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A Flash Mob for the City of Sabadell in Catalonia, Spain.


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Myself . 

By T.V. Antony Raj

Banco Sabadell Headquarters in Sabadell, Catalonia
Banco Sabadell Headquarters in Sabadell, Catalonia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Sabadell Barcelona, the second largest city in the south of the comarca (county) of the Vallès Occidental in Catalonia, Spain is on the River Ripoll, 12 miles (20 km) north of Barcelona.

Sabadell and its archrival, Terrassa, in the east-central region of Catalonia, are co-capitals of the comarca of Vallès Occidental. These two cities pioneered the Industrial Revolution in Catalonia with their textile mills.

In the mid 19th century, nicknamed the “Catalan Manchester“, Sabadell became the most important wool city in Spain. Now, Sabadell is basically a commercial and industrial city with no significant agricultural activities.

On December 31, 1881, a group of 127 businessmen and traders from Sabadell Barcelona founded Banco de Sabadell, for financing local industries and providing them with raw materials (wool and coal) under more favourable terms and conditions.

In 1907, Banco Sabadell wound up the non-banking businesses to focus its activities on entirely on commercial banking.

In 1965, Banco Sabadell started its territorial expansion, slowly and steadily spreading to the nearby towns. In 1975, it started to expand beyond Catalonia by opening a branch in Madrid.

Now, Banco de Sabadell is the fifth-largest Spanish banking group with its headquarters in Sabadell includes several banks, brands, subsidiaries and associated banks specialises in serving SMEs (Small or Medium Enterprises) and affluent individuals interested in international trade.

Banco de Sabadell London situated at Sabadell House, 120 Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5EA (Source: manchesterhistory.net)
Banco de Sabadell London situated at Sabadell House, 120 Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5EA (Source: manchesterhistory.net)

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In 1978, Banco Sabadell expanded internationally by opening its first branch abroad in the heart of the City of London in the United Kingdom.

Banco Sabadell with its extensive commercial and operational experience and having an in-depth knowledge of the features of the Indian financial system started operating in New Delhi, India in 1994.

In 2012, on the 130th anniversary of its founding, Banco Sabadell launched a campaign called “Som Sabadell” (We are Sabadell) to pay homage to its founding city.

For culminating the campaign, Banco Sabadell arranged a scintillating flash mob with 100 people from the Orquestra Simfonica del Vallès, Cor Lieder Camera, Cor Amics de l’Òpera and Coral Belles Arts choirs.

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Sri Lanka, the Island Paradise with a Colourful Heritage


Myself

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Sri Lanka map

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The “Island In The Sun” is the title song of the 1957 movie bearing the same name. It was written by Irving Burgie and sung by Harry Belafonte.

Oh island in the sun
Willed to me by my father’s hand
All my days I will sing in praise
Of your forest waters, your shining sand

As morning breaks, the Heaven on high
I lift my heavy load to the sky
Sun comes down with a burning glow
Mingles my sweat with the earth below

Oh island in the sun
Willed to me by my father’s hand
All my days I will sing in praise
Of your forest waters, your shining sand

I see woman on bended knee
Cutting cane for her family
I see man at the waterside
Casting nets at the surging tide

Though this song addresses the island of Jamaica, it is equally applicable to Sri Lanka the pearl of the Indian Ocean and nature’s treasure chest.

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Sri Lanka, also known as India's Teardrop and the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, is an extension of peninsular India that got separated from the mainland.
Sri Lanka, also known as India’s Teardrop and the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, is an extension of peninsular India that got separated from the mainland.

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The island paradise, formerly known as Ceylon until 1972,  is in the northern Indian Ocean off the southeast coast of the Indian subcontinent in South Asia. Sri Lanka has maritime borders with India to the northwest and the Maldives to the southwest.  It is one of the most delightful destinations in the world to visit.

Sri Lanka is the home to one of the oldest civilizations in the world. Though the island’s documented history spans over 2,550 years, evidence shows that it had prehistoric human settlements dating back to at least 125,000 years. Its history boasts of planned cities, magnificent palaces, temples, and monasteries, expansive reservoirs, green forests and gardens, monuments and works of art.

Sri Lanka due to its geographic location and endowed with natural harbours has been the cynosure of strategic importance from the time of the ancient Silk Road through to World War II.

Today, Sri Lanka is a republic and a unitary state governed by a presidential system. The capital, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, is a suburb of Colombo, Sri Lanka’s largest city.

Sri Lanka is home to many races speaking diverse languages, and following different religious faiths. It is the land of the Sinhalese, Sri Lankan Tamils, Indian Tamils, Moors, Burghers, Malays, Kaffirs and the aboriginal Veddas.

The island has a rich Buddhist heritage spanning from the time of the Indian Emperor Ashoka Maurya (304–232 BC) of the Maurya Dynasty who ruled almost all the Indian subcontinent from circa 269 to 232 BCE. The first known Buddhist writings of Sri Lanka, the Pāli Canon dates back to the Fourth Buddhist Council in 29 BCE.

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Stilts or Pole fishermen, Sri Lanka (Source: agmisgpn.org))
Stilts or Pole fishermen, Sri Lanka (Source: agmisgpn.org))

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The island is one of the most beautiful and delightful destinations in the world for tourists to visit. Its historical planned cities, magnificent palaces, temples, dagobas, monasteries, monuments, sculptures and other works of art, expansive artificial reservoirs, green gardens, etc., illustrate the characteristic rich history of its ancient rulers.

Here is a video titled “Heritage of Sri Lanka” produced by The Ministry of National Heritage Sri Lanka, which I enjoyed viewing and I hope you too will be delighted to view it as well.

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Three Years Ago, When Hurricane Sandy Pounded USA, I Was in Ellicott City, Maryland!


Myself

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Three years ago, when Hurricane Sandy, unofficially known as the “Superstorm Sandy”, devastated the United States in October 2012, I was in Ellicott City in Maryland.

Hurricane Sandy was the second-costliest hurricane in the history of the United States. It was the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. It all began on October 22, 2012.

A Timeline of Hurricane Sandy’s Path of Destruction
Monday, October 22, 2012

Developing in the southern Caribbean Sea off the coast of Nicaragua as a tropical easterly wave causing areas of cloudiness and thunderstorms, The depression strengthened and six hours later becomes Tropical Storm Sandy, with maximum winds of about 40 mph. It moved slowly northward toward the Greater Antilles and gradually intensified.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

On October 24, Sandy became a  Category 1 hurricane, moved northward across the Caribbean and made landfall near Kingston, Jamaica with winds of 80 mph.

Although Hurricane Sandy’s eye does not cross the Dominican Republic and Haiti to its east, the storm dumped more than 20 inches of rain on Hispaniola. More than 50 people died in flooding and mudslides in Haiti.

A few hours later, it re-emerged into the Caribbean Sea and strengthened into a Category 2 hurricane. Off the coast of the Northeastern United States, the storm became the largest Atlantic hurricane on record as measured by diameter, with winds spanning 1,100 miles (1,800 km).

