Archive for January, 2006

An interview with Harper Lee!

January 27, 2006

Here is an interview with Harper Lee; link via Maud Newton. Have fun!

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Happy birthday Mozart!

January 27, 2006

MR has a couple of posts about Mozart and his music. Happy reading (and hence listening)!

That ambitious man called Gandhi!

January 26, 2006

Uma links to this Gandhi issue of Himal. Ram Guha, in one of his talks speculated about the ambition of Gandhi when he came from South Africa to India — a lawyer for Indian settlers in a colony to a man leading a country of so many languages, divisions, and variety to its freedom. And now, this attempt to make him a southasian is something that would be to Gandhi’s taste, I suppose. I am linking to the issue here so that I may take a look at the articles some time. Those of you with some time to spare, might want to go take a look right away.

Lovely writing!

January 25, 2006

Via Grumpy Old Bookman, I learnt about this site. Oh! What lovely writing, sister! And, that quote from Raymond Carver. Wow is all I can say! Go and read it today, now — you will enjoy it!

On science funding!

January 25, 2006

How should science be funded? A question that is very close to my heart. Some pointers to a few hypotheses (and probably answers) in these articles to which MR links to. The abstract of the article referred to in the addendum was indeed nice. But, at the moment, I do not have the patience to wade through a forty page paper, though!

On Indian Y-chromosome!

January 25, 2006

The latest PNAS carries this article on a prehistory of Indian Y-chromosome. This conclusion might interest some of you (though most of the technical details escape me):

It is not necessary, based on the current evidence, to look beyond South Asia for the origins of the paternal heritage of the majority of Indians at the time of the onset of settled agriculture. The perennial concept of people, language, and agriculture arriving to India together through the northwest corridor does not hold up to close scrutiny.

Have a look!

I would love to read that!

January 24, 2006

In Moorish Girl, William Lychack recommends The Lost World of Kalahari with a quote (from which I quote):

I say ‘amazed,’ but it would be more accurate to say I was profoundly moved, for the lesson that seemed to emerge for a person with my history of forgetfulness, doubts and hesitations was, as Hamlet put it so heart-rendingly to himself: “the readiness is all.” If one is truly ready within oneself and prepared to commit one’s readiness without question to the deed that follows naturally on it, one finds life and circumstance surprisingly armed and ready at one’s side.

How true it sounds! I am amazed, and I would love to read that book just for this quote!

Anthropological reading and writing!

January 23, 2006

I love three authors — all of whom were trained as anthropologists, and at least one of them was a practising anthropologist: MN Srinivas (Remembered village), Ram Guha (Anthropologist among marxists) and Amitav Ghosh (Dancing in Cambodia, and In an Antique land). So, based on this statistics I came to the conclusion that anthropologists are great prose writers (till somebody disabused me of that notion). That reminds me of a story from Ram Guha about an economist whose generalisations were made based on much leaner statistics 😉 Anyway, what do anthropolgists think about their writing? Here is an essay from Savage Minds on good anthropological writing. While we are at it, Savage Minds also tells us about the new open access initiative of American Museum of Natural History.

A bit of economics!

January 19, 2006

Dave Barry explains the origins of paper-money — go here for an excerpt. On a serious note, marginal revolution links to a classic paper on the origins of money published in 1892.

Work — a labour of love?

January 19, 2006

In addition to this definition,

The definition of work was now to make some original contribution to the world, and in the process not to starve.

Paul Graham, in his essay titled How to do what you love, also puts the lower and upper bounds on what it means to say that you do what you love:

Here’s an upper bound: Do what you love doesn’t mean, do what you would like to do most this second.

As a lower bound, you have to like your work more than any unproductive pleasure.

And then goes on to say how to test the quality of your work:

I think the best test is one Gino Lee taught me: to try to do things that would make your friends say wow.

After giving this warning (which reminded me of a quote from Atharvana Veda that Prof. N Kumar ended one of his talks with, which said “Criticise me, but with the eyes of a friend”):

What you should not do, I think, is worry about the opinion of anyone beyond your friends.

sounds this encouraging note:

If you do anything well enough, you’ll make it prestigious.

This tip is especially nice (so is the logic behind it):

It might be a good rule simply to avoid any prestigious task. If it didn’t suck, they wouldn’t have had to make it prestigious.

And says this about making choices (regarding work — but seems to me true for almost everything in life):

When you’re young, you’re given the impression that you’ll get enough information to make each choice before you need to make it. But this is certainly not so with work.

This, extremely readable (and a must-read) essay ends on this sobering note:

Whichever route you take, expect a struggle. Finding work you love is very difficult. Most people fail. Even if you succeed, it’s rare to be free to work on what you want till your thirties or forties. But if you have the destination in sight you’ll be more likely to arrive at it. If you know you can love work, you’re in the home stretch, and if you know what work you love, you’re practically there.

Finally, on a personal note, I guess one can substitute research for work in the essay and most of what is said will hold true (which is why I am categorising the post under research, culture). Have a nice reading!