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Readers' Paradise - December 2015

Readers' Paradise - December 2015

TestFunda ,  03-Dec-15

About Readers' Paradise


On Kipling and his old-school lecture on morality

Poem kind of comes in between a piece of prose and a song – the verses invite the reader to probe further, and the rhyming produce a sing-along-song-like effect. Add a few inspiring lines, and you have a masterpiece of a poem. The poem If by Rudyard Kipling is one such poem. Kipling had several critics for his views on race and war in particular. Yet, his legacy has remained. As is stated in the article, Kipling is still remembered while his critics remain largely forgotten. The writer also explores the magic of Kipling’s poem If – why the poem is still so timeless, why it is the most searched poem in poetry foundation, why thousands or millions have put the poem on their desktops and walls, and why Kipling’s old-school lecture on morality still lingers on.


Feeling lost

How does it feel to know and live knowing that you have a degenerative disease – that you might not remember who you are or where you are in your own home? A journalist suffering from Alzheimer’s attempts to put it in black and white.


Surgery without anaesthesia, analgesics, or antiseptics

This is grisly stuff. If you can’t stomach horror, you shouldn’t read any further. It is about a time much before anesthesia, pain killers, and antiseptics were invented or offered and when surgeries were mostly performed on conscious patients among blood, screams and often spectators. I find it painful to get my eyebrows plucked. I don’t know how people could bear the pain of an amputation then or how surgeons could perform the nightmarish surgeries. Sometimes, we should be thankful for the gifts of modern medicine.


Shifting demographics

India has got competition and I hope it loses on this one. By the close of this century, several African countries will become highly populated. As of now, Africa is still a part of the world where fertility rates haven’t dipped significantly. That is not great news as people in a cramped nation like India face issues of space, food, and infrastructure among other things. Here are a lot of numbers and insights on world demographics.


When tax policy changed the architecture of a country

Imagine if you were taxed according to the number of windows in your home. To save on tax, would you move into a windowless house or convert all windows into walls? Window Tax – ridiculous idea, isn’t it? But, such a tax was actually levied in England during the seventeenth century and the policy remained for more than a century and a half till Charles Dickens raised his voice against it. Till then, the poor lived in dark and poorly ventilated windowless houses. Newer houses would get built with fewer or no windows – perhaps it was the first time that a tax policy influenced the architecture of the region. Worse, the notches in the policy made it look even more foolish. Here’s more about the tax and why it might be appropriate to have such a tax for certain purposes:


Not happiness but awareness

Here’s a short piece that would nevertheless give you plenty to think about. It is a write up on Albert Camus’ views on love of life, the role of despair in happiness, the choice of awareness over happiness, and the importance of travel. Beautifully put, his views reflect a profound understanding of awareness.


An unshakeable focus on music

I don’t think I will be able to say this beautifully what great music does to us. I chose this write-up precisely for this reason. It is about a noted pianist Radu Lupu, who does not record any music, give press interviews or have social media presence. The absence of his music anywhere expect in auditoriums makes it even more prized. Here’s how his music moves his audience. And while you are at it, check out the video too.

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Fat issues

There are several theories about why obesity has reached epidemic proportions or why lifestyle diseases like Diabetes are becoming widespread destroyers of our health and lives. Perhaps we are eating more than ever before or moving lesser than our ancestors. Or, perhaps medicalized farming practices are adding chemicals, antibiotics, and hormones to our food, which in turn are confusing our appetites and messing with the balance of hormones among other damaging effects. Perhaps it is our lifestyle and the food choices that we are making. Here’s another strong reason:


Training a difficult bird

Touted as a book of the year by many and an award winning book, H is for Hawk is about the author’s dealing with grief, her training a falcon which she calls Mabel, a tribute to another falcon trainer, and her talk about her beloved father.


Show me the money

Have you noticed that while shopping for say furniture, you might find a row of shops that sells exclusively furniture? It is the same story with automobile stores, crackers, clothing stores and so on. Just outside my home, there are four grocery stores in the same row of shops selling same or similar brands of food and household items. I have often wondered about the profitability of these stores – how with so many of them concentrated in just area, do these stores manage to not just survive but also thrive? The answer might lie in the huge profit margin. Here are some answers to a similar question on mattress stores.


Treading the tricky waters of International Negotiations

Negotiating a business deal is not always easy, and it becomes more difficult when it comes to navigating international business deals. The Chinese don’t think of trust in the same way as the Americans do - the Americans like to put everything in black and white while the Chinese want informal discussions to be able to trust the negotiators before the business talk. The word ‘No’ also doesn’t always clearly mean no; in certain cultures, you must pay attention to subtle signs that will tell you when it is not possible for the work to be done. Understanding how a culture reacts to your communication is essential to seal a good deal.


The fury of Fury

Several of the things we say or do come from deep recesses of the past and present. There are influences of childhood, parenting, and reading among other things. Tyson Fury, a boxing hero, when shares his views on Homosexuality, the role of women, and pedophiles, the world sits up and criticizes him. The writer attempts to find the source of his verbal violence.


Parroting stories

On a train journey, I and my fellow passengers were quite on our own, ignoring what others were upto. This lasted till someone noticed that a girl sitting on the lower berth window seat was popping some food pieces into a box. To our delight, we discovered a green parrot bobbing its head. The girl said that Mitthu (the parrot) cannot do without her so she had to surreptitiously bring him along. Mitthu changed the atmosphere for the rest of the journey. Some of the passengers even helped the girl with her baggage when she alighted from the train. There was a beautiful African Grey parrot in an apartment of our building. When I would whistle, the parrot would try and imitate. It was fun – I could spend a lot of time with me whistling different tunes and watching it imitate. In Nigeria, owning a parrot is a status symbol. 520 languages are spoken in Nigeria (and I thought it was only my country with such language diversity). Parrots that do not speak the local tongue are difficult to sell. Parrot sellers spend time teaching the birds to talk in the more popular language of a region where they sell the talkative birds. Coincidentally parrots are often found in multilingual places like Amazon and Indonesia. Here’s more about the interesting parrot talk:


Ada – the first debugger

A little less than two hundred years ago, Ada Lovelace, daughter of famous English poet Lord Byron, corresponded with Charles Babbage, a person credited for originating the concept of a programmable computer. Charles Babbage held Ada in high esteem. Apparently, Ada was a brainy woman who contributed to some of Babbage’s ideas. A few claim that Ada was the first computer programmer. But, if Charles Babbage is the first one, then the writer says that Ada could be the first debugger as Charles Babbage once talks about a ‘grave mistake’ that Ada found out. This might be a disputable issue but the writer asserts that ‘Ada was one of the best writers about computing ever’.

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