Two Italian designers have come up with a design for a bio-degradable egg-like capsule in which a dead body could be buried like a seed and on top of it a tree planted to make a beautiful memorial forest.

I love the idea. For my mother who had died in 2007 , while we cremated her according to the Hindu custom we “planted” a mango tree in her memory in a memorial forest. This is not exactly what is capsula mundi about but something very silmilar.

The idea is to remember our dead not as denizens of a creepy graveyard but as living trees waving in the sprng breeze and may be hosting a cuckoo or two for the current mango season.

In response to the recent mauling death of a four-year-old, the mayor of Bucharest announced that on October 6 residents would have the opportunity to decide whether the city’s stray dogs — estimated to number about 65,000 — should be euthanized. Hundreds in favor of a cull attended a demonstration on Sunday (Sept. 8), including the victim’s grandmother, who said, “I hope for a change for the better – I don’t want to see dogs on the street anymore.” Even Romania’s president, Traian Basescu, is in favor of a law authorizing euthanasia, stating, “Humans are above dogs.”

Really? That is what humans think. What do dogs think?

The logic seems to be that  a human’s life is more precious than a dog’s life. Precious to whom is not material as there is no third party assessing the value of the lives of each species. Pending that humans consider themselves slightly higher in the rank. Human life is precious to humans. So humans make laws suited to their own beliefs furthering their survival.

Euthanasia for healthy dogs? Okay because we have to lull our human conscience into believing that killing the dogs is for their own good!

Like bombing Syria for their own good!

Scientists say there is an essential difference between feeling genuine sadness and understanding the meaning of sadness through art: A song that communicates sadness does not pose an actual threat to our safety. The critical distance created by imitative art may actually help people deal with their own negative emotions. “Emotion experienced by music has no direct danger or harm unlike the emotion experienced in everyday life. Therefore, we can even enjoy unpleasant emotion such as sadness. If we suffer from unpleasant emotion evoked through daily life, sad music might be helpful to alleviate negative emotion.
I do not know what is sad music or happy music. Does the lyric of a vocal composition make it sad or happy? Or is there something inherent in the nuances of sound that make you sad or happy? If that were the case ,would instrumental music make you feel sad or happy?

I think the way the sounds are positioned with respect to each other they create an impact on your cognition and consequently the sensations they create aurally. Just like a fine breeze that produces pleasurable sensations on your cognition through the instrumentality of your skin. All good music gives pleasurable sensations and there is no such thing as sad music,only bad music.

“It’s time, therefore, to reclaim cynicism for the forces of light and truth. Forget about the tired old dichotomies of positive and negative, optimistic and pessimistic. We can’t make things better unless we see quite how bad they are. We can’t do our best unless we guard against our worst. And it’s only by being distrustful that we can distinguish between the trustworthy and the unreliable. To do all this we need intelligent cynicism, which is not so much a blanket negativity, but a searchlight for the truly positive.”

I have a feeling that cynicism is not misanthropy nor a belief that humankind is not capable of any significant advancement . A belief in the hopelessness of all human endeavor does not arise out of a fatalistic pessimism. It is just a studied position that nothing that humans do does really matter in the ultimate analysis.

Surprising that such a position has no ideological basis nor has an origin in the cynic’s own desperate circumstances. How a person becomes a cynic seems a big mystery. Perhaps out of a supercilious attitude cultivated over a period of time to overcome own perceived deficiencies.

Cynicism gives the cynic an intellectual oneupsmanship , a warm afterglow of satisfaction after putting down even the best intellectual arguments put forth by others.Since nothing really matters in the world, whatever others hold forth is plain waffle and does not deserve to be rebutted as an argument or polemic. “Silly asses! they think all this really matters! “ (smirk).The cynic is always perched on the highest of the platforms.

Here we are all, by day; by night we’re hurl’d
By dreams, each one into a several world.

Robert Herrick
A short sweet poem I have always loved.
“Each one into a several world” is a lovely usage. Here several means not many but individually distinct and separate from each other. By day we are all but by night we are hurled into our separate worlds, the world of our dreams.Each one of us has to dream his own dream and enact it all by himself. We have no choice to  choose  our dreams  but are hurled into them  and have to play the part assigned to us in them,pleasant or unpleasant.
“Hurled” is reminiscent of Milton’s “hurled headlong” in Paradise Lost. The fallen angels are hurled headlong into hell.
 Dreams are an extension of  sleep  like death from which there is no waking up.By night  each of us  has to face his several world of dreams alone , unlike by day when we are all together.

“The really sparsely populated regions where there is plenty of game to go around, according to Chagnon, tend to be the most violent regions.  So Chagnon thinks that if anything this is because the more protein you have—this is one of his theories—the more well-fed you are, the more energy you have for this kind of sport. The Yanomamo see warfare as this: the more they’re struggling just to feed themselves the less energy they have for warfare.

