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Showing posts from September, 2008

Lesson Plans

NYT has an interesting series on teachers and their experiences in schools throughout the country.

The Cross-Cultural Classroom
By Christina Shunnarah
In my previous post, “Student in a Strange Land,” I mentioned briefly that our school, the International Community School (I.C.S.), works with a very diverse population of students and families. I.C.S. represents over 40 different countries and 50 languages. One of the communities we serve is Clarkston, Ga., which is home to about 26,000 refugees. It is often said that Clarkston is one of the most diverse square miles in the United States. A community as diverse as this presents a complex challenge: In a place with so many different values and belief systems, what role should an educator play?

It is important for me as an educator to have a cultural awareness of the students’ lives and backgrounds. Without this awareness, my sensitivity and compassion for each child would not be able to develop. My studies in anthropology have helped me vi…

Nights in Rodanthe

A really sappy, weepy, sentimental movie with the beautiful Diane Lane and Hunky Richard Gere.

The Good Divorce

Babble has an article on mediation brokered divorces. Sounds just too good to be true!!

"This is how it happens," said Christy Mann. "You get in a fight, or admit an affair, or just decide that living a life of quiet desperation isn't for you, and you vacate the marital residence. You're now officially separated." Mann's an expert on the subject. She was a family attorney for two decades, before being appointed a District Court judge in 2005. "You can stay like this forever," she continued, "and this state won't get in your business." But marriage is a state-sanctioned union. So if you officially want out — to remarry, go gay, or simply change tax brackets — you need the State to dissolve it for you. You're getting divorced! What now?

(2) If you're like me, you probably imagine that divorces are decided in a courtroom by a Judge, and feature conflicting testimonies, private investigators, hidden assets, and machinating atto…


Scientific American has an article on Scientists that might have discovered a way to switch off the Autism gene.

Scientists say they have pinpointed a gene in the brain that can calm nerve cells that become too jumpy, potentially paving the way for new therapies to treat autism and other neurological disorders.

"It's exciting because it opens the field up," says Michael Greenberg, a neurobiologist at Harvard Medical School. "Nobody has [found] a gene that controls the process in quite that way before."

The brain is continually trying to strike a balance between too much and too little nerve cell activity. Neurologists believe that when the balance tips, disorders such as autism and schizophrenia may occur. They are not sure why neurons (nerve cells) go berserk. But Greenberg says he and his colleagues located a gene in mice and rats that helps keep neural activity in check—and may one day be manipulated to prevent or reverse neurological problems.

Researchers repor…

Current Crisis for Dummies

Ali Mir explains the financial crisis on Amitava's blog.

Ali Mir, Professor of Business at Wayne Paterson and acclaimed lyricist for films like “Dor,” has produced a quick guide to the financial mess we are in:

If you don’t understand the financial crisis on Wall Street, don’t fret. No one does, least of all the experts. What we do know is that it is an unholy mess, which is about to get worse. Here’s my quick FAQ for those who don’t wish to wade through dense treatises on collateralized debt obligations, asset backed commercial papers, and blah-blah-blah. It’s hardly comprehensive, but it can serve as a starting point for engaging with the issues surrounding the greatest financial debacle since the Great Depression. Let me know if any of this doesn’t make sense. AM.

Do the roots of this crisis lie in the housing bubble?
The roots are all over the place (in the absence of regulation and oversight, for instance), but for the sake of simplicity, let’s say yes. After 2001, the Fed kept i…

Understanding the banking crisis

Spitzer,the ex-governor of New York, explains how the Federal Government was
complicit in creating the housing crisis and supporting banks, instead
of the consumers who were mislead by sub prime loans.

thanks Buddha Diaries for the link.

Several years ago, state attorneys general and others involved in consumer protection began to notice a marked increase in a range of predatory lending practices by mortgage lenders. Some were misrepresenting the terms of loans, making loans without regard to consumers' ability to repay, making loans with deceptive "teaser" rates that later ballooned astronomically, packing loans with undisclosed charges and fees, or even paying illegal kickbacks. These and other practices, we noticed, were having a devastating effect on home buyers. In addition, the widespread nature of these practices, if left unchecked, threatened our financial markets.

