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Sunday, August 5, 2012

"Pigs are people too, my friend!"

Oh No! Missed the New Yorker caption contest #342 July 23rd, 2012 - check their finalists and tell me I wouldn't have won with this one!!!
[category Politics]
[tags humor, new yorker]

Thursday, April 21, 2011

ABC "Made in America" analysis

The ABC "Made in America" series of segments indeed made for good TV - challenging Smithsonian about its gift shop sourcing, daring an average American household to turn its possessions out for inspection, and collaring Everyman on the street daring them to strip down to American-made-only clothing if any right there in front of their candid cameras and all turning up at the short end.

However I'm not sure that I care too much for their in-your-face journalism.

Can we now turn the tables on them and ask them:

  • Diane Sawyer - what is the car you drive? your desk, your computer where were they made? your roofing, carpetting, at home... give us an accounting! where was the scarf you wore made? the suit? the jewelry? the perfume, the lipstick?

  • David Muir - hey is that name your own? or is it French? Scotch? and the suits you wear? the shoes? the car?

  • And ABC - could we please find out how local your suppliers are?

It would be so much better if they would just do their real job as journalists. There are so many layers to this story that I wish they would spend the remaining segments on addressing those layers: for e.g.

  • could they probe beyond the consumer level; is consumption at the business consumption level also all non-American? planes, trains, ships, tractors, elevators? perhaps we are ceding one type of production to the world, just so that we focus on where our country's value-add is greatest - is there enough mark-up and volume there in handmade furniture to keep all our demographics gainfully employed? if so we should all become hand-crafting carpenters and get the chinese out of the business of cheap machine made furniture, if not would we be better off learning the truth and redirecting our energies?

  • could they go beyond why America consumes so much more of goods produced outside but why does America consume so much at all? can we learn to live less largely, and within our means?

And then in this interconnected day and age, shouldn't we celebrate our so-very-healthy diversity of tastes and interests? granted much of the diversity is motivated by bargain-hunting, but some of it reflects our complete open-mindedness; I so love it when I walk into a World Market's store and can't tell whether I'm in my native India, or the Fisherman's Wharf at San Francisco where I first ran into one. And that is something that should be celebrated, something that the world, China, India, Brazil can emulate - for if they followed our lead and shut their markets to the rest of the world and to us, the whole world will very soon hear the giant sucking sound that Ross Perot (I never thought I'd be taking his name this reverentially!) talked about nearly 20 years ago!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ai Weiwei - Julian Assange deja vu??

I agree with Rushdie's observation, that artists even in free societies risk derision when they perform a public role. It seems that it is not just artists, it's anyone who tries to live an authentic life could be in such danger. Salman Rushdie writing in NYT yesterday in a piece titled Dangerous Arts tells about the experience of artists in protesting against public authorities. And as he rightly points out, this is something that happens in free societies as much as in repressed ones. So may be free societies need to set a better example?
Just read Rushdie's account of the treament meted out to Mr. Ai Weiwei.
"The authorities have embarrassed and harassed him before, but now they have gone on a dangerous new offensive.
On April 4, Mr. Ai was arrested by the Chinese authorities as he tried to board a plane to Hong Kong. His studio was raided and computers and other items were removed. Since then the regime has allowed hints of his “crimes” — tax evasion, pornography — to be published. These accusations are not credible to those who know him. It seems the regime, irritated by the outspokenness of its most celebrated art export, whose renown has protected him up to now, has decided to silence him in the most brutal fashion. "
If it isn't almost to the last line taken from the West's playbook on Julian Assange, I don't know what else is!!!
I think the only thing left for us to do is to slap an Intellectual Property lawsuit on the Chinese for stealing our tactics on dealing with artists, bohemians and now plain old database engineers who hold a mirror to our faces and dare to spill the truth!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Are we lost in the shuffle?

And even if not, is it too little too late? or does it matter?

This week's issue of "America" - the Catholic weekly - carried a story that threatens my already fragile sense of identity - or maybe not! It's the story of the Church's attempt to address the problems of the "historic churches of the Middle East" including the Syrian Catholic church.

