In praise of temple elephants

They all seem to be called Lakshmi.  The first one I met at the Virupaksha Temple in Hampi.  You pay a small coin for a blessing, which he takes with his trunk and passes on to his minder. Then he touches your bowed head like this woman in Pondicherry.  That one was at the Sri […]

Scouring pad

I wrote this post two weeks ago before going on a meditation retreat. It felt too negative at the time; it isn’t in that it reflects my mood then. India is like a scouring pad. The dirt the dust. Litter cast uncaringly – except in Pondicherry, as if to show it is deliberate everywhere else. […]

Houses like trees

Zenrainman’s house is like a tree. Grown out of the earth of its own basement on the edge of Bangalore, pressed into bricks.  Nurtured entirely by water and light from its own roof.  It breeds, symbiotically, large primates to maintain it.  Treating their sewage.  To water a rooftop rice paddy ready to grow enough to […]

Changing money 

Oh India!  There’s always another surprise, toughening your way through the day.  This week Modi, the Hindu nationalist PM, announced to the nation that the two largest bank notes were now worthless pieces of paper. This clamp down on black markets and electoral bribes has a complex set of rules which let you trade in the old notes in […]

Communal pets

India is unusual in having two shared public “pets”. Dogs are the ones that I’ve seen before in other countries, prowling every street and temple. These puppies with their sore-furred mum are in Pushkar. Unusually, people feed them. The other day while waiting for a safari at a tiger reserve, I saw a woman feed […]

Zero marginal cost

The next page I found in the notebook (after the last one) is my own view of the problem of information goods having zero marginal cost, so not functioning within capitalism. Paul Mason describes this in Postcapitalism. Walking through the diagram… “Zero marginal cost newtech” is the starting point. A “marginal cost” is a business […]

Sea. Sunlight. Calm. Trees. Laughter.

I found another oldish notebook. It’s about the edge of chaos. The more lightly shaded left hand edge is absence, null, non existence. The dark shaded right hand side is total chaos, randomness. The sharp line down the middle is the edge of chaos – where things are balanced, interest lies, life grows. There are […]

On finding political axes using maths

Drifting in the sea of political beliefs, left and right don’t seem to have any meaning any more. It’s possible to make up new axes. Alas, these aren’t grounded in real views of the population, instead they’re distorted by the politics of their creators. Luckily, there is a way of finding actual axes by experiment, […]

History of libraries

Thanks to the excellent Thinking Liverpool [1], a lunchtime talk about the history of libraries caught my eye. I mention the history of public libraries worryingly often. I make an analogy between libraries in the age of the printing pres and the modern need for equivalently novel public institutions in the age of the networked […]

Don’t play the game, mutate the board

I found some notes I’d written at the start of this notebook, a few months old. I used to campaign in Cambridge for more Fairtrade coffee and chocolate. That was a “closed” tactic, as opposed to an “open” tactic like open source software or open data. It worked – even the best selling chocolate bar […]