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Thursday, May 28, 2015

The cold marriage

William's son Ravindra was appointed to the Bandarawela district hospital as a doctor after passing out from the Medical Faculty of the Peradeniya University. Ravindra from Matara was highly impressed by the salubrious climate in Bandarawela and the natural surroundings in the verdant hill country. He was dedicated to his service, showing kindness and attention to the patients. His simplicity and decent behaviour made him popular in the hospital and the area.

Yvonne who hailed from a rich family in Bandarawela was interested in Ravindra. She visited the hospital constantly to see Ravindra. He too liked her because of her beauty, smartness and wealth. Yvonne took him for many rides in her car showing him the attractive tea estates and tea factories in Bandarawela. Ravindra was impressed by her fluency in English.

The result of their friendship was their marriage. Ravindra who visited her parents once a month did not go home at least once a year after the marriage. He did not write to them either, but informed her parents about the marriage by a letter.

Once William visited Ravindra in Bandarawela with great difficulty. The Bandarawela bound bus was moving fast along the southern coastal belt and through the hot plains in Lunugamwehera and Thanamalwila and through the mountains along the Ella-Wellawaya Road. He was exhausted with the five hour journey to Bandarawela. The following day he returned home disappointed.

"Why did you come back so soon......? I thought you would be in Bandarawela for three or four days", his wife Karuna said.

"My son is married to a posh girl. She is very stylish and always speaks in English. She is not a girl who can understand our lifestyle...... Had there been an afternoon bus, I would have come home yesterday itself," William told his wife.

"What can we do ....... that is the destiny of our son....... Today's girls are of that nature".

"He didn't step into this house after the marriage .... she doesn't permit him to come to Matara".

Letter

William, although not rich owns two acres of paddy and one acre of land with the house to live in. His garden was full of cultivations such as coconut, jak and fruit enabling him to earn a good income. Paddy cultivation too was always successful providing them enough paddy. His wife Karuna was very supportive to his daily work. Their daughter Kanthi was studying in the Central College in the town. William had to sell a coconut land to find money for Ravindra's higher education in the University.

"There is a letter for us, may be from the son......Can you read it louder so that I too can listen......."

Karuna was shouting when she received a letter from the postman.

"My son says they are coming home next week....Small kid is also coming .....See.....He is coming home after two and a half years. The kid is one year old now". William said to Karuna.

"We should treat them well. I'll find good fish, quality curd and honey..... son can take some 'embulthial' fish to Bandarawela......

"My brother is coming home... I am eager to see the small son", Kanthi said in a happy mood.

William who was enthusiastic about his son's arrival met his friends in the village and said, "My son.... doctor... is coming home next week. He is married to an attractive girl from a rich family in Bandarawela. They have a small son now."

William got up early in the morning. He was very contented and started the day's work courageously. He cleaned the whole house.

"I'll bring curd and honey. Make sure you prepare tasty meals", William told his wife.

They will reach here around 11 o' clock... "They will leave Bandarawela early morning", Kanthi said.

The whole family was impatient to see Ravindra, Yvonne and their small son. Karuna's brother Guneris who lives in the adjoining village too had come to see Ravindra and his family.

"Ah.... there.... sound of a car horn... they are close...." William said impatiently.

Baby

The car reached the house. William stood up from the arm-chair and went close to them.When they were getting off the car, mother ran to the car and took the baby.

"Come my Putha... You are very sweet".

"Come Akki... Come in", Kanthi was holding Yvonne's hand.

"You must be tired of travelling. Better to have a wash", William said.

"What's this climate Ravi... It's very hot here... Can't bear up.. we should leave here early".

Yvonne was complaining.

"Don't shout Yvonne... My sister can understand", Ravindra said.

Uncle Guneris quickly cut some Tambili and offered to Ravi and Yvonne. He was eager to talk to them but in hesitation how to start conversation.

"Thank you. Its nice. Its cooling" said Yvonne.

After having lunch, they were in conversation on family matters.

Ravindra asked about the paddy field.

"How is the paddy field now, Thaththa? Do you get a good harvest"?

"Yes Putha... It's quite good... We all depend on that..."

"Why not you give it to Ravi in writing", Yvonne suggested.

William was silent for sometime. He felt very sad about this suggestion. William thought they had come expecting some property. He remembered the coconut land that was sold for Ravindra's studies.

Ravindra who realised the change of William's mood said.

"No.... Thaththa.... She just asked about it... Don't worry..."

"No... Putha.... I want to give it to Kanthi".... words came out from William.Ravinda who wanted to change father's attention talked to Uncle Guneris."Guneris mama... How is aunty now? Are they keeping fine"?

"Yes, Putha... things are not bad... Daughter is at home waiting for O/L results".

"Better to leave now... said Yvonne.

"Then ..... Thaththa .... If we leave now we can reach Bandarawela by evening" said Ravindra.

"Why so .... hurry Putha. I thought you would stay here two or three days.. I have arranged the front room for you...

"We can't keep the son here .... He cannot bear up the climate here...."

"See you then," they started leaving them.

Packed

William packed a bag of rice, two pots of curd into the car. Karuna packed one pot of embulthial fish and two pineapples.

Uncle Guneris packed a bag of coconuts and some thambili into the car.They all hugged the small son saying "May the triple Gem bless you... My small son"

"See you then", Yvonne said to all louder.

William, Karuna and Kanthi were gazing at the departure of their loved ones. Karuna wiped her tears with her dress. William, went into the house without talking. He occupied his usual Arm Chair thinking of the past; how Ravindra studied in the village school and how he took him to the central college in the town for admission after passing the scholarship exam, how he played with sand and coconut shells in the compound.

He remembered how he came home exhausted after school, carrying his school bag.

He tried to bear up his anguish himself. William saw some birds flying in the sky through the window of his room.

By Hector S. Yapa - Sunday Observer

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Who, and what, makes us angry?

It is said that the last king of our country was so angry with one of his chief ministers. The minister was famously known as Ehelepola. The king not only killed him, but also cut of all the trees known as Ehela. That gave way to a Sinhala saying: Ehelepola samaga ati kentiya kochcharada kivvot minihage nama sihi novenna Ehela gasut kapuva vagei (he was so angry with the man called Ehelepola so much so that he even went to the extent of cutting down the Ehela trees in order not to remember him).

Why are we, in the first place, angry with someone?

Are there any reasons to become angry?

Yes, any respondent with common sense would say. There are numerous reasons for being angry.

Anger has no eyes, goes a Hindi saying. When a man grows angry his reasons rides out, goes another proverb. Then comes a wise crack that goes as ‘anger begins with folly and ends with repentance’. However much we try to calm down one’s angry temperament, the anger sees no bounds. At times people use harsh words and abuse others when they are angry over something.

Anger germ

Perhaps their reputation is challenged by rivals in the field of work by expressing anger. This may happen in private apartments as well as in circles of common interest or in public gatherings, like mass rallies. Basically, it is the disagreement that causes the stemming of the germ called anger. It is followed by a verbal flow of words or a gesture that expresses the inner feelings. In some cases, the gravity of anger cannot be fathomed.

It depends on the type of subject dealt with in a particular context.

The onlookers in the public gallery in Parliament in any country are made to see how some of the politicians get angry over matters of controversy. Some public representatives are oversensitive to the point that they exhibit the anger in them than the reason and scholarship accountable to the others. This trend goes on until someone in a sane frame of mind comes and advises how one should behave verbally honouring the others in the house. As some veteran politicians used to say the ‘political anger’ or anger caused verbally is temporary and ceases to function when the debate is over.

How true this statement, is a subject that has to be dealt carefully and logically. The anger in politicians never last too long if the verbal combats prolong. If that happens, that would be a disaster. As such the popular dictum is that there are no friends and foes in politics.

