The Lord Giveth and Taketh Away
NewTalavan

Hurricane Katrina Approaching Land

"The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away." As I watch the mad scramble for insurance money and government aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I am amazed by the transient condition of life in the material world. Lord Krsna describes in the Twelfth Chapter of Srimad Bhagavad-gita that He is pleased by the devotees who are undisturbed by loss and gain. At present, I am wondering how powerful is the illusory energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as I observe evryone frantically trying to overcome their loss and damages. Let us not get lost in the madness of material pursuits. It is a jungle of false happiness and lamentation ready to pounce upon us at any moment. Better to live simply, accept the will of the Almighty, whether for loss or gain, and be always happy in Krsna Consciousness, loving devotional service to the Lord.

—Yogindra Vandana das

Thanks to all
NewTalavan

Devotees distributing prasadam in Gulfport, MS

Today is the 21st day since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Louisiana and Mississippi coastline. At first God helped those who helped themselves, but gradually government and charity agencies crept in.

We want to thank those ISKCON and non-ISKCON people and organizations that heroically came to our aid. Special thanks is due to the devotees of ISKCON Alachua, Atlanta, Houston and Dallas, Food for Life International, especially Priyavrata Prabhu, Ananda Prabhu of Sterling Art, Shuddhajivana Prabhu and crew from New Jersey, the New Vrndavan crew, Ramakeli Prabhu, his son Krsna-Balaram and his dear wife Mother Gaura. There are many other local devotees and donors we need to thank, but especially Dvibhuja Prabhu who forged a path into the wilderness of the storm's destruction to distribute prasadam.

Thanks to all those who prayed and sympathized with our plight. May your taste for Krsna consciousness increase.

Sincerely,
Yogindra das

Thanks to all
NewTalavan

Devotees distributing prasadam in Gulfport, MS

Today is the 21st day since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Louisiana and Mississippi coastline. At first God helped those who helped themselves, but gradually government and charity agencies crept in.

We want to thank those ISKCON and non-ISKCON people and organizations that heroically came to our aid. Special thanks is due to the devotees of ISKCON Alachua, Atlanta, Houston and Dallas, Food for Life International, especially Priyavrata Prabhu, Ananda Prabhu of Sterling Art, Shuddhajivana Prabhu and crew from New Jersey, the New Vrndavan crew, Ramakeli Prabhu, his son Krsna-Balaram and his dear wife Mother Gaura. There are many other local devotees and donors we need to thank, but especially Dvibhuja Prabhu who forged a path into the wilderness of the storm's destruction to distribute prasadam.

Thanks to all those who prayed and sympathized with our plight. May your taste for Krsna consciousness increase.

Sincerely,
Yogindra das

Podcasting
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I've started podcasting. That is, you can subscribe to my website's newsfeed and new classes and other interesting audio that I record will automatically be delivered to your computer as and when they become available. The process is simple:

  1. Open iTunes
  2. Select the menu item: Advanced > Subscribe to Podcast
  3. Enter: http://www.deltaflow.com/?feed=rss2&category_name=podcasts

You are now subscribed to the podcast.

Initiation in Swansea (2005)
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18|1I've posted the audio and pictures of a recent initiation ceremony in Swansea, Wales. Devamrita Swami initiated two new disciples:

Simon, the ex-carpenter who built most of the Cardiff Soul Centre became:

Suki Krishna (Krishna who is always happy)

When they met for the first time Devamrita Swami took one look at Tara and thought: "She's a devotee. I recognized that this person is meant for serving Krishna without delay". After graduating with a degree in photography and spending a year in New Zealand very seriously and compassionately distributing books she became:

Sukanti Radha (Srimati Radharani with the sweet/auspicious voice)

Cheated on eBay
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I found out I was cheated out of over US$1000 today. I was buying a new laptop to replace my aging Dell monster. I bid on a new Apple 12" Powerbook over eBay and won it for a good price. Too good, it would turn out.

The seller said he shipped the laptop using a slow shipping method. It didn't arrive after a few weeks. I emailed the seller and he reassured me it would arrive very soon. After a few more weeks I email the guy again but he didn't respond.

Now, I check the eBay website and the guy's account has been cancelled. A whole bunch of people have posted negative feedback saying how they too have been ripped off. It seems he spent one year setting up his account, auctioning off a few items, building his ebay reputation (he had 100% positive feedback) and then set up a whole load of fraud auctions, took people's money and ran. It is past ebay's buyer protection/complaints deadline (45 days after the sale), so no way for me to get the money back. Nothing I can do. Just spent over $1000 learning a lesson.

Lessons learnt:

Material nature tempts you with a attractive looking promises: "do this and you'll be happy", "buy this, it's cheap", "this is for you to enjoy". However, things rarely turn out as one expects. You get cheated and exploited. A horrible feeling. Better to practice Krishna consciousness and escape the cruel, merciless grip of the material world.

Conclusions and advice:

  • Never buy anything over $1000 on eBay
  • Don't trust anyone
  • Be extremely careful with anyone that has less than 1000 positive feedbacks
  • If the item doesn't arrive in 30 days, never wait, file a fraud claim immediately

Sri-Sri Radha Radha-Kanta Arrive In Dallas With Their Associates
NewTalavan

Their Lordships being worshiped nicely in Dallas

by Lavangalatika devi dasi


From Chakra.org

Posted September 16, 2005

The horrible destruction brought on by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the surrounding area turned out to be a huge boon for the Dallas Hare Krishna Temple and devotees. Katrina visited these areas late Sunday night August 28 th, and early Monday morning August 29th. Initially, the damage in New Orleans was not as severe as what happened after the levee separating the city from Lake Pontchartrain broke Monday night, flooding 80% of the city with up to 20 feet of water.

The Dallas devotees had been in contact with the New Orleans devotees prior to Katrina wreaking her havoc there. A few families arrived in Dallas prior to the hurricane. The rest of the devotees in New Orleans felt they could brave out the storm and its consequences. The first reports that came from New Orleans initially were that the temple had not flooded, and the Deities and devotees were doing fine. However, on Tuesday morning, following the levee break, all phone and internet connections with New Orleans were lost. As the news reports rolled in about the worsening situation in New Orleans, the devotees in Dallas prayed hard for the safety and security of those who were suffering. With no way to communicate with the New Orleans devotees, everyone was in the dark. During this time, there were conflicting reports coming from different places. Some devotees staying at the nearby Mississippi farm said the New Orleans devotees were safe, sound and in no need of help.

Fortunately, at around 12 noon on Thursday, September 1st, by the sweet graces of Sri Sri Radha Kalachandji, one of the New Orleans devotees was able to get a call through to Dallas and describe their horrendous plight. Even though the temple building itself was spared the worst of the flooding, with no running water or electricity, the growing stench, and no way out of the city, the situation for the Deities and the devotees at the temple had become unbearable.

On Thursday evening, temple authorities had already called for a meeting to discuss how the Dallas devotees could help the victims from the places hit by Katrina. Daily there were hundreds of evacuees pouring into Dallas, escaping the horrors there. However, the devotees' offers of assistance to the large institutions helping the evacuees had been turned down. They were told, "don't call us, we'll call you," but no call came. So, instead the meeting focused on how a rescue mission could be mounted, with devotees physically going to the aid of the 14 Deities and 19 devotees who were stranded at the temple in New Orleans.

About 25 devotees attended the meeting, and there was a robust discussion about exactly how to mount the mission. There were questions about safety and security, necessary approval(s) for moving the Deities, the feasibility of the undertaking, and the resources that were required to carry out such a mission. The meeting started at 7:00 p.m. in the temple room, and by 3:00 a.m. the next morning, all the supplies had been gathered, and the details planned out. Dharma Prabhu had worked tirelessly through the night and obtained many of the items needed for the trip. Seven devotees were chosen to take part in the SWAT-type rescue mission. They were asked to take rest before they began their heroic journey.

At 11:00 a.m., Friday, September 2nd, the seven-member force, comprised of Baladeva Vidyabhushana, Daruka, Divyaratna, Bhakta Jose, Bhakta Kesava, Ramachandra and Bhakta Tavish Prabhus departed from the Hare Krishna Temple in Dallas in a 15-seater rental van, dontated by Sunil Patel, and an 18-wheeler truck. Along with them, they carried three letters of introduction: one from the Internal Revenue Service to certify the temple's non-profit status, one from the Temple President , and the other from the Food for Life Director. These letters, along with a copy of Back to Godhead Magazine featuring many photographs of Deities being worshipped, were brought along to help show the authenticity of the mission to the authorities. The truck was loaded with cardboard boxes, cushion blankets and two large rolled sheets of plastic bubble wrap, donated by Yudhisthira Prabhu, to pack the Deities for safe transport. The devotees carried several two-way walkie talkies in each vehicle. Because they were prepared to wait for up to one week if necessary in order to wait for the window of opportunity to reach the Deities and devotees, the truck was also loaded up with ample supplies of bottled water donated by Laxmi Priya Prabhu, as well as dry food, vegetables, propane tanks, burners, pots and spoons.

