Tags for the masses, ontologies for developers
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In my line of research I?m very much involved with ontology development. I?m not going to beat around the bush: developing ontologies is hard. Really hard. The more logically rigorous they get, the more difficult they become to construct.

So, you might ask, how is the vision of the great and wonderful ?semantic web? ever going to work? After all, ontologies are the framework that is meant to undergrid the Internet of tomorrow.

Take a look at del.icio.us, flickr.com and technorati. They all use an up-and-coming (craze of the moment) idea of tagging. You allow people to add any word to their content and collect all these tags up into a large list. The larger the font, the more frequently used the tag. The obvious problems are synoyms and homonyms. However: who cares?! It kind of works, anyone can understand the idea, so wa-hey: let?s go tag crazy.

Ontologies however are much more powerful and dangerous. They exactly and unambiously define terms and formally capture relationships between terms. You get transitivity, inheritance and other great stuff like that. Moreover, computers can automatically navigate these data structures and use them to answer almost any question you can you throw at them. Feel the power!

What to do? The general populus is never going to be able to author ontologies, but could possibility be induced to use them, given a simple enough interface. So, if the subject area we are describing is sufficiently limited that we can construct an ontology to cover it (no one is going to be able to create an ontology of ?everything??), then we can allow people to tag their content with our ontologies terms. The result: we can have our computers sort, manage, slice and dice their tagged content any which way, take advantage of all the advanced features and the world is a better place. Amen.


Wisdom to know the difference
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Give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

(The Serenity Prayer is generally thought to have been written by Reinhold Niebuhr. Frequently used by Alcoholics Anonymous.)

"You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty". (BG 2.47)

Every leader should have a blog
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I was listening to an excellent talk with Jonathan Schwartz, president and COO of Sun Microsystems. One of the many interesting things Jonathan said was that a blog is a great tool for leaders. Ever leader should have one. He uses his blog to communicate his ideas to his employees. They can also directly interact with him by posting comments and talkbacks. It effectively cuts through the corporate hierarchy and puts allows him, as a leader, to directly lead a large number of people. The result: massively decentralized decision making and management!

The alternative is to going through the usual management structure, down the multi-level corporate hierarchy. A process that is both slow and prone to Chinese whispers.

As to the danger of putting his corporate strategy up on the net for everyone, including competing companies, to read: "The competition's employees also read it and if they like what I'm saying better than what their boss is saying, they'll join Sun".

The Overthrow of Everything
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The Revolution Will Not Be Televised -- Democracy, The Internet, and the Overthrow of Everything is a book on the story of Howard Dean's presidential campaign. He was a candidate with no chance whatsoever of winning, who, out of nowhere, almost won the US-primaries. He did this by using the Internet and his campaign blog in many innovative ways. Listen to his former campaign manager, Toe Trippi, talk about the whole thing.

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Wired magazine has an article about Vlogging, or video blogging, or video world wide web logging (to expand the shorthand complete). Short 3-5 minute videos of Vedic philosophy delivered in a fun way by devotees with interesting personalities have so much potential to become really popular.

The most popular of the vlogs is Rocketboom. We can do at least as good as they, don't you think? Let alone the other (terrible) vlogs out there.

Gurudeva stopover: day three
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Snippet of advice: "Make the best Krishna conscious decision at the moment. Who knows what is going to happen in the future?"

CD: It is difficult dealing with people's packed schedule of engaging their senses in so many ways.
DS: Keep trying. The mode of passion is like that. They are like monkeys pointlessly swinging from branch to branch.
DS: Mode of goodness means that one is not attached to the result. It also means that one doesn't do just anything, but engages in mode of goodness activities.


Drink: Apple and Ginger juice
Salad: Carrot and Watercress Salad with Tahini sauce dressing (GVD page 127)
Cumin Basmati Rice with Wild Rice
Pea and Broccoli Samosas (my spicing was just a off by a bit)
Subji 1: Kumara, Corn and Spinach (variation of Sweet Potato Pie filling GVD page 91)
Subji 2: Tomato Soup with Zucchini (GVD page 27, but without flour)
Vanilla Raisin cookies (variation of Chinese Almond Cookies GVD page 141, needs more flour because of the extra liquid in the raisins)

Computer questions I answered:

  • As a travel wireless network router the Apple Airport Express is the best, lightest, smallest, most fully featured and easiest option. However, it costs nearly double the price of the competition. Nevertheless, I recommended the quality Apple product.
  • The Docupen and other pen-like hand-held scanners remain too flaky for actual use.
  • Flash memory stick prices have plummeted, since DRAM prices have fallen drastically.
    The reason: the iPod shuffle has not sold nearly as well as expected. Consequence 1: the Chinese and Taiwanese RAM manufacturers have overproduced. Consequence 2: more supply than demand. Result: price falls (hint: buy memory in the next few months!)
  • A digital camera for capturing spontaneous shots has to be small and light enough to carry around anywhere and capable of capturing clear images in low-light. I recommended the Fuji F10, an ultra-compact point-and-shoot with D-SLR-like ISO 1600 image capturing capability.

