Friday, July 3, 2015

Rush log #3JUL15

"What're you up to what're you up to"... I've been rotten at updating, so here's an experimental, rush day's log:

Morning : Met people at PMPML who had requested to come, showed them how to install Unicode typing on WinXP computers, and how to convert existing Kruti or ShreeDev legacy text to Unicode using the unicode converters of technical-hindi group.

Before lunch : Met PMPML transport officer and got depot-wise list of bus routes from him.

Post lunch : COEP : Met the DSY batches and discussed with them on how to go about current survey

3pm: Prasanna Desai Architects (PDA) met the gang there and accompanied them to a meeting where a lot of pune's and pcmc's admins had gathered to talk about Hinjewadi.

Evening: Returned home, and completed the forms for COEP interns survey and sent them out.

Night: Working on PMPML data.. might diverge into other stuff too.

To do: LOTSS of fun stuff that would otherwise be boring if I didn't have the larger picture in mind.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Fwd: Out of School Survey - 4th July

Hello,

While there is full support for survey, if the plan to put unerasable
ink on fingers of children "caught" out of school is still on, then
I'd like to point to this PIL filed at Nagpur bench of High Court
regarding the matter. Kindly read the full text of the PIL. Please
keep in mind that the litigants are themselves lifelong champions for
childrens rights and education, including people leading major
alternative education movements like Gandhi's Nai Talim. One major
concern is that even children learning under NIOS or other open
schooling platforms or homeschooling (a recognized form of education
in most countries) or alternative education which don't involved
compulsory daily attendance, will get caught up and marked as being
out of school.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B8sY5vZfk1W5flZoc3l4NHlJNUdkVW5UR2NJb0lfdjJra3hOUDk4RV9sbDVNaERrTlQtUmc

I have included in CC some of the PIL litigants. But requesting you to
resist knee-jerk reaction.

One colleague of mine who isn't connected with any of this and just
found out about the 4th July exercise today, asked me this simple
question:

If it is genuinely felt that putting unerasable black ink mark on
fingers of children will not cause any trauma and is not a negative
thing and is in no way "branding" them in any bad light, then why
don't the authorities invert this exercise and mark all the kids who
are ATTENDING school? This will be much easier to do, as all the
schools are at known locations and so the exercise will not involve
going door to door. Then any child found without the ink can be
detected to be NOT in school. The objective of the survey will be
accomplished, without going through a manhunt type activity. And if
they genuinely believe this inking of children is not a
negative-branding or trauma-causing activity and doesn't violate the
child's rights then there shouldn't be a problem.



Humble request to take out 20 minutes of your precious time, read the
PIL's full text and think deeply and clearly about exactly what we're
trying to do here and if it is truly the ONLY way to do it.

And I absolutely agree with you that this is coming at extremely short
notice : The PIL's next hearing was scheduled for yesterday only and I
have not received updates yet from the litigants of what happened. The
4th July exercise (which is a Maharashtra-wide exercise ordered by GoM
as the GR in the google drive folder will show) should have been
announced at least a few months earlier and there should have been an
open and inclusive HEARING about the matter, inputs from stakeholders
should have been taken before proceeding with it in such a dictatorial
manner. Thanks.


--
Cheers,
Nikhil [..]

(this was a reply to a broadcast email:)

On 7/2/15, Swadhar Pune [..] wrote:
> Why dont we give this to Radio Mirch and other FM stations
> [..]
>
> On Thu, 02 Jul 2015 15:00:16 +0530 ARC - Action for the Rights of Child Pune
>
> wrote
>>Respected All,
>
>
> All of you may be aware of that PMC is conducting survey on a large scale on
> 4th
> July to enroll out of school children in schools. More then 13000 teacher
> will
> participate in this survey. Survey will be conducted at ward level. The
> survey
> will focus on areas like construction sites, footpaths, public places and
> slum
> areas etc.
>
> PMC Education Board has provided central phone number-020 25534628 to
> receive
> complains/ guide citizens regarding enrollment of out of school children.Â
> In case NGOs/ citizens found any child out of school they can call on the
> number
> provided above to register complain or give information related to school
> enrollment of out of school children.Â
> In case you don';t get expected response from the PMC on the above number
> please
> do contact ARC Coordinators on [..]


( haven't taken permissions from people involved to share their
contacts. If you have further questions them please contact me on
nikhil.js [at] gmail.com )

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The search for a more human rational explanation of humanity

http://www.thebetterindia.com/16571/my-story-honest-man-lottery-ticket-seller-sudhakaran-kerala/?ref=sidebar

This article brings out the rift which makes me steer towards being a person who respects emotions and intuition more than the current standards of logic. I identify myself with this guy much, much more than all the "rational" explanations I've heard that describes human beings. In all my travels I've seen that the less "educated" or "modern/sophisticated" a person is, while at the same time still being exposed to the same or more stark realities, the more he/she is likely to be like this guy. This seems to be the default state of human beings.. not what Fraud.. sorry, Freud (:P) predicted.

How is that happening?  I think it's because the mainstream explanations of human behaviour have an interference effect : Being taught that human beings are self-maximizing rational selfish beings ends up influencing people to behave that way more. That is, our "passive" sources of knowledge are playing an active interfering role. This really screws the whole objectivity notion of knowledge, and sabotages the "failsafe" of the knowledge establishment (the assumption that they will honestly change their stance when more facts emerge which challenge present assumptions.. honestly I don't see that happening without a serious fight). An influential resource like, say, Wikipedia or Harvard or National Geographic or BBC, if it makes a mistake and portrays an erroneous conclusion as fact, then chances are that they will make it come true and turn the false assumption into reality. Later on there's no way in our present mechanism to prove that they were wrong.

