Tag Archives: Food for Thought

I was Born In 1941


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Myself .
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By T.V. Antony Raj

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I was born in 1941.
 
In the 1940s most of us were born at home.
 
Our mothers fed us at any time of the day, and when we cried.
 
We did not sleep in cribs; we slept with our mothers or siblings on hard beds or on mats spread over the floor.
 
When we fell ill, the doctor gave us aspirin tablets for fever. Our mothers powdered the tablets, added honey and forced us to swallow the bitter-sweet mixture.
 
There were no childproof lids on medicine containers.
 
We never got checked for any allergies but we got inoculated for smallpox.
 
There were no locks on doors in our houses except the front door, and there were no locks on cupboards.
 
In the 1940s we never saw a household plastic utensil but we had celluloid containers. The mass production of plastic utensils started only in the 1950s.
 
As little children, we rode in cars that had no booster seats, no seat belts, no airbags.
 
We rode on rickshaws pulled by humans.
 
When we grew up and rode bicycles, we had no helmets to protect our heads.
 
We had fun drinking water from the garden hose.
 
We shared a single soft drink bottle with several friends, without anyone dying.
 
We added brown sugar or jaggery when we drank tea or coffee.
 
We ate white bread with real butter and natural fruity jam.
 
We ate lots of chocolates; even so, no one said that we were overweight.
 
Though we played a lot outside in the sun, we never applied sunscreen lotions or creams.
 
During holidays, we played all day. We returned home only after the lights were on.
 
No one could reach us or bother us because there were no mobile phones. Even so, we were all right.
 
We had the following coins in circulation:
 

In Ceylon (now Sri Lanka)

coin Ceylon 1 cent 19431 cent 
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coin Ceylon 2 cents 19442 cents
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coin Ceylon 5 cents 1944

5 cents  
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coin Ceylon 10 cents 1944

10 cents  
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coin Ceylon 25 cents 194325 cents

.coin Ceylon 50 cents 194350 cents

There were no one rupee coins in Ceylon at that time. Now, 1, 2, 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents are not in circulation in Sri Lanka and the minting of these denominations had been discontinued.

In India 

British India coinage under George VI 1938-19471 pice = 1/4 Anna = 1/64 Rupee (in Tamil we called this coin ஓட்டைக் காலணா / oattai kalana meaning 1/4 Anna with a hole.)
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British India coinage under George VI 1938-19471 pice = 1/4 Anna = 1/64 Rupee
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British India coins catalog with images and values, currency prices and  photo, Indian old coins

1/2 Anna = 1/32 Rupee
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1 anna british india coin at reasonable rate for Sale in Kollam, Kerala  Classified | IndiaListed.com1 Anna = 1/16 rupee
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Coin Value: India (British) 1/2 and 2 Annas 1939 to 19472 Annas = 1/8 rupee
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Coin, INDIA-BRITISH, George VI, 1/4 Rupee, 1940, , Silver, KM:545

 1/4 rupee
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1/2 Rupee
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File:Indian rupee (1940).jpg - Wikimedia Commons
One Rupee

Telephones were rare. They were mounted on the wall or placed on desks, they were not mobile. One stood static in one spot to talk since an electrical cord connected the phone to the receiver.

Faber Castell Slide Rule

 
 
Since there were no calculating instruments, the word ‘computer’ was not coined at that time. We never heard of computers in the 1940 and 1950s. My first calculating instrument was a Faber-Castell slide rule bought in 1963.
 
Now, young people ask my wife and me: “How do you still manage to stay together for 56 years?” 
 
Our reply: “We were born in at a time when if something broke we would fix it, not throw it away.”

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Donald J. Trump, the “Walking Eagle”


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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donald-trump
Donald J Trump

Donald J. Trump, the outgoing President of the United States had thought of running for president in 1988, 2004, and 2012, and for Governor of New York in 2006 and 2014, but did not enter any of those races. In 1988, considered as a potential running mate for George H. W. Bush, he lost to Vice President Dan Quayle.

