days, we arrive at 4.46 m for the length, or 14.6 feet, which is 2.4 times Andy’s tall frame.

You may feel this is still not good enough but there is nothing else we can do to improve this to fit our romantic idea of a long tunnel. Further, we have already been very generous in our assumptions and rounding offs, so we just have to accept it.

PS: From the in universe perspective, we have to give credit to Andy for carving out that 14.6 feet long a tunnel, tenaciously. Considering the conditions he was in, it would be as much a feat as carving a 50 feet tunnel.

I saw dead people

I saw people who were living

people who had life

people who had dreams

people who are now dead.


I saw people wailing

people wailing uncontrollably

holding people over their chest

the people who are now dead.


People showed me pictures

pictures having happy people

pictures showing life

of people who are now dead.


The charred bodies bore no likeness

to the lovely people in the pictures

and all I now saw was charred bodies

bodies of people who are now dead.


I saw people dredge out people

all day long like bags of sand

and what if a piece ripped off of them

these people are now dead.


I saw people made of wood

people made of butter

people made of everything in between

and people who are now dead.


People say people are alone

and bonds are rather shackles

and I can’t opine as all I see is people

people who are now dead.