This has implications far beyond the intellectual debates : war, terrorism, economic instability, fortunes of competing sides.. all of these when predicted with enough persuasion, become real even if they initially had no basis in reality. If the world's media propagandizes that a country is full of terrorists, then the actions that follow end up making terrorism more and more prevalent there, which then reinforces that notion, irrespective of what reality was previously. If a country's media continuously predicts a certain side's victory in the next election, then that's precisely what happens even if it wasn't true to begin with. The "placebo" effect is only exposed at the rare times when sufficient numbers of people, or ardent-enough changemakers, see through the prophecy and do something radical, difficult and challenging to violate it. (As we saw in the recent Delhi elections. Now please don't get started with the latter developments.. that's another placebo effect underway that's currently not getting violated! :)

An erroneous interpretation of this all is to assume that depriving people of knowledge is the way to keep them human. I'd like to declare here and now that I absolutely disagree with that idea and I think this type of conclusion is the result of the same simplistic, linera, knee-jerk, ill-thought-out, short-sighted thinking that created the self-maximizing selfish individual explanation of humanity in the first place. All the examples we've seen of good, ethically conscious people who positively impact people's lives and make good things happen.. aren't people who were deprived of knowledge.. rather they are people who have seen MORE of the worst of humanity, people who have had more exposure than others, and a greater quality of exposure to different perspectives and conflicting viewpoints. Therefore the theory of depriving knowledge to preserve humanity falls flat on its face when confronted with facts on the ground. Rather my conclusion is that there should be more exposure to conflicting viewpoints without much effort to settle the debate, if anyone is thinking of how to go about this pedagogically. Tip for educators : Confusion Achha Hai! This is what I experiences in my two years at Swaraj University, and I'm extremely thankful to our facilitators for their self-restraint.

It would be great if anyone who claims themselves to be a rationalist can work on this and bring up an explanation that predicts this side of humanity rather than what is currently predicted by the self-proclaimed rationalists occupying the commanding heights of academia, industry and government. That is, it would be great to see a rational explanation of humanity that acknowledges and factors emotions/values/intuition/faith in, and takes account of their positive effects, rather than taking the conventional and convenient path of censoring them out or dehumanizing/de-existing them.

-Nikhil

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ridiculously inconsistent things about the Greece-EU crisis narrative being portrayed to us by the mainstream media

The most illogical things about the whole Greece-EU crisis, and what
is pointing to something suspicious in the matter:

1. If Greece leaves the EU, it is said that will severely harm the whole EU.

2. If that is true, then that would have put Greece in some commanding
position, from where they can dictate the terms.

3. But instead I see EU, Germany and co. being the commanders and
scolding an entire country and demanding that they pay through their
nose, that they take up "austerity measures" (meaning full-on
multi-generational burdensome taxation on everything that will
directly go out of the country to service debt, not help the country,
and that coupled with near-zero govt support, total slashing of
education, healthcare, poverty-alleviation, pensions, social security
etc.. which will obviously result in systemically induced mass poverty
and starvation and ZERO chances of any real recovery) .. measures that
Germany themselves would never ever impose upon their own citizens.

4. So on one end they're treating the Greeks as their slaves and as beggars,

5. And from the exact same sources describing and in many ways
sanctioning this attitude, I'm also seeing clamours that if Greece
refuses to comply with these basically bullet-swallow demands, and
leaves the EU, then all hell will break lose on Germany and all the EU
members doing the scolding.

6. So WHAT GIVES? With the kind of attitude towards Greece displayed,
one would be expecting the EU to be loudly threatening to KICK Greece
out of the EU and saying they'll be better off without the wretches.

7. On the other hand, if keeping Greece IN was so crucial, then one
would expect the EU/Germany/IMF etc to be not in a commanding, but
rather a grovelling position, begging Greece to not leave, and
agreeing to the demands that Greece is making, or exploring
alternatives at recovering all that debt, like, say, going after
people like the leaders of Goldman Sachs and other private entities
WHO ACTUALLY CAUSED THIS WHOLE MESS instead of extracting tribute from
Greek citizens who had no say in the matter.

8. So whichever way this goes, at least one of the sides should have
been seen threatening to either walk out of EU or kick the other out
of EU. But instead, we're not seeing this at all! And none of all
those ostensible experts in those TV newsrooms is even mentioning this
glaring flaw! It should have been either this or that.. how can there
be neither?

9. The behaviour we're seeing from the EU, is rather that of an Empire
talking down to its Colony. And in such a dialogue, there is always
implicit the ultimatum that the Empire will send in its forces of
death and destruction and lay the colony to waste if the Colony
doesn't comply with the orders. Is this what the EU/Germany/IMF have
in mind? They're definitely behaving that way.. not willing to forgive
and not even willing to let go. That's the attitude of someone who is
possessing you by sheer force. The attitude of an abuser.

10. So in this context, it's of course the most logical thing for
Greece to walk away from this abusive relationship. Why then am I
reading western journalists and leaders ACCUSING Greece's leaders of
'secretly' wanting to do that? That's like a wife beater accusing his
wife of plotting to get away from him. Why wouldn't she want to do
exactly that? What is there to accuse in that? It's something to be
proud of. "Oh, how can do this to your children?" "Oh, how can you do
this to your debt obligation?" Typical victim blaming going on here.
The people of Greece are the VICTIMS of a seriously flawed and
corrupted system of international finance that screwed their country.
They've been bearing all the consequences of this while its architects
remain swimming in luxury.

