Monthly Archives: April 2007

This is the fourth post I am writing today when I should be writing my paper. The term is about to end and I just don’t feel like reading or writing (don’t ask me what enables me to write all these posts, that’s the irony about me). I have been working on my topic for an year now, and am yet to defend my proposal. If I am topic fatigued now, what will become of me when I get to the writing stage? I know that I have to make writing fun – and it has often been the case. […]

Lantern & the sea: a dream to make dissertation writing ...

For the last three or four months, I have just not felt like reading anything. I have not stopped reading…but that which I read has been random stuff. My comprehensive exams are not far away, and I am in no mood to do any sustained work. Infact, I came to the office with the idea of reading and writing a paper; instead, I am writing this blog post. Part of the problem is that I’ve run out of exciting new books. I dont claim that there are none around – but I have not been able to lay my hands […]

I don’t feel like reading

Ph.D. is a long haul & often a tiresome journey. Knowing oneself well can make the process fun, quick & worthwhile I audited a wonderful course on doing a dissertation with Prof. Nick Smith in the department of education at SU. A small part of the course was about methods, theories, and other academic paraphrenalia that make up the dissertation. Instead, his main concentration was to prepare us mentally to do the dissertation well and enjoy it. If there is one lesson that was central to the lectures, it is “know yourself”. Knowing one’s body rythms, when we feel like […]

Dissertation troubles & the importance of knowing oneself

One of the biggest challenges in writing a proposal is to narrow down our interests to choose a topic In three days, I would have defended my dissertaion proposal, and it feels good to think that I’ll get it out of my way. It looks like the proposal is one of the biggest time killers among Ph.D. students; it is indeed a challenge to move from a variety of ideas to a defendable proposal. Most of us come to a Ph.D. with a broad set of interests and it feels awkward to narrow it down into a topic that almost […]

On narrowing focus for dissertation proposal

A list of biographies I have read, many of which I enjoyed If there is one class of books I enjoy reading most, it’s biographies. Given below is a set of biographies I have read, many of which I enjoyed immensely. There are others that were a drag, such as the autobiography of Mussolini, but were rather instructive. As of now, it is just a list. Over time, I hope to write short blurbs about it – depending on how much I remember them now! Gandhi My experiments with truth Biography of Gandhi by Sushila Nair and Pyralal Volumes pertaining […]

Biographies I have read: A list

Autogenerated list of latest documentaries in Google Videos available online totally free Google video also has many category that are available only in advanced search. Using it, I have autogenerated a list of documentaries available. Please note that this is automatically generated using a search strategy, so some of the videos are not relevant, and many have views that are quite contrary to mine. This list will contain the latest videos that are categorized as “documentary” by the person uploading it. The descriptions are also given by the person uploading it. The list is given below, and for more click […]

List of latest documentaries in Google Videos & You Tube ...

Reading biographies has been a passion for me for a long time. I started as a fiction reader and soon realised that I need my “stories” to be “realistic”. I was reading a popular novel when I was finishing college. At one point the author mentioned that the handsome hero of the novel seduced women and converted them to believing in Castro – and was thus responsible for the success of his revolution. I closed that book with that sentence and gave up novels for a while. That’s when I started reading biographies. Incredible as they may be at times, […]

Why I need biography to understand history

India’s role in countries abroad is something that we do not get to hear much about. It’s role with neighbors is clearly known – but I did not realise that India had played a role in places like Hungary and Congo. A recent article in The Hindu by Jairam Ramesh quotes a president of Hungary saying: “in those months (in 1956), the Indian Embassy in Budapest became the Embassy of the Revolution”. That came as a major surprise to me. I was reading the autobiographical notes of J. K. Galbraith called Ambassador Diaries that he maintained during his stay in […]

India’s role in Hungary, Congo, etc.

Here is your window to some of the best movies in the world, in my perspective. The following ratings are not by a trained movie critic, but by as passionate movie buff. So, if the ratings reflect anything, it reflects my taste. In general, I tend to like movies with good stories, powerful but subtle dialog, good music that’s not conspicuous, acting that’s not overly dramatic and stories that “could have been true”.  I thought of putting it together both as record for my own sake and to share a list of movies with those who may share my taste. […]

List of great movies: India and international (brief reviews)

Pride and prejudice IMDB Year: 1940 Writer: Jane Austen Director: Robert Z. Leonard Length: 117 Category: Drama Rating: 3 out of 5 Many movies have been taken on this brilliant book by Jane Austen. The best in my opinion is the version produced by BBC (click here for review). Being a television serial, it has the advantage of time – and so is better able to do justice to the novel. I feel that Leotard managed quite a bit in 117 minutes. The trouble though was not with time, but with Hollywood. Rarely can a Hollywood movie escape the pressures […]

