Thursday, October 23, 2008

This is really rather silly.

An Al-Qaeda website has said that, um, they endorse John McCain for American president. Apparently, it'll be easier to bring down the 'evil US empire', or something. Who knew endorsements were so vital to terrorist organisations?

In other news, my companies are doing well, despite the downturn: Google and Apple have surpassed expectations, bringing some cheer to beleaguered markets. And I read this really fun essay in the NYT a couple days ago, arguing that following the prescribes of great literature might not work out so well in real life.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I think I got the blues

Maybe it's the festive season, or certain facts of life just sinking in now, but I've been a bit gloomy recently. Of course, that could just be because of the economy in general and how the world is going down the toilet. But there's a lot to love, certainly, and I'm going to try to cheer myself up by posting happy links.
  • A legendary investigative reporter tells it like it is in the Observer's profile of Seymour Hersh.
  • Colin Powell points out the obvious in his endorsement speech for Obama. I love that someone has finally said it: Even if Obama were Muslim, that shouldn't have been a talking point.
  • Also I really, really love the fact that Tina Fey said, in reponse to Carly Fiorina's criticism that her portrayal of Sarah Palin was sexist, "I saw one lady trying to form a thought that it was sexist on the news, but she didn't really get it together. Probably because she was a lady and she was dumb. (beat) Wait. Is that sexist?" HAH. This is old, now, but I only just found out and I love Tina Fey more than ever.
  • Paul Krugman won the Nobel Prize in Economics (or the Bank of Sweden.. whatever, if you want to get technical). Yay!

Monday, October 13, 2008

A rather motley collection

of links and such things. I have just finished reading Tim Harford's the Logic of Life, and like the blurb behind the book promised, I feel like I have a pair of x-ray vision goggles to look at the world with. Unfortunately, it is little help in understanding the utter chaos in the world right now. And if you read the papers, you'd be forgiven for thinking the world is ending. I get scared every time I look at a newspaper, and its hard not to be pessimistic. On the other hand, you take relatives out shopping to boutiques and look at this gorgeous, gorgeous kurta and think, hmmm, maybe 32k isn't that unreasonable an amount to spend on something so pretty. Thankfully, sanity reigns before you can spend money that you don't have on clothes that you don't need.

So onto the fun stuff: Foreign Policy wonders what Google would be like as US President. I so love the idea of the article, I wish I'd written it! And I'm sure Google would have done better than Dubya. And there's an amusing bit here about how Bill Adama is the leader we need. Not as fun is three US states trying to challenge the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court ruling. This NYT editorial on the matter is spot on in its estimate that the measures these three states have taken will have far-reaching consequences. And there's an alarming piece in the Times UK about how the credit crunch might mean the end of sport. But to end on a bit of a happy note: people are apparently getting mixed-up over which is Sarah Palin and which is Tina Fey. And in other bit of news, McCain has rescheduled with Letterman after the relentless ribbing he took when he cancelled his last appearance on the show to ostensibly deal with the financial crisis.

ETA: This lovely article in the NYT about caricature and its influence on politics. Again, I lament the lack in India.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Nobel Prize Catfight

I've been following with great amusement the catfight of sorts that has broken out between the Nobel prize committee on one hand and spurned American literary critics on the other. Ever since permanent secretary to the committee, Horace Engdahl, gave this interview to AP saying that Americans were too ignorant and insular to be given the Nobel prize, the literary world has been in turmoil, with one rejoinder following another. To the extent that even the announcement of the award is being seen in the context of this debate.

I think Engdahl was speaking rubbish. And I do believe that these guys, Adam Kirsch in Slate and Charles McGrath in NYT are quite right. But this is so much fun! LA Times has weighed in also, so has the Guardian (well, people in those papers have weighed in, anyway). And here's the Telegraph UK on it, and then Washington Post.

I'm a little worried about my ability to be sarky right now. This was tailor-made, but I'm inclined to just let it pass without much in the way of wisecracking.

Monday, October 06, 2008

So much news!

