Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Harris be gone already
As I scramble to finish packing, tie up loose ends, and ignore the occasional butterfly flapping around in my belly; I take a moment to cringe at the woman's ..umm..what's the word...yuckiness?
Recently, she told a religious journal "that separation of church and state is "a lie" and God and the nation's founding fathers did not intend the country be "a nation of secular laws." Oh really.
According to Harris, the separation of church and state is "wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers." (Link)
She goes on to add "that if Christians are not elected, politicians will "legislate sin," including abortion and gay marriage." (Link)
Thankfully, we still live in a country where we do not endorse any missions to eradicate sin in the US senate.
Monday, August 28, 2006
I woke up this morning and had the following, disconcertingly lucid thought--Two more days. It had a vaguely ominous ring. These are my dreams from last night--heavily censored, but the meat of it still intact.
- I am living with my cousin and we are shopping for okra at an outdoors market. I haggle my way to two huge bags of bhindi and green chillis. I take them home, to my refrigerator which is stuffed full of vegetables. Tomatoes are bleeding out to my kitchen floor. I am chewing on raw, glossy eggplants.
- I am strolling down a hallway that's part of my high school. In fact, I'm back in high school. I'm in Mrs. Levanthal's 6th period, Spanish class and I have just decided to take a break. I am thinking about how much I love walking down emptied hallways & running my fingers over the locker doors. Banging down those little, round sundial locks. Twirling its knobs. Click-click-click.
It's the night's kaleidscope bending the broken, colored pieces of my life into her own floral, dreamy orderliness.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Before the Bush reign, I had always assumed that when as Americans, we find ourselves swindled out of our civil liberties, there would be a national uproar. After all Clinton almost got impeached for bad judgements made that affected none of us. Surely when our basic tenets of democracy & freedom are stifled, the stakes will be higher--the accounts more exacting, more demanding.
How did Bush manage to do what he has done? Among other things, how did he manage to detain an American citizen for over three years before the courts decided to grow some fallopian tubes and force him to charge the man with a crime? Theories and punditry abound, and I don't plan to add to the clamour here. But in the wake of the UK terrorist plots, I've been noting the hysterics of our airport security. And for what?
Remember it was the "plot to commit murder on an unimaginable scale"? No more pepsi, toothpaste nor--horrors--laptops or i-pods aboard aircrafts. They could be fashioned into bombs, we were told. And most of us agreed. Reasonable request. Minor inconvenience.
After all, the UK intelligence swooped down and nabbed these baddies right at the nick of time. I imagine terrorists snarling their way through the London airport with a little bit of puppy blood staining their fangs as they proceed to "commit murder on an unimaginable scale". Unimaginable, they said.
Then I read this report by Craig Murray that's been making the rounds in the blogosphere. None of the alleged terrorists had made a bomb. None had bought a plane ticket. Many did not even have passports.
Then I heard this NPR report on the plausibility of making a bomb out of liquids.
Truth is like contact lenses you drop on the bathroom floor. It leaves you blind and groping, hoping to catch a glint of light across that concave glass.
It is not simply that such information is largely absent from the public discourse, which is irksome and disconcerting. But that this information is largely ignored altogether when piecing together national security. Policy considerations are reduced to ideological and reactionary fervor, appealing to the least thoughtful amongst us.
Last week, House Homeland Security Chairman Peter King endorsed requiring people of "Middle Eastern and South Asian" descent to undergo additional security checks because of their ethnicity and religion. more
Check out all the work our security authorities have been busy with lately:
- Shortly after that, British holidaymakers staged an unprecedented mutiny - refusing to allow their flight to take off until two men they feared were terrorists were forcibly removed. The extraordinary scenes happened after some of the 150 passengers on a Malaga-Manchester flight overheard two men of Asian appearance apparently talking Arabic. more
- Iraqi Peace Activist Forced to Change T-Shirt Bearing Arabic Script Before Boarding Plane at JFK.
- A Muslim doctor gets kicked off the plane. (Link)
- A claustraphobic, 59-yr-old woman was arrested by the FBI and her plane escorted by military jets. For "causing a disturbance".
