Video blogging
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The market for amateur video content on the Internet is growing rapidly. A creative and unique video weblog (also known as vLog) can attract millions of young viewers. Carana Renu also recently blogged about this opportunity.

Market analysis
Vlogging is the practice of posting low-budget home-made video on a blog website. User created content on the net is exploding. It even has big-media companies worried. People might stop watching their stuff (heaven forbid). People are already watching less TV and spending more time on the Internet.

More successful companies like Google have also entered the market. Google recently bought an up and coming video sharing website (YouTube) for $1.65 billion. Analysts estimate that the total market worth of online video in the United States alone will be $7 billion in 2010.

Technical background information
Media players like the Apple iPod, most smartphones and the newly introduced iPhone all play video content. Practically all computers can, of course, also play video. These devices can be set to automatically download video from the Internet for later playback on the go (using a process call podcasting and rss feeds). Many people watch vlog content they have subscribed to while e.g. on the train to work. They get the new episodes automatically delivered to their device as they are published. They watch the shows they want to watch, when they want to watch them. It is time shifted TV (with more interesting content).

Examples of vlogs
All successfully vlogs have a few things in common: they have their own unique style and personality and don't try to copy something that already exists. They are fresh, funny, creative and hosted by energetic presenters who genuinely care about what they are doing. A good length for a video 3 - 5 minutes.

Here are some examples of successful vlogs:
Ask a Ninja
Jetset Show
Happy Slip
RocketBoom

Potential benefit of a Krishna conscious vlog
The Internet is the Maha-Brihad Mrdanga of our time. A normal mrdanga can be heard only in a small radius, while Bhaktisiddhanta Saravati's brihad mrdanga was book distribution. But books have to be printed and physically distributed. The Internet is not bound by physical limitations. Content can be distributed to an almost unlimited number of people, as long as they are willing to watch. More and more people are coming online every day, all seeking interesting and entertaining content. For example: 300,000 people download each episode of Rocketboom and 100 million videos are downloaded from YouTube each day! YouTube recently had an award competition for the best online videos of 2006.

Most Krishna conscious video content that I've seen freely available on the Internet is either low quality or very old. Some DVD material is much better, but suffers from very limited distribution and is too long for the short attention spans of today's youth.

A Krishna conscious vlog done correctly could have major local and global impact!

A show that covers issues local to the city will naturally attract views in that city and connect with the local population. Moreover, a member of the media (i.e. a person with a camera, distribution mechanism and audience) has a license to interview almost anyone. The vlog presenters could have access to the local celebrities, asking them relevant spiritual questions, selling them books and maybe even introducing them to Krishna consciousness. Another George Harrison would work wonders for KC. Of course, such a vlog would also help attract people to the local center or temple.
Vlog content could be be re-used globally as part of presentations anywhere in the world.

Possible topics

  • Authoritatively smashing the bogus so-called spiritual activities
  • Interviews with celebrities
  • Ask a Hare Krishna
  • Interviews with normal people on the street
  • Highlighting the evils and dangers of birth, death, disease and old age
  • Answering viewer submitted questions
  • Teaching of yoga postures with KC commentary
  • Enticing people with images of the prasasdam
  • Video renditions of plays
  • Covering of local news and current events from a spiritual angle
  • Covering the festivals in a "news" style
  • Teaching Krishna conscious philosophy and science (but keep it short, light and funny)

Potential problems

  1. The production quality could be too low, or the content could not be interesting enough for normal people and no one would end up watching the vlog.
  2. Someone creating a devotee vlog might not have had enough expose to the vlog medium to be able to style it in such a way that it is successful and attractive to audience.
  3. The hosts might will not have the necessary enthusiasm (which will come through in the video) and it will not be very attractive.
  4. Devotees might start, but, after a few episodes, loose interest/motivation and fail to produce new shows. The project would eventually fizzle out and disappear like many, many one-off hit videos that are popular one day and forgotten the next. The only successful vlogs are the ones that remain popular episode after episode.

Conclusion
Video blogging is a new upcoming style of media. A Krishna conscious vlog is a great, fun opportunity to communicate Krishna consciousness to millions of people. Someone should do it. In fact, everyone should do it.

DHL Hell: they don’t deliver
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DhlI ordered a new suitcase from a very nice suitcase store in Germany. As with almost every store in Germany, they ship using DHL.
I wasn't in when the delivery was first attempted. The card said "sorry me missed you when we tried to deliver at time: pm". "pm" is kind of vague time, but ok, "no problem", I thought. I'll just phone them and arrange for another redelivery.

So, I phoned the DHL redelivery line and got an automated service. It asked me to speak clearly all kinds of information: package number, my name, my address, my phone number. It offered no feedback as to if it was using some kind of voice recognition, or if some poor soul was going to listen to the recording and enter the data into a computer manually.

So, the day when I asked that the next delivery occur: nothing. I stayed at home all day waiting and nothing came.

So, I phone DHL again. This time working my way though the number menu until I finally get a human being one the phone. The guy tells me that "yes, we've been having some trouble with the automated system, I'll manually book a delivery for you". So, I arrange for a delivery the next day and ... nothing. Again, no DHL package for me.

So, once again I phone the (expensive) DHL line. This time I insist that they phone the local distribution office and find out that is going wrong. The person in the local office tells me that someone has just phoned them to pick up my package from the depot. "What?! I certainly didn't phone to pick up my package".

It appears that someone somewhere wrote a wrong package number on my package and that's why the re-delivery attempts were not happening. So, I ask them to redeliver again the next week. The response: "we will try to deliver on Monday, if not then on Tuesday."

What kind of courier service doesn't know when they will deliver a package?! Do they expect me to stay at home all day for weeks on end waiting for their messed up logistics to serendipitously deliver?!

The lady promises to give me a phone call first thing Monday morning and tell me if it will be Monday or Tuesday.

Monday passes. No phone call. No package. This is getting really annoying.

So, I (again) phone DHL. They tell me that the package has been scanned for delivery and put onto the van, but no delivery was made and no card was left. So, the operator I spoke to thought they must have mistakenly scanned the card and not actually put it into the truck for delivery. They'll deliver tomorrow. Promised!

"Tomorrow" comes and goes. No delivery. I phone DHL again (!) and ask for the number of the local branch. The first person I talk to offers to arrange for a redelivery and phone me back. I say: "no way, not again" and ask to speak to the manager. The manager is understanding and explains that they probably have a new driver who ran out of time yesterday because he was driving in a new unknown area. He offers to personally go down into the warehouse, find the parcel and prioritize the delivery for the next day. I ask him to deliver to it to my office address instead of my home, since, if they mess up the delivery date again, at least someone will be at the porters office in the University at all times.

