Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The 'Rain Man' Dies

We born. We die. That's the nature of this mortal existence. Some deaths stir emotions as did Kim Peek's death. The 'Rain Man' movie was loosely based on this extraordinary man's life.

"When Kim was 9 months old, a doctor said that he was so severely retarded that he would never walk or talk and that he should be institutionalized. When Kim was 6, another doctor recommended a lobotomy. By then, however, Kim had read and memorized the first eight volumes of a set of family encyclopedias, his father said. He received part-time tutoring from the age of 7 and completed a high school curriculum by 14. He spent great swaths of time absorbing volumes in the Salt Lake City Public Library."

When asked "Kim, are you happy?", Kim Peek answered, "I'm happy just to look at you."

The 'Rain Man' dies.
The 'Rain Man' dies.

But the memory and the inspiration live on.
in reference to: Kim Peek, Inspiration for ‘Rain Man,’ Dies at 58 - Obituary (Obit) - (view on Google Sidewiki)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Vegan and Plant Life

What to eat then? Killing animal is murder. And the plants have sophisticated system in place, like talking through chemical signals, "Their roots ride the underground “rhizosphere” and engage in cross-cultural and microbial trade."

Here is an interesting extract from Natalie Angier's article in The New York Times, "Just because we humans can’t hear them doesn’t mean plants don’t howl. Some of the compounds that plants generate in response to insect mastication — their feedback, you might say — are volatile chemicals that serve as cries for help. Such airborne alarm calls have been shown to attract both large predatory insects like dragon flies, which delight in caterpillar meat, and tiny parasitic insects, which can infect a caterpillar and destroy it from within."

Plant the trickster, the survivor, "Plants are the ethical autotrophs here, the ones that wrest their meals from the sun. Don’t expect them to boast: they’re too busy fighting to survive."


Monday, November 09, 2009

Naive? - a Poem

Naive? – A Poem
By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
November 9, 2009

Hear me out
Oh beauty and truth!
May I stand as cool
Or utterly uncouth
Hear me out
Oh deceived!
Oh dishevelled brute!
Your bullets and bombs
Blast bones, cut veins
And arteries
Open like flowing river
Of blood
Splattered on the wall
Of concrete or straws
Where trail of hands
Smear the last thread
Of yearn
Hear me out
Oh fantastic!
Oh clever prick!
Staged killings
Even shed real blood
Snuff out life of real
Someone’s brother, husband
Son and daughter
Rest in the coffin, in open graves
Or strapped in hospital bed
In the name of piety
Or is it flagging false
Of dying dread?

God, Allah, Adonai, Bhagwan,
Jesus Christ and eternal Buddha
Hear me out!
Oh the all mighty!
Lord of the universe
The creator of animals and serpents
In abundance, in treachery
Bring down your wrath
Bring down
Monster pollute
Stop staging
The very real death

Hear me out
Oh naive idiot!
Begging you
Don’t shoot!
Don’t shoot!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Boden's Mate

For a relatively novice player like me, the following chess moves looked really wonderful. Look at the board setting above.

The above moves by black piece was done so that black bishop in f8 has clear access to a3 in later move that shows an example of thinking a few moves ahead.

The above seemingly careless move by black entices white to take the un-protected pawn in d5 by its bishop in c4.

2. Bc4xd5

Now look at the next move by black.

3. bxc3

3.  ......Ba3 and check mate!

In the above, white King does not have any move because it cannot move in c2, b1 or b2 as these were all covered by black bishops, and nor there any other white pieces that can protect the king. I find these few steps shows an excellent example of planning a few move ahead in chess.

The above technique was first applied by Samuel Standidge Boden in 1853 in a game against Schulder, though there was a variation of it played in Horwitzh-Popert game in 1844. Wiki has nice examples of variations in Boden's mate. Link:

More Reference: Build Up Your Chess, The Fundamentals by Artur Yusupov (2007), Page 12.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

The sunflower boy's smile

This a heart breaking story of a boy who believed that he could do anything.


You and Your Friend’s Friend’s Friends

"...we are part of a superorganism, a hivelike network that shapes our decisions. “A smoker may have as much control over quitting as a bird has to stop a flock from flying in a particular direction...."

Here is one more excerpt:
"How does network contagion work?.....Partly, it’s a kind of peer pressure, or norming, effect, in which certain behaviors, or the social acceptance of certain behaviors, get transmitted across a network of acquaintances."

 And there is explanation using evolution, "During the early stages of human evolution, selective advantage was probably conferred on those individuals who lived in social networks and could share information about food or predators. The primatologist Robin Dunbar has argued that the human brain evolved to its present size to keep track of a network of 150 people..........As among primates, those humans who are best able to manipulate social networks to their advantage thrive, and that ability may be genetically encoded........."

