Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook, and Fake News

I don’t get it. I just don’t get Mark Zuckerberg.

He now stands accused of facilitating Russian operatives with flooding Facebook with tons of fake advertisements during Election Cycle 2016.

Trump came up with the term, ‘Fake News’. But at least these two outlets, Facebook and Yahoo News, converted it into an art form.

Throughout 2016 and before, FB was full of links and shared-many-times-over links that said crazy, dubious-sounding stories, Hillary giving birth to a black child, for one.

The titles often gave them away as fabricated. But they kept coming. Myself, I used to wonder, not so much about the source, as to who was ever reading them.  

There are many varied and opinionated analysis on why Hillary lost the last U.S. election.

On election Tuesday last November, even as of 5.30pm, the NYT was reporting a 90% chance for a Hillary win. This is a fact. This was the last thing I checked before l hurriedly left work that day.

Whether one agreed with her policy stances or not, a pity, we won’t be seeing the likes of her, running for the nation’s highest office for a very long time. We can be certain of this. That rare combination of drive and intellect is hard to come by.

But there is such an unwittingly prudent phenomenon in American politics called the ‘Pendulum Swing’. This is largely a good thing.

If it keeps swinging just one way, it’ll eventually break the fulcrum it’s on. 

Cases in point:

Long ago, we switched from the creator of ‘The Great Society’,

 to a Commander-In-Chief who had a ‘Secret Plan To End The Vietnam War’.

To, by extension, someone who declared ‘Our Long National Nightmare to be Over’.

From there to someone who promised us to ‘Never Tell A Lie’.

Then we marched to the Gipper’s drumbeat towards ‘A Shining City On A Hill’.

And then we listened to the ‘Read My Lips, No New Taxes’ upper crust Yalie.

Then along came the ‘Man From Hope’ who raised our hopes as a breath of fresh air.

And moved on to the ‘Uniter’ that everyone supposedly wanted to have a Texas beer and BBQ with.

Then, of course, came the history changer, ‘The Change We Had Been Waiting For’. Yes, We Can. And we did.

to now to this, to the one who wants to ‘Make America Great’ again.

Again? I thought it was the greatest. But never mind.

With each adjustment came a party switch. (Except the one time when we went from ‘Morning In America’ to ‘The Thousand Points Of Light’.)

So, that Hillary lost, does not have to remain a mystery.

And alas, she didn’t have a catchy slogan for a country that gets fueled on slogans.

Back to MZ.

What a lousy excuse.

What FB committed is indefensible.

Recently I saw that MZ asked for forgiveness. As well, he should. Fittingly, it was on Yom Kippur. The Jewish Day Of Atonement.

Wonder how many have seen the movie ‘Social Network’? If you haven’t, I recommend it. I’ll give it 4+ stars.

Granted, movies are dramatized. That’s what movies do. Exaggerate. But there is a whole of fact in there.

Mark Zuckerberg is a case study for severe contradictions. Ying and Yang. Hot and Bland. 

On the one, he seems unassuming, wearing baggy sweatpants, and hoodies, and T’s and flip-flops around the most elite academic spot on earth, and among its preppiest.

On the other, he willfully cheats the three people (four, if you count Divya Narendra) who helped him get to where he is.

-Three of them, the Winklevoss brothers and Divya, from whom he stole the idea of creating a social connection space on the internet.

-Then his right-hand sidekick, Eduardo Saverin, who was the marketing genius behind all of it, and whose ultra-rich Argentinian father bankrolled the whole venture, while Mark was sitting in a windowless dorm room, coding and coding.

All four had their days in court and won their Dollar battles.

Plus, Eduardo won the right to forever be billed as the cofounder of FB along with Mark Zuckerberg. But he had to go to court to get it.

On the one, he donated $100 million to the Newark, NJ school system, (which by the way, completely have gone unaccounted for. That’s another story).

On the other, he ran pages and pages of fake ads on FB for a solid year. This from a guy who champions human rights, women’s rights, and pets’ rights.

Saying he didn’t know the Russians were behind it. didn’t know? Sounds a lot like ‘the cat ate my homework’.