The next day, I'm in the office, but no delivery comes. So, at the end of the day, I once again phone DHL and ask to speak to the manager I spoke to the day before. His phone rings a few times and then the connection cuts off with a busy signal. I try again after a few minutes. Same result.

So I choose another path through the DHL phone navigation network and get a "customer feedback" representative. She explains that it is illegal for customers to redirect their delivers to alternate destinations (something to do with insurance law). I (completely frustrated at this point and thinking I have no hope of ever getting the delivery) ask that the package be delivered the next day and that she please makes sure this happens, no matter what (not that that hasn't been promised many times before).

I get home and, much to my surprise, there is a big box waiting for me outside my door with a note from my landlord. It turns out that he was doing some repair work in the flat below mine during the day and just happened to be at the door when the DHL delivery truck came (it seems that they re-tried delivering to my home address when they couldn't change the delivery to my office address; although, of course, they didn't think it might be a good idea to tell me about this so I could be at the right location to receive the delivery).

So, after over two and half weeks of trying, I finally have my order. However, it took providential arrangement to make it happen. It seems DHL need divine intervention to successfully deliver a package.

Bottom line: please, if you at all help it, don't ever use DHL!! (and I sincerely hope I cost DHL a lot of business with this blog post).

Philosophical lesson: you are not the doer (BG 3.27).

Vedicsoc session #2.19 rain and taxes
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3 people for this week's session. One new person (though not the person from last week). The new person was a medical student and frequented Brahma Kumari silent meditation sessions. She said chanting Hare Krishna was comparable with mindfulness and other meditation techniques she was used to.

I kept our group chanting going for 20 minutes, because everyone seemed quite alert and was chanting strongly.

We then discussed the second verse of the beautiful Light of the Bhagavad: a book of Chinese Gongbi art, poetry from the Srimad Bhagavatam and purports of Vedic philosophy by Srila Prabhupada.

"The scorching heat of the sun evaporates water from the seas, rivers, and reservoirs, and there is little water anywhere. The people become thirsty and always look overhead for rain, but in despair. Yet just at the right moment, torrents of rain begin to fall everywhere in the land, even on the hard stones, and the land becomes overflooded."

Taxes should be collected in good times and redistributed back to the people in times of necessity. However, corrupt politicians disturb this process by profiteering from the tax collection. In a democracy the blame for this lies squarely with the people. Unqualified people elect unqualified leaders. If the people were qualified God conscious individuals, then they would a elect a qualified God conscious leader. However, as it currently stands, they people elect a leader who is just as stupid as they are. So, the presence of rampant cheating and corruption should be of no surprise to anyone.

"Taxes should therefore be spend to build the character of the people in general. That will bring happiness to the citizens of the state."

Manchester Gaura Purnima
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Gaura Purnima Manchester GalleryGaura Purnima. The Golden Moon festival. The appearance of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The most important day of the year for Vaisnavas.
This year I went to the Manchester temple for this auspicious event. It was great! The devotees performed a very good play: the story of the Chand Kasi (Maulana Sirajuddina or Habibara Rahamana). A muslim magistrate who about 500 years ago outlawed the chanting of Hare Krishna. Caitanya organized a civil disobedience march to counter the ban. Thousands of devotees chanted in the streets and surrounded the Kasi's house.

The Kasi eventually emerges from his house and discusses the philosophical differences of Islam and Vaisnavism with Lord Caitanya. After debating according the scripture the Kasi admits that the reasons and argument for meat-eating in the Koran is not very sound, but he must accept them nevertheless for the sake of his community (CC Adi 17.170+171). He accepts the Vedas as bona-fide scriptures and passes a law the the chanting of the Maha Mantra must never be impeded.

The ecstatic kirtan after the play confirmed the power and bliss of chanting the Maha Mantra.

The pictures of the day are in the gallery
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Vedicsoc session #2.18 entanglement
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5 people for this week's session, including one new visitor. We did some gentle slow-deep stretch yoga to help heal everyone's bad backs. The then did mantra chanting, as usual. The time passed surprisingly quick. Chanting for 10 minutes seemed like a flash.

We discussed: entanglement.

  1. What entangles us in the thorn bush of material world? (desires)
  2. Why it is difficult to escape? (the more we struggle, the tighter the vines/ropes/modes bind us)
  3. How to get free? (practice karma-yoga (BG4.14) (BG4.22))
  4. How to practice karma yoga? (offer the results of action to Krishna (BG5.12))
  5. How to learn how to sacrifice the results of action? (get help)
  6. How to get help? (surrender unto a bona-fide spiritual master (BG4.34))

Now, after the session, the following quote from a conversation with Prabhupada in the Science of Self-Realization comes to mind:

Mr. O'Grady: The problem is to find this spiritual master.
Srila Prabhupada: That is not the problem. The problem is whether you are sincere. You have problems, but God is within your heart. Isvarah sarva-bhutanam. God is not far away. If you are sincere, God sends you a spiritual master. Therefore God is also called caitya-guru, the spiritual master within the heart. God helps from within and from without. Everything is thus described in the Bhagavad-gita. This material body is like a machine, but within the heart is the soul, and with the soul is the Supersoul, Krishna, who gives directions. The Lord says, "You wanted to do this; now here is the chance. Go and do it." If you are sincere, you say, "Now, God, I want You." Then He will give you directions. "Yes, now you come and get Me like this." This is kindness. However, if we want something else, that is all right. We can have it. God is very kind. When I want something, He is in my heart directing me and telling me how to have it. So why should He not give directions on how to have a spiritual master? First of all we must again be eager to revive our God consciousness. Then God will give us a spiritual master.

One person revealed a significant source of entanglement for her: a property developer was in the process of dispossessing her of some land she owns. This kind of thing might be expected in a place like Kazakhstan, but not in a place as supposedly civilized as the UK. So, what to do? A long entangling bureaucratic legal fight to the death, or give up and let them have their way?

Any advice? What would you do?

Either way, this situation may be a special favor from Krishna. Krishna takes everything away from those devotees that he especially favors (SB10.88.8). And ultimately, as time, he takes everything away anyway (SB9.4.53).

Vedicsoc session #2.16 new day
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I decided to move the Vedicsoc session from Tuesday to Thursday. A number of people told me they could no longer make it on Tuesday and a number of potential people said they never came because they couldn't make it on Tuesdays.

People are so busy.

Two people came. One new person coming for the first time emailed me asking why no one was there on the Tuesday.

We did a little bit of physical yoga and discussed current events from a Vedic perspective.

