2016 – The Musical

Happy New Year!  Should have posted this way back in January but it took a while for Khiyali to edit the video.  Or rather, it took a while for her to get around to editing it and then a while longer to get around to uploading it.  (When it comes to actual editing she works more efficiently than I do.)

So here she is with her friends taking a musical tour of the festivals throughout the year, starting of course with New Year’s Day, Sankranti & Republic Day in January, followed by Holi, Id, Independence Day, Ganesh Chaturdhi, Dasara, Dipavali and Christmas.

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Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God?

Look at an American coin.  What does it say?
Huh?  What coin are you looking at?  What’s Monticello?
The coin is a nickel.  Monticello is where Thomas Jefferson and his family lived.
The Jefferson Memorial?
No.  That’s different.
What else does it say?
E. Pluribus Unum.
Anything else?
Five cents.
United States of America.
Liberty 2013 P.
Huh?  What’s the P for?
Means it was minted in Philadelphia.
Oh, okay.  What else does it say?  (Come on!)
In God We Trust.

This one was minted in Denver in 2003.  The tiny FS stands for Felix Schlag, the designer.  Photo source: usacoinbook.com.

See?  In God We Trust.  That’s America’s motto.  But I thought America was supposed to be a secular nation!

You do realize, some people don’t believe in God.  Some examples:

  • Some don’t think She* or He* exists.
  • Some aren’t sure.
  • Some believe in gods but not God.
  • Some people don’t believe in or aren’t sure about gods, either.

Me, I don’t really believe in God/gods, but I like the stories.  Stuff from the Mahabharata and Ramayana, Percy Jackson stories….  And it’s always possible that the stories are true!

So why does America’s motto involve trusting in God?!

And what about the Pledge of Allegiance?

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

I don’t think they make you say that, but still.  (Pin and her friend once refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance in school.  I’m proud of them.)

And also, on TV, you sometimes hear people swearing, in court, that they will tell the truth.  I looked up the exact oath on Wikipedia.  It turns out that an “oath” is religious, and an “affirmation” is not.  Both oaths and affirmations are used in America.  Here is the oath/affirmation:

Do you solemnly (swear/affirm) that you will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, (so help you God/under pains and penalties of perjury)?

Also according to Wikipedia:

Swear may be replaced with “affirm”, and either “so help you God” or “under pains and penalties of perjury” may be used; all oaths and affirmations are considered to be equivalent before the law.[5] These modifications to the oath were originally introduced in order to accommodate those who feel uncomfortable swearing religious oaths, such as Quakers, as well as to accommodate the irreligious.[6] In United States v. Ward, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that certain other modifications of the oath were acceptable so long as they demonstrated “a moral or ethical sense of right and wrong”.[7]

Also Wikipedia says:

Oath (California):

You do solemnly state that the testimony you may give in the case now pending before this court shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God.

It doesn’t say whether or not you can give an affirmation in California though.  I hope you can.  Also, why can’t they put “to  the best of my knowledge” in it?  That would be good.

You know, for me an affirmation would have a stronger hold than an oath.  With an oath, if I accidentally lied, or lied for some very good reason, God would still “so help me.”  With an affirmation, I would be punishing myself, and I might be stricter than God!

In any case, though, I’d have the law to deal with if I lied.  And I believe that the law definitely does exist, even if I’m not so sure about God.

Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sworn_testimony#United_States

*For a small rant on sexism in the Gettysburg Address, see here.

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On Percy Jackson (and grammar)


If you haven’t read the Percy Jackson books, or want to refresh your memory, here’s some background for you.

The premise is this: all the Ancient Greek “myths” are real.  All that really happened.  And the gods and goddesses and monsters and titans and suchlike?  Being immortal, they’re still around.  They move from place to place with Western civilization.  From Greece to Rome, to various other places… and now to America.  Mount Olympus is on the 600th floor of the Empire State Building, but chances are, you’re not allowed up there.  Not if you’re a regular mortal.

Percy Jackson isn’t a regular mortal, with emphasis on regular.  He is mortal, but only half.  His mother is Sally Jackson, and his father?

