Retrograde. Bamboozlement! More Bamboozlement!

Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World, Visions

It is not the dark authoritarian vision of Orwell’s 1984 that is coming true but that of chilling indulgence adumbrated by Huxley's Brave New World. In Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history; people will come to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think. Orwell feared those who would ban books; Huxley feared no one would want to read one. Orwell feared the truth would be concealed from us; Huxley feared it would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance; Orwell feared we would become a captive culture; Huxley feared we’d become a trivial one. In Orwell’s prophecy, people are controlled by inflicting pain; in Huxley’s by inflicting pleasure.

The Psychology of Self-Respect, G. Bernard Shaw

The human conscience can subsist on very questionable food. No man who is occupied in doing a very difficult thing, and doing it very well, ever loses his self-respect. The shirk, the duffer, the malingerer, the coward, the weakling, may be put out of countenance by his own failures and frauds; but the man who does evil skilfully, energetically, masterfully, grows prouder and bolder at every crime. The common man may have to found his self-respect on sobriety, honesty and industry; but a Napoleon needs no such props for his sense of dignity. If Nelson's conscience whispered to him at all in the silent watches of the night, you may depend on it it whispered about the Baltic and the Nile and Cape St. Vincent, and not about his unfaithfulness to his wife. A man who robs little children when no one is looking can hardly have much self-respect or even self-esteem; but an accomplished burglar must be proud of himself. In the play to which I am at present preluding I have represented an artist who is so entirely satisfied with his artistic conscience, even to the point of dying like a saint with its support, that he is utterly selfish and unscrupulous in every other relation without feeling at the smallest disadvantage. The same thing may be observed in women who have a genius for personal attractiveness: they expend more thought, labor, skill, inventiveness, taste and endurance on making themselves lovely than would suffice to keep a dozen ugly women honest; and this enables them to maintain a high opinion of themselves, and an angry contempt for unattractive and personally careless women, whilst they lie and cheat and slander and sell themselves without a blush. The truth is, hardly any of us have ethical energy enough for more than one really inflexible point of honor. Andrea del Sarto, like Louis Dubedat in my play, must have expended on the attainment of his great mastery of design and his originality in fresco painting more conscientiousness and industry than go to the making of the reputations of a dozen ordinary mayors and churchwardens; but (if Vasari is to be believed) when the King of France entrusted him with money to buy pictures for him, he stole it to spend on his wife. Such cases are not confined to eminent artists. Unsuccessful, unskilful men are often much more scrupulous than successful ones. In the ranks of ordinary skilled labor many men are to be found who earn good wages and are never out of a job because they are strong, indefatigable, and skilful, and who therefore are bold in a high opinion of themselves; but they are selfish and tyrannical, gluttonous and drunken, as their wives and children know to their cost.

Not only do these talented energetic people retain their self- respect through shameful misconduct: they do not even lose the respect of others, because their talents benefit and interest everybody, whilst their vices affect only a few. An actor, a painter, a composer, an author, may be as selfish as he likes without reproach from the public if only his art is superb; and he cannot fulfil his condition without sufficient effort and sacrifice to make him feel noble and martyred in spite of his selfishness. It may even happen that the selfishness of an artist may be a benefit to the public by enabling him to concentrate himself on their gratification with a recklessness of every other consideration that makes him highly dangerous to those about him. In sacrificing others to himself he is sacrificing them to the public he gratifies; and the public is quite content with that arrangement. The public actually has an interest in the artist's
vices.

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From:
The Doctor's Dilemma: Preface on Doctors
by G. Bernard Shaw
These lines are from the section titled The Psychology of Self-Respect in Surgeons
The play was written by Shaw in 1909

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Read the entire text here

Feed

Alfred Hitchcock with the Bird
Alfred Hitchcock with the Bird

Well, it's just no good. The chickens won't eat it.
(pause)
They're always hungry, Fred. I opened one of the sacks when I got home,
and I poured it out for them, and they wouldn't touch it. Now you know
chickens as well as I do, and when they won't eat, there's just something wrong with what they're being fed, that's all.
(pause)
No, they're not fussy chickens.
(pause)
Who? What's he got to do with it?
(pause)
Fred, I don't care how much feed you sold him. My chickens...
(pause)
He did? Dan Fawcett?
(pause)
This afternoon?
(pause)
Well, that only proves what I'm saying. The feed you sold us is...
(pause)
Oh. Oh, I see. Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Maybe I ought to go over to see
him. You don't think there's something going around, do you?
(pause)
No, never.
(pause)
No, Fred, they don't seem sick at all. They just won't eat.
(pause)
Mmmm. Mmmmm. Well, I'll try to get over to Dan's farm. Maybe he'll...
mmmmm... mmmmm... all right, Fred, thanks.
(she hangs up, puzzled)


----------
DRUNK
(quoting Bible,Matthew 6:26 )
"Look at the birds of the air: they do not sow or read, yet your heavenly father feeds them."

WOMAN
I'll never feed another bird as long as I live!

