Bo-ne Head

Turbanhead sends us word that Media has posted a news clip from last Friday which clearly demonstrates why Fox News continues to be the cable news leader. It is from a program called “Your World with Neil Cavuto.” Cavuto in this segment is “interviewing” someone named Bo Dietl who is somehow important. As you watch I think you should keep in mind that this is your world he is ranting about. The title says so, remember?

One of our worker monkeys must have altered the image before it landed on my desk.

Here is a quick summary:

During the June 23 edition of Fox News’ Your World with Neil Cavuto, Bo Dietl, chairman and founder of the private investigation firm Beau Dietl & Associates, argued that the recent arrest in Miami of seven men on charges of conspiracy, which allegedly included plans to bomb the Sears Tower in Chicago, illustrates that “we can’t go off … where we are going with [racial] profiling.” Referring to the men as a “crew of mutts,” Dietl suggested that “[t]he people that are coming in to our country” are “like a cancer” and “[w]e need some chemotherapy now.” He further stated that law enforcement officials should “[g]o into your 7-Elevens or go into one of these stores that keep rotating young men who are Muslims,” and say “identify yourself.” However, when host Neil Cavuto asked if “racial profiling [would] have worked” in the case of the Chicago plot, Dietl responded that it wouldn’t, because “[t]hey look like Americans.” Dietl then added: “[M]y point is that the attack will come from a Muslim person,” so law enforcement should go to Muslim communities, “knock on the door,” and say “[w]e would like you to identify yourself…” [Link]

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An Ode to My Favorite Auntie

With a wave of your hand, the acquisition of some spare folding tables and the procurement of 15 plastic table cloths, you could turn any room into a dining hall in under two minutes. At Costco, you never over- or under-bought, rather knew the exact number of bags of potato chips, 2-Liter bottles of Coke, containers of Dannon and bags of hard candies to feed a crowd of any size, plus any last-minute, non-RSVPed guests.

Those who didn’t prostrate before the altar of your vast knowledge of crowd control before birthdays, graduation or anniversary parties often paid the price in more ways than one. Functions without your fingerprints were never as good.

You weren’t scared of anyone. You had a PhD from the School of Hard Knocks and when you spoke, everyone listened. I’ve seen you go head-to-head with everyone from mess hall cooks to American wedding planners, janitors to Hindu priests, elected officials to Indian musicians, usually within the same afternoon. You always won. He who dared doubt you often felt your ire and disgust for years on end.

You never forgot the rigatoni. You were a visionary and realized early on that it was the appropriate side to every imaginable combination of Indian cuisine.

You also never forgot the thair chadamContinue reading

So Long, Farewell

Well, my blogging time at Sepia Mutiny has come to an end, and it was both entertaining and challenging. I was first approached by the Bloggers-That-Be at SM after my little rant about the other Viswanathan girl, Kaavya. Soon after the plagiarism scandal of How Opal Mehta Blah B Blah hit, I set up a news alert to figure out if there was a story there. Most of the Kaavya V. news alerts were from Indian newspapers, who seemed to be taking this much harder than the American publishing industry. It has even prompted an intelligent if slightly endless letter from desi author Tanuja Desai Hidier, who criticized the idea there’s only on way to talk about the desi experience. You can read her letter here.

One might ask why Hidier feels the need to comment. My guess is that she feels she doesn’t have any choice. I have just signed with an agent for my latest book, a pop history of wicked women, and she has already made one thing clear to me: I am the “Other Viswanathan” in publishing, not Kaavya. For better or worse, she has made her mark, and the rest of us desi authors–even those without her last name–are following her checkered trail. Continue reading

Art Imitates Kaavya’s Life


Since Miss Maya hasn’t done anything blog-worthy lately, I thought I’d torment you with the other Southern belle who gets assloads of Sepia space: Kaavya Viswanathan. Oh, admit it. You totally missed her. I know I did, especially since my plea for temperance in judging her brought me a few love letters with choice sweet nothings like the following:

Your defense of that plaigarist (sic) Kaavya destroys all your credibility with me. I will never take what you say seriously. You think lying and cheating is okay and you call yourself Christian? Maybe you are a plaigarist, too!

