Saturday, April 29, 2006

Book: Conversation A History of a Declining Art

Telegraph reviews Conversation A History of a Declining Art by Stephen Miller.

What should Americans - and all of us - be conversing about? It seems the subject does not matter so much as the manner. Miller believes that conversation promotes social cohesion through politeness. It requires that we listen and encourage in a spirit of curiosity. "People need to be persuaded that the benefits of politeness exceed the costs," he writes. "But the leading figures of popular culture and high culture admire authenticity and have a therapeutic view of self-expression." In other words, rude is real, and monologue is the form of the moment. There is also a problem with fundamentalism. You cannot have a conversation with those "who think God is on their side".
Usually when I read Slate, I pause and wonder why they club Arts and Life together. Extending that train of thought, the other combinations are equally intriguing - News & Politics, Business & Tech, Health & Science, Style & Shopping, and Travel & Food. Indeed, Politics makes the most noise (oops, news); Technology drives a lot of Business; Science is what makes us tablet-popping healthy; Shopping and Style - well, cannot even be sarky about this one!; Travel & Food both sound like good indulgences.

So what is that one thing that does not get clubbed with anything else? Sports :)

Girl, Go Tech!

GirlsGoTech is a site dedicated to informing and influencing girls to say yes to Techie careers( link via email from Raji). I did not find the site comprehensive enough on first glance. However, they do have an interesting booklet offering tips for parents on how to encourage their girl child towards the Math, Science and Technology fields.

Here are some things you can do to encourage the girl in your life to pursue her interest in technology:
• Be a role model: use technology in your daily life. Share with her what you do at work, and show her how science, math and technology are important to your job.
• Spend time actually sitting down with her at a computer – at home or at the library. Visit Web sites and discuss safety.
• Counsel her to take classes in technology as she enters middle school, and support her in that decision.
• Show her how technology can be a tool in the process of learning – from playing computer games to contributing to a survey on wildlife sightings.
GirlsGoTech also has pointers to other resources on the web.

Friday, April 21, 2006

This is atrocious! I cannot imagine dealing with the lazy Giant again.

Frank O'Connor International Short Story longlist is out. The name Frank O'Connor was enough to send me memory digging on firebrand Rand (of course the association merely being identical names).

And there are some important birthdays coming up in the next few days (hush, I did not mean mine ;) - the evergreen superstar on Apr 23 and India's very own willow God on Apr 24.

Interested? Hmm...I'd fit the requirements (meticulous, organized, enthusiastic - straight out of the collection of epithets friends toss at me like slander!) but I can only be a virtual worker.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Sometimes, there is nothing to hide...


Through Blue Eyes

Behind Glass


Baton passed from here.

Suggest a Chennai story

At the Chennai metroblog, you will now see a new link that reads Suggest a Story. This means that you can bring to our notice items of interest in Chennai that you would like to see written about on the Metblog (really bad sentence that! but you get the drift). Go on, tell us what you want to read about Madras nalla Madras.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Teach Yourself

I am a little partial to the teach yourself series of books. Usually, my favourite bookstore, Landmark does not stock them in large numbers and it is with some luck that one can locate any teach yourself book there. Therefore I was delighted to find, on a recent visit, that Landmark has a huge set of those books now. On a quick glance, I saw that the languages, creative arts and business & careers sections were covered. I am looking forward to the rest of them!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Women and thin

Rowling has a rant and it is quite a valid one at that (link via Krithiga)

Maybe all this seems funny, or trivial, but it's really not. It's about what girls want to be, what they're told they should be, and how they feel about who they are. I've got two daughters who will have to make their way in this skinny-obsessed world, and it worries me, because I don't want them to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones; I'd rather they were independent, interesting, idealistic, kind, opinionated, original, funny – a thousand things, before 'thin'. And frankly, I'd rather they didn't give a gust of stinking chihuahua flatulence whether the woman standing next to them has fleshier knees than they do. Let my girls be Hermiones, rather than Pansy Parkinsons. Let them never be Stupid Girls. Rant over.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

"Women Writers" - shoo, you label

It is amazing how ever so often labels get bandied about in conversation. Yet again, an article that uses "Women Writers" freely.

For a start, there's the category itself. "Woman writer!" exclaims Hariharan. "It's not a terribly useful label if it just becomes lazy, a way to ghettoise." Moggach says: "I don't really like separating women from men novelists. Most female novelists of any calibre are not writing novels that remotely suggest that they're written by women."

Kapoor hotly counters this view: "Of course women's writing is different from men's," says the best-selling author of Difficult Daughters, and professor of English at Delhi University. "It's bound to be. Our experiences are different." Malavika Sangghvi, journalist and author, springs to her defence. "The God of Small Things, Brick Lane and On Beauty couldn't have been written by a man, just as Midnight's Children couldn't have been penned by a woman," she says. "Women have a 'heart' rather than a 'head' approach, a decidedly female sensitivity."

And I disagree with the generalization that women have a heart rather than a head approach. I think writers, as a larger category, are a great combination of seeing the heart through the head and tailoring their words to express their observations accordingly. So it does not seem fair to say a certain book could not have been written by a woman or a man. If an author (male or female) has written a certain book in a certain way, it is likely that no one can write any other book quite like it. There may be good imitations or good tributes but those will be coloured by its own author's touch.

Monday, April 03, 2006

I found Kaps' analysis on Indian online bookstores interesting. Never realized that there was an online store for Prakash books. Plus it will be interesting to see if Sambhar Mafia readers do provide links to unheard of online booksellers. I have had a rather disappointing online book shopping time on the Indian sites.
Alexander Zaitchik writes about the worst book fair that he ever went to (this one at Pondicherry).

The Indian bookshops with English sections generally have dense little pockets of Penguin's "Popular Classics" -- Twain, Tolstoy and Bronte, wrapped in that dull beige jacket -- but the same 20 or so titles pop up in every shop, usually next to the same five books by those lions of the Indian Diaspora, Rushdie and Naipaul.