---------------
Two conversations from the film The Birds (1963) directed by Alfred Hitchcock, loosely based on the short story The Birds by Daphne du Maurier.
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About Thinkers, Philosophers, Bulls and Goats

Rodin's The Thinker
The Thinker

I was lonesomer than Crusoe's goat.
- O. Henry

The image of the thinker as a withdrawn figure, wrapped up in himself, is hopelessly out of date. Today, when ideas have to compete in the market place, they have to get out of the books, learn to look bright and inviting, and the person who has thought them up has to make sure that they do not age too soon.
That there is always some pawing, and even mauling, is only to be expected since this is part of the game. The promise of a wider circulation more than compensates for the risk. When the words of a philosopher go singing and screaming into the media, who wants to find out what he really means? Even a cult figure like Sartre often loses track of his own thoughts in the thick of publicity.


This is an entry in my cousin brother’s diary which I stole. Writer unknown.

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A philosopher while going on a morning walk saw bulls with bells tied in their necks. Growing curious, he enquired of the farmer walking behind the bulls, “Why do you tie the bells to the necks of the bulls?” The farmer answered, “So that, when they are away from my sight, I couls know their movement by the chiming of the bells”. “And suppose they do not move and just shake their heads while standing still,” the philosopher raised an intelligent query. “Well, they are bulls, not philosophers”, retorted the farmer.

- A joke about Philosophers and Bulls. Another entry from my cousin’s diary.

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About that O. Henry quote:
The line is from the book The Hiding of Black Bill
The footnote to that line in the book reads:
Robinson Crusoe is the main character in Daniel Defoes’s novel The Life and Strange Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Marine (1719). In the novel, Crusoe is shipwrecked on a desert island for many years; the island abound in feral goats, which he domesticates and raises for food and milk.


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Dil he to hai Ghalib

Sketch of Ghalib

Dil he to hai na sango-khisht, Dard se bhar na aaye kyon
Royenge hum hazaar baar, koi hamein sataye kyon


(It is heart after all, not brick and stone, why won’t it well up with pain
Why should anybody harass us, we shall a thousand times cry )

Dair nahi, harum nahin, dar nahin, aastaan nahin
Baithey hain rahguzar pe hum, koi hamain uthaye kyon


(No home, no hearth for us, no temple, no mosque
Why should anyone remove us from one throughfare, can we ask)

Jab who jamale-dil-faroz saratey-mehare-neemroz
Aap he ho nazara soaz, pardey men muhb chhipaye kyo


(Her beauty illumines all, a full waxing moon in grace
loveliness incarnate indeed, why should she hide her face)

Quaide-hayat-obande-ghum, asal mein dono ek hain
Maut se pahale aadmi ghum sey nijaat paye kyon


(Life’s incarceration and bondage to suffering are the same thing indeed
Until our death how can we from suffering be relieved)

Haan who nahin Khuda parast, jao who bewafa sahi
Jisko ho dino-dil aziz, uski gali mein jaye kyon


(All right she is not kind hearted, nor faithful she, so
Why should anybody who loves, his faith and life, go to her street)


- English translation of Ghalib's Ghazal is from Kuldip Salil’s Diwan-e-Ghalib (A Selection)

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Found it a few weekends back in the HT column by 'Man in the Bulb' Khushwant Singh.
He is lavish in his praise for the author and the book. He writes:

There are few simple facts about the art of translating prose and poetry from one language to another. Translating prose is comparatively easier; so we have fiction, essays and articles, which read as well in translation as in the originals. Poetry is much more complicated. It must be translated into poetry and not fobbed off in prose—it loses the music of meter and rhyme.

Equally important is that it must only be taken in hand if the translator is confident of doing a better job than has been done before without taking too many liberties with the original. Keeping these points in mind I dipped into Kuldip Salil’s Diwan-e-Ghalib (A Selection) Ghazals with original text and their English Translation(Rajpal).

He has reproduced the original in Devnagri and roman Englisg on one side of the page, his translation in English on the page facing it. I can say without hesitation, his renderings read better than any I have read by scholars of urdu, be they Indian, Pakistani or Firangi. Salil, born in Sialkot in 1938, was teaching English at hans Raj College, Delhi till he retired a few years ago.
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A Sufi Night of Music and a Red Tomb

Sufi concert at Quli Tomb Delhi
Quli Tomb at Night
Last night, I had gone to the tomb of Ali Quli Khan to listen Sufi singers Wadali Brothers and Sabri Brothers. The concert of Sufi music titled Dharohar and held by Times of India group as part of its Delhi festivals, was quite a delight.
Reached the venue without pass, but that didn’t stop me or the others who had come unannounced. Everyone was welcome. The concert was supposed to start at 6:30 but it started an hour late due to a phenomenon called as Dilli Traffic. The night was dead cold with chilling winds rattling the bones of everyone present.
Sabri Brothers performed first. I heard giggling sound of young girls, sitting behind me, every time the brothers called on Allah in a thick burpy voice. By the time they sang their popular song Khawaja Ki Diwani, the immensely responsive crowd was clapping and singing along.

Saurab, my marwari friend who had accompanied me, was all ears when in the song they re-counted miraculous tale of Khawaja Moinuddin Chishty. The story concerned a Marwari hindu couple, who on begetting a son due to the blessing of the saint, name their son Ajmeri Lal. I remember some years ago another marwari friend of mine told me about his surprised feelings on finding out that his parents had gone to Ajmer to visit the Dargah. He was pleasantly surprised on finding such a Secular oddity in his parents.