Changing Signs
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A friend recently told me about how she got her Vedic astrological chart done and it turned out that she was a different sign all together from her Western one. This is because the Vedic one calculates based on the moon rather than the sun, or something like that. So she encouraged me to get mine done too, and I’ve already been thinking about it. But now I’m worried. You see, up to this point I’ve really identified with my Western sign. Since the time my grandmother told me I was a Pisces when I was a young boy I have always seen the many similarities described about that sign in my own personality, both the good and bad. Although it wasn’t easy, I liked being a Pisces. The dreamer and spiritual seeker. Sometimes irresponsible but if he gets his head out of the clouds can do great things in this world. And she also told me about avoiding fire signs—although we would be attracted to each other, we would clash. So whenever I met a fire sign I warned myself to watch out. Stay away, if possible. I did end up having relationships with them and yes, it was never boring.

But now I question myself, if I get my Vedic chart done, what if I’m also something different? Or even worse, what if I am a dreaded fire sign? How will things change? Will I become like them? Was I always that way, but just never realized it? Who am I and who have I been all this time? Did I just become what I thought I was supposed to be based on my sign? Sometimes it is said that we are simply actors on a stage. We make up an image we want others to perceive us as, and often even fool ourselves.

These questions make us realize that we are conditioned in so many ways, and therefore develop various identities based on that conditioning. If it’s not from our sign, it’s based on our race, sex, country or ethnicity. The Gita explains that these are all false conceptions, but the real self is none of these things. The body is actually always changing—in this life from childhood to youth and youth to old age; and changes again into another body at death. But the soul is unchangeable, something completely different. Another friend told me how she was a singer since a young age and then one day, due to overuse of her vocal chords, couldn’t sing anymore. It proved to be a life changing experience as she then questioned her identity and began seriously her spiritual pursuit.

So maybe this will prove to be a good thing; that I will be able to renounce my attachment to my birth sign and the conditioning resulting in that; the story I’ve told myself about my life. For I am beyond all of these things-- I am an eternal soul, servant of the Supreme Lord. That, and that alone, is all I need to realize. With that said, I still hope that I won’t be a fire sign.

Changing Signs
→ Servant's Report

A friend recently told me about how she got her Vedic astrological chart done and it turned out that she was a different sign all together from her Western one. This is because the Vedic one calculates based on the moon rather than the sun, or something like that. So she encouraged me to get mine done too, and I’ve already been thinking about it. But now I’m worried. You see, up to this point I’ve really identified with my Western sign. Since the time my grandmother told me I was a Pisces when I was a young boy I have always seen the many similarities described about that sign in my own personality, both the good and bad. Although it wasn’t easy, I liked being a Pisces. The dreamer and spiritual seeker. Sometimes irresponsible but if he gets his head out of the clouds can do great things in this world. And she also told me about avoiding fire signs—although we would be attracted to each other, we would clash. So whenever I met a fire sign I warned myself to watch out. Stay away, if possible. I did end up having relationships with them and yes, it was never boring.

But now I question myself, if I get my Vedic chart done, what if I’m also something different? Or even worse, what if I am a dreaded fire sign? How will things change? Will I become like them? Was I always that way, but just never realized it? Who am I and who have I been all this time? Did I just become what I thought I was supposed to be based on my sign? Sometimes it is said that we are simply actors on a stage. We make up an image we want others to perceive us as, and often even fool ourselves.

These questions make us realize that we are conditioned in so many ways, and therefore develop various identities based on that conditioning. If it’s not from our sign, it’s based on our race, sex, country or ethnicity. The Gita explains that these are all false conceptions, but the real self is none of these things. The body is actually always changing—in this life from childhood to youth and youth to old age; and changes again into another body at death. But the soul is unchangeable, something completely different. Another friend told me how she was a singer since a young age and then one day, due to overuse of her vocal chords, couldn’t sing anymore. It proved to be a life changing experience as she then questioned her identity and began seriously her spiritual pursuit.

So maybe this will prove to be a good thing; that I will be able to renounce my attachment to my birth sign and the conditioning resulting in that; the story I’ve told myself about my life. For I am beyond all of these things-- I am an eternal soul, servant of the Supreme Lord. That, and that alone, is all I need to realize. With that said, I still hope that I won’t be a fire sign.

For all my working friends out there
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"Other devotees play with Krishna as friends on equal terms. They do not know that Krishna is God; to them, Krishna is their lovable friend, and they cannot forget Him for a moment. All day and all night, they think of Krishna. At night, when they are sleeping they think, "Oh, in the morning I shall go and play with Krishna." And in the morning they go to Krishna's house and stand by while Krishna is decorated by His mother before going out to play with His friends in the fields. There is no other activity in Krishnaloka. There is no industry, no rushing to the office, or any such nonsense. There is sufficient milk and butter, and everyone eats plentifully. Krishna is very fond of His friends, and sometimes He enjoys stealing butter for them. One can actually live this way, and that is the perfection of existence. We should hanker for that perfectional stage of life. Krishna consciousness is the process to attain it."

From The Science of Self-Realization, page 295

For all my working friends out there
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"Other devotees play with Krishna as friends on equal terms. They do not know that Krishna is God; to them, Krishna is their lovable friend, and they cannot forget Him for a moment. All day and all night, they think of Krishna. At night, when they are sleeping they think, "Oh, in the morning I shall go and play with Krishna." And in the morning they go to Krishna's house and stand by while Krishna is decorated by His mother before going out to play with His friends in the fields. There is no other activity in Krishnaloka. There is no industry, no rushing to the office, or any such nonsense. There is sufficient milk and butter, and everyone eats plentifully. Krishna is very fond of His friends, and sometimes He enjoys stealing butter for them. One can actually live this way, and that is the perfection of existence. We should hanker for that perfectional stage of life. Krishna consciousness is the process to attain it."

From The Science of Self-Realization, page 295

Vedicsoc session #2.15 prison
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Prison bars For this week's Vedicsoc session we got two of our regulars. We discussed prison.

I asked: who wants to be imprisoned? Who wants to be restricted in their activity? Who wants someone else constantly telling them what to do? Who wants their life dictated to them? Who wants to do the same things over and over and over again?

Well, guess what? That is our present situation in the material world.

We all must suffer birth, death, disease and old age. We don't have a choice. The various sense objects control us.

(have you ever done anything you knew was bad for you?)

