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David Harvey on Capitalism
An uncommon perspective on how capitalism has worked out in recent decades, its many crises and modes of resolution.

My Life as a Turkey
An extraordinary and beautifully filmed documentary in which naturalist Joe Hutto raises 16 wild turkeys from incubation to adulthood, an experience that changed his life.

Big Sky, Big Money
A PBS Frontline investigation that focuses on a Senate race in Montana to look at how big money has infiltrated American politics.

Dan Miller on Climate Change
Dan Miller describes how climate change is shaping up to be worse than was predicted by the movie An Inconvenient Truth, and what we ought to be doing.

Leslie Chang on China's Workers
Stories about the migrant factory workers of China — mostly young women who make our shoes, handbags, computers, and cellphones.

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar - the Movie
Provides a good biographical sketch of an extraordinary and inspiring man who prevailed over some breathtaking odds.

Peaceable Kingdom
A documentary that explores the powerful struggle of conscience experienced by several people from animal farming backgrounds who come to question the basic assumptions of their way of life.

Education, Khan Academy Style
Salman Khan "talks about how and why he created the remarkable Khan Academy, a carefully structured series of educational videos offering complete curricula in math and, now, other subjects.

A 50-Year Plan for Energy
Amory Lovins' plan for a whole new private-sector energy industry that will save trillions while decimating fossil fuel use, creating jobs, reducing oil conflicts, and growing the economy.

A Film on Bismillan Khan
On the life and times of Bismillah Khan (1916-2006), a musician as great as any that India has produced.

The Secret Lives of Molecules
Drew Berry presents "stunning and scientifically accurate animations to illustrate how the molecules in our cells move and interact."

Do Antidepressants Work?
The short answer is yes, but not for the reasons one might imagine. Antidepressants work not because of their active ingredients but because of the placebo effect.

BBC Series on the Ganga
An excellent BBC documentary, Ganges, on the river's Himalayan birth and descent, its journey through the plains, and its end in the Bay of Bengal in what is the largest river delta in the world.

Thapar on Indian History
An engaging conversation with historian Romila Thapar on some aspects of ancient Indian history, its distortion by colonial scholars, and how the past and the present continue to shape each other in India.

Seven Ways to Rescue Pakistan
An interesting conversation between Indian politician Mani Shankar Aiyar and Pakistani physicist and political commentator Pervez Hoodbhoy, hosted by NDTV.

Curiosity for Mars
NASA just launched its newest Mars rover, Curiosity. This super cool animation shows how it will get to Mars and some things it'll do there.

Morality Without Religion
Frans de Waal's lecture on what science tells us about our shared morality with animals.

Sørensen on World Order
An insightful talk by Georg Sørensen on the world order today, where he considers four dimensions: (a) war and peace, (b) global economy, (c) institutions and governance, and (d) global environment.

Dharavi: India's Model Slum?
Dharavi, Asia's largest slum, is usually spoken of as a hell-hole and a shame for urban India. Here is a very different viewpoint.

The Chinese Are Coming
This breezy BBC documentary explores the nature and impact of China's rising influence around the world, especially in Africa, Brazil, and the U.S., and how China is reshaping theglobal balance of power.

Stay Hungry Stay Foolish
Steve Jobs is dead. Watch once again his Stanford commencement speech, 2005.
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Jonathan Haidt on Morality
Lecture by psychologist Jonathan Haidt whose "research indicates that morality is a social construction which has evolved out of raw materials provided by five (or more) innate "psychological" foundations: Harm, Fairness, Ingroup, Authority, and Purity.

The Perils of Personalization
For over a decade, personalization has been a growing trend on the Internet. It feels nice, this idea of news, information, and services customized for our individual interests. But does it have any downsides?

The Danger of a Single Story
This talk by Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie is not to be missed by anyone interested in stories, language, reading and writing, not to mention class, politics, history, cultural and imperial hegemony, mental colonization, and so much more.

BBC Documentary on Gandhi
A three-hour BBC documentary on Gandhi (2009). It does a reasonable job of covering Gandhi's life: basic biographical details, historical events, key influences, lucky breaks, setbacks, etc.

