Archive for August, 2006

FRN Nabarro: RIP

August 22, 2006

From Santa, I hear that Prof. FRN Nabarro passed away. Of his papers, I have read the ones about rafting in superalloys with great interest, and our own simulations supported his conslusions about elasticity driven rafting; however, when he was at the Institute, I did not interact with him, which is a pity. May his soul rest in peace.

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On Seeing Voices !

August 21, 2006

No, this post is not about schizophrenia; it is about a book by Oliver Sacks, titled Seeing Voices.

Long back, I read Vintage Sacks; I immediately fell in love with his writing. I read Uncle Tungsten, and An Anthropologist on Mars, and enjoyed both thoroughly. Along with VS Ramachandran (who, in one of his prefaces quotes Sacks: “The real book Rama, is in the end notes”), Sacks is a must read for anybody who is interested in learning about the workings of the brain.

Seeing Voices is about deaf people, their language (Sign), and their culture. It is an extrordinary book; by far, it is the best book I have read in the past few months. Don’t miss it if you are interested in culture, language, scientific thinking, and the neuro-biological underpinnings of these.

The book also set me thinking into other directions. It sent me googling for sites on American Sign Language, sites on writing Sign, sites on Asian Indian Sign languages, and much more. I am thinking of learning Sign, since Sacks promises that it would teach us an entirely different way of thinking — thinking visually.

I also found it surprising that there are no deaf characters in our epics or puranas; blind are more common — Dhritharashtra comes to my mind immediately. However, I know of a folk god called Ramaswami, the Deaf, who is probably a folksified version of sanskritic Rama. That gives me an idea that the jataka tales, and the folk tales probably can tell us about how the ancients treated the deaf.

PS:- I found out that Manu, indeed rules out inheritance for the deaf.

A legendary musician passes away!

August 21, 2006

I learn that the Shehnai Mastero Bismillah Khan passed away; the news came to me from the great Indian mutiny. Uma recently had a post, which, is a must read, by the way.

A jugalbandi of the Ustad with Prof. Jog is a great favourite of mine (which I heard thanks to Kotts, and I became an instant fan of Prof. Jog too; that was the first time I heard him). For a south Indian, the Shehnai sounds very sad — but the music of Ustad always sounds divine to me.

I am getting reminded of Sheila Dhar’s Raga-n-Josh, which told us about his favourite soap (Mysore Sandal), his insistence on having chicken and lamb dishes before his performances, and his culinary skills. If I remember correct, I think, his lessons in music included lessons is cooking.

The best tribute that I can pay Ustad is to listen to his shehnai while reading Shiela’s essay on him, which I will do today. May his sould rest in peace.

On writing!

August 20, 2006

Here are some writing tips; link via Mother Tongue Annoyances!

Visit to Brookfield zoo!

August 20, 2006

Yesterday, we visited the Brookfield zoo; it was a wonderful trip. I especially enjoyed the dolphin show. We got to see lots of animals, and some of them I was seeing for the first time — the kangaroo, emu, polar bear, ibex, and giraffe, for example.

Since we visited the Botanical garden recently, I was comparing the two trips — there is an excitement in air (especially when there are kids in the group) while spotting the animals in the zoo which is missing in the botanic garden. It could be due to several reasons — we tend to hear and read about animals more than plants as kids. It is far more easier to spot a zebra and/or identify it as one than to spot a buckeye, for example. That the animals move and respond also makes a huge difference; while we were in the zoo, one of the snow leopards decided to come closer to us and inspect us closely — such a thrill is missing while visiting a botanical garden. Thus, while botanical gardens seem to be ideal for a long walk, meditation, and reflection, the zoo seems to be the place for fun, participation, and enjoying the wonders. However, there is one crucial difference — a visit to the zoo invariably makes me sad — the snow leopard for example, whould be feeling so cramped, and if he maintains his grace even under such circumstances, well, like RKN’s tiger of Malgudi, he must be a very noble beast indeed! On the whole, a day well spent!

Step up: a review!

August 18, 2006

We watched Step Up yesterday. The movie is watchable, though is not upto the expectations raised by the commercial. Long back, by accident, I watched Billy Elliot in Plaza in MG Road in Bangalore. I liked that movie better than this. So, if you have an option, skip Step Up — you are not losing much!

Google — more dangerous than microsoft?

August 18, 2006

Here is Paul Graham on Kiko, Google, and how google might be more dangerous than  you-know-who (or, he-who-must-not-be-named).

More from Alex McCall Smith!

August 17, 2006

Some more quotes from Alexander McCall Smith’s The Full Cupboard of Life:

And that was surely what most people wanted, at the end of the day; to live on the land that they love, and nowhere else; to be where their people had been before them, as long as anybody could remember.

A society that undermined its teachers and ther authority only dug away at its own sure foundations.

…was the truth of the old African saying that it takes an entire village to raise a child. Of course it deos; of course it does.

Psychology!

August 16, 2006

Psychology, she thought; that is what they called it these days, but in her view it was something much older than that. It was woman’s knowledge, that was what it was; knowledge of how men behaved and how they could be persuaded to do something if one approached the matter in the right way.

Alexander McCall Smith, The full cupboard of life

By the way, it is fun to read Alexander McCall Smith; though I can not say exactly why, his writing reminds me that of RKN, and that is such a pleasure to read. I guess David Davidar got it right; he is quoted to have said this:

reading Alexander McCall Smith is like eating ice cream; it goes down so smoothly

I am thinking of hunting down the earlier No 1 ladies detective agency books.

Scholars, blogs, and

August 15, 2006

Using life experience in intellectual work — take a look at this nice piece at Savage minds. And, on the comment section, Abi gives the link to the original piece (pdf).