Monday, December 26, 2016

Wounded by a Moonbeam



Chaand Ek Bevaa Ki Chuudi Kii Tarah Toota Hua
Har Sitaara Besahaara Soch Men Dooba Hua
Gham Ke Baadal, Ik Janaaze Ki Tarah Thahare Hue
Sisakiyon Ke Saaz Par Kaheta Hai Dil Rota Hua

The moon is like a widow's bangle, broken
Every star, without a companion, lost in sorrow
The clouds of sadness, halting like a funeral procession
Accompanied by sobs, the heart says, crying

Koi Nahin Mera Is Duniya Men, Aashiyaan Barbaad Hai
Aansu Bhari Mujhe Qismat Mili Hai Zindagi Naashaad Hai

There Is No One In This World To Call Mine, The Nest Is Ruined
My Destiny Is Filled With Tears, My Life With Sorrow

Jaa Hava Tu Rasta Le Apna 
Qismat Hai Meri Ji Ke Tadapana) \-2
Aayi Hai Mere Gham Pe Javaani
Roti Hui Ik Yaad Hai
Koi Nahin Mera.....................

Get On Your Way, Wind! My Fate Is To Live In Suffering
My Youth Is A Weeping Memory In My Sadness

Sukh Chuke Hain Aankhon Ke Jharane
Loot Liya Hamen Daagh-E-Jigar Ne
Phool Nahin Ye Zakhm Khile Hain\-2
Aasamaan Saiyyaad Hai\-2
Koi Nahin Mera................

The Flood In My Eyes Has Dried Up, The Wound In My Heart Has Ruined Me
These Are Not Flowers But Wounds, The Skies Are Slinging Arrows

(Mausam Dukhon Ka Sar Par Hai Chaaya
Mujh Se Juda Hai Khud Mera Saaya) \-2
Ham Hain Akele Gham Ke Hain Mele
Ruuh Ki Fariyaad Hai
Koi Nahin Mera..................

The mood is of sorrows, a shadow over my head, even my own shadow has left me
I am all alone, it is a festival of heartache, and a lament of my soul
There is no one in this world to call mine, the nest is ruined


Film: Daag
Singer: Talat Mahmoud
Music Director: Shankar-Jaikishen
Lyricist: Hasrat Jaipuri
Translation: Guyana News and Information Discussion Forums

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Ruffled Feathers


Ruffled. Discontent, unrest, inequity, sinister intemperate activism... 

... Among people around the world, but mostly among the largest of human populations, among the deprived ones who cannot comprehend or cope with pressures of shortages, unaffordable costs, unmitigated and instant recourse to violence, deprivation of basics like rudimentary food, water, timely medication,signs of relief from being engulfed by unexpected forces of inclement weather, political and socio- economic uncertainties... 

... Being ruffled to the extreme...

----------------
Bhashwati wrote:

Looks like you took this picture late at night. 
Whenever you took it, it is very startling.
So many lines and curves and waves.
i can sense them on my finger tips.


The text for feathers connects with the image in a very unexpected manner and i heart that. i also heart that the words came not as a flowing account but in short broken clauses, disrupted and disjointed much like lives faced with devastation. 

How the World Ends

There are now two choices available: nuclear annihilation, or climate change.



From the New Yorker magazine:  World War Three, By Mistake
By
   


Harsh political rhetoric, combined with the vulnerability of the nuclear command-and-control system, has made the risk of global catastrophe greater than ever.



 June 3, 1980, at about two-thirty in the morning, computers at the National Military Command Center, beneath the Pentagon, at the headquarters of the North American Air Defense Command (norad), deep within Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, and at Site R, the Pentagon’s alternate command post center hidden inside Raven Rock Mountain, Pennsylvania, issued an urgent warning: the Soviet Union had just launched a nuclear attack on the United States. The Soviets had recently invaded Afghanistan, and the animosity between the two superpowers was greater than at any other time since the Cuban Missile Crisis.

U.S. Air Force ballistic-missile crews removed their launch keys from the safes, bomber crews ran to their planes, fighter planes took off to search the skies, and the Federal Aviation Administration prepared to order every airborne commercial airliner to land.

President Jimmy Carter’s national-security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, was asleep in Washington, D.C., when the phone rang. His military aide, General William Odom, was calling to inform him that two hundred and twenty missiles launched from Soviet submarines were heading toward the United States. Brzezinski told Odom to get confirmation of the attack. A retaliatory strike would have to be ordered quickly; Washington might be destroyed within minutes. Odom called back and offered a correction: twenty-two hundred Soviet missiles had been launched.

Brzezinski decided not to wake up his wife, preferring that she die in her sleep. As he prepared to call Carter and recommend an American counterattack, the phone rang for a third time. Odom apologized—it was a false alarm. An investigation later found that a defective computer chip in a communications device at norad headquarters had generated the erroneous warning. The chip cost forty-six cents.

A similar false alarm had occurred the previous year, when someone mistakenly inserted a training tape, featuring a highly realistic simulation of an all-out Soviet attack, into one of norad’s computers. During the Cold War, false alarms were also triggered by the moon rising over Norway, the launch of a weather rocket from Norway, a solar storm, sunlight reflecting off high-altitude clouds, and a faulty A.T. & T. telephone switch in Black Forest, Colorado.

My book “Command and Control” explores how the systems devised to govern the use of nuclear weapons, like all complex technological systems, are inherently flawed. They are designed, built, installed, maintained, and operated by human beings. But the failure of a nuclear command-and-control system can have consequences far more serious than the crash of an online dating site from too much traffic or flight delays caused by a software glitch. Millions of people, perhaps hundreds of millions, could be annihilated inadvertently. “Command and Control” focusses on near-catastrophic errors and accidents in the arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union that ended in 1991. The danger never went away. Today, the odds of a nuclear war being started by mistake are low—and yet the risk is growing, as the United States and Russia drift toward a new cold war. The other day, Senator John McCain called Vladimir Putin, the President of the Russian Federation, “a thug, a bully, and a murderer,” adding that anyone who “describes him as anything else is lying.” Other members of Congress have attacked Putin for trying to influence the Presidential election.  On Thursday, Putin warned that Russia would “strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces,” and President-elect Donald Trump has responded with a vow to expand America’s nuclear arsenal.  “Let it be an arms race,” Trump told one of the co-hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.”