Debate in Tibetan Buddhism
Have you heard of the 900+ years old debating tradition of Tibet? This Asia Society video introduces the tradition and showcases four debating Tibetan monks.

How Language Shapes Thought
The structure of particular languages affect the way we attend to, encode, represent, remember, and reason about the world—a brilliant lecture by Lera Boroditsky.

Wolpe on Bioengineering
Paul Root Wolpe is professor of bioethics at Emory. In this engaging TED talk, he speaks about the cutting edge in bioengineering experiments and the ethical questions they provoke.

Status Anxiety
An intelligent British documentary that looks at our ideas of success and failure, the anxiety we feel over our careers, the envy our peers evoke in us, and why it's harder now to feel calm than ever before.

Human Planet
Look out for Human Planet from the BBC, "an awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping, heart-stopping landmark series that marvels at mankind's incredible relationship with nature in the world today."

Race vs. Class: The Future of Affirmative Action
An excellent 2009 debate and Q&A on the following motion: "Affirmative action policies should focus on class and wealth rather than race and ethnicity."

Becoming Human
A 3-part NOVA documentary on human evolution, focusing on the last few million years of our story, incorporating some of the latest findings from various fields of anthropology.

Readings from 'Tablet & Pen'
An evening of music, poetry, and other readings inspired by a new anthology of Middle Eastern literature, Tablet & Pen, hosted by its editor Reza Aslan

Last Hippie Standing
A documentary on Goa, "the hippie paradise of the 60s", with interesting footage from that period, including their wild parties and the Anjuna flea market.

Are Genes Left Wing?
"The right loves genetic explanations for poverty or mental illness," claims Oliver James. The problem, he says, is that a decade of scientific research does not support their views.

You Think, Therefore, You Can
When we think or feel, a host of neurons in our brains fire electrical signals. An inexpensive headset from Emotiv Systems can "read our minds" and issue commands to machines.

On Power, Human Nature, Justice
A 1971 exchange between Chomsky and Foucault (I especially resonate with the latter's take on these topics).

The Lost Art of Democratic Debate
The inimitable Michael Sandel's TED talk, a short digest of his brilliant Harvard course that I heartily recommend for one and all.

Tariq Ramadan on Muslims in the West
Al Jazeera interview by Riz Khan, in which Tariq Ramadan, Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University, talks about a range of issues that relate to the experience of Muslims in the West.

Gloom Boom & Doom
A lecture by Marc Faber, the pessimist's economist, a "contrarian" who has been frequently right, and publisher of the investment newsletter "The Gloom Boom & Doom Report". His website is even adorned by the Dance of Death paintings by Kaspar Meglinger.

George Soros on the Future of Economics
In this lecture series, Soros offers some resolutely liberal and philosophically rich food for thought on economics—an odd thing to say, I'll admit, for a multi-billionaire hedge fund manager.

Tariq Ramadan on Muslims in the West
Al Jazeera interview by Riz Khan, in which Tariq Ramadan, Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University, talks about a range of issues that relate to the experience of Muslims in the West.

What to Make of the Naxalites?
How much does the Maoist cause of overthrowing the Indian state have in common with the Adivasi/Dalit cause of social justice and autonomy?

The Mahabharata: A Conversation
Ashis Nandy and Gurcharan Das discuss the Mahabharata.

Final Solution
Rakesh Sharma's acclaimed documentary about the Gujarat riots reveals how the events unfolded, how the madness spread, and the stories of the people caught in its wheels. A must see for anyone interested in the politics of hate that grips humanity from time to time.

The Century of the Self
A remarkable BBC documentary by Adam Curtis that examines how those in power in the last century, including PR professionals and politicians, exploited Freudian insights into human nature to make money, engineer consent, and manage the masses.

A Universe From Nothing
A great primer by physicist Lawrence Krauss on what we have recently learned about the universe, how it is dominated by "nothing", aka dark matter and dark energy, and why the emergent picture is so bizarre.

Dance to Change the World
At TEDIndia, Mallika Sarabhai, a dancer, actor, and politician, tells a transformative story in dance—and argues that the arts may be the most powerful way to effect change, whether political, social or personal.

