Beggar’s Syndicate – Namaste

He stood out among the line of desperate people. It was the baby in his arms that drew me across the street. Was it alive? I couldn’t tell. The flies crawling over its lifeless face might be a sign. Then again, flies were crawling over everyone, everything. I spent my first few weeks in India, forty years ago, swatting them away until, like everyone else, I just ignored them.

The child was motionless, its eyes bulging out from a bloated face showed no signs of life. As I approached, his boney outstretched hand beckoned for an offering. “Babaji, Babaji,” he cried moving his child to a more prominent position between us. I heard it often, Babaji, an appeal to the Immortal Master for relief from earthly pain.

I didn’t have much money, even less with me that day, but found a coin deep in the folds of my pocket. As I pulled it out … “That’s not his child!”

What? Who?

A young, western woman close to my 28 years of age stood beside me. “That’s not his child,” she repeated. “He gets a new one every day from The Syndicate.” The puzzled look on my face spoke the words I could not get my mouth to form. “Come back tomorrow. You’ll see. He will have a new baby. This one will be dead.”

She turned and was quickly absorbed by the rushing traffic of people passing by, leaving me confused, uncertain. I looked down, again, at the boney outstretched hand, the lifeless creature cuddled in his other arm. The hot, Indian sun beat down on us. How desperate must a man be to bring his child out into this heat? My 50 paisa coin, small and inadequate for the moment might provide some help for this family. The nagging words, “That’s not his child” were still ringing in my head when I noticed it …

His sandals, tattered and worn, were certainly second or third owner hand-me-downs. The dirt covering them could not hide it, something was not right. I stood up, removing my coin from within inches of his hand. Looking down the long line of desperate people, all of them barefoot or wearing the flip-flops common among the poor, it became clearer to me; sandals, even old ones were rare among the most desperately poor.

An elderly woman, hunched over, caught my eye. Unlike the others, she was not calling out to the passing traffic. She sat quietly in her space.

I approached her. Still, she did not look up. Only when I sat in front of her did she raise her head. Her eyes had little life, her worn, wrinkled face emotionless. I held out my meager offering.

“Namasté” was all she whispered before resuming her hunched position.



While my first book, XNOR, is Sci-Fi and British Colonial historical fantasy, it was heavily influenced by my time living in India as a young man.

Truth and Reconciliation

Two very controversial and emotional words in Canada today: Truth and Reconciliation.


Canadians have not suffered the same trauma over the word ‘racist’ as our southern friends, possibly because systemic racism never took hold as deeply in our past. However, reconciliation with Native Canadians has endured with the same emotional charge and unresolved issues as slavery. Pursuit of truth, likewise, is fraught with unending differences of opinion; lots of opinions and fewer agreed upon facts.


Like most people, I have tried over many years to follow the media accounts and positions put forward on complex land rights and obligation issues. I’m also fortunate to have personal experiences to juxtaposition against the cacophony of shouting. One experience from 54 years ago stands out. My father grew up in backwoods Manitoba. A Polish immigrant at a young age, his closest friends were Native children. His family were second class ‘bohunks’, poor immigrants not welcomed by the children from more established, ‘proper English speaking’, families.


My dad liked to fish, a lot! It brought out the child in him. We would drive from homes in suburban Ontario to the North Country at least two times a year. It was heaven for him.


On one trip, as we were driving through a Native Reserve on Manitoulin Island, I was appalled as an innocent teen at the level of poverty, mile after mile. Finally, I ask my dad, “how could this situation exist?” It was one of the few times I saw my hardened, WWII veteran father tear up. He replied, ‘son, it was like this when I was a child and it’ll be like this long after you’re my age.”


He was right. Not much has changed for many Native people despite many billions of dollars being spent by our government. Dad opened up more during that trip and told me of different times the government during his years tried to advance the state of Native housing and infrastructure and how it always ended in misused resources and unmaintained structures.


Part of the reason I wrote my first book, XNOR, was to explore some of the roots for the seemingly unending legal challenges by Native tribes and our Quebecois brothers and sisters. Neither group has fully embraced being equal Canadians with the same legal rights and privileges and only the same ones as other Canadians. How did this start? Was there a certain historical period where legal precedents were set, and each challenge and ‘settlement’ thereafter only complicated the problem without any reconciliation being achieved?


My research led me to the period of 1759 to 1763. I was astounded by the brutality of that era. All parties exercised a meanness and viciousness that is hard to appreciate 260 years later. There were few good actors. Another discovery in my quest was the large turnover of land usage and claims between various Native tribes beginning long before Europeans arrived. Their culture lacked the complex legal structure of the Europeans. The winning tribes did not ‘compensate’ the former occupants of a conquered area. There was no idea of land ownership in the sense that we understand it.