For the record, I am neither a plaigarist nor a plagiarist and I usually call myself, “you IDIOT!”. But I digress. Apparently, someone might have been inspired by the would-be author who…was…”inspired” by so many other writers. Could the saga of the other Miss Viswanathan be coming to a YA shelf near you? Via Gawker:

CHILDRENÂ’S: YOUNG ADULT Jamie MichaelsÂ’s KISS MY BOOK, story of a teen writing sensation who gets caught plagiarizing her debut novel, but finds redemption and romance when she escapes to a small town, to Krista Marino at Delacorte, by Michael Bourret at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management (World). [link]

Gawker didn’t explicitly state where that blurb was from, but I’m guessing that we’d find it on Publishers Marketplace if we could get in there. Nick Denton’s flagship blog snarks on:

Surely DreamWorks is considering optioning this, if only to get back at Viswanathan for screwing them over the first time. No studio exec is above exacting revenge on a teenager. Now, does anyone know who reps that Bend It Like Beckham girl? [link]

I know, there’s only one desi actress in Hollywood (and we had to go across the pond to find her), but maybe, just maybe, she doesn’t have to play EVERY brown female role? Surely it might be possible to import another hottie from the land of Pickled Politics and give pretty Parminder a break? Casting directors might have to– the current E.R. star isn’t known for her sneer. Continue reading

No More Tears Sister

Begining on Tuesday night (but staggered depending upon where you live) on PBS, the series P.O.V. will be featuring a must-watch episode titled “No More Tears Sister: Anatomy of Hope and Betrayal.” This one’s a no brainer. You got to Tivo it at least.

If love is the first inspiration of a social revolutionary, as has sometimes been said, no one better exemplified that idea than Dr. Rajani Thiranagama. Love for her people and her newly independent nation, and empathy for the oppressed of Sri Lanka — including women and the poor — led her to risk her middle-class life to join the struggle for equality and justice for all. Love led her to marry across ethnic and class lines. In the face of a brutal government crackdown on her Tamil people, love led her to help the guerrilla Tamil Tigers, the only force seemingly able to defend the people. When she realized the Tigers were more a murderous gang than a revolutionary force, love led her to break with them, publicly and dangerously. Love then led her from a fulfilling professional life in exile back to her hometown of Jaffna and to civil war, during which her human rights advocacy made her a target for everyone with a gun. She was killed on September 21, 1989 at the age of 35. [Link]

You can view a trailer of the episode on the website. I recommend switching it to Quicktime mode as it seems to stream better.

There are a host of interviews on the site including one with the filmmaker, Helene Klodawsky:

I’m very interested in subjects that we don’t hear about often in the normal press. So I was very, very interested in ethnic nationalist war from the point of view of women. We’re always hearing about wars between different factions, different ethnic groups, but rarely do we hear about those wars from the point of view of women. And I was interested in Sri Lanka — it’s one of these wars that have gone on forever and nobody understands it. I knew that Sri Lanka was entering a peace process, so I was curious to see how women would be engaged in that peace process.

Once I started looking at the conflict, someone said, if you really want to understand Sri Lanka and ethnic war, you must look at the work of the University Teachers for Human Rights. [Link]

After you watch this episode come back and leave comments here. I think it could be an interesting discussion. Check your local listings here.

See related posts: All-American girls in Calcutta

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There is no place like home for Raj Goyle

A couple of weeks ago Kansan Raj Goyle filed the necessary papers to take a run at a seat in the Kansas House of Representatives (thanks for the tip AK). The Wichita Eagle reported:

Taking back Red States one at a time 🙂

Flanked by family, friends and supporters, Raj Goyle announced his bid for a seat in the Kansas House of Representatives on Tuesday at Wichita State University.

