View: Protectionist measures announced in international trade by FM are indeed worrisome – The Economic Times

via View: Protectionist measures announced in international trade by FM are indeed worrisome – The Economic Times

INDIAN PM has depended too much on Bureaucrazy BABUS and so called Economists to solve problems.

He does not have the guts to appoint a real economist who can suggest not only a revival of economy but also improving the conditions of Indians.

Reason: Narendra Modi has lost it.  He has lost his charisma and mandrake like effect created for him . by media in 2014 . and 2019 but 7 States loss in a row points to one clear message MODIJI HAS LOST IT.

The time has come to ask AFTER MODI WHO?  I am sure, the RSS HQ  in Nagpur which once boasted 50-60  leaders of the calibre of Modi should be ready with the succession plan.

His crony capitalism has been the bane.  His rhetoric against the Gandhi Dynasty and inaction/ inablility to deal . with their Legal Army and sympathetic courts has not helped.

His own apathy towards the Youth Employment, Aged – about whom he has the Noomer Killer views has  not helped either.

The rhetoric of Constitutional Amendments has only created divisions and helped polarisation.

For his critics worldwide, the Hindu UpRISING is the biggest threat to the docile, so called liberal, Commie favoured, urban naxal creator policies of the KHANGRESS.

HIS Management of relations with the coalition partners in NDA has been the most pathetic to date.

All the CMs who were potential PM Candidates have lost. The closest in Cabninet who could replace him have either died or decimated.

Not a happy picture at all.

Pat Mitchell: Dangerous times call for dangerous women | TED Talk

via Pat Mitchell: Dangerous times call for dangerous women | TED Talk

Pat Mitchell has nothing left to prove and much less to lose — she’s become a “dangerous woman.” Not dangerous as in feared, she says, but fearless: a force to be reckoned with. In this powerful call to action, Mitchell invites all women, men and allies to join her in embracing the risks necessary to create a world where safety, respect and truth burn brighter than the darkness of our current times.

Quotes of the Week

Jean Anouilh

“Our entire life – consists ultimately in accepting ourselves as we are.”

via Today’s Quote January 27, 2020 at 11:49AM
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Mahatma Gandhi

Richard Whately

“A man who gives his children habits of industry provides for them better than by giving them fortune.”

via Today’s Quote January 30, 2020 at 11:47AM
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Clarence Day

“We must make the best of those ills which cannot be avoided.”

via Today’s Quote January 31, 2020 at 11:47AM
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William Whewell

“Every failure is a step to success.”

via Today’s Quote February 01, 2020 at 11:47AM
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Part of speech: noun
Origin: Italian, early 18th century

A disorderly brawl


A loud, outraged discussion

Examples of Fracas in a sentence

“Both teams were disqualified after the fracas on the court.”

“The town council meeting turned into a fracas over the new zoning proposal.”

What is an Extreme Maverick? – Maverick Paradox Magazine

What is an Extreme Maverick? – © Judith Germain 2018
What is an Extreme Maverick? An Extreme Maverick is much more than a toxic person. They have the same Maverick Attributes as a Socialised Maverick, however, instead of using them for the greater good, they use them solely for their own self interest. If this has a negative consequence for someone they will just shrug this off; especially if the person who is upset has no utility for them.

This type of maverick is usually male extroverts who have an extremely manipulative, albeit charming nature. Extreme Mavericks have a large circle of friends and are members of impressive social and business networks. The fact that they are well connected often means they are able to draw influence and people towards them.

They are not expansive with their network, however, they will only share their network if they can reap some gain from it. Their goal isn’t to ‘buy’ financial gain with this exchange, it is to improve their position. extreme Mavericks are rarely altruistic.

Extreme Mavericks have a high degree of self-interest and demands personal loyalty from those that are around them. They can be exceptionally loyal to those around them (whilst that person has utility for them). The maverick’s loyalty can mean that they let emotion override objectivity in their desire to defend or protect a friend. Conversely, they will ‘drop’ their friend if sticking by them means the maverick loses something that they want (for example reputation, influence etc).

Extreme Mavericks will not do ‘what is right’, they will only do what is ‘right for them’. They have no problems with ‘punishing’ people for the smallest infraction.

They are experts in their field and are motivated to achieve success at the highest levels. This means that they will take excessive risks and breaks rules to achieve.

