Saturday, May 31, 2014
Friday, May 30, 2014
Thursday, May 29, 2014
It's simple. If we can't change our economic system, our number's up
by George Monbiot, theguardian.com, May 27, 2014
'The mother narrative to all this is carbon-fuelled expansion. Our ideologies are mere subplots.' Photograph: Alamy
Let us imagine that in 3030BC the total possessions of the people of Egypt filled one cubic metre. Let us propose that these possessions grew by 4.5% a year. How big would that stash have been by the Battle of Actium in 30BC? This is the calculation performed by the investment banker Jeremy Grantham.
Go on, take a guess. Ten times the size of the pyramids? All the sand in the Sahara? The Atlantic ocean? The volume of the planet? A little more? It's 2.5 billion billion solar systems. It does not take you long, pondering this outcome, to reach the paradoxical position that salvation lies in collapse.
To succeed is to destroy ourselves. To fail is to destroy ourselves. That is the bind we have created. Ignore if you must climate change, biodiversity collapse, the depletion of water, soil, minerals, oil; even if all these issues miraculously vanished, the mathematics of compound growth make continuity impossible.
Economic growth is an artefact of the use of fossil fuels. Before large amounts of coal were extracted, every upswing in industrial production would be met with a downswing in agricultural production, as the charcoal or horse power required by industry reduced the land available for growing food. Every prior industrial revolution collapsed, as growth could not be sustained. But coal broke this cycle and enabled – for a few hundred years – the phenomenon we now call sustained growth.
It was neither capitalism nor communism that made possible the progress and pathologies (total war, the unprecedented concentration of global wealth, planetary destruction) of the modern age. It was coal, followed by oil and gas. The meta-trend, the mother narrative, is carbon-fuelled expansion. Our ideologies are mere subplots. Now, with the accessible reserves exhausted, we must ransack the hidden corners of the planet to sustain our impossible proposition.
On Friday, a few days after scientists announced that the collapse of the west Antarctic ice sheet is now inevitable, the Ecuadorean government decided to allow oil drilling in the heart of the Yasuni national park. It had made an offer to other governments: if they gave it half the value of the oil in that part of the park, it would leave the stuff in the ground. You could see this as either blackmail or fair trade. Ecuador is poor, its oil deposits are rich. Why, the government argued, should it leave them untouched without compensation when everyone else is drilling down to the inner circle of hell? It asked for $3.6bn and received $13m. The result is that Petroamazonas, a company with a colourful record of destruction and spills, will now enter one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, in which a hectare of rainforest is said to contain more species than exist in the entire continent of North America.
Yasuni national park. Murray Cooper/Minden Pictures/Corbis
The UK oil firm Soco is now hoping to penetrate Africa's oldest national park, Virunga, in the Democratic Republic of Congo; one of the last strongholds of the mountain gorilla and the okapi, of chimpanzees and forest elephants. In Britain, where a possible 4.4 billion barrels of shale oil has just been identified in the south-east, the government fantasises about turning the leafy suburbs into a new Niger delta. To this end it's changing the trespass laws to enable drilling without consent and offering lavish bribes to local people. These new reserves solve nothing. They do not end our hunger for resources; they exacerbate it.
The trajectory of compound growth shows that the scouring of the planet has only just begun. As the volume of the global economy expands, everywhere that contains something concentrated, unusual, precious, will be sought out and exploited, its resources extracted and dispersed, the world's diverse and differentiated marvels reduced to the same grey stubble.
Some people try to solve the impossible equation with the myth of dematerialisation: the claim that as processes become more efficient and gadgets are miniaturised, we use, in aggregate, fewer materials. There is no sign that this is happening. Iron ore production has risen 180% in 10 years. The trade body Forest Industries tells us that "global paper consumption is at a record high level and it will continue to grow". If, in the digital age, we won't reduce even our consumption of paper, what hope is there for other commodities?
Look at the lives of the super-rich, who set the pace for global consumption. Are their yachts getting smaller? Their houses? Their artworks? Their purchase of rare woods, rare fish, rare stone? Those with the means buy ever bigger houses to store the growing stash of stuff they will not live long enough to use. By unremarked accretions, ever more of the surface of the planet is used to extract, manufacture and store things we don't need. Perhaps it's unsurprising that fantasies about colonising space – which tell us we can export our problems instead of solving them – have resurfaced.