Climax of disaster

This has become a catchphrase today. As a common phenomenon no one likes to see people in angry moods depicting not only angry faces, but also expressing angry words that reach a climax of disaster and ill will. If allowed to be spread via mass media channels, the anger gets magnified and amplified.

One of our good old musicians, who is no longer with us, happened to be so angry. At times he used to scold the members of the orchestra and even the singers and leave the place of practice. But quite soon he would return as if giving the feeling that nothing had happened in terms of personal anger.

This recalls the saying that ‘anger dies quickly with a good man’. He would apply his heart and soul and create melodies to the extent that they had become lasting pieces of musical compositions. He is remembered not for his anger, but for his skills unsurpassed. But he is also remembered in certain moments for his anger.

But the fact remains that he had not given way to any disastrous harm to any one in particular.

He is remembered for his melodies which has ushered in a era of serenity in most of us who love his talents and forget his occasional anger. When in anger count a hundred, goes another saying. This counting process had been a guiding principle for many individuals. The Indian statesman Nehru says in his reminiscences written to his daughter Vijayalakshmi, that he was sometimes angry with the colonial rulers to the point that he used to pen his anger in order to alleviate them.

This was an expression of my anger in my own words, he says. Then he further comments that once the expression is put on the paper, the anger dies down gradually. This gives way to more thoughts. Most prison notes give the impression that the medicine for anger is the expression of the feeling expressed in words. In Greece, this has come down in theatrical terms as ‘catharsis’ or getting rid of pity and anger.

The anger in us is one of the deadliest enemies. It may lead a person into various directions such as self pity and frustration, which will reach the point of suicidal efforts as well as homicidal pursuits. When we are overenthusiastic over some thing we tend to be in a struggle.

living conditions

Perhaps if unachieved, we get angry over the unachieved level of our living conditions. The feeling is expressed in terms of ‘self anger’ or ‘self deception’ on somebody who may have possibly stood on the way in obstruction. Anger also rests on our affinities as well as on our enmities. We dislike to see our own group of members who are likeminded get into trouble. As such the affinities getting tightened is seen, but the failure too follows in certain moments, and to achieve the goals, may pave the way for group anger.

Sick minded

On the other hand the same group may have common enemies about whom a feeling of animosity may arise giving way to anger. Thus the elements of anger and hatred are observed as interlinked. Psychiatrists have often shown cases of patients who are observably angry are sick minded. They have to be treated or else the anger will reach the point when the said patients may bring more harm than good to the masses. It is observed that some schoolteachers get angry with some of their students depending on the diversity of opinions.

Some university lecturers get angry with their students, over controversial ideological matters forgetting the fact that they have been undergraduates some time ago. The punishments are imposed mercilessly. Drivers of vehicles get angry with their fellow drivers and bring more disaster in their respective functions. Some police officers get angry in their respective functions.

Some high class administrators get angry with their subordinates depending on the issues they are entrusted.

Anger in all forms is the worst enemy for good living conditions and public relationships. Angry mobs tend to violate the existing peace and harmony in a society. At times even the expected serenity of the clergy is also seen wiped off in growing anger.

No modern technician who is well trained in his or her technology can afford to quarrel with his tools. As a result of anger things lost go beyond the things gained. The subject of ethics lurks in all subject areas, in order to help people to calm down anger. As Aristotle said centuries ago, ‘anger restrained is wisdom gained.’ 

www.dailynews.lk - Professor Sunanda Mahendra

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Quiet: The Power of Silence

We are living in the world where we keep on talking, talking and talking. We often don’t think what we want to say, before we open our mouths because we are always in hurry to talk, despite thinking either it is meaningful or not, because we want to be called ‘extrovert’ (talkative, social person).

We talk too much. Unfortunately we haven’t had a single second to listen to anyone else or even to ourselves.

Just think for a while, what you like to eat or drink, what’s your favourite colour, from whose personality you got impressed, what you actually want, which thing gives you happiness, what brings a smile on your face. About 60-70% people’s answer will be a ‘question mark’.

We enjoy the music in full volume but our ears are unable to listen to the whisper and sometime even screaming of our heart, our soul or our inner self. We have time to talk or listen to others but we haven’t had a time for ourselves to listen to our inner self or to talk to our self.

Time for ourselves

Yet today we made room for remarkably narrow range of personality styles. We are told to be great is to be bold; to be happy is to be sociable.

We want to see ourselves as ‘extroverts’, which means we have lost sight of who we truly are. So, many people pretend to be extroverts while there is an introvert inside every one of us. We ignore the startling power of being quiet and pretend to be more talkative and social but at last we strike off from pretending we are extroverts.

It is okay to be social, bold and talkative but despite of all that, you must give some time to yourself. Be quiet for some time and just listen to yourself.

Keep silence and keep on listening yourself.

There is dignity in silence, which keeps you emotionally strong, and helps to meet to your soul, tells who really are you, what you can do.

That silence and quietness are drawn to the inner world of your thought and feelings, focus on the meaning of your life, meaning of your own feelings, thoughts, emotion, simply it whispers you to yourself.

Great thinkers

Great minds think alone and without those alone great thinkers the world would be devoid of:

The theory of gravity - Albert Einstein 
The theory of relativity - Isaac Newton 
The origin of species - Charles Darwin 
Google - Larry Page (cofounder) 
Apple - Steve Wozniak (cofounder)

And many more

These quitters change the world because Wisdom speaks loudest in silence. These personalities showed the power of being quiet and worked in solitude because solitude is a catalyst to innovation.

Talk to yourself

To know about yourself you must give time to yourself. Sit quietly and silently listen to yourself, may be it takes time but practice it daily, you will definitely be able to listen to yourself. Talk to yourself ask yourself what you actually want.

Quietness and silence makes your inner life rich, give power to your inner soul. Quietness has power in itself. It brings courage of lion although you are soft spoken; bring a firmly speaking style, able to talk reasonably, makes you soft and tough at the same time, teaches you what to say and how to say, produce self possession and power that did not need to flaunt itself.

Do not loss your centres, your inner self by being indulged with the meaningless noise of that world- the world which can’t stop talking.

Silence has sounds and often screams so, listen to the silence insides you. It has a quality and dimensions all its own, because silence is the source of great strength.

Remember that:

Successful people have two things on their lips - smile and silence.

-goweloveit

Monday, April 27, 2015

Super spices that knock out pain

Food, herbs and spices have been used for thousands of years for their powerful health building and curative effects. Traditional cultures the world over, including our very own have well developed medical systems based on substances that appear in nature.

Folk healing traditions of the Native Americans, Malaysians, and Europeans all contain knowledge in the identification, procedures and uses of herbs. Traditional Chinese medicine and our own Ayurvedic medicine are among the oldest systems of medicine in the world, and they rely on herbals as a cornerstone of their practices.

The use of spices for healing is less well known, but those two traditions, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, use mixtures of spices in their 'food as medicine' principles, including relieving inflammation and pain.

Today, science has helped confirm that adding spices into your daily eating habits can go a long way toward low-side effect, natural pain relief.

The root of health, and pain relief

Turmeric is a brilliant yellow (and sometimes orange) root grated and used as one of the most recognizable flavourings in Indian cuisine. It's most active health enhancing component is a substance called curcumin.

Curcumin is proven to reduce inflammation while helping the body to heal. Chronic, acute and low-grade inflammation are major causes of pain and poor health. While acute inflammation is a natural biological response to injury, stress and pathogens, its long-term effects are unhealthy, causing serious health concerns like heart disease.

The US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health note: "Laboratory and animal research has demonstrated anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties of turmeric and its constituent curcumin."