The harsh rhetoric on both sides increases the danger of miscalculations and mistakes, as do other factors. Close encounters between the military aircraft of the United States and Russia have become routine, creating the potential for an unintended conflict. Many of the nuclear-weapon systems on both sides are aging and obsolete. The personnel who operate those systems often suffer from poor morale and poor training. None of their senior officers has firsthand experience making decisions during an actual nuclear crisis. And today’s command-and-control systems must contend with threats that barely existed during the Cold War: malware, spyware, worms, bugs, viruses, corrupted firmware, logic bombs, Trojan horses, and all the other modern tools of cyber warfare. The greatest danger is posed not by any technological innovation but by a dilemma that has haunted nuclear strategy since the first detonation of an atomic bomb: How do you prevent a nuclear attack while preserving the ability to launch one?

“The pattern of the use of atomic weapons was set at Hiroshima,” J. Robert Oppenheimer, the scientific director of the Manhattan Project, said in November, 1945, just a few months after the Japanese city’s destruction. “They are weapons of aggression, of surprise, and of terror.” Nuclear weapons made annihilation vastly more efficient. A single bomb could now destroy a target whose elimination had once required thousands of bombs. During an aerial attack, you could shoot down ninety-nine per cent of the enemy’s bombers—and the plane that you missed could obliterate an entire city. A war between two countries with nuclear weapons, like a Wild West shoot-out, might be won by whoever fired first. And a surprise attack might provide the only hope of national survival—especially for the country with an inferior nuclear arsenal.

During the same month that Oppenheimer made his remarks, Bernard Brodie, a political scientist at Yale University, proposed a theory of nuclear deterrence that has largely guided American policy ever since. Brodie argued that the threat of retaliation offered the only effective defense against a nuclear attack. “We must do what we can to reduce the advantage that might accrue to the enemy if he hit first,” Brodie wrote, after the Soviet Union had obtained its own nuclear weapons. Despite all the money spent on building nuclear weapons and delivery systems, their usefulness would be mainly psychological. “What deters is not the capabilities and intentions we have, but the capabilities and intentions the enemy thinks we have,” a classified Pentagon report explained. “The mission is persuasion.”

The fear of a surprise attack and the necessity for retaliation soon dominated the strategic thinking of the Cold War. Every year, technological advances compressed time and added more urgency to decision-making. At a top-secret briefing in 1961, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara was told that a Soviet surprise attack on just five targets—the Pentagon, the White House, Camp David, Site R, and High Point, a bunker inside Mount Weather, Virginia—had a good chance of wiping out the civilian leadership of the United States. By striking an additional nine targets, as part of a “decapitation” attack, the Soviet Union could kill America’s military leadership as well. The Soviets might be able to destroy America’s nuclear command-and-control system with only thirty-five missiles. Under McNamara’s guidance, the Kennedy Administration sought ways to maintain Presidential control over nuclear weapons. The Pentagon deployed airborne command posts, better communications and early-warning systems, Minuteman missiles that could be quickly launched, and a large fleet of ballistic-missile submarines.

Many of these elements were put to the test during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when a series of misperceptions, miscalculations, and command-and-control problems almost started an accidental nuclear war—despite the determination of both John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev to avoid one. In perhaps the most dangerous incident, the captain of a Soviet submarine mistakenly believed that his vessel was under attack by U.S. warships and ordered the firing of a torpedo armed with a nuclear warhead. His order was blocked by a fellow officer. Had the torpedo been fired, the United States would have retaliated with nuclear weapons. At the height of the crisis, while leaving the White House on a beautiful fall evening, McNamara had a strong feeling of dread—and for good reason: “I feared I might never live to see another Saturday night.”

Today, the United States has four hundred and forty Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles, sitting in underground silos scattered across the plains of Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, and North Dakota. The missiles are kept on alert, at all times, ready to take off within two minutes, as a means of escaping a surprise attack. Each missile carries a nuclear warhead that may be as much as thirty times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. The Minuteman III was first deployed in 1970 and scheduled for retirement in the early nineteen-eighties. The age of the weapon system is beginning to show. Most of the launch complexes were built during the Kennedy Administration, to house an earlier version of the Minuteman, and some of the complexes are prone to flooding. The command centers feel like a time capsule of late-twentieth-century technology. During a recent visit to a decommissioned Minuteman site, I was curious to see the big computer still used to receive Emergency Action Messages—launch orders from the President—via landline. The computer is an I.B.M. Series/1, a state-of-the-art machine in 1976, when it was introduced. “Replacement parts for the system are difficult to find because they are now obsolete,” a report by the Government Accountability Office said last May, with some understatement, about a computer that relies on eight-inch floppy disks. You can buy a smartphone with about a thousand times the memory.

The personnel who command, operate, and maintain the Minuteman III have also become grounds for concern. In 2013, the two-star general in charge of the entire Minuteman force was removed from duty after going on a drunken bender during a visit to Russia, behaving inappropriately with young Russian women, asking repeatedly if he could sing with a Beatles cover band at a Mexican restaurant in Moscow, and insulting his military hosts. The following year, almost a hundred Minuteman launch officers were disciplined for cheating on their proficiency exams. In 2015, three launch officers at Malmstrom Air Force Base, in Montana, were dismissed for using illegal drugs, including ecstasy, cocaine, and amphetamines. That same year, a launch officer at Minot Air Force Base, in North Dakota, was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison for heading a violent street gang, distributing drugs, sexually assaulting a girl under the age of sixteen, and using psilocybin, a powerful hallucinogen. As the job title implies, launch officers are entrusted with the keys for launching intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The Minuteman III is a relic of the Cold War not only in design but also in its strategic purpose. The locations of the silos, chosen more than half a century ago, make the missile useful only for striking targets inside Russia. The silos aren’t hardened enough to survive a nuclear detonation, and their coördinates are well known, so the Minuteman III is extremely vulnerable to attack. The President would be under great pressure, at the outset of a war with Russia, to “use them or lose them.” The missiles now have two principal roles in America’s nuclear-war plans: they can be launched as part of a first strike, or they can be launched when early-warning satellites have determined that Russian warheads are heading toward the United States. After being launched, a Minuteman III cannot be remotely disabled, disarmed, or called back. From the very beginning of the Minuteman program, the Air Force has successfully fought against adding a command-destruct mechanism, fearing that an adversary might somehow gain control of it and destroy all the missiles mid-flight. “Once they’re gone, they’re gone,” an Air Force officer told “60 Minutes” a few years ago.

The dangers of “launch-on-warning” have been recognized since the idea was first proposed, during the Eisenhower Administration. After the Cuban Missile Crisis, McNamara advised Kennedy that the United States should never use its nuclear weapons until a nuclear detonation had occurred on American soil, and could be attributed to an enemy attack. The first Minuteman missiles had already become a great source of stress for McNamara. The control system of the original model had a design flaw: small fluctuations in the electricity entering the command center could mimic the series of pulses required by the launch switch. An entire squadron of fifty missiles might be launched accidentally without anyone turning a key. “I was scared shitless,” an engineer who worked on the system later confessed. “The technology was not to be trusted.” McNamara insisted that the control system be redesigned, at great expense. The destruction of fifty Soviet cities because of a mechanical glitch, a classified history of the Minuteman program later noted, would be “an accident for which a later apology might be inadequate.”

