Nikki Haley writing a book

Coming soon: Nikki Haley’s memoir:

Just shy of her 40th birthday, Nikki Haley will have a memoir under her belt.

The South Carolina governor’s book, “Can’t is Not an Option”, is expected to hit shelves in January 2012 and will be published by Sentinel, a conservative imprint within Penguin Group.

Elected last fall, Haley, 39, is the nation’s youngest governor.

Haley told The Associated Press in March that in her memoir “she would cover everything from growing up in rural South Carolina to her contentious 2010 campaign, when she faced — and denied — allegations of infidelity.”

Out of curiosity, does anyone read books like this? That is, books written by sitting (or aspirant) politicians obviously meant to burnish their images. Continue reading

Desi Alert Part I: Kumail Nanjiani in Franklin & Bash

Kumail.jpgLast spring I wrote about Kumail Nanjiani, a Pakistani-American comedian slated to star in TNT’s new legal-comedy, Franklin & Bash. Amardeep first introduced us to him back in 2009 and Taz later wrote about his run-in with singer John Mayer. Well, the show finally aired this past spring and thanks to a law school classmate, I have been keeping a close eye on our friend Kumail, who plays Pindar Singh, a highly anxious agoraphobe whose research and writing skills make him invaluable to the “frat house bromance” that constitutes the firm of Jared Bash and Peter Franklin. Despite the show’s improbable legal scenarios, the fun-loving legal team of Franklin & Bash does manage to charm at times. And it looks like the ratings are fairly good for its Wednesday night slot. Then again, it may just be a fluke. Summer boredom and all that.

(Start watching at 3:50 to see Kumail talk about his new role.)

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She Got the Look: Khan v. Abercrombie & Fitch

On Monday, the EEOC supported Hani Khan by filing a federal lawsuit against Abercrombie & Fitch for violating her civil rights by discriminating against her on the basis of her religion. As a hijab-wearing teenager, Khan applied for a job with a Hollister Co. shop (owned by parent company A& F) in the San Mateo, California, Hillsdale Mall. The manager told her about the store’s “look policy”–which Khan describes as clothes that convey a fun, beachy vibe–and said at work she’d have to wear a head scarf in the company colors of white, navy or gray. Continue reading

A Well-Educated Snob Gets on a New York Train…

Q: When is it all right to ask someone, “Do you know what schools I went to?”

A: Never. You just negated any glory you may have been seeking when you left that preposition chilling at the end of your question.

B: Never. What kind of an insecure kundi does that?

C: If– and only if– you randomly stumble upon a celebratory gathering where such information is relevant…like at Gold Cup, where different tents are hosted by different institutions of higher learning. Trust me, the UC tent was much nicer than the jokes hosted by Bates or Rollins.

D: Okay, one more: when you run into another alum who is temporarily unaware of what you both have in common. For example, if I ever see someone getting in a car festooned with both UC Davis and GW stickers (not bloody likely), I reserve the right to ask “Guess where I went to school?” in an effusive and ebullient manner, because those are the two places I have degrees from, too! WHAT ARE THE ODDS?

And with that admission of my middling alma maters, I have outed myself as someone who has no right to brag about her academic achievements. Good thing I live in swampy, sleepy old D.C. and not New York, where train conductors are sometimes interrogated by outraged ticket-holders who are really, really invested in where they paid for a degree.

I’m referring to the strange case of Hermon K. Raju, erstwhile Metro North straphanger and last week’s favorite viral-panni-on-tape. Raju was riding a Metro North train when other passengers allegedly complained about her loud cell phone conversation, which was purportedly profane. A conductor warned Raju about her disruptive language and the young woman exploded, defending her right to a “private conversation” while asking “Do you know how educated I am?” Raju also dared the rail employee to stop the train and asked for a refund before threatening that she would never ride Metro North again. To her credit, the Metro North employee remained calm despite the torrent of education-fu aimed her way. Raju, on the other hand…well, she was being taped surreptitiously on an iPhone.

Let’s get two things straight, right now.