Though it has plenty of assumptions, this is an article to read.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

No One - a Poem

No One
By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
September 27, 2009

He built the largest building
Pyramid of concrete and granite
Middle of envious kryptonite
No limit and no holding

She traveled the world in eighty days
And nights like Jules Verne’s story
Getting love, endless glory
Her passion weathers rebuke, dismays

The group of four astronauts
Gone and returned from landing moon
Walking the vast empty space swoon
Conspicuously bail outs

Lifted their souls from purgatory
Of economic depression
Right into wilful oppression
Hell fire in Friedmanite gory

No one was spared from judgement
Of threshing laughter and jeer
Economics voodoo’s clear
Acceptance, sheer fraudulent

No one spared!
No one dared
To croak words
Of sanguine flare

Market goes up
Market goes down
The gloomiest clown
Drowned in speculative burp

Friday, September 18, 2009

Science Fiction or Historical Fiction?

This article published in the New Scientist this week is engaging. I have not read any of the writings by Kim Stanley Robinson before. The Guardian writes that "Kim Stanley Robinson, one of the greatest science fiction authors writing today", therefore giving the writer's name a respectable meaning to me. Robinson attached the Booker Prize juries for not selecting any science fiction novels, and especially this year, when five short listed novels are all historical fiction. Here is a snippet of Robinson's argument from this article, "This is important, because you need the literature of your time. You can't get the meaning of our life in 2009 from historical fiction, nor from science alone. Novels serve us, and are treasured, because we want meaning, and fiction is where meaning is created. Scientifically minded people could perhaps conceptualise novels as case studies or thought experiments, both finer grained and wider ranging in their approach to meaning than cruder genres such as religion, psychology or common sense. A literary life is an ongoing moral education, a complete geography of the human world."

Robinson's arguments have good points. Doesn't it seem too bias seeing all the short listed novels are historical fictions? Aren't there any good writers in any other genres' in modern world?

The Guardian quoted the chair of this year's Booker judges, James Naughtie, "There has always been a debate about whether the prize is sufficiently sensitive to all the forms of contemporary writing. He may well have a point," he said. "We judge books that are submitted. The fact is that the science fiction component this year was very, very thin. If it is the best contemporary fiction in this country then most publishers haven't yet tumbled to the fact."

Perhaps, that is it. Good science fiction novels were never submitted to Booker Judges', perhaps because of perceived notion that submission would not serve any purpose, judging by historical trend in Booker selections.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Reflection on Harmonium – a Prose Poem

Reflection on Harmonium – a Prose Poem

By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)

September 12, 2009

Once it used to be the lifeblood of a musical lore. Once it used to lighten up the room with impeccable tune playing the auditory dance with a classical voice of a singer. Pumping the below in one hand, and the other to play the plastic covered black and white keys, harmonium player raced the musical field like a man in a battle. Striking the keys with force, pulling and pushing the below with vigour, matching the tabla player’s fierce tempo in bayan while leading the singer’s vocal to crescendo perfecto. Now as it lies abandoned, replaced by glittery synthesizers and digital gizmo, harmonium’s last breath extends: not giving up! Not giving up! Unlike its brethren accordion, you don’t have to strap it on your chest. Unlike the cousin violin, you don’t have to place it on your shoulder. No bow is needed. No feet pump is required. Harmonium, the maestro, sits in a forgotten corner of locked up closet. Too majestic, humble dislocation. One day as the evening was quietly slipping into glimmering twilight, a seasoned inferno raged the storm on its keys, jolting the dozing listeners, ushering in old memories, tune of distant past, poetic credulous and luminescent flare, as if the promised divinity is resurrected, as if all the bombs and disguised hatreds metamorphosed into poetry virtuoso.

Inspired by poet Al Zolynas' beautiful prose poem Considering the Accordion.

Classroom - a Poem


By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)

September 12, 2009

A rainy and cold morning

Of waning summer. Boys and girls

Wearing the blue sky uniforms

Reading the poetry of Tagore.

The classroom looks serene. In the blackboard

Imprint of white chalks

Measuring the rhymes and similes

Dissected stanza’s rustic glamour.

The teacher with neatly parted receding hair

And large spectacle hanging from nose

Is pacing from one corner to another

Reciting the pleasing poem in soothing voice.

The boys and girls are following the teacher

Each word, each pause and tribulation

Bouncing off the rhythmic lyric

Shouting and murmuring the opening words:

“It’s the morning! Open the Door!”

(Bhor Holo! Dor Kholo!)

A rainy and cold morning

Of waning summer. Boys and girls

Wearing the blue sky uniforms

Reading the poetry of Tagore.

Dedicated to the Bangla and English literature teachers of University Laboratory School at Dhaka. Inspired by poem Memory from Childhood by poet Antonio Machado, translated in English by Robert Bly.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Slippery, Silvery Fish - a Poem

Slippery, Silvery Fish

By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)

September 11, 2009

I had no sense of dying

I had no sense of the God divine

Or the screechy scream of a slaughtered

Negated swine

Water was filling up my lungs

Was I wheezing?


Can one cough while drowning?

