in post

29 November, 2020

Mahabharata

Garuda, a giant bird, got terribly hungry, so his mom suggested that he go and eat up the Nishadas, who were the autochthonous, probably pre-Aryan people of India. But she warned him to be careful not to eat a Brahmin because that would be like eating a fish-hook and would give him indigestion. So he went and swooped down "like Time, the finisher," laying dry the water in the ocean bay, along which they lived, and shaking the nearby mountains. The bewildered Nishadas came by the thousands and fell into his mouth. And he "crushed that race that feeds on all kinds of fish." But a Brahmin and his Nishada wife got stuck in his throat, so he said to himself that he must never swallow a Brahmin, even if he be the friend of evil-doers. He advised the Brahmin to escape from his mouth. The Brahmin asked to let him take his Nishada wife too, to which Garuda readily agreed.

So India was, in some ways, more tolerant in those genocidal times. Brahmins would marry adivasis (as Nishadas are called today) and, if they did, they and their wives would not be harmed.
Note: Valmiki, the composer of the Ramayana, is also said to have been an adivasi:

Wikipedia: "Although considered uncivilised and primitive,[34] Adivasis were usually not held to be intrinsically impure by surrounding (usually Dravidian or Aryan) caste Hindu populations, unlike Dalits, who were.[note 1][35] Thus, the Adivasi origins of Valmiki, who composed the Ramayana, were acknowledged"

From my Pinboard links

✭ Noam Chomsky: Trump Has Revealed the Extreme Fragility of American Democracy
https://truthout.org/articles/noam-chomsky-trump-has-revealed-the-extreme-fragility-of-ame
"If the U.S. were to apply for membership in the European Union today, it would probably be rejected. The radically undemocratic character of the Senate would be sufficient reason. There is surely something a little odd about the respected doctrine of “originalism,” holding that we should be bound by the ideas of a group of wealthy white slaveowners 250 years ago"

✭ Syria war photographer 'wounded by police' during Paris protest | World news | The Guardian
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/nov/29/syria-war-photographer-wounded-by-police-dur
"Press group says award-winning photojournalist Ameer Alhalbi fled Syria to take refuge from violence
journalism "

✭ Climate ‘apocalypse’ fears stopping people having children – study | Environment | The Guardian
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/nov/27/climate-apocalypse-fears-stopping-peop
"People worried about the climate crisis are deciding not to have children because of fears that their offspring would have to struggle through a climate apocalypse, according to the first academic study of the issue."

✭ Microsoft productivity score feature criticised as workplace surveillance | Technology | The Guardian
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/nov/26/microsoft-productivity-score-feature-cr
“The word dystopian is not nearly strong enough to describe the fresh hellhole Microsoft just opened up,” tweeted David Heinemeier Hansson, co-founder of the office productivity suite Basecamp. “Just as the reputation of a new and better company was being built, they detonate it with the most invasive workplace surveillance scheme yet to hit mainstream."

“Being under constant surveillance in the workplace is psychological abuse,” Heinemeier Hansson added. “Having to worry about looking busy for the stats is the last thing we need to inflict on anyone right now.”

✭ European Parliament Votes For Right To Repair - Slashdot
https://slashdot.org/story/20/11/25/2324204/european-parliament-votes-for-right-to-repair
"By
 adopting this report, the European Parliament sent a clear message: harmonized mandatory labelling indicating durability and tackling premature obsolescence at EU level are the way forward," said Rapporteur David Cormand, MEP from France. The vote calls for the EU Commission to "develop and introduce mandatory labelling, to provide clear, immediately visible and easy-to-understand information to consumers on the estimated lifetime and reparability of a product at the time of purchase."

It seems like labeling is always the easiest thing to implement. It would be nice to see a law requiring goods to be repairable. Companies routinely tell us that opening a device will violate warranty and I think that some even say that repair is illegal.

✭ 1% of farms operate 70% of world's farmland | Environment | The Guardian
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/nov/24/farmland-inequality-is-rising-around-t
"Over the past four decades, the biggest shift from small to big was in the United States and Europe, where ownership is in fewer hands and even individual farmers work under strict contracts for retailers, trading conglomerates and investment funds.

Ward said these financial arrangements are now spreading to the developing world, which is accelerating the decline of soil quality, the overuse of water resources, and the pace of deforestation."

✭ Australia refuses to confirm prisoner swap to get Kylie Moore-Gilbert out of Iran | World news | The Guardian
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/nov/26/australia-refuses-to-confirm-prisoner-swap-t
“Kylie was held to ransom by the Iranian regime which saw fit to take an innocent Australian woman hostage in order to bring its own convicted prisoners abroad home,” the campaign group said in a statement. “It’s a despicable business model with incalculable human consequences.”

She has only good things to say about Iranians, and that's the way it should be. We need to differentiate between people and the terrible regimes that govern them (and most of us.)

She was freed in exchange for Iranian prisoners convicted of terrorism - they had intended to blow up an Israeli diplomat. Shortly after the prisoner exchange, an Iranian top nuclear scientist was assassinated, probably by Israel, in Teheran.