Goyle, 30, is the only Democrat to file against incumbent Bonnie Huy for the 87th District seat.

Huy, a Republican who was first elected to the House in 2000, has filed for re-election.

Goyle grew up in east Wichita and graduated from Duke University in 1997 and Harvard Law School in 2000. A lecturer at Wichita State University, Goyle said he will push for more education funding, improved health care, better jobs and neighborhoods and alternative energy sources.

Goyle has worked as a constitutional lawyer and a policy analyst. He was an intern at The Wichita Eagle during the summers of 1992 and 1993.

He also has worked for the Maryland ACLU on post-Sept. 11 immigration issues and voting rights, and was an advocate for homeland security issues in Washington, D.C. [Link]

Those are the type of credentials I like to see in a desi candidate. Harvard Law followed by work with the ACLU will hopefully get him the win, although a democrat running in Wichita obviously has his work cut out for him. We have also learned that the more qualified candidate can still fall short sometimes. There is more about Raj on his website:

My life in Wichita began at the tender age of nine months old and it wasn’t long before I was bringing people together to help improve our community. When I was 15, I helped organize a community-wide recycling program that saved hundreds of pounds of garbage from the county landfill and led to a large cleanup of the Arkansas River downtown. As a reporter for the Wichita Eagle, I worked with U.S.D. 259 to produce the annual ‘back-to-school’ issue and wrote a column on each high school in the city…

In high school, I was active in sports, debate, and newspaper, and was honored to graduate as both valedictorian and student body president. [Link]

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The Freedom To Write

He may be the “muslim Martin Luther” but author and activist Tariq Ramadan has been the object of controversy in the post 9-11 climate. In 2004, his visa was revoked by the department of homeland security because of the fear that he would use his

“position of prominence…to endorse or espouse terrorist activity.”

Despite all the suspicion, most evidence pointed to Ramadan being a scholar, not a terrorist. Furthermore, Ramadan is a Swiss citizen, and taught all over Europe, including at Oxford, with no mishaps or accidental bombings. So why the stall on the visa? Obviously, the feds didn’t enjoy Ramadan’s vocal criticism of the war against terrorism.

Recently, however, federal Judge Paul A. Crotty ordered the government to stop stalling on Ramadan’s visa for teaching at the University of Notre Dame. I went to school with Judge Crotty’s daughter and vaguely remember hearing him speak at a conference, but my respect for him doubled with this decision, but he is clearly not immune from the dreaded Legalese Virus.

Allowing the government to wait for ‘possible future discovery of statementsÂ’ would mean that the government could delay final adjudication indefinitely, evading constitutional review by its own failure to render a decision on RamadanÂ’s application. The Court will not allow this…

crikey. basically, the decision also slaps the knuckles of the DHS for assuming that there would be no judicial review of the visa denial. translate, if you will:

While the Executive may exclude an alien for almost any reason, it cannot do so solely because the Executive disagrees with the content of the alienÂ’s speech and therefore wants to prevent the alien from sharing this speech with a willing American audience.

Take that, Patriot Act! And Professor–welcome to Indiana. Enjoy the football.

More about the decision can be read at PEN American Center, an organization which works to preserve the freedom to write and be read all over the world. For the hardy, here is Judge Crotty’s full decision in its technical, DHS-bashing splendor.

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Dalrymple on 1857: the Religious Component

William Dalrymple, a British travel writer and scholar of Indian history, sometimes gets himself into hot water with Indian critics. He was attacked by Farrukh Dhondy a couple of years ago for criticizing V.S. Naipaul’s pro-communalist comments, and then more recently by Pankaj Mishra for lamenting the state of non-fiction writing in and about India. But whatever you think of his role in these arguments, Dalrymple as a historian is the real deal: his book Delhi: City of Djinns is an amazing historical travel narrative, which blends Dalrymple’s experiences in modern Delhi with a great deal of careful research into Delhi’s formidable past.

