Archive for November, 2007

Trump Defeated

November 29, 2007

Donald Trump’s plans to build a massive billion dollar golf course development in the north east of Scotland has been shot down by the local county council. My girlfriend lives near the proposed site and is very happy about this news. She had thought, and many others, that Mr. Trump would have no problems getting permission to go forward with his big plans. An article in The Independent sums it up nicely by pointing out how Mr. Trump’s team used “moral blackmail” to attempt to get their project approved. It is also pointed out that…

it would be a “grotesque mistake” to grant the application without any compromise over the location, which Mr Trump’s team had made clear was “non-negotiable”.

I am happy to see local politicians standing up to the powers of Trump Tower. I wish more small local governments could stand up to corporate powers in this fashion. It will be interesting to see where this goes.

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High Country News

November 27, 2007

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After an amazing trip through the South-West I have decided to subscribe to the High Country News. This semi-monthly publication covers the 11 Western states. It is very sensible news dealing with the various environmental issues this region faces. As I was traveling with my British girlfriend I came to a deeper understanding of what an incredible land the American West is. It’s vastness and wildness is incredible. We spent Thanksgiving at the bottom of the Grand Canyon and it was amazing. I encourage everyone to get out and explore the American West in all its glory and take interest in the conservation and preservation of this land. I am excited about becoming more connected to my homeland through this great publication.

Canyon so Grand

November 16, 2007

I’m off to Death Valley and the Grand Canyon. You won’t see Shankar Wolfananda till his return somewhere around the 25th or 26th. Hari Om.

Christmas Industrial Complex

November 14, 2007

Get Ready for the consumption machine to go into high gear. To show the gravity of this situation I have included an excerpt from Dwight D. Eisenhower’s farewell address to the nation on January 17, 1961.

“The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the Christmas-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted.

Couldn’t be more apt if had been spoken today!

Developing World Tops Attitude Survey

November 13, 2007

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In an article titled, Poor, Happy and Hopeful In The Times of India author, Sujata Dutta Sachdeva writes,

The world seems to be a happier place for people living in the developing world. Their incomes may be low and lives tough, but the mood is upbeat. They are more satisfied with their personal lives, incomes and national conditions as compared to the developed world. And, they are optimistic about the future as well.

Upon my return to the USA after spending a year in Asia I started calling the US, Canada, European countries, Austrailia and other “developed counties” the Undeveloped World. I began calling India and other so called “developing countries” the Developed World. My reasons for this reversal was a certain exhuberiance, wonder, joy, and livliness I found in the people there. I know it is risky to romanticize countries struggling with huge health, human rights, population, pollution and poverty issues but when the streets are filled with life and children late into the evening, and I return to a land where people seem to be compartmentalized, issolated and much less connected to the people around them I see a land that has not “developed” a comprehensive understanding of life and the bigger picture.

Angelo Reserve

November 12, 2007

Today, on our way back from camping on the coast, Hannah and I decided to take the Branscomb Road which runs from Westport to Laytonville. About 10 miles from the coast there was a turnoff to the right called Wilderness Road. I had vague memories of a UC Berkeley Nature Reserve being somewhere out in this direction. I once attended a class in which the guest lecturer did research on the headwaters of the South Fork of the Eel river. After heading out this road for a few miles we were about to turn around when we arrived at the Heath and Marjorie Angelo Coast Range Reserve. It proved to be a big beautiful piece of land open to the public for day use. We took a great walk along the river and then explored the old Angelo Homestead which still stands. This reserve has a very interesting history and was actually the first land purchased by the Nature Conservancy. If anyone has a day to go hike and explore some beautiful untouched land I strongly recommend this place. When we got back to the truck we met Peter Steel who is the Reserve Manager. Peter is the grandson of Heath and Marjorie Angelo and has been living on the reserve for more than 20 years.

