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Posts Tagged ‘Benny Thomas’

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It little profits that an idle king,

By this still hearth, among these barren crags,

Match’d with an aged wife, I mete and dole

Unequal laws unto a savage race,

That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.

… ….

I cannot rest from travel: I will drink

Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy’d

Greatly, have suffer’d greatly, both with those

That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when

Thro’ scudding drifts the rainy Hyades

Vext the dim sea: I am become a name;

For always roaming with a hungry heart

Much have I seen and known; cities of men

And manners, climates, councils, governments,

Myself not least, but honour’d of them all;

And drunk delight of battle with my peers,

Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.

I am a part of all that I have met;

Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’

Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades

For ever and forever when I move.

How dull it is to pause, to make an end,

To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!

… ….

There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:

There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,

Souls that have toil’d, and wrought, and thought with me—

That ever with a frolic welcome took

The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed

Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;

Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;

Death closes all: but something ere the end,

Some work of noble note, may yet be done,

Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.

The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:

The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep

Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,

Tis not too late to seek a newer world.

Push off, and sitting well in order smite

The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds

To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths

Of all the western stars, until I die.

It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:

It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,

And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.

Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’

We are not now that strength which in old days

Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Form:This poem is written as a dramatic monologue: the entire poem is spoken by a single character, whose identity is revealed by his own words. The lines are in blank verse, or unrhymed iambic pentameter, which serves to impart a fluid and natural quality to Ulysses’s speech. Many of the lines are enjambed, which means that a thought does not end with the line-break; the sentences often end in the middle, rather than the end, of the lines. The use of enjambment is appropriate in a poem about pushing forward “beyond the utmost bound of human thought.” Finally, the poem is divided into four paragraph-like sections, each of which comprises a distinct thematic unit of the poem. (1833-42)

The poem’s final line, “to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield,” came to serve as a motto for the poet’s Victorian contemporaries: the poem’s hero longs to flee the tedium of daily life “among these barren crags” (line 2) and to enter a mythical dimension “beyond the sunset, and the baths of all the western stars” (lines 60–61); as such, he was a model of individual self-assertion and the Romantic rebellion against bourgeois conformity. Thus for Tennyson’s immediate audience, the figure of Ulysses held not only mythological meaning, but stood as an important contemporary cultural icon as well.

Ulysses,” like many of Tennyson’s other poems, deals with the desire to reach beyond the limits of one’s field of vision and the mundane details of everyday life. Ulysses is the antithesis of the mariners in “The Lotos-Eaters,” who proclaim “we will no longer roam” and desire only to relax amidst the Lotos fields. (ack:sparknotes)

Trivia:The last line was found in the note left by Captain Scott in his ill-fated expedition.

Also read my Pen Portraits-Alfred Tennyson

Photo: Tennyson/lisa abramson-writers-Pinterest)

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494bde34ec1fe455c26f213a0753c78d photo of Daudet/lisa abramson/writers-pinterest)

That morning, Franz was taking his way very slowly to school. He had a great dread of being scolded, particularly as the school-master had said that the lesson for the day would be on participles about which Franz did not know a word. Suddenly an idea came to him. He would go through the fields.

It was so warm, so clear. He heard the blackbirds whistling on the borders of the wood, and in the meadow, behind the saw-mill, the Prussians were drilling. Then, as he passed on by the residence of the mayor, Franz saw them putting a notice on the gate. There, for two years, had been given out all the bad news; lost battles for Alsace, calls to arms, the orders of the command. The blacksmith and his apprentice were putting up the notice, and Franz called,

“What has happened, that they are posting a bulletin again?” But the blacksmith spoke gruffly,

“Why do you loiter, little one? It is not safe. Run along quickly to school.”

So Franz made haste at last, although he was sure that the blacksmith was not in earnest, and he arrived all breathless, at his class.

School seemed, somehow, very different to Franz that morning. There was ordinarily a good deal of noise as the children came in from the street, desks were opened, and lessons were repeated out loud and all in unison, and the school-master pounded with his ruler on his table.

