GOLF—A GOOD WALK SPOILED

September 13, 2018


Once a month I get together for lunch with a group of guys I’ve known forever.  We meet at a small restaurant called Marsha’s on Brainerd Road in Chattanooga.  Marsha’s has one of the best bowls of chili on the planet and even though it’s summer time the “heat” is worth it.  They also have great tuna fish and chicken salad.  We met this past Tuesday and the first question to be asked—what’s happening in the world?  One member of our group said he is backing off from watching the news due to his doctor’s requests.  He is having issues with high blood pressure and the doctor indicated not watching the news just might help his condition.

No news and more golf he said.  “I’ve seen you play golf and that’s not going to help your blood pressure”.  You need to stop playing golf AND stop watching the news.  I thought about this and just wondered if there might not be a little humor (if not a lot of humor) in the ancient game.  Let’s take a look.

  • Two golfers are ready to play on the 11thtee as a funeral cortege passes by. The first player stops, doffs his cap, and bows his head as the cortege passes. “That was a really nice thing to do,” the second golfer says. “It’s good to see there is still some respect in the world.” “Well, it’s only right,” the first golfer replies. “I was married to her for 35 years.”
  • After a particularly poor round, a golfer spotted a lake as he walked despondently up the 18th. He looked at his caddie and said, “I’ve played so badly all day, I think I’m going to drown myself in that lake.” The caddie, quick as a flash, replied, “I’m not sure you could keep your head down that long.”
  • A hacker was playing so badly that his caddie was getting increasingly exasperated. On the 11th, his ball lay about 160 yards from the green and as he eyed up the shot, he asked his caddie, “Do you think I can get there with a 4-iron?” “Eventually,” replied the caddie, wearily.
  • Two Mexican detectives were investigating the murder of Juan Gonzalez. ‘How was he killed?’ asked one detective. ‘With a golf gun,’ the other detective replied. ‘A golf gun?  What’s a golf gun?’ ‘I don’t know, but it sure made a hole in Juan.’ (Sorry for this one.)
  • A couple was sitting at a table in a very stylish restaurant waiting on the meal they had just ordered. The guy said, “you know, even though this is only our forth date I think I know you well enough to tell you anything. ““Yes, you can and I feel the same way so go ahead—you first”.  The guy says, “I love golf.  I watch the golf channel seven day a week and if I could play seven days a week I would.  Now your turn”.  The young lady says—“I’m a hooker”.  The guy looks at her are says,” OK, just keep your head down, grip the club firmly and square the head so it’s perpendicular to the ball”.  (My favorite.)
  • A golfer sliced a ball into a field of chickens, striking one of the hens and killing it instantly. He was understandably upset, and sought out the farmer. “I’m sorry,” he said, “my terrible tee-shot hit one of your hens and killed it. Can I replace the hen?” “I don’t know about that,” replied the farmer, mulling it over. “How many eggs a day do you lay?”

This has to cheer you up a little.  Now go out and play a round.

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SEPTEMBER 11, 2001

September 11, 2018


Do you remember where you were this day seventeen years ago?

I was working for the Roper Corporation, a company owned by General Electric; sitting in the “cube farm” working on a project for the appliance group.  My “next-door” neighbor, Dwayne Lee, came over and told me he had just gotten a telephone call from his son.   A small private plane had flown into one of the twin towers in New York City.   My very first thought was possibly a pilot, maybe a student pilot, had gotten into to high winds, lost control, and impacted one of the towers.  As tragic as this seems, I honestly did not think we were under attack.  The wind patterns around high-rise buildings are very troublesome and even experienced pilots have difficulties when flying close to tall structures. Every pilot, according to FAA rules, is supposed to keep

A few minutes went by and I decided to call home to see if there were any updates to the story.  At that time, my son told me a second aircraft had flown into the second tower.  This never happens by accident.

At 8:46 a.m., American Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.  At first, newscasters were not sure whether it was an accident or a deliberate attack.

At 9:03 a.m., United Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower, leaving no doubt this was an attack.  Some news channels captured the moment on live television.