Road signs as far as 400 miles from New Orleans were warning travelers not to enter the city. The situation was that no one was being allowed in except the military and other official personnel. Within the city, many were past the point of desperation. The residents of New Orleans were frustrated, angry, helpless, breaking down with hopelessness, and were ready to do anything to get out of there. Undoubtedly, this was a very dangerous mission at best. The devotees had even considered taking their own guns, just in case. People were shooting at each other, looting was happening in the streets, there were reports of rape, and other "lawless" activities as the victims of Katrina experienced abandonment and felt uncared for by the authorities. "I had received as many as 10 calls from senior devotees around America warning me to call off the mission, because it was too risky and impractical," said Nityananda dasa, the local Temple President . However, after the devotees in New Orleans had expressed their severe suffering circumstances there, the devotees in Dallas felt there was no other choice, despite the risks. Instead of not trying at all, they thought to at least make an honest attempt to do the right thing.

At approximately 1:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 3rd, the rescue team arrived at the New Orleans city limits. To get there, they had passed through as many as 40 checkpoints. "Somehow, by the grace of the Lord, they let us through," said Daruka Prabhu, who had very kindly availed his Tri-State Express 18-wheeler truck for this mission. Seeing the truck, the authorities felt they were bringing relief supplies and let them in. They did have relief supplies, but not enough sufficient to deal with the massive need in New Orleans. They then drove for another 30 to 40 miles to the next checkpoint where they were told to wait until morning, as it was too dangerous to go into the city at that time.

The devotees saw many people standing by the roadside and freeways desperately trying to wave down vehicles to get out of the city. They were trying to get help, and essential items for their distressed families and their health needs. It was mind boggling, pitiable and unbearable scenery. People were roaming the streets like mad men wanting to get out. Daruka and Ramachandra Prabhus could not bear the sight and gave away their personal blankets, pillows, and other items to the some of the distressed and stayed awake the whole night.

At daybreak, tens of buses started to arrive to pick up the people sitting on the highways and freeways to take them to shelters arranged by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "We were the only ones traveling on the highway towards the city center. Every other vehicle was traveling outbound," said Daruka Prabhu.

At this time, the devotees entered the city guided by Divyaratna Prabhu, who was a taxi driver in New Orleans. Bhakta Tavish, who was from New Orleans , also helped the devotees navigate their way to the temple. The two vehicles kept in constant radio communication with one another. On their way to the temple, they were turned away from some checkpoints, so they took alternate routes. In addition, at times they would go down one road only to be stopped by fallen trees, then take another route only to find a similar situation. With the help of these two knowledgeable persons, the devotees were able to zig-zag their way across the city. Without their help, it would have been practically impossible to reach the temple.

Daruka Prabhu bravely drove his vehicle through the debris, brushing against broken and hanging branches from top and sides. They encountered flooded roads as they neared the temple area. As the truck gradually entered deeper and deeper waters, Daruka Prabhu radioed the van behind not to come any further. The floodwaters were too high for the 15-seater van to make it all the way to the temple, so it was parked approximately one mile away. Ramachandra Prabhu guarded the van and ended up waiting in the vehicle for four hours while the rest of the devotees climbed into the truck to reach the temple and rescue the Deities and the devotees.

When the truck arrived at the temple, and the devotees began loading up the 18-wheeler, some military personnel arrived at the scene wanting to assist some person with health problems. They advised them that they would commandeer the devotee's truck unless they found the keys to a van that was parked nearby. The military officers broke into the house where the van was parked, and luckily, found the keys. During the entire rescue effort, military choppers were constantly circling and even hovering above the devotees, policing the movement of all people and vehicles throughout the city. In the meantime, the devotees frantically loaded up the truck with Their Lordships, Their paraphernalia, the devotees and their meager belongings. They left the scene as quickly as they could, fearing they would lose the 18-wheeler if they stayed a moment longer.

Some Dallas devotees, especially Kunja Bihari Prabhu, had kept in constant touch with the rescue team, ready to do the needful. At about 7:15 a.m., Saturday, September 3rd, Sweta Manjari Prabhu, Daruka Prabhu's wife, came into the temple room and advised the devotees that the mission had been successful and everyone was headed back to Dallas. Obviously, she, the mother of 3 young children, was very relieved. The devotees were extremely happy to hear the great news. The rescue team called later to say that all of the Deities and devotees were famished and looked forward to a sumptuous feast of hot prasadam upon arrival. The Dallas devotees, led by Manjuali Prabhu, then proceeded to prepare the feast for their arrival. Mathuranatha and Bhakta Ross Prabhus helped with the preparation of accommodations for the guests.

The rescue team arrived into Dallas at 11:30 p.m. that night. They were greeted by an enthusiastic kirtan party of about 30 when they pulled up on Gurley Avenue. There was an exuberant festival atmosphere. Devotees were singing and dancing on the street in great anticipation. The 15-seater van and another smaller van pulled up first. Everyone happily greeted the devotees, grateful that everyone was safe.

When the rear doors of the 18-wheeler truck opened, devotees ecstatically jumped on to commence unloading the paraphernalia of the Deities and the devotees. Soon, the portion where the Deities were was reached. First, Srila Prabhupada came off the truck, seated regally on his vyasasana. Now, all of the devotees were wild with ecstacy. Then came Lord Nityananda with His upraised arms in a wonderful dancing pose, soon followed by Lord Caitanaya casting His most magnanimous glance on everyone there. Everyone began reveling in the joyfulness. The mood kept rising with the arrival of Their Lordships Sri Sri Jagannatha Baladeva and Subhadra Maharani. The emotions reached fever-pitch when Sri Radha Kanta and Srimati Radharani gave Their merciful audience. All the Deities were fully dressed, ready for giving Darshan to the eager devotees awaiting Their arrival. The devotees' ecstatic emotions increased even more when the small Radha Radha Kanta, Gaura Nitai and Srila Prabhupada Deities were unpacked from Their carrying cases.

The Deities were taken to Srila Prabhupada's quarters, and stood in front of Srila Prabhupada. Srimati Radharani was placed directly in front of Srila Prabhupada. One of Her pujaris mentioned that when Srimati Radharani was in New Orleans, She had a stern look on Her face. However, standing in front of Srila Prabhupada in his quarters, much to her amazement, She broke into a distinct smile.

Everyone said that the Deities all looked so very beautiful and happy. The devotees in Dallas felt unlimitedly fortunate and blessed to have the darshan of Their Lordships.

There was much discussion as to exactly where the Deities would be happiest. There were four alternatives. Finally, the personal servants of the Deities decided that They would be most pleased staying with Srila Prabhupada in his quarters. The majority of the devotees in Dallas had felt exactly the same way. A beautiful marble altar has now been built to accommodate the Deities in Srila Prabhupada's quarters.

Lastly, the devotees were asked how they felt serving the devotees and Deities this way. They said it was great adventure. They added that devotees should not always stay in their comfort zones but accept new adventures in Krishna consciousness, as it is very exciting and pleasing to the heart. The Deities and devotees are expected to stay in Dallas for about 6 months.

Sri-Sri Radha Radha-Kanta Arrive In Dallas With Their Associates
NewTalavan

Their Lordships being worshiped nicely in Dallas

by Lavangalatika devi dasi


From Chakra.org

Posted September 16, 2005

The horrible destruction brought on by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the surrounding area turned out to be a huge boon for the Dallas Hare Krishna Temple and devotees. Katrina visited these areas late Sunday night August 28 th, and early Monday morning August 29th. Initially, the damage in New Orleans was not as severe as what happened after the levee separating the city from Lake Pontchartrain broke Monday night, flooding 80% of the city with up to 20 feet of water.

The Dallas devotees had been in contact with the New Orleans devotees prior to Katrina wreaking her havoc there. A few families arrived in Dallas prior to the hurricane. The rest of the devotees in New Orleans felt they could brave out the storm and its consequences. The first reports that came from New Orleans initially were that the temple had not flooded, and the Deities and devotees were doing fine. However, on Tuesday morning, following the levee break, all phone and internet connections with New Orleans were lost. As the news reports rolled in about the worsening situation in New Orleans, the devotees in Dallas prayed hard for the safety and security of those who were suffering. With no way to communicate with the New Orleans devotees, everyone was in the dark. During this time, there were conflicting reports coming from different places. Some devotees staying at the nearby Mississippi farm said the New Orleans devotees were safe, sound and in no need of help.

Fortunately, at around 12 noon on Thursday, September 1st, by the sweet graces of Sri Sri Radha Kalachandji, one of the New Orleans devotees was able to get a call through to Dallas and describe their horrendous plight. Even though the temple building itself was spared the worst of the flooding, with no running water or electricity, the growing stench, and no way out of the city, the situation for the Deities and the devotees at the temple had become unbearable.

On Thursday evening, temple authorities had already called for a meeting to discuss how the Dallas devotees could help the victims from the places hit by Katrina. Daily there were hundreds of evacuees pouring into Dallas, escaping the horrors there. However, the devotees' offers of assistance to the large institutions helping the evacuees had been turned down. They were told, "don't call us, we'll call you," but no call came. So, instead the meeting focused on how a rescue mission could be mounted, with devotees physically going to the aid of the 14 Deities and 19 devotees who were stranded at the temple in New Orleans.

About 25 devotees attended the meeting, and there was a robust discussion about exactly how to mount the mission. There were questions about safety and security, necessary approval(s) for moving the Deities, the feasibility of the undertaking, and the resources that were required to carry out such a mission. The meeting started at 7:00 p.m. in the temple room, and by 3:00 a.m. the next morning, all the supplies had been gathered, and the details planned out. Dharma Prabhu had worked tirelessly through the night and obtained many of the items needed for the trip. Seven devotees were chosen to take part in the SWAT-type rescue mission. They were asked to take rest before they began their heroic journey.