On the one, he seems to be in a committed marriage to Priscilla.

On the other, he completely calloulsy stood up his girlfriend, this, at least by the film version.

On the one, he has given away his daughters’ inheritances.

On the other, it comes with some sort of a string attached. 

Just to be fair, Yahoo’s Marisa Mayer was equally complicit in these dubious postings, all listed sources with names that made them sound legit: International Time, Business Insider, The independent, to name just three.

But they were as fake as the Cool-Aid drinking beverage. Cool-Aid is the nastiest food in America. Don’t drink it.

Among the mostly ‘non-existent’ media coverage was the following in the Globe the other day.

‘Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg apologized this week for using storm-damaged and flooded Puerto Rico as a background while he showed off “Facebook Spaces,” the company’s new virtual reality project.’

Oh, brother.

What with the two menacing Harveys, (the monsoon and the man), Joseph and Maria before that, and California ‘not’ Dreamin’ (I’m in disbelief watching what’s going on there), I guess the media have bigger fish to fry. Russia has moved to the back burner while King Mackerel is frying on the front.

Thus, So far, Mark is getting away with it all by a winning smile, and charm talk, like the one he gave at Harvard Commencement this year, but followed it up with a hearty laugh all the way to J.P. Morgan Chase.

 

 

 

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The Union And The Confederacy – North And South

Good Friday morning!

I thought the hysteria surrounding ‘the statues’ gripping the nation would dissipate. But it seems to be picking up steam, instead.

So, now we’re talking about changing the name of historic Faneuil Hall in Boston. Because back in seventeen hundred and something or other, one mister Peter Faneuil, whoever he was, owned slaves.

This sudden idea of removing all confederacy symbols is liberal hysteria gone amok.

There is a movement in India, thankfully a tepid one for now, to diminish the stature of Mohandas Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru from the public space. They were ‘too British’, attended Oxford, and were not ‘Indian’ enough. And I guess Gandhi beat his wife once. There’s conversation regarding the removal of Gandhi’s face from the Indian Rupee notes.

Come on. On Gandhi’s tiny shoulders, stands the expansive Republic Of India.

A diminutive man from a rural fishing village on the Western Indian Coast, MKG, stood down an empire, with just the highest moral certitude as his compass, and an utterly devout faith as his guide.

The one who declared, “we have come four hundred years with the British, and when they leave, I want us to be friends”, (and we are), needs to remain where he is. As the Father Of The Nation.

Heck, there’s a statue of him in the town of Sherborn, Massachusetts.

I, for one, (don’t yell at me!) am of the opinion that colonialism was good for India. The Portuguese, The Dutch, The French, and finally The British. The most extensive railway in all of Asia aside, who can forget the Rosario’s Bakery in Kottayam? 😊

My life in America is the purposeful result of the twin documents, The Declaration Of Independence and The US Constitution.

The men who penned them should be revered, not vilified for their shortcomings. Slaveholders or not.

Superior intellect of a man, Thomas Jefferson, who affirmed that God has endowed each of us with the right to pursue our own brand of happiness, should get his own pedestal.

General George Washington, who led his troops against the same mighty Empire where the sun never set, and won a revolution, should get our esteemed affection.

We cannot and must not re-write history to suit the current winds.

The documents these men wrote are living ones. So even as Thomas Jefferson wrote, ‘all men are created equal’, in time (a long time, perhaps), it was amended to mean, ‘all men and women’.

What does it all have to do with our daily grind?

Just a quick reading of a sliver of The Constitution affirms that, in order for a policeman to enter our homestead, he needs to carry a search warrant issued by a judge.

This brilliant concept arose in 1215, the year the Magna Carta was written.

In those ways and days of the English monarchs, All The King’s Men could barge into any home, at any time, and do whatever that pleased them.

Jefferson in his infinite wisdom, wanted to assure that the common man was protected against this sort of blatant tyranny.

It’s a historical fact that TJ almost wrote ‘property’ instead of ‘liberty’ in the famed lyrics, ‘Life, Liberty, And The Pursuit Of Happiness’.