On Sexual Slavery in India
Sunitha Krishnan has dedicated her life to rescuing women and children from sex slavery, a multimillion-dollar global market. What is the single biggest challenge she faces in her fight in India?

Tariq Ali on Afghanistan and Pakistan
British-Pakistani writer, journalist, and historian Tariq Ali disagrees with Obama's strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, describes what is happening in the two countries, and raises several awkward questions.

India's Wall of Death
India is building a 2000 mile border fence with Bangladesh, patrolled by 80,000 armed guards. Part of it is already built but abuses by the Indian guards are rampant. Scores of farmers, villagers, and cattle herders have been shot for getting too close to the fence.

Wired for War
Amy Goodman in conversation with PW Singer, author of Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century.

Who Speaks for Islam?
A debate between Irshad Manji and Dalia Mogahed. Manji, a vocal critic of Islam, sees herself as a reform Muslim. Mogahed identifies herself as a mainstream Muslim who is "passionate about moderation."

On China's Confucian Revival
An interview with Daniel A Bell, author of China's New Confucianism: Politics and Everyday Life in a Changing Society

Who Are We?
Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor's gripping story of her stroke, caused by hemorrhage to the left hemisphere of her brain, and the unexpected spiritual moment she experienced within that stroke: Nirvana?

Lohmann on Carbon Trading
Larry Lohmann on how carbon trading works, why it is an ill-conceived response to Climate Change, and why Bush and Gore are not as far apart in their policy prescriptions as some of us believe.

On Nuclear Energy
A compelling presentation on why nuclear energy must be a significant part of a clean energy solution (by Gwyneth Cravens and Rip Anderson).

Reza Aslan on Religion
An Apr 2007 debate between Reza Aslan and Sam Harris. Topics include religion, Islam, terrorism, etc. Aslan is the one to watch.

Combatting Human Trafficking
According to Julia Ormond, slavery is alive and well today. Worldwide, tens of millions of people live in slavery ... the largest number of slaves in history.

The Oldest Conflict of All
A debate between Professor Mansfield, author of the recent controversial study, Manliness, and Professor Kipnis, author of a similarly controversial new book, The Female Thing: Dirt, Sex, Envy, Vulnerability.

The Romance of the Nation-State
A thought-provoking and often amusing lecture by Ashis Nandy, prominent Indian political psychologist and social philosopher.

How Terrorism Works
Experts on Islamic terrorism are now everywhere, spouting wisdom on countless media outlets and blogs. Most of them ... reflexively summon their gut to explain what turns Muslims into terrorists...

Rediscovering Golem
What is life anyway, and how did it really happen upon this world? As a physical phenomenon, is life an accidental and rare occurrence?

 

 

Queues, Quacks, and Chaos
Over half of Indians do not have access to any professional healthcare. This video provides a quick overview of the state of Indian healthcare.

Partition: Recovering Sylhet
Through 1947partitionarchive.org comes this harrowing "eyewitness account" of atrocities during the partition of India by Major Jagjit Singh.

Capitalism Without Growth?
In a world of finite resources, the expectation of endless economic growth is rather absurd, a fact now being made amply evident by ecological degradation, climate change, and extinction of species.

Are Humans Just Another Primate?
A lecture by Robert Sapolsky, professor of neurobiology and primatology at Stanford, in which he tries to discern, to the best of our knowledge, what it is that separates us from other animals.

Jensen on the Future of Journalism
A video of his introductory course in Journalism.

Tapped
A documents about how the bottle water industry is wrecking the environment and its effects on our health, climate change, pollution, and reliance on oil.

Arithmetic, Population and Energy
A brilliant lecture by Dr. Albert A. Bartlett, professor of physics, that looks at population growth, energy use, and sustainability in light of basic arithmetic.

The Emotional World of Farm Animals
A delightful documentary "about the thinking and feeling side of animals that are all too often just viewed as food.

Aamir Khan's Satyamev Jayate
Long overdue, a refreshingly candid, data-packed, and emotionally powerful look at a range of social ills that plague Indian society.

