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Showing posts from 2010

Ok -- a Poem

Ok – a Poem By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel) December 15, 2010
Ok, so one life to live, huh? Walk on the moon? Or swim near the Barrier Reef? Nada Ok, so haven’t been on the moon Nor swooned under the sea Snorkeling amid sharks Impossible? Blah! Blah! Blah! Breathing the air Deep and long Swallowing water Like pure mist Seen the ocean’s heist of the sun Setting like large blood droplet While the new moon Stuck on the sky Like a curvy knife That farmer thrashes life Of Weeds and brambles with But who says This moment, this frenzy Of pressurized heart, aching Muscles and tattering bones Even in screeching pain Jumping off the calcified mirror And saying hello in tingling tone
One life to live, huh? Ha! Ha! Ha!



Versed by Rae Armantrout – a Book Review

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 Versed by Rae Armantrout – a Book Review By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
November 30, 2010

Terry Eagleton provides a non-poetic definition of poem:  “A poem is a fictional, verbally inventive moral statement in which it is the author, rather than the printer or word processor, who decides where the lines should end.” 1 Some poems have end rhyming, some don’t, some use strict metres, and some are more dynamic.
Rae Armantrout’s magnificent collection of poems in Versed have varieties in line endings, internal rhymes and rhythms, forms and metaphors, while intense burst of imageries in simple words, constructed like frothing ocean waves, one after another, leaving the trails of dispersed pathos in poetic but delicate flare. An example: Equals 1. As if, after all,
the thing that comes to mind squared times inertia
equalled the “real.”
2. One lizard Jammed headfirst
down the throat of a second.  Rae Armantrout explores the world of spirit and deity, with not “so foreclosed question” in poem New Genres:
A …

The Debtor

"The wildest urban legends are readily believed. There is said to be a two-month backlog at the abattoirs, as families abandon the expensive pets, including Thoroughbred racehorses, that they bought in the fat years and now can no longer afford to feed. One hears stories of the return of bartering: a yacht swapped for a mobile phone, a Harley-Davidson exchanged for a bicycle. There are moments of giddiness and breathless panic when it feels as it must have in the last days of the Weimar Republic. 

At first, when the poor beast began to sicken, we Tiger cubs set up a great roaring and ranting. Who is to blame for our sudden travails? we demanded — somebody must be to blame. The bankers? Them, certainly. The politicians? Well, the politicians are always to blame, so nothing new there. The markets, those shadowy entities that seem to operate by whim? Ourselves, perhaps? — now, there was a sobering possibility".John Banville's sad comment in the above provides a …

The Intelligent Design of Animal Welfare -- Really?

From the earliest memory that I can recollect, in the morning of the Eid festival, after returning home with my father from Eid prayer, I used to go to my room, and closed my ears with my both hands, while tears streaking down my face. The heart of a child could not take the unbearable scream and bleating of dying animals, whose throats were getting cut just around the corner of his home, a whole lot of them, where professional butchers, and their assistance, wearing lungi and Punjabi garment, or white shirt, tackling the sacrificed cows or goats, and the large sharp knife piercing the throat of poor animals, one after another, soaking the ground with warm blood. If the God is the most merciful and benevolent, and the most loving entity that man knows, why would the slaughter or sacrifice of enslaved animals be necessary?

This is not only an yearly or religious thing. My holier-than-thou moment ends right there. Like all the other happily living mortals, I go to the grocery store, buy…

How to Raise Boys Who Read

Why is there growing disparity between boys and girls' reading skills? The trend is alarming. Here is an excerpt from Thomas Spence's article in The Wall Street Journal, that has plausible reason and solution:
"The appearance of the boy-girl literacy gap happens to coincide with the proliferation of video games and other electronic forms of entertainment over the last decade or two. Boys spend far more time "plugged in" than girls do. Could the reading gap have more to do with competition for boys' attention than with their supposed inability to focus on anything other than outhouse humor? 