Extreme maverick

via What is an Extreme Maverick? – Maverick Paradox Magazine

Wisdom Quotes

Your roots are like that of a tree, without it you’re weak and easy to push over.
A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots. (Marcus Garvey)
Even the best of memories are only moments long.
We do not remember days, we remember moments. (Cesare Pavese)

My Fav Newsletter

This is the weekly Brain Pickings newsletter by Maria Popova. If you missed last week’s edition — a soulful animated short film about loss and the unbreakable bonds of love; Thoreau on the true value of a tree; the stunning photomicroscopy of snow — you can catch up right here; if you missed the annual summary of the best of Brain Pickings 2019, you can find it here. And if you find any value and joy in my labor of love, please consider supporting it with a donation – I spend innumerable hours and tremendous resources on it each week, as I have been for more than thirteen years, and every little bit of support helps enormously. If you already donate: THANK YOU.

A Curious Herbal: Gorgeous Illustrations from Elizabeth Blackwell’s 18th-Century Encyclopedia of Medicinal Botany

A century before botany swung open the backdoor to science for Victorian women and ignited the craze for herbaria — none more enchanting than the adolescent Emily Dickinson’s forgotten herbarium — a Scottish woman by the name of Elizabeth Blackwell (1707–1758) published, against all cultural odds, an ambitious and scrumptiously illustrated guide to medicinal plants, titled A Curious Herbal: Containing Five Hundred Cuts of the Most Useful Plants Which Are Now Used in the Practice of Physick (public library).


Elizabeth Blackwell

Blackwell — not to be confused with the 19th-century physician of the same name, who became the first woman to earn a medical degree from an American university — was not yet thirty when she began the project. It was a rare triumph of turning desperation into inspiration, or what Audre Lorde called turning fear into fire for creative work: Impoverished beyond imagination, with her husband in debtor’s prison and a young child to care for at home, Blackwell decided to enlist her early training in painting — women’s access to formal education was still centuries ahead — in saving her family. But she didn’t yet know exactly how.

After befriending the head curator Chelsea Physic Garden — a teaching facility for apprentice apothecaries established several decades earlier — she realized that there was a need for a handbook depicting and describing the garden’s new collection of mysterious plants from the New World. A keen observer, a gifted artist, and an entrepreneur by nature, she set about bridging the world’s need and her own.


Pomegranate. (Available as a print.)

Blackwell took rooms near the garden and began painting the plants as she saw them. She then took the drawings to her husband’s cell and had him supply each plant’s name in Latin, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, and German. (The Linnaean classification system did not yet exist — Carl Linnaeus, born the same year as Blackwell, was yet to revolutionize taxonomy with his binomial nomenclature.) After producing an astonishing 500 drawings — many of species now endangered or altogether extinct, species falling out of our dictionary and imagination — she engraved the copper printing plates for the images and text herself, and hand-colored the illustrations.


Saffron. (Available as a print.)


Red poppy. (Available as a print.)


Dandelion. (Available as a print.)


Iris. (Available as a print.)

In 1737, just around her thirtieth birthday, Elizabeth Blackwell began publishing A Curious Herbal, which has since been digitized by the wonderful Biodiversity Heritage Library — one of the most inspired and inspiring digital scholarship initiatives.

I have restored a selection of her gorgeous illustrations and made them available as prints, benefiting The Nature Conservancy to support their noble, necessary work of preserving our planet’s biodiversity.

elizabethblackwell_curiousherbal_fig.jpg?resize=680%2C1039Fig. (Available as a print.)
Punctuating the pictorial splendor are the fascinating fossils of modern medicine — folk remedies like the use of cucumber seeds to treat kidney stones and urinary tract infections, stinging nettles to stop internal bleeding and counter coughs, mistletoe (now studied for its capacity to shrink tumors) to fight “convulsion fits, the apoplexy, palsy, and vertigo,” and the world’s fist mass-market antidepressant: St. John’s Wort to allay “melancholy and madness.”


Mistletoe. (Available as a print.)


Coffee. (Available as a print.)

Across from her illustration of the coffee plant, Blackwell explains:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngAccounted good for those who are of a cold, flegmatic constitution. But for persons of a thin, hot and dry temperament, the drinking it too much may bring on them nervous distempers.

Radiating from the pages is also the welcome disorientation of time travel, deconditioning our habit of mistaking today’s culturally constructed commonplaces for ahistorical givens: Blackwell’s bright-red tomato blazes the reminder that this plant — so common today as to be commonplace the world over — was then an exotic native of the New World, known in the Old World as love-apple.


Tomato, or Love-Apple. (Available as a print.)


Hot pepper, or Guinea pepper. (Available as a print.)