Impressively, there are more than 5,500 peer-reviewed clinical studies demonstrating curcumin's benefits. Recent studies suggest that turmeric is as effective as, yet safer than, more than a dozen prescription medications. You can read about these benefits and their studies on pain, inflammation and cancer treatment in a few previous articles I've written, The anti-cancer secret from India and Turmeric: Nature's Powerful Anti-Inflammatory Root.

Red chilli prevents pain?

Chilli peppers and especially cayenne pepper have a substance in them called capsaicin. Capsaicin is the part of the pepper that makes it hot and burns the tongue oh-so-nicely in spicy dishes. But it's also this heat component that is beneficial to pain relief.

When you ingest it, capsaicin works in the body like one of your neurotransmitters, or brain chemicals. It does this by binding with the vanilloid receptor 1 (VR1).

Why does it relieve pain? Well, when a heat increase is felt in the body, VR1 changes its shape and signals nerve cells to feel heat. The brain is actually 'fooled' by capsaicin, however.

When you take capsaicin when you have pain, the brain thinks the heat signal from the capsaicin is actually an increased pain signal.

Capsaicin tricks the brain into reducing the pain (heat) signal by depleting the nerves of "substance P." And when substance P is depleted the nerves can no longer send a pain signal to the brain.

There have been many clinical trials on the topical and ingested use of capsaicin for pain relief. In one double-blind clinical study, 70 patients with osteoarthritis (OA) and 31 with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) received capsaicin cream or placebo for a month for treatment of arthritic knee pain. The RA subjects experienced a 57% pain reduction, and the OA subjects had their pain reduced by 33%.

As the study paper concludes: "According to the global evaluations, 80% of the capsaicin-treated patients experienced a reduction in pain after two weeks of treatment. It is concluded that capsaicin cream is a safe and effective treatment for arthritis."

A study on capsaicin for chronic neck pain found that applying topical capsaicin cream to the affected area four times daily for five weeks showed pain relief by deleting the sensory C-fibres of substance P.

Another study on local capsaicin treatment on small nerve fibre function in diabetic neuropathy, can be found here. I could go on. There are hundreds more.

Delicious pain relief

Known the world over as a root for reducing stomach upset, nausea and motion sickness, not to mention making vegetables and chicken taste really good, ginger is effective in reducing inflammation, rheumatism and many kinds of pain.

In one study on the effects of ginger on rheumatism and musculoskeletal disorders, 56 patients were given powdered ginger. Of these, 28 had rheumatoid arthritis (RA), 19 had osteoarthritis (OA) and 10 had muscular discomfort. Over a period of 3 months to 2.5 years, an impressive 100% of participants with muscular discomfort experienced pain relief. What's more, 75% of arthritic participants experienced relief in pain and swelling. No adverse side effects were reported.

In another randomised, controlled study, women with painful menses were randomly assigned into two groups; one receiving ginger and the other placebo. Each received 500mg capsules of ginger root powder (or placebo) three times daily.

The researchers found, "significant differences in the severity of pain between ginger and placebo groups." And, "Treatment of primary (pain) in students with ginger for 5 days had a statistically significant effect on relieving intensity and duration of pain."

Traditional cultures from around the world discovered through thousands of years of real world experience that food is medicine. Specifically, they found that thermogenic (heat inducing) spices like chilli, turmeric, and ginger (among others) are excellent at reducing inflammation and pain.

Including more of these spices in our meals in their whole food states or in powdered spice incarnation can do much to reduce chronic inflammation and pain. And eating tasty food with a bit of a kick has the added benefit of zero side effects, unlike taxing the body with too many anti-inflammatory pain meds.

- Easy Health Option

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

[Reel Review - (07-04-2015)]

Cinderella loses a slipper and gains a brand new audience

Anyone who hasn't heard of Kenneth Branagh's 'Cinderella' (2015) is either dead or off- planet. Disney started promoting it from the day Branagh agreed to direct; when Lily James (Downtown Abbey) and Richard Madden (Game of Thrones) signed on as Cinderella and the Prince it turned into Disney's pet project.

Cate Blanchett as the step mother and Helena Bonham- Carter as the fairy godmother were the cherry on top of the icing.

Breaking the stereotype

'Cinderella' follows the usual plot line with a few key changes to suit a 21st century audience- the feminist in me approves. Emphasis is less on Cinderella's beauty and more on her courage and kindness; her riding skills match the Prince's and best of all, she meets the Prince BEORE she's all dolled up for the ball. This crucial modification by Branagh breaks the fairy tale stereotype where the prince falls merely for Cinderella's beauty.

Characters are also more rounded and grey this time round. It does not match the complexity of Andy Tennant's 1998 'Ever After' (featuring Drew Barrymore), the other famous atypical Cinderella adaptation. But there's more back story to the prince, the stepmother and the sisters in this version. Even the king is given a redeeming moment seconds before his death. Following the latest trend in Hollywood to de- villainise the villains, the Stepmother Lady Tremaine's cruelty stems from grief over her beloved first husband and the realization that Cinderella will have all the opportunities in life that she will now never have.

James as Cinderella is alternatively heartbreaking and inspiring. Her contained grief is much more effective than any overpowering waterworks. Madden added layer upon layer of a young Prince in conflict between following his heart and serving his kingdom (let's not forget the dancing skills either). But Blanchett is the reigning star of dramatics in the movie. That first shot where her derby hat turns over to reveal a painted red mouth in a flawless face, smiling triumphantly is the stuff of nightmares. Disney gets full points for not delineating good and evil as beautiful and ugly like in the animated versions. In 'Cinderella', evil is beautiful too and takes more than a passing look to detect.

Dreams and magic

Costumes and effects are, without a doubt, mind- blowing. They fully merit the special 'Cinderella' exhibition that was held in London. The glass slipper is actually Swarovski crystal, as are the millions of tiny lights we see in Cinderella's ball gown (yep, they're real). The burgundies and emerald greens and heavy fabrics of the stepmother's costumes contrast well with Cinderella's pastel, floaty dresses.

Lighting was truly magical throughout the movie. CGI added lots of sparkle but special LED lights also made things special, like the fairy godmother's costume. Overall, the movie was light, in keeping with the fairytale theme and the smooth camera movements, the wide panning shots that swooped into close-ups and familiar angles made it an easy watch.

The score was composed by Patrick Doyle (Thor). The music was romantic and drew from several Disney classics such as 'Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo' and 'A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes'. Interestingly, Branagh uses the folk song 'Lavender's Blue' as a motif that links Cinderella to her golden childhood. But instead of the line 'When I am king dilly dilly/ You shall be queen,' Cinderella always emphasizes 'You must love me dilly dilly/ For I love you' removing the highly materialistic underpinnings of the original Cinderella fable. The only complaint I have is that 'Cinderella' could've been more revolutionary, perhaps darker. But this is Disney and 'Into the Woods' is as dark as it'll go. But in all fairness, 'Cinderella' is worth the ridiculously overpriced movie ticket in Sri Lankan cinemas. It will teach future generations of children that the "Princess" doesn't always need rescuing, and the "Prince" isn't always charming. And that evil isn't always ugly. 

Asuka Randeniye - www.dailynews.lk

Monday, March 30, 2015

Health

Break that wind habit
...with black pepper :

Did you know that a powerful addition to your healthy weight loss plan is very likely already in your kitchen? No, we’re not talking about coconut oil - although that one is amazing too. Draw your attention to your pepper mill. That’s right, it’s black pepper, the most potent of all peppercorns.

Not only does black pepper play a starring role in seasoning our meals today, it has been prized throughout history and was extensively used to treat many ailments, including those rooted in inflammation, as well as digestive disturbances. It can also be instrumental to healthy weight loss.