One. I HATE people who yammer on their phones on public transportation. Here in D.C. no matter which subway car or bus I board, there’s always some idiot yelling, “What? I can’t hear you. Hold on, what?” Newsflash, dick. They can’t hear you because you are on a train. Yet WE can all hear you because we’re trapped on said train along with your entitled, self-centered, oblivious ass. Talking on the train is one of my biggest urban pet peeves. Please baby Jesus and Saint Anthony, prevent cell phone conversations from ever being allowed on airplanes. My cross-country treks home are already too infrequent and barely tolerable as they are; a cabin full of selfish morons discussing nothing important on their iPhones sounds like the third layer of hell. Continue reading

AP gets a fail on plane crash article

Journalists need to tread carefully when reporting certain stories, especially when a family rajaramanViswanathan.jpgtragedy is involved. They need to weigh the public’s need to know against the concerns of the family. And most of all, they need to be fair. Well, you can give the Associated Press a FAIL on their reporting of the deaths of Dr. Viswanathan Rajaraman and his wife, Dr. Mary Sundaram.

A small plane crashed into a cornfield and caught fire early Sunday, killing the parents of a former Harvard University student who lost a $500,000 book contract because parts of her first novel were copied from other works. [Link]

It’s been five years since Kaavya’s scandal and it seems unseemly to bring it up in the very first paragraph of an article that should have focused on the death of a brilliant and beloved neurosurgeon. In fact, I wonder if it’s necessary to mention it at all. Perhaps it is, but you can argue that the death of two doctors in a plane crash is newsworthy enough, without bringing up their daughter’s much-publicized but well-in-the-past literary sin. In any case, the Indo-Asian News Service seems to have handled the article better than the AP, even if they didn’t do much original reporting themselves.

Here are just a couple of comments about Dr. Rajaraman from a article.

Dr. Raj was an awesome man… Very nice, friendly, smartest DR. I have ever had the pleasure to work with & for. I still dont want to believe this horrible news. Dr. Raj used to always come to my desk and ask me for Chocolate, and we used to laugh.. I will never, ever forget you… May you and your beautiful wife REST IN PEACE….. GONE BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN…. (Paola S)

The surgery Dr. Rajaraman performed on me changed my life. Such a kind man. I feel blessed to have met him. Such a loss to the world. My deepest condolences to the entire family. (D. Mariniello)

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Who are Surinder Singh and Gurmej Atwal?

Last night, prompted by a tweet from Angry Asian Man, I found myself finally watching the full-length Vincent Who? documentary that Taz blogged about (and appeared in) two years ago. I happened to be home and caught my little brother in an amenable mood, so we spent the next few hours watching first that and then the 1987 Academy Award-nominated documentary, Who Killed Vincent Chin? It just so happened that we saw both documentaries on the very same date, 29 years ago, that Vincent Chin died. June 23.

Twenty-nine years ago, on June 19, the night before his wedding, Vincent Chin went with a few close friends to a strip-club in his town of Detroit, Michigan. There, an altercation occurred between Chin and two men. According to witnesses, Ronald Ebens, a Chrysler plant superintendent, told Chin, “It’s because of you little motherf*ckers that we’re out of work,” a reference to increasing pressure on the American automobile industry from Japanese manufacturers. Later that night, Ebens and his stepson, Michael Nitz, hunted down Chin and beat him viciously with a baseball bat. Nitz held Chin down, while Ebens administered the fatal blows on Chin’s skull. Before slipping into a coma that he never recovered from, friends say Chin whispered, “It’s not fair.” Continue reading

Caught on Tape: The Art of Aakash Nihalani

This gif, Through, is from a series of self-portraits called Once Upon a Wall, by Brooklyn-based artist Aakash Nihalani.

Through.gif His brightly colored geometric art made of electrical tape has been made and displayed on the streets, in galleries and on mixtape covers. As with his self-portraits, there’s a playful and interactive aspect to most of his work. To see that in action, watch Nihalani create and install Stop, Pop and Roll.
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Upma on Top Chef Masters: Breakfast of Champions

Floyd Cardoz is America’s Top Chef Master. He won the show’s final challenge despite LA traffic leaving him with the least cooking time of the finalists, and he did it his way. His menu featured upma in addition to rice-crusted snapper in broth and an Indonesian dish called rendang a Malaysian beef stew called randang. It was exciting to see a familiar-to-me-from-home-not-restaurants desi food like upma on the screen in the finale on the kind of show that often has me looking up its mentions of French foodie terms. (Photo by ukanda)

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California’s DREAM ACT too late for some?