Now, however, there was silence.

Although Franz was late, the school-master looked at him without the least anger, and spoke softly as he said, “Go quickly to your place, my little Franz. We have already begun without you.”

Franz seated himself at his desk. Only then, his fear gone, he noticed that the master had on his best green frock coat, his finely plaited shirt and the black silk cap that he never wore except on a day when there were prizes given out in school. All the children were extraordinarily quiet. But what surprised Franz the most was to see at the back of the room, seated on the benches which were ordinarily empty, the people of the village. There was an old soldier with his tri-colored flag, the old mayor of the town, the postman, and many others. Everyone seemed sad. And the old soldier had a spelling book, ragged on the edges, that he held open on his knees, as he followed the pages through his great spectacles.

As little Franz watched all this, astonished, the school-master rose from his chair, and in the same grave, soft voice in which he had spoken to the boy, he said,

“My children, this is the last time that I shall teach your class. The order has come from Berlin that no language but German shall be taught in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine. Your new master arrives to-morrow. To-day, you will have your last lesson in French. I pray that you will be very attentive.”

Franz’s last lesson in French! And he could not write it without mistakes! He remembered all the time that he had wasted, the lessons he had missed in hunting for birds’ nests, or skating on the river. He thought of his books that would remind him always now, of his laziness–his grammar, his history, a present from his friend, the school-master, from whom he must part now with so much pain. In the midst of these thoughts, Franz heard his name called. It was his turn to recite.

He would have given a great deal to be able to recite the famous order of the participles, without a mistake, to give them clearly, and without a fault. But he confused them at the first word, and remained standing beside his desk, his heart trembling, not daring to raise his head. He heard the school-master speaking to him,

“I am not going to rebuke you, little Franz. You are already punished. Every day you have said to yourself, ‘Bah, I have plenty of time; to-morrow I will study.'”

“Ah, that has been the great fault in our Alsace, that of always putting off learning until another day. In the meantime, all the world has been quite right in saying of us, ‘How is it that you pretend to be French, and yet are not able to read and write your own language!’ Of all who are here, my poor little Franz, you are not the only one at fault. We all must reproach ourselves.”

Then the school-master told them of his longing to still teach the children the French language. He said that it would always be the most beautiful language of the world. He said that he wanted it treasured in Alsace and never forgotten, because, when a people fall into slavery it is almost like holding the key to their prison if they can speak to each other in the same tongue. Afterward he took a grammar and went over the lesson with the children. All that he read seemed suddenly quite easy to Franz; he had never attended so well, and never before had he understood how patient the school-master was in his explanations.

When the lesson was finished, writing was begun. For this last day, the master had prepared fresh copies.

_France, Alsace. France, Alsace_.

The copies were like little flags, floating all over the schoolroom from the tops of the desks. Nothing broke the great silence but the scratching of the pens upon the paper. Suddenly some May bugs flew in through the window, but no one noticed them. On the roof of the school some pigeons began to coo, and Franz thought to himself, “Will it be commanded that the birds, too, speak to us in a foreign language?”

From time to time, as Franz lifted his eyes from his paper, he saw the school-master sitting quietly in his chair, and looking all about him, as if he wanted to remember always every child and every bit of furniture in his little schoolroom. Only think, for forty years, he had been there in his place, with the playground facing him, and his class always as full! Only the benches and the desks which had once been polished were worn from usage now; the walnut trees in the yard had grown very large, and the hop vine that he, himself, had planted twined now above the window and as far as the roof. It was breaking the heart of the school-master to leave all these things.

But he had the courage to carry on the class to the very end. After the writing lesson, he began the lesson in history. Afterward, the little ones sang their A. B. C.’s all together and at the end of the room the old soldier took off his spectacles and, holding his spelling book in his two hands, he read off the letters with them.

