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The two most populous states in the United States, California, and Texas, have long competed to attract companies and talent. Data from the 2020 U.S. census show that Texas is drawing more people, including Californians. Texans have a saying: “Everything is bigger in Texas.” By size, it is the largest state in the contiguous U.S. There are many reasons why the state’s population is also getting bigger. “Your quality of life is so much higher here in Austin,” said Alex Backus, who moved with his teenage daughter from San Jose, California, to the Texas capital almost two years ago.
Backus has been bouncing back and forth between the two states over the years. He said that while he missed the outdoor activities and mild weather in California’s Bay Area, it is not a financially friendly place for young adults such as his daughter. “Most of the kids that are in the Bay Area and they graduate, they kind of need to leave the Bay Area because it’s so expensive. I kind of figured in Austin, there was a shot that she might actually choose to try to stay in Austin to go to college and start her life,” Backus explained.
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Correlation between states
“They each have a singular history. Both of them were governed by Spain and Mexico. They both have a sort of a nation-state identity unlike any other state,” said Bill Fulton, director of Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research, in Houston. Fulton moved to Texas from California for his current job. He has been studying the migration patterns between the two states through census data and noticed a correlation. “When home prices in California go up, more people move to Texas. When home prices in California go down, fewer people move to Texas,” Fulton said.
Census and politics
While California still has 10 million more residents than Texas, the migration patterns of each state have been going on for years, and Texas has won the popularity contest, according to the 2020 census results. For the first time in the state’s history, California, a Democratic bastion, lost one U.S. congressional seat determined by the state’s population. Republican-leaning Texas, the biggest winner of all 50 states, gained two seats.
While the impact will be felt in Washington, Fulton said its political significance depends on who is moving from California to Texas — whether they are conservative Republicans who do not like liberal-leaning California with its state tax and more regulations, or Democrats from California looking for better opportunities in Texas. “It may well be that a flow from California to Texas increases the likelihood that at some point in the future, Texas will turn blue. And if it does, of course, that’s good news for the Democrats and bad news for the Republicans nationally because then the two largest states are locked in to be Democratic states. But that would still be a way off if it happens,” Fulton said.
Impact of pandemic
During the pandemic, out-migration from expensive states such as California and New York picked up. States with lower costs of living, including Texas and Florida, are seeing an influx of new residents, said Los Angeles-based Eric Willett, director of research and thought leadership for the Pacific Southwest division at commercial real estate firm CBRE.
He studied the impact of the pandemic on people’s decision to move by looking at data from the U.S. Postal Service. With people working from home, there was a trend of people across the U.S. leaving denser urban regions for homes in the suburbs. “Whether it’s a backyard or an extra bedroom, those sorts of living environments became much more highly desired during the pandemic,” Willett said. The urban dwellers who moved tend to be young, affluent, highly educated, and childless.
While Willett found that most Californians who moved did so within the state, the migration patterns of people who chose to move out of state were consistent with pre-pandemic trends. “The states that saw the most out-migration last year are also the states that saw the most outmigration in 2019. It just was an accelerated path of out-migration,” Willett said.
Elon Musk, the co-founder of Tesla and SpaceX, moved last year from California to Texas, where his business priorities are located. Tesla Cybertruck and SpaceX’s spaceport are in Texas. Tech companies Oracle and HP Inc., as well as CBRE, have relocated their headquarters to Texas. Japanese automaker Toyota also chose to relocate its North American headquarters from California to Texas, which is not only known for its ample housing and lower cost of living but also its business-friendly environment. Nicknamed “Silicon Hills,” Austin has been an attractive location for many tech companies.
“There’s no question that Texas has fewer business regulations than California,” Fulton said. Texas may be popular, but Willett said it does not mean there is a mass exodus of businesses from California.”Increasingly, companies are looking to diversify their talent base, and California is a mature market in many industries. And it makes sense for these companies to look elsewhere to continue to expand their access to talent,” Willett explained.
