Monday, October 31, 2005

Conveyor Belt -- a Poem

Conveyor Belt

By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
October 30, 2005

Is there nothing
to write about
to muse
at the expense
of voluble time?

What is it to write?
Has the world sucked in
all the remaining desire
for a story to be renewed?
Or foretold in vigorous charm?

All one can see
is oceanic depression
in mid level ridge
as the sea spreading
and washed out sediments
gorged inside earth
like a large conveyor belt
carrying all the filths,
impurities, human destructions
into the warmth of deepening earth

See these gift baskets, immaculate
ribbons from haven, merrily glistening
And look at these crispy notes
dollars, yens, euros, takas, rupees,
silver coins, loonies, toonies,
discolored paishas, chiming dimes
smart cards, credit cards
roars of laughter, moans of agonies
overspilled hatred corner to corner
hand in hand with Halloween costumes
Goblins and make believe ghosts
nudging the would be assassins,
the human bombs, mechanized torpedoes
blowing up everything you love, live for

Brewed gourmet coffee, caramel tea
wafting smoke from posh restaurant
you see protective bankers wobble
in his drunken strides,
serene engineers, smiling doctors
and of course, confident politicians
in polished shoes and emblazoned attire
elevating the meaning of chatter
to a dimension invisible to non-experts
various color, height, weight
wearing slick to unappealing dresses

Food aplenty to dire famine
all are there in this world of ours
We fight, love, cuddle, nudge
destroy and renew each others
with affixed destiny
Our creations, artistry, fortress, mansions
calcerous remains dissipate
in sedimentary or carbonate rocks
hopping on that behemoth
conveyor belt nature built
for nourishing cosmos

Friday, October 28, 2005

Mud -- a Poem


By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
Summer 2005

Mix of Sun and cloud
today's weather
So defiant, so proud
thunder chatter

You walk under hot sun
cloudless sky raging blue
not a bird in sight
boorish road splashing hue

Here, the world is quiet
a lazy day of summer
wind blows now and then
one or two Ford or Hummer
rushes by green traffic light
and empty parking lot
while homeless and hermits
gawk at colorful plot

Thank God or Devil we are not there
where flesh ripped off bones
innocence vaporized in fiery flare
and dreads for more blood hones
under yearning retribution
eye for an eye, blood for blood
no end in sight for this illusion
world is covered with irresolute mud!

Sound of Suave Lore -- a Poem

Sound of Suave Lore

By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
October 27, 2005

Rush, rush, rush the way
and bring me slush of clay
Silly rhyme, meaningless rhythm
on a day of rain and chasm

Suave gentlemen walking by
hand in hand with gorgeous sly
lady and children carrying bags
clapping, laughing amidst bickering nags

You stand there like an wavering tree
staring at the empty lobby
spotless floor, uniformed bellmen
chattering away a day of brewed zen

Sound of guitar, piano muffled
washing lonesome spirit and baffled
heart in a sweeping flush
as if clay of slush
or slush of clay
rush the way
to a rhythmic lore

Don't you dare to snore
on an empty floor!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Europeans declare bird flu 'a global threat'

I don't have to be a scaremonger, the progression of bird flu from Asian nations to Europe and its eventual future migration to every corner of our world is beginning to rattle nerve of many, including mine. No real antidote, anti-virus medicine exists, only "Tamiflu" that according to World Health Organization "could minimize the potency of the illness but was not an effective vaccine against it" Europe started to move in stockpiling Tamiflu, but what about the poor Asian nations? What is the plan in saving millions and millions of citizens of Asian, African and South American nations? Is there really a viable plan to combat a potentially man annihilating virus in place? Would we be caught, again, in our pants down to our ankle, bare naked, like the Katrina romped Louisiana's backyard, front yard, or the devastating earthquake leveling Balakot in Pakistan, destroying all those poorly made homes, buildings that were no match for a 7.6 earthquake? Or would it be like last year's Tsunami when lack of early warning coordination among nations contributed to majority of deaths in South East Asia that could have been avoided if only we had a reliable warning mechanism in place?

We spend billions, trillions in making futuristic weaponry to kill fellow human beings, whereas our total failure in confronting nature, like earthquake, hurricane or now the bird flu, perhaps point to an unstoppable demise of our infantile civilization.

I just hope that I am wrong. Wrong. I am wrong!


Europeans declare bird flu 'a global threat'
By Dan Bilefsky and Tom Wright International Herald Tribune

BRUSSELS European foreign ministers on Tuesday declared the bird flu outbreak a "global threat" and warned that the European Union was not sufficiently prepared for a pandemic if the virus changed in a way that would allow it to spread readily among humans.