Breaking the four regulative principles of freedom imprisons us because we turn into animals without free will. Drunkards (and other drug addicts) can't control their senses and become utterly predictable in their behavior. A gambler can't help but gamble his wealth away. Eating meat turns people into violent wild beasts. And finally, illicit sex is the strongest of all. It makes up the invisible bars in the prison of the material world. It makes us desire to remain in the prison even if we know better, let alone if we are completely under its sway.

Even discounting all that, we still can't do what we want. Material nature and our previous activities (karma) control us. I told the story of the blood donor scandal in China that caused millions of people to become infected with HIV and hepatitis. Listen to that story here (really shocking). These people didn't choose their plight, and yet material nature forced it upon them. Again, no freedom.

There is danger at every step in this world (SB10.14.58). Everyone is controlled, but everyone is thinking they are in control (BG 3.27).

So, what is the solution? Eliminate desire altogether? No! That is impossible (BG3.5).

The solution is to control the senses by following the regulative principles of freedom (BG2.64). We must act without attachment to the fruit of our work and practice karma yoga (BG3.19). And ultimately, if we do this, Krishna will help us out and free us from this prison (BG7.14). After all, he is the director of the prison (BG9.10).

I ended by telling the story of King Citraketu. He desires a son and gets lots of joy, followed by even greater misery. However, this learning experience motivates him to become self-realized (after some preaching by Narada Muni). He is later cursed by Uma (Siva's wife) to take birth as a demon. However, he doesn't mind at all. As long as he can remember Krishna, birth in a demon body is irrelevant for him. Siva's response: "just see, such is the character of a devotee".

Tvasta summons this demon now named Vrtrasura to kill Indra (because Indra beheaded Tvasta's son Visvarupa). The demigods attack the giant demon but have all their weapons eaten by the monster (which is kind of depressing for them). Indra consults Visnu who tells him to construct a weapon from the bones of the sage Dadhici. Dadhici is quite happy to sacrifice his body for the higher purpose of killing the demon. He doesn't mind at all. Visvakarma (the architect of the demigods) then uses the bones of Dadhici to construct a lightning weapon for Indra (Indra is the same guy who is known as Zeus / Jupiter in Greek / Roman mythology - hence the thunderbolt).

The demigods once again attack the demon. This time there is an evenly matched fight between Indra and Vrtrasura.

Indra throws his club, but Vrtra catches it with his left hand and smacks Airavata (Indra's mighty elephant). Indra heals Airavata with his magic hand. Vrtra throws his trident, but Indra blows it up in mid-air with his thunderbolt and cuts off Vrtra's arm in the process. Vrtra then uses his remaining arm to attack Indra with his mace and manages to knock his thunderbolt away. Indra is disheartened and wants to give up, but Vrtra preaches to him and tells him to pick his weapon back up and continue fighting. Vrtrasura says:

Everything is controlled by Krishna: only a fool thinks he is in control. If we understand the power of Krishna then we get freedom from distress, happiness, fear, etc. No one wants death, yet is comes; everything is dependent on Krishna, so don't worry: see fame/infamy, victory/defeat, life/death as all the same and know you are just an observer, not the material body.

Encouraged by the sage/demon's words, Indra resumes fighting. He manages to cut off Vrtra's other arm. Vrtra uses his mahima mystic perfection to grow in size and swallows Indra. However, Indra is protected by Narayana-Kavaca which he obtained in a previous story. He cuts a hole in the belly of Vrtrasura and cuts off the demon's head.

Indra and the demigods win the day, and Vrtrasura, the reincarnation of the pious King Citraketu, goes back to Godhead.

My Real Problem: I’m Not Sincere
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Mr. O'Grady: The problem is to find this spiritual master.
Srila Prabhupada: That is not the problem. The problem is whether you are sincere. You have problems, but God is within your heart. Isvarah sarva-bhutanam. God is not far away. If you are sincere, God sends you a spiritual master. Therefore God is also called caitya-guru, the spiritual master within the heart. God helps from within and from without. Everything is thus described in the Bhagavad-gita. This material body is like a machine, but within the heart is the soul, and with the soul is the Supersoul, Krishna, who gives directions. The Lord says, "You wanted to do this; now here is the chance. Go and do it." If you are sincere, you say, "Now, God, I want You." Then He will give you directions. "Yes, now you come and get Me like this." This is kindness. However, if we want something else, that is all right. We can have it. God is very kind. When I want something, He is in my heart directing me and telling me how to have it. So why should He not give directions on how to have a spiritual master? First of all we must again be eager to revive our God consciousness. Then God will give us a spiritual master.

My Real Problem: I’m Not Sincere
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Mr. O'Grady: The problem is to find this spiritual master.
Srila Prabhupada: That is not the problem. The problem is whether you are sincere. You have problems, but God is within your heart. Isvarah sarva-bhutanam. God is not far away. If you are sincere, God sends you a spiritual master. Therefore God is also called caitya-guru, the spiritual master within the heart. God helps from within and from without. Everything is thus described in the Bhagavad-gita. This material body is like a machine, but within the heart is the soul, and with the soul is the Supersoul, Krishna, who gives directions. The Lord says, "You wanted to do this; now here is the chance. Go and do it." If you are sincere, you say, "Now, God, I want You." Then He will give you directions. "Yes, now you come and get Me like this." This is kindness. However, if we want something else, that is all right. We can have it. God is very kind. When I want something, He is in my heart directing me and telling me how to have it. So why should He not give directions on how to have a spiritual master? First of all we must again be eager to revive our God consciousness. Then God will give us a spiritual master.

Devamrita Swami: Essential Questions by Vidura
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Questions are the natural product of affection. Complexities will inevitably be part of practicing KC in the material world. It's like trying to remain dry while immersed in water.

The pushings of senses are reactions for your sensory activity. People say life is a learning process, but what is the lesson?

What is good material advice? "Ride the waves, roll with the punches, life is not a spectator sport you have to get into it". SB gives you more important advice. Other advice is trivialized in comparison.

Notice the way Vidura asks questions. It is not just like someone shouting out a car window. Ask questions like Vidura does. Ask older devotees, no need to wait for Maitreya to come along. Glorify the current teacher.

Ask to understand the pastimes of Krishna that will stimulate our KC, do not ask idle question e.g. "How many toilets were there in Dwaraka?"

Materially you can't be the friend of everyone. You can't meet all the human population.

Why does Krishna say such strong things in BG? Shouldn't He be more positive?

Everyone living in Kali-yuga has lost their vision. You may be thoroughly experienced, but still you cannot see.

"Experience is the best teacher ... because a fool will learn no other way."

Divine knowledge can only come from the devotees. They can stop repeated birth and death.

Question: doesn't maya lead you to the devotees?
Question: I'm still not convinced, doesn't experience at least something to a fool?