- The latest flight that didn't reach its destination resulted inthe arrest of 12 passengers. Because apparently, some of the passengers pulled out cell phones during the flight and appeared to be trying to pass the cell phones to other passengers, a U.S. government official said. In addition, some passengers unfastened their seatbelts while the light requiring they be fastened was still illuminated, the official said. That was enough for U.S. air marshals aboard the DC-10 to break their cover. more ..These charges, however, have nothing to do with terrorism.
- And lastly, Azad Amin decided to tell TSA that the object in his luggage bag was a bomb. 'Cuz he didn't want his momma to know he was carrying around a penis pump. Moronic? Surely. But a potential 3 year prison sentence?
Didn't Aesop warn us about crying wolf? Security is heightened to that fever pitch that comes with misguided ideology, fear and paranoia. I'm flying next week, and I am more concerned about tightly-wound security officials than I am of any terrorists. Remember those movies where a governmental big-shot looms protectively over his brethen and say, "We cannot let this get out! It will cause a public panic!" Now the government thinks up ways to ensure we don't feel too safe, too comfortable.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Kill the Animators
Monday, August 21, 2006
The Post that wasn't
After an obnoxious (yet completely familiar) conversation with a fellow Iowan, I started furiously planning out a biting blog on cultural idiocy. Perhaps a "10 things I hate about living in the US" list. Inspired in part by Andy's one year anniversary blog post. By the way, sidenote: Congratulations Andy!
But by the time I settled in front of my laptop, I could no longer remember why I had my knickers up in knots in the first place. And I couldn't think of ten things that didn't sound uncomfortably close to whining. So it got scrapped.
But I have noticed that over the years, I am increasingly intolerant of questions that end in "is that a cultural thing?" or any mention of "dots on my forehead". Or even an innocuous, well-meaning compliment on the "costume" I am wearing.
Go google it. I am not your anthropology subject, fool.
Also isn't it obvious by now that I don' t know Gopal from Maryland or Shashi from New York? That your real estate agent is Indian means nothing--absolutely nothing--to me (except a cue for awkward head nod and smile). Watch more television! These queries are punchlines to a hundred sitcom jokes. For the love of the goddess, no I do not know Swathi from Detroit or Imran from Virginia..oh wait..I do know them...umm..nevermind...*slaps forehead*
Also yeah, I have an accent. Get over it. Please. As quickly as possible.
Ah, and here I was thinking I had successfully side-stepped a rant. No such luck. A rant cometh and spews forth like some shaken up coca cola can, spraying its sugary browness all over my little cyber nook.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Soon soon, patience patience. Sadly, Omkara is not showing anywhere around me:( I will valiantly fight urge to watch pirated, DVD copy. I want to see Vivek Oberoi and Saif Ali Khan in their full, original, technicolor glory. **ahh, Vivek Oberoi..sigh**
The New York Times recently reported on Africa's increasing trendiness among celebrities. Behold Gwyneth's new Ad Campaign to help African children.
And much as it may strain the limits of good taste to say it, Africa — rife with disease, famine, poverty and civil war — is suddenly “hot.”
Beginning early in the decade with a trickle of celebrity fact-finding missions to strife-torn sub-Saharan nations (Bono in Ghana, Bono everywhere) that became a torrent within the last couple of years (Clay Aiken in Uganda, Jessica Simpson in Kenya), Africa has now been embraced by the masses...more
Monday, August 14, 2006
Headlines in Progress
Sunday, August 13, 2006
It's Official, Reading is Hot
According to a survey of over 2,000 adults..., books play a crucial role in influencing our opinions of strangers. Half of those asked admitted that they would look again or smile at someone on the basis of what they were reading.(Via this great post from Roswitha)
Not only does sitting with your nose in a book positively influence others' opinion of you, it could actually - get this - lead to sex. A third of those surveyed said that they "would consider flirting with someone based on their choice of literature". It's finally official, people. Reading is hot...more
My own reading-in-public moments:
- One day on the subway for about twenty minutes, I was completely taken by this brooding sort who had his head buried in Murakami.