Slavery amongst Natives was as blatant and common as any seen throughout the world. Eighteen-century Native stories of one particularly grotesque takeover had the victors eating parts of their captured men while they were still alive, a fear inducing tactic meant to end any hopes of retaliation from the vanquished tribe. Scalping and torture were ubiquitous.


In this setting, British people claimed ownership of the land we call Canada. They were less than civilized by our standards and certainly made a lot of mistakes, many due to greed and arrogance. Yet, I’m in awe of how they managed to cobble together an increasingly prosperous and egalitarian society from a ragtag set of infighting groups.


These early governors and entrepreneurs are often portrayed as having a large, superior force capability and using it to bring the other groups to heel. My research indicates they were much less powerful and constantly prone to losing their governing control. I imagine it must have been very frustrating, constantly trying to bring disparate people together with limited resources available to appease their needs and demands. Canada was still a poor land compared to Europe and even the States until only three generations ago.


Today, we find the same conflicted groups demanding special treatment. Truth and reconciliation demand past sins be absolved, somehow. Truth must be brought forward!


Unfortunately, there will not be any truth agreed upon. My dad was right, this will go on for possibly a few more generations. I believe this is mostly because we lack the ability or interest to put ourselves into the shoes of those who came before us. They were flawed but probably did the best they could with the hand they were dealt. Could we have done better in the same situation?


I don’t have a solution. Instead, I imagined an historical fantasy where a group of scientists, engineers, teachers and medical people suddenly found themselves transported to Atlantic Canada in 1759. I tried to make the story as real as possible. It undoubtedly has many flaws, but the intent is to generate ideas and discussion that might shed some light on our current problems and how to improve them.


I hope you will join the discussion.

Is Space Objectively Real?

I promise to be cogent.

Photo by Tom Barrett   unsplash

Consider a few mental processes: counting, adding, multiplying.

We use the mental process of counting to calculate a sum. Is the process and the sum as ‘objectively real’ as the items being counted? If several people have counted their set of objects, is not addition a more powerful mental process to calculate the sum of all objects compared to re-counting all of them to determine the sum?

Similarly, if each person in a large group has the same number of objects, is multiplication not a more powerful mental process to calculate the sum compared to adding each person’s count to a total?

I thought I was just an oddball to consider the idea that space may be nothing more than a powerful mental process we use to calculate the immense number of objectively real forces and causal relationships surrounding us. Lately, I’ve encountered an increasing number of people, many more learned than I, who also think of space as being nothing more than a mental construct or process. It is so imbedded in our thinking and the structure of our brains that like a fish not capable of experiencing thirst, we would struggle to experience the massive matrix of interacting forces and causal relationships without using space as our mental construct.

Having a propensity to engage in meditation frequently, I’ve found that dropping the veil of space especially during simple tasks like walking slowly in Nature, enhances my ability to feel the oneness of Life and our Universe.

To this I have received some positive feedback and more than a little derisive mocking with memes such as, “try walking off a tall building and see if space is real or not”. I’m sure they mean well and are looking out for my good health. Should I ignore them or try to see why they won’t acknowledge my acceptance of the objective reality of forces and causes while still wondering whether space itself should be considered a ‘thing’ and not a mental process?

Newton was convinced space was absolute with objects occupying specific, absolute positions in it. He was happy with action at a distance (gravity). Well, maybe not ‘happy’ but accepting of it since he could calculate results in his absolute space.

Einstein had other ideas. Spatial calculations were relative in his thinking and warped space explained gravity.

This is the crux of why I persist in wondering; has physics found itself pursuing many fruitless dead-ends because it insists on giving space an objective reality with properties it doesn’t have?

They are highly educated people. I’m not, so I can’t engage them using their complex mental gyrations. Instead I used my wonder to create an historical fantasy that doesn’t attempt to solve the riddle but enjoys the mystery.


Anand Purohit — Author (

XNOR — a logical function used to express equivalence. Also an entertaining romp through spacetime and eighteen-century colonial history.

Ownership and Inheritance

Photo by Maxime Dore   unsplash

Ownership is one of the basic concepts that societies are built on. It’s hard to imagine anything more than a small, isolated, communal tribe without some rules and customs for ownership rights. The native people of Canada shared most of the items in their tribe but still exercised ownership over land usage between tribes. They fought many intertribal wars over land usage with winners repeatedly pushing the losers out of their ancestral lands.

