Posted on 22-09-2014
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Rashtrakut

Many people are dumb (note the other idiot in the video who does not pull his hand out after seeing what happens to his neighbor)

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Posted on 21-03-2014
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This should not be funny, but for some reason it is.  [Hat tip to Chicagoist via Gizmodo.]  The group dynamics of the penguins trying to navigate their way across the rope are fascinating.  Video below:

 

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Posted on 17-07-2013
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Titled “Share… Care… Joy…” this is a a beautiful video put out by the Naik Foundation.  No Hindi skills required to get the message.  Enjoy…..

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Posted on 07-05-2013
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Tue, 06 Nov 2012 19:42

Democrats win in CT.  Goodbye and good riddance Joe Lieberman.  Nauseating sanctimony in the Senate dropped a bit.  Meanwhile Linda MacMahon tried her best to match Meg Whitman in blowing a 100 million dollars.

 

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Tue, 06 Nov 2012 19:34

Remember all the effort to unskew the polls?

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Tue, 06 Nov 2012 19:29

Charlie Crist on MSNBC railing against the voting changes in Florida attempting to rig the election for Romney.

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Posted on 23-03-2012
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Rashtrakut

The constraints of work have kept this blog dormant for the last few months.  But on today the first day of the Hindu Lunar New Year (Year 1934 SE) seems a good time to announce a return.  For more about the Saka Era you can read this article from our sister blog.

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Posted on 25-12-2011
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Rashtrakut

We thought we would mark it by a recent homage to one of the finest cartoon strips ever written.  Enjoy the video below and Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and have a wonderful new year:

 

 

 

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Posted on 14-04-2011
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Rashtrakut

A plug for my favorite fantasy series that is shortly coming to the small screen on HBO.  People compare George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” to Tolkien’s classic Lord of the Rings trilogy.  To me there is no comparison.  Martin is a far superior writer in his ability to maintain a coherent storyline.  His world of Westeros may not have the obsessive detail of Tolkein’s Middle-Earth but still has impressive depth.

The series is loosely inspired by the War of the Roses – the fratricidal civil war between the Houses of Lancaster and York (two of the dynastic protagonists here are the houses of Lannister and Stark).  The series also draws from other events like the destruction of Atlantis and the Black Bull Dinner (readers of the series should recognize what scene this alludes to).

Now the first book of the series – A Game of Thrones has been adapted for the small screen.  HBO has helpfully offered up a 14 minute preview of episode 1.  So far it looks very faithful to the book and very good.  Now only if I had HBO to watch it before it gets to Netflix

Though as consolation I can curl up this summer with the long overdue book 5 of the series – A Dance with Dragons.

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Posted on 27-03-2011
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Taking a break from the usual litany of war. economic ruin, natural disasters, and politicians is the video below that an uncle shared on Facebook.  After you are done watching the adorable tyke click here for the background and a second video.  Enjoy….

 

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This is brilliant (via Andrew Sullivan):

On the value of education

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Posted on 02-10-2010
Filed Under (History, Uncategorized) by Rashtrakut

Tomorrow, Sunday October 3, 2010 marks a milestone.  Ninety One years after the Treaty of Versailles, 65 years after the end of World War II and 20 years after its second reunification,  Germany will make the final reparation payment imposed by the victorious and vengeful Allied powers for its alleged guilt in causing the First World War.  The reparations were controversial as soon as they imposed.  John Maynard Keynes resigned his post in the British treasury to protest the scale of the demands.  They were repeatedly reduced in the 1920s and finally Germany under Hitler repudiated them.  The payment tomorrow is actually for the debt the Weimar Republic incurred to pay the original reparations.  However, they bring another of the poisonous legacies of the treaties that concluded the Great War to a close. The problems caused by the creation of another Yugoslavia in the Land of the Two Rivers by imposing a foreign ruler against the wishes of the local population will bother us for many years to come.

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Posted on 02-10-2010
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Rashtrakut

Something lighter for today….what if Star Wars was first made in the silent movie era.  Check out the amusing effect for yourself.

The original climactic clip from The Empire Strikes Back with all sound effects:

The very creative silent movie version:

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Posted on 25-03-2010
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Rashtrakut

This is an update to two previous blog posts.  See here and here.  To the outrage of many Hindus in the United States, Wendy Doniger’s book was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award.  She did not win.  Professor Aseem Shukla has a nice write up at the Washington Post on the dust up caused by the book.  See here.  The post is worth reading for a few reasons.  It highlights some of the concerns in my previous post.  It also contains a response by Doniger and rebuttal of the response by Shukla.  Also provided are links to some detailed rebuttals of the factual inaccuracies in the book.  See here and here.

[In the interests of disclosure and in contradiction of the portion of the second rebuttal regarding Ashoka, I personally have some cynicism about the great Mauryan Emperor’s change of heart.  See link.  However, these are based on similarities to the stories of the previous conversion of Ajatashatru and deal primarily with religious realpolitik and royal propaganda.  They do not delve into Doniger’s broad assertions regarding Hinduisim that trip her up.]

