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Archive for June, 2008

The full text of the speech, as delivered in the town of Independence, Missouri, earlier today.

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“A sentimental person thinks things will last, a romantic person hopes against hope that they won’t.”

- F. Scott Fitzgerald

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How English is turning into a language native speakers will soon not understand.

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The BCCI’s position on the Zimbabwe issue is shameful.

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CNN has an interesting article about the UC Berkeley protesters angry about campus expansion plans, who have been living in the branches of a threatened oak grove for the last eighteen months.

The best bit comes at the end:

Protesters howled, flung excrement and shook tree branches as campus-hired arborists cut supply lines and removed gear.

But by late this week, campus police were conducting delicate negotiations with tree-sitters, offering to provide food and water if protesters would lower their waste on a daily basis in the interest of hygiene.

Campus officials ended up giving up the water without concessions; protesters declined to yield their urine.

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There’s a certain quality about Jhumpa Lahiri’s short stories. For want of a better word, I’ll call it tension.

It is not the fear-laced tension of a well-told ghost story or the sexual tension of a romantic novella. Nor is it the tension that comes from reading a truly great novel of ideas, the kind that turns your world upside down.

No, Jhumpa Lahiri’s tension is of a more earthly kind. It thrives upon the most basic unit of human society, the relationship. It entertains the reader, yet makes him feel uneasy. There are no grand flourishes in her writing style. Her sentences don’t evoke wonder the way Fitzgerald’s, Nabokov’s or even Kiran Desai’s do. Yet, her writing contains an astonishing understanding of the human condition and of the extraordinary potential for disquietude, contradiction and waste when two distinct beings interact for a long time. You read her for a while and slowly you fall under the power of the mundane. Everything is subtle, indeed subliminal, but the effect is a powerful one. Or is it just me?

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Women took oaths of virginity, lived as men.

(Link via The Volokh Conspiracy)

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Check this out!

(Link via Andrew Sullivan)

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This one is by former U.S. surgeon general Richard Carmona:

As we look to the future and where childhood obesity will be in 20 years … it is every bit as threatening to us as is the terrorist threat we face today. It is the terrorist threat from within.

Kerry Howley’s reaction to the above is funny:

I’m not sure whether we should be more or less afraid of the “War on Terror” now that the phrase terrorist threat means “bad thing.”

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Inflammatory rhetoric from doomsday-sayers isn’t anything new; nevertheless this statement by climatologist James Hansen strikes me as extreme.

Special interests have blocked transition to our renewable energy future. Instead of moving heavily into renewable energies, fossil companies choose to spread doubt about global warming, as tobacco companies discredited the smoking-cancer link. Methods are sophisticated, including disguised funding to shape school textbook discussions.

CEOs of fossil energy companies know what they are doing and are aware of long-term consequences of continued business as usual. In my opinion, these CEOs should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature. If their campaigns continue and “succeed” in confusing the public, I anticipate testifying against relevant CEOs in future public trials. 

Global warming is real; the science proves it. However, equating the actions of Oil company CEO’s (or tobacco CEO’s for that matter) with actual crimes against humanity displays an astonishing lack of understanding of the words involved and a terrible disregard for the freedoms we hold dear.

(Link via The Volokh Conspiracy)

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I had written earlier about the Japanese government acting as health police to force its citizens to slim down. Here’s a CNN video on the matter.

One thing struck me after watching the video — not many people seem that unhappy at what I would consider an outrageous interference into one’s private matters. Well, if they have that attitude, I guess they deserve to have a nanny-state government. One thing’s for sure, I am not moving to Japan.

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I am a big fan of the Los Angeles opera and their upcoming 2008/2009 season is amazing. Hell, it’s breathtaking.

Just consider some of the operas coming up over the next twelve months:

Madame Butterfly, by Puccini; number one on the list the list of most performed operas in the US.

Carmen, by Bizet; in my opinion the opera with the greatest score ever.

The Magic Flute by Mozart; yes Mozart.

Die Walkure by Wagner; full of superb music like the rousing “Ride of the Valkyries“, and featuring Placido Domingo, recently voted the best tenor ever, as Siegmund.

La Traviata by Verdi; which contains this magical, magical duet and some of the most beautiful and popular opera music you will ever hear.

Wow.

 

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Quirky Indian has a hilarious post about the way we Indians misuse the English language. To his many well-chosen examples, I’d add one more — when asking a question, Indians often put the pronoun before the verb, as in, “what you are saying”.

To those curious to find more such examples, here’s a simple instruction that’s guaranteed to work. Go to rediff.com, click on any news article and read the comments.

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George F. Will believes that Barack Obama is a ‘libertarian paternalist’ at heart.

I had made the same point in this post from a couple of weeks back.

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A fascinating account of how a district attorney was forced to prosecute a case even though he felt the defendant was innocent. Compelled to choose between his conscience and his job, he took an unusual decision. He took the case, but helped the defence win.

(Link via Reason Hit and Run)

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