So what is the connection between black pepper, soothing digestion and promoting weight loss? As it turns out, the benefits are manifold. A 2001 study published in the journal Planta Medica found that piperine, a compound found in black pepper, could help to soothe diarrhoea symptoms. It has also been found to stimulate the stomach’s secretion of hydrochloric acid, which is necessary for proper digestion. It is likely due to black pepper’s ability to increase hydrochloric acid secretion that makes it known for its ability to quell gas symptoms. This ability also promotes a healthy gut environment, because when digestion is running smoothly, toxins are more easily eliminated from the gut. As far as weight loss, a 2012 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that piperine has the ability to block fat cells from forming, and to promote the breakdown of existing fat cells. On their results, the study authors wrote:

“Overall, these results suggest that piperine, a major component of black pepper, attenuates fat cell differentiation… thus leading to potential treatment for obesity-related diseases.”

According to the researchers, piperine may also have other effects on the metabolism that promote fat loss/lessened accumulation of fat, although more research needs to be done on this. Additionally, black pepper is laden with antioxidants, which along with supporting the overall health of the entire body play an important role in healthy digestion and gut balance.

On top of it’s digestive and weight loss potential, black pepper is highly nutritious - it contains vitamin K, and the minerals calcium, copper, chromium, iron and manganese, along with fibre. Black pepper is also known for its decongestant abilities, and research from the University of Michigan Cancer Centre has linked it with aiding in breast cancer prevention - especially when combined with turmeric.

So, whether you’re trying to amplify your fat loss, want to kickstart your digestive health, or just wish to provide your body with some great minerals and antioxidants - all with great flavour - never underestimate the power of black pepper.


Mechanism to stop ageing !

As medicine has improved, increasing our ability to treat disease, so our longevity. The deterioration of the body with age, though, is a whole other matter.

But apparently, all that might be needed is some “house-keeping” of the brain, according to research just published in an early edition of the journal PNAS by a Portuguese team from the Centre for Neuroscience and Cell Biology (CNC) of the University of Coimbra.
The researchers might have also solved a 70-year old mystery: how can calorie restriction (a diet with low calories without malnutrition) delay ageing and increase longevity in animals from dogs to mice.

In their new study, Claudia Cavadas and her group have discovered that the key to this diet appears to be its ability to increase autophagy - the mechanism that recycles unwanted molecules in the cells, avoiding their “clogging and malfunction - in the hypothalamus (which has just been identified as the “control centre” for ageing). They also have identified the molecule that controls the process - called Neuropeptide Y (NPY) - raising the possibility that NPY could be used to develop ways to control ageing (instead of just treat its consequences, like we now do).

The discovery can prove especially important to stop the emergence of age-related neurodegenerative diseases - such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's - a huge step forwards considering that so far science has been incapable of treating, stopping or even fully understanding them.

And in a rapidly ageing world a better control of this kind of problems can prove crucial for everyone's survival.

In fact, according to the UN, in less than a decade 1 billion people will be older than 60. In Japan, already more than 30% of the population is older than 60 years old, and in Europe 16% of the population is over 65. So it is clear that our increasingly ageing population needs to be kept as healthy and active as possible, or it will be financially and socially impossible for the world to cope.

It is no surprise then, that research to understand and control the deteriorating effects of ageing is now a priority.

One thing that has been clear for a while now is that autophagy (or better, a reduction of it) is at the centre of the ageing process - low levels of autophagy (so cells with impaired “house-keeping”) are linked to ageing and age-related neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases. This is easily explained as autophagy clears the cells “debris” keeping them in good working order.

That the process is so important in the brain is no surprise either, since neurons are the cells less able to replenish themselves once one dies/malfunctions.

But about a year ago there was a remarkable discovery that changed the field: hypothalamus, which is a brain area that regulates energy and metabolism, was identified as “the” control centre for the whole-body ageing.

To Cavadas and her group, which have worked on ageing and neurosciences for a long time, this was particularly exciting. Not only they knew that the only proved method to delay ageing and increase longevity - calorie restriction - increased autophagy in the hypothalamus but also that it did the same to NPY and that mice without NPY did not respond to calorie restriction. Furthermore NPY, like autophagy, diminishes with age.

- MNT

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

සොඳුරු ආඥාදායකයා, ධීවර ගමක් සුපිරි රටක් කළ හැටි මෙන්න!

ලෝකයේ අති සාර්ථක ආර්ථික කතාන්දරයක් ලෙසින් සැලකිය හැකි සිංගප්පූරුව ලෝකයේ සුපිරිතම ආර්ථිකයක් බවට හැරවූ අසාහය නායක ලී ක්වාන් යූ අවුරුදු 91 ක් ආයු වළදා පරලෝ සැපත්විය. සිංගප්පූරුවට මෙම වාසනාව ගෙන දුන්නේ ලී විසින් නිර්මාණය කළ අවංක මෙන්ම ප්‍රායෝගික ආණ්ඩුව හේතුවෙනි. ජාතික ආණ්ඩුවක් නිර්මාණය කරමින් ඉදිරියට යෑමට දඟලන අපිටද මෙම ප්‍රායෝගික නායකයාගේ ජීවිතයෙන් ඉමහත් ආදර්ශයක් ලබාගත හැකිය.

1959 දී සිංගප්පූරුව නැමති ධීවර ගම්මානයේ අග්‍රාමාත්‍යවරයා බවට පත්වී වසර 31 ක් එම ධූරය දරා 1990 දී ඔහු අග්‍රාමාත්‍ය ධූරයෙන් සමුගන්නා විට සිංගප්පූරුව ආයෝජන පාරාදීසයක් බවට පත්ව තිබුණි.
1990 දී ඔහු අග්‍රාමාත්‍ය ධූරයෙන් සමුගත්තද සිංගප්පූරුවේ ප්‍රතිපත්ති සම්පාදනය වෙනුවෙන් ඔහුගේ යෝධ සෙවණැල්ල මියයන තුරුම වැටී තිබුණු බව අනාවරණය වේ.

ලී, ඉපදෙන්නේ සිංගප්පූරුව බ්‍රිතාන්‍ය අධිරාජ්‍යවාදීන්ගේ යටත් විජිතයක්ව තිබියදීයි. ඔහු තරුණ වියට පත්වන විට ජපානය විසින් සිංගප්පූරුව මත මුදාහළ යටත් විජිතවාදී පාලනයේ විලිලැජ්ජා සහිත බව ඔහුගේ හදවතේ ගැඹුරටම කිඳා බසී.

පසුව, උසස් අධ්‍යාපනය සඳහා ලන්ඩනයට යන ලී, කේම්බ්‍රිජ් සරසවියේ දීප්තිමත් ශිෂ්‍යයෙකු වන්නේය. ඔහු යුද්ධය අවසන් වූ පසුව නැවතත් සිංගප්පූරුව බලා පැමිණෙන්නේ යටත් විජිතවාදයට එරෙහි අරගලයට පණ දීම සඳහායි. මේ අනුව, පීපල්ස් ඇක්ෂන් පාටි (PAP) නැමති දේශපාලන පක්ෂය බිහිකිරීමේ පුරෝගාමියෙකු ලෙස ලී, පෙරමුණේ සිටී.

සිංගප්පූරුව 1959 දී බ්‍රිතාන්‍යයෙන් ස්වයං රාජ්‍යත්වය දිනාගැනීමේදී මෙම පක්ෂයේ නායකයා වූයේ ඔහු වන අතර ඔහු සිංගප්පූරුවේ අග්‍රාමාත්‍යවරයා බවට පත්විය.