Donald Trump has always voiced whatever caustic thoughts he has. To him, the Mexicans were “rapists” and “anchor babies“. He has used adjectives such as “bimbo” and “fat pig” to describe women.
 
For months he preoccupied himself with mocking Kamala Devi Harris, the vice president-elect of the United States.
 
Earlier Trump had mocked Senator Elizabeth Ann Warren, the Democratic senator from Massachusetts. He called her “the Indian” and “Pocahontas“, and insisted that she was a racist for having listed her heritage while on the faculty of Harvard Law School.
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By the way, Donald Trump has his own share of bullshit thrown at him. The following is a snippet about Native Americans tagging a pandering self-conceited Donald Trump with the name “Walking Eagle.
 
Donald Trump received an invitation to address a significant gathering of leaders of the American Indian Tribes. At the meeting, he spoke for almost an hour about his plans for increasing every Native American’s standard of living. Though vague in detail, he spoke about his ideas for helping his “red sisters and brothers“.
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After he concluded his eloquent speech, the Chiefs of the American Indian Tribes presented him a plaque inscribed with his new Indian name, “Walking Eagle” which a proud pompous Trump accepted.

Walking Eagle
Walking Eagle

After Trump left the venue, a reporter asked the group of Chiefs how they came to select the specific name “Walking Eagle” for Trump. The Chiefs explained that it is the name given to a bird so full of shit it can no longer fly.
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What Do You Call a Group of Crows?


Myself

By T. V. Antony Raj

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A few days ago, I posted an article How do you call a group of fish?  My friend Amir Ganesan Amirthalingam posed the question “What do you call a group of crows?” And I answered him ”Murder”.

There are different collective nouns to describe large groups of different birds. Most of them are descriptive of the group of birds and their behaviour or personalities. Some collective nouns such as flock, colony, fleet, can apply to all bird species.

Other flock names used include cloud, mass, collection, throng, murmuration, parcel, or dissimulation. This list is not exhaustive.

Some flock names are rare, obsolete and seldom-used. A few that I have come across are plain silly but are familiar to ornithologists.

Murder of crows

A murder of crows (publicdomainpicture.net)

Crows are members of the Corvidae family which includes ravens, magpies, and blue jays. They are noisy, precocious, smart, and their intelligence never ceases to amaze us. Farmers consider the crows as pests and try to protect their crops and seedlings from them. Crows are most often associated with a long tradition of fear and paranoia. The black feathers of the crow frighten some people who associate them with death. 

New research proves crows are gregarious, caring and one among the smartest creatures on the planet.

Here is a list of collective nouns used rarely for a flock of crows: horde, hover, mob, muster, parcel, storytelling and murder.

For most of the year, the crows are affable, wary and intelligent. . They are territorial, especially during the nesting season. They roost as a community consisting of hundreds of birds usually on large trees. They gather in large numbers at food sources and attractive dumpsters. 

In 1486 AD, St Albans Press in England printed The Book of Saint Albans (or Boke of Seynt Albans). It is also known by the title “The Book of Hawking, Hunting, and Blasing of Arms“. In the 15th century, there was a fad for terms of venery (an archaic word for hunting) or names for groups of game animals. This book contains a long list of collective nouns for animals, and it has, of course, a murder of crows though without any explanation.  

Though there was an obsession for terms of venery in the 15th century, most of them fell out of use in the 16th century including the murder of crows. 

There are several explanations for the origin of this term, based on old folktales and superstitions.

    • According to one folktale, a flock of crows will gather to decide the fate of a crow that encroaches their turf. If the crow is guilty, the group will execute (that is, “murder”) the defendant. This is based on the fact that flock of crows will kill a dying crow which doesn’t belong to their territory. The crows are sometimes prone to cannibalism and feed on carcasses of already dead crows.   
    • Crows are scavengers and are generally associated with dead bodies and cemeteries. In the medieval period, crows hovered over execution sites, battlefields, hospitals, and cemeteries. They scavenged on human remains. To some, the appearance of crows is an omen of death. So, when a large number of crows circle above a site, they expect someone to die soon.  
    • Medieval peasants feared the sinister-looking crows. They believed the crows came from the Devil or were witches in disguise. To them, a flock of crows would have appeared murderous.
    • When rediscovered in the early 20th century, authors then posited that the term murder of crows was correct because of the tremendous noise the crows make. 
    • Some etymologists suggest that the association of crows and ravens with death might have led to the use of the word murder

To me, the term “murder of crows” reflects a time when many animal groups had vivid and poetic names. 