Thursday, October 25, 2012
Detailed map compiled by NOAA on October 25, 2012, that shows the track of Hurricane Sandy (Source: gowally.com)
Detailed map compiled by NOAA on October 25, 2012, that shows the track of Hurricane Sandy (Source: gowally.com)

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Sandy strengthened as it moved from Jamaica to Cuba and made landfall in the historic city of Santiago de Cuba with winds of about 110 mph as a Category 3 hurricane.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sandy caused more devastation as it crossed the Bahamas and made a slight turn to the north-northwest.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sandy moved away from the Bahamas and made a turn to the northeast off the coast of Florida. Sandy weakened for a brief period of time to a tropical depression and then restrengthened to a Category 1 hurricane.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sandy continued moving northeast on a track parallel to the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. As it approached latitude 35 degrees north off the coast of North Carolina, the hurricane’s eye stayed well offshore. Even then, the storm still a Category 1 hurricane with peak winds of about 80 mph sent powerful tsunami-like waves onto North Carolina’s Outer Banks washing out some places in NC Highway 12.

Due to an unusual configuration of converging weather factors meteorologists warned that the storm as it churns northward would likely morph into a powerful, hybrid super-storm.

A high-pressure cold front to Sandy’s north forced the storm to  turn to the northwest toward major cities such as Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia and New York. And the meteorologists expected that in conjunctions with the effects of the full moon Sandy’s storm surge to be 11 to 12 feet in some places and a little higher as it made landfall.

Sandy expanded into a huge storm covering about 1,000 miles with strong winds.

Monday, October 29, 2012
This satellite image from NOAA shows Sandy on the morning of October 29, 2012 as it was about to begin its approach to the coast of New Jersey (Source: voices.nationalgeographic.com)
This satellite image from NOAA shows Sandy on the morning of October 29, 2012 as it was about to begin its approach to the coast of New Jersey (Source: voices.nationalgeographic.com)

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At 12:30 pm, Sandy made its expected sharp turn. It curved west-northwest (the “left turn” or “left hook”) and then moved ashore near Brigantine, New Jersey, just to the northeast of Atlantic City, as a post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds. The storm also has started interacting with other weather systems, gaining energy in the process. The storm dumped heavy snow in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina.

During the afternoon, Sandy brought high winds and drenching rains from Washington, D.C. northward, toppling trees and power lines and cutting off electrical power for millions of people. The storm eventually affected more than 50 million people on the Eastern Seaboard.

At 8 pm, Sandy’s center came ashore near Atlantic City, New Jersey. The storm was no longer considered a hurricane, but was classified as a post-tropical Nor’easter. But the storm’s unusual path from the southeast made its storm surge much worse in New Jersey and New York.

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The Brooklyn Battery Tunnel is flooded after a tidal surge caused by Hurricane Sandy, on October 30, 2012 in Manhattan, New York. The storm has claimed at least 39 lives in the United States, and has caused massive flooding across much of the Atlantic seaboard. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
The Brooklyn Battery Tunnel is flooded after a tidal surge caused by Hurricane Sandy, on October 30, 2012, in Manhattan, New York. The storm has claimed at least 39 lives in the United States and has caused massive flooding across much of the Atlantic seaboard. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

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A high storm surge, a coastal flood or tsunami-like phenomenon of rising water occurred in New York City with a high tide of 14 ft (4.2 m),  a new record for a storm surge in the harbor, flooding streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. The surge tops the sea wall at The Battery Park in Lower Manhattan and floods parts of the city’s subway system. The surge also floods the Hugh Carey Tunnel, which links Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.

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Spooky gray NYC skyline
Spooky gray NYC skyline

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The wind, rain and flooding from the huge storm pounded New Jersey and New York throughout the night and through three cycles of high tides and low tides.

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Tanker John B Caddell beached on Front Street, Staten Island (Photo: Jim Henderson)
Tanker John B Caddell beached on Front Street, Staten Island (Photo: Jim Henderson)

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Staten Island also was hit very hard by the storm. The Seattle Times later reported that towns such as Oakwood Beach, Midland Beach, South Beach and Tottenville — which lost many residents who were police and firefighters during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 — were among the hardest-hit communities.

When I look back, I remember posting several times on Facebook on 29th and 30th October 2012 about Hurricane Sandy to benefit my friends and readers in the United States and to assure my kith and Kin in India that my family was safe:

7:00 am EDT:
From the Carolinas to Maine, Hurricane Sandy will affect 50 million people.

Hurricane Sandy is churning off the East Coast and is expected to join up with two other weather systems to create a huge and problematic storm affecting 50 million people. Here’s a snapshot of what is happening or expected, state by state.
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 CAROLINAS
The storm lashed barrier islands off North Carolina and rendered several homes and businesses nearly inaccessible. About 90 miles off the coast, a tall ship carrying 17 people was in distress; the Coast Guard was monitoring.
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CONNECTICUT
The number of power outages increased quickly in a state where utilities’ response to past weather-related failures has become a political issue. Connecticut Light & Power says hundreds of customers are without power. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy asked a task force to ensure fuel suppliers are fully stocked. Many residents along Long Island Sound heeded warnings and evacuated.

DELAWARE
Hundreds of people fled to shelters as the rough surf pounded the coast. Water covered some roads.

KENTUCKY
Snow is expected in mountainous areas.

MAINE
Officials predict coastal flooding and beach erosion, and utility crews have been brought in from Canada to handle anticipated power failures.

MARYLAND
Baltimore is opening six shelters; several city intersections are closed because of flooding threats. Early voting, which began Saturday and was to run through Thursday, was canceled for Monday.

MASSACHUSETTS
Utilities brought in crews from as far away as Texas and the Midwest to cope with anticipated power failures. Most schools and colleges have canceled classes. The Boston transit authority said it would continue to operate as long it was safe.

NEW HAMPSHIRE
Gov. John Lynch put 100 National Guard soldiers on active duty to help with preparations. Two shelters are being set up, and some schools have closed.

NEW JERSEY
Sandy’s center is expected to make landfall in New Jersey late Monday. By daybreak, more than 5,000 homes and businesses were without electricity. Thousands of people evacuated low-lying areas, and many inland towns hit by flooding from storm Irene last year issued evacuation orders.

NEW YORK
Many residents left low-lying flood evacuation zones, and the subway system shut down Sunday night. A storm surge of 11 feet is possible, the highest of all coastal areas being hit by Sandy. The New York Stock Exchange and other U.S. financial markets shut down for at least the day. Thousands of flights were canceled at the city’s major airports.

OHIO
Residents of low-lying areas and along Lake Erie were told to watch for flooding; utilities are anticipating high winds that could blow down trees and poles. Snow is forecast in some areas.

PENNSYLVANIA
Many schools closed. Philadelphia shut down its mass transit system, and hundreds of flights were canceled at the city’s airport. Dozens of people took shelter at evacuation centers. Thousands of members of the National Guard have been told to be ready for deployment.

