From The Telegraph, Calcutta.
Would Caliban have been more at home in the mangrove forests of the Sunderbans than on the island in The Tempest? Or was Puck a “pakhi” before he morphed into a fairy in A Midsummer Night’s Dream? The first few pages of Kalyan Ray’s debut novel Eastwords give a glimpse of an enticing land and a fascinating narrative. Here, Shakespeare pops up on Indian shores and hobnobs with our own Sheikh Piru, straight from the pages of Parashuram’s Ulot Puran. Eastwords is a novel that the professor of English literature in Morris College of the US has written between semesters and bundles of answer scripts.
Ray’s debut has already been inducted in the popular culture studies syllabus at MIT in the US.
Lauren Gunderson at Deepen The Mystery:
Rachel Corrie was 23 year old Americn activist who was part of a peace group in Palestine who was crushed to death by a bulldozer while defended Palestinian housing from demoloition.
Alan Rickman and Katherine Viner have turned her journals and emails (beautiful, wise words from someone as young as 12) into a play.
Jina Moore in Harvard Magazine:
Like the poems Emily Dickinson stored in her attic, or John Steinbeck’s repeatedly rejected early manuscripts, one of America’s best-known paintings was almost lost. American Gothic, Grant Wood’s ubiquitous vision of Midwestern farmers posing before their home, wedged its way into history by winning third prize in a Chicago art competition, says Steven Biel, senior lecturer and director of studies in history and literature and the author of a new book, American Gothic: The Life of America’s Most Famous Painting. “If it hadn’t won anything,” he adds, “it would’ve gone home to Iowa, where no one but Wood’s friends would’ve seen it.” Instead, the image has become synonymous with America itself.
Roxanne Khamsi in Nature:
A decade-long investigation of childhood leukaemia has come to the conclusion that the disease is probably often triggered by common infections in toddlers, scientists announced today in London.
Thomas Frank in the New York Review of Books:
For more than thirty-five years, American politics has followed a populist pattern as predictable as a Punch and Judy show and as conducive to enlightened statesmanship as the cycles of a noisy washing machine. The antagonists of this familiar melodrama are instantly recognizable: the average American, humble, long-suffering, working hard, and paying his taxes; and the liberal elite, the know-it-alls of Manhattan and Malibu, sipping their lattes as they lord it over the peasantry with their fancy college degrees and their friends in the judiciary.
Conservatives generally regard class as an unacceptable topic when the subject is economics—trade, deregulation, shifting the tax burden, expressing worshipful awe for the microchip, etc. But define politics as culture, and class instantly becomes for them the very blood and bone of public discourse. Indeed, from George Wallace to George W. Bush, a class-based backlash against the perceived arrogance of liberalism has been one of their most powerful weapons.
Runway windsocks were being studied more closely than ever as Airbus test pilots prepared to take the world’s largest airliner, the A380, on its maiden flight Wednesday — weather permitting.
About 11 years and €10 billion ($13 billion) into the A380 program, the 555-seater “superjumbo” is set to heave its 280-metric ton frame aloft for the first time before 50,000 expected onlookers, both invited and uninvited.
More here. Update: it has flown. More on the flight here.
From Pakistan’s Daily Times:
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on Tuesday committed residency for George Fulton, a British national who appeared in Geo TV production George Ka Pakistan.
The TV programme ran for three months during which George was shown trying to adopt Pakistani culture in an attempt to become a Pakistani.
The prime minister made the announcement as a goodwill gesture at a meeting with George who called on him at Prime Minister’s House.
The prime minister praised George for his love and affection for Pakistani people and culture and announced the result of an opinion poll asking people to vote if George had succeeded in becoming a Pakistani. More than 60 percent people voted in George’s favour, 28 percent against him. The prime minister congratulated George on becoming a Pakistani citizen. George thanked Pakistanis who voted in his favour and said he would try to become a true Pakistani.
More here. [Thanks Husain!]
Michael Webb writes in Frame Magazine about the new design of Clive Wilkinson for the LA campus of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM)
“Students at the LA campus of the Fashion Institute of Design and
Merchandising (FIDM) relish the good life of Southern California, riding a big wave, immersing themselves in a shimmering blue tank or lounging by a palm-fringed pool. Thanks to the wizardry of architect Clive Wilkinson, they can do all this in a design studio that’s located in a gritty commercial neighbourhood 20 kilometres from the ocean. Lofty banking halls flanking the lobby of a 1926 beaux-arts office building have been stripped and turned into vibrant two-level study areas that are both functional and fun.”
Book review from The Economist:
Men need to be better informed about prostate disease and how to deal with it. A new book, by a leading New York surgeon, fills a much-needed gap.
Prostate cancer is far more common in men than breast cancer is in women. Yet the public awareness of the two diseases could not be more different. Women have their mammograms, their ultrasounds, pink-ribbon days, designer T-shirts and celebrity-awareness campaigns. Like breast cancer, cancer of the prostate is treatable if caught early enough. Unlike breast cancer, it is also completely curable. Yet more men in America and in Britain still develop prostate cancer—and more die of it—than any other cancer other than that of the lungs. Why so?