11. Any country on this planet is perfectly capable of producing
whatever its citizen's basic needs are. All this international trade
started as an EXTRA thing, for extra prosperity related things. Not
for bare essentials. International trade and exchange was never ever
supposed to be something that you'll die without. Why would anyone
bother to get into trade if it involved a 50% chance of death? Why is
it then being accorded that kind of criticality today? So what if
Greece suddenly becomes unable to make any dealings with other
countries? They're not going to die. Then why all the doomsday
apocalyptic narration? If international trade has really come to a
life-threatening state then maybe the time has come to take a call and
progress, with the benefit of decentralized modern technology, to days
of self-sufficiency? Maybe it's wiser to invest in things that
increase self-sufficiency, like education and healthcare and
sustainable agriculture and cottage industries and renewables and
sustainable construction, rather than things like FDI? Why don't we
see any mainstream reporter or "expert" talking about these measures
as the way forward for Greece and others like them? Why is there no
"forward" in their dictionary at all? They seem convinced like
everybody is going to die next week.


12. And of course, in all this we have the near-absolute censorship by
the mainstream media of another European country, Iceland, having done
back in 2008-9 exactly what they say Greece musn't do : Refuse to pay
the debts imposed on them. All hell didn't break lose.. in fact,
Iceland is way better off today than when it was complying with
"international obligations", and its citizens don't have
multi-generational extra taxes to pay just to service the debt that
they, like Greece, had no role and no say in getting. If Iceland got
through nicely, then why is Greece being painted in such a doomsday
scenario? Why is Iceland not even being mentioned by the media when it
is the most recent similar example?

--Nikhil

Delhi govt introduces peoples-satisfaction condition on contractor payment

# No contractor would get payment for their work unless people are
satisfied with the work done.

http://aamaadmiparty.org/highlights-of-swaraj-budget-presented-by-deputy-cm-sh-manish-sisodia

This itself takes care of a lot of things ;) . And note: while the
"how" is important and must follow in due course, one must never allow
it to come in the way of the "why-not!".


"Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex,
the solutions remain embarrassingly simple."
― Bill Mollison, permaculture pioneer

Monday, June 29, 2015

Why GREXIT should happen! (and WW3 should not)

Comment on http://www.politico.eu/article/will-grexit-happen-tsipras-varoufakis-graccident-athens-euro-eu/

Why did this author skip mentioning the simple fact that the austerity
(read: robbery) imposed on the citizens of Greece is not of their
making; that is an externalized debt imposed on them by private
profiteers that EU is allowing to get away. The case becomes quite
simple when you acknowledge that fact : it is all the investors' fault
that they blindly trusted frauds for the sake of high interest
returns; they have absolutely no right to extract their investments
from the citizens of a country who have nothing to do with the matter.
The investors who engaged in this risky, greedy behaviour must face
the consequences and lose their investments; it's as simple as that.
There's absolutely no need to involve any governments or citizens in
the matter. If Greece exits the EU, it's because the EU has been
behaving irrationally, irresponsibly, and IMPERIALLY.

And again, why is this author and several like him not at all
mentioning that ICELAND did pretty much the same thing (ie, refuse
imposing someone else's debts on their citizens) and they're much
better off now?

What is being written as a conspiracy/strategy (of exiting the EU), is
actually simple common sense. The conspiracy all this time was to loot
the people of Greece for the debts that private profiteers imposed on
them. Track them down, confiscate their properties, book the ex
government officials who illegally gave govt backing to them. That's
what investors need to do if they really want their money back. Not
loot the citizenry.

Related:
http://rt.com/business/233459-grexit-eu-euro-saxo/
http://www.politico.eu/article/welcome-greek-referendum-democracy-greece-grexit-vote/

More material to dig into:
http://www.unwelcomeguests.net/Debt,_The_First_5000_Years
http://charleseisenstein.net/project/sacred-economics/


Also, a shouter for all those who believe cashless is great and all
money should get into banks : Do you have any idea about the
fiat-based currency system, how it generates money out of thin air and
puts a total debt always greater than the total amount of money in
circulation? Do you know that governments are now using banks to
directly take money out of people's accounts, that negative interest
rate is coming, ie, people will be charged for investing their money
with the bank? Do you know that the more money a country keeps in its
over-centralized banks, the more there is available to lend at low
interest to monopoly corporations to further increase their domination
and loot and pollution of the country? Do YOU have any say at all in
who your bank lends your money to? Do you think that you're really
being neutral by remaining blissfully unaware of it? Please do some
research; don't go around blindly advocating what the mainstream says.


Meanwhile, make no mistake about the co-inciding timing : The rise of
ISIS attacks is a clear provocation to more war and occupation in the
middle east ("aa bayl mujhe maar!"), and they're getting more and more
desperate to provoke war. More war is the only way the Western economy
can get out of the economic meltdown that is coming, and the people of
Greece were the ones taking the brunt and staving it off so far. What
a "heavenly" co-incidence, eh? If Greece exits, the warmongers are
going to get even more desperate to start full-scale war ASAP. What's
happening in the ISIS case is a near-perfect allegory to the politics
shown in the Star Wars prequels, and these patterns are common and
have been repeating since decades. Never forget : The funding and
weaponization of ISIS is coming from staunch Western allies who will
never be asked to stop it, for the simple reason that they're only
acting as conduits. You want to really stop terrorism? Then stop
funding it, simple!