Sacred Bridge

November 10, 2007

The Lord of the sea pointed a long, lucent finger at a monkey who stood behind Rama. He said, “That vanara is Nala. He is Viswakarman’s son, and he carries his father’s genius in his blood. Let Nala build a bridge across my waves. I swear it shall not sink and it will bear the weight of the army of vanaras when it marches over me. I bless you, Rama of Ayodhya.”

The above passage is from The Ramayana in a translation by Ramesh Menon. Rama is trying to figure out how to get his army across the sea from India to Sri Lanka, where the demon, Ravana, has his wife, Sita, prisoner. I bring this up because there is currently a controversy brewing about digging a shipping canal between India and Sri Lanka. Currently the ocean floor between Indian and Sri Lanka is very shallow which doesn’t allow for cargo ships. But I find it quite amazing that there is this shallow land bridge between the sub-continent and the island. This ancient epic of India describes an event that could of actually happened. However, Indians are currently taking sides, those who are in favor of digging the trench and those who state that this is a sacred site and should not be meddled with. This issue is actually calling into question the existence of Rama and the entire Ramayana, which sounds utterly silly to be debating. This BBC article gives a nice synopsis of this interesting event. Apparently NASA has established that there was once a man-made bridge built between India and Sri Lanka, this article gives details.

Nature Ownership

November 9, 2007

Why do we insist on ownership? What is it about humans that makes us crave ownership and right to always think first of “Me” and “Mine”. I would like to connect this post to a past post I wrote on a hot spring hunt that ended up on “private property”. Since I wrote about this hot spring and the hunt for it the owner has commented on the blog and was quite belligerent. Here is the conversation.

It was quite funny because the day before this person commented my friend from Scotland had arrived at my house. She was a little upset by all the private property here. In Scotland there is a law called “Right to Roam” which declares all land is accessible to hikers, but you must abide by some common sense guidelines, such as leave no trace and do not camp too close to someone’s residence. What a concept! Can you image this law being passed in this country?!

I would like to quote Chief Seattle here:

How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us.
If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?
Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memories of the red man.
This we know; the earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites our families. All things are connected.

No Hindus in India

November 7, 2007

The term Hinduism is not of Indian origin and is not used in any of the sacred texts originating in India. Hindu is what the Persians called the people living on the other side of the Sindu river. The original term for the belief system of the inhabitants of the Indian sub-continent is Sanatana Dharma which can translate to Eternal Truth. The Indians did not need a term to differentiate those who followed santana dharma because if you lived you were part of creation and therefore part of the eternal truth. Sri Aurobindo put it nicely:

‘This is the one religion that can triumph over materialism by including and anticipating the discoveries of science and the speculations of philosophy. It is the one religion which impresses on mankind the closeness of God to us and embraces in its compass all the possible means by which man can approach God. It is the one religion which insists every moment upon the truth which all religions acknowledge that He is in all men and things and that in Him we move and have our beings. It is the one religion which enables us not only to understand and believe this truth but to realize it with every part of our being. It is the one religion which shows the world what the world is, that is the sport of God. It is the one religion which shows us how we can best play our part in that sport, its subtlest laws and its noblest rules. It is the one religion which does not separate life in any smallest detail from religion , which knows what immortality is and has utterly removed from us the reality of death.’’

Dr. R.K. Lahiri has a nice essay addressing this topic.

I find it interesting that the terms, Hinduism and Hindu have been adopted by the rest of the world while Indians themselves generally do not use. Or they use it because of the dominance of the english language. I have always been intrigued by languages that use different labels for lands and people than that population does. Hari OM.

Happy Guy Fawkes Day

November 5, 2007

Today we pay homage to England’s number one Terrorist. On this day in 1605 Mr. Guy Fawkes tried to blow-up the English Parliment because he wanted to kill the Protestant King, James I. I wonder when we will all celebrate Osama Bin Laden Day? We will all burn effigies of him and light off fire works. I can’t wait!