It is chiefly through books that we enjoy intercourse with superior minds - in the best books, great men talk to us, give us their most precious thoughts, and pour their souls into ours.

You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.


Press, Media, Democracy, Government

The freedoms that many democracies have achieved are quite new in most parts of the world, blooming in others, and non-existant in many. Taking these freedoms for granted is the cardinal sin of governance and a good understanding of history and present will explain why.

Movies:

The Lives of Others

V for Vendetta

Schindler’s List

Life is Beautiful

Cabaret 

In The Land Of Blood and Honey

Putin’s Kiss

Books:

Orwell - 1984

Ibsen - Enemy Of The People

Wolf - The End Of America

Funder - Stasiland

Huxley - Brave New World

Huxley - Brave New World Revisited

Solzhenitsyn - A Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich

Chesterton - The Man Who Was Thursday (+ a review)

Articles:

The Hindu - Censorship By Pay-to-print

The Hindu - And the pay to print saga resumes

Wikileaks (About)

Russia's Phony Capitalism

The Hindu - Freedom of the press and journalistic ethics I

The Hindu - Freedom of the press and journalistic ethics II

Time - How companies now know everything about you

Guardian - Blockade on wikileaks is attack on free speech

Wall Street Journal deception

NY Times - Guantanamo: an American history

NY Times - Using Facebook Against You

Guardian - Confessions of a KGB spy

Videos:

Fora - Wikileaks why it matters, why it doesn't
Guardian - Voices of protest

Unverified - Secrets of the CIA



Finance, Politics, Corruption, Foreign Affairs

In a globalized world where a war in one country can affect the price of goods halfway around the world, where travel is increasingly possible and popular, where corruption and red-tapism can affect the richest and the poorest, politics and foreign affairs are inescapable and important.

Movies/Films/Documentaries:

Motorcycle Diaries

Blood in the Face (documentary)

Joschka Und Herr Fischer (documentary)

El Sicario Room 164 (documentary)

Websites (with millions of articles):

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Foreign Affairs, a magazine

Council on Foreign Relations

US Institute for Peace

Articles:

The Hindu - So you thought 2010 was tough

The Hindu - Obama's India trip: after the gush and drool

The Times - Why Germany can't get over the Wall

How Carlos Slim Got Huge

The Hindu - Cash for votes in south India

The Hindu - Gates, Buffet and the art of giving

The Hindu - Corporate socialism’s 2G orgy

The Hindu - Retooling laws for justice

The Hindu - The lurch of the lemmings

The Hindu - Corruption: is Italy a step ahead?

The Hindu - The business of microfinance

The Hindu - The pitiful death of Osama

The Hindu - I’d rather not be Anna

The Hindu - The union cabinet gets healthier

The Hindu - The cost of the black economy
NY Times - Rick Santorum’s homophobic frothing

NY Times - The legal fog between war and peace



Human Rights (Genocide/Torture/Trafficking)

While many people enjoy freedoms, there are millions of others who have (including recent years) routinely faced gross injustices. To think that these issues are not the concern of urban comfort in developed cities is naive, uneducated and dangerous.

Websites (with millions of articles):

Human Rights Watch

Amesty International

Not For Sale

International Justice Mission

The Project To End Human Trafficking

The Polaris Project

Books:

The Rape of Nanking (unread)

Girls Like Us (unread)

Lecture:

Fora - Zimbardo (Abu Ghraib, Stanford Prison Experiment)

TED - The hidden light of Afghanistan

TED - The moral dangers of non-lethal weapons

Articles:

The Hindu - Guantanamo's medical victims

NYTimes - What part of ‘illegal’ don’t you understand?

The Hindu - Dreams die in the desert

NYTimes - Why selling kidneys should be legal

Guardian - Human zoos

Guardian - Trafficking victims lured to UK, locked up and raped

Guardian - Sex trafficking, Romania to England

Waterboarding prisoners and justifying torture

NYTimes - What about American girls sold on the streets?

Narco News - Coca Fumigation in Colombia

Occupy protests, videos of police violence

Guardian - Truth about crackdown on Occupy

Guardian - Cathy Freeman’s story (Sydney gold medallist)

Guardian - Andaman islanders forced to dance for tourists

NY Times - Are we ready for a morality pill?

N+1Mag - Raise the crime rate (!!!)

New Yorker - The caging of America

NYTimes - Where pimps peddle their goods

NYTimes - Sexual humiliation to control the masses

Guardian - How one man escaped from a North Korean prison camp

NYTimes - Is legalized prostitution safer?



Food

Food is an important social, economic, ethical, environmental and personal problem (nowdays even political), in which each person makes an implicit vote. A deeper understanding of the complex issues involved can go a long way in making a good informed choice.

Movies:

Food Inc

Books:

Safran Foer - Eating Animals

Pollan - An Omnivore's Dilemma

Pollan - Food Rules, An Eater's Manual

Lectures:

Lustig (UCSF) on High Fructose Corn Syrup

Articles/Videos:

TED - The subversive garden plot 

Meat.org - The horrors of the meat industry

HuffingtonPost - undercover video

Guardian - tuna slaughter video

NYTimes - Some animals are more equal than others

Smithfield Pigs undercover video

NYTimes - FrankenFish Phobia

Foreign Policy - How GS Created The Food Crisis

Foregin Policy - The Geopolitics Of Food

NYTimes - Marketing junk to kids

NYTimes - More about disappearing fish

NYTimes - Fungicide and arsenic in orange and apple juice

NYTimes - The human cost of animal suffering

Guardian - Poaching endangered species for food (China)

Unverified - Diabetes for dummies

Environment, Nature, Pollution

It is quite obviously not possible for mankind to go on without symbiotic existence with the environment that gives us space for our home, resources for food, materials for clothing/shelter, and clean air and water. However, not many people understand our interaction with the environment, or even care.

