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March 17th: Holi Festival “of colors”

Monday, March 17th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- my favorite Indian festival -- and also Modi, the Indian PM candidate whose visitor's visa for the US was revoked by State a decade ago on the grounds of "violating religious freedom" ]
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It may be the world’s most playful festival — Holi, the Festival of Colors, is celebrated today, March 17, in India and around the world.

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The equipment required for play is simple enough: colored powders.

These powders can be thrown at people dry, watered down and tossed at them in balloons, or sprayed from squirt-guns…

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In each case, the result it the same — brightly-colored people.

And why?

The symbolism of the colors of Holi Festival is that the devotees are “drenched in the colors of devotion” to God, in memory of the brother and sister devotees Holika and Prahlad, who refused to worship their father King Hiranyakashipu as God, although ordered to do so on pain of death.

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And then there’s Narendra Modi.

Modi is currently running for Lok Sabha on the BJP ticket from Varanasi — the holiest city in India — and will become PM in the event of a BJP win. The elections, in the world’s largest democracy, are scheduled to run for 36 days starting April 5th.

Blog-friend Patricia Lee Sharpe offers some background on Whirledview:

Raze Mosques, Ban Books, Exile Artists

Although some of Modi’s predecessors have played down the religious angle and stressed free market economics to broaden the party’s appeal, the B.J.P. nevertheless adheres to a militantly nationalist ideology based on a (this part is almost funny) Victorian re-interpretation of Hinduism known as Hindutva, and the party belongs to the same political family (aka parivar) as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (R.S.S.). As the Hindustan Times says, “Few are convinced that the R.S.S. has no role in B.J.P. politics.”

In its early days R.S.S. members donned khaki, marched around and provided intimidation services for the Hindu Mahasabha and other Hindu nationalists in the manner of coeval Brown and Black Shirts in pre-World War II Europe. It was banned in 1948, after an over-zealous member assassinated Mahatma Gandhi for being too tolerant of Muslims and too reformist visà-vis Hinduism, as in treating “untouchables” like fellow human beings. Reactivated as a “cultural” organization, with a leadership overlapping that of the superficially benign B.J.P., the R.S.S. in 1992 recruited a mob to raze the centuries-old Babri mosque in Ayodya, alleging it had been built over the ruins of a temple to the Hindu man-god Rama. Eventually, the courts intervened, dispatching teams of archaeologists to excavate for evidence of Ram’s temple. In the end, with the mosque destroyed and lacking the least sign of a temple, the judges split the difference: Hindus and Muslims get to use court-allocated portions of the disputed site. Naturally, neither side is happy.

Moving forward to 2013, Hindutva sympathizers have been responsible for the Indian High Court’s decision to ban a book by an eminent American Sanskrit scholar on the grounds that its erudite version of a polycentric Hinduism shaped by a multitude of Vedic and non-Vedic traditions might hurt the feelings of some Hindus. As a result, naturally, sales of the ebook version have soared, but fears of violence, if not a justification for the decision, were also not totally unfounded. There were angry demonstrations over attempts to sell Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, which was banned to spare Muslim sensibilities.

And here’s a truly sad case of triumphal, puritanical Hindu communalism: death threats forced M.H. Hussein, India’s most acclaimed modern painter—if you want a Hussein, think in terms of seven figures in U.S. dollars at Sotheby’s—to spend his last days in exile. His “crime”? He, a secular, perhaps even heretical Muslim, had dared to paint some Hindu goddesses veiled (at best) diaphanously. Anyone familiar with the buxom, bare-bosomed devis on Indian temples would have to ask: how else would anyone paint a Hindu goddess? But no one has ever accused religious fundamentalists, whether Hindu, Muslim or Christian, of sophisticated cultural criticism.

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Modi himself invites you to send e-greetings for Holi Festival on his website:

The joyful occasion of Holi can also be celebrated by sending an egreeting to your near and dear ones. You may do this by visiting the official website of Shri Narendra Modi and sending a personalized e-greeting, along with an audio message by Shri Narendra Modi.

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Super Buds

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- you can't even watch the Super Bowl without the Antichrist slipping deftly into your subconscious -- or can you? ]
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Thank God I don’t watch the Super Bowl. If I did, and unless I’d been taking a break during the commercials to go on a scavenger hunt in the kitchen, I might have been exposed to this:

Horrific, no? And yet so smoothly and sweetly done!

As you might imagine, this cute commercial was “the Most Successful Commercial of the Super Bowl” according to TIME, and “racked up more than 37 million views”.

On the other hand, this video commentary has only managed 13,495 views as of the time my writing this post:

It seems the forces of advertising Antichrist are beating out the voices of false prophecy about 2472 to 1.

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Or perhaps not.

I have an alternative theory. Perhaps the Budweiser Clydesdale horses are just Clydesdales, the puppies just puppies — and for the record, it was “17 Clydesdale horses and eight golden Labrador puppies” I missed, thank God, fingers crossed, just in case — and the ad just an ad, the beer just a beer, with nary an Antichrist in sight.

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Scholar that I am, I believe you might like further resources with which to deepen your understanding of this matter of commercial appeal or (fingers crossed) theological interpretation.