At 9:40 a.m., American Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. Five minutes later, for the first time in history, the FAA ordered all aircraft to land at the nearest airport.

At 10:03 a.m., hijacked flight United Flight 93 crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The plane’s target was believed to be the US Capitol. The passengers on board tried to gain control of the flight and divert the hijackers after learning of the other attacks.

By this time the news at Roper had spread to the point where we all had to find a television to see just what was happening.  There was a TV in our test lab so we all hustled downstairs to find the set already on with coverage that lasted the entire day.  The day was shot as far as work so we all gathered around the TV huddled like cowboys in winter around a campfire.

About an hour after the second strike, three of our guys who were in the National Guard, were called and told to report to their duty station immediately.  They were not allowed to go home first—just report and do it now.  They left, came back the next day and waited for orders.  Those orders came fairly quickly and all three were shipped out within the month.

  • 2,753 people were killed in the New York attack.  That number includes 342 firefighters and paramedics and 60 police officers who rushed to help in the aftermath.
  • Another 40 people were killed in Pennsylvania
  • 184 people died in Washington, DC as a result of the strike on the Pentagon
  • Rescue efforts at Ground Zero continued until October 9, and the flames from the collapsed burned until December.
  • Over one thousand first responders have since died of cancer resulting from the rescue and cleanup efforts.

NEVER FORGET

THE STATE OF CONFUSION

September 2, 2018


One of the most interesting new restaurants in Chattanooga is called The State of Confusion.  The history of its location will indicate how the name came about.

Fifteen months after the eclectic salvage outlet known as Estate of Confusion closed, the Main Street facility has opened as a unique, indoor and outdoor restaurant and bar known as State of Confusion.  The next two digital pictures will give you some idea as to what existed on that location prior to becoming Chattanooga’s newest eating facility.

The Estate of Confusion served as the location for art-related artifacts needed for photographers, sculptors and fabricators seeking something different.  In other words, it was a high-class junkyard.

The new facility at 301 East Main Street features made-from-scratch Latin American, New Orleans and low-country food, including Peruvian ceviche and wood-fire grilled meats and vegetables.  Their Peruvian ceviche menu is remarkably complete and with an extensive variety.  Approximately $2.5 million was spent to renovate and reactivate the former junk yard, which was owned by Greg Ross for nearly two decades of operation.

The new 330-seat restaurant includes indoor and patio seating in a variety of casual settings.  The design has retained the metal hangar, concrete buildings and foundations of the former salvage yard while adding locally made and unique bars, picnic tables and seating around wood-fired grills.  The outdoor terrace and indoor area are shown as follows:

(I want to apologize for the picture below.  I did not realize I had the bright light in the frame.)  You can get some idea as to the construction of the indoor eating area.  The owners made great effort in retaining the overall design, which explains the ceiling.

“State of Confusion is all about levity and fun with the highest quality, authentic food and fusion of flavors and dishes that you can’t get anywhere else,” said Allen Corey, CEO of Square One Holdings. “We traveled to Peru, the birthplace of ceviche, to understand ceviche; to New Orleans to craft the best muffuletta bread and bologna, and up and down the East Coast to curate the best seafood boils.”

The nearly 11,000-square-foot restaurant opened two weeks ago for lunch, dinner, brunch and special occasions and will offer both sit-down meals or just a place to hang out and sip ice-cold beer (served in ice buckets), cocktails or aguas frescas — a traditional chilled Spanish beverage of water and fruit.

Two bars with inside seating open to the outside terrace and face each other across the patio. State of Confusion will have its own sugar cane expeller to make its mojitos — a cocktail made from white rum, sugar cane juice, lime juice, soda water and mint.

At the front of the new restaurant in the former Main Street storefront, a small bar and takeout facility is being developed known as the Pump House. Sit-down dining will be in both the bigger building on the rear of the lot as well as outdoors in a giant patio, where the restaurant developers plan to put in Igloos in the winter for patio dining in colder weather.