-Nikhil

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Jeevan Vidya Workshop at Dharwad, Karnataka, October 3-10, 2015.

Dharwad Sukhi Jeevan Group
invites you to 
a Workshop on Jeevan Vidya
 
Facilitated by Vinish Gupta 
from October 3-10, 2015
 at Dharwad, Karnataka



About the workshop:
A Jeevan Vidya workshop is an intensive 40-hour learning experience that seeks to bring one's attention to neglected and subtle facets of life; issues related to interpersonal relations, education, society, environment, aspirations, success are discussed and participants are provided critical tools to help them explore the rich web of connections between seemingly disparate aspects of life. It is a process of guided introspection, of 'doing philosophy' rather than studying it. There is no sermonizing; the facilitator presents sets of proposals, and helps participants bring their attention to bear on the inner workings of their thoughts, fears and aspirations. Gradually one begins to interrogate hidden assumptions and get a sharper, clearer view of the whole intricate fabric of life; one begins to see new possibilities for positive human action. The idea is to trigger an empowering, self-critical inner dialogue that begins with the workshop, but doesn't end with it…

This is a residential workshop hosted at Dharwad, Karnataka. There is only room for about 30 participants, so please register as early as possible. It is important that you attend the whole workshop from start to finish as each day builds on the previous one.

The Facilitator:
This workshop will be facilitated by Vinish Gupta, who leads the Centre for Holistic Learning. He has been involved with various social and environmental movements in the past. In his youth he spent over a decade as a Buddhist monk, exploring traditional Indian systems of thought and living. His current interests include value education, and design of environmentally sound systems and technologies.

What to bring:
Bring personal clothing, umbrella, water bottle, towel, toiletries, mosquito-net/repellent, and any interesting materials from your organization to share and anything creative that you like to do to share with others.

This event is run on gift culture. Participants are invited to contribute what they can (towards the cost of organising the workshop which is approximately Rs.3500 per person for food and stay); learning scholarships are available to those who need them. And if you can, your additional contribution will help to support other people's participation. No one will be refused due to money constraints.

यह कार्यशाला हिंदी में होगी . (This workshop will be conducted in Hindi).

To register for the workshop, please fill in the online form.


Participants from Dharwad may contact any of the following to participate:
1. Dr Sanjeev Kulkarni - 9448143100 (7 pm to 9 pm only)
2. Shri Santosh Oswal - 9880139840 (5 pm to 8 pm only)
3. Shri Sanjeevkumar Patil - 9448231960 (Email: info@tarangscientificinstruments.com )

Please note that the workshop is of an integrated nature and has to be attended in its entirety. It may not be attended partially.
Here is how to reach Dharwad. It is ideal for participants to arrive by the evening of the 2nd October itself; they may leave after lunch of 10th October 2015.
If you intend to travel by train, please note that train bookings now open 4 months in advance of the travel date, so we advise you not to delay making the necessary bookings!

Best wishes,
Dharwad Sukhi Jeevan Group




धारवाड़ सुखी जीवन समूह ,

द्वारा आयोजित   

धारवाड़, कर्णाटक

में

जीवन विद्या शिविर

3-10 अक्टूबर 2015




शिविर के बारे में:

जीवन विद्या शिविर (करीब 40 घंटे की अवधि की) एक गहरे अध्ययन की प्रक्रिया है, जिसमे जीवन के मौलिक परन्तु प्रायः उपेक्षित पहलुओं पर ध्यान केंद्रित किया जाता है। आपसी सम्बन्ध, शिक्षा, समाज, प्रकृति, लक्ष्य, सफलता आदि पर एक गहरा संवाद होता है जिसके द्वारा प्रतिभागियों को ज़िन्दगी के भिन्न प्रतीत होने वाले पहलुओं के बीच की कड़ियाँ पहचानने व समझने का अवसर मिलता है। कोई प्रवचन या उपदेश नही होता। प्रबोधक द्वारा कुछ प्रस्ताव प्रस्तुत किये जाते हैं, और प्रतिभागियों को उनके आतंरिक विचारों, भयों, सम्भ्राँतियों, आकांक्षाओं आदि को जांचने में सहयोग किया जाता है।  क्रमशः ढेर सारी छिपी मान्यताएं उजागर होने लगती हैं और व्यक्ति को ज़िन्दगी के सूक्ष्म ताने बाने का एक नयी स्पष्टता से दर्शन होने लगता है; मानव में सकारात्मक सृजनशक्ति की नयी संभावनाओं का बोध होने लगता है।  एक सशक्त चिंतन-यात्रा का शिविर में प्रारम्भ तो होता है पर अंत नही …


यह 8-दिवसीय पूर्णकालिक आवासीय शिविर है। धारवाड़, कर्णाटक में आयोजित इस शिविर में कुल 30 प्रतिभागियों के लिए स्थान हैं, इस लिए पूर्व पंजीकरण करें।  

शिविर में पूर्णकालिक प्रतिभागिता अनिवार्य है, आंशिक प्रतिभागिता की अनुमति नही है।

शिविर के दौरान स्वैच्छिक श्रमदान करने का व व्यक्तिगत हुनरों के आदान-प्रदान का भी अवसर रहेगा।


प्रबोधक:

इस शिविर में प्रबोधन श्री विनीश गुप्ता करेंगे। वे लम्बे समय से विभिन्न सामाजिक व पर्यावरणीय अभियानों से जुड़े रहे हैं। करीब दस वर्ष तक वे बौद्ध परंपरा में भिक्षु भी रहे, जिस दौरान उन्हें भारतीय विचारधाराओं व तौर तरीकों को समझने का अवसर मिला।

