Sunday, October 18, 2009

my president is brown.

yet another reason why President Barry is quite the awesomeness:

" 'lead us from falsehood to truth. from darkness to light. from death to immortality. ' "

the President of the United States of America is quoting Sanskrit scripture. i never saw that one coming.

as for the Diwali greetings from the entire team at - my apologies for being a a day late here (we were a bit setting up our own Sleepy Hollow "diwahlloween" celebrations...stay tuned).

finally big up props to my boy Mr.Belvedere for sharing (and he's an even darker shade of brown...and i'm not talking about south Indian =)

hope your festival of lights was...festive.

Monday, October 12, 2009

halloween costumes.

in case you were wondering what my girlfriend + i were going as for Halloween, i'd like to be the first to reassure you this is NOT it:

but the real question: when Spider-(wo)man sashays away from Superman in the opening dance sequence (0:21), how does she fly. everybody knows Spider-(wo)man can't fly. geez! and why isn't she wearing a mask?

beyond this limited beef (pun!), i found this video quite entertaining. some notes:
  • superman's dance moves (1:17) - classic. this is actually a move i'm known to do in dance clubs and grocery stores alike.
  • the chorus (2:30) - actually considered by Bryan Singer for Superman Returns, but he later dismissed thinking it would do harm to the franchise.
  • Luke Cage makes a guest appearance (4:21).

that's pretty much all i have to add for today. thanks to Will for sharing this gem. more mind-blowing posts to come.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

the open road?

i don't think socialism is an entirely bad thing.

i know saying this probably hurts my ability to run for office (in the US) several years from now (whilst i have yet to see the new Michael Moore film, i AM a fan of free markets as well - "smashing, groovy, yay capitalism!").

but i digress. back to my premise.

(some) socialism is OK. libraries are socialist. and they're GREAT parts of the community. libraries are where i fostered my love of reading (and art). my mom would walk/drive me to the library on a Saturday, and i would end up taking home a large pile of books i could pour over during the week, without breaking the budget of a (relatively) new-to-America immigrant family. and over the years, Dr.Seuss and Shel Silverstein soon gave way to Bill Waterson, Jack Kirby, Chris Claremont, John Byrne, and Marvel's first family.

in college, the library was one of the few places i could get ANY work done. when i was in school, there was no such distracting things as "wi-fi" in the library (sigh, i'm dating myself), and they kept it far too cold to doze off.

and as a working adult, one of the first things i do after moving somewhere new, whether it be Cincinnati, Singapore, or New York, is find out how to join the local library (preferably walking/biking distance). sure, this is mostly so i can curb the affect my almost drug-like comic book habit has on my wallet (probably another thing that will come out in my opposition's smear campaign...Karl!!!), but that's neither here nor there.

so the recent slandering of President Barry as a socialist is somewhat disconcerting (and anti-library, almost Ray Bradbury-esque). while i won't attempt to make a counter-arguement here, i DO want to take the time to point out a little inconsistency i've noticed with the conservative beef on socialism.

i come from the south. where education sucks, and the roads are great. meaning, we prioritize our spending of tax dollars on long term bets like infrastructure (for industry!), at the indirect expense of things like education (the future!). i now live in NY, where the education is great, but the roads could use some work.

in Alabama, driving on 99.9% of our highways + by-ways is free (assuming you can pay for the car + gas), as tolls exist only in a handful of areas (like a shorter route from Montgomery to Wetumpka...what kind of name is Wetumpka?!?). though if you want your kid to get a good education, you'd better be willing to shell out the $ for a private school, or hope he's smart enough to get into a "magnet school" (an even more odd phenomanon is that in the southern states - AL, MS, GA, AK, LA - there is a LARGE series of state-grant funded "math & science" schools, which is otherwise a relatively unknown entity elsewhere in the US). it should be noted, that from 5th-10th grade, i attended magnet schools in the Montgomery Public School System, and for 11th-12th grades, i attended the Alabama School of Math & Science, which was effectively a boarding/geek school. bottom line, great roads = FREE. great education = GOOD LUCK (or good fortune).

in New York (and the broader New England corridor), if you find yourself driving on most of our major roads (crossing between towns), you're likely to pay a few tolls here and there. and it adds up. heading across the Hudson river to goto the mall costs $3-5. heading into Manhattan runs $5-7, depending on route or time of day. from what i understand though, our schools (in the county, at least) are pretty darned good.

which brings me to my broader point (paradox). in the south, people are overwhelmingly conservative (it's a red state), yet they're OK with having free roads (socialism). whereas in in the north, people are pretty liberal-minded (it's a blue state), yet they're OK with toll roads (which i find the epitome of "every man for himself"/"pay as you go"/"self determination free market principles).

i guess you COULD argue that quality, free roads are a liberty + a right to which everyone should be entitled (like education or healthcare?), and toll roads are a form of taxation, but are they really?

while (most) roads are not built by private corporations, but rather the government, driving on ALL existing roads is not NECESSARY for living your life (getting to your neighborhood school, grocery store, doctor, etc). so if you have some need that supercedes your living area (like say, a better job that might enable you to move up, socioeconomically), pay up. after all, that's what you have to do if you wanted to get there by air or rail. the road is simply a part of the infrastructure necessary to get there (like the cost of a plane or train/train tracks).

