W.O.O.F. Contest - Top Five Writers

My post 'Honesty - Still the best policy' was selected among the top five writings in the W.O.O.F. Contest hosted by PlotDog Press.
Here are the top five picks for the September 26 contest.

1. Mike Fried - “Off the Deep End — AGAIN!” - A diatribe against PETA.
2. Amritbir Kaur - “Honesty - Still the best policy” - We have read the English proverb - Honesty is the best policy - very often ever since we were children. But it began to change meaning with the passage of time. Let’s find out its implications now.

3. Sanjay Chhabria - “Tears” - A little touchy kind poem on tears. Walks you through describing the feelings undergone whenever you would cry.
4. Kayla - “Who is Your Star?” - How to recognize your guiding light.
5. Penelope Anne Bartotto - “The Gift” - A poem about Mother Nature’s gift.

Quotes by Scientists

“Give us the knowledge of laws of nature, and both future and past will reveal their secrets.” – Sir Issac Newton

“Measure what is measurable, and make measurable what is not so.” – Galileo Galilei (the inventor of telescope)

“Thus the task is not so much to see what no one has yet seen; but to think what nobody has thought, about that which everybody sees.” – Erwin Schrodinger (great physicist who studied quantum physics and waves)

“False facts are highly injurious to the progress of science, for they often endure long; but false views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, for every one takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness.” – Charles Darwin

“I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn’t learn something from him.” – Galileo Galilei

“Not only does God play dice, but… he sometimes throws them where they cannot be seen.” – Stephen Hawking (the British Physicist)

A Prayer

We often use Tennyson's line: "More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of. " But little attention do we pay to this fact that how less we pray. We actually don't God enough for the little things that we possess - those things are only assumed little by us because we never think of them that way.
Here I would like to share with my readers a nice little prayer I read on the internet:
O God, I thank You for this day of life
for eyes to see the skyfor ears to hear the birds
for feet to walk amidst the trees
for hands to pick the flowers from the earth
for a sense of smell to breathe in the sweet
perfumes of nature
for a mind to think about and appreciate
the magic of everyday miracles
for a spirit to swell in joy at Your mighty presence

A Prayer by: Marian Wright Edelman,
Founder of the Children's Defense Fund
Source of this prayer: Inspiration Peak

Man Booker Prize 2008 Shortlist

The following are the final six books that have made it to the final shortlist:
The much awaited Man Booker Prize shorlist was announced on September 9. The following are the list of books competing for the coveted prize:

Aravind Adiga’s ‘The White Tiger’
Read more about the book

Sebastian Barry’s ‘The Secret Scripture’
Read more about the book

Amitav Ghosh’s ‘Sea of Poppies’
Read more about the book

Linda Grant’s ‘The Clothes on their Backs’
Read more about the book

Philip Hensher’s ‘The Northern Clemency’
Read more about the book

Steve Toltz’s ‘A Fraction of the Whole’
Read more about the book

Honesty - Still the Best Policy

‘Honesty is the best policy’ – this is a statement that we have heard most often since as far back as we can remember. But its implications have been changing for us with the changing times. At the very onset we had learnt this statement only because we were told to do so by our society and the family. It had little meaning for us then. A little later, when we started school the import of this proverb was – not to steal others’ things and not to tell lies. By the time we reached middle or secondary stage the implications had been altered altogether. For our convenience we took it as a statement that excluded those lies that were spoken for someone’s good or those that did not cause harm to others. That is to say we could utter those lies. But as we reached college or university level, the statement began to seem more and more bookish and superficial to most of us. Here the question arises – Is this the correct approach? Certainly not. Honesty is still the best policy and will continue to stay so for all time to come.
Let us have a look at the concept of honesty. It is not an external quality. Being honest to ourselves comes first and then to those around us. Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, former President of India, had rightly remarked, “Only the man of serene mind can realize the spiritual meaning of life. Honesty with oneself is the condition of spiritual integrity.” The policy of honesty works on the principle of give and take. If we are honest to others, only then can we expect others to be honest to us. It’s not very rare when we read in the newspapers that a person returned someone’s lost bag even knowing that it contained lakhs of rupees or other valuable things. If we want to get back our lost bags safely, we will have to return others’ bags gracefully.
The virtue of honesty is not at all a bookish concept. It is this honesty only that assists in taking the world forward in times of widespread corruption and falsehood. We generally believe that poverty leads to crimes. But there are poor who are honest to the core inspite of their extreme poverty. So we cannot sweeping statements like saying that the policy has lost its value or importance in the present day context.
As far as being honest to oneself is concerned, it entails being true in one’s heart of hearts, accepting the reality and facing the facts squarely. Moreover, being dishonest to ourselves means widening the gap between the divine presence and ourselves. The famous English poet, Alexander Pope, has expressed that “an honest man is the noblest work of God”. God is not a being; it is a force that is present in all of us. We keep on moving away from the inner light due to a veil of dishonesty and lies. William Wordsworth in his famous Immortality Ode has stressed upon the fact that a child carries with himself a tinge of the heavenly presence with him in childhood. But as he gets more and more involved in materialistic chores, he keeps on moving away from the feeling of the presence of a Heavenly force.
Honesty is just like the lighthouse – it guides the people so that they can safely sail away on the sea of life to the shore that is our final destination. Therefore making the children capable of honesty is wherein the essence of education lies.