Kevin J. McGowan of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology wrote on his website that no scientist would call it a murder of crows. “Scientists would call it a flock,” he wrote.

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Paintings With Navels of Adam and Eve – Part 1


Myself

 

 

 

By T. V. Antony Raj
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Adam and Eve by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1526)
Adam and Eve by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1526)

The above painting opened my eyes to the world of art. Do you see anything wrong in this painting of Adam and Eve? I am not a connoisseur of art per se, nor do I pretend to be one.

Explain this - Adam and Eve by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1526)
Explain this – Adam and Eve by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1526)

I couldn’t but exclaim “What? Adam and Eve with belly buttons? The artist was a dumb idiot!” 

But the artist who painted it was an educated person named Lucas Cranach the Elder, a German Renaissance painter and graphic artist who excelled in portraits and in female nudes. 

Self portrait by Lucas Cranach the Elder
Self-portrait by Lucas Cranach the Elder

Lucas Cranach the Elder was the principal member of the family of artists by the name Cranach who were active in Saxony during the 16th century.

From about 1501 to 1504 Lucas Cranach lived in Vienna, and his earliest known works date from this period. They include a portrait of the Wife of Dr Johann Stephan Reuss (1503), found in the collection of Staatliche Museen, Berlin and The Crucifixion (1503, in Alte Pinakothek, Munich).

In 1505 Cranach became court painter to the electors of Saxony at Wittenberg and held the position until 1550. As a prominent citizen in Wittenberg, he received a title and was mayor in 1537.

In 1508 he visited the Netherlands, where he painted portraits of such royalty as Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I and the young prince who succeeded him as Charles V. He painted biblical and mythological scenes with decorative sensual nudes that were new to German painting. These works include many versions of Adam and EveThe Judgment of Paris (1528, Metropolitan Museum, New York), and nearly 20 versions of Venus and Cupid from 1527 to 1545. 

As a friend of Martin Luther, Cranach’s art expresses much of the spirit and feeling of the German Reformation. 

Cranach ran a large workshop and produced hundreds of works. His sons too were artists. His oldest son Hans Cranach died prematurely. His other son, Lucas Cranach the Younger was his pupil and assistant and distinguished himself.

Lucas Cranach died in Weimar, on October 15, 1553.

Here are some more paintings of Adam and Eve by Lucas Cranach the Elder. All with navels!
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Adam and Eve - 01b - Lucas Cranach the ElderAdam and Eve - 16 - Lucas Cranach the ElderAdam and Eve - 19 - Lucas Cranach the Elder

Adam and Eve - 17 - Lucas Cranach the ElderAdam and Eve - 05Adam and Eve - 18 - Lucas Cranach the Elder

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Gays Are Free in India


Myself

By T. V. Antony Raj

During the reign of Henry VIII, the Parliament of England passed The Buggery Act 1533. Thomas Cromwell, the chief minister to the King was the brain behind it.

This Act defined buggery as an unnatural sexual act, “the detestable and abominable Vice of Buggery committed with Mankind or Beast” against the will of God and Man. It was England’s first civil sodomy law. Earlier, the ecclesiastical courts dealt such offences before. This Act was later defined by the courts to include only anal penetration and bestiality.

The Offences against the Person Act 1828 replaced the Buggery Act, but buggery remained a capital offence until 1861.

In 1861, during the British rule, the Indian Penal Code introduced Section 377, modelled on the Buggery Act of 1533. It makes sexual activities “against the order of nature”, illegal

377. Unnatural offences: Whoever voluntarily has carnal inter­course against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with impris­onment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Explanation: Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offence described in this section

All over the world many still consider homosexuality as taboo and as a “deviant behaviour”. But lesbian, gay, bisexual and the transgender (LGBT) communities want homosexuality decriminalised.