Doniger’s biggest problem appears to be one that plagues any outsider writing about a foreign culture.  They appear to lack the cultural knowledge or reference points that would enable them to make sweeping generalizations without imprinting their inner biases or agendas.  The result can leave the native practitioner bewildered and sometimes angry.  The tendency to suck up to the Indian secular left, portions of which delight in sneering at their heritage in an attempt to garb themselves with the cloak of modernity, aggravates this situation.

It also reflects the general absence of practicing Indian Hindus in American Hinduism academia that could present an alternate point of view (assuming that liberal arts academia is willing to allow alternate viewpoints), something that could prevent the tendency to indulge in sexual Freudian psychobabble.  It plays into the concerns of cultural imperialism spawned by India’s colonial legacy.  Until these concerns are addressed this will not be the last such skirmish on the subject and blaming critics as right wing Hindu chauvinists will have diminishing returns.

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The strange political odyssey of Scott Lee Cohen has come to a close.  See link.  Cohen was the unexpected winner in a political primary for Lt. Governor in a multiple candidate race.  An early entrant into the race he spent lavishly to build early name recognition and eked out a narrow win over the favored candidates.  There is plenty of egg on many faces, and justifiably so.

Cohen made an ambiguous disclosure about a previous battery arrest, but thinking he had no chance to win no media outlet bothered to investigate any of this until he actually won the nomination. None of his opponents or the party  establishment bothered to check Cohen’s shady background either.  Exposes like this abruptly popped up when the media realized that a candidate they failed to vet had actually won.

It is in some ways reminiscent of the 2004 Illinois Senate election when the leading (and relatively unvetted) Democratic candidate Blair Hull was torpedoed a week before the election by disclosures in his divorce file which he tried to avoid.  The Republicans failed to get the divorce file on their winning candidate Jack Ryan until after the primary, leading to a tragicomic farce in their attempts to find a replacement.  That election is notable of course because it saw the rise of one Barack Obama into national politics.

The position of Lt. Governor in Illinois is a cushy job with no responsibilities.  It was amusing to see various candidates in the recent primary promise to bring changes that they have no ability to provide.  There is a legitimate question as to why the position exists at all.  In fact, Illinois like most other states has a surfeit of elected positions.  The general public probably cannot distinguish between the function of comptroller and treasurer at the state level.  At the local level it is a mystery why certain positions like the commissioners for park districts and water districts (and in some states the position of coroner) are subject to elections rather than becoming civil service (and non-patronage) positions that allow experienced people to perform these jobs.  Then there is the issue of judicial elections, which as Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has pointed out opens up a Pandora’s box of ethical conflicts while requiring a public to vote on judges they have never heard about and about whom they generally do not bother to take the trouble to read about.

General voter disinterest in the political races at the bottom of the ticket opens the door for the Scott Lee Cohens’ to enter based largely on name recognition or the pull of the party machine.

Direct elections for many of these positions arose from the desire for more democracy in the late 19th and early 20th century.  But it also results in state executive teams that may not be pursuing the same political goals.  It can also make it harder to assign responsibility and blame for the actions of government.  The states may be better served with fewer elected positions at the top (like Governor and Attorney General) with the rest nominated subject to the approval of the legislature.  It could allow for a more coherent functioning of state governments with no doubt as to where the buck comes to a stop.

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Posted on 20-12-2009
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Rashtrakut
  • Urban development killing the pigeon rearing tradition in Bangladesh.  Having seen the amount and stench of droppings the birds nicknamed rats with wings can create, somehow I don’t think the other city dwellers are too unhappy.
  • Getting pregnant is now a court martial offense.  Only celibate married soldiers need apply for this General’s army.
  • More climate change in India.  The rainfall in the wettest place in the world is dropping rapidly.
  • Britain looks at modifying its onerous libel laws.  There is a reason why the brilliant South Park episode on Scientology ended with a threat to sue in England.
  • Religious fundamentalism in Israel.  Rabbis say that loyalty to God trumps the orders given by the state (of course they interpret God’s word).  Why exactly are the American right wing so eager to give these religious zealots a free pass?  How exactly are they different than the so called “Islamofascists”?

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Posted on 04-12-2009
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Rashtrakut

Two cave dwelling and homeless Hungarian brothers have hit the genetic jackpot when they discovered that they have inherited a portion of a $6.6 billion fortune from a grandmother they never met.  It appears that they each get 1/3 of the inheritance.  Two people who have cause to praise the rigidity of German inheritance laws.

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Posted on 05-11-2009
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Rashtrakut

Not sure why I looked up the Wikipedia article on Its a Wonderful Life, but I stumbled across this amusing read about the holiday feel good money.  Particularly amusing were the comments about the long term economic prospects of George Bailey’s Bedford Falls and Pottersville, even though the rust belt was probably unimaginable in the 1940s.

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Posted on 04-11-2009
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Rashtrakut

On a lighter note, about the Brazilian who decided to show up at his own funeral.  Somewhere Samuel Langhorne Clemens is smiling.

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Posted on 30-10-2009
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Rashtrakut

From the folks at deadspin.com a case of sheer bureaucratic stupidity.  High School cross-country team gets disqualified because of the color of the stitching on their shorts.  And nobody can really give a good reason why this rule was enacted.  But a rule is a rule, however stupid.  This is the sort of bureaucratic rigidity that breeds contempt for rules and regulations.

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