Tag: London


Steven Johnson’s ‘Where Good Ideas Come From’

Summary and Reaction to Chapter 3 (The Slow Hunch) of Steven Johnson’s book ‘Where Good Ideas Come From’

The main argument in the chapter is that great innovations are due to accumulative processes rather than spontaneous ‘eureka’ moments.  Almost in any major technological or scientific innovation of modern times, the break-through was made possible by the robust base built by accrued prior knowledge.

A key idea put forward by Steven Johnson is that of ‘convergence’.  This is the process of the gradual accumulation of information, concepts and their interrelationships that are precursors to the occurrence of ‘insight’. Although the decision to synthesize and analyze them is that of an individual, the fundamental facts and concepts can be fetched from a disparate range of sources. To this extent, though great innovations are not one-off events of brilliance, they are the result of ‘collective intelligence’. Collective . . . Read More

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A Hanging by George Orwell: An analysis

The short story is based on the author’s first hand experiences as an imperial police officer in Burma.  It has all of the trademark Orwellian touches, including the futility and the dehumanization that the imperial project entails. Moreover the story is a strong indictment of the practice of capital punishment.  There are numerous clues that this is the author’s moral stance.  First the dog that strays into the gallows obviously does not find the prisoner guilty. It is a mark of its love for its master and loyalty the dog jumps on the prisoner and licks his face.  Here Orwell is hinting that guilt is a morally relative judgment.

Another point Orwell implies is the shared common humanity between the unfortunate prisoner and his persecutors. This insight comes through at the moment when the prisoner steps aside from a puddle of water. It was a powerful moment that revealed his capacity for rational thinking and action.  The other instances of hangings narrated by . . . Read More

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Community Policing in the USA and Britain

  1. Develop a typical “community policing” model utilized by local/American policing tactics. How would you deploy road patrol personnel to best promote the model of community policing? How would you instruct your officers to interact with the community?

The community policing model had found success in the United States because of its balancing of authority with community. A typical model would comprise of a squad of patrollers assigned to a locality.  They would come under the leadership of the delegated sheriff for that locality. The key feature of the community policing model in the United States is ‘participation’. Rather than acting like authorities in power, the patrollers strike camaraderie with local residents.  They develop a first-name calling rapport with the locals. The local residents serve as useful informants and witnesses for suspect activity. At the same time the patrolling officers do also monitor the regulars he comes . . . Read More

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Jonathan Edwards’s Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God: Annotated Bibliography of its critique

Wilson H. Kimnach, Caleb J.D. Maskell, and Kenneth P. Minkema, editors. Jonathan Edwards’s “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”: A Casebook. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2010. 204 pages.

This book attempts to deconstruct the various dimensions of Jonathan Edwards’ famous sermon.  In other words, it offers the social, historical and theological contexts for the sermon for the novice reader.  Even for those practicing Christianity for a long time, the book offers key insights and asides with respect to the text in question. Included in the book are the authoritative/definitive version of the sermon; essays that tell how the sermon came about and place it in historical and theological context. It serves as a sampling of Edwards’ “theological, philosophical and personal writings to contextualize the sermon in the life and thought of the man; a number of contemporary and historical interpretations of the sermon; and . . . Read More

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Performance Review: The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams

The Glass Menagerie is one of the classic pieces of performing art to have been made in the twentieth century.  First published by Tennessee Williams in 1944, it is a memory play with four main characters – Amanda Wingfield, Tom Wingfield, Laura Wingfield and Mr. Wingfield.  The Gentleman Caller is the other character in the play who serves as a catalyst to the plot. The Glass Menagerie is the story of broken promises and disappointments in the backdrop of economic turmoil.  The Wingfield family is torn apart due to the failings of its breadwinner – Mr. Wingfield.   The play has garnered critical acclaim both as a work of written word as well as an enacted play.  The further adaptation of this play into a movie is a testament to its enduring essence.

But many critics believe that the play is best experienced through theatre performances. Consequently, many production houses have performed it time and over during the last seventy odd years.  The intricate design of . . . Read More

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Is unemployment within the labour market primarily voluntary?