“Is Life a Compromise?”

This question can never be fully answered to one’s satisfaction. But yes, life is an adjustment (by whatever name you call it). Ever since our birth we keep on making adjustments so that we are fit enough to survive in this highly competitive world. Even according to Darwin's theory 'only the fittest can survive'. So adjustment is only a medium to survive. Sometimes we don't even feel we are making any kind of adjustment. But in reality we are moulding ourselves according to the requirements.
Often a situation arises when we find that the conditions are not favourable for us. At that moment the trick lies in successfully manipulating the prevailing situation to turn it in our favour. This is also adjustment in the sense that we make do with whatever we have.
We all have certain dreams and aspirations – some fulfilled but many others that remain unfulfilled. But we have to digest the fact and go on in our lives. This is a compromise or adjustment so to say.
Nevertheless, calling life a compromise means too much delimitation of life and taking a very narrow and pessimistic kind of a view. The animals adjust to the climatic conditions prevailing. There are certain characteristic features present in them that help them to facilitate this adjustment. This is what we call life – the very essence of life. We humans make full use of the resources available to us.
So lead life as it comes by you; and make sure, you score a brilliant ten out of ten. This will ensure that you haven’t treated the adjustments you made as handicaps, rather converted the resources in hand to come out a winner.

John Gray's 'Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus' - an overview

John Gray’s book ‘Men are from Mars, Women from Venus’ (published in 1992) is a book about improving the husband-wife relationship. So it is as relavant today as it was at the time of its published. In the word of John Gray himself this book “reveals new strategies for reducing tension in relationships and creating more love by first recognizing in great detail how men and women are different”. The difference between the two genders is not limited to only to a few areas; they are poles apart in the way they react to various situations, how they feel, think , perceive, respond, love and appreciate things. The difference is so wide that men and women seem creatures from two different planets as the title of the book itself suggests – ‘Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus’.
While going through the book I jotted down some major highlights of the bok wherein lies the essence of resolving the misunderstanding between men and women. At one place Gray writes, “Men mistakenly expect women to think, communicate and react the way men do; women mistakenly expect men to feel, communicate and respond the way women do.” But the fact is that there is a world of difference.
Gray has elaborated these differences in detail through his book. He begins it with a chapter giving us an overview of the concept of difference between men and women and also leading us to the detailed discussion that ensues. The book consists of thirteen chapters with chapters two to thirteen discussing one particular aspect each. In the second chapter he has discussed the tendency of women to become the ‘home-improvement committee’. She offers unsolicited advice and criticism; while on the other hand men try to reshape women’s feelings when they are upset. They offer solutions disregarding her feelings.
The second major difference between men and women is discussed in chapter three entitled ‘Men go to their caves and Women talk’, that is, men prefer to stay withdrawn in times of stress while women are more emotionally involved and talk openly about their problems.
The fourth chapter brings to light the fact that men need to feel that they are needed if they are to be motivated and women are at their best when they feel cherished.
Then in the next chapter Gray interprets for us the different language used by women and men. They may use same words but mean something that is entirely different. For instance, when a man is asked, “What’s the matter?” he will reply in something very brief like “It’s nothing” or “I am OK”. To put it into other words, instead of saying “I’m upset and I need some time to be alone”, they just become quiet.
In the next chapter, talking about relationships Gray describes ‘men as rubber bands’- how they pull away when women get close. If it was men being compared to rubber band in the next chapter it is the turn of the women to be likened to the waves – the rising and falling of a woman’s self-esteem is just like the movement of the wave - low at one moment and rising up at the other..
In the eighth chapter, ‘Discovering Our Different Emotional Needs’ the writer enlists different requirements of love or the types of love needed by men and women. He gives the following list:
Women need to receive: Reassurance, Understanding, Caring, Respect, Devotion and Validation.
Men need to receive: Trust, Acceptance, Appreciation, Admiration, Approval and Encouragement.
Next Gray gives tips on ‘How to avoid Arguments’, he gives four F’s to avoid arguments – Fight, Flight, Fake and Fold. Fight is the basic characteristic of the Martians (men). When their partner gives up they feel they have won indeed they lose at that time. Flight is also their characteristic they retire to their caves to avoid confrontations. Fake is the stance of the Venus. In order to pretend that there’s no problem a woman fakes a smile. Fold is also Venusian feature. Instead of arguing they give in.
Then it is about scoring points with the opposite sex. Gray enlists one hundred and one points on how to score with a woman. In chapter eleven, Gray elaborates on the methods of communicating difficult feeling. He discusses different types of letter writing. Chapter twelve entitled ‘How to Ask for Support and Get it’ stresses on the use of correct wording. The last chapter, ‘Keeping the Magic of Love Alive’ mentions the 90/10 principle in which ninety percent consists of past experiences and the rest of the ten percent the effect it has upon us. Gray is of the view that we need to cut down the 90 percent to keep magic of love alive.
Talking of the book in general it is overall a good reading. While reading the reader tries to relate himself to the behaviour described in the book whether he is a man or a woman. The book is a step towards improving the life of relationships and keep them ticking all through one’s life.