The two weeks or so I haven't blogged have been incredibly newsy -- from the nuclear deal Finally getting passed, to the economy in meltdown, to new Sarah Palin shenanigans, Tata pulling out of Singur and the ever-worsening situation in Orissa and Karnataka. So I'm not sure where to start, except with... me. I went to Milan, and it was fun! I also took advantage of having been to Milan before and travelled to Bergamo one day and Como another. Both were beautiful, in different ways. Italy is a gorgeous country and the gelato and the buildings are wonderful. I even found the requisite South Asian in Piazza Del Duomo, which is like the centre of the city. In fact, I found two -- one was a Bangladeshi who owned one of the tourist kiosks in the square and sweetly gave me a discount once he found out I was Indian, and the other was an Indian man selling flying helicopters who wanted to know if all was ok in Delhi (this was just after the blasts).

Speaking of, it's humbling to be inside Milan's Duomo. It is Beautiful. So Spectacular and so peaceful. The Duomo in Como was also lovely, though unlike the one in Milan, it was not gothic in the slightest and had many German influences. Bergamo had an incredible one in its old city, and the new one had a wedding in progress!

I've been watching the Daily Show religiously now. Jon Stewart is on such a roll, he's been pretty fantastic lately. Political satire, Yay! I loved the Ricky Gervais/Steve Carell bit at the Emmys -- could they please host next time, please, since you won't ever give BSG its due, you may as well do this, Academy.

And the Saturday Night Live skits with Tina Fey as Sarah Palin. OMG. She got it SO RIGHT. The US election continues to be the best dramedy to follow. Apparently, some 70 million Americans tuned in to watch the vice-presidential debate -- more than the presidential debate, btw -- and that's not counting the international audience. Wow.

Friday, September 12, 2008

More Palin

Wow, this woman has inspired comment like no other. Now, bringing you more about Palin and feminism, here are:
Another very cool thing I found out about yesterday is The Bechdel Rule. It's kind of awesome.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Another Race. Another Scandal.

I know I'm a bit late in commenting on the latest row in the F1 world following the stewards' decision to penalise Hamilton after the Belgian Grand Prix... but wow, do people need to lay off the consipracy theories. I didn't think Lewis Hamilton deserved a retrospective penalty; but honestly, everything is not about Ferrari. I love how Schumacher's controversial 1994 collission with Damon Hill in the series finale gets thrown about as an example of how much the FIA favours(ed) a) Ferrari and b) Schumacher. First, Schumacher was driving for Benetton then, not Ferrari, and had, in fact, not even signed for Ferrari at that point. Second, it's amazing how short memories are. If anything, the FIA did everything possible that year to ensure that Schumacher did Not win the championship, banning him from two races, black flagging him and disqualifying him from two others. The only reason it got so close between Hill and MS was because of all these penalties. So people need to shut up about that.

And how come when Ferrari gets a component banned, it's becuase it was cheating, but when other teams do (e.g. Renault mass damper) it's the biggest subversion of sporting authority ever? The Flexi floor was legal (within the letter of the law) and it got banned. The flexi wings were legal but they got banned. The FIA has interceded many times against Ferrari, as much as tin-foil theorists would like to believe otherwise.

Not to mention that the same people yelling for Hamilton now would be screaming to throw Schumacher out of the sport if he's dared do such a thing. As recently as 2006, Schumacher got a penalty in the qualifying stage of the Hungarian GP that removed any advantage he might've got with his chief rival Alonso getting the same penalty. It proved to be ultimately irrelevant, since the race took place in torrential weather conditions, but that race could've scuppered his chances.

Now, an observation. Hamilton seems to me, depressing as it is to admit, a racer much in the mould of MS. He's quick in the dry, quick in the wet (I know the McLaren is suited to the rain, but still), has a tremendous belief in himself and races hard, and to the edge. Lots of question marks over him, still, of course, but those will probably be answered in due course.

And Schumi, come back. We need you.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

It only takes doomsday

... to get us interested in particle physics. I love how the Large Hadron Collider has suddenly become a household name. We might not fully understand what's going on, what scientists are looking for or why we might die, but its been built-up enough to glue us to our TV screens, no matter where in the world we are. Take that, Beijing Olympics! Cern is more interesting than you.

Onto more earthly matters: While reading a review in Salon on a book about knowledge, called Reinventing Knowledge, the reviewer said this at the end:

McNeely and Wolverton state that the Internet's various outlets for self-expression, "if anything, make the pursuit of reliable, authentic knowledge more, not less, difficult online, by drowning out traditionally credentialed cultural gatekeepers. Relatively few networked forums provide a truly democratic alternative to the focused, substantiated, reasoned -- and elitist -- debate that still governs the disciplines." Them's fightin' words to many proponents of Web 2.0, but the truth is that more of us would agree with that statement than not. Most of the people who distrust scientists or the "MSM" on a pet topic or two, like the safety of aspartame or what really happened on Sept. 11, believe them on a host of other things, like the benefits of exercise or the Russian invasion of Georgia.