His father is the god Poseidon.  (I before E exception!)

So lots of monsters try to kill him.  When he is 11, he gets taken to Camp Half-Blood, the only safe place for demigods*.  And he finds out who his dad is.

Anyway, he makes some friends — particularly Annabeth Chase, daughter of Athena, and Grover Underwood, satyr (half boy, half goat) — and they go on various important and life-threatening quests.  Fun, right?  Actually, it kind of is.

*If one of your parents is a human and one a god or goddess, you are a demigod, aka half-blood, aka hero.

That’s a little background for you.  Onwards!

So, throughout the first 4 books, some of the characters refer to a mysterious “Great Prophecy,” which apparently talks about a half-blood child of one of the “Big Three” gods: Hades, Poseidon, and Zeus, who was supposed to, at age 16, make a decision that would either destroy or save Olympus, the home of the gods.  Now, the gods didn’t want to risk that, so Poseidon, Zeus, and Hades all swore: no more demigod kids.  But Percy and a few others turn up anyway.  However, one of the other kids dies, one becomes an immortal Hunter of Artemis the day before her 16th birthday, and one is younger than Percy anyway.

But then in the 5th and last book, the prophecy is finally read aloud at a meeting, and Percy finally hears it.  It goes:

A half-blood of the eldest* gods
Shall reach sixteen against all odds
And see the world in endless sleep

The hero’s soul, cursed blade shall reap
A single choice shall end his** days
Olympus to preserve or raze.

So Percy will make this decision — and then die.  Or so it seems.

If you examine it logically, this prophecy refers to two people — a “half-blood” and a “hero”!  Of course they could be the same person — but what if they’re not?

The “half-blood”:

Is a child of Zeus, Hades, or Poseidon
Shall reach the age of 16 against all odds
Will see the world in endless sleep

The “hero”:

Will have his or her soul reaped by a cursed blade
Will have her or his days ended by a single choice

The “choice”:

Will end the “hero”‘s days
Will preserve or raze Olympus
Will be made by — who?  The prophecy doesn’t say!

So what actually happens?  The half-blood is Percy.  He makes the choice, which ends the hero’s days and preserves Olympus.  The hero is a character named Luke.  In fact, there is a hint in the book that this will happen.  Rachel (who has the power of prophecy) tells Percy that he is “not the hero.”  And he isn’t — he’s the half-blood!

Okay, so Olympus has been preserved.  As rewards, the gods make Grover a member of the Council of Cloven Elders and a lord of the Wild.  They make Annabeth the official architect of Olympus, which has been trashed by the war.  They make Tyson, Percy’s Cyclops half-brother, a general of the armies of Olympus.  And Percy?  They grant him a wish — any wish — even immortality.

But he turns it down and tells them to pay more attention to their demigod kids, and to claim*** them before they turn 13.  And he says that every god and goddess should have a cabin*** at Camp Half-Blood, not just the Olympians.  And so now they’re building a whole bunch more cabins.

Looks like somebody fell asleep building the Hypnos cabin.  I’d better go check on them….  Also, did you know that Harry Pottery magic doesn’t always work on Greek monsters?  Annabeth and I compared notes last night.  It’s so weird here.  You can impress everybody just with Wingardium Leviosa, and they act like swordfighting is no big deal!  Once some Hecate kids get here, I’ll visit again and see how their magic works.

Oh yeah, and everybody’s nervous about the new Great Prophecy.  I told them that Divination is piffle, but Annabeth says it’s different here.  Well, I suppose even Trelawney makes a real prophecy once in a while.

*Actually, Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades are not the eldest gods — they have 3 older sisters.  Plus, there’s Aphrodite, older than all of them….  But technically, they are all godesses….
**Or her.
***At camp Half-Blood, there are 12 cabins, one in honor of each Olympian god.  That god or goddess’s children sleep in that cabin.  If you don’t know who your godly parent is, you sleep in the Hermes cabin until you are claimed by your godly parent.

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Throwing off poetry 2

A couple of years ago, I published this post: Throwing off poetry.