... and just like that, he was gone again. Off to helping people in far off countries ...

Gurudeva stopover: day two
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Today he met with Hitesh and his mother. He also met with two youth workers who work to better the lives of 14 - 25 year-olds using a holistic 6-angled view. A recording of the conversation is available in the audio downloads section.


Drink: Apple and Ginger juice (not enough ginger)
Salad: Spinach and Tomato
Coriander Basmati Brown Rice with Wild Rice
Corn on the Cob
Subji 1: Kumara and Broccoli
Subji 2: Vegetable au Gratin (GVD page 56)
Carob Cake with Strawberry Jam filling and Vienna Icing (GVD page 151)

His response: You're good at the pies and cakes, Shilpa is good at subtle Indian spicings and flavours.

Gurudeva stopover: day one
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My spiritual master is staying with me for a few days. Hare Krishna!

He arrived from Russia via Finland, tried and hungry. The UK is very, very different from Russia, he said.

Shilpa and I prepared his lunch:

Drink: Apple and Ginger juice (revived him by restoring his appetite)
Salad: Lettuce, Radish and Carrot
Yellow Basmati Rice with Wild Rice
Split-Mung Dal (GVD page 27)
Subji 1: Green Beans with added Carrots (GVD page 55)
Subji 2: Zucchini, Green Peppers and Tomato (GVD page 58)
Easy Apple Pie (GVD page 145)

His response: Hare Krishna! Really good. You two could open a restaurant. Really good ...later: that was good prasadam! I can't get over it!

It is nice to please the spiritual master and, for once, not to be a total space-out.

Podcasting on the Mac
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Prominent blogger John Gruber has posted a very good article on his "Daring Fireball" blog about what Apple is doing to support podcasting on the Macintosh. Among other things he comments on how quickly Apple has picked up on this very new phenomenon and developed software to handle it. They must see major growth potential (as also predicted by Adam Curry, see here).

All the tools and tech are outlined in detail. Check it out if you want to create Podcasts and own a Mac (or just use iTunes on the PC and want to listen-in).

Blogs: use both RSS and email
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Here is an interesting take on the RSS phenomenon. The author's basic point: RSS is too complicated for most people, so provide them with an email delivery mechanism in addition to RSS.

A "top-10 blog postings of the week" type email newsletter could, for example, reach a much wider audience than a difficult to subscribe to RSS feed.

Lotus flowers and compassion
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Compassion is like a lotus flower. Did you know that a lotus flower has a brilliant self cleaning mechanism? Its leaves' surfaces are not smooth, as one might expect, but very rough. The roughness somehow causes any dirt on a leaf to attach itself to water as it glides off the leaf's surface. The result: a perfectly clean and beautiful flower.

I hate death. I'm sad even when a bee dies (and, believe me, I hate bees), let alone when another human being leaves his or her body. My condolences to those victims of the London terror attack and Word Trade Center terror attack. My condolences to the victims of the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan. I wish they could all still be alive. However, as stated in the Bhagavad-Gita, for everyone who is born death is certain (BG 2.27). It's only a question of time.

So, though I may sometimes/often seem quite cruel and heartless, this attitude is not due to a lack of compassion (though possibly due to a lack tact). I'm attempting to agitate the dirt of materialistic conceptions out of my mind (and the minds of others) by "roughing things up" and letting current events do the cleaning. Please help me in this endeavour.

London bomb attack
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After reading the official ISKCON statement on the 7th of July London bombing I was a bit disappointed. It's very politically correct and reads just like it could have come from any other religion. Even Krishan Dharma Dasa's opinion piece is safe, watertight and generic. Ho-hum.

Have we lost all taste for preaching? Do we lack the courage for controversy? Can we not use this as a chance to stir things up, get into the news and get people thinking?

