Monday, November 26, 2007

Unread Books

The first section explores the four categories of unread books, into at least one of which Mr Bayard places every book he mentions. These are the “books unknown to me”, the “books I have skimmed”, the “books I have heard about” and the “books I have forgotten”. No exceptions are admitted, even for books he himself wrote.

Closed books | The importance of not reading |

The above is a book review of How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read. A book about not reading books! The author talks about four categories of unread books. Then the reviewer draws the similarity between books and people:

Your reviewer's mind wandered, as she explored ways of not reading this book. Surely, she thought, books are like people, who can be unknown to us, or heard of, or “skimmed” (perhaps met) or forgotten, but never truly known? But that is to leave out love—for people and for books.

Even though the author tries to make a case for not reading books -ironically through writing one– because they fall into one of the four categories, he misses out on the books we fall in love with which makes the whole experience worthwhile. Books and people have so much in common after all!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Islamic Car

MALAYSIA'S struggling national carmaker, Proton, claimed this week to have identified a huge gap in the world's car market. It believes there is demand for an “Islamic” car. The idea stems from desperation, but it is not as batty as it first seems.

Proton | Lost compass |

Very interesting! The article continues:

As planned, its “Islamic” car will feature a compass to indicate the direction of Mecca, a box in which to store a copy of the Koran and a compartment for a headscarf. This, Proton seems to think, is a formula that no other carmaker can match. That seems unlikely.

Now can you imagine that? I hope they don’t cover up the windshield!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Legends Meet

World number one Roger Federer beat seven-time Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras in straight sets in an exhibition match in Seoul on Tuesday.

The 26-year-old Swiss star won 6-4 6-3 in 61 minutes in the first of three matches between the pair this week.

Monday, November 19, 2007


Remy is a young rat in the French countryside who arrives in Paris, only to find out that his cooking idol is dead. When he makes an unusual alliance with a restaurant's new garbage boy, the culinary and personal adventures begin despite Remy's family's skepticism and the rat-hating world of humans.

Ratatouille (2007).

A great animated movie that I enjoyed very much. Here are few things I learned from it:

  • Anyone can cook: if you put your heart into something you can do it. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

  • Don’t be judgemental: you can forge great relationships in life if you don’t pre-judge.

  • It’s not what you do but how you do it: preparing a meal is more than putting together ingredients; it’s the passion that goes into it.

  • Ratatouille is a traditional French dish!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Yes Master!

Swiss Roger Federer reacts after defeating Spaniard David Ferrer during the final of the 2007 Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai in Shanghai, China, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2007. Federer won 6-2, 6-3, 6-2.

Masterful Performance! Roger overcame an early upset to win the tennis season ending title. Winning is great; overcoming loss is master!

World Series Champs

My cousin Ahmedi got me this wonderful souvenir from Boston. Go Red Sox!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Welcome Side Effect

This was not all that surprising. Previous research had detected similar inverse correlations between allergies and brain tumours, suggesting that a welcome side effect of allergy was resistance to cancer. But this new study went further. It looked carefully at the time in the patients' lives when their allergies were active, and it found that this timing was crucial. Dr Wigertz noted that the absence of allergy was correlated with the time when a glioma first formed. That was true even in people who had previously had allergies which had then cleared up.

Cancer and allergies | Win some, lose some |

As an allergy sufferer, I never thought it was a good thing to have. It’s surprising how bad things could turn out to be good after all or have positive side effects. I guess it helps to remember this when something bad happens: despite the pain, it could prevent bigger suffering.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Not So Agile!

The real focus of the government's investigation seems to be PWC, which is suspected of pocketing refunds received from American food suppliers which should have gone to the army. Officials claim that it failed to shop around for the best value. They also say that it favours The Sultan Center, a Kuwaiti retailer which partly owns PWC, over other sources of fresh food in the Middle East.

American food companies | War and apple pie |

Agility (formerly PWC) faces trouble with US authorities. Well the good news is it’s not the Kuwaiti government this time around that is giving them trouble!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Decency Please!

JOAQUIM CHISSANO, a former president of Mozambique, has got a nice top-up to his pension by winning the first Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. In fact, it may be the largest prize in the world, worth an initial $5m over ten years, then $200,000 a year thereafter. And Mr Chissano won it as much for what he didn't do as for what he did.

The prize, dreamed up by Mr Ibrahim, a Sudanese-born British businessman who sold his mobile-phone company, Celtel, to a Kuwait-based firm, MTC, two years ago for $3.4 billion (£1.8 billion), is to encourage good leadership and governance in a continent that he thinks has been blighted by dictators and crooks for too long. The prize's magnitude may reflect the depth of the problem. The judges, who include Mary Robinson, a former Irish president, and Kofi Annan, a former UN chief, do not expect to award it every year.

Africa | A politicians' Oscar |

MTC (Zain) does good, indirectly, through their purchase of Celtel. I suggest Zain sponsors similar award here in Kuwait for ideal politicians.. or maybe ideal is a stretch and should settle for minimum decency! 

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Case for Monogamy?

To test that idea, Tim Clutton-Brock of Cambridge University and Kavita Isvaran of the Indian Institute of Science in Bengalooru decided to compare monogamous and polygynous species (in the latter, a male monopolises a number of females). They wanted to find out whether polygynous males had lower survival rates and aged faster than those of monogamous species. To do so, they collected the relevant data for 35 species of long-lived birds and mammals.

As they report this week in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, the pattern was much as they expected. In 16 of the 19 polygynous species in their sample, males of all ages were much more likely to die during any given period than were females. Furthermore, the older they got, the bigger the mortality gap became. In other words, they aged faster. Males from monogamous species did not show these patterns.

The point about polygyny, according to Dr Clutton-Brock, is that if one male has exclusive access to, say, ten females, another nine males will be waiting to topple the harem master as soon as he shows the first sign of weakness. The intense competitive pressure means that individuals who succeed put all their efforts into one or two breeding seasons.

Evolution | Live fast, love hard, die young |

Here you go the case for monogamy! I wonder if the shorter life span of polygynous males is due to male competition as the study reasons, or keeping up with [the garga of] all the female mates :p