RHODE ISLAND
Several communities have ordered mandatory evacuations and many schools closed for the day. Big waves are expected to cause flooding along Narragansett Bay, which bisects the state. Authorities told people to be prepared for long periods without power.

TENNESSEE
Snow is expected in higher elevations, where a freeze warning has been issued. High winds are expected in many areas.

VIRGINIA
About 2,000 customers lacked power, and a utility said as many as 1 million could ultimately lose electricity. Many residents of Chincoteague Island, popular with tourists, shrugged off the idea of evacuation.

VERMONT
Gov. Peter Shumlin declared a state of emergency to provide access to National Guard troops in a state still recovering from the devastating effects of the remnants of Hurricane Irene. Culverts and storm drainage basins in some spots have been cleared of debris.

WASHINGTON, D.C.
The capital area’s transit system shut down rail service for the first time since 2003, and the Smithsonian Institution closed for the day.

WEST VIRGINIA
As much as 2 to 3 feet of snow were forecast in mountainous areas, and flooding was possible in some areas. Several shelters were put on standby, and power crews were mobilized to handle potential failures.

3:30 pm EDT:
Here in Ellicott City, Maryland, the wind speed is 41 mph NW. Not menacing at the moment.

3:40 pm EDT:
Landfall for Sandy within 3 hours time near Atlantic City, New Jersey shore with a wind speed of 90 mph in the center. The system moves at 18 mph.

8:40 pm EDT:
In Ellicott City, Maryland, the wind speed has risen to 49 mph WNW.
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8:54 pm EDT:
Sandy landfall in Cape May, New Jersey around 8 pm.
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9:00 pm EDT:
Battery Park in New York City is now inundated with 11.87 feet high. Water might enter NYC subway. Trains and buses won’t run on Tuesday (tomorrow).
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9:30 pm EDT:
Waters from Hudson river has breached the Manhattan Broadwalk. Battery Park in New York City is now inundated with 13.7 feet high. MTA confirms that the subways are flooded.

1.5 million homes experience power outages in many states. In Maryland, 195,000 homes are without electric power. We have still not been hit by a power cut.

9:45 pm EDT:
Power surges, outages and flashes being experienced in the New York City area. Everything is dark over there. Manhattan is in darkness as well as the Statue of Liberty.

10:47 pm EDT:
All bridges were closed for traffic. Chesapeake Bay Bridge that connects Baltimore-DC area with the northern parts of Maryland such as Kent Island too was closed for traffic around 4 pm.

10:55 pmEDT:
Sandy is still on its way towards us playing havoc with everything in its path.

Sandy had its landfall in Cape May, New Jersey around 8 pm. Ellicott City, MD is about 210 miles from the landfall area. The system is moving around 20 to 25 mph and I expect it to come here on Tuesday (tomorrow) morning around 6 am EDT.

Tuesday , October 30, 2012

2:10 am EDT:
Hurricane Sandy plays havoc: Widespread Power outages have occurred in all the north-eastern and eastern states. In Maryland, 391,005 homes are experiencing power cut.

2:15 am EDT:
Sandy is 10 miles southwest of Philadephia, PA.

10:50 am EDT:
Sandy has passed us. We did not incur any damages. We did not lose any power.

I thank all of you for praying for us.

However, my heart bleeds for those who have suffered and are undergoing hardships due to the havoc created by this “Frankenstorm” called SANDY.

11:00 am EDT:
Sandy: The loss to properties has been assessed between 10 and 20 billion dollars.

11:30 am EDT:
Sandy slammed New Jersey last night and early morning today. At least 16 deaths reported. Massive flooding, high winds, and widespread power outages hit the East Coast as Sandy moves inland.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hurricane Sandy dissipated over western Pennsylvania, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued its final advisory on the storm: “multiple centers of circulation in association with the remnants of Sandy can be found across the lower Great Lakes.”

Aftermath

Click on this line or the photo below to see photos of the effects of Hurricane Sandy. 

People scavenging for food in a dumpster where a Key Food supermarket has discarded spoiled food, due to power outages after Hurricane Sandy hit New York (Photo: Mr. Choppers)
People scavenging for food in a dumpster where a Key Food supermarket has discarded spoiled food, due to power outages after Hurricane Sandy hit New York (Photo: Mr. Choppers)

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Paintings of “Along the River During the Qingming Festival”


Myself

By T.V. Antony Raj

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The era of Song dynasty (宋朝) that succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period in Chinese history began in 960 and continued until 1279. There are two distinct periods in the Song dynasty  – Northern and Southern.

During the Northern Song (北宋) period from 960 to 1127, the dynasty controlled most of China proper with the northern city of Bianjing (now Kaifeng) as its capital.

During the Southern Song (南宋) period from 1127 to 1279, the Song dynasty lost control of northern China in the Jin–Song Wars to the Jurchen Jin dynasty.

The Song dynasty was the first in world history to issue national bank notes or true paper money, the first Chinese regime to establish a permanent navy, and the first to use gunpowder. It was during the Song dynasty that the Chinese found the true north using a compass.

The Qing Ming Shang He Tu (simplified Chinese: 清明上河图; traditional Chinese: 清明上河圖) or “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” is a scroll painting created by the famous Chinese painter Zhang Zeduan (1085 – 1145) alias Zheng Dao who lived during the transitional period from the Northern Song to the Southern Song and was instrumental in the early history of the Chinese landscape art style known as shan shui.

This painting considered the most renowned work among all Chinese paintings dubbed as “China’s Mona Lisa” has a theme of the worldly commotion and the festive spirit during the celebration of the Qingming Festival. It encapsulates the landscape of the capital, Bianjing, today’s Kaifeng and the life of its people.

This scroll painting is 9.76 inches (24.8 cm) in height and 17.35 feet (5.287 metres) long. It depicts the bustling and lively life and beautiful natural scenery on both sides of the river that meanders through Kaifeng, the capital of the Northern Song Dynasty during the Qingming Festival. The two main portions in the painting are the countryside and the market in the densely populated city. It has more than 170 trees, 30 buildings, 814 humans, 8 sedan chairs, over 60 horses and other animals, 20 vehicles, and 28 boats.

The painting reveals the lifestyle of all levels of the society from rich to poor in successive scenes and offers glimpses of the architecture and clothing of the Song period.

For centuries, the scroll painting was a pride of the personal imperial collections of the Chinese emperors.

Aisin-Gioro Puyi, the Last Emperor (Source - Japanese magazine 'Historical Photograph,' March 1934 issue published by Rekishi-Shasin Kai)
Aisin-Gioro Puyi, the Last Emperor (Source – Japanese magazine ‘Historical Photograph,’ March 1934 issue published by Rekishi-Shasin Kai)

The original Song dynasty painting “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” was a favorite of Puyi (February 7, 1906 – October 17, 1967), also known as Henry Pu Yi, the last Emperor of China and the twelfth and final ruler of the Qing dynasty. At the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1945, he took it along with him when he left Beijing. It was then re-purchased and kept at the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City.

The following video describes how the original “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” painting showcased the best of life in the Song Dynasty – one of the golden ages of China.

