September 6th, 2011 Punya Mishra Posted in Art, Fun, Identity, India, Personal, Photography, Religion, Worth Reading 1 Comment »
The Hindu god Ganesh (the elephant-headed one) is celebrated across India, and the world, around this time of the year. The Hindu community in Lansing is no exception. A couple of days ago I was asked to take pictures of a music program at the local temple. Read the rest of this entry »
May 5th, 2011 Punya Mishra Posted in Art, Creativity, Fun, Identity, Learning, Personal, Philosophy, Religion, Representation, Stories, Teaching, Technology, Worth Reading 5 Comments »
Pauline Kael is regarded to be one of the best film reviewers to have ever lived. Sam Sacks has a piece on Kael in which he describes her style of film review, one based less on academic nitpicking and the presence (or absence) of directorial flourishes than on her personal aesthetic response to cinema. She is quoted as saying that there is only one rule in filmmaking:
There is only one rule: Astonish us! In all art we look and listen for what we have not experienced quite that way before. We want to see, to feel, to understand, to respond in a new way.
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November 4th, 2010 Punya Mishra Posted in Fun, Identity, India, Religion No Comments »
Happy Diwali 2010
Readers of this blog know that every year I provide a link to the same
interactive Diwali eCard. Why change anything this year? So follow the link below,
turn your volume way up, and remember to click on the sky
above the Taj Mahal for some fantastic yet
environmentally friendly fireworks
Take me to the
Interactive Diwali Card … .
November 1st, 2010 Punya Mishra Posted in Design, Evolution, Fun, Personal, Puzzles, Religion, Representation, Worth Reading 16 Comments »
There are interesting patterns all around us. Here is one I found the other day. We were boiling lentils in a shallow bowl… and then, out of nowhere emerged an almost perfect pentagon!
The almost perfect pentagon that showed up on the surface
of the boiling lentils!
How cool is that. And does it mean something that five is a magical number (see this, this and this). As this page on numerology says
Five is the symbol of human microcosm. The number of the human being. Human forms—the pentagon when arms and legs are out stretched. The pentagon is endless —sharing the symbolism of perfection and power of the circle. Five is a circular number as it produces itself in its last digit when raised to its own power. The pentacle, like the circle symbolizes whole, the quincunx being the number of its center and the meeting point of heaven, earth, and the four cardinal points plus the center point.
Five is also representative of the Godhead – Central Creator of the four fours plus itself equalling five. Five is the marriage of the hieros gamos as combination of feminine and the masculine. Feminine being even, as 2, in frequency and masculine being odd as 3 in frequency = 5.
The number five symbolizes meditation; religion; versatility. It represents the five senses (taste, touch, smell, sight, hearing) everywhere except in the East. In the East there are six—the extra being Mind. We find meanings to five in the five petaled flower, five pointed leaves–especially the ROSE. The Rose has much symbolism, but also the lily, vine, all of which represent the microcosm.
The five pointed star depicts individuality and spiritual aspiration, and education when it points upward. The five pointed star pointing downward represents witchcraft, and it is used in black magic. Noted: There is a very broad difference between witchcraft and black magic.
The number five formed the first counting process from which all else came.
Hmm… so what does this magical appearance of the pentagon mean?
If we believe that every pattern has some underlying explanation, can there be a more mundane explanation? I have a possible hypothesis of what lies behind this phenomena… but what do you think? Where did this pattern come from?
January 2nd, 2010 Punya Mishra Posted in Art, Blogging, Design, Engineering, Fun, India, Personal, Philosophy, Publications, Religion, Representation, Uncategorized, Worth Reading No Comments »
I recently received the following email:
Sir, I was reading the article in Wikipedia on ‘Samarangana Sutradhara’ (King Bhoja’s treatise on Architecture). I was of the impression that there is no translation of the work in English. Though the article says that there is a translation by you of the work, the list of your works and publications on your webpage does not include any such work. Kindly let me know if you have indeed translated the treatise. If so kindly let me know how I can access a copy.