'Perspectives' by an Unknown Author

I want to share with my readers a story I read on the Net a few years back. Yesterday I came across a printout of the same in my file of such treasures. The story was attributed to an Unknown Author. Here it goes:
One day a father and his rich family took his young son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose to show how poor people can be. They spent a day and a night in the farm of a very poor family. When they got back from their trip the father asked his son,
“How was the trip?”
“Very good, Dad!”
“Did you see how poor people can be?” the father asked.
“And what did you learn?”
The son answered, “I saw that we have a dog at home, and they have four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of the garden, they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lamps in the garden, they have the stars. Our patio reaches to the front yard, they have a whole horizon.”
When the little boy was finishing, his father was speechless.
His son added, “Thanks, Dad, for showing me how poor we are!” isn’t it true that it all depends on the way you look at things? If you have love, friends, family, health, good humour and a positive attitude toward life, you’ve got everything!
You can’t buy any of these things. You can have all the material possessions you can imagine, provisions etc. for the future but if you are poor of spirit, you have nothing!

Thomas Carlyle - 'The Grand Old Man of Victorian Literature'

A Painting of Thomas Carlyle (www.paintingall.com)
Thomas Carlyle, famous for his ‘Sartor Resartus’, ‘The French Revolution, a History’, ‘Heroes and Hero Worship’, was a Scottish essayist, satirist and historian. Born on December 4, 1795, he was highly influential as a writer in the Victorian age.
David Gascoyne, a British poet, analyses in detail the writings of Carlyle in his book ‘Thomas Carlyle’ published in 1952, decades after the death of Carlyle in 1881. Gascoyne has called him as the “grand old man of Victorian literature”.

According to Gascoyne, "Thomas Carlyle was one of the sternest critics of the nineteenth century's special pride, the rise and progress of Democracy, yet he himself was one of the most striking examples of a kind of triumph which is thought to be one of Democracy's chief justifications."
In his book , ‘Chartism’ Carlyle expressed his views strongly on the topic of education in Britain:
“To impart the gift of thinking to those who cannot think, and yet who could in that case think: this, one would imagine, was the first function a government had to set about discharging. Were it not a cruel thing to see, in any province of an empire the inhabitants living all mutilated in their limbs, each strong man with his right arm lamed? How much crueler to find the strong soul, with its eyes still sealed, its eyes extinct so that it sees not! Light has come in to the world, but to this poor peasant it has come in vain. “
As far as his writings are concerned, Gascoyne places Carlyle between Soren Kierkegaard on the one hand and Walt Whitman on the other. He is of the opinion that both Carlyle and Kierkegaard were poets who wrote in prose.
Gascoyne concludes his book by categorically stating that “Carlyle cannot be claimed by the Left or by the Right. He was too faithful to the vision of ‘the Divine Idea of the World’ to be a partisan of any hard-and-fast ideology; more that heroism, he worshipped the Objective. This briefest of introductions to his writings to his writings has not attempted to give any idea of ‘The French Revolution’ or to do justice to Carlyle’s conception of History and the art of the Historian. Social and Literary Historians in general cannot yet be said to have done this fully either.”

For detailed study visit: Thomas Carlyle (Writers and their Works: No. 23)