Left-Right politics and the need for a proper right wing party in Kerala

I have been reading more and more about American politics and recently been pushed more and more to the right of the political spectrum. So, I looked at how the system fares in my home state of Kerala and was surprised to learn that the Congress ( the supposed right wing in Kerala politics ) is actually center-left. So I want to talk to you about the importance of having a proper right wing party in Kerala.

But first, what is left-right politics ?

Liberty Leading the People
Liberty Leading the People

The term first appeared after French Revolution when the people who supported the King sat on on the right side of the President in the National Assembly while the people who supported the Revolution sat on the left. This was because the supporters of the King wanted to avoid the shouts, swearing and other indecencies that enjoyed a free reign on the left. The Left was the ‘party of movement/change’ and the Right was the ‘party of order’. But over time left right division has been associated with different political ideologies.

What is the Left-Right divide in American politics ?

If you look at contemporary American politics, it seems to me like the Left’s central ideology is ‘Social Justice’ ( supported by the Democratic party ) while the Right’s central ideology is ‘Individual Liberty and Individual Responsibility’ ( supported by the Republican party ). This division is absent in Indian or Kerala politics. Also the problem here is that since French Revolution’s slogan was ‘Liberty, Fraternity and Equality’ how can the Libertarians be on the Right ? The best explanation I can think of, is since the country is majority Christians and since most ( not all ) Christians believe in gentle persuasion as the only acceptable tactic for spreading their ideas it boils down to traditionalists enabling liberty. I have talked about the three rules of freedoms and rights. Most libertarians are for maximizing freedom, not for anarchy. They understand the symbiotic relationship between self-control and freedom. If I have a belief that I must not take your life, you have the liberty to your life. If you want liberty to your property then you want everyone to be convinced that it is immoral to steal. So since most religious people are mindful of other people’s rights this maximizes the freedom available to everyone and therefore they are on the Right side of the spectrum.

The Left side of the political spectrum consists of Socialists, Communists etc. But even though I am for equality of opportunity I can not be for equality of outcomes. I suspect that inequality is a natural state and different people have different motivations, ambitions and inclinations. Ensuring equality of outcomes will be oppressive rather than liberating. That being said, I agree with a lot on the American Left. There is an intellectual corruption on the American Right, with their support for creationism and denial of climate change. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, nobody on the Right is attempting to reform it like Dave Rubin is attempting on the Left.

After I noticed the problems with the Left’s argument on pro-choice I started to learn about Republican positions. For the longest time, I thought that if I went to US, I would be a leftist ( or a liberal ), but now I think I would be a right-winger ( or a conservative ). I think shows like ‘Last Week Tonight’, ‘The Newsroom’ and ‘The Daily Show’ misrepresent the Republican viewpoints.

What is the major problem with Leftist philosophy ?

To me the main oversight in Leftist philosophy is the potential for evil in human beings. Most Leftist parties are ‘for poor people’ and ‘for oppressed minorities’. If you start a party and you spend a large amount of time trying to promote it as the ‘Party of the oppressed’ or ‘Party of the poor’, then if these people who vote for you stop being oppressed or stop being poor, then they will no longer vote for you. And since most important thing that politicians care about is ‘coming to power’, parties for the poor tend to become parties for poverty. Parties for the oppressed tend to become parties for oppression.

How is all of this relevant to Indian or Kerala politics ?

CPI(M) and Congress flags
CPI(M) and Congress

In Kerala our choice is between Congress ( center-left ) and Communists ( far left ). Why is there no party that supports individual liberty ? All political parties want to expand their power while we know the government is a corrupt machinery incapable of getting much done. Why is no one advocating for limited government ? Even if you believe that leftist philosophy is good, you must believe that there needs to be a strong opposition to the left, for purposes of balance. Otherwise those of us who are Keralites will have to live as an alien outside Kerala to further our career ambitions and live in a corrupt state when we return.

