Sunday, April 29, 2012

Around Here - Red Bank



Around Here, a set on Flickr.
Went to Red Bank Saturday a little after noon. The parking meter ate a quarter and then refused more, so didn't feel like lingering beyond the half-hour. Noon lighting is anyway not the best for photography. Many stores were vacant so it was a little depressing.  In the marina, most boats seemed to be still in their winter wrappings. So after a few shots, left, and went and did my part in helping stores in my area to not be vacant.

Three of the above are with the 70-200mm lens and the rest are with the 16-35mm.  Milding cropping and post-processing.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Bhangra Blowout 19


Bhangra Blowout 19, a set on Flickr.

Here are the photographs from the 19th Bhangra Blowout on April 7 in Washington DC,

The first photograph is a heavily cropped 50L. This was the host GW Bhangra dancing. but not competively.

Until the end, when the 50L came back, the rest are70-200mm f/2.8 II, at ISO 6400. The shutter speed of 1/200 seconds was not always adequate as you can see.

Photography was made complicated by the tall people right in the row in front of me.

There may be too many shots here for people who did not attend the show.

I could have used a better 6400 ISO and the ability to use off-center focus points (think 5D3 here :) ). But all in all, I think I got a reasonable rate of hitting focus on the some 900 shots I took. The ones here are now the only survivors. (The rest exist only in backup.)

I hope I've captured some of the color and the energy of the event.

The evening ended a little flat when only one of what we thought were the three best teams placed in the top three. It turns out that Cornell had actually obtained the highest scores overall, but they were not given a prize apparently because it was thought that had stepped too far out of traditional bhangra.

Aurangzeb's religious bigotry on display

India's Marxist historians have tried their utmost to whitewash Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb's religious bigotry.  Muslims consider Aurangzeb to be a great and pious ruler, while Hindus remember his persecution.  On the other hand, Mughal Emperor Akbar is remembered by Hindus to be a rather decent sort; but Akbar, in his adult years, was anything but an orthodox Muslim, and so he is reviled in Muslim histories. Claims are made in Mullah-authored histories such as Akbar forbid boys from being named "Muhammad" and he turned mosques into stables.

If you've read the Sikand piece (previous post), you know that, as per progressives (who in India are often Marxists) Hindus, by definition have to be wrong. Moreover, if Aurangzeb was in fact good, and Hindus revile him, it simply shows the communal-mindedness of the stupid Hindus.   Lastly, since Aurangzeb, was by Muslim accounts, a good Islamic ruler and since the historical myth of "no compulsion by Muslims in religion" has to be upheld, the history of Aurangzeb's bigotry has to be minimized if not totally suppressed.

Well, here in his royal orders, is the reality of Aurangzeb.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Yoginder Sikand on why he's giving up social activism

This confession is almost too good to be true:  please read in full, but here is a paragraph:

Imagining myself as crusading on behalf of the 'oppressed' and as being a key player in the 'struggle' for 'social justice' for a host of 'marginalised communities' turned me completely blind to every good thing in those whom I began to see as their 'oppressors' (in the Indian context, mainly 'upper' caste/class Hindus) and in what was termed, in the jargon of the 'progressives' whose ranks I so desperately wanted to join, the 'present oppressive system'. There was nothing at all good in Hindu traditions or in America or in Capitalist Modernity, for instance, I convinced myself, for I was hooked onto the 'progressive' and 'radical' rhetoric that 'upper' caste Hindus in general (including most of my own family!) and almost every single American was complicit in perpetuating 'oppression'. If you had to be counted as a 'social activist', you simply couldn't see or find anything worthy at all in 'upper' caste Hindus or in Americans, and, if you did, your sincerity and commitment were gravely suspect. So deep-rooted was this negative mentality among 'social activists' supposedly committed to the 'oppressed' that for a 'progressive' to discern anything positive about 'the present system' or Indic spirituality, for instance, was about the most serious anathema conceivable.

