Every City Its Season
in Cities: There are times in the lives of cities when the city seems suddenly to spawn great music, art, literature and architecture. At the turn of the 19th century, Vienna was such a place. » continue reading
How To Trap A Tourist
in Cities: Late last month, Maharashtra’s Chief Minister called a meeting “to review the dismal performance of the [State’s] tourism department”. The deputy chief minister and the ministers of tourism and industry were present. No one seems to have defended the department. Reference was made to the state’s 2006 tourism promotion policy but the discussion soon digressed when the minister of state for tourism launched a tirade against Mumbai’s hockey-stick wielding, pub-wrecking, party-pooping guardian angel, Assistant Commissioner of Police (Morality), Vasant Dhoble. (No such designation exists, of course, but it might as well have). The Minister of state, an otherwise uncontroversial figure, was joined by his senior colleagues, all of whom said that the police high-handedness had destroyed the city’s nightlife, and hence tourism. A few days later, the deputy chief minister was somewhat more elliptical when he said that the tourism policy had failed for “administrative reasons”. » continue reading
Moments in the Life of Bombay
in Cities: It’s an easy city to love, a hard one to hate, Mumbai, Bombay, whatever you want to call it. It grates on your nerves one day, and charms you the next. It is irresistible and it is undeniable, and it belongs to every one who comes here. If Delhi is a city of power brokers and their pawns, Bombay is truly a city of its people, resilient against all odds. » continue reading
The Loss Of Inheritance
in Cities: “People don’t come to the Gateway of India to gape at some pointless pile of stones put up by the British to remind us that we were once slaves. They come there to relieve themselves.” » continue reading
The Unquiet City
in Cities: 1989 was a year of revolutions, one that saw the collapse of several communist states—Poland, Hungary, East Germany, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and Romania. Except for Romania, the others were singularly bloodless. All succeeded. To the east, another uprising against the communist regime of China gathered momentum and culminated in the brutality of the Tiananmen Square massacre in June 1989. » continue reading
Each year, Hindu devotees make a pilgrimage to the sacred Amarnath Cave, one of the most revered Hindu shrines, near Baltal, Kashmir, India. The Amarnath Cave has been a place of worship since times immemorial, with references found in many ancient texts. According a Hindu legend, this is the cave where Shiva explained the secret of life and eternity to his divine consort Parvati. The cave itself is covered with snow most times of the year except for a short period in summer when it is open for pilgrims. The cave is situated at an altitude of 3,888 m (12,756 ft). Hindu devotees brave sub-zero temperatures to hike over glaciers and high altitude mountain passes to reach the sacred Amarnath cave, which houses an ice stalagmite, worshiped by Hindus as a symbol of the god Shiva. More than 700,000 Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in this year’s two-month pilgrimage, according to local officials, causing strain on the environment and political stability of the region, which has long fought for independence from India. — Paula Nelson
An Indian Hindu Holy man gestures to well-wishers as he is carried down a trail during the traditional journey to the Amarnath cave, June 28, 2012. Thousands of pilgrims annually go to the remote Himalayan shrine of Amarnath at 3,888 m (12,756 ft) above sea level to worship an icy stalagmite representing Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press)
Kashmiri laborers carry a Indian Hindu pilgrim on a trail during the traditional journey to the Amarnath cave, June 28, 2012. Thousands of pilgrims annually go to the remote Himalayan shrine of Amarnath at 3,888 m (12,756 ft) above sea level to worship an icy stalagmite representing Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press
A Kashmiri porter carries blankets to be used by Hindu pilgrims during the traditional journey to the Amarnath cave, June 29, 2012. Thousands of pilgrims annually go to the remote Himalayan shrine. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press)
A Sadhu, finishes off a meal at a Lungar facility providing free food to pilgrims, as Hindu’s make their pilgrimage to the sacred Amarnath Cave, one of the most revered Hindu shrines, June 29, 2012 near Baltal, Kashmir, India. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)
The Smithsonian magazine’s 9th annual photo contest finalists have been chosen. The contest attracted over 14 thousand photographers from all 50 states and over 100 countries. Fifty finalists from 67,059 images were selected by Smithsonian editors. Those editors will also choose the Grand Prize Winner and the winners in each of the five categories which include The Natural World, Americana, People, Travel and Altered Images. Photos were selected based on technical quality, clarity and composition, a flair for the unexpected and the ability to capture a picture-perfect moment. — Paula Nelson
A HOMELESS BOY SLEEPING INSIDE THE TRAIN Jakarta, Indonesia, August 2009 (Budi Prakasa/Jakarta, Indonesia)
DISGUISED FUN Kolkata, India, April 2009 (Somnath Mukherjee/Kolkata, India)
BROOKLYN BRIDGE New York City, New York, February 2011 (Wayne Bennett/Bronx, New York)
BLUE ICE CAVE Antarctica, December 2011 (Jamie Scarrow/Bruce, Canberra, Australia)
WOMEN MAKING TRADITIONAL ART Rajasthan, India, November 2010 (Chetan Soni/MadhyaPradesh, India)
HOUSE COLLAGE Sikkim, West Bengal, October 2010 (Shyamal Das/Kolkata, India)
PACKED IN THE CABIN OF A TRAIN TO JODPHUR Jaipur, India, January 2011 (Ho Lee/Hong Kong, China)
As the old saying goes, the election isn’t over until Rachel Maddow drops a nuclear truth-bomb on the losers.
Ohio really did go to President Obama last night. And he really did win. And he really was born in Hawaii. And he really is legitimately President of the United States. Again. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics did not make up a fake unemployment rate last month. And the Congressional Research Service really can find no evidence that cutting taxes on rich people grows the economy. And the polls were not skewed to oversample Democrats. And Nate Silver was not making up fake projections about the election to make conservatives feel bad. Nate Silver was doing math. And climate change is real. And rape really does cause pregnancy sometimes. And evolution is a thing! And Benghazi was an attack ON us, it was not a scandal BY us. And nobody is taking away anyone’s guns. And taxes have not gone up. And the deficit is dropping, actually. And Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction. And the moon landing was real. And FEMA is not building concentration camps. And UN election observers are not taking over Texas. And moderate reforms of the regulations on the insurance industry and the financial services industry in this country are not the same thing as Communism.
Listen. Last night was a good night for liberals and for Democrats for very obvious reasons. But it was also, possibly, a good night for this country as a whole. Because in this country we have a two party system, in government. And the idea is supposed to be that the two sides both come up with ways to confront and fix the real problems facing our country. They both propose possible solutions to our real problems. And we debate between those possible solutions. And by the process of debate, we pick the best idea. That competition between good ideas, from both sides, about real problems in the real country should result in our country having better choices, better options, than if only one side is really working on the hard stuff. And if the Republican party, and the conservative movement, and the conservative media is stuck in a vacuum sealed, door locked, spin cycle of telling each other what makes them feel good, and denying the factual, lived truth of the world, then we are all deprived, as a nation, of the constructive debate between competing, feasible ideas about real problems.
Last night the Republicans got shellacked. And they had no idea it was coming. And we saw them, in real time, in real humiliating time, not believe it even as it was happening to them. And unless they’re going to secede, they’re going to have to pop the factual bubble they have been so happy living inside, if they do not want to get shellacked again. And that will be a painful process for them, I’m sure, but it will be good for the whole country - left, right, and center. You guys, we’re counting on you. Wake up.