विनीश को उनके कार्यों में सहयोग मिलता है उनकी पत्नी करुणा मुरारजी से। शिक्षा का मानव संभावनाओं व विकास के साथ सम्बन्ध समझने में लम्बे समय से करुणा की रूचि रही है। अन्य विषय जिनके अध्ययन में वे रूचि रखती हैं: आहार, फ़िल्में, प्रक्रिया/इतिहास विश्लेषण, और सीखने-सिखाने व जीने के सामूहिक तौर तरीके।


साथ लाएं:

निजी वस्त्र, पानी की बोतल, तौलिया, साबुन आदि निजी उपयोग का सामान, आपके संस्था / कार्य से सम्बंधित सामग्री, व कुछ भी रचनात्मक जो आप को दूसरों के साथ करना / बांटना अच्छा लगता है।

यह शिविर 'उपहार संस्कृति' पर आधारित है। यानि इस शिविर के लिए कोई निश्चित अनिवार्य शुल्क नही है।  हर प्रतिभागी पर करीब रुपए 3500 का खर्च आता है।  जिन्हे आवश्यकता हो उनके लिए छात्रवृत्तियां/सहयोग उपलब्ध हैं।  आप अधिक योगदान का सामर्थ्य रखते हों तो आपके योगदान से अन्य लोगों की प्रतिभागिता सुनिश्चित होने में सहयोग रहेगा।  

आर्थिक असमर्थता के कारण किसी की प्रतिभागिता बाधित नही होने दी जाएगी।  


इस शिविर में भाग लेने के लिए यह ऑनलाइन फॉर्म भरें। 


धारवाड़ से प्रतिभागी पंजीकरण हेतु इन से भी संपर्क कर सकते हैं:

1 . डॉ. संजीव कुलकर्णी - 9448143100 (सायं 7 से 9 बजे )
2 . श्री संतोष ओसवाल - 9880139840 (सायं 5 से 8 बजे )
3. श्री संजीवकुमार पाटिल - 9448231960 (इ-मेल : info@tarangscientificinstruments.com )


धारवाड़  पहुँचने के बारे में जानकारी यहाँ है। उत्तम होगा यदि प्रतिभागी 2 अक्टूबर की शाम तक ही पहुँच पाएं। वे 10 अक्टूबर को दोपहर के भोजन उपरांत वापस लौट सकते हैं।  यदि आप रेल से यात्रा करने वाले हैं तो ध्यान रहे कि टिकटें यात्रा तिथि के 4 महीने पूर्व मिलनी शुरू हो जाती हैं, इस लिए अपनी यात्रा की टिकटें बुक करवाने में विलम्ब न करें !


शुभ कामनाएं

धारवाड़ सुखी जीवन समूह






--
Centre for Holistic Learning
Jeevanshala Trust, "Nagalaxmi",
Hulekal Village, Sirsi-581336. Karnataka. India.
Tel: 08283-240147.
Cell: +91.8762071817

http://www.jeevanshala.org/





Friday, June 26, 2015

Things you can do in Pune

Hi friends,

I'd like to offer, in a slightly conventional way, some possible plans that get me totally excited. I'll be available to meet up and talk further about any of these if you're interested.

1. Map the trees in your locality: See http://trees.metastudio.org/. Use a rope and find the circumference, estimate the height, pin it using the map and get its latitude-longitude while doing so. Get some help and identify which species and family the tree is part of, what its characteristics are. Take pictures and learn how to take them such that someone seeing the pic can identify the species, guauge the location and height, etc. And all this becomes not something just for the sake of educating, but contributes something new to a collective knowledge base that can be part of something immensely valuable.

2. Participate in a ward infrastructure survey that we're doing. Take photos, record locations and map different aspects of your locality. Put your observations on the map (http://nikhilvj.techydudes.net/files/coep-planning-observations.html) (work in progress!) and make it part of a larger chain of events. Dig a little deeper into knowing why things are the way they are, link things up and find out several ways in which you can participate in the stuff that affects your life on a daily basis.

3. Participate in tree plantation and upkeep.. there's some wonderful groups doing great, well-thought-out and holistic work on the tekdis. Sunday mornings become great picnics and chances to meet and interact with lots of different people in a fun hands-on environment, if you can manage to wake up in time ;)

4. Go to Hasmukh Sapnawala's Sapna Ranch for a week or two, and do a whole lot of hands-on eco-friendly activities while playing with a lot of cats and dogs, sleeping in half-open geodomes and tents and all, learn a lot of things under "forgiving design" concept, learn freedom with responsibility. http://ebhle.com/

5. Get an Arduino Uno electronic board, look it up on the net, get into open-source hardware and programming and stuff.. start with blinking a light in a pattern of your choosing, and progress to making low-cost immensely valuable things like mini weather monitoring stations.

6. Map every bus stop in Pune, or do other kinds of things to help Pune get a world class public transport system.

-nikhil.js [at] gmail.com

Education : When simplistic models go against reality

Some exchanges over ways to teach students about trade and money, have
brought up a classical dilemma that I'm sure has been faced by a lot
of educators.

Our simplistic models we use to teach go completely against reality.
And reality is way too difficult for us to teach : we simply cannot
decide where to begin!

