About Readers' Paradise
Toxic Business Sense
If you smoke cigarettes, you perhaps know that smoking is injurious to health. And, you have a choice – you can choose to not smoke. What if, without having a choice, or without knowing the ill-effects, you breathe, eat or use a hazardous substance. Worse, what if the company that produced the harmful substance willingly hides the information that the substance is dangerous? Decades ago, Dupont, an industrial giant (one if its successful product was Teflon), used a chemical C8 for a variety of purposes/applications. The workers, the immediate environment, and the local community had varied level of exposure to this chemical. Even after finding the ill-health effects of C8, Dupont continued the use of this chemical. The chemical is stable and so widespread that it can be found in the blood of human newborns and several animals in the wild.
It is said that if you work in an Indian industrial city such as Vapi (if you pass by that city, you can smell the chemical-loaded air) for couple of years, then you can expect to live at least a decade less that what you otherwise would. It is scary to know that we are exposed to a concoction of chemicals daily through our environment – chemicals which we did not choose and which slice off time of the quality years of our lives.
Nightmarish Black to Useful Black
For years, my mother had something against black colour. She thought that donning black during auspicious events was impolite (to put it mildly) and in bad taste. But, black is an amazing colour – an outline of black can bring out figures beautifully in a painting. Black dresses can make you look slimmer and black works as a lovely background. Here’s a Nautilus article that talks about the origin of black, the chemistry of the colour, the use of black dyes by artists, and the change in association of black (for example, it connoted evil earlier, power and prestige later) through the ages. It also highlights how the invention of new black shades and black dyes of different consistencies inspired newer styles in painting.
Less Music, More Politics
As we read this piece of writing, the Laibach rock band would have already played Korean music and their interpretations of songs from The Sound of Music - a classic movie whose backdrop was Nazi occupation of Austria. Laibach, as mentioned in the article, is more of a fascist band than a music band. It talks of extremist ideas and has ambiguous ideologies - it leaves questions for the audience to interpret. The author analyses why the band was invited to North Korea to perform.
Readers' Paradise - May 2015
Readers' Paradise - June 2015
Readers' Paradise - July 2015
The Ethics of Gene Editing
When Dolly – the first cloned sheep – was created, there was a major controversy over the ethics of cloning. Should humans play God? Can we clone humans too just like we could clone sheep? What if we create monsters? It has been many years and since then, there have been technologies that can do more or better. CRISPR is a new technology which can alter a strip of DNA. It can have several beneficial applications such as correcting -related disorders. It might take years or decades for researchers to use CRISPR for creating designer babies such as ones with higher IQ, perfect vision, or superior physique. However, the flipside is the damage that can happen if CRISPR alters other parts of DNA and the ethics of using such a technology (should we really alter human beings?). Therefore, there must be regulations. And in spite of the drawbacks, the author argues why such a technology must still be used.
On losing a loved one
Losing a dear one is a heart-wrenching thing. One is so overwhelmed with sorrow and helplessness that it is difficult to think that happiness can happen after the loss. Yet, we move on. And for many of us, though that permanent gap in the heart remains, we learn to appreciate, we learn to laugh, and we learn to live.
Courage and Cowardice
Is sending a drone into enemy territory an act of courage or cowardice? Is massacring fleeing soldiers an act of courage or an on-order-murder? Can we say that a terrorist, especially a suicide bomber, a person with guts or one who has no spine? We deride cowards and look up to “brave” people. However, some of these very brave military rulers or commandants that we know have killed thousands, if not millions, of people in their lifetime. Courage indicates a positive connotation while cowardice indicates a negative one. It is difficult for us to perceive good people as cowardly and bad people as courageous. This writer dissects these perceptions of ours and gives some insights into how these have been shaped.