“Dr Peter Scardino’s Prostate Book” goes a long way towards repealing the ignorance that even many educated men display about this disease.
But this book from Amazon by clicking here.
Jerome Groopman in The New Yorker:
Four students in their third year at Harvard Medical School recently met a patient named Mr. Martin. The students’ mentors, two physicians, told them that Martin had come to the emergency room complaining of abdominal pain that had grown steadily worse over several days.
Martin was lying on a stretcher, moaning. A monitor next to the stretcher indicated that his blood pressure was dangerously low—eighty over fifty-four—and his heart was racing at a hundred and eighteen beats per minute. An X-ray mounted on a light box on the wall showed loops of distended bowel, called an ileus. The intestine can swell like this when it is obstructed or inflamed.
“It hurts!” Martin cried as the students reviewed his chart. “They told me you’d give me something for the pain.”
…Fortunately, Martin is not a real patient but a mannequin, an electronic instructional device known in medicine as a simulator.
Michael Schirber in Space.com:
Though invisible, big black holes are not hard to find. Astronomers have noted evidence in the center of many galaxies for supermassive black holes weighing millions to billions of times our Sun.
Where these huge holes came from is an open question. One theory is that they are the result of a progressive build-up of smaller black holes, starting from the stellar mass black holes that formed from the explosions of the first stars.
If this hierarchical formation is true, then some of the middle stages between the 10-solar-mass acorns and the billion-solar-mass oaks should still be around. Yet confirmation of these intermediate mass black holes has been difficult to come by.
Martin Wainwright in The Guardian:
The distractions of constant emails, text and phone messages are a greater threat to IQ and concentration than taking cannabis, according to a survey of befuddled volunteers.
Doziness, lethargy and an increasing inability to focus reached “startling” levels in the trials by 1,100 people, who also demonstrated that emails in particular have an addictive, drug-like grip.
Respondents’ minds were all over the place as they faced new questions and challenges every time an email dropped into their inbox. Productivity at work was damaged and the effect on staff who could not resist trying to juggle new messages with existing work was the equivalent, over a day, to the loss of a night’s sleep.
‘…this tale of two people’s struggles to escape/fulfill an unknowingly shared fate is at once absurdly fun and highly sentimental. Murakami’s voice — detached but not indifferent, sympathetic but never mawkish — comes through most clearly in that of a supporting character, a young androgyne librarian, who says to Kafka, “A certain type of perfection can only be realized through a limitless accumulation of the imperfect. And personally, I find that encouraging.” Perfect.’
From Jon Zobenica’s Atlantic review of Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore.
Highly Sentimental? Not the right words for Murakami’s aesthetic, although when you try to think of another phrase it isn’t easy. But with his emphasis on imperfection, Zobenica is on to something.
He’s Right: The novel is rich and strange and exceedingly wonderful. It shouldn’t work, but it does. The Murakami sensation is one of the most positive signs I’ve seen about the existence of under-served intelligent young American readers.
Justin Mullins in New Scientist:
In the next few months, after being patiently nurtured for 22 years, an artificial brain called Cyc (pronounced “psych”) will be put online for the world to interact with. And it’s only going to get cleverer. Opening Cyc up to the masses is expected to accelerate the rate at which it learns, giving it access to the combined knowledge of millions of people around the globe as it hoovers up new facts from web pages, webcams and data entered manually by anyone who wants to contribute.
Crucially, Cyc’s creator says it has developed a human trait no other AI system has managed to imitate: common sense. “I believe we are heading towards a singularity and we will see it in less than 10 years,” says Doug Lenat of Cycorp, the system’s creator.
More here. And also see my earlier post about Cyc here.
W. Jay Wood reviews Lust by Simon Blackburn in Christianity Today:
Blackburn is a prolific writer of both popular and professional philosophy, an outstanding essayist, and an insightful reviewer of books, whose sparkling prose customarily displays philosophical skill and evident wit. Lust doesn’t lack in stylistic grace and wit, but its ground note is a smirking satisfaction with its own provocations, and its treatment of opposing views falls well below Blackburn’s usual standard.
At least the reader is forewarned. Blackburn announces at the outset that he has no intention of writing a book about the sin of lust, an intention he admirably fulfills—which may be all to the good, since he appears to lack any developed notion of sin and, even if he has one, he doesn’t think lust qualifies as a sin. He knows quite well, of course, what reputation religious tradition, common sense, and ordinary language have assigned to his subject: “Lust is furtive, ashamed, and embarrassed”; “Lust pursues its own gratification, headlong, impatient of any control, immune to reason”; “Lust looks sideways, inventing deceits and stratagems and seductions, sizing up opportunities”; “Lust subverts propriety” and is “like living shackled to a lunatic.”
‘The trouble with being a bad boy is that people don’t remember you were once very, very good. In author Truman Capote’s last years, his cringingly public displays of drunkenness and drug use caused old friends to wring their hands over his squandered talent. By his death in 1984, the shambles of his personal life had dwarfed his literary reputation.’
From The Wilson Quarterly’s Periodical Observer, on Brooke Allen’s “Capote Reconsidered,” in The New Criterion.