Thursday, January 26, 2006

Alito bit of Sandra on the run...Alito bit of Dubya by your side...Alito bit of you makes me want to cry!*

Confused ranting and incoherence ahead. Consider yourself warned.
While filling my coffee mug yesterday at work, I glanced at a newspaper lying nearby and read a headline that almost made me drop the contents and burn my hand. Judge Samuel Alito (almost Chief Justice, nominated to replace Sandra Day O'Connor) says he is willing to revisit a 33-year old landmark judgment Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion in the United States (or rather, outlawed anti-abortion laws) if voted to the Supreme Court. Democrats in the Senate and ordinary people everywhere are worried about this very Republican/Conservative tilting of the Supreme Court. Thank you very much, Mr.Bush.
While each state has its laws regarding this issue, the federal law precedent was established in 1973 with this case. In Oregon, state law has lower restrictions on abortion than is federally deemed the minimum, or so I understand. This place is certainly more liberal and socially conscious than other areas of America I've seen. Before coming here, I was in Ohio which is more conservative for sure, but I saw little of that conservatism living in the liberal shelter of the University town. For naive ears like mine, then, things like the Supreme Court is leaning so right now, that it could repeal what most would now consider a given, the right to medically terminate an unwanted pregnancy, sound a little scary.
I am not declaring any pro-abortion tendencies. I am not even sure if I am pro-life or pro-choice. I cannot bear the thought of terminating a life at any stage, be it as an embryo or a foetus or a twenty-year old fighting a war he was lied to about. All I know is these are personal decisions, and if the law takes away the possibility for even that personal decision to exist as a choice, there's some justification for worry.
Ignoring the nature of this particularly sensitive issue of legalizing abortion, isn't there something amiss in a judicial system that's considering reverting back to what was the status quo three decades ago???
I have maintained for a while now, that the definition of 'progress' in this country is in grave danger. I am not pretending to have closely followed the happenings in the Senate, but the little I hear about is enough to strengthen that fear. Progress can now mean anything from rethinking 33 year long legal precedents, to refusing to acknowledge scientific proof of evolution in favor of teaching about 'intelligent design' in schools to lying to the world about the existence of non-existent WMDs to...grrrrrrrr!!!
There seems to me, to be more and more interference of the legal and political system into the personal life of Americans. I think people in this country had gotten used to certain freedoms, (like freedom of speech, maybe?) that is suddenly being questioned under the current political and legislative atmosphere. (In fact, I hesitated for a while before deciding to post this! Once again, thank you very much, Mr.Bush!)
This supreme court nomination is one of those rare occasions when the great (grave?!) influence that politics has on the law and hence, on the every day life of people, becomes very clear.
However, all is not doom and gloom...Alito's nomination replaces Harriet Miers', a woman whose lack of qualifications and credibility would have made Bush a bigger joke than he already is. So that's something. I suppose?!
*With apologies to Lou Bega - Mambo # Five!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

I'm saving the Earth for my children. Can you help?

When I was in college, I had a big crush on this professor of anthropology. He was the brooding, moody, pessimistic kind. He taught us everything except what was required to pass the exam. He hardly smiled, never knew us at a personal level, but when he spoke, I was mesmerized by his ideas. One of the things I'll never forget is him wagging his long middle finger (he always did once amusing and amazing my girly immature mind!) and saying in a low rumble, "We are robbing the earth from our children!!! And you 'educated' lot? All this college education and what will you remember when you leave? Malhar! (Our college festival) Hmph!"
I've thought guiltily about that statement lots of times. I am really robbing the earth from my children. And so are you.
Recently, I came across a few ways to ease that guilt. It's all contained in a little magical book called "50 simple things you can do to save the earth". It is an old book, but the ideas are awesome. They don't involve major time-commitment or cost, just a little mental change. Here are some of its suggestions that I suggest we all start implementing.
1. Use liquid detergent (usually phosphate free, compared to powder). And use less of it. According to Consumer Reports, manufacturers recommend more than is really necessary.
2. Use warm water, instead of hot water in the washer. It doesn't make a difference to the cleaning, and it radically reduces power usage.
3. If you own a house, install 'low-flow faucet aerators' - they reduce the water used by 50% but increase the strength of the flow so that it seems more!
4. Use less plastic. PLEASE! This is the most disgusting thing I've come across here. People use a giant plastic bag and double bag their groceries even if it is only two apples and a toothbrush! I've started using good old cloth bags like we used to in India. Some stores here give you monetary credit for doing that! If you must use plastic, reuse till you can't any more. Then recycle. It just means taking it with you to the grocery store/recycling place.
5. Drive less. Take public transport or cycle to work/school at least once a week if you can. Carpool. Don't drive if you can walk (like to the next store in the's only 30 steps more!) Walking is good for you, for your car, for the environment. If you must drive, try and get a car that gets good mileage and has less emissions. There's at least 4 great Hybrids on the market, and more coming in 2006-2007. Consider that option.

Okay, I'm tempted to go on, but I have a better idea. The realist in me is telling me that I am being a tad ambitious here; the idealist in me is telling me that nothing ever is lost by trying; the guilt in me is telling me that if I don't even do this, what good am I? So here goes...The simplest, yet, most difficult tag of all...A tag that will save the earth!
I tag Adele, Anoop, SD, Parth and Dinesh to come up with at least three ideas to save the earth. The rules are simple: these ideas must not cost a whole lot, they must describe something you will do or can think of doing if the opportunity/need came up, and must not be duplicates of ones in this list or your tagger's list. I am convinced we can come up with 50 more usable ideas easily. It's okay to steal/get inspired from other people/websites/books...just share the knowledge. And please pass on the tag. And other readers (if there are any!) please please be inspired and tag along!

Let's start this ball's not too late, people! Superman and James Bond shouldn't have the patent on saving the earth. I think my children deserve to see some of the magic our world has to offer, and I hold myself and you personally accountable for that!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Say na, say na...

Unfortunately, my mind is unable to 'say na' anything, so I'll do another quick review.

I saw "Bluffmaster" this past Friday in Seattle. Maybe it was the 6 gruelling hours I spent in traffic before reaching, maybe it was the YUMMY Abhishek (I'm quite sure it was!), maybe it was the fantastic music, maybe it was the company I was in...I had a really enjoyable time at this movie.
It was really refreshing to watch a movie with an interesting storyline, real personality and some fantastic lines. It was surprisingly cocky at times, irritatingly silly at times (very few) and overall great timepass.

Some highlights to watch for (Don't worry...No spoilers):
1. Abhishek's appalling clothes which manage to look good on him. Don't miss the pink floral shirt! And of course, the red shirt and the "Bluffmaster" pimp rings and fur in the end.
2. Riteish Deshmukh - a purposefully over-the-top performance that deserves special mention.
3. Lots of funny scenes. Like when Dittu suggests the idea of a partnership like