Silvery fish were swimming by,

But the river, down there

Cold and shady

Impish bungs

A boy of year two

Even death seemed an escapade

My flailing fingers grasping thru

Water charade

The swarming fish

Slippery as they were

Sinking as I was

In the depth of that murky swish

Of waves looked jovial

While water filling up my lungs

Twirled tongue, not trivial

I looked up

Splintered rays from heaven

Slicing the shadow of a dingy boat

No stethoscope, no white coat

Someone grabbed my shoulder

The right one,

Trembled, deaden

And pulled me up

There I was

On the boat

In cradle of patriarch

Beside sobbing matriarch

Coughing and wheezing

All the river water from my sinking lungs

Impish bungs

At once, taking deep breath

As if that was an exploration

This drowning

And saved acclimation

From the river of

Silvery death

The old tin suitcase

Was floating away

Or perhaps sinking


To save his son

Unlike the patriarch Abraham

The tattering machine gun from the river bank said

Tat tat tat tat tat

“Kill the infidel! Kill the heathen! Kill the rat!”

Flashes of light could be seen, water rippled more

As the bullets swerved and flayed

We were clinging on that dingy boat’s floor

While he was gasping for air

Propped up on a bed

Many years and an ocean apart

He looked at me, misty glare


With silent depart

While my stooped struggle sunk

Before that tall, lanky doctor of white coat

And unwilling stethoscope

Rebuffed the life of a terminal

Invalid? Expendable?

Like the slippery silvery fish

I slipped away

In the depth of a murky river

Uncharted sway

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Mosquito Coast By Paul Theroux – a Book Review

The Mosquito Coast By Paul Theroux – a Book Review

By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)

July 25, 2009

How paranoia can grip and strangle the lives of a family, where imposed fear, albeit hyperbolic, but made real sounding with constant uttering, are deftly told by the author Paul Theroux in this story of adventure, inventions, pain and scavengers. Tones are dramatic in the Mosquito Coast, especially, the grim episodes surrounding the demise of ice maker, are unforgettable.

When facing the invasion by the “city boys” with guns, the “fadder”, Allie Fox, the chattering and towering central character of this marvellous book, tries to protect his sanctuary built in jungle of Honduras. Here is an excerpt:

“See, around here, if there’s no rain, there’s nothing to eat. Ask anyone. We’re down to our last provisions. The ants are all over the place. Our river’s turned into a creek. The next time you come, things will be different.”

“Where are your Zambus?”

Father wrinkled his nose. “Probably thought you were soldiers. They saw your ruckbooses.”

“We do not understand.”

“Arquebuses – guns. You’re in Mosquitia now,” Father said. “I didn’t have time to tell them you were friendly. I imagine they are out dripping their arrows in poison, aren’t they, Charlie?”

He was casual in the way he said this. And I knew from his voice what he wanted me to reply. I said, “Yes.”

“You sure had them fooled!” He had become jolly.”

And here is an excerpt describing the protagonist’s one of many reasons to take this journey: “We eat when we're not hungry, drink when we are not thirsty, buy what we don't need, and throw away everything that's useful. Don't sell a man what he wants - sell him what he doesn't want. Pretend he's got eight feet and two stomachs and money to burn. That's not illogical - it's evil.”

For Allie Fox, the inventor, “Revealing something's use, and magnifying it; discovering its imperfections, improving it, and putting it to work for you. God had left the world incomplete, he said, and it was man's job to understand how it worked, to tinker with it, and to finish it. I think that was why he hated missionaries so much - because they taught people to put up with their earthly burdens. For father, there were no burdens that couldn't be fitted with a set of wheels, or rudders, or a system of pulleys.”

One man’s heart out efforts in building a civilization in the middle of a jungle for his family, denying the reality, even concocting his own reality by proclaiming the entire world was destroyed, and his is the last family in the world, always conquering obstacles by going against the current, to the “upriver”, withstanding droughts, mosquito bites, circling scavengers, men with guns, starvations, storms, and sour wabool, while bringing “Ice” to indigenous people in deep recess of thickened trees, mountains and valleys, building a “Fat Boy”, the ice maker, without any moving parts, in the hope of uplifting the forgotten Zambus and Indians in their mud and vine knotted huts. He had caustic words toward anything related to religions and God, but in his delusional progressions, making his own rigid rules in the form of commandments, proclaiming him the “Captain” of the ship resembling the omnipotence of a deity that he so fervently is against.

His family became despondent. Their tears and pleas for reasoning turned into conflicting surrender to this endless paranoia. His wife, sometimes arguing, but mostly complacent, knowing that her “Allie” left his homeland because “he hated it the way it was. That’s why he left. That’s why we’re here. He’ll never go back.” Her paralyzing dependence on “Allie” made her respond to her sons’ pleas to leave, “What about me?” she said. “Don’t you think I’d jump at the chance to go? But look how dark it is. Dad’s not here. I’m always so frightened when he’s away.”

Allie Fox knew it. And his selfish but inventive mind utilized this weakness to its fullest, depriving his loved ones the truth with his domineering personality and seemingly all encompassing knowledge and skills. The slowly but surely building tensions among his sons, culminating into horrifying end, makes one ponder of the wasted opportunities of this endless energy emanating from this creative fictional persona, amid “monkey howls in this pit of unspeakable darkness. Googn! Googn! Googn! Googn!”