Agile software development process explained in simple terms

Agile is a combination of two processes that are designed to develop software. The two methodologies that form Agile are : Scrum and Kanban.
Key to understanding agile is understanding the objective tree. Here is an example objective tree for a company like amazon.com which aims to build an e-commerce website.

Organization Objective Tree

There are many people who argue about the number of levels in the tree and how they should be called. But the key insight here is that :
a) Objectives form a tree
b) When child objectives are done, the parent objective is automatically done

There are two methodologies within Agile : scrum and kanban.



Objectives are broken into user stories. A prioritized list of user stories is called a backlog. Product management owns the backlog.

Objectives are achieved by working on them in 2 weeks sprints. Team pulls the maximum number of stories that can be completed into the sprint backlog and starts working on them when the sprint starts. Sprint backlog is owned by the team.

Every day of the sprint there is a 15 minute standup meeting where team members describe 3 things :

  1. What they worked on yesterday
  2. What they are planning to work on today
  3. Blockers ( if any )

This is an opportunity for micro-course-correction. If a story was done, team members can move to help with another story. If there is something that blocks a team member, management can move to unblock them. If a story might spillover, it can be called out.

At the end of the sprint there is a sprint retrospective to re-evaluate and course correct at a higher level.

Every N sprints ( for a finite value of N ) there is 1 refactor sprint. No new features are delivered in this sprint. Architectural runway is prepared for incoming stories and code is made more maintainable.

Why is the process like this ?

Reason for product management owning the backlog is to communicate clearly what the current priority is. This can be challenging in a changing environment. For example, management may ask the team to support an application on Windows 2012 platform and mark it high priority since largest customer base is on that platform. Afterwards it could turn out that highest paying customers are on RHEL 7.1. Management can communicate this information to engineering by adding a new story to support RHEL 7.1 and deprioritizing the story for Windows 2012 support.

Team owns the backlog because the team is responsible to ensure that the features ( stories ) committed at the beginning of sprint is done by end of sprint. This is why it’s the team that need to pull the stories into the sprint ( and not the manager ) so they feel a sense of ownership.

Standups give an idea about the pulse of the sprint : whether the team is on track, if it needs adjustment etc. Since software development is a collaborative process, it can get blocked on other people. For example : UI team can get blocked on UX mockups, developers can get blocked on APIs that were promised by other team members, one team member may be blocked for code review from another etc. Daily meetings help with dealing with these problems as they arise. It also enables the team to help others, for example, if someone airs a database problem, someone else on the team may have encountered and solved the problem before. Standup meetings should be short and sweet. If they are too long, since they occur everyday, they become a productivity drag.

The sprint retros are an opportunity to improve things at a higher level. For example, developers may notice that the CI system could run a larger portion of automated tests, reducing QA burden. Developers may point out that the code is getting too complex in one area and request refactor stories.


1. If a story is in the backlog, it may get done. If a story is not in the backlog, it will never get done.

Why is this expectation there ? Sometimes product management may request a feature. Engineering does not know if that feature was important, whether it was a priority etc. Moreover, there could be multiple managers requesting different priorities for stories fuelling confusion. This expectation sets up management to close out the relative priority of objectives before people set out to achieve them.

There is no such thing as an implicit requirement. Management owns the product backlog.

2. Target spillover for any sprint is zero

Why is this expectation there ? For hard software engineering problems it is required that the team is a highly committed one. An uncommitted team member will usually bring down the whole team since the job is collaborative in nature. Target spillover of zero ensures that the team remains focussed on the problem at hand.

3. No activities are planned mid-sprint

Why is this expectation there ? This is to help the team remain focussed so that the cost of context switching is lowered. It is called a “Sprint”, not a “Trot” or “Gentle Walk”. Management is expected to defend the team from external influences. Course corrections are possible at the end of sprint. Therefore, it is important to keep the sprints as short as possible to get a meaningful amount of work done. The length of your sprint should be the minimum amount of time it takes you to respond to external influences. Usually, it is 2 weeks.

4. QA should raise a ticket if there is a problem.

Why is this expectation there ? It is possible that QA notices a problem and communicates it verbally or through email. Now people may go on vacation etc cutting the team’s ability to deliver.