That is the problem with the world's population: "I don't know what I'm doing, you don't know what you're doing, so lets have a kid" The illusory energy throws a blanket over your head and then tells you: "now make progress, create a civilization." We aren't trying to be a Spielverderber (kill-joy). We are trying to cure a severe disease. We take precautions because we want to love. Love is not a cheap thing. It requires great preparation and qualification. Material romance lasts on average 12 - 16 months. That's the best the material energy gives you. We want real eternal love, but we have to become qualified. How many of you would fall in love with someone who has no qualification? Real love grants you immunity from material miseries. Has a lover ever offered you that?

Questions:

  • BG says you can't take up KC without a storehouse of pious activities. So how can we take up KC?
  • How do our own desires move us to meet with the devotees?
  • I was treated very unfairly and excluded by the community of devotees yesterday. What will you do about it?

There is great potential for Krishna consciousness in Germany. People appreciate that there may be another possibility in life rather than the mundane. People are open and accepting. Right here there are 4 devotees here in Berlin who came to KC in New Zealand. In Melbourne Australia the personal driver of the current German Chancellor (Angela Merkel) volunteered to wash dishes in the temple. There is so much potential, so now you need to think how you can take advantage of this potential. There will always be setbacks, but the devotees qualification is that he keeps pushing forward. The future is in your hands.

Devamrita Swami: End of the Damodara-lila
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Devotees tend to want to focus on Krishna, on the pastime of mother Yasoda binding Krishna. Now that Krishna is bound to the mortar, what happened then? Time for more mischief: I shall knock down these two Yamala Arjuna trees.

Let us go to the heavenly planets: two sons of Kuvera were engaging in material enjoyment. They were sporting with young girls in the heavenly planets. Manigriva and Nalakuvara were so arrogant and intoxicated. Drunk and enjoying with young girls, this is the essence of life. Everyone should be like this, right?

Civilized life begins with controlling the senses. So Narada Muni become transcendentally angry. Of riches, great learning, good birth and personal beauty, riches are the most degrading. Queen Kunti says: People maddened by these things can't chant the names of Krishna.

Who here is materially exhausted? Better to be poor. Now, you may become afraid of KC? "If I become serious about KC I might loose all my wealth"

The example of a mother pinching her child to wake her up to give her medicine. See only a part of the picture and you might think this is cruel. The demigods emerging from the trees began to glorify Krishna. Krishna was thinking: "I'm just a cowheard boy, why are they saying these things?" Just see the paradox of the situation: first the unlimited is bound by Mother Yasoda, then the bound person is setting others free.
You all work but always get an "Urlaub" (vacation). But the senses never give you an "Urlaub". So you take intoxication, but that doesn't solve the problem, it just makes you forget for a few hours.

Nalakuvara and Manigriva were enjoying in heaven where the sense enjoyment was 10,000 and 100,000 better than here and still they are praying to Krishna for no more material enjoyment, just pure love of God.

Questions:

  • Offering to a devotee is higher than offering to Krishna directly. Could you talk a little more about this?
  • Krishna was angry at being bound, but he also was thinking he wanted to fulfill the words of Narada Muni. Was this the same small boy Krishna or some other aspect of him?
  • Is it okay for a mother to see her child as Krishna?

Devamrita Swami: BG4.9 End of Logic and Reason
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Weimar is a great University city. Apply your great education to understanding Krishna. Proof of Krishna is not in logic and reason, the proof is in the scripture. But sometimes logic and reason is useful to help you understand the scripture. Logic and reason cannot stretch into completely spiritual topics. It can only take you so far.

Who has never felt attraction to anyone? All this attraction originates in Krishna. Once you understand Krishna you can understand the source of all attraction. The goal isn't to become some dry theologian. The goal is to train you to feel the natural dormant attraction to Krishna. Krishna isn't some theoretical construct, but the source of all attractiveness. He drowns the inhabitants of Vrindavan in unlimited pools of ecstasy.

Most people today think that the result of getting knowledge is increased income. Without the financial reward most students wouldn't go to school. The result of transcendental knowledge is to go to a place from which you will never return.

"All I know is that my body needs some sensuality and my crazy mind needs some intoxication. And while I'm doing that I'll study something that will hopefully make me some money."

That is life as it is lived today.

The vow to sing this particular song during the kartik month is a necessary part of bhakti. To truly appreciate the damodara-lila you have to have an understanding of the spiritual paradox. What is the use of education without understanding Krishna?

This is the highest science of pure love: the one who binds everyone through maya is bound by his devotees' pure love.
Every time Mother Yasoda tried to bind Krishna the rope was two fingers too short. But how do you bind someone who has no beginning or end? That is real knowledge. But Mother Yasoda had bhakta-nista, devotional stubbornness. She was determined to discipline her child. Krishna's determination is called sva-nista. Krishna's stubbornness is that he will always reciprocate with his devotees.

Who has been bound before? Remember the old DDR days when you were bound? You couldn't go where you want, or do what you want. One secret police informer for every three persons in the country. And what about the "ropes of affection"? How many have been bound by that? You go out looking for someone: "please bind me, please bind me". Being bound is a faulty situation. But people nowadays are gloried for being in bound:

"I don't know anything: it's great! I don't understand who I am, but 'who cares'? Knowledge to get to the root of anything: that is impossible."

Because of these contaminations we don't feel the thirst to understand Krishna.

Have you ever gazed into someone's face continually and the beauty just increased and increased? With your husband you can try. Go ahead, try it. How long can you look at his face continuously? Do you ever curse the creator: "oh, why just two eyes to look into my husband's face"? Therefore, there is not real beauty in this world.

Everyone here has just a few basic desires, but you go through so many tribulations just to satisfy them. Now think of having unlimited desires. And think of having the unlimited ability to satisfy those unlimited desire. That is God. He has the surajaya-laksmi ability.

These are some paradoxes you can meditate upon and they will bring great joy to your life. Do any of your professors at university tell you: "upon graduating with this degree you will not take another material body"? Just Professor Krishna said that.

Questions:
- You said that by understanding Krishna we will understand everything else, but I have heard Prabhupada say that we must first become conscious before becoming Krishna conscious?
- How can we love everybody, because someone might be very nasty and not fulfill the necessary requirements that I could love them?

Bogus intelligent design
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I attended a talk by a "science communicator" who was visiting my University. He was speaking on intelligent design from a neutral (yeah, right) perspective.