It seems as if humans have an innate need to exercise some degree of ownership and passing that right between generations is expected. Our home, no matter how humble, is our castle. We need the safety and privacy it provides. Our collective territory must be defended lest we lose it to outsiders.

Inheritance is also a basic concept that societies agree on with an important difference from ownership: as inequality grows within a society, members are more willing to put limits on the amount of ownership that can be passed between generations. The heirs of billionaires are expected to forfeit a portion of their inheritance, though they use every legal and not so legal method to avoid it. Societal wellbeing is not enhanced by the inheriting generations becoming rent seekers, living off the demands they can place on the usage of their inheritance by others instead of laboring for their keep. Meritocracy is destroyed when a small group starts with a huge advantage.

Rent seeking is not limited to land usage. It encompasses all assets including money, intellectual property and in the past, slavery. A wealthy person ‘renting’ the usage of their money for a fee as a loan or bond is no different than renting the usage of farmland or a building.

We admire people who through their ingenuity and hard work build an asset during their lifetime and enjoy the benefit of ‘renting’ its use, especially in their old age.

When rent seeking passes a certain level or degree, human nature turns against it. Aristocrats renting their lands to serfs who must toil in subsistence to pay the rent is considered deplorable. Empires using their military might to ‘own’ the produce of a colony by forced exclusive trade is opposed.

Less obvious is the rent seeking demanded by Native people. Yes, I’m going there! Keeping in mind there are many ways of looking at this. It is reasonable to look at our history and see a Native people who mostly ‘lived off the land’. Nature paid the rent. Tribes would use the natural resources in an area and move when they were depleted. They worked hard to hunt and gather but they did little to build the productivity of the land. Population was kept to a level where Nature could continue paying the rent. Natives did not ‘build’ the asset. They simply lived off Nature’s effort. And it worked for millennia until Europeans arrived with their culture of improving the productivity of the land so it could support a larger population and then breeding like flies.

I can see how the early European settlers would claim ownership rights based on the effort they made to farm the land and build their assets. I have less inclination to assign the same degree of ownership rights to the Native rent seekers. Keeping aside the whole argument of environmental degradation from overpopulation, etc. and just focusing on comparing the claims of the two cultural groups, I find similarities between today’s billionaire families insisting they can pass their great wealth to their heirs and the Native people claiming they owned this vast land we call Canada simply because of ancestry. That claim would make each of them exceptionally land rich even if they lived in squalor.

Tax is a payment for the services a society provides including defense against attack from outsiders, internal policing, health and legal structures, etc.

A simple thought experiment I did was to apply our current accepted minimum inheritance tax of 30% to the Native land claims in 1763, the year when British law effectively established the land we call Canada today.

Yes, the Native people never accepted British law and claimed their sovereignty from it. But with the advantage of knowing how the world population evolved to 8 billion today, this land we call Canada would have sooner or later been overrun and claimed by people other than the original Natives and their descendants. Without the technology, hard work and investment of sovereign Canadians to defend and develop it, Canada would not exist. We made Canada and protected it for both us and the original peoples living here even while some Natives continued to claim a different sovereignty.

An argument can be made that Native people refused to participate or were culturally incapable of participating in the building and defending of Canada for most of this history. It’s a complex argument and I encourage discussion in the comment section.

Since a generation can be considered to be 25 years, I wondered … even if it was accepted that the Native people in 1763 ‘owned’ all the vast land we call Canada, would it not be appropriate to have them pay an inheritance tax each generation to help pay for the effort to build and maintain Canada as a sovereign country during the transition to a world with 8 billion people; people who would surely move in and claim the land unless it was continually defended?

This is the way of nature; build and defend your territory or lose it to a stronger outsider. It’s a costly, continuous expense especially as the military and economic capability of the outsiders constantly improves. Inheritance tax is one of many that helps to pay for this ongoing expense.

In my thought experiment, I wondered if a people were unable or unwilling to pay the 30% inheritance tax each generation from the income they generate from their labor, and if they were exceedingly land rich, would it not be appropriate to therefore forfeited 30% of the land as payment for the tax?

If so, what % would they still own today starting with 100% in 1763?

The year 2013 would be the tenth generation and Native land ownership would be 2.8%. The year 2038 will be the eleventh generational inheritance and the ownership would reduce to 1.97%.

Yes, this was a flawed mental exercise with many relevant variables omitted. I submit it only as a way to juxtapose against the current equally flawed meme hoisted, especially on our younger generation, that we non-Native people stole the land from the sovereign Natives and therefore must continually pay billions of dollars in retribution every year.