There is no such thing as an implicit ticket. Raise it in issue management software.

5. No story is done until :
a) All code is reviewed
b) There are no open tickets
c) Documentation is complete

Why is this expectation there ? Code reviews are important because it lets someone else get familiar with that code base allowing them to take over in the event of the author’s absence. It is important to close all open tickets before calling a story done since otherwise your development process simply turns feature requests to bugs. Documentation should be developed lock step with code since that is when it is easiest to write it.

6. Do not test from feature branches

Why is this expectation there ? Someone could merge something else into the development branch making the feature tested in feature branches to be unviable in development branch. Development branch is what ultimately gets shipped to users so that is where things should be tested.

7. Stories are of the form “As a [user] I want to do [task] so that I can [accomplish goal]”. If they are not in that form, it can be safely deleted.

Why is this expectation there ? Often stories may be created with no clarity on what the next step is. Often developers may misunderstand the requirement and deliver a different feature requiring multiple unnecessary round trips and feedback loops to complete the feature. If the story is not in the prescribed form, it can be deleted and considered non-existent since it motivates people to state the objectives of the story explicitly.

A few points

  1. In Scrum the keywords are focus and course correction.
  2. Manager – employee relationship is co-operative. The team does everything to make the manager look good ( by delivering high quality features that delights users ) and managers does everything to setup the team and employees for success : removing impediments, giving them tools and access they need to meet the objectives.
  3. Dev – QA relationship is quasi-adversarial. QA tries to defend the customer demanding issues be fixed within reason. Dev team appreciates QA for finding the bugs they have missed that could have caused them to deliver an inferior product.
  4. Agile requires self motivated team. An under-motivated team may over inflate estimates or under commit into a sprint.
  5. There is no such thing as half-agile. Agile gives management a certain amount of power and engineers certain amount of power. This is to improve efficiency by reducing friction and miscommunication. If management says : ‘I will accept these parts of the process that gives me power and ignore these parts that require me to relinquish power’ this process will fail. It requires humility on the part of management and engineering.


This is usually for support. After product is developed, support is trained on resolving bugs that get into production. Support can’t wait 2 weeks to resolve issues. When tickets come into the queue people take them on and try to get through them as fast as possible.

Scrum is more proactive and Kanban is more reactive. Kanban is for situations where a 2 week turnaround time is unacceptable.


Agile came about as a response to the Waterfall model of software development. It helps solve the most important problems with waterfall such as quicker course correction, improving focus and reducing miscommunication.

In waterfall, the software developed in following phases ( one after other ) :

  1. Gathering requirements
  2. Designing solution
  3. Implementing solution
  4. Testing solution


  1. A mistake in early phase cannot be detected until last phase.
  2. There is little focus as work drags on for years.
  3. People working on each step only communicates with people in previous step increasing communication errors.

Should Indian Railways be privatized ?

Should Indian Railways be privatized ? Looking up the answer to this question on the Internet would lead one to conclude that no, it should not be privatized. I am not convinced, I think it should be privatized.

Lets look at the arguments against privatization, one by one.

  • It is not clear how it will improve situation

The argument is that privatization and increased competition will improve the quality of service, drive down prices and spur innovation. It should reduce corruption and force employees to do their best. For a government owned company the employees have no reason to work hard, treat its customers well and figure out how to make everything better. They get paid regardless. This causes them to mistreat their customers and generally be lazy about their work.

The Indian Railways lost ₹30,000 crore (US$5 billion) in 2015. This is despite the fact that it is a high demand business with a government sanctioned monopoly. Booking a train ticket is so painfully difficult that it a subject of so many degrading memes on the Internet. The compartments are noisy and sleeper classes are filled with bed bugs. The toilets are dirty. The staff is unpleasant to deal with. The train stations are riotous and unclean. It smells of shit and urine.

I wonder how many levels of incompetence it takes to suck so badly at a job.

