Sunday, June 28, 2009

"The rise of club music, the fall of apartheid - coincidence or not?"

Is it just me or does like every cab in the city now have the faux-tagged Bruno promos?

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

hello brooklyn.

Smith Street, Brooklyn

Ah yes, eating yummy Peruvian food. Or as Indian people would say, Mexican food.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

the Brown Card / how tan are you?

Some of the most difficult questions that humans can ask about ourselves and the world around us are times very very basic ones:

- How does the strong nuclear force work and keep an atom's nucleus from splitting apart?
- Why does e, the natural log, appear so often in nature?
- Why weren't cargo pants invented earlier?

In the Indian World the main question that all desis ask is much isn't the questions above. We know math. Oh we know math all right. You don't need to tell a brown person twice about natural logs to get them excited.

But I digress.

No no no, this Indian Question hits much more to the core of humanity.

When meeting new people, this question is there.
When reading someone's biodata, this question appears.
When discussing others behind their backs, this question prevails...

The Question?


Well my friends ask no longer, because for a limited time, I present to you:

Indian people come in all shades in brown. A cornucopia of colors if you will. But for whatever reason there is a taboo (like in so many progressive cultures...) against saying you're anything more than slightly dark brown. But how do you tell your skin color then?

Well wait no more. Desis against all chromatic odds, come in only two shades: Fair and Wheatish.
Fair of course is the easy one. It's not really a character judgment so much as it's a view that a person is pigmentally challenged.

On the flip side desis have found a shade of brown and clung onto it. The shade: "wheatish."

So I ask again, what the hell is "wheatish" ?

Now I've this phrase ever since I was a little kid, but the fact is when you meet people how are you supposed to compare people skin tone to this specialized cultivated grass? Well my friends, wonder no more. With the patented Brown Card (now with 27 shades of brown!) you can compare people you meet in bars, clubs, and your local paan stand with the shades from the card...and PRESTO! You can see if they're really Wheatish as they claim or more like Russet or Bole.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

something a bit more important

So I was going to write a timely follow-up to my intern mockery but I have all summer to do that. I wanted to write about something a tad bit more pressing. Iran.

I don't want to do a recap, I don't want to do a history lesson of US involvement and the evolution of social movements leading up to the events of the past 2 weeks. I'm gonna assume that if you're still reading thus far you know all that

So I was watching the medley of political TV shows on Sunday morning. By the way....when did the happen? Who determined that Saturday mornings will be all about cartoons for kids and Sunday mornings will be political cartoons for adults?

Well I basically watched in horror as like a band of Republicans, like Mr. McCain, spoke about how they wished the US/Obama took a more vocal role in supporting the Irani protesters.

Now I agree that we should speak against the violent treatment of protesters. That's not right. We should also make it clear that that applies to both the reformers and pro-Ahmadinejad supporters.

But for the US to vocally support challenger Mousavi has a lot of problematic implications from my point of view

1) Legitimacy. What makes the protests so hard for the Irani Supreme Leader & Co (doesn't the phrase "Supreme Leader" sounds silly?'s like something out of the movie the Planet of the Apes or like Star Trek) is that it's the genuine will of the people. For a leadership that has created its vision of Self through the definition of the Other (i.e. the West) this is a bit of a trip. In other words if you claim to be against the West, then your identity is deemed as being un-Western. But if someone else besides the West is protesting against you, you face a serious identity crisis.

You need the Other to be You. If you don't have the Other, then people start asking "what do YOU stand for?"

So if the US were to vocally support the protesters it provides the Super Leader the usual "anti-West" stance. The protesters can be dismissed as being encouraged by America and the meaning of their movements gets lost. In short, the Movement loses its legitimacy. And political legitimacy is what being in power or challenging power is all about

2) Being vocal now is short-sighted at best. The demographic of Iran (70% of the population is under 30yrs old) makes me think that this movement won't just "go away." I'm not an expert on Iran but the protests feel like they have evolved from being about a particular candidate losing to a much deeper/broader statement against civil liberties and freedoms. But to simply put our full faith behind Mousavi or any particular candidate, who may arguably be a leader who found a revolution (as opposed to the other way around), risks really knowing what we get. He may seem great now but to assume that he will be perfect would be naive at best.

