Family

What every parent should know

(When troubled, one reads this much quoted, but worth quoting again and again, Khalil Gibran poem.)

On Children

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

/eop

Deep. Very.

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Books, Education, Movies, Music, Society

Maya Angelou (April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014): Still I Rise

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Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

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Education, Family

The High School Rat Race

Everyone wants to know. And if you do not tell them, beware their imagination will run wild.

Everyone wants to tell you. And if you do not respond, you are possibly just jealous.

Parents messaging each other the 10th standard grades of their children, makes a good sociological study. Its one thing for kids to talk to friends about it. But parents? They need their heads checked. I don’t remember any such flurry from my parents when we sailed through our boards. I don’t think dad knew till he came back from work. Even when he did, there as a mild congratulation. Life moved on. Agreed we were not so technologically networked, but not even over plain old telephone or the compound wall with neighbors. Today, kids got to hide from their neighbors or throw away the phones of their mothers and fathers.

It is easy to see what this is doing to so-called under-performers? A lot of social embarrassment. But then, you don’t have to care.

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Movies

Godzilla, 50 years on from Tokyo to San Francisco

Godzilla

Gojira_1954_Japanese_poster

Ishiro Honda’s first Godzilla (Gojira) movie in 1954, set in Tokyo, became a cult monster movie. Akira Ifkube’s fantastic score played to a deeply introspective script on the human condition post nuclear holocaust and the beginning of the nuclear weapon era. Godzilla, the lizard that grew to gargantuan proportions by feeding off radiation from nuclear tests, soon turned a hero, a relic from the holocaust. It achieved iconic status, spawning a series of movies and TV shows during the 60s and 70s showing heroic battles against other invading monsters, including King Kong.

The 2014 edition directed by Gareth Edwards (Monsters, In the Shadow of the Moon documentary film) resurrects the heroics of Godzilla using an A-Grade production riding on a script that flatters to deceive. Its plagued with typical Hollywood “God Bless America” symbols that just won’t go away:

a. obsession of using Golden Gate bridge as a backdrop for catastrophic events. (The average American’s world is indeed very small.)
b. over the top obsession with everyday Americans who save the world and turn heroes.
c. tearful father-son relationships and mush one-liners
d. fascination for “cool” Acronyms (MUTO or Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism).

These made the script sick and slow, very slow, at times. Some scenes dwell-ed on family traumas and oochie-koochies at home when there was raw action happening right outside the window. Whole cities were falling apart caught in the crossfire between Godzilla and the kaiju (MUTO).

However, this was a much needed edition. Hollywood’s previous 1998 edition was a truly appalling fantasy showing young American romantics bringing Godzilla to his knees on the Brooklyn Bridge. This time Godzilla saves San Francisco (and rest of America) from two EMP-generating kaiju’s.

If you enjoyed watching Godzilla and King Kong or Son of Godzilla from yesteryears, you will find this refreshing and a fitting tribute. In fact, the scientist character who has empathy for Godzilla is called Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (played by Watanabe) — named after the 1954 director Ishiro Honda.

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Random, Travel

Avalanche!

Sure you read about the deadly avalanche on Everest on April 18 that killed 13 sherpas. One of the deadliest on Everest. The sherpas had climbed up the treacherous Khumbu icefall, fixing ropes and camps for the commercial climbers waiting below at base camp. The climbing season is just opening.

Researching, we found this to be the most reliable and educative sites to know more about the Everest avalanche:

http://www.alanarnette.com/blog/2014/04/17/everest-2014-avalanche-near-camp-1-sherpa-deaths/

The blog carries live updates from the base camps on teams climbing Everest and other useful information.

Here is a picture of the area where the avalanche occurred. The tweet says aftermath of the avalanche, but that is not confirmed.

With lack of any photos immediately available, media (including BBC News) has been carrying videos and pictures of past avalanches, including a frame-grab from this dramatic video from a May 2011 incident off Nuptse.

As deadly, nevertheless.

Here is an insightful note on the plight of Sherpas (extracted from Alan’s blog):

Formula

The current formula for commercial guiding on Everest and other popular mountains around the world is based on a high level of support, advanced oxygen and other technologies, sophisticated weather forecasting, known routes and professional guides.

This formula has opened mountains to people otherwise unqualified to attempt them independently. It has created an economic model where customers get what they want, and well paying jobs are created for the local population when compared to the nearby alternatives.

All this said, the risk are real, and tragic with long term devastation to families of the fallen. No job anywhere of any type is worth a person’s life.

The only true solution to preventing deaths of Sherpas, clients, and guides is to stop climbing. Increasing pay and insurance, while justified, will not save lives.

Read more here

Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse form an arc from left to right, with the Khumbu Icefall emanating from it, at the head of the Khumbu Glacier. Trek up to the base camp at the icefall without going there, using this interactive multimedia map: http://explore.glacierworks.org/en/.

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Movies

Death to Smoochy: Nothing’s funny about these kid shows

Death to Smoochy

After a dark One Hour Photo, Robin Williams renders gray shades of Rainbow Randolph, a confused, self-obsessed host of a kid TV show; whose career goes sour after he is caught taking money from parents eager to feature their kids on the show.