The launch-on-warning policy became controversial during the nineteen-seventies, once it was publicly known. The hundreds of missiles based on American submarines, almost impossible to find in the depths of the ocean, seemed more than adequate to deter a Soviet attack. During testimony before the House Armed Services Committee in 1979, Fred Iklé, a conservative Republican who later became a top Pentagon official during the Reagan Administration, said, “If any witness should come here and tell you that a totally reliable and safe launch-on-warning posture can be designed and implemented, that man is a fool.” The Pentagon repeatedly denied that launch-on-warning was American policy, claiming that it was simply one of many options for the President to consider. A recent memoir, “Uncommon Cause,” written by General George Lee Butler, reveals that the Pentagon was not telling the truth. Butler was the head of the U.S. Strategic Command, responsible for all of America’s nuclear weapons, during the Administration of President George H. W. Bush.

According to Butler and Franklin Miller, a former director of strategic-forces policy at the Pentagon, launch-on-warning was an essential part of the Single Integrated Operational Plan (siop), the nation’s nuclear-war plan. Land-based missiles like the Minuteman III were aimed at some of the most important targets in the Soviet Union, including its anti-aircraft sites. If the Minuteman missiles were destroyed before liftoff, the siop would go awry, and American bombers might be shot down before reaching their targets. In order to prevail in a nuclear war, the siop had become dependent on getting Minuteman missiles off the ground immediately. Butler’s immersion in the details of the nuclear command-and-control system left him dismayed. “With the possible exception of the Soviet nuclear war plan, [the siop] was the single most absurd and irresponsible document I had ever reviewed in my life,” Butler concluded. “We escaped the Cold War without a nuclear holocaust by some combination of skill, luck, and divine intervention, and I suspect the latter in greatest proportion.” The siop called for the destruction of twelve thousand targets within the Soviet Union. Moscow would be struck by four hundred nuclear weapons; Kiev, the capital of the Ukraine, by about forty.

After the end of the Cold War, a Russian surprise attack became extremely unlikely. Nevertheless, hundreds of Minuteman III missiles remained on alert. The Cold War strategy endured because, in theory, it deterred a Russian attack on the missiles. McNamara called the policy “insane,” arguing that “there’s no military requirement for it.” George W. Bush, while running for President in 2000, criticized launch-on-warning, citing the “unacceptable risks of accidental or unauthorized launch.” Barack Obama, while running for President in 2008, promised to take Minuteman missiles off alert, warning that policies like launch-on-warning “increase the risk of catastrophic accidents or miscalculation.” Twenty scientists who have won the Nobel Prize, as well as the Union of Concerned Scientists, have expressed strong opposition to retaining a launch-on-warning capability. It has also been opposed by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State George Shultz, and former Senator Sam Nunn. And yet the Minuteman III missiles still sit in their silos today, armed with warheads, ready to go.

William J. Perry, who served as Secretary of Defense during the Clinton Administration, not only opposes keeping Minuteman III missiles on alert but advocates getting rid of them entirely. “These missiles are some of the most dangerous weapons in the world,” Perry wrote in the Times, this September. For many reasons, he thinks the risk of a nuclear catastrophe is greater today than it was during the Cold War. While serving as an Under-Secretary of Defense in 1980, Perry also received a late-night call about an impending Soviet attack, a false alarm that still haunts him. “A catastrophic nuclear war could have started by accident.”

Bruce Blair, a former Minuteman launch officer, heads the anti-nuclear group Global Zero, teaches at Princeton University, and campaigns against a launch-on-warning policy. Blair has described the stresses that the warning of a Russian attack would put on America’s command-and-control system. American early-warning satellites would detect Russian missiles within three minutes of their launch. Officers at norad would confer for an additional three minutes, checking sensors to decide if an attack was actually occurring. The Integrated Tactical Warning/Attack System collects data from at least two independent information sources, relying on different physical principles, such as ground-based radar and satellite-based infrared sensors. If the norad officials thought that the warning was legitimate, the President of the United States would be contacted. He or she would remove the Black Book from a briefcase carried by a military aide. The Black Book describes nuclear retaliatory options, presented in cartoon-like illustrations that can be quickly understood.

Missiles launched from Russia would give the President about twenty minutes to make a decision, after consultation with the head of the U.S. Strategic Command. The President might have as few as five minutes, if missiles had been launched from Russian submarines in the western Atlantic. A decision to retaliate at once, to launch Minuteman missiles before they could be destroyed, runs the risk of killing millions of people by mistake. A decision to wait—to make sure that the attack is for real, to take no action until Russian warheads began to detonate in the United States—runs the risk losing the ability of the command-and-control system to order a retaliation. In that desperate situation, with the fate of the world in the balance, the temperament of the President would be less important than the quality of the information being offered by the system. Could you trust the sensors?

At about one-thirty in the morning, on October 23, 2010, fifty Minuteman III missiles deployed at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, in Wyoming, suddenly went offline. Launch officers could no longer communicate with their missiles. The letters “LFDN” appeared on their computer screens: Launch Facility Down. Every so often, an underground control center would lose contact with missiles, briefly. It wasn’t a big deal. But having an entire squadron go down at once—and remain offline—was a highly unusual event. For almost an hour, officers tried to regain communication with the missiles. When it was reëstablished, remotely, by computer—the control centers are miles away from the missiles—closed-circuit-television images from the silos showed that the fifty missiles were still down there. As a precaution, Air Force security officers were dispatched to all the silos in the early-morning hours.

The Air Force denied that someone had hacked into the computer network and disabled the missiles. A subsequent investigation found that a circuit card, improperly installed in a weapon-systems processor, had been dislodged by routine vibration and heat. The misalignment of the circuit card sent messages to the missiles in the wrong timing sequence. The Minuteman III’s complicated launch procedures were designed to allow the missiles to be fired even if some command centers were destroyed, and to prevent rogue officers from firing them without proper authorization. As a result, the fifty missiles in each squadron are connected by coaxial cable to ten control centers, assuring redundancy and enabling one center to veto another’s launch decision. Throughout the day, at designated times, each control center sends a signal to the missiles, checks their status, and receives a reply. By disrupting the time sequence, the misaligned circuit board created a cacophony of signals and blocked all communication with the missiles. The system jammed itself.
Although the Air Force publicly dismissed the threat of a cyberattack on the nuclear command-and-control system, the incident raised alarm within the Pentagon about the system’s vulnerability. A malfunction that occurred by accident might also be caused deliberately. Those concerns were reinforced by a Defense Science Board report in January, 2013. It found that the Pentagon’s computer networks had been “built on inherently insecure architectures that are composed of, and increasingly using, foreign parts.” Red teams employed by the board were able to disrupt Pentagon systems with “relative ease,” using tools available on the Internet. “The complexity of modern software and hardware makes it difficult, if not impossible, to develop components without flaws or to detect malicious insertions,” the report concluded.

