Thursday, October 30, 2008

Rangoli 2008

Courtesy my niece, N:

Rangoli 2008:

Rangoli 2008


The evolution over time is interesting (my photographic equipment has also improved - greatly - over the same time)

Rangoli 2007:



I'm missing Rangoli 2006!!!!! Oh no!
Rangoli 2006: (this is what I have:)


Rangoli 2005:


Sri Ganesh!

Photograph was embargoed till after Diwali.

Sri Ganesh 16mm

EXIF available by clicking on the picture, etc.

Links to previous:
1. The first (inaugurating the blog, not my photo)
2. The second
3. The third
4. The fourth

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Happy Diwali!

Diwali Rangoli

Happy Diwali to all my readers, and all my non-readers!

QOTD a Weekly Standard column titled "McCain versus the juggernaut," neoconservative pundit William Kristol warned that an "Obama-Biden administration -- working with a Democratic Congress -- would mean a more debilitating nanny state at home and a weaker nation facing our enemies abroad." It takes a deep obliviousness to reality for an ardent Bush supporter to be sounding the alarm about the "nanny state" at the same time that his beloved president and party are solicitously spoon-feeding their wailing Wall Street brat out of a $700 billion jar of Gerber's.
Gary Kamiya, The Republican ShipWreck

Friday, October 24, 2008


Quite apt -- Sarah Palin: A Fox show waiting to happen (heard on Hardball).


There's a lot of talk of gravitas on the MSNBC news shows - e.g., gravitas is something that Sarah Palin lacks.

While "guru" is used popularly to mean someone who is very knowledgeable, an expert, or in Indian usage, a teacher, the root meaning is "one with gravitas". Gravitational attraction is "gurutva-aakarshan", aakarshan meaning attraction. Thus "guru" as a person is one who is "heavy", firmly grounded, unshakeable in the fundamentals.

Candidate of Change

I saw this headline on Yahoo:

Biden dismisses McCain's claim he's the candidate of change

I can just imagine McCain muttering to himself - what does Biden mean? Let's see - I've changed on torture, the Bush tax cuts, Roe v. Wade, campaign finance reform, Jerry Falwell, the Confederate flag, Grover Norquist, the Martin Luther King holiday, off-shore drilling, immigration policy....Just how much do I have to change to be the candidate of change?????????


PS: this weekend's NYT magazine has a long story on the McCain campaign. McCain's campaign chief
Rick Davis told me in September, "The worst scenario for Obama is if he winds up running against the McCain of 2000," an authentic independent.

Exactly McCain's problem: if he wasn't such a changed candidate, if he had maintained his independence over the last eight years, he'd probably have a healthy lead in the polls. That assumes, of course, that the Republican base would have nominated him.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Idiots who rule America

Via dkos, I bring you this Chris Hedges essay.
Our elites—the ones in Congress, the ones on Wall Street and the ones being produced at prestigious universities and business schools—do not have the capacity to fix our financial mess. Indeed, they will make it worse. They have no concept, thanks to the educations they have received, of the common good. They are stunted, timid and uncreative bureaucrats who are trained to carry out systems management. They see only piecemeal solutions which will satisfy the corporate structure. They are about numbers, profits and personal advancement. They are as able to deny gravely ill people medical coverage to increase company profits as they are able to use taxpayer dollars to peddle costly weapons systems to blood-soaked dictatorships. The human consequences never figure into their balance sheets. The democratic system, they think, is a secondary product of the free market. And they slavishly serve the market.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A most remarkable thing

The Obama campaign raised a record-breaking $150 million in September. But that is not what I find remarkable.

Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann from the sixth district of Minnesota appeared on TV in an interview with MSNBC's Chris Matthews, and there she showed her wingnutty side and asked for an investigation of her fellow Congressmen on the grounds of "anti-Americanism" - shades of the McCarthy era! Within 48 hours, the Netroots raised half a million dollars for her opponent, El Tinklenberg - more than doubling his cash at hand.

This is the power of the new modes of political organization on the Internet. Instead of thousands of people yelling at their TV in impotent rage, they deliver zingers of real impact. We don't have to put up with the Bachmann style of politics any more.

BTW: if you want to contribute...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Neck ache

Doesn't looking at this bird give you a neck-ache? My vertebrae get the heeby-jeebies.


Great Egret

Great Egret, a.k.a. American Egret (Casmerodius albus), I think.
Also 840 mm.

I chose the shot in which the bird's eye is the sharpest.

Resized full frame, followed by 100% crop:



A shot from Manasquan Reservoir
(300 f/2.8 + 1.4x + 2.0x TCs; on tripod - i.e., 840mm, f/8, 1/250s)

I think from looking at Peterson's guide that this is a Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo).

The entire frame, resized:

100% crop: I think with some practice the exposure can be sharper.



1. I can't believe how dull the Fire on the Water picture looked on my office laptop monitor.   I played around with the settings - gamma, brightness, contrast, etc. - to no avail.

