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angry brown man, do not provoke!

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Reading List For Las Vegas

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I have finalized my reading list for my forthcoming trip to Las Vegas. I decided to use the long, captive moments to finally finish several books that are in different states of completion.

In fact, I’m only adding one new book, which isn’t actually new but a reread, and since it deals with sports gambling, which I’m planning to pursue during my, I thought it would be apporpriate. Thus my reading list is as follows:

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Written by niraj

December 16th, 2008 at 4:57 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

DailyLit: Reading For Very Busy People

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I love DailyLit, a website that serializes books (both free and copyrighted) via e-mail or RSS. It’s a great service that enables me to read books, in byte size pieces, in the free minutes I have in my busy day that is otherwise wasted.

I’m using DailyLit to read some of the classics that I’ve been meaning to read but never had the wherewithal to start. I’m reading four in particular:

  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  • Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
  • Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

Hefty books all. I think I’m all set until 2010. 🙂

Though DailyLit is a great source for classic literature, the selection of non-fiction books, especially history, is much to be desired. My ideal website would be to combine DailyLit’s functionality with Project Gutenberg‘s vast library. The ultimate literary mash-up.

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Written by niraj

May 1st, 2008 at 10:51 am

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When Is Exploitation Not Exploitation?

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Another stupid John Cherian article in Frontline magazine, where he essentially says: Chinese investment in Africa is good, Western investment in Africa is exploitation and, therefore, bad. If I didn’t know any better, I noticed an undercurrent of racism to his thinking.

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Written by niraj

April 24th, 2008 at 10:37 am

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My Name Is Smith, Just Smith

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Some recruiter simply named Smith left a message on my cell phone about a job I might be interested in Connecticutt. He didn’t leave his first name, or even called himself Mr. Smith, just Smith. Weird. And the man sounded like a desi, not some random native American. It was a deeply-accented English too, the kind spoken by Indian code jockeys that come to the United States, don’t communicate much (except with each other), and pretty much keep to themselves, so their language skills, to say the least, are a bit stilted.

I decided against returning his call because I wasn’t interested in going to Connecticut at all. Nevertheless, as is the practice, the recruiter followed up on his voice mail with an e-mail, which was asimply signed ‘Smith’. I kept asking myself: is that really his name? Or is it an attempt by the recruiter to ingratiate himself to candidates without scaring them away with an ethnic-sounding name? But why rest with just one name.

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Written by niraj

December 22nd, 2007 at 7:32 pm

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Review: Shah of Shahs

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Ryszard KapuĹ›ciĹ„ski’s Shah of Shahs is no ordinary account on the fall of the Shah; but a meditation, of sorts, at a deeply personal, and almost atomic level, on why it all happened. The book captures the pathos of Iran’s revolution by plumbing the psyche of its people, and doing so with a literary flair that makes Shah of Shahs a befitting addition to any library about Iran.

The Shah left people a choice between Savak and the mullahs. And they chose the mullahs.

In a nutshell this answers the question why the Shah was overthrown—the country simply hated him. The Shah passed himself as a progressive and a modernizer; who promised to make Iran “the second America” within a generation, but his methods were crude and medieval. He was also despotic, autocratic, and incredibly cruel.

The Shah spent billions to modernize Iran but barely spent a cent on developing the most valuable resource he had—people. The Shah never trusted his people. Too much education is not always a good thing, according to the Shah. That is why he sent the country’s brightest students to Europe and the United States for higher studies because universities are, according to the Shah, almost always a source of opposition. The Shah did not have to worry on that score, the students, sensing danger, wisely decided not to return.

Nevertheless, you cannot build a modern nation by importing machines and building factories alone; you must rescue people mentally and physically mired in the past. But instead of taking the people into his confidence and instilling in them a sense of a brighter future, the Shah’s way was to literally beat modernity into them whether they liked it or not; and he did it with the military—his sole power base—and state security services like Savak, the dreaded secret police. The Shah, the self-proclaimed progressive and modernizer, brooked no opposition or criticism of his rule, which was absolute and unyielding.

The people, in turn, responded by retreating inward, to the core of their being: a combination of Shia Islam and Persian nationalism. And the more they retreated the crueler the Shah became. Man has his limits, after all; and by 1979 Iranians had enough. The whole country, led by the mullahs, convulsed into a revolution, sweeping Ayatollah Khomeini to power, where he quickly established a theocratic state, which still stands today.

It surprised no one that the monarchy crumbled so quickly except for the Shah. No one was more shocked than he; who, of course, thought the people loved him (and he, in turn, loved them, but in a strange and twisted away). He entered exile a bitter and broken man.

Now that the Shah was gone, people hoped for better days. It was a hopeless dream. Little did people realize they were simply exchanging one tyranny for another. The cruelty, the autocracy, the corruption, and the anti-intellectualism, all the hallmarks of the Shah’s regime, continued without missing a step, except now victims became tormentors, and tormentors became victims.

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Written by niraj

March 6th, 2007 at 5:15 pm

Posted in Uncategorized