In a recent paper for the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, Andrew Futter, an associate professor at the University of Leicester, suggested that a nuclear command-and-control system might be hacked to gather intelligence about the system, to shut down the system, to spoof it, mislead it, or cause it to take some sort of action—like launching a missile. And, he wrote, there are a variety of ways it might be done.

During the Cold War, as part of an espionage effort known as Project gunman, Soviet agents managed to tamper with the comb-support bars in sixteen I.B.M. Selectric typewriters at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and the U.S. Mission in Leningrad. Between 1976 and 1984, every keystroke from those typewriters was transmitted by radio to nearby Soviet listening posts. The tampering was so ingenious that it took twenty-five engineers at the National Security Agency (N.S.A.), working six days a week for several months, with X-ray equipment, to figure out how it was done. Today’s integrated circuits contain billions of transistors. As the Defense Science Board notes in its report, a “subversive” chip “could destroy the processor and disable the system by simply shunting power to ground, change the processor output to incorrect results for specified inputs, or allow information leakage to the attackers.” A subversive chip would look identical to a normal one.

The cybersecurity of the Minuteman III, aging and yet still on alert, is also questionable. About five thousand miles of underground cable link the control centers to the missiles, as part of the Hardened Intersite Cable System. The cable mainly traverses privately owned land. “One of the difficult parts about fixing missile cable is . . . that the wires are no longer in production,” a newsletter at Minot Air Force Base explained a few years ago. The wires are copper, like old-fashioned telephone lines, surrounded by pressurized air, so that attempts to tamper with the cable can be detected. But in the early nineteen-seventies, during Operation Ivy Bells, the United States attached recording devices to similar underwater cable used by the Soviet Navy, tapping into it without piercing it. The mission was accomplished using divers and a submarine, at a depth of four hundred feet, in the Sea of Okhotsk. Digging up part of the Hardened Intersite Cable System in the middle of the night, three to eight feet under a farmer’s back yard in Wyoming, would be less challenging. (The Air Force declined to comment on the specific vulnerabilities of the Minuteman III.)

Even if the hardware were pristine, malware could be inserted into the system. During Operation Orchard, in September, 2007, Israel may have hacked into Syria’s early-warning system—either shutting it down completely or spoofing it into displaying clear skies—as Israeli fighters entered Syrian airspace, bombed a nuclear reactor, and flew home undetected. In 2012, the Stuxnet computer worm infiltrated computers running Microsoft Windows at nuclear sites in Iran, collected information about the industrial process there, and then issued instructions that destroyed hundreds of centrifuges enriching uranium. A similar worm could surreptitiously enter a nuclear command-and-control system, lie dormant for years, and then create havoc.

Strict precautions have been taken to thwart a cyberattack on the U.S. nuclear command-and-control system. Every line of nuclear code has been scrutinized for errors and bugs. The system is “air-gapped,” meaning that its networks are closed: someone can’t just go onto the Internet and tap into a computer at a Minuteman III control center. At least, that’s the theory. Russia, China, and North Korea have sophisticated cyber-warfare programs and techniques. General James Cartwright—the former head of the U.S. Strategic Command who recently pleaded guilty to leaking information about Stuxnet—thinks that it’s reasonable to believe the system has already been penetrated. “You’ve either been hacked, and you’re not admitting it, or you’re being hacked and don’t know it,” Cartwright said last year.

If communications between Minuteman control centers and their missiles are interrupted, the missiles can still be launched by ultra-high-frequency radio signals transmitted by special military aircraft. The ability to launch missiles by radio serves as a backup to the control centers—and also creates an entry point into the network that could be exploited in a cyberattack. The messages sent within the nuclear command-and-control system are highly encrypted. Launch codes are split in two, and no single person is allowed to know both parts. But the complete code is stored in computers—where it could be obtained or corrupted by an insider.

Some of America’s most secret secrets were recently hacked and stolen by a couple of private contractors working inside the N.S.A., Edward Snowden and Harold T. Martin III, both employees of Booz Allen Hamilton. The N.S.A. is responsible for generating and encrypting the nuclear launch codes. And the security of the nuclear command-and-control system is being assured not only by government officials but also by the employees of private firms, including software engineers who work for Boeing, Amazon, and Microsoft.

Lord Des Browne, a former U.K. Minister of Defense, is concerned that even ballistic-missile submarines may be compromised by malware. Browne is now the vice-chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nonprofit seeking to reduce the danger posed by weapons of mass destruction, where he heads a task force examining the risk of cyberattacks on nuclear command-and-control systems. Browne thinks that the cyber threat is being cavalierly dismissed by many in power. The Royal Navy’s decision to save money by using Windows for Submarines, a version of Windows XP, as the operating system for its ballistic-missile subs seems especially shortsighted. Windows XP was discontinued six years ago, and Microsoft warned that any computer running it after April, 2014, “should not be considered protected as there will be no security updates.” Each of the U.K. subs has eight missiles carrying a total of forty nuclear weapons. “It is shocking to think that my home computer is probably running a newer version of Windows than the U.K.’s military submarines,” Brown said.

In 2013, General C. Robert Kehler, the head of the U.S. Strategic Command, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee about the risk of cyberattacks on the nuclear command-and-control system. He expressed confidence that the U.S. system was secure. When Senator Bill Nelson asked if somebody could hack into the Russian or Chinese systems and launch a ballistic missile carrying a nuclear warhead, Kehler replied, “Senator, I don’t know . . . I do not know.”

After the debacle of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Soviet Union became much more reluctant to provoke a nuclear confrontation with the United States. Its politburo was a committee of conservative old men. Russia’s leadership is quite different today. The current mix of nationalism, xenophobia, and vehement anti-Americanism in Moscow is a far cry from the more staid and secular ideology guiding the Soviet Union in the nineteen-eighties. During the past few years, threats about the use of nuclear weapons have become commonplace in Moscow. Dmitry Kiselyov, a popular newscaster and the Kremlin’s leading propagandist, reminded viewers in 2014 that Russia is “the only country in the world capable of turning the U.S.A. into radioactive dust.” The Kremlin has acknowledged the development of a nuclear torpedo that can travel more than six thousand miles underwater before devastating a coastal city. It has also boasted about a fearsome new missile design. Nicknamed “Satan 2” and deployed with up to sixteen nuclear warheads, the missile will be “capable of wiping out parts of the earth the size of Texas or France,” an official news agency claimed.

