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Archive for December, 2014

‘Migrant ship’ in distress off Corfu.’BBC News
A cargo ship believed to be carrying hundreds of migrants has sent out a distress signal near the Greek island of Corfu, reports say.
Now end of the world seems to have come for African states and for Syria. More than 150 years ago,it was the turn of Ireland. The Great Famine wasn’t just another chapter in the history of the Emerald Isle — it threatened the nation’s survival before it even became a nation.
One million died. Two million fled. Today, the population of Ireland and Northern Ireland combined is still lower than it was before Abraham Lincoln became president.
Now, the remains of some of those who tried to flee this cataclysm have been identified — on a beach in Canada.
The bones — vertebrae, pieces of a jawbone — washed up in 2011 on Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula, about 500 miles from Montreal. After three years of research, Parks Canada says that they likely belonged to Irish children fleeing the Great Famine who died in a shipwreck.
“They are witnesses to a tragic event,” said Pierre Cloutier, an archeologist at Parks Canada, “You can’t have a more tangible witness to tragedy than human remains.”
When famine descended on Ireland in the 1840s, North America beckoned. Another continent — one not gripped by a potato blight — was just a shallow ocean away.
But Irish without means who wanted to fill their bellies in the New World faced one major problem: The only way to get there were “coffin ships.” were themselves deadly, claiming the lives of up to 100,000 would-be migrants.
“These ships were packed with people,” Kathryn Miles, author of “All Standing: The Remarkable Story of the Jeanie Johnston, the Legendary Irish Famine Ship,” . “Most families of four would be given a platform that was about 6 feet square. So they were sleeping head-to-toe and there was no sense of quarantine or hygiene.”
One coffin ship, the Carricks, set sail from Ireland to Quebec City in 1847. But there would be no salvation for many aboard: The ship went down in a storm off of the peninsula. Survivors — 100 of them, by some accounts — washed up onshore and were taken in, while 87 people perished. In 1900, a monument was erected to memorialize the disaster.
But more than a century after the memorial went up, skeletal remains of some what Parks Canada said were victims of the Carricks  were found 40 yards away from the memorial. Without DNA testing and carbon dating, the agency can’t be sure the victims were aboard the doomed coffin ship.
But there is quite a bit they do know. The bones belonged to children — two between 7 and 9, and another as old as 12. They showed evidence of rickets, a vitamin-D deficiency found among the malnourished. Analysis of a tooth showed its former owner ate a plant-based diet. And a button found near the site was linked to a Europe that had not yet endured the Great War.

(Justin Moyer/The Washington Post/12/31/14)
benny

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A town mouse went to the country since he had not seen much of it. All that reminded him of it were the folks who were in a tearing hurry to escape it. All the church mouses he met were sure the churches back in the country were packed with backbiters. The door-mouses pouring into the town through the drains said they could not keep a doormat let alone their door for the hurricane took all. Daddy-O the dandy about town was sure he lived in a town that never had seen a tax-collector to give an opinion.
On arriving in a hick town he accosted the first mouse and after exchanging pleasantries said, ‘What do you for entertaining?’
We stalk whatever?’
‘Stalking,Freddo?” the town mouse was taken back,’ Back in town stalking is illegal. But a town mouse is above law.’ It was the turn of the country mouse to drop his jaw.’But stalks come flying and land on our doorstep. So a hurricane elsewhere is our feast day.’It was then Daddy-o realized the mouses spoke the same lingo but what it meant was neither here nor there.” The town mouse said,” You drop everything and come with me.”
The country mouse followed Daddy-O and it was like a descent into Dante’s inferno. Everywhere pigs had set up barriers and were trying pot luck at anything moving. At one place Daddy-O was being chased by a drove of pigs. Around an intersection he was caught by one pig who frisked him and asked,” Where have you stashed moon rocks?”
Daddy-o winked at the country mouse as if to give him a study into urban semantics,
” Psst, he means meth.”
‘What is your speed?
Daddy who had taken a liking to his ward said,” I am going to get his goat. Watch now”
Daddy-O lifted his foot and stepped hard on the trotter. The pig squealed and in response some 20 pigs sent peashooters flying at the two.
Freddo the country mouse screamed,” You brought me to hell, man!”
Daddy-O laughed hard and said, “This is my kind of town, Ferguson, Missouri!”

