Back to the culture wars then

by Rashmee

Posted on September 14, 2020


The gains from the Greek-to-Arabic translation movement were many. It proved to be a great investment for the Arabs. Not only did they create a vibrant environment of intellectual enquiry, they were able to use their very appetite for Hellenic knowledge as a cultural cudgel against their rivals next door, the Christian Byzantines. Interestingly, Muslim … Continue reading “Back to the culture wars then”

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What was the logic of the Greek-to-Arabic translation movement?

by Rashmee

Posted on September 13, 2020


Why did the second Abbasid Caliph Al Mansur (r.754-775) initiate the Greek-to-Arabic translation movement? He was no scholar but there was a very particular reason to lay claim to the fruits of Hellenic thinking. Al Mansur had an interest in astrology and may have been keen to form a dynastic ideology. This was to be … Continue reading “What was the logic of the Greek-to-Arabic translation movement?”

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Don’t despair over the culture wars. They’re benign compared to 8th and 9th centuries

by Rashmee

Posted on September 10, 2020


Not too long ago, British sociologist Frank Furedi wrote a piece on the culture wars in the US and UK. He asserted that the culture war was historically “set in motion in Western societies by a powerful impulse to detach the present from the past, which emerged at the turn of the 20th century”. He … Continue reading “Don’t despair over the culture wars. They’re benign compared to 8th and 9th centuries”

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Turning the NYT’s Morning Briefing into a good news bulletin

by Rashmee

Posted on July 24, 2020


Today, as a creative experiment in positivity bias, I turned part of the NYT’s Morning Briefing into a good news bulletin. This wasn’t because I’m Panglossian, suffer from Pollyanna-ish tendencies or the glass-half-full syndrome. I’m not prone to view the world through rose-coloured spectacles. It was an experiment. Why? Curiosity, mainly. I wanted to see … Continue reading “Turning the NYT’s Morning Briefing into a good news bulletin”

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An AI breakthrough that may mean curtains for poets, journalists…and me

by Rashmee

Posted on July 23, 2020 / The Focus


I was very taken by economics professor Tyler Cowen’s recent rundown on an Artificial Intelligence (AI) breakthrough that will allow computers to offer services we would normally expect from a reasonably well-educated writer. Cowen described GPT-3, the third generation of language prediction model, as follows: “GPT-3 can converse at a conceptual level, translate language, answer … Continue reading “An AI breakthrough that may mean curtains for poets, journalists…and me”

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What is the deal with ‘woke’ culture and writing letters?

by Rashmee

Posted on July 16, 2020 / The National


A battle of letters is under way on the broad and bitterly contested theme of “justice and open debate” and a truce seems unlikely anytime soon. We have been here before many times in previous years, with warriors for and against political correctness and wokeness facing off in prolonged bouts of written and oral sniping. … Continue reading “What is the deal with ‘woke’ culture and writing letters?”

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America’s most trusted dictionary will redefine racism

by Rashmee

Posted on June 12, 2020 / The Focus


Merriam-Webster has been in the business of word definitions for the better part of 200 years. Now, in a nod to the changing national and international discourse, America’s most trusted online dictionary  plans to revise its entry on racism . Merriam-Webster will now acknowledge that racism is systemic. One of the dictionary’s editors has admitted: “Omitting any … Continue reading “America’s most trusted dictionary will redefine racism”

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What Orwell would have made of ‘social distancing’

by Rashmee

Posted on April 18, 2020


On April 15, Denmark became the first in Europe to relax restrictions on education and reopen nurseries and schools. The move presented a conundrum for the Danish government, one that governments everywhere will eventually have to confront when they do the same and send young children back to school. For, it is in the nature … Continue reading “What Orwell would have made of ‘social distancing’”

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Viral words: ‘Social distancing’ is out but hard to dislodge

by Rashmee

Posted on April 16, 2020


Had Donald Trump any sense (including of the English language) he would have taken the World Health Organisation (WHO) to task for allowing the phrase “social distancing” to go viral. Instead, the US president used his daily Gorilla Man imitation to turn off millions of dollars in American funding to the global health body for … Continue reading “Viral words: ‘Social distancing’ is out but hard to dislodge”

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Cometh the hour, cometh the growth opportunity

by Rashmee

Posted on March 20, 2020


Three sectors are flourishing in the age of the novel coronavirus, Covid-19: New words and phrases New crimes of opportunity New openings for commerce Yesterday, I wrote about the crop of words and phrases already being harvested from the coronavirus outbreak. Click here to read it. If you don’t, here’s a reminder of some of … Continue reading “Cometh the hour, cometh the growth opportunity”

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Rashmee has lived and worked in several countries in the past decade, including Afghanistan, India, Haiti, Tunisia, the UAE, US and UK