Guide Posts

‘War’ – is Never a Romance …

Posted on June 7, 2019. Filed under: Guide Posts, Personalities |

Excerpted from a Review by Anjan Basu in The Wire …

The brutality of trench warfare is perhaps best typified by the 1916 Battle of the Somme in France. British troops suffered 60,000 casualties on the first day of fighting alone. Credit: YouTube screengrab  

First Churchill —- 

One of those cries of pain wrung from the fighting troops, like the poems of Siegfried Sassoon, should be read in each generation, so that men and women are under no illusion about what war means. 

And Before Him, …

Uninterrupted for two thousand years, Horace’s ode, Dulce et Decorum est, has been waved around by sundry war-mongers all over Europe as a flag around which to rally  gullible citizens in ‘defence of the holy fatherland’.  

‘It is right and beautiful to die for one’s own country’ is an idea that has been sanctified and put on the high pedestal in every country in the most outrageously cynical manner. The line is found inscribed on war memorials, on walls of military training schools, even on the lapels of soldiers’ uniforms. 

And Now Owen

It is upon this ‘Old Lie’ that Owen pours his scorn in the poem that burnt itself into the conscience of a whole generation.  He wrote in May 1918 “My subject is war, and the pity of war. The poetry is in the pity.”

Poems Owen had written during his 15 months of military service – 15 months lived in trenches, amidst slush, smoke, rain, lice and hunger, with the smell of death a constant companion.  

The poet wrote the first draft of a preface to his book as well, an unfinished foreword that yet spelt out in the clearest possible terms what his book was not going to be about: it was not, he said, to be about bravery or heroism in war, or about glory or honour; it would be futile to look in its lines for death-defying courage. 

He went on to say that ‘above all’, he was ‘not concerned with poetry’  

Wilfred Owen wrote these lines in May 1918. The end of World War One was still in the future. The poet had come home from the Front some months previously, grievously injured, but had by then recovered some of his strength. He was to return to the Front at the end of August.

Meanwhile, Owen was deployed at the Northern Command’s Military Stores at Ripon. It had occurred to him to try and put together his first book of poems, a project he hoped to complete early 1919.

After all, the War was losing steam, as everybody seemed to know by then, and its end could not be far away. These were poems Owen had written during his 15 months of military service – 15 months lived in trenches, amidst slush, smoke, rain, lice and hunger, with the smell of death a constant companion.

While working at the Ripon Stores, the poet wrote the first draft of a preface to his book as well, an unfinished foreword that yet spelt out in the clearest possible terms what his book was not going to be about: it was not, he said, to be about bravery or heroism in war, or about glory or honour; it would be futile to look in its lines for death-defying courage.

He went on to say that ‘above all’, he was ‘not concerned with poetry’.

But, for then, the book had to be shelved. Owen returned to the Front, in the north of France. Germany was then in retreat everywhere, and  the fighting was getting even more desperate, more brutal. 

On the morning of November 4, by the side of the Sambre-Oise Canal outside the village of Ors, where a German battalion had dug in its heels, a fierce battle ensued as some units of the 2nd Manchester Battalion pressed forward, trying to tease the Germans out of their positions.

One of the platoons was led by Second Lieutenant Wilfred Owen. That sunny November morning, under a cloudless sky, beside a line of poplars, Owen fell to German machine gun fire. He was 25. 

Exactly a week later, on November 11, 1918, the Great War came to an end. As all the bells in all the prayer-houses all over England tolled that morning in celebration of the Allies’ victory, the news of Wilfred Owen’s death reached his mother.

That church bells could toll to mark the death of men of his generation was a belief that had abandoned Owen well before his passing. 

This loss of faith, the aridity of this hopelessness, was memorably captured in a poem that he wrote in September/October 1917:

What passing-bells for those who die as cattle? 

Only the monstrous anger of the guns.

Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle

Can patter out their hasty orisons.