“Facebook and Google are constantly fighting for downtown office space of more than a million square feet (92,903 square meters). They’re looking for additional properties, and it just seems like every company is trying to expand their presence here in Austin,” said Job Hammond of the Austin Board of Realtors. Hammond, originally from Northern California, moved to Austin 14 years ago when he relocated for his then-employer Oracle. He is now a relocation expert who helps people from other cities find homes in Austin.
“They all seemingly want the same sort of thing — a good quality of life, a reasonable price in terms of a home, and, in some cases, to avoid state income tax,” Hammond said. Texas Realtors, the state-level association of realtors, reported that in the first quarter of 2021, the median sales price of single-family homes in the state reached $275,000. In contrast, the California Association of Realtors reported that the median price of a single-family home in the state in March was $758,990.
“A California family will cash in their home equity to get a bigger house in Texas, and they’re probably not going to reverse that pattern,” Fulton said. Foreign investors are also noticing Texas. Hammond has helped investors from Malaysia, Nepal, China, Europe, and Mexico find properties.”I was on the phone about 12 o’clock midnight with somebody in Shanghai who’s interested in not having cash in the bank because she’s worried about things like inflation,” Hammond said.
Backus has enjoyed the live music and arts scene in Austin and picked up surfing on Lake Austin. But Texas summers are a lot hotter than they are in Northern California, with its milder climate, diverse geography, and plentiful biking opportunities and outdoor activities, which Backus misses. “I still have my home there. It’s rented out there, and I’m questioning whether I should keep it because I might want to go back. I do miss going snow skiing,” he said. (VOA/JC)
Diwali is arguably one of the most auspicious and celebrated holidays in South Asia. It is celebrated over the span of five days, where the third is considered most important and known as Diwali. During Diwali people come together to light, lamps, and diyas, savour sweet delicacies and pray to the lord. The day has various origin stories with the main them being the victory of good over evil. While the North celebrates the return of Lord Rama and Devi Sita to Ayodhya, the South rejoices in the victory of Lord Krishna and his consort Satyabhama over evil Narakasura.
Narakasura- The great mythical demon King
Naraka or Narakasur was the son of Bhudevi (Goddess Earth) and fathered either by the Varaha incarnation of Vishnu or Hiranyaksha. He grew to be a powerful demon king and became the legendary progenitor of all three dynasties of Pragjyotisha-Kamarupa, and the founding ruler of the legendary Bhauma dynasty of Pragjyotisha.
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Narakasura was created, grew up to be strong and powerful but he was not satisfied with it, so he decided that he would worship Lord Brahma. He performed severe penance and was driven by the power of his penance; Lord Brahma appeared before him. Narakasura knew his mother loved him dearly so he asked Lord Brahma to grant him a boon that he would only die by the hands of his mother, Bhumidevi. Lord Brahma smile and ultimately granted him the boon.
Narakasura burst out laughing as Lord Brahma vanished. He thought no mother would kill their child so Lord Brahma had made him immortal. Drunk and maddened by his own power Narakasura brought all the kingdoms under his control and targeted Swargalok (Heaven). Even Indra (King of Gods) and demi-gods had to retreat in front of Narakasura. He kidnapped and took 16,000 women from the palaces as prisoners. Troubled by Naraksura's deeds the gods rushed to Lord Vishnu for a solution.
Lord Krishna and Devi Satyabhama were born to kill Narakasura
Lord Vishnu was born as Lord Krishna and Narakasura's mother Bhumidevi took the avatar of Krishna's wife Satyabhama. As Satyabhama, Bhumidevi was unaware of the knowledge of Naraksura being her son. Aditi the mother of all gods approached Satyabhama crying for help with bloodied ears as Narakasura had torn off the glowing earrings from the ears of Aditi.
Satyabhama was furious on gaining the knowledge of Narakasura's atrocities she asked Krishna to fight the demon king while she fights alongside him. Krishna agreed and they attacked the great fortress of Narakasura, riding his mount Garuda with his wife Satyabhama.
