Thursday, May 31, 2007

Book Excerpt: The Origin of Species

Thus ends this highly controversial book:

Authors of the highest eminence seem to be fully satisfied with the view that each species has been independently created. To my mind it accords better with what we know of the laws impressed on matter by the Creator, that the production and extinction of the past and present inhabitants of the world should have been due to secondary causes, like those determining the birth and death of the individual. When I view all beings not as special creations, but as the lineal descendants of some few beings which lived long before the first bed of the Silurian system was deposited, they seem to me to become ennobled. Judging from the past, we may safely infer that not one living species will transmit its unaltered likeness to a distant futurity. And of the species now living very few will transmit progeny of any kind to a far distant futurity; for the manner in which all organic beings are grouped, shows that the greater number of species of each genus, and all the species of many genera, have left no descendants, but have become utterly extinct. We can so far take a prophetic glance into futurity as to foretell that it will be the common and widely-spread species, belonging to the larger and dominant groups, which will ultimately prevail and procreate new and dominant species. As all the living forms of life are the lineal descendants of those which lived long before the Silurian epoch, we may feel certain that the ordinary succession by generation has never once been broken, and that no cataclysm has desolated the whole world. Hence we may look with some confidence to a secure future of equally inappreciable length. And as natural selection works solely by and for the good of each being, all corporeal and mental endowments will tend to progress towards perfection.

It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with Reproduction; inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the external conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less-improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

- Charles Darwin (The Origin of Species)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Book Excerpt: The Audacity of Hope

......Almost by definition, faith and reason operate in different domains and involve different paths to discerning truth.

The story of Abraham and Isaac offers a simple but powerful example. According to the Bible, Abraham is ordered by God to offer up his "only son, Isaac, whom you love," as a burnt offering. Without argument, Abraham takes Isaac to the mountaintop, binds him to an altar, and raises his knife, prepared to act as God has commanded. Of course, we know the happy ending—God sends down an angel to intercede at the very last minute. Abraham has passed God's test of devotion. He becomes a model of fidelity to God, and his great faith is rewarded through future generations. And yet it is fair to say that if any of us saw a 21st century Abraham raising the knife on the roof of his apartment building, we would call the police; we would wrestle him down; even if we saw him lower the knife at the last minute, we would expect the Department of Children and Family Services to take Isaac away and charge Abraham with child abuse. We would do so because God doesn't reveal Himself or His angels to all of us in a single moment. We do not hear what Abraham hears, do not see what Abraham sees, true as those experiences may be. So the best we can do is act in accordance with those things that are possible for all of us to know, understanding that a part of what we know to be true—as individuals or communities of faith—will be true for us alone.

This is not to say that I'm unanchored in my faith. There are some things that I'm absolutely sure about—the Golden Rule, the need to battle cruelty in all its forms, the value of love and charity, humility and grace.

- Barack Obama (The Audacity of Hope)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Another Book Tag

Book Tag – Indian Authors
Have you read these books by authors of Indian origin? The ones in bold font are the ones I have read and the ones in italics are the ones I am longing to read....

1. The Namesake - Jhumpa Lahiri (great read!not seen the movie though!)
2. The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy (amazing book!Estha and Rahel continue to haunt me....)
3. An Equal Music – Vikram Seth (I liked it)
4. The Vine of Desire – Chitra Divakaruni (I enjoyed reading it)
5. Mulligatawny Soup – Manorama Mathai (humourous one!)
6. The Burden of Foreknowledge – Jawahara Saidulla (I'm just waiting to buy it!)
7. By the River Pampa I stood – Geeta Abraham Jose ( guess who wrote it!)
8. My Story – Kamala Das (Good one)
9. The Raj – Gita Mehta
10. Circumferences – Suma Josson (it transported me to my childhood, good book)
11. Mediocre but Arrogant – Abhijit Bhaduri
12. The Enigma of Arrival – V.S.Naipaul (for serious readers only!)
13. The Better Man – Anita Nair
14. Fault lines – Meena Alexander
15. The Inheritance of Loss – Kiran Desai (wonderful book!)
16. Fasting, Feasting – Anita Desai
17. Bookless in Baghdad – Shashi Tharoor
18. Train to Pakistan – Khushwant Singh
19. Difficult Daughters- Manju Kapur
20. Desirable Daughters- Bharati Mukherjee
21. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
22. The Feast of Roses – Indu Sundaresan
23. Malgudi Days – R.K.Narayan (read it a long time ago!)
24. Five Point Someone – Chetan Bhagat ( a cool one for teenagers)
25. Anything for You, Ma'am – Tushar Raheja (super cool one for teenagers)
26. The Moor's Last Sigh – Salman Rushdie

Hillgrandmom, Twinkletoes, Nav , John and Jawahara - You are TAGGED!!!!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

I have this beautiful poem taped to my dressing table and I read it almost everyday as I get ready for office. I'm sure no working mom would be able to read through the entire poem without a pang of guilt in her heart or a tear in her eye....

When Time Flies By!!!!

My hands were busy through the day;
I didn’t have much time to play.
The little games you asked to do,
I didn’t have much time for you.
I’d wash your clothes;I’d sew and cook
But when you bring your picture book
And ask me to share in your laughter
I'd say, "a little later, daughter"
I’d tuck you in all safe at night,
And hear your prayers; turn out the light.
Then tiptoe softly by your door,
I wish I’d stayed a minute more.
For life is short, the years rush past,
A little girl grows up so fast.
No longer is she at your side,
Her precious secrets to confide.
The picture books are put away'
There are no longer games to play.
No Teddy Bears or misplaced toys,
No sleepovers with lots of noise.
No goodnight kiss, no prayers to hear,
That all belongs to yesteryear.
My hands, once busy, now are still,
The days are long and hard to fill.
I wish I could go back and do
The little things you asked me to.


Happy Mother's Day, everyone!!!