Books:

Earth From Above (Yann-Arthus)

Last Chance To See (Douglas Adams) (unread)

Movies:

The Cove (Documentary)

Animals Are Beautiful People

Home (Photographer Documentary)

Koyaanisqatsi (or the Qatsi trilogy)

Workingman’s Death

Lectures:

TED - The ocean's glory and horror

TED Prize - Wish to protect our oceans

TED - Intriguing sound of marine mammals

TED - Gulf of Mexico oil spill's toxic trade-off

TED - From poachers to caretakers

TED - Tales of ice-bound wonderlands

TED - Nature, beauty, gratitude

TED - David Gallo's Underwater astonishments

TED - Mike de Gruy’s Hooked by an octopus

TED - A census of the ocean

Articles:

Guardian - Knut, the zoo industry’s latest victim

NYTimes - What’s worse than an oil spill?

NYTimes - Animals, cruelty and videotape
Guardian - Insanely cruel badger baiting


Science and Technology

Nobody can deny the good and bad effect that science (and engineering) have had on society and our lives especially in the last half millennium, debunking religious theories and disproving superstitions, saving some lives and destroying others, easy communication for spreading ideas and massive progress in human understanding of the world we live in.

Movies:

Gattaca

Books:

Bryson - Short History Of Nearly Everything

Sagan - Science as a candle in the dark (unread)

V.S. Ramachandran - Phantoms In The Brain

Wolfram - A New Kind of Science (unread)

Lectures:

TED - Distant time and hint of a multiverse (Carroll)

TED - Wonderful world of bioluminescence (Edith Widder)

TED - Why we need the explorers (Cox)

TED - How bacteria communicate (Bassler)

TED - The quest to understand consciousness (Damasio)

TED - The roots of plant intelligence (Mancuso)

TED - What hallucination reveals about our minds (Oliver Sacks)

TED - On your mind (VS Ramachandran)

TED - A map of the brain (Jones)

TED - Printing a human kidney (Atala)

TED - Evolution’s gift of play from bonobo to humans (Behncke)

TED - The line between life and not life (Hanczyc) 

TED - Parrots, the universe and everything (Douglas Adams)

TED - The beautiful tricks of flowers (Drori) 

TED - Grow your own clothes (Lee)

TED - A prosthetic eye to treat blindness (Nirenberg)

TED - Militant Atheism (Dawkins)

TED - How your brain tells where you are (Burgess)

TED - The real reason for brains (Wolpert)

TED - The secret life of plankton (Thys)

TED - Treating cancer with electric fields (Doyle)

Articles:

Scientific American - Sex, Death and Kefir

Why Model? (PDF)

Guardian - Birds on the brink of extinction

The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics (Hamming)

The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences (Wigner)

Philosophy of Science and Ethics

New Yorker - The Itch

NYTimes - What makes free will free?

NYTimes - Prophecy of machines

Scientific American - Time on the brain

Discover Magazine - Why did consciousness evolve?

New Yorker - Time Bandits

Scientific American - Clean living is bad for you (hygiene hypothesis)

Scientific American - Can coma patients be conscious?

NY Times - Humpback whales’ sonic secrets

NYTimes - Defending science

General

Intellectuals have more often believed in the richness of mind compared to the wallet, and while the famed western capitalism, materialism and values creep into every society, intellectualism has taken a toll and the most precious freedom has been abused, the freedom of thought.

Movies/Films/Plays:

Idiocracy

The Card Game (documentary)

Capitalism: A Love Story (documentary)

Dreams (Kurosawa)

The Tale of Tales (unseen)

Drowsy Chaperone

Books:

The Story of Philosophy

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (unread)

Postman - Amusing Ourselves To Death

The Scarlet Pimpernel

Websites (with amazingly rich variety):

Fora.tv (debates, discussions, lectures)

BBC's Panorama

Reith Lectures Archive

Cognitive Media

Lectures:

TED - Why societies collapse (Diamond)

TED - Khan Academy videolectures

TED - Chris McDougall's Are we born to run?

TED - Diana Nyad’s Extreme swimming from Cuba to Florida

TED - Jacquie Novogratz Inspiring a life of immersion

TED Prize - JR Using art to turn the world inside out

Fora - Sam Harris's Can Science Determine Human Values

Fora - ABC's Is The Pursuit Of Happiness Making Us Miserable? (debate)

Christopher Hitchens and Stephen Fry vs the Catholics (debate)

Fora - Travel as a political act (Rick Steeves)

Fora - 21st century enlightenment

Unsweetened truth about tobacco

CognitiveMedia - The Paradox of Choice

Articles:

The Hindu - Of Luxury Cars and Lowly Tractors (India)

Postman - Bullshit and the Art of Crap-Detection

Desire, an essay

Ghostmarket, the social network for credit card fraud

I escaped from Auschwitz

Why Chinese mothers are superior

NYTimes - Seven Billion

The disadvantages of an elite education

Stanford tobacco ad collection

Time tobacco ad collection

Guardian - Famous for the wrong book

NYTimes - The joy of quiet

NYTimes - Can a town divided against itself stand?

Scientific American - The science of sword swallowing

NYTimes - Melinda Gates and Nicholas Kristof answer questions - first I, then II and lastly III

NYTimes - Atheism, amorality and animals

Guardian - America’s deadly devotion to guns

NYTimes - Down the insurance rabbit hole