Replacement of email? Not yet. 12-Jan-2016

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A text/sms just takes a few moments; chatting on WhatsApp can be even faster. However, sending a snail mail – a handwritten letter – takes time; an email takes lesser time than that. But, in a world where we need instant messages, email is still slow. My spouse sometimes complains about the amount of work mail that he has to first tackle in the morning. There is an email account of mine that I rarely use because it is so full of crap – advertisements, messages from social media etc. My email inboxes are cluttered. The first mails that I read are personal ones and then the ones related to work. Rest of them mostly go unread.

In spite of the issues with email, emails and emailing lives on – the article today explores the reasons for email’s longevity. It also has interesting snapshots of its history.

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/01/what-comes-after-email/422625/

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The writer’s singular powers over her readers; 11-Jan-2016

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It goes without saying that writing influences us – it affects or shapes our ideas and thoughts.  The more convincing the writer, the more persuaded we become of accepting his or her point of view. Novels can be vampiric and the art of storytelling is necessarily an exertion of power – as this writer tells us. I guess it is better to choose our reading well.

https://aeon.co/essays/how-books-can-sap-the-soul-and-poison-readers-with-ideas

Sorting the flavours of Coffee; 6-Jan-2015

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I am tea person but I do know a lot of coffee aficionados. One of them can have cold coffee almost anytime. Another won’t trade coffee for any other kind of beverage. They can go on and on about the kind of flavours that can go with coffee, or the places where great coffee is served, So while the people I know are mostly interested in the actual experience of having coffee (just like this food writer), the article says more about coffee than just that. It would, for example, tell you why a light or medium roast of coffee beans is stronger than a dark roast of the beans.

http://luckypeach.com/harold-mcgee-on-coffee/

An interesting guide to Swearing; 4-Jan-2015

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Happy New Year everyone! What I am posting today is perhaps not one of the best first posts of a new year; but, it is quite interesting.

I don’t like people using swear words. Perhaps I feel threatened, or I feel that it could be a result of limited vocabulary or limited imagination. The writer of the article does not believe so. He believes that expletives can sometimes be advantageous or that swearing has less violent functions than physically venting out anger. In this witty write-up, he also talks about the appropriate and inappropriate times to swear.
http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/01/a-strategic-guide-to-swearing/419106/

On Kipling and his old-school lecture on morality; 22-Dec-2015

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Poem kind of comes in between a piece of prose and a song – the verses invite the reader to probe further, and the rhyming produce a sing-along-song-like effect. Add a few inspiring lines, and you have a masterpiece of a poem. The poem If by Rudyard Kipling is one such poem. Kipling had several critics for his views on race and war in particular. Yet, his legacy has remained. As is stated in the article, Kipling is still remembered while his critics remain largely forgotten. The writer also explores the magic of Kipling’s poem If – why the poem is still so timeless, why it is the most searched poem in poetry foundation, why thousands or millions have put the poem on their desktops and walls, and why Kipling’s old-school lecture on morality still lingers on.

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/article/251704

And, if you have been wondering about Kipling – here’s more on the author/poet and his inspirations:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/books/what-to-read/rudyard-kipling-the-misfit-poet/

Fat issues; 21-Dec-2015

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There are several theories about why obesity has reached epidemic proportions or why lifestyle diseases like Diabetes are becoming widespread destroyers of our health and lives. Perhaps we are eating more than ever before or moving lesser than our ancestors. Or, perhaps medicalized farming practices are adding chemicals, antibiotics, and hormones to our food, which in turn are confusing our appetites and messing with the balance of hormones among other damaging effects. Perhaps it is our lifestyle and the food choices that we are making. Here’s another strong reason:

http://nautil.us/issue/31/stress/why-living-in-a-poor-neighborhood-can-make-you-fat

Training a difficult bird; 17-Dec-2015

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Touted as a book of the year by many and an award winning book, H is for Hawk is about the author’s dealing with grief, her training a falcon which she calls Mabel, a tribute to another falcon trainer, and her talk about her beloved father. Here’s a review of the book which tries to find the reasons behind the book’s popularity: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jul/23/h-is-for-hawk-helen-macdonald-review

And, here are a few glimpses of the story – you might notice how you, the reader, become one with the author and the falcon as you go through the narrative. http://lithub.com/h-is-for-hawk/

Surgery without anaesthesia, analgesics, or antiseptics; 16-Dec-2015

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This is grisly stuff. If you can’t stomach horror, you shouldn’t read any further. It is about a time much before anesthesia, pain killers, and antiseptics were invented or offered and when surgeries were mostly performed on conscious patients among blood, screams and often spectators. I find it painful to get my eyebrows plucked. I don’t know how people could bear the pain of an amputation then or how surgeons could perform the nightmarish surgeries. Sometimes, we should be thankful for the gifts of modern medicine.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/books/what-to-read/crucial-interventions-richard-barnett-surgery-victorian-amputation/

Show me the money; 15-Dec-2015

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Have you noticed that while shopping for say furniture, you might find a row of shops that sells exclusively furniture? It is the same story with automobile stores, crackers, clothing stores and so on. Just outside my home, there are four grocery stores in the same row of shops selling same or similar brands of food and household items. I have often wondered about the profitability of these stores – how with so many of them concentrated in just area, do these stores manage to not just survive but also thrive? The answer might lie in the huge profit margin. Here are some answers to a similar question on mattress stores.

http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/3265/why-are-there-so-many-mattress-stores