Against this botanical backdrop of cultural change arise certain cultural constants — under the entry for Agnus castus, commonly known as chaste tree for the belief that it preserves chastity, Blackwell wryly remarks, as every human culture has always remarked on its own moral collapse under the forces of progress, that “this age has left that medicine out of the dispensatory as useless.” (I am reminded of James Baldwin’s incisive remarks on Shakespeare: “It is said that his time was easier than ours, but I doubt it — no time can be easy if one is living through it.” The past is better. The past is worse. Our misplaced historical nostalgia is a hideout for the terror of our own temporality and the concession that our present is always someone else’s past, both better and worse.)


Cucumber. (Available as a print.)

Blackwell’s book did for plants what Sarah Stone would do for animals a generation later with her trailblazing natural history illustrations of exotic species. The handsome two-volume set, featuring hundreds of Blackwell’s hand-colored full-page engravings, was embraced by the medical community and lauded by the Royal College of Physicians. With the revenues, she was able to secure her husband’s release from prison. Outliving both Elizabeth and her husband, the book remained in print for decades — a rarity in the era’s ecosystem of publishing. Sir Joseph Banks — who christened Australia’s Botany Bay after alighting there with Captain Cook and who would become president of the Royal Society twenty years after Blackwell’s death — cherished his copy of her book and bequeathed it to the British Library. As Blackwell’s illustrated botany made its way across Europe, it eventually reached Linnaeus himself, who came to admire her work so ardently that he gave her the affectionate nickname Botanica Blackwellia.


Grapevine. (Available as a print.)


Quince. (Available as a print.)

Complement with the stunning algae cyanotypes of the self-taught Victorian botanist and photographer Anna Atkins, who more than a century after Blackwell and shortly after the invention of photography became the first person to publish a scientific book illustrated with photographic images, then revisit poet and painter Rebecca Hey’s wondrous 19th-century illustrations for the world’s first encyclopedia of trees and French artist Paul Sougy’s vibrant mid-twentieth-century scientific diagrams of plants, animals, and the human body.



Every week for more than 13 years, I have been pouring tremendous time, thought, love, and resources into Brain Pickings, which remains free and is made possible by patronage. If you find any joy and solace in my labor of love, please consider supporting it with a donation. And if you already donate, from the bottom of my heart: THANK YOU.

monthly donation

You can become a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a Brooklyn lunch.

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The Heartbreak of Hans Christian Andersen


Harriet Hosmer — whose remarkable forgotten story I tell in Figuring (public library), from which this essay too is adapted — was not yet thirty when she became the world’s first successful female sculptor, claimed a place for American art in the European pantheon, and furnished queer culture with a bold new vocabulary of being. Her studio in Rome became a pilgrimage site for royalty and luminaries, drawing such esteemed admirers as Nathaniel HawthorneMaria Mitchell, the Prince of Wales, the Crown Princess of Germany, and the exiled queen of Naples (who would become Hosmer’s lover).

Among her famous visitors was Hans Christian Andersen (April 2, 1805–August 4, 1875) — a man of supreme storytelling genius and aching self-alienation, which Hosmer instantly intuited. In a letter home, she described Andersen as “a tall, gaunt figure of the Lincoln type with long, straight, black hair, shading a face striking because of its sweetness and sadness,” adding that “it was perhaps by reason of the very bitterness of his struggles, that he loved to dwell among the more kindly fairies in whose world he found no touch of hard humanity.”


Hans Christian Andersen (Portrait by Christian Albrecht Jensen, 1836)

Andersen’s struggles were ones of a heart unsettled, ambivalent, at war with itself. By all biographical evidence, he died a virgin. For years, he was infatuated with the Swedish opera diva Jenny Lind, but his great erotic love was reserved for Edvard Collin — a boyhood beloved who remained the single most intense emotional relationship throughout Andersen’s life. “The femininity of my nature and our friendship must remain a mystery,” he wrote to Edvard, who left in his memoir a forlorn record of the dual heartbreak that scars all such relationships between people who love each other deeply but differently: “I found myself unable to respond to this love, and this caused the author much suffering.” Andersen was unambiguous about both his feelings and his suffering, writing to Edvard with heart-rending plaintiveness:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngI languish for you as for a pretty Calabrian wench… my sentiments for you are those of a woman.

Jenny Lind, on the other hand, was a woman of the highest caliber of femininity, and one of the most successful women artists of her time. Andersen sent her passionate, pouting letters, then wrote his classic story “The Nightingale” out of his frustrated reverence shortly before making an awkward marriage proposal in a letter handed to her on a train platform. The tale didn’t earn him Lind’s reciprocity, but it earned her the monicker “the Swedish Nightingale.”