Dr. Robert Weis, a psychology professor at Denison University, confirmed this suspicion in a randomized controlled trial of the effect of video games on academic ability. Boys with video games at home, he found, spend more time playing them than reading, and their academic performance suffers substantially. Hard to believe, isn't it, but Science has spoken.

Th…

Antimatter Captured in Major Scientific Breakthrough

"An international team of 42 scientists, which included 15 Canadians, have trapped 38 antihydrogen atoms – one by one – for a fraction of a second." Why it is important? "it could serve as the foundation for future experiments and discoveries" of Nobel Prize winning caliber. Read the full news from the following link: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/british-columbia/antimatter-captured-in-major-scientific-breakthrough/article1803302/

Guarding Secrets that Define Us

Excerpt from one of my favorite columnists James Carroll's article in The Boston Globe:
"...because power is ambiguous, statecraft sometimes requires the veiling of intention and action. At the micro-level, there can be no intimacy without confidentiality. That is true because personality resides in a hidden place, always unfolding and never fully known. We are mysteries to ourselves — or nothing. The protection of privacy is therefore essential to citizenship. So this assault on the secret, even in the name of democracy, can threaten democracy. Ironically, because the obliteration of privacy is being accomplished as much by our willing surrender to technology as by omni-intrusive governments and corporations, we are co-creators of our vulnerability." Article Link: http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2010/11/01/guarding_secrets_that_define_us/

Like it or not, the book is dead

Don't believe the book is dead, but the current format made from paper, may indeed become nostalgic memories for many. Margaret Wente writes:
"My books were a statement of my identity. They said: “Here’s the kind of person who reads the poetry of William Blake.” The fact that I haven’t read the poetry of William Blake since grad school was irrelevant. You never know when you might want to.....Tipping points come faster now. Just three years after launching its Kindle e-book reader, Amazon sells more e-books than books in hardcover. The big-box stores are loading up on cheap e-readers, which they bet will be this season’s iPod. One expert, quoted in The New York Times, predicts that, within a decade, fewer than 25 per cent of all books sold will still be print on paper".Link to article: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/margaret-wente/like-it-or-not-the-book-is-dead/article1800474/

Simple steps can cut deadly risk of heart disease

From The Los Angles Times, the following 7 factors, diet and exercises, can reduce the risk of death from heart disease:

At least 150 minutes of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes of intense exercise, a week.Having a body mass index of less than 25.Being a nonsmoker for at least one year.Meeting four out of five of the association's key components for a healthy diet. Based on a 2,000-calories-a-day meal plan: 41/2 cups of fruits and vegetables a day; two or more 3.5-ounce servings of fish (preferably oily fish) a day; fewer than 450 calories a week of sugar-sweetened beverages; three or more 1-ounce servings a day of whole grains; and less than 1,500 mg of sodium a day.Keeping total cholesterol below 200 milligrams per deciliter of blood.Maintaining blood pressure below 120/80 millimeters of mercury.Having a fasting blood sugar level below 100 mg/dL of blood.Link to full article: http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-prevention-20101115,0,987463.story

Economic Policy - David Brooks' Article

This is probably one of the better articles written by the columnist David Brooks. He provides clear distinctions between two cultures of economic thoughts, one is conservative and one is liberal. In recent years, the liberal economists are emphasizing on more quantitative rigors, claiming, "The performance of the economic machine can be predicted with quantitative macroeconomic modelsT".  David Brooks provides a simple example: "These models can be used to make highly specific projections. If the government borrows $1 and then spends it, it will produce $1.50 worth of economic activity. If the government spends $800 billion on a stimulus package, that will produce 3.5 million in new jobs."

On the other hand the conservative economists are emphasizing on psychological concerns, like, "If the government borrows trillions of dollars, this will increase public anxiety and uncertainty", and also present moralistic arguments, like, "This countr…

Mo Pair - a Soulful Singer, Musician, a Man of lot of Heart

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywLOCoHyAPQ

Mo and I had gone to the same university in Austin, now seems long time ago. He was one of the most remarkable human beings I'd honor to meet and hang out with, study with, and jam with our old guitar and keyboard, sometimes deep in the night of Texas winter, waking up all of my neighbors with our carefree tunes and vocals. A man of lot of heart, and full of compassion, whose music reveals only fragments of his loving soul.

Here is another of Mo's performance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEOO4MvC_No


Mo's site link is: http://mopair.com/

In youtube more of his music can be found from the following link: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=mo+pair&search_type=

The truth about cigarettes

Cigarette kills. This fact is proven. My father was one of the victims. And there are many like him. When clever marketing can hook the teenagers in the smoking addiction, government regulation worldwide is essential to educate and re-educate the global populace. American new proposed warning labels for cigarette packs depicting graphic consequences of smoking, like "coffins, diseased lungs and rotting teeth to drive home the health effects of tobacco" is a good measure to take.

Here are some arguments of cigarette manufacturer that is well countered by The Washington Post editorial:
Some cigarette manufacturers are fighting the labels as infringing on free-speech rights. Other critics say that the effort is needless given that the dangers of smoking are well known.It seems to us that the government is within its rights to require truth in marketing - particularly when it comes to vital health issues - from cigarette makers.Link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/cont…

Can the Economy be Saved?

Joseph Stiglitz: "The only solution to our current economic doldrums is large government spending. And if the spending is focused on high-return investments (in education, technology and infrastructure), the nation's debt-to-GDP ratio will actually be lowered. The question isn't whether we can afford to make these investments; we can't afford not to.

Even then, robust recovery won't happen until we write down the debts of the 1 in 4 homes whose mortgages are underwater, in a homeowner's chapter 11 program. We have allowed overburdened corporations a fresh start; why not poor Americans?


Nor will a robust recovery return until we get our dysfunctional financial system doing what it should be doing: providing credit, managing risk, running an efficient electronic payments system. The deservedly hated "bailout" may have kept the financial system from collapsing, but it also extended the government's safety mainly to rich and powerful bank…

Should You Be Snuggling With Your Cellphone?

"WARNING: Holding a cellphone against your ear may be hazardous to your health. So may stuffing it in a pocket against your body....the legal departments of cellphone manufacturers slip a warning about holding the phone against your head or body into the fine print of the little slip that you toss aside when unpacking your phone. Apple, for example, doesn’t want iPhones to come closer than 5/8 of an inch; Research In Motion, BlackBerry’s manufacturer, is still more cautious: keep a distance of about an inch." “Most cancers have multiple causes,” she says, but she points to laboratory research that suggests mechanisms by which low-energy radiation could damage cells in ways that could possibly lead to cancer. Children are more vulnerable to radiation than adults, Ms. Davis and other scientists point out. Radiation that penetrates only two inches into the brain of an adult will reach much deeper into the brains of children because their skulls are thinner and t…

Struggle

If you haven't seen this video of notorious angel of death Dr. Josef Mengele, please make some time and watch it fully:



The first time I heard of this man from bygone era, it was not a complete shock. From literature abound, and the news of endless violence, cruelties, and genocides, from earliest recorded time to our modern days, it has been evident for the very nature of human frailties that propels one human being against another, defiling others' the very existence and in doing so bringing bigger calamities, one after another.

In her seminal book The Clash Within, the respected author Martha C. Nussbaum touched this aspect of humanity's struggle so eloquently:
"The real struggle that democracy must wage is a struggle within the individual self, between the urge to dominate and defile the other and a willingness to live respectfully on terms of compassion and equality."The Notorious angel of death Dr. Josef Mengele and his cohorts in the time of second wor…

If We Save the Tigers, We'll Save the Planet

Perhaps the Hollywood blockbuster hero Leonardo DiCaprio's star prowess would shift the urgent attention to the impending extinction of tigers, and overall ecological connection between the survival of this "burning bright eyes" species and human beings' own survival would get the necessary cinematic limelight it deserves. Why is the survival of tiger important? Here is the answer from DiCaprio and Carter S. Robert's article:
"Because saving tigers is a compelling and cost-effective means of preserving so much more that is essential to life on Earth. The tiger is what conservationists call an "umbrella" species. By rescuing them, we save everything beneath their ecological umbrella - everything connected to them - including the world's last great forests, whose carbon storage mitigates climate change. 

For example, Indonesia's 18 million-acre peat forests, home to the Sumatran tiger, contain 36 percent of the world's tropical carbo…

Real News?

The following are a few excerpts from Ted Koppel's The Washington Post article:
"The commercial success of both Fox News and MSNBC is a source of nonpartisan sadness for me. While I can appreciate the financial logic of drowning television viewers in a flood of opinions designed to confirm their own biases, the trend is not good for the republic. It is, though, the natural outcome of a growing sense of national entitlement. Daniel Patrick Moynihan's oft-quoted observation that "everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts," seems almost quaint in an environment that flaunts opinions as though they were facts.  And so, among the many benefits we have come to believe the founding fathers intended for us, the latest is news we can choose. Beginning, perhaps, from the reasonable perspective that absolute objectivity is unattainable, Fox News and MSNBC no longer even attempt it. They show us the world not as it is, but as partisans (and lo…

Five myths about the Federal Reserve

Good tips on what this quantitative easing really mean, clearing some confusions and myth: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/12/AR2010111202859.html

Physics Behind How Cats Drink Water Without Getting Wet

It may not get the prominent space in top notch science journal yet, but the possible applications derived from knowledge obtained how cats drink water without getting wet can be like reading a story from a science fiction. First of all, how does the cat do it? Here is an extract from an The Washington Post article:
"...the cat uses fluid dynamics and physics in a way to absolutely optimize tongue lapping and water collection. Nobody had ever studied it before, so nobody knew how the water went from the bowl into the cat's mouth. As with most basic scientific research, the usefulness of this knowledge is uncertain. But it is not, the researchers say, hard to imagine some downstream applications, perhaps in robotics....the water on the tongue, combined with the low pressure created by the slight-curled tongue moving back up, creates a momentary stream into the mouth. The cat then snaps its mouth shut and the water is captured before the countervailing force of gravity pull…

Discord - an Article of Roy

Why does a writer feel hesitant, his or her words and sentences do not flow like a flowing river stream as they used to so naturally before? Why is it that trepidation, that corky eminence emanating from the daily gore of triangulated hearsay stops the pen from moving an inch forward on an empty blank sheet of paper? Is it the ominous foretelling of a future portrayed by Margaret Atwood in her novels The Year of the Flood and Oryx and Crake? Or the very scarily plausible scenarios described by Justin Cronin in The Passage, or Stephen King’s everlasting The Stand or Under the Dome? Is it the aftermath of all the madness synched in Cormac McCarthy’s heartbreaking The Road or the vivid indifference depicted in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go?

I haven’t read any stories or novels written by Arundhati Roy after her first glorious and famed book The God of Small Things more than a decade ago. However, from time to time I had seen her name appearing in newspaper news and articles. Her never…

I am Who I am - a Poem

I am Who I am
Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
November 7, 2010

I am
Who I am
Glories and Frailties
Enwrapped enchantment
Disillusion, electric current
Molecular mitochondria
Splintered hope
On the wings of birds departed
Over the fading horizon

I am
Who I am
Pain and refrain
Tangled entrenchment
Ablution, chemistry apparent
Spectacular memorabilia
Bantered scope
On the fringe of herds berated
Over the freezing season

The Water Myth: Debunking the Dilution Solution

Deborah Ross can write funny article. Whether one agrees with her argument or not, the way she presents her contents with mockery and humor, her article "The Water Myth: Debunking the dilution solution" invokes thoughts of water, the neglected liquid, that is our world's diminishing resource.

Here is an extract from her funny but informative article:
"...you get a heck of a lot of water from food. Fruit and vegetables can contain up to 95 per cent water. Cucumber is water, more or less, but in the shape of a stick. A jacket potato contains 70 per cent water. An egg is 70 per cent. Chicken is 65 per cent. On average, we all consume a litre of water every day through food, plus our bodies produce water metabolically. So, is there any scientific research showing that above and beyond what we might eat and drink we also need to drink two litres of water a day? The answer, in short, is no."
Link to article: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-sty…

What to Do Now to Feel Better at 100

"If you begin a daily walking program at age 45, he said, you could delay immobility to 90 and beyond. If you become a couch potato at 45 and remain so, immobility can encroach as early as 60."

"The good news is that the age of immobility can be modified. As life expectancy rises and more people live to celebrate their 100th birthday, postponing the time when physical independence can no longer be maintained is a goal worth striving for."Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/26/health/26brody.html

Where IT Workers Must Go Next

"...what we think of IT today is going to change dramatically very soon. The new IT will about cloud solutions and mobile technologies that deliver a whole new set of capabilities and possibilities for interconnected workers.

IT departments will have a lot of work in front of them soon if they are to provide the kinds of solutions and integration required of them. They will need to be able to connect numerous cloud solutions together as well as connect these to on-premise applications and data stores. But, what could be more jarring will be their need to connect data from these various cloud solutions to numerous hand-held and portable Internet devices that employees, customers, suppliers and other systems constituencies will use to access tomorrow’s corporate data."Link: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/sommer/where-it-workers-must-go-next-or-integrators-will-do-it-for-them/949?tag=content;selector-blogs

"Cell Phone" in 1928 Charlie Chaplin Movie

Video Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6a4T2tJaSU

Whole world seems to have already watched this video. The lady talking with a cell phone in 1928 Charlie Chaplin movie. I have watched it a couple of times. It's strange. Cell phone itself is not an isolated device, it needs cell phone tower and other networking mechanics in place to have it worked, at least that's how today's cell phone works. Unless this "cell phone"of 1928 could also transmit through time, it would have to be completely different and superior technology than our twenty first century understanding reveals. Here is a comment on this topic: "....the no cell towers theory lets me see how small-minded a lot of people can be in relation to the subject. The fact that the video is focusing on what could be a time traveller, should instantly point out that if that someone had the technology and ability to do so, then they would also have the technology to communicate without the needs we…

"poetry cannot be made to fit either religion or ideology" - Adonis

Charles McGrath's article on Poet Adonis whose real name is Ali Ahmad Said Esber illuminates some of the thinking of this internationally well known poet, though in North America, his name is not as famous as it should have been. Few extracts are shown below where this secularized poet talks about poetry, paralyzed culture, and the meaning of reading of poetry:
"He is an outspoken secularist, equally critical of the East and West, and a poetic revolutionary of sorts who has tried to liberate Arabic verse from its traditional forms and subject matter."

"Poetry for him is not merely a genre or an art form but a way of thinking, something almost like mystical revelation. “Poetry cannot be made to fit either religion or ideology,” he said in the talk. “It offers that knowledge which is explosive and surprising.”  "He went on to complain about what he called the “retardation” of contemporary Arabic poetry, which in his view has become a rhetorical tool for cele…

What does procrastination tell us about ourselves?

"...even Nobel-winning economists procrastinate! Many of us go through life with an array of undone tasks, large and small, nibbling at our conscience.....procrastination might be more than just a bad habit. He argued that it revealed something important about the limits of rational thinking and that it could teach useful lessons about phenomena as diverse as substance abuse and savings habits......procrastination is a basic human impulse, but anxiety about it as a serious problem seems to have emerged in the early modern era.

"Piers Steel defines procrastination as willingly deferring something even though you expect the delay to make you worse off. In other words, if you’re simply saying “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die,” you’re not really procrastinating. Knowingly delaying because you think that’s the most efficient use of your time doesn’t count, either. The essence of procrastination lies in not doing what you think you should be doing, a me…

"....because I can be anything." - Naheed Nenshi

“My greatest hope is that this morning … kids from across the city – northeast to southwest, every ethnicity, every income level, every neighbourhood, every single one of those kids – say, ‘what a country we live in, what a city we live in, because I can be anything.’” - Naheed NenshiDidn't know anything about Naheed Nenshi only a few days ago. It was just a local municipal election in Calgary, but seems to be history making in the province of Alberta. His win as a member of visible minority in a city quite unfairly reputed to be too conservative has shattered that myth. Perhaps this is the moment of progressive movement in this city of Chinook and Stampede.

An articulate charming man with stellar resume supported by his prestigious degrees from University of Calgary and Harvard University, upper level consulting experiences in a corporation and United Nations, had put him far above the league from the other candidates, though, it was not only a few days ago before the election…

We can prevent the next Darfur

Echoing George Clooney and John Prendergast's words in The Washington Post article: "Usually, the world responds only after wars begin, spending billions of dollars to mop up humanitarian catastrophes". So unfortunate, but so true! This had happened before, in Darfur, in Congo, Rwanda and many other places. Now it is Abyei, "about the size of Connecticut", may become "a flashpoint for world's next genocide. U.S. intelligence officials have already said that southern Sudan is the region of the globe most at risk of mass killing or genocide in the coming year."
On Jan. 9, just 84 days from now, the people of southern Sudan and of the disputed region of Abyei -- which straddles northern and southern Sudan -- will vote in referendums on self-determination. If held freely and fairly, these votes will result in an independent, oil-rich Southern Sudan. If not, the catastrophic war between the north and the south that ended in 2005, after 2.5 milli…

The Moral Landscape by Sam Harris

I do not agree with all the polemic ideas the writer Sam Harris divulges in his recent books, and some of them seems to me not conducive to a tolerant world in its most practical contemporary achievable term. However, some of his thoughts have merits, and one of them regarding the Utopian concept of "global civilization" is extracted from his interview in Salon below:
In your book, you mention a "global civilization" several times. You also wrote, "Human beings should eventually converge in their moral judgments." What do you mean by a global civilization?
I think we must form a global civilization. We have no choice. We have a global economy, we have a single environment, we have infectious disease that spreads with every airplane flight. The question is, How do we create a civilization in which the greatest proportion of people can thrive, and in which the causes for war become distant memories? Within a nation-state, wars can be a distant memory. …

Expenditure Cascades and Rising Inequality

No prevalent evidence suggests that rising inequality amongst world populace is bringing well-being of humanity. Still, lack of well thought out long term policy is exacerbating inequality that possibly has direct link to financial distress and meltdown. Cornell University professor Robert H. Frank's article in The New York Times points out a few facts that may need refresher from time to time:
"rising inequality has created enormous losses and few gains, even for its ostensible beneficiaries"

"People do not exist in a social vacuum. Community norms define clear expectations about what people should spend on interview suits and birthday parties. Rising inequality has thus spawned a multitude of “expenditure cascades,” whose first step is increased spending by top earners."
"The rich have been spending more simply because they have so much extra money. Their spending shifts the frame of reference that shapes the demands of those just below them, who trav…

Philip Roth’s late-career output staccato bursts of urgent, short books

Quite possibly Philip Roth is one of the greatest living writers. Shamefully I admit, only one book of his I've read so far out of his 31 books, and the two I did start but did not finish reading for my own fault. The one that I'd read a few years ago, titled "The Plot Against America", I found to be superbly written, a fast paced story plot where the writer had created an alternate world but so strikingly and shockingly similar to today's world of shattering indifference and inflated bigotry, I knew then, as I know now, writings of Philip Roth so eloquently brings home the meaning of humanity, without prejudice.

Not sure how and what criteria the Nobel committee applies selecting their yearly prize winner in literature, and definitely this year's winner Mario Vargas Llosa is indeed "a true man of letters" and worthy of this prestigious award, the absence of now 77 year old Philip Roth from the long list of Nobel laureates does seem to me prepostero…

A Triumph of Hope Over Despair

"The miners' resurrection carries with it all sorts of symbolism, and all of it positive. We, as individuals, or indeed collectively as the human race, are only able to do too little, too late for the victims of natural disasters and wars around the globe, but here, for once, is a hellish situation where there is a solution."

Link to article:
http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/peter-stanford-a-triumph-of-hope-over-despair-that-moved-us-all-2106157.html

Kathleen Parker's Article on The Economic Crisis

The article Kathleen Parker wrote in The Washington Post on October 13 on the current global economic crisis, has some shocking points, especially the following:
"...the cozy relationship between Wall Street and Ivy League academia, wherein economists push policies that benefit them financially, is eye-opening. In some cases, business professors and economists at America's top schools were shown to have conflicts of interest as they advanced policies for which they had been paid directly or that otherwise benefited them"I still don't know what to get out of it and other points that the writer of this article claimed might have contributed on this crisis. It feels strange reading the story of "culpability"and collusion from public officials, for whom the highest form of trust was put upon by their constituents. Reading this mind numbing article, the title of Joseph Conrad's more than a hundred year old novel comes to mind, "The Heart of Darkness…

Google Cars Drive Themselves, in Traffic

Sometimes I think about the generation of my grandparents. Their generation never had the glimpse of today's ubiquitous Internet technologies, never heard of the cell phones, IPad, Kindle, and other technologies. Cars were there, but not as abundant as the modern world, and not as powerful and luxury ridden. The new generation that I belong to, and the next generation that is coming after, are part of this technological revolutions, that seems to be progressing in breakneck speed, ripping apart all the traditional leaps and bound.

If and when Google and others' initiatives on building autonomous cars that will someday drive itself without any single human intervention, it will be one of the game changer of our world, "they can transform society as profoundly as the Internet has". Why is it so? Here is an extract from an article published in The New York Times, "Robot drivers react faster than humans, have 360-degree perception and do not get distracted, sleepy …

Trading Places

"China is about to overtake Japan in patent applications"- that seems to me the part of an on going seismic shift in the dynamics between two fiercely competing nations.

Here is an extract from The Economist article:
"Patents are a crude but useful measure of innovation. The change shows that Chinese inventors are developing a stake in intellectual-property protection, which is welcome. And because national patents protect the technologies of foreign firms too, the trend reflects how global companies are ploughing into China as a market and a manufacturing base. Even Japanese firms have increased their patent filings in China but decreased them at home."

Link: http://www.economist.com/node/17151211

"Disruptive Technology" - Google CEO's Comments

Comment from Google CEO Eric Schmidt: "America's research universities are the envy on the world," he said. "We have 90 percent of the top researchers in the world. We also have a bizarre policy to train people and then kick them out by not giving them visas, which makes no sense at all"....."Schmidt envisions a future where we embrace a larger role for machines and technology. "With your permission you give us more information about you, about your friends, and we can improve the quality of our searches," he said. "We don't need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you've been. We can more or less know what you're thinking about."





Link: http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2010/10/googles-ceo-the-laws-are-written-by-lobbyists/63908 

Khan Academy - Tremendous!

Now that the creator of Khan Academy got Google's 2 million dollar award and is getting more attentions from the major news media, this fabulous site with tremendous prospect should reach more students in every corner of our globe. The selection of video tutorial is growing, and the samples of them I've viewed are to the point and like sitting with a tutor beside me.

Link: http://www.khanacademy.org/

Mohsin Hamid's Short Story in Granta

He is a good writer. Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist was a slender but very well crafted novel. Fast pace and vivid imagery, sprinkled with beautifully constructed sentences and passages. In its latest issue, Granta has published Mohsin Hamid's short story, title "A Beheading". Only a few pages long this story is, but again the writer was on the mark describing scenes of macabre in utmost detail and sensibility.

Story Link: http://www.granta.com/Magazine/112/A-Beheading/1

Technology and Brain

"....more research was needed to know whether technology was causing significant changes in the brain. "We know nothing at all about how the developing brain is being influenced by video games or social networking and so on."

Link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/sep/14/oxford-scientist-brain-change

Digital Devices Deprive Brain of Needed Downtime

"people learned significantly better after a walk in nature than after a walk in a dense urban environment, suggesting that processing a barrage of information leaves people fatigued" -  hmm....IPOD needs to take some rest then.

Link:  Digital Devices Deprive Brain of Needed Downtime

Does Music Make You Exercise Harder?

I believe it does. It may also depends on the type of music. "In fact, it’s music’s dual ability to distract attention (a psychological effect) while simultaneously goosing the heart and the muscles (physiological impacts) that makes it so effective during everyday exercise. Multiple experiments have found that music increases a person’s subjective sense of motivation during a workout, and also concretely affects his or her performance."

Link:  Does Music Make You Exercise Harder?

Acts of God - an article in New Yorker

Nick Paumgarten's article in New Yorker is concise but does have thoughtful punch lines and musings. A few hours ago I heard about the death of three of my acquaintances in a tragic car accident, husband, wife and the mother died on the spot, while the father is in critical condition, and the four month old baby girl was not hurt. And then this New Yorker article caught my eyes. Like the author, and perhaps like many simple minded souls I also find these types of accidents and misfortunes sad and hard to explain by any philosophical or theological wordings. Is this the act of God? "When God acts, apparently, the rest of us do not. He is a little like the Balladeer". Hmmm...

Here is another example from New Yorker article:
Last month after a limb fell from an elm tree near the Central Park Zoo, critically injuring a woman and killing her infant daughter, citizens wondered, as citizens will, how such a thing could be allowed to happen. When trees kill, as trees will, you…

Great Novelists such as Twain and Hemingway has passed - Really?

It seems like a tradition, from time to time, an article decrying the decline of literary world, the receding attention span of overall human populace, when snippets and twits started to rule over intricately woven fiction, and the theorists, linguists and the high brow scholars of literature ponder loud and clear about the possibility, or perhaps the certainty of irreversible diminishing of once lauded literary fictions, one must notice the cyclic occurrence of such musings and lamentations.

Here is an extract from The Guardian:
"For about a million reasons," Siegel claimed, "fiction has now become a museum-piece genre most of whose practitioners are more like cripplingly self-conscious curators or theoreticians than writers. For better or for worse, the greatest storytellers of our time are the non-fiction writers." I don't agree with Sigel's comment. I am not sure where are his observations and data are coming from to declare such a sweeping pronounce…

Advancing the Science of Climate Change

Human attention span is limited. Modern news media's non stop presentations of crisis shift us from one major event to another. Earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, flood, political violence, wars, financial volatility, sensationalized many other news stories compete with one another in a never ending battle of grabbing human emotions in ultimate frenzy of putting one interest over another. The news of climate change was no different, it was pushed back from the visible horizon of attention spectrum, many other immediate chaos, natural, man made, and fabricated, took its space with relative ease. But that does not mean the climate change problem has disappeared for good. The National Academy of Sciences "offer persuasive evidence that it would be folly to put off dealing with the problem any longer".

Here is the introductory remark from Advancing the Science of Climate Change document:
"A strong, credible body of scientific evidence shows that climate change is occurring…