About Readers' Paradise
Slaves of Booze
It is fashionable to drink nowadays. If you don’t drink, either you have grown old or you are too prudish. And, if you are really worried about other people’s opinions you will take that drink and then another even when you would rather not. Alcohol is an excuse for people to meet; alcohol is the reason behind many a friendship; alcohol is the way to escape; and alcohol is the heart of parties. Drinking is seen as a social need.
In this age when sobriety is looked down upon, it is difficult to not take that glass which is offered to you. The problems arise when alcohol becomes “the” reason for everything – for fun, for celebrations, for meeting people, for loneliness, for company meetings, or for no reason. Fun starts and ends with alcohol. It is bad when fun carries no other definition other than drinking. And it is no longer fun when having the freedom to drink translates to becoming a slave to booze.
Today’s article is not just about problems of alcohol – it is about alcohol’s role in American History. It talks about how immigrants added to America’s drinking culture or how prohibition didn’t work.
Clinical trials on pregnant women – an ethical obligation
It is unethical to test drugs on pregnant women. Several drugs can pass over the placental barrier and harm the fetus. However, as a consequence of very little research of drug effects on pregnant women, doctors face major issues prescribing medicines to unwell pregnant women. Since the woman must get well, the doctor prescribes a common drug – which may not have undergone clinical trials on pregnant women. And, doesn’t the real danger lie in treating a pregnant woman without evidence about the effects of the drug?
Now, a group of people are trying to change this by developing guidelines for ethical and scientific research so that drug data on mothers-to-be is available.
The point of vanishing
There are times when people want to get away from crowds and noise. There are times when people look for peace and solitude in the wild. And, there are times when few people who have been used to living among people and the clamour of the society choose to actually live like a hermit for some time. What’s the point of giving up your present lifestyle? What’s the point of isolating oneself? Aren’t human beings supposed to be a gregarious species that needs company of others? Here’s a great book review that attempts to bring out the point of such an escape.
Not until death do us apart
The concept of renewable marriages (you renew your vows every couple of years or leave) or temporary marriages isn’t new. But perhaps it isn’t widespread either. Here’s an opinion on such marriages. The opinion talks about famous people who liked the idea, or who lived the idea; it also speaks of laws on temporary marriages that were proposed but not formed. Of course when factors like children are involved, such an idea does not hold. The writer argues that longevity of a marriage alone should not be an indicator of a healthy and happy marriage.
Challenging the teacher, school, and food assumptions
A good teacher can make a difference in academic outcomes of students and so can a good school. The problem is when people start believing that these are the only important factors for academic success or that other factors such as parenting, peers, environment, and other socioeconomic factors are less important. Another variable often sidelined in such discussions is student ability. I once taught a bunch of preschoolers. It was a revelation to me that each child was quite different from the other not only in personality but also in ability to learn and apply. Even in the best of schools, there are laggards, along with brilliant students. People forget that both sets of students have the same teachers and the same school.
This first write-up about unequal academic abilities was definitely interesting; this one is under the heading “an assumed admixture”. But I also found this other gem (three vignettes on diet and personal and public pressure) – which attacks our assumptions on certain foods and drinks. More appropriately, it will make you think what makes us make certain food choices and which things (like shame) can keep us away from unhealthy foods.
Readers' Paradise - August 2015
Readers' Paradise - September 2015
Readers' Paradise - October 2015
Cryptic ideas on Encryption
After the Paris and Beirut attacks, several people and media houses are questioning terrorist use of encryption software. The author upholds the point of having such cryptography software and says that terrorism is not about means but about ends. If a terrorist uses a particular brand of car to carry out an attack, the car manufacturer is not going to stop manufacturing such cars. A terrorist can use any means to carry out an attack. Removing certain means will not stop terrorism. Perhaps finding the root cause of terrorism and eliminating that cause can.
I stay away from self-help books. I have mental blocks against reading them. So do a couple of my friends. However, now I that I think about it, I did read one or two of them and perhaps I also happen to read plenty of self-help articles (and find them pretty relevant or good). And, often my reading has influenced me or shifted my perspective, moods, and attitudes towards certain things or people. In today’s article, the essayist indicates the goodness of several right self-help books in terms of how reading the books is sometimes better than medication or therapy. However, for serious cases, she cautions that bibliotherapy is best undertaken with the guidance of a trained therapist. Moreover, there is more to self-help books than just help – even if you are not looking for help, a different way of looking at something can add meaning to what you already know, think, or have experienced.
What makes two skyscraper-loaded cities different?
Dubai and New York are similar in some ways. But that is just superficial. The two cities live and breathe differently. The cities are defined by the needs of the people there and the desires of the administrators and makers of the cities. However, the contrast is in the urban experiences. Find out more:
To code or not to code
Should everyone get into coding/software-development? When some profession becomes lucrative, everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon. Coding requires certain skills and specific attributes. All individuals do not have these. So, think before joining that course on coding.