/* Part 13
/ Part 1
More links. MORE! I saw someone add more links to different points in their stories, and now I am blatantly stealing the idea.
♪ All the way to fucking victory town. All the way, feels good to be a winner every now and then
"Charlie, calm down and explain," Roy said. Charlie was hurrying up and down the command room, looking for something he couldn't find.
"Dammit, Roy!" Charlie yelled. "If we don't cut off this system humanity could be fucked! We don't know what this thing is or what it wants! So assume the worst."
"Charlie, this room is a black site," Roy explained. "The only way to bring in data is for us to bring it physically. None of us want to take chances of being found. The only people who even know about this place are here right now. If this thing poses some huge risk then it's just to us" This seemed to calm Charlie down.
"Ok, that's good. We need to figure out what this is. Do we know if it's isolated? Is it stuck in a certain part of our systems, or is it everywhere?" Charlie asked, waving his arms at the digital representation of their information around them. Roy shrugged, and Charlie gave an exasperated sigh.
"Don't worry, I'm way ahead of you on that," Davie chimed in. He motioned to the air and a new window opened in front of them. It had a few charts and graphs, and what appeared to be a file tree. "We are still well below our total capacity. Whatever this is, it seems to have nestled itself in its own corner. It might be looking at the data we have, but it's not changing anything."
"Wait, if you can see it there, why not delete it?" Vince asked. He shared a look of confusion with nearly everyone else. Liz and Herschel seemed to be the only ones who could keep up with the conversation.
"We can't," Herschel said. "There's no way to be sure we got all of it without nuking our entire system."
"Then let's nuke it," Charlie said. "If this thing is what I think it is we can't waste a second. Where do you store all the files?" Herschel looked sheepish, then tapped his temple, right on the translator.
"Oh, I get it," Charlie said. "You are actively trying
to fuck with me." A disturbing smile split his face. "'Cause if you aren't, then we are all fucked!" He yelled. He looked seconds away from murder. Roy stepped in to defend his brother. An argument broke out, mostly split between the younger and older members of the group. All but Liz and Mary.
"Hey, Mary?" Liz asked, her voice soft and trembling slightly.
"Yes, Liz?" Mary asked, her tone matching.
"Are you seeing what I'm seeing?" Liz asked.
"I think I am," Mary answered.
"So Charlie was right," Liz said. "That's unfortunate." After she said this, the projected facade of the room disappeared, leaving them in the green expanse. The arguing group stopped, shocked by the change. A moment later the projection came back, exactly as it was.
"What was that?" Charlie asked apprehensively.
"Do you guys know how these translators work?" Liz asked, ignoring the question. She didn't wait for an answer. "The first versions my dad built worked one way. Read input from the brain, feed that to whatever other devices. As the tech got better, we learned to give feedback and information back to the brain. Skip ahead a few years, and now your translator is essentially a part of you. It can use your brain just like your brain uses it. That's how this is possible." She gestured around at their surroundings halfheartedly. Her tone unnerved the others. "Fun fact, each translator has five terabytes of storage space. Three of those five are used for the software that runs it. The other two are ours to use as we see fit."
"What's your point, Liz?" Ally asked.
"There are twelve of us here," Liz said. "Twenty-four terabytes of free space."
"Yeah, I know basic math," Ally said. "What's wrong?"
"There are a hundred terabytes free listed here," Liz said. "There is only two way that's possible. It's using our brains as storage." Liz finally turned around and faced the rest. They saw the fear on her face. "If I'm right about this, then..."
"Then whatever that is is in our heads," Charlie finished, Liz's fear mirrored on his face. "We can't nuke it."
A silence followed this revelation. Everyone tried to weigh their options.
"Why don't we just get new translators?" Vince asked, a glimmer of hope in his voice. "The data in our brains can only stay there as long as the translator is there."
"Not possible," Liz said. "The second we step out of here we expose the world to what this is."
"Also, we'll lose the files on the Trinity we found on the Moon," Davie said. "I keyed those files to only be available to us, on these translators. If I give access to a new translator to access the data then..."
