Freedom and Education

March 22, 2009

Cogito ergo sum. I think, therefore I am.

Thinking is the fundamental need for existence. It is a process which involves logic and one’s very own sentiments. It is either impossible or very difficult to directly control one’s thoughts. For me, controlling thoughts is same as controlling life! Therefore, I think absolute freedom of thoughts is inevitable for a healthy society.

But what about absolute freedom of action? If I am allowed to think whatever I want, should I be allowed to do whatever I want?

The obvious answer is No, if a peaceful and healthy society is a requirement. Considering the number of different types of personalities and their subjective needs and opinions, we always need a governing body which makes laws and regulates the freedom of action.

For example, freedom of eating is my right. But I should not be allowed to eat the food which I don’t own. Car driving is my right, but I should not be allowed to drive when traffic signal is red. It is a requirement for peace.

A general rule that can be derived from above is that, I should have absolute freedom of every action unless I hurt others’ freedom.

So far what I said is quite obvious. No one should have doubt on absolute freedom of thoughts and limited freedom of action.

Now let’s discuss a relatively complex issue i.e. Freedom of speech or freedom of expression.

Although Freedom of speech seems similar and as harmless as freedom of thoughts but actually it is not. I might be wrong but I regard freedom of expression as a special case of freedom of action because just like you can hurt freedom of others from your actions, you can also hurt one’s sentiments and emotions from your words and that can ultimately result in physical torture.

Just like absolute freedom of action can be violent and harmful for a peaceful society, absolute freedom of speech can also turn into violence. Therefore, I believe we do also need some level of regulation on freedom of speech. But how strict those regulations should be? I think that varies from society to society and we need to identify the related social factors.

I can give examples here to support my argument. Religion is considered to be a very sensitive topic for many people and in some places; tolerance level against religious views is too low. Believers usually have strong emotional attachments with their religious personalities and values. A single word against them can be absolutely intolerant and result into violence.

Politics is another sensitive issue. We regularly observe violence due to public expression on differences in political views. That’s why we often see signs like “Yahan siyaasi guftagoo kerna mana hai (Political discussions are not allowed here)” at public busses and other public places. The intention of these signs is nothing else but to maintain peace.

I would love to support the idea of absolute freedom of speech with no censorship at all. But unfortunately, reality is not favorable in most of the cases. In a society where sprit of tolerance is high and people are willing to hear and observe different views and opinions on every topic, absolute freedom of speech should be there. Infact, Freedom of speech in that case is the fundamental need for progress in society.

But what to do in a society where people take religion or politics in a very emotional manner and follow the teaching of their leaders as an absolute truth, without using their minds and without considering the needs for change? What level of tolerance you expect when you encourage absolute freedom of speech? Will not it create chaos and anarchy and destroy the peace in a worse way?

According to my very limited knowledge and wisdom, absolute freedom of speech in a society, where sprit of tolerance is low, will make the case worse. But isn’t regulation and censorship on freedom of speech is harmful in itself? Can we afford a stagnant society? Doesn’t it limit the flow of healthy and productive ideas? Sure it does. Just like absolute freedom has its issues, censorship or regulation also has some serious problems.

Another problem with regulation or censorship is that who will impose this regulation? If its government? Do we trust on its skills and sincerity?

What is the solution then? An absolute freedom or an absolutely censored system?

I wish that answer was simple. I can’t suggest absolute freedom considering the high risk of violence when the majority of population lacks sprit of tolerance. Neither, I can afford to even think about absolute censorship where a government has a right to control the flow of healthy information.

If we really want a progressive society with freedom and peace, we need to solve the fundamental problems. We need to work on increasing the tolerance level of the population first. We need to identify the factors which can help people to debate on different opinions and learn from each other with peace.

I personally believe that Education is the most important factor. Without basic education, we cannot expect people to have tolerance for debate. By education, I don’t mean traditional academic degrees but I mean the true awareness of fundamental human rights, arts, science and cultural values. By education, I mean the true intellectual enlightenment of minds where majority can see and think out of the box.

Other important factors that are surely helpful for the cause are economic prosperity and social justice. But I think these factors are also dependent on the basic education of the population.

