Dec 27, 2006

Finally emerging from finals exile.

Not unscathed.

Not scarred.

Not bad.

Happy New Year, friends and folks.

Stay tuned.

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Dec 16, 2006

R.I.P. Baiji

China's River Dolphin Declared Extinct
20 Million Years and a Farewell

Andrew Rivkin, New York Times, 12/17/06

The first species to be erased from this planet’s great and ancient Order of Cetaceans in modern times is not one of the charismatic sea mammals that have long been the focus of conservation campaigns, like the sperm whale or bottlenose dolphin.

It appears to be the baiji, a white, nearly blind denizen of the Yangtze River in China.
Sobering news on the extinction front. This river dolphin, which once lived in the Yangtze River in China, was just declared "functionally extinct." Full story here, for now. Otherwise, go to the website for the research and conservation team.

And so go the large mammals, the most noticeable victims of ongoing human development...

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Dec 13, 2006

My Restaurant Concept... and a new name for Desi orgs.

Okay - this isn't a fully baked idea yet, but I'll add to it as I think more about it. Anyway - if I were to open an Indian/desi fastfood place, I would call it "Naan Veg."

Okay, there's no deep concept behind it, except that the place would be small, cheap, clean, and non-fusion, except for the occasional tinkering with the tried and true formulas. But yeah - as a preview of something I've been working on a for a while, the place would be vegetarian, of course, with the pun being a little less painful (albeit barely) than some of the ones I've seen. And let's face it: who wants another annoying reference to the Taj Mahal, awful alliteration like "Bombay Bistro," any kind of Chowk, or a reference to a hut, a famous restaurant in India, or Mt. Everest?

Though trust me, this wouldn't be another Lassi either. No $1/ounce fusion lassis, and no $4 parathas that stick to the roof of your mouth. Maybe we'll even give dipping water for your fingers after the (quick) meal.

Anyway, as the new tag below boasts (and I'm definitely digging that they finally integrated tags into the Blogger template), mine first, yo!

So I'm taking this to the next logical step, given my interests. I'm tired of saying "South Asian American community-serving organizations, or even desi orgs. I'm proposing the new label of naanprofit.

Because if we have a million food metaphors infecting many of our book titles, films, and identity-related literature, we might as well have a little fun doing it with our organizations. Of course, I realize that this would put non-punjabis in the serious risk of becoming even more invisible and tokenized, but hopper-profit, puri-profit, dosa-profit, dal-profit just don't seem to have the same ring.

Okay - it may not go very far outside of this space, but that's the new tag for desi orgs here. Mine first, yo!

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Dec 10, 2006

Desi Mashups.

Cirque du Sholay. Three ring event, with Gabbar Singh on a unicycle juggling cannons that shoot flowers, and the dancing happening on upside down on a ceiling 50 feet up, above giant stalagmites of quartz.

Don't know how they'd capture the yearning looks between Amitabh and Dharmendra, but I think it's a hit waiting to happen. Trump's awful Taj Mahal can host it, Royal Albert Palace can cater, and people can take home little dolls that spout their favorite lines from the original, and a bag of masala popcorn.

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Dec 7, 2006

R.I.P. James Kim

This is such a heartbreaking story. I didn't put the name to the face to the awesome dude that I've watched on CNET a number of times. I was so proud that an Asian American man was doing work that he enjoyed, bringing his joy of gadgets to the wider public, and looked at ease and like he was having fun doing it. I can't pretend to know about his personal life, etc, but just seeing the clips in the short tribute piece that CNET put up, as well as reading about his commitment to his family, really rips your heart out.

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Dec 6, 2006

t-minus + Wolfgang's Archives.

Finals looming in the near distance. I feel at peace, and yet I have so much to do. So I'll put my best foot forward, thank the powers that my northstar is near again, and listen to more music that won't distract me from my re-learning of the year's material.