He outlined both the evolution and intelligent design theories. He quoted anti-evolution argument of the molecular motors that some bacteria use to propel themselves. These little spinning corkscrews propellers consist of over 30 different proteins. Anti-evolutionist have long argued that it would be impossible for these 30 proteins to come together in just the right configuration all at once in one evolutionary step, yet they would have had to in order to form a working and useful motor. However, apparently scientists have now discovered a bacteria that does a similar thing with just 6 proteins. Ha! (although how or why they got from 6 to 30 is not yet known)

He also gave the famous example of the eye, which is way too complicated to have "evolved". However, scientists have now discovered "light sensitive skin". Creatures with such skin obviously gradually evolved into animals with modern eyes. Ha! (although the exact details of how this happened are not yet known)

Another common misconception is that evolution happens by "chance". It is not at all chance. There is no planned outcome. it is not like drawing a specific pair of card from a deck of cards (which would have a small probability). Much rather, it is like getting any pair of matching cards from a deck (much more likely). Lots of different evolutionary paths will work. Nature just happens to have evolved the way it has. If the Universe's dice had rolled differently then we'd all be completely different. So, the ridiculously low probabilities quoted by some opponents of evolution are inaccurate. They are actually much smaller (but still pretty unlikely).

The final steak in the heart of intelligent design is the motivation of intelligent design advocates. Leaked internal documents reveal that they are all Christians who are trying to use it as an inroad to have their religion taught in public schools. This is against the American constitutions, so it is no wonder that the "evolution is just a theory" stickers on text-books and other such attempts get struck down by the courts. The judges aren't stupid. They know there is an ulterior motive behind it.

Christians are being trained up in special universities like the elite Patrick Henry College and the Opus Dei society. They are then tasked with infiltrating key positions of power in school boards, etc. to push their (unconstitutional) Christian agendas.

After his "neutral" talk I asked him about Michael Cremo's books. His answer (and I paraphrase):

Oh yeah, he is another one of those religious types. Which organization does he belong to? The Hare Krishnas, right? However, he does come up with a few very uncomfortable facts. So, yes, I recommend everyone at least has a browse through one of his books. But, don't read any of them, because they are - like - "this" thick. But keep an open mind and at least look at some of the controversial archeological findings he presents.

So, in summary (according to this science communicator person), intelligent design is a concocted idea that ultimately aims to have Christian creationism taught in schools. Science (the new God) will very soon discover the exact detailed mechanism of evolution (even if a few minor missing links are still missing at the moment). And the world will continue to ignore the extremely detailed (non-Christan) intelligent design theory offered by the Vedic literature (even if it does make perfect sense and answer many of the open questions).

Vedicsoc session #2.14
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3 new people this week. However, two of them had to leave within the first 10 minutes. They had just wanted to buy a mantra-meditation kit to practice some chanting at home (fine by me).

I did some chanting with the one person that stayed and we also discussed a little bit of the basic Krishna conscious philosophy.

I'm thinking of moving the Vedicsoc day. Tuesday seems to be difficult for lots of people. However, it is good to keep a consistent day for the occasional people that show up out-of-the-blue. In any case, I sent out a few emails to past attendees asking them which day they would prefer. We will see...

On the Fringe
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What if I just remained on the fringe of society for the rest of my life? Sleeping in the car, showering at the gym, cooking in the park, and reading at the library and bookstore. Not many would notice my existence. Not many would care. I would not cause any harm to others, right? Maybe the few I talked to and gave books to would get some benefit. And friends and family? They would be alright without me. God is taking care of all living entities with or without my help.

But couldn’t you actually accomplish something more within the world? What about your destiny? What is my destiny? If I knew it then I would try to act upon it. SOMEBODY PLEASE TELL ME WHAT I’M SUPPOSED TO DO IN THIS LIFE! But there is no one to tell me. Have to figure it out on my own. And so far, I can’t. So better to be on the fringe and cause no harm…

On the Fringe
→ Servant's Report

What if I just remained on the fringe of society for the rest of my life? Sleeping in the car, showering at the gym, cooking in the park, and reading at the library and bookstore. Not many would notice my existence. Not many would care. I would not cause any harm to others, right? Maybe the few I talked to and gave books to would get some benefit. And friends and family? They would be alright without me. God is taking care of all living entities with or without my help.

But couldn’t you actually accomplish something more within the world? What about your destiny? What is my destiny? If I knew it then I would try to act upon it. SOMEBODY PLEASE TELL ME WHAT I’M SUPPOSED TO DO IN THIS LIFE! But there is no one to tell me. Have to figure it out on my own. And so far, I can’t. So better to be on the fringe and cause no harm…

Software architecture with Grady Booch
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I recently attended a round-table discussion with Grady Booch. Yes, the Grady Booch. What, you've never heard of him? If you studied Computer Science you are sure to have at least one book of his. He is one of the gurus of software development. He is now working as "chief scientist" for IBM.

Read his blog here and another blog of his here.

You can also watch his recent Turing Lecture on "the promise, the limits and the beauty of software". It is very interesting.

Here some tidbits from the discussion with him :

Functional programming languages (like LISP, Scheme and SML) failed largely because they made it very easy to do very difficult things, but it was too hard to do the easy things.

The current buzzword for revolutionizing the software industry is SOA: Service Oriented Architecture. Grady calls it "Snake Oil Oriented Architecture". It is just re-branded "Message Oriented Architecture". The idea is to expose services and describe them using WSDL. This decreases coupling between systems. The service becomes the thing to test things against. The rest of the software application becomes a black box. A meta-architecture emerges: no software is an island onto itself.

It is a good idea, but the hundreds of WS* standards are so complicated and ill-defined that Microsoft's and IBM's implementations end up being incompatible. Lesser companies have no hope of ever implementing these crazy so-called standards. Just another scheme by the big companies to lock people into their software.

Bill Higgins' REST-style of SOA is much more promising. It builds upon the idea of something like HTTP instead of the complex transfer protocols of the WS-Vertigo world.

But back to software architecture...

The next big challenge in software architecture is concurrency. Raw clock speed has just about reached its physical limit. Chip companies are now putting multiple copies of the same CPU onto a single chip. The result is that applications can no longer just be run faster. They have to be run in parallel in some way. For example:

Dreamworks computer animation uses 10,000 serves in a production pipeline to render movies like Shrek 3. They will soon switch to using multi-core processor, but will have trouble distributing the work-load to take advantage of all these multiple cores.

The game company EA has the same problem. the Playstation 3 uses the Cell processor which has an 8-core CPU. How does on take advantage of all these 8 cores? EA segments their games into simple concerns: graphics on one core, audio on another, AI on yet another, etc. But the company admits that they are using only about 10% of the processor's capacity. So much potential computing power is wasted because it is really difficult to parallelize something as complex as a video game.
A typical Google node (and there are many around the world) consists of about 100,000 servers, but Google have a relatively "easy" problem. Search is "easy" to parallelize.

