Saturday, October 15, 2016

This week in the New York Times

I think the New York Times is a benchmark for high-quality journalism. It is independent, thorough, thoughtful, and analytical. When in the USA in July and August I really enjoyed reading a hard copy every few days.
My wife and I do have an on-line subscription; both so we get access and because it is important to support high-quality journalism. Currently, in India, I am restricted to reading online.

Here are four articles from the past few days that I thought were particularly stimulating.

Buffett Calls Trump’s Bluff and Releases His Tax Data
Warren Buffett is one of the wealthiest people in the world. Yet, he has real integrity, generosity, a modest lifestyle, and a concern for social justice.

Flush and Dominant, Australia’s Banks Come Under Pressure
It is always interesting to see what it takes for Australia to make it into the New York Times. Unfortunately, it is often major failings of Australia, such as our shameful treatment of asylum seekers. I did not realise that the "big 4" banks are comparable in size to Goldman Sachs, and more profitable.

The Professor Wore a Hijab in Solidarity — Then Lost Her Job
This long Magazine article concerns a former Professor at Wheaton College. The article is striking for the detailed discussion of subtle and important theological issues.

Among Donald Trump’s Biggest U.S. Fans: Hindu Nationalists
This is an example of how the Times finds interesting and important stories that others don't even look for, let alone report.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

In what country do I belong?

I enjoyed watching the movie A Decent Arrangement. A young man who grew up in the USA with Indian parents returns to India so his aunt can arrange a marriage for him. It nicely captures some of the identity crisis of immigrant children, the conflict of cultures, and questions about the nature of marriage, romance, and love.

 I am currently in India and I also feel the movie nicely portrays some of the uniqueness of India: the street scenes, the sounds, and the smells?

The Times of India gives an Indian perspective of the movie that I found helpful.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Answering some good questions

I was asked by some friends some questions such as "Why do you believe in Science and in the Bible?". Here are some slides with my attempt at an answer.

Another question concerns the historical interaction of science with Christianity. This talk addresses some of that.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Cooking up a family reconciliation

I enjoyed watching the movie Today's Special. It is a light-hearted "foodie" movie. A young man in New York  wants to become a great chef. However, due to his father'hs poor health he is forced to take over the Indian restaurant owned by his father, an immigrant of Indian Muslim origin.


It nicely portrays the reconciliation of father and son and multi-cultural New York. The movie makes you want to go out and eat some good Indian food. This is good since I am in India right now!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

We need to pay for high quality journalism

I am just finishing seven weeks in the USA. For the last 3 weeks I have enjoyed buying and reading a hard copy of the New York Times every couple of days. This is journalism at its best. They have an impressive array of in-depth articles. Many have clearly involved a lot of background research. This obviously costs money and is difficult to support in an era when newspapers are under such extreme commercial pressures.

This video from John Oliver highlights how serious the problem is and the severe negative implications for society.

Good journalists in a democracy enhance the accountability of both public and private institutions, where small companies, churches, local governments, sporting clubs, multi-national corporations or the United Nations.

For just one example, look at this nice New York Times article, How Think Tanks Amplify Corporate Americas Influence.

This has challenged me to be wiling to pay for some of the content I read.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The profundity of a mundane existence

My family enjoyed watching The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
It promotes a very interesting idea: real heroes are not necessarily those who do glamorous things, attract fame, or have outstanding achievements, ...
Real heroes may be those who do a simple job well; faithfully and with integrity.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Small practical steps towards poverty alleviation

I recently read A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity
by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

It gives a nice overview of initiatives, both large and small, to alleviate poverty in both the USA and globally. The book has many strengths.

It is practical. Rather than being overwhelmed with statistics and the massive size of the problem it gives many concrete examples of individuals and organisations that are making a difference. It ends with some very specific suggestions of what the reader can do now.

It is encouraging and inspiring. Analysis of different issues is interweaved with stories of a diverse range of individuals, from children to wealthy businessmen, who are taking action.

It is challenging because it puts a human face on poverty, with stories of individuals.

It is balanced and realistic. It does not gloss over how difficult some of the problems are and how many well-intended iniatives fail, and sometimes even make the problem worse. Consequently, it discusses the value of randomised trials, such as described in Poor Economics.

Solutions are multi-faceted  because poverty is so complex. There is a role for small and large organisations, local and global action, political activism, education, creating social enterprises, ...