Navras & Neodämmerung

असतो मा सद्गमय ।
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।
मृत्योर्माऽमृतं गमय ॥
asato mā sadgamaya,
tamaso mā jyotirgamaya,
mṛtyormā’mṛtaṃ gamaya.
From falsehood lead me to truth,
From darkness lead me to light,
From death lead me to immortality.
That’s known as the Pavamana Mantra. It is one of the very few mantras I know. Another one I can recite by heart is the Gayatri Mantra. It goes thusly:
ॐ भूर्भुवः स्वः तत्सवितुर्वरेण्यं भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि धियो यो नः प्रचोदयात् ॥

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Total Solar Eclipse

Total solar eclipse is seen on Monday, August 21, 2017 above Madras, Oregon. It swept across a narrow portion of the contiguous United States. Click to go to the NASA site.

The 4th anniversary of the Great American Total Solar Eclipse of Aug 21st, 2017, was two days ago. I had looked forward to it for years, and in August of 2017, on a cross-continent drive from the West coast of the US to the East coast, I got the opportunity to witness that awesome event astronomical event.

I had planned it such that I was in Chicago, IL on Aug 18. Around 4 AM on Aug 21, I drove from Chicago to Carbondale, IL, a distance of around 330 miles (550 kms). I reached around noon and was all set up to catch the totality around 1 PM.

The totality lasted for around 2 minutes and 39 seconds where I was — which was about 3 seconds less than the maximum duration of the totality.

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Babur’s Tomb

Once again the Religion of Peace has triumphed in yet another part of the world. Afghanistan used to be Buddhist once upon a time. Remember the huge Bamiyan Buddhas? The Taliban took care of them. Islam does wonders for any region it occupies.

The picture above is of the tombstone of Babur in Bagh-e-Babur in Kabul, Afghanistan. On an official visit to Afghanistan in 2005, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Babur’s tomb to pay his respects to that tyrant. The wiki says,

The violence of Babur in the 1520s was witnessed by Guru Nanak, who commented upon it in four hymns. Historians suggest the early Mughal period of religious violence contributed to introspection and then the transformation in Sikhism from pacifism to militancy for self-defense. According to Babur’s autobiography, Baburnama, his campaign in northwest India targeted Hindus and Sikhs as well as apostates (non-Sunni sects of Islam), and an immense number were killed, with Muslim camps building “towers of skulls of the infidels” on hillocks.

Singh was bowing at the grave of the tyrant who slaughtered Hindus and Sikhs. Singh was paying tribute to the people who slaughtered Sikh Gurus.

Tens of millions of Muslims in India worship Babur. The screen capture below is the ANI report. (Click on image to go to The Tribune Online Edition.) Continue reading

Stupid People and Scams

I got a text message a couple of days ago. It read:

[Amazon] Your account has been deactivated. Please update your personal details. https://www.uam-zon.shop

I clicked on the link knowing that it was a scam. I landed on a page that had looked like an Amazon page — except that it was an obvious fake. I filled in all the required information — email address, postal address, credit card  number, expiration date of CC and the 3-digit security number at the back of the card.

Scammers (probably Nigerians) keep doing this sort of thing. I suspect that they must be getting some returns. Perhaps around 1 in 1000 attempts results in a hit. The reason bad people often thrive is because there are sufficient number of stupid people. Continue reading

Quit India — Then and Now

A few days ago, Prabhudesai and I were discussing a remarkable fact about India. We observed that these days many Indian families are sending their children abroad for schooling.

In the past most of the students went abroad only for postgraduate studies. Case in point: I came to the US for my doctoral studies in computer science. But these days families are sending their children for undergraduate education, and a significant number even for high school education.

Among my acquaintances, friends and relatives, I don’t know of a single family that did not send its children for education abroad if they could manage it. Education in developed countries like the US is not cheap by any standard. By developing country standards, education abroad is a huge expense but desperation forces them to somehow make it happen. Quite often they go massively into debt. By hook or by crook, they do the best they can to escape the dysfunctional Indian education system.

The rush is to somehow quit India if one can. And the government is doing all it can to make sure that people, especially those who could have been most productive in India, quit India as soon as they can. Continue reading

Taxation is Theft

Lysander Spooner (1808 – 1887) the wiki informs us was “an American individualist anarchist. He was also an abolitionist, entrepreneur, essayist, legal theorist, pamphletist, political philosopher, Unitarian, writer …” My favorite bit of his writings is “No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority.”

The essay begins simply with the following: Continue reading

Lockdowns — Part 3

Crime and Punishment — Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Covid-19 pandemic resulting from the Wuhan virus has dramatically revealed state malfeasance amounting to criminality like nothing else has except for perhaps the world wars of the past century.

In the previous bits (Part 1 and Part 2), I made the moral argument against lockdowns and for freedom. In this final bit, I make the economics argument.

Governments across the world with some rare exceptions have imposed policies that are not only morally repugnant but have imposed enormous economic costs on billions of people. Especially for the extremely poor, those policies have had tragic consequences. They have probably killed (or will kill) millions more than the virus ever would have. Even in the rich populations, deaths of despair must have been devastating. Continue reading

Enough

Joe Heller

True story, Word of Honor:
Joseph Heller, an important and funny writer
now dead,
and I were at a party given by a billionaire
on Shelter Island.

I said, “Joe, how does it make you feel
to know that our host only yesterday
may have made more money
than your novel ‘Catch-22’
has earned in its entire history?”
And Joe said, “I’ve got something he can never have.” Continue reading

Waking Sleeping Giants

The US is the preeminent economic and military power in the world today. But the US began as a small nation of only 2.5 million people when it declared independence from the British in 1776. At that time, the US economy was 30% that of Britain. But that all changed. By 1920, America Had Become World’s Top Economic Power. Continue reading

Untested Simplicity of the Villages

by Ram Dass

Is the vision of simple living provided by this village in the East the answer?  Is this an example of a primitive simplicity of the past or of an enlightened simplicity of the future?

Gradually I have to come to sense that this is not the kind of simplicity that the future holds.  For despite its ancient character, the simplicity of the village is still in its “infancy”.

Occasionally people show me their new babies and ask me if that peaceful innocence is not just like that of the Buddha.  Probably not, I tell them, for within that baby reside all the latent seeds of worldly desire, just waiting to sprout as the opportunity arises.  On the other hand, the expression on the face of the Buddha, who had seen through the impermanence and suffering associated with such desires, reflects the invulnerability of true freedom. Continue reading