Without a doubt, we've entered an era when the official truth is easier to challenge than ever before, but do we really want to live in a world without any established truths at all, or where every fact must be democratically elected by a horde of individuals whose judgment may not be informed or trustworthy? Do we want to let the cranks who care enough to make the biggest stink on a subject be the ones to have the final word on it? On the other hand, can we afford to write off all of them as cranks, knowing that every so often a crank turns out to be a prophet? Somehow, we'll have to sort all this out. And when we do, McNeely and Wolverton will have their revolution.

A lot of this I agree with. In fact, I don't think you can disagree that information on the internet, while readily available, is more suspect. But it becomes a half-full/half-empty thing; whether you think it is ok to give up some veracity for more information and greater democracy, or not.

Oh, and according to an NYT story about the Frannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailout, Paulson said to his friends in August that he "felt like a dog who'd caught a bus and didn't know what to do with it." He's the Joker, then. It's official.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

N-deal, Gun mamas and other tamashas

Much Ado about nothing, as usual. The Post managed to get ahold of a sekrit!letter to the US Congress saying the US would stop supplies to India if India conducted a nuclear test. Um, didn't we already know that? What's all the hullabullo about then? Who knows? Something more for the TV channels and the opposition to yell and scream about.

Sarah Palin's speech at the Republican Convention accepting her nomination as the party's vice-presidential candidate was an unqualified success. Lots has been written about this relative unknown, particularly about her pregnant teenage daughter. But I want to highlight some articles discussing what her candidacy means for women, in a year where we seemed to come so far with Hillary. The first one is Gloria Steinem in the LA Times, which I liked, but am a little uncomfortable with. It's probably because it's Steinem, and she has so much baggage, but she puts forward what is my knee-jerk reaction to Palin quite eloquently in her article. I also appreciated that she criticised the focus on whether Palin, as a mother, should take such a consuming job. Then there's a lot of interesting stuff in Slate, particularly this piece, which draws comparisons between Michelle Obama, who I think is a kick-ass, strong woman who can be a great role model and Palin who... well, is not, IMO. Then there's this article, also from Slate, which attacks (rightly) those saying Palin is being an irresponsible mother by accepting her nomination. And of course the point she makes about the culture wars is interesting. This is yet another piece in the Guardian, which is more about the culture wars in the context of Palin's candidacy, but one I think makes some interesting points about the women's movement. And the NYT is just bitchy (in a good way!), sometimes obviously (cf: Dowd in here and here) and sometimes classily, as with Gail Collins in Sarah Palin Speaks! Salon has a great here and now analysis of the immediate politics surrounding McCain's choice. And this one analyses the new gender vs. race war.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Say it isn't so!

Several news sources are reporting that Battlestar Galactica might get pushed back to April '09. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! As if the wait from May till January next year wasn't long enough? These are just rumours, as of yet, it's only Aaron Douglas who alluded to it at a Con. But it better not be true or I'll......... yeah. There's nothing I can do to Sci-fi. Damn the greedy bastards. If this is for the Emmys, really, who cares? They've ignored the awesomeness that is BSG for so long now, it'll almost devalue it to get recognition.

Also, Medialoper suggests BSG has higher fan quality. I always knew this. This is in reply to an AP story doing the rounds wondering why new BSG films and spin-offs are being created when ratings are plummeting, suggesting that it might be time to fix the system of measuring TRPs. There's another story about the new F-word. I knew that trend was going to catch on! And Jamie, the litcrit in him is coming out. So cute.

New Ways of Seeing

So I was reading an old issue of NY Mag (the Jun 23 issue) which profiled Hillary after her loss to Obama as the Democrat presidential nominee. There's a few articles written by various commentators, and the thrust is that even though Hillary lost the nomination, she's become an icon above and beyond the president's office. Some excellent pieces there, and there's one by Bernard Henri-Levy that made me reconsider something about Hillary's marriage.