In that post, I wrote down a poem I had made up.  Inspired by a “thrown off” poem in a book, I hadn’t spent a long time revising it and making it better or anything.  I’d just thrown it off.

Today, I “threw off” another poem.  Here it is:

The trees sway in the breeze
The chainsaws rust and freeze
The trees are bare of leaves
But they cannot be cut down
Because all the lumberjacks in town
Fell down
In faints
Like saints
Of paints
Because, you see,
Their chainsaws be
Their chainsaws be…
Their chainsaws be…

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It’s a Jungle Out There

“It’s a jungle out there … ” this theme song from a popular television series was a pivotal clue in the traditional birthday treasure hunt solved once again by Ravi Kuchimanchi. Continue reading

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Biggering…. And bigaring.

Khiyali typing here.

Today, there was an Earth Day celebration at Barnes & Noble.

Harford County Climate Action (which we are part of) was there, as was Friends School of Harford.  And guess what?  I read aloud a book in the children’s area!  So did at least one of the Friends School kids.

I read The Lorax by Theodor Seuss Geisel, A.K.A. Dr. Seuss.  There is one part where the old Once-ler, who chopped down all the Truffala trees to make Thneeds says:

I biggered my factory, I biggered my roads.
I biggered my wagons, I biggered the loads
of the Thneeds I shipped out.  I was shipping them forth
to the South!  To the East!  To the West!  To the North!
I went right on biggering…selling more Thneeds.
And I biggered my money, which everyone needs.

The Once-ler also says that he’ll go on biggering and biggering and BIGGERING and BIGGERING.

Well, he does another kind of biggering too.

Any of you know Hindi?  You know the Hindi meaning of bigar?  (You know, like bigar mirchi.)

Well, in Hindi, bigar means without.  The Once-ler not only biggers his Thneed factory, but he also bigars the whole area.  Bigar Truffala trees, bigar Bar-ba-loots, bigar Swanee-swans….

Bigar clean air, bigar clean water….

P.S.  I actually think Thneeds are pretty neat-sounding, but you could make them out of yarn or something.

P.P.S.  If you can’t make head or tail of this post, try making hip or shoulder.  If you still don’t get it, read The Lorax.

P.P.P.S. Links:
Harford County Climate Action website
HCCA Facebook page
About the Harford County Climate Expo

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Gravity waves!

Years from now, I’ll be able to tell everyone that when the first detection of a gravity wave was announced, I… was eating an aloo paratha with perugu, and a piece of bobbattu.  And reading a book — Harriet Spies Again, I believe.

We had gone out to dinner in honor of Nannamma’s birthday, which is also Kiran mama’s birthday.  We came back by 9, because of the impending announcement.  Nanna and Amma watched the announcement on the computer, but I was still hungry (both for food and for a book), so….  Yeah.

Well, the announcement video will be on the Internet, so I can watch it later.  And like Nanna said, these black holds collided 1 point something billion years ago, so what’s a few days here or there?

NOTE: You might have seen the headline “DEAR GRAVITY, WE HEAR YOU NOW” in The Times of India.  You may also have heard that we can now “hear a gravity wave.”  But though a gravity wave was observed, a gravity wave is not a sound wave.  Just like a sound wave is not a light wave, nor is it an ocean wave.  Hence you can’t hear a gravity wave.  Actually, you can’t hear anything in space.

So why is everyone saying “you can hear gravity waves!”?  Well, I guess they took the gravity wave, and just somehow interpreted it as a sound wave, and the sound wave was within the range the humans can hear.  (Is that right, Nanna?)

Another quick thing: Einstein predicted gravitational waves in 1916.  100 years afterwards, this wave’s discovery was announced in 2016.  But it was detected in 2015!  They waited for a while to announce it because they had to make absolutely sure it was a gravity wave.  Plus maybe they wanted to announce their discovery 100 years later.

Now I will have to make a Banganga Kids’ News Critic in honor of this.  There’s a whole page of articles about gravity wave in The Times of India, plus a front page article.  My BKNCs are usually 1 page long, but once I had a 3-page bumper issue.  This BKNC might even be 4 pages long!



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