Happy Thanksgiving

By two_kittehs

What’s your plan?

100 Years of the General Theory of Relativity

By two_kittehs

Einstein’s greatest achievement and one of the foremost intellectual achievements of all time completes a 100 years this year. If you think that you have no use for Einstein’s seminal theory, think again. The accuracy of the  ubiquitous navigations systems that depend on the Global Positioning System rely on special and general relativistic corrections to Newton’s Laws.

Other physics related posts here.

The Story Behind Schroedinger’s Cat

Box Kitteh is Not Happy With Your Offering

By two_kittehs

Update: I just realized that I have already posted this lol before. To make up for that lapse, I give you another box kitteh!


Pinga From the Upcoming Movie Bajirao Mastani is A Hot Mess

After the energetic Gajanana and the visually decadent Deewani Mastani, two songs from Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s upcoming movie Bajirao Mastani, I was expecting a hat trick from SLB. However, the much hyped dance-off between the two female leads is a dud.  It didn’t float my boat. Here in no particular order is a list of my critiques.

1. If two women love the same man, the last thing they want to do is dance together. This premise stretched credulity even the first time Bhansali attempted it in Devdas.

2. Whatever this dance is, it is not pinga.  (pinga ghalene : to spin around)

3. Lame choreography is lame, mishmash of the dancing styles doesn’t quite gel.

6. Married Marathi women don’t put sindoor in the hair part. Research fail.

7. Where is the Gauri? Isn’t this supposed to be a Gauri celebration? Which is presumably why these women are dancing in the first place. This to me looks like a Gauri or Mangla-Gauri jagran or all nighter, which is primarily a huge sleepover party for women where they get together, gossip, sing songs, dance etc.  This is usually an female affair, by women and for women, and men are not welcome.

8. Plaigarism alert, Bhansali needs to credit V. Shantaram.

9. Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra have nothing on goddess Madhuri when it comes to dancing abilities.

10. Is it my imagination or does the pattern on this dance floor resemble the one in Chandramukhi’s parlor? SLB we expect better from you, stop being so repetitive.


Deepika Padukone

Deepika and Priyanka pretending to put sindoor in their hair part in a still from Pinga (Credit :NDTV)

Grade: C-

Who Is the Bird Brain now?

Canary Got the Cat

By two_kittehs

Ohai, this lol made it to the first page of Animal Capshuns on ICHC last week. Other FP lols is here. Looks like Friday kitteh has run out of happy. Has a good weekend everyone.

Bihar gives India a Diwali Gift: An In-Depth Analysis of the Assembly Elections

The results of the Bihar Assembly elections are in, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has received quite a drubbing. BJP led alliance has won less than one third (58) of the total seats (243).  Mr. Modi and his handpicked party chief Mr. Amit Shah in their infinite wisdom had made the election all about Mr. Modi. BJP had no  candidate for the chief minister’s post and they had also benched popular Bihari politicians from the BJP from active campaigning while BJP’s opposition coalesced into one group.

Fresh elections became necessary because the incumbent chief minister Mr. Nitish Kumar’s decided to withdraw from the coalition with BJP — he could not stomach Mr Modi as the candidate for PM. Nitish Kumar knew that he could not win the fight alone so he formed an alliance with Lalu Prasad Yadav and the Congress. Lalu as Mr. Prasad is affectionately known took the fight to Modi and his chamchas (rough translation: cronies). Yes, Lalu is  no saint and has a checkered past and few fans in the Indian English language media but he is a fighter and gave as good as he got. His Twitter feed is a hoot. He also had a home field advantage and rhetorically he can run rings around Mr. Modi in Hindi, which is not Mr. Modi’s first language.

Another inexplicable BJP campaign strategy was to berate Biharis and Bihar. If there is  one thing Indians can’t stand is a person from another state coming and giving them lectures and telling them to their face that they are stupid. The Bihari vs. Bahari (outsider) issue got lots of traction. This is BJP’s second loss in the Hindi heartland. BJP stalwarts from the Atal Bihari Vajpayee cabinet like Mr. Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha have been among the biggest critics of these tactics.

Mr. Modi was sworn in as the Prime Minister of India just last year. His party won an outright majority to the lower House of the Indian Parliament. This was the first time in almost thirty years that any party had managed this feat. Mr. Modi ran on an agenda of economic reform and job growth.  BJP also won state assembly elections in Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Haryana shortly after. So why did it all go south for Mr. Modi in such a short time?

The Backdrop to the Recent Elections

Was this drubbing inevitable and how does one explain this in light of the Modi wave of 2014? The answer is simple, the mandate was for economic development, more jobs better infrastructure etc not to enact Sangh hobby horses like banning beef consumption. However, instead of focusing on an agenda of economic development, BJP governments at the state level started enacting bans against consumption and sale of beef. These bans have given a license to bullies to harass those whose livelihood depends on beef. The lynching of a Muslim man in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh is the result same phenomena carried to its logical horrific end.