Suddenly the clock in the tower of the village church sounded the hour of noon. Instantly, the trumpet call of the Prussians, returning from their drilling, burst through the windows. The school-master rose, quite pale, in his place. Never had he seemed so great to the children.

“My friends,” he said, “my little friends, I–”

But he could say no more; he was not able to speak the words. He turned to the blackboard and, taking a piece of chalk, he wrote upon it,

“_Vive la France!_”

Afterward, he remained there, his head resting against the wall, and, without speaking, he made a sign with his hand.

“It is finished. You are dismissed.”

[The end]
Alphonse Daudet’s short story: The Last Class

There is also a YouTube version put up by Mr. Robert Steiner.

In the backdrop of the recent outrage in the Charlie Hebdo office,Paris on Jan 8. 2015  by cultural bankrupts this story should be read as closely as a wake-up call. Any dent on the French Spirit sooner or later shall affect the rest of Europe. So Resist!

benny

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The other day I came across a news item: Stephen Hawking is working on a new Theory of Everything. Fine. Einstein before him was wrestling with a similar one even when brought to the nursing home during his final illness. Think of Einstein working on a branch of Science and Stephen Hawking on another branch of a giant tree. The tree is one and our brain has capacity to store information but how much?

According to late Carl Sagan human brain has neurons 10¹¹ with circuits and controlling switches for electro-chemical activities; and every neuron has tiny filaments called dendrites connecting with one another. If we assign each of these connection to a bit of information it can hold only 1 % of the number of atoms that a salt crystal can carry! It is not really mind boggling if we understand the nature of humans to create an order from information the brain gathers.

If we go from a mere speck of salt to the universe we would need a brain as big as the universe itself! Our commonsense experience and evolutionary history has prepared us to understand our workaday world. But if we were to seek exoplanets and other universes these are not reliable guides. When we hit the speed of light our mass increases prodigiously while our thickness decreases to zero in the direction of the motion. Time will cease to mean anything. Without a tangible reference- the context of time and space, would the brain unravel the pulses of information to know anything?

In my view Theory of Everything is a misnomer. It should be qualified as thus: The theory what human reason only can digest.

Take a sample of a tree with an auger. It shall carry everything essential of the whole tree, but also climate changes, time etc.,

What you get of an object is not its material content but its context as well. This context is rooted in our intuition and commonsense experience and beyond. Reason in our workaday world can analyze the object but it is restricted by our own finite nature.

The Theory must go beyond it and also farther than reason. As finite beings we abridge Truth into workable truth that has limited use. So reason alone cannot get hands on Ultimate nature of our universe.

benny

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One of the scary scenarios that is liable to be overlooked is bacteria that have become immune to antibiotics. To add fuel to it new classes of antibiotics aren’t being found as we would like to.

First of all we need to understand mechanism in nature has given bacteria similar strategies that we adopt in our present times*.

Bacteria evolve and learn to defend themselves. Bacteria need host as aliens a home. These may find their way into the blood stream through a cut just as easily migrants land off Lampedusa island in Mediterranean sea.

ii

The majority of antibiotics we use at home or in hospitals today have their origins in natural products.

The penicillins, cephalosporins, aminoglycosides, rifamycins, tetracyclines and glycopeptide-based antibiotics all came from bacteria or fungi. They were made by nature in response to selective evolutionary pressure over eons of “chemical warfare”, in which microorganisms battled to survive by killing off their competitors with antibiotics.

In a single scoop of soil, bacteria and fungi number in the millions. They also come in thousands of varieties, and survive by fighting each other. We know this because for the past century, several newly discovered antibiotics have been found by isolating them from the bacteria and fungi that produce them to defend their own lives.

Of course, they also co-evolved resistance mechanisms to avoid being killed by their own compounds, so antibiotic resistance is equally ancient. Scientists have found antibiotic resistance genes in bacteria isolated from 30,000-year-old permafrost, long before antibiotics were discovered and used by humans.