So, in that interest, here's my take on the current events:

No one has any knowledge that they are spirit soul. The terrorists, the big western politicians, the average guy on the street, the innocent victim that gets blown to bits, all of them don't have a clue who they are and what they should be doing. We see the people (British fundamentalists) affirming that they aren't scared (of the Muslim fundamentalists). They vow to continue to mindlessly consume and continue to try to squeeze pleasure out of the dry towel of the material world.

Not scared? We should be scared! It's perfectly healthy to be scared of dying at any moment. The entire premise of the Srimad-Bhagavatam (a 5000-year old Vedic philosophical thesis) is that death can strike at any moment and we should therefore always act as if we were just about to die. Closing our eyes in a pit of poisonous snakes won't make the problem go away. We have to open our eyes, intelligently assess the situation and grab onto the rope!

Thinking "I'm British, I'm American, I'm Saudi, I'm Iraqi" just exasperates the problem. Instead we have to realize that we are not our bodies, but spirit souls and must engage in service to the supreme soul. If everyone is united in purpose and dedicated to performing personal loving service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krishna (or Allah, or Jehovah, or ...), only then we can have peace. Not by continuing to try to selfishly enjoy the temporary material body.

Srila Prabhupada writes:

"If one advocates the Hindu religion, the Muslim religion, the Christian religion, this religion or that religion, there will be conflicts. History shows that the followers of religious systems without a clear conception of God have fought with one another. There are many instances of this in human history, but systems of religion that do not concentrate upon service to the Supreme are temporary and cannot last for long because they are full of envy." - SB 6.16.41 purport

Update: Mukunda Goswami has since written this statement about terrorism. I like it a lot. It is short, tactful, well-written and subtly injects Krishna consciousness philosphy.

Podcasting (Adam Curry)
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I was listening to Adam Curry's podcast "the daily source code" today. Adam Curry is a former MTV host who has a daily podcast about other podcasts (and other useless stuff that is on his mind) and is considered to be one of the pioneers of podcasting.

He has an interesting take on the difference between blogs and podcasts:

Blogs come from an inherent desire of people to publish. Podcasts are the opposite, people create them because they are dissatisfied with what they what is available in the media (Radio/TV). In that way they are similar to the iPod (which is presumably why Apple has built podcast support into iTunes 4.9, the companion software to the iPod). The listening experience is no longer tied to what someone else thinks we will like. Instead everyone can listen to what they want to listen to when they want to listen to it. Freedom! Liberation! True happiness! (snicker)

"I want to tell people about something I'm interested in" vs. "I don't like what on the radio, so I'll create my own"

There was no real market for the former (blogs) when they first manifested, but the later (podcasting) is likely to have a much faster uptake, since people are actively looking for something like it. Mundane sound is just so dull and lifeless. All it needs is to become easy enough for the average-Joe to "tune in" and we'll have a listening revolution on our hands.

For those interested in creating their own podcasts: Adam and his friends are developing some podcast creation software.

Keep it short. Keep it simple.
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Attention spans are decreasing. Mine too.

When reading blogs I tend to skip those huge monster essays that some bloggers write unless I??(TM)m really, really, really interested in the subject matter. 500 words should be the limit. If a blog posting is longer than 500 words it is simply too long for the Internet audience. Better to write a book instead.

However, this is not to say that long articles are impossible. They just have to be broken up into multiple postings over multiple days. I'll read any number of words if my mind is tricked in that way.

So, all you reading this, please, for my sake, keep it short and keep it simple (and I??(TM)ll try to do the same for you).

Subscriptions vs. one-off payment
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Assertion: subscriptions are better, but people generally don't like them.

Consider the iTunes music store, unlike Yahoo music or Napster they offer a very simple fixed price of $1 per song. Whatever you buy is yours to keep. All other online music stores offer a subscription based plan where you pay $5 - $10 per month and download as much as you like, or some hybrid scheme.

One might thing that the subscription model is more popular. After all, it's better value, just think: unlimited songs!

Wrong! Even people that buy more than 10 songs per month prefer the simple iTunes buy-once model. People like to feel in control. People also like to any kind of commitment. Finally, people don't want things to be too complicated. Keep it simple!

Subscription services do sell in some scenarios. Take online role-playing games (please!): something like Sony's Everquest charges $40 for the game and then another $15 per month on top of that, yet is hugely popular. Some players spend hundreds of hours online, fighting monsters, completing quests, building up their virtual character, earning fake money (even more fake than the so-called real money) and so on. Everquest is designed to hook people into "just one more quest" and keep them playing and paying for-"ever". It works, too: Sony was astonished at how much money they made off Everquest.