The fact that I had translated this ancient Sanskrit treatise came as a surprise to me.
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October 19th, 2009 Punya Mishra Posted in Art, Fun, India, News, Personal, Photography, Religion, Worth Reading 1 Comment »
The Lansing temple recently organized a special Diwali program. My daughter Shreya participated in a dance and I, as always, took photographs of the event. Click here or the image below to see all 161 of the photographs I took.
You can also read a poem written by Shreya on Diwali on her blog Uniquely Mine.
October 16th, 2009 Punya Mishra Posted in Design, Fun, India, Personal, Religion, Uncategorized 2 Comments »
For an interactive card click here … .
Remember to turn your volume way up, and click anywhere in the sky
above the Taj Mahal for some environmentally friendly, fireworks.
June 15th, 2009 Punya Mishra Posted in Blogging, Creativity, Evolution, News, Politics, Religion, Stories, Technology No Comments »
The recent (and ongoing) evens in Iran sadden me deeply… but also give me hope. The scenes and news emerging from there speak of courage and a need and demand for freedom. What is also amazing has been the use of technology particularly twitter to get news out of the country.
A few decades ago it was audio-cassette technology that led to the fall of the Shah of Iran. Ayotollah Khomeni had been exiled to France and his speeches would be secretly smuggled into Iran – where an informal underground network of people would dub and re-dub these tapes and pass them around. New technologies lead to new ways of sharing information, new ways to mobilize.
My heart goes out to these protesters as I obsessively track news coming out of Iran. The two best sources of news on this are Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish and The Lede of the NYTimes. Or better still follow the incoming Twitter-feeds collected here.
February 17th, 2009 Punya Mishra Posted in Art, Creativity, Film, India, Philosophy, Religion, Representation, Video, Worth Reading 1 Comment »
Plato’s Allegory of the Cave (see Wikipedia entry) illustrates “our nature in its education and want of education.” It is maybe one of the most famous allegories in literature and philosophy, a precursor to the kinds of mind-games (think brain in a vat) that philosophers like Dennett engage in today [Where am I? is a good example of this genre].
I am not sure I quite buy into the argument being made in the allegory of the cave, or whether there is one “strict” interpretation of it. The other day I stumbled upon a lovely, stop-motion animated, version of the allegory. Check it out below: Read the rest of this entry »
February 13th, 2009 Punya Mishra Posted in Crime, India, Personal, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Worth Reading 1 Comment »
Last week, Johann Hari wrote an article defending free speech for everyone. You can read the article here: Why should I respect these oppressive religions?. This article was reprinted in the Indian newspaper, The Statesman. This led to riots, death threats, and the arrest of an editor who published the article!
They have been charged — in the world’s largest democracy, with a constitution supposedly guaranteeing a right to free speech — with “deliberately acting with malicious intent to outrage religious feelings”.
And this, in a secular country! Read the rest of this entry »
February 12th, 2009 Punya Mishra Posted in Art, Blogging, Fiction, India, Politics, Religion, Stories No Comments »
I had written a response to Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist a while ago (read it here). Yesterday, I received a note from Irfan critiquing my take on the novel. Read the rest of this entry »
February 12th, 2009 Punya Mishra Posted in Biology, Evolution, Personal, Psychology, Religion, Science No Comments »
12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882
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January 14th, 2009 Punya Mishra Posted in Biology, Design, Engineering, Evolution, Good | Bad Design, Religion, Science, Stories No Comments »
Interesting article in Scientific American about how flaws in our biology reveal our evolutionary history. Steven Gould talked about it in his famous essay on The Panda’s Thumb.
This is a wonderful argument for Darwinian evolution since it points not to perfection (which the deniers of evolution can point to as well as example of divine intervention) but rather to imperfection (which is somewhat more difficult to explain by non-evolutionists – why would an all-powerful deity make mistakes). The lesson here is that imperfections point to a contingent historical past. Tracing these imperfections allows us to make inferences about how things came to be. Think of the Qwerty keyboard, to take an example from technological evolution, an artifact from the days of early manual typewriters, that actually required a design that would slowdown people’s typing speed to prevent the keys from getting stuck.