On July 2, 2009, in response to a petition challenging the constitutional validity of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which criminalized consensual sexual activities between homosexual adults conducted in private, the Delhi High Court struck down portions of Section 377 concerning gay sex as unconstitutional. The judgment held that Section 377 infringed upon fundamental rights under Articles 14, 15, 21 of the Constitution of India, and declared the section unconstitutional to the extent that it criminalized private consensual sexual activity between adults. 

Some religious bodies challenged this judgment of decriminalizing Section 377 in the Supreme Court of India.

On December 11, 2013, in Suresh Kumar Koushal vs Naz Foundation case, the Supreme Court of India held that Section 377 providing punishment for gay sex was constitutionally valid and overturned the judgement of the Delhi High Court, thereby shutting the small window for gay rights opened by the Delhi High Court. The Supreme Court held that amending or repealing section 377 should be a matter left to Parliament, not the judiciary. 

On Saturday, November 28, 2015, speaking at the Times LitFest, late finance minister Arun Jaitley of BJP and his predecessor P Chidambaram of Congress came out in support of gay rights. 

Arun Jaitley is the first leader from the BJP to have supported decriminalization of consensual sex among gay adults. Speaking in his capacity, he said, “When millions of people world over are having alternative sexual preferences, it is too late in the day to propound a view that they should be jailed. The Delhi High Court’s view appears more acceptable.” 

Speaking just afterwards, Chidambaram, who was also speaking in his capacity, said that the Delhi High Court verdict decriminalizing gay sex was a wonderful one and the Supreme Court should have stayed with it.

On February 6, 2016, a three-member bench of the Supreme Court reviewed curative petitions submitted by the Naz Foundation and others and decided that they would be reviewed by a five-member constitutional bench.

On August 24, 2017, the Supreme Court upheld the right to privacy as a fundamental right under the Constitution in the landmark  Puttaswamy judgement. The Court also called for equality and condemned discrimination, stated that the protection of sexual orientation lies at the core of the fundamental rights and that the rights of the LGBT population are real and founded on constitutional doctrine.

This judgement was believed to imply the unconstitutionality of section 377. 

In January 2018, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a petition to revisit the 2013 Naz Foundation judgment. 

On Thursday, September 6, 2018, in the judgment given by a five judges bench comprising the then Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justices R F Nariman, D Y Chandrachud, A M Khanwilkar and Indu Malhotra, the Supreme Court of India pronounced the much-awaited verdict on a clutch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of section 377 of the IPC which criminalises consensual gay sex. It ruled unanimously in Navtej Singh Johar vs Union of India that Section 377 was unconstitutional “in so far as it criminalises consensual sexual conduct between adults of the same sex.” 

However, other portions of Section 377 relating to sex with minors, non-consensual sexual acts, and bestiality stay in force.

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Racism Revealed by the Minister for Forests in Tamilnadu, India


Myself

 

 

 

BT. V. Antony Raj

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Dindigul C Sreenivasan, Minister for Forests in the present AIDMK government in Tamilnadu, India.

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Today, Thursday, February 6, 2020, Dindigul C Sreenivasan who serves as the Minister for Forests in the present AIDMK government in Tamilnadu was at Theppakadu in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) located in the Nilgiris to inaugurate the annual rejuvenation camp for captive/tamed elephants. Along with the minister were Ms J Innocent Divya IAS, District Collector of the Nilgiris District, Mr A Ramu, alias ‘Shanthi‘ A Ramu, the MLA for Coonor, and officials from the district revenue and forest departments.

Dindigul Sreenivasan who bent down almost to the floor every time he saw Ms JJ when she was alive and after her demise bowed to Ms Sasikala, and hence nicknamed “a tire-licker” along with his fellow ministers, has accumulated so much fat that he can’t bend even to remove his own footwear now.

The inauguration of the annual rejuvenation camp for elephants was marred by an incident in which Dindigul C Sreenivasan exposed himself as a VVIP Racist.