Even though predatory lending was becoming a national problem, the Bush administration looked the …


The big picture has some great pictures on Ramzan, from all over the world. Those Jalebis look delicious.

Thanks Chapati Mystery for the link.

Muslim faithful throughout the world are currently observing the holy month of Ramadan. Observant Muslims participate in fasting (sawm), one of the five pillars of their faith, this entire Lunar month (this year it extends from September 1st to the 30th). Eating, drinking, smoking and sexual activity is prohibited from dawn until sunset, when the fast is broken with the evening meal called Iftar. Local customs define varying traditions, including differing types of food used to break the daily fast. The fasting is meant to teach a person patience, humility and sacrifice

David Foster Wallace

NYT reviews the work of David Foster Wallace, who committed suicide at the age of 46.

Reviewing a biography of Jorge Luis Borges in The New York Times Book Review a few years back, David Foster Wallace attacked the standard biographical procedure of mining the lives of writers for clues to their work, and vice versa. Borges’s stories, he insisted, “so completely transcend their motive cause that the biographical facts become, in the deepest and most literal way, irrelevant.”

Beyond this, Mr. Wallace was the kind of literary figure whose career was emblematic of his age. He may not have been the most famous novelist of his time, but more than anyone else, he exemplified and articulated the defining anxieties and attitudes of his generation.

Mr. Wallace’s vibrant body of work — reportage and criticism as well as two novels and three volumes of shorter fiction — pursued themes that in retrospect look uncomfortably like portents. His last book of stories was called “Oblivion,” and an earli…

The Mother

There is a moment when life such as it is, the human consciousness such as it is, seems something absolutely impossible to bear, it creates a kind of disgust, repugnance; one says, "No, it is not that, it is not that; it can't be that, it can't continue." Well, when one comes to this, there is only to throw in one's all - all one's effort, all one's strength, all one's life, all one's being - into this chance, if you like, or this exceptional opportunity that is given to cross over to the other side. What a relief to set foot on the new path, that which will lead you elsewhere! This is worth the trouble of casting behind much luggage, of getting rid of many things in order to be able to take that leap.

- The Mother [CWMCE, 7:327]


Adam Gopnik of the New Yorker writes about Jean de Brunhof’s classic, Babar. I reread him recently to Mira, who loves him, she calls him TaTa for Hathi. But I agree with Gopnik's analysis of this seminal text of children's literature as a "civilizing" tool of French Colonialism. Babar's mother is shot by a hunter and the author spends no time describing the pain Babar must have felt at watching his mother shot. Instead he goes to the town and goes to a town house, where people dress him up in a suit and tie and he sits for high tea with them. Some of the illustrations from Babar are exhibited at the Morgan Library in New York.

But the Babar books are more than the sum of their lines. By now, of course, a controversial literature is possible about anything, and yet to discover that there is a controversial literature about Babar is a little shocking—faut-il brûler Babar? (“Must we burn Babar?”), as one inquisitor puts it, in a famous French locution. And the contro…

Arvind Adiga

Arvind Adiga, the author shortlisted on the Booker for his book, The White Tiger, talks to Hirsh Sawhney. He challenges the notion of India as a superpower and feels that China is far better in providing support for it's poor than India.

India: A View from Below Aravind Adiga with Hirsh Sawhney
by Hirsh Sawhney

The homes of middle class and wealthy Indians are staffed by teams of servants who cater to their employers’ every need. Born in poor states like Bihar or countries like Nepal and Bangladesh, these live-in drivers, cooks and cleaners often work twelve-hour days and seven-day weeks. Despite the economic upswing that has enabled their bosses to decorate their homes with plasma televisions and purchase European cars, the lifestyles of domestic workers have only improved marginally in recent years. Their working conditions remain unregulated, and as India’s population continues to grow at exponential rates, their wages remain low, from fifty to one-hundred and fifty dollars a mon…

thought for today

There is only one way of getting out of the confusion (which is the result of mixed and conflicting desires); and that way is quietness, peace, confidence in the Divine's Grace and silence in the mind, to let it receive the right inspiration which is waiting above for the silence and the quietness to enable it to manifest.