Hence support should be given for preserving a just process, not necessarily the outcome (yes, yes, this sorta goes against most US foreign intervention policies of the 20th/21st century)

And to me what really strikes me is that for the first time in a while outsiders are forced to looks at Iranians/Muslims with a slightly more nuanced view. Just because their leader makes a mockery of rational thinkers and the properly educated (I mean he's questioning the Holocaust and claims Iran has no gays... at some point you have to tell a guy to stop being dumb) doesn't mean you can blindly assume the rest of the of people are like that.

It's sorta like when I'd go abroad from 2000-08 and people assume that all Americans are simple-minded and shallow thinkers at best based on our President at the time.

Here you can see a proud culture that has seen its potential get stunted...and there's a leader in power who is more interested in rhetoric against the US as opposed to helping the day to day lives of his people. That just kills me. At least this is causing a most unusual event to here are relating to kids over there. A few years ago the Iranians might have been characterized as radicals or another wave of violent they're kids fighting for fairness.

Look I may have things wrong and I know there are parts I need to be better informed about as I form a narrative of understanding for myself, but my central thesis remains: to some degree the US needs to not appear to be an active participant, a source of tension/hate that has already damaged relations for years, but rather do the harder job of letting events unfold a bit while without being apathetic.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Summer Interns: it's that time of year again

It's that time of year again. Oh yes, it's on. It's that time of year when your work life gets turned upside down, when what little order and patience you may possess gets endlessly tested.

No it's not Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, which oddly enough seems to occur more frequently

It's even better...SUMMER INTERNS!!!

Where else can you meet kids who have unbridled enthusiasm which is woefully misguided.

- Adventures to the vending machines can result in getting kids on the cusp of a college degree locked in the pantry

- Simple lunch orders in English can result in lost change and an annoying ability of always bringing tuna sandwiches for those who hate tuna

- Why ask a bad question once, when you can ask it 3,4 maybe 5 more times? In a row

- Answering phones without hanging up on people becomes a "difficult task"

- ...and of course, when will the intern learn that the "After Work Casual Drinks" are just a formal way of judging them outside of the workplace?

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

million dollar idea #537

Sell/ wear green Livestrong bracelets here to show solidarity with Irani peeps.

-- Post From My iPhone

Monday, June 15, 2009

crackers make the world go around

There are a few laws of nature that readily apply in our normal, everyday world. They are as follows:

1) Slapping police officers tends to lead to bad things
2) F=MA
3) Frying things and/or using goat cheese is cheating when it comes to cooking
4) Sometimes there is a place in a wardrobe for tighty whiteys

However I would like to submit a 5th rule, no matter how bad a soup is, putting enough crackers in it makes it better

The ignorant reader at home, e.g. many of those reading this, would say "Hey, doesn't that basically just mean you're substituting the taste of the soup with that of crackers?"

Well yes, but to simply think that is to be shortsighted and perhaps even a Libertarian. Crackers are like a miracle HAZMAT cleanup compound. They find trouble and/or toxic foods, absorb them, and provide a vehicle for delivering them in a safe manner (to my belly)

Crackers solve problems. Which is more than I can say about summer interns.

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Monday, June 8, 2009

"I ordered steak fajitas. Steak Fajitas!!!"

There comes a time for all of us where at some point, we just break. Sometimes breaking means me (figuratively) fall apart, sometimes it means we just snap.... like Michael Douglas in the 1993 hit "Falling Down." You just walk around and blow people away. For no apparent reason to them, but as a whole each person represents a cog in the collective cornucopia of nonsense that we all deal with.

For my friend J.B. that moment of clarity came after eating a Mexican food in Chicago. While the review looks like it's aimed squarely at this [un]fine food establishment, clearly there's something more going on with J.B....clearly.