The bellicose pronouncements in Moscow suggest that Russia is becoming a superpower again, modernizing its nuclear arsenal and seeking supremacy over the United States. In fact, Russia’s arsenal is more inferior today and more vulnerable to a surprise attack than it was forty years ago. The Kremlin’s recent propaganda brings to mind some of Nikita Khrushchev’s claims from 1959: “Now we have such a stock of missiles, such an amount of atomic and hydrogen warheads, that if they attack us we could raze our potential enemies off the face of the earth.” The Soviet Union did not have a single intercontinental ballistic missile when Khrushchev made those remarks.

At the moment, Russia has newer land-based missiles than the United States does, but it also has about a hundred fewer. During the Cold War, Russia possessed hundreds of mobile missiles that were hard to spot from satellites; today, it has only a hundred and fifty, which are rarely moved from their bases and more readily detected by satellite. Russia’s ten ballistic-missile submarines now spend most of their time in port, where they are sitting ducks. An American surprise attack on Russian nuclear forces may have the best chance of success since the days of the Kennedy Administration. During the Cold War, as many as five warheads were targeted at each enemy missile to assure its destruction. In an age of cyber warfare, those missiles could be immobilized with just a few keystrokes. The United States Cyber Command—which reports to the U.S. Strategic Command—has been assigned the mission of using “cyber operations to disrupt an adversary’s command and control networks, military-related critical infrastructure, and weapons capabilities.”

Russia’s greatest strategic vulnerability is the lack of a sophisticated and effective early-warning system. The Soviet Union had almost a dozen satellites in orbit that could detect a large-scale American attack. The system began to deteriorate in 1996, when an early-warning satellite had to be retired. Others soon fell out of orbit, and Russia’s last functional early-warning satellite went out of service two years ago. Until a new network of satellites can be placed in orbit, the country must depend on ground-based radar units. Unlike the United States, Russia no longer has two separate means of validating an attack warning. At best, the radar units can spot warheads only minutes before they land. Pavel Podvig, a senior fellow at the U.N. Institute for Disarmament Research, believes that Russia does not have a launch-on-warning policy—because its early-warning system is so limited.

According to Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear-policy expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, the deficiencies in Russia’s command-and-control system feed the country’s long-standing fears of encirclement by enemies ready to strike. During the twentieth century, Russia was attacked with little warning by both Germany and Japan. “I think the Russian leadership is terrified of a decapitation strike,” Lewis told me recently. “Perhaps some of that is paranoia, but, on the other hand, the United States opened Operation Iraqi Freedom, in 2003, by striking Dora Farm—a failed decapitation strike against Saddam Hussein.” Russia’s fierce opposition to an American missile-defense system in Europe is driven by fear of the role it could play in a surprise attack. During a crisis, Russia’s inability to launch on warning could raise the pressure on a Russian leader to launch without any warning. The logic of a first strike still prevails. As John Steinbruner, a renowned nuclear theorist, explained more than thirty years ago, shooting first “offers some small chance that complete decapitation will occur and no retaliation will follow. . . . [It] is probably the only imaginable route to decisive victory in nuclear war.”

Vladimir Putin now wields more power over Russia’s nuclear forces than any leader since Khrushchev. Putin has displayed great boldness and a willingness to take risks in foreign affairs. A surprise attack on the United States, given its nuclear superiority and largely invulnerable ballistic-missile submarines, would probably be suicidal. And yet the alternative might appear worse. Putin has described an important lesson he learned as a young man in Leningrad: “When a fight is inevitable, you have to hit first.”

For the past nine years, I’ve been immersed in the minutiae of nuclear command and control, trying to understand the actual level of risk. Of all the people whom I’ve met in the nuclear realm, Sidney Drell was one of the most brilliant and impressive. Drell died this week, at the age of ninety. A theoretical physicist with expertise in quantum field theory and quantum chromodynamics, he was for many years the deputy director of the Stanford Linear Accelerator and received the National Medal of Science from Obama, in 2013. Drell was one of the founding members of jason—a group of civilian scientists that advises the government on important technological matters—and for fifty-six years possessed a Q clearance, granting him access to the highest level of classified information. Drell participated in top-secret discussions about nuclear strategy for decades, headed a panel that investigated nuclear-weapon safety for the U.S. Congress in 1990, and worked on technical issues for jason until the end of his life. A few months ago, when I asked for his opinion about launch-on-warning, Drell said, “It’s insane, the worst thing I can think of. You can’t have a worse idea.”

Drell was an undergraduate at Princeton University when Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed. Given all the close calls and mistakes in the seventy-one years since then, he considered it a miracle that no other cities have been destroyed by a nuclear weapon—“it is so far beyond my normal optimism.” The prospect of a new cold war—and the return of military strategies that advocate using nuclear weapons on the battlefield—deeply unnerved him. Once the first nuclear weapon detonates, nothing might prevent the conflict from spiralling out of control. “We have no experience in stopping a nuclear war,” he said.

During the recent Presidential campaign, the emotional stability of the Commander-in-Chief became an issue, with some arguing that a calm disposition might mean the difference between peace on Earth and a nuclear apocalypse. The President of the United States has the sole power to order the use of nuclear weapons, without any legal obligation to consult members of Congress or the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Ideally, the President would never be short-tempered, impulsive, or clinically depressed. But the mood of the Commander-in-Chief may be irrelevant in a nuclear crisis, given the current technological constraints. Can any human being reliably make the correct decision, within six minutes, with hundreds of millions of lives at stake?

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin confront a stark choice: begin another nuclear-arms race or reduce the threat of nuclear war. Trump now has a unique opportunity to pursue the latter, despite the bluster and posturing on both sides. His admiration for Putin, regardless of its merits, could provide the basis for meaningful discussions about how to minimize nuclear risks. Last year, General James Mattis, the former Marine chosen by Trump to serve as Secretary of Defense, called for a fundamental reappraisal of American nuclear strategy and questioned the need for land-based missiles. During Senate testimony, Mattis suggested that getting rid of such missiles would “reduce the false-alarm danger.” Contrary to expectations, Republican Presidents have proved much more successful than their Democratic counterparts at nuclear disarmament. President George H. W. Bush cut the size of the American arsenal in half, as did his son, President George W. Bush. And President Ronald Reagan came close to negotiating a treaty with the Soviet Union that would have completely abolished nuclear weapons.