Then there was the assassination of Prof. M. M. Kalburgi in Karnataka, latest in the string of politically motivated assassinations of the outspoken critics of the version of Hinduism the Sangh champions. The modus operandi of the so called protectors of Hinduism is pretty simple. They try to silence the people who criticize them by calling them names and kill those who won’t be silenced. What do Modi and the BJP have to do with all this?

I blame them for enabling the ugliness and the prejudices that already exists to come to fore and be expressed without fear of any repercussions in  the public square. Just last week BJP spokesperson said this about the beloved and the most popular Indian actor of his generation, Shahrukh Khan

Shah Rukh Khan may live in India but his heart belongs to Pakistan. Although, his films make millions here but he dares call India intolerant.

He then went on to call him a traitor.  All this abuse because Shahrukh Khan added his voice to the chorus of other creative professionals who had expressed concern about the growing intolerance to opposing view points in Modi’s India. However, none else got called a traitor other than Shahrukh.

Amit Shah the head of the BJP had this to say at an election rally in Bihar, said that if his party lost in Bihar,

crackers will be burst in Pakistan.

The toxic ideology of Hindutva and divisive tactics give cover to the reactionaries who perpetrate acts like the assassinating Prof. Kalburgi and give rise to a chilling atmosphere meant to silence the critics of their radical agenda. Many eminent writers were dismayed by this trend that they started returning their Sahitya Akademi (Indian Academy of Arts and Letters) awards to register their protest against what they saw as a climate of rising intolerance. Prof. Kalburgi was a recipient of the prestigious award and the academy was silent about his death for weeks. Many other artists and scientists have also followed suit. So far 36 writers and poets have returned their awards.

The Long View

The only way a country as diverse as India can survive and thrive is to live and let live.  India is not a monolith and never has been. India has tremendous linguistic (more than 20 major languages spoken) diversity and it has been home to almost every religion practiced in the world. Not just Hinduism and Islam but also Judaism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism, not to mention Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Also, the there is a lot of regional variation as to how Hinduism is practiced in India. It bears little resemblance to the Hindutva preached by the Sanghis (denizens of the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh or the National Volunteer Corps). Narendra Modi has deep roots in the RSS, he was an RSS pracharak (pracharak: propagandist/evangelist).

The roots of the Hindutva can be traced to back to the days of the British rule. India’s diversity was the one of the main reasons why a handful of British could rule a vast subcontinent, by exploiting the differences that already existed. Indian nationalists could be broadly divided into two groups,  one  celebrated the diversity as a strength not a weakness and the other thought of it a weakness to be overcome. This group blamed all of India’s erst while troubles on the other and idolized a distant past when their community held the sway. The Congress and India took the first route while the Muslim League took the second, as their respective paths to independence. The ideology of Hindutva which the Sangh subscribes to, is a mirror image of the Muslim League’s ideology.

The Hindutva movement has  more in common with the fascist movements of the early 20th century in Europe rather than ancient India as they like to claim. Starting with their uniform of brown pants, right down to their salute. If you don’t believe me you can read the Sangh’s founding fathers and make up your own mind. The Sangh may don the mantle of the protector of all Hindus, but it is little more than a fascist cult where indoctrination begins early. These self appointed soldiers of Hinduism who presume to speak for all Hindus, take basic tenets that most (but not all) Hindus abide by and then use them as a wedge issue to create division and hatred. Take the issue in the news, consumption of beef. While it is true that many  Hindus don’t eat beef, most don’t care if someone else does. The Sangh’s vision for India is narrow and poorly imagined. They want homogeneity  and have little appreciation of the mosaic that is India. There is more to India than the Sangh’s mantra of, Hindu good and Muslim bad. India’s rich legacy belongs to all Indians, not just these self proclaimed and self righteous appropriators.

So when BJP got its first outright majority at the center it was not surprising that Modi did not rein in the crazies in the party.  In Sangh circles their thinking is not crazy at all but  mainstream. That’s why the election in Bihar was so important because it is going to be extremely difficult for the BJP and RSS brass to dismiss all of Bihar as liberals, pseudo-secularists, Marxists or Pakistan lovers or whatever epithet du jour the Sangh uses to bully those who don’t agree with their outlook.

The Finale

The voters in Bihar have rejected the demagoguery  and for that I am thankful. It’s also a reminder to the Gujarati combine of Modi and Shah that rest of India is not as receptive as their home state of Gujarat to the cause of militant vegetarianism and the paranoid, Muslim baiting version of Hinduism. The mandate Mr. Modi received last year was for economic change, not a green signal to make India a Hindu theocracy based on the tenets cooked up by the Sangh.

This tale has a happy ending. The Modi-Shah combine lost Bihar and the voters of one of India’s poorest states took on the Narakasura* of religious bigotry and won.

Happy Diwali!

*Yesterday was the first day of Diwali, also known as Naraka Chaturdashi, which celebrates Krishna’s victory over the rakshas (demon) Narakasura.

Happy Halloween!