Moreover, war is just not something that you see when you go back into human evolution. And culture, in fact, can also help us overcome this very destructive behavior.”

The more protein you have, the more energy you have for the sport of war. Does that make out a case for vegetarianism? In Hinduism we have a concept called satvic food that is essentially food that is supposed to reduce aggression and promote harmony and peace. Excess of animal proteins is believed to promote unnecessary aggression and bellicosity.The Hindu sanyasi (recluse) shuns non-vegetarian food and alcohol and practises abstinence. Traditionally the kshatriyas(warrior class) and the shudras(peasants) are non-vegetarians because their professions demand aggressiveness and physical strength while the brahmins(priests) and the vaishyas(traders) who  have to be peaceful and accommodative and demand less physical strength are vegetarians.

But all that is a hypothesis .More reseach may be required to link excess of protein to aggressive behavior.

” Many visitors come to this city and fall in love with it. What I fell in love with was the density of experience here. This is a chaotic, awkward, historic, and organic city organized on a grid. Although perfect buildings, like the Chrysler Building or the Statue of Liberty, symbolize ‘I Love NY,’ it is the other ordinary buildings, spilling with hectic daily life, that hold real New York life and passion. The fact that they stand right next to the icons is what makes this city special”

Quote taken from Brain Pickings

An interesting observation by a new comer to the city of New York who chooses to own up the city by drawing its buildings. Love the precision of the words. Density of experience about a city is much more than a density of the population in it. Here the density is both horizontal and vertical, across time and space, across divergent levels of consciousness, across the sprawling collective conscious of its people. Only an artist could react  this way to a city  in terms of the experience it offers to the new comer. Especially a new comer who is in the process of owning up the city by grappling with it in drawings.

The organic nature of the city is grasped easily as a grid, in which everything is connected ,in  a chaotic, loosely organised structure. The ordinary buildings too retain their contribution to the city , standing cheek by jowl with the iconic ones.. Like what we experience in Mumbai city, where perfect buildings stand in peaceful co-existence with the drab and listless ones.

“Britain’s Conviction Politician

Even her adversaries knew that Margaret Thatcher meant what she said.”
In this news of Thatcher’s passing away there is  a fitting tribute to her memory. A conviction politician is a rare breed somebody like Gandhi or Mandela who is into politics not for polemics or for wealth and/or fame but out of sheer conviction. We surely will like to remember Thatcher as a conviction politician that differentiates her from all the others.  Epithets often used for her like  dogged ,obstinate , fussy ,decisive etc. only re-inforce this basic trait of her personality i.e strong  convictions.
In Indian democracy we can only talk about “convict “politicians these days. Their  conviction rate is quite high.

I try very hard to understand that book but fail completely. It is almost impossible to decipher, and when one or two lines of understanding emerge like telephone poles above a flood, they are at once countered by other poles running in the opposite direction. . . . I truly believe that Joyce has this time gone too far in breaking all communication between himself and his reader. It is a very selfish book.

– Harold Nicolson
I am amused by  this reaction to Finnegans Wake of James Joyce. Joyce is no doubt a hard nut to crack, especially in this one.But that is not the point. Harold Nicolson calls it a very selfish book. Selfish not  in the sense of an author’s megalomanic outpourings without regard for the reader’s understanding. But in the sense of an intensely personal book,written for the author himself. The author goes overboard trying to break all communication between himself and the reader !
That is an extreme statement implying a conscious effort on the part of the writer to make himself completely obscure.Apparently the work is not meant to be read because ab initio it is unreadeable. But why write such a book that cannot be read by anybody! Probably the writer writes it for himself (selfish book).
That this is an extreme statement is evident from the fame that the book has earned for the author over the years.

Our attraction to the stimulating images of science fiction has likely kept us from realizing that human telepathy might be of little practical use in the real world. Christopher James, neuroscientist from the University of Warwick, UK, says the ideal of communicating complex information from one human to another may be a red herring. In most cases, it would be enough for a computer to communicate a message to us. For example, an air-traffic controller whose attention is spread over many areas could be alerted to two planes in close proximity through something akin to spidey-sense, i.e. an electronic message that would bypass the controller’s collage of human feelings.

Trying to achieve telepathy seems a useless pursuit because it violates the innermost privacy of the individual if others have a go at what he is thinking. Of what use is telepathy in social relationships ?  If the participants get to know what  others are thinking it will be a catastrophe of unmitigated proportions. Most of our relationships like husband-wife, parents-children,boss-subordinate are built around ignorance of what others are thinking about us. If we have access to other’s perceptions of us we will end up in  disharmony and chaos  which are not conducive to the orderly conduct of  our relationships.

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