ලී ක්වාන් යූ මහතාගේ දේශපාලන දර්ශනය ආන්දෝලනාත්මක එකක් වන අතර සමහරුන් දැඩි ලෙස විවේචන එල්ල කරද්දීත් ඔහු සිංගප්පූරුවට දැඩි නීති සහ දඬුවම් හඳුන්වාදීමට පියවර ගත්තේය. මේ ආකාරයෙන් සිංගප්පූරුව විනය ගරුක සහ පිරිසිදු රටක් බවට පත්කිරීමට ඔහුට හැකිවිය.
ලී ක්වාන් යූ යටතේ සිංගප්පූරුව ආණ්ඩුවේ දැඩි පාලනයට යටත්වූ රාජ්‍යයක් බවට පත්වන අතර වාර්තා වන ආකාරයට තිබී ඇත්තේ ඉතා සීමා සහිත මහජන උද්ඝෝෂණ ප්‍රමාණයකි. මෙවන් පරිසරයක් තුළ සිංගප්පූරුවේ අඩු බදු, ඉතා දියුණු පාසැල් පද්ධතිය, අපරාධ අඩුවීම, ආයෝජනයට හිතැති නීති, දැවැන්ත යටිතල පහසුකම් ගොඩනැංවීම නිසා බටහිර සමාගම් විසින් ඉතාමත් ආකර්ශනීය ආයෝජන මධ්‍යස්ථානයක් ලෙසින් සිංගප්පූරුව තෝරා ගන්නේය.

මේ අනුව, අග්නිදිග ආසියාවේ සහ නැගෙනහිර ආසියාවේ ව්‍යාපාරික කටයුතු කරන බොහෝ යුරෝපීය සමාගම් ප්‍රමුඛ ලොව දැවැන්ත සමාගම් සිය මෙහෙයුම් මධ්‍යස්ථානය බවට පත්කර ගන්නේ සිංගප්පූරුවයි.

ඒකාධිපති නායකයෙකු ලෙසින් වැජඹුණු ලී ක්වාන් යූ හට සිංගප්පූරුව දැවැන්ත ලෙස පාලනය කිරීමේ බලය තිබුණු අතර ඔහු විසින් සිය විරුද්ධවාදීන් සිරගත කර තිබෙන අවස්ථාද තිබේ.

වාර්තාවන ආකාරයට ඔහුගේ සමයේදී ජනමාධ්‍යවේදීන් සහ දේශපාලන විරුද්ධවාදීන් පාලනය කිරීම සඳහා විශාල වශයෙන් අධිකරණය භාවිතා කර තිබෙන අතර මේ පිළිබඳව ලී, වෙත දැඩි විවේචන එල්ල වී ඇත.

සිංගප්පූරුව අපිරිසිදු වන බව පවසමින් ලී ක්වාන් යූ එරට chewing gum අලෙවිය පවා වරක් තහනම් කර තිබේ.

කෙසේවෙතත්, ඔහු මෙවන් ගමනක් රැගෙන ගොස් කුඩා සිංගප්පූරුව ලොව ධනවත්ම රාජ්‍යයක් බවට පත්කිරීමට සමත්විය.

අනාගත අවස්ථාව තම මනසින් දැක අධිෂ්ඨානයකින් යුතුව සිය ජනතාව එය වෙත රැගෙන ගොස් ඔවුන්ගේ ජීවිත ආලෝකමත් කළ හෙයින් ඔහු ලෝක සම්භාවනාවට පාත්‍රවී තිබෙන්නේ ඒකාධිපතියෙකු ලෙසින් නොව අසාහය නායකයෙකු ලෙසයි.

වර්ග කිලෝමීටර් 716 කින් යුතු ලක්ෂ 53 ක් පමණ සිටින නගරයක් වන සිංගප්පූරුව ලෝකයේ දැවැන්ත රාජ්‍ය සමග කරට කර සිටින රටක් බවට පත්කිරීම ඔහුගේ අද්විතීය නායකත්වයේ ප්‍රබලත්වය පෙන්වීමට තිබෙන ජීවමාන සාක්ෂියයි.

ලී, ඔබට සුභ ගමන්

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

පත්තර අතර එහේ මෙහේ කැරකෙන බ්ලොග් ලිවිල්ල

බ්ලොග් යන වදන බිඳී ආවේ වෙබ්ලොග් යන්නෙනි. 1990 තරම් මෑත කාලයකට අයත් ඉතිහාසයක් ඇති බ්ලොග් ලිවීමට දැන් වයස 25කි. බ්ලොග් යන, අන්තර්ජාලයට මුදා හරින තනි පුද්ගලයකු හෝ කණ්ඩායමක් ලෙස පවත්වාගෙන යන වෙබ් අඩවි වර්ගයක් ලෙස සරලව කිව හැකිය. එමෙන්ම එය වියුණු සටහන් ලෙස සිංහලෙන් වර නැඟිය හැකිය. පුද්ගලික සහ පොදු අදහස්, එදිනෙදා පුවත්, සේයාරූ, වීඩියෝ, ශ්‍රවණ ගොනු මෙන්ම වෙබ් සබැඳි බ්ලොග් අඩවි තුළ ඇතුළත් කළ හැකිය. වර්තමානයේ යුනිකෝඩ් භාවිත කර සිංහලෙන් ලියන බ්ලොග් අඩවි ද රාශියකි.

පුවත්පත් රූපවාහිනී මාධ්‍ය සහ ගුවන් විදුලියට විකල්ප නැතැයි සිතා සිටි ඉතාම උත්කර්ෂවත් කාලයක බ්ලොග් ලිවීම ඇති විණ. කඩදාසිය තමාවම ඉහළට ඔසවා ගනිමින් උදම් අනිමින් සිටින විට පරිගණකය දාසකමේ යොදවමින් අන්තර්ජාලය තුළ විශාල ගොනු වශයෙන් අදහස් ප්‍රකාශ කිරීම ඇරඹුණි. ඩිජිටල් සන්නිවේදනය සඳහා යූස්නෙට්, ජිනී, බුලටින් බෝඩ් සිස්ටම් ආදී තොරතුරු හුවමාරු කර ගැනීමේ මාදිලි 1983-1993 කාලය ඇතුළත යොදා ගැනුණි. 1994-2001 කාලය ඇතුළත ඔන්ලයින් ඩයරි ලිවීම ඇරඹුණි. 1994 සිට වසර 11ක් මුළුල්ලේ පවත්වාගෙන ගිය ජස්ටින් හෝල් පළමු බ්ලොග් ලියන්නන් ගණයට අයත්ය. ක්‍රමිකව විකාශය වූ බ්ලොග් ගස අතු පතර විහිදා වැඩෙන්නට ගන්නේ එවන් විලියම්ස් සහ මෙග් හරිහන් දෙපොළ විසින් බ්ලොගර් ඩොට් කොම් සොයා ගැනීමත් සමඟය. ඒ 1999දීය. ගූගල් සමාගම විසින් බ්ලොගර් ඩොට් කොම් මිලදී ගන්නට යෙදෙන්නේ 2003 පෙබරවාරියේදීය. වර්තමාන භාවිතයේ පවතින බ්ලොග් අඩවිවලින් වැඩි ප්‍රමාණයක් ස්ථාපනය කර ඇත්තේ බ්ලොගර් තුළය. අනෙක් මාදිලිය වර්ඩ්ප්‍රෙස්ය.