At 11:00 a.m., Friday, September 2nd, the seven-member force, comprised of Baladeva Vidyabhushana, Daruka, Divyaratna, Bhakta Jose, Bhakta Kesava, Ramachandra and Bhakta Tavish Prabhus departed from the Hare Krishna Temple in Dallas in a 15-seater rental van, dontated by Sunil Patel, and an 18-wheeler truck. Along with them, they carried three letters of introduction: one from the Internal Revenue Service to certify the temple's non-profit status, one from the Temple President , and the other from the Food for Life Director. These letters, along with a copy of Back to Godhead Magazine featuring many photographs of Deities being worshipped, were brought along to help show the authenticity of the mission to the authorities. The truck was loaded with cardboard boxes, cushion blankets and two large rolled sheets of plastic bubble wrap, donated by Yudhisthira Prabhu, to pack the Deities for safe transport. The devotees carried several two-way walkie talkies in each vehicle. Because they were prepared to wait for up to one week if necessary in order to wait for the window of opportunity to reach the Deities and devotees, the truck was also loaded up with ample supplies of bottled water donated by Laxmi Priya Prabhu, as well as dry food, vegetables, propane tanks, burners, pots and spoons.

Road signs as far as 400 miles from New Orleans were warning travelers not to enter the city. The situation was that no one was being allowed in except the military and other official personnel. Within the city, many were past the point of desperation. The residents of New Orleans were frustrated, angry, helpless, breaking down with hopelessness, and were ready to do anything to get out of there. Undoubtedly, this was a very dangerous mission at best. The devotees had even considered taking their own guns, just in case. People were shooting at each other, looting was happening in the streets, there were reports of rape, and other "lawless" activities as the victims of Katrina experienced abandonment and felt uncared for by the authorities. "I had received as many as 10 calls from senior devotees around America warning me to call off the mission, because it was too risky and impractical," said Nityananda dasa, the local Temple President . However, after the devotees in New Orleans had expressed their severe suffering circumstances there, the devotees in Dallas felt there was no other choice, despite the risks. Instead of not trying at all, they thought to at least make an honest attempt to do the right thing.

At approximately 1:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 3rd, the rescue team arrived at the New Orleans city limits. To get there, they had passed through as many as 40 checkpoints. "Somehow, by the grace of the Lord, they let us through," said Daruka Prabhu, who had very kindly availed his Tri-State Express 18-wheeler truck for this mission. Seeing the truck, the authorities felt they were bringing relief supplies and let them in. They did have relief supplies, but not enough sufficient to deal with the massive need in New Orleans. They then drove for another 30 to 40 miles to the next checkpoint where they were told to wait until morning, as it was too dangerous to go into the city at that time.

The devotees saw many people standing by the roadside and freeways desperately trying to wave down vehicles to get out of the city. They were trying to get help, and essential items for their distressed families and their health needs. It was mind boggling, pitiable and unbearable scenery. People were roaming the streets like mad men wanting to get out. Daruka and Ramachandra Prabhus could not bear the sight and gave away their personal blankets, pillows, and other items to the some of the distressed and stayed awake the whole night.

At daybreak, tens of buses started to arrive to pick up the people sitting on the highways and freeways to take them to shelters arranged by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "We were the only ones traveling on the highway towards the city center. Every other vehicle was traveling outbound," said Daruka Prabhu.

At this time, the devotees entered the city guided by Divyaratna Prabhu, who was a taxi driver in New Orleans. Bhakta Tavish, who was from New Orleans , also helped the devotees navigate their way to the temple. The two vehicles kept in constant radio communication with one another. On their way to the temple, they were turned away from some checkpoints, so they took alternate routes. In addition, at times they would go down one road only to be stopped by fallen trees, then take another route only to find a similar situation. With the help of these two knowledgeable persons, the devotees were able to zig-zag their way across the city. Without their help, it would have been practically impossible to reach the temple.

Daruka Prabhu bravely drove his vehicle through the debris, brushing against broken and hanging branches from top and sides. They encountered flooded roads as they neared the temple area. As the truck gradually entered deeper and deeper waters, Daruka Prabhu radioed the van behind not to come any further. The floodwaters were too high for the 15-seater van to make it all the way to the temple, so it was parked approximately one mile away. Ramachandra Prabhu guarded the van and ended up waiting in the vehicle for four hours while the rest of the devotees climbed into the truck to reach the temple and rescue the Deities and the devotees.

When the truck arrived at the temple, and the devotees began loading up the 18-wheeler, some military personnel arrived at the scene wanting to assist some person with health problems. They advised them that they would commandeer the devotee's truck unless they found the keys to a van that was parked nearby. The military officers broke into the house where the van was parked, and luckily, found the keys. During the entire rescue effort, military choppers were constantly circling and even hovering above the devotees, policing the movement of all people and vehicles throughout the city. In the meantime, the devotees frantically loaded up the truck with Their Lordships, Their paraphernalia, the devotees and their meager belongings. They left the scene as quickly as they could, fearing they would lose the 18-wheeler if they stayed a moment longer.

Some Dallas devotees, especially Kunja Bihari Prabhu, had kept in constant touch with the rescue team, ready to do the needful. At about 7:15 a.m., Saturday, September 3rd, Sweta Manjari Prabhu, Daruka Prabhu's wife, came into the temple room and advised the devotees that the mission had been successful and everyone was headed back to Dallas. Obviously, she, the mother of 3 young children, was very relieved. The devotees were extremely happy to hear the great news. The rescue team called later to say that all of the Deities and devotees were famished and looked forward to a sumptuous feast of hot prasadam upon arrival. The Dallas devotees, led by Manjuali Prabhu, then proceeded to prepare the feast for their arrival. Mathuranatha and Bhakta Ross Prabhus helped with the preparation of accommodations for the guests.

The rescue team arrived into Dallas at 11:30 p.m. that night. They were greeted by an enthusiastic kirtan party of about 30 when they pulled up on Gurley Avenue. There was an exuberant festival atmosphere. Devotees were singing and dancing on the street in great anticipation. The 15-seater van and another smaller van pulled up first. Everyone happily greeted the devotees, grateful that everyone was safe.

When the rear doors of the 18-wheeler truck opened, devotees ecstatically jumped on to commence unloading the paraphernalia of the Deities and the devotees. Soon, the portion where the Deities were was reached. First, Srila Prabhupada came off the truck, seated regally on his vyasasana. Now, all of the devotees were wild with ecstacy. Then came Lord Nityananda with His upraised arms in a wonderful dancing pose, soon followed by Lord Caitanaya casting His most magnanimous glance on everyone there. Everyone began reveling in the joyfulness. The mood kept rising with the arrival of Their Lordships Sri Sri Jagannatha Baladeva and Subhadra Maharani. The emotions reached fever-pitch when Sri Radha Kanta and Srimati Radharani gave Their merciful audience. All the Deities were fully dressed, ready for giving Darshan to the eager devotees awaiting Their arrival. The devotees' ecstatic emotions increased even more when the small Radha Radha Kanta, Gaura Nitai and Srila Prabhupada Deities were unpacked from Their carrying cases.

The Deities were taken to Srila Prabhupada's quarters, and stood in front of Srila Prabhupada. Srimati Radharani was placed directly in front of Srila Prabhupada. One of Her pujaris mentioned that when Srimati Radharani was in New Orleans, She had a stern look on Her face. However, standing in front of Srila Prabhupada in his quarters, much to her amazement, She broke into a distinct smile.

Everyone said that the Deities all looked so very beautiful and happy. The devotees in Dallas felt unlimitedly fortunate and blessed to have the darshan of Their Lordships.

There was much discussion as to exactly where the Deities would be happiest. There were four alternatives. Finally, the personal servants of the Deities decided that They would be most pleased staying with Srila Prabhupada in his quarters. The majority of the devotees in Dallas had felt exactly the same way. A beautiful marble altar has now been built to accommodate the Deities in Srila Prabhupada's quarters.

Lastly, the devotees were asked how they felt serving the devotees and Deities this way. They said it was great adventure. They added that devotees should not always stay in their comfort zones but accept new adventures in Krishna consciousness, as it is very exciting and pleasing to the heart. The Deities and devotees are expected to stay in Dallas for about 6 months.

God & Science: the Miracle of the Milk
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(chapter summary from God and Science by Richard L. Thompson)

On the 21th of September 1995 deities of Ganesa, Lord Siva and other were reported to be accepting offerings of spoonfuls milk. Debunkers explained the effect as capillary action of the stone stature sucking the milk out of the spoon. They say that a single small incident was blown out of all proportions by mass hysteria.

Indeed, human beings have the tendency to cheat, have imperfect senses, become illusioned and tend to make mistakes, so the events of 1995 may well have an explanation that is in-line with the laws of nature. We will never really know.

St. Augustine spoke of miracles, not as contradicting the laws of nature, but instead as merely contracting what we currently understand about the laws of nature. For example, There are numerous accounts in the Srimad-Bhagavatam and in modern times of people exhibiting mystic powers (yoga siddhis) and paranormal apparitions (ghosts). Yogis can levitate, acquire objects across large distances, transform their body, etc.

Miracles are not accepted by modern science because they contradict the laws of physics. Newton??(TM)s law of the conservation of energy, for example, does not allow macroscopic objects to be teleported. Even if numerous people give testimony of a miraculous effect, scientists will favor what the laws of physics tell them should be happening and assume the witnesses must be deluded in some way.