Most antibiotics found during the “golden age” were from micro-organisms themselves, isolated from soil or plants and then cultured in the laboratory. They were easily screened on agar culture plates or liquid culture broths to see if they could kill pathogenic bugs.

The toolkit required was pretty simple: some dirt, a culture flask to grow the antibiotic-producing bacteria or fungi, a column to separate and isolate the potential new antibiotic, and a culture plate and incubator to test if the compound could kill a disease-causing pathogenic bacteria.

Chemists were then able to “tweak” these new structures to extend their activity against different bacteria and improve their ability to treat infection in the clinic. Most of the antibiotics we have are derived from just one soil-dwelling bacterial order – the Actinomycetales.

We have somewhat exhausted our resources by exploiting what was easily found around us. So scientists have been forced to look further afield, turning to coral reefs, deep oceans and cave-dwelling bacteria to search for new promising molecules.

Key challenges

Philosopher Sun Tzu said “the supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting”. We are now in a protracted war against superbugs, as we have overplayed a key weapon against disease. Our unfortunate misuse and abuse of antibiotics means that bacteria have developed new ways to inactivate the drugs, to stop them getting to their targets within the bacteria cells, and to pump them back out of the cell when they do get in.

The cost and time required to bring new drugs to market are staggering. Estimates for the time to bring a new antibiotic through the preclinical, clinical and regulatory approval process are in the order of 13 to 15 years and around US$1.2 billion. If the costs of failures are factored in, it is closer to US$2.5 billion.

Because we expect to pay $20 or at most $200 for a course of antibiotics (compared to more than $20,000 for many cancer treatments), and because we only take antibiotics for a week or two, almost all of the companies that were active in antibiotic discovery have left the field over the last 20 years.

Tail spin:

*Evolution of free societies thanks to multiculturalism allow sneak attacks from host of aliens that have gained entry under different pretexts. Some are benign but faith based Jihadists who are more likely impressionable youth finding welfare programs of the host nation to fund their layabout lifestyle too attractive to miss the freeloading so they could hang out with friends of same attitudes. These naturally have no skills nor care to develop for their betterment or others. If they find themselves marginalised as sure as their choices would indicate they will know whom to blame. Their host nation of course. (Have you ever found any of them feeling they are parasites or blame lay in their own choices? No never.) What little they know is they are likely recruits for different groups who want to impose their own agenda when the time is opportune. An apt example would be the recent 8 Jan. attack in Paris. The terrorist brothers under the behest of Yememi branch of al-Qaeda imagined that by attacking Charlie Hebdo on the issue of Prophet Mohammad cartoon they could strangle free speech and make a dent in the tenor of the French society. Had they succeeded they would sooner or later upped their ante by escalating their hold by demanding something else similarly spacious. Hitler tried it before them and got away. (Had these terrorists honored the intent of the prophet instead of a silly point of blasphemy involved in portraiture, much of this bloodshed would have been needless.)

Such evolution is inevitable since the bacteria also mimic the host in many areas while seeking their opportunity. Under free speech in Park View schools, in UK impressionable minds were being groomed to view white women are devoid of all morals and similar lies. These hate strategies under faith based school management were caught in camera in time. When bacteria evolves similarly into malignant tumours superior technology must be relied to neutralise them.

Ref. Birmingham mail’of 26/7/14-Trojan Horse

Matthew Cooper/the Conversation/14/1/15-We need new anti-biotics

benny

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Psalm #1©

(And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,… vs.3)

Make me a tree for your garden Lord

Send me rivers of your goodness:

Let them make me strong and able

To worship you as long as I live.

ii

May your grace like rays of the Sun warm

Quicken my willing spirit all through;

In serving you make me grow

Fruits of the spirit must in me found.

iii

For your kingdom even for delight

Of all around make me reach out;

A tree with branches with fruits

Ever growing and abounding.

