Will Durant on Great Minds and Ideas

Durant Great Minds IdeasWill Durant (1885 – 1981) the wiki informs us “was an American writer, historian, and philosopher.” He wrote the 11-volume The Story of Civilization, published between 1935 and 1975,  written in collaboration with his wife, Ariel Durant. His work The Story of Philosophy (1926) helped to popularize philosophy. “He sought to unify and humanize the great body of historical knowledge, which had grown voluminous and become fragmented into esoteric specialties, and to vitalize it for contemporary application,” the wiki notes.

Indians may find his view of India interesting. Once again let’s refer to the wiki:

In 1930, he published The Case for India while he was on a visit to India as part of collecting data for The Story of Civilization. He was so taken aback by the devastating poverty and starvation he saw as result of British imperial policy in India that he took time off from his stated goal and instead concentrated on his polemic fiercely advocating Indian independence. He wrote about medieval India, “The Islamic conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. It is a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilization is a precious good, whose delicate complex of order and freedom, culture and peace, can at any moment be overthrown by barbarians invading from without or multiplying within.”

Sadly hundreds million Indians continue to suffer “devastating poverty and starvation” nearly a century after Durant made the case for India’s release from British imperialism. Among the many causes for this immense tragedy is an important one missed by most Indians — that while British imperialism ended in 1947, imperialism did not end. The British designed and constructed the machine that imposed grinding poverty on India but Indians not only maintained the machine in good working order but improved its efficiency.

India’s heart-breaking poverty is entirely indigenous, made in India by Indians for Indians. Continue reading

Snowden’s German TV Interview

This video is from 26th January, 2014. Truthdig.com has the details: The Edward Snowden Interview the U.S. Media Didn’t Want You to Watch. Excerpts from it below the video.

http://www.liveleak.com/ll_embed?f=e2ce8368acfc

“Every time you pick up a phone, dial a number, write an email, make a purchase, travel on the bus carrying a cell phone, swipe a card somewhere, you leave a trace, and the government has decided that it’s a good idea to collect it all, everything, even if you’ve never been suspected of a crime.”

That revelation is actually from a second interview given by former Central Intelligence Agency and former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, this time to German broadcast giant ARD.
And even though ARD is the second largest public broadcaster in the world (after the British Broadcasting Company), and Snowden’s message easily unearths the largest violations of the Constitution by the US to date, our dinosaur media does not believe this is mainstream enough to cover.

To be clear, you cannot find the 30-minute interview – released via the international video-sharing site LiveLeak on Jan. 27 – on one single American news outlet.”

Sam Harris on “The Ten Commandments”

“If you think that it would be impossible to improve upon the Ten Commandments as a statement of morality, you really owe it to yourself to read some other scriptures. Once again, we need look no further than the Jains: Mahavira, the Jain patriarch, surpassed the morality of the Bible with a single sentence: “Do not injure, abuse, oppress, enslave, insult, torment, torture, or kill any creature or living being.” Imagine how different our world might be if the Bible contained this as its central precept. Christians have abused, oppressed, enslaved, insulted, tormented, tortured, and killed people in the name of God for centuries, on the basis of a theologically defensible reading of the Bible.” — Sam Harris, Letter to a Christian Nation

Harris, Hitchens and Gadkari

Two men I admire most are Harris and Hitchens. Awesome speakers and writers, they have the courage to say it like they see it. In an age where politically correct mealy mouthed prevarication oozes out of spineless leaders leaving a slimy track for the mindless to follow, Harris and Hitchens restore my faith in humanity and I am assured that this is just a temporary phenomenon because truth abides. Here’s a video, an editorial, and a news item. Continue reading

Wordly Wisdom According to Charlie Munger

The web is a wonderful place where if you have the required smarts, you can get yourself a pretty decent education. Just having a lot of information at the click of a mouse would not do. You have to know what to take and in which sequence. What you get out of a book — or the web — obviously depends on you. But we can safely assume that one is reasonably well educated and can reason effectively at some level. If that is so, then the task becomes one of having to choose which bits you will focus on. With gazillions of pages of information in the web, that is not a trivial challenge.
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Who’s India’s Wu?

I came across the name Gordon Wu in an item in a recent Knowledge@Wharton mailing. It was titled “Gordon Wu Sees Huge Opportunities in China’s Rapid Urbanization.” Wu, a Hong Kong native, graduated from Princeton in 1958, and in 1969 founded Hopewell Holdings, a civil engineering firm. “Wu’s Hopewell Holdings — where he serves as chairman of the board – has been a pioneer for nearly three decades in building highways, power plants and bridges in China and Hong Kong. In addition to Hopewell Holdings, Wu heads Hopewell Highway Infrastructure and other companies of the Hopewell Group, whose operations span property development, leasing and hospitality. Queen Elizabeth knighted Wu in 1997 for his contributions to Asian infrastructure – and in effect for building one of the continent’s largest civil construction firms.”
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Richard Dawkins’ Diary

Anyone who knows me soon realizes that I have few heroes, and I consider most entities of the human persuasion to be at least mildly stupid, if not outright moronic. Prof Richard Dawkins makes the very short list of my heroes. I am proud to say that I have even met him briefly when he visited UC Berkeley to deliver a fairly famous lecture (I forget which lecture considering that Berkeley has a truck-load of famous lectures) a few years ago. He signed my copy of the book by him, River out of Eden.

Of course I admire his intellect and his passion for rationality. What really amazes me is his indefatigable perseverance. Just listening to him repeatedly explain and defend his position in innumerable interviews on TV and radio, answering the same old questions that he has written eloquently and at length about in his many books, is itself tiring. I wonder how he can calmly and so politely deal with the steady barrage of nonsense that he faces relentlessly. That is what I admire the most about him — the Zen warrior who is not moved to distraction in his fight for sanity in a world that is given over to insanity. I bow deep in reverence to the Master.

Dawkins was recently at Time’s gala event celebrating ‘100 Most Influential People of the Year’. He wonders why he was chosen but most people who have read him would not hesitate to include him in the 100 most influential people alive in the world today.
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