Listen, My Children...

Every Little Helps

Friday, May 28, 2004


I've moved. Here. Update accordingly.

Saturday, May 22, 2004


If all goes well, we'll be somewhere else by this evening (having given up on MT and gone straight to Typepad -- currently free-trialing, so may yet return here). URL TBA!

And here we are: The all-new Listen, My Children... at your service.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Rushdie on Gandhi

No, not his essay taking down the deification of M. K. Gandhi; his essay expressing hope for India's New Era. (I love Rushdie; he writes beautifully, when he's not feeling self-important, and others (like Arundhati Roy) who try to imitate him end up failing miserably.)

Bob shocked me by expressing dismay at the election results; although I've been writing papers and haven't been able to discuss it with him, I assume (I hope, for, if not, our relationship is over) that it's not because he supports the xenophobic and violently Hindu nationalist policies of the BJP and allies, nor because he opposes Congress's drive for secularism and intellectualism. His only comment was that Congress is terrible because Indira Gandhi was a tyrant; I agree on Indira, but I believe the (naively) optimistic efforts of Nehru and the despicable actions of the Sangh serve to balance it out. Plus, the election isn't between people who have been dead for decades (John Kerry's no Calhoun, and he's running against Bush, not Lincoln); it's between a definitely awful bunch of people and a bunch of people who, while more untried, seem pretty decent folks.

Economically, there's no reason to assume Manmohan Singh and Congress's other star economists won't work to make sure that Vajpayee's trickle-down economy flows a bit more than the current trickle (I do believe some socialism is necessary when the alternative is mass starvation, something not a danger when letting the free market run America); they will probably keep the communists in check -- or let them do things the way they've done them in Kerala, the only place I can think of where communism, while not producing great technological advancements, has provided health, education, voluntary population control, peace, and general happiness.

As for Pakistan, while Vajpayee did generally support peace talks and other things of the sort, his band of allies -- and his constituency -- was full of people who encouraged the public to want nothing more than a subjugated and forcibly Hinduised Pakistan. Sonia may not be as friendly with Musharraf (and there are good reasons not to be friendly with Musharraf), but at least Congress is officially (with exceptions, as you'll always get in a country of over a billion people) pro-secularism and rather isolationist. If The Hindu is anything to go by, Congress and its supporters are fairly anti-US, and the reasons often given are the US's refusal to criticise Pakistan and China, its friendliness with Vajpayee, and its interference in other countries' affairs (misguided, to be sure, but this is a country that was a colony sixty years ago). As I've said before, I'll take "anti-Americanism" from a secular, thinking government that seeks to help its people (of course, the jury's still out on how successful they'll be) over "pro-Americanism" from a government that asks to have western scholars who write non-party-line things about India extradited to stand trial, that regularly refuses student visas if the study grants mention studying anyone but acceptable high-caste Hindu groups (this information from the grant-writing workshop here), and that insists there is full economic prosperity while insisting nothing needs to be done about the starving masses.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

An Excerpt from my Dictionary

dush, caus. duushayati - See under duusha.

duusha - See under dush.


I could not be happier!

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Everybody has a blog!

Whaddya know, Cox & Forkum are on the net!

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Shekinah Glory



Ok, ok, I've put some links up. They're down there at the bottom. More, and comments, and all that, later.

The Popular Vote

I'm glad to hear that prostitutes are turning out to vote too. I'm even more glad that journalists are reporting on this. Fringe stories are such a wonderful sign -- it means there are no riots and there's no chaos!

The Enlightenment

It shouldn't surprise me to find out that historical revisionism should have hit the Enlightenment -- they've hit everything else:
The Enlightenment has come upon bad times. In some circles, it is denigrated as the “Enlightenment Project”--a peculiar illusion, or delusion, of modernity, a time when such terms as “reason,” “nature,” “rights,” “truth,” “morality,” were used without benefit of quotation marks, and without the sense of irony befitting those “privileged” concepts. The Enlightenment project, one writer says, supposes, “a universal emancipation and a universal civilization,” which is nothing more than an embodiment of “Western cultural imperialism.”
It's still good to see someone standing up for it, though. (Link via OxBlog.)

They're Taking Over!

The Mormons have taken over the Ecosystem! Not only are most Boy Scout troops LDS (due to their relatively small individual size -- numerically, most Boy Scouts themselves are not in LDS troops), now they own the Web!

But, But...

But Mom, what if I don't want to be Jewish?

(On the other hand, if entirely changing your religious beliefs can't keep you from being Jewish (or, I suppose, can't allow you to become Jewish -- wouldn't it work that way too?), then there's no threat to Judaism from Christian/Muslim/Buddhist/etc. proselytisation.)

Excellent News

I'm thrilled to hear that the NDA (the coalition led by Vajpayee's BJP) is unlikely to get enough votes to have a full victory. I should perhaps be more conflicted about this -- Vajpayee's probably better for foreign relations and so forth than Congress (Sonia) would be. Somewhat more supportive of US foreign policy as well. Problem is, I just can't help seeing him, his party, and those he stands by (Advani, Modi, etc.) as corrupt, religiously intolerant, racist, and generally despicable and frightening.