Wadali Brothers performed next. I had actually come to hear them live. They are wonderful performers interjecting their lively singing with some subtle humor.
Someone had requested them to sing Dama Dam Mast Kalandar. They sang Dam O Dam Mast Qalandar, taking pause to explain the meaning of song of the words.
On demand they sang Baba Bulleh Shah's Charka. My friend asked me if they always sing like that or is the elder brother really cutting off the younger brother deliberately. I told his to just listen with his ears and not with his brain. It was getting late; people had started leaving already at it well past 10 now. On being asked to wrap up, taking a dig at the rules, the quirky brother squeezed in one last song. They sang their popular song Aa Mil Yaar and the audience was on their feet. And then, one more last song. People got near to the to stare and was dancing, singing and clapping along when they sang Tu Mane Ya Na Mane. Standing next to a mirthfully dancing elderly panjabi man, I smelt spirit. I couldn’t help laughing.

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I am not sure if I got the sequence of the songs in which they were played, right or if I have even written down the right songs. I just remember the music.

Biographies, Clothes and Buttons ― Mark Twain

What a wee little part of a person’s life are his acts and his word’s! His real life is led in his head, and is known to none but himself. All day long, the mill of his brain is grinding, and his thoughts, not those other things, are his history. These are his life, and they are not written, and cannot be written. Everyday would make a whole book of 80,000 words ― 365 books a year. Biographies are but the clothes and buttons of the man ― the biography of the man himself cannot be written.
- Mark Twain

Had Mark Twain been still around, he would have assumed that blogging is an activity dear to nudists and equally dear to people who are perpetually bottomed up.

Wodehousian Indian Grotesque Politicians

'Cocktail Time' by P.G. Wodehouse, Illustration by EH Shepard(of Winnie the Pooh fame)about Partition of India
'Cocktail Time' by P.G. Wodehouse, Illustration by EH Shepard ( of Winnie the Pooh fame ) about Partition of India


“There may have been men in London”, writes P.G. Wodehouse about a character in his ‘Cocktail Time’, “who thought more highly of Sir Raymond Bastable than did Sir Raymond Bastable, but they would have been hard to find, and the sense of being someone set apart from and superior to the rest of the world inevitably breeds arrogance.”

More and more as one looks at the characters in the Indian political pantheon, one sees a resemblance to the dramatis personal of the world of Wodehouse. The only difference is that the real world of Indian politics, which is often ridiculous, sometimes to the point of being grotesque, is not harmlessly funny. It is deeply flawed in its moral seeting. Nevertheless, the ludicrousness of many of its leaders, their pomposity and pretentiousness, and the inflated sense of self importance of even some greenhorns makes them mimic the likes of Sir Raymond Bastable.

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It iss a note from my cousin’s diary where the entry for the source of the note is scribbled out with pen.
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Image: Cover of P.G. Wodehouse’s book Cocktail Time
About the other image:
It is from BBC: Indian Independence Pictures (nice vintage posters) which tells us:

As partition looms, illustrator EH Shepard (of Winnie the Pooh fame) depicts the mainly Hindu Congress organisation and the Muslim League as two elephants ignoring each other in a 1946 cartoon for Punch. Image courtesy of the British Library.
The note at the bottom of the illustration read:
THE NEW ELEPHANT HOUSE
“And now you can go on with it”
And we are still going on.

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Found the image at a write up about Pakistan turing 60 by Bookstamper

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In the book, Sir Raymond Bastable, sometimes known as 'Beefy', after having his hat knocked off by a well-aimed brazil nut from the Drones Club window, was inspired to write a book Cocktail Time about the young people of the day. However, he had to use a pseudonym, 'Richard Blunt', as he was hoping to stand for Parliament in Bottleton East as a Conservative candidate, and the book's sex motif would the cause the constituency committee to reject him as candidate.

Read more about the book at the Blandings

Guru Dutt, The Romantic in Hindi Cinema

Guru Dutt, The Romantic in Hindi Cinema
Guru Dutt, The Romantic in Hindi Cinema

If ever there was a passionate romantic in Hindi Cinema, it was Guru Dutt. He was perhaps the only one to create something of a personal cinema within the commercial format, complete with song and dance. He is the one who came nearest to a form fashioned out of drama, story and song, with one complementing rather than interrupting the other. He also combined the most romantic elements of both Urdu – Muslim and Bengali- Hindu culture.

I found these lines scribbled in a diary of a dear cousin brother of mine.