2001-2004 කාල පරාසය තුළ ජනප්‍රිය වූ දේශපාලන බ්ලොග් කිහිපයකි. රොන් ගුන්ස්බර්ගර් ලියූ පොලිටික්ස් වන්, ටේගන් ගෝඩාඩ්ස්ගේ පොලිටිකල් වයර්, ග්ලෙන් රෙනෝල්ඩ් ලියූ ඉන්ස්ටපුන්ඩිට් මෙන්ම චාල්ස් ජොන්සන්ගේ ලුට්ල් ග්‍රීන් ෆුට්බෝල්ස්, ජෙරම් ආම්ස්ට්‍රෝන්ග් ලියූ මයිඩීඩී එකල ඉමහත් ජනප්‍රියත්වයක් හිමි කරගත් බ්ලොග් අඩවිය. නමුත් අද වන විට පොලිටිකල්වන් බ්ලොග් අඩවියේ ඇත්තේ ට්වීට් ෆීඩයක් පමණි. සෙසු බ්ලොග් අඩවි ක්‍රියාත්මක මුත් එදිනෙදා යාවත්කාලීන කරන පෙනුමක් ඇත්තේ නැත. 2004 වන විට දේශපාලන මුහුණු පැළැද සිටි බ්ලොග් ලිවීම ඉන් ඔබ්බට ගොස් වෙනත් මුහුණු පළදින්නට විය. එහෙත් දේශපාලඥයන් බ්ලොග් ලිවීමට පටන් ගැනුණි. බ්ලොග්වලින් හොඳින්ම වැඩ ගත්තේ අමෙරිකානු දේශපාලඥයන් බව පළමුව කිව යුතුය. එහෙත් ඒ 1994 තරම් ඈත කාලයකදීය.

මේ අතර බොහෝ බ්ලොග් ලියන්නන් පැ‍රැණි මාධ්‍ය වූ පුවත්පත්, රූපවාහිනී සහ රේඩියෝ වෙත සංක්‍රමණය විය. සෙස්ස ඉතිරිව බ්ලොග්කරණයේ යෙදුණි. විශේෂයෙන්ම 2004 සුනාමි ඛේදවාචකය වාර්ථා කිරීමේදී බ්ලොග් ලියන්නන් කෙටි පණිවුඩ යොදා ගනිමි කළ සේවය අමතක කළ නොහැකි තරම්ය. මේ අනුව වර්තමානය වන විට ප්‍රකට පුවත්පත් ඒජන්සි, රූපවාහිනී සහ රේඩියෝ මාධ්‍ය ආයතන සියල්ලටම පාහේ දෛනිකව යාවත්කාලීන කරන බ්ලොග් අඩවි ඇත.

ශ්‍රී ලංකාව වෙත හැරී බැලූ විට බ්ලොග් ලිවීම පළමුව ඉංග්‍රීසියෙන්ද දෙවනුව සිංහලෙන්ද සිදු කර ඇත. පොදු සිංහල අකුරු ලිවීමේ ක්‍රමයක් නොමැතිකමින් සිංහලෙන් බ්ලොග් ලිවීම වුවමණා ප්‍රමාණයට වඩා පමා වුවත් එහි ශීඝ්‍ර වර්ධනයක් අත්පත් කර ගැනීමට බ්ලොග් ලියන්නෝ සමත් වී ඇත. සිංහල යුනිකේත ආරම්භය, සිංහල යුනිකෝඩ සමූහය, ඊ ‍ෆියුෂන් ආයතනය නිමැවූ කපුටා සිංහල අකුරු සිංහලෙන් බ්ලොග් ලිවීමට තල්ලු සපයා ඇත. ගාර්ප් යතුරු ලියනය, විජේසේකර කීබෝඩය ආදී වර්ධනාත්මක ලක්ෂණ අතරට කොළඹ විශ්වවිද්‍යාලීය භාෂා පර්යේෂණ ආයතනය විසින් නිමැවූ යුනිකෝඩ් එසැනින් පරිවර්තකය පැන්න යෝධ පිම්ම අමතක කළ නොහැකි තරම් වැදගත් ය. ෆයර්ෆොක්ස් සමඟ වැඩ කිරීමට සිංහල ඇඩෝන් ලැබීමත් නොයෙකුත් සිංහල ලිවීමේ ඇප්ලිකේෂන නිපදවීමත් සමඟ සිංහලෙන් බ්ලොග් ලිවීමට තිබූ බාධා සියල්ල නැති විය. සිංග්‍රීසි යුනිකෝඩ් පරිවර්තකයද මේ අතරම ජනප්‍රිය විය. ධනිෂ්ක නවීන්ගේ සිංහල ෆයර්ෆොක්ස් සංස්කරණය මෙන්ම මලින්තගේ වර්ඩ්ප්‍රෙස් සිංහල අතුරු මුහුණත ද සිංහල ලිවීමේ උනන්දුව දැල්වූ දෑ විය.

සැබැවින්ම බ්ලොග් ලිවීම මෙතරම් පහසුද? ගූගල් වෙබ් සෙවුමකින් ලැබෙන බ්ලොග් අඩවි රාශිය දු‍ටු විට සිතෙන්නේ ජනගහණයෙන් අඩකට වඩා බ්ලොග් ලියන බවයි. සැබැවි. බ්ලොග් ලිවීම පහසුය. බ්ලොග් අඩවියක් නිර්මාණය කිරීම ඊටත් පහසුය. වඩා අපහසු එය ක්‍රමවත්ව යාවත්කාලීන කිරීමය. ඊමේල් ලිපිනයක් ඇති ඕනෑ අයෙකුට බ්ලොග් අඩවියක් නිර්මාණය කර ගත හැකිය.ඒ සඳහා www.blogger.com හෝ www.worpress.com වෙත පිවිසීමෙන් පසුව ලබා දෙන උපදෙස් අනුකූලව තමාට රුචි නමක් සහිතව නව බ්ලොග් අඩවියක් නිමවා ගත හැකිය. සේවා සපයන්නා විසින් අලංකෘත ටෙම්ප්ලේට රාශියක් ඔබට ඉදිරිපත් කෙරෙන අතර ඉන් එකක් ‍තෝරාගත හැකිය.

ඔබ අරඹන්නේ කුමණාකාර බ්ලොග් අඩවියක්ද යන්න මත මේ ටෙම්ප්ලේටයන්ගේ ස්වභාවය වෙනස් වේ. උදාහරණයක් ලෙස ප්‍රවෘත්ති ලබා දෙන බ්ලොග් අඩවියක් නම් ඊට ගැලපෙන මෙවලම් සමඟ බ්ලොග් අඩවියේ සැකැස්ම ‍තෝරා ගත යුතුය. ඡායාරූප,සාහිත්‍ය,දේශපාලන,ආර්ථික,විනෝදාස්වාද,සූප ශාස්ත්‍ර,ක්‍රීඩා ආදී බොහෝ ක්ෂේත්‍ර සඳහා ඊට කැපෙන ටෙම්ප්ලේට සේවා සපයන්නා ළඟ ඇත. කළ යුත්තේ ‍තෝරා ගැනීම පමණි. ඉන් සෑහීමකට පත් විය නොහැකි නම් එක් ගූගල් සෙවුමකින්,එක් බින්ග් සෙවුමකින් ඔබට වර්ඩ්ප්‍රෙස් ගණයේ හෝ බ්ලොගර් ගණයේ ටෙම්ප්ලේට සිය දහස් ගණනක් සොයා ගත හැකිය.

මේ සේවා සපයන්නන් සමඟ කටයුතු කිරීමේදී කිසිඳු මෘදුකාංගයක් බාගත කර ගැනීමට සිදු නොවේ. ඩොමේන් නාම සඳහා හෝ වෙබ් හොස්ටින් සඳහා කිසිම ආකාරයෛන් මුදල් ගෙවීමක් සිදු කළ යුතු නොවේ. නොමිලේ ලැබෙන මේ සේවා භාවිත කර ඔබට මුදල් ඉපයීමට නම් හැකිය. ඒ අදාල බ්ලොග් අඩවිය වඩාත් ජනප්‍රිය කර ඇලෙක්සා වෙබ් පිහි‍ටුවීම් ආදියේ ඉහළට පැමිණි විට බ්ලොග් අඩවියට වෙළඳ දැන්වීම් ලබා ගැනීමෙනි.