Even though EU officials tried to allay growing public alarm that the disease could jump from birds to humans, the EU health and safety commissioner, Markos Kyprianou, expressed concern that most European countries lacked sufficient stockpiles of anti-viral drugs.

"We have not yet reached the level of preparedness that we should have," he told reporters at an emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg. "This is a global threat and there is need for international action."
On Tuesday, the British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, whose country holds the EU's rotating six-month presidency, appealed for vigilance and calm, but warned that Europe must prepare for the worst.

"Above all that, there are the most adequate contingency plans across Europe to deal with any transfer of the avian virus to human beings," he told reporters. "So far within wider Europe that has not happened but we have to be prepared."
Straw added that EU health ministers meeting near London on Thursday and Friday would discuss coordinating their efforts to ensure that the disease did not spread across the Continent. He said the EU would shortly stage a simulated pandemic response to test the bloc's preparedness.

The deadly H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus, which has infiltrated poultry populations in Asia and killed 60 farmers since 2003, has been detected in Romania and Turkey, where thousands of birds have been slaughtered. Meanwhile, the Greek authorities are awaiting test results for a strain of the disease discovered Monday that could show the most virulent form of the virus had migrated across the EU's borders for the first time.

Across Europe on Tuesday, countries stepped up their efforts to defend against the virus. In France, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said 50 million masks to protect against bird flu were being delivered to French hospitals.
The Spanish government said it planned to order 6 million to 11 million doses of anti-viral medicines to prepare for the possibility of a flu epidemic. Meanwhile, British customs agents intensified searches for birds, feathers and eggs on flights from Turkey and Romania in hopes of keeping the disease out of the country.

The EU has already intensified its measures against the disease by quarantining poultry populations and setting up early detection systems along the paths of migratory birds, which are carrying the disease from Asia. It also has called on Europeans to avoid recreational activities like hunting that risk bringing humans into contact with contaminated birds.
There is no human vaccine for the virulent strain of bird flu. But Roche, the Swiss pharmaceutical company, said Tuesday that it had received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to open a new American manufacturing site for the production of its anti-viral drug Tamiflu, which health experts say may help defend humans against contracting the disease. Roche said it was willing to issue licenses to other companies and governments to develop the drug.

It also said it would donate packs of the anti-influenza medicine to Turkey and Romania.
But drug companies warned that their production capacity was not sufficiently developed to handle a widespread bird flu outbreak.

Tamiflu, for instance, takes 12 to 18 months to produce and supply after an initial order.
Reports that consumers across Europe were stocking up on Tamiflu prompted the World Health Organization to warn against scare-mongering and the panicked stock-piling of vaccines. The WHO stressed that Tamiflu could minimize the potency of the illness but was not an effective vaccine against it.

The potential continentwide outbreak of avian flu has fanned fears that the virus could mutate into a form easily transmitted to humans. If that were to happen, health experts fear a global pandemic could result in millions of deaths.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Harold Pinter Wins Nobel Prize in Literature

I have not read any of Harold Pinter's writings, and heard his name just for the first time early this morning when the Nobel prize committee announced his name as this year's award winner in literature. A few strokes on my keyboard brought me the following acceptance speech by this British author, it was given at Wilfred Owen Award ceremony earlier this year. Read this speech and you will see how courageous this writer is whose honesty reveals itself in every paragraph. If you are like me so much in dark in world literature, perhaps it is a good time picking up one or two of Harold Pinter's published books.


Wilfred Owen Award Speech - 18 th March 2005

This is a true honour. Wilfred Owen was a great poet. He articulated the tragedy, the horror and indeed the pity – of war – in a way no other poet has. Yet we have learnt nothing. Nearly 100 years after his death the world has become more savage, more brutal, more pitiless.

But the “free world” we are told (as embodied in the United States and Great Britain) is different to the rest of the world since our actions are dictated and sanctioned by a moral authority and a moral passion condoned by someone called God. Some people may find this difficult to comprehend but Osama Bin Laden finds it easy.

What would Wilfred Owen make of the invasion of Iraq? A bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of International Law. An arbitrary military action inspired by a series of lies upon lies and gross manipulation of the media and therefore of the public. An act intended to consolidate American military and economic control of the Middle East masquerading – as a last resort (all other justifications having failed to justify themselves) – as liberation. A formidable assertion of military force responsible for the death and mutilation of thousands upon thousands of innocent people.