To offer something new to the Chattanooga market (and also not available yet even in Atlanta or Nashville), the ownership decided to bring to the  Chattanooga market a seafood dish popular in the Pacific coastal regions of Latin America known as ceviche, which is considered a national dish in Peru. Ceviche is made from fresh raw fish cured in citrus juices, such as lemon or lime, and spiced with ají or chili peppers.  According to the owners, “This is something totally unique for our area and we think will be very popular.   “It’s light eating, very healthy and sophisticated and has a unique and great taste — if you do it right.” “We really had a crash course with some of the best ceviche chefs in Lima because we want to make sure we offer genuine, Peruvian-style ceviche here in Chattanooga,” Heckler said.

The new restaurant also plans to offer Argentina-style wood-grilled entrees, including house-ground burgers, steaks and seafood and its own unique Bologna. Most of the menu entrees will range in price from $9 to $10 for sandwiches up to $40 for the most expensive ceviche, steak and seafood items. Appetizers will start around $6.50.

To prepare other menu items, restaurant crews traveled to New Orleans and Miami to study menus and food and drink preparation styles and techniques.

“When we started out on this project we knew we wanted authentic cuisine so we traveled to Peru, New Orleans and Miami to be able to deliver these specific culinary items,” Walton said. “We also want to have the levity and the ultimate hang out place that is very casual to allow you to have this great made-from-scratch, unique food in a very fun atmosphere.”

State of Confusion is one of the biggest restaurants to open on the Southside and is among a half dozen eateries that have or will soon open in and around Main Street and the Choo Choo in the past couple of years.

My wife and I walked in about 5:30 P.M. on 31 August to give it a try.  It was already packed with a capital “P”.  Take a look at the experience.

Our waitress was Trystan who turned out to be extremely knowledgeable and very accommodating.  She had sampled all of the entrees and side dishes and came with great recommendation.

We decided to order from the “STARTERS” menu so we might sample multiple dishes. My wife, LOVES shell fish so she had the muscles.

I, on the other hand, really enjoy calamari.

One of the most interesting dishes is the “Monkey Bread” shown below.  It was fabulous. I can certainly recommend it to you when you visit.

CONCLUSIONS:

Reviews are important so let’s take a look at what others are saying. As I mentioned earlier, it’s only been open two weeks so the number of responses is, for the time being, somewhat limited although we loved it and definitely will go back.

I keep saying it’s about time you visit Chattanooga, Tennessee to put “some south in your mouth”.  You are going to love the dining experiences and the scenic experience.  To be a “river city” we offer a great deal. Come on down.

NATCHEZ BURNING

August 30, 2018


This is the first book I have read from Greg Iles and I can certainly state that he is an excellent writer—a marvelous word-smith.   In looking at the product details, you can see that this is a HUGE book.  Eight hundred (800) pages of detailed, descriptive material with many fascinating characters and multiple story plots. This translates to approximately two hundred thousand (200,000) words.   I had to really concentrate to get into this book and follow at least half a dozen story lines that travel back in time then move forward.  You will see from several reviews below, this is not a book always enjoyed by every reader.  A compilation of scores may be seen as follows:

PRODUCT DETAILS

  • Series:Penn Cage Novels (Book 4)
  • Hardcover:800 pages
  • Publisher:William Morrow; First Edition (April 29, 2014)
  • Language:English
  • ISBN-10:0062311077
  • ISBN-13:978-0062311078
  • Average Customer Review:4 out of 5 stars   3,939 customer reviews
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank:#429,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

I always like to know something about the author feeling it helps me understand his purpose in writing and specifically writing the book I’m discussing.  Mr. Ille’s very brief biography is given as follows:

BIOGRAPHY:

Greg Iles was born in 1960 in Germany where his father ran the US Embassy medical clinic during the height of the Cold War. After graduating from the University of Mississippi in 1983 he performed for several years with the rock band Frankly Scarlet and is currently member of the band The Rock Bottom Remainders. His first novel, Spandau Phoenix, a thriller about war criminal Rudolf Hess, was published in 1993 and became a New York Times bestseller. Iles went on to write ten bestselling novels, including Third Degree, True Evil, Turning Angel, Blood Memory, The Footprints of God, and 24 Hours (released by Sony Pictures as Trapped, with full screenwriting credit for Iles). He lives in Natchez, Mississippi.

