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, ...

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Where does the love of money lead?

My family recently enjoyed watching The Big Short, which retells the true story of investors who made a lot of money betting (shorting) on the collapse of the USA housing market in 2008.

Like other movies and newspaper headlines (e.g. Panama papers or Rupert Murdoch) what often strikes me is how greedy and insatiable some people are. Almost everyone would like to have a million dollars. Some would like a few millions. But some want hundreds of millions, even billions, .... What are you going to do with it? In the end it must be a psychological problem. It is not really about the money but an obsession and the adrenaline rush of making the money ....

This clip captures some of the essence of the movie.



But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
1 Timothy 6