Here's the review that "Joseph B" wrote on Yelp:
EL BARCO. (Categories: Mexican, Seafood)
1035 Ashland Ave. Chicago, IL 60622
* (one star)

The fact that I rated this place with a one star is simply because you can not rate a place with negative stars. I live on West Cortez and for years have wanted desperately to like this place. After trying it 2 or 3 times over the last 9 years (each visit worse than the last) I decided tonight that I would try to give it one more chance. What a dumb mistake!!! This place sucks. I mean really sucks. The absolute worst restaurant I have ever visited before in my life. Bar NONE!!!

Where to begin? How about I start with the food. Awful. I ordered steak fajitas. Steak Fajitas!!! For crying out loud how hard is this? The meat was overcooked, fatty and generally disgusting. My poor girlfriend choked down some of the nastiest fish tacos, I've ever seen in my life. What a trooper she is!!!

Next let's talk about the service. Ok. I get it. I don't speak spanish, this is clearly a mexican place. Does that mean I should sit at a table with piles of dirty dishes, whilst an army of waitresses pass us by without so much as a look at the dish pile in front of us???

When we finally got the check it took another 10 minutes for someone to pick it up. Again after 10 waitresses passed by seemingly dodging the bill and credit card dangling off the table.

And last but, not least, we get home and I immediately put my sweatshirt and t-shirt in the wash to try to get rid of the smell. My roommate walks out of his room and asked if we brought any of this nasty food home with us because it smelled like we did.

Listen folks, this place is dangerous. A menace to my neighborhood. And I for one can no longer stand idly by and allow these culinary atrocities to take place right outside my door. Not on my watch!!! People need to know. And I will tell them. I will shout it from the mountain tops that this place sucks like no other!!! These tyrants must be stopped before someone gets hurt.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go honk, then take a shower and then try to rid myself of the memory of this wretched establishment.

God help us all. (Joseph B, 6/03/2009)

This may be the single funniest piece of prose I've read in the past 5 years. To call it simple a "funny review" would be an injustice. This is up there with Shakespeare. Joseph Heller. Perhaps even THIS article in The Onion. Lines such as, "Where to begin? How about I start with the food. Awful. I ordered steak fajitas. Steak Fajitas!!! For crying out loud how hard this?" are just precious.

Understated yet firm. Like a good Cognac.

I read this review and cried. After I was done weeping I looked up at the heavens and said "I know Joseph B....I know Joseph B."

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Sunday, June 7, 2009

life, where stupid happens

So while getting cash from a Bank of America ATM I noticed the little counter on the side (where you can fill our deposit slips, write checks, etc) and noticed a calculator was there.

Now this seemed like a good idea. It's pretty practical if you think about it because how many times have you had to write a deposit slip and had to add up a bunch of things. Calculators are useful. They do math for us

But as I looked closer the calculator wasn't working. Typical stuff really. I mean frankly I don't really expect free helpful services to work. It's the Tragedy of the Commons at work.

But as I looked still closer (is that even possible?!?!) I saw that the calculator was solar powered. And it was indoors

Let me say this again. B of A put solar powered calculators indoors and hoped that they would work

Unless their lighting system was an indoor sun, that shit ain't working. Ever. We salute calculator providers. We salute you.

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Friday, June 5, 2009

Kobe snarls, Sasha picks

On Thursday, during Game 1 of the NBA Finals was snarling his way to a Game 1 win on Thursday, playing 38 minutes and scoring 40 minutes.

The Lakers of course rolled over the Magic 100-75 to go up 1-0 in the best of 7 series.

But while Kobe was being Kobe and taking command of the game, the first thing which comes to your mind is how does a role player like Sasha Vujacic show his intensity while playing a paltry 5 minutes?

Surely he's a professional who keeps his head in the game at all times. Surely he's encouraging people on at all times.

Well, wonder no more.

Kobe snarls, Sasha picks his nose. With is shooting hand.

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