- Last summer, I was reading Kundera's Unbearable Lightness of Being inside the Smithsonian's sculpture garden with my feet dipped in the pool around the water fountain. The girl sitting next to me asked me if I liked the book. I said no. She smiled happily and said, "Me neither".
- Three weeks ago, at Starbucks, a boy two tables down shouted at me, "Don't you love Tom Robbins?" I nodded my head. Sorta. "I am so happy you are reading that. You will love the ending." Just for the record, I didn't. Although I did like the book.
- Three years ago, this woman asked me out while I was trying to finish up my time with Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead as quickly as possible. The awkward conversation was a welcome distraction from the oppressive narrative I had clouding my head.
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Terrorism-Related Observation of the Day
In a flurry of gmails, discussing the latest thwarted terrorist attempts, my cousin noticed that google had stopped their infamous tailored Ads. Anytime Islam, Israel, Lebanon or terrorism is mentioned all Ads stop.
Click on the image to make it bigger.
Even if conversation shifts to other pressing topics...
Friday, August 11, 2006
I Want Dooze!!
"Beta, this lady will scold you if you keep shouting." I looked up, alarmed. Who? Me? What? I smiled uncertainly while moving swiftly away. I will do no such thing, I muttered inside my head. In typical crack-head fashion, the kid rushed up and down the aisles, poking stuff, examining anything he could pick up before dropping it pleasurably—thud!—on the floor. "Beta, no!" A pathetic plea really as The Dad trailed after him, picking up pastas, rice, sugar, potato sacks. "Papa is not happy!"
I don't advocate violence against children. That's wrong and stuff. But would it really be so terrible if before leaving the privacy of their home, the dad would loom menacingly down on the boy and snarl, "If you misbehave, I will spank your bum pink when we get home. Understood?"
Now don't get me wrong. If there is anything that's more cringe-inducing than watching a kid stomp all over their parent, is watching adults hit their children in public. But of course, the only times I have seen this has been when the child is behaving normally with minor infractions. So it becomes this horrible moment when you realize how utterly powerful adults, and you are witnessing abuse of that power.
I started thinking about when I used to teach junior high kids at this after-school club. During class, one of my students was sent to the principal's office largely because the teacher was this utterly manic mess of a woman who doled out punishment like it was going out of style, especially if you were on her shit-list. Admittedly, my student was a known trouble-maker, class-disrupter—but basically a good kid (actually one of my favorites). Later on that day, I sat down with him and talked to him about it. I made the mistake of telling him that I agreed with him and that Mrs. Frequently-Insane had been somewhat unfair. (He had been late to class by about 2 seconds.) He looked up at me, mildly horrified, and wailed, "Why didn't you do something?" I was speechless. "umm..because you are her student during first period, not mine?" Bleh. Everytime I see a public smacking, he wails in my head, "Why don't you do something?"
"I want Dooze!!," the kid's shriek could only mean one thing. He had spotted the twinkling, sparkly, multi-colored juices inside the refrigerator. Unable to figure out how to slide open the doors, he simply jabbed at the glass and croaked, "Doozze!". Quite suddenly parched with thirst. In a valiant attempt at discipline, the father grabbed the groceries and left the store (to the mild horror of everyone else). He watched worriedly through the glass as his child flung himself on the ground and flopped around like a fish. Defeated, the man came back in and bought the drink. Fanta made a buck that day.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Madonna Brings Peace to the Middle-east
This is great.
I mean, I am embarassed for Madonna. I am. But she's begging to be chuckled at.
**mocking, finger-pointing, derisive laughing here**
Here's an excerpt from the wonderful Amelie Gillete who blogs at AV Club's The Hater.
When she's not replacing the cracked mirrored tiles on her disco crucifix, Madonna is trying to make a political statement about something, anything, that's more controversial than she's trying so hard to be. This week it's the Hezbollah-Israeli conflict...moreand then this..
Interpretation: Madonna is the one, disco-y bridge between these two warring factions. She is the only person who can bring them together in peace (also dance)...moreGo read. It's funny.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Inexplicably, Joggers Park was one of the recommended movies to watch before heading off to India. There's also a particularly irritating section devoted to female travelers--that has succeeded in making me antsy about cab drivers. But regardless, it looks like it might be useful. It's brimming with information about almost every major city in India.