The best way to distinguish between actual miracles and cheating is to listen to a teacher in a bona-fide disciplic succession. Such an authorized person will not try to mislead his listeners for some ulterior motive. Example: Krishnadasa Kaviraja??(TM)s description of the Lord Caitanya??(TM)s disappearing from locked rooms, eating offerings of food across large distances, healing sick people and appearing in several places at once.

God & Science: Rational Mythology
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(chapter summary from God and Science by Richard L. Thompson)

Vivekananda Swami gave a lecture on Hinduism at the Paraliament of Religions in 1893 explaining how, in the highest state of realization, God is the impersonal Brahman. He described a philosophy of monism (advaita). Everything is ultimately one. In perfection, there is no relationship, no love, no activity, just the oneness. All religions can be reconciled, since they are ultimate all just different ways of trying to get a handle on the inconceivable oneness. Similarly, science and religion can be reconciled, since science is also just another way of interpreting and explaining the, so called, impersonal Brahman.

Into the skeptical climate of the 19th century came the Indian high-court judge and scholar Bhaktivinoda Thakura. He rejected monism as useless and proclaims that God is an eternal person. The highest goal is to "serve that Infinite Being forever spiritually in the activity of Absolute Love".

However, in order to be taken seriously enough by the scholars of the day for them to listen to his ideas, he told them that the fantastic stories of the Srimad Bhagavatam did not actually occur and were instead fabricated in order to impress simple and ignorant village people.

We could take a similar approach in presenting Krishna's pastimes by adopting a "theology of visions". The spiritual realm exists, but the only link to it is through meditation. The mythical events described in the Vedic literature did not actually occur here on earth 5000 years ago. Instead, they were injected into various sages' minds while they were meditating.

This line of argument has numerous disadvantages: first and foremost it limits the power of God. If God can only manifest himself in people's minds, then how could he have created the Universe? If he couldn't have created the Universe, then why have a concept of God at all? However, a "theology of visions" may open people's minds to the ideas of mental projects, psychic materialization, leading them to gradually accept the so-called paranormal and eventually leading them to believe in spiritual experiences.

Thompson concluded by explaining how the Bhagavatam manages to reconcile all religions: Krishna is just one particular form of God. He can, and frequently does, manifest himself in an unlimited variety of forms, depending on the desire of the worshiper.

Sraddhadeva Manu Prabhu’s Story
NewTalavan


New Orleans ISKCON Temple

by Sampradaya Sun reporter

Sraddhadev Manu dasa, one of the New Orleans temple devotees recently rescued from the devastation of New Orleans, tells his story. He described the circumstances faced by the devotees and Deities there, and the brave rescue team from ISKCON's Dallas temple who ventured forth to evacuate them.

Sraddhadev Manu dasa talked about the fierce hurricane that battered the city of New Orleans, followed by the floodwaters that destroyed much of the city. Somehow or other, by Krsna's mercy, the New Orleans temple was miraculously spared damage by either wind or water. The was no structural damage to the building's exterior, only minor damage to the grounds that can be repaired with maintenance landscaping.

Inside the temple, hurricane Katrina stranded 16 resident devotees along with 3 guests from New Jersey, who had come for the Janmastami celebrations. Katrina hit on the morning of Monday, August 28th. By Tuesday, floodwaters brought the city to a grinding halt.

Over the course of seven days, until their rescue on September 3rd, the 19 residents of the New Orleans mandir were fortunate to have an adequate supply of foodstuffs and water. While they had no electricity, gas, or running water, they were in cell phone communication with the outside world.

By September 3rd, the group had run out of water, and had to make a trip out into the city environs to get water for drinking and bathing. Later that day, the rescue squad from Dallas arrived to end their ordeal.

Several times over the course of the week the temple was visited by both military and police personnel, who came to advise the group to immediately evacuate the premises. The devotees and guests, however, were dedicated to remaining by the sides of the Deities, who continued to receive a relatively normal program of daily worship.

Finally the group was contacted by Nityananada dasa, the Temple President of Dallas, came extended an invitation for the Deities and devotees to come to Dallas, and the urged the devotees to accept. The New Orleans devotees agreed, and a group of seven Dallas devotees began the difficult trip into New Orleans, with Daruka prabhu driving a semi-truck. 16 seats were provided for the devotees, along with room for the Deities, who were transported back to Dallas in the truck.

As later mentioned by Mata Sri, 'Their Lordships had rescued themselves -- what else could explain the way the Dallas devotees got through all the military and police blockades to rescue the stricken devotees and the Deities, bringing them safely to Dallas? This is truly one of the Lords Pastimes.' We can also see this as an extension of the pastimes of the pure devotee, Srila Prabhupada, whose servants carry on the mission of the Sampradaya Acarya.

Sraddhadev Manu dasa went to great lengths to describe the bravery of the Dallas rescue team, and the kind-hearted and sweet devotional mood of all the Dallas yatra devotees, who stayed up very late awaiting the arrival of Sri Sri Radha Radha-Kanta, Sri Sri Gaura Nitai, and Lord Jagannath and Company.

The trip into New Orleans, and back out of the city, was certainly dangerous and difficult. A great deal of robbery, violence and mayhem was going on in the city. The party found it challenging to get to the temple because so many roads were inaccessible. They also met with roadblocks, and had to explain to military and police that they were going into the city to rescue the temple residents.

Throughout the entire period in New Orleans, Bir Krishna dasa Goswami stayed in close phone contact, constantly expressing his concern for the well being of the Deities and devotees. According to Sraddhadev Manu dasa, Bir Krishna dasa Goswami phoned the devotees every hour, all the way through the ordeal, constantly inquiring after everyone's welfare, impervious to the loss of sleep.

Their Lordships and the devotees arrived at Dallas temple near midnight, and all the resident devotees there we awake, carrying on an ecstatic kirtan to welcome the Deities. At midnight they performed a glorious arotik, offering all personalities from the New Orleans yatra prasadam, comfortable facility, and the loving association of the Vaisnavas. We are sure that a blissful and transcendental welcome was also extended by Sri Sri Radha-Kalachandaji to all the residents of the New Orleans yatra.

All 16 of the devotees currently remain at Dallas, and will stay there until Saturday, when Bir Krishna dasa Goswami is scheduled to arrive for a visit. Afterwards, some of the devotees, particularly the grhastas, will move on to other places, where they will stay until the New Orleans temple can reopen.

The Deities and pujaris will also stay at Dallas mandir, where the devotees are now making them a new altar. For the time being, they are residing in Srila Prabhupada's room.

In the humble mood of Lord Krsna's servants, the New Orleans devotees say they are in need of nothing for their personal comfort. They are content to perform the austerities required until they're back at the temple in New Orleans. In the meantime, they request that donations be made towards fixing up the temple grounds, and generally re-stocking the temple with consumable supplies that will allow it to re-open, hopefully in the very near future.

Sraddhadeva Manu Prabhu’s Story
NewTalavan


New Orleans ISKCON Temple

by Sampradaya Sun reporter

Sraddhadev Manu dasa, one of the New Orleans temple devotees recently rescued from the devastation of New Orleans, tells his story. He described the circumstances faced by the devotees and Deities there, and the brave rescue team from ISKCON's Dallas temple who ventured forth to evacuate them.

Sraddhadev Manu dasa talked about the fierce hurricane that battered the city of New Orleans, followed by the floodwaters that destroyed much of the city. Somehow or other, by Krsna's mercy, the New Orleans temple was miraculously spared damage by either wind or water. The was no structural damage to the building's exterior, only minor damage to the grounds that can be repaired with maintenance landscaping.

Inside the temple, hurricane Katrina stranded 16 resident devotees along with 3 guests from New Jersey, who had come for the Janmastami celebrations. Katrina hit on the morning of Monday, August 28th. By Tuesday, floodwaters brought the city to a grinding halt.

Over the course of seven days, until their rescue on September 3rd, the 19 residents of the New Orleans mandir were fortunate to have an adequate supply of foodstuffs and water. While they had no electricity, gas, or running water, they were in cell phone communication with the outside world.

By September 3rd, the group had run out of water, and had to make a trip out into the city environs to get water for drinking and bathing. Later that day, the rescue squad from Dallas arrived to end their ordeal.

Several times over the course of the week the temple was visited by both military and police personnel, who came to advise the group to immediately evacuate the premises. The devotees and guests, however, were dedicated to remaining by the sides of the Deities, who continued to receive a relatively normal program of daily worship.

Finally the group was contacted by Nityananada dasa, the Temple President of Dallas, came extended an invitation for the Deities and devotees to come to Dallas, and the urged the devotees to accept. The New Orleans devotees agreed, and a group of seven Dallas devotees began the difficult trip into New Orleans, with Daruka prabhu driving a semi-truck. 16 seats were provided for the devotees, along with room for the Deities, who were transported back to Dallas in the truck.

As later mentioned by Mata Sri, 'Their Lordships had rescued themselves -- what else could explain the way the Dallas devotees got through all the military and police blockades to rescue the stricken devotees and the Deities, bringing them safely to Dallas? This is truly one of the Lords Pastimes.' We can also see this as an extension of the pastimes of the pure devotee, Srila Prabhupada, whose servants carry on the mission of the Sampradaya Acarya.