The perfect architecture doesn't exist. Good architectures have evolved over time. The first version of Photoshop wasn't very good, but it has undergone many rebirths. Amazon's computer systems can handle the loss of an entire data-center without a shopper ever noticing. It certainly wasn't always that way, but by gradual refinement they have built (and are continuing to build) a better and better architecture.
A typical EA game costs about $15 million just in development cost (that is without the cost involved in licensing, marketing, or distributing). Two kids in a garage can no longer create amazing software. They can have a great idea, but it has to evolve into something much more complex to be truly useful (on that note: Google is a company most seriously in need of adult supervision; way too much money in the hands of kids. They will soon face a mid-life crisis just like IBM has in the past and Microsoft currently is right in the middle of - just look at the state of Windows Vista).

Some principles for a good architecture:

  • Crisp and resilient abstractions: use an object oriented view of the world, rather than algorithm based view of the world. Think about things instead of processes (this idea dates back to Plato).
  • Good separation of concerns: that is in one sense obvious, but is also really hard to get right. It is very tempting to put a bits of logic in the wrong places in the architecture.
  • Balanced distribution of responsibilities: no part of the system should dominate the entire architecture.
  • Simple systems: the holy grail; very few software companies get to this point. The best systems are ones that actually decrease their amount of code over time. Good developers find ways to do the same functions more efficiently.

How to tell a good architecture when you see one? Ask the following questions?

  • Do you have a software architect? (or, at most, 2 - 3 people sharing the role)
  • Do you have an incremental development process? (not waterfall, but releasing a new version every week or so)
  • Do you have a culture of patterns? (design patterns are beautiful and the best thing for creating good software)

If the answer to all three questions is "yes", then chances are you have a good architecture, or even if you do not have a good architecture at the moment, you will gradually evolve to having one.

4Plus1 Architecture

Want to learn about good architecture? A good place to start is the 4+1 model view of software architecture. Software needs to be envisioned from multiple different perspective simultaneously. Just like their can't be just one 2D diagram outlining the plan for a house, there can't be a single view of a software application. [I might add that there can't just be a single view of the Universe. The Vedic literature therefore describes the Universe from 4 different viewpoints simultaneously.]

As for Web 2.0: it is a meme, an idea, a flag pole that you can hang almost anything off.

As for the Semantic Web? Developers don't understand normal software architecture properly, so what chance is there for them to understand something as complicated as semantically aware software? So, in Grady's opinion, the semantic web is a long, long way off.

Morgenstund hat Gold im Mund
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287666827 016Dc60Fe5
(source)

Or, in Latin, if you prefer: "aurora musis amica"
That is a German proverb that literally means: "the morning hour has gold in the mouth". It kind of loses something in the translation...

Anyway, in a survey of 20 top CEOs, 80% of them get up before 5:30am. So, if you want to be successful: rise and shine! The early bird catches the worm!

(and, if you aren't into worm-eating, the morning hours are also the best time to meditate)

Core Values
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The Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson, the largest Christian book publisher in the world, talks about the core values of his company in this blog posting.

Thomas Nelson

The core values of Thomas Nelson are:

1. Honoring God
2. Serving Others
3. Focus and Discipline
4. World-Class Talent
5. Collaboration

These mesh well with Krishna consciousness, I think.
(Nice company logo, too)

Vedicsoc session #2.13 nuclear weapons
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Only one guest this week. It was a student from Iran who came because I advertised that this week's discussion would be on "nuclear weapons". With the controversy over Iran's nukes in the media he came to hear the Vedic perspective.

He had visited the local temple 3 years ago for a new years party and told me that he still remembered the meal. He raved about the amazing beverage he was served. He said he has never tasted anything like it.

We did a bit of yoga. I then explained the meaning of the maha-mantra and how and why it was compatible with Islam. We chanted together for a bit.

After that we discussed all sorts of things: big media manipulating people's thoughts by propagating a one-sided view of Iran, different conceptions of God and the nuclear weapons described in the Srimad Bhagavatam and Mahabharata:

I told the story of Robert Oppenheimer, the chief scientist who developed the first nuclear bombs in the United States. When he saw the first bomb test he quoted a verse from Bhagavad Gita:

kalo 'smi loka-kshaya-krit pravriddho
lokan samahartum iha pravrittah (BG 11.32)

Later when asked if this was the first nuclear explosion he replied:

"Yes, in modern times, ..."

What Oppenheimer knew was that there were descriptions in the Vedic literature of warriors using nuclear weapons over 5000 years ago. Just as scientists now use high voltage electric sparks (and other methods) to start the chain reaction that results in a nuclear explosion, the most skilled ksatriyas (elite warriors) of the Vedic times could use special sound vibration (mantra) to either fuse or slip atoms and thereby achieve the same explosive effect.

Here is a passage from the Mahabharata describing a nuclear attack:

...a single projectile charged with all the power of the Universe. An incandescent column of smoke and flame, as bright as the thousand suns, rose in all its splendor...a perpendicular explosion with its billowing smoke clouds...
...the cloud of smoke rising after its first explosion formed into expanding round circles like the opening of a giant mushroom...
It was an unknown weapon, an iron thunderbolt, a gigantic messenger of death, which reduced to ashes the entire race of the Vrishnis and the Andhakas...the corpses were so burned as to be unrecognizable. The hair and nails fell out; pottery broke without apparent cause and the birds turned white. After a few hours all foodstuffs were infected...
...to escape from this fire the soldiers threw themselves in streams to wash themselves and their equipment.

In the Bhagavatam there is a description of the misguided warrior Asvatthama being chased by the more powerful Arjuna and, out of desperation, launching a nuclear attack against his enemy. However, Asvatthama didn't know how to properly control the weapon and the chain reaction cascaded out of control, threatening to destroy the entire world. Arjuna, on Krishna's advice, released a nuclear weapon of his own, merged its explosion with that of Asvatthama's weapon and then slowed the joint reactions and retracted both weapons, saving the day.

Point: people who can't property control the great power of nuclear energy shouldn't have access to it, but nukes are perfectly alright for those people of high moral and intellectual standard (which is practically no one today) like Arjuna who can utilize the power properly.

Vegetarianism is the new Prius
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"The livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global." (United Nations LEAD report)

Meat eating is destroying the planet!

In an article over on huffingtonpost, blogger Kathy Freston describes how a vegetarian diet can do more to reduce pollution than, for example, switching to a fuel-saving hybrid car like the Toyota Prius.