The closer I come to my departure date, the more rapidly I am forgetting any useful information I used to have about growing up in India. While I don't feel particularly nervous or concerned about my life next month, my sub-conscious is apparently a bit on edge. I had two dreams this week.
On Saturday I dreamt I was no longer Indian. I had turned white and had long red hair. I also had a twin sister. We fought constantly.
And then last night, I dreamt I was denied entry by the Indian custom officials because of my affiliation with Irish terrorists. I was furious and threw my keys at them in a psychotic rage. But then abruptly, I was driving a jeep through Kerala. It was beautiful. In my dream, Kerala looked like those national geographic photographs of Africa. Which is slightly shaming, but I'm over it.
Monday, August 07, 2006
Ideas of Heaven: A Ring of Stories by Joan Silber: Book Review
Exquisitely told tales of sensual, spiritual journeys…
This is somewhat typical, if overly fawning, of the reviews for this National Book Award finalist—Joan Silber for her collection of short stories, Ideas of Heaven: A Ring of Stories. But I had a slightly different take...*yawn*
Not only did I think her stories were unoriginal and uninteresting, I thought a lot of her writing was simply lazy. I found the very narrative structure of the stories irritating. The 50 foot overview or character studies, whichever, left these figures empty and lifeless. A book full of flimsy life stories/ histories strung together by gimmicky connecting characters. All of them uniformly dressed up with the same tired self-loathing and tortured love affairs.
A Ring of Stories has a mildly interesting premise.
An insignificant tertiary character in the preceding story becomes the main narrator of the following story. The collection ends with the re-appearance of the woman who we had met in the very first story. A Ring of Stories, get it? Yes, we get it. She makes the pattern easy to figure out for the first few stories, and then attempts to get clever later.
It isn’t really that I thought the stories were bad necessarily. Just…somewhat uninspired and mundane. The writing is good, but simple, often redundant and lacking in fervor. Each of the stories seems fashioned out of a short story template. There are characters who lead uninspired, listless lives, but eventually fall in love. The love frequently curdles in some way, and there’s usually a period of pain and sadness. At some point past the painful period, catharsis is achieved. There is closure. Lessons are learned.
Silber is trying to capture the spectacular in the ordinary. In the process, these lives become unintentionally uniformed in thought, insignificant and deeply un-spectacular.
I read this book months ago, and prompty sold it back to the used bookstore I got it from. Hence sadly, I have no damning evidence of mediocrity to show you. Reading the seattle review above, I am amused again by how completely I disagree with this Michael fellow. How is it that we were reading the same book? It is possible that the book is not as bad as I remember it, I suppose. Although Michael does seem to like Alice Munro, who I also think is un-spectacular (I must admit I have only read one of her books--that horrible "modern-day" recreation of Wuthering Heights...Heathcliff reincarnated as abusive jackass. *shudder*).
Update: Oops!! Not Alice Munro. Alice Hoffman wrote that horrible book reworking Bronte. I have never read Munro. My memory is failing me in old age:(
Friday, August 04, 2006
The folks over at Sepia Mutiny, called this the coolest example of Brownsploitation video ever.
So so true.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
I'm Not Gonna Be Your Monkey
This is almost two years old, I think. But I had never seen this until now, I don't watch Crossfire (although I have been to a taping of their show).
One of the joys in my life is to watch Jon Stewart-- beautifully, articulately and with gratifying ease--hammer down partisan politics.
Watch how he exposes Tucker Carlson for the needling, insipid clown that he is. Note also how Jon Stewart becomes a "journalist", but then gets cramped back into "comedian" whenver it is convenient for whatever line the Crossfire boys are attempting to try out at the moment. It's fun to watch their confusion at a guest who won't just pick a left or a right and stick with it.
Click here to see Jon Stewart's reaction to his Crossfire appearance on the Daily Show.
Click here and here for more beautiful television making by the daily show.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
by peppered promises
the lazy air. Silk
in the sizzling, sweet jazz.
Exclamations, Proclamations, Declarations
jest. Fools and Clowns in love
Sit. Carelessly perched
right near the tip
of my soft,