That makes a mockery of what it means and what is required to maintain sovereignty especially in a world with billions of armed people ready to move in if we falter.

What are your thoughts?


Anand Purohit — Author (

XNOR — a logical function used to express equivalence. Also an entertaining romp through spacetime and eighteen-century colonial history.

I can’t believe my luck!

Green-grooved Dung Beetle at Cape Point, South Africa

It was a normal day, like many others.

I was stumbling home after having a few with the guys and what do I see? A big, steaming pile; I can’t believe my luck!

People are walking around it, cursing its position on their path. Turning their nose up at some perceived slight. Ranting on about this and that. Their life is never what it should be. Someone is at fault. Someone should do something!

I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to roll me up a fat one and take it home to my wife. She never believed me when I said “someday my shit would come in”. Wait till she sees me roll this baby through the front door. Who’s the good for nothing layabout now?


Anand Purohit — Author (

XNOR — a logical function used to express equivalence. Also an entertaining romp through spacetime and eighteen-century colonial history.

Oh no! I’m happy and it won’t stop

Photo by David Code   unsplash

I woke up early before the first light. The worms and other night critters were still out. Delicious. Now I’m sitting on this branch chirp, chirp, chirping away!

I chirp a happy tune.

Poop will be here soon.

Poop, poop, poop away!

It happens every day.

No need to sweat and fret.

Not me, I’ll not regret.

I go when I go.

A car you say, below?

Don’t blame me,

It’s gravity.

Mass warping space,

In every local place.

Or so Einstein said.

Ideas from his head.

Others did reply,

I think it’s all a lie!

Spacetime warp indeed.

Limits to light speed?

The truth is clear to me.

We’ll never all agree.

No one has the scoop.

I’ll just eat, chirp and poop.

Anand Purohit — Author (

XNOR — a logical function used to express equivalence. Also an entertaining romp through spacetime and eighteen-century colonial history.

George Washington’s outhouse with three seats: A sign of things to come?

Photo by Jennifer Lim-Tamkican   Unsplash

During my research for the historical fantasy book XNOR, I came across several colourful eighteen-century characters and unusual events. One item that certainly made me go hmmm, was George Washington’s three-seated outhouse. Today’s trend is to vilify leaders from the past for actions or words they made in a setting completely different than ours. It might help if people predisposed to such ranker could stop and imagine living the life of their target or, ‘walking a mile in their shoes’ as the saying goes, before spewing their indignation.

Washington’s outhouse tweaked my imagination. It seemed there might be some cosmic joke hidden in its history. In my reverie, Washington sat in his outhouse and later in the White House. A cosmic play on words? I imagined him holding a cabinet meeting in his three-seat privy, Jefferson on one side and Adams on the other. Adams especially, was known to often create a stink and engaged Jefferson repeatedly in noisy debate. Gaseous emissions from both ends.

Three powerful men doing their morning constitutional while a Constitution with three seats of power was forming. Adams raising a stink with Jefferson and Washington between them trying desperately to ‘clear the air’. Three extraordinary men engaged in ordinary biological relief.

It helps to realize some of our great leaders from the past had to sit in a stinky outhouse while they contemplated the finer points of decisions before them. How might the use of a corn cob or a bunch of leaves after completion impact the choices they made later in the day? Tender behinds are not just a modern phenomena. A rough encounter with ‘nature’ would surely lead to a more irascible encounter with fellow leaders after much needed relief had been achieved.

As we watch statues being torn down, universities and streets being renamed and flawed leaders from the past pilloried for their ‘sins’, might it not make sense to also raise the idea they spent a portion of each day in a stinky outhouse?

Canada, I thought I knew you

Canada has always been a mixed bag of people, beliefs and customs. Lately, it seems to be veering far from the ideals I imagined in my youth. We started out well as a country and a people. While our American friends were shouting Liberty, Freedom and Equality under the Law, we quietly spoke of the need for Good Governance. It wasn’t that we were against the ideals of Liberty and Freedom, we just suspected the rallying cry would sooner or later smash up against a wall of realism created by increased population density, societal complexity and political shenanigans.

Equality sounds great but it also infers an ability to precisely measure conflicting claims. How can you measure equality in a complex world? The American adversarial system of politics, justice and opportunity tries but hasn’t calmed the increasing conflict between opposing claims. Will it ever?

When a people start with a goal of conferring equality, noble as that may be, even the tolerance of good people can be twisted by complexity. The fight becomes directed at an unachievable goal: trying to define something undefinable. Equality looks different from each vantagepoint.