No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;

Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs –

The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells,

Defeated in battle and dead beat, a regiment wades aimlessly through slush, mud and corpse-heaps when it is caught in a deadly gas attack by the enemy. The poem is about these men who are condemned to die the most violent death imaginable:  

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Being Muslim is Not Easy …

Posted on March 17, 2019. Filed under: Guide Posts |

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/16/islamophobia-not-preserve-extremists-leaks-across-public-life

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Rhet Butler on ‘War’ …

Posted on December 13, 2018. Filed under: Guide Posts, Personalities |

From GWTW ..

All wars are sacred to the people who have to fight them. If the people who started them did not make them sacred who would fight them? 

But no matter what rallying cries the orators make – give to the idiots who fight them – No matter what noble purpose they assign to the wars, there is never but one reason for them –
 
And that is MONEY

All wars are in reality money squabbles – but so few people ever realize it. Their ears are too full of Bugles and Drums  and the fine words of Stay at Home Orators.

Sometimes the Cry is . ‘Liberty’ and Sometimes ‘Cotton, Slavery and States Rights.’”
 




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Three Thoughts …

Posted on October 16, 2018. Filed under: Guide Posts |

One

“Ishmael, my brother hear my plea

It was the angel who tied thee to me

 Time is running out, put hatred to sleep

Shoulder to shoulder – let’s gather our sheep”

Two 

“If you are desirous of obtaining a great name, or becoming the founder of a sect or establishment, be completely mad; but be sure that your madness corresponds with the turn and temper of your age. 

Have in your madness reason enough to guide your extravagances, and to not forget to be excessively opinionated and obstinate.  

It is certainly possible that you may get hanged; but if you escape hanging, you will have altars erected to you”.

 

Three

Every twenty years Comes to us a gambling man

To stake our country and culture 

And resources and rivers; 

And trees and fruits. And men and women

And the waves and the sea    —   At the gambling table!

We die; broken, hated Cursed like dogs —

While our philosopher in his shelter cogitates destruction into victory.

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Life in a Nutshell …

Posted on October 7, 2018. Filed under: Guide Posts |

Our Story is about Life.
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We must GIVE  before We can RECEIVE.
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More importantly, it teaches that FAITH  plays an important role in GIVING.
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Without knowing what to expect – We must make a Leap of Faith.
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The Good things in Life?- Stuff that bring a Smile –
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Money, Love, Family, Friendship, Happiness, Respect, knowledge or Whatever.
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Give and Get – But in SECRET

 

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The Reading Habit …

Posted on September 26, 2018. Filed under: Guide Posts, Personalities |

Charles DeGaulle  — “Don’t ask me who has influenced me. A lion is made up of the lambs he has digested – and I’ve been reading all my life”.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/13/defense-secretary-james-mattis-extraordinary-reading-habits.html

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India’s First Newspaper …

Posted on September 22, 2018. Filed under: Guide Posts |

The front page of Hicky's Bengal Gazette, 28 April 1781Image copyrightUNIVERSITY OF HEIDELBERG
The newspaper was named after its founder, James Augustus Hicky

India’s first newspaper, founded in 1780, held up a mirror to British rule in India. It can also teach us about how tyrants work and how an independent press can stop them, writes journalist and historian Andrew Otis.

Known as Hicky’s Bengal Gazette after its intrepid founder, James Augustus Hicky, the newspaper notoriously dogged the most powerful men in India.

It dug into their private lives and accused them of corruption, bribery and abuse of rights. Among many claims, it accused the then ruler of British India, Governor General Warren Hastings, of bribing the chief justice of India’s Supreme Court.

It alleged that Hastings and his top aides launched illegal wars of conquest, taxed the people without representation and suppressed freedom of speech.

The newspaper also reported on the lives of Europeans and the Indian poor – often news that its competitors would have ignored. It bonded with those at the lowest levels of colonial society, especially the soldiers who fought and died in the wars waged by the British East India Company.

At the height of its power, the Company controlled large parts of India with its own armed forces. But it was disbanded after Indian soldiers in its army revolted against the British in 1857.

The newspaper, in fact, called on the soldiers to mutiny, arguing that their throats were “devoted to the wild chimeras of a madman”, a reference to Hastings.

Warren HastingsWarren Hastings was the then ruler of British India

But soon the criticisms became too much for the government to stand. Those in power sought to discredit those who held them accountable.