- The Mother [p-162, White Roses, Sixth Edition, 1999]

thought for today

To remain within, above and untouched, full of the inner consciousness and the inner experience, - listening when need be to one or another with the surface consciousness, but with even that undisturbed, not either pulled outwards or invaded - that is the perfect condition for the sadhana.

- Sri Aurobindo [SABCL, 23:652]








Head Gear



shoes and clothes bhutan


hello monk

plane and unisphere

Cham! Ritual Dances of Bhutan

thought for today as Delhi burns

I am so upset about the Delhi bomb blasts, Connaught Place, Regal Cinema, GK, Children's Park, Barakhamba Road, all places I know and love. The hate and anger has to stop. The machinations of politicians and secret services to disrupt neighbours must not carry on. is doing a great job of showing footage of this terrible carnage.

I knew people of great intelligence, admirable artists who, as soon as they began to "relax", became utterly foolish! They did the most vulgar things, behaved like ill-bred children - they were relaxing. Everything comes from this "need" of relaxation; and what does that mean for most men? It means, always, coming down to a lower level. They do not know that for a true relaxation one must rise one degree higher, one must rise above oneself. If one goes down, it adds to one's fatigue and brings a stupefaction. Besides, each time one comes down, one increases the load of the subconscient - this huge subconscient load which one…

Loins of Punjab

Loins of Punjab Presents is a wonderful movie directed by Manish Acharya. It is set in a hotel, that is hosting "Desi Idol", based on American Idol. The dialogs are witty and edgy without falling into sterotypes.

Shabana Azmi is great as a bitchy socialite intent on winning the contest at any cost. Turbanotorious BDG, played by Ajay Naidu is funny with his rap lyrics and stuck on turban. The relationships between Michael Raimondi (Josh Cohen) and Ayesha Dharker are richly textured as is the love between Manish Acharya and the beautiful Seema Rahmani (Sania Rahman). The quiet Ishitta Sharma (Preeti Patel) acts well along with her Patel clan.

Yeh Hum Naheen

A Pakistani protest song, Yeh Hum Naheen, that can be downloaded here is fast gaining popularity and providing alternative definitions of Pakistan and Islam.

In a country where religion is capable of suspending war – Pakistan's security forces declared a ceasefire with the Taliban for the holy month of Ramadan – it might also have the power to stop it. That's what the stars behind the song "Ye Hum Naheen" were thinking in their quest to redefine Islam as anti-terrorist.

The song triggered a world-record-breaking petition in which 62.8 million Pakistanis united behind its title-message – Urdu for "This is Not Us". Over the course of five weeks this July and August they have by email, SMS, signature or thumbprint sent an impassioned missive declaring that true Muslims do not support terrorism.

The song's success is largely down to the following of its eight celebrity singers – among them the band Strings, composer Shuja Hyder, pop-diva Hadiqa Kiani and Paki…

Sarah Palin Again!

Truthdig discusses Sarah Palin and how her supermom image is actually counter productive to working mothers that are fighting for flexiable work hours, good day care and quality heath care coverage for their children.

Who would have dreamed that a hockey mom could produce such a bounce? I didn’t even think the puck was supposed to get off the ice.

But now that so many women have skated over to her side, allow me another metaphor. Sarah Palin is the Zamboni of this campaign.

This hockey mom rolled onto the ice, did a couple of turns around the rink and managed to clear off all the nasty old Republican detritus. She gave the Grand Old (Boy) Party a new image, or at least a new surface.

Let us remember that Republicans had long targeted working mothers as the centerpiece of the culture wars. They ran an entire convention on Marilyn Quayle’s line, “Most women do not wish to be liberated from their essential natures as women.”

Now their heroine is the in-your-face governor who once said: “T…



light and shadows

Evening shadows

days left to stop the war


mila Kuti