If we are really sincere to solve our social problems, I think we need to focus on root causes. Instead of solving symptoms, we should identify and solve core problem. And in my humble opinion, education is the core problem of my society.

—-
Note: I usually avoid unnecessary political or religious discussion in public and try to keep my views to myself or to a limited audience only. But a recent incident forced me to write this post. I am writing this after some interesting and detailed discussion with my friends. Their opinion helped me to modify my some views and I would like to name those here. Many thanks to Madam Jehan, Sohail Abid, Ammar, Fariha, Talha and some participants of last Karachi Bloggers Meetup.

Unix Timestamp in .NET

October 16, 2008

In one of my current projects, I’m required to calculate Unix Timestamps in my .NET classes. Unix Timestamp is defined as number of second elapsed since January 1, 1970 00:00:00.

.NET also provides a very useful class System.DateTime for Date and Time calculation. Unlike Unix standard, DateTime type in .NET represents date and time values from 12:00:00 midnight, January 1, 0001 A.D. through 11:59:59 P.M., December 31, 9999 A.D. measured in 100-nanoseconds units called Ticks.

Using above facts, here is the simple code for DateTime conversion between these two standards:


long ToUnixTimestamp(System.DateTime dt)
{
    DateTime unixRef = new DateTime(1970, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0);
    return (dt.Ticks - unixRef.Ticks) / 10000000;
}
DateTime FromUnixTimestamp(long timestamp)
{
    DateTime unixRef = new DateTime(1970, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0);
    return unixRef.AddSeconds(timestamp);
}

Economical Numbers

October 11, 2008

There are 10^11 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it’s only a hundred billion. It’s less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers.


Richard Feynman

TeaBreak Tea Party!

July 27, 2008

I attended Tea Party by TeaBreak.pk today and all I can say that it was a “Mind blogging experience” :)

TeaBreak.pk is a small start-up by two of my friends Asim and Ammar. It provides an opportunity for Pakistan Bloggers community to meet on a single platform. I think the most important aspect of TeaBreak is that it gives a community concept to local bloggers and by arranging such gathering, it provides opportunity to meet with popular bloggers in person. More about TeaBreak is here.

The discussion among bloggers in party was also good but I missed an interesting discussion about regulation of blogs which in opinion will kill the spirit of “Freedom” on internet.

Here are few snaps:

From Teabreak TeaP…

From Teabreak TeaP…

From Teabreak TeaP…

From Teabreak TeaP…

From Teabreak TeaP…

Tagged

March 14, 2008

Tagged by Ali.

Following text is from the book “Rebel Code”. Jay Walker gave me this book to read few weeks ago but still I’m unable to find time to read it. He has also written review of this book here.

From chapter “Learning from Berkeley”:

Sending the university e-mail to the right place was no longer a simple matter, and the system employed by Delivermail couldn’t cope with the various kinds of networks that were being hooked into Berkeley. Allman decided that he needed to rewrite Delivermail so that machines could be configured without fiddling with the software itself, and to build more intelligence into the program so that it could decipher from the e-mail addresses where messages should be sent.

He called the result Sendmail. Its success was driven in part by the new flexibility it offered. “If you had a new network, you could integrate that into Sendmail more quickly than you could into the others,” Allman explains, “This was long before everyone was doing Internet, and so new networks would show up, mushrooms in the night.”

Plan Your Trip

February 19, 2008

I am not a very frequent flyer but during my recent trips I found following two tools really very useful:

TripIt
TripIt is an unbelievably convenient way to manage your online itineraries. As Joel Spolsky discussed here, it’s really magical. Just forward your trip related emails to plans@tripit.com and all done! It’ll automatically generate you a beautiful itinerary and send you back the URL of it. You don’t even need sign-up. Your email address will differentiate you from others.

SeatGuru
I love this site because today I just had a very comfortable flight because of it. If you’re tall like me and have traveled in economy class, you can easily guess the pain I face in long flights :-)

SeatGuru can guide you what seats suit you best. For example, if you are a tall person, you definitely need some extra legroom and this site can tell you which seats have extra legroom in your aircraft. Not only this, it also lists out seats which you should beware of.