Searching for the source of these lines about Guru Dutt, I found that these lines were written by Chidananda Dasgupta, filmmaker, film critic, film historian and one of the founders of Calcutta Film Society along with Satyajit Ray in 1947, a man passionate about Cinema of Guru Dutt and Ritwik Ghatak. The source of the lines turned out to be an article written by Chidananda Das Gupta titled New Directions in Indian Cinema, leven pages written for Film Quarterly, Vol. 34, No. 1 (Autumn, 1980), pp. 32-42

An article to which I have no access.
Searching more about Chidananda Das Gupta and Guru Dutt, I came across a news story in The Hindu that informed me that:

[…]there is a book he is penning. Interestingly called "Unpopular Cinema", it is likely to be brought out by Macmillan early next year. "It focuses on individuals and films. It talks of the Guru Dutt-Ghatak filmmaking and the like[…]"

In the same interview, Dasgupta says:

"[…]Dutt's Kagaz Ke Phool was a monumental failure but a good film, and Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam was not a big failure, not a big success either."
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About the poster of Guru Dutt:
Guru Dutt
with Waheeda Rehman in 'Kaagaz Ke Phool'
with Waheeda Rehman in 'Raaz'
with Waheeda Rehman in 'Chaudvin Ka Chand'
with Shyama in 'Aar Paar'
in 'Pyaasa'
with wife Geeta and two sons
with Mala Sinha in 'Pyaasa'
with Madhubala in 'Mr. and Mrs. 55'
with Waheeda Rehman in 'Pyaasa'

Freedom Run: The Torch Song from Doordarshan

Back in the turbulent '80s when air travel was still out of reach of common people due to what was called as an unliberalized economy, Indians were reminded of their great country's length, breadth, unity in diversity and diversity in unity by government commissioned songs to be played on national television, religiously. These songs having jazzy catchy tunes, visuals magnanimous - with famous personalities having different hues, castes and states of origin - were like magical harps played out to put some nasty beast to sleep. Big beasts like Communalism and Regionalism. India was facing unrest bordering on chaos. When wasn't India facing utter chaos, right!

The first songs in the memorable series Lok Seva Sanchar Parishad by Lok Seva Sanchar Parishad was 1988 video song “Freedom Run” that most folks would remember as “The Torch Song” or "Torch of Freedom" (the actual name of the video). It was first telecast on Doordarshan on the day of Indian Independence - 15th August. The video was shot by Kailash Surendranath and produced by Aarti Surendranath for (both, now, of Kailash Picture Company) The next video in this series was Mile Su Mera Tumhara (the one with the stars from various fields. Music, again, by Louis Banks, lyrics by Piyush Pandey).

Unlike other integration Lok Seva songs that followed, Torch of Freedom song was an instrumental with a memorable tune created by famous Indian Jazz virtuoso Louis Banks, prolific creator of many memorable tunes that vary from the theme of the serial Byomkesh Bakshi to that of Jaspal Bhatti’s Flop Show to what was then known as “new tune” of DD news. This freedom song can be found in their album Freedom Songs.

1988 was an Olympic year, and (my guess is that) the video for this song was recorded keeping Olympic spirit in mind. The song featured many famous Indian sports personalities of the time and showed each one carrying a lit "freedom" torch that they passed on to the next sports person after a shot sprint (mostly in slo-mo) through varying locations. I remember Sunil Gavaskar coming out of a tunnel, all drenched in rain but with flame still burning. The rain wasn't planned. P.T. Usha running along with deers. Shot beautifully in a zoo using only two cameras and okayed in just one take. Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi running with her young daughter - little Soha Ali Khan. She wasn't supposed to be there. But she insisted on running along with her father. Two videos were shot, one with her and one without her. Finally, the one with her was left in the final video. The video also had other recognizable sporting stars like Kapil Dev, Prakash Padukone and Milkha Singh.

Rajiv Gandhi is the person credited with thinking up the need for these musical harps and commissioning the videos. Having lived in America, he wanted to bring in the American way of feeling pride in national identity. He wanted Indians to be proud of their one Indian Identity. And he wanted it all to be done apolitically. Hence the harps. You can well, call them Congress Harps. The reason being that the harps stopped playing as soon as the Congress lost the center of the nation. With coalition government, liberalization, and center with the Right, harps went out of fashion. Even became inadequate. Remember superstar ladden Pyar ki Ganga Bahe video that was born post Babri Masjid related riots and violence during Narasimha Rao time (he even commited the blunder of featuring in one). This was perhaps the last one. The harps had lost their charm. It was the end of an era that had started with an unpretentious video set to a simple instrument piece. Freedom.

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finally the Update:
Edited this post with some more info., rant and yes, the video and the song ( a big thanks to the original uploader: kedargogate at youtube.)

Here is the video:
You can download the complete song here:

Torch of Freedom (1.20 Mb, .mp3, 2 min 27 Sec)

Enjoy!

Thanks for hanging around and sending in those requests.

Jaya Jaya
Hey! Hey! Hey!

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You may also like to check out posts on:


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Comeback, and its not just Nostalgia.
With Congress again in center - and India again going through certain pangs, beasts almost awakened - these peace video have made a comeback on various national channels. You can catch some of these videos late in the night on any one of these channels, particularly the satellite ones. And then there is also the revolutionary thing called Youtube.

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Recommended:

A cover of the song by a band called KASP. They have done a great cover of the song.
Sample of their Freedom Run: The Torch Song from Doordarshan (.mp3 647kb)
Do listen to the complete version at their blog and also check out their other songs. Good fusion music!