So we pick the easier route, and assume that censoring reality is a
good pedagogical strategy to teach students about real-life things as
critical as the money system. What evidence do we have of that? Will
doing so not make them as susceptible to the same issues of regular
economic meltdowns, unpayable debt, consumerism, infinite growth etc
that the current generation faces? Isn't there some possibility that
it was these unreal simplistic teachings that created these problems
to begin with?

What if by being exposed to reality instead, they'll get a far better
understanding of trade and money than the current generation has? What
if they'll become better at handling the next economic recession, if
they know that it's not an unexpected random event but a fundamental
property of the system? What if they'll avoid getting into the
consumerism paradigm and get a lot better at managing their needs and
not become a drain on their or their parents' finances? What if
they'll get better at seeing through things?

Worth a thought, eh? At least, that's how things have been for me.
What I needed was an exposure to various contradictory perspectives,
and the freedom to choose which one to take. Not teaching.

Pointers for a better understanding of economics and related history

The economists who wrote about how societies developed the money
system, were not in touch with any historians or anthropologists who
were then making first contact with indigenous people in Americas,
Africa, Asia, Austalia. They didn't bother checking with any of them.
They had no clue about how it actually came around. They merely
speculated, with their understanding of humanity limited to the urban
western humanity that they grew up around.

So the simplistic origins of money that we "know", that are taught in
textbooks and upon which our economic understandings are based .. are
stories created in some people's heads. Not reality. What the
historians and anthropologists have found is extremely different.

Some things emerging from what the historical and anthropological records tell:
Money system did not naturally evolve from barter system. Barter did
not precede money.. it succeeded it where the money-issuing mechanisms
went defunct. Credit systems (ie, keeping accounts of who owes whom
how much) did not succeed money.. they preceded it.
And "gift" economy system, where credit is informalized and made
non-binding and rather left to ethical compulsions and occasionally
forgiven as well as overpaid as per circumstances, seems to have
preceded them all, existing wherever there wasn't a centralized
bureacracy levying taxes/tributes, as well as in parallel with the
other systems as a more day-to-day system of local exchange whereas
money/credit was a periodic once-a-year or one-time-investment types
thing for most of humanity until very recently.

So it's entirely possible that the typical assumptions we have about
people in a village getting confounded with how to exchange eggs,
woodwork, grains and all.. it's possible that that typical story that
we impose onto their lives are merely a reflection of our own flawed,
simplistic and linear understanding of history and humanity.

Two sources that might shine further light in this direction:

http://www.unwelcomeguests.net/Debt,_The_First_5000_Years (David Graeber, 2011)

http://charleseisenstein.net/ (Sacred Economics and other books)

Please put in some time to looking them up.. there are plenty of
related audio/video versions too that you can listen to comfortably.

Also, there is a collaboratively created and open-sourced alternative
economics syllabus made and released recently by a network of people
who saw the mainstream syllabus of most top-level economic colleges as
woefully out of date. I've read only the first few pages and it's been
amazing so far. Their tagline is "Teaching economics as if the last
three decades had happened".
http://www.core-econ.org

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Crowdfunding for OpenStreetMap.org

Hi Friends,

On OSM as an open-source, creative commons alternative to google maps:
Researchers cannot access aggregated data using google maps, like say all the traffic lights in a particular area. On OSM they can. Legally, people aren't allowed to use prints or high-res images from google maps in their work.. on OSM there's no such restriction. And, OSM has its data in vector format, which makes it possible for anyone to style maps in their own way, and even go totally creative with it. The default OpenStreetMap might seem a bit too ugly, but look at a few of its various flavours:
http://nikhilvj.techydudes.net/files/leaflet-layers.html (go to layers button on top right)
So it's pretty much spawned a revolution in mapping, quite similar to what Wikipedia did for encyclopedias.

All the mapping technologies I'm working on are possible because of this non-copyrighted, wikipedia-like user-generated map of the world. The fact that it's all being done on a shoestring budget while its only counterpart must be spending many times that, is pretty amazing.

Note: It seems taking money in INR isn't possible for them. It's UK-based, so best to get a contact of yours in UK/Europe to chip in.

Regards,
Nikhil, India

Sunday, June 21, 2015

What the rich are upto

Interesting article:

http://www.infowars.com/why-the-elite-are-buying-secret-hideaways/

This week's revelation that the wealthy are purchasing secret hideaways in remote locations in order to escape social upheaval and possible riots is the culmination of Zbigniew Brzezinski's warning that a worldwide "political awakening" is serving to derail the move towards further global centralization of power.

Economist Robert Johnson made headlines at the recent Davos Economic Forum when he revealed that "hedge fund managers all over the world….are buying airstrips and farms in places like New Zealand because they think they need a getaway."

Johnson cited income inequality and the potential for civil unrest and riots as the reason for the panic.

"A lot of wealthy and powerful people are quite afraid right now – they see us on an unstable trajectory," said Johnson. "As the system doesn't have proper resources, as it doesn't represent people, things are getting more and more dangerous as say Ferguson, Missouri brings to bear."

However, Johnson's warning is nothing new – the super rich have been busy securing property in safe heavens for at least five years in anticipation of the next financial collapse.

In 2010, John Malone, billionaire chairman of Liberty Media, announced that he had bought a retreat on the Quebec border as an insurance policy to "have a place to go if things blow up here," adding that he was concerned about the survival of the dollar and whether or not "America (was) going to make it" through the economic crisis.

In 2012, Hollywood director James Cameron also announced his decision to leave America and move his entire family to a 1,067 hectare farm in New Zealand.