Paul Theroux’s The Mosquito Coast is a must read and I am very thankful to a friend from British Columbia who gave this book to me as a gift last month, and quite possibly I wouldn’t have read it otherwise. It was indeed, in Mr. Haddy’s words, an “eesperience”!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Toast - a Poem


By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)

July 5, 2009-07-05

Here is a toast, burnt and toasted

Crumbled edges

Look like granular hedges

Here is a toast, charred and boasted

Silence brings half empty glass

Meandering hobo’s pointless return

To crumbled edges

Look like granular hedges

Here is a toast, charred and boasted

Burnt and toasted

Morning cacophony, glaring alarm clock

Bring back half filled glass

Mineral of fluid

Rancid exodus

From flocking crass

In the greenest of the greenest grass

Heaps of dying beetles

In morbid warfare

With robust ants and bugs of fiddles

Here is a toast, burnt and toasted

Crumbled edges

Look like secular pledges

Here is a toast, charred and boasted

Before galloping molars

Disintegrate granules of toast

Into mashed and muddy coast

Here is a toast

No more

No more

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Rest in Peace - Poem

Rest in Peace
By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
June 25, 2009

Neda, rest in peace.
Michael Jackson, rest in peace.
Farah Fawcett, rest in peace.
Ali Akbar Khan, rest in peace.
Ed Mcmahon, rest in peace.

Rest in peace
In tranquil unknown of hollow “seventh” sky
Or heaven
Where bullets or bombs do not strike the innocents
Moon like crescents
And sun of oblivion
Dangle in wrangling flare
In other dimensional singularity

Deaths do us apart
From world of nostalgia
And horror
Too specific
Too corroding
To sing or muse
For brick by brick laid out
And choreographed abuse
From hellish junta
And diffused freedom
Neatly branded
As grail holy

Holy moly!

“Beat It” like it is the end
“Beat It” like “Time to Pretend”
Rest in Peace
In wholesome, glorious abyss

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Rock - a Poem

By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
June 21, 2009

As if the earth weren’t round
The ocean weren’t blue
As if the sky has changed
Into pale greyish hue

Tumbling once
Tumbling twice
Tumbling so many times
Like scurried mice

Walking into thunder
Splattered drops of rain
Deafening blast of silence
Brings in zodiac chain

As if the Mayan Calendar ends
In prophecy foretold
As if doomsayers’ 2012 doom
Secrecy too bold

Ticking clock
Freedom knock
Sea of protests in Persia
Guns and bullets,
For raging rock

Thursday, June 04, 2009

"All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time"

What makes Obama different is his ability to speak truth, acknowledging history, but the urgency to moving forward:

"All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, or whether we commit ourselves to an effort – a sustained effort – to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings..

It is easier to start wars than to end them. It is easier to blame others than to look inward.

The Holy Koran tells us, "O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another."

The Talmud tells us: "The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace."

The Holy Bible tells us, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."

The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God's vision. Now, that must be our work here on Earth."

Link to full text speech:

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Finding the right balance between optimism and realism

Here are a few excerpts from an Interview with Steve A. Balmer (CEO of Microsoft) published on New York Times:

"....if you really want to accomplish anything, you have to be committed, motivated, tenacious and smart about what you do.

I’ve come to believe that to be a great leader, you have to combine thought leadership, business leadership and great people management. I think most people tend to focus more on one of those three. I used to think it was all about thought leadership. Some people think it’s all about your ability to manage people. But the truth is, great leaders have to have a mix of those things.

if you really want to get the best out of people, you have to really hear them and they have to feel like they’ve been really heard.

Finding the right balance between optimism and realism. I’m an optimist by nature, and I start from the belief that you can always succeed if you have the right amount of focus combined with the right amount of hard work. So I can get frustrated when progress runs up against issues that should have been anticipated or that simply couldn’t have been foreseen. A realist knows that a certain amount of that is inevitable, but the optimist in me always struggles when progress doesn’t match my expectations."

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Poetry and Pain

Can prose depicts the depth of pain better than poetry? There may be debate to be settled, but the fact is poetry touches the heart, brings in humane perspective in cadence and rhymes, even a translated poem can stir a rigid soul. A few lines of poem written by an Afghan poet unravels the continuous blood and death saga in the land where wars and violence seem to have no end in sight.

I'll ask you in the presence of God,

That in order to go to heaven

Why did you orphan my children?

Why did you widow a sick woman?

Why did you kill the son of an old lady?

Why did you kill the only brother of a weak girl?

Ahmad Fawad Lamay
Here is another example from Pasto poet Zarlasht Hafeez describing "burnt hearts", "tears" and "sadness":

"The sorrow and grief, these black evenings,

Eyes full of tears and times full of sadness,

These burnt hearts, the killing of youths,

These unfulfilled expectations and unmet hopes of brides,

With a hatred for war, I call time and again,

I wait for peace for the grief-stricken Pashtuns"

Referenced article:

Questions for James Wood

A new administration is in place, replacing the old tactics of fear with reasons for hope and peace. How truthful ans sincere these gestures are from Obama and his government, only future events and responses will reveal. James Wood is a gifted writer whose book reviews and critiques are widely embraced as contemporary gems in the midst of tabloid referenced information overloads. Here are a few of his observations, answering to readers' questions, delineating the remarkable similarities between George Orwell's 1984 and immediate past Bush groups of brazen hawks.