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Read a scanned up version on the Playback Magazine( Jan 7, 1988 issue) and go back to feel the music scene of late ‘80s. [update: that old issue is not online any more at the site. But here is the archived page using waybackmachine]

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Soumyadip at Cutting The Chai has a nice collection (Including the Malgudi Days tune composed by Sharang Dev L. Vaidyanathan. Sharang Dev composed the music for the serial) of memorable Euphony from yesteryears. A commenter at his blog wanted the song, that’s what triggered this post.

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Lost Mumbai: Collage of Old Photographs

collage made up of old photographs of Mumbai,then known as Bombay.
Click to get a larger picture
Aye dil hai mushkil jeena yahan
Zara hat ke zara bach ke, yeh hai Bombay meri jaan
- Lines of the famous song from the movie C.I.D(1956)

The collage made up of old photographs of Mumbai,then known as Bombay.

Reading the images from top and left to right

  1. Church Gate Station (1910)
  2. Color illustration of Apolla Bunder, Bombay. The place is now known as Gateway of India
  3. Asiatic Town Hall
  4. Ballard Pier. It was once a Railway Station
  5. Kalbadevi Road
  6. Oval Maidan near Churchgate Station, 1875
  7. Three Cars and a Tonga on Queens Road
  8. Victoria Terminus (now known as Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus)
  9. Gowalia Tank
  10. Walkeshwar. The note for the color illustration reads: H.E. THE GOVERNOR OF BAMBAY DRIVING THROUGH WALKESHWAR ROAD, BOMBAY
  11. Wilson Collage, Girgaon Chopati
  12. Steam Engines at Parel Loco Shed
  13. Train at Mumbai Central Car Shed, 1950. Again from a Rail museum. The note reads: Old and New rakes stand in contrast at the Bombay Central EMU Carshed
  14. Old photograph of Victoria Terminus
  15. A train at Dadar Railway Station
  16. EMU Rake( Local Train) at Elphinstone. This image seems to be a photograph of a photograph kept at some railway museum. The note reads: BB& CI EMU Rake at Elphesten – 1930
  17. Colaba Reclamation as seen from Wodehouse Bridge. Colaba was the destination railway station of Bombay, closed in 1930
  18. Cuff Parade
  19. Colaba Reclamation
  20. No traffic worries! Bullock Carts on Mumbai Road
  21. Frontier Mail at Ballard Pier Railway Station
  22. A train passing over the Bhayandar Bridge
  23. Church Gate Station (1930)
  24. A train coming out through the Parsik Tunnel, Thane
  25. Marine Drive, 1930
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Image: A cousin of mine sent me a popular running email chain containing these images in a doc file.

Thanks to the unknown original up loader!

Link Hover Effect for Blogspot

All right then!
A commenter asked me how did I manage to apply mouse over link hover effect to my Blog.
First thing first.

What is a link hover effect?


Answer:
Julia was the commenter
On moving the mouse on the link, the way link is displayed, changes. In the above case, the link gets an underline, an over line and the font size of the link increase.

How did I get hover effect in Blogspot?

In blogspot a link has four properties attached to it
a:link { }
a:visited { }
a:hover { }
a:active { }
here actual attributes are given inside {}
For hover effect, we are concerned with the property
a:hover { }

It is quite simple actually
This requires making changes to the HTML code of the blog.
For the beginner this might be useful:


Also, remember to backup the template first using Download full template option. This is the most important step. I can’t tell you how many times I have muddled my template without taking a backup and later regretting it. It was good learning but you can act smarter. In case of any problem one can revert to earlier state by uploading the backed up XML file.
The basic template for this blog is Minima that I have modified into a three-column template, but these would apply on all Blogger template.
In the code search for the lines
body {
margin:1;
font:$bodyfont;
background:$bgcolor;
color:$textcolor;
}
These would be followed by following lines of code:
a:hover {
color:$titlecolor;
text-decoration:underline;
}

Replace or change these lines to:
a:hover {
color:$titlecolor;
text-decoration:underline overline;
font-size:20px;
}
That’s the simple code for my blog to great effect.

Similarly, you can manage many other effects like changing the text color of the links and highlighting the background color when the cursor is over the post title.

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For more drastic effects, I would suggest this blog having great tips for new bloggers.  Found it quite useful in my early days of blogging.

Bardot and Dimple: Two Girls and Four Frames

Brigitte Bardot and Dimple Kapadia: Two Girls and Four Frames
Bardot and Dimple: Two Girls and Four Frames


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Created using free image editing tool Irfan view
Images from:
Brigitte Bardot in Roger Vadim's movie And God Created Woman (1956)
Dimple Kapadia in Raj Kapoor's Bobby (1973)

Collage - We didn't Start the Fire, explained

Collage of images based on the song We Didn’t Start The Fire
Click to get bigger image
Collage based on Billy Joel song
We Didn’t Start the Fire
from the album Storm Front (1989)
We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it

Goes the chorus of the song...
The images above are in the order of their occurrence in the song.

A brief description of events and personalities that are mentioned lyrically around these lines.

  • · Harry Truman is inaugurated as U.S. president after being elected in 1948 to his own term; previously he was sworn in following the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt. He authorized the use of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan during World War II. August 6, 1945 and August 9, 1945 respectively.