Just came across another page devoted to the same issue, just with more examples.
December 18th, 2008 Punya Mishra Posted in Art, Creativity, Fun, India, Religion, Representation, Video 3 Comments »
I love mongrel culture the mashing and creative remixing elements from different cultures and traditions to construct something new and, hopefully, wonderful. A great example is something my daughter, Shreya, showed me the other day. It is the 12 Days of Christmas with a desi ishtyle! So in keeping with the holidays coming up… here is their amazing 12 Days of Christmas.
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November 30th, 2008 Punya Mishra Posted in Art, Books, Crime, Fiction, India, News, Personal, Politics, Religion, Worth Reading No Comments »
I just finished reading “The reluctant fundamentalist” a novel by Mohsin Hamid over the break. (I had mentioned this novel in another context here). It is a tight, powerful novel, structured as a monologue, (reminiscent of Camus’ The Fall, a fact that few reviewers seem to have noticed), describing the literal and metaphorical journey of a young Pakistani man from a successful student and businessman in America to becoming a “reluctant fundamentalist” back in his home country.
I was reading this novel even as the horrific events of the past few days played out in Mumbai (see this, this and this). In some ways the attacks on Mumbai became a lens through which to interpret the novel, making me somewhat less sympathetic to the novel than I would have been otherwise. Hamid has gone on the record indicating that the views of Changez do not reflect his own – and that Changez is a piece of fiction, a writer’s creation. Though I knew this intellectually, it was emotionally difficult for me to separate the author and the character. This was partly because Changez’s story and that of the author roughly parallel each other – though Hamid quite his high-flying job in the corporate world to become an author (not a Islamic fundamentalist) and partly because I could not but notice the connections between the western educated protagonist in the novel (Changez) and the young men (wearing jeans and designer shirts) who attacked Mumbai.
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November 28th, 2008 Punya Mishra Posted in Crime, India, Personal, Politics, Religion, Worth Reading No Comments »
Nov. 27: School children hold candles as they pay tribute
to the victims of terrorist attacks in Mumbai at a school in
Ahmadabad, India, on Thursday. (Photo credit: washingtonpost.com)
The last few days have been very strange… dream and nightmare in one. At one level this is Thanksgiving weekend, one of my favorite holidays in the year. So we have been cooking, eating, drinking, with family and friends – the kinds of things we typically do at this time of the year. And yet, hanging like a dark cloud over everything, poisoning the very air we breathe is been the news coming out of Mumbai. The loss of innocent life, the brutality and ruthlessness of the attacks… the sheer scale of the horror just staggers the mind. This is brutality at an incomprehensible level. I cannot imagine what ideology or rhetoric can cause people to do things like this?
And there is the anger… an urge to do something, anything to prevent something like this from happening again. But even as the mind darts from one vengeance filled scenario to another, a part of me knows that there are no clear and easy solutions to this…
At the end what remains is a heaviness of the heart… yes life will go on but I can’t help thinking of all the innocent lives lost, and more importantly a certain loss of innocence, for Mumbai, for India and for each of us. What a terrible tragedy.
November 26th, 2008 Punya Mishra Posted in Crime, India, Personal, Religion, Representation 2 Comments »
The recent events in Mumbai have thrown a pall over the Thanksgiving break. That said, this is a moment to celebrate friends and family. Let us spare a moment for all the innocent victims and their friends and family.
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November 26th, 2008 Punya Mishra Posted in Crime, India, Personal, Politics, Religion No Comments »
October 24th, 2008 Punya Mishra Posted in Fun, India, Personal, Religion 1 Comment »
Diwali is one of the most important of Indian/Hindu festivals.
The best part of Diwali (at least for the children) are the fireworks. Click here to enjoy a pollution-free Diwali Card.
Enjoy (and don’t forget to click on the night sky!)