2. In the comments I was asked for a f/8 version of this scene. Fortunately I have one - medium size here; the same 1800 x 1200 size is available on flickr.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Fire on the Water

Fire On The Water

God had better vote Republican!

If God does not vote Republican, his reputation will suffer!

From the invocation at a McCain rally:
"I would also pray, Lord, that your reputation is involved in all that happens between now and November, because there are millions of people around this world praying to their god — whether it's Hindu, Buddha, Allah — that his opponent wins, for a variety of reasons," Conrad said.

"And Lord, I pray that you would guard your own reputation, because they're going to think that their god is bigger than you, if that happens. So I pray that you will step forward and honor your own name with all that happens between now and Election Day," he said.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Financial Disease

In the 80s, Dire Straits had a lighthearted song "Industrial Disease" (lyrics, youtube). Our times call for a new song.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Republican Nominations

I hereby nominate Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska and Republican candidate for Vice-President for a honorary membership of the Screenwriters' Guild. The comedians merely have to quote her words to parody her.

I hereby nomination John McCain, Senator and Republican candidate President for an Oscar for lifetime achievement. His performance fooled an nation for decades (admittedly, a nation that is exceptionally gullible) that believed in his honor. Only now in the heat of the campaign is the actor's mask beginning to slip; he has no escutcheon to blot; and his motto turns out to be "Dishonor before Death".

To quote TPM:

Who They Are, What They're About

10.06.08 -- 7:04PM
By Josh Marshall

So we have McCain today getting his crowd riled up asking who Barack Obama is and then apparently giving a wink and a nod when one member of the crowd screams out "terrorist."

And later we have Sarah Palin with the same mob racket, getting members of the crowd to yell out "kill him", though it's not clear whether the call for murder was for Bill Ayers or Barack Obama. It didn't seem to matter.

These are dangerous and sick people, McCain and Palin. Whatever it takes. Stop at nothing.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Inspiring diary from Texas

Yet another inspiring dailykos diary.

If candidates were trains...

This from dailykos:

Saturday, October 04, 2008


Bill Maher's documentary on ridiculous religion (hence the title Religulous) would probably cause an obligatory riot or two in India; so it is something to be celebrated that it can be made and exhibited peacefully (so far) in the US of A. As much as a documentary can, it skewers the absurd in religion and makes the point that given the passions that religion arouses, and given that man now has the power to obliterate himself, religion is something we can no longer afford to indulge in. I don't expect the documentary to make a dent in anyone's belief, however. Religion is more powerful than that. Religulous does make for a great weekend movie.

Maher makes at least one error - in a section on the Christian myth being predated by other myths with much the same elements, he says Krishna was born of a virgin, baptized in a river, etc. Not so, Krishna was born of Devaki and Vasudeva. He was smuggled across the Yamuna after his birth because his uncle feared a prophecy that he would be slain by a child of Devaki and Vasudeva and so, we are told, had killed the previous seven.

In Hindu stories there is no virgin birth - to create the world, Brahma effectively committed incest.

This next too will sound like apologia, but Hindu stories have, in my opinion, enough elements in them that they are not to be understood to have happened at any particular place or time. Of course, lots of people do not share that idea.

There is another level at which the documentary fails for me. An easy way of putting it is that Maher fails to take on the Buddhists or the Hindus. Prof. Balu might say it is because what we had in India is not a religion. Nevertheless there are all kinds of rituals and paraphernalia that seem absurd to non-Hindu eyes even surrounding someone like Swami Dayananda Saraswati, who has one outpost of his teachings at Saylorsburg, PA. Putting that aside, and just looking at the core of what the Swamiji teaches - he would be largely in agreement with Bill Maher.

Namely - we do not need religion to teach us what is right and wrong. People have a pretty intuitive understanding of that, and it can be sharpened with reason. There is no heaven, no hell. God - to the extent Iswara corresponds to God - God does not reside in some remote place. God is neither angry nor jealous nor hates anything in the universe. Good and evil to a large extent are human categories. There is nothing to be believed in, only something to be understood; and that too, only if you want to. What is to be understood is the nature of the world. This understanding is not from one prophet or other, but has recurred and recurs in myriads of people.

I'm not going into what that knowledge is; but rather trying to point out that here is what we would call a religious teacher who agrees with Maher and not in the manner of the Catholic priest that Maher interviews; and so Maher has to be missing something.

PS- fixed some typos.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Sarah Palin Debate Flow Chart

The experts at dkos put one together.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Gandhi Jayanthi

Mahatma Gandhi would have been 139 years old today.

Thought for today:

Economics that hurt the moral well-being of an individual or a nation are immoral and therefore sinful.

PS: I had to add a snarky one, too:

Civilization is not an incurable disease, but it should never be forgotten that the English people are at present afflicted by it.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Extreme cluelessness

Palin beats Quayle handily.

She evidently has no clue about where Gaza is and the significance of Hamas winning an election.