Every technology embodies the values of the age in which it was created. When the atomic bomb was being developed in the mid-nineteen-forties, the destruction of cities and the deliberate targeting of civilians was just another military tactic. It was championed as a means to victory. The Geneva Conventions later classified those practices as war crimes—and yet nuclear weapons have no other real use. They threaten and endanger noncombatants for the sake of deterrence. Conventional weapons can now be employed to destroy every kind of military target, and twenty-first-century warfare puts an emphasis on precision strikes, cyberweapons, and minimizing civilian casualties. As a technology, nuclear weapons have become obsolete. What worries me most isn’t the possibility of a cyberattack, a technical glitch, or a misunderstanding starting a nuclear war sometime next week. My greatest concern is the lack of public awareness about this existential threat, the absence of a vigorous public debate about the nuclear-war plans of Russia and the United States, the silent consent to the roughly fifteen thousand nuclear weapons in the world. These machines have been carefully and ingeniously designed to kill us. Complacency increases the odds that, some day, they will. The “Titanic Effect” is a term used by software designers to explain how things can quietly go wrong in a complex technological system: the safer you assume the system to be, the more dangerous it is becoming.

Eric Schlosser is the author of “Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety,” from 2013, and the producer of the documentary “Command and Control,” from 2016. 

---------------------

As far as climate change is concerned, I have written too often on the subject to merit yet another repetition here.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Monkey Business


Mann ki Baat
chai kahaan
jaayen kahaan
is duniya men kaun
kahaan Sahara
Misr men bhi jaise har jagah
is mahaan duniya men
khalbali  aur bhi khalbali
khalbali ke siva
aur kya hai
jis ki talaash kare

chalo aur kuch nahin
to chai ki hi baat karen



---------------
Update:  I saw this very pertinent article from Forbes Magazine, as retweeted by Shekar Gupta on Twitter:

Dec 22, 2016
What India Has Done To Its Money Is Sickening And Immoral
Steve Forbes

IN NOVEMBER India's government perpetrated an unprecedented act that is not only damaging its economy and threatening destitution to countless millions of its already poor citizens but also breathtaking in its immorality. Without any warning India abruptly scrapped 85% of its currency. That's right: Most of the country's cash ceased to be legal tender. Shocked citizens were given only a few weeks' notice to take their cash and turn it in at a bank for new bills.

The economic turmoil has been compounded by the fact that the government didn't print a sufficient amount of the new bills, lest word leak out as to what was about to take place. The new bills are also a different size than the old ones, creating a huge problem with ATMs. Even though India is a high-tech powerhouse, hundreds of millions of its people live in dire poverty. Many workers are leaving the cities to go back to their villages because so many businesses are closing. Countless companies are having difficulty meeting payroll, as they can't get the cash to do so. The real estate market has tanked.

India's economy is based mostly on cash. Moreover, much of it operates informally because of excessive rules and taxes. The government bureaucracy is notorious for its red tape, lethargy and corruption, forcing people to get by on their wits.

The World Bank's annual survey, Doing Business, measures how difficult it is to start and manage a business in 190 countries, using such metrics as what it takes to set up a legal business, obtain construction permits and get electricity. India ranks among the worst in the world in these areas.

Not since India's short-lived forced-sterilization program in the 1970s--this bout of Nazi-like eugenics was instituted to deal with the country's "overpopulation"--has the government engaged in something so immoral. It claims the move will fight corruption and tax evasion by allegedly flushing out illegal cash, crippling criminal enterprises and terrorists and force-marching India into a digitized credit system.

News flash: Human nature hasn't changed since we began roaming this planet. People will always find ways to engage in wrongdoing. Terrorists aren't about to quit their evil acts because of a currency change. As for the digitization of money, it will happen in its own good time if free markets are permitted. And the best cure for tax evasion is a flat tax or, at the least, a simple, low-rate tax system that renders tax evasion hardly worth the effort. Make it easy to do business legally and most people will do just that.

India is the most extreme and destructive example of the anticash fad currently sweeping governments and the economics profession. Countries are moving to ban high-denomination bills, citing the rationales trotted out by New Delhi. But there's no misunderstanding what this is truly about: attacking your privacy and inflicting more government control over your life.

India's awful act underscores another piece of immorality. Money represents what people produce in the real world. It is a claim on products and services, just as a coat-check ticket is a claim for a coat left at the coat check in a restaurant or a ticket is for a seat at an event. Governments don't create resources, people do. What India has done is commit a massive theft of people's property without even the pretense of due process--a shocking move for a democratically elected government. (One expects such things in places like Venezuela.) Not surprisingly, the government is downplaying the fact that this move will give India a onetime windfall of perhaps tens of billions of dollars.

By stealing property, further impoverishing the least fortunate among its population and undermining social trust, thereby poisoning politics and hurting future investment, India has immorally and unnecessarily harmed its people, while setting a dreadful example for the rest of the world.

What India must do to fulfill its desire to become a global powerhouse is clear: slash income and business tax rates and simplify the whole tax structure; make the rupee as powerful as the Swiss franc; hack away at regulations, so that setting up a business can be done with no cost and in only a few minutes; and take a supersize buzz saw to all the rules that make each infrastructure project a 100-year undertaking.

Sweeping the Heavens


With invention and unlimited imagination, we have made and are making our current home, Earth, inevitably impoverished; and who knows, perhaps soon even hostile. We are making, therefore, our new home ready for us, to do the same in outer space. And from there? Not to worry, there is a lot of space for us to keep on harming and moving away from, within our own galaxy and even beyond.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Nautilus


Jules Verne (1828-1905), the famed French writer, named his fictional submarine, Nautilus, which featured in two of his novels (later made into films), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and The Mysterious Island, after the real, rudimentary, submarine invented by Robert Fulton. The living nautilus is an ancient cephalopod.


Jules Verne wrote about submarines when there were no submarines, and about balloon travel when there were no spacecraft. His adventure novels were among the earliest works of science fiction, and were very influential in the genre, which excited man's imagination and, together with a small group of writers in his genre, led mankind to curiosity about the waters and the skies, and creatures in between. Verne was a lawyer by profession, who wrote in his spare time. He has been the second most-translated author in the world since 1979.


Friday, December 02, 2016

Life, One Way or Another


(Adyar Bakery (?) Road, Madras, 1967)

between the caprice of birth
and the extinction by death
the inevitable living
in myriad kinds
of ignorance
consciousness
hunger
knowledge
want
enlightenment
darkness

---------------
Bhashwati wrote:

The bean like limbs of the malnourished child and the weary bones of the feeble old man... what a contrast to the lush background and yet probably as resilient, even more so than the foliage.
But your text states all that succinctly.

i was thinking, did the culvert emerge to give them pause to decide life? this way or the other?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Deluge


Nature vs. Mankind

Every moment is an unspoken, undeclared rivalry, war.