Sraddhadev Manu dasa went to great lengths to describe the bravery of the Dallas rescue team, and the kind-hearted and sweet devotional mood of all the Dallas yatra devotees, who stayed up very late awaiting the arrival of Sri Sri Radha Radha-Kanta, Sri Sri Gaura Nitai, and Lord Jagannath and Company.

The trip into New Orleans, and back out of the city, was certainly dangerous and difficult. A great deal of robbery, violence and mayhem was going on in the city. The party found it challenging to get to the temple because so many roads were inaccessible. They also met with roadblocks, and had to explain to military and police that they were going into the city to rescue the temple residents.

Throughout the entire period in New Orleans, Bir Krishna dasa Goswami stayed in close phone contact, constantly expressing his concern for the well being of the Deities and devotees. According to Sraddhadev Manu dasa, Bir Krishna dasa Goswami phoned the devotees every hour, all the way through the ordeal, constantly inquiring after everyone's welfare, impervious to the loss of sleep.

Their Lordships and the devotees arrived at Dallas temple near midnight, and all the resident devotees there we awake, carrying on an ecstatic kirtan to welcome the Deities. At midnight they performed a glorious arotik, offering all personalities from the New Orleans yatra prasadam, comfortable facility, and the loving association of the Vaisnavas. We are sure that a blissful and transcendental welcome was also extended by Sri Sri Radha-Kalachandaji to all the residents of the New Orleans yatra.

All 16 of the devotees currently remain at Dallas, and will stay there until Saturday, when Bir Krishna dasa Goswami is scheduled to arrive for a visit. Afterwards, some of the devotees, particularly the grhastas, will move on to other places, where they will stay until the New Orleans temple can reopen.

The Deities and pujaris will also stay at Dallas mandir, where the devotees are now making them a new altar. For the time being, they are residing in Srila Prabhupada's room.

In the humble mood of Lord Krsna's servants, the New Orleans devotees say they are in need of nothing for their personal comfort. They are content to perform the austerities required until they're back at the temple in New Orleans. In the meantime, they request that donations be made towards fixing up the temple grounds, and generally re-stocking the temple with consumable supplies that will allow it to re-open, hopefully in the very near future.

A Message from Japan
NewTalavan

Dvija Hari Prabhu's House at New Talavan

Hello devotees in New Talavan,

My name is Kazz Okamoto, writing from Japan. I am Mayumi's younger brother. Mayumi left her body in April while living in your community.

I visited Mississippi with my brother & sister-in-law, their grandson, and my niece, to bring some of her ashes back to Japan. You devotees of Hare Krishna were all very nice to us. Talking to us, telling us about our sister Mayumi, showing sympathy to us and feeding us with very delicious Hare Krishna meals, which Mayumi and Jim used to cook while they were in Japan. Thank you very much for the kindness you extended to us.

It breaks my heart to watch on CNN the scenes of the devastation that Katrina left in the Gulf states in the USA, especially in New Orleans. It's beyond belief that one hurricane could cause such devastation.

I was also worried about your temple in Carriere while the hurricane was moving up north.

I called Mr. Murata, the head monk of the Tokyo Temple of Hare Krishna, for information about the temple and the community. And he forwarded the message that you had posted on your web site. I got access to the site, and to my great relief, I learned that your temple and community survived the attack pretty much unscathed except for damage to some buildings.

With the community cut off from the surrounding areas, and the food and other stuff running low, I know it will be a great challenge to just survive. I pray with you for things to get back to normal as quick as possible.

Hare Krishna,
Kazz Okamoto

A Message from Japan
NewTalavan

Dvija Hari Prabhu's House at New Talavan

Hello devotees in New Talavan,

My name is Kazz Okamoto, writing from Japan. I am Mayumi's younger brother. Mayumi left her body in April while living in your community.

I visited Mississippi with my brother & sister-in-law, their grandson, and my niece, to bring some of her ashes back to Japan. You devotees of Hare Krishna were all very nice to us. Talking to us, telling us about our sister Mayumi, showing sympathy to us and feeding us with very delicious Hare Krishna meals, which Mayumi and Jim used to cook while they were in Japan. Thank you very much for the kindness you extended to us.

It breaks my heart to watch on CNN the scenes of the devastation that Katrina left in the Gulf states in the USA, especially in New Orleans. It's beyond belief that one hurricane could cause such devastation.

I was also worried about your temple in Carriere while the hurricane was moving up north.

I called Mr. Murata, the head monk of the Tokyo Temple of Hare Krishna, for information about the temple and the community. And he forwarded the message that you had posted on your web site. I got access to the site, and to my great relief, I learned that your temple and community survived the attack pretty much unscathed except for damage to some buildings.

With the community cut off from the surrounding areas, and the food and other stuff running low, I know it will be a great challenge to just survive. I pray with you for things to get back to normal as quick as possible.

Hare Krishna,
Kazz Okamoto

God & Science: does God go against the Laws of Nature?
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(summary of a chapter from God and Science by Richard L. Thompson)

Ernan McMullin is a physicists, philosopher and Catholic priest at Notre Dame University expands upon the ideas of Augustine that God created the seed of the Universe and thereby set up evolution so that everything as it is today would gradually unfold. Divine intervention only happened at the moment of the Big Bang.

Superficially this may seem to be inline with the Bhagavad-Gita. Krishna states therein that material nature acts automatically, like a machine. After all, if divine intervention happened commonly then scientists could record it (and, most likely, find a "rational" explanation for the event).

However, going deeper into the Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna talks about certain elements that scientists do not (yet) accept or understand. The mind, intelligence and false ego are subtle physical elements upon which Krishna exerts direct control. From him come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness, he says.

In the 19th century physics thought itself complete, but had no idea about relativity and quantum mechanics. In the same way, present-day physicists do not understand the science of the mind and the science of consciousness, nor can they detect God's interaction with these substances.

A Daring Rescue
NewTalavan


Daruka and Ramachandra who headed up the daring rescue

In the dark flooded city of New Orleans, Daruka with his swat squad of devotees headed by Keshava, stormed into the temple to save the day. Daruka owns a long distance trucking company and drove one of his Peterbuilt eighteen wheelers and Ramachandra drove a van with a few devotees to assist in saving the New Orleans temple.

Daruka said they had some close calls in New Orleans, but knew Krishna would protect them. Keshava rode shotgun and was armed. They went through a few check points. The water was about 2-1/2 to 3 feet and sometimes deeper. They had to drive through about 25 blocks of water to reach the temple.

Outside the temple there was about 4 feet of water and it stank. There were guys with automatic weapons walking around. Daruka is a little over 6 feet tall, has a dark south Indian complexion and is from Fiji. In his Peterbuilt tractor trailer he looked like a big tough black guy. He said the scariest moment call was from the police who wanted to commandeer his truck but found another truck to use instead.

From the New Orleans temple he picked up all the Deities—Radha Radhakanta, Nityananda and Lord Caitanya, Jagannatha, Subhadra and Balarama, and about 6 smaller Deities that were on the altar. He also brought to Dallas the Srila Prabhupada murti and a dozen devotees. He never would have driven his truck through such deep water but this was his loving service to Krishna.

Back in Dallas Daruka smiled laughed and shrugged off his lifesaving rescue. Below is a picture of the New Orleans Deities in the Dallas temple being worshipped in Prabhupada's quarters.

A Daring Rescue
NewTalavan


Daruka and Ramachandra who headed up the daring rescue

In the dark flooded city of New Orleans, Daruka with his swat squad of devotees headed by Keshava, stormed into the temple to save the day. Daruka owns a long distance trucking company and drove one of his Peterbuilt eighteen wheelers and Ramachandra drove a van with a few devotees to assist in saving the New Orleans temple.

Daruka said they had some close calls in New Orleans, but knew Krishna would protect them. Keshava rode shotgun and was armed. They went through a few check points. The water was about 2-1/2 to 3 feet and sometimes deeper. They had to drive through about 25 blocks of water to reach the temple.

Outside the temple there was about 4 feet of water and it stank. There were guys with automatic weapons walking around. Daruka is a little over 6 feet tall, has a dark south Indian complexion and is from Fiji. In his Peterbuilt tractor trailer he looked like a big tough black guy. He said the scariest moment call was from the police who wanted to commandeer his truck but found another truck to use instead.

From the New Orleans temple he picked up all the Deities—Radha Radhakanta, Nityananda and Lord Caitanya, Jagannatha, Subhadra and Balarama, and about 6 smaller Deities that were on the altar. He also brought to Dallas the Srila Prabhupada murti and a dozen devotees. He never would have driven his truck through such deep water but this was his loving service to Krishna.

Back in Dallas Daruka smiled laughed and shrugged off his lifesaving rescue. Below is a picture of the New Orleans Deities in the Dallas temple being worshipped in Prabhupada's quarters.

I will never be the same
NewTalavan


Dear devotees,

I am amazed at the events of the past few days.

First: The Lord is so wonderful in his arrangements. We all, thru the grace of Dasanudas Prabhu, are able to communicate with each other with the group though we have literally been flung into the wind. Being separated by hundreds of miles and state lines and we are all still a community. SriSri Radha-RadhaKanta will pull us all back together again, of this I am sure.

Second: As Mata Sri mentioned their Lordships at Sankirtan Dham have rescued themselves, what else can explain the way the Dallas Devotees got thru all the military and police blockades to rescue the stricken devotees and the Dieties and bring them to Dallas. The devotees in Houston were talking about this today, it is truly one of the Lords Pastimes.

