Archive for January, 2011

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The Cat

The Cat ©

On stealth he moves
No wake he follows
But his own:
Jewels with starburst scan
And silently he settles
To his own wake;
Furry tail with a butt,
All-still to a world
Mad with desire.
reprinted from my blog Pup of my Doggerels 24-1-11


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Richelieu, Armand Jean du Plessis de (1585-1642)

Richelieu called the Red Eminence (L’Eminence Rouge)and feared. He was crafty and ruthless in his attempt to lift France from medieval backwardness to the glory she was destined for. He dominated French politics from 1610 till his death.
A bright child, Armand-Jean du Plessis studied theology as a teen and at the young age of 21 was appointed Bishop of Luçon. In 1622 he was made a cardinal and from there rose to become head of the Royal Council and prime minister of France in 1624. He was adviser to the widow of Henri IV and her son Louis XIII. King Louis XIII was a weak ruler and Richelieu filled the void, more or less running the empire. He established royal absolutism in France by suppressing the political power of the Huguenots. The siege and capture of Rochelle, which he conducted in person (1628) was followed by the submission of other Huguenot strongholds. Richelieu, however, secured for the Huguenot body a certain measure of religious toleration. His astuteness is evident in the way he used his success in this conflict with moderation.
He reduced the influence of the nobles by blowing up their castles and banning private armies. In foreign policy, he sought to weaken Habsburg control of Europe and involved France in the Thirty Years’ War. Though France was a Catholic country he supported Protestant countries in order to diminish the hold of the Catholic league of states. The asuteness of his foreign policy saw France emerge at the end of Thirty Years War as the most powerful nation in Europe. In order to cut the power of Spain he supported the Portuguese in their struggle for independence. Devious and brilliant, he increased the power of the Bourbon dynasty and established orderly government in France.
One of the less known but of far reaching influence he exerted was in the way he encouraged arts. He founded the Académie Française and rebuilt the Sorbonne.
He brought innovation in administering the kingdom through superindents of regions who exerted extensive powers but were directly responsible to the central government that was in himself.
He encouraged road and canal constructions throughout the length and breadth to spur trade and industry. He also encouraged French colonial expansion in the Far East,India and the West indies.
Ever since Dumas’ novel Three Musketeers (1844)in Richelieu’s name has become synonymous with political intrigue and ambitious power “behind the throne.”


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Bapu’s Lament©

I lived a dream, and paid with lead shots
Fired from an assassin’s hand.
Never thought my life was precious
To be lived out in craven fear.
A nation yet to be born
Needs lives of men, paid
Freely and in blood; this price
I paid and deemed it not too dear.

My body is dead but where be my soul?
The assassins they all, to make it seem a foul thing!

I lived a dream, and fought for people
Long lived as slaves in torpor,
Unstirred by fine ideals of noble race
Who would rather break the fetters
And die than live a lie.
In my soul I saw their soul mirrored,
A dream it was to give the soul my all,-
Paid the price to be made as one.

My body is dead but where be my soul?
It’s dragged round and through dust uncared for.

I lived a dream, and home-spun spirit
Cared not for things that people
Buy and sell with an eye to profit;
In my soul I thought their spirit
Would follow and soar far above
To nobler realms of freedom,-
In thought and actions inspire,
Vivid and bold like the pole-star!

My body is dead but where be my soul?
It is safe now in the vaults of some Swiss Banks.