Pride & Prejudice by Leonard: Reasonable

Colour of Paradise IMDB Year: 1999 Writer: Majid Majidi Director: Majid Majidi Category: Drama Rating: 5 out of 5 Another great product of Iran’s movie revolution. A master piece on the struggle between a bright blind boy and a father who is ashamed of his disability Mohammad is a curious young boy who is constantly discovering the nature around him. He is bright and has picked a remarkable ability to read using braille. He is loved by his young sisters and nurtured by his grandmother. The local school is proud of the boys academic abilities. His father though is ashamed […]

Colour of paradise: Majid Majidi’s Masterpiece

Many talks and interviews with well known people are now available online. I’ve put together a series of them that I have specially enjoyed. To see the rest, click here Desmond Tutu, the Archbishop from South Africa is one of the towering figures of the world today. His role in removing Apartheid from South Africa is well acknowledged. He also received a Nobel peace prize for his role in 1984.  Bishop Tutu is a very powerful speaker, story teller, and a jovial person. But between his stories and jokes he gets serious and makes touching appeals. His sense of hope […]

Touching talk by Desmond Tutu: Nobel Laureate from South Africa

Is the language of rights useful in discussing poverty? Economists seem to claim these days that the rights approach may undermine the cause I encountered many economists writing tentatively about human rights these days. Perhaps there is an extensive literature about it already. The main premise of arguments seems to be while the ideals of human rights are good, the approach will only impair the reduction of poverty by advocating unsound policies. Amartya Sen responds to these issues in a debate with Jeffry Frankel at Harvard University. Webcast of debate is available. The programme runs for an hour and fifteen […]

“Consequentialist perspective” of economists and Human Rights

Inspiring talk by Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman on intuitive thinking Vs. reasoning and its application to choice theory The introductory lecture to the class of 2008 in Princeton was done by Prof. Daniel Kahneman on the wonders and flaws of intuitive thinking. The webcast of the lecture is available in the Pricneton media website. Kahneman distinguishes between two modes of thinking – Reasoning and intuition. While intuition is powerful and accounts for most of our thinking, it is suceptible to illusions. These illusions can result in wrong choices in a variety of situations. He discusses the topic and its relevance […]

Wonders and the Flaws of Intuitive Thinking – Webcast of ...

More choice is equated with greater welfare, is this tenable? Too much choice can paradoxically make us be better but feel worse argues the psychologist In many societies today welfare is associated with freedom, and freedom with choice. It is commonly argued that people are better off with more choice. Psycologist Barry Schwarts discusses various experiments by psychologists and behavioural economists that test this claim. The talk lasts about one hour, and is worth every minute of it. Many talks and interviews with well known people are now available online. I’ve put together a series of them that I have […]

Paradox of Choice – Why more is less by Barry ...

India: Development and Participation Rating: 5 out of 5 Author: Amartya Sen & Jean Dreze Year: 2002 Category: Development, Economics, India Publisher: Oxford My favourite book on India’s development issues. Provides a comprehensive overview of many important development issues In my opinion this book is gold standard and is a must read for anyone intersted in development issues. Amartya Sen is distinguished for his ability to incorporate a wide variety of concerns including growth, inequalities, gender issues, power relations, etc. Dreze complements these abilities and also brings in significant field-level experience apart from rigorous research. India: Development and Participation combines […]

Best book on India’s development by Amartya Sen and Dreze

Manhattan IMDB Year: 1979 Writer: Woody Allen Director: Woody Allen Rating: 2 out of 5 The movie starts with a forty something Woody Allan and his seventeen year old date at a dinner with his friend Yale (played by Michael Davis) and his wife. Yale confides to Woody that he is having an extra marrital affaire with a bright Journalist played by Diane Keaton. The movie then takes us through a tangled web of relationships, betrayals, insecurities and a dash of humour now and then. I decided to watch Manhattan after seeing the fantastic rating it had in Rotten Tomatoes. […]

Woody Allan’s Manhattan disappoints me

Children of heaven Year: 1997 Writer: Majid Majidi Director: Majid Majidi Category: Foreign Rating: 5 out of 5 Children of Heaven is a product of Iran’s movie revolution. Ali goes to get his sister’s shoe cobbled and looses it on the way back. He’s too scared to tell this to his parents since they are too poor to buy another pair immediately. He convinces his sister to keep it from the parents and shares his sneakers with her. But this is not easy since his school starts immediately after her school ends and the children run to and from school […]

Majidi’s Children of Heaven: A child’s lost shoe becomes a ...

Bookmarks I created on New York to enjoy the city on a low budget Most things in New York are costly, atleast at the surface of it.  But with some hard work one can find a lot of attractions in the city that one can catch up with in a student budget.  I found the following online resources on New York useful.  This is a small list that I hope to work on. [inline] [script language=”JavaScript” src=”” type=”text/javascript”][/script] [/inline]

New York sight seeing: Low cost options for students

Though I am an intensive user of various features of Google, I was surprised to find that it has an inbuilt calculator that I had not discovered till today.  Normally, I open MS Excel painfully or some other application to do simple calculations.  I found that one can do these by using the calculator function in Google by using standard methods that one would in Excel.  If one has the browser open, it’s a quicker and easier way to get answers than looking for an application.

Google calculator for quick calculations online