He declared ‘A man Is The King Of His Castle’, that no one can encroach upon.

We once had a neighbor, the most wonderful kind, Peter Olsen. He had a little girl who’d have to take the school bus every day to the Peter Noyes Elementary, from right in front of our house.

One day, before Courtney started school, Beth Olsen walked over to our house, and literally asked for our permission for Courtney to cut clear across our yard to the bus stop, instead of walking on the well-trafficked Pelham Island Road. A courteous gesture, I’ll never forget.

All extra-ordinarily gifted and men and women come with serious flaws in their character, blemishes in direct proportion to their genius.

‘Shakespearean Flaws’ is the nomenclature for it. Shakespeare’s Hamlet was such a character. And The Bard studied, knew and predicted human behavior to a T.

Or as Isaac newton would say, ‘For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction’. 😉

Maurya Dynasty’s Samrat Ashoka, the grandest emperor of the ancient Indian Subcontinent, who planted shade trees and erected load-easing edifices along weary travelers’ roadways in BC 250, is known to have killed countless numbers of people in war, before he had an ‘Apostle Paul-like’ conversion and found Dharma Margam.

King David committed the most egregious sin against man and God, and Jews celebrate him as the most luminous King Of Judah ever lived.

Biblical Patriarch Abraham kept slaves, and yet he’s called the Father of three major world religions.

And Moses, the first and the original law-giver in human history, killed someone. The claim was self-defense.

All of them fulfilling God’s plan on earth at precise times and places.

We must most certainly keep their place in history, and in the place where their influence was most indelibly felt.

I personally couldn’t care less about General Robert E. Lee, or Stonewall Jackson (whoever he was). Their statues can serve as reminders of what we should never be. May be we can put a tarpaulin over their heads.

Let us look at it this way.

There, if you go to Auschwitz in Poland, you can find certain old buildings. And if you can muster up the fortitude to walk into one of them, you can see with your own eyes, the spot that housed The Crematoriums, the crucible of Hitler’s evil experiment called The Final Solution. And if Adolph Eichman had attended Sunday school, or had attended one of Sam Achen’s bible studies, he’d have known that, just like the Burning Bush from where God spoke to Moses on top of the Sinai, the Jews may burn, but will never be destroyed.

If the Jews have managed to keep these killing machines on display all these years, to remind us of the atrocity against humanity that took place right behind the eyes of the world, there is a lesson there.

I don’t think many Jews make the pilgrimage there. But then again, they just might want to.

There’s no sane way to defend Mr. Trump’s words or deeds. But for the purpose of this piece, let’s take him out of the equation.

Some Princeton University students recently appealed to authorities there, to take down Woodrow Wilson’s name from their International Studies School. I wonder what poor Woodrow was guilty of!

Next it’ll be taking down Fletcher out of the School Of Diplomacy at Tufts. I hope Fletcher didn’t own slaves. Who was Fletcher anyway?

The point I’m arriving at is: There may not be an end point.

Coming back to the point however: history is a teaching tool, as well as an inspirational one. We can keep it alive without re-living it.

Are you still with me? 😂 if you are, please say a ‘prayer for us, as we take wings’ to Atlanta tonight. (and let me know if you do).

wish you a sunny summer weekend…

mercy

 

“It Is Finished”: John 19:30

On my own, I chose Saying Number Six.

Here’s what I arrived at.

It is a compilation of thoughts I have absorbed over the years, but a couple of lessons from Sathi Achen and KC Achen figure prominently in this particular piece.

Once again, It was an amazing experience for me as it was last year.

Gave a little. Received back a lot.

This aside, a single blog page wouldn’t be enough to cover my gratitude to these men of God and Cloth, (many more than the ones that are mentioned here), who have given me so incalculably much along my journey and formation:

Intellectual men (sorry, for now it’s only men), with advanced educations in Biochemistry, Biology, Psychology, (boy, do they ever need that! even more than scripture perhaps), and Mathematics and Literature and Accounting, Business and Information Technology, from corners far away from the dusty hills of Judea: men who sacrificed so much relinquishing lucrative careers and more, to tell the 2000-year-old story of a Judean man’s Sacrifice.