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Louis Brandeis (1856-1941) American
Known as the People’s Attorney he noted before his elevation to the Supreme Court in 1916, thus, ”In the last century our democracy has deepened; coincidentally there has been a shifting of our longing from legal justice to social justice.”
A graduate of Harvard Law School(1878)and a Boston Brahmin he was committed to public justice and the cause of the working man. He was responsible for a Massachusetts Bill in 1907, providing laborers with their own organisations to supply low cost insurance. Next year found him in Muller v. Oregon presenting a brief opposing hard labor for women on non-legal medical and sociological grounds. An advocate of regulated competition to curb monopoly, acted as an advisor to President Wilson, on anti-trust, banking and labor legislation.
An ardent Zionist he was instrumental in obtaining the Balfour Declaration that promised a homeland in Palestine for the Jews. Of middle class, middle Western, middle European background he embodied two familiar American combinations-Jewish liberal and political lawyer.
An associate Justice to Supreme Court (1916-39) and the first Jew to be appointed, he was noteworthy for his dissenting voice. Bitter opposition to his elevation was as much a reflection on his progressive views as well as his religion. He aligned with liberal Justices like Holmes and Stone. He did yeoman service during FDR’s administrator to defend many of the New Deal measures against the conservative majority of the Court.
Upon his retirement at the age of 83 he turned his attention to the Zionist movement and died in Washington DC in 1941.

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Who is in Control?
History is made by the trade off between material nature of men and events on one part and abstract nature of Cosmos on the other. As such history may be understood as easily as we explain the physical nature of universe by various laws of Nature.
There is an inherent order existing that underpins law of entropy to cite an example. In our Milky Way we see nebulous gaseous clouds tending to form a spiral shape with arms. When cream is poured into a stirred cup of coffee shows up a striking resemblance to galaxies with outer parts of arms trailing around its center. Does it not speak of an order?
This order runs throughout the Cosmos so material behaves in a certain predictable manner under the same conditions. A phenomenon like Aurora Borealis or Aurora Australis is due to the electrically charged particles traveling along the planet’s magnetic lines strike hydrogen molecules. As a result the molecules glow in the upper atmosphere. If similar conditions exist whether in Jupiter or anywhere in Cosmos the same phenomenon should manifest.
How history is made and impacted into collective consciousness of mankind follows certain principles. Because we are given to abstract thinking we interpret the lessons in terms of ideas.
A Principle is defined as he ultimate basis for action and as such the trade off between material and abstract nature is moderated by an agency somewhat like the SEC.

Conjugation Principle:
Consider the optical illusion where we can spot mirror image of a face in profile or a vase in the middle depending on what we are looking at. In other words we choose to see what we want to see.
Applying this to history the case of Cyprus amply illustrates the above. Cyprus was seized by the son of Suleiman the Magnificent in 1570 and the island was in the control of Venice and Greece earlier. The Ottoman Empire is a thing of the past as the grandeur of Greece. Turkey claim it as theirs while the Islanders mostly belonging to the Greek Orthodox Church stake their own claims. So who is right? Kashmir is another case in point.

Inversion principle:
A fast moving hurricane will have scant rainfall but its speed would be very high. A slow moving hurricane will have less wind speed but a heavy rainfall.
Man however clever or strong he may be, his cleverness and power can only be licked into shape in context of others. His strength is in numbers that in turn has its downside. Thus we identify with a nation and what does it do? It takes away some of our freedoms. ‘In the national interests’ our phones are tapped and emails are screened or some other.
There was a time when the British Empire was stretched all across the globe; an Englishman could take pride the sun never set on his Empire. But didn’t this vastness contribute partly to her break up as the Roman Empire earlier?

Uncertainty Principle :
Who wrecked the U.S. economy? The idea of bold initiative, as many love to believe as an essential American virtue, saw freeing the marketplace’s animal spirits from the cold hand of government regulation. Uncertainty principle explains the no man’s land where this virtue is a cover up for greed. The whole system along the line caved in as the regulations set in place to avoid an economic meltdown were vitiated by those who were to safeguard the nation’s financial health. Greed is after all a potent force that man rationalizes away. What of fear or envy? Such ‘Trojan horse’ appears time and time again through history. Under Stalinist repressive regime those who huddled around the dictator like a shadow unearthed ‘names’ indefatigably in order to deflect him from looking closely at them. Greed, Envy, and Prejudice- well you name it, often come into play and work at cross purposes to undo the nations. The exact point where this flaw takes over is uncertain.
At crucial moments an Army or the commander loses the nerve and it has a ripple effect affecting the outcome. Did not an unseasonal rain the night before delay Napoleon from throwing his army to battle at Waterloo on the fateful day, June 16,1815? This delay gave the Prussian army under Blücher enough time to join up with the British. Of course there are many other reasons like Marshal Ney ignoring the commands of the emperor because of his illegible scrawl, and the absence of Berthier for instance. It is uncertain what precisely tipped the scales in favor of the Allied army. One point is certain. The battle hardened Imperial Guards lost nerve as they saw the Prussian army and the army simply melted away. Uncertainty principle as we can see in the above examples is a great leveler. American dream built on free enterprise is brought down by greed as Napoleonic ambition by a drizzle!