Now, I've never been one of those who've held against Hillary that she stayed with Bill even after it came out that he'd been having affairs. I thought, hey, political ambition comes first and maybe she's really OK with it, so whatever. And Bill's little peccadilloes (God, I hate that term) are never something I laid at her door. But Henri-Levy has this great insight, when he suggests:

"And in Hillary's case, an additional dimension, flabbergasting for a Frenchman, because related to this typically American illness called puritanism: the memory of the Lewinsky affair. How many conversations in Starbucks of Des Moines, and even sometimes in New York, among "desperate housewives" claiming that only amibition - the most opportunistic, the ugliest, the fiercest of ambitions - could explain her leniency?"
Guilty as charged. I'm no desperate housewife, but I did think she stayed because of her ambition. That I didn't hold it against her is my only defence. Henri-Levy continues to tear my assumptions apart:
" "If my husband humiliated me like he humiliated her...I would have ... I would move out... so to go back to the scene of the crime to push the vice and the complacency to th point of wanting to occupy myself the same office where the act was committed...what a horror! What a shame and what a horror!"

It could have turned out differently. A taste for spectacle and brand-new scenarios could have given us a desire to see the scorned woman put in the unimaginable but fascinating position of entering the devil's house to drain his chalice to the dregs. But political correctness decided otherwise. I believe American feminism chose to punish Billary and their criminal liberalism. [Emphasis added]."
I never for a moment considered: hey, they could've had a open-ish marriage. They might've been okay with their spouse sleeping with someone else. That her husband had an affair didn't automatically mean for her that her marriage was over. Lots to think about, particularly about the assumptions we make, based on our own moral codes. This doesn't have to be the correct explanation (I still believe ambition played its part, though I wonder if she couldn't have got more mileage as the wronged wife) but it could certainly have been part of the reason why she stayed, or even why they could still have a good marriage. Many marriages, after all, don't place a premium on sexual fidelity and get on just fine -- indeed, they might even survive because of the relaxed boundaries.

Friday, August 22, 2008

More Lit Spam

More reviews and essays from the NYT:

Rachel Donadio explains how those blurbs at the back of books come to be.
Mary Roach reviews a book called Traffic by Tom Vanderbilt, who explains why we drive the way we do.
Another review on a book by journalist Jane Mayer detailing the Bush administration's information retracting methods.

And to prove I do read things other than the NYT:
Here's TWoP's Fall movie review. It's not got a lot of the movies I'm excited about, like the Curious Case of Benjamin Button but my guess is that's because they're leaving out Oscar stuff.
ETA: It says Fall movie BLOCKBUSTERS. Stupid.
TWoP also look at some new fall pilots and find most... lacking, shall we say. I'm still wondering about Fringe and whether it's going to be worth it. But really, Nothing on that list sounds particularly exciting, except True Blood and that Sean Bean show, whatever it is.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Day of the NYT

One of the only e-mail newsletters that I subscribe to (such as it is) and actually read is the NYT book review. It's full of such interesting essays on such a wide variety of subjects (see, for example: R U really reading? and Designing Dictators) , it makes me sad that there is no equivalent in the Indian English language press. I suppose the Hindu's monthly literary supplement comes close, but it's monthly and not very exhaustive. It also suffers from the same problem that the rest of that newspaper does: it looks boring. Deathly dull in fact. Plus, you find the same old people regurgitating the same old things. (The one exception is Pradeep Sebastian's column, which is a delight). What I love about reviews, and NYT in particular (it's my favourite, I don't really have a better reason than that) is how they can add a whole new dimension to a subject or text without one even having read/watched that particular work. It enhances my understanding in very particular, and invaluable ways and goes far beyond the it's-good-read-it type of review.

Here's a very interesting article in Slate by Ron Rosenbaum, author of The Shakespeare Wars. He takes off on an editorial in the Columbia Journalism Review, cautioning journalists against the suppression of dissent in the mass media. He commends the Review for the editorial, but then goes on to pick apart an article on climate change in the same issue, which appears to suppress the dissenting view that global warming is a consequence of natural factors, and has nothing to do with human activity. The centre is of course the nature of dissent, and the nature of truth. In the debate over climate change, and indeed over contradictory science, it becomes very difficult to tell what the Truth is, and if there even is a Truth. In the absence of an established, verifiable fact (which the science of climate change - as far as I can understand it - is not, at least not yet) one is left with no other option but to believe the scientific consensus. Rosenbaum does make an important point on the distinction between the scientific truth and scientific consensus, but surely he can forgive bypassing this distinction sometimes. Particularly if that is not the focus of the article, anyway. CJR has responded to his criticism here. There's a lot more I want to say about this, but I need to gather my thoughts.