Who will, who can, win? Nature is a universal constant; man, an accidental tourist.
Having no variables, nature acts within its bounds, so long as it is not tampered with.

On earth, plants and animals evolved by complex and almost entirely inimitable accidents of chemistry, physics and all the sciences that only man could create; either pre-meditated or willfully planned and executed by man. Unlike plants and animals, man could not remain static, and in accordance with nature's functioning, laws, if you will.

This situation being exponentially progressive, while we have not fundamentally contained or controlled our own numbers, we have shown no regard for what this alienation has led to. Nature cannot think, and therefore has no malice or intentional benevolence. Man's lack of understanding, and compulsion to emulate nature and its forces, and act in accordance with them, is very rapidly bringing him towards a situation which has gone haywire.

The question now is not, who can and will win; the question now is, how soon?

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Waking's End


The Beta Sleep

That our brain produces electricity has been a boon to mankind, as a great deal of understanding of our physiology, and most emphatically the working of the brain and heart, could be understood by scientists and men of medicine by connectivity to this electrical activity. So much of our research into the functioning of our various systems would not have been understood if this connection had not existed, or been available.

ECG (electro-cardiogram) and EEG (electro-encephalogram), are two of the most vital examples: one lets you pry into the functioning, or otherwise, of the heart; the other, the almighty central control room, the brain.

While studying the brain by connecting several electrodes to key points around it, both on sleeping and wakeful people, many discoveries were made advancing our knowledge of our brains and through it, so much of our bodies.

It was during one of such EEG procedures with a sedated patient, that, after repeated experimentation, understanding of what came to be known as REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep was discovered. The question then arose as to why, in a person who was not watching, viewing, or involved in any activity, there should be movement within the closed eyes. And the answer was not difficult to find: it arose from being watchful, stirring, etc., in sleep. So then there had to be an activity, and that could come only from a story being played or enacted by the brain. And what else could that be, except dreaming. It was also discovered that during REM sleep, the patient or the subject of the experiment was most restful in terms of other physiological parameters.  This sleep was then named Beta sleep, among other names for other forms of sleep, which were Alpha, Delta, etc.

This was paradoxical, because not all, if not most, dreams are pleasurable; and yet, biologically, man's rhythms are most restful during this turbulence, as evidenced by movement within the closed eyes.

Apart from many other discoveries and nuances that man advanced as knowledge of neurology, neuro-sciences and emanating from there, of entire human physiology, one more science evolved, called bio-feedback, on which, more later.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Whorls


broken pieces of a heart
scattered
too far or too close
for comfort

they whirl and whirl 
before dissolving
into oblivion

-------------
Bhashwati wrote:

Many fragmented disjointed bits of experiences in the dark times, on the brink of being swallowed by the deeper darkness.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Ardhanarishwar


According to Hindu mythology, Ardhanarishwar, the androgynous manifestation of god, half Shiva and half Parvati, is depicted as split down the middle, with female attributes and ornaments on one side, and male on the other. Ardhanarishwar represents the synthesis of masculine and feminine energies of the universe, which are complementary, inseparable parts of the whole.

My picture above is an artistic re-imagining of this vision.

More than 50% of Hindu places of worship have variations of this combined manifestation of the deity, mostly not in the sanctum sanctorum, but ornamentally sculpted around the periphery of the temples. The belief has very strong roots, as it essentially meets mankind's conscious and subconscious questions about male-female functions. The combination gives them an easy way out of many arising dilemmas and doubts, by stimulating, justifying and, in a variety of ways, satiating, human sexuality. On the other hand, as much as the god's image justifies the male-female sexuality, it also becomes an instrument for its absence.

Those who are interested in further investigation can look for these sculptures at Khajuraho, Konarak, and a great deal around Orissa.

For some of my photographs of classical Tamil Nadu bronze sculptures, please see my blog post here.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Shadows of the Past


My wife's childhood home, built in the late 18th century, just two decades after the Declaration of Independence, in an area of Alexandria, Virginia called Old Town. Alexandria, just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., was a river-port town even before Washington was built. The house has a seal, proclaiming it part of the historic, architecturally-protected, district of houses built before a fire destroyed all town records in 1812.

I took this picture in the early 1990s. I fondly remember the charm of the historic Old Town, and the house, very close to the banks of the broad Potomac River.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

All the Anger is Now Gone


all the anger is now gone
wherever, whatever love was,
went.

through the curtains
I look at memories
obscured by branches and leaves
crowding and tapping at
the closed panes

I put the tips of my fingers on the glass
and untouching
stir the tender leaves
and, without passion,
the memories

which awaken, but remain
unseen, unfelt
in a mist so thick,
so still,
it holds my breath
so neither joy nor sigh
escape

I cannot hear the throbbing of my heart
I cannot hear the silence of the dead battles
of my mind

eyes fail to hear, ears to see
and my hand cannot push back
the wind-blown branches and leaves
to clear my vision

I know now that I am not merely tired
I know now that I have finished loving
that I have finished living

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Above the Clouds


O clouds floating
with the dark rainclouds 
carry my message
to wherever
wind-blown
you travel

be my messenger
though like you
I have no destination
I am also adrift

when you have consumed
all your storms
may the wind
disperse my words
into the vacuum
of silence

---------------
Bhashwati wrote:

Aap ki tasveer ati uttam hai, jise su chitra bhi keh sakte hain :)

Text bhi gulo gulzar hai bilkul.

Clouds bahut aape se baahir ho ja raye hain, having consumed all the storms that came their way.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Axis Mundi


The axis mundi ("center of the world" in Latin) is a religious symbol, usually a vertical, which is believed to be a point of connection between heaven and earth.  Some examples of the axis mundi are temple gopuras, church spires, Lord Shiva's jyotirlingam, the Maypole, the Christmas tree.

I did not think of the axis mundi when I was taking this picture of a fountain, but later, the strong vertical seemed to be reaching up to a heavenly realm of rays of light. The white clusters at the top reminded me of the mythical story of the flower which fell from the top of the jyotirlingam.  Brahma was said to have caught it, and carried it back to earth as "proof" of his having reached the top of the lingam (although he had not, since, according to the myth, it had neither top nor bottom).