As the philosopher Michael Rowan points out, the inevitabilities of compound growth mean that if last year's predicted global growth rate for 2014 (3.1%) is sustained, even if we miraculously reduced the consumption of raw materials by 90%, we delay the inevitable by just 75 years. Efficiency solves nothing while growth continues.
The inescapable failure of a society built upon growth and its destruction of the Earth's living systems are the overwhelming facts of our existence. As a result, they are mentioned almost nowhere. They are the 21st century's great taboo, the subjects guaranteed to alienate your friends and neighbours. We live as if trapped inside a Sunday supplement: obsessed with fame, fashion and the three dreary staples of middle-class conversation: recipes, renovations and resorts. Anything but the topic that demands our attention.
Statements of the bleeding obvious, the outcomes of basic arithmetic, are treated as exotic and unpardonable distractions, while the impossible proposition by which we live is regarded as so sane and normal and unremarkable that it isn't worthy of mention. That's how you measure the depth of this problem: by our inability even to discuss it.
Twitter: @georgemonbiot. A fully referenced version of this article can be found at Monbiot.com
Saturday, May 24, 2014
Time is money. Money is wealth. Making money creates wealth and is the defining purpose of the individual, business, and the economy. Those who make money are society's wealth creators. Their affluent lifestyles are their fair and just reward for their special contribution; they merit our apprecia-tion and respect. Material consumption is the path to happiness. We humans are by nature individu-alistic and competitive. The invisible hand of the free market directs our insatiable competitive drive to serve ends that maximize the wealth of all. Inequality and environmental damage are regret-table, but necessary, collateral damage on the path to prosperity for all. If we hold true to course, economic growth will eventually create sufficient wealth to end poverty and drive the technological advances needed to end human dependence on nature.
Most readers will readily recognize—or at least suspect—that every assertion of this familiar story is false or badly misleading. Although economics courses in our most prestigious universities teach this story and corporate media constantly repeat it, it is bad ethics, bad science, and bad economics—as is extensively documented elsewhere by many authors, including myself. The ultimate proof is the environmental devastation, economic desperation, and social alienation this story leaves everywhere in its path."
Thursday, May 22, 2014
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
If you calculate the number of people who would be expected to be on the roll given the age structure as published by the Census of India and the population of a constituency as published by the Maharashtra State Election Commission, you would get the table below.
This shows that there are at least 35 pc non-existent voters.
Add to that if 25 pc of the existing electors are deleted, as is apparent from the PDF lists found pm the ECI website, the electoral rolls are off by at least off by a whopping 60 pc.
A documentary film made around the rise and journey of AAP up till Delhi elections, in the context of worldwide peoples' movements emerging, and cutting through the second-hand media interptretations. By film makers Vinay Shukla and Khushboo Ranka, and produced by 'Ship of Theseus' director Anand Gandhi.
Monday, May 19, 2014
With that, our tax money is being diverted to build more and wider roads, highways, flyovers.. even loans are being taken from world bank etc that will be serviced by our children's tax money.
So we lose our lands, our food and oxygen producers, our limited mineral resources, our freshwater acquifers (in 2 ways : forests percolate rainwater into the ground; with trees cut, water runs off. Second, these industries use huge amounts of drinking water in their processing. Even auto industries use v.high amounts of drinking water)
This, in short, is crony capitalism.
Sunday, May 18, 2014
Saturday, May 17, 2014
These captcha, enter-the-text-in-the-image things are getting sooo
complicated, so difficult to decipher,
With the first casualties being those populations that are getting on
the internet but aren't very familiar with english letters...
That some day only machines will be able to decode them.
And that, will be the end of the internet as we've known it so far,
just because some people want to use bots to mine information, create
millions of fake accounts and bombard everyone with bogus ads.
movie to your language:
Subtitles translator software: http://www.mironto.sk/download.php
While it works pretty nice, it can take only .sub files.