PS: Yoginder Sikand issued a clarification.  As far as I am concerned, I did not need it. I did not take Yoginder Sikand to be representative of all activists - only of a variety that includes Arundhati Roy.  There is all kinds of oppression in India, and even when it is not attributable to any group of people, there is still the oppression of poverty.  Nor do I equate the misbehavior of the relatively powerful and powerless, and so on.   There are two types of activists, those who act out of sympathy and those that act out of hatred.  It is the latter sort that are so amply exposed by Sikand's confession.

Monday, April 23, 2012


(via The ultimate little boy's dream of toy cars come true (vimeo video).
The blurb reads:

After working on his newest project for four years, Chris Burden unveiled "Metropolis II" at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in early 2012. This 20'x30' installation comprises 18 roadways, several train tracks, and various buildings constructed from Erector Sets, LEGO bricks, and Lincoln Logs. A pair of motorized conveyor belts generate all the potential energy to power the 1,100 custom-made cars (regular Hot Wheels proved too fragile), which travel around at a scale speed of 230mph. The result is an amazing frenetic energy that captures the rush of modern commuting in a big-city environment.

The dynamic sculpture has reportedly been sold for millions of dollars but will remain on display at LACMA for the next 10 years. Currently, "Metropolis II" may only be viewed during select 90 minute sessions, Fridays through Sundays.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A blow to AIT, AMT

To me one of the pieces of evidence that Indians have been speaking Indo-European languages well before the hypothetical Aryan Invasion or Aryan Migration is the lack of geographic names with non-Indo-European roots in the oldest preserved compositions that we have.  If there was an incursion of Indo-European language speakers between 1900 BC and 1500 BC, the natives that they encountered also belonged to the same language group.

But here is some genetic evidence that also weighs against any migration or invasion.
So if there is a European component in Indian genes, that event happened much earlier than the decline of the Harappan civilisation and not because of the hypothetical Aryan migration around 1500 BCE.

Life as a Dhimmi - 12

About a dozen people have been mildly injured and three have been booked under blasphemy laws for staging a rally against forced conversions of Hindu girls in Hyderabad, Sindh today.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Florida: Hoisted by their own petard?

NYT editorial:

The [Tampa]City Council is sensibly preparing tight security precautions for the downtown area by temporarily banning clubs, hatchets, switchblades, pepper spray, slingshots, chains, shovels and all manner of guns that shoot water, paint or air {for the National Republican Convention}.
But not handguns that shoot actual bullets. In other words, someone outside the convention hall will be entitled to pack a handgun, but not a squirt gun.
This down-the-rabbit-hole situation is the result of a law passed last year by state legislators at the behest of the gun lobby. It ended longstanding local gun controls, prohibiting city governments from enacting any ordinances on the sale, possession or use of firearms.
Tampa officials wanted to ban handguns outside the convention hall (the Secret Service has undisputed power to ban weapons inside the hall) but came up against the state law, which imposes $100,000 fines on local governments that try to meet such obvious public-safety needs.
Add to that the "Stand Your Ground" law!  This political convention, like all conventions, will draw protesters, but some of these protesters will be legally armed, and  legally entitled to shoot anyone by whom they feel threatened.  This is a recipe for chaos.

If anything untoward does happen, I am likely to break out into a serious case of schadenfreude, so I hope that before then, sanity breaks out among Florida legislators.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Another Florida Stand Your Ground Shooting

Via Kevin Drum, on Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law.
It doesn't matter if you're the one who initiated the confrontation. It doesn't matter where you are, as long as you have a right to be there. It doesn't even matter if you shoot someone who's fleeing. All that seems to matters is whether you have any kind of plausible claim to have feared great bodily harm. Here's a recent case:

Nine days after Trayvon Martin was shot dead in Sanford, Brandon Baker, 30, and his twin brother were driving separate cars toward the apartment they shared in Palm Harbor. Seth Browning, a 23-year-old security guard who later told deputies he was concerned with Baker's erratic driving, pulled in close behind Baker to get his license tag number.

Baker turned off East Lake Road, then onto an access road and came to a stop....Browning followed and stopped....Baker climbed out of his truck and walked to Browning's window. His brother [] said Baker was trying to figure out why Browning was tailgating him.....Browning sprayed Baker with pepper spray, then shot him in the chest. He told deputies that Baker had punched him and he was in fear for his life.