"Do you think there is any similarity between the government’s use of language in “1984” and the use of language by George W. Bush and his Administration?
Dennis Cohen

Rereading “1984” and the essay “Politics and the English Language,” I was struck by the new relevance of Orwell’s analysis. Think about how the kind of political euphemism that repelled Orwell has become rampant in the last few years—“collateral damage,” “waterboarding” (which makes the activity sound a bit like surfing), “enemy combatant” (i.e., someone utterly deprived of legal rights), “smart bombs” (a grotesque phrase, conceivable only by someone who was not the victim of such bombs). Or think of the perpetual warfare that is the background to everything in “1984,” and compare this with our limitless “war of terror.” Or “Hate Week.” We had an Administration very adept at convincing a good deal of the population that 2 + 2 = 5 (e.g. that Saddam was “behind the September 11 attacks, and had WMD); under the new Administration, whatever its faults (and there will be many, I am sure) we are at least learning how to count again, and not queer the numbers of truth."

Link to Article:

Does Susan Boyle Know What’s Next?

The world cannot have enough of Susan Boyle, it seems. Network interviews with top most journalists, cover face in magazines and newspapers, these all came like thunderstorm for this seemingly unassuming woman. Tom Bergeron ponders the sad mechanics of these sudden adulation and very possible abandonment in a short while when another epic drama, or trauma grip the world attentions from pure entertainment: "Ms. Boyle’s experience seems to suggest that people are willing to overcome their prejudices and see the world anew. But those same people can turn back into snarky snobs just as easily.....The truth is, more often than not we look only for what we expect to see...........The real problem is that too often we don’t have the courage to sustain wonder".

Article Link:

Monday, April 13, 2009

Transformation of Looks and Gestures

This video clip should be seen beginning to end to witness the transformation from derogatory judgmental looks and gestures from the audiences and judges to standing ovations and cheers by the same audiences listening to and witnessing Susan Boyle's stunning performance. The song that Susan had chosen was precise for her moment of glory: "I dreamed a dream......"

Video Link:

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Steaming hot tea linked to cancer

Oliver Childs, a spokesman for Cancer Research UK, said: "Tea drinking is part of many cultures, and these results certainly don't point to tea itself being the problem.

"But they do provide more evidence that a regular habit of eating and drinking very hot foods and drinks could increase your risk of developing cancer of the oesophagus."

Disturbing news. New studies, new findings. Hot, hot tea is bad, not too hot is cool. We all die in one way or other, now that's the point to drool.


Bangladesh: Investigate Torture Allegations

The deaths of Border Guards in apparent tortures should be investigated. After the horrendous massacres of army officers, their relatives and others in the last week of February, Bangladesh has fallen into the trap of closing eyes to any kind of tortures befalling on BDR members who were detained for the alleged involvements in the massacre. The brutal murders of army officers were reprehensible and were condemned wholeheartedly by all the civil quarters, however, Human Rights Watch rightfully observes that "the government should resist demands and threats from the army for summary justice and ensure that all those detained are treated properly."

Amnesty International says, "The exact number of BDR personnel held is not known but government sources have put the figure at more than 400. Little independent information is available about the circumstances under which the detainees are held, or their treatment in custody. In the vast majority of cases, family members have not been allowed to meet them. It is not known if they have access to lawyers or can receive medical treatment if needed."

In time of intense grief, fairness and compassion are replaced by the raw emotions of vengeance and retributions. The culprits and criminals who were involved directly and indirectly in the massacre of army officers in Bangladesh should be put to justice, but in a fair environment, where justice is indeed served, not determined beforehand for the sole purpose of satisfying the powerful armed and political entities in the nation, nor for the playful manipulation of fear and anger of mass population into implementing draconian measures into perpetual permanence.

An Example of Radicalism

Taken from Nowshin's page, this video gives a prime example of a radical fundamentalist who is doing great harm to his nation and creed than benefit. There should be more awareness and resistance to hatred spewers like this hideous creature who boast himself to be a human being without having the shred of universal humanity left in his heart.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Genda Phool

Another hypnotizing song from AR Rahman, the maestro, whose brilliance is evident in this mesmerizing melody from Delhi 6.

Blackburne - Blanchard, King's Gambit Declined

1 e4 e5
2 f4 Bc5
3 Nc3 Nc6
4 Nf3 exf4
5 d4! Bb4
6 Bxf4 d5
7 e5 Bxc3+
8 bxc3 Be6
9 Bd3 h6
10 0-0 Nge7
11 Rb1! b6
12 Qd2 0-0
13 Bxh6 gxh6
14 Qxh6 Ng6
15 Ng5 Re8
16 Rxf7 Bxf7
17 Qh7+ Kf8
18 Qxf7# (1-0)

From Irving Chernev's Logical Chess: "The danger in playing plausible but perfunctory chess is finely illustrated in this game. Blackburne, who played this and seven other games simultaneously while blindfolded, relied on order and method to achieve victory."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Scientists warn of catastrophic rises in sea level

"We are setting in motion processes now that will lead to sea level rises for centuries to come. They will burden many generations coming after us.”
Maybe, long from now when our generations are all gone, historians of future generations will portray us as uncaring and uncouth bunches who ransacked and pillaged the word and its resources like ravaging thugs, without remorse. Perhaps, the war hating theologians or evolutionary scholars will utter the words of disrespect: "holy good riddance!"