Integration Principle:
The French army had first thought of tanks as an effective war machine but the High Command did not think of it so much. They dismissed Col. de Gaulle’s ideas of using it in the modern warfare. Of the last 500 model R-35 tanks produced up to May 1940 nearly one half were dispatched abroad. ( The Collapse of the Third Republic-William L.Shirer) Whereas Gen. Heinz Guderian as a major transferred to Berlin, was put in charge of motorized tactics. This put him at the center of German development of armored forces. He studied the work of the then-obscure Charles de Gaulle. He translated the book into German. His fame using Tanks as an effective weapon in the WWII shows how a breakthrough in one part of the globe can be used effectively elsewhere. For both destructive and useful purposes.

Cluster Principle:
War brings in its wake plague, famine and not to mention great many socio-economic changes the warring parties could not have imagined. The WWI began with rivalry between Britain and Germany left long on the boil. Personal animosities between Kaiser Wilhem II against his cousin the King of England in a manner of speaking flared up over a small incident in the Balkans.
An assassination by the Black Hand triggered the age-old alliance system, dragging countries unwillingly to war. The economic and political effects were so great that World War One marks the start of the modern era. The European economies wrecked each other while passing their capital to an emerging America, a process continued during the World War Two. The centuries old Russian Empire was torn down and replaced with a socialist, then Stalinist, system which led to the death of millions. The Austro-Hungarian Empire, the surviving relic of the millennia old Holy Roman Empire, ceased to exist, as did the relatively new German Empire and the maps of Eastern Europe and the Middle East were redrawn in a manner which still causes conflict.(Gerard J. de Groot,Robert Wilde/about.com-European History)
While we see the same principle working with a variant in this century. Internet and twitter has become a powerful tool to change public opinion. Technology is too unwieldy for any single nation to handle. As a result the age-old concept of nations based on their ethnicity, religion will come to be rewritten slowly but surely. Who shall we blame for global warming? North, South or ‘emerging’ Third world? What happens in Iceland has repercussions throughout the globe. No single nation can handle the problems affecting the modern world. It makes sense then for China and America to sit across the table as partners on a global platform seeking ways and means to accommodate each other while pushing their own agendas to fulfill the national aspirations. History shall be still be made though whatever manner the perception of people may change.
(To be concluded)

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Taken At Dusk ©

I am a soldier on furlough
And you strike me as footloose
As witless gay blades let loose to raise hell.
‘Would you mind if I ask you?’

‘The dusk has fallen and I am late
And I am one of three
Alas our cruising can’t wait:
So let me foot it.’

I am a soldier of fortune, say
If you have seen me cut
Throats and pillage you would know
I am the man you need.

Death, I see in your glittering eye
And I can well imagine
It bodes ill for all the rest
It cannot be otherwise.

The gay blade sat limp in sweat
‘I lost my nerve at sight
Why you had to choose this ill hour
To seek my inmost thoughts out?

Indeed I am the look out man
While the band cut
Below the bridge, below the hill
I cannot but be gay.

This night we sit in wait for death:
I know within a ghastly thrill
That we shall wade in blood
Till our hands can do no more.’

‘Wherefore venture in the gloamin’’
Can’t you delay for once?’ I ask
More out of vain hope.
His face goes white in anger:

‘Hell and damnation that send
Thee to trouble me deep. Damn!’
For once you spoke truly:
‘I am Death on hell’s errand.’

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