All posts by charlescearl

Travel

Jantar Mantar

Blessings to my mother-in-law for treating us to an amazing trip to Jaipur!

The place that I can’t keep thinking about is the Jantar Mantar — the name translates to English as ‘calculating instrument — an astronomical observatory there constructed in the early 1700’s by the Maharajah Sawaii Jai Singh. 

It’s more like an astronomer’s playground! To behold the scale of the sundials and other celestial instruments is just — well you need to take a pause

The Samrat Yantra (the largest gnomon sundial above ) is capable of determining the time based on the sun position to within an accuracy of two seconds. 

Two second accuracy — 300 years of precision!

The smaller of the sundials (the Laghu Samrat Yantra) is shown above, it was accurate down to the second when we checked. You can see a time lapse video here

The Jai Prakesh Yantra  is capable of tracking Zodiac/Constellation positions measuring altitudes, azimuths, hour angles and declinations.

There is such a rich history of Indian astronomy, so much so that Jai Singh constructed several observatories of similar scale throughout India with no need for the works of Kepler and Galileo.

Climate changeSocial Justice

Trail of Tears: 21st century style

It is an established fact that California is burning due to human instigated climate change, but the devastating impact of pollution upon U.S. indigenous communities is forcing Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw of Louisiana to plan relocation. According to the U.S. National Climate Assessment, the physical, psychological and spiritual impacts upon indigenous peoples will be immense unless there is immediate and joint action taken.

The deeper tragedy comes when you read between the lines of the U.S. climate assessment. The Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw have had to work around legislation that has severely curtailed their ability to develop relocation plans to avoid life threatening climate impact.

Due to restrictions on the funding included within the legislation and the tribe’s lack of federal recognition, the state is managing the resettlement of the entire island community, which limits tribal authority over relocation plans. This arrangement exemplifies one way in which tribes are limited in deploying adaptation strategies when using funds that are not specifically designed to meet the unique needs of tribal communities

So y’all are wiping out their land and want them (and the existence of climate change) to disappear as well. Thanksgiving unmasked, I got you.

Travel

Mawlid with Shaykh Salim

Yesterday the world celebrated the birth of Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.)

We visited Fatehpur Sikri the night before.

It’s a world heritage site built by Akbar the Great that has so much significance in the Islamic world.

Akbar picked this particular site for his palace because it was where Sufi Shayk Salim Chishti — a beloved advisor — had his camp.

My son and I offered prayers on behalf of family and friends at Shayk Salim’s resting place.

Despite Azad and our guide trying their best, I succumbed to a very persistent artisan.

Shayk was looking out though — the pieces I bought were an extremely good deal.

Capitalism aside, the moments were priceless — we felt so fortunate and uplifted to breathe in the spiritual beauty.

ElectionsGeorgiaSocial JusticeVoting

Why voting in Georgia matters: Black infant mortality

If you are an infant born to an African American mother in Georgia (also Mississippi or Alabama) your chances of making it past the first year are worse than that of an infant born in Syria. China and Venezuela also have lower infant mortality rates than the 12.5 deaths per 1,000 infants that the Kaiser Family Foundation reports for Georgia.

If you’re eligible to vote in the upcoming Georgia election on November 6, 2018, this is a PSA to: 1) vote, and 2) vote for candidates that can change the healthcare disparities impacting expecting mothers and their children.

I delved into these statistics after reading this Atlantic article and was stunned, saddened, outraged. The popular reports of life in Syria and Venezuela paint those countries as war zones, places in the throes of chaos, places where the healthcare system has collapsed and failed the most vulnerable. Coincidentally, the infant mortality rate for Black children in Georgia (the state) is identical to the overall rate of Georgia the country (12.9  deaths / 1,000) — and the democratic institutions of the two Georgias may be in similar shape. Georgia the country is making strides towards full democracy.

You might say that I’m comparing disparate populations — Black people in Georgia vs the overall population of Syria. Would you agree that a comparison of Caribbean nations to the U.S. Black populations is reasonable? All of these islands have significant African diaspora populations — equalling or exceeding the Black population of the state of Georgia. Many of the current Black inhabits of the U.S. claim Caribbean ancestry. Let’s then compare Georgia’s infant mortality with that of the most populous Caribbean countries and Puerto Rico (a U.S. territory).

infantmortality

These figures are from the Kaiser Family Foundation table cited earlier and the CIA infant mortality rankings. The United Nations and CDC keep similar statistics.

The overall impact of Georgia’s health policies — the defunding of rural health, unaddressed racial disparities, the refusal to support medicaid expansion among them — are richly detailed in this report When the State Fails: Maternal Mortality & Racial Disparity in Georgia. The results of these policies have been devastating  — a perfect storm on the life expectancy of Black women and children, and also upon those of rural Georgians of all races and ethnicities.

What can be done?

  • If you live in Georgia, please remember to vote — there are candidates on the November 6, 2018 ballot who are committed to ending health disparities based on class and race.
  • You might consider moving to Georgia (in the mode of Freedom Summer). To quote Stacey Abrams “Georgia matters to everyone. If you change the leadership of Georgia, you change the South. If you change the South, you change the country.
  • Stay informed and advocate for universal healthcare in the U.S.
  • If you’re a healthcare professional, consider getting involved in volunteer efforts in the Southern U.S.
MigrationPolitics

Reverse migration and the Georgia election

According to this story in the Atlantic, the migration of African Americans from the Northeast to Georgia in particular (and the Southeast generally) may be a factor in the November 6 election. The reason it is called reverse migration? In the 20th century more than 10% of the Black population of the South left the oppressive, openly racist and anti-democracy regimes in Southern US states ( like Georgia) to mildly better regimes in the U.S. north. Emerging political representation, flourishing Black communities, and lower costs of living have been beckoning the descendants of the refugees of the 1920s and 50s back.

I ran some numbers on this a few months ago. It could very likely impact the Georgia governor election in which Stacey Abrams is in a statistical draw with the current Georgia Secretary of State (who seems to have nostalgic fondness for un-democratic practices of the 20th century). It will be interesting to see how the reverse migration factors in coming political social events.