Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Talitha Farewell Dinner — Mar 28, 2016


Talitha at the TVM Literary festival, Nov 2011


Talitha at a KRG reading in Thommo's house, Sep 2013

KRG members gathered to say goodbye to Talitha Mathew, one of our earliest members. Her husband Satish, a true friend of the Kochi Reading Group, has put in his papers with Harrisons Malayalam and they are returning  to live in their home at Thiruvananthapuram (TVM).


Kavita organised a dinner at the Cochin Yacht Club to say adieu – but we hope to see them again on future occasions when they come to Kochi. Talitha is not retiring and will continue her work, though from TVM as base.


Pictures taken on the occasion are interspersed here.


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Monday, March 21, 2016

Rahul Alex Panicker (RP) speaks on Artificial Intelligence (AI) at the CYC — Mar 19, 2016

Rahul Alex Panicker showing an example of computer-art
generated purely from random noise, using a neural network trained on places by the
MIT Computer Science and AI Laboratory

Bobby Paul George who founded the Kochi Reading Group  was extremely keen that we meet with Dr Panicker, who is related to him and whom he classed as a ‘genius.’ Therefore forsaking the India vs. Pakistan T-20 Cricket match which was to take place on the same evening, we attended the AI talk.

Dr Panicker’s was a rambling general talk, accessible to the layperson; because some of the points he made were provocatively optimistic predictions of AI, the audience interposed questions and participated in the discussion.

Dr Panicker has nurtured and co-founded a company with a manufacturing base in India with ideas generated with colleagues of his at Stanford. They make swaddles for infants. Now he is stepping into new ventures.


Dr Panicker hails from Mavelikkara in Kerala. After the talk Bobby Paul George, his host for the evening, arranged dinner at his home preceded by drinks at the Yacht Club Bar. The evening was stimulating. 

The audience at the talk

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Sunday, March 13, 2016

William Golding — Lord of the Flies, Mar 11, 2016


Original Sept 1954 Edition cover

The Lord of the Flies (LOTF), published in 1954, achieved such popularity for the author that it became a standard book prescribed for the GCSE in UK, and one of the KRG readers had done it for the Senior Cambridge. Another reader of an earlier vintage had to read a vastly superior novel, Treasure Island, for the same exam.

The author himself thought of LOTF as a minor work of his, and while thankful for the freedom it gave him, was not entirely welcoming of the notoriety. He was awarded the Man Booker prize in 1980 for the novel Rites of Passage, the first of a trilogy of novels of the sea. And wonderful to say, the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1983.

Joe, Ammu, Shoba, Sunil

Certain things are worth noting about this novel. The fruits the children eat are never given their names. Palm leaves are called 'feathers,' not in a metaphoric way; this is an unknown usage, not recorded in the OED, which points to the author's unfamiliarity with tropical foliage. The spectacles of Piggy, the boy suffering from myopia, are used to make a fire by focusing the sun's rays – which is actually impossible with the concave lenses used to correct for myopia.



The degeneration of the children's behaviour is meant to suggest that evil overtakes good when a system to preserve order ceases to exist. On the evidence of this novel the impulses toward sharing responsibility, purposeful action, orderly voicing of opinion and so on are drowned by the thirst for bloody adventure, killing, painting faces, ululation of battle cries, and such other blood sport.

Piggy with specs cracked

The suggestion that the introduction of girls into the mix would have mitigated the violence in the children's society was immediately rejected by a woman reader who feared that it would only result in rape being added to the crimes of bullying and murder.

The littluns

At the end the readers posed for a closing shot here below –

Joe, Sunil, Thommo, Ammu, Preeti, KumKum, Shoba, Kavita


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