NYT also asks, Is Jon Stewart the most trusted man in America?I don't know about that, but I sure as hell trust him over Anderson Cooper. Long live The Daily Show.

And now for a bit of tab clearing:

Nicholas Baker (he of the Human Smoke) reviews Ammon Shea's experience reading the entire Oxford English Dictionary.
Yet another article from the NYT, this time asking Why We Read.
Vulture has a couple of great articles on the August movie: why they suck and a historical analysis. They also look at upcoming fall movies -- some great stuff in there, but I don't think it's going to be more depressing than last year. I mean, how could it?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Innovations, Age and other paradoxes

Grandiose as the heading of this post may be, I came across an interesting article by Niranjan Rajadhyaksha in Mint today. The article, referenced an American economist on the subject of innovation. Innovation has been viewed as the domain of young, dynamic people -- as something that makes a complete break from the past. What Rajadhyaksha highlights in his column via Lawrence Summers via Schumpeter, is that it may not be accurate to assume that, these days, innovation comes from these garage-types and not from within big corporations.

According to this article, there are two kinds of innovators, as identified by David Galeson, an economist at the University of Chicago: the conceptual innovators and the experimental innovators.
Galenson says that the conceptual innovators are the finders. They make bold leaps and challenge the existing way of looking at the world and doing things. This group mostly does its best work at an early age. The experimental innovators are seekers who gradually reach their goal, taking one step at a time. Their best work usually gets done later in life.
He cites some pretty interesting examples, like Jean Luc Godard, who did his best work in his younger years and Clint Eastwood, who hit his prime as a director well into his dotage. That some, like Steve Jobs, seem to have magically transcended the divide, is also duly noted.

It's interesting to apply this sort of thinking to politics. Can a comparison be made at all? The US Presidential election, with 'Change' at its center for its younger candidate, would certainly seem to suggest so. But think of India, where all our politicians not from political dynasties are gerontocrats. Are they capable of innovation in anything except new methods of graft?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Another Eternity

I so want to be regular at this thing, because I really do have things I want to say. Unfortunately, laziness and real life kind of prevent me posting here, but I'm honestly going to try to be good. (Not that anyone cares). I shall begin with some linkspam.

Slant has an excellent review of The Dark Knight. They've put into words exactly what I so loved about the movie.
There's also a great article at the Smart Set about criticism, or the lack of it, in the era of Web 2.0.
The International Herald Tribune has a fabulous article celebrating the classic book, The Leopard.

One of the more boneheaded news items in the papers today was this piece of nonsense:
New Delhi, July 28 (IANS) Condom and safe sex are terms that will find no mention in the new sex education module being devised for school students in India. It will instead stress on abstinence, the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) announced Monday. NACO director-general Sujatha Rao said the module would be adopted after intensive consultations with all partners, including parents and teachers.
How can we, as a country, be this stupid? I know the Kamasutra thing gets brought up time and again, but really, this is ridiculous. What is the point of having a sex-education class if you're not going to, you know, actually educate children? I blame parents for this as much as the education establishment in general. Sex is a part of life. Indeed, it is essential for life. How can our policymakers just... wish it away? Newsflash: if you close your eyes and ignore something, it doesn't mean that thing will disappear. If these people are at all serious about not just containing AIDS, but, hello, preventing teen pregnancy or the spread of a whole host of other STDs, they need to get their acts together and stop being so bloody priggish. You're not talking about lessons in bestiality, for crying out loud. You're talking about a completely natural function and about protecting and preparing kids/teenagers from the consequences of unsafe sex. India's attitude towards sex needs to come out of the dark ages already. We didn't become a country of over a billion people by practicing abstinence, after all. Hypocrisy, thy name is India.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Where the women aren't

Came across an excellent article by Manohla Dargis in NYT the other day. Until she said it, I didn't realise how right she was. There really are no women in summer blockbuster movies. And when there have been women-centric films in recent times, they've not been too good, and haven't done well at the box office. In contrast though, some of the best shows on television have strong women at their centre. It's an interesting dichotomy...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