The Bush family also purchased 100,000 acres in Paraguay back as far back as 2006.

There are several reasons why the rich are preparing to flee, but the main factor is the rise of income inequality – a factor that Zbigniew Brzezinski blamed for the "global political awakening" that poses a direct threat to the elite's bid to further centralize power.

"For the first time in all of human history mankind is politically awakened – that's a total new reality – it has not been so for most of human history," said Brzezinski during a 2010 Council on Foreign Relations speech in Montreal, adding that the development was borne out of "global inequities, inequalities, lack of respect, exploitation".

Brzezinski made similar comments during a November 2012 speech in Poland, in which he admitted that a worldwide "resistance" movement to "external control" driven by "populist activism" is threatening to derail the move towards a new world order.

The former US National Security Advisor also noted that "persistent and highly motivated populist resistance of politically awakened and historically resentful peoples to external control has proven to be increasingly difficult to suppress."

It is important to note that Brzezinski was not championing this development. In his 1970 book Between Two Ages: America's Role in the Technotronic Era, the former Obama advisor heralded the arrival of a technotronic era "dominated by an elite, unrestrained by traditional values" under which citizens would be tightly controlled and manipulated.

The likelihood of widespread disenfranchisement and economic turbulence causing civil unrest has also been repeatedly invoked by economist Martin Armstrong, who correctly predicted the 1987 Black Monday crash as well as the 1998 Russian financial collapse.

"It looks more and more like a serious political uprising will erupt by 2016 once the economy turns down. That is the magic ingredient. Turn the economy down and you get civil unrest and revolution," wrote Armstrong.

With distrust in government and leadership in the United States and other western countries continuing to remain near historic lows, the toxic cocktail of increased corruption, social alienation, and lack of community (all contributory factors to the 2011 London riots), will heighten the risk of domestic disorder.

As real wages drop it will also become increasingly harder to pacify younger generations via consumer culture. With religion, family and social mobility all declining in influence, lifestyles built around the acquisition of products will become harder to maintain as the economic environment worsens and the wealth gap widens.

Police brutality and perceived widespread injustice will also lead to more unrest in poorer areas as unfolded in Ferguson, Missouri last year.

While the move on behalf of the wealthy to purchase property in safe heavens by no means signifies a relinquishing of power, it does indicate that the super rich are readying insurance policies in the form of secret getaways in case massive political unrest leads to sustained domestic turmoil.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

[more Earth-specific than India-specific] Campaign to declassify 28 classified pages from 9/11 commission report

Something for those who love believing in the quaint and comforting notion that absolutely no human being or group of people on this entire planet can ever think of, plan or carry out a conspiracy, and that everyone who ever proposes that a conspiracy has taken place is a "conspiracy theorist" and shouldn't be listened to.


https://youtu.be/t6sodFTx8So?t=3m40s
http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jun/02/rand-paul-urges-obama-to-declassify-28-pages-of-the-911-report
http://28pages.org/

Congressman Thomas Massie described the 28 pages as "shocking" and said, "I had to stop every couple pages and…try to rearrange my understanding of history. It challenges you to rethink everything."


And some more:
http://www.ae911truth.org/ (architects and engineers for 9/11 truth.. analyzing the factual details of the events that as per official theory, violated laws of physics)
http://torontohearings.org/ (organized by relatives of the 9/11 victims)
..and a 5 hour film for anyone really interested in looking at the evidence at hand and hearing the counterarguments to the most prominent debunkings: youtube.com/watch?v=O1GCeuSr3Mk
(it's this or some 1000-odd pages from several disparate sources.. these guys take a lot of pain to bring a lot of stuff together for you, so treat a documentary as a multimedia textbook and not a movie, eh?)


The positive thing from all this? Well, if there is some weight in this stuff, then it means that the zombie-apocalypse-style narrative of Islamic terrorism is mostly hot air, the world is a far better place than what it's made out to be, if the big guys would just stop bombing here and there and take their troops off and go home, then we WON'T have crazy brainless extremists running amock and ending all life as we know it. If all the illegal occupations end and the truth is brought out and reconciled, chances are the people being occupied will probably just go back to living their lives in peace rather than wanting to kill everybody as has been prophesized and then funded with billions of $s (ISIS) through the same people incriminated in those 28 pages to make everyone believe that it's true. Maybe the Muslims aren't born evil after all, maybe there isn't something fundamentally or genetically wrong with the whole thing, and this was all just the actions of a few greedy people wanting to maintain their death-grip on a planet quietly slipping away from their fingers (as revealed by scores of whistleblowers, esp the Wikileaks cables-leaks, Stratfor leaks, and the mass surveillance operations revealed by Snowden). Of course, we don't really need 9/11 truth to know all that, but it does screw the people who like to think that way and the media who likes to make you think that way.

Article: Our Great Saviour's war on Indian Environment

You know what would be great? If everyone who supports this all pledges to accommodate one affected family in their own homes. Then I'll believe that they really mean well.

Swaraj University Admissions Open 2015-17

My "alma mater" ! Please forward to anyone between 18 and 30 who you know is searching for alternatives to the typical higher-ed path and wants to do things a bit more holistically!

Swaraj University admissions are now open for the 6th cohort of khoji-learners. The dates for upcoming orientation meet is 9th-11th July
View this email in your browser
Can you imagine a space where you experience the joy of learning, of creating your own path and working on your dreams and passions, beyond the realms of societal and academic pressure? 
Such a space does exist - Swaraj University - A Unique 2 year self-designed learning program for youth that supports them to design and materialize livelihoods that are in line with their talents, dreams and values. Swaraj University also helps them step out of their comfort zones and build deeper perspectives towards self, environment and society.
Learn More!
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In the last 5 years, numerous khojis (Learners) of Swaraj University have gone through this process in a safe and nourishing environment. Are you ready to reclaim your learning and life into your own hands? 