Reducing the environmental (and karmic) impact of the 10 billion animals that are killed each year in the United States (that's 300 deaths every second), is far more important than reducing the pollution caused by the 250 million passenger cars in the USA. Of course, there is nothing wrong with more fuel efficient cars, but vegetarianism should be the given much greater priority as a quick, easy, cheap and effective first step to save the planet.

Q: What is the best way to become and maintain a vegetarian diet?
A: Krishna consciousness automatically transforms one's consciousness so that one looses the desire for flesh eating. Repression the desire for meat is very difficult, but by experiencing a higher taste one is fixed in consciousness (see BG 2.59).

Acupuncture (part 10): jaw
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Time, time again for another consultation with Philip Weeks. My digestion was starting to degrade again. A few (actually quite a large amount of) acupuncture needles sorted that out. The healing effect of the needles seems to require a "boost" ever so often.

I also had developed a weird cramp in my jaw. I could hardly open my mouth without a painful spasm shooting through my jaw bone near my ear. Speaking wasn't a problem, but yawning and eating was a little difficult.

Philip used about four needles in the side of my face to release the cramp (or whatever it was). He said these kinds of things are quite common if one grinds one's teeth while sleeping. I obviously wouldn't know if I do. In any case, it is better now. Still not completely gone, but much improved.

Dr. Weeks then also stuck needles into my feet, shins, thumb joints and the side of my nose (!) (which was kind of weird). He explained that a meridian runs all the from the thumb up to the jaw. If one sticks a needle the correct place, one can remove someone's teeth without them feeling a thing.

My body responds well to acupuncture. I would do well to find a good acupuncturist wherever destiny might take me next. However, sorting the good from the demoniac is difficult for the ignorant (i.e. me). According to Philip most of the really good acupuncturists stay in China and only the mediocre to incompetent ones are allowed to leave the country and "heal" westerners. He kindly offered to vet any potential doctor I might find in a foreign country to see if their style matches his own.

Sankirtan and street photography
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What do sankirtan and street photography have in common? Quite a bit actually. Techniques from one apply very much for the other.

I was listening to a podcast over at the Radiant Vista website. Craig Tanner was talking about the way he does street photography. He gives tips on how to overcome the fear of approaching people one does not know, how to stop them by being the most high-energy person on the street, how to build a rapport with them and finally how to ask to take their picture. When the transaction is complete he thanks the person and gives them a gift (the picture he just took). Sound familiar?

Listen to the complete podcast for a different angle on sankirtan (and to improve your photography skills).

Vedicsoc session #2.11
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Just one person for Vedicsoc. It was exam time, so a low turnout was to be expected.

I taught a simple but grueling slow-deep aerobic yoga class. 16 minutes of aerobic exercise were, according to the one guest, "the most difficult thing he had ever done".

We then discussed a wide variety of topic, all referencing the Bhagavad-Gita. From the four regulative principles of freedom to the three modes of nature. It was fun.

Top Krishna conscious blogs
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Google PageRank measures how important a website by how many other websites link to it. The more people link to a website, the more important it is. If no one is linking to a given website it will have a PageRank of 0, if practically everyone on the entire World Wide Web is linking a website it will have a PageRank of 10.

The more important a website, the more likely it is to appear higher up in the list of search results in Google. The higher a site is in the list of search results, the more people find and visit it. So, PageRank gives a good idea of how much impact a website is having.

(You can check the PageRank of any website using this tool.)

I've compiled a list of the various Krishna conscious blogs over the Internet with a Google PageRank score of 5. Five is the highest PageRank of any KC blog I've found. A few non-blog websites like Krishna.com and Iskcon.com have a PageRank of 6, but that's about it.

So then - behold - here the list of those Krishna conscious blogs with the most world-wide impact (according to Google):

(if you have a PageRank of 5, but are not on the list, please comment or email me and I'll add you).

Golden ratio in the design of the iPhone, or why does the iPhone have that black stripe on the bottom?
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The Apple iPhone: Apple's amazing entry into mobile phone market. It blows away any other phone on the market in terms of form, flexibility, features and functionality (and also has a price tag to match: $500 with a 2-year contract).

The iPhone has an amazing design. The front is occupied by a large 3.5-inch multi-touch screen rimmed with silver. The back is also silver, but there is a black stripe along the bottom. It looks kind of strange, but is certainly memorable. Everyone will be able to tell the iPhones from other smartphones when people walk around with them held up against their heads.

Iphone Black Stripe
(image courtesy of AppleInsider.com)
However, I think there is more to this black stripe than just trying to be different. It has to do with the golden ratio. I blogged about the golden ratio in the iPod design a while ago. The rectangle of the iPod is closer to the golden ratio than any other MP3-player. This no-doubt factors into to it's immense appeal.

The iPhone is however far too long to be a golden ratio rectangle.

The 5th-gen iPod's measurements: 103.5 x 61.8 x 11.0 mm
The Apple iPhone's measurements: 115.0 x 61.0 x 11.6 mm

5g iPod ratio: 1.67 : 1
iPhone ratio: 1.88 : 1
Golden ratio: 1.62 : 1

So, has Apple lost its design touch?

No. Judging from the pictures I estimate the silver section along the back of the iPhone is about 95 mm high and the black is 20 mm. This works out to:

iPhone silver sub-section ratio: 1.56 : 1

Pretty close to the golden ratio. The black stripe is barely noticeable next to the polished silver. So, someone looking at the phone from the back will see a near golden ratio rectangle and will be instantly bedazzled by its beauty.

Why is it not exactly the golden ratio? My guess is that because the iPhone has rounded edges, it appears to be less high than it actually is, so, to the human eye, it actually does look exactly like a perfect golden ratio.

Apple design is yet again triumphant: the iPhone miraculously manages to combined the best of both worlds: looking more like a traditional candy-bar phone while simultaneously maintaining an appealing golden ratio shape. Jonathan Ives definitely knows his stuff.

liberated mouse
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I've captured and subsequently liberated a mouse that was camping out in my flat. It was there ever since I got back to my flat after the Christmas break. The mouse had been feasting on a plastic bag full of oat meal it had chewed itself into. However, removing the oat meal and supplying a bait of peanut butter (offered to Krishna) in a steel mousetrap caught me one scared little mouse. So, I took the little guy for a walk down the street and let him out into a bush. The mouse was, of course, super scared, hiding in the trap's doorway and refusing to come out for the longest time. But, after about 5 minutes of chanting at it, it finally shot out of the trap and, like a greased lightning, vaulted itself into the bush.