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Secular humanist, freethinker, progressive, and bibliophile. I enjoy love, knowledge, and life itself.

Eighty-Five People Have More Wealth Than Half The World

It is undeniable that wealth and income inequality is growing in the U.S. and across the world. But scale and extent of it is far more than previously imagined. Although about six months by the time of this post, the report by  Oxfam International – titled “Working for the Few” — is no less stark and relevant in its identification of a “growing tide of inequality” (to use the report’s own…

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Hats From Around The World

Since I am busy and not in the mood to write, today’s post will be light but fun — here are eighty hats from around the world courtesy of, which in turn pulled them from travel website Venere.

In addition to the iconic hats we all know and love — the French beret, Mexican sombrero, and so on – there are some pretty interesting and little-known varieties (especially from Africa and…

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Members of the Nihang, a military order in the Sikh religion also known as the Akali (The Eternal) and the Akal Sena (The Army of the Eternal). Renowned for their strict discipline, courage, and martial skill, the Nihang are named after a Persian mythical sea creature to which their fighting prowess was compared (historians of the Mughal Empire likened their ferocity to that of crocodiles).

The Nihang are accorded considerable respect and affection among Sikhs worldwide, for although their role is primarily ceremonial, they are bound to defend their community in times of war. During the festival of Hola Mohalla (which usually occurs in March), thousands of Nihang gather at Anandpur, a holy city of the Sikhs, where they display their famous martial skills (known collectively as gatka).

As you may have noticed, the Nihang are best recognized by their large and often elaborate turbans. They are often reinforced with steel and fitted with various weapons, including a trident (for stabbing in close-quarters), bagh naka (claw-like weapons) and one or more chakram (steel throwing weapons).

I love the character, color, and personality in these photos (the first of which was taken by Mark Hartman but the others whose . Many thanks to my friend and colleague Richard for first sharing the first photo with me, and thus piquing my interest to learn more about this fascinating group and faith.

Global Spotlight: The Nihang Sikhs Members of the Nihang, a military order in the Sikh religion also known as the Akali (The Eternal) and the Akal Sena (The Army of the Eternal).

A Persian Gulf Nation On Mars

A Persian Gulf Nation On Mars

If the United Arab Emirates has its way, it may very well beat its better-known contenders (such as the U.S., Russia, and China) in landing on Mars, which has increasingly become the accepted next step in human space exploration.

UAE Flags

Will this be the first flag planted on the moon?

Now I know what many of you are thinking: does the UAE even have a space program, much less the infrastructural and…

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Hero of the Week — Maria Bashir

Hero of the Week — Maria Bashir

Maria Bashir II Maria Bashir

Maria Bashir is the Chief Prosecutor General of Herat Province Afghanistan (the second largest jurisdiction in the country), the only woman to hold such a position thus far. Her fifteen years of experience as a civil servant has brought her into conflict with criminals, the Taliban, and corrupt policemen. When the Taliban took power in 1996, she was barred from working and instead spent her…

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National Pride Around The World

National Pride Around The World

With the rise of the nation state — whose conceptual origin is disputed but typically traced back to the Treaty of Westphalia in the 17th century – has emerged the idea of patriotism and pride in one’s civic and national identity — equally contentious and amorphous concepts.

As a life-long American, I am intimately aware of the impact, prevalence, and subsequent controversy of patriotism —…

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The Countries That Love Marijuana The Most

Using data from the newly-published 2014 World Drug Report conducted by the U.N., put together a graph of the world’s most marijuana-indulgent countries, based on the estimated per capita population of smokes. As expected, the results are interesting:

With an estimated 18.3 percent of the population smoking cannabis, Iceland tops the list by a comfortable margin, followed by Nigeria,…

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Liquor Consumption By Country

Chart: Liquor Consumption By Country

I’m a sucker for charts, graphs, and maps, especially those that explore global trends and attitudes — no matter how seemingly trivial or mundane. Often times you learn some pretty surprising things about other cultures and societies. For example, take a look at who the world’s heaviest liquor drinkers are, courtesy of a chart from Quartz (a great source for such infographics).

Note that the…

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The Lives of Average Ancient Egyptians

The Lives of Average Ancient Egyptians

Nearly all historical studies tend to focus on major figures — monarchs, chiefs, military leaders, and revolutionaries — the folks who most stood out in terms of their pivotal roles, monuments, or outsized characters. But clearly, these individuals are an exceedingly small minority in the societies they lived in, and hardly representative of the typical person’s lifestyle, beliefs, routines, etc.…

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Brief Reflections on the World Cup

Although I am not a huge sports fan, I must admit that the energy surrounding the World Cup can be infectious, such that I find myself enjoying some of the games. Soccer is one of the few truly global institutions in our increasingly globalized world, enjoyed by literally billions of people across the planet. Hundreds of millions of people from all walks of life are, in one way or another, taking…

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Beautiful Croatia

The start of the World Cup yesterday brought some rare international attention on Croatia, a small but vibrant country situated mostly on the Mediterranean coast of the Balkans.

Aside from a relatively impressive performance against soccer powerhouse Brazil, the country may also be widely known as the filming location of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Some of the following photos from CNN Travelmake it…

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Photos of the Week: Students in Afghanistan

Photos of the Week: Students in Afghanistan


Afghan university students attend an exam in Baharak district in Badakhshan province (Sharif Shayeq/AFP/Getty Images)

It is amazing what conditions and limitations people will endure for an education, something many of us take for granted.

I am reminded of another powerful piece that highlights this point, also from Afghanistan:

Students attend class in partially destroyed building in central…

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Screentime Around The World

How Much Time The World Views A Screen

The following graph looks at how much time the world spends looking at screens (television, PC, smartphone, and tablet).

Courtesy of Gizmodo, KPCB, and Quartz

Courtesy of Gizmodo, KPCB, and Quartz

Interestingly, developing countries make up most of the top viewers, with the U.S. coming in sixth place overall bu the highest in the developed world (the second highest industrialized country, the U.K., is in fifteenth place overall).…

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A Breathtaking HD Tour of India

A Breathtaking HD Tour of India

Courtesy of Gizmodo, I came across this spectacular four-minute video of various sites across northern India (namely Agra, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Khichan, Jaipur, and Dehli). It was put together Jacob and Katie Schwartz, who apparently create these videos for commercial licensing (all while having spectacular adventures along the way). See the magic for yourself:


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The Wisdom of Barbers

For centuries, barbers have been a major social and cultural institution across various civilizations. Like cafes, the barbershop was often a venue for gossip, debate, news, and even wisdom. That remains true to this day, especially as barbers maintain a valuable role in communities across the world.

With this in mind, BBC did a fascinating piecethat shared the interesting stories and experiences…

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