Privatization has helped the Indian telecommunication sector and aviation sector. It is possible for it to work in the rail industry as well. Even if it doesn’t help, it is at least worth a try.

  • Look at the state of American and British Railways

They are significantly better, aren’t they ? But even if it isn’t, there are a thousand reasons it could work better in India. Yes, I know there are a thousand reasons why it couldn’t work also. But why not give it a try ?

Concerning America, their landmass is 3 times that of India and they are a very affluent and urbanized country. This means that most of the travel is very long and hence very inconvenient to be conducted by train. So rail is used mostly for goods and human beings pay a little more to travel by planes.

  • It is a natural monopoly due to high cost of entry and exit

This is partially true. The high cost of entry and exit is largely due to high cost of building and operating railways, so we may need to have some government assistance with regard to this.

One solution to this problem is to let the rails themselves be owned by one company and combine this with multiple companies owning the individual trains. The train companies lease the rails from the rail company to provide their service.

Sure, some government assistance will be needed to acquire more land, ensure that there is stiff competition etc but these are all problems that have well known solutions. It can definitely not be a fire and forget endeavor.

Also I don’t understand how it becomes harder for individual investors to exit the rail business as most companies are traded on the public stock market. If you want to enter the rail business buy a few shares of the company at the Mumbai Stock Exchange. Want to exit ? Sell them at the stock exchange.

  • Some routes may be under serviced because they may be unprofitable

Form a government company to service only these routes using tax payer money. There is no need to keep the entire business in the public sector and cause incalculable misery to everyone in India to benefit a few.

  • The railway employs a lot of people these jobs may be lost in privatization

Privatization does not automatically cause loss of jobs. If a private railway business can operate with fewer number of people and automate away a lot of these jobs it would benefit the customer with lower fares. This money saved by customers can be used to buy new things which creates new jobs. See the parable of broken windows. Another possibility is to tax the rail companies and pay unemployment benefits to these people directly. At least the public will be spared from their laziness and callousness.

  • Defense concern. Countries like China could buy up all Indian Rail businesses and in the event of a war, discontinue them all

We can repossess these businesses in the event of a war. The other problem is if they sabotage it silently while they are holding it. This problem can be solved by stronger policing.

  • National pride and unity

A lot of arguments center around how Indian Railways is a matter of pride for Indians. Sorry, I would rather travel comfortably than with pride. Also, I don’t think it is a matter of pride given how absurdly mismanaged it is.

So anyway, I think most of these arguments are bogus or ill-informed. I have similar thoughts about the power industry ( power cuts are uncommon in Western countries ) since there is no innovation in solar, wind, nuclear power in India despite us having no serious oil reserves. I think India is a poor country on account of power. But more on that later.

What do you think ? Let me know in the comments section.

“Man of Steel” movie explained

So last night we watched “Batman v Superman”. This got me thinking about the prequel : “Man of Steel”. I just rewatched it and found that it is in fact a very good movie. Let me tell you why.

Man of Steel

Superman has always been one of my favorite characters. This is not to say that I have watched and enjoyed every version of Superman in existence. In fact, I may not even like some incarnations of this character. But the fact remains that the essence of the Superman story is very interesting. So I am always surprised to find that many people dislike Superman deeply.

One reason I have heard for this strange phenomenon is that they think Superman is too powerful. He seems invincible. It is true that a story would be uninteresting if the hero had no chance of losing or if he was pitted against a weak villain ( “Merlin” TV series anyone ? ). This is not the case for “Man of Steel”. Zod is every bit as powerful as Superman. It is in fact a vital part of the story that Superman is outgunned and outnumbered in this fight. He has to fight many Kryptonians who are just as strong as him but born and bred to be soldiers. These Kryptonians trained their entire life to be warriors and you can see Superman struggling to match them. The truly awesome power of Superman is the hook for the story. But this does not make it dull if he spends the majority of his time standing up to guys a lot stronger than himself.