Our “co-prophet” skipped his usual introduction in this particular “cute puppy” video, but he posts extensively, and I was happy to find his commentary on the Vatican Doves, which I discussed recently [ here and here ]:

So that’s how our co-prophet sees himself — the “third eagle” of the Apocalypse.

And then there’s the ad itself, which I must finally admit I prefer to its alleged millennial meaning.

Two looks behind the scenes:

and:

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And that’s it, folks.

Sigmund Freud, or was it Groucho Marx, said it first: sometimes a Clydesdale is just a Clydesdale.

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Hat-tip: blog-friend Bryan Alexander of the ever-ghastly Infocult.

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Fukushima: which is worse for you, radiation or paranoia?

Monday, January 6th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- frankly, I'm more concerned about the spiritually and socially corrosive impact of fear, myself ]
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I know, technically radiation and paranoia are incommensurables. But still…

Blog-friend Cheryl Rofer posted today at Nuclear Diner, pointing out the fallacies in some recent reports about Fukushima, spreading like wildfire on the web:

I particularly like the “Fukushima melt-through point” in one of the illustrations in that apparently original source, reproduced here. That’s referring to the China Syndrome, in which the melted reactor core melts down through the earth. But once it gets to the center, does it keep climbing, against gravity, to that “melt-through point”?

How much outrageous or stupid stuff does it take to discredit a source? For me, the misuse of the tsunami map and the belief that a core could melt clear through the earth, against gravity, are quite enough.

Boom!

I recommend Chery’s whole piece, both to read and to circulate. And she includes a number of other more specific sources worth takeing a look at, including:

  • Radiation Basics
  • True facts about Ocean Radiation and the Fukushima Disaster
  • Is the sea floor littered with dead animals due to radiation? No.
  • Three Reasons Why Fukushima Radiation Has Nothing to Do with Starfish Wasting Syndrome
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    So: which does more harm to us in the long run, radiation – or paranoia?

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    “Friends of Zenpundit Who Wrote Books” # 3

    Monday, December 16th, 2013

    [by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. "zen"]

    As the holiday season is here, I thought it would be amusing between now and Christmas to do a series of posts on books by people who have, in some fashion, been friends of ZP by supporting us with links, guest-posts, friendly comments and other intuitive gestures of online association. One keyboard washes the other.

    Gian Gentile 

     

    Wrong Turn: America’s Deadly Embrace of Counterinsurgency 

    How Effective is Strategic Bombing?: Lessons Learned From World War II to Kosovo 

    Colonel Gentile is a historian, a professor at West Point, a combat veteran of Iraq and is the foremost public critic of pop-centric COIN theory around, bar none, which he has translated into a book-length critique that is required reading for the con side of the COIN debate. Gian has also been kind enough to grace the comment section here from time to time as well as participating in the Afghanistan 2050 Roundtable at ChicagoBoyz blog.

    Don Vandergriff

      

    Manning the Future Legions of the United States: Finding and Developing Tomorrow’s Centurions 

    Spirit, Blood and Treasure: The American Cost of Battle in the 21st Century 

    The Path to Victory

    Raising the Bar: Creating and Nurturing Adaptability to Deal with the Changing Face of War 

    I have had the pleasure of hearing Don speak and demonstrate some of his adaptive leadership techniques at the Boyd Conferences which I greatly enjoyed and strongly endorse, for those interested in having Vandergriff as a speaker or consultant. His absence this year at Boyd was much regretted but Don was off doing some important work this year overseas. Catch him in print instead.

    John Robb 

    Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization 

    I am an unabashed huge fan of John’s work and Global Guerrillas has been on my (very) short list of must read sites for years. This book, like Ronfeldt and Arquilla’s Netwars, is a classic of emerging trends in warfare and strategy that belongs on your shelf.

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    “Friends of Zenpundit.com who Wrote Books” Post #2: Poetry, War & Business

    Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

    As the holiday season is here, I thought it would be amusing between now and Christmas to do a series of posts on books by people who have, in some fashion, been friends of ZP by supporting us with links, guest-posts, friendly comments and other intuitive gestures of online association. One keyboard washes the other.

    The second installment focuses on Poetry, War and Business:

    Stanton Coerr

    Rubicon: The Poetry of War 

    Colonel Stan Coerr is a combat vet (USMC) of Iraq, a naval aviator, poet and a key organizer of the Boyd & Beyond Conference. He is also intent on becoming a historian, to which I give a hearty thumb’s up!

    Terry Barnhart

    Creating a Lean R&D System: Lean Principles and Approaches for Pharmaceutical and Research-Based Organizations

    Scientist and organizational consultant, Dr. Terry Barnhart, is the originator of “fast learning” strategies for organizational excellence and problem solving. I personally use Terry’s “Critical Question Mapping” strategy with students and elicited amazing results each time.

    James Frayne

    Cover of Meet the People by James Frayne

    Meet the People: Why businesses must engage with public opinion to manage and enhance their reputations

    Across the pond, James Frayne is a leading British political and media strategy consultant and former government official. Some of you may remember James from his excellent ( now defunct) political strategy blog Campaign War Room and from his participation in the Reagan Roundtable at Chicago Boyz.

    More to come…..

    ADDENDUM:

    The previous post in the series has been pulled temporarily due to emerging scripting execution errors – it will be restored in a few days

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