Some smart new online games (most notably Guild Wars) have figured out that they can reach a much larger market (and more money) by not charging a subscription fee. Instead they'll release an "expansion pack" every few months and steal people's money that way.

Yoga teachers are notoriously bad at business. Most yoga classes I see advertised around the University want people to sign up for a 10-session course, or something of the sort. Most people I've talked to don't want to make that commitment and therefore end up not doing any yoga at all. Major untapped potential!

These yoga courses mean well, of course. People won't get any real benefit from just a single yoga session here and there. If someone really wants to improve their bodily and mental condition, it is best if they do two 90-minute sessions per week. But, low and behold, no one wants to do that. People don't care about themselves.

The same hold true with chanting the maha-mantra. Great if someone utters the mantra once. However, Krishna is most pleased when we make a commitment to chant a fixed amount each day. When Krishna is pleased we automatically also get satisfied. It's like watering the root of a tree. Again, the subscription model benefits all parties. And yet again, few people want to make the commitment.

Solution: I plan to offer a 40-minute yoga class once a week for a one-off one pound fee/donation and then follow that with some (free) chanting and philosophy, for those that are so inclined.

Scheme: attract people with something that they think they want, though it won't really benefit them and then make it as easy as possible for them to take to something that actually will give unlimited benefit.

Effects of time
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The BBC has a story of a show they did in which they digitally altered kids' pictures to make them look like 40 years old. The children had bad eating habits and the aim was to scare them into changing their habits by showing them the grim reality of the future. Check it out.

If only they could be encouraged to take up the real solution...

Creating culture
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Think back just 10 years. It used to be the case that only special people created culture. No normal person could hope to be called "author", "filmmaker", or "musician". This is rapidly changing. I was listening to a podcast discussion on digital lifestyle and one on maximizing your blogging strategies. One of the speakers mentioned that anyone can now consume as well as create media. Anyone can publish a blog, anyone can podcast, anyone can create a film (okay, a fair amount of disposable income is needed, but, believe me, digital filmmaking is much cheaper than you might think). The shape of our culture is in the hands of everyone.

Great danger: given power to the masses will lead to chaos! The masses are dumb! They don't know what's good for them! This will just lead to more porn on the Internet.

Great opportunity: show the masses how to be Krishna conscious and a cultural revolution can spring for the bottom-up. Distribute enough books (and get people to actually read and then post their realizations on the blogs) and BOOM! It's the talk of the city/nation/world.

Great difficulty: information overload! With everyone creating content how do you choose which content to consume? What will make the Krishna conscious content stand out from the throngs of useless posts? How to get someone to pay attention for more than 5 seconds?! How to get someone to commit to a process of self-realization for more than 1 day?

Choose bliss, choose Krishna
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I read SB11.13.9 and thought:

Under the influence of the material mode of passion a materialist endeavors to enjoy life, but ends up just giving him or herself more and more suffering. They know full-well that there real happiness to be had. They write, sing and talk about the many problems of their life (again and again). However, firmly believing that they are the body and fully absorbed in matter/nature, they have no other option but to try to enjoy, enjoy for some time, suffer misery and repeat the same loop endlessly.

The alternative is simple. One must break out of the vicious circle by absorbing the mind in something which is not matter: Krishna. Then one can act on the realization that trying to enjoy matter eventually results in misery and, through gradually practice of thinking of Krishna, switch into the mode of goodness. Then, using goodness as a launching pad one can rocket off into pure goodness and transcendence.

Note to self: remember Krishna (again and again) always. It's really simple: practice makes perfect.

On powerpoint presentations
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Powerpoint is ubiquitous in the commercial world. Seemingly every talk, presentation, meeting, lecture and discussion must be accompanied by a presentation. There are some good presentation and very many bad ones. Michael Hyatt, the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, the largest Christian publishing company in the world, has given a few useful guidelines on effective presentations in his blog.

In the devotee world presentations are very rare. The Vedic process of dissemination of knowledge is by sabda, or sound. Up until 5000 years ago no one even saw the need to write anything down. Western education, on the other hand, is almost completely visually focused. Many people, myself included, find it somewhat difficult to switch between the two paradigms.

My spiritual master tried giving a presentation in Wellington using a projector and a few simple presentation slides. He was blown away by the result. The attentiveness, retention, quality of questions asked afterwards, all were phenomenal. The audience even applauded afterwards. All because of having a projector screen to look at.

I suggest combining the transcendental sound vibrations of Vedic knowledge and expertly constructed visual imagery of the western world. The result: ultimate learning experience.