10 Things... mostly fannish

1. Coldplay's new song is great. Me love.

2. F1 is better without traction control.

3. Robert Downey Jr. rocked Iron Man.

4. Our Parliamentarians don't deserve to be called so. (cf. Women's Reservation Bill)

5. Battlestar Galactica is an incredible, fantastic piece of work and Season 4 is going to be perfect.

6. Hillary vs. Obama is getting tedious. One of them needs to win, already, and get on with the national campaign.

7. McCain and Jindal as running mates is a) scary and b)... more scary.

8. I want to have Michael Chabon's love child.

9. Something has to be done about traffic before people (read me) lose their minds and do crazy things.

10. Climate change is Real -- it does NOT storm in Delhi in May.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The World from a Stage

Yeah, yeah, I'm Trying to be clever but kinda not really succeeding. Anyway, I have just finished reading what is perhaps my favorite book by Bill Bryson, his biography of Shakespeare. I am a Shakespeare obsessive, and the idea of Bryson writing a book on him was very exciting and I have been wanting to get my hands on a copy since I read the first review. But this has surpassed all expectations. It is a slim book, about 200 pages, but there's so much information packed into it. Not only did I learn about Shakespeare, and how little we really know about him, but also about the times in which he lived.

Some things were awe-inspiring - like where we are now with communication technology and printing as compared to Shakespearan times and how much genius and how much luck it took for those plays to survive 400 - odd years. There are other things too, when Bryson describes life in Elizabethan London, some passages could almost be talking about Delhi. That got me thinking about the dichotomy of the times we live in. Most of us have indoor plumbing but this country still has to deal with a citizenry with perhaps the same level of awareness that masses in London in the 16th century had. It's a tough line to toe and maybe explains several of our problems.

Coming back to William Shakespeare, Bryson addresses the thorny question of authorship and builds a very convincing argument for the plays having been written by precisely who we think it was written by. Personally, I believe he is right - in my very uninformed opinion of course. I'm no literary detective. The biography is a gem, even if you're not in the least bit interested in Shakespeare. Bryson's Shakespeare is sort of a guide to life in the 16th and 17th centuries in England. It makes for fascinating reading, especially the popularity of the theatrein those times, and interesting facts, like that in Shakespeare's day, 40% of women got pregnant before they got married. Shakespeare is almost a bonus. He is in the book as in life (as Bryson puts so beautifully) "the literary equivalent of an electron, forever there and not there."

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Texas and Ohio

So, Hillary Clinton is back in the race! This is very much of the good. I truly believe she's the better candidate at this point in time, she has the experience and the policies. There's lots of good stuff around the Internet on the gender vs. race question as well as on the primaries. NYT's Maureen Dowd, who has in recent times ripped Hillary Clinton apart in not nice ways, raises an important point when she says here:
With Obama saying the hour is upon us to elect a black man and Hillary saying the hour is upon us to elect a woman, the Democratic primary has become the ultimate nightmare of liberal identity politics. All the victimizations go tripping over each other and colliding, a competition of historical guilts. People will have to choose which of America’s sins are greater, and which stain will have to be removed first. Is misogyny worse than racism, or is racism worse than misogyny?
While I disagree with her on many counts, not least the extremely snide way in which she derides the Clinton campaign, I think this is a very important point and one that is aiding the Republicans more than anything. While the Democrats are busy fighting amongst themselves, John McCain has formally won the Republican nomination. This means that he can now start campaigning for President - a hell of a head start.

There are also other, very interesting pieces. Ruth Marcus in the Washington Post has argued that if Clinton loses the nomination it will have more to do with things other than her two X chromosomes. The most intriguing piece for me was this one, from the Seattle Post Intelligencer. The blogger, Monica Guzman, argues from a perspective I think many young women my age will be familiar with. We take so many things for granted as women that our mothers and grandmothers had to fight to achieve. And so in a large way in our day to day lives are removed from the issue of gender, and this, I imagine, holds true particularly for women living in developed liberal societies. But I don't agree (entirely) with her concluding thoughts:
That voters can see beyond gender when picking a candidate should serve as reward to the generation who fought so hard to make that possible.
I think her earlier paragraph contradicts this. She says:
But a female presidency, like a black one, will reflect a truly equal world only when the candidate's gender or race is as important as his or her hair color -- which, ironically, is when the fewest people will notice. That gender is an issue in this campaign should remind all us young women that the battle is not yet won.
More on the Democratic identity politics can be found here, in an excellent analysis of how much the race vs gender campaign is hurting the Democrats. And this piece on CiF should be read for different reasons entirely. The second comment is a good response, so I don't want to say much. Except I will link to this absolutely no-holds-barred indictment of all the people - liberals and otherwise - intent on either dismissing gender as a factor in the elections or arguing that its somehow less of an issue than race. And here is yet another excellent Washington Post piece on how much Hillary's candidacy means to women voters.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Award Shows!