The East India Company funded a rival newspaper to control the narrative, while Hastings’ surrogates resorted to ad hominem attacks, calling the newspaper “insolent” and referring to its writers as “pitiful scoundrels”.

Finally, when one of its anonymous writers argued that the “people are no longer bound to obey” when the government no longer consults their welfare, the East India Company moved to shut it down.

Hastings repeatedly sued Hicky himself for libel. Hicky stood little chance in front of a bribed judiciary.

He was found guilty and, despite printing his newspaper from jail for another nine months, the Supreme Court issued a special order to seize his printing press, shuttering India’s first newspaper for good.

Eventually the allegations of abuse of power and rights made it back to England. Armed with reports from Hicky’s Bengal Gazette, the members of parliament launched an investigation.

This resulted in the recall and impeachment of both Hastings and the Chief Justice of India at the time.

The reports in Hicky’s Bengal Gazette, and later, in the British newspapers, were instrumental in building public pressure against corruption.

General Warren Hastings' impeachment trial in 1788General Warren Hastings’ impeachment trial in 1788

Like in the case of India’s first newspaper, authoritarian leaders today seek to suppress the press. The source of their power is to convince enough of the public to believe them, and not what they read in the press.

Politicians who want to be dictators are not new. But why are they so dangerous now?

They have new tools to sow divisions between citizens. Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and other forms of social media have created “filter bubbles” in which people consume and share content they already agree with.

The result is that people across the world are increasingly divided into tribes as social media allows politicians to communicate directly with their citizens.

For instance, US President Donald Trump often lashes out at the news media with tweets, denigrating them as “fake news” and as “enemies of the people”.

Social media has also had a deadly effect in India, where a recent spate of mob lynchings were linked to child abduction rumours spreading over WhatsApp.

Online trolls in India have also backed a Hindu nationalist agenda. Activists and journalists in the country were arrested in August and, in the fallout, many on social media termed them “anti-national” and said they were against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-led government.

In such a tumultuous atmosphere, it is time for companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter to be accountable for their effect on society and to follow ethics guidelines that newspapers have followed for decades. Social media companies bear a responsibility to foster connections and dialogue – not division and hate.

Dictators such as Hastings have come and gone. But these men set the stage for the subjugation of India. They created the political structure upon which British rule began. Through them, a subcontinent that is home to hundreds of millions came to be ruled by a company of a couple of hundred men.

They gained legitimacy not only through the sword, but by controlling what others could write about them.

Now we have democratically elected politicians who wield social media in the same way, using it to degrade the value of a free press and pit citizens against each other.

The fight between Hastings and Hicky is not that different from the fight we face today. The only thing that has changed is the tools used to fight.

Andrew Otis is the author of Hicky’s Bengal Gazette: The Untold Story of India’s First Newspaper, published by Westland.

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Happiness and Power …

Posted on August 31, 2018. Filed under: Guide Posts |

As Received

I sat in the park after my morning walk, my wife came and slumped next to me. She had completed her 30-minute jog. … We chatted for a while. She suddenly said she is not happy in life. I looked up at her in shock!   “I don’t know,” she continued. “Everyone says I have everything – but there is an emptiness, a void.”

Then I wondered, “Am I happy?”  – “No,” says my inner voice. That had me stumped.  I began to wonder —- “Happiness for me is the greatest possible development of my talents” – had opined The Little Corsican – but I am sure not in that league.

This Doctor friend explained the scientific part. As per him – there are 4 hormones which determine a human’s happiness – Endorphins, Dopamine, Serotonin, & Oxytocin.

1. When we exercise the body releases Endorphins. This hormone helps the body cope with the pain of exercising. We then enjoy exercising because these Endorphins makes us happy. Shades of massochism??? But Laughter is another good way of generating Endorphins. We need to spend 30 mins exercising every day, read or watch funny stuff to get our day’s dose of Endorphins.

The second hormone is Dopamine. In life, we accomplish many small and big tasks, which release various levels of Dopamine. When we are appreciated at office or home, we feel satisfied and happy – because of release of Dopamine.

This explains why most housewives are unhappy since they rarely get acknowledged or appreciated for their work.