....More than 500 people have signed their online petition to get "stand your ground" repealed. "This case is being considered a 'stand your ground' case and should not be since Seth Browning was the sole 'AGGRESSOR' and 'CHOSE' to tailgate, pull over, pepper spray, and shoot and kill Brandon Baker," it says. "Seth Browning did NOT act out of self defense and should be prosecuted for killing Brandon Baker."

But if history serves, the pursuit may not matter. The case will hinge on what happened in the moments before Browning pulled the trigger, and whether he feared for his life. Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gaultieri said this week that the case is still under investigation.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

On the feeding of Roses

From Roses for Dummies, 2nd edition, by Lance Walheim:

One trophy winner (and former president of the American Rose Society) we know has a particularly high-powered fertilizer program.

About a week after his plants leaf out in spring, he applies a water-soluble 20-20-20 fertilizer, diluting 2 tablespoons of fertilizer in 2 gallons of water and giving each plant the whole 2 gallons.  A week later, he puts ½ cup of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) around each bush.   The third week, he applies fish emulsion at the same dilution as he applied the 20-20-20 fertilizer two weeks earlier.   During week four, he applies a liquid fertilizer (16-4-2), which includes chelated micronutrients, at one tablespoon a gallon, 2 gallons per bush.  In week five, he starts all over again.

The links are to the products I use, not the places I shop.   I don't have a 16-4-2 available anywhere around, so I use a 12-4-8.  

Does it work? Yes, the bushes grow like rockets and bloom like maniacs.  However, the local deer think this is a good way of growing deer food.


Monday, April 02, 2012

A blow against the Fourth Amendment

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
The Supreme Court on Monday ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that officials may strip-search people arrested for any offense, however minor, before admitting them to jails even if the officials have no reason to suspect the presence of contraband.
The case decided Monday, Florence v. County of Burlington, No. 10-945, arose from the arrest of Albert W. Florence in New Jersey in 2005. Mr. Florence was in the passenger seat of his BMW when a state trooper pulled his wife, April, over for speeding. A records search revealed an outstanding warrant for Mr. Florence’s arrest based on an unpaid fine. (The information was wrong; the fine had been paid.)  Mr. Florence was held for a week in jails in Burlington and Essex Counties, and he was strip-searched in each.
The world bastion of liberty, city on a hill, blah, blah, blah...
The procedures endorsed by the majority are forbidden by statute in at least 10 states and are at odds with the policies of federal authorities. According to a supporting brief filed by the American Bar Association, international human rights treaties also ban the procedures. 

Kevin Drum: The Truth About the Individual Mandate

Read here.  Kevin Drum:
It's one thing to always push for the most conservative feasible policy — that's what I'd do if I were a conservative — but it's quite another to actively lobby for that policy and then, when you get it, immediately turn around and insist that the whole thing is just a slimy piece of political graft that deserves to be blown up by a politicized Supreme Court using a brand new constitutional distinction that no one had ever heard of before last year.
Kevin Drum quotes Ezra Klein:
There was some other reason Democrats adopted this policy. I’m almost sure of it. If you give me a second, I’m sure it’ll come to me. Ah, right! Because Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, was saying things like “I believe that there is a bipartisan consensus to have individual mandates,” and “individual mandates are more apt to be accepted by a majority of the people in Congress than an employer mandate.”

And it wasn’t just Grassley.....The Healthy Americans Act, meanwhile, had been cosponsored by a bevy of heavy-hitting Senate Republicans, including Lamar Alexander, Mike Crapo, Bob Corker, Judd Gregg, Norm Coleman and Trent Lott.

....Avik Roy points out that many liberals — including candidate Barack Obama — were historically skeptical of the individual mandate. And that’s true....Roy tries to use this to draw some equivalence between the two parties. Both Democrats and Republicans changed their mind on the individual mandate, he argues. But there’s a key difference: The Democrats changed their mind in order to secure a bipartisan compromise on health-care reform. Republicans changed their mind in order to prevent one.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Rajiv Malhotra at Benares Hindu University