STORY LINE:

Penn Cage is shocked to learn that his father, Dr. Tom Cage, is about to be charged with murder in the death of a local woman, a nurse who worked with Dr. Cage back in the 1960s. Stymied by his father’s refusal to discuss the case, Penn digs into the past to uncover the truth and discovers long-buried secrets about his community and his own family. Natchez Burning (the title is surely a nod to the infamous “Mississippi Burning” murder case of the 1960s, and others like it) is the first of a planned trilogy. The story ends in mid-stride, leaving us on the edge of our seats, but that’s not a criticism. This beautifully written novel represents some of the author’s finest work, with sharper characterizations and a story of especially deep emotional resonance, and we eagerly await volume two. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Several of Iles’ thrillers have found their way to best-seller lists, but his new publisher is touting this one (his first novel in five years) as a breakout book and seems ready to put marketing dollars behind that claim.

When reviewing a book I have just read, I like to indicate comments from other readers.  A few of these are as follows:

REVIEWS:

CONCLUSIONS:

I can certainly recommend the book but you really need time for completion.  Also, the ending carries a big big surprise.   GO FOR IT.

THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING

August 18, 2018


Are we as Americans a little paranoid—or maybe a lot paranoid when it comes to trusting the Russians?  In light of the stories involving Russian collusion during the recent presidential election, maybe we should put trust on the shelf in all areas of involvement with Putin and the “mother-land”.  Do recent news releases through “pop” media muddy the waters or really do justice to a very interesting occurrence noted just this week? Let’s take a look.

The following is taken from a UPI News release on 16 August 2018:

“Aug. 16 (UPI) — Just days after the Trump administration proposed a Space Force as a new branch of the military, U.S. officials say they’re concerned about “very abnormal behavior” involving a Russian satellite.  The satellite, launched in October, is displaying behavior “inconsistent” with the kind of satellite Russia says it is, said Yleem D.S. Poblete, assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance . “Poblete suggested the satellite could be a weapon. “We don’t know for certain what it is, and there is no way to verify it,” he said Wednesday at a disarmament conference in Switzerland.

An artist’s rendition of that satellite is given below:

“Our Russian colleagues will deny that its systems are meant to be hostile,” Poblete continued. “But it is difficult to determine an object’s true purpose simply by observing it on orbit. “So that leads to the question: is this, again, enough information to verify and assess whether a weapon has or has not been tested in orbit? The United States does not believe it is.”

This release is basically saying that if we do not know what the Russian satellite is supposed to do, then it must be a weapon.  One of my favorite online publications is SPACE.com.  This group does a commendable job at assessing breaking stories and giving us the straight “poop” relative to all things in the cosmos.  Let’s take a look at what they say.

SPACE.com:

“This gets a bit confusing, so bear with me: Russia launched the Cosmos 2519 satellite in June 2017. This spacecraft popped out a subsatellite known as Cosmos 2521 in August of that year. On Oct. 30, a second subsat, Cosmos 2523, deployed from one of these two other craft.

“I can’t tell from the data whether the parent [of 2523] was 2519 or 2521, and indeed, I can’t be sure that U.S. tracking didn’t swap the IDs of 2519 and 2521 at some point,” McDowell said.  (NOTE: Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who monitors many of the spacecraft circling our planet using publicly available U.S. tracking data.)

These three spacecraft performed a variety of maneuvers over the ensuing months, according to McDowell and Brian Weeden, director of program planning at the nonprofit Secure World Foundation. For example, Cosmos 2521 conducted some “proximity operations” around 2519 and may have docked with the mothership in October, Weeden said via Twitter today (Aug. 16).

Cosmos 2521 adjusted its orbit slightly in February 2018, then performed two big engine burns in April to significantly lower its slightly elliptical path around Earth, from about 400 miles (650 kilometers) to roughly 220 miles (360 km), McDowell said. The satellite fired its engines again on July 20, reshaping its orbit to a more elliptical path with a perigee (close-approach point) of 181 miles (292 km) and an apogee (most-distant point) of 216 miles (348 km).