  • · Doris Day enters the public spotlight with the films My Dream Is Yours and It's a Great Feeling as well as popular songs like "It's Magic"; divorces her second husband.

  • · Red China as the Communist Party of China wins the Chinese Civil War, establishing the People's Republic of China.

  • · Johnnie Ray signs his first recording contract with Okeh Records, although he won't become popular for another two years.

  • · South Pacific, the prize winning musical, opens on Broadway on April 7, 1949.

  • · Walter Winchell is an aggressive radio and newspaper journalist credited with inventing the gossip column.

  • · Joe DiMaggio is injured early in the season but makes a comeback in June and leads the New York Yankees to win the World Series.

  • · Joe McCarthy, the U.S. Senator, gains national attention and begins his anti-communist crusade with his Lincoln Day speech.

  • · Richard Nixon is first elected to the United States Senate.

  • · Studebaker, a popular car company, is beginning its financial downfall.

  • · Television is becomes popular in USA (in black and white format) and becomes the most popular means of advertising.

  • · North Korea, South Korea engage in warfare as North Korea attacks on June 25, 1950, beginning the Korean War.

  • ·Marilyn Monroesoars in popularity with five new movies including The Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve, and attempts suicide after the death of lover Johnny Hyde. Monroe would later (1954) be married for a brief time to Joe DiMaggio.

  • ·Ethel and Julius Rosenberg(s) were convicted on March 29, 1951 for espionage. They maintained that they were innocent even at their executions.

  • ·H-Bomb is in the middle of its development as a nuclear weapon, announced in early 1950 and first tested in late 1952.

  • · Sugar Ray Robinson, the boxer, obtains the world's middleweight title.

  • · Panmunjeom, the border village in Korea, is the location of truce talks between the parties of the Korean War.

  • ·MarlonBrando is nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in A Streetcar Named Desire.

  • · The King and I, musical, opens on Broadway on March 29, 1951.

  • · The Catcher in the Rye, a controversial novel by J. D. Salinger, is published.

  • · Dwight D. Eisenhower is first elected as U.S. president in 1952, winning by a landslide margin of 442 to 89.

  • · Vaccine for polio is privately tested by Jonas Salk.

  • · (England's New)Queen Elizabeth II (then Princess Elizabeth) succeeds to the throne of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth Realms upon the death of George VI of the United Kingdom.

  • ·RockyMarciano defeats Jersey Joe Walcott, becoming the world Heavyweight champion.

  • · Liberace has a popular 1950s television show for his musical entertainment.

  • · George Santayana, philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist, dies on September 26, 1952.

  • · JosephStalin dies on March 5, 1953, yielding his position as leader of the Soviet Union.

  • ·Georgy MaksimilianovichMalenkov succeeds Stalin for six months following his death.

  • ·Gamal AbdelNasser acts as the true power behind the new Egyptian nation as Muhammad Naguib's minister of the interior.

  • · Sergei Prokofiev, the composer, dies on March 5, 1953, the same day as Stalin.

  • · Winthrop Rockefeller establishes Winrock Enterprises and Winrock Farms atop Petit Jean Mountain near Morrilton, Arkansas.

  • · Roy Campanella, an African American baseball catcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers, receives the National League's Most Valuable Player award for the second time.

  • · Communist bloc is a group of communist nations dominated by the Soviet Union at this time.

  • · Roy Cohn resigns as Joseph McCarthy's chief counsel and enters private practice with the fall of McCarthy.

  • · Juan PerĂ³n spends his last full year as President of Argentina before a September 1955 coup.

  • · Arturo Toscanini is at the height of his fame as a conductor, performing regularly with the NBC Symphony Orchestra on national radio.

  • · Dacron is an early artificial fiber made from the same plastic as polyester.

  • · Battle of Dien Bien Phu. A village in North Vietnam falls to Viet Minh forces under Vo Nguyen Giap, leading to the creation of North Vietnam and South Vietnam as separate states.

  • · "Rock Around the Clock" is a hit single released by Bill Haley & His Comets in May, 1954, spurring worldwide interest in rock and roll.

  • ·AlbertEinstein dies on April 18, 1955 at the age of 76.

  • · James Dean achieves success with East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause, gets nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor, and dies in a car accident on September 30,1955.

  • · In 1955 the Brooklyn Dodgers win the World Series for the only time.

  • · Davy Crockett is a Disney television series about the legendary frontiersman of the same name.

  • · Peter Pan is broadcast on TV live and in color from the 1954 version of the stage musical starring Mary Martin on March 7, 1955.

  • · Elvis Presley signs with RCA Records on November 21, 1955 and beginning his pop career.

  • · Disneyland opens on July 17, 1955 as Walt Disney's first theme park.

  • · Brigitte Bardot appears in her first mainstream film And God Created Woman and establishes an international reputation as a French "sex kitten".

  • · Budapest is the site of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.

  • · Alabama is the site of the Montgomery Bus Boycott which ultimately led to the removal of the last race laws in the USA.

  • · Nikita Khrushchev makes his famous Secret Speech denouncing Stalin's "cult of personality" on February 23, 1956.