Kethan, a Class IX schoolboy belonging to the Irula tribal community was present there to witness the inauguration of the rejuvenation camp with a friend. Both the boys were sons of mahouts at the camp.

Before entering a shrine, the 71-year-old minister, who found it difficult to bend due to accumulated fat, beckoned the tribal boy Keithan.

Keithan was afraid when the minister called him as he thought the minister would scold him for not having gone to school. With hesitation, Keithan and his friend approached. The minister asked Keithan to unbuckle his slippers.

When press photographers and others tried to take photographs, Dindigul C Sreenivasan asked them to stop, while A Ramu, the MLA for Coonoor, tried to block photographers from getting a clear picture.

The two boys were then asked by another member of the minister’s entourage to pick up the slippers and leave them at the entrance of the shrine.

Now, the above video of the incident has gone viral on social media. People are outraged by the minister’s “arrogance” and are demanding action against him and sacking him from his position for discriminating and mistreating the tribal boy.

Many want Dindigul Srinivasan to be booked under the SC/ST PoA Act. along with the equally liable government officials who were silent spectators during the incident.

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School Children Seated on a Live Bomb


Myself

BT. V. Antony Raj

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School Children Seated on a Live Bomb (Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com)

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Any fuel, including those used in motor vehicles, can be dangerous if handled improperly. Fuels contain energy, which is released when ignited. Gasoline is a potentially dangerous fuel and the same is true of natural gas.

At a compressed natural gas fueling station the gas is compressed before being provided to vehicles at 3000 to 3600 pounds per square inch (psi).

In India, many parents prefer to send their children to school in vans, some of them powered by natural gas because monetary wise it’s cheaper than official school buses; these parents do not object to overcrowding in the vans because their children can be picked up and dropped closer to their homes.

Whenever these vans are checked for safety and action initiated against them for failure to comply with the norms, it is the parents who come forward in defence of the errant van owners.

The Tamil and Sinhalese New Year


Myself

By T. V. Antony Raj

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A food treat for Sinhalese and Tamil New Year in Sri Lanka (Photo: Amila Tennakoon)

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The Tamil and Sinhalese New Year, generally known as Tamizh Puthandu (Tamil: தமிழ் புத்தாண்டு) in Tamil Nadu and among the Indian worldwide Tamil diaspora, and as Sinhala Aluth Avurudda (Sinhala: සිංහල අලුත් අවුරුද්ද) in Sri Lanka, is a major anniversary celebrated by the Sinhalese and Tamil people in Sri Lanka.

The festival date is set with the solar cycle of the Hindu calendar, as the first day of the Tamil month of Chithirai. It, therefore, falls on or about 14 April every year on the Gregorian calendar. The same day is observed by Hindus elsewhere as the traditional new year but is known by other names such as Vishu in Kerala, and Vaisakhi or Baisakhi in central and northern India.

The Sinhalese New Year / Sinhala Aluth Avurudda has a close semblance to the Tamil New year / Tamizh Puthandu and is a public holiday in Sri Lanka. It is generally celebrated on 13 April or 14 April and traditionally begins at the sighting of the new moon.

On January 29, 2008, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)-led Government of Tamil Nadu enacted the Tamil Nadu New Year Declaration Bill 2008 which declared that the Tamil new year should be celebrated on the first day of Tamil month of Thai (14th January) to coincide with the Tamil harvest festival of Pongal. However, the Tamils in Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia and Canada continued to observe the new year in mid-April.

The law enacted by the DMK-led Government of Tamil Nadu was met with resistance by the majority of Tamils in the state and elsewhere. It was also challenged in court, questioned by Hindu priests and many Tamil scholars around the world. Many in Tamil Nadu ignored the DMK government legislation and continued the celebration of the traditional Puthandu new year festival in mid-April.

The then opposition All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) in Tamil Nadu subsequently condemned the decision of the DMK Government in that state and urged their supporters to continue celebrating the traditional date in mid-April.