Vinay Lal on "Imperialism of Categories"
Lal on the taxonomy of classifications, analyses, and judgments that postcolonial societies have adopted wholesale from the West.

Doniger on Indian Prudishness
In this entertaining lecture, Wendy Doniger explores the roots of a key feature of contemporary Hindu society: its powerful strain of sexual prudery.

Superior Autobiographical Memory
"Lesley Stahl reports on the recently discovered phenomenon of "superior autobiographical memory," the ability to recall nearly every day of one's life."

Alan Watts - What We Are
A poetic rumination on our existence by Alan Watts. Strikes me as "scientifically-alert" Upanishadic metaphysics with dubious bits minimized.

Pollock on the Study of Classics in India
Sheldon Pollock, professor of Sanskrit and Indian Studies at Columbia, describes the deep crisis in the study of the classics and classical languages in India, and why we should worry about it.

Tyler Cowen on Stories
Cowen on how stories work in our lives—how we receive them, tell them, and what we should be wary of—even as he is conscious that what he is talking about is also just a story!

Peace in the Favelas
Here is an amazing success story from the favelas, or shantytowns, of Rio de Janeiro, which were plagued for years by violent crime, gangs, drug dealers, and high-end automatic weapons.

India's SIlent War
From Imran Garda of Al Jazeera comes this rare, insightful, and truly heartrending report on the plight of the Adivasis caught in a brutal civil war.

Miss Representation
A very well put together documentary film that explores "the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls."

Battling Bad Science
Doctor and epidemiologist Ben Goldacre shows us, at high speed, the ways evidence can be distorted, from the blindingly obvious nutrition claims to the very subtle tricks of the pharmaceutical industry."

A Decade of War Costs
A look at what the wars of the post-9/11 decade cost the American economy.
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How Terrorists Are Made
Anthropologist Scott Atran, compelling as usual, talks to Robert Wright about what creates terrorists, the subject matter of his book a year ago, Talking to the Enemy.

Guinier on Redefining Merit
A brilliant lecture by Lani Guinier, professor of law at Harvard and civil rights activist, on what merit means, why we need to redefine it, the benefits of diversity in approaching complex problems, and more.

Alva Noë on Consciousness
In Out of Our Heads, philosopher Alva Noë, "restates and reexamines the problem of consciousness, and ... suggests that rather than being something that happens inside us, consciousness is something we do.

Rao on Indus Valley Inscriptions
Rajesh Rao on the challenge of deciphering the 4000-year-old inscriptions of the Indus Valley Civilization, including whether they represent a linguistic script or a non-linguistic symbol system.

Arthur Benjamin's Mathemagic
Many Indians surely remember Shakuntala Devi from their school years, whose books their parents bought in the hope that she would inspire in their progeny a love of mathematics. Here another mathemagician, Arthur Benjamin, does a few tricks.

The Tribes of the Deccan
A documentary based on the footage gathered by Austrian anthropologist Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf on the hill tribes of South India in the 1940s, including the tribes of Chenchus, Reddis, Koyas, Bondos, Gadabas, and more.

The Rock Art of Djulirri
"In central northern Australia, the Aborigines left paintings chronicling 15,000 years of their history. [This video presents] some of the most interesting and unusual paintings—depicting everything from cruise ships to dugong hunts to arrogant Europeans".

The Secret Lives of Ants
Ant colonies have long fascinated humans due to their parallels with human societies: millions of individuals with no central control, spanning many lifetimes and a large territory, solve problems through cooperation and division of labor. How do they do it?

Arab Poetry of Resistance
Sudhanva Deshpande recites a few poems of resistance from the great poets of the Arab world, including Palestine and the Middle-East.

Ramadan and Zizek on Egypt
Riz Khan talks to Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan and Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek about the power of popular dissent, the limits of peaceful protest and the future of Egyptian politics.

The Roots of Mideast Terror
A brilliant lecture by Mahmood Mamdani, Herbert Lehman Professor at Columbia. He provides a necessary corrective to the mostly obtuse and ignorant discourse on Islamic terrorism in the U.S.

