Wednesday, April 30, 2008


In case you've not already seen this, believe me, it's worth a visit. Don't worry about the French, since the video doesn't exactly require any explanation.

Last week I wrote a review of The White Tiger in OUTLOOK magazine -- and a couple of friends called in response to the review -- one of them, while standing in Landmark Bookshop in Madras, with a copy of the book in his hand (he promised he wouldn't buy it ... but who knows? Maybe he lied)! On the rare occasions that someone calls to say he/she's read something of mine in the press, it'll be a slash'n'run review. When it's a favourable assessment the only person who MIGHT call is the author. Ah well. "Everyone Loves a Good Bloodletting" might make a good title for a collection of vicious book reviews.

Keeping this in mind, I'd love to post a link to a favourable review by me, this time in BIBLIO of Sara Paretsky's autobiography entitled WRITING IN AN AGE OF SILENCE -- but I CAN'T coz it's not "free" (i.e., it's not enough to register, you have to buy the right to read it). I liked the book and recommend it highly -- not just to admirers of Paretsky's novels -- very noir, very Chicago, centred on woman private eye, V I Warshawski -- but anyone who enjoys reading a tight, highly focused autobiography, as much about coming of age in the US of the sixties as about becoming a celebrated crime-fiction author.

I've been wanting to blog about the Starving Dog Exhibition for some time now. These pictures were being circulated along with an appeal to sign a petition to prevent the artist from repeating his "exhibit" -- but it turns out there may have been some mis-understandings regarding the artist's intentions. I signed the petition right away, feeling immediately nauseated by the pictures and the story and also forwarded the pictures on to friends. It's hard not to feel silly afterwards -- esp since I don't normally forward appeals or sign petitions. The artist claims that his intention was to draw attention to the wretched plight of street dogs in Nicaragua.

Regardless of what he and the gallery spokespeople now claim about the actual events (that the dog was NOT kept in the gallery to starve and die while callous visitors just looked on; that it was released in three hours and/or escaped anyway after the first day) it is surely deeply offensive to use a living creature in this way. It's bad enough that the poor creature and all its fellow-sufferers -- animal as well as human, everywhere in the world -- suffer at all, but for an artist to use that suffering to further his own career is really too degrading all around -- and supremely lazy. It's like, "Hey, I can't draw but so what? I can drag the subject of my artistic inspiration into the gallery and show it to y'all and call it an installation! Yow! Ain't I smart?"

He's received death-threats and universal condemnation, but what about all the visitors to the gallery who did not try to feed or water the poor animal, all those who did not react immediately with outrage? Everyone's to blame.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day

For Earth Day I thought I'd post a couple of recent links. First up is We Can Solve It, an inspiring and positive site that tells you, me and the universe the many different ways in which we can all put our shoulders to the wheel of solving the planet's ecological crisis.

Then there's Ideal Bite which I heard of on BBC's TV programme, CLICK -- tips and self-help ideas for those who are keen to be green.

And this last one is something I noticed as a small adverstisement at some other website: Many Moons, a site at which NON-disposable menstrual products can be ordered online.

Amongst them is something I would REALLY have appreciated when I was a potential client (I had a hysterectomy more than ten years ago) -- a "Keeper" -- a small flexible cup-like object which, when inserted, contains rather than absorbs the flow of menstrual blood. It's reusable and safe, with no known side-effects. I read about it in my late twenties in MS Magazine, but never saw on sale anywhere. Nor did I meet anyone who said she had ever seen/heard of/used such an item. It sounded like a great idea, especially for someone (i.e., me) who absolutely detested having to keep track of dates and supplies. I travelled a lot and was often in situations when I couldn't be sure that the local chemist's shop would carry the brands and products that I preferred to use. And now, here it is, available at the click of a mouse ...

Very cool.

The photograph, BTW, is one I took last year, at Tiger Haven.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Mating-Games-and-How-To-Lose-'Em Dept.

This link came to me via my other most reliable source of juicy web-sites, Zigzackly (blog-link at right): The Eligible-Bachelor Paradox from the online magazine, Slate. Embedded in the article is a link to ANOTHER interesting read, here, from The Atlantic Monthly. It's a different take on the subject of singledom versus marriedom -- gloomier and sadder -- and contrasts weirdly with the post called Good Wife-Keeping featured at this blog (you have to click on the picture in order to read the text accompanying it -- a bit of a drag -- but well worth the effort).