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Remakes of the painting

Revered as a work of art, the scroll painting “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” inspired the creation of several works of art during subsequent dynasties. Court artists made re-interpretive versions of the painting by reviving and updating the style of the original. Even though each of these later paintings follow the composition and the original theme, they differ in details and painting techniques.

The Yuan version
Zhao Mengfu (1254 - 1322)
Zhao Mengfu (1254 – 1322)

During the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368), Zhao Mengfu (1254–1322) made a remarkable remake of the original,

The Ming version

Another notable remake painted during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) is 22 feet (6.7 metres) long and is longer than the original Song version.

Based on contemporary fashions and customs the Ming version replaced the scenery from the Song dynasty to that of the Ming dynasty with the costumes worn by the people updated and the styles of vehicles (boats and carts) changed.

The bridge scene in the original Qing Ming Shang He Tu painting - An oncoming boat is in danger of crashing into the bridge.
The bridge scene in the original Qing Ming Shang He Tu painting – An oncoming boat is in danger of crashing into the bridge.

In the original Song painting,  the crew of an oncoming boat have not yet fully lowered their sails and are in danger of crashing into wooden the bridge.

Men ashore guiding a boat by pulling ropes tied to it in the Ming version.
Men ashore guiding a boat by pulling ropes tied to it in the Ming version.

In the Ming version, a stone bridge with a taller arch replaced the Song wooden bridge, and men ashore guide the boat under the bridge by pulling ropes tied to it.

The Qing version

On January 15, 1737, the Qianlong Emperor received a present of a version painted by five Qing dynasty court painters (Chen Mu, Sun Hu, Jin Kun, Dai Hong and Cheng Zhidao). This Qing remake is much larger – 36 feet (11 metres) long and  1 ft 1.68 inches (35 cm) high – and has over 4,000 people in it.

While in the original Song version, the leftmost side contains images of the busy city, the leftmost third of this Qing version depicts life within the palace, with buildings and people appearing refined and elegant. Most people within the castle are women along with some well-dressed officials.

The Qianlong Emperor in his study, painting by Giuseppe Castiglione, (1688 - 1766).
The Qianlong Emperor in his study, painting by Giuseppe Castiglione, (1688 – 1766).

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In April 1742, a poem composed by the Qianlong Emperor was added to the rightmost end of the Qing remake.  The poem reads as follows:

蜀錦裝金壁   – A wall of gold has been mounted on Shu brocade.
吳工聚碎金   – Craftsmen from Wu collect spare change
謳歌萬井富 – To pay tribute to the abundance of a myriad of families.
城闕九重深  – The watchtowers of the city rise to great heights.
盛事誠觀止  – The bustling scene is truly impressive.
遺踪借探尋 – It is a chance to explore vestiges of bygone days.
當時誇豫大 – At that time, people marveled at the size of Yu,
此日歎徽欽 – And now, we lament the fates of Hui and Qin.

In 1949, the National Palace Museum in Taipei received the Qing version along with many other artifacts.

Over the centuries, many affluent Chinese treasured the original Qingming scroll. Eventually, it returned to public ownership.

The original Song dynasty painting now kept at the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City and the Qing version in the Taipei Palace Museum, are both considered national treasures and are exhibited every few years for brief periods.

The following video with narration in Chinese shows the different versions of the remakes of the “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” but uses the Ming version to explain the life of the Chinese then, in the near past, and now.

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Digital version

Logo of Shanghai World Expo 2010.

From May 1 to October 31, 2010, China hosted Expo 2010, a major World Expo,  officially known as the Expo 2010 Shanghai China in the tradition of international fairs and expositions.

A 3D animated, viewer-interactive digital version of the original “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” titled “River of Wisdom“, screened for three months was the primary exhibit at the China Pavilion. This elaborate computer animated mural about 30 times the size of the original scroll had moving characters and objects that made the painting come to life. It presented the scene in a four-minute day to night cycles. Those who reserved in advance had to queue up to two hours to see the 3D animated version.

After the Expo, the digital version was on display at the AsiaWorld–Expo in Hong Kong from November 9 to 29, 2010; at the Macau Dome in Macau from March 25 to April 14, 2011; and at the Expo Dome in Taipei, Taiwan from July 1 to September 4, 2011.

From December 7, 2011, to February 6, 2012, a digital reproduction was exhibited at the Singapore Expo titled “A Moving Masterpiece: The Song Dynasty As Living Art“.

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“End of the Beginning” by David Phelps


Myself

By T.V. Antony Raj

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“Forget what you have heard about Jesus if it doesn’t begin and end with love.” – Davis Phelps

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David Phelps
David Phelps

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David Norris Phelps, an American Christian music vocalist, songwriter and vocal arranger, is best known for singing tenor in the Gaither Vocal Band (GVB), an American southern gospel vocal group, named after its founder and leader Bill Gaither.

The GVB emerged in the early 1980s recording contemporary Christian music. Later it became known for its southern gospel. Bill Gaither leads the group with passion and his genuine desire to bring meaning to the music which the group sings.

The lineup of the GVB changes often. Besides Bill Gaither, singers with the longest tenure in the band include  Michael English (1985–94, 2009–13), Mark Lowry (1988–2001, 2009–13), Guy Penrod (1995–2008), David Phelps (1997-2004, 2009-present) and Wes Hampton (2005-present).

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Adam Crabb, Todd Suttles, David Phelps, Bill Gaither, and Wes Hampton (Source: gaither.com)
Adam Crabb, Todd Suttles, David Phelps, Bill Gaither, and Wes Hampton (Source: gaither.com)

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As of February 2014, the lineup consists of Bill Gaither, David Phelps, Wes Hampton, Adam Crabb, and Todd Suttles.

All the members of GVB are all talented artists and are authentic men of faith. Known worldwide for their vocal power, innovative harmonies, they are instruments of God to carry the message of hope, grace and redemption.

Today, with over 30 years of history, the GVB, has an award-winning legacy of excellence for the harmony of those male voices: vocals, baritone, bass, and tenor.

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David Phelps (Source: david-phelps.blogspot.in)
David Phelps (Source: david-phelps.blogspot.in)

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David Phelps started his professional career at GVB in 1996. He remained at GVB as a tenor for eight years from 1996 to 2004. In 2004, he left the group to realize the biggest dream of his life: to develop his solo career. In early 2009, after recording seven albums, he returned to the GVB.

In 2002, Gaither Homecoming Video featured David Phelps in God Bless America, which featured his solo “End of the Beginning“.

A top reviewer declared: “You can’t go wrong with a Phelps piece!!

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End Of The Beginning
Words & music by David Phelps

I was taking a trip on a plane the other day, just wishin’ that I could get out.
When the man next to me saw the book in my hand and asked me what it was about.
So I settled back in my seat. “A best-seller,” I said, “a hist’ry and a myst’ry in one.”
Then I opened up the book and began to read from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John…

He was born of a virgin one holy night in the little town of Bethlehem.
Angels gathered ’round Him underneath the star singing praises to the great I AM.