A lot of people are angry that at the end of the movie Superman kills Zod. I think it is an important plot point : this implies that Superman was never invincible to Zod, Kryptonians can kill other Kryptonians on Earth with their bare hands. The fight could very much have ended with the death of Superman, it is unclear how he survived at all. Maybe Zod was still distraught over losing his purpose and his people. Maybe his heart wasn’t fully in the fight. Maybe it was just plain luck.

I think it is very brave that a simple farm boy is willing to take up such dreadful odds to do the right thing. He didn’t sign up for any of this.

Superman Flying
Superman is a reluctant hero

There is also another aspect to this story. When Zod asks Superman to join him, it would have been the easiest thing in the world to say ‘Yes’. The movie depicts throughout, the loneliness that Clark feels. He feels like an outsider, a freak. It would have been a welcome relief to live on the ‘New Krypton’ and feel belonged. So why does he say ‘No’ ?

The simplest answer would be to say that he didn’t want to kill all those humans. But he did finish off the Kryptonian race ( his own ) in the process. Is it any better ? This is where the back story kicks in again. Every Kryptonian’s life is predestined, every man and woman born to a single predefined purpose. There is no place for chance or choice. With such a system, the ‘New Krypton’ would inevitably meet the original Krypton’s fate : infinite self-destruction. This is why Jor-El does not leave Krypton with Kal-El. When a race is doomed, it can only be wiped out so that a new one can have a hope of survival. This point, however cruel is a fact in the story universe.

Human beings may not make the same mistakes Kryptonians made, which means they have a shot at survival and expansion, not the infinite destruction that Kryptonians face. This is also why Jor-El was OK with sending Kal-El away from Krypton : he was a natural birth. He is not part of the system. Jor-El may have tried to bargain with Zod to let the Kryptonians live alongside humans in a last ditch attempt, but he knew that only humans have a serious chance.

Humans lead by Superman
Superman is willing to defend human capacity for good

Finally, I also want to make the point that it may not be Superman a lot of people hate. This point has been argued before, but I think we find it difficult to accept even a fictional character who is both good and successful. The reason for this is that he reminds us of our own shortcomings. We feel that we are justified in doing evil, so that we can be successful or happy. We feel it is impossible to live in this unjust and unfair world by being good. It is this lie that we tell ourselves that is challenged when we watch a Superman movie. We are not angry at Superman, we are angry at ourselves. Sometimes we project this anger towards all that is good. If that is true, we have to do better than that, don’t you think ?

How to write good software

Here is my theory on an algorithm to build great software :

  1. Figure out how the software ought to work.

    This is the most important part in the software design process. It is important that the user experience be nailed down before we begin all other processes. If we don’t do this first, people will find the easiest way to make the software work. Such an approach may not deliver the best quality experience to the user. It is important to note that it is essential, to involve the users in this step. We need to clearly understand the problems they are facing. How should the optimal solution to their problem work ? Is it even possible with the available resources and at the current state of the art ?

  2. Make it work

    This is the part where you build the software according to the expectations set by the user. At this point you do not have to worry about code quality, performance etc.

  3. Make it better

    In this step you have to make sure that the code is extendable, has high quality tests and is secure

  4. Make it pretty

    In this step, make the software beautiful. Make the text conversational and friendly. Introduce fancy graphics and other visual elements if possible.

  5. Make it fast

    Finally it is time to seek out the worst performing parts of the software and make it fast.

If you follow these steps, and in that order, you should have a high quality piece of software in your hands.


How do we act ?

There are two categories in which we act :


We are so overwhelmed by our emotions that we do stupid shit that sometimes seriously jeopardizes us.

I am not going to talk about this category of actions in this post.


  1. We have hopes, dreams and desires.
  2. We gather information from our surroundings.
  3. Based on this information we act in a way that we hope fulfills our hopes, dreams and desires.

This is why we get mad when someone lies to us, because they fucked with our step 2.

So we should never feed bad information to anyone, i.e, people should be allowed to form an accurate perception of their surroundings. Anything, including telling part of the truth, hiding the truth, saturating their mind with only one type of information so they think there is no other type ( for example, at a job fair, only talking about the perks of working at a company and not talking about the bad aspects ) etc is evil and should be avoided.