I am in Houston where the Devotees at the Houston Temple (it is a beautiful temple!) are pouring thier hearts out to us. I received so many wonderful blessings from them (plus the ecstatic Prasad). I have a nice place to stay near Rice University provided by my Brother, And I am OK.

I met a devotee here in Houston who expressed concern about Ajamila Prabhu. Does anyone know where he and his wife are? This Devotee is Sarvabauma Das and he can be contacted at sarva1@aol.com if anyone knows about Ajamila or is in touch with him please send Sarvabhauma an email.

I can't get in touch with Kapardini, she is in Alachua and very concerned about Kirtada and the children. I talked to her this morning when she called me here. I feel bad for her, I wish there was something I could do to help but I don't know what happened to Kirtada. If anyone is in contact with her tell her not to try to go back to Picayune yet looking for her daughter because the situation there is still bad. I have emailed her but got no response and can't call her. She should try the Red Cross or try contacting FEMA or the MS State Police to try to locate Kirtada. I have described to her the location she was at in Ozona, but there is no address available.
I am so glad to hear that so many of us are safe and sound. I was asked about Jogendra Prabhu also, Is he still at the farm? I know Dasanudas is (right?).

I have really been shaken to the core by this storm. I came very close to being killed by my own foolishness. I was in the carport, huddling between my car and the wall, when a tornado struck my neighbors house, tearing off his roof and throwing it towards me. The roof crashed in the field about 100 ft from me while the twister screamed past my house ripping up all the trees, It passed within about 30 ft from me (I was somewhat protected being in the carport). If I had been exposed to the wind I would not be here, if it had been 30 ft to the west I would have been "gone with the wind". I have never been so scared in my life, I was shaking very badly after that as I hunkered down in the center of my house on the floor, crying out "hare Krishna hare Krishna Krishna Krishna hare hare hare rama hare rama hare hare" convinced I was about to die. That was the eyewall that passed over. Then all of a sudden it all stopped and the eye passed over us. I felt The Lord had spared my useless life and I crawled out to see the devastation.

I will never be the same.

ys
Talavan das

I will never be the same
NewTalavan


Dear devotees,

I am amazed at the events of the past few days.

First: The Lord is so wonderful in his arrangements. We all, thru the grace of Dasanudas Prabhu, are able to communicate with each other with the group though we have literally been flung into the wind. Being separated by hundreds of miles and state lines and we are all still a community. SriSri Radha-RadhaKanta will pull us all back together again, of this I am sure.

Second: As Mata Sri mentioned their Lordships at Sankirtan Dham have rescued themselves, what else can explain the way the Dallas Devotees got thru all the military and police blockades to rescue the stricken devotees and the Dieties and bring them to Dallas. The devotees in Houston were talking about this today, it is truly one of the Lords Pastimes.

I am in Houston where the Devotees at the Houston Temple (it is a beautiful temple!) are pouring thier hearts out to us. I received so many wonderful blessings from them (plus the ecstatic Prasad). I have a nice place to stay near Rice University provided by my Brother, And I am OK.

I met a devotee here in Houston who expressed concern about Ajamila Prabhu. Does anyone know where he and his wife are? This Devotee is Sarvabauma Das and he can be contacted at sarva1@aol.com if anyone knows about Ajamila or is in touch with him please send Sarvabhauma an email.

I can't get in touch with Kapardini, she is in Alachua and very concerned about Kirtada and the children. I talked to her this morning when she called me here. I feel bad for her, I wish there was something I could do to help but I don't know what happened to Kirtada. If anyone is in contact with her tell her not to try to go back to Picayune yet looking for her daughter because the situation there is still bad. I have emailed her but got no response and can't call her. She should try the Red Cross or try contacting FEMA or the MS State Police to try to locate Kirtada. I have described to her the location she was at in Ozona, but there is no address available.
I am so glad to hear that so many of us are safe and sound. I was asked about Jogendra Prabhu also, Is he still at the farm? I know Dasanudas is (right?).

I have really been shaken to the core by this storm. I came very close to being killed by my own foolishness. I was in the carport, huddling between my car and the wall, when a tornado struck my neighbors house, tearing off his roof and throwing it towards me. The roof crashed in the field about 100 ft from me while the twister screamed past my house ripping up all the trees, It passed within about 30 ft from me (I was somewhat protected being in the carport). If I had been exposed to the wind I would not be here, if it had been 30 ft to the west I would have been "gone with the wind". I have never been so scared in my life, I was shaking very badly after that as I hunkered down in the center of my house on the floor, crying out "hare Krishna hare Krishna Krishna Krishna hare hare hare rama hare rama hare hare" convinced I was about to die. That was the eyewall that passed over. Then all of a sudden it all stopped and the eye passed over us. I felt The Lord had spared my useless life and I crawled out to see the devastation.

I will never be the same.

ys
Talavan das

God & Science: on God and Science
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(chapter from God and Science by Richard L. Thompson)

Some scientists attempt to unify science with religion. John A. O'Keefe of NASA, Owen Gingerich of the Harvard Smithsonian and Freeman Dyson of the Institute for Advanced Studies all have expressed various way in they believe divinity has a place in science. The most popular idea is that God started the big bang ("let there be light") and, from then on, everything unfolded according to the laws of science.

However, Darwinist scientists such as Stephen Hawkings disagree. There was no "creation". God is just an idea that comes about in human society by the natural process of evolution. Religious belief is just another thing to be studied and eventually fully explained by science. Darwinism totally rejects the idea of any spiritual being controlling nature in any way. God and Darwinism are wholly incompatible.

Thank you
NewTalavan



Dear Devotees and Friends,

Hare Krsna! Thanks for the prayers, love and practical assistance.

As far as helping hungry people in the devastated Gulf Coast area, devotees from New Talavan and temples in Dallas, Houston, New Vrndavan (our farm community near Moundsville, West Virginia), Washington DC, and Alachua, Florida certainly beat President Bush to the punch. We are already sending teams to the stricken Gulf Coast towns of Waveland, Biloxi and Gulfport to distribute prasadam: sanctified vegetarian food offered to Krsna—God—with love and devotion. Needless to say, our small efforts have been received with gratitude by the storm-tossed residents.

However, after great emotional pleading from local area officials, the Federal government is beginning to make its presence felt in this area. It will take a long time for complete recovery, but the agencies are finally working.

As far as ISKCON in the local area, our book distribution may decrease for the time being, but prasadam distribution is certainly on the increase.

Signing off for now,

Yogindra das
Temple president,
ISKCON New Talavan

Thank you
NewTalavan



Dear Devotees and Friends,

Hare Krsna! Thanks for the prayers, love and practical assistance.

As far as helping hungry people in the devastated Gulf Coast area, devotees from New Talavan and temples in Dallas, Houston, New Vrndavan (our farm community near Moundsville, West Virginia), Washington DC, and Alachua, Florida certainly beat President Bush to the punch. We are already sending teams to the stricken Gulf Coast towns of Waveland, Biloxi and Gulfport to distribute prasadam: sanctified vegetarian food offered to Krsna—God—with love and devotion. Needless to say, our small efforts have been received with gratitude by the storm-tossed residents.

However, after great emotional pleading from local area officials, the Federal government is beginning to make its presence felt in this area. It will take a long time for complete recovery, but the agencies are finally working.

As far as ISKCON in the local area, our book distribution may decrease for the time being, but prasadam distribution is certainly on the increase.

Signing off for now,

Yogindra das
Temple president,
ISKCON New Talavan

God & Science: God and the Laws of Physics
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(God and Science by Richard L. Thompson is a collection of essays and papers on those subjects. I??(TM)ll be summarizing each essay over the coming months. The book's website may be found here. Please buy the book if you want to full story and full theoretical background.)

Our consciousness is non-material, a supreme consciousness exists, which also non-material and matter exists, which is a very complex machine. We are conscious living beings with free will, but are seated as in a rollercoaster ride in our material bodies. We experience our lives, but cannot directly influence events in the material world. We may think we can lift our arm when we desire to, but actually we cannot do anything.

However, we do have the capacity to desire. This is where the supreme consciousness comes in. It acts as a link between the physical world and our spiritual consciousness. This super-conscious living being is aware of all our desires and arranges for them to be fulfilled as best possible, taking into account other people??(TM)s desires, the laws of physics, subtle laws, such as the reactions to our past activities (karma) and his own universal plan.

Well known experiments show how people can influence a random number generator simply by trying to ??oewill it?? in a certain direction. This phenomenon can easily be explained in the above model of reality. The supreme consciousness, to a certain extent, fulfills the living beings??(TM) desires for the random number generator to produce a certain output. Quantum mechanical uncertainty is the result of God making micro-adjustments in the physical world to fulfill everyone??(TM)s desire.

Janmastami Swansea 2005
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17|1Last week I was in Swansea, Wales for Krishna's birthday (Janmastami). On this day, roughly 5000 years ago Krishna appeared on Earth. He stayed for a total of 125 years and then disappeared from our vision to some other pastime on some other planet, just like the sun sets in one part of the world, but remains visible in another.

It was really nice. Since the celebration fell on a weekday, the festival was quite small. A nice family atmosphere. The day after, Srila Prabhupada's birthday, was just as nice. Hearing about Prabhupada all day long was very inspiring.