"This thing goes along with it," Eric finished for him.
"We don't even know what this thing is!" Ally said. "It might be harmless!"
"How could it be harmless?!" Davie asked. "It came straight from the enemy!"
"This fighting isn't going to get us anywhere!" Liz yelled, drawing everyone's attention back to her. "Ally is right, at least partially. We have to figure out exactly what this thing is, and what it's for."
"And how do you propose we do that?" Roy asked.
"Brute force," Charlie said. "We split off and try everything we can think of until we can find something. It might take a while, but it might be our only choice."
"Fuck it, it's better than nothing. Split into groups, and make sure you have at least one computer nerd in each group," Roy said. "This is maximum priority."
"No shit, Sherlock," Charlie said. He paired off with Vince and Alice. Herschel took Roy and Mary. Davie, Ally, and Eric grouped together. That left Liz alone with Stephanie. Not her ideal situation. She still hadn't figured out what she wanted. She shook her head, trying to dispel these thoughts. They had more important things to worry about.
"So what's your plan?" Stephanie asked softly. This seemed like a strange time to be timid, given that Liz had seen her go all out in stressful situations.
"I have a theory," Liz said. She pulled up the files that seemed to contain and be affected by whatever Drakus had infected their system with. She opened several more windows, one containing the evershifting program. She froze.
"What is it?" Stephanie asked. "I'm sorry, I only know the basics with computers, I won't be much help."
"It's fine Stephanie," Liz said. "This code. It doesn't look like anything I've ever seen." She made a copy of the window with the scrolling text and froze it.
"That's not code," Stephanie said.
"I know," Liz said. "It's Klorbian text." She tapped the screen and attempted to translate it. A few tense seconds later a translation appeared.
"It's gibberish," Stephanie commented.
"No, it's not," Liz said. She began typing furiously on a non-existent keyboard, whizzing between windows.
"What are you doing?" Stephanie asked. She felt pretty useless at the moment.
"I'm fixing it," Liz said.
"You mean you are fixing our system?" Stephanie asked, already suspecting that's not what Liz meant.
"Nope," Liz said. "I am fixing this program."
"That is an exceptionally bad idea," Stephanie said, but she made no move to stop Liz.
"Stephanie, please trust me," Liz said. "It's an AI. Charlie was right. Something mangled it when we put it on the system. It's fragmented all over the place. If I can get it all together it should be able to repair itself."
"Liz, I trust you," Stephanie said.
"But I don't," Charlie said, grabbing Liz's wrist. "Liz, what are you doing? This came from the guy who tried to fucking kill you. For all we know this thing's purpose is to finish the job."
"I don't think so," Liz said. "Look at this." She pointed at the translated window.
"So? It's nonsense," Charlie said.
"No, it's not," Liz retorted. "It's a consciousness stream. That's why it's changing. It's thoughts. Something alive is in here, and I have to get it out."
"I'm sorry Liz, I can't let you do that," Charlie said. Liz got turned fully to look him in the eyes.
"Do you think you can stop me, Charlie?" Liz asked. Charlie clenched his fists.
"If I have to, yes. And I won't be alone," he said. All the others stood behind him. They had been listening in to the conversation.
"Guys, you have to trust me. I have a feeling," Liz said. No one budged. "Really? After everything I did you don't trust me?" She sounded genuinely hurt. Halfhearted objections began to ring out, but dried up when someone in the group moved. The small figure walked across the small abyss that separated them, stopping beside Liz.
"I trust Liz," Artho said, turning back to face the others. "If it weren't for her we would still be arranging deck chairs on the Titanic." Liz was surprised by his use of human analogies.
"Artho, you know the risk is too big," Charlie said. "This isn't about not trusting Liz, it's about what we might lose. All of our progress could go down the drain."
"I have to fix it," Liz said, her resolution clear.
"And I have to stop you," Charlie said. He stepped forward but was blocked by Stephanie. He let out a small chuckle. "Stephanie, I respect you, and I think of you as my friend, but we don't have our suits. Without it, do you really think you can take me?"