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Entrapment of Liberty


everywhere that you can see 
read hear watch
on all forms of media
experience in your guts

too frightened to think
much less speak out, or act

what is, was, will be
freedom

***

Liberté, égalité, fraternité 

Liberté, égalité, fraternité, French for "liberty, equality, fraternity", is the national motto of France and the Republic of Haiti. It originated during the French Revolution, and became official in France at the end of the 19th century.  The phrase originated with Maximilien Robespierre, (who was, ironically, a prime instigator of the Terror, a bloodbath which claimed thousands of lives), in a speech delivered on 5 December 1790. From the time of Robespierre’s execution, the term Fraternity was discarded and under Napoleon I, the slogan fell into disuse. The Emperor preferred the use of another motto: “Liberty, Public Order” (in French: Liberté, Ordre Public). During the constitutional monarchy of Louis-Philippe, the motto became: “Order and Liberty” (in French: Ordre et Liberté). The original motto ‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity’ was again adopted during the 1848 February Revolution but was made official under the Third Republic (1871-1940). (Read more at http://frenchmoments.eu/national-motto-of-france/)

Incidentally, the French Revolution began as a revolt against the rule of King Louis XVI, husband of Marie Antoinette, who famously if apocryphally said, in response to a report on the lack of bread, the staple diet of the poor in Paris, "Let them eat cake." Both king and queen were beheaded by the guillotine. These incidents, especially the beheadings, are the core or the subject matter of many Hollywood and European films, not to mention Charles Dickens' Tale of Two Cities, and the romances of the Scarlet Pimpernal, among others. The visualisations by films brought the horror of the slaughter home to many who had known the Revolution only as a few paragraphs in their history books.

The Statue of Liberty was designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and built by Gustave Eiffel.  Dedicated on October 28, 1886, it was a gift to the United States from the people of France. The statue is of a robed female figure representing Libertas, the Roman goddess, who bears a torch and a tablet evoking the law, upon which is inscribed the date of the American Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776. A broken chain lies at her feet.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Smirk


I had never seen anyone with a permanent smirk, until I found it on this person, forever, everywhere that he is within my view, through various forms of visual media.

Whether or not it is part of a set of facial muscles that were made that way congenitally, or cultivated especially to denote total derision and contempt for the opponent, through which it can extend to the concerned audience in the world, I am curious to know. I am so amazed at its ability to unnerve, that I had to share my curiosity with others. Also, is it real, or a mask worn for public consumption.

If anyone doubts, disagrees, or is perplexed by my incomprehension, please indicate it to me, and educate me about this anatomical phenomenon of one upmanship.

If this stuff were for sale, I would like to buy it myself.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Unoccupied



IN THE ROOM
DIVIDED BY WALLS
I WAS A CHAIR
SEARCHING FOR A DESK
TO SCRIBBLE ON THE GATHERED DUST
THE STORY OF MY LIFE

NOT FOR POSTERITY
NOR PHILANTHROPY
NOR MORBID VANITY
BUT ONLY FOR MYSELF
TO READ IT TO RE-WRITE IT

AND LOOKING AT IT
KNOW AGAIN FOR THE LAST TIME
WHAT I ALREADY KNOW
THAT IT WOULD IN THE END
HAVE MADE NO DIFFERENCE


Friday, October 21, 2016

Away, Ensconced


Far from the madding crowd,
far from Thomas Hardy,
far from your own madness.
Question: Is it madness
to be in the midst of madness,
or is it madness
not to be in it.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Ascendance


fasten seat
and other belts
what more

the speed of light
cannot be experienced
or felt

apart from being
fascinated
no alternative
to waiting
as no comprehension
will be dispensed

suspend belief
and expectation



Thus Spake Zarathustra, by Richard Strauss

Monday, October 17, 2016

Life, and Eternal Darkness of Enlightenment


who knew, knows, such days would come to pass
who knows, knew, what life,
living and not living
with experiences experienced,
lost or escaped, would hold.

who knew, knows, 
that the screen of final darkness 
lurking here, there, everywhere
now, anytime, anywhere, will fall.

who can wonder
that when the forever darkness arrives,
if one has not lived through
the up and down of light and shadow, 
one would not have known the meaning of light
or the meaning of darkness,
let alone eternity before or after.

transient as we are, 
no one would have known that we are not
and are while we are,
that before or after, 
let alone the light, the spark, the so-called life
would not have been desired, aspired to,
yearned for,
nor its absence lamented.



I thank all those who thought of and remembered me, in whichever way recognising me and thus acknowledging me, humbling me with gratitude.


Jyoti Gandhi

Subhash Barot

Guddi Vijay Rao

Bhamini Shankar

Sonya Haritha

Vinod Gandhi

Asma Hakkim

Sk shanmuganathan

Nirav Gandhi

Sonal Ganatra

Reena Patel

Minu Sanghavi

Pem Dem

Rita Lal

Vivekanandan Vivi

Nimish Tolia

Ashoka Auro

Arvind Rathnam

Pradeep J Soni

Sachin Gandhi

Dr.Taralika Trivedi

Pixy Mukherjee

Sharmila Mehta

Nam Prasad Satsangi

Arul Damodaran

Kirit Sanghvi

Kiran Bhatt

Vikash Srivastav

Shyla Shanker

Siva Kumar

Payal Satish

Pradeep Bokaria

Anoop Rajan

Piyush Jain

Pravin Gandhi

Ajit Chitturi

Purvi Goradia

JS Sathishkumar

Ramanidharan Ramaswamy

Dananjay S Bhatt and Mamta

Dinesh Kumar Bhattarai

Sri Rajesh

Viji Srikanthan

Subhasis Bose

Utkarsh Majmudar

Devyani Gandhi

Sujaya Menon

Raj Kumar

Sohail Sarooshi

Ramesh Raman

Sudha Shivkumar

Nimish Tolia

Hemantha Kumar Pamarthy

Ranjan Mistry Pratap

Sangeeta Thapa

Pradip Chakraborty

Rajani Sheth

Fathima Sharafath

Premalatha Seshadri

Kanan Mehta

Madhavan Nair

Vivek Sial

Hemant Manek

Shashibhai Bhatt

Surekha Kothari

Gayatri Sundarakandan

Kashmira Soni

Mukesh Soni

Shahzenan Parpia

Anant Maringanti

Siddharth Hande

Kavitha Prasad

and very good friends from
The Photographic Society of Madras
Classic Photos
The Chennai Photography Learners Club
Single Frame Photography 

the staffs of Taj and ITC groups of hotels

friends from foreign consulates and cultural centers,

IITs and premier colleges where I have been honored with invitations to judge debates or to lecture on subjects from films, philosophy, space, and metaphysics

Fraternity at Film Censor Boards, and Board to Select Films for International Film Festivals

and those who came home, or called me
short or long-distance
sms-ed or emailed
and those whose names have somehow been missed out