The Secret Powers of Time
Philip Zimbardo "conveys how our individual perspectives of time affect our work, health and well-being. Time influences who we are as a person, how we view relationships and how we act in the world."

Schneier on Security
Know any examples of an absurdly disproportionate response to a security failure? Check out Bruce Schneier on how to think about security.

Ithaca by Cavafy
Sean Connery's marvelous reading of Ithaca, the gorgeous poem by CP Cavafy (translated from the Greek).

Ian Morris on Why the West Rules
Historian Ian Morris talks about the key themes of his ambitious new book, Why the West Rules—For Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future. Geography, he claims, is what explains the arc of world history.

Fair and Lovely?
Al Jazeera reports on India's obsession with fair skin.

Bollywood's India
A lecture on Bollywood by Rachel Dwyer, Prof of Indian Cultures and Cinema at the University of London (Nov 09), including how "Hindi cinema is a guide to modern India".

The Battle for Niyamgiri
The "Avatar style" battle between the big bad British corporation Vedanta Resources and Dongria Kondh, an endangered Primitive Tribal Group in Orissa, India, has attracted the attention of Bianca Jagger.

Collateral Murder
Harrowing footage from 2007 of a US Apache helicopter attack in which two Reuters employees as well as nine others get hunted down like animals in a Baghdad public square.

Radical Women, Embracing Tradition
"Kavita Ramdas of the Global Fund for Women talks about three encounters with powerful women who fight to make the world better—while preserving the traditions that sustain them."

Basharat Peer on Kashmir
Kashmiri journalist Basharat Peer, author of the memoir Curfewed Night, on the Kashmir conflict. Basharat's readings from his book are vivid and moving, and provide a window into ordinary life during the two-decade old Kashmir conflict.

Corporations Are People Too!
A corporation called Murray Hill Inc. is taking the logical next step in the evolution of the oldest democracy: it is fighting for the right to run for Congress. Why? Because in legal terms, a corporation is a person too!

Spivak on the New Subaltern
Here is an entertaining and though-provoking—if also a tad dense—lecture by Columbia Professor Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, a leading literary theorist and cultural critic, well known for her essay, Can the Subaltern Speak?

I'm Dalit, How Are You?
The Indian caste system has long violated some of the most basic tenets of human dignity, inflicting untold humiliation and injustice on too many for too long. Watch this video on the plight of Dalits (‘the oppressed’)—formerly ‘untouchables’—numbering one out of six Indians.

Michael Sandel on Justice
An introduction to moral and political philosophy and great philosophers—from Aristotle to John Stuart Mill—but also to debate contemporary issues that raise philosophical questions—about individual rights and the claims of community, equality and inequality, morality and law.

Embrace Your Inner Girl
In this passionate talk, Eve Ensler declares that there is a girl cell in us all, which we have all been taught to suppress.

Queerer Than We Suppose
Richard Dawkins on the kind of world evolution has prepared us for, how it limits what we are capable of imagining, and why the universe will likely remain queerer than we suppose.

Harvesting Water in the Thar Desert
"With wisdom and wit, Anupam Mishra talks about the amazing feats of engineering built centuries ago by the people of India's Golden Desert to harvest water. These structures are still used today—and are often superior to modern water megaprojects."

Midway: Message from the Gyre
This six minute video by photographer Chris Jordan consists of a series of pictures of Albatross chicks taken on Midway islands in the Pacific—among the most remote marine sanctuaries in the world—two thousand miles from the nearest continent.

Alan de Botton on Success
A breezy talk in which Alain de Botton looks at our ideas of success and failure, the anxiety we feel over our careers, why it's harder now to feel calm than ever before. Is success always earned? Is failure?

Vietnam: American Holocaust
A 2008 documentary by Clay Claiborne, narrated by Martin Sheen, with some of the most disturbing war footage I have ever seen. The oddly persistent idea that the United States was/is a "benevolent hegemon" seems utterly depraved in light of this.

The View from Gaza
An outstanding documentary on the Israeli-Palestinian war of Dec'08-Jan'09. Watch it for a glimpse of how the brutal Israeli assault was experienced by ordinary Palestinians.