"She was a marine you dumbfuck," Eric said. He also walked across the small divide. "I'd be more worried about you." He stood beside Artho. Liz shot him a look of gratitude. "If it's only our lives on the line, then it's nothing we haven't risked before. I say we bring this thing to life." Charlie seemed to consider this.
"If we die, I'm going to kill you guys," Charlie said, his posture relaxing. He'd clearly given up. "How can I help?"
The group got to work, the tension between them mostly dissipated. Liz had given everyone clear instructions. It wasn't easy, but in a few hours, they did everything she had told them to.
"What's next?" Roy asked.
"I don't know," Liz said. "I thought this would work." She paused for a minute, and let her head drop. "I'm sorry for wasting our time."
"Liz, you had a hunch and you followed it. Not every shot you take will land," Roy said. "The hardest part of our jobs is-" He was cut off when the room began flickering again. It flashed between its plain green state and the data center they had grown used to. This lasted a few seconds, captivating their attention, but a pained cry ripped it away. They all saw Liz, doubled over in pain, clutching her head.
"Liz!" They all shouted, practically at the same time, rushing to try to help her. She collapsed into Stephanie's arms. Davie and Mary hurriedly looked her over, trying to find anything wrong. The others stood nearby, not knowing what to do. The room began flickering faster and faster. Mary projected Liz's vital signs onto a window. It was impossible to make out with the flickering, but the accompanying sound didn't seem to be affected. As soon as Mary heard it, she wished she hadn't.
A steady, monotonous beep.
I want a hot dog
♪ I don't know how to convey Oogway Ascends into mere mortal words, so this will have to do
♪ Part 15
On January 30th, Nathuram Godse assasinated
Mohandas Gandhi, the founding father of India, as Mahatma Gandhi conducted a multi-faith prayer meeting because Godse saw him as too accommodating to Muslim interests. Nathuram Godse had long been a member of multiple
Hindu nationalist organizations, although the most powerful the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) has disclaimed any assosciation with Godse. Hindu nationalism has deep roots in the politics and history of India stretching back
to the 19th century. However, the salience of Hindutva has increased dramatically
since the election of Narendra Modi in 2014, who has championed an aggressively Hindu nationalist political philosophy. Modi has succesfully asserted the Hindutva agenda by mass disenfranchisement
of suspected undocumented people in the state of Assam, the construction
of a temple to Ram in Ayodhya on the rubble of a mosque destroyed by Hindu mobs, and the stripping of the state of Kashmir its political autonomy. However, Hindu nationalism goes beyond just Modi. The purpose of today's podcast episode is to discuss the historical roots, and deep consequences of discrimination against Muslims in India.
Riots between Hindus and Muslims, especially where the overwhelming majority of deaths are among Muslims are not a new phenomenon in India. The city of Ahmedabad alone has seen three major waves of communal violence in 1969
where approximately 500, 300 and 2,000 people, the overwhelming majority Muslim lost their lives. India has seen major riots both before
and after elections
. In recent years, we have seen the disturbing rise
of lynchings by groups of vigilantes accusing Muslim men of slaughtering cows. Perhaps most disturbingly, the current Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, was Chief Minister of Gujarat at the time of the 2002 riots. Although there is no proof that he planned or had foreknowledge of the violence, he has maintained a conspicuous silence
about the atrocities committed while he governed Gujarat. While violence between Hindus against Muslims is often described as the natural anger of the majority community against the minority community, there are many organizations such as the RSS, the VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad) and Bajrang Dal organizing people for violence.
Underlying this violence between Hindus and Muslims are dangerous logics of communal political and economic competition. The Hindutva movement has long tried to make Hindu identity the most salient identity. For instance
, from the 1960s to the 1980s, large numbers of textile workers in the city of Ahmedabad lost their jobs due to government economic mismanagement. Hindu textile workers in general fared worse than their Muslim counterparts as Muslim textile workers tended to be more experienced and were better positioned to set up powerloom businesses. Hindutva agitators worked hard to cast these economic struggles in a communal perspective, and blame Muslims for rising poverty. Moreover, participating
in political violence often strengthens identification with the Hindutva movement. In the aftermath of the 2002 riots, the Hindu nationalist BJP gained more votes in areas hit hardest by communal violence, and those police officers who allowed violence to continue consistently saw promotion.