I found myself sympathizing with the author while also wanting to argue with her all the way through. It seems to me her problem -- and by association, the problems of many millions of young and not-so-young women -- is the mistaken belief that you CAN have your cake and eat it too. She's so very articulate and self-aware, but doesn't appear to understand the role of luck and fate in all our lives. I would say, by mid-life, those of us who are realistic have understood that in spite of all our efforts, some of us manage to attain all their goals while others, however gifted and diligent, don't. There comes a point when one has to smile and say, "Well ... ta-daaaaa to all that struggling!"

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Religion 1-2-3

Here it is, your handy, easy-reference chart on that subject of perennial interest to our species, RELIGION.

As with so many other great links at my blog, this one was sent to me by AA -- he knows Who He Is! A deeply religious multifaith friend ...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Misogyny, Racism, Sexism

Yesterday I read a reprint from the New York Times (in the Asian Age) that lead me to follow the electro-brick road to Nicholas D. Kristof's blog. It would probably take half the night to read ALL the comments, but I did visit the two test-sites -- links available in Kristof's previous post -- at which one can do a click-along test to check for latent racism and other types of bias (not esp. amusing or interesting tests -- presumably someone or other will be earning their PhDs based on our little rat-clicks) and I did stop to think about some of the issues he raises.

Of course the context of his questions (and the comments) is the on-going US prez elections and the nominees-to-be. One of the commentators made me realize that ALL THREE front runners represent unpopular minorities -- racist, sexist and age-ist (I don't like "agist" and feel uncomfortable with ageist. Hence the hyphen). Anyway, it's an interesting article and I would strongly urge a visit to Kristof's site.

On a lighter note: for those who use Gmail chat, here are two "new" (i.e., new for ME) smileys: :(|) and also :{ -- needless to say, you've got to try it out on Gmail chat in order to see the little face twist around and change. Also :-| but that's kinda boring. Here's what I've seen so far in this family of smileys: :-) and :-P and B-) -- I'm not listing the frowny and noseless variations, but of course they work too.

And ALSO: for those who continue to worry about my declining mental capacities (see the post, some weeks ago re my sudden loss of Sudokability -- I'll post a link the next time I log in here) there is some good news. After a week or two or feeling sorry for myself I returned to regular Sudoking, but with this change: I stopped struggling over any puzzle that took longer than about five minutes to solve. This has resulted in two interesting (to me, anyway) realizations. One is that there definitely seems to be a change in the way I approach solving the puzzles, so I continue to think there WAS some little blizzard in my brain cells about three months ago (but I have no idea what) that accounts for a part of the sudden loss of ability. Two is that about nine-tenths of all the puzzles I do are solveable so I am pretty much back up to speed. If any one of them takes longer than the five to eight minutes I just lose interest.

To go back to point One -- the difference in approach is simply that I no longer attempt to be methodical. Whereas I used to begin by attempting to solve for each of the numbers in turn, I now just leap right in and look for whichever "volunteers" leap out immediately -- i.e., the ones that are obvious, even in the most difficult category of puzzles -- then look for secondary patterns. I wholly avoid the pencilled-in candidates approach because it's too time-consuming. Maybe that's what caused the sudden disconnect -- I was beginning to spend too much time on doing them, as a result of which they suddenly ceased to be fun. So it's either ink or nothing, and no agonizing allowed.

I wish I could name my methods -- I'd love to know whether or not I am applying the famous "swordfish" or "X-wing" or whateverwhatever techniques. Alas, I find it too boring to read the descriptions of what these techniques mean, so even though it's possible that I'm using them, I can't be sure. My approach is purely visual -- I create imaginary "force fields" for each of the nine numbers, to push aside options in different rows and columns, flushing out the spaces in which the available candidates are reduced to just two or one. I have tried to colourize the force fields but they've resisted that: a peculiarly nine-ish -- or seven-ish or four-ish or whatever-ish -- feeling zips down the line, stops short at the end and if a candidate is flushed, great. If not, start again elsewhere.

And on and on until ... ta-daaaaa! Done.