In case the subtitle file you're having is in another format like
.srt, then you can convert it to .sub using this site:
You'll have to find out the framerate of the movie in question.. you
can find out in VLC by Tools > Codec Information.
Note: The converted .sub file had unix line-endings, meaning if you
open the file in notepad in windows, there won't be any separation
between the lines, no line breaks. In the software, that created a
problem : it didn't read the other lines.
So, I converted the file to a dos/windows style text file using a
tool/program called "unix2dos",
Mind, I had to add a .txt extension to the file so this program could
load it (it only opens .txt files) After the conversion, now the
Subtitles translator software loads it nicely.
Note: the assumptions here are:
1. Your movie is saved on the computer, not a youtube video.
2. The movie already has english subtitles or something; and the subs
are in a separate file like an .srt or something.
Also, another subtitle translator software I just found when searching
for something else:
Has America been "dumbed down" over the years?
An answer I wrote:
Yes; and it's not just the USA. Please look up the works of John
Taylor Gatto, who wrote the books "Dumbing Us Down" and "Weapons of
Mass Instruction" on the same subject. Other persons to look up can be
John Holt, author of books like "How Children Fail" and "Learning all
the time". A recent young author (a high school student) writing about
this and coming in the news is Nikhil Goyal (american).
It goes into much deeper than test or IQ scores. Crucial parts of what
you call a person "not dumb" are the abilities to think creatively,
critically; to synthesize information into something meaningful and
useful; to empathize with others; to "get along" with other people.
And this dumbness afflicts even people who ace the system.
We all know some high achievers during our years in school/college who
despite having the highest scores and achievements, you found
impossible to reason with, or incapable of thinking out of the box, or
seriously lacking in empathy, or you found their understanding of the
world dangerously shallow. You yourself could have been one of these
persons while growing up; and now you might wonder why it all happened
that way. We find many such people ascend to high positions in society
on the back of their achievements; from where they wreak havoc. And we
frequently find more sensible, mature and capable people being
excluded because they don't have the qualifications needed.
To get to the bottom of all this, we have to question the basic
structures of our education system; see them in an integrated way
rather than focussing on how to improve Math, Science, etc.
One nice documentary film that wraps a lot of these together, is "La
Educacion Prohibida" (Spanish, but has English subtitles) or the
Forbidden Education, http://www.educacionprohibida.com/ (youtube link:
And for solutions, please look up "Democratic schools", "unschooling".
Two institutions that have had great success and have a lot of
documentation, info regarding this are: Sudbury Valley School in US,
and Summerhill in UK.
The alternatives aren't just limited to the West... "Nai Taleem"
education based on the ideas of freedom, self-reliance and self-rule
of Gandhi is being talked about, and practiced, a lot in pockets of
India, though they have very limited coverage and many people
associated with them haven't brought their stories to the www. There
are also many researchers and activists talking, writing about it
around the non-Western world; and there have been conferences, talks
held on these topics. Look up the works of Manish Jain, Claude
Alvares, Munir Fasheh.
Again, these things are out of the dominant mainstream academic
circuits so don't expect any glowing recommendations for these guys
from any established, entrenched institutions where the problem of
dumbing down people is happening. There may be a phd thesis here or
there, but institutionally, these people and initiatives are mostly
treated as heretics.
In higher education, there is an ongoing documentary film project
"Enlivened Learning" that documents alternative universities operating
at grassroots levels around the world that are trying to address these
issues and provide a more holistic coming-of-age to their students.
(Fwd) The Onus is On Us -
And so here we are on the brink of d-day
This week we will know how our future will sway
The duffer, the bluffer, the man with the muffler
Which one of these men will we have to suffer
If you voted for Modi go jump in the sea
If you voted for Rahul you're dumber than he
If you voted for Kejri then that should be fine
Because sooner or later the man will resign
Democracy demands we give them a chance
But this time I think we should join in the dance
Coz whoever they are, the men at the helm
The country still belongs to us, not to them
We gave them their seats, the two-seventy-two
We voted them to power between me and you
But whether they prove to be wise men or fools
This nation is ours so let's play by the rules
Let's not break the law, can we please stand in line
Let's not pull those strings to avoid paying a fine
Let's finally get that a red light means stop
Let's not stoop to bribing the poor traffic cop
Let's be part of the reason our country is great
Let's be good citizens before it's too late
Let's serve our great country without hesitation
Let's all work together to build a strong nation
Enough of the trolling, the barbs and the fights
Now let's stick together, stand up for our rights
Enough of debates on religion and caste
Now let's be united, secular at last
They might have the seats, the two-seventy-two
But the country belongs to me and to you
And we're a billion people, a billion and plus
At the end of the day, the onus is on us
Friday, May 16, 2014
Shocking! Control tag of EVM used in the Election of My Constituency Found on the ROAD!