That faith alone is the proof.

please read.

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The sixth of Jesus’ sayings on the cross was: ‘It Is Finished’. That He could talk at all at that point seems miraculous.

In order for something to be ‘finished’, it has to ‘start’ first.

So when Jesus uttered, ‘it is finished’, what was it that got started?

It is, what got started with the Creation, the Paradise, the Man, the Woman. Sin. And Punishment.

and what was finished: Redemption. Of the same man and woman. From sin and punishment.

The term ‘Original Sin’ can be assigned many interpretations.

At its base, it’s forbidden sex.

At its core however, it is man willfully turning away from God. Man had everything, he walked with God daily, heck, he even had a partner he gave up his ribs for.

And yet, he risked everything and chose an alternate path.

God, in His disappointment and sadness, (as God always is: sad and disappointed when His creation turns away from Him) ‘punished’ humankind to hard labour, painful childbearing, and with the experience of death.

Some may reject the term ‘punishment’. I understand it as, one having to face the consequences of one’s actions.

But, that is not the end. It is the beginning.

Right after issuing ‘The Curse’, in His next breath, God gave us an ‘out’. He said to the crooked creature: ‘Her Offspring shall crush your head’.

The child the woman bears in pain will save the world. Great gain is achieved only through pain.

The Great Transformation from Eve to Mary is now complete.                                                                                                                                                                                                              

One disobedient and the other, in complete submission.

One that caused The Fall. The other that gave us the Redeemer by answering God’s Call.

From illicit relations, to Immaculate Conception.

In Genesis 3:15, God curses the serpent, “man shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

One of my dad’s sermons that still rings in my ears as though it happened yesterday, he exclaimed, ‘the serpent can only tug at our heels. But the offspring of the woman, ‘sthreeyude sandathi’, would crush the serpent’s head’.

Note that a male is not mentioned here. The child of a maiden.

So it was the death of sinfulness. Jesus’ victory over evil.

We get to choose love over hate. Eternal life over certain death.

We’re offered a second chance. The option of a New Life.

It’s significant to take note in context, the hour at which Jesus was executed.

According to the Gospel of Mark, just at the precise time a lamb was being slaughtered, in the Jerusalem Temple on the ninth hour of Passover for the atonement of sins of the Jews, is when the crucifixion took place.

Not just any old lamb, but a chosen male, baby lamb, a lamb without blemish. In Malayalam, it is called, ‘oonam-illatha kunjadu’.

The young, and sinless one gave it up for us.

The Law was rewritten.

A new Adam and a new Jerusalem were born.

Salvation came from the Jews, but it is no longer something exclusively available to just a few. It is for mankind.

All of us now belong to the Chosen Tribe. The Chosen One from the Chosen People chose us.

Built into Jewish synagogues of old, is a section called the Holy Of Holies. Only the high priest, typically a Levite, of the priestly tribe, is allowed to enter this inner sanctum.

In the other world’s great religion, its oldest really, the Hindu temples also have a similar place in their Ampalam or Mandir, called the Sree Kovil (House of God), where God resides. Only Poojaris of Brahmin descent, again of the priestly class, have access to this space.

So that is what transpired on The Cross.

When the curtain tore in the temple, that separation between man and God was overcome. now you and I can enter the inner sanctum, the Holy of Holies, the Sree Kovil, through that tear.

Found only in the Gospel of John, the Greek word for the saying it is finished translates into ‘tetelestai’, an accounting term that means paid in full.

Not coincidentally, ‘Kalah’ is the Hebrew word uttered by the rabbi as he sacrifices the baby lamb in the temple. ‘Kalah’ means, ‘it is finished’.

What started in Genesis 3:15 was finished in John 19:30.

The companionship that was lost in Eden is now restored. We have full communion with God. All we have to do is choose it. it’s free for the taking.

It is what is called Grace.

That final offering of atonement by the shed blood of the Lamb is what was finished.