The Oscars happened! And it is because of them that I post. It was really the fact that somehow I have managed to watch most of the movies nominated in the last week that got me interested, and also slightly amazed. These films are as unlike the middlebrow crowd pleasers the Academy generally sees fit to honor as can be imagined. Atonement is really the only typical Oscar movie in the line-up, and it is hardly even close to being a front runner.

I'm thrilled that Joel and Ethan Coen managed to finally get the Oscar they so richly deserved. Their body of work is fantastic, and I truly thought No Country for Old Men was the best film I saw in the last few months. It even made me want to read Cormac McCarthy, who is one of those authors I could easily spend the rest of my life avoiding. I'm not sure how I feel about Daniel Day Lewis. He was the best thing about There will be blood, and while I didn't think the movie was as excessive as some, the last 20 minutes or so did ruin a lot of the film for me. Either way, he held the film together, and a lesser actor would have been unbearable in that role. So I don't think it was a mistake, per se. I do think though that if Clooney hadn't won the award for Syriana a few years ago he would've walked this one. Everybody loves George! That was actually clear when he came on stage to present the award. It was like he was a god. The music changed, everyone sort of sat up... sigh. Yeah, I think George Clooney could get away with murder.

I've watched both Michael Clayton and Atonement and while I loved the former (no MacGuffin tobacco company!) I don't know how I feel about the latter. The movie was gorgeous to look at. Normally I am a sucker for that kind of story, the epic romance tragedy. I really liked James McAvoy for the first time. But something about the film left me cold. I think it was the fact that the relationship between Robbie (McAvoy) and Cecelia (Keira Knightley) was so underdeveloped. It was based on nothing, really. So it didn't feel real. And I Did.Not.Like the end. So the only movie I have yet to watch is Juno, which I have on Dvd but which Dvd didn't work. Sigh. But with Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner, I'm sure the movie will be fun.

I did watch Beowulf. Less said the better.

I loved Jon Stewart as host, even if omg, the montages were mind numbing in so many ways. And I loved TwoP's coverage of the Oscars. It's like they looked into my brain! I did not like Marion Cotillard in La Vie En Rose (how trite to give it to the biopic). But she was charming, and I thought, well Ok, I'll overlook the fish-scale dress. But now she has been unvelied as a bit of a lunatic. Will her Hollywood career survive this? I won't be surprised if she finds good, juicy work hard to come by in LA now.

Last night I saw the Filmfare awards (yes this post has been a work-in-progress for a while). Shahrukh and Saif were hilarious. Hilarious! They spared nobody, not even themselves and it was just so funny. The obvious joke was of course one they cracked in the beginning, with the Writer's strike threatening the Oscars and all. Other stuff was sublime, from dancing in blue towels to the whole maal-function bit. Ha ha. As with Filmfare every year, the awards were deeply predictable, but no one really cares, because the hosts were just so entertaining. Gauri Khan looked somewhat hideous, though she came alive whenever her husband was on stage. Vidya Balan has very unfortunate taste in clothes. But how incredible did Shahrukh look? Yum.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Good News!

Some of the best news:,,2251791,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=media

Hopefully the writers have got a fair deal from the studios and now we will see the return of scripted television. Bye, bye Celebrity Apprentice!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

New Year, Same Old Story

My New Year resolution: to not neglect my blog nearly as much as I have been doing. (Aside from the usual weight issues and things, of course).

I've also identified a major irritant (for me). When people want to make plans, they'll we'll do such and such today, and then when you say well, let me check my schedule, they'll backtrack and say, but actually.... I. Hate. that. Loathe. Hate. Detest.

Writer's strike needs to end, already.

The Vatican is crazy.