  • · Princess Grace Kelly releases her last film, High Society, and marries Prince Rainier III of Monaco.

  • · Peyton Place, the best-selling novel by Grace Metalious, is published. Though mild compared to today's prime time, it shocked the reserved values of the '50s.

  • · The Suez Crisis boils as Egypt nationalizes the Suez Canal on October 29, 1956.

  • · Little Rock, Arkansas is the site of an anti-integration standoff, as Governor Orval Faubus stops the Little Rock Nine from attending Little Rock Central High School and President Dwight D. Eisenhower deploys the 101st Airborne Division to counteract him.

  • · Boris Pasternak, the Russian author, publishes his famous novel Doctor Zhivago.

  • · Mickey Mantle is in the middle of his career as a famous New York Yankees' outfielder and American League All-Star for the sixth year in a row.

  • · Jack Kerouac publishes his first novel in seven years, On the Road.

  • · Sputnik is the first artificial satellite, launched by the Soviet Union on October 4, 1957, the start of the space race.

  • · (Chou En-Lai) Zhou Enlai, Premier of the People's Republic of China, survives an assassination attempt on the Charter jet Kashmir Princess.

  • · The Bridge on the River Kwai is released as a film adaptation of the 1954 novel and receives seven Academy Awards.

  • · Lebanon is engulfed in a political and religious crisis.

  • · Charles de Gaulle is elected first president of the French Fifth Republic following the Algerian Crisis.

  • · California baseball begins as the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants move to California and become the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants. They are the first major league teams west of Kansas City.

  • · Charles Starkweather homicides capture the attention of Americans, killing eleven people before he is caught in a massive manhunt in Douglas, Wyoming.

  • · Thalidomide: Mothers taking the drug Thalidomide had children born with congenital birth defects caused by the sleeping aid and antiemetic, which was also used at times (although not in the USA) to treat morning sickness.

  • · Buddy Holly dies in a plane crash on February 3, 1959 with Ritchie Valens and J. P. Richardson ("The Big Bopper"), in a day that had a devastating impact on the country and youth culture.

  • · Ben-Hur wins eleven Academy Awards as a film based around the New Testament starring Charlton Heston.

  • · Monkeys in space: Able and Miss Baker are the first living beings to successfully return to Earth from space aboard the flight Jupiter AM-18.

  • · Mafia are the center of attention for the FBI and public attention builds to this organized crime society with an historically Sicilian-American origin. Image is of Jimmy Hoffa

  • · Hula hoops reach 100 million in sales as the latest toy fad.

  • · Fidel Castro comes to power after a revolution in Cuba and visits the United States later that year on an unofficial twelve-day tour.

  • · Edsel: Production of this car marketing disaster (Ford spent $400 million developing it) ends after only two years.

  • · Lockheed U-2: An American U-2 spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union, causing the U-2 Crisis of 1960.

  • · Syngman Rhee was rescued by the CIA after being forced to resign as leader of South Korea for allegedly fixing an election and embezzling more than twenty million U.S. dollars.

  • · Payola was publicized due to Dick Clark's testimony before Congress and Alan Freed's public disgrace.

  • · John F. Kennedy beats Richard Nixon in the November 8, 1960 general election amongst allegations of vote fraud.

  • · Chubby Checker popularizes the dance The Twist with his song of the same name.

  • · Psycho: An Alfred Hitchcock thriller, based on a pulp novel by Robert Bloch and adapted by Joseph Stefano, which becomes a landmark in graphic violence and cinema sensationalism.

  • · Congo Crisis: The Democratic Republic of the Congo was declared independent of Belgium on June 30, 1960, with Joseph Kasavubu as President and Patrice Lumumba as Prime Minister. The Belgians, however, had other plans (read Secession of Katanga).

  • · Ernest Hemingway commits suicide on July 2, 1961 after a long battle with depression.

  • · Adolf Eichmann, a "most wanted" Nazi war criminal, is traced to Argentina and captured by Mossad agents and is covertly taken to Israel where he is put on trial for crimes against humanity in Germany during World War II, is convicted, and later hanged.

  • · Stranger in a Strange Land: Written by Robert A. Heinlein, is a breakthrough best-seller with themes of sexual freedom and liberation.

  • · Bob Dylan: After a New York Times review by critic Robert Shelton, Bob Dylan is signed to Columbia Records.

  • · Berlin: The Berlin Wall, which forcibly separates West Berlin from East Berlin and the rest of East Germany, is constructed to prevent citizens escaping to the West.

  • · Bay of Pigs Invasion: Failed attempt by United States-trained Cuban exiles to invade Cuba and overthrow Fidel Castro.

  • · Lawrence of Arabia: The Academy Award-winning film based on the life of T. E. Lawrence starring Peter O'Toole premiers in America on December 16, 1962.

  • · Beatlemania: The Beatles, a British pop/rock group, gain Ringo Starr as drummer and Brian Epstein as manager, and join the EMI's Parlophone label. They soon become the world's most famous group, with the word "Beatlemania" adopted by the press for their fans' unprecedented enthusiasm.

  • · University of Mississippi: James Meredith integrates the University of Mississippi (known as 'Ole Miss').

