Monday, April 24, 2006

more Plagiarism in the news

Author Dan Brown has been making waves in the news, allegedly for signs of plagiarism in his book Da Vinci Code. Here's another similar news story about a young writer who's recently been caught up in the plagiarism trap. Kaavya Viswanathan got a $500,000 2-book deal and she's still an undergrad at Harvard. The passage quoted in the article from Viswanathan's book Opal Mehta... unfortunately does bear close resemblance to a passage in Megan McCafferty's Sloppy Firsts. I wonder how the allegations will be resolved.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

What's special about the number 6174?

Have you heard of the 'Kaprekar Constant' - 6174? Basically, is you take 4 numbers and create two 4-digit numbers - one with them in ascending order and the other in descending order, and if you perform the Kaprekar Routine (subtract the smaller from the larger) then, within 8 iterations, you will end up with 6174. Try this out... It's amazing!

Monday, April 10, 2006

2006 Pritzker Award to Brazilian Architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha

Paulo Mendes da Rocha of Brazil Wins the Pritzker Architecture Prize

"Paulo Mendes da Rocha of Brazil, known for his provocative ways with concrete and steel, has won the 2006 Pritzker Architecture Prize, considered the profession's highest honor. Mr. Mendes da Rocha, 77, is best known for his Brazilian Sculpture Museum in São Paulo, where he is considered the unofficial dean of the city's Brutalist movement."

Read more at The New York Times

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Ramon Magsaysay Award

This award is named after "Ramon Magsaysay [who] was the third president of the Republic of the Philippines after World War II. His life had great impact not only in his country but on many people in many lands. He was one of the outstanding leaders of his time."

Here's some brief history about it - "In April 1957, the Ramon Magsaysay Award was established by the trustees of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) based in New York City. With the concurrence of the Philippine government, the prize was created to commemorate late president of the Philippines and to perpetuate his example of integrity in government, courageous service to the people, and pragmatic idealism within a democratic society."

"The RMAF recognizes and honors individuals and organizations in Asia regardless of race, creed, sex, or nationality, who have achieved distinction in their respective fields and have helped others generously without anticipating public recognition. The awards are given in five categories: government service; public service; community leadership; journalism, literature, and creative communication arts; peace and international understanding."

Here are some highlights of Indian awardees. Did you know that M.S. Subbulakshmi was awarded the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1974 for her extraordinary voice and cultural contribution to India. Baba Amte was awarded the Magsaysay in 1985 for his work with 'social outcasts' in rural Maharashtra, guided by his "philosophy that 'charity destroys, work builds'." And Dara N. Khurody was recognised in 1963 for his efforts in helping start and evolve the Aarey Milk Colony back in 1949. Amazing work, isn't it?

Other famous Indians who have received this honor are Kiran Bedi, Vinoba Bhave, Mother Teresa, Satyajit Roy, Arun Shourie, Ravi Shankar and many more... check out the list for more awardees.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Special Time & Date - tomorrow -

On Wednesday April 5th,
at two minutes and three seconds after 1:00 in the morning,
the time and date will be 01:02:03 04/05/06.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Happy Gudi Padva

According to the Hindu/ Marathi lunar calendar, today - March 30, 2006 - is the beginning of the new year. It's an auspicious day to start something new...

Happy New Year or as we say in Marathi, Happy Gudi Padva.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Arab Critique... and Defense of Islamic values

In my recent research on Somaliland, I've come across several articles that argue and critique various aspects about Arab and Islamic culture. Although the two articles suggested here contain some good ideas and some interesting points, they are also sometimes not convincing. Even so, I present them here to add to the highly polarising topic because the issues are very important too.

For a critical point of view of Arab society, here's Barry Rubin's piece excerpted from his book The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East - What's Wrong: The Arab Liberal Critique of Arab Society.

"Arab liberals have become vocal critics of their societies in recent years, making the question of democracy one of the most important issues facing the Middle East. But what do the reformers actually say about the problems facing their countries and the shortcomings in the current systems there? This article presents the key arguments of the liberals, and those opposing them, showing both their common analysis and the different viewpoints or strategies making up the reform movement."

"The Arab liberals' most impressive achievement has been to provide a thoroughgoing critique of what is wrong with Arab society. This is such a persuasive indictment that it is critical to remember it is also one relatively hardly heard in an Arab world flooded by a sea of official statements, self-congratulatory proclamations, calls to militancy, and claims of victimization by outside villains. As a result, many Arab liberals show a profound frustration about their inability to convince others of what to them seems so obvious."
[follow the link to read the rest]

For an opposing perspective, here's Dr. Ali A. Mazrui's article Islamic and Western Values.

"Democracy and The Humane Life
Westerners tend to think of Islamic societies as backward-looking, oppressed by religion, and inhumanely governed, comparing them to their own enlightened, secular democracies. But measurement of cultural distance between the West and Islam is a complex undertaking, and that distance is narrower than they assume. Islam is not just a religion, and certainly not just a fundamentalist political movement. It is a civilization, and a way of life that varies from one Muslim country to another but is animated by a common spirit far more humane than most Westerners realize. Nor do those in the West always recognize how their own societies have failed to live up to their liberal mythology. Moreover, aspects of Islamic culture that Westerners regard as medieval may have prevailed in their own culture until fairly recently; in many cases, Islamic societies may be only a few decades behind socially and technologically advanced Western ones. In the end, the question is what path leads to the highest quality of life of the average citizen, while avoiding the worst abuses. The pat of the West does not provide all the answers; Islamic values deserve serious consideration."
[follow the link to read the rest]

I encourage any thoughts and discussion on this post.