World will be renewed with new vigor. In new ages not foreseen and conceived with our tunneled imaginations, new generations of human beings or other more advanced species will emerge to replace past's destructive ignorance with caring knowledge and renewal of life.

It wouldn't be so gloomy world after all when we are all perished and new life sweeps away our misdeeds. Perhaps, our decaying bones or evaporated "soul", fossilized or otherwise, will be reverberated from sheer joy of new beginnings.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Furrowed Checkmate - a Poem

Furrowed Checkmate

By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)

March 4, 2009

(Dedicated to the memories of victims from BDR mutiny in Bangladesh)

Into the wild

Where gilded leaves of grass

Fungi, moss and shredded wood

Trespass the land of blitz

Mushrooms, discoloured and defrosted

By beetle predators

Like deflowered umbrella

Open to shed rain and snow falling

Into the fold of disquiet

Have you seen the soaring eagle? Predator?

Pursuing a fleeing parakeet

Swishing by, gliding thru layer

Of deformed cloud and dead cool air

When corpses are buried

Emblazoned guilty and non-guilty are hanged

From ropes of stupor decor

Wild ushers in sweeping swap

Of clammy gambit

Knights, bishops and pawns

Sacrificed for furrowed checkmate

In middle game of force, time and structure

Don’t you mention the endgame!

That remains sanctified for the bamboozled sacred

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Traumatized Rohingya flee squalid life in Bangladesh

Images by Greg Constantine, International Herald Tribune
"How to measure or comprehend the terror - or perhaps it's the love - that propels a man to leave his family, quite possibly forever, and climb penniless into a boat to find uncertain work a thousand miles away in a place where he knows he'll be both unwelcome and liable to arrest? For that matter, what hellish existence could send a family fleeing to a refugee camp where conditions resemble, charitably, the 12th century?"
For Burmese military junta, they are non-existent, for Bangladesh and Thailand, these are unwelcome refugees. Living in squalid refugee camps where basic amenities for a human life is considered a pompous luxury, the miserable lives of Rohingyas do not knock any palpable sigh from world's collective indifference.

Should we just forget the agonies of these men, women and children? Politically marginalized Rohingyas flee their homeland Burma everyday, seeking desperate shelter in neighboring nations, getting on dingy boats crossing high seas to lands in the hope of finding jobs to help their stranded family back in refugee camps. Only very recently their plights and horrible treatments by various governments, especially Thailand, have started to emerge. Deaths in the sea, starvations in refugee camps, outright brutality by Burmese military juntas are part of their struggling lives and unmentionable deaths.

Link to a hearbreaking news article: Traumatized Rohingya flee squalid life in Bangladesh

Link to where various articles about Rohingya people can be found.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Invasion from Outer Space - a Story by Steven Millhauser

"We have been invaded by nothing, by emptiness, by animate dust. The invader appears to have no characteristic other than the ability to reproduce rapidly. It doesn’t hate us. It doesn’t seek our annihilation, our subjection and humiliation. Nor does it desire to protect us from danger, to save us, to teach us the secret of immortal life. What it wishes to do is replicate."
Read this story in full from following link: The Invasion from Outer Space

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

O Saya - Slumdog Millionaire Soundtrack

Another brilliant music composition by AR Rahman from Slumdog Millionaire.

Slumdog Millionaire - Jai Ho

If you haven't seen Slumdog Millionaire yet, you have missed one of the best movies of last few years at least. IMHO.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Thailand - a Sad Slide Backwards

For Rohingyas refugees, this scandalous episode in Thailand where hundreds of them feared dead and dumped into sea and hundreds of them more were let loose in the sea without food or any basic amenities, to starve to death, aren't new. Even the military government in Myanmar doesn't acknowledge the existence of them, "There is no so-called Rohingya ethnic minority group in our history before or after our independence", and the Thai government has entrusted the very military to conduct investigation on one of its own rank, as if mockeries to justice have no bound, no shame.

Here is an observation from The Economist: "while soldiers act with impunity and royalist rioters get soft treatment, the country’s anachronistic lèse-majesté law is enforced rigorously. America and its allies long turned a blind eye to such stains on Thailand’s reputation, because King Bhumibol and his army were staunch anti-communist allies. Recalling that relationship, next month America is due to hold annual war games with regional allies in Thailand, a source of prestige for Thai generals. But the cold war is long over. President Barack Obama should threaten to move the games elsewhere until the Thai army is tamed."

Recession Spreads to Canada's Storefronts

Saturday mornings bring that sought after relief after any grueling hard work week for many. World economy's bloom and gloom stories are not appealing with a cup of morning coffee, but can sure provide necessary knowledge to protect one's own and loved ones. The following news story published in The Globe and Mail may not be comforting, however, it can illuminate reality from illusion.
"Canada's recession is spreading from the car factories to the coffee shops, reinforcing the case for Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's $40-billion stimulus program and adding to the risk that he may have to do more.