The worldwide recession precipitated by the financial crisis in the United States has had disastrous consequences for the UK economy as well.  This most recent episode of recession in the UK happens to be the worst it had faced in the period following the Second World War.  Based on the GDP numbers for the years 2008 and 2009, one learns that “the economy contracted even more sharply than previously thought in the first quarter of 2009: 2.4 per cent compared to the preliminary estimate of a 1.9 per cent contraction.” (Lynch, 2009)  The promising rise of industrial production in April 2010 did provide hope for an early recovery.  But this hope was to prove a mirage as the trend reversed in subsequent months.  Though the UK took a little while to catch up with the crisis in the United States, at the beginning of the second quarter of 2008, the region’s economy was in acute recession.  It has been close to four years since the onset of recession and subsequent economic . . . Read More

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Television Show Analysis: Mad Men

Mad Men is one of the most acclaimed television series to have emerged in recent years.  Produced by Matthew Weiner (who was earlier the executive producer of The Sopranos), this richly made drama series depicts the New York advertising world of the early 1960s. The punning title can be taken to mean Madison Avenue which was the epicenter of PR firms during this period. Most of the action unravels in the posh and busy offices of the fictitious firm Sterling Cooper, which employs a troop of “secretary-ogling, martini-guzzling WASPs, including the laconic, philandering creative director, Don Draper (Jon Hamm).” (Wren, 2008, p.17)  An interesting aspect of the TV show is the “behind-the-scenes glimpses of hucksterism in the making, as Draper and his colleagues sculpt PR blitzes for a vibrator, a lipstick brand, an airline with a bad crash history, and other products in search of love.” (Wren, 2008, p.17)  This essay will analyze various salient features of the show.  To . . . Read More

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Critical Analysis of The Submission by Amy Waldman

The novel chosen for this research exercise is The Submission by Amy Waldman.  Waldman has had a successful career with the New York Times before embarking on this debut novel.  Given her background, the subject of her work of fiction reflects her work as a journalist, centered on one of the most pressing topical issues of our times.  Set in the aftermath of the September 11 2001 terror attacks on America, the story begins with the event of choosing the winning design for the World Trade Center memorial, for which a distinguished jury was assembled in New York.  The jury members are awed and surprised when they open the envelope to know the winner’s identity – he is a Muslim, Mohammad Khan.  In other words,

“The handpicked jury, featuring artists, historians and the personally bereaved, finally – although not unanimously – arrive at a decision. It’s for a walled garden featuring steel trees made of material from the Twin Towers. The . . . Read More

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Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl – A Happy Ending

The Holocaust is undoubtedly the most tragic event in the history of modern human civilization.  One has to go back many centuries in time to point a catastrophe of such magnitude – for example, the Black Death that afflicted most of Europe and wiped out nearly a third of its then population.  The difference of course is quite telling; while the latter was a natural phenomenon caused by an epidemic disease, the former is a man-made disaster.  The Third Reich, which was the architect of this systematic human purging, was an elected government of the German Republic.  That such devastation and barbarism could result from the workings of democratic institutions is very difficult to digest and poses many questions of ourselves and our tolerance toward other cultures.  In this context, Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl is another poignant contribution to an extensive canon of Holocaust Literature.  After two years of living in the underground, young Anne Frank and . . . Read More

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The Hite Report (1976): A Nationwide Study of Female Sexuality

Shere Hite is one of the most influential and controversial figures in sociology scholarship of the last half century. It won’t be an exaggeration to suggest that she is one of the most quoted authors in feminist scholarship; and her most famous work The Hite Report is even popular among lay readers. The Hite Report: A Nationwide Study of Female Sexuality was published in 1976. This was followed by The Hite Report on Male Sexuality in 1981 and The Hite Report on the Family in 1994. She is seen as an inspiration and role model for many feminist activists and writers for offering them radical new insights into female sexuality in western society. It is for the same reason that she is ostracized and attacked by conservative sections of western society, especially within the United States. Yet, there is no doubt that her contribution is quite significant in the context of the growth of sociology as a field.

A prominent feature of the report is its sprawling style of . . . Read More

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