Jenny Lind (Portrait by Eduard Magnus, 1862)

To make art out of heartache is, of course, the most beautiful thing one could do with one’s sorrow, as well as the most generous — no artist knows how the transfiguration of their pain into beauty will salve another heart, give another sorrower the language of their own truth, the vessel for navigating their own experience.

Across the Atlantic, Andersen’s heartbreak-fermented fairy tales furnished the language of understanding between two other deeply entwined hearts. Susan Gilbert — the love of Emily Dickinson’s life, to whom the poet had written those electrifying love letters — had married Emily’s brother to be near her. Having managed marital celibacy for an impressive five years, Susan eventually gave birth to her first child. That season, Dickinson sent to her editor a famed cryptic letter on the meaning of which biographers would speculate for centuries to come, telling him of some great unnamed and perhaps unnameable hurt:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngI had a terror… I could tell to none, and so I sing, as the Boy does by the Burying Ground — because I am afraid.


Illustration for Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Nightingale” by Ukrainian artist Georgi Ivanovich Narbut, 1912.

Not a “fright,” not a “shock,” but a terror. Whether or not she was the cause, Susan knew of Emily’s suffering and suffered in consonance, for any two hearts bound by love are also bound to share in sorrow. Drawing on an image from Andersen’s fairy tale “The Nightingale and the Rose” — which in turn drew, as most of his fairy tales did, on the terrors of his own unmet heart — Susan captured the parallel heartbreak of their impossible love in a letter apologizing for turning away from Emily’s kiss:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngIf you have suffered this past Summer — I am sorry — I Emily bear a sorrow that I never uncover — If a nightingale sings with her breast against a thorn, why not we?


Emily Dickinson and Susan Gilbert

Complement this fragment of Figuring with Andersen’s arresting account of climbing Vesuvius during an eruption and the most beautiful illustrations from 150 years of his fairy tales, then revisit Herman Melville’s passionate and heartbreaking love letters to his friend and neighbor Nathaniel Hawthorne, penned in the same era and pained with the same sorrow.


Bach and the Cosmos of Belonging: Michael Pollan on How the Transcendent Power of Music Allays the Loneliness of Being and the Ache of Regret


Some of humanity’s greatest writers have extolled the singular enchantment of music. Walt Whitman considered it the profoundest expression of nature. Maurice Sendak found in its fusion of fantasy and feeling the key to great storytelling. “Without music life would be a mistake,” Nietzsche proclaimed with his characteristic drama of finality. Music can save a lifeallay the shock of death, and permeate the living flesh of memory. “After silence that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music,” Aldous Huxley wrote in contemplating the transcendent power of music two decades before he swung open the doors to transcendence in a different way, as charioteer in the first wave of the psychedelic revolution. Huxley discovered in psychedelics a kindred portal into the inexpressible — or what William James identified as the first of his four features of transcendent experiences: ineffability — that peculiar state of surrender — in which regions of consciousness unconquerable by thought, inaccessible by its arsenal of language, begin to emerge and to expand our understanding of reality through what Whitman celebrated as “dainty abandon.”


Illustration by Margaret Cook for a rare 1913 edition of Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. (Available as a print)

A century and a half after Whitman and a turn of the cultural cycle after Huxley, Michael Pollan revisits the transcendent, ineffable common ground between music and psychedelics in How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence (public library) — a rigorously researched and sensitively reasoned inquiry into the neurophysiology, phenomenology, and inner poetry of transcendence.

During his first experience with psilocybin, Pollan asked his facilitator to put on a Bach cello suite in D minor, performed — reanimated, rather — by Yo-Yo Ma. He had heard the spare, melancholy suite many times before, usually at funerals, but had “never truly listened to it” — until that moment. With a poet’s access to the language of inner quickening, the language of the ineffable beyond the ripening of thought and feeling in ordinary consciousness, where the deepest and most mysterious substance of being lies, Pollan recounts the experience:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngI lost whatever ability I still had to distinguish subject from object, tell apart what remained of me and what was Bach’s music. Instead of Emerson’s transparent eyeball, egoless and one with all it beheld, I became a transparent ear, indistinguishable from the stream of sound that flooded my consciousness until there was nothing else in it, not even a dry tiny corner in which to plant an I and observe. Opened to the music, I became first the strings, could feel on my skin the exquisite friction of the horsehair rubbing over me, and then the breeze of sound flowing past as it crossed the lips of the instrument and went out to meet the world, beginning its lonely transit of the universe. Then I passed down into the resonant black well of space inside the cello, the vibrating envelope of air formed by the curves of its spruce roof and maple walls. The instrument’s wooden interior formed a mouth capable of unparalleled eloquence — indeed, of articulating everything a human could conceive. But the cello’s interior also formed a room to write in and a skull in which to think and I was now it, with no remainder.