Once, we join work, we buy a car, a house, the latest gadgets, a new house so forth.  In each instance, it releases Dopamine and we become happy. Now, do we realize why we become happy when we shop?

The third hormone Serotonin is released when we act in a way that benefits others. When we transcend ourselves and give back to others or to nature or to the society – it releases Serotonin.

Even, providing useful information on the internet like writing information blogs, answering people’s questions on Quora or Facebook groups will generate Serotonin. That is because we will use our precious time to help other people via our answers or articles.

The final hormone, Oxytocin, is released when we become close to other human beings. When we hug our friends or family Oxytocin is released.

Similarly, when we shake hands or put our arms around someone’s shoulders, various amounts of Oxytocin is released. Now, we can understand why we need to hug a child who has a bad mood.

So – we have to exercise every day to get Endorphins, we have to accomplish stuff, get Dopamine. We need to be nice to others to get  Serotonin and finally hug our kids, friends, and families to get Oxytocin and we will be happy.  …………..

Now that was the Crappy Part but here is Stuff from an Oldie –

Adopt a fixed temperament by adoption of fixed habits which should include methods of living. No man can have a better friend, a more staunch and abiding supporter than such a fixed temperament.

Solicit the favor of sunshine and loving kindness and shower them wherever you go. It is the imperial temperament.

No man or woman has achieved a great life’s work unless the wee small hours of the mornings have been employed. The earliest impulse of the day lives and breathes into a strong and pure life all through the hours till night. We are affected in the daytime by the first mood of the morning.

A POSITIVE person loves to be doing something. It is the most virile of all virtues. To arise in the morning ready and eager to live a full day through. To see as many books, as many persons – friends or not, as many transactions, as many activities as can be crowded into a single day.

Do things that you dislike to do. Do not shirk, dodge, evade, and put off. Do not avoid worthy duties of life.

 It is the part of wisdom to waste less time in cheap reading and cheaper gossip and to put more into self-improvement. Laziness is an enemy. An undeveloped nature is inactive. We must be busy.

A working mind adds something to individual power. Constant change and variation increase magnetic vitality. Activity is the right arm of strength and variety the constant refreshment of all our faculties. The faculties are best preserved by their constant use; but not overuse.

MARGINS. Margins or never reaching the limits, are vital in each and everything.

AVOID too much rest, reclining, lounging, having someone else to do your work and errands. Much rest does injury to the faculties.

MONEY. Respect it. Expenditure should always be less than ones income. Save for a rainy day. Never buy anything that you do not really need – no matter how cheap it might be.

Follow a regime. A line of exact and careful conduct helps develops Power. Irregular living constantly subjects one to low vitality. Note the daily faults, which cause the vital power to slip away.

 To be sincere at all times is to be faithful to the trusts that have been reposed in you by nature and by GOD.

Few are those who respect the powers with which they are endowed. You are not true to yourself if you neglect your health, your mind, your body, your faculties and your essential being.

The true man or woman looks upon the necessities of life as incidents only of existence – useful at maintaining the faculties at their best.

He who has nothing beyond the care of the body is poor in the most abject sense of the term.

Always Be in Earnest – in Great Things and Small. This virtue will stamp itself upon your thought and affect your daily habits. Others will see it and you will be believed in and your power over others will rapidly become recognized. IT PAYS.

Do not trifle with body, with mind, with health and with any faculty. In every deed, in every remark, in play, in sport, in love and in labor – in all things, be in Earnest.

This temperament of Earnestness will stand you in good stead in hours of discouragement and conflict. It is your friend. It is the buoyant temperament.

The one great quality of the masses is Flippancy; of the successful men and women – Earnestness. Nothing is in vain that is in earnest. Want, Wish, Decide, Propose to Rise in Life – in Earnestness. 

Personal Power demands that you make yourself believed in. It demands an active body. The purpose of the Mind should be sincere, honest, clear, definite and thorough. 

We may become what we will but we must be in Earnest. For example, without a complete interest in what you are saying or doing, you cannot be in earnest. No lover can win the object of his adoration if his interest is dulled or weakened.