unless of course, you think simple things like that should also be free. but that smells awful red (which incidentally enough, is the color of the commies AND the american right)

so i'm not really sure what my point is (am i ever?). but all the people making the red states red (teabaggers and moderate republicans alike) who want the government out of their healthcare (and education) so they can pay for it themselves on the free market, might as well start lobbying for toll roads as well (stick to your principles!). otherwise, please shut up.

things like healthcare and education, while a BIT more intangible than the roads, are just as, if not a bit more, important in the long run.

so drive on. but if you're bringing your car up to see me in NY, i'd recommend you get an EZpass (or carry small bills + lots of change).

Friday, October 02, 2009

passively resistant.

why the Google is still pretty awesome, besides being a benevolent dictator of my information and all.

i'm definitely not a very nationalistic Indian (given the fact that i'm American, and barely understand my Indian heritage), but my parents DID make me dress up as Gandhi one year for a social studies fair in the performance competition (their way of ensuring i win out in an oft-ignored category and goto the national level...this is less braggery and more self confession of my cringing geek past). although, in hindsight, this is probably why in science fairs i was often in the "math" category ("which 3-dimensional geometric shape can support the most weight", after all, is a question that plagues most of us).

but this is about India, not me. i often find it funny that the one place in the world feel the most American is India. and this is also not a swelling of national pride, but rather yet another confession of my lack of Indian-ness. i stand out like a sore thumb there (i too, am force to pay the exorbant "tourist" rate at the Taj Mahal despite my garbled Hindi). though it should be noted that in SOUTH India, i can pass as a mentally challenged north Indian student (i'm of North Indian descent) - again this is no sleight to the mentally disabled, but rather an admission of my lack of Hindi language skills (when the ticket guy asks where you're from - to see if he can charge you the higher non-Indian rate - just say in mumbly Indian accent "Delhi" and you're good to go.

but again, this is about India, not me. i had a quick chat with an Indian-Indian (born in India, not the US, UK, Canada, etc) co-worker yesterday, about her fears for her 9 year old son in this country (she thinks he will likely become like me...not sure if that was a sleight or complement), and it brought to mind the many books that i have read on the Indian experience. starting from what i know, the easiest launch pad is the works of Jhumpa Lahiri. her short story compilation, Interpreter of Maladies won the Pulitzer years ago, to which she followed up with the Namesake, which is in my top10 novels of all time, as it tells the tale of an "Indian" (Bengali) American growing up in the US, from boy to manhood (though the soon-following film of the same name w/ Kal Penn as the title character did not do the book justice, though it did portray the story from the father's end, which made me feel extremely guilty for being a jerk to my parents growing up). Lahiri most recently followed up with Unaccustomed Earth, another compilation of short stories, this one a bit more dark and depressing. just my cup of chai.

other books that have shaped my view of the "indian experience" - ALL of Rohinton Mistry's novels, which are almost Dickensonian in their detail of India in the 60s/70s - almost an alternate reality for me, as i had no knowledge of the societal upheaval at play (after all, my dad had already left, and my mother grew up indian, but in Africa/England, so those stories never made their way to me). going even further back in time is Ashok Banker's Ramayan series, a contemporary prose novelization of the great Hindu epic (one of our "Bibles") - which really helped me piece together all the religious/cultural knowledge fragments i had of the religion i was raised with - only previously learned thru Diwali skits, Indian/British tela-novellas, and of course Amar Chitra Katha comics (which probably explains some of my doubtful views on religion in general; after all, i was reading about the exploits of Krishna, Arjun, alongside the adventures of Green Lantern & Spider-Man - an imaginary team-up was inevitable).

most recently, the novels i've read/am reading, are a bit more real to me.

the first was Rakesh Satyal's Blue Boy. Rakesh is the younger brother of some close friends of mine, and tells the semi-autobiographical story of a confused young boy growing up in southwest Ohio, who, assumes (naturally) he must be a reincarnation of the god Krishna, because he can't make sense of why he's different. he's not fitting in for a variety of reasons, which is not related to just being Indian, but also, more importantly not being able to "fit in" with either his peers that are Indian-American like him (but more "cool" - read "popular"), or the "regular" American's at school. this rang true to many of my own "being uncool" themes growing up (sure it's the trendy thing to say you were "uncool" growing up, but i was took the cake here). on top of all that, the title character is gay (probably the one thing i did not share with novel, but nevertheless a very compelling insight into what so many go through in our conservatively open-seeming society). a longer post/review here IS pending.

the final two are non-fiction. first was Fareed Zakaria's the Post-American world (i've already partially posted on this), which features a great chapter on what the rise of India can mean for the world (and subsequently, one on China's). the second, which i just started, is Imagining India by Nandan Nilekani, famed Indan entrepeneur (and now governmental game-changer
), who i had only heard about, but was soon compelled to read his thoughts after his Daily Show book-stop.

so as usual, there is hardly a point to this post (and it wound up being about me), but rather a gathering of reflections/datapoints on a particular theme: this one on (me) being "Indian" (sort of)

Happy birthday Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (known to his buds as "Mahatma").

now if only i could find all my old Amar Chitra Kathas...