සාමාන්‍යයෙන් බ්ලොග් අඩවියක සැකැස්ම සරල වන තරමට බාගත කළ යුතු ග්‍රැ‍ෆික් ප්‍රමාණය අඩු වන තරමට බ්ලොගය වෙත යමෙකුට පිවිසීම පහසු කරවයි. මද වේග අන්තර්ජාල පහසුකම් ඇති අපේ වැනි රටක ග්‍රැ‍ෆික් ආදිය වැඩි බ්ලොග් කියැවීම හෝ ග්‍රැ‍ෆික් අධික වෙබ් අඩවි වෙත පිවිසීම තරමක වෙහෙස දනවන්නකි. පෞද්ගලිකව මා යෝජනා කරන පළමු කොන්දේසිය බ්ලොග් අඩවියට විනාඩි ගණනක් ඇතුළත පිවිසීමේ පහසුකම ලබා දීම සිදු කරන ලෙසයි. දෙවැන්න ගුණාත්මක දේ ලිවීම වර්ධනය කරන ලෙසයි. මේ අවගුණ ද්විත්වය නිසා කියැවීම මඟහැරෙන බොහෝ බ්ලොග් අඩවි අවධානයක් නොලබාම අතපසු වී යන්නාක් සේය.

ලංකාව ඇතුළත ප්‍රකට කොත්තු, ලාංකීය සිතුවිලි, සිංහල බ්ලොග් කියවනය, සින්ඩිය, ලංකා බ්ලොගර්, හත්මාළුව, ලංකා බ්ලොග් කියවනය, මාතලන්ගේ සින්ඩිය බ්ලොග් පතුරුවා හැරීම වෙනුවෙන් විශාල සේවයක් ඉ‍ටු කරයි. බ්ලොග් අඩවිවල හිට් කවුන්ටර ඉහළ යාමටද මේ සින්ඩිකේටර සිදු කරන්නේ විශාල සේවයකි. ප්ලගින්ස් සපයන්නේ අලංකාර බව සහ පහසුවයි.

කාංචනා අමිලානි - Silumina

Sunday, March 15, 2015

ඉස්සර දවසක තහනම් හිනේ









හිත දුර හන්දා...
නෙතු ලග හංගා සිහින ගනින හින්දා....
තනිකම හංගා ඇතක රන්දා
මතක හිත ඇහිංදා...
අරුත කියන සෙනෙහේ නුඔම වේද මංදා...

ඇත අතිතෙක අමතක සෙනෙහේ
හිතවත් කරනා....
සිහින පොතේ පිටු දහසක් අතරේ
නුඔ මයි හිදිනා.....
නොමැකෙන සේ හදවතේ ඉන්න නුඔ
අලුතෙන් පතනා..
හිතදුර හන්දා.....//

අහස වගෙයි නුඔ සිතුව අතිතෙ
මතකෙට නැගෙනා...
හැඩවෙන හිත ලග තනියට ඉන්නේ
නුඔ මද කියනා...
ඉස්සර දවසක තහනම් හිනේ
ආයෙත් දකිනා...
හිත දුර හන්දා..../

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Greatest Con of All: American Hustle

‘American Hustle’ by the director of ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ held big expectations for me. Directed by David O. Russell, it stars Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in leading roles, with Jeremy Renner heading the supporting cast.

The hustle

In late 1970’s New Jersey, Irving Rosenfield (Bale) and Sydney Prosser (Adams) are con artists and in a relationship. Always keeping it small enough to avoid the law, they are finally busted by FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Cooper). DiMaso threatens them with jail, which means Irving will lose custody of his adopted son Danny because he won’t be able to support estranged wife Rosalyn (Lawrence). The other option is to help DiMaso make four arrests and go free.

Irving and Sydney agree and DiMaso persuades them to target local politician Carmine Polito (Renner) who is trying to revitalize the economy by bringing in gambling. Irving is reluctant because Polito works with the mafia and the big leagues but DiMaso is insistent, blinded by his desire to make big arrests. Polito is persuaded to accept money from a sheikh, a plant of the FBI. The plan is to track the money to the mafia bosses and arrest them. 2 million dollars from FBI accounts (ostensibly from the sheikh) are handed over to the mafia’s lawyer and DiMaso crows about the impending arrests, only to find that the money has gone missing. An anonymous phone call promises to return the money if Irving and Sydney get immunity and Carmine Polito gets a reduced sentence.

It’s later revealed that the lawyer who took the money is a friend of Irving and Sydney and they use it to negotiate their release and Polito’s reduced sentence. DiMaso is removed from the case and not even mentioned in the reports. The mafia bosses never get incriminated because they never received the money and they let Irving know they appreciate it. Rosalyn finally gives in and asks for a divorce from Irving, allowing him to build a legitimate life with Sydney and his son while Rosalyn leaves with her lover.

American acting

‘American Hustle’ gets a gold trophy for casting. After years of batman, it’s a shock to the core to see Christian Bale fat and balding. His performance is Oscar worthy. Cooper, Adams and Lawrence are equally good and it’s heartening to see that, genius though she is, Amy Adams just can’t do a British accent, makes her human. Renner holds his own, especially coming off a reputation as a stunt actor. But his emotional connection needs work. In fact, the entire movie failed to connect with the audience. It works because the on- screen chemistry is so perfect. But it feels like the movie was meant more as an acting experience for the actors than a movie for an audience. Lawrence is brash as Rosalyn, none of her subtle craft visible here; Cooper is so emotional that it rubs raw; Adams lacks authenticity as a British aristocrat although her seduction techniques are spot on. Bale’s Irving is the only character that allows the audience in even a little and even he is inaccessible most of the time.

Unfortunately, acting is overshadowed by costumes. They are loud, brash, trashy and well, weird. ‘American Wigs’ might have been a better title. Jennifer Lawrence’s eternal updo and Bale’s ludicrous comb- over are only topped by Cooper’s unbelievable curls. What’s with the hair people? But production- wise, it’s a gold mine. The set detail, the costumes, the music and the overall splendour is a feast to the eyes.

American ideology?

The plot was convoluted in many places, only made smooth by the efforts of the cast. The script was nothing special and the humour is mainly hair- centric. It’s a little sad because both Cooper and Lawrence have amazing comic timing, as we saw in ‘Silver Linings.’ In fact, throughout the movie, my prevalent concern was that for such a light hearted movie, the comedy didn’t punch, the tension didn’t bite and if it wasn’t for Amy Adam’s dancing, the sex wouldn’t scorch either. Russell fails to squeeze out that elusive spark that make actors give tear- jerking, gut- wrenching performances and that’s a big fail.

‘American Hustle’ is also indicative of the trend in Hollywood to glamorise crime and misbehaviour, whether it’s in ‘Bling Ring’ or ‘The Wolf of Wall Street.’ By focusing on the criminals and ignoring the victims, Hollywood sympathizes them and makes the audience forget the real crime. Blurring the line in morality is an artistic choice, but what does it say about our culture when we make excuses for the bully and forget the bullied? True to trend, law enforcement is alternatively high- handed or incompetent and the con artist is the hero in the movie when IRL, white collar crimes pulled by con artists are the most damaging because they target hard- working middle class citizens, not high- rolling entrepreneurs engaged in shady business.

‘American Hustle’ is the ultimate ego- rush. It won’t teach you anything and it won’t kick up controversy or discussion. But it does have some great hair. Go figure. 

Asuka Randeniye - http://www.dailynews.lk

Sunday, March 01, 2015

True friendship - from a Buddhist viewpoint


The definition of a friend has changed in today’s technologically connected world. Today we may think we have many “friends.” It is true: we do enjoy the ability to be informed and to stay current with what is happening in the lives of many of our acquaintances as well as current and former friends and even people we have not met personally whom we call our friends.