The baristas, shopkeepers, financial planners, technicians and consultants that make up Canada's services industries are starting to feel the same malaise that has gripped factories and exporters for the better part of a year, new government figures show.

Output by the services sector — which accounts for 70 per cent of Canada's $1.2-trillion gross domestic product — shrank for a second consecutive month in November, exacerbating the continuing slump in manufacturing and speeding the economy's fall into recession.......................

Taken together, Friday's data, reflecting some of the worst turmoil ever experienced in global financial markets, serve as a prelude for a recession that the Bank of Canada, the federal government and economists say is just getting started.

"There is no silver lining, which is something we are not used to seeing," said Sébastien Lavoie, an analyst at Laurentian Bank in Montreal and a former economist at the Bank of Canada. "It was not a blip. It's as bad as it looked. It will look the same in this quarter."

Link to full news story:

Saturday, January 24, 2009

War of Words between China and America

While the world economy is falling into whirlwind recession, the abysmal depth of depression not seen since the infamous 1930s, the world doesn't need unnecessary tensions between China and America. "In a written response to questions from senators debating his confirmation, Mr Geithner accused China of “manipulating” its currency and promised that the Obama team would push “aggressively” for Beijing to change its policies. The sharp tone and use of the legally-loaded term “currency manipulation” ricocheted through financial markets as investors shuddered at the prospect of a Sino-American spat in the midst of a global slump."

Is there any truth on following speculation?
"American policymakers have long pushed Beijing to accelerate the appreciation of the yuan, arguing that China’s exchange-rate policy played a big role in creating the global imbalances and that—both for the sake of China’s economy and the rest of the world—the currency needs to strengthen."
Maybe. But there are other factors contributing to global financial meltdown, including the slumping demand and loss of confidence of consumers around the globe toward markets and also to their manipulative governments. The Economist correctly observes that "Currency movements switch demand between countries; they do not create it. In the short-term, therefore, the outlook for the world economy depends on whether governments’ stimulus packages are successful and, right now, team Obama would do better to focus on the scale, nature and speed of Beijing’s stimulus measures than rant about the currency. What’s more, the evidence for currency manipulation is weakening. Although China still runs a huge current-account surplus, it is no longer accumulating foreign-exchange reserves at a rapid clip, as capital is flowing out of the country."

The New York Times provides more background info: "In 2005, the Chinese government ended a strict peg between the Chinese currency, called the renminbi or the yuan, and the American dollar. Since then, the yuan has floated in a narrow band against the dollar. The value of the currency is now 6.84 yuan to the dollar....“the price advantage of Chinese exports may not be a result of currency issues, but the country’s lower costs of labor, resources and land.”The global financial crisis has resulted in foreign companies placing fewer orders with exporters in China, leading to a severe downturn in the export industry. Chinese leaders now say the nation must move away from an economy so dependent on exports."

Links to articles: War of Words & China Rejects Currency Manipulation Charge.

Praise Song for the Day

Elizabeth Alexander's inauguration day poem was indeed memorable. Her somber recitation of each line describing the mundane, every not so praised events and uplifting the summation of all into universal theme of collective humanity with ease, in her careful selection of words, slowly delivered in a day of January winter while the leaders from past and current look on and the sea of crowds who had come to witness the change and hope over fear may indeed become the symbolic implication of the "Day" when it seemed goodness is still achievable and rottenness and hideous vileness are in sure retreat. Praise Song for the Day.............

“Praise Song for the Day,” by Elizabeth Alexander, January 20, 2009

Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other’s
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what’s on the other side.

I know there’s something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need
. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Someone has to stop Israel's rampant madness in Gaza

Gideon Levy has courage. Being in the middle of all the jubilation, proud smirks and chest thumping madness, this Israeli writer with conscience writes in Israel's prominent newspaper Haaretz what needs to be written about Gaza and deaths of more than 1100 of women, men and children and that the number is continually growing with increasing pace.
"In the streets, people are running back and forth in panic, holding children and suitcases in their hands, helpless as the shells fall around them. Nobody in the diplomatic corridors is in any hurry to help those unfortunates who have nowhere to run.

The handful of journalists trying to cover the events, despite the outrageous media closure Israel has imposed, are also in danger. The Israel Defense Forces Thursday shelled the media building they were in and now they are all crowded in one office, as fearful and horrified as the rest of the scorched city's residents.

This is how Israel now looks to the outside world - its tanks in the burning streets of Gaza; more and more people being killed for nothing; tens of thousands of new refugees; an appallingly haughty foreign minister, and a growing clamor of condemnation and disgust from all over the globe."
Can only the verbal condemnations and disgusts stop this murderous onslaught? In the face of mighty tanks and supersonic killers in the sky, can all the good wills, candle light prayers, silent tears in one's solitary moment seeing the blood drenched images from war's gruesome reality be any "game" changing factor?

These all goody woody feelings and in many cases sincere gestures toward the oppressed ones surely can surmount to boisterous protests around the world as has already been rumbled on icy to heated streets. But what would definitely affect the outcome is the protesting in meaningful way like the time when South African Apartheid was dealt its final knell. Naomi Klein writes in The Nation: "
Economic sanctions are the most effective tools in the nonviolent arsenal. Surrendering them verges on active complicity. "

Link to Naomi Klein's article, which is a must read.