Thursday, October 01, 2009

on driving.

(hit play to listen to one of my favorite Breeders songs, set to some random video, while reading this post. don't worry, it's appropriate and charming)

i remember my first time driving.

i was 15 (9th grade?), and had just gotten my learners permit (in the US, all that is necessary for this is to pass a written exam).

after school/work, mom + i were talking in the kitchen. i was telling her about how nervous i was about getting behind the wheel (since watching my parents drive, it seemed so complicated a thing. in my family we only drove stick shifts, and i didn't think anything else existed). mom said there was nothing to worry about, and she'd take me out. when? right now.

we stopped making dinner, went outside, and got into our 1987 Mitsubishi Colt Vista, which mom pulled into the back yard (a large field of grass where kickball, frisbee, and or calvinball was usually played in). mom traded seats with me, and started to explain the finer working of the clutch, gas, and break. after several stalls (leaving some mysterious tire marks in the grass that later left my dad baffled), we gave up, re-parked the car in the driveway, and went back in before dad + my sister got home.

so i was no longer nervous but rather too scared (stupid) to drive again. this was way too complex of an undertaking. i'd just let my parents drive me around til i got to college.

some months later, i attended drivers' ed in high school (10th grade?). i sat behind the wheel with our teacher (my memory is fuzzy here, but i recall a picture of a Morgan Freeman-type character). the car was automatic, not a stick shift. remember, up until this point, i just assumed everyone drove a stick shift. i was soon surprised to find out how easy it was to learn to drive. instead of focusing on my feet on the clutch and hand on the gear shift, i could focus on adjusting the steering wheel and keeping an eye on traffic. i passed drivers ed with flying colors.

it wasn't until the following summer (between 10th + 11th grade?) that my dad took me out to my former elementary school, to officially teach me how to drive on a stick shift, in our 1987 1984 (typo!) white Toyota Celica (which my dad had proudly bought new + outright years earlier, and my sister had already taken off to college). we basically had a long, empty, circular stretch of road, full of straightaways, gentle turns, and the occasional stop sign. the perfect place to start, stall, and figure my way out around this very sophisticated manually-transmissioned automation. i was soon coordinating my feet, hands, and eyes in concert. this was far more complicated than most video games i had played before (most of which i sucked at), but i soon mastered it. hopefully i would not prove to be a danger to pedestrians, and society as a whole.

the next year (11th grade) i went off to a boarding school (for nerds...a "Math & Science" school), where i wouldn't need a car. it wasn't until my senior year (12th grade) that i would soon receive the "family heirloom" car (the afore-mentioned '87 '84 Celica) to take down to Mobile, AL. for the next 4 years, that car would follow me up, down, and across the entire state of Alabama (and across quite a bit of the Southeast) - in search of rock bands, football games, and girls.

by junior year of college, my old Celica had its tires, breaks, clutch, and even engine replaced at least once. between my dad, sister, and i, we had driven it more than 200,000 miles. it was soon given to Goodwill, and a used '96 Celica was purchased (a stick shift, naturally). it was also white, and dubbed by my dad "the white machine"...which my friends found hilarious, so the name stuck). that car stayed with me thru the rest of college and grad school, and soon followed me out of the south, and up to the midwest, where i began my professional life. it eventually brought me out to NY, where it's clearly on it's last leg (and i'm having trouble giving it away - emotionally and practically).

so while this post turned into quite a bit of reminiscing (for myself), i actually DID have a broader point to make, i promise. let's try to get back on track, shall we?

over the years, i've driven a # of other cars that were not my own (as a designated driver, splitting driving duty on road trips, car rentals). more often than not, they are NOT stick shifts, but automatics (not counting my recent adventures in a charming POS Volkswagon Chico in Capetown). at first, driving an automatic was an odd sensation, as i would instinctively tap the break looking for a clutch. but i soon got over it, and realized how easy driving an automatic was.

and this is my point (finally): most drivers are morons on the road, because driving an automatic is far too easy. it's quite stupid, really. so they feel the need to go head, eat a burger, send a text, adjust their makeup. driving a stick requires a bit more (unconscious) focus and concentration, so you're less likely to be distracted when driving in traffic. driving a manual transmission car forces you to have more respect for the car, the road, and the art of driving. and by no means am i saying i am a good driver, but definitely one that is more aware than the average bear (but i'll give $1, or a free car ride, the first person to get the photo reference...with the exception of RAJ).

driving SHOULD be a more complex exercise. a car is a complex piece of machinery (a plane is a bit more complicated, but there are far less accidents involving planes than cars). it would do us well to keep the bad drivers off the road (ie, those who can't figure out how to manage a manual) and make the rest of us well-coordinated experts.

it doesn't hurt that most manuals often give better gas mileage as well (though i think modern automotive technology has changed that).

so what's the point here? i forgot. but man that's a great Breeders song. and friends don't let friends let bears get behind the wheel.

happy driving, morons.
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