(Side note from Michael Hyatt that I also agree with: dump PowerPoint and use Apple Keynote instead. It produces much better looking presentations. Unlike Microsoft, Apple software has a sense of style.)

Divyavani news: Mathura prepares for royal wedding. Kamsa to drive chariot in traditional rite
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(by Jayadvaita Swami - Copyright 2005 The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. www.Krishna.com)

MATHURA, INDIA A king??(TM)s daughter and a king??(TM)s son will soon marry here, in the land that is home to their ancient dynasties, a spokesman for the royal palace announced today. The marriage will be celebrated in grand traditional style.

The bridegroom is Vasudeva, son of Surasena. King Surasena is the head of an extensive kingdom that bears his name. He is the leader of the Yadu dynasty, an important royal family in the area.

The bride to be, named Devaki, is the daughter of Devaka (members of the royal family here are known simply by one name). Devaka??(TM)s brother, Ugrasena, is the king of the Bhoja dynasty, another influential royal family.

The wedding will be celebrated with pageantry, with processions, with rites and fanfare. And at the end of the ceremonies the bride??(TM)s brother, following an old traditional custom, will drive the bride by chariot to her new home.

??oeA girl here lives sheltered at home with her family till marriage,?? explained Dr. Satish Trivedi, head of the sociology department at Mathura University. ??oeThen at marriage she moves in with her husband and becomes, as it were, part of his family.?? By driving the chariot, Dr. Trivedi explained, the brother responds sympathetically to the sister??(TM)s natural feeling of missing the home where she has grown up. ??oeIt??(TM)s really a heart-touching custom,?? Dr. Trivedi said.

The brother of the bride is Kamsa, who has recently been singled out for criticism by the United Demigods as cruel and oppressive. But the spokesman for the Mathura palace, Mr. Trigun Mohit, gave a different picture. ??oeThey just don??(TM)t know Kamsa at all,?? Mr. Mohit said. ??oeThey??(TM)ve got him all wrong. You should see him close up, like with his family??"how caring and gentle he is!??

Technically, Kamsa and Devaki are not brother and sister. Their fathers are brothers, so Kamsa and Devaki are cousins. But in this part of the world, Mr. Mohit said, that technicality hardly matters??"first cousins are like brothers and sisters. Apart from that, he said, ??oeKamsa really sees her like his sister. I just can??(TM)t tell you how much he loves that girl!??

The entire kingdom, thoroughly excited, is gearing up for the wedding. On the streets, in the cafes, wherever you go, it??(TM)s the topic of everyone??(TM)s talk. In Mr. Mohit??(TM)s words, ??oeThis is going to be a wedding that people will long remember.??

And from Divyavani news service, good morning. Thank you very much.

Divyavani news: Lord Vishnu, mysterious power behind the United Demigods
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(by Jayadvaita Swami - Copyright 2005 The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. www.Krishna.com)

WASHINGTON Ever since a delegation of the United Demigods expressed alarm over global military buildups and returned from the Milk Ocean with reported assurances of help from Lord Vishnu, Lord Vishnu has been much in the news. Multinational corporations worry about him. Think-tanks try to figure out his next moves. Kings are said to fear his power. Everyone, it seems, has heard of him.

But who is he?

??oeWe??(TM)ve got a huge file on Lord Vishnu,?? said a highly placed official at the Central Intelligence Agency, speaking on the condition of anonymity. ??oeI??(TM)d say we??(TM)ve got more on him than on anyone else. Tons of data??"but all of it contradictory.??

Take his whereabouts, for example. Lord Vishnu is supposed to have his headquarters in the Milk Ocean. ??oeBut where the heck is that??? the official said. ??oeSometimes we hear he??(TM)s in Russia, sometimes we hear China, sometimes the Middle East, South America. And forget rumors??"I??(TM)m talking highly reliable reports. So what are we supposed to think? It??(TM)s like he??(TM)s everywhere.??

And, for that matter, what is he lord of? No one seems quite sure, the CIA official said. ??oeYou ask those demigod people and they just smile and say, ??~Oh??"everything.??(TM) What are we supposed to do with that???

Vishnu??(TM)s age? No one seems to know. His nationality? No one knows. His looks? From most accounts, he??(TM)s exceedingly handsome. But then some reports say he??(TM)s a dwarf. He seems to be a master of disguises.