October 13th, 2008 Punya Mishra Posted in Art, Film, Personal, Politics, Religion, Stories, Video No Comments »
I discovered Hulu TV a few weeks ago and have been using it to catch up on previous episodes of The Daily Show. I decided today, as I was working on a presentation to watch Crawford. It is a documentary about “a small town thrust into big politics when George W. Bush moves in next door. Gritty, authentic and often funny.”
This post, however, is not about the documentary (watch it yourself and form your own opinion) but rather about one person in the documentary – the school teacher.
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October 12th, 2008 Punya Mishra Posted in India, Personal, Politics, Religion, Worth Reading 1 Comment »
I have often wondered, while watching sports movies, particularly the ritual prayer scene before the big game, as to who is god rooting for? I mean, surely the other team is invoking god as well? So how does god decide? And if one team wins does that mean their god is stronger or their faith more deeply held?
I was reminded of all this by reading online that a pastor at a recent McCain rally said the following (see this for a report AND an mp3 version)
I also would also pray, Lord, that your reputation is involved in all that happens between now and November, because there are millions of people around this world praying to their god–whether it’s Hindu, Buddha, Allah–that his opponent wins, for a variety of reasons. And Lord, I pray that you will guard your own reputation, because they’re going to think that their God is bigger than you, if that happens. So I pray that you will step forward and honor your own name with all that happens between now and election day.
This just seems silly and mis-conceived at multiple levels. Read the rest of this entry »
October 5th, 2008 Punya Mishra Posted in Art, Fun, Games, India, Personal, Photography, Religion No Comments »
As un-official photographer for the Marathi Group, I took a bunch of pictures of this year’s Ganapati celebrations. These are now (finally) on Flickr.
September 24th, 2008 Punya Mishra Posted in Art, Books, Creativity, Design, India, Religion, Representation No Comments »
Sanjay Patel is an animator at Pixar and has come up with a beautifully designed book about Indian gods and goddesses. Read the rest of this entry »
September 5th, 2008 Punya Mishra Posted in Creativity, Design, Evolution, Games, Learning, Religion, Representation, Science, Teaching, Technology, TPACK, Worth Reading No Comments »
A NYTimes story about Spore, the new game / toy designed by Will Wright (Playing God, the Home Game) speaks about its connection to evolution. As the article says,
Mr. Wright and his publishers at Electronic Arts deserve all the credit they have received from some scientists merely for making a game about evolution (though it will be fascinating to see how the game fares among people who do not believe evolution is real).
This raises the interesting question as to whether this game can be used to actually teach evolutionary theory.
However, I am not sure just how much the game truly represents evolution as biologists think about it. Read the rest of this entry »
August 4th, 2008 Punya Mishra Posted in Fun, India, Personal, Religion No Comments »
After the success of Stuff white people like, can Stuff Indians like be far behind. Check it out… it has the occasional nugget that nails Indians and their behavior.
May 29th, 2008 Punya Mishra Posted in Fun, India, Religion, Travel No Comments »
A funny (and yet somewhat sad) story … Read the rest of this entry »
April 18th, 2008 Punya Mishra Posted in Conference, India, Learning, Personal, Politics, Religion, Representation, Teaching 4 Comments »
I had been invited to the Second Annual Internationalizing Michigan Education Conference: Building Bridges from Michigan to the World to speak about India. The title of my presentation was Learning about India, the world’s largest democracy. Read the rest of this entry »
April 14th, 2008 Punya Mishra Posted in Fun, Photography, Religion, Representation, Science, Worth Reading No Comments »
All of us have walked through a sun-dappled forest. However, few of us have noticed that underneath are feet are thousands of little perfect circles. This is often difficult to see because these little perfect circles often overlap into irregular globs of sunlight. However, if you find a single piece of sunlight within the shadows of the leaves above – you will a perfect circle of sunlight. And when I say a perfect circle, I mean exactly that, perfect! Where do these perfect little circles come from? Read the rest of this entry »