Realization: I can be perfectly satisfied simply making garlands all day for Krishna. There is no need for all kinds of extravagant entertainment and technology. A simple life of bliss and knowledge is such much better than the rat-race of modern society. But then again, happiness in Krishna consciousness does not depend on external conditions. One can be happy in any situation, if you follows the Krishna conscious process. I'm beginning to see and experience that more and more.

Enjoy the photos (I didn't take very many this time).

The Pitfalls of Outsourcing
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I'm reading The Best Software Writing I: Selected and Introduced by Joel Spolsky at the moment. It contains some interesting essays. I'll be summarizing some of them as I read more of the book.


The Pitfalls of Outsourcing Programmers
by Michael Bean talks about how companies (especially American ones) go outsourcing-mad and outsource software development to foreign countries (especially India). This is bad since these companies thereby throw away their capacity to innovate. The people driving the core business assets should be kept as physically close together as possible. Their unique set of skills are what differentiates an organization from the competition. A company is otherwise just a generic aggregation of commodity services. There is no added value in that.

Question: is the practice of certain temples that, in-effect, outsource their deity worship (by importing devotees from other countries to do the service) also confusing the box with the milk sweet?

Vyasa puja offering to Srila Prabhupada
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Thank you Srila Prabhupada for all your transcendental literature. When I was first leaning about Krishna consciousness someone sold me a Krishna Book at the London Rathayatra (2001). I had previously tried to read your Bhagavad-Gita, but was too proud and contaminated with impersonalism and atheism to understand even a word of it. Then however, upon reading your so expertly composed Krishna Book my skeptic mentality was defeated.

"This is so amazing, it must be true, no one could have made something like this up", I though, reading pastime after pastime.

I would also like to thank you for all the amazing devotees you have cultivated, both directly and indirectly. Your power to transform people is extraordinary. You have taught by your personal example how to be a pure devotee of Krishna and have also empowered others to become acharyas in the same way. We are all eternally indebted to you for this. The only way to repay part of this unlimited debt is to pass it on to others.

I can see how my own spiritual master, your disciple Devamrita Swami, extends so much personal care and attention to me, just as you undoubtedly cared so much for him. I wish that I may also one day be able to help others in the same way. I have so much to learn about this Krishna conscious process. Please give me shelter at your lotus feet.

Your servant,
Candidasa dasa

Gurudeva visit snippets and cooking
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DS: The body is meant for aching, might as well ache for Krishna.

DS: Herbs from the Amazon that will help your sore back.
BKD: Where do you get all this stuff, Gurudeva?
DS: Secrets of the Swamis.

DS: Yes, the famous Manchester rut. It's like a something that fossilizes you. A weight that pushes everyone down so they are unable to get up and free themselves. The mode of ignorance.

Cooked:

Day 1:
Cherry-Tomato lettuce salad
Kumara and Broccoli with Arrowroot
Green beans, peas and carrot subji
Split mung dal
Turmeric basmati rice with wild rice

Day 2:
Sak
Asparagus subji
Sweet potato pie
Radish, carrot and lettuce salad
Corn on cob
Brown basmati rice with wild rice

Cardiff Rathayatra 2005
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16|1Yesterday was really, really fun. I attended the Rathayatra in Cardiff, Wales.

There was a huge procession with hundreds of people through the streets of downtown Cardiff ending up in a peaceful park surrounded by an old castle wall. The kirtan (chanting) lasted for over three hours, non-stop. Maha-Visnu Swami was running around like-mad with his accordion (as usual). Bhakti Vidya Purna Swami gave a brilliant introductory talk. I met lots of old friends from all over the UK.

The whole event was well planned and organized. The heavens smiled upon the whole affair by supplying beaming sunshine throughout. All in all, a most excellent Krishna conscious experience.

Krishna consciousness is so nice. The festival made everyone super-happy. See the pictures, though be warned, I took many.

Krishna’s personality
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After analyzing my personality I thought I would think a bit about Krishna's personality. To better understand it, I'll try to characterize it in terms of its similarity to several popular personalities from Star Wars and Star Trek. I'm no expert, so please correct me if and when I am wrong.

The Nectar of Devotion, Second Wave, Chapter 23 describes Krishna's personality. It characterizes him as simultaneously having four opposing personalities. This is not contradictory. I would, in fact, expect nothing less from him. This is God: far from being an impersonal oneness, he has the most variegated and interesting personality in existence. Moreover, it??(TM)s all described, in detail, in the Vedic literature.

Dh?«rod?tta

A dh?«rod?tta is a person who is naturally very grave, gentle, forgiving, merciful, determined, humble, highly qualified, chivalrous and physically attractive. Krishna exhibited this mood when he lifted Govardhana Hill. The NOD also gives the example of Lord R?macandra as a dh?«rod?tta personality.

To me like this sounds like an introverted, task oriented/thinking personality. That would make Krishna similar to the personalities of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Boba Fett and Yoda from Star Wars.

"Things are only impossible until they're not." - Jean-Luc Picard (Star Trek: TNG)

Dh?«ra-lalita

A person is called dh?«ra-lalita if he is naturally very funny, always in full youthfulness, expert in joking and free from all anxieties. Krishna shows this personality when he teases and embarrasses R?dh?r?n?£?«. Cupid is also described as a dh?«ra-lalita.

To me this seems to be an extroverted, people oriented/feeling personality. This personality is similar to Anakin Skywalker, Jar-Jar Binks and Captain Kirk.

"We're Starfleet officers. Weird is part of the job." ??" Captain Janeway (Star Trek: Voyager)

Dh?«ra-pra?>?nta

A person who is very peaceful, forbearing, considerate and obliging is called dh?«ra-pra?>?nta. Krishna, when serving the P?n?£d?£ava brothers, is an example of this aspect of his personality. Some scholars also characterize King Yudhis?£t?£hira in this way.

This sounds very much like an introverted, people oriented/feeling personality. Film characters who share this trait with Krishna include Princess Padm?© Amidala, Leia Organa, Luke Skywalker and C3PO.

"Why don't we look at this from a mosquito's point of view?" ??" Dr. Beverly Crusher (Star Trek: TNG)

Dh?«roddhata

A person who is very envious, proud, easily angered, restless and complacent is called dh?«roddhata by learned scholars. Such qualities were visible in the character of Lord Kr?£s?£n?£a, because when He was writing a letter to K?layavana, Kr?£s?£n?£a addressed him as a sinful frog. Sometimes Bh?«ma, the second brother of the P?n?£d?£avas, is also described as dh?«roddhata.

An extroverted, task oriented/thinking personality-type fits this description. Characters like R2-D2, Han Solo and Jabba the Hut also have this personality.

"No one gets the best of me in my kitchen!" ??" Neelix (Star Trek: Voyager)

Darth Vader = my personality type
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Guardian Inspector (ISTJ: Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging)

Overview:

  • Extremely thorough, responsible, and dependable.
  • Serious and quiet, interested in security and peaceful living.
  • Well-developed powers of concentration.
  • Usually interested in supporting and promoting traditions and establishments.
  • Well-organized and hard working, they work steadily towards identified goals.
  • They can usually accomplish any task once they have set their mind to it.

Frequency: 6%

Star Trek type: Spock and Chief Miles O'Brien

Star Wars type: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader, Grand Moff Tarkin (this site also has links to some very good practical tips for the various different personalities)

Values:

  • Productivity
  • Conformity, Tradition, Duty and Service
  • Reliability, Etiquette, Protocols
  • Structure, Order, Attention to Detail

Leadership style:

  • Traditionalist, Stabilizer, Consolidator
  • Strategy Management, Logistics
  • Processes, Routines, Policies, Rules and Regulations

More about my personality:

Personality testing and evaluation:

  • Socionics has an excellent personality self-test and tool to evaluate how two different personalities relate with one another.

(Thanks to Sitapati and Tri-Yuga for the initial info)

Cheating education system
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The UK government has decided to change the way university fees work. They claim this change is to help the poorest students to be able to afford an education. It's fairly complicated with different amounts of loans, bursaries, grants and fees. However, cutting through all the fluff, it turns out that, on-average, students starting university this September will end up paying about double the amount of money for their education (tuition fees have tripled, but do not need to be paid until after gradation).

Average student debt (from Natwest Student Money Matters Survey):
2002: ?£2,489
2003: ?£8,125

Estimated average student debt at graduation (from annual Barclays Student Survey):
2004: ?£12,069
2006: ?£17,561
2010: ?£33,708

According to the NatWest survey the average monthly expense of a student breaks down as follows (figures for 2004):

Rent: ?£289.60
Food shopping: ?£78.73
Alcohol: ?£74.14
Going out: ?£62.40
Cigarettes: ?£70.00
Clothes: ?£53.56
Eating out: ?£53.47
Utilities: ?£58.76
Transport: ?£54.56
Phone: ?£44.29
Books: ?£38.13
Monthly total: ?£877.64

The UK government isn't stupid. They have as a target: "to have 50% of young people enter higher education by 2010". Why do they want nearly everyone in the country to have the equivalent of NZ$ 100k debt? Is this some conspiracy to control the people?

Guru's answer: "It's the new version of the old serfdom.
University students now equal the peasantry."

IJCAI day 7
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The conference is over. Over 300 papers were presented. Over 1000 people attended.