The furious battle unleashed. Krishna defeated Narakasura's general Mura and came to be known as Murari (the killer of Mura). Narakasura used several divine weapons against Krishna, but Krishna slew all those weapons effortlessly. The demon hurled a shakti towards Krishna, which mildly hurt Krishna and he fell unconscious. Upon this sight Satyabhama was enraged, she furiously pulled out a weapon of her own and hurled it at Narakasura's chest. Anxious Satyabhama turned to her fallen Lord, Krishna got up with a smile and he was completely fine. He was only playing his part. It was Satyabhama who was an incarnation of Bhoomidevi, whose hands were destined to slay Narakasura.
ALSO READ: Choosing Environment-Friendly Diwali
Lord Krishna and Goddess Satyabhama had put an end to the Narakasura's kingdom of evil. As Narakasura lay on his deathbed he realised that Satyabhama was no one but an avatar of his own mother. He requested a boon from his mother, for no one to mourn his death. Instead, he wished for people to celebrate it with light and colours. They freed the 16,000 women who later married Lord Krishna to restore them of their honour in society, retrieved Mother goddess's earrings. This day is celebrated as 'Naraka Chaturdashi' popularly known as Choti Diwali - the day before Diwali as the triumph of good over evil.
Keywords: Diwali festival, goddess Laxmi, demon king, Lord Krishna, Satyabhama, the festival of light, Naraksura, Narak Chaturdashi
For all the great inventions that we have at hand, it is amazing how we keep going back to the safety pin every single time to fix everything. Be it tears in our clothes, to fix our broken things, to clean our teeth and nails when toothpicks are unavailable, to accessorize our clothes, and of course, as an integral part of the Indian saree. Safety pins are a must-have in our homes. But how did they come about at all?
The safety pin was invented at a time when brooches existed. They were used by the Greeks and Romans quite extensively. A man named Walter Hunt picked up a piece of brass and coiled it into the safety pin we know today. He did it just to pay off his debt. He even sold the patent rights of this seemingly insignificant invention just so that his debtors would leave him alone.
Anyone wearing safety pins that were visible began to be associated with the rock movement in the 70s. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
Later, he even invented the sewing needles and a couple of other important inventions but never kept any of the patent rights.
When the punk rock tradition took over in the seventies, safety pins became a fashion rage. They were used as piercings and to patch clothes together. Anyone wearing safety pins that were visible began to be associated with the rock movement. In some cultures, the safety pins have become symbols of good luck.
Keywords: Safety-pins, Punk Rock, Brass, Accessories, Walter Hunt
In South India, Deepavali marks the end of the monsoon and heralds the start of winter. The festival is usually observed in the weeks following heavy rain, and just before the first cold spell in the peninsula. The light and laughter that comes with the almost week-long celebration are certainly warm to the bones, but there is still a tradition that the South Indians follow to ease their transition from humidity to the cold.
Just before the main festival, the family bathes in sesame oil. This tradition is called 'yellu yennai snaana' in Kannada, or 'ennai kuliyal' in Tamil, which translates to 'sesame oil bath'. The eldest member of the family applies three drops of heated oil on each member's head. They must massage this oil into their hair and body. The oil is allowed to soak in for a while, anywhere between twenty minutes to an hour. After this, they must wash with warm water before sunrise.
Women applying oil to the heads of men Photo credit: Indians in Kuwait
In some parts of the peninsula, soap is not used to wash off the oil because it nullifies its effects. Some cultures who do not like the oil to remain in any way on their skin wash it off with shikakai and herbs, which is a paste that is traditionally used as a substitute for soap. Sometimes, the oil is heated with flowers and spices as well and is less sticky than in its pure form.
The purpose of this ritual is to cleanse the body, detoxify it, and produce heat in it. Sesame is a very heaty substance and tends to heat up the body. This heat, or 'usshna' in Kannada, prepares the body to face the sudden cold that comes to the peninsula immediately after Diwali. South India has no smooth transition weather-wise from monsoon to winter. There are a few days of stable, rainless weather, and suddenly the cold winds descend.
In many ways, the celebration of Diwali is centered around preparing for winter, considering the amount of heat and light the rituals consist of – lighting lamps, bursting crackers, and consuming warm treats. Those who practice these rituals earnestly find the shift in seasons and weather quite pleasant.
Keyboards: Sesame Oil Bath, Diwali Ritual, Traditional Sesame Oil Bath