An independent and totally objective account of the Iraqi civilian dead in the medical magazine The Lancet estimates that the figure approaches 100,000. But neither the US or the UK bother to count the Iraqi dead. As General Tommy Franks (US Central Command) memorably said: “We don't do body counts”.

We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery and degradation to the Iraqi people and call it “bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East”. But, as we all know, we have not been welcomed with the predicted flowers. What we have unleashed is a ferocious and unremitting resistance, mayhem and chaos.

You may say at this point: what about the Iraqi elections? Well President Bush himself answered this question only the other day when he said “We cannot accept that there can be free democratic elections in a country under foreign military occupation”.

I had to read that statement twice before I realised that he was talking about Lebanon and Syria.

What do Bush and Blair actually see when they look at themselves in the mirror?

I believe Wilfred Owen would share our contempt, our revulsion, our nausea and our shame at both the language and the actions of the American and British governments.

Harold Pinter


Monday, October 10, 2005

Angela Merkel: Politician Who Can Show a Flash of Steel

Ms. Merkel's assend to the top in German political scene is quite interesting.
As a student of physics she must have keen eyes and ears for natural laws of our world, and perhaps could bring Germany a long sought equilibriam between two bitterly divided factions, the right and left into a common ground. Is it too much to ask for? Her pro-war stance certainly is disturbing, but perhaps that can prove to be usual misstep of many politicians in their journey toward maturity.


Angela Merkel: Politician Who Can Show a Flash of Steel

FRANKFURT, Oct. 10 - On Nov. 9, 1989, the day the Berlin Wall fell, Angela Merkel made her weekly visit to a sauna. Hours later, she caught up with thousands of East Germans, who were streaming jubilantly into the West. It was not the last time her rendezvous with German history was delayed.

On Monday, three weeks after a deadlocked election that she had once been expected to win handily, Mrs. Merkel finally emerged as the designated leader of Germany's next government.

To get the job, she had to make major concessions to the departing chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, and his party. And her ascension must still be ratified in a vote in Parliament, to be held next month.

Still, those provisos should not obscure Mrs. Merkel's achievement: at 51, she is poised to become the first woman to serve as chancellor of Germany and the first eastern German to lead the reunified country.

Mrs. Merkel's journey from Protestant minister's daughter in East Germany to the pinnacle of German politics - as the boss of a male-dominated, Catholic-leaning conservative party - is so improbable that it has left political analysts here grasping for what she might do as chancellor.

"With that kind of background, she obviously has extraordinary gifts," said Ulrich von Alemann, a professor of politics at the University of Düsseldorf. "But her career has also been marked by chance and good fortune. It's very difficult to predict what kind of role she will play."

Mrs. Merkel, he said, is a genuinely new figure in politics, someone who could potentially bridge the two halves of Germany, which have drifted apart in recent years, as the financial burden of reunification and a stagnant eastern economy has bred mutual resentment.

And yet the attenuated circumstances of her victory underscore the reservations Germans have about her. She was chosen not with a rousing popular mandate, but after protracted backroom negotiations between her party, the Christian Democratic Union, and the Social Democrats of Mr. Schröder.

Despite her political odyssey, much remains of the regimented young woman who kept her date at the sauna that day. Dogged, earnest, almost willfully bland, Mrs. Merkel is an unlikely historic figure.

"She has a cool personality," said Gerd Langguth, who has written a biography of Mrs. Merkel. "She does not easily express her emotions. That may explain why people have difficulty identifying with her."

Even her politics defy easy categorization. Mrs. Merkel's firsthand experience of Communism has left her with a fervent conviction about the power of free markets, according to analysts. But she is unlikely to become a German Margaret Thatcher - Maggie Merkel, as some here hopefully put it - especially now that she must share power with the Social Democrats.

Others see in her background a champion of democracy, a leader more naturally inclined to support the policies of President Bush, as she did on Iraq, than was Mr. Schröder. Yet her most notable foreign-policy position has been to oppose Turkey's entry into the European Union.

Until recently, when she spruced up her wardrobe and began wearing her hair in a stylish layered cut, Mrs. Merkel looked as if she would still be at home in the drab confines of East Germany. While campaigning, she projected a stern image, offering few glimpses of her personal side.

Mrs. Merkel, who has no children, is married to a chemistry professor, Joachim Sauer. He steers clear of her political career. She is said to like cooking for friends, and has a soft spot for the actor Dustin Hoffman.

Even in victory, though, she remains less popular personally than the avuncular Mr. Schröder. In part, that has to do with her stubborn refusal to turn herself into a symbol - either of East Germany and its reunification with the West, or of women and their changing role in German society.