I often hear that any measures are justified by the ends. China's one-child abuses, Falun Gong suppression, human rights abuses? All fine, if they work to help the country as a whole. Indira Gandhi's forced-sterilization drives? Hey, overpopulation's a problem! (Nevermind that it worked much less than the laudable education-for-population-control in Kerala.) Stacking naked prisoners and sodomizing them with glowsticks? Hey, if it gets them to talk (and they deserved it anyway)! Doing all you can to stir up mob violence and religious intolerance (the kind that leads to lynchings, not the pansy American variety that consists of hinting the other religion might be wrong)? Well, if it keeps your party, with its good foreign and economic policy, in power!

I can't get myself to agree with that kind of reasoning, however. I'll take having Advani and the rest of the Sangh in jail, even if that means less-open trade agreements.

UPDATE: Incidentally, children, I like Mr. Singh quite well (thanks, OxBlog, for pointing him out). As far as I can tell, he'd probably keep India's economic policies moving in the right direction, too, addressing my concern above. (Don't suppose he'd get Amartya Sen back to help out?)

Eye Candy

Wonder what her measurements are? Tiny waist. Lovely. (Via Lileks.)

Monday, May 10, 2004


Ha! I made everything pink, with no comments, and long posty bits on the right!

Yes, yes, it's awful. But it makes me happy for the next two days until I'm home free and can fix it. And I was so sick of that pea-green and orange. Coming next week: A Whole New Look. It's in the wings.


Fire up Blogger, see an entirely new page calling itself a Dashboard, and promptly spill water all over my keyboard and forget what I was going to say. Could be worse; I've spilled coffee on a laptop before. (I hear it's even worse with regular Coke.)

So, I suppose I should go write final papers instead. But let me just mention that the Indian government is making a laudable attempt at an internet reservation site for rail tickets, except that it only works very infrequently, and then only within normal Indian working hours. They do have very friendly support staff, though. So, if you're in America and planning on extensive rail travel in India, plan on having lots of free time in the middle of the night to make your reservations.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

He'll never please them all

I really don't think Bush could do anything that would make everyone happy.

Via Best of the Web, I see that Joe Biden's asking quite a lot: "Once those people are identified, Biden said, Bush must 'demand the resignations for whoever is involved in this policy, and that includes Lord God Almighty himself. It includes anybody involved.' "

You hear that, Mr. "President"? If you don't get God to resign, you've failed this nation. (But we knew that already.)

Thursday, May 06, 2004

The Evil SUV

People keep mentioning the Heinz-Kerry family's three SUVs. That's important because, you see, it's impossible to be an environmentalist and drive an evil, gas-guzzling SUV. Because, as we all know, SUVs have gas mileage roughly equivalent to that of a tank.

My mother's anti-environment SUV gets about 20mpg. Same with my sister's and my grandmother's, so I assume it's standard. (We live in Texas, my father is the leader of a camp-happy boy scout troop, and my grandparents are ranchers, so it's either SUV or truck; we're not the "I need an SUV to get to the grocery store!" types.) From what I hear, there are pretty strict minimum standards for SUV gas mileage.

By comparison, my old environment-friendly two-door got 16mpg on a good day, and 12-13 more often than not. There were no campaigns to get it banned or taxed extra, no activists keyed or spraypainted it or put save-the-world fliers on it, and Nader could have cared less (he probably liked it; made in America).

This makes me wonder: what's the average gas mileage of the 1978 Fords most activists seem to drive? Wouldn't they be saving the environment by switching to an SUV?

(Disclaimers: I'd still like the SUV thing to hurt Kerry's campaign, but more from the "I don't own it, my family does" than from the ownership itself -- although useful idiots are always welcome. Additionally, my current sedan gets 30mpg on the highway, and I really like the Toyota Prius. I still think the SUV-haters haven't thought things out, though.)


I must be tired, or perhaps just human, for this made me cry.

Meryl's last link, on the other hand, made me livid.

I am also beginning to think that maybe the right-of-Sharon people who voted against his proposal may have a better understanding of the situation than the rest of us. Not necessarily that pulling out of Gaza is bad (that's a debate for another day), but that it will do more harm than good:
According to several Palestinian sources, the attack yesterday was timed to send a message to Ariel Sharon and his supporters that if there is an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, it will not take place in an atmosphere where Israel has the upper hand but rather amid Palestinian acts of opposition. "We will not allow Israel to withdraw unilaterally at the initiative of Sharon," one Gaza spokesman said in a broadcast on Gulf TV.
We'll give our list of demands, but you'd better not agree to any of them, because that would make it look like you're nice, and we want it to look like we're forcing you, that is.
Although there were no official PA comments on the Likud referendum, an Arafat aide said off-the-record that the Palestinians opposed any unilateral move on the part of Israel, even if it involved evacuating settlements.
Don't you dare do what we want of your own free will! We're only manly and successful if we kill you all, not if you agree to our requests!

Felon Congressmen?

No, it's not Traficant; it's Dara Singh, in jail for burning alive Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two young sons five years ago. He's defiantly unrepentant and on the ballot, running in the frequently-violently nationalist Hindu Mahasabha party.

