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Showing posts from November, 2010

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…