To know more about khojis and what khojis are up to, click the link below:
http://www.swarajuniversity.org/khoji-stories.html
Admissions have begun for 2015-17 Khoji cohort and prospective learners can begin applying for the program.
Swaraj University admissions are now open for the 6th cohort of khoji-learners.
Please mark the dates for upcoming orientation July 9 - July 11, 2015 

For more details check out 
http://www.swarajuniversity.org/join.html. 
You can also write to us at <swarajuni@gmail.com>







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08764279302

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Evaporation-based generator using bacteria expanding/contracting with humidity changes at room temperature

Amazing stuff.. Look at this GIF to get a quick clue to what its core component is.. this bacteria-on-plastic-strip "muscle" is expanding and contracting upon small humidity changes at room temperature! Bimetallic strip concept taken to new levels.



Saturday, June 6, 2015

[Pune] City firm takes plastic waste, converts it to genset fuel

Segregate the plastic and collect the plastic waste from the building in one bag . Once the bag is full, call 020-25448900. The Rudra Solutions team will collect it free of cost

http://goo.gl/87DylI, seen on Sakaal Times Pune front page, 5th June 2015

City firm takes plastic waste, converts it to genset fuel
Reporters Name | Bhagyashree Kulthe | Thursday, 4 June 2015 AT 11:11 PM IST
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Pune: City-based Rudra Solutions collects plastic bottles, polythene bags, food packages, soiled plastic etc and turns it into fuel to run generators and boilers. 
The firm is presently collecting these waste products from around 1,300 households in various parts of the city. 
The firm's activities are a boon for the city as, despite a ban on plastic bags below 50 microns, their use is rampant. Besides this, there are other plastic products which are used in households and later thrown away. 
Rudra Solutions devised a mechanism to convert the plastic waste into poly fuel through a process called Gasolysis. 
A plant with the capacity to process around 200 kg of plastic every day has been set up at Jejuri. 
"We have been successful in the disintegration of all kinds of plastic like bottles, lower microns bags, food pouches, wrappers, cable covers and even tyres. We are collecting plastic waste from around 1,300 households in Aundh, Model Colony, Viman Nagar, Kothrud and Prabhat Road. We ask the residents to keep the plastic and we pick it up free of cost," said Medha Tadpatrikar. 
The poly fuel generated from the waste is used in gensets and can also light up local parks or street lights. 
"At present, we are selling the fuel to genset users and for boilers which are otherwise run on diesel etc. Poly fuel is cheaper compared to other fuels and can be used for other purposes as well and trials are on to test it," said Tadpatrikar. 

Accepted plastic waste
Milk and oil bags 
Plastic containers 
Laminate tubes (toothpaste, medicine etc) 
All types of carry bags 
Blister packing bubble wraps 
Plastic bottles, shampoo and powder bottles, empty sachets 
Food wrappers of wafers, farsan etc, 
Plastic articles 
Segregate the plastic and collect the plastic waste from the building in one bag . Once the bag is full, call 020-25448900. The Rudra Solutions team will collect it free of cost
"We are also ready to buy plastic waste from rag pickers." -- Rudra Environment Solutions chairman Shirish Phadtare

Rudra Solutions website: http://rudraenvsolution.com/



Friday, June 5, 2015

The author...

Quoting from a published report :
---------
Acknowledgements:
The author would like to acknowledge [..] The author is grateful to [..] The author also appreciates [..]
--------
If the author of the report isn't an anonymous person and if it's not someone else writing on behalf of the author (and what would that even mean?)..

Then why can't we just use "I" like we do in everyday life? Why is the language of a published material deliberately removed from reality?

Just imagine, 5000 years from now, archaeologists will discover 1000s of texts like this from a rejuvenated pen drive, and what will they conclude?
"Boy, people in those times sure talked funny!"

How would it seem if I brought in the same style to regular conversation?
"The person speaking to you would appreciate it if you would pass him a tissue paper."

"The manager has decided to terminate your services" (and the guy saying this is the manager only)

"The husband would like to ask his wife if she has a headache tonight as well"

Is this yet another example of the rituals intellectuals dictate to distinguish themselves from the masses? Is it like, Oh if you use "I" in your report then you're not a good report-writer?

And on the technical end, look at how difficult it makes life! If I'm writing something sharing my own lived experience, and if I have to religiously avoid using "I" "me" etc, then I'm screwed! And why would I read a document that is impersonal.. where the author pretends to not have been part of the events that he/she is writing about, where all real personal experiences that would give SO much more insight into the matter, ultimately get omitted??

And of course the most obvious : The responsibility / accountability part. Don't know how you feel, but when I see language like this, I get the feeling that "the author" is escaping from any personal accountability in the matter. He/She becomes just a passive observer or a receiver, not a doer. So imagine how tough it would be for DOERS to write about what they did in this kind of official lingo. It basically cuts them out, or in other cases, empowers them to get away with things.

So here's a challenge to oncoming generations of official report etc writers :

Use the "I", "me", etc.


PS: If you feel like replying to this with a proper logical explanation and reference some published Oxford norms or so that justify this silly behaviour or credit it to some grandiose noble motive, then the author of this post would like to tell you to f**k off.
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