March 23rd, 2010

Sanal Edamaruku Indian Rationalist Association

Here's a really cool article about the Indian Rationalist Association: Skeptic Challenges Guru to Kill Him Live on TV. The article focuses on the organization's president, Sanal Edamaruku.

From the article: His organisation traces its origins to the 1930s when the “Thinker’s Library” series of books, published by Britain’s Rationalist Press Association, were first imported to India. They included works by Aldous Huxley, Charles Darwin and H.G. Wells; among the early subscribers was Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister.

The Indian Rationalist Association was founded officially in Madras in 1949 with the encouragement of the British philosopher Bertrand Russell, who sent a long letter of congratulations. For the next three decades it had no more than 300 members and focused on publishing pamphlets and debating within the country’s intellectual elite.

But since Mr Edamaruku took over in 1985, it has grown into a grass-roots organisation of more than 100,000 members — mainly young professionals, teachers and students — covering most of India. Members now spend much of their time investigating and reverse-engineering “miracles” performed by self-styled holy men who often claim millions of followers and amass huge wealth from donations.

The article goes into some detail about how many of these "miracles" are performed.

George R. R. Martin on Health Care

George R. R. Martin weighs in on the health care debate, providing some perspective on the horrific situation faced by freelance artists in America. Hundreds of comments to his blog ensued.

In a follow-up post he notes: "I find it telling that virtually ALL the posters from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, France, Italy, Spain, and other countries that have a single payer national health care service LIKE their national health plan, and would NOT trade it for the American model. Meanwhile, here in the US, we are clearly split right down the middle ... Now I ask you: if there are two restaurants, one where 99% of the customers are satisfied and happy, and one where half the customers are happy and the other half profoundly unhappy with the food and service, which would you rather eat at?"