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Showing posts from July, 2010

To Be Or Not To Be

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/01/books/review/Verghese-t.html?_r=1&hpw

Well, not quite. But the quest for immortality seems somewhat like that in some ways.

When you come to think of it, if it were possible to be immortal, it's indeed a valid question whether being immortal is worth it.

We pass through the usual stages of life. And that reminds me that we often hanker for the halcyon days of wore — somehow, memory can play tricks and we tend to remember the good parts and forget the bad parts and we wish to be young again, perhaps to be kids again with not a care in the world ...

But the idea behind immortality is different ... it's simply to extend life forever. But then, at what stage will we be ... for that 'forever'? Clearly, we will perhaps remain adults ... I am sure nobody wants to live as a doddering old toothless guy forever. Death seems to be a better choice than living with the body failing in so many ways.

The process of aging is so, so deeply imprinted int…

The Second World War by Martin Gilbert

The number of those who died in the Second World War will never be known with precision. Tens of millions of men, women and children were killed without any record being made of their names, or of when or how they died. Millions of soldiers were killed in action without anyone recording their names, or marking the place where they fell.

Many calculations have been made of the number of war dead. In the war between China and Japan, which began two years before the war in Europe, it has been estimated that six million Chinese civilians were killed. The Soviet Union suffered ten million deaths in action, on land, in the air and at sea. A further 3,300,000 Soviet soldiers were killed after they had become prisoners-of-war. Seven million Soviet civilians also died; a death toll in excess of twenty million Soviet citizens. The Germans calculate 3,600,000 civilians dead, and 3,250,000 soldiers. The Japanese calculate two million civilians and a million military deaths, the largest single deat…

The History of Yoga ...

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/25/books/review/Mishra-t.html

Well, two books that details the story of Yoga's growth in the U.S. Pankaj Mishra has written an elegant review of the books.

To continue my line of thought, how wonderful to see Americans pursuing this apparently ancient Indian ... thing? whatever ... with some passion ... along with their many, many different passions of course even as the young Indian generation seeks to ape everything American included rap, hip-hop and the variegated hairstyles of the rebel American youth ...

It's all good!!!

One thought: will a future come to pass when folks in Europe and America start eating with their hands while Indians finally learn to use elaborate cutlery to perform the same activity of ingesting food ... ummmm, I think not likely, but then stranger stuff have become reality ...

The American Dream ...

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/25/business/25elon.html?th&emc=th

Someone from South Africa founds PayPal ... at least, he is one of the co-founders ... makes money by selling it to eBay.

Then he starts a company building electric cars and another company to launch rockets into space and one more company making solar panels!

Well, all this in one life! I think that's the kind of story that would gladden the heart of Tom Friedman who keeps complaining about how America is falling back in innovation.

Well, so, I say the American Dream is certainly alive ...

Business of Yoga ...

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/25/magazine/25Yoga-t.html?pagewanted=1&th&emc=th

One more Yoga teacher emerges ...

It's intriguing to see Americans rushing to Yoga in such numbers. It's important to remember that Americans are fickle and rush to many things.

Strange also to see this peculiar Indian thing called Yoga transformed into something so quintessentially American ... molded and Americanized.

Well, it's all right I guess ... as Indians trample over themselves to Americanize themselves by hankering for larger cars and hamburgers and 500-Lt refrigerators and 100 inch LCD TVs and other items of conspicuous consumption in general, Americans try to imbibe this form of 'ancient' Indian wisdom ...

Good thing ... the West trying to emulate the East and the East trying to ape the West!

On Golden Pond

A dear friend suggested that I am like Henry Fonda in this movie ...

And so I guess it's up to others to decide if I am like that.

I surely enjoyed the touching movie and its many wonderful one-liners.

I realized as I was watching the movie that I was continuously grinning ... I don't know why.

So much good stuff ... everything from his wondering who the person was in the photograph to his immediately saying 'someone is at the door' ...

Wonderful acting and wonderful background score too.

500 Days of Summer

A nice feel-good romantic movie.

But it occurred to me that it's so typical for a movie to be made where the characters 'fall in love' with each other based on their physical attractiveness only.

Clearly, Hollywood stars possess that (good looks) in plenty and it's sort of 'understandable' when they thus fall in love.

But I was wondering about the real world and how folks fall in love.

I think a preeminent factor tends to be carriers. Someone who is a doctor in a hospital might fall in love with another doctor ... since they work together.

Similar hobbies can bring people together. Whether it's books/literature or music or space or science or some other such thing.

People need to have some sort of common political/historical/sociological outlook too to have a lasting relationship ... I mean, if one partner still believes that Lenin was the best thing that ever happened in all human history, then it would be better if the other partner believes that too. Then they…

Cryonics and Marriage

Truly strange bedfellows!