Ok, so a music shout - for anyone who's into live, archived concerts, and likely, so-called "classic rock" (though there's some good new wave here too), you have to go to this site. I read about it in Rolling Stone (yes I still read that rag, though it's about as non-hip, non-independent, and non-interesting as you can get, I feel like it's my entry point on mainstream music news and the subscription was taken out way back when they were actually reputable and took risks. All that said, I still think that their non-music articles are occasionally much more interesting than their attention-deficit-disorder 500 word pieces on musicians).

Anyway - this site, once you register, is awesome. They have some great full concerts on here, including gems from the Cure in 1984, David Bowie in the late 70s, Black Sabbath in their prime, Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and of course, the Dead. It's a great way to hear good (soundboard) recordings from concerts when live music meant something more than reproductions of the studio effort. I'm still digging through the archives, but it's worth it if you're looking for something different and you're a fan of anybody who played live in the late 60s - early 80s... they may have some surprises stuck in there...

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Dec 2, 2006

Shining (a light on) India

Found this article by Siddartha Deb via Amitava Kumar's blog.

It's a very good, very concise assessment of India's economic progress that doesn't suffer from the usual black or white view of either "India shining" rhetoric that continues to dream of India's complete "awakening" from the quasi-socialist agenda of Nehru, or the far left critique of a nation that's done nothing but oppressed the masses and struck out into the moral abyss of capitalism and nuclear chauvinism with reckless abandon.

Deb somehow finds the balance, without wasting pages to get there. I am fascinated and terrified of India's economic and social explosion, especially in light of the many things that the nation, much like the United States, still has to deal with in its cultural past, present, and future. The current leadership and broad population in the United States is ignoring the legacies of genocide, oppression, and imperialism that have brought us to this "American century," and the dismantling of programs like affirmative action and public benefits that were meant, at least in part, to address history has escalated after the brief self-assessment period during the Brennan court.

Set-asides and perceived privileges by the underclasses in India have caused much resentment in the middle class, who as always and everywhere, continue to claim the most oppression. Certain relatives complained a lot about the push on the middle class, and I guess I could see some of their points. Schools are overcrowded and with a youth population that is huge, the only way a student can distinguish himself is through extensive after school tutoring and achieving the highest marks, all of which cost a lot of money. When they see woman and some scheduled tribes/castes getting set-aside seats, and apparently, also able to compete for the seats that are "merit-based," there is bound to be mistrust, anger, and resentment. I don't know if my cousins have it right - and if that's how the system works. I do know that it's more affirmative than American systems, and I don't know if I find it better or worse.

But that resentment, at least in India, gets violent very fast. And how do you "take away" what's been given to groups in the name of reform, even if it's progressive reform? I mean, though the Michigan and California votes removed affirmative action, what if they were replacing it with a different system, which the designers truly believed would be more equitable and serve the ultimate purpose of affirmative action - to level the playing field and balance privileges based on gender and race that pervade higher education and employment arenas? Would the general public, especially those with the most to lose, understand the nuances and trust that the wonks are trying to "fix it, not nix it"?

I'm not very confident. Politicians and the lobbyists who feed them are sustained by the stupor in which the general population lives concerning important policy decisions. Better to give them more cable stations (or another Hindu epic on television) than to make sure they are making informed decisions - and demands - about the direction that the country is taking. Representative, republican (small r) government is not about the voice of the people. Anyway, so we'll have to see what happens.

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Dec 1, 2006

Maybe I'm showing my age here, but I don't understand why people are so enthusiastic about MySpace - what's so great about it that distinguishes it so much from the other social network sites? Am I just not with it enough to appreciate?

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short letter to my polaris.

Sometimes I feel guilty, because unlike some people I know, I did not search the whole world for many many years to find you. Somehow, it just happened.

I fell ass-backwards into the best thing that has ever, and probably will ever, happen to me. I'll be damned if I don't wake up every damn day and recognize that on its face. So when I'm off that clear path, feel free to kick me back into place. Because bar none, you are my shining star.


ps. hurry back.

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