There are economic factors
behind these of violence as well. Violence against Muslims increases by 5% for every 1% reduction in the growth of Hindu incomes, while violence against Muslims increases dramatically as the economic gap
between Hindus and Muslim decreases. The incomplete nature of Indian housing markets is especially relevant, as competition
over rent controlled housing units has emerged as one of the most important drivers of Hindu Muslim violence as Muslims are often loathe to move away from rent from rent controlled units, while Hindus wish to acquire this property for themselves and their families. In some towns, such as Surat and many other coastal cities, community leaders worked to keep communal tensions at bay to protect businesses from violence. In many other places the desire to assert political, cultural and social superiority gets tightly wound together with economic motives, in order to ensure all conflict is seen as conflict between Hindus and Muslims.
Discrimination against Muslims extends beyond the violence they face from Hindu mobs. India's political and economic system allows for social mobility to those groups that are able to politically organize to grab them. Muslims
have been at a disadvantage politically since the partition of India, when the majority
of Muslim leadership supported Pakistan and emigrated to Pakistan. Between 1980 and 2019, the percent of India's parliament that was Muslim declined from 10% to 4% despite the fact the Muslim share of the population increased from 11.8% to 14.8% during this same period. There has only been one Muslim Chief Minister of a non-Muslim state so far. The BJP, India's primary Hindu nationalist party, rarely
fields Muslim candidates for office due to their own Hindu nationalist ideology. Even secular give little political power. On one hand, secular parties fear being tarred as "appeasing
" Muslim interests by Hindu nationalists if they are too closely associated with Muslims, while secular parties can be confident that Muslim voters have nowhere to go even if they largely ignore
The lack of political power has real consequences for India's Muslim community. For example, India runs one of the largest systems of affirmitive action, known as reservations, in the world. However, Muslims have only recently gained limited access
to reservations in 2011, although some states offer affirmative action at the state level. The low level of Muslim reservations
is striking given many well off communities such as the Jats and Marathas have gained access to quotas showing that political power is more important than group socio-economic status when it comes reservations. The importance of lack of access to government jobs quotas become visible when one looks at Muslim struggles to get government jobs. Only 4% of public sector
workers are Muslims, even though Muslims make up 14% of the Muslim population. Lack of access to government jobs is especially important because public sector jobs consistently pay more than
double private sector jobs even after taking education into account. Moreover, there is substantial disparities in access to public infrastructure. For example
, over 45% of Muslim majority villages have a bus stop, compared to 60% of non-Muslim majority villages, with similar disparities visible in many measures of public investment. Muslims face discrimination in the private sector as well, with formal employers three times
more likely to reject identical resumes with Muslim names than Hindu ones, although other studies find no discrimination
I do not want to exagerrate the extent to which Muslims face discrimination in India. Muslims on average have incomes only around 6% lower than the national average. Muslims tend to be better off
than Hindus in much of the south and west of India, and in many rural areas. Muslims are in particular disproportionately
successful as small and medium size business owners. However, looking in the aggregate it is clear that Muslims have faced consistent downward mobility, with this mobility more evident in education
rather than income. At independence, Indian Muslims were similar to Hindus in their level of education. Today, their levels of education are below that of the average Dalit
, with declining educational mobility especially concentrated among the children of poor Muslims.
The combination of deliberate discrimination, and downward socioeconomic mobility have had disastrous consequences for the Muslim community through the COVID-19 pandemic. India does not collect data on deaths by religion from COVID-19. Muslims make up a vastly disproportionate share of the urban poor
, and it is the slums of India's megacities that have been hit hardest by COVID-19. For example, in Mumbai, one study of seroprevalence found that 57% of Mumbai slum dwellers had contracted COVID-19, compared to just 19% of non-slum population, with similar trends in other cities. Much of the Muslim concentration in slums can be explained by the systematic discrimination
Muslims face in getting access to housing.