Personal Power is built upon Thoughtfulness. Aim at becoming attractive and thoughtful to the needs of others. Care for Quality and Style. Develop gentleness, sweetness and kindness in the family circle. Be ever watchful of the needs of others.

Anticipation is the Soul of Happiness. A wife likes attention. Neglect her and she will seek it elsewhere. There should be no fault finding in marriage. No right minded person corrects errors, mistakes or stupidity by scolding or offensive action.  A member of a family can be easily cured of a fault by using intelligence or by assuming the same habit to depict its total foolishness.

You cannot shut your eyes to the fact that you are in competition with all mankind and that others stand ready to push you to one side, once you no longer can hold your own. Personal Attainments are powers that defeat each in itself, some counter influence that seeks to put you down.

Charms are embellishments of manner, of method, of thought and even of feeling that cannot fail to lend power and advantage to those that possess them.

Charms and embellishments are necessary and enhance Magnetism or indeed, Attraction is enhanced by every physical and mental charm.

Charms enforce evenness of action and freedom from friction. They make you appear cool and free from embarrassmentWhen charm is strong, brain is strong.

Politeness builds Power. Study and practice it as an art before the near and dear and before the high and low. Sympathy is a Quality of the Heart.

Politeness is a Quality of the Mind and Muscles. Talk to the least of your fellow humans as if you believed them worthy of your attention. Become skilled in the art of etiquette and polished in good breeding.

Polish is the fairest of all accomplishments. To become refined and polished, imagine that those whom you wish to impress the most are observing you. A man must absorb the ideal he has created, into his own nature and he or she must be the one person above all others who is desired by the ideal that has been created.

In private and in front of others, want of careful conduct to yourself, is important. In marriage personal improvement – physical, mental and nervous – must continue. Whether alone or in company, take exacting care to behave and speak with the best culture. Diction should be free from coarseness and slang. Private refinement enriches the character.

Form the habit of observing yourself and note the faults that will lesson the respect others may have for you.

Argument is very little employed in higher business. It is the personality of the man that counts. The General who wins his battles is nearly always reticent.

Thinking should precede speaking. There is mystery about a man or woman who does not have an opinion on every subject and who is not frothy and exuberant in words.

Do not open your mind on all occasions to everybody. It is commendable to keep your most private thoughts to yourself.

Think, read, ponder Magnetism and all the great works of bygone ages. Shakespeare, the Bible, the Classics, Speeches. Reading may change the whole current of your life – inspiring and motivating you.

Silence commands respect, impressing others with a weighty regard. Still waters run deep. Unsolicited opinions are cheap. The rare talker is always held in esteem. Reticence helps magnetic telepathy.

Talking aloud excites thought. Memorizing makes the brain strong, giving a new power to memory. Greater the number of quotations you imbibe and incorporate in your mind, richer will be the run of your thought.

 The Great Men and Women of the World, as far as is known, have been reciters in solitude, of the powerful extracts of great works. Mere reading of uplifting thoughts is beneficial.

Mental wandering destroys power. Closing the mind injures it.

Expression and power go hand in hand. Vocabulary builds power. Add one new word to your vocabulary each day. The more words you can actually use with accuracy, the more control you will have over the thoughts and minds of others.

 All geniuses and leading characters fill examples of plainness and gentleness in their lives.

The great men and women of the world, as far as is known, have lived in their second self to themselves and in their outer self to others.

Place no value on the faults, which have dragged great men down. Greatness lives in the lives of those who serve it. Absorb and be uplifted by the nobler thoughts of the world. 

Cultivate solitude, biography, and fellowship of the Great.

 

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Man’s Best Friend …

Posted on August 21, 2018. Filed under: Guide Posts |

Excerpted from TIME  ….  How Dogs Think: Inside the Canine Mind, now available at Retailers and Amazon.

 

You speak dog better than you think you do. You may not be fluent; that would require actually being a dog.

But if you went to live in a dogs-only world, you’d be pretty good at understanding what they’re saying. You can tell a nervous yip from a menacing growl, a bark that says hello from a bark that says get lost.

You can read the body language that says happy, that says sad, that says tired, that says scared, that says Please, please, please play with me right now!