Canada started, not with a passion to create liberty and equal opportunity but instead with a goal of quiet compromise. How can we agree, not how can we compete. How can we work together and share the result, not equally but in a way that meets the needs of the community. This is an attitude of equivalence. It is less precise than equality, open to interpretation, compromise, and agreement.

Mothers understand equivalence. They know it’s impossible to treat each of their children equally. If they try, children will always find some way to claim a sibling has received a bigger or better piece. Instead, smart mothers instill a feeling of caring. When a child’s focus is on being cared for, small differences in provision or outcome are not made into conflicts.

Until recently, Canadians built a society more directed to equivalence than equality. Americans have often claimed there is little to no difference between our nations. The old American joke: How can you tell the Canadian in a crowded room of Americans?  Answer: Just announce that there is no difference between Canadians and Americans. The guy jumping up and down at the back of the room is the Canadian.

Lately, Canadians have adopted more of the confrontational aspects of America’s nature. It was great when we had the wisdom to notice the good aspects of American society and quickly adopted them as our own while leaving the less desirable aspects behind. That has changed.

Maybe it’s American control of mass media, social media and the world’s financial system that has gradually turned Canada into a less kind and gentle nation. We still prided ourselves on being different, especially our Francophone brothers and sisters. But it is a false pride, an illusion. Our elections, still thankfully short, are increasingly filled with shouting and banal rhetoric. Conspiracy theories and stubborn reluctance to consider the common good over personal gain have increased. Have we lost the ability to understand and employ equivalence?

In AI research, XNOR is the logical function used to express and judge equivalence. XNOR gates can also be found in hardware implementations. When I started my investigation of Canadian history, the years 1759 – 1763 stood out as fundamental to the legal and cultural precedents guiding our path for the last 260 years. The more I looked, the more I saw how our unique start as a nation evolved from that base.

My notes culminated in a book:  XNOR.

It and follow-on publications will continue to explore the Canadian propensity or increasing lack of it to seek equivalence. Your comments are not only welcomed, they will impact the XNOR story as it unfolds.


1759 was a defining year for the colonies that became Canada. It was also the year the British Empire rose to preeminence over other European nations and empires. All that changes when technology deployed in 2047 to shield Canadians from an escalating world conflict inadvertently teleports a group of scientists, engineers, teachers and medical people back to Nova Scotia, 1759.

Despite their technological superiority, they, like many new settlers, struggle to establish a homestead, feed their community and deal with the constant threat from a violent world. Established empires with their large populations are not about to let a small group of upstarts interfere in their lucrative slave trade and subjugation of whomever they please.



XNOR started as a fantasy while pondering the cultural and political divisions in Canada today. My research led me to believe
greed and expediency by European empires during the years 1759 to 1763 laid the foundation for Canadian law and cultural
precedents we still need to deal with 260 years later.
The story is very plot oriented with characters playing a supporting role. Time travel was a necessary part of the plot but I was
adverse to the magical mechanisms found in many time travel stories. Finding some magic stones that suddenly transported
people back in time, or similar themes, did not appeal to me. I wanted to find a scientifically plausible plot and spent
considerable effort to devise it.
My background in software development and AI led to the choice of XNOR as the title. XNOR is a logical function used in AI
and other scientific pursuits. It is known as the ‘Equivalence Function’. Other logical functions such as AND, OR, NAND and
NOR, etc. are well established in database technology and graphic software. XNOR and the expression of equivalence is
trickier both in AI and in normal life. We often must grapple with decisions where two or more paths are evaluated with
unknown factors overshadowing the process. How do we determine which path is better, especially when they seem
equivalent in their probable risk and reward?
Keeping with the desire for a plausible storyline, my biggest discovery was how large and diverse the community of intelligent
and skillful people would need to be to have any possible chance of forming an independent community in the violent era of
the mid-eighteenth-century. Again, wanting the story to be realistic, I was surprised at the amount of prep and supplies that
would be required for the time shifters to survive and thrive as a new colony with hostile empires wanting to conquer and
control them.
My personal preference for the colony to reflect Canada’s culture as a peaceful nation limited their ability to use their
advanced twenty-first-century technology to just blast their way into survival at others expense. It’s easy to imagine a
community with our technology could attain self-sufficiency and governance in an age of muskets and horsepower with little
effort or trouble. Hah! The British Empire had 12 million people. The French had 26 million. A small community with advanced
marvels would be a juicy target for pirates, privateers and military assaults. Machines and electronics break down. Spare parts
and the energy to power the technology are not readily available or easily created.
The end result, I hope, is a story that intrigues and entertains its readers in a unique way compared to other historical