He walked on the water, healed The lame, and made the blind to see again.
And for the first time here on earth we learned that God could be a friend.
And though He never, ever did a single thing wrong, the angry crowd chose Him.
And then He walked down the road and died on the cross and that was the end…of the beginning.”

“That’s not a new book, that’s a Bible,” he said, “And I’ve heard it all before.
I’ve tried religion, it’s shame and guilt, and I don’t need it anymore.
It’s superstation, made-up tales, just to help the weak to survive.”
“Let me read it again,” I said, “But listen closely. This is gonna change your life.”

“He was born of a virgin one holy night in the little town of Bethlehem.
Angels gathered ’round Him underneath the star singing praises to the great I AM.

He walked on the water, healed the lame, and made the blind to see again.
And for the first time here on earth we learned that God could be a friend.
And though He never, ever did a single thing wrong, the angry crowd chose Him. And then He walked down the road and died on the cross and that was the end…of the beginning.”

“The end of the beginning?” he said with a smile. “What more
could there be? He’s dead. You said they hung Him, put nails in
His hands and a crown of thorns on His head.” I said, “I’ll read it
again, but this time there’s more.

And I believe that this is true: His death wasn’t the end but the beginning of life that’s completed in you.
Don’t you see, He did all this for you…”

“He was born of a virgin one holy night in the little town of Bethlehem. All the angels singing praises to the great I AM.
He walked on the water, healed the lame, and made the blind to see.
And for the first time here on earth, did you know that God could be a friend?
And though He never, ever did a single thing wrong, He was the one the crowd chose.
And then He walked and He died, but three days later, three days later, three days later…
He rose! Three days later He rose!

You see, He came, He lived, and He died, but that was the end of the beginning.

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The Giant Atlas Moth


Myself

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Giant Atlas Moth (Source: wwb.co.uk)
Giant Atlas Moth (Source: wwb.co.uk)

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The family Saturniidae, known as saturniids, include the largest species of moths.  They belong to the order Lepidoptera, with an estimated 2,300 described species worldwide. The saturniids include such Lepidoptera as the Atlas moth (Attacus atlas), the polyphemus moth (Antheraea polyphemus) also known as the giant Silkmoth, the imperial moth (Eacles imperialis), and the regal moth (Citheronia regalis) also called the royal walnut moth.

While the saturniids are lightweights compared to other insects, they can grow to some impressive sizes. The adult saturniids are large in size, with their heavy bodies covered in hairlike scales and lobed wings. The hind wings overlap the forewings, giving the effect of an unbroken wing surface. They have small heads with reduced mouth parts. Some species are often colored bright, which may mislead first-time observers to refer to them as butterflies. Female are larger and weigh more than the males. In general, the males have a larger, broader antennae.

Today, I came across the above video of an Atlas moth, found in the tropical and subtropical forests of Southeast Asia and the Malay archipelago.

Atlas moths have large wingspans about 10 inches across (25cm). A record specimen of the tropical Atlas moth from Java measured 10.3 inches (262 mm), with a surface area of 62 square inches (400 square cm).

While skimming the internet, I came across the following lines in Chinese:

不知何時窗邊飛來這隻不速之客
展開的翅膀像是雙頭蛇
喜歡的人或許覺得牠很美
從小就對蛾類敬而遠之的自己
卻只敢瞇著眼睛不敢正視呢
– 蛇頭蛾, 三義

Bùzhī héshí chuāng biān fēi lái zhè zhī bùsùzhīkè
zhǎnkāi de chìbǎng xiàng shì shuāng tóu shé
xǐhuān de rén huòxǔ juédé tā hěn měi
cóngxiǎo jiù duì é lèi jìng’éryuǎnzhī dì zìjǐ
què zhǐ gǎn mī zhuó yǎnjīng bù gǎn zhèngshì ne
– shétóu é, sānyì

I do not know when the window flew only uninvited guest
Spread wings like a two-headed snake
Like people may think it is beautiful
I grew up on the moths themselves at arm’s length
But only dared to squint afraid to face it
– Snakeheads moth, Sanyi

Though the name Atlas moths derived from either the Titan of Greek mythology for their gigantic size or their map-like wing patterns seems appropriate, the Chinese name 蛇頭蛾 (shétóu é) meaning “snakeheads moth” is more pertinent in referring to the  outer tips of the  spread wings  that look like a two-headed snake.

Though the name Atlas moths derived from either the Titan of Greek mythology for their gigantic size or their map-like wing patterns seems appropriate, the Chinese name 蛇頭蛾 (shétóu é) meaning “snakeheads moth” is more pertinent in referring to the outer tips of the wings that look like the head of a snake.

Life Cycle of the Atlas moth
Mating

The Atlas moths are wobbly fliers. After emerging from the cocoon, the female does not stray far from her discarded cocoon. She seeks a perch conducive for the air currents to carry the strong pheromones released by her. The male Atlas moths sensing the pheromones with the chemoreceptors located on their large feathery antennae home in on the sexually passive female.

Embryo

After mating, the female Atlas moth lays many spherical eggs about 2.5 mm in diameter on the undersides of leaves.

Larval stage

About two weeks later, dusty-green caterpillars adorned with fleshy spines along their backs covered in a waxy white substance hatch from the eggs.

Giant Atlas moth caterpillars (Source: cambstimes.co.uk)
Giant Atlas moth caterpillars (Source: cambstimes.co.uk)

The caterpillars feed voraciously on the foliage of certain citrus trees. Alternative recorded foodplants include leaves of apple, ash, cherry, lilac, plum, willows, and other evergreen trees.

Pupal stage

On reaching a length of about 4.5 inches (115 mm), the caterpillars pupate within a papery cocoon interwoven into desiccated leaves. The adult moths emerge after about four weeks.

Imago – the adult stage

After spending about a month in their cocoons, Atlas Moths emerge as beautiful, sexually mature winged creatures. Unfortunately, this imago stage is short-lived and the moths die within a week or two after spreading their wings.

The following video shows in detail the development of the Atlas Moths: the hatched larvae from eggs, the various stages of the caterpillar, molting,  pupating, and the emergence of the adult Atlas moth.

The cocoons of the Atlas Moths serve as purses in Taiwan.

Some sericulturists in India cultivate Atlas moths for their silk. Unlike the silk produced by the Silkworm moth (Bombyx mori), the brown, wool-like silk secretes as broken strands from the cocoons of the Atlas moth. This silk known as fagara silk seems to have greater durability.

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This is How Babies are Born!


Myself

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Bill Cosby and Raven -Symoné
Bill Cosby and Raven -Symoné

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Grownups can sometimes be so thick, it is not easy to explain some facts to them.

In this video, this little girl Olivia Kendall (played by Raven-Symoné) is having a hard time trying to explain to the doctor for women (Bill Cosby) how babies are born.

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This is How Babies are Born!

 

Doctor:  And this is my office

Olivia:  What do you do?

Doctor:  I am a doctor for women.

Olivia:  What do you do with them?

