Archive for May, 2015

Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal

May 30, 2015

In Mahabharata, in Yakha Prashna episode, to the question as to the most surprising thing, Yudhisthtra answers that it is people living as though they are immortal even when they see death everyday. And, there is a Thamizh poem from Thirumoolar which also echoes the same sentiment: “The entire village — got together and wept loud; stopped using the name and referred to “dead body”, took the body to the burial ground and  burnt it there; took a dip in the water and forgot it”.

Atul Gawande’s meditation on being mortal is equally profound and deeply philosophical and at the core an attempt to address some questions of medical ethics. It asks hard questions about the way modern medicine is being practised — specifically, whether we can prolong life without worrying about the quality of life or without paying heed to the wishes of patients themselves. For a book that discusses death and pain on almost every page, it is a surprisingly affirmative and positive book. With his wonderful prose and great writing, Gawande joins Sacks and Ramachandran as one among the must-read medical writers and Being Mortal is a must-read book. Strongly recommended.

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On solving real world problems

May 23, 2015

Most of the details in this post can be better understood only by those who work in cryptography, probably. However, there are some general lessons in the post and in the comments that are worth paying attention to about the role of theory and practice in solving real world engineering problems.

Gripping and disconcerting

May 16, 2015

Read Yanagihara’s The people in the trees. Here are some of the reviews: NYTimes; Guardian and Independent. Here is an interview with Yanagihara about writing the book. I am looking forward to reading her next, “A little life“, which unfortunately not available on Kindle till mid-August.

Economist son of a metallurgist father

May 6, 2015

When called upon to comment on the world we live in, I had no alternative but to fall back on the Marxist tradition which had shaped my thinking ever since my metallurgist father impressed upon me, when I was still a child, the effect of technological innovation on the historical process. How, for instance, the passage from the bronze age to the iron age sped up history; how the discovery of steel greatly accelerated historical time; and how silicon-based IT technologies are fast-tracking socioeconomic and historical discontinuities.

From here; link via Swarup.