Eastern Germans yearning for an advocate have been disappointed by how little she focuses on their plight. Women did not turn out to vote in droves to show solidarity with her precedent-setting career.

"She is a stranger to most Germans," Mr. Langguth said, explaining why she faded in the election. "Many East Germans think of her as a West German, while West Germans think she is an East German."

In truth, she is both.

Born in Hamburg on July 17, 1954, to a Protestant minister, Horst Kasner, and his wife, Herlind, Angela Dorothea Kasner was three months old when her father was asked to take over a country church in Brandenburg.

Growing up in an intellectual household, Angela excelled in school and hoped to become a teacher and translator. But because of her father's pastoral work, she found those careers closed to her. So in 1973, she opted to study physics at Leipzig University.

As an 8-year-old, Angela could rattle off the names of the ministers in the West German government. Yet as a young adult, she showed little interest in politics. Instead, she worked toward a Ph.D. in physics and married a fellow student, Ulrich Merkel; they divorced in 1982.

Mrs. Merkel was settling in to a career at the Academy of Sciences in East Berlin in 1989, when the wall fell. A month later, she joined a coalition of pro-democracy parties. "It was clear they were going to need people," she said in a typically circumspect interview in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

That coalition was absorbed into the Christian Democrats, and Mrs. Merkel found her party. Mr. Langguth suggested that she was reacting in part to her father, with whom she has had a fraught relationship.

Mrs. Merkel became the spokeswoman for Lothar de Maizière , a lawyer chosen to wind down the affairs of the East German state. In the first post-reunification election, she won a seat in Parliament, and later a cabinet post in the government of Helmut Kohl.

He famously referred to Mrs. Merkel as "the girl," but rewarded her with a series of powerful posts. She proved herself to be a skillful political player, unafraid to eviscerate rivals. In 1999, after Mr. Kohl had been implicated in a financial scandal, Mrs. Merkel cut loose her old mentor.

"The party must learn to walk," she said at the time. "It must trust itself to fight its political opponents without its old battle horses."

It was a brazen act of rebellion. But within months, Mrs. Merkel was elected party leader. "The episode symbolized that she is capable of making unexpected decisions in difficult situations," Mr. Langguth said.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

The Timeless Truth .........

Authoritarian way of silencing opposing views cannot be part of modernity, it is like the old days of powerful creationists thumping their voluminous religious texts decidedly, squishing lights out of any vigorous debate requested by the then tormented Darwinists. It seems, at least on the surface, that today's "Intelligent Design" proponents are quite different from their scraggy fundamentalist predecessors, they make "use of generally accepted scientific data and agrees that falsification, not revelation, is the acid test of scientific validity."

"Today, Darwinian fundamentalists fight to keep the evidence of intelligent design in the diversity of life on earth out of the classroom, because that would be at odds with a strictly materialist view of the world. Eighty years ago, the thought controllers wanted no Darwin; today's thought controllers want only Darwin. In both cases, the dominant attitude is authoritarian and closed-minded -- the opposite of the liberal spirit of inquiry on which good science depends."

Mr. Richard Dawkins renowned for his memorable writings on various enlightening issues that science can explain in such a grandeur beauty, written, "''It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid, or insane."

With all due respect bestowed to Mr. Dawkins for his enormous contributions in contemporary intelleginsia, it is bothersome noting his and many others' "absolute beliefs" on various dogmatic scientific issues, where absolutism of any form can pretty safely be put into the same disposal bin set aside for now thoroughly discredited creationists.

Our knowledge of the "reality", the surrounding mysterious universe, its time old question of cosmic expansion, collapse, singularity and many other issues where there are plenty of disputes still reside among the leading physicists of our time, is still growing from its prolonged infancy. When there are plenty of unresolved scientific mysteries remain in our backyard, like the vast ocean, various geological earthly puzzles, and also our own solar system, that still feels like too colossal for human to explore with deterministic certainty less alone getting a solid grasp on our expanding universe, quantum misery, even our helpless stature in the face of demolishing hurricanes, earthquakes and many other natural disasters unfolding right here on earth, the acerbic absolutism sputtered like religious dicta by the leading scientists and thinkers seem like quite preposterous, at best.

Let's have a good laugh about the flying spaghetti "God", but let's not silence the liberty of its proponents to present their ideas to the mass, however ludicrous it sounds to many. Indeed, the inquisitive minds throughout history, from Newton to Einstein and beyond, blasting the traditional "scientific" absolutism of their days have propelled the entire humanity to progress so much that now we can at least do not take supernova as the appearance and disappearance of deities, but what it really is, elegantly explained in scientific quest, we can all marvel at the pictures from distant planets sent by human's own ingenuity led technologies, and we all can be proudly resist the onslaught of microbial aggressions on our fragile human bodies, composed of millions and millions of mindless atoms.