Whatever he may look like and wherever he may be, at least some information about Lord Vishnu seems fairly consistent. ??oeFor one thing, he??(TM)s incredibly wealthy,?? the CIA official said. ??oeHe??(TM)s got gold, he??(TM)s got oil, he??(TM)s got diamonds, he??(TM)s got timber, he??(TM)s into biotech. I can??(TM)t tell you how much he owns. Anything he wants to do, he??(TM)s always got the resources. He doesn??(TM)t seem to have any limits.??

And he??(TM)s astonishingly well informed. ??oeHe??(TM)s got eyes and ears everywhere,?? said a source at the National Security Agency. ??oeIt??(TM)s like he knows in advance our every move. It??(TM)s uncanny.??

And he has power. ??oeHow much??? said a source at MI5, the British security agency. ??oeWe don??(TM)t know. But we??(TM)ve seen his forces wipe out whole armies, just like that. We believe he has nuclear weapons??"and maybe even weapons we don??(TM)t know about.??

Yet he doesn??(TM)t fit the profile of a terrorist. ??oeFrom his track record, it seems he supports all the best causes,?? said the source at MI5. ??oeYou could say that he??(TM)s outright benevolent.?? But he??(TM)s not all sweet and light: ??oeHe??(TM)s also got this other side to him??"if he thinks you??(TM)re rotten, watch out.??

Still more puzzling, some reports say that Vishnu is indifferent to opulence and hardly cares about world affairs at all. According to French intelligence sources, what Vishnu most likes to do??"despite his money, despite his power, despite everything??"is just forget it all and live like a nomad in cow pastures somewhere in India. The French sources hinted he has a fascination with local village girls.

Two months ago, top-level security officials from fourteen countries attended a conference focused entirely on sharing information about Lord Vishnu. What they found out is that everyone has a different idea. According to one theory, it??(TM)s all a bluff??"Vishnu??(TM)s just an ordinary man. Others say he??(TM)s the single most powerful person there is. Another theory says there??(TM)s no such person as Vishnu at all??"an organization, maybe, but not a person. And then others say there are many Vishnus??"perhaps something like a Vishnu family??"all working together.

The official from the CIA summed it up: ??oeWho??(TM)s Vishnu? At the end of the day, we don??(TM)t really know.??

New iRiver MP3 players
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iRiver has accounced a new lineup of MP3 players: U10, T20, T30.

The two T models, in particular, sound good. iRiver players produce the best quality voice recordings in the industry (excluding super-expensive, super-large professional DAT recording equipment, of course). Check ' em out.

I still have my trusty little iRiver iFP-395T, which works like a charm, but if I were in the market for a new MP3 player/recorder, I'd certainly give the new T-series a very serious look.

Divyavani news: Earth-welfare delegation receives assurances, intervention expected
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(by Jayadvaita Swami - Copyright 2005 The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. www.Krishna.com)

NEW YORK The delegation of ??oedemigods?? that sought out Lord Vishnu earlier this week to plead the case of Bhumi, the earth-welfare organization, has received assurances of his help, sources close to the delegation said today. Precisely what sort of help he has offered is not yet known.

The assurances seem to have been given personally to Lord Brahma, the head of the delegation, in a highly confidential message. Brahma then informed the other demigods.

??oeIt was sort of mystical,?? a returning delegate told a reporter for DNS. From publicly available documents, Lord Vishnu is known to live on an island in the Milk Ocean, and ??oewe were all just standing there on the shore,?? the delegate said. ??oeNo ferry, no helicopter, nothing. So we just stood there on the shore and??"what else could we do???"we prayed.?? Brahma meditated for a while. Time passed. Nothing happened. ??oeAnd then all of a sudden Brahma said he got a message,?? the delegate said. ??oeBeats me how he got it. With Vishnu you never know. You stand there with nothing, and next thing you know you??(TM)ve got the whole package.?? Highly confidential information in the message, the delegate said, convinced him the message was for real.

No specifics of the message have been made available to the press. A spokesman for the delegation said only that Lord Vishnu had promised ??oesome sort of intervention.??

In response to a plea by Bhumi, the earth-welfare organization, the delegation had gone to seek help in countering an alleged pattern of political oppression and military buildups the delegates say have become a global crisis. Spokesmen for the major world powers say no such pattern exists.

Political analysts said they don??(TM)t expect changes overnight. Most likely, they said, Vishnu will come up with a long-term plan. But when he finally acts, one analyst said, the action will be dramatic: ??oeVishnu doesn??(TM)t do things small.??

