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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Snow on beaches: not seen since the 80s


Just a silly postcard post from "Ice Age Europe", so to say.


While forecasters have been warning that snow could reach the coast, their previous warning of this kind simply failed. So I suspected it would also be the case now, in spite of watching this impressive satellite image of frozen Britain, which is some many degrees further north anyhow, largely because it has not happened since more than 20 years ago.

But it did arrive in the end, just that not really here but further east. Some curious pics from Gara:


Donibane Lohitzune (St. Jean de Luz)


Donostia (San Sebastian)

Not here anyhow. Biscay is the only Basque region that seems largely unaffected by the storm, though it's damn cold anyhow.

27 comments:

manju said...

Must be a heaven. Still wonder why so many atheists in Europe. May be because they don't miss heaven :-).

Maju said...

:D

Darn, today and yesterday I had to have the heaters on all day long! It's not exactly like most people imagine heaven.

I understand that there are places as cold as here in India too but further north of where you live. I have a friend, and old hippie now married to an Indian woman, living in Uttarakhand and seems it's pretty fresh over there, even if there are leopards too.

I'd say that atheism and secularism in general are a reaction to a long history dominated by religion intolerance, roughly between the Christian coup of the 4th century and the Russian Revolution of the 20th. It used to be like Saudi Arabia here in the past... just that colder.

Another, maybe more anecdotal reason is that while, in 1666, the tsunami destroying the pirate haven of Port Royal in Jamaica, dubbed the wickedest town on Earth, was seen as God's hand, a century later a similar tsunami flattened God-fearing Lisbon and then the priests and theologists could not find any explanation. For some that year of 1755 marked the true beginning of scientific and secular Europe, because God suddenly could not be anymore an explanation for what happens down here on Earth or in general in the material universe.

What I wonder is how the people in your World region continue being religious after the 2006 tsunami. Why people in other areas keep looking at an empty heaven when so many tragedies are so blatantly unjust.

I was raised as Catholic but by the age of 13 or so I already knew that, if God existed, he was a bad person. How can such an all-powerful ignore the plea of so many people shattered by the worst of calamities? You just have to read the Biblical history of Job to realize how evil can be Yaveh.

Maju said...

Check the Wikipedia page on the Lisbon earthquake of 1775; it is relevant to your exploration of European philosophy and mentions a couple of major Illustration philosophers that I skipped at my comment at your blog: Voltaire and Rousseau.

And a curious and relevant quote by a 20th century Marxist: As Theodor Adorno wrote, "the earthquake of Lisbon sufficed to cure Voltaire of the theodicy of Leibniz".

manju said...

Thank you for the link. It appears their conscience was clear they didn't think they were the sinners. However, in India a guilty feeling is always present, I suppose. I have read religiosity increased after Tsunami. Maybe confession cleared Europeans their religiosity.

Maju said...

Well, confession is like dipping into the Ganges... I just think that they were so much self-righteous that they could not imagine why... unless there was other explanation than God.

Also by that time the western concept of God was pretty much "Disney-ized" (even before Disney this was possible indeed). I understand that the main difference between Judaism and Christianism is that the latter assumes an all-loving God, a perfectly good imaginary father, who rather forgives than punishes, so such a pointless ire was just beyond explanation... unless God wanted to punish faith which is illogical for a religious mentality or maybe slavery and colonialism (don't think they ever even considered that possibility).

Maju said...

And also, Manju, I am thinking that it is maybe monotheism, specially the strict and dogmatic Yahvistic type, what leads to atheism.

Where you have such a monolithic state religion, you basically have two choices: either you accept it or you reject it (openly or secretly). Instead when you have a diversity of gods and sects, you have much wider array of choices. That doesn't mean that atheism or agnosticism cannot exist in polytheist or otherwise eclectic cultures, just that they are less urgent and somehow unavoidable conclusions.

Among Hindus nearly nobody venerates Brahma or equivalent versions of a single mono-Theos, right?

Maju said...

Even Theresa of Calcutta was swallowed by atheism ("faith crisis", say Catholics) in her late life. Watching how your supposedly all-powerful and all-loving God does not move a finger to solve the suffering of innocents does not encourage faith, really.

Kepler said...