Done. Mystery Solved. Amirite ? Not quite.

So I was reading this entertaining story of Ms Karen Owen, who slept with half the men in Duke University and then proceeded to make a thesis paper out of it, which went viral.

What followed was what anyone would imagine : death/rape threats, lawsuits, harassment etc. I noted a comment made by some woman online. She said that the problem was that Ms Owen labelled the thesis as a ‘Fuck-List’. If she had labelled it as ‘The Best 15 men I ever had’ there would not have been that much of a blow back. I remember thinking to myself : ‘Well, that is not lying, but I still feel somewhat uneasy about it. I don’t like the idea that someone can control your actions by presenting the facts in a particular way, but I also do not feel that Ms Owen would be at fault if she had done that’.

Hannibal Lecter
Hannibal was a master of manipulation

So I started asking myself why I thought that. Now, it might be a good time point out that I am fairly liberal when it comes to this. I currently feel that women should be allowed to use their bodies in a way that she sees fit so long as it does not hurt others. I realized that there is only one way to respond to her actions : ‘Congratulate her on managing to have a good time at school’. On the other hand it was not OK to send her death/rape threats and force her to change her name or whatever. So in my mind since there was only one course of acceptable action, I was OK with someone presenting the data in a way that brought about that outcome.

Just as I cannot support Ted Bunty’s autonomy to have sex with fresh dead bodies of women he killed, I cannot support a mob’s autonomy to ruin someone’s life.

Let me try to explain this with another example.

Imagine, you are walking through the park, and you find a young boy running towards you screaming. There is a fork in the road and he takes the left fork.
Soon after, here comes a known child molester who is running after the boy. He sees the fork in the road and asks you : ‘Which way did he go ?’. The molester is already leaning towards the left fork and if you say nothing he will run after the boy and possibly rape him.

Should you be honest ? I think you should be dishonest and send him the wrong way to spare the child.

What we see here is that you do not have to respect the autonomy of others to make this world a worse place. Therefore ethics of manipulation can be defined as :

Respect the rights of others to ‘absorb correct information from their surroundings and act to fulfill their hopes and dreams in a way that cannot hurt others’.

Benevolent manipulation

Some people claim that there is a benevolent form of manipulation : motivating. I think it is alright, if executed carefully. I have taken motivation from the words of others and it has benefited me. The problem here is that you can easily misjudge what they want from life and end up sending them in a path that could cause them a lot of misery. Be careful of that.

Another exception to this ‘Respect the Autonomy of People‘ rule is when you find that someone is incapable of taking care of their own interests. For example, children, drug addicts, mental patients etc.

Hopefully with these rules in mind we can live an honest life.


Glen and Sally were having coffee at the coffee shop.

“If you could have one wish what would it be ?” Sally asked.

“I would wish to have infinite wishes”, Glen said without hesitation. He had thought of this before.

“I mean apart from that” Sally said.

“I would wish to have another wish without the restriction to have infinite wishes and then wish to have infinite wishes, but I get your point” Glen said. “I would wish for perpetual perfect regeneration with the ability to end my life whenever I please” he continued.

“That is very particular. Why ?” Sally asked.

“Well, first I would have wanted to live forever, but then what would be the point if you age to say 90 and then live in that state forever ? Definitely you would want to stay young. But then, what if someone cuts off your arms and legs ? You wouldn’t want to live like that forever. See, immortality brings its own set of curses. You wouldn’t want to be forced to end your life because your are handicapped. You would want everything to return to normal. So the ideal way to phrase a good immortality wish is ‘perpetual perfect regeneration’. But what if someone caught you and catapulted you into space ? You would float through space forever having nothing to do. So you would probably want to end your life then. You would probably want to do that anyway at some point.”

“But what would you do with immortality ?” Sally had asked.

“Well, first off I would quit my job.” Glenn said with a laugh.

“Of course” Sally laughed “And then what would you do?”