benny

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here's an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 17,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Let me quote an earlier post on Gandhi and Tolstoy (July, 2011) “…When a man like Tolstoy, one of the clearest thinkers in the western world, one of the greatest writers, one who as a soldier has known what violence is and what it can do, condemns Japan for having blindly followed the law of modern science, falsely so called, and fears for that country ‘the greatest of calamities’, it is for us to pause and consider whether, in our impatience of English rule, we do not want to replace one evil by another and worse. India, which is the nursery of the great faiths of the world, will cease to be nationalistic India…’
19th Nov.1909,MK Gandhi
(selected from A Letter to a Hindu, by Leo Tolstoy)
In India’s case India winning Independence from the British colonial masters was a turning point. But did not the Congress party lost direction? Corruption under the Congress rule had run into every walk of life and with some 60 years what is left of is Gandhiji’s Moral example but no takers. His political blindside notwithstanding was sound in choosing a liberal as Nehru at the time of transition. But Jawaharlal Nehru as the PM led the nation and it somewhere short cut democratic credentials it chose to uphold in creating a dynasty rule. How did that happen is for historians to settle.
How Congress rule was egregiously inept and corrupt was proved in its utter rout of recent national elections. The nation has altogether a new set of masters who are spiritually still in a reprehensible time- warp of casteism, child marriage and rank reliance on Hinduvta ideology that has no basis in terms of geography, ethnography or in terms of cultural well-spring.
India is a breakaway land mass from Africa and the landmass pushing ever into Tibetan plateau goes on still. So India’s connection with Africa is in present tense. Just as Indians prefer seeing themselves as part of Indian sub-continent I am of the opinion is arbitrary and has no practical value. World wide web has erased much more such outdated concepts of narrow nationalism Now it s of big blocks as EU and ASEAN etc., Harping on Hinduvata is eye wash. Ask oneself instead ‘are we not part of the whole world?’ This is what any Indian steeped in spiritual values ought to ask. One cannot butter one part of the bread with Jam and other with Andhra chutney. If we have in ages past cultivated spiritual values these must be focused to keep us calm centered every citizen in India must prove on the International market his worth. A fitting and truly shining example is their Mars mission. Similarly each Indian has unprecedented opportunity to make a splash in the Information technology or any other.
In terms of ethnography we are offspring of migrations originating from Africa. Out of Africa hypothesis still holds true for most parts of the world. Even a white supremacist in deep South of US is a white washed negroid. Aeons of time to work changes of our ape ancestor is a kind of genetic trigger and if the African ancestor has shed his hair and bleached by cold climate it is nothing to crow about. Some castes in India demanding privileges over the fact of their Aryan blood are anachronistic and living under a delusion. Mingling of many streams of human migration has created more robustness than those who inbred for centuries. The case of Pharaohs may be seen as a case in point.
Since Congress proved incapable of holding the mantle of Gandhiji the Hindu Fundamentalists have come forward to lay claim. Since they won good and proper through the ballot box it cannot be helped. They can lay their own rules. If a statue is erected to honor Gandhiji’s assassin it is one of the perks of the powers that be. No worse than Chief Minister Mayawati’s vanity to comemmorate her rule in Uttar Pradesh.
In a democratic set up rats and weasels are of same value since the people have settled the difference.

benny

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IMG_1794
Photo credit: emma thomas

The sun worked its magic
Anti-freeze upon the frosted pile:
Across window panes
In every wink of dew
And in every thicket denuded
Of green swathes,
A new beginning.

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Light, Forever Lit ©

From strangest shores to Bethlehem came

The wisest of the wise so they were reckoned:

Three bearing gifts, before Herod they came

They but found the world honors the false indeed.

ii

From Galilee to Bethlehem came

The holy family by some decree;

Mary big with Child found no home

But a lowly manger by divine decree.

iii

In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed

The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

A Caesar must live off taxes and be damned,

But forever blessed is Jesus Christ.

iv

The star that led the rustic still shines

And we too have in that infant found it

Lit despite all gloom, and peace reigns;

We have found light what is forever lit.

(Reading Christina Rossetti’s In the Bleak Midwinter prompted this poem)

benny

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IMG_1782 Happy and a Prosperous New Year 2015, to all

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