And Cosmos 2519 conducted a series of small burns between late June and mid-July of this year, shifting its orbit from a nearly circular one (again, with an altitude of about 400 miles) to a highly elliptical path with a perigee of 197 miles (317 km) and an apogee of 413 miles (664 km), McDowell calculated.

These big maneuvers are consistent with a technology demonstration of some kind, he said.

Perhaps the Russians “are checking out the [spacecraft] bus and its capability to deliver multiple subsatellites to different orbits — something like that,” McDowell said. “From the information that’s available in the public domain, that would be an entirely plausible interpretation.”

“What are they complaining about?” McDowell said, referring to American officials. Weeden voiced similar sentiments. Cosmos 2523’s “deployment was unusual, but hard to see at this point why the US is making it a big deal,” he said via Twitter today. “There are a lot of facts and not a lot of pattern,” McDowell said. “So, partly I take the U.S. statement as saying, ‘Russia, how dare you do something confusing?'” It’s possible, of course, that American satellites or sensors have spotted Cosmos 2523 (or Cosmos 2519, or Cosmos 2521) doing something suspicious — some activity that can’t be detected just by analyzing publicly available tracking data. “But they need to say a little more for us to take that seriously,” McDowell said.

CONCLUSIONS:

We just do not know and we do not trust the Russians to let us know the purpose behind their newest satellite.  Then again, why should they?    We live in a world where our own media tells us “the public has the right to know”.  That’s really garbage.  The public and others have a right to know what we choose to tell them.  No more—no less.

SOCIAL MEDIA

June 27, 2018


DEFINITION:

Social media is typically defined today as: – “Web sites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking” – OxfordDictionaries.

Now that we have cleared that up, let’s take a look at the very beginning of social media.

Six Degrees, according to several sources, was the first modern-day attempt of providing access to communication relative to the “marvelous world” of social media. (I have chosen to put marvelous world in quotes because I’m not too sure it’s that marvelous. There is an obvious downside.)  Six Degrees was launched in 1997 and definitely was the first modern social network. It allowed users to create a profile and to become friends with other users. While the site is no longer functional, at one time it was actually quite popular and had approximately a million members at its peak.

Other sources indicate that social media has been around for the better part of forty (40) years with Usenet appearing in 1979.  Usenet is the first recorded network that enabled users to post news to newsgroups.  Although these Usenets and similar bulletin boards heralded the launch of the first, albeit very rudimentary, social networks, social media never really took off until almost thirty (30) years later, following the roll out of Facebook in 2006. Usenet was not identified as “social media” so the exact term was not used at that time.

If we take a very quick look at Internet and Social Media usage, we find the following:

As you can see from above, social media is incredibly popular and in use hourly if not minute-by-minute.  It’s big in our society today across the world and where allowed.

If we look at the fifteen most popular sites we see the following:

With out a doubt, the gorilla in the room is Facebook.

Facebook statistics

  • Facebook adds 500,000 new users a day – that’s six new profiles a second – and just under a quarter (775) of adults in the US visit their account at least once a month
  • The average (mean) number of Facebook friends is 155
  • There are 60 million active small business pages (up from 40 million in 2015), 5 million of which pay for advertising
  • There are thought to be 270 million fake Facebook profiles (there were only81 million in 2015)
  • Facebook accounts for 1% of social logins made by consumers to sign into the apps and websites of publishers and brands.

It’s important we look at all social media sites so If we look at daily usage for the most popular web sites, we see the following:

BENEFITS:

  • Ability to connect to other people all over the world. One of the most obvious pros of using social networks is the ability to instantly reach people from anywhere. Use Facebook to stay in touch with your old high school friends who’ve relocated all over the country, get on Google Hangouts with relatives who live halfway around the world, or meet brand new people on Twitter from cities or regions you’ve never even heard of before.
  • Easy and instant communication. Now that we’re connected wherever we go, we don’t have to rely on our landlines, answering machines or snail mail to contact somebody. We can simply open up our laptops or pick up our smartphones and immediately start communicating with anyone on platforms like Twitter or one of the many social messaging apps
  • Real-time news and information discovery. Gone are the days of waiting around for the six o’clock news to come on TV or for the delivery boy to bring the newspaper in the morning. If you want to know what’s going on in the world, all you need to do is jump on social media. An added bonus is that you can customize your news and information discovery experiences by choosing to follow exactly what you want.
  • Great opportunities for business owners. Business owners and other types of professional organizations can connect with current customers, sell their products and expand their reach using social media. There are actually lots of entrepreneurs and businesses out there that thrive almost entirely on social networks and wouldn’t even be able to operate without it.
  • General fun and enjoyment. You have to admit that social networking is just plain fun sometimes. A lot of people turn to it when they catch a break at work or just want to relax at home. Since people are naturally social creatures, it’s often quite satisfying to see comments and likes show up on our own posts, and it’s convenient to be able to see exactly what our friends are up to without having to ask them directly.

DISADVANTAGES:

  • Information overwhelm. With so many people now on social media tweeting links and posting selfies and sharing YouTube videos, it sure can get pretty noisy. Becoming overwhelmed by too many Facebook friends to keep up with or too many Instagram photos to browse through isn’t all that uncommon. Over time, we tend to rack up a lot of friends and followers, and that can lead to lots of bloated news feeds with too much content we’re not all that interested in.
  • Privacy issues. With so much sharing going on, issues over privacy will always be a big concern. Whether it’s a question of social sites owning your content after it’s posted, becoming a target after sharing your geographical location online, or even getting in trouble at work after tweeting something inappropriate – sharing too much with the public can open up all sorts of problems that sometimes can’t ever be undone.
  • Social peer pressure and cyber bullying. For people struggling to fit in with their peers – especially teens and young adults – the pressure to do certain things or act a certain way can be even worse on social media than it is at school or any other offline setting. In some extreme cases, the overwhelming pressure to fit in with everyone posting on social media or becoming the target of a cyber-bullying attack can lead to serious stress, anxiety and even depression.
  • Online interaction substitution for offline interaction. Since people are now connected all the time and you can pull up a friend’s social profile with a click of your mouse or a tap of your smartphone, it’s a lot easier to use online interaction as a substitute for face-to-face interaction. Some people argue that social media actually promotes antisocial human behavior.
  • Distraction and procrastination. How often do you see someone look at their phone? People get distracted by all the social apps and news and messages they receive, leading to all sorts of problems like distracted driving or the lack of gaining someone’s full attention during a conversation. Browsing social media can also feed procrastination habits and become something people turn to in order to avoid certain tasks or responsibilities.
  • Sedentary lifestyle habits and sleep disruption. Lastly, since social networking is all done on some sort of computer or mobile device, it can sometimes promote too much sitting down in one spot for too long. Likewise, staring into the artificial light from a computer or phone screen at night can negatively affect your ability to get a proper night’s sleep. (Here’s how you can reduce that blue light, by the way.)

Social media is NOT going away any time soon.  Those who choose to use it will continue using it although there are definite privacy issues. The top five (5) issues discussed by users are as follows:

  • Account hacking and impersonation.
  • Stalking and harassment
  • Being compelled to turn over passwords
  • The very fine line between effective marketing and privacy intrusion
  • The privacy downside with location-based services

I think these issues are very important and certainly must be considered with using ANY social media platform.  Remember—someone is ALWAYS watching.

 

DISCRIMINATION

June 20, 2018


When I think of discrimination I automatically think of whites discriminating against blacks. I’m sure that’s because I’m from the southeastern part of the United States although there is ample evidence that discrimination occurs in all states of the United States.   There are other manners in which discrimination can occur.

From the New York Times we read the following:

“A group that is suing Harvard University is demanding that it publicly release admissions data on hundreds of thousands of applicants, saying the records show a pattern of discrimination against Asian-Americans going back decades.

The group was able to view the documents through its lawsuit, which was filed in 2014 and challenges Harvard’s admissions policies. The plaintiffs said in a letter to the court last week that the documents were so compelling that there was no need for a trial, and that they would ask the judge to rule summarily in their favor based on the documents alone.