“Well I would go out and learn everything about everything” Glen said.

“Everything ?” asked Sally.

“Yes, everything.” Glen replied “Physics, Chemistry, Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology, Voodoo magic, you name it.”

“And then what ?” Sally asked.

“Well, I have no idea how long that will take” Glen replied “Step two would be to obtain power and money. I bet being immortal would lend itself nicely to doing really dangerous jobs that has a potential for high pay off. But I am really hoping that there would be some connection in all the knowledge that is available in the world that nobody has made. A connection nobody can possibly make in one lifetime. A source of large amount of power.

After that I would have to try and take over. See, I would have lots of time. All I would need to do is wait for right opportunities. I bet the best places to take over first are the war torn areas in Africa where a power vacuum develops every few decades. The point is try to install people who are obliged to you to serve as your puppets.

Form a secret society, with a hierarchical tree like structure. At each level, you have a number of people overseeing the work of one or more people. Anyone power hungry can join, and take a pseudonym. Nobody knows each others name, how many people there are at each level or how many levels there are. You can kind of ask these people to help each other and act as a power broker. It is important to stay away from the light though”

“Why ?” asked Sally.

“Well, that kind of power would simply attract too much attention. I can definitely see people sacrificing their entire lives to make my life miserable if they can detect my involvement” Glen replied.

“OK” Sally was now starting to regret ever having asked the question.

“Well the next step is to optimize” Glen continued on, unaware of the uneasiness developing in Sally, “Obviously, I feel the worst thing in the world is war. When people are constantly fighting each other they have nothing to look forward to. First thing I would do is stop all the wars. When people feel safe, and they know what they build won’t be taken away from them using force, they will start building for the future. Next step is to educate. The benefits of Enlightenment should percolate to the whole world. Just imagine, billions of people in the developing and under-developed nations joining the quest for Scientific Inquiry. How much more the average human condition would improve! How the international productivity would go through the roof!”

“What then ?” asked Sally

“Well, the next step is to expand outwards, of course. Colonize the moon. Colonize Mars. It might be possible to sustain human life in harsh conditions by then. Expand outward. We have no idea how vast the Universe is. I could be doing this for a while”, Glen finished with a smile.

There was a silence. “Do you know what you are planning to do ? You are planning to become God!” said Sally.

“Not really, for all we know God’s powers could be infinite” said Glen. He was an atheist himself, but he did not want to offend Sally’s feelings.

“But do you think that what you asked for is right ?” asked Sally.

“Ah, I thought you wanted to hear about the most interesting wish I could come up with” said Glen taking a sip of his coffee. “I was not thinking about the morality aspect of it. I wouldn’t do this if the opportunity was real. If a genie appeared before me and granted me one wish, I would first ask him ‘Can you go back in time and fix stuff there ?’, if his answer is ‘Yes’, I would wish for ‘Go back to Big Bang and fix everything from there onward, if there was time before that fix that also, if there are other Universes fix everything there as well. FIX EVERYTHING'” he said waving his hands to express his enthusiasm. “If he can’t go back in time and fix stuff – I mean what a crappy genie, right ? – then I would ask him to fix everything instantly”.

“OK” Sally was smiling approvingly now.

“That is the only moral thing you can do, Sally. Everything else is immoral. Since we are just chatting, I just inferred the question as ‘What is the most interesting thing you would wish for?'” said Glen and then he smiled as well.


Sally walked into the room where G.E.N.I.E ( Generic Electronic Nature Influencer Engine ) was housed. She wanted to take Glen’s advice on what to wish for before entering her wish. Sally had felt a huge burden of responsibility when her research was complete and she realized that they could build exactly one machine that could in fact grant someone one actual wish. The machine could not do wish recursion and therefore wishing for more wishes was futile, that was the first thing she tried. But now she had figured out the ideal wish. The only wish any moral person could make.

She pulled out the console for G.E.N.I.E and typed in her wish :


The computer blinked, and then started computing.

After a while it shut down, and changed nothing.