15TH May, 2014
I wish to bring a shocking incident to your notice. An address tag used on the Control Unit used at Polling Station No.29 at Shivajinagar / Mankhurd assembly segment of the Mumbai North East Parliamentary constituency was found on the road at Shivajinagar today. This address tag is an important identifier of the machine used on the day of polling and the tag being found on the road indicates that the machine could have been tampered with before being transported to the place of storage after the elections. We have already filed a complaint with the Returning Officer and urged him not to start counting in this booth till thorough investigation is done in this matter.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
As the financial wizards lose their powers of levitation, as the politicians and economists struggle to conjure new explanations, it starts to dawn on us that behind the curtain, at the heart of the Emerald City, sits not the benign and omnipotent invisible hand we had been promised, but something else entirely. Something responsible for what Marx, writing not so long before Conrad, cast as the 'everlasting uncertainty and anguish' of the 'bourgeois epoch'; a time in which 'all that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned.' Draw back the curtain, follow the tireless motion of cogs and wheels back to its source, and you will find the engine driving our civilisation: the myth of progress.
The myth of progress is to us what the myth of god-given warrior prowess was to the Romans, or the myth of eternal salvation was to the conquistadors: without it, our efforts cannot be sustained. Onto the root stock of Western Christianity, the Enlightenment at its most optimistic grafted a vision of an Earthly paradise, towards which human effort guided by calculative reason could take us. Following this guidance, each generation will live a better life than the life of those that went before it. History becomes an escalator, and the only way is up. On the top floor is human perfection. It is important that this should remain just out of reach in order to sustain the sensation of motion.
Recent history, however, has given this mechanism something of a battering. The past century too often threatened a descent into hell, rather than the promised heaven on Earth. Even within the prosperous and liberal societies of the West progress has, in many ways, failed to deliver the goods. Today's generation are demonstrably less content, and consequently less optimistic, than those that went before. They work longer hours, with less security, and less chance of leaving behind the social back- ground into which they were born. They fear crime, social breakdown, overdevelopment, environmental collapse. They do not believe that the future will be better than the past. Individually, they are less constrained by class and convention than their parents or grandparents, but more constrained by law, surveillance, state proscription and personal debt. Their physical health is better, their mental health more fragile. Nobody knows what is coming. Nobody wants to look.
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Today, the Congress and the BJP are two corrupt monsters and we keep jumping out of one's mouth only to fall into the other's. And recently it's been found that both these monsters are actually being controlled by the same puppet masters. If, like our freedom fighters from half a century ago, you started an initiative to stop this never-ending cycle, what would your initiative look like? Would the media that's also owned by these masters, spare you, or would it do its best to sully your image and brand you as the "agents" of the current rulers, for the crime of trying to prevent the people from falling into the second monster's jaws?
Monday, May 12, 2014
बिक गयी है धरती, गगन बिक न जाए !
बिक रहा है पानी, पवन बिक न जाए !
चाँद पर भी बिकने लगी है जमीं,
डर है की सूरज की तपन बिक न जाए !
हर जगह बिकने लगी है स्वार्थ नीति,
डर है की कहीं धर्म बिक न जाए !
देकर दहॆज ख़रीदा गया है अब दुल्हे को,
कही उसी के हाथों दुल्हन बिक न जाए !
हर काम की रिश्वत ले रहे अब ये नेता,
कही इन्ही के हाथों वतन बिक न जाए !
सरे आम बिकने लगे अब तोह सांसद,
डर है की कहीं संसद भवन बिक न जाए !