The plaintiffs also say that the public — which provides more than half a billion dollars a year in federal funding to Harvard — has a right to see the evidence that the judge will consider in her decision.

Harvard counters that the documents are tantamount to trade secrets, and that even in the unlikely event that the judge agrees to decide the case without a trial, she is likely to use only a fraction of the evidence in her decision. Only that portion, the university says, should be released.”

There is no doubt that Harvard University makes considerable efforts to be “all-inclusive”.  They discriminate against whites and Asian-Americans in favor of African-Americans, Hispanics and the LGBT community.  That is a fact and a form of discrimination.

The EEOC tells us the following are methods of discrimination:

I recently read a horrible story about a young man in the country of India.  This guy had completed a course of study at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi with a Masters Degree in computer science.  He came to know a fellow classmate.  They fell in love.  He asked her father for her hand in marriage.  He said absolutely not.  “My daughter will not marry an untouchable, a Dalit.”  Now, Article 17 of the Indian Constitution abolishes untouchability and makes it punishable by law, and the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989 spells out the safeguards against caste discrimination and violence. His daughter honored her father and they did not get married.  The young man moved to the United States and now is a citizen working for an aerospace company in New England. He is happily married with three children—all citizens.

The term caste was first used by Portuguese travelers who came to India in the 16th century. Caste comes from the Spanish and Portuguese word “casta” which means “race”, “breed”, or “lineage”. Many Indians use the term “jati”. There are 3,000 castes and 25,000 sub-castes in India, each related to a specific occupation. A caste system is a class structure determined by birth. Loosely, it means that in some societies, if your parents are poor, you’re going to be poor, also. Same goes for being rich, if you’re parents were rich, you would be rich.   According to one long-held theory about the origins of South Asia’s caste system, Aryans from central Asia invaded South Asia and introduced the caste system as a means of controlling the local populations. The Aryans defined key roles in society, then assigned groups of people to them.

If a Hindu were asked to explain the nature of the caste system, he or she might tell the story of Brahma — the four-headed, four-handed deity worshipped as the creator of the universe. According to an ancient text known as the Rigveda, the division of Indian society was based on Brahma’s divine manifestation of four groups. Priests and teachers were cast from his mouth, rulers and warriors from his arms, merchants and traders from his thighs, and workers and peasants from his feet.  Others might present a biological explanation of India’s stratification system, based on the notion that all living things inherit a particular set of qualities. Some inherit wisdom and intelligence, some get pride and passion, and others are stuck with less fortunate traits. Proponents of this theory attribute all aspects of one’s lifestyle — social status, occupation, and even diet — to these inherent qualities and thus use them to explain the foundation of the caste system.

The caste structure may be seen by the digital below.

India’s caste system has four main classes (also called varnas) based originally on personality, profession, and birth. In descending order, the classes are as follows:

  • Brahmana (now more commonly spelled Brahmin): Consist of those engaged in scriptural education and teaching, essential for the continuation of knowledge.
  • Kshatriya: Take on all forms of public service, including administration, maintenance of law and order, and defense.
  • Vaishya: Engage in commercial activity as businessmen.
  • Shudra: Work as semi-skilled and unskilled laborers.

You will notice the “untouchables” and not even considered as a class of Indian society. Traditionally, the groups characterized as untouchable were those whose occupations and habits of life involved ritually polluting activities, of which the most important were (1) taking life for a living, a category that included, for example, fishermen, (2) killing or disposing of dead cattle or working with their hides for a living, (3) pursuing activities that brought the participant into contact with emissions of the human body, such as feces, urine, sweat, and spittle, a category that included such occupational groups as sweepers and washermen, and (4) eating the flesh of cattle or of domestic pigs and chickens, a category into which most of the indigenous tribes of India fell.

As mentioned earlier, Article 17 of the Indian Constitution was introduced to eliminate the caste system.  Do you really think that happened?  Of course not.  Indians of the Dalit classification, and there are thousands, still face rejection and discrimination on a daily basis.  Maybe we here in “los estados unidos” have it better than we think.

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