The last day started with an interesting keynote from a researcher from Sarcos Corp. Sarcos make robots. For example (in chronological order from the late '80s until today):

  • Utah artificial arm: a realistic looking replacement arm for amputees which picks up the small electrical current on the limb stump and uses it to control a motorized elbow and finger-grabbing action. Not as good as a real arm, but much better than no arm at all. Bionic man is coming.
  • Dexterous undersea arm with gravity compensation: a huge half-a-ton arm for undersea operation that can be remote controlled from an arm-glove-like device. It can, at one moment, pick up a raw egg without breaking the shell and the next pick up and throw a 150 kg anvil.
  • Disney theme park humanoid robots: fast moving robots that, for example, sword-fight each other.
  • Jurassic Park theme park dinosaurs: for example, a huge 40000 kg moving T-Rex for a water ride. They had to slow-down the movement of the robot, because it caused the entire building to shake.
  • Las Vegas Bellagio Robotic Fountains: 224 robotic super-high-pressure water shooters that can be programmed to quickly rotate in any direction while shooting water and thereby deliver artistic flowing water displays (price: $37000 each)
  • Micro surgery tube and video camera: a flexible robotic tube that can be feed through an artery from the hip all the way up into the brain to repair critical damage and stop internal bleeding
  • Exoskeleton XOS-1: an exoskeleton which makes carrying 100 kg on ones back feel like 5 kg and enables the wearer to otherwise move as he or should would normally. Developed for the US military for use in a variety of combat conditions.

Statistical Machine translation is getting good. Google has created a corpus of 200 millions words of multi-language-aligned training data and made it available for researchers. RAM is becoming cheap enough to make complex phrase based translation algorithms feasible. The results in translating the world's most spoken languages (in this order: Mandarin, English, Spanish, Hindi, Bengali, Arabic, Malay, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese, German, French) into each other are getting really good. Sentience structure is a bit weird, but the translations are fully understandable.

Oh yes, Peter Patel Schneider thinks that the semantic web is doomed. The RDF foundation on which the semantic web is based can't be extended to support First-Order Logic without introducing paradoxes. One could, for example, use FOL RDF to say: "this sentence is false". The RDF triple syntax is not expressive enough to prevent these kinds of illogical statements. Tragic, isn't it?

Now I'll have to spend some time detoxing from all the materialism I've been absorbed in for the past week.

(Update: check out some Sarcos Robot videos here)

IJCAI day 6
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Lots of stuff I didn't understand today at the IJCAI conference. I'll not talk too much about that. However, there were also some very interesting biology related results. Read on:

The day started off with a keynote by a neuroscientist talking about the brain and what underlying AI models it uses internally. His religious belief was that the only reason we have a brain is to drive our motor system.

Trees don't have brains, because they don't have to move. Sea squids have small brains to help them swim around the ocean. However, in their lifecycle they eventually attach themselves permanently to a rock. Once attached, the first thing they do is digest their own brain for food. No more movement = no more need for brain = yum.

He went through a whole load of clever experiments he conducted to determine how the human brain learns to do various tasks. It turns out that legs are optimized for efficiency and arms use special probability distributions for controlling their movement, minimizing noise error and optimum feedback for maximum smoothness and accuracy. Eyes are also accuracy optimized and share some of the same processing framework as the legs. Since the brain's processing power is limited, it reuses thinking circuitry wherever appropriate. Sounds like a very well designed robot to me.

Some researchers where (still) working on the traveling salesman problem. They found some minor optimizations. Ho-hum.

One guy used Apple's Keynote presentation software to give a presentation on "Temporal difference networks with history" (no, I didn't understand it either). However, his presentation looked so much more refined, smooth and professional than all the other previous Powerpoint presentations. I was shocked at how much better everything looked. If I ever get accepted to give a talk at one of these important international conferences I'll definitely get a Mac and present using Keynote.

An Israeli guy presented a clever partial database lookup algorithm variation on the A* algorithm. He developed a very quickly way to solve Tile puzzles, Rubik's Cubes and Top Spin games. He can now solve any 3x3x3 Rubik's Cube in 1/50th of a second where previous brute-force computing methods took 2 days.

An Australian researcher named J. P. Bekmann presented an "Improved Knowledge Acquisition System for High-Performance Heuristic Search". This system used an array of Ripple-Down Rules (RDR) to automatically wire-up a complex two-layer circuit array. He built the system in such a way that it would simulate building thousands of wiring connections thousands of times and use a genetic algorithm to "breed" the most effective rules. By the principles of natural selection only the most beneficial rules survive in the RDR-set and an optimal circuit layout is built.

However, it turns out that the system gets stuck quite quickly. It will run for some time improving itself, but then bottom-out very soon, running for thousands of generations without making any significant progress. A human expert has to intervene and introduce new rule-seeds. The genetic algorithm then either integrates these into the rule-set, or, if they are ineffective, they slowly let them "die-off".

It took the researchers and some circuit wiring experts a week of working interactively with the tool to produce an optimal rule-set of about 200 rules that could create a circuit design as good as one previously built by experts in half a year.

The result, while impressive from a computer science point-of-view, is also very interesting from a Krishna conscious point-of-view. Even simulated evolution only works on very simple problems. The evolving computer program requires periodic intelligent intervention as soon as a slightly more complex task needs to be solved. Complex new features can and do not appear by accident.

IJCAI day 5
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Today was all about my field: description logics and ontologies.
Sony QRIO

Realization: most AI research is very simple, but the researchers disguise the triviality of their solutions by including loads of complicated looking math equations into their presentations (which no one, even if they are experts in the field, can hope to understand in the few seconds they appear on the slide) and using the technical jargon secret language so that those that don't know what the codewords translate into can't get a grasp on what is actually going on. Since I actual knew a bit about what the researchers presented today (I'm an insider in the DL-cult), I could see through some of the attempts to make research look more complicated than it actually was.

Franz Baader presented a paper on a polynomial time fragment of OWL-DL (SHOIN). His research focused on providing a description logic for use in medical ontologies which are often relatively simple, but quite large. His proposed logic EL+ includes conjunction, subsumption, nominals, GCIs, disjoint axioms, but does not include negation, inverse roles, disjunction, or number/cardinality restrictions.

Dmirty plans to build this quick algorithm into FaCT++ at some point. This would result in a kind of hybrid reasoner that is really fast for the easy stuff and can bring in the full power of the tableaux algorithm to solve the more difficult classification talks. Obviously the holy grail is to also link in first-order logic reasoning to be able to reason over almost any construct.

Speaking of Dmitry, he also presented a paper on various optimization in his FaCT++ reasoner. He has implemented a system of TODO list-like reorderable queues that allow the reasoner to dynamically order rule execution. Existential restrictions can be evaluated last and non-deterministic disjunction expansion can be ordered in an intelligent fashion. These reshuffling rules can also be varied depending on the type of ontology. GALEN, for example, requires very different rule-ordering to achieve maximum classification performance than other ontologies.

Heiner Stuckenschmidt talked about various means of mapping multiple ontologies together. His conclusion: use the e-connections technique invented by Jim Hendler's Mindswap research group in Maryland. It captures the more different connection semantics than any other methodology.

I learned yet more about bucket elimination, constrains processing and local search. Adnan Darwiche, a very fast talking Spanish/Mexican professor, gave the afternoon keynote address. I'll need some time to think about this.

Ian Horrocks gave the best talk of the day. He talked about a new decision procedure for SHOIQ that he and Ulrike Sattler came up with. What made his talk so good was that he didn't make it complicated. He explained the process of reasoning over expressive ontologies abstractly and intuitively. SHOIQ reasoning turned out to be more difficult than anyone would have thought. But now, finally, a reasoner can be built than can classify OWL-DL with all its feature, bells and whistles.

Thomas Bittner gave a (confusing) talk on parthood, componenthood and containment. He didn't really say much in 25 minutes. His conclusion: use his new, so called, L-language to expressive transitive role propagation and some other stuff in a kind-of pseudo first-order logic layer over OWL. Yet another rules language. Yawn.

Luciano Serafini introduced DRAGO (Distributed Reasoning Algorithm for a Galaxy of Ontologies). It is a peer-to-peer reasoning system for distributed ontologies. It uses PELLET as each node in the network of reasoners. He also described some (confusing) concept of "holes" that allow inconsistent ontologies to be ignored by the reasoner. It seems kind of obvious, but maybe there is more to it than that.

Sony QRIO finished off the day. Sony's much hyped world-touring robot prototype. Their very life-like 2-foot tall humanoid robot gave a number of demos. The QRIO could dance in techno and salsa-style. He could also speak (in Japanese), navigate an obstacle course full of stuffed animal toys, crawl under a table, climb a small set of stairs and kick a ball around. He did all this by using his stereo vision camera eyes (which could change color in a very cool locking effect) to evaluate his surroundings. He also did some facial recognition. Finally, he had the ability to respond to sounds, detecting and moving towards the clapping of hands behind him.

All this was running inside the cute, tiny robot on 3 separate 400 MHz RISC CPUs running what looked like RedHat Linux. The QRIO could operate fully autonomously, though the Sony engineers could also control him wirelessly from their laptops. Very impressive overall. Scarily human-like walking motion, gestures (and dancing). No doubt we'll be seeing a production model QRIO soon. Young and old kids around the world will so want one.

It took many hundreds of Sony engineers and many decades of worldwide academic research work in order to produce this robot that can just about mimic a few basic human/animal functions. And yet, scientists say that super-complex machine of the human body must have come about completely by chance. No intelligent design whatsoever was involved.