A sticky ending for the tar sands

Slumping oil demand has already caused thousands of job losses across Alberta. The heydays of oil boom is slowly eroding into coldness matching the chill of snowy windchill. The Economist surmises the brief history of tar sands, its spectacular rise and seemingly similar astonishing fall in coming days unless a real "miracle" turns the world economy back to its agonized feet:
"Extracting oil from the sands took off in the late 1990s, boosted by technological advances that greatly reduced costs. Sitting on the equivalent of 173 billion barrels of crude, the provincial government dreamed of making Alberta a new Saudi Arabia (with moose instead of camels). Although some, such as Peter Lougheed, a former premier, called for “orderly” development, a wild rush ensued, causing provincewide labour shortages. Even servers at fast-food restaurants had to be lured with an iPod or other inducements. Now, though, employment is slumping: Steve Vetter, a manager at a firm that services the gas industry, says it recently had 50 applicants for one job; two years ago it would have been lucky to get any."
Two years from now, economy may change back again into full robust gear. Is this possible? Indeed, it is.

Monday, January 12, 2009

US to help Bangladesh seize bribe money

The sons and daughters of ex-Bangladesh rulers siphoned of hundreds of millions of dollars to foreign banks. After BNP got ousted in recent elections, and Awami League got into power, the massiveness of corruptions committed by "prince" and "princesses" of this proud but still impoverished nation slowly started to emerge.

It took the fall and the change of the government before the thieveries were uncovered. Awami League, the current ruling party in Bangladesh, that came to power very recently after winning a landslide victory in parliamentary election, must take serious note in the happenings and flattenings of once upon a time's big giants, the behemoth thugs and petty thieves who had sucked the nation of Bangladeshis dried and cold like brute vampires.

Awami League's mantra should be avoiding this scandalous bruteness with representative governance devoid of the same fleecing of the nation wholesale. Otherwise, should there be any doubt among all respective parties, of another similar possible scandals when Awami League's ruling days come to an end in years from now?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Occupation 101 - a Documentary to Watch

Perhaps we can take a bit of break from watching entertainment news, and can learn a thing or two of suppressed history and contemporary miseries, and about men, women and children of a land where violent deaths, and utter humiliations are in abundance mostly due to the inaction and willful ignorance of global citizenry.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

I don't want to write about Gaza

I don’t want to write about Gaza. Don’t want to see still images of the bloodied streets full of blown off corpses, children, women, men, and the ghoulish videos of horrific screams pouring out of wounded human beings amidst macabre deaths.

Sometimes words leave you. Sometimes, the degree of horror and brutality snuff out heated air. And the responses from the civilized world, leaders and politicians, high brow scholars of glorified predilection to softening blows, intensify the silent acquiescence to massacres. In the name of furious self defense from rudimentary resistance of starved dehumanized, genocide is uplifted as camouflaged battle on fright.

I heard it enough!

I’d read the same stories many times now.

Nothing would change. People would die. Children would be crushed under collapsing buildings from bombs and missiles.

Agonies of women, widows, amputated school teachers would only be reverberated from the confined walls of their dismal surroundings. Emergency ambulances’ blaring roar would be faded away, as would the dying despairs.

Only the curses would remain for the living.

In words mumbled from blood dried swollen lips, and the silent stares of hopeless refugees, thoroughly maligned and smeared to the level of invertebrates, only the seething curse would be deciphered from exhaled grunts. Even the dismembered corpses in overflowing morgues would point the long stretched broken fingers in cold accusatory gestures.


Our culpability is affixed with destiny.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Just started reading Junot Diaz's 2007 novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. His choice of words, dialogues, and the moving way this remarkable story is unfolding in different voices, first through Oscar's voice, then his sister Lola and now I've started reading their mother Belicia, in reverse chronological order, making it a story to remember I believe. The author gave sporadic historical information on Dominican Republic, especially, the long forgotten dictator Trujillo in relevant footnotes, that made the story more interesting.

I hope to write more on this novel in the coming days.

Two Memorable Music Videos

MGMT's Time to Pretend is a touching music, though ironical in its contradictory messages, but that's what made it a great song with memorable lyric like the following excerpt:

"This is our decision, to live fast and die young.
We've got the vision, now let's have some fun.
Yeah, it's overwhelming, but what else can we do.
Get jobs in offices, and wake up for the morning commute.


We were fated to pretend

I'll miss the playgrounds and the animals and digging up worms
I'll miss the comfort of my mother and the weight of the world
I'll miss my sister, miss my father, miss my dog and my home
Yeah, I'll miss the boredom and the freedom and the time spent alone

But there is really nothing, nothing we can do

We'll choke on our vomit and that will be the end
We were fated to pretend
To pretend
We're fated to pretend
To pretend"

Lyric Link:

Another cool music is by Kanye West, his Love Lockdown has that slow built up in rhythm, alternate base and octave voice, nicely synchronized.

Link to Love Lockdown video:

Link to MGMT's Time to Pretend Video: