Showing posts from 2008

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga – a Book Review

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga – a Book Review By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel) December 30, 2008 Writing about the dispossessed, poor and the destitute is not a small feat. Poor and the impoverished do not own the press. They don’t have any powerful and effective lobby group to represent them in the government or corporate sectors. Portrayals of this underrepresented segments of human society is mostly superficial and marginal at best. Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger reminded me Monica Ali’s The Brick Lane , not in its depiction of men and women in Indian sub-continent, but the razor sharp words of critiques, untangling the myths and disillusions perpetuated by the ruling “master” in the name of preserving so-called democracy, have similarities in overall texture. Also, various issues in Arundhati Roy’s poignant non-fictions, essays are explored in White Tiger in moving dialogues and monologues. The story of Balram Halwai is the story of a common man who can be found in every ci

One World, Many Minds - Intelligence in the Animal Kingdom

Evolution may not be as linear as it was perceived before. New research are finding startling evidences that there are multiple evolutionary lineages, especially, in the development of complex cognitive sophistications. Fish, reptiles, vertebrates and invertebrates may have more intelligence than the "supreme" human beings ever considered to these "inferior" species to have. "One of the most common misconceptions about brain evolution is that it represents a linear process culminating in the amazing cognitive powers of humans, with the brains of other modern species representing previous stages. Such ideas have even influenced the thinking of neuroscientists and psychologists who compare the brains of different species used in biomedical research. Over the past 30 years, however, research in comparative neuroanatomy clearly has shown that complex brains—and sophisticated cognition—have evolved from simpler brains multiple times independently in separate lineage

Shoes - The Noble Truths of Suffering

Aleksandar Hemon's story published in The New Yorker on September 22, 2008 was one of the best stories I've read this year. The title of this sparkling and mini-voltage filled story is The Noble Truths of Suffering . A novice Sarajevo writer's encounter with an American prize winning author, the observations through a voice of drunken stupor, and elaboration of violence through Buddhistish non-violence made the conflicting descriptions of war, brutality and politics painfully live. Here is an excerpt from Aleksandar Hemon's "The Noble Truths of Suffering": "an ex-marine who would have been a hero in the battle of Falluja had he not been dishonorably discharged for failing to corroborate the official story of the rape of a twelve-year-old Iraqi girl and the murder of her and her entire family, an unfortunate instance of miscommunication with local civilians. Tiny returns home from Iraq to Chicago and spends time visiting his old haunts on the North Side,

The Reluctant Fundamentalist - a Book Review

Changez's life changes drastically, from pursuing efficiency and fundamentals in appraising businesses to questioning the fallacies embedded in hard core capitalistic haunting bonanza. Freshly graduated from Princeton, highly motivated pursuing career to coveted aristocracy, Changez moves past his classmates and colleagues at Underwood Samson in rapid pace, beaming with unmistakable confidence in his every strides, demeanor and winning smiles. September 11 changes everything as he reflects on his plight: "the door to the elevator was shut upon me and I began to travel down the shaft, alone." Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a slender novel, but with substantial pathos imbued in sharp observations, without relinquishing a good story's structured rhythm into cliched slogans against power and superpower. The effective monologue that the writer used where an unnamed American was entertained over a cup of tea and later the mouth watering dinner of Lah

The Accidental by Ali Smith - a Book Review

I've picked up this book after about two years it has gathered sliver of accumulated dusts in the unreached corner of my overburdened bookshelf. I remember of reading at least a dozen pages of it early last year, perhaps earlier than that. Ali Smith is a writer of inexhaustible energy it seems. The first chapter describes a twelve year old girl, the way she tries to cope in a "substandard" summer vacation home with her parents and a sibling, away from her schoolmates. Her Sony Dv camera gives her comfort. She snaps at everything, theorizing, imagining reality beyond reality, even pondering about science and irony: "Astrid knocks her hand against the side of the chair to see if it will hurt. It does, but not very much. She knocks again, harder. It hurts more. Of course science can prove, typical and ironic, that her hand is not actually hitting the chair by dividing down he distance smaller and smaller. She hits it again. Ow." The outside world is a mystery to he

Existence, nonexistence

It perhaps is a surprise for many hearing and reading about German professor Kalisch's jolting thesis on the existence of a prophet . For the believers of any particular religion, this claim must be feeling hurtful. However, what does it matter, if any particular historical figure was indeed historical or fictional? Shouldn't the essence and peaceful conveyance of messages for all mankind from divinity above be enough? Remember those sarcastic hoopla surrounding Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code a few years ago? And the zealots' and bigots' shameful thuggeries in protest of ridiculous prophet cartoons? Even at the time of these prophets, founder of religions, were treated as aberrant nuisance, or radical preachers, freethinkers, the scoundrel heretics. Flowing of time, perhaps luck, coincidence, or carefully planted seeds in the time of antiquity had propelled many of them in glorious position, the holiest, closest to deity any other hapless human being can ever espous

A New America?

Is this a historic night? The tears and jeers will subside, as will euphoria and slogans. American Presidential Election mesmerizes the entire wold. The world in seize. Hopes. Dreams. Desperate screams muffled by violet violence. They say, "Rosa Park sat so King Stands. King stood so Obama Runs. Obama Ran so we all can fly." Barack Hussein Obama now doesn't need to hide or hush hush his middle name. Shouldn't he say, "I am Barack Obama, and Hussein is my middle name", without fear or political shame? "I have a dream............" A new America, emerging from hundreds of years of brutal past filled with forgotten blood, ashes, servitude and humiliations of unknown many in near and far. America the compassionate. Not the enforcer of fear, war and torture. The world trembles, in hope, to see the rising of a peaceful dove. "I have a dream............."

The Sun

Images of Sun are breathtaking. See more images from this link .

Economic Crisis Made Easy

Here is the simple basics of worldwide economic crisis explained by this year's Nobel Prize winner in Economics , the New York Times columnist Paul Krugman: What is the nature of the crisis? The details can be insanely complex, but the basics are fairly simple. The bursting of the housing bubble has led to large losses for anyone who bought assets backed by mortgage payments; these losses have left many financial institutions with too much debt and too little capital to provide the credit the economy needs; troubled financial institutions have tried to meet their debts and increase their capital by selling assets, but this has driven asset prices down, reducing their capital even further. What can be done to stem the crisis? Aid to homeowners, though desirable, can’t prevent large losses on bad loans, and in any case will take effect too slowly to help in the current panic. The natural thing to do, then — and the solution adopted in many previous financial crises — is to deal with

The Ambition of the Short Story

The rocking waves of Gulf of Mexico had made reading Steven Millhauser's novel Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer remarkably poignant. The protagonist's fantastical progress pursuing dreams from being a hotel bellboy to envisioning and executing larger and grander ideas as he meandered through life of an American dreamer, and eventual sheer disappointment of finding the truth of "emptiness" and vacuity beyond joyous drumroll and fanfares was the only acquaintance I had with this tremendous writer's style of writing and sweeping plot. The writer's recently published essay on Short Story has indeed invoked that long receded memory of reading his novel all these years ago in a world and time that seems so much distant and different than today's hysterical paranoia filled wind and carefully sowed stench of distrust that eagerly keen to annihilate all the restraints and rules of humanity for the vanquished, conquered and smalls, like Steven Millh

"Good" Cereal, "Bad" Cereal

Here is the list of "good" cereal, low in sugar and high in fiber: Cheerios made by General Mills. Kix and Honey Nut Cheerios , all made by General Mills. Life made by Pepsico Inc's Quaker Oats unit. Here is the list of "bad" cereal, high in sugar and low in fiber: Post Golden Crisp made by Kraft Foods Inc Kellogg's Honey Smacks Kellogg's Corn Pops Golden Crisp Froot Loops Apple Jacks Rice Krispies Cap'n Crunch Cap'n Crunch's Peanut Butter Crunch Source Link: Some Cereals more than half sugar

Private Incentive and Government Oversight

At least on the surface, the opportunistic disaster capitalism's steam rollers the Freedmanites and their greed frenzy ideologies are in retreat. As the financial markets roil and toil while massive bailouts plan is in the work to rescue the economy from tumbling further into irreversible whirlwind of very real "doomsday" scenario that mostly caused by "excessive and poorly regulated mortgage debt", the long shelved Keynesian economics is dusting off thickened layers of accumulated dirt and the echo of saneness is getting back in the wild: "while capitalism is the most dynamic and productive system ever conceived, it is most efficient over the long term when there is another delicate balance -- between private incentive and government oversight. " There are indeed inquiries to be made like Senator Harry Reid's precise observation : "Today we face what economists call the gravest economic danger since the Great Depression, We’ve come to this

Math Tricks

Check a few "Math Tricks" from this link .

The Use of Cancer in Political Discourse

Here is a quotation from Susan Sontag' s Illness as Metaphor: "The use of cancer in political discourse encourages fatalism and justifies "severe" measures - as well as strongly reinforcing the widespread notion that the disease is necessarily fatal. The concept of disease is never innocent. But it could be argued that the cancer metaphors are in themselves implicitly genocidal" Sontag's warning made in 1977 is more than ever applicable in today's hyper inflated fibbed political landscape around the globe.

What is America by Ronald Wright - a Book Review

What is America by Ronald Wright A Book Review by Mahbubul Karim (Sohel) 2008-09-16 When anointed Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin stumbles but quite efficiently shrouds her astounding lack of knowledge in American and world history and current events with invoking such words of deep religiosity, “we are on God’s side”, Ronald Wright’s timely published book What is America slashes this purported ignorance and traces back the roots of never ending Frontier state of mind, where the everlasting motto is: “good times don’t last; get yours while you can.” Get yours while you can by any cost. Ransacking and pillaging nation from indigenous population, branding them as savages and wild animals, and when necessary making promises and breaking them later at earliest conveniences, are the melancholic parts of this deeply moving book. There are nine chapters in What is America. Each of them are compressed but sufficiently elucidating observations of past backed up by

Perhaps Death Is Proud; More Reason to Savor Life

Sometimes, she can hear John Donne in head. A new nurse who was an English Professor before. Now she works in hospital, in the middle of "unsettling" deaths, "profoundly sad" experiences accumulate and repeatedly show: "the only antidote to death is not poetry, or drama, or miracle drugs, or a roomful of technical expertise and good intentions. The antidote to death is life." Link to this profound article: Perhaps Death is Proud; More Reason to Savor Life

100 Things You Should Eat Before You Die

Here is the link, some of these food items I've never heard of, and some of them are very popular in many parts of our world: 100 Things You Should Eat Before You Die

Michelle's Speech

Don't know who is the writer of Michelle Obama's speech at Democratic Convention or whether she is the one who has penned down her own words, but the passionate way that she delivered words of compassion and the vivid description of "the world as it is" and "the world as it should be", is memorable.

Kennedy's Voice of Inspiration

I try to stay away from sly politicians' sly remarks and podium lectures. But something about Ted Kennedy's feeble, shaking but surprisingly rousing voice tonight, that slithered through political dis ingenuity reverberating resounding words: "The hope rises again. And the dream lives on. " Perhaps it is due to Kennedy's recent battle against brain cancer, and his life long support for progressive causes without a hint of relinquishing fight for just causes to political pressure from the right, his somber presence and words of wisdom still invoke ideals of an America that is for many around the world has always been altruistic and that has been fighting the asphyxiation and stranglehold of vicious wolves. "The hope rises again. And the dream lives on." America the humanitarian, not the naked aggressor, moves and shakes from prolonged forced unconsciousness.

'Unshakable' Optimist

"An "ordinary brave man" could decide "not to participate in lies, not to support false actions." But "it is within the power of writers and artists to do much more: to defeat the lie! For in the struggle with lies art has always triumphed and shall always triumph!" Solzhenitsyn was not the first witness to speak truthfully about the gulag. But because he was an artist, he was the first one able to make us all hear it and believe it. There is no answering "the many-throated groan, the dying whisper of millions" that he transmitted." An article to read about the great Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn, here is the link: Solzhenitsyn, Optimist .

Forgotten PC History

Advancement in computer technology for more than hundred years is simply breathtaking. Check these links: Forgotten PC History and Early Card Punch Machines , that show how far collectively human beings have progressed from the early days of computing technology to modern computing marvels.

Large Hadron Collider nearly ready

Who knows what will happen tomorrow? All the modest to screaming warnings aside, these photos of Large Hadron Collider in Boston Globe are must see. Here is the link: Large Hadron Collider nearly ready