Dreyfus on Heidegger
Bryan Magee talks to Hubert Dreyfus, a leading Heidegger scholar from UC Berkeley. They explain why Heidegger has had an enormous impact on almost every contemporary academic discipline.

Searle on Wittgenstein
Bryan Magee talks to John Searle about the ideas and legacy of Ludwig Wittgenstein, covering his early work, the Tractatus, as well as his posthumously published, Philosophical Investigations.

Wade Davis on the Human Imagination
Wade Davis takes us on a tour through the wild ranges of the human imagination as manifested in the breadth of human mythology and cultural life.

The Pale Blue Dot
Carl Sagan on the only home we have ever known (thoughts and images from Cosmos; 3:31 mins)

Slaughter in America
A recent Humane Society sting operation at a California slaughterhouse brought to light some very cruel treatment of farm animals...

Little Boy of Hiroshima
"Little Boy was the codename of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, on August 6, 1945" by the US Air Force, the first atomic bomb ever used as a weapon...

The Last Empire
Much has been written about China's environmental crisis in recent years: vanishing forests, encroaching desert, depleting ground water, acid rain, toxic chemicals in polluted rivers, etc...

Comedy Break
Intelligent comedy is so rarely found. I consider it a gift when I run across something that moves me and makes me laugh and think...

A Song for America
Here is a seriocomic take on American jingoism. It adapts a beloved '70s tune from Tamilian Sri Lanka.

Use Condoms
This ad for Zazoo condoms played in Belgium.

River of Faith
A documentary film about the Kumbh Mela 2013, an ancient pilgrimage festival that is by far the largest gathering of humanity on the planet.

The Pearl of Africa

A journey to Uganda's national parks, the Ssese Islands of Lake Victoria, the source of the river Nile, Jinja, and Kampala.

The Lost City of Ugarit
A journey to the ruins of Ugarit, the 2nd millennium BCE city in Syria credited with the invention of the alphabet.

The Leatherbacks of Trinidad

A tiny village on the northeastern coast of Trinidad is home to the "so-ugly-they're-cute" leatherback turtles.

A Large-Hearted Gentleman

With barely a thousand tigers left in the wild, a man at a Tiger reserve in India reminisces about the days when "tigers abounded like stray dogs".

A Folk Singer from Himachal

He sings in a language called Pahari in the highlands of Khajjiar, Himachal Pradesh, India.

Potala-in-Exile

The seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile is in McLeod Ganj (upper Dharamsala), a picturesque town in the Indian Himalayas.

Amazon Rainforest, Ecuador

A journey into El Oriente, the rainforest region in the Upper Amazon Basin of Ecuador.

The Art of Borobudur

The world's largest Buddhist monument located near the city of Jogjakarta on the island of Java, Indonesia.

Numen Inest

"Divinity is Here", a slideshow of some of my best landscape photos set to music.

The Orangutans of Sumatra

A slideshow on the orangutan ("person of the forest"), the only great ape outside Africa.

Kumbh Mela 2001, India

The greatest of the Hindu pilgrimage festivals is a riverside religious fair held every 12 years.

LGBT Pride Parade, 2008

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Celebration & Parade in San Francisco, 2008.

White Desert, Egypt

Scenes from the hauntingly beautiful White Desert in the eastern Sahara, with its otherworldly white chalk rocks.

Teotihuacan, Mexico City

Teotihuacan, famous for its pyramids, was the grandest city in Mesoamerica during the Classic Period (150-450 CE).

Ghost Town in the Levant

Quneitra was once a bustling town in the Golan Heights, Syria ... now it is a ghost town.

A Sunday in São Paulo

Wander the streets of the most energetic and cosmopolitan metropolis of Brazil.

Whirling Dervishes

Whirling dervishes performing at a restaurant in Damascus, Syria (plus a titillating dinner buffet!)

Halloween in the Castro

Anthropologically curious footage from the Castro district, San Francisco.

 

 


A Novel by Usha Alexander

"A suspenseful narrative weaves the stories and secrets of two generations into one seamless drama…. a worthy literary journey." —Kirkus Discoveries

UshaAlexander.com

 

 

 
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