Science has shown us the way and glimpse of reality, but it is an on going story, not even close to the end of the first miniscule passage of a seemingly long, quite possibly a colluded tale of trillions of words, like the countless stars and dark matters.


The Timeless Truth of Creation

HAVE YOU heard about Flying Spaghetti Monsterism? FSM is a four-month-old ''religion" founded on the belief that the universe was created by an invisible flying clump of spaghetti and meatballs. This blob of pasta, FSM's ''followers" say, uses its ''noodly appendage" to play an ongoing role in human affairs. For example, it tampers with carbon-dating tests to make the planet seem older than it is, so that any evidence of evolution is actually the work of the spaghetti monster.

FSM was concocted in June by Bobby Henderson, a recent college graduate with a degree in physics. When the Kansas Board of Education took up the question of teaching intelligent design as an alternative to Darwinian evolution, Henderson wrote an open letter (posted at demanding equal classroom time for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism as well.

As religious spoofs go, it wasn't exactly Monty Python's ''Life of Brian," but it was good for a chuckle or two. No doubt that was all the reaction that Henderson was expecting. If so, he underestimated the eagerness of many Darwinists to paint supporters of intelligent design as either moronic Bible Belters or conniving religious fanatics. Henderson's ''religion" became a cult hit, promoted on other websites and covered with relish in the press. The Washington Post reprinted Henderson's letter verbatim. A New York Times story was headlined, ''But Is There Intelligent Spaghetti Out There?"

At least Henderson couched his disdain for intelligent design in humor. Other Darwinists, many steeped in ideological antipathy to religion, resort to insult and invective.

''It is absolutely safe to say," the Oxford zoologist Richard Dawkins, a leading Darwinist, has written, ''that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid, or insane." Liz Craig, a member of the board of Kansas Citizens for Science, summarized her public-relations strategy in February: ''Portray them" -- intelligent design advocates -- ''in the harshest light possible, as political opportunists, evangelical activists, ignoramuses, breakers of rules, unprincipled bullies, etc."

Ironically, Charles Darwin himself acknowledged that there could be reasonable challenges to his theory of natural selection -- including challenges from religious quarters. According to the sociologist and historian Rodney Stark, when ''The Origin of Species" first appeared in 1859, the Bishop of Oxford published a review in which he acknowledged that natural selection was the source of variations within species, but rejected Darwin's claim that evolution could account for the appearance of different species in the first place. Darwin read the review with interest, acknowledging in a letter that ''the bishop makes a very telling case against me."

How things have changed. When John Scopes went on trial in Tennessee in 1925, religious fundamentalists fought to keep evolution out of the classroom because it was at odds with a literal reading of the Biblical creation story. Today, Darwinian fundamentalists fight to keep the evidence of intelligent design in the diversity of life on earth out of the classroom, because that would be at odds with a strictly materialist view of the world. Eighty years ago, the thought controllers wanted no Darwin; today's thought controllers want only Darwin. In both cases, the dominant attitude is authoritarian and closed-minded -- the opposite of the liberal spirit of inquiry on which good science depends.

As always, those who challenge the reigning orthodoxy face repercussions. In April, the science journal Nature interviewed Caroline Crocker, a molecular microbiologist at George Mason University. Because ''she mentioned intelligent design while teaching her second-year cell-biology course . . . she has been barred by her department from teaching both evolution and intelligent design." Other skeptics of Darwinism choose to keep silent. When Nature approached another researcher, he refused to speak for fear of hurting his chance to get tenure.

If intelligent design proponents were peddling Biblical creationism, the hostility aimed at them would make sense. But they aren't. Unlike creationism, which denied the earth's ancient age or that biological forms could evolve over time, intelligent design makes use of generally accepted scientific data and agrees that falsification, not revelation, is the acid test of scientific validity.

In truth, intelligent design isn't a scientific theory but a restatement of a timeless argument: that the regularity and laws of the natural world imply a higher intelligence -- God, most people would say -- responsible for its design. Intelligent design doesn't argue that evidence of design ends all questions or disproves Darwin. It doesn't make a religious claim. It does say that when such evidence appears, researchers should take it into account, and that the weaknesses in Darwinian theory should be acknowledged as forthrightly as the strengths. That isn't primitivism or Bible-thumping or flying spaghetti. It's science.