  • · John Glenn: Flew the first American manned orbital mission termed "Friendship 7" on February 20, 1962.

  • · Sonny Liston beats Floyd Patterson: Sonny Liston and Floyd Patterson fight for the world heavyweight championship on September 25, 1962, ending in a round-one knockout. This was the first time Patterson had ever been knocked out and one of only eight losses in his entire career.

  • · Pope Paul VI: Pope Paul VI is elected to the papacy.

  • · Malcolm X makes infamous statement "The chickens have come home to roost" about the Kennedy assassination, thus causing the Nation of Islam to censure him.

  • · Profumo Affair of 1963: British politician John Profumo, who was acting as Secretary of State for War at that time, has a relationship with a showgirl named Christine Keeler, and then lies when questioned about it before the House of Commons. When the truth came out, the Sex Scandal led to his own resignation and undermined the credibility of the Prime Minister. Image: Christine Keeler - the iconic Lewis Morley image, taken in May 1963, became an instant national talking point when a stolen copy was published by the Sunday Mirror, adding yet more fuel to the fire under Profumo. As the scandal intensified, it was endlessly republished

  • · John F. Kennedy assassination: President John F. Kennedy is assassinated on November 22, 1963 while riding in an open convertible through Dallas.

  • · Birth control: In the early 1960s, oral contraceptives, popularly known as "the pill", first go on the market and are extremely popular. Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965 challenged a Connecticut law prohibiting contraceptives. In 1968, Pope Paul VI released a papal encyclical entitled Humanae Vitae which declared all birth control a sin.

  • · Ho Chi Minh: A Vietnamese Communist, who served as President of Vietnam from 1954–1969.

  • · Richard Nixon: Former Vice President Nixon is elected in the 1968 presidential election of the United States.

  • · Moon Shot: Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing, successfully lands on the moon.

  • · Woodstock Festival: Famous rock and roll festival of 1969 that came to be the epitome of the counterculture movement.

  • · Watergate scandal: Political scandal involving a hotel break-in, eventually leading to President Nixon's resignation.

  • · Punk rock: The Ramones is formed, along with the Sex Pistols(1975), they bring in the punk era. The image is of Romones.
  • · Ronald Reagan: President of the United States from 1981 to 1989; first attempted in 1976 to run for president.

  • · Terror on the airline: Numerous aircraft hijackings took place, specifically, the Palestinian hijack of Air France Flight 139 and the subsequent Operation Entebbe in Uganda


  • · Ayatollahs in Iran: During the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the West-backed and U.S.-installed Shah is overthrown as the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini gains power after years in exile.

  • · Soviet invasion of Afghanistan: Rusian army moves into Afghanistan. Following their move into Afghanistan, Soviet forces fight a ten-year war, from 1979 to 1989.

  • · Wheel of Fortune: A hit television game show which has been TV's highest-rated syndicated program since 1983.

  • · Sally Ride: In 1983 she becomes the first American woman in space.

  • · Heavy metal, suicide: In the 1980s Ozzy Osbourne and the bands Metallica and Judas Priest were brought to court by parents who accused the musicians of hiding subliminal pro-suicide messages in their music.

  • · Trade deficit: US experiences trade deficits in the late 80s. Foreign debts were causing an increase in inflation.

  • · Homeless Vietnam veterans: Veterans of the Vietnam war, including many disabled ex-military, are reported to be left homeless and impoverished, the country unable to yet handle its failure to succeed.

  • · AIDS: A collection of symptoms and infections in humans resulting from the specific damage to the immune system caused by infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It is first detected and recognized in the 1980s, on its way to becoming a pandemic.

  • · Crack cocaine: Refers to crack cocaine, a popular drug in the mid-to-late 1980s.

  • · Bernhard Goetz (Bernie) : On December 22, 1984, Goetz shot four young men who he said were threatening him on a New York City subway. Goetz was charged with attempted murder but was acquitted of the charges, though convicted of carrying an unlicensed gun.

  • · Syringe Tide: Medical waste( incuding hypodermic syringes ) was found washed up on the shore of New Jersey after being illegally dumped at sea. Before this event, waste dumped in the oceans was an "out of sight, out of mind" affair. This has been cited as one of the crucial turning points in popular opinion on environmentalism.

  • · China's under Martial law: On May 20, 1989, China declares martial law, enabling them to use force of arms against protesting students to end the Tiananmen Square protests.

  • · Cola wars: Soft drink giants Coke and Pepsi each run marketing campaigns using popular music stars to reach the young adult demographic. Coke hired Paula Abdul, while Pepsi had Michael Jackson. This was the beginning of the '90s.

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In the mid '90s, the Cola war continued to be fought in the fresh battlefields of newly booming third world economies like that of India. By the turn of the millennium, each had its own share of well-defined market, they realized here it was more about water resources, distribution network and power. The war pretty much fizzled out. It was around this time that I first heard this song.

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Information about facts and personalities from Wikipedia. All Hail Wiki!
Also read the entry at School for champions website for the best concise write up about the song.
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Now, about the Image: Created using Picasa.
Creative Commons License This work is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. If you choose to use this or any part of this post on your site please link back to this page.

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