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If we were to take our lives in a linear fashion, last week of 2014 and first two weeks of this year would represent for me a life-changing experience. During Christmas holidays it struck me to set to write songs using Psalms of David as the text. I set myself the task: the first fifty psalms.

I never had to look back and it came flowing as though it all had been arranging itself in the back of my mind all these years since I began reading the Bible myself. I began on 26th Dec. and completed Psalm #50 on 10 January. Average about 4 psalms could not have been as a result of my own conscious effort. God anointed me with a fresh creative spirit, which is the office of Holy Spirit.

Soon after putting Omar Khayyam into print I had planned to shift gears from my regular blogging on account of my failing eyesight and age. I wanted to go back to my love of study of the Scriptures which with the Psalms of David has come back in full flow. I had in the 80s written hymns for a Pentecostal group in my mother tongue and this time I wanted it as an aid for personal worship.

In a nutshell I have paid my dues to the world in going through some 70 years the accumulated wisdom of its wisemen, sceptics, ungodly and godly and I could loosen myself without being overawed. I tested as a rationalist and in many modes and I am still spiritually intact to worship my Lord.

Every day is a slice of life lived and whichever choices you make life experience peculiar to your decision shall be on hand. This is the lesson I found true in my case.

benny

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Was evolution of brain a necessity? Man being a social animal has necessary space in his skull to accommodate the wiring that would need for honing his communicative skills. Other species have comparatively not much space for what man is equipped for. Nevertheless a bee can make sense of its world as well as get the best in its brief life span. So in terms of utility a life form is never for a moment at a loss to make a go of it. If a group of lizards in Madagascar thrown into the islands with fewer possibilities of sustenance evolves into miniature version of its cousin elsewhere a biologist would say it is owing to insular dwarfism. It is so. The group has learnt to adapt itself in terms of its environment. The dynamics of jiggering with its body size, habits are as unconscious as its consequences are obvious. So brain is not merely the size and circuits but being conscious of its undeniable connection to the world outside. 

Having said this let me mention about bilingualism.

If man was not conscious about other groups different from his having different languages the topic of bilingualism would be a non-starter.

Bilingualism affects the structure of the brain including both major types of brain tissue – the grey matter and the white matter. The neurons in our brain have two distinct anatomical features: their cell bodies, where all the processing of information, thinking and planning happens, and their axons, which are the main avenues that connect brain areas and transfer information between them. The cell bodies are organised around the surface of the brain – the grey matter – and all the axons converge and interconnect underneath this into the white matter.

We call it white matter because the axons are wrapped in a fatty layer, the myelin, which ensures better neuronal communication – the way information is transferred around the brain. The myelin functions as an “insulation” that prevents information “leaking” from the axon during transfer.

Brain is in fact a jumble of parts from jellyfish, lizards all put together. We are using the nerve net from jellyfishes while design features of the brain are derived from lizards. Jellyfish do not have brain and their communication system developed 600 million years ago cannot be what is best for us. The brain evolved out of necessity to take care of different groups speaking different languages do affect the structure of the brain. How is it then that some groups like the Western societies pride in their ability to explore new ideas while some resist any idea that has been associated with something sacrosanct genuine or imagined? If a non-Muslin takes the name of Allah it is tantamount to blasphemy or image of Prophet Mohammed is depicted it is an insult. What is a drawing but of the same category as letters drawn with a brush or pen or by pressing keys? If a mulla in the prophets name urges his audience to hate and kill it is not an insult to the position he holds or to his Maker? 

Recalling the recent outrage of some terrorists attacking the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris makes me wonder if brain has to do with these murderers who can shoot people in the broad light in the name of their prophet. Where does their intolerance come from? Are they brainwashed to forget the consequences? Or have their brains put into sleep mode by their fear of group disapproval? If such fear can skew up their thinking brainwashing is unnecessary. Man has himself necessitated its stagnation. Religion is not detrimental to one’s onward development. It is supposed to sooth and heal divisions since moral value of any life is worth preserving. 

JE SUIS CHARLIE

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