On top of this, Muslims have disproportionately faced the burden of Islamophobia through COVID-19. One of the first
major superspreading occurred at a convention of the Tablighi Jamaat, a conservative Islamic missionary organization. While it is likely that the Tablighi Jamaat behaved irresponsibly, many Hindutva populations have made not just the Tablighi Jamaat, but the broader Muslim community, a scapegoat for the rise of COVID-19. Prominent politicians have accused Muslims of launching a Corona-Jihad
, and misleading videos of Muslim street vendors deliberately
spitting on fruit have gone viral. Hospitals have rejected
Muslim patients, and many Muslims have faced abuse
while getting treatment. Unsurprisingly, resentment
has grown in the Muslim community, with public health workers in Juhapura, a ghetto created by Muslims fleeing the Ahmedabad riots of 2002, pelted with stones
as they tried to enforce curfew laws.
The COVID-19 virus does not differentiate between Hindu and Muslim. Failure to contain COVID-19 in one community will inevitably lead to the spread of COVID-19 to other communities. Similarly, discrimination against Muslims will in the long run rebound against all Indians. Hindu nationalist political parties have gained substantial ground in Indian elections in recent years. If the dominance of parties not committed to secular ideals continues, it is likely structural discrimination against Muslims will be further entrenched.
Selected Sources:Communal Riots in Gujarat: Report of a Preliminary Investigation
, Ghanshyam ShahFrom Gandhi to Violence: Ahmedabad's 1985 Riots in Historical Perspective
, Howard SpodekThe Political Logic of Ethnic Violence: The Anti-Muslim Pogrom in Gujarat, 2002
Raheel Dhattiwala and Michael BiggsThe Rise of Hindu Nationalism in India: The Case Study ofAhmedabad in the 1980s
, Ornit ShaniEconomic growth and ethnic violence: An empirical investigation of Hindu–Muslim riots in India
, Anjali Bohlen, Ernest SergentiIMPLICATIONS OF AN ECONOMIC THEORY OF CONFLICT: Hindu-Muslim Violence in India
, ANIRBAN MITRA AND DEBRAJ RAYSegregation, Rent Control, and Riots: The Economics of Religious Conflict in an Indian City
, Erica Field, Matthew Levinson, Rohini Pande, and Sujata Visaria"UNFINISHED BUSINESS" ETHNIC COMPLEMENTARITIES AND THE POLITICAL CONTAGION OF PEACE AND CONFLICT IN GUJARAT
, Saumitra JhaAdjustment and Accommodation: Indian Muslims after Partition
, Mushirul HasanPolitical Economy of Demand for Quotas by Jats, Patels, and Marathas Dominant or Backward?
, Ashwin DeshpandeWAGE DIFFERENTIALS BETWEEN THE PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SECTORS IN INDIA
, Elena Glinskaya and Michael LokshinThe Legacy of Social Exclusion A Correspondence Study of Job Discrimination in India
, Sukhadeo ThoratLabor market discrimination in Delhi: Evidence from a field experiment
, Abhijit Banerjee , Marianne Bertrandy , Saugato Dattaz , Sendhil MullainathanWealth Inequality, Class and Caste in India, 1951-2012
, Nitin Kumar BhartiSachar Commission Report
, Sachar CommissionIntergenerational Mobility in India: Estimates from New Methods and Administrative Data
, Sam Asher Paul NovosasVidya, Veda, and Varna: The Influence of Religion and Caste on Education in Rural India
, Vani Boorah, Sriya IyerFor whom does the phone (not) ring? Discrimination in the rental housing market in Delhi, India
, Saugatta Datta www.wealthofnationspodcast.comhttps://media.blubrry.com/wealthofnationspodcast/s/content.blubrry.com/wealthofnationspodcast/China-Tech.mp3
The post is Not Mine, but I dont have the source rn