kashmiri_gate_1857_20060703.jpg The current issue of Outlook India has a nice essay by Dalrymple on the Indian Mutiny/Rebellion of 1857 (thanks, Indianoguy!). The essay is really in three parts: one is a fresh look at the fall of Bahadur Shah Zafar, the “last Mughal” — whose sons were all executed (murdered) by the British after the Rebellion. The second part is a discussion of “Mutiny papers” in the National Archives of India that Mahmoud Farooqi has been translating from Urdu. These documents show the Indian perspective on the events of 1857, where one finds, among other things, that the rebels were motivated by religious rage to a very great extent. Finally, there is a discussion of contemporary Delhi — in which preserving the emblems of this past is of very little interest to most people. Continue reading

More Vicarious Traveling: “The Lost Temples of India”

Someone posted a Learning Channel documentary called “The Lost Temples of India” on Google Video. (From News; thanks Rasudha!) Click “play” above or see the larger version at Google.

It exploits many of of the annoying clichés you would expect, including repeated references to elephants and a near obsession with the phallic symbolism of the Shivalingam.

“Lost Temples” also plays a bit of a geographic and historical trick on viewers, by starting and ending with the erotic temples at Khajuraho (which it insists are “lost,” “forgotten,” and “shrouded with secrecy”), and shots of the Taj Mahal. But in between it is actually mainly about the South: the temples built by Rajaraja Chola, the city/kingdom of Vijayanagar, and the Meenakshi Temple at Madurai. The attempt to link the Hindu temples of Southern India with Khajuraho is nonsensical, but I suppose the producers felt they had to sex it up a bit (elephants alone = too academic).

Despite its many flaws, it must be said that the cinematography in “The Lost Temples of India” is quite good — there are some beautiful shots of the temples in question. And there are actually a couple of facts in the documentary, though they’re carefully hidden (“shrouded”) by the steaming Orientalist cheesefest. Continue reading

Golazos y Tarjetas Rojas: Monday at the Cup

ozdesifootie.jpgFreshly back from Germany where he attended several first-round matches, reader “Farouk Engineer” shares this photograph of an Australia fan encountered amidst the swirling hordes of international merrymakers currently roaming the land of Goethe and Bratkartoffeln.

In just a few hours from this writing, we’ll know whether the sister’s impossible dream of seeing the Socceroos hoist the World Cup lives another day. Australia takes on heavily-favored Italy at 1700 CET. But the result is no foregone conclusion. Australia have earned admirers for their fluent, enthusiastic football. Made up mostly of journeymen who play for not-quite-marquee European sides (Middlesbrough, Alaves, Dresden…) Australia are a sort of deluxe version of the US team that held Italy to an ill-tempered 1-1 draw. Their coach, flying Dutchman Guus Hiddink, was the artisan of the 2002 South Korea side that rampaged through a series of upsets of highly rated Mediterranean sides including Portugal, Spain, and, yes, Italy. Meanwhile, Italy will play without their veteran defensive anchor Alessandro Nesta. I still like gli Azzurri to take this one, but if Australia can drag it into extra time, a famous upset could be in the making.

In other news, yesterday’s Netherlands-Portugal slugfest had to be one of the uglier matches ever, with Russian referee Valentin Ivanov losing control of proceedings early and reduced to gallivanting about the field brandishing yellow and red cards. Sixteen of the former and four of the latter amounted to a disgrace of a game in which the referee’s card-happiness provoked the players into great petulance, and vice versa.

Amid all this Holland lost 1-0 and they had it coming to them. The Dutch are much-loved in the football world, but much of it is based on past glory (the 1970s “Total Football” side anchored by the great Johann Cruyff), more recent elegant but underachieving sides, and good public relations. At the same time, Holland has some of the roughest hooligans (the pitched battles between Ajax and Feyenoord ultras are legendary) and vulgar, inebriated supporters. “Farouk” reports running into squadrons of middle-aged Dutch men in Germany dressed in nothing but clogs and orange women’s bikinis with their private parts casually dangling out. Lovely!

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