Divyavani news: delegation seeks relief from arms buildup
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(Jayadvaita Swami's newspaper style article - Copyright 2005 The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. www.Krishna.com)

NEW YORK Responding to what many perceive as a needless global buildup of weapons and military forces, a delegation of dignitaries has gone to the Milk Ocean, the reputed headquarters of Lord Vishnu, to seek relief. The specifics of their requests have not been disclosed. The delegation went to express ??oeextreme alarm?? about oppression and exploitation by presidents, kings, and other heads of state, a delegation spokesman said today. ??oeThese kings, dictators, and presidents are unfit to be in charge of anything,?? he said. ??oeThey squeeze their citizens for every tax dollar they can, spend billions on so-called military defense??"in plain words, on war??"and couldn??(TM)t care less about the welfare of their people.??

According to sources close to the delegation, which has yet to return, the dignitaries are acting in sympathy with Bhumi, the earth-welfare organization, known by its symbol of a cow. The delegates are convinced, the source said, that Bhumi ??oeauthentically represents the welfare of the earth.??

??oeThe stories Bhumi told us were appalling,?? one delegate was quoted to have said. ??oeWhole countries devastated, villagers driven from their homes, innocent people killed and tortured. And this??"it??(TM)s so sickening??"all over the world. And for what? So a handful of politicians and money men can suck up as much oil and gold and power as they can? If you ask me, they??(TM)re just demons.??

This ??oemurder for money,?? the spokesman alleged, is going on practically worldwide??"in Africa, South America, the Middle East, the Far East. ??oeAnd is Europe exempt??? he asked. ??oeName me a place, I??(TM)ll show you the terror and oppression.??

The delegates, reporters were told, are headed by Lord Brahma, the eminent scientist, engineer, philanthropist, and scholar. Lord Vishnu, it is believed, has yet to respond. But the delegation spokesman was optimistic: ??oeWe??(TM)re confident that he will.??

Only Lord Vishnu, the delegation is said to think, is powerful enough to intervene. ??oeWithout him,?? the spokesman said, ??oewe??(TM)re hopeless.??

In Washington, the State Department declined comment. But in London a spokesman for the Foreign Office dismissed the delegation as ??oea pack of extremists and fanatics.?? In India a spokesman for King Kamsa of Mathura, characterized by Bhumi as particularly cruel and despotic, said, ??oeThe king is unaware of any such delegation.??

Whatever the outcome, a Bhumi spokesman said, Bhumi is ??oeextremely grateful?? to the delegation. ??oeWhat can I say??? the spokesman told reporters. ??oeThey??(TM)re demigods.??

Steve Jobs: Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.
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In a speech at Stanford University Apple CEO Steve Jobs talks about his life after dropping out of College. He describes how he used to walk 7 miles to the local Hare Krishna temple to get a good meal.

Hmm, Jobs has been purified by prasadam. Preaching opportunity I wonder?

Steve Jobs certainly was some kind of demigod in his previous life. You need some special kind of karma to create a $2 billion company by the age of 30. He also is reputed to have quite an ego: "My way, or the highway". Another symptom of his having had some serious power in his previous life. Now, of course, the question is: where is he headed next?

In his speech, he also talks about a piece of advice he was given when he was 17. The Srimad Bhagavatam recommends that you live your life as if today were the last day of your life. He doesn't mention the Bhagavatam, of course, but that's probably where he got it from. In any case, he took that advice to heart and has accomplished so much.

So then: let's go out there and do something amazing! (and if we can recruit Steve Jobs' help, all the better...)

Compassion for oneself
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Listening to a series of lectures by Sacinandana Swami. He makes a point that I need to heed a little more.

(Based on Sridara Swami's maxim: "Be yourself and contribute.")

"When you are tired, then you need to rest. This is so simple. I remember Prabhupada used to send devotees to bed to rest. When you are tired you become miserable, can't understand anything even in the nicest seminars, develop water in the feet when you become older because the heart doesn't work correctly, etc. When we are tired we can rest a little bit more.

This point is so natural. When you are tired, this means that you are tried. It took me my fiftieth birthday to discover this. It is not maya, or anything else. This is my honest opinion. If you are tired: sleep!"

Comment spam combat
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Just got hit with 7 comment spam postings for an online casino. So now: no more comment spam allowed on this website. After some googling I found what looks like the best spam protection plugin for WordPress. Hashcash makes the commenting client webbrowser generate a hash code before allowing the comment to be submitted. Simple, effective and totally transparent to the user. I like it.