In an effort to placate popular sentiments the DMK-led government renamed Tamil Puthandu as “Chithirai Tirunal” (the festival of the Tamil month of Chithirai). It maintained April 14 as a public holiday purportedly to commemorate late Dr B.R Ambedkar, who was the Chairman of the Drafting Committee of Indian Constitution even though all the television channels in Tamil Nadu continued to telecast festive “Chithirai Tirunal Special Programs” on April 14, 2010.

In April 2010, the Governor and the Chief Minister of the Indian Union Territory of Puducherry, which has an ethnic Tamil majority, wished and greeted the public for the Tamil new year 2010.

Subsequently, on August 23, 2011, an AIADMK majority-led government rescinded this law legislated by the DMK majority-led government by a separate act of legislation in the Tamil Nadu Assembly.

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When I lay me down to Sleep, …


Myself

By T. V. Antony Raj

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John Brown by Augustus Washington

John Brown (May 9, 1800 – December 2, 1859) was an American radical abolitionist who believed in and advocated armed insurrection as the only way to overthrow the institution of slavery in the United States. He had 20 children of which 11 survived to adulthood.

In mid-October 1859, John Brown and 21 other men seized the federal armoury at Harper’s Ferry, the holding place for approximately 100,000 rifles and muskets, with the hope of arming slaves and start a violent slave liberation movement that would spread south through the mountainous regions of Virginia and North Carolina.

Within 36 hours, the revolt was suppressed by local farmers, militiamen, and US Marines, the latter led by Robert E. Lee, the commander of the Confederate States. The raid resulted in thirteen deaths – twelve rebels and one U.S. Marine.

John Brown was hastily tried for treason against the Commonwealth of Virginia, the murder of five men (including 3 blacks), and inciting a slave insurrection. He was found guilty on all counts. He was the first person convicted of treason in the history of the country.

Henry David Thoreau.

On Sunday Evening of October 30, 1859, two weeks after John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry, Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862), the American essayist, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, tax resister, historian, development critic, and transcendentalist read to the citizens of Concord, Massachusettes, “A Plea for Captain John Brown” and repeated it several times before Brown’s execution on December 2, 1859. It was later published as an essay as a part of Echoes of Harper’s Ferry in 1860.

In his “A Plea for Captain John Brown“, Thoreau vents his rage at the scores of Americans who have voiced their displeasure and scorn for John Brown. Thoreau says, the same people, who say their prayers and then go to sleep aware of injustice but doing nothing to change it can’t relate to Brown because of their concrete stances and “dead” existences.

Joseph Addison by Sir Godfrey Kneller

About 148 years before, on March 8, 1711, Joseph Addison (May 1, 1672 – June 17, 1719), an English essayist, poet, playwright, and politician wrote an essay that appeared in The Spectator in which he says:

When I lay me down to Sleep,
I recommend my self to his Care;
when I awake, I give my self up to his Direction.

All the bedtime prayers of the modern pious Christians, then and now, begin with one of the variants of this classic children’s bedtime prayer from the 18th century which is sometimes combined with the “Black Paternoster”, one version of which goes:

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,
Bless the bed that I lie on.
Four corners to my bed,
Four angels round my head;
One to watch and one to pray
And two to bear my soul away.

In his “A Plea for Captain John Brown“, Thoreau criticized contemporary Christians by saying that “The modern Christian is a man who has consented to say all the prayers in the liturgy, provided you will let him go straight to bed and sleep quietly afterwards. All his prayers begin with “Now I lay me down to sleep.”

In plain English, the modern pious Christian does not wish to be disturbed. He looks forward to a future of inactivity. All effort, especially intellectual effort, is distasteful to him and is apt to offend and unsettle him. Hence the intellectual life must not be real; what must be real is the sleep. Sleep seems to be his quest, and in the words of Thoreau “he is forever looking forward to the time when he shall go to his ‘long rest.’

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mea culpa, mea culpa, mea máxima culpa!


Myself

By T. V. Antony Raj

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Last Sunday, during the sermon, the village Pastor told his congregation that one should always embrace his/her mistakes and say “mea culpa, mea culpa, mea máxima culpa” meaning “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault”.

Now the Pastor wonders why his pious gardner hugs him every day and utters “mea culpa, mea culpa, mea máxima culpa!