So I became the cello and mourned with it for the twenty or so minutes it took for that piece to, well, change everything. Or so it seemed; now, its vibrations subsiding, I’m less certain. But for the duration of those exquisite moments, Bach’s cello suite had had the unmistakable effect of reconciling me to death… Having let go of the rope of self and slipped into the warm waters of this worldly beauty — Bach’s sublime music, I mean, and Yo-Yo Ma’s bow caressing those four strings suspended over that envelope of air — I felt as though I’d passed beyond the reach of suffering and regret.


Illustration by Margaret Cook for a rare 1913 edition of Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. (Available as a print)

Complement this fragment of How to Change Your Mind — a symphonic read in its totality, and one of the most timeless books of its year — with Regina Spektor’s enchanting reading of poet Mark Strand’s “The Everyday Enchantment of Music” and German philosopher Joseph Pieper, writing in Huxley’s age and with uncommonly lyrical lucidity, on how Bach will save your soul.



Every week for more than 13 years, I have been pouring tremendous time, thought, love, and resources into Brain Pickings, which remains free and is made possible by patronage. If you find any joy and solace in my labor of love, please consider supporting it with a donation. And if you already donate, from the bottom of my heart: THANK YOU.

monthly donation

You can become a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a Brooklyn lunch.

one-time donation

Or you can become a Spontaneous Supporter with a one-time donation in any amount.

Start Now Give Now

Did you know…

… that today is Cardiff Giant Hoax Day? In 1870, the Cardiff Giant, supposedly a petrified human, was exposed as a hoax by George Hull, the man who had carved the Giant out of gypsum. The Giant was named after the town where he was discovered: Cardiff, New York. Don’t get fooled today!


Today’s Inspirational Quote:

“A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open.”

— Frank Zappa

The Power of Anti-Goals – Andrew Wilkinson – Medium

via The Power of Anti-Goals – Andrew Wilkinson – Medium

Our worst possible day looked like this:

  1. Full of long meetings
  2. A packed calendar
  3. Dealing with people we don’t like or trust
  4. Owing people things / not being in control / obligations
  5. Having to be at the office
  6. Travel
  7. Tired

Working backwards from there, we made this set of Anti-Goals:

  1. Never schedule an in-person meeting when it can otherwise be accomplished via email or phone (or not at all)
  2. No more than 2 hours of scheduled time per day
  3. No business or obligations with people we don’t like—even just a slight bad vibe and it’s a hard no
  4. Never give up voting control of our businesses, no favors from people who could need something from us (ensure the rule of reciprocity doesn’t kick in)
  5. Work from a cafe across from a beautiful park where we can come and go as we please with nobody to bother us
  6. Video conference or pay for people to come visit us
  7. Never schedule morning meetings, sleep in when needed

Problem solved.

Rayma Suprani: Dictators hate political cartoons — so I keep drawing them | TED Talk

via Rayma Suprani: Dictators hate political cartoons — so I keep drawing them | TED Talk

“A political cartoon is a barometer of freedom,” says Rayma Suprani, who was exiled from her native Venezuela for publishing work critical of the government. “That’s why dictators hate cartoonists.” In a talk illustrated with highlights from a career spent railing against totalitarianism, Suprani explores how cartoons hold a mirror to society and reveal hidden truths — and discusses why she keeps drawing even when it comes at a high personal cost. (In Spanish with consecutive English translation)

Christopher Bahl: A new type of medicine, custom-made with tiny proteins | TED Talk

via Christopher Bahl: A new type of medicine, custom-made with tiny proteins | TED Talk

Some common life-saving medicines, such as insulin, are made of proteins so large and fragile that they need to be injected instead of ingested as pills. But a new generation of medicine — made from smaller, more durable proteins known as peptides — is on its way. In a quick, informative talk, molecular engineer and TED Fellow Christopher Bahl explains how he’s using computational design to create powerful peptides that could one day neutralize the flu, protect against botulism poisoning and even stop cancer cells from growing.

Fiscal Deficit | GDP growth: Why Nirmala Sitharaman’s ‘aspirational’ Budget does not have the muscle to reverse slowdown – The Economic Times

via Fiscal Deficit | GDP growth: Why Nirmala Sitharaman’s ‘aspirational’ Budget does not have the muscle to reverse slowdown – The Economic Times