Was that really a decade that just sputtered by? Granted, everyone was numbed to the teeth for a couple of years after 9/11, but aren’t decades supposed to be demarcated by some sort of discernible content, like techno music, the civil rights movement or cocaine abuse? What can the Zeros claim? The Jonas Brothers? Avatar? Devendra Banhart? The emergence of graphic novels as a viable literary genre? Good TV? Gay marriage? These are all more or less wonderful things, but uniformly retro, cobbled together from surefire crowd-pleasers and reconfigured for today’s a-go-go cyber lifestyle. Where’s the surprise, the indication that something new is afoot — something that might signal a sea change in our culture’s disastrous path of self-destructive materialism, or at least save us from drowning in reassuring pabulum? When I see “The ’00s,” I think “the ooze” — and wonder how to scrape it off.
more from Doug Harvey at the LA Weekly here.
Wiry and headstrong in life, so in death,
the bleached stems of harebells
– unflappable as marram grass –
outstare this sun, these easterlies.
At every branchlet’s pendant tip,
the vestigial ribs of a seed capsule
(bell-like, a birdcage in miniature)
accumulate and vitrify a water droplet.
Hence this platinum-wired gem tree
gathering December light, dispensing it;
a crystal-chandelier Adventist
illuminating, galvanising, rather,
its weedy, slug-pearled patch
of lavender and fallen harebell seeds;
igniting, with each icy tug,
summer’s metaphorical touchpaper.
by Jean Bleakney
from The Poet’s Ivy; Lagan Press, 2003
Mark Buchanan in New Scientist:
Good stories need rich characters that we care about, not mathematical theorems, however fascinating. So a work of fiction subtitled A mathematical novel makes you fear that it may only expose the tremendous difficulty of blending science and logic with the emotion and dramatic tension required of good literature. Fortunately, in this case that fear is misplaced, because A Certain Ambiguity succeeds both as a compelling novel and as an intellectual tour through some startling mathematical ideas.
Just before his death, Indian mathematician Vijay Sanhi entices his grandson, Ravi, into the world of numbers via one of its mysteries. Punch any three digits into your calculator, he tells Ravi. Then punch in the same three again. No matter which digits you choose, he claims, the resulting six-digit number will be exactly divisible by 13, that result divisible by 11, and the last result by 7. You will always end up with the same three-digit number you started out with. Amazed to find this is true, Ravi soon works out why (a clue: 13 × 11 × 7 = 1001), and falls in love with mathematics.
From a joint statement by the editors of the Jang Group and The Times of India:
The Times of India Group and the Jang Group [Pakistan] have come together to energize the process of peace between our two countries. We believe that this is an intervention whose time has come. We recognize that setbacks will occur but these should not derail the process. We will need to reach out and pluck the low hanging fruit in the beginning before we aim higher. Issues of trade and commerce, of investments, of financial infrastructure, of cultural exchanges, of religious and medical tourism, of free movement of ideas, of visa regimes, of sporting ties, of connectivity, of reviving existing routes, of market access, of separated families, of the plight of prisoners, will be part of our initial agenda. Through debates, discussions and the telling of stories we will find commonalities and space, for compromise and adjustment, on matters that have bedevilled relations for over 60 years.
When the two neighbours meet they move almost seamlessly into the shared cultural and human ethos. They talk to each other about food, about music, about poetry, about films, about theatre and about the prolonged absences spawned by lost years. They share anxieties, discuss rising prices, seek advice on their children’s education, gossip about their in-laws, trade anecdotes and laugh at the foibles of politicians. We want to lower the walls so that the conversation continues. We have to nurture the seeds of peace that have nestled, untended, for decades in hostile soil.
We owe our unborn generations the right to rise out of the depths of poverty, and squalour.
More here. [Thanks to Ruchira Paul.]