I'm still looking forward to my trip (in three weeks!), but very glad I'm only spending two days in Bombay, with friends, and the rest in the relatively non-violent (or at least vastly more religiously tolerant and mob-violence- and riot-free) South.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

A Solution?

I have a proposal: we hear that the Iraqis say the torture was so bad it made them feel like a woman. Being a woman is the worst thing possible, you realize.

But, being treated as if you are a woman probably isn't banned by the Geneva conventions. So: to soldiers interested in getting prisoners to break, I suggest you treat them like women. Refer to them with feminine pronouns, switch out their clothing for girly stuff... apparently, that's the worst kind of torture there is!

(Hey, it might not work, but then maybe we'll end up with the Iraqi resistance composed entirely of transvestites, and that would at least be more amusing!)

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

The League

Wilson's opponents had it right. You just don't want to align yourself with a group of countries with worldviews vastly different from your own. CNN, to it's credit, is reporting on villains on the Human Rights Commission and the UNSCAM to-do. Somehow, however, it seems to escape my co-workers, who still suggest we should submit ourselves to the UN on all foreign and national policy and act like you're a wingbat neocon if you mention these damn good reasons not to trust the UN.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Things I Didn't Know

Punctuation rules are intolerant and anti-immigrant.

Iraq Blog

Have had recommended to me the blog of a chaplain in Iraq. Haven't read it yet (paper due tomorrow, and am just starting to read the book, Shivaji by Lubbock native and bane-of-Hindu-nationalists James Laine), but looks decent.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Asian Fetishes

The Volokh Conspiracy makes my day by taking on the "you like Asians? you're racist!" crowd:
If I'm right, then what's the reason for the 'they just want submissive women' theory? Part of it might be that this was indeed once the preference for some men, for instance those bringing home war brides or mail-order brides -- I'm just purely hypothesizing here, since I have no reason to think that this is so, but at least I can't rule it out.

But part, I think, might be the tendency of some people -- at least in some circles -- to like theories that place men, and especially white men, in a negative light, the 'men are pigs' / 'white men are oppressors' theories. Many people who like those theories don't actually hate white men (some might be white men, and some might sleep with white men). Rather, they adopt the theories because in certain circles those theories have a certain fashionable cachet, as signs of deep and power-structure-subversive understanding. And this is so even when the theory seems to have no empirical foundation.

Or am I mistaken? Is there any real evidence that most white men, or even a substantial number of white men, today who prefer Asian women do so because they think that Asian women are more likely to be submissive?
It keeps going.

Bad report from Britain

This does not sound good: "An accountant claims that he was kept for more than 24 hours in 'leg chains' and denied food and water after flying into New York's JFK airport with his wife." The article goes on to say he was charged with having outstanding debts to Qatar, although he was not allowed to defend himself, the British consulate was unable to help him, and Qatar says he doesn't have outstanding debts. The whole thing sounds surreal and somewhat ludicrous to me, but, well, the Telegraph isn't the UK paper known for making things up to make the US look bad. I'd be interested to see any followup.

Friday Five

Courtesy of a nice Japanese site:
When was the last time you...
1. ...went to the doctor?

Gosh, it's been a while; probably last summer. I'm going in 3 weeks to get typhoid shots, though. Gone are the days when I went weekly.

2. ...went to the dentist?
Last summer. I'm good about that; go yearly or more often. I've got good teeth (no cavities, no braces), though, so I need not fear.

3. ...filled your gas tank?
Two weeks ago or more. Am entirely out of gas. Must refill in eight hours when I start driving to Houston to see a play starring the Kid Brother as Prince Charming.

4. enough sleep?
Probably last Wednesday. Since then, I've been getting 7.5 hours or so, but I'm such an extremely punctual person in terms of body rhythms that I need 8. I also still get hungry punctually at noon and at 5pm (you can set your watch by me), not yet having recovered from dining hall schedules.

5. ...backed up your computer?
Drat, I'm supposed to do that? Well, the last time would be last summer, when my computer died and I transferred the whole thing. Suppose I'd really ought to consider doing that again, eh?

You're trying too hard, folks

One of the things said about the war on terror was that it would send a message to other terrorist-friendly countries that they'd better shape up or have the same things happen to them. Qaddhafi says they'll give up their WMD to please America? Good, it's working! Vajpayee says that, after seeing what America can do, he'll try to tone things down with Pakistan? Good, it's working! Macedonia kills a bunch of innocents and calls them terrorists to please America? Nope, not working quite as planned. Look, fellahs, we want you to crack down on terrorism and WMDs and so forth within your country; if you don't have any, then you're all set!

This is similar to something that goes on in Bolivia (and probably other countries that I don't know as intimately) -- the US points out that the legal system's shot to hell, and they'd better fix it; so, they start arresting random people and putting them in jail to have larger numbers to please the US. I doubt that Macedonia was told, "apprehend so many terrorists by such-and-such a date," like the Bolivians were told, "apprehend so many criminals by such-and-such a date," but, even still, that's how they understood it.