Enter Sheldon Mopes (played by Edward Norton), who comes in as a replacement as Smoochy the Rhino. Mopes is a good-hearted fella and loves children. But he has a maniacal streak (was an anger management patient) that shows up now and then. Mopes turns hugely popular and is now a cash-cow. He is manipulated by his agent, Burke Bennet (played by Danny DeVito), who strikes a below-the-table bargain with the Studio owners.

Meanwhile, Mopes befriends Spinner Dunn (played by Michael Rispoli), the autistic brother of the ruthless mafia queen Tommy Cotter (Pam Ferris). Dunn becomes a regular on the show.

Mopes resists the promotion of sugars and other stuff that are harmful to kids and brings in his own ideas. The mafia who run the charities and sponsorship see red and decide to bump him off. Elsewhere, Randolph independently plots Mopes’ downfall. Thrown into the mix is his producer Nora Wells (played by Catherine Keener) who tumbles for him (rather his child-like demeanor).

Soon all hell breaks loose as Randolp, Mopes, and Wells run into the mafia war. Cotter takes it on herself to protect Mopes. It is not what it seems on these Kid’s TV shows anymore.

Watch it for Robin Williams and Edward Norton. A DeVito classic. Watch it with your 15 year or older children.

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Family, Movies, Society

Kid With a Bike: Sensitive.

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Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne compose a very sensitive portrayal of Cyril, a delinquent child who runs away from a foster institution, and his struggle to win back his father (who is neither interested nor capable). He bumps into Samantha, a hairdresser, while running away from a street fight. He continues to search for his father, wanting him and his bicycle. The bicycle means autonomy and a one constant companion in his otherwise upside down world. With Samantha’s help he meets his father. He also gets his bike back. She offers to take him into her home on weekends. He accepts but remains aloof from her. He wanders and gets involved with a young neighborhood crook for some quick money. Why Cyril wants the money would be telling!

Watch it for Thomas Doret’s superbly tense performance of a boy who is lost and on the edge. Cecile de France acts with restraint and care as she tries to navigate Cyril’s maze of thoughts.

Watch it with your young teenage kid.

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Education, Random, Society

Valuation points to new order of things in business

Amazon started out life as an online bookseller. Jeff Bezos turned selling books online into a multibillion-dollar business that changed the retailing landscape forever. The Amazon.com founder announced he is buying the venerable newspaper The Washington Post and other publications for $250 million.

An year ago, in its largest acquisition deal to date, Facebook purchased Instagram (with its 13 employees), an online photo-sharing, video-sharing and social networking service that enables its users to take pictures and videos, apply digital filters to them, and share them on a variety of social networking services, for approximately $1 billion in cash and stock.

Washington Post for $250 million. Instagram for $1 billion.

Well…

The Post, like many newspapers in the western world, has been seeing readers and advertisers move to the Internet and its value plummet. Now everyone is wondering if Mr Bezos can change the media landscape the way he changed retailing.

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Education, Random, Society

The Irresistible Pain of a Version 1.0 Product Release

Watch this video. Think of it as two startup entrepreneurs watching their engineering team make a Version 1.0 release of their pet product idea.

A Version 1.0 Assignment is certainly not for the faint-hearted among software engineers. It is sheer irresistable pain. The 1.0 release is no way an orgasm, rather its that child-birth in the video. All sense of time and space abandoned. Tremendous pain mixed with an urgency to get over with it. A whole lot of shit shovelling. Rampant code wreckage. Shredder full of first-thoughts. Walls filled with mad scribblings. Unrecallable swear words. Deep trenches.

And at the end of all the huff and puff, the outcome is refreshingly new. And, often messy. Like all software, this one has bugs and needs a clean up. But bugs are the only real proof that the thing is real and it works.

It is when it all comes together for the first time. Your bet that the product is what users will like, but you are not quite sure because it has never been out there before. A lot of the stuff the product is doing has possibly not been done before. A 1.0 product is when you are sticking your nose out there, sniffing to see what the market reactions are. If 1.0 takes off, great. If it makes it beyond the first six months, even better.

Its never, never quite what you expect. People who have experienced that moment of release will tell you.

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Education, Society

The Last Telegram

As the iconic 163-year-old telegram passed into history, the last message was sent to Rahul Gandhi. The telegram counter closed at 11.45pm on Sunday night and the last message was booked at the counter of Central Telegraph Office (CTO) Janpath by one Ashwani Mishra, who sent messages to Rahul Gandhi and director general of DD news SM Khan.

We got ours too. Got our ever-obliging friend Gowrishankar to send a telegram from the PO near Anderson Bridge, Chennai, on the last day. The GPO was closed. Here is a freeze frame.

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Started in 1850 on an experimental basis between Kolkata and Diamond Harbour, it was opened for use by the British East India Company the following year. In 1854, the service was made available to the public.

Roughly 140 years later, came Pagers, SMS, Cellular… interactive but brings out the fickle in us, unlike the venerable telegram.

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