I am not going to defend the catholic church and Islam less here, but just say this: I have read about monotheism promoting intolerance, but I have started to see also a lot of references to intolerance from polyteistic systems. They were also intolerant towards monotheists or atheists. Examples: Greece (yes), Roman persecution of christians (perhaps this is a rewriting of history, Maju may say),
the attacks on christians in India (yeah, I have heard the whole lot: christians use education and food to gain converts), etc...
There is another thing you have not mentioned, Maju: agnosticism.

As for Donostia: beautiful pictures. It must be great to go to the mountains of Navarra right now. I have been there in summer and it is gorgeous.

Maju said...

I have the very strong impression that the Roman persecution of Christians was almost non-existent and mostly related to state discipline matters, rather than intolerance as such. Essentially Roman Emperors tried at times to be acknowledged as "living gods" (in the Pharaonic style) and some people, Christians included refused to accept that.

But still they were left on their own mostly. Comparatively Druidism was persecuted much more intensely and even orthodox Judaism was (specially in Palestine, where Christianism was clearly favored by the Empire, as they were less rebellious).

Instead when Christians took over the Empire, since Constantius II (the Christian Coup at the deathbed of Constantine) all non-Christian (except Jews) began to be persecuted systematically. However you will seldom read on that.

20 years after taking power he ordered the clausure of all Pagan temples and forbade sacrifices under death penalty. At that time is likely that Christians were still a minority in the Empire. Only the brief reign of Julian (probably murdered) was a relief. After his death, Christianity was restored as state religion and the Pagan temples confiscated with all their wealth. Only with Robespierre tolerance began to be restored... more than 1200 years later.

Check Wikipedia: Persecution of religion in ancient Rome.

Christians would not have thrived at all if the Empire would have been even a fraction as intolerant against them as they were against all non-Judaistic faiths, agnosticism and atheism.

But winner writes history, you know.

It must be great to go to the mountains of Navarra right now.

It is cold, dark and even dangerous now. In summer it's fine but as the autumn sets on...

Kepler said...

Yeah, I suppose it would be irresponsible to get on paths deemed dangerous now and they are mostly so.

I was twice in Spain so far: once catalonia and once from Madrid to Donostia, which I used as a base to see other places in that region. Then I went on the train to Pamplona and from there on bus to the mountains of Navarra. I was camping there. It was gorgeous and I was lucky: it was September and the weather was like summer and the mountains almost for myself.
I very much enjoyed the food in the Basque country, but you know it is famous.
I will read it when I have more time. Now I am reading a biography of Julius caesar by Goldsworthy. So far, excellent and it gives a lot of details of life back then.

manju said...

the attacks on christians in India

In olden days the caste system was based on exclusion. It doesn't matter if one is Christian, Muslim or Jew as long as they don't defile the caste purity of the dominant castes. To understand the dynamics,
- until very recent if a caste person marries a Muslim or Christian the family would throw them out. The boy or girl invariably would convert to Islam and Christianity who would accept them to their fold. Everyone is happy. The castes have kept their purity and Abrahmic religions have saved few souls from eternal damnation.
- It is said that the caste princes would give their daughters or sisters to Muslim Moghal princes. But in turn they would never marry Muslim princesses as that would defile them (The legend is that it left many Muslim princesses without a proper suitor... I don't believe it considering the extensive polygyny practiced in those days).

Now to the present age, the polytheist upper castes are insecure about Muslims and Christians. Reasons can be true or imagined, but now they see Islam and Christianity as a threat. The present day communalization has nothing to do with monotheism or polytheism. It's about being homogenized like Muslim and Christians in other parts of the world. It's about converting others to Hinduism. In a strict sense, you are born to a caste. The conversion does not apply at all. But that is not the case nowadays.

manju said...

You may like to read about our pathetic, hilarious and at the same time harmonious to other religions Kerala caste system of the past. Check how greatly converts to Islam and Christianity were treated.