A 26 Hours Day – Finally in Bahrain

January 19, 2008

Finally in Bahrain!

Connecting flights, 3 hours long stay at Dubai Airport, delays in deprture.. Ah, it was a long tiring day!
Yea really longer than usual because I had to move my watch 2 hours back :)

But it was fun!

Here are the few snaps of not so good quality:

From Bahrain

From Bahrain

From Bahrain

We (I, Khawer and Tuaha) just came back to our apartments after having a nice dinner at a popular food court of the city. Bahrain is really a small, quite and beautiful country and I’m loving it. Weather is terribly cold now and I find it difficult to even type this post. Maybe I should go to sleep now.

New Year, New Beginnings

January 18, 2008

A whole year passed with silence here. But in reality 2007 was not at all a silent year for me. It was a year full of interesting and learning experiences. A year which I’m not gonna forget easily.

A lot has happened. ProCom, NetCom, Softec, PDC 07, MIC, FYP, Graduation and a lot more. With some tough and life changing personal experiences which are simply unforgettable.

In July, just after my graduation, I joined E-Banking dept. of Avanza Solutions as Software Engineer. A good thing about my company is that Avanza is totally focused on developing solutions for banking and it’s been really great to learn about this domain. I’ll write more on my job experience later in separate post. By the way, in few hours, I’ll be leaving for Bahrain for few weeks for a project implementation in Khaleeji Commercial Bank(KHCB). It’s my first site visit so I’m excited! :)

2008 seems a lucky year for me. On the very first day of the year, I got a great news from Microsoft that I’ve been awarded MVP (Microsoft Most Valuable Professional) award as Recognition for my activities in developer communities! It was a great surprising moment! Thanks Microsoft :)

I hope this will be a great start for whole year. There are many things planned to do and I’m really looking forward for a productive year. And unlike 2007, I’ll force myself to update my blog more frequently to prove that I’m a generous Memon :P

Anyways, a happy (belated) new year to everyone!

Imagine Cup Launch and Workshop on Web Development in Campus

January 14, 2007

Wow it was quite an amazing day!

FAST.net user group and IEEE-NUCES organized Imagine Cup 2007 Launch and a 3 hour workshop on Web development using ASP.net on Friday, 12th January. Due to vacations many students couldn’t participate but those who attended this event appreciated it a lot. I and Ali Raza Shaikh were the speakers:

From Imagine Cup L…
From Imagine Cup L…

During the imagine Cup session, we showed promo videos and interviews of past winners to motivate students. We also distributed free CDs of Visual Studio and SQL Server 2005 Express Edition to help them in getting started.

From Imagine Cup L…

Workshop on ASP.net also went great and I believe student learned many new things. Since most of the students were from junior and sophomore batches, we didn’t go in much technical depth.

From Imagine Cup L…
From Imagine Cup L…

The most fun part of the event was Q/A session where we asked questions to student for Goodies like ASP.net WebMatrix Book, MSDN Magazine, Development Resource CDs. Thanks to Microsoft Pakistan and INETA for sending those goodies.

From Imagine Cup L…

I’d also like to thank all participants for making this event successful and I hope we’d be able to continue this series of workshops on web development with the support of Microsoft and INETA.

TechEd Student Blogging Competition Results

December 21, 2006

Wooho! I just received an email from Mr. Vaqar Khamisani, announcing official results of TechEd Student Blogging Competition and I am very happy to see my name in Runners-up list !

Here are the complete results:

Winners:

  • Julien Chable, France – Visit here.
  • Goncalo Filipe Macanjo Lopes Chaves, Portugal – Visit here.
  • Prizes: Xbox 360 E3 Faceplate, Xbox 360 Laptop Bag and Mug

Runners Up:

  • Munir Usman, Pakistan – Visit here.
  • Lucian Baciu, Romania – Visit here.
  • Prizes: Xbox 360 Laptop Bag and Mug

Congratulation to Julien, Chaves and Lucian too.

It has been more than a month since I last posted anything on this blog as after coming back from Barcelona, I got caught with so many important things including studies :-(. But I will try to post more about TechEd Developer Conference and our Barcelona tour very soon.


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