By two_kittehs

Happy Halloween! Other Halloween lols here. What is your favorite scary movie? For me it is a tossup between Exorcist and Psycho. Do you dress up your kittehs for Halloween? I am too scared of bosscat to be so impertinent.

David Brooks Pimps Rubio and Ryan

After his brief foray into the land of intellectual honesty, David Brooks, is back to pimping toxic Republican policies and politicians who espouse them.

Voters don’t have to know the details of their nominee’s agenda, but they have to know that the candidate is capable of having an agenda.

Don’t worry your pretty little head about Marco’s agenda just know that he has one and chose him, just like I have, says Brooks. He is pretty for a politician and has R after his what more can a columnist/ Republican shill want? Then he says this about Jeb:

He would probably be a very effective president. And he would have been a very effective candidate — but in 1956.

Is Brooks calling Jeb, Eisenhower? What is the evidence for this hyperbole. Apart from fixing the election in Florida in his brother’s favor what exactly are Jeb Bush’s accomplishments.

Ted Cruz looks likely to emerge as the candidate of the disaffected white working class — the noncollege-educated voters who are now registering their alienation and distrust with Trump.

A Harvard and Princeton alumnus is now the tribune for the disaffected according to Brooks. His own newspaper however says otherwise, far from being the voice of the working class, Cruz is the darling of hedge fund managers, who have donated generously to his campaign.

Coming back to Rubio, who has been hailed as the fresh face to look out for by the Beltway types for over year, has nothing to offer but stale ideas where policy is concerned.

His policy on taxes is the same as other Republicans.

He would simplify the tax code, reduce rates and move us toward a consumption-based system by reducing taxes on investment.

His bold new initiative according to Brooks

He adds a big $2,500 child tax credit that is controversial among conservative economists, but that would make life easier for working families.

In what world is $2500 tax credit, a big credit? That’s probably less than what Brooks gets paid per column. Also what if you don’t have any children?

Rubio is also trying to sell other warmed over stale Republican ideas like wage subsidies i.e. paying employers to hire people and flex funds that the states would administer instead of the Federal government. Giving power to the states may sound good on paper, but in reality, it has meant giving power to the states to screw over their most vulnerable members, usually minorities and women.  A look at the map of uninsured Americans is a telling example of what happens when the administration of social welfare policies are left up to the states

According Brooks, Rubio is an apostle of the new so called reform conservatism, which is nothing but old snake oil in new bottle. Reform conservative nostrums for the ailing economy are like telling a person who is a bleeding from a head wound, that it would be good if they also lost some weight. Yes, losing weight would be good in the long term, but you need to stanch the bleeding right now.

In economic terms, job losses and rising inequality are mainly the result of the demand shock following the financial crash, not some structural weakness In the economy. While fixing the structural problems is a good idea, a patient suffering from heavy blood loss needs a transfusion not lectures on how to improve his overall health by healthy eating and exercise. When the economy needed a stimulus, the equivalent of a blood transfusion, to make up for the private sector entrenchment, most Republican legislators voted against it.

If Ryan and Rubio do emerge as the party’s two leaders, it will be the wonkiest leadership team in our lifetime. That’s a good thing.

Rubio and Ryan are not wonks, they are smooth snake oil salesmen, of whom the beltway media approves, since they are easy on the eyes and better at peddling the economics that favors the media types and their friends than your average Republican legislator.

Election in Bihar

The third phase of voting in the  Bihar, the thirteenth largest state in India and a part of the Hindi heartland, is coming to a close.  Although, right nowit is known for its intractable corruption and sleaze, even by Indian political standards, it  was once the heart of the Indian civilization. Buddha preached here and Patliputra, now Patna, was the seat of  the  Maurya empire which reached its zenith in Ashoka’s time.

This race hasn’t received much coverage in the major media outlets over here but is being followed with bated breath in India. The incumbent chief minister is Nitish Kumar from Janata Dal, one of the many socialist parties of India.  Many see this as a referendum on the Modi government. Last year Narendra Modi ‘s Bharatiya Janata Party won the national elections decisively and was able to form a government without the help of any other parties.  This was the  first time ever, that  a party other than the Congress had been able to do so at the Center*. Another important figure in Bihar politics is Mr. Laloo Prasad Yadav of Rashtriya Janata Dal. Laloo was the chief minister of Bihar in the nineties and more recently India’s railway minister.

After a year the shine has worn off Modi and his government. Despite all the talk of economic development, wherever BJP was elected at the state level they pushed through their hobby horse of banning beef and other such reactionary measures, which most voters could care less about.  The polls indicate a tight race. Stay tuned for an update.

Narendra Modi, Nitish Kumar and Laloo Prasad Yadav (from left to right)

* Janata Party  defeated the Congress at the hustings in 1977. Technically it was a single party, in reality it was an uneasy coming together of various socialist parties and BJP’s precursor, Jan Sangh.  The party broke-up under the weight of its own contradictions before completing an entire term in office.

Next Speaker?

By two_kittehs

What do you think? I am leaning towards a no.


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