Graeme in his report submitted to the government in 1822, had noted the point thus:

He (the converted low caste) is no longer a link in a chain
Which required to be kept in a particular place. His new
Faith neutralises all his former bad qualities. He is no
Longer a degraded pariah whose approach disgusted and
Whose touch polluted the Hindu of caste, but belonging
now to a different scale of being; contact with him does
not require the same ablution to purify it.55

After emphasizing Graeme’s view Logan observes: “The conversion of a Pariah or low caste Hindu to Mohammedanism raised him distinctly in the social scale and he is treated with more respect by Hindus.”56 This attitude continued down to the twentieth century. C. Kesavan, a social reformer, in his book, has quoted an appeal submitted by the Ezhava community to the maharaja of Kochi. The appeal points to the plight of the Ezhava in a very pathetic manner: “Even now in certain schools, especially in the girls’s schools, we, the slaves. 57 had no permission. We, the slaves, are never admitted in the students houses. Even We the slaves, cannot go near a post office. The notice boards which prevents our movements didn’t decrease, but increase. We, the slaves are not appealing for higher privileges and had no desire to enter temples of caste Hindus. Our appeal is very moderate and it is that, while we are continuing as Hindus we may be provided the right and liberties which we get when we are converted either to Islam or Christianity.”58


Article

Maju said...

I'm not sure if I understand all the details but essentially that's why I never went to India because I would have ended up lynched by some mob.

My hippy friend tried to get me to go and then he mentioned that a brahmin could scold you for accidentally throwing smoke on his face or whatever other idiocy. I mentioned I'd slap the brahmin for being a jerk and he told me I'd get lynched.

So I'm not traveling to India atm, nor anywhere else where any sort of religion is too prevalent for me to slap a "holy man" and get away with it.

Maju said...

Our appeal is very moderate and it is that, while we are continuing as Hindus we may be provided the right and liberties which we get when we are converted either to Islam or Christianity.

It's only logical and brahmins should heed it on risk of losing their "slave caste" to proselytist sects be them foreign or local. I understand that neither Jainism nor Buddhism uphold the caste system either, and even some Hindu sects do not either.

I understand that there are two Hinduisms: (1) Indian polytheism (or complex pantheism, which I find interesting) and (2) Indian caste hierarchy (and their Brahmanic monotheism). They are intermingled but they are not the same and in order to save one the other must be destroyed or at least clearly expelled.

manju said...

a brahmin could scold you for accidentally throwing smoke on his face

I'll not only scold you but even slap you. Down with all the smokers :-)!

I'm not sure if I understand all the details but essentially that's why I never went to India because I would have ended up lynched by some mob.

You surely didn't. Probably, you don't really understand underlying concepts, purity-pollution, of the caste system.

Anyway, as a light skinned male traveller you'll find yourself privileged in this part of the world (which is a shame!). Of course, they may still fleece you of your money. But there are anti-social and frustrated elements in the society that may view light skinned female traveller as an easy prey(which is again a shame!).

My hippy friend

Hippies among you(who follow Indian mysticism) are the worst sort of people. They are escapists. They can't handle their own women who are independent and educated. Hence they marry our submissive(because of tradition), undereducated women(but what I said is meaningless if your Hippies are also undereducated people).

(2) Indian caste hierarchy (and their Brahmanic monotheism).

I think Vedic or IE past was purely pantheistic. However, emergence of Brahmins (the root I believe was in West Asian priestly class, J2a), saw a nascent kind of monotheism in the later works (called Brahmana). However, Brahmins were monotheist only in theory. May be some scholars might have dwelt upon that. But a large priest section was/is pantheist(anyway, a big chunk of them are descendants of pantheist IEs , R1a1).

They are intermingled but they are not the same and in order to save one the other must be destroyed or at least clearly expelled.

No, your understanding is completely wrong. There is no propagation of monotheism. In fact, they even accept tribal gods so that tribals can feel that they are losing their identity if they convert to Christianity. Now many tribals are part of Hindutva mob. Pantheism is still strong and nobody ever question that.

Maju said...

My friend is a respectable hippy who has been traveling to India for many decades and makes his living of that. He had of course Western girlfriends but eventually he met this woman, already mature, still a bachelor (or divorcee? - unsure, I don't dig so much in private matters) who apparently had a very hard time with Indian guys (as apparently is the case with most Indian women), so my old friend was probably a dream for her (rather than the opposite).

It may be somewhat true that Western women are nowadays very independent and "unmanageable" but it seems also true that way too many Indian men are too bossy and disdainful of their women. So it's Indian men who you'd have to blame if anything.

Whatever the case it's their personal choice and we must respect it.

No, your understanding is completely wrong.