Doctor:  I deliver their babies.

Olivia:  Deliver?

Doctor:  When the woman has the baby inside of her, then I go in and I take it out.

Olivia:  No you don’t. Everybody knows that the stork brings the baby.

Doctor:  Who, who told you that?

Olivia:  My daddy.

Doctor:  Okay. Well, the stork puts the baby inside of the mother… and then I go in and I take it out.

Olivia:  Ah, aah. The stork brings the baby to the hospital, drops it in the bassinet.

Doctor:  So you’re saying that the baby is not inside the mummy? Then why is it that the mother gets real big?

Olivia:  Because she eats a lot of food.

Doctor:  Now let me get this straight. You say that the stork carries over, puts the baby in the bassinet, and the mother is real big because she eats a lot of food?

Olivia:  You got it!

Doctor:  I see. Well, then why is it that the mother has to go to the hospital?

Olivia:  The stork brings the baby to the hospital, drops it in the bassinet. The mummy goes to the hospital and gets it.

Doctor:  If the stork does all that, why doesn’t the stork just bring it to the mummy’s house?

Olivia:  Because it’s too far. His wings will get tired.

Doctor:  Where does the stork get the babies from?

Olivia:  Heaven.

Doctor:  Okay. There is a zillion skillion babies in Heaven. How does the stork know what baby goes with what mother?

Olivia:  They are in a line. You know, like you go to the baker and get a number.

Doctor:  Why when I put my hand on the mother I can feel things moving all around?

Olivia:  That’s not a baby.

Doctor:  What is it?

Olivia:  Gas.

Doctor:  Well, thank you for explaining it to me.

Olivia:  You’re welcome, but you still didn’t tell me what you do.

Doctor:  I’m in charge of gas.

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William Henry “Bill” Cosby Jr. (born July 12, 1937) is an American stand-up comedian, actor, author, and activist. Cosby’s start in stand-up comedy began at the hungry i, originally a nightclub in North Beach, San Francisco. It was followed by a starring role in the 1960s television show I Spy. Beginning in the 1980s, Cosby produced and starred in The Cosby Show, a television sitcom, which aired from 1984 to 1992. It was rated as the number one show in America for five years, 1984 through 1989. The sitcom highlighted the experiences and growth of an affluent African-American family.

Raven-Symoné Christina Pearman (born December 10, 1985) is an American actress, comedian, model, singer, songwriter, dancer, television producer and a talk-show host. She first appeared on television in 1989 on The Cosby Show as Olivia Kendall.

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Dave Whitlock Has Not Showered for 12 Years!


Myself

By T.V. Antony Raj

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David Whitlock - the man who has not showered for 12 years. (Source: dailymail.co.uk)
David Whitlock – the man who has not showered for 12 years. (Source: dailymail.co.uk)

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In early December 2014, I wrote a six-part series of articles titled  “To Bathe, or Not to Bathe“.  Then, I was not aware of the existence of R. David Whitlock, a chemical engineer and a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who had not showered in the past 12 years.

Whitlock claims that he has not taken a shower in over 12 years because soap and bath gels affect and deplete the natural balance of the skin microbiome.

Justin Sonnenburg, a microbiologist at Stanford, regards the human body as “an elaborate vessel optimized for the growth and spread of our microbial inhabitants.”

According to Published research for every one human gene, there are 100 associated genes within our microbiome. And so, more than 100 trillion microorganisms live in and on our body. They live in our mouths, tongues, guts, mucosal surfaces and on the surface of our skin.

These microbes perform various beneficial functions relevant to supporting life. They help to digest food, prevent disease-causing pathogens from invading the body, and synthesize essential nutrients and vitamins.

Changes in the microbiome can trigger changes in human cellular activities, resulting in disease or contribute to its progression.

Ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB)

In the late 1990s, when David Whitlock went on a date with a young woman, she asked him why her horse liked to roll in the dirt.

Horse Rolling on its back (Source: Durk Talsma/flickr.com)
Horse Rolling on its back (Source: Durk Talsma/flickr.com)

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Unable to answer her, Whitlock read books on biology. He gathered soil samples and grew bacteria in his basement. After reading hundreds of papers, he concluded that it must be important for the horses to roll in the dirt.

He learned that sweat of the horse is abrasive to its skin and causes equine acne that starts as a small, oily black plugs in the skin and may develop into red, itchy inflamed bumps.

He found ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) in the soil. He realized that ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) in the soil must be helping the horse to clean itself by converting urea and ammonia found in sweat into nitrite and nitric oxide.

Nitrite fights most bad bacteria while nitric oxide has anti-inflammatory properties.

In the following video, Dr. Larry Weiss, MD, a Key Member and Chief Medical Officer of AOBiome LLC talks about AOB.

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From his study of the behavior of the horses, Whitlock concluded that useful bacteria once colonized on human skins too, and with the advent of knowledge in Chemistry and modern hygiene, humans eradicated them by sterilizing their bodies with soaps, lotions, and antiseptics, leaving our skin more susceptible to challenge.

Whitlock believed that by restoring the appropriate AOB levels, a range of human health conditions could be impacted.

In 2000, to test his hypothesis, Whitlock began adding AOB to water and dousing himself daily. He avoided using soaps because they kill the microbes.  For the past 12 years, Whitlock did not shower. He found that the bacteria kept him clean and odor-free. His skin looks fresh, and he smells nice.

Though Dave Whitlock does not shower, he  takes an occasional sponge bath to clean off  the accumulated grime on his skin.

Patent US7820420

On August 10, 2001, Dave Whitlock presented his application papers for obtaining a patent for compositions, including ammonia oxidizing bacteria to increase production of nitric oxide and nitric oxide precursors and methods of using same. He obtained the patent US7820420 for same on October 26, 2010.

Abstract

A method of enhancing health through the generation in close proximity of a surface of a subject, nitric oxide and nitric oxide precursors using bacteria adapted to oxidize ammonia and urea derived from perspiration is described. Local and systemic effects are described including a reduction in vascular disease, enhancement of sexual function, improved skin health, and reduced transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.

NitroCell BioSciences LLC

In 2012, Dave Whitlock co-founded NitroCell BioSciences LLC as a pharmaceutical company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The company focused on getting U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for bacteria-based prescription therapies for acne, eczema, rosacea, wound healing, and more.

In March 2013, NitroCell BioSciences LLC changed its name to AOBiome, LLC.

Now, AOBiome, LLC develops skin products based on ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB). The company’s products are used to restore the natural balance of skin microbes that have been lost due to modern living practices, including the use of soaps and shampoos. It also develops AO+ Refreshing Cosmetic Mist, a cosmetic product to improve the look and feel of skin.

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Jasmina Aganovic, AOBiome's general manager for consumer products (Source: bizjournals.com)
Jasmina Aganovic, AOBiome’s general manager for consumer products (Source: bizjournals.com)

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According to Jasmina Aganovic, an MIT graduate and AOBiome’s general manager for consumer products, as humans, we need to reconnect with our environment. “We’ve confused clean with sterile. … We’ve taken the dirt out of our lives. We don’t spend as much time outdoors as we used to — even as little children.