Wait a minute, did they say 'Syrian Catholic' without mentioning that other (Kerala) Syrian Catholic church? did they forget to include the Syro-Malabar or the Syro-Malankara churches even as they talked of 'historic churches' (see picture below from Wikipedia's entry on same subject)? Yes, and, yes!

Ok, perhaps the issues behind the story did not really relate to anything that might resonate with Kerala Syrian Catholics?

Oh, wait another minute! The issues they are to talk of, are Immigration and Emigration! If anyone has experience of those two topics that would be Keralites indeed! Whether the issue is that of immigration into the Middle East (Saudi Arabia) "where public observance of christianity is prohibited" and so presents a problem, or emigration to host countries like USA, Canada, Australia, Kerala Syrian Catholics have direct and relevant experience of both topics!

So why would the Church not include the Syrian Catholic churches of Kerala (the Syro-Malabar Church or the Syro-Malankara church) in these discussions? Is it perhaps that the Church is not so much interested in tending to the needs of her flock, as much as playing politics in the Middle East??

According to the story emigration puts "their historic communities in jeopardy. When they assimilate in their new countries, they are likely to lose their distinctive historic identities. Even when they remain Catholics, they are likely to join Roman Catholic congregations." You bet it does that - puts their communities in jeopardy - it's been doing that ever since Kerala Syrian Catholics have been migrating outside of their home state of Kerala whether to neighboring states within India or to countries outside. From the loss of their genealogically significant and colorful family names, to the slow mainstreaming of their womenfolk from chatta and mundu of yore to saris and now to the ubiquitous salwaar kameez, or the withering away of songs and hymns and ritual in Syriac, in favor of christmas trees and fruit-cake, Kerala Syrian Catholics in the diaspora in India and abroad, I think, have lost, failed to hand down or be handed down a core sense of Keralite identity, instead assimilating the dress, speech, and rituals of the dominant elements of their host societies.

Whether it's totally a bad thing is debatable - better to lose an atrophied identity and remain a living vibrant tolerant human being, I would say! In some later posts I'll try and document what those losses and gains have been for me on a personal level.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dr. Lowery's Inaugural Prayer

Dr. Lowery's Inaugural benediction

Also known to be the Black National Hymn??

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou who has brought us thus far along the way, thou who has by thy might led us into the light, keep us forever in the path, we pray, lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee, lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee. Shadowed beneath thy hand may we forever stand -- true to thee, O God, and true to our native land.

We truly give thanks for the glorious experience we've shared this day. We pray now, O Lord, for your blessing upon thy servant, Barack Obama, the 44th president of these United States, his family and his administration. He has come to this high office at a low moment in the national and, indeed, the global fiscal climate. But because we know you got the whole world in your hand, we pray for not only our nation, but for the community of nations. Our faith does not shrink, though pressed by the flood of mortal ills.

For we know that, Lord, you're able and you're willing to work through faithful leadership to restore stability, mend our brokenness, heal our wounds and deliver us from the exploitation of the poor or the least of these and from favoritism toward the rich, the elite of these.

We thank you for the empowering of thy servant, our 44th president, to inspire our nation to believe that, yes, we can work together to achieve a more perfect union. And while we have sown the seeds of greed -- the wind of greed and corruption, and even as we reap the whirlwind of social and economic disruption, we seek forgiveness and we come in a spirit of unity and solidarity to commit our support to our president by our willingness to make sacrifices, to respect your creation, to turn to each other and not on each other.

And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance.

And as we leave this mountaintop, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family. Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, or wherever we seek your will.

Bless President Barack, First Lady Michelle. Look over our little, angelic Sasha and Malia.

We go now to walk together, children, pledging that we won't get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know you will not leave us alone, with your hands of power and your heart of love.

Help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid; when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around -- (laughter) -- when yellow will be mellow -- (laughter) -- when the red man can get ahead, man -- (laughter) -- and when white will embrace what is right.

Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen.


REV. LOWERY: Say amen --


REV. LOWERY: -- and amen.

AUDIENCE: Amen! (Cheers, applause.)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Historic Day! Barack - the Blessed and the Good!

So many emotions fighting to take control of this page!