One would never have guessed that there could be a link between the two but apparently there can!

Here's the proof:


http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/11/magazine/11cryonics-t.html?hpw

Well, I guess every couple has to tackle the issue in their own way.

I want the folks who want to preserve themselves to be allowed to do so if they have got the money and want to do so.

Perhaps, some of the 'geniuses' of the present age might be preserved in such a way ...

Just a thought ... how about preserving the brain of Bill Gates or Steve Jobs or Wolfgang Ketterle ...

Explaining Gravity

The nature of science has always been to hold nature up to examination and ask again and again why it is the way it is, as Steven Weinberg put it.

And as the sphere of our understanding of the working of nature grows ever wider, we understand deeper and deeper truths.

And so, for a while now, we have known that there are four fundamental forces of nature: gravity, electromagnetism, and strong and weak nuclear interactions.

Theoretical advances have remained somewhat static since then with string theorists trying to develop some sort of a quantum understanding of gravity even as scientists excitedly await the confirmation of the existence of the Higgs boson at the LHC.

It's heartening at this juncture to hear of someone throwing a heavy stone into this somewhat quiet pond and creating ripples:


http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/13/science/13gravity.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=gravity&st=cse

To be able to explain the laws of Newton as the effect of something deeper would be one of those ad…

Adam

If only all of were simpleton geniuses and had beautiful girls move in as neighbors. SINGLE and young girls ...

Watching raccoons in Central Park and talking about an expanding universe and having a planetarium at home.

No, unfortunately, this is not real life. Mostly, people tend not to suffer from any of the disorders belonging to the autism spectrum.

And about beautiful, single females .... sighhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Forget neighbors ... it would be quite a blessing if one could have females at work with whom one could associate with. But even that turns out to be impossible.

Females tend to be mostly strange creatures. Terribly shallow and interested in clothing and food and make up.

And so the story of Adam is purely engineered to appeal to our wildest fancies. And what about that girl? Would she ultimately choose to take the risk of sticking to a guy who has an autism spectrum disorder and works at an observatory or would she marry an investment banker? I think, in time, she would come to r…

Monster's Ball

Stretching the limits of human emotions.

We have a woman whose husband chooses the electric chair as the mode of death. And she gets involved unknowingly with the corrections officer who was in charge of the execution. The woman's clinically obese son dies too.

The police officer's son is not as heartless as his father and grandfather. Then, there is racism too.

Too many coincidences lead to these two lives getting intertwined. And they realize in time who they are.

But they realize that the pros outweigh the cons. And they choose to stick together. A simple tale really of how humans seek happiness above all and look for the best possible life they can give themselves.

In the process, perhaps there's some amount of redemption ... getting over old prejudices. Americans fighting with the remnants of old habits.

We in India, I am afraid, are yet to even acknowledge that we still carry many such prejudices. Perhaps, those prejudices are so ingrained in us that we don't even reco…

The Kite Runner

Why is it such a touching story?
Because we are still just simple humans. We are individuals who have weaved some things ... rules? cultures?
No matter if we can cross continents and oceans in our airplanes and have built buildings that touch the sky.
We remain at heart simple beings.
Our childhoods can leave scars that last a lifetime.
And we feel at home with people of our own kind. Language, culture, stuff which define us.
No matter how long we are away from our homes and our languages, they always remain with us. Forever.
The land where we are born is where we belong ultimately.

But beyond all that, how strange we are. How simple really at heart! Billions of us but really stories that are not much different. Happiness out of things that we like. Competition and winning. Death and sadness. Birth and death. The cycle of life. Constant as ever.

And yes, the same old tribal prejudices.

And music. And dance.

And the beastly nature too. The need to dominate the week.

Courage. A somewhat rare qualit…

Much Ado About Nothing?

See this NYT article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/07/business/economy/07generation.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=homepage

We see youngsters out of college who are having trouble finding jobs!
I am sure that won't be 'news' to millions of college graduates in India.
Well, I guess one could say to these young hopefuls: 'Welcome to the New World!'
I am sure to a certain extent, part of the reason for their remaining unemployed is of course the reason that some of the jobs have been outsourced to China and India.
And it's instructive to see their salary expectations as well.
People below the age of 30 with a degree in Pol. Sc. earning $75,000 per annum!
And unemployed people of 24 rejecting job offers that pay 'only' $40,000 per annum!
Shows really how far ahead of the curve of economic advancement such countries really are ... which is a sad realization in some way.
You talk to young hotshot IT professionals here in India and tell them 'ironically' that we…