So, AOBiome, LLC has created and launched “Mother Dirt” to add a little dirt back into our lives. AOBiome is the first cosmetics company to market a product that contains live bacteriaThe company claims their products do not cause illness, even if ingested.

The Mother Dirt products set themselves apart from all other scientific skincare items that have flooded the market in recent times.

The new skincare line Mother Dirt has a new way of looking at clean. (Source: fashionnstyle.com)
The new skincare line Mother Dirt has a new way of looking at clean. (Source: fashionnstyle.com)

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The Mother Dirt AO+ mist specifically contains live ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) that’s sprayed on the skin twice a day. It has no odor and feels like water. There’s a Mother Dirt shampoo and cleanser that doesn’t contain bacteria, but Jasmina Aganovic says it won’t interfere with it either.

Though Dave Whitlock still doesn’t shower, he uses Mother Dirt every day and hopes the rest of the world will join him. He said: “I would like a billion people a day to use this.

Aobiome officials believe in the health benefits of these live bacteria. They are not making any scientific claims right now, but they will soon begin clinical trials on inflammatory skin conditions like acne.

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The Japanese Sendai Nuclear Plant Threatened by the Sakurajima Volcano


Myself

By T.V. Antony Raj

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The lithosphere is the rigid, outermost shell on Earth. It comprises the crust and the part of the upper mantle that has an elastic behavior on, timescales of thousands of years or greater.

The scientific theory of plate tectonics describes the large-scale motion of Earth’s lithosphere. The geoscientific community accepted the theoretical model of plate tectonics developed during the first few decades of the 20th century based on the concept of continental drift. The concepts of seafloor spreading developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

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The tectonic plates of the world were mapped in the second half of the 20th century.
The tectonic plates of the world were mapped in the second half of the 20th century.

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The Earth’s lithosphere, the rigid outermost crust and upper mantle, is broken up into seven or eight major tectonic plates and many minor plates.

These massive slabs of the earth’s crust forever creep, slip, lock up and then jolt again. The typical annual lateral relative movement of the plates varies from zero to 100 mm.

Almost all creation of mountains, earthquakes, volcanic activity, and the formation of oceanic trenches occurs along these tectonic plate boundaries.

The islands that compose the Japanese nation sit on or near the boundary of four tectonic plates: the Pacific, North American, Eurasian and Filipino plates.

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The Pacific Ring of Fire
The Pacific Ring of Fire

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Also, Japan lies on the “Ring of Fire” also known as the circum-Pacific belt.  –  The Ring of Fire is a horseshoe-shaped band of fault lines in the basin of the Pacific Ocean, associated with a continuous series of oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts and  tectonic plate movements.  It has 452 volcanoes and has over 75% of the world’s active and dormant volcanoes. A large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in this region.

Sendai Nuclear Power Plant

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The Sendai Nuclear Power Plant (Source: power-eng.com)
The Sendai Nuclear Power Plant (Source: power-eng.com)

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The Sendai Nuclear Power Plant, owned and operated by the Kyūshū Electric Power Company, is in the city of Satsumasendai in the Kagoshima Prefecture.  It is located near five giant calderas, a cauldron-like volcanic feature usually formed by the collapse of land following a volcanic eruption, with the closest one about 40 km away from the plant.

Before the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011, and the nuclear disasters that resulted from it, Japan had generated 30% of its electrical power from nuclear reactors. It had planned to increase electrical power production to 40%.

Nuclear energy was a national strategic priority in Japan, but there had been concern about the ability of Japan’s nuclear plants to withstand seismic activity.

The earthquake and tsunami of on March 11, 2011, caused the failure of the cooling systems at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.  Japan then declared its first-ever nuclear emergency. This caused the evacuation of around 140,000 residents within 12 miles (20 km) of the plant.

On May 6, 2011, Prime Minister Naoto Kan ordered the shutdown of the Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant as an earthquake of magnitude 8.0 or higher is likely to hit the area within the next 30 years.

Also, many other nuclear power plants, including the Sendai plant stopped  generating electricity.

In the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011, Japan set new safety standards for its nuclear reactor plants.

On September 10, 2014, the Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) declared the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant safe for operation.

On August 11, 2015, Kyushu Electric Power Co., restarted its operation by bringing online the No. 1 reactor at its Sendai power station according to the new safety standards. Now it is providing power to the nearby towns again. Sendai is the first of Japan’s nuclear power plants to be restarted.

The Sakurajima Volcano

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View of Sakurajima from mainland Kagoshima in 2009
View of Sakurajima from mainland Kagoshima in 2009

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Sakurajima is an active composite volcano (stratovolcano) 990 km southwest of Tokyo. It is a former island in Kagoshima Prefecture in Kyushu, Japan. It is one of Japan’s most active volcanoes and erupts all the time. The lava flows of the 1914 eruption caused the former island to be connected to the Osumi Peninsula. The volcanic activity still continues, dropping large amounts of volcanic ash on the surroundings. Earlier eruptions built the white sands highlands in the region.

The Japan Meteorological Agency  on its website said that it believes that a larger than the usual eruption could be in the offing since it detected multiple earthquakes in the area on Saturday morning.  So, on Saturday, August 15, 2015, the agency raised the warning level for the volcanic island of Sakurajima from Level 3 to an unprecedented Level 4 (red). It has warned the residents in the villages on Sakurajima and has advised them to evacuate since stones could rain down on areas near the mountain’s base.

The Kagoshima prefectural government has formed an emergency response team.

The Kyushu Electric Power Company says a possible eruption on Mount Sakurajima will not affect the operation of its Sendai Nuclear Power Plant. The company made the comment after raising the alert level to 4. They said that they will collect the relevant data while proceeding with work to increase output as planned.

The Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) also says any possible eruption of the Sakurajima volcano will not affect the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant.

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The Awesome Monolithic Kailasanatha Temple at Ellora, India.


Myself

By T.V. Antony Raj

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The village of Ellora lies 18 miles (30 km) northwest of Aurangabad in the state of Maharashtra in India. It is an archaeological site well-known for its monumental caves that are epitome of Indian rock-cut architecture.

Historians and archaeologists conjecture that the Rashtrakuta dynasty built the temples found there. Ellora is also known as Elapura in the Rashtrakuta Kannada literature.

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Map of the 34 Ellora Caves (Source: wondermondo.com)
Map of the 34 Ellora Caves (Source: wondermondo.com)

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There are 34 caves at Ellora, excavated out of the vertical face of the Charanandri hills, extending more than two kilometers. There are 12 Buddhist caves (1–12), 17 Hindu caves (13–29), and five Jain caves (30–34). All the caves are in proximity revealing the religious harmony that prevailed in the region during this period. Now, the Ellora cave complex is a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India and is a World Heritage Site.