Here in California, there has been a lot of news and commentary around the possible passage of the The California Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. It was featured on a recent NPR story:

Illegal immigrant students in that state’s colleges may soon be eligible for state-funded financial aid. A bill called the California Dream Act is working its way through the state legislature. It would allow students who attended at least three years at a California high school to apply for financial aid.

NPR’s Carrie Kahn has our report.

CARRIE KAHN: Sofia Campos came to California when she was six. Her parents brought her and her two younger siblings from Peru. Campos said she had no idea her family had overstayed their visas. She didn’t find out she was here illegally until she was ready to go to college.

Ms. SOFIA CAMPOS: When I was 17, I tried to apply for federal financial aid. So I asked my parents for the Social Security number, and that’s when they had to tell me that I didn’t have one. [link]

President Obama is on the record as supporting the DREAM act nationally and it was introduced (yet again) in the US Senate in May of this year.

This bill would provide conditional permanent residency to certain illegal and deportable alien students who graduate from US high schools, who are of good moral character, arrived in the U.S. legally or illegally as minors, and have been in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill’s enactment. If they were to complete two years in the military or two years at a four year institution of higher learning, the students would obtain temporary residency for a six year period. Within the six year period, a qualified student must have “acquired a degree from an institution of higher education in the United States or [have] completed at least 2 years, in good standing, in a program for a bachelor’s degree or higher degree in the United States,” or have “served in the armed services for at least 2 years and, if discharged, [have] received an honorable discharge.”[3] Military enlistment contracts require an eight year commitment, with active duty commitments typically between four and six years, but as low as two years.[4][5] “Any alien whose permanent resident status is terminated [according to the terms of the Act] shall return to the immigration status the alien had immediately prior to receiving conditional permanent resident status under this Act.”[6] [Wikipedia].

But this might all be too late for Mandeep Chahal. Deportation day could be Tuesday. You might want to write a letter against this if you have a minute today:

Mandeep, a DREAM Act eligible student, and her mother face imminent deportation on Tuesday, June 21, 2011. Mandeep grew up in Mountain View, California and attended Santa Rita Elementary School and Egan Junior High School. She graduated from Los Altos High School in 2009 and is now an honors pre-med student at UC Davis.

Mandeep came to the United States in 1997 when she was six years old, and only discovered she was undocumented when she was 15.

If Mandeep and her mother are forced to leave, their family will be torn apart and Mandeep’s two U.S. Citizen siblings will be left without their mother. [link]

Kids shouldn’t pay for the “sins” of their parents. Especially if they work hard and have the potential of making our society better. Enough with the out of control “enforcement only” way of dealing with immigration.

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Forgotten memories of being desi

Noomi_Rapace.jpgI just recently heard that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was being made into a film. This perplexed me because I thought there was a film adaptation of that novel! Yes, there was, but that was a Swedish production, and the new film is “made in America.” Fair enough.

What does this have to do with this weblog? The actress who plays the protagonist in the Swedish film, Noomi Rapace, had a father who was a Gitano, a Spanish Romani (the term “Roma” is really an ethnonym for the eastern Romani). In case you don’t know, the Romani language is clearly Indo-Aryan. Its closeness to Indo-Aryan dialects of the Indian subcontinent is such that the story goes that Indian sailors who were stationed in Britain overheard, and understood, much of the conversation of local British Gypsies.

The origin of this population in the Indian subcontinent is evident through multiple lines of inquiry. Both in terms of culture, and genetics. Most of the genetic results focus on paternal and maternal lineages, but some “genome bloggers” have obtained samples from people with Roma background, and they clearly have distinctive South Asian ancestry. Because of intermarriage obviously this is not always visibly salient. How many people are aware that Charlie Chaplin was 1/4 Romanichal? Continue reading