Passed (again)
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I had my post-1st-year transfer-interview interview today. My supervisors were very pleased with the corrections and additions I made since the interview. Now I've utterly and completely passed my first year. Finally, the axe that has been floating over my head for the last 3 months has been lifted away completely.

Speaking with Rahil, a fellow PhD student, she said that it took her about a month to get back into what she was actually supposed to be doing. It takes a while for the fog-of-uncertainty to lift.

Acupuncture (part 2)
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Having gotten back from my tour of Germany I had an appointment with my doctor, Philip Weeks. I wasn't feeling too bad, so I decided to cancel. I really didn't feel like more traveling. I can't imagine how travel weary the ever-traveling Swamis must be.

Anyway, I found an answering machine message request that I keep my appointment anyway, even if I'm feeling better. Oh well, I thought, I'll go, after all, it's only 5 more hours of train riding. (I'm lucky to have a doctor who actually cares about his patients.)

Dr. Phil asked how I was doing, took my six pulses and refreshed the acupuncture treatment he has given me a few weeks before. Apparently, it had held quite well, though treatments do tend to fade away with time.

After some more diagnostics he decided to apply two more needles. This time in my armpits. The effect was far out: The weird tingling feeling that occurs when a needle connects with an acupuncture point shot down all the way to my hand, paralyzing my arm for about half a minute. Philip had triggered some major shifts of energy in my body.

The next day I felt a little better: digestion seemed to be working.

The day after I felt even better: I could once again digest rice. Oh happy day!

Ah, material happiness = relief from distress. Up and down I go. I hope this experience will prepare me to be more tolerant of the next "down". I'll still need to practice not to be too elated with this temporary "up". Good training for death, in any case.

Swansea tour (day 11)
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5:00am - all the devotees crowd into a house from a cold and windy mid-summer street in Swansea. The occasion: a pure devotee was departing. Devamrita Swami drove off as we all looked on.

Next stop for him: Finland.
Next stop for me: Manchester.

(also: I've post the pictures I took during the trip: take a look)

Swansea tour (day 10)
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I had recovered somewhat from exhaustion of the journey. Today was learning time. After the morning program I drove with my spiritual master to Dharmasetu's house where he was staying. While there I took instruction from both Vrikash and his wife. They are Indian (Gujarati) devotees who council young devotees in male/female issues. Time for me to learn to understand my emotional side, as deeply buried under my hard technical shell that it is. Also, some lessons in ironing.

A japa-walk on the beach, Sunday Feast program and good spiritual food (prasadam) and it was time to wrap things up. I, of course, apologies for all my stupidities, space-outs and offenses as I was accompanying my spiritual master. DS's response: "oh, you've committed no offenses!"

Swansea tour (day 9)
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Swansea was a veritable reunion. Many disciples and aspiring disciples magically materialized in Wales for our brief visit. Kishore Muri das, Simon (ex-yacht captain for the ultra-rich), Stambha Bhava das ("the right kind of ecstasy"), Simon (ex-carpenter who almost single-handedly built/is-building the new Cardiff soul centre), as well as ex-Manchesterites Dave and Hitesh were all present.

Very enthusiastic singing and dancing (kirtan). More rest for me. My health isn't what it used to be (back in 1994 when times were good - yeah right).

Devamrita Swami talked about the ISKCON organization and how people nowadays don't want to "join" a spiritual organization. Organized religion is an oxymoron. The folk notion is that: "only you can know what is right for your spiritual life". We therefore shouldn't hit people over the head with this notion of "joining-up", which might have been cool in the '70s, but doesn't strike a cord in today's world.

Germany tour (day 7)
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I spent the night at my parent's house and picked up my German driver's license in the morning. It had been quite an endeavor to get it exchanged for my US military license.

Devamrita Swami and I departed back to England. Dina Sarani departed back to Burg Hohenstein. Carana Renu had departed back to Slovenia the day before.

After a short flight, having arrived back in Manchester, I lost my keys in the taxi from the airport to my flat. Terrible embarrassment: there I was outside my door with my spiritual master unable to let him in. Luckily, my landlord was in town and arrived 30-minutes later, letting us in.

A quick lunch had to be prepared and DS requested Kurma's Pasta Salad (Great Vegetarian Dishes: page 77), which he had greatly enjoyed as lunch on the flight to Germany. This time it didn't turn out so well. Hint 1: use less lemon juice, the dressing needs to be thick. Hint 2: let it sit for a while to allow the flavors to seep into the vegetables.

(also: I've posted the pictures from the Germany trip: have a look, if you like.)