आदमी मरा तोह भी आँखें खुली हुई हैं,
डरता है मुर्दा, कहीं कफ़न बिक न जाए !
"The commissioners from Virginia acquainted the Native Indians by a speech, that there was at Williamsburg a college, with a fund for educating Indian youth; and that, if the Six Nations would send down half a dozen of their young lads to that college, the government would take care that they should be well provided for, and instructed in all the learning of the white people. It is one of the Indian rules of politeness not to answer a public proposition the same day that it is made; they think it would be treating it as a light matter, and that they show it respect by taking time to consider it, as of a matter important. They therefore deferred their answer till the day following; when their speaker began, by expressing their deep sense of the kindness of the Virginia government, in making them that offer; "for we know," says he, "that you highly esteem the kind of learning taught in those Colleges, and that the maintenance of our young men, while with you, would be very expensive to you. We are convinced, therefore, that you mean to do us good by your proposal; and we thank you heartily. But you, who are wise, must know that different nations have different conceptions of things; and you will therefore not take it amiss, if our ideas of this kind of education happen not to be the same with yours. We have had some experience of it; several of our young people were formerly brought up at the colleges of the northern provinces; they were instructed in all your sciences; but, when they came back to us, they were bad runners, ignorant of every means of living in the woods, unable to bear either cold or hunger, knew neither how to build a cabin, take a deer, or kill an enemy, spoke our language imperfectly, were therefore neither fit for hunters, warriors, nor counselors; they were totally good for nothing. We are however not the less obliged by your kind offer, though we decline accepting it; and, to show our grateful sense of it, if the gentlemen of Virginia will send us a dozen of their sons, we will take great care of their education, instruct them in all we know, and make men of them."
- Benjamin Franklin (1784)
Sunday, May 11, 2014
Many Citizens find that when they make applications for certain services or for some corrections or make a complaint or representation to Government bodies they get no response. Now there is a very powerful law in Maharashtra which can empower us. If citizens use it with RTI it can result in better governance and delivery of timely services. Its name is a mouthful: 'Government Servants Regulation of Transfers and Prevention of Delay in Discharge of Official Duties Act (Act 21 of 2006)'. The first part –Chapter 2- specifies that government servants must have a tenure of three years and should normally be transferred only in April or May. If this is violated reasons must be given. Citizens can use this to curb arbitrary transfers of good officers like Khemka or Pardeshi.
The second part, Rule 10 effectively says that no decision on any file can take more than 45 days if a matter has to be decided within the department, and no more than 90 days where other departments have to be consulted. Rule 10 (3) [ 64C for BMC] along with the rules requires the competent authority to do a preliminary investigation within 15 working days and take disciplinary action if negligence is established.
In short if an application/complaint/representation has received no response for over 90 days, if the citizen brings it to the notice of the competent authority (Secretary of the department), the Secretary is obliged to take steps to fix responsibility for dereliction of duty.
If you have received no response to your application/complaint/representation in Maharashtra please send a letter on the following lines to the Secretary of the department:
" I had given my application for……….. on ………….. Since then I have received no communication. I would like to draw your attention to Section 10 of the Transfers and Delays Act 21 of 2006/ ( 64C of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act) which mandates that no decision can be kept pending for over 3 months. In the instant case, no decision has been communicated to me despite the lapse of…… months. I request to conduct a preliminary enquiry to fix responsibility on the officers responsible for this delay and take appropriate disciplinary action against them. I request that the report of the enquiry may please be sent to me.
I look forward to your early action in the above matter,"
Look up the life work of John Robbins and Foster Gamble to see how much more they've given to the world by walking away from their parents' business empires and using their inheritance for the good of the planet. Simple living is a lot more honourable than being a "badaa aadmi". So to all well-off parents, please avoid pushing your kids into becoming planet-rapers. Our current benchmarks of ethics and family honour are seriously messed up.
Thursday, May 8, 2014
Fwd: Swaraj University Orientation round for 2014-16 program, 31 May - 1 June 2014, @Udaipur, Rajasthan
For more info, please write to <firstname.lastname@example.org> and check out http://www.swarajuniversity.org
(PS: there's no ads or revenue sources of any kind on this blog)