Think that’s not a big deal? Then answer this: What does a happy bird look like? A sad lion? You don’t know, but dog talk you get. And as with your first human language, you didn’t even have to try to learn it. You grew up in a world in which dogs are everywhere and simply came to understand them.

That, by itself, says something about the bond that humans and dogs share. We live with cats, we work with horses, we hire cows for their milk and chickens for their eggs and pay them with food—unless we kill them and eat them instead. Our lives are entangled with those of other species, but we could disentangle if we wanted.

With dogs, things are different. Our world and their world swirled together long ago like two different shades of paint. Once you’ve achieved a commingled orange, you’re never going back to red and yellow.

But why is that? It’s not enough to say that the relationship is symbiotic—that dogs hunt for us and herd for us and we keep them warm and fed in return.

Sharks and remora fish struck a similarly symbiotic deal, with the remora cleaning parasites from the shark’s skin and getting to help itself to scraps from the shark’s kills as its pay. That underwater deal is entirely transactional; love plays no part. Humans and dogs, by contrast, adore each other.

The relationship began—well, nobody knows exactly when it began. The earliest remains of humans and dogs interred together date to 14,000 years ago, but there are some unconfirmed finds that are said to be more than twice as old. The larger point is the meaning of the discoveries: we lived with dogs and then chose to be buried with them. Imagine that.

It was only by the tiniest bit of genetic chance that our cross-species union was forged at all. Dogs and wolves share 99.9% of their mitochondrial DNA—the DNA that’s passed down by the mother alone—which makes the two species nearly indistinguishable.

But elsewhere in the genome, there are a few genetic scraps that make a powerful difference. On chromosome six in particular, investigators have found three genes that code for hyper-sociability—and they are in the same spot as similar genes linked to similar sweetness in humans.

Our ancestors didn’t know what genes were many millennia ago, but they did know that every now and then, one or two of the midsize scavengers with the long muzzles that came nosing around their campfires would gaze at them with a certain attentiveness, a certain loving neediness, and that it was awfully hard to resist them.

So they welcomed those few in from the cold and eventually came to call them dogs, while the animals’ close kin that didn’t pull the good genes—the ones we would come to call wolves or jackals or coyotes or dingoes—would be left to make their way in the state of nature in which they were born.

When humans ourselves left the state of nature, our alliance with dogs might well have been dissolved. If you didn’t need a working dog—and fewer and fewer people did—the ledger went out of balance. We kept paying dogs their food-and-­shelter salary, but we got little that was tangible in return. Never mind, though; by then we were smitten.

Our language reflected how love-drunk we’d gotten: the word “puppy” is thought to have been adapted from the French poupée, or doll—an object on which we lavish irrational affection.

Our folk stories were populated by dogs: the Africans spoke of Rukuba, the dog who brought us fire; the Welsh told the tale of the faithful hound Gelert, who saved a prince’s baby from a wolf. Aristocrats took to including the family dog in family portraits. Wealthy eccentrics took to including dogs in their wills.

Today, at least in areas populated by humans, dogs are the planet’s most abundant terrestrial carnivore. There are about 900 million of them worldwide, just shy of 80 million of whom live in the U.S. alone. The single species that is the domestic dog—Canis lupus familiaris—has been subdivided into hundreds of breeds, selected for size or temperament or color or cuteness.

The average American dog owner spends more than $2,000 a year on food, toys, medical care and more, and some people would be prepared to pay a much higher, much dearer price.

When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005, so many people refused to evacuate without their dogs that Congress passed a law requiring disaster preparedness plans to make accommodations for pets.

What began as a mutual-services contract between two very different species became something much more like love. None of that makes a lick of sense, but it doesn’t have to. Love rarely touches the reasoning parts of the brain. It touches the dreamy parts, the devoted parts—it touches the parts we sometimes call the heart. For many thousands of years, it’s there that our dogs have lived

http://time.com/5342964/human-bond-dog-thoughts/

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Dutch Frankness …

Posted on July 25, 2018. Filed under: Guide Posts |

http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20180131-where-dutch-directness-comes-from

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