In the context of social media, the term “friend” is often used to describe contacts rather than relationships. You have the ability to send your “friends” a message, but this is not the same thing as having a relationship with a person one on one.

Sometimes our preoccupation is on having friends. Perhaps we should focus on being a friend.

Relationship

There are many definitions of what it means to be a friend. The signs include a mutual desire for companionship and perhaps a common bond of some kind. Beyond that, genuine friendship involves a shared sense of caring and concern, a desire to see one another grow and develop, and a hope for each other to succeed in all aspects of life. True friendship involves action: doing something for someone else while expecting nothing in return; sharing thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment or negative criticism.

True friends influence those with whom they associate to “rise a little higher [and] be a little better.” You can help one another, prepare for and serve honourable missions. You can help one another remain morally clean. Your righteous influence and friendship can have an eternal effect not only on the lives of those with whom you associate but also on generations to come.

The Japanese have a term, kenzoku, which translated literally means “family.” The connotation suggests a bond between people who’ve made a similar commitment and who possibly therefore share a similar destiny. It implies the presence of the deepest connection of friendship, of lives lived as comrades from the distant past.

The question then arises: why do we have the kind of chemistry encapsulated by the word kenzoku with only a few people we know and not scores of others? The closer we look for the answer the more elusive it becomes. It may not in fact be possible to know, but the characteristics that define a kenzoku relationship most certainly are.

What draws people together as friends? I can think of four major reasons

(1) Common interests. This probably ties us closer to our friends than many would like to admit. When our interests diverge and we can find nothing to enjoy jointly, time spent together tends to rapidly diminish. Not that we can’t still care deeply about friends with whom we no longer share common interests, but it’s probably uncommon for such friends to interact on a regular basis.

(2) History. Nothing ties people together, even people with little in common, than having gone through the same difficult experience. As the sole glue to keep friendships whole in the long run, however, it often dries, cracks, and ultimately fails.

(3) Common values. Though not necessarily enough to create a friendship, if values are too divergent, it’s difficult for a friendship to thrive.

(4) Equality. If one friend needs the support of the other on a consistent basis such that the person depended upon receives no benefit other than the opportunity to support and encourage, while the relationship may be significant and valuable, it can’t be said to define a true friendship.

Buddhism teaches us that the Buddha considered living in harmony and friendship without disputes an important human relationship based on love. Metta (loving kindness) envelopes much more than mere love. In other words, a friendly spirit which is edified, not only on love, but on metta.

Influence

In the modern society, the word “love” has become a cheap connotation, but metta when taken in its real perspective, includes all the noble human feelings a person could shower on another.

People influence each other in subtle and complex ways. Therefore, it is important to develop the ability to discern the nature of that influence. According to Buddhism, a truly good friend is someone with the compassion and courage to tell us even those things we would prefer not to hear, which we must confront if we are to develop and grow in our lives.

Ananda, one of Buddha’s closest disciples, once asked him: “It seems to me that by having good friends and advancing together with them, one has already halfway attained the Buddha way. Is this way of thinking correct?”

The Buddha replied, “Ananda, this way of thinking is not correct. Having good friends and advancing together with them is not half the Buddhist way but all the Buddhist way.”













Friendship provides children with more than just
fun playmates. They learn important social skills.

This may seem surprising, as Buddhism is often viewed as a solitary discipline in which other people might be seen as more of a hindrance than a help. However, to polish and improve our lives ultimately means to develop the quality of our interpersonal relationships - a far more challenging task than any solitary discipline. Our practice of Buddhism only finds meaning within the context of these relationships.

Bad friends

When we raise the question how to recognise good friends, how to distinguish good advisors from bad advisors, the Buddha offers us crystal-clear advice. He explains the difference between the companionship of the bad person and the companionship of the good person.

The bad person chooses as friends whose conduct is marked by an absence of shame and moral dread, who have no knowledge of spiritual teachings, who are lazy and unmindful, and who are devoid of wisdom. As a consequence of choosing such bad friends as his advisors, the bad person plans and acts for his own harm, for the harm of others, and the harm of both, and he meets with sorrow and misery.

In contrast, the Buddha continues, the good person chooses as friends and companions those who exhibit a sense of shame and moral dread, who are learned in the Dhamma, energetic in cultivation of the mind, mindful, and possessed of wisdom. Resorting to such good friends, looking to them as mentors and guides, the good person pursues these same qualities as his own ideals and absorbs them into his character.

Thus, while drawing ever closer to deliverance himself, he becomes in turn a beacon light for others. Such a one is able to offer those who still wander in the dark an inspiring model to emulate, and a wise friend to turn to for guidance and advice.

The Buddha has explained how to win and keep friends. By being generous one can surely win friends and also by being courteous and benevolent. Rejoice in your friend’s achievements, praise any commendable acts and strong points. But the Buddha says that if you always keep on talking of your friend’s goodness, kindness, greatness and so on, then you are trying to deceive him. In dealing with friends, one’s word should be as clean as the actions.

By Lionel Wijesiri - Sunday Observer

Thursday, February 26, 2015

යළි නො දකින්නට

මා මල දවසට

මගේ වළ ළඟ හිඳ

සාප කරනු මැන

යළි නො දකින්නට...

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sabrina: Finding love for the first time

Years and years ago, as a teenager of the last century, when VHS and not DVD was the format in which films were watched at home, there were some truly great romantic comedies which I now yearn to see again.

Maybe its nostalgia or maybe it's simply the quality of the storyline, the acting and the overall cinematic excellence that was achieved by the film-makers.

The film Sabrina starring Harrison Ford, Julia Ormond and Greg Kinnear in the lead roles, is one such film.

Directed by Sydney Pollack, it is a remake with some adaptations of the 1954 black and white film Sabrina Fair which had Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn in the lead roles, which too I incidentally watched back in the last century on VHS.

The 1995 remake has Julia Ormond playing the beguiling Sabrina Fairchild the young daughter of the chauffeur to the Larrabee.

Sabrina secretly has been in love with David Larrabee (played by Greg Kinnear) the younger of the Larabee brothers, all her life. But David is a playboy, with strings of love affairs that has him flitting form one love to another, and doesn't really notice the chauffeur's daughter.

Internship

But after Sabrina travels to Paris for a fashion internship at the world famous Vogue magazine and returns as an attractive, sophisticated woman, David, after initially not recognising her, is besotted by her.

However, one of the barriers that now confront him is that he is newly engaged to Elizabeth Tyson, a doctor of whose family wealth and status David's elder brother Linus (played by Harrison Ford) approves of.

Linus who is very much the man in charge, running the family business inherited from their father and ensuring that their wealth continuously grows, fears that David's wedding to Elizabeth might be at jeopardised because of Sabrina. If the marriage doesn't take place, a lucrative merger with the bride's family business, Tyson Electronics, is also at risk.

This could cost the Larrabee Corporation, close to a billion dollars fears Linus.

Linus tries to distract Sabrina's affections away from Linus and to himself and it works. Sabrina falls in love with him despite everyone thinking that he is a money minded workaholic with no depth of emotions.

Feelings

However, the tables turn and Linus finds himself falling for Sabrina. Reluctant to admit his feelings for her, Linus confesses his scheme to Sabrina at the last minute and sends her back to Paris.

Before she gets on the plane to Paris, her father reveals to her that during the years of driving the father of David and Linus, he was able to pick up stock market tips from Larrabee senior and has made over two million dollars and assures her that all those years he and her mother ensured for her future.

Linus, however, on realising that he is making a mistake in letting her go and wants to express his true feelings for her is persuaded to follow her to Paris by chiding from his mother and also David.

The story ends with David confirming his nuptials with Elizabeth and steps into take the burden of running the family business off Linus's shoulders allowing him to better enjoy life having for the first time in his life found love.

By Dilshan Boange- Sunday Observer