The first, that America, the country, the institutions, the people have come through and made good. It still will not compensate for the many lives that have been lost or marred forever, it will not bring back the vast sums of money and resources squandered in terms of arms and munitions equipment that were built to merely destroy life and property, it will not bring back the economy that was used to deficit-finance this paranoia-driven conflict. But America has brought itself back from the brink!

The second, that it was achieved by this brilliant talented young man so appropriately named Barack Hussein Obama, as Juan Cole so beautifully explained it:

"Barack is a Semitic word meaning "to bless" as a verb or "blessing" as a noun. In its Hebrew form, barak, it is found all through the Bible. It first occurs in Genesis 1:22: "And God blessed (ḇāreḵə ) them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth."

Here is a list of how many times barak appears in each book of the Bible.

Now let us take the name "Hussein." It is from the Semitic word, hasan, meaning "good" or "handsome." Husayn is the diminutive, affectionate form."

The graceful way he carried himself, conducted his campaign, politically and strategically challenged his opponents through the primaries and the general elections, are so completely in synch that there is not one discordant note. All this while attending to the needs of his young family and holding on as much as possible to their privacy, while at the same time drawing on their support where possible... I'm just blown away by it all. My younger son, so presciently remarked - and he's just a human being after all. Well, he's a human being "with a righteous wind at his back."

This is what originally drew me to America. This is why I thought it would be a good idea to become a citizen. Only to be ruing the thought for the past 8 years!

But I have come back, come back from the brink myself! And I'm ready to believe in it again.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Well its all coming down to Texas vs Taxes.

And this year Americans will be going for 'Taxes', 'lower taxes', that is. Out with Bush from Texas, and in with Lower Taxes. Wish it didn't have to just be that - but we don't look gift horses in the mouth.

What I would have really loved though, would have been if things could have been rolled back in the following order:

1. Americans had voted Al Gore in with a resounding majority in 2000, because they could see the real thing.
2. Gore would not have been left hanging with the chads in FL in 2000.
3. Failing that, the Supreme court had sided with Al Gore in Bush v. Gore in 2000.
4. Pre-9-11 Bush had taken the Clinton admin briefing on Al-Quaeda threats, read the August Intelligence briefing on the same, and along the way stuck to his principles of Compassionate Conservatism and not splurged the Clinton surplus on unneeded tax rebates for the wealthy, and Social Security privatization efforts...
5. Immediate post-911, Bush had not taken the "let's see if we can squeeze out an Iraq war out of this 9-11 tragedy" stand
6. Congress had not gotten hoodwinked by Bush and given him via the AUMF what he thought was a carte blanche on War, but what they thought was merely the power to make growling noises to threaten the other side with war.
7. Colin Powell and the CIA had not gotten hoodwinked by Bush and cheney into placing all risks of misrepresentation about the war into little asterisked footnotes in their UN and Intelligence reports. (which footnotes were ignored the very same way as the American people refused to read the footnotes on the IPO and hedgefund and sub-prime mortgage offerings from Wall Street - same modus operandi as used by the 3-card monte scam artists you find in any urban back alley!!)
8. Members of Congress had the gumption to call Bush on his overstepping the authority granted by their AUMF when he did go to war.
9. Members of the Congress had the gumption to impeach Bush for war crimes that were beginning to be committed in their name.
10. The Dems had a better candidate to offer the country in 2004 (McCain was correct - wish Obama could have run in 2004!)
11. The country could have seen that only the Devil's side would swift-boat a real war hero like Kerry.
12. The country would have spurned Bush unequivocally in 2004, knowing he took us to war on FALSE PRETENSES, against a country that did us no harm, killed half a million people (both US soldiers, and coalition soldiers and Iraqi civilians), displaced another few million ordinary Iraqis, all in ever-changing reasons to go to war (Al-Q, WMD, democracy, ME chaos...). That would be the Pro-Life stance!
13. In 2008, when Obama eventually ran on an anti-dumb-war, pro-people, pro-economy platform, people would without pre-condition flock to his anti-war message.

But the Lower Taxes message resonated.

Yes $1000 saving in annual taxes to your pocket resonates far louder today than all the other tugs to American heartstrings and pursestrings and sense of fairness and logic and outrage and...!

Why am I not surprised???