I meant specially the caste system and the interpersonal purity/pollution nonsense (which anyhow is mythologically said to emanate from Brahma, right?). If Hinduism cannot abolish the caste system within itself in all its dimensions, it is doomed to lose its lower caste members to other groups that argue for at least nominal equality (be them local or foreign sects or Marxist atheists).

People eventually become aware that they do not have to put up with that and they just stop the oppression one way or another.

manju said...

I can't agree with Hippies. I can understand radical thoughts with a right mind. But thoughts that come out of drugs or induced mind are not reliable. It's an illusion.

It may be somewhat true that Western women are nowadays very independent and "unmanageable"

Frankly, I'm surprised about that. I thought it's only Hippies who are escapists. Does that mean there is a also sizeable chunk of male European population that finds their women 'unmanageable'? It only shows the change in outlook of men hasn't kept in pace with liberation of women there.

Maju said...

But thoughts that come out of drugs or induced mind are not reliable. It's an illusion.

Tell that to saddhus.

I don't agree; what certain drugs or otherwise induced states of the mind do is to collapse the rules, allowing for a more open exploration.

Said that, being all the time high or drunk or "om" is not good either. But allowing your mind to wander now and then beyond the psychological barriers is, I believe, excellent and something everyone should do now and then in a non-abusive balanced manner.

And what do Shiva and Durga think? Obviously they do favor such states of consciousness at least somewhat.

...

The word "unmanageable" in quotations was meant to mean what you said by this sentence: "They can't handle their own women".

Personally I still think a brave free woman is worth a zillion of submissive ones... except maybe for some sort of short-lived and unreal harem erotic fantasy...

However I'm sure these women also exist in India and everywhere, just that the cultural parameters still do not allow them to show up so frequently.

You did not reply to my criticism of the Indian macho anyhow. I presume it's some sort of silent acknowledgment. Whatever the case, what is clear is that if these guys expect a woman to pay (dowry) in order to marry them and then live under their boot in every moment for the rest of their lives... they really have a very arrogant attitude that will often clash with reality. It's the same problem with many Muslims but at least they don't ask for a dowry.

In nature at least it's females who can afford to be choosy, not males.

manju said...

Tell that to saddhus.

Indeed they are all escapists. They along with opportunistic godmen and their zillion followers have made India an irrational pit. Many hippies are followers of such godmen and godwomen too.

You did not reply to my criticism of the Indian macho anyhow.

First of all, I don't consider India an enlightened country. We have a long way to go to achieve that. I believe one of the reasons for our backwardness is our religion and one of its face is these Sadhus and godmen. I get irritated when hippies sort of endorse that kind of mentality.

If by meaning macho, you think not helping with household work, yes many Indian men are macho. But future generation would see their mothers as working women and not a home maker. So, it may change(and is changing).

Anyway, in other parameters it depends or region to region based in accordance with their social indices.

In Kerala society Muslims are the biggest dowry givers/takers. The castes the least(In fact, in North Kerala we don't really have that tradition). Though it's a shame that even matrilineal communities have started this tradition once the distribution of land by matrilineal rules have been outlawed.

Maju said...

Indeed they are all escapists. They along with opportunistic godmen and their zillion followers have made India an irrational pit. Many hippies are followers of such godmen and godwomen too.

Still they compare well in front of brahmins and their purity craze that is clearly much more harmful for Hinduism. I'm somewhat of a hippy myself (more punkster but have nothing against hippies in general, some of whom I reckon as very valuable persons).

So, it may change(and is changing).

I can imagine.

In Kerala society Muslims are the biggest dowry givers/takers.

I was thinking in Muslims in general, not particularly in India. However they are at least as machista if not more.

In fact, in North Kerala we don't really have that tradition.

Sure. I presume it varies. Still no westerner man (or nearly any non-South Asian) would ever ask for a dowry to get married, so if Indians (in general) want to "compete", they better wake up and become "cheaper". That's what I meant: less stranger-bashing and more self-criticism. Globalization is here to stay.

manju said...

stranger-bashing and more self-criticism. Globalization is here to stay.

Then you are not talking to me.

manju said...

But allowing your mind to wander now and then beyond the psychological barriers is, I believe, excellent and something everyone should do now and then in a non-abusive balanced manner.