From written records, we learn that travelers from outside India, often visited the Ellora caves. The 10th-century Arab historian and geographer Al-Mas‘udi was one of the early visitors. In 1352, Sultan Hasan Gangu Bahmani visited the caves. The other historical visitors were: Persian historian Firishta (1560 – 1620),  French traveler Jean de Thévenot (1633 – 1667), Italian writer and traveler Niccolao Manucci (1639 – 1717), and Sir Charles Warre Malet (1752 – 1815), the British East India Company’s Resident at the court of the Peshwa Mahrattas.

The Kailasanatha temple

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The Kailasnatha Temple, Ellora (Source: rediff.com)
The Kailasnatha Temple, Ellora (Source: rediff.com)

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Among all the cave temples at Ellora, the unrivaled centerpiece is Cave 16 – the Kailasanatha temple, designed to recall Mount Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva. It is also known as Kailasa temple. It is an unrivaled work of rock architecture, a monument that has always excited and astonished travelers.

Some historians and archaeologists presume that the majestic Kailasanatha temple was created before any other temple in the Ellora cave complex.

Fragment of Old Kannada inscription (765 AD) from Hattimattur village of Rashtrakuta King Krishna I (Source: Epigraphia Indica and Record of the Archæological Survey of India, Volume 6).
Fragment of Old Kannada inscription (765 AD) from Hattimattur village of Rashtrakuta King Krishna I (Source: Epigraphia Indica and Record of the archeological Survey of India, Volume 6)..

 

As attested in Kannada inscriptions of 775, King Krishna I of the Rashtrakuta Dynasty who ruled from 756 –774, responsible for building 18 Shiva temples, commissioned the building of  the Kailasanatha temple.

The temple encompasses Dravidian architecture. It does not contain any of the Shikharas common to the Nagara style. It was built similar to the Virupaksha temple at Pattadakal in Karnataka. King Krishna I employed architects from the Pallava kingdom in South India. The walls of the temple have marvelous sculptures from Hindu mythology, including Ravana, Shiva, and Parvathi while the ceilings have paintings. At first, white plaster covered the walls of the Kailasanatha temple to simulate the snow-covered Mount Kailas in Tibet.

Though the Kailasanatha temple looks like a freestanding, multi-storied temple complex, it is, in fact, a monolithic structure carved out of one single rock.  It is the largest monolithic human-created structure in the world. It covers an area of over 42,500 square feet (3,948 square metres). The Kailasanatha Temple  is 276 by 154 feet (84 by 47 metres) wide. It has a larger area than the Parthenon temple on the Athenian Acropolis, in Greece. Measured at the stylobate, the dimensions of the base of the Parthenon are 228 by 101 feet  (69.5 by 30.9 metres) or 23,030 square feet (2,140 square metres).

The Kailasanatha temple is notable for its vertical excavation. Carvers started at the top of the rock and excavated downwards. In all the other temples and caves in the rest of the world and even in Ellora, the carvers hewed out rock from the front and carved as they went along using the rock cutting technique called “cut-in monolith“.

It was only at Kailasanatha temple the architects used the exact opposite technique called “cut-out monolith“. They  worked downwards and hewed out all the unnecessary rock. After that, the sculptors chiseled the sculptures and intricate designs. This work would have required extreme planning and precision work to avoid damage to the completed work. Just imagine the colossal amount of rock removed to create this pillar.

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Ground plan of Kailashnatha Temple at Ellora Caves, India. From "A handbook for travellers in India, Burma, and Ceylon."  Author John Murray (Firm)
Ground plan of Kailasanatha Temple at Ellora Caves, India. From “A handbook for travellers in India, Burma, and Ceylon.” Author John Murray (Firm)

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All the carvings on the Kailasanatha temple are on more than one level.

The temple structure begins with a two-storied gopuram or gateway. It serves to screen the sacred temple from the outside world.

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Columned arcade at the Kailasanatha Temple carved out of the surrounding cliff face punctuated by sculpted panels, and alcoves. (Source: campoamor-photography.com)
Columned arcade at the Kailasanatha Temple carved out of the surrounding cliff face punctuated by sculpted panels, and alcoves. (Source: campoamor-photography.com)

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On entering the temple premises, we come to a U-shaped courtyard edged by a columned arcade three stories high, punctuated by huge sculpted panels, and alcoves with enormous sculptures of deities.

In the middle of this courtyard are two hewn out two-storied monolithic temple structures, each about 23 feet (7 metres) high.

The first structure is the Nandi Mandapa – the traditional Dravidian Shivaite shrine housing the bull “Nandi“.

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One of the dhwajasthambhas, obelisk-like monolithic carved pillar at Kailash temple (Source: wondermondo.com)
One of the dhwajasthambhas, obelisk-like monolithic carved pillar at Kailash temple (Source: wondermondo.com)

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Two 50-feet-high dhwajasthambhas, obelisk-like monolithic carved pillars that dwarf the humans standing beside them, flank the Nandi Mandapa. Decorated with frieze carvings, it would have taken years of work to create such huge structures.

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Shiva lingam at Kailash temple - (Source - Sanjay Acharya - Wikimedia Commons)
Shiva lingam at Kailash temple – (Source – Sanjay Acharya – Wikimedia Commons)

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Then comes the central main Shiva temple housing the lingam, a symbol of the energy and potential of the Hindu god Shiva.

The vimanam (steeple), that crowns  the Garbhagriha, the Sanctum sanctorum of the temple rises to a height of about 90 feet., and about 120 feet (36.6 metres) high.

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Life-size elephants carved on the base of the Shiva temple (Source: wondermondo.com)
Life-size elephants carved on the base of the Shiva temple (Source: wondermondo.com)

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Elaborate illustrative carvings decorate the lower storeys of both the Nandi Mandapa and the Shiva temple. Life-size elephants carved on the base of the Shiva temple give us the impression that the elephants are holding the structure aloft.

In the early days of construction, stone flying bridges connected these galleries to the central buildings, perhaps to remove the debris chiseled out from the columned arcades, galleries, the central buildings, etc. Those flying bridges must have collapsed or removed after constructing the temple.

There are no records of the monstrous task of constructing the Kailasanatha temple. Most historians and archaeologists presume it took 26 years between 757 and 783 to build the temple, during the reign of King Krishna I and nine years after his death.

To find out if historians could be right about the 26 years of construction of the temple, let us do a simple arithmetic calculation. A colossal amount of rock, about 400,000 tons was hewed out. Some writers state the amount of rocked hewed out as 200,000 tons.

Let us just focus only on the removal of rock from the site. We will assume the workers toiled 12 hours per day, for 26 years to remove 400,000 tons of rock as the historians claim. So, 15,384 tons of rock had to be removed every year. This means that 42 tons of rock were removed every day, which gives us 1.75 tons of rock removed every hour. An impossible task which no groups of humans could have done at that time.

From the chisel marks found on walls of this temple, archaeologists assume that the carvers used three types of chisels pointing to three different periods of the Rashtrakuta dynasty.

Inscriptions on the Kailasanatha temple itself range from 9th to 15th century. So, we can conclude that it would have taken not 26 years, but centuries of human labor to create the Kailasanatha temple.

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