This is rather ambiguous. Can you give me one example? Also, the one that breaks psychological barrier be physically reproducible? I'm thinking about thought and action correlation. If thought is not put into action will it not be frustrating? The psychological barriers of normal mind is just a way to tell that what is achievable.

Maju said...

Yes, I can think in one experimental example (that I know from Escohotado's books): spiders given LSD produce webs that are very much irregular, "creative" so to say. This is probably useless for the spider (though it's difficult to judge about its "spiritual life", if any) but can be very useful for the human mind indeed, as it helps surpassing limitations that are only psicho-sociological (virtual), not material.

Of course from a conservative authoritarian viewpoint this is extremely dangerous.

In a related matter, it has been pointed out by several recent studies that dreaming helps learning very much. Not just in humans but also in other species such as birds.

Psychedelic (or visionary) drugs cause dream-like experiences (though totally awake and conscious, perfectly able normally to discern the illusory and real aspects of the experience). And I wonder if this learning quality of dreaming has something to do with erasing previous mental barriers to the new lesson and of enhancing subtle aspects of the new experience that can't be perceived only by mere rational thought.

Reason is very useful but one has also to allow him/herself to be somewhat irrational at times because that is also very important in the mental experience and enhances it as a whole.

Anyhow, when one is really high (LSD, mushrooms, even quality cannabis sometimes), words become mostly useless: the experience is just too overwhelming to be described.

manju said...

but can be very useful for the human mind indeed, as it helps surpassing limitations that are only psicho-sociological (virtual), not material.

and

In a related matter, it has been pointed out by several recent studies that dreaming helps learning very much.

It's tough for me to correlate these two statements. Learning can be tedious, time consuming task. Also, application of the knowledge in a field may require many years to give results. How can a person who goes high every now and then give such long, dedicated years of his life to such endeavours?

If I think about it people who do drugs probably already have a mind that breaks all socio-psychological barriers. A regular, 'conservative' or a person with reason may not even recognize the barriers.

Reason is very useful but one has also to allow him/herself to be somewhat irrational at times because that is also very important in the mental experience and enhances it as a whole.

Well, that is not what Hippy movement about. Hippy lifestyle was all about being irrational every moment of life. It's a different matter that that is not possible. And more importantly every one needs money.

Maju said...

I understand that you mean studying, rather than mere learning, which is most natural in humans, specially young ones, who do it almost effortlessly.

I also understand that such psychedelic activities may mine the necessary self-discipline and concentration if done abusively. But now and then it's probably a benefit rather than a handicap.

Many famous people have been very much enthusiastic of cannabis and other psychedelic, for example famous astronomer Carl Sagan.

Sleeping regularly is also good for you. Demonstrated - even if some rare individuals seem to do well with little sleep (Napoleon for instance), this is no doubt an exception, not the rule.

Well, that is not what Hippy movement about. Hippy lifestyle was all about being irrational every moment of life.

No idea. I was born when they were en vogue but I rather belong to the Punk period, to the second Punk period of the 80s in fact.

IMO they were a phenomenon that can't be detached from the overall cultural, political and economical transition that happened within Capitalism in the 60s; their challenge of traditional values and authorities is exactly what the internal dialectics of the Capitalist transition (from disciplinary Fordism to cooperative Toyotism) needed. Not only them of course, but they somehow symbolize that clash between the old regime (De Gaulle seeking the help of the army of Germany) and the new highly decodifying values ("under the slabs, the beach").

And more importantly every one needs money.

Last line of mental defense?!

So you can't smoke a joint, even experimentally, because you "need money"? What kind of logic is that? At least here there is no cheaper drug than cannabis and I presume it's much of the same in India, where it's widely tolerated or even legal because of its religious significance.

manju said...

No idea.
Hippies who have come to India have given only that impression.

Last line of mental defense?!
Probably, I shouldn't have brought this up in this discussion. Well, it's a mental defense but Of course, not for taking drugs. But for other things in life. It may be just our family life...hmmm...

Maju said...

I think that the "hippy movement" was very ample. Those who have stronger connection with India are normally also more interested in spirituality probably, which is rather "irrational", of course.

But I would not in any case make of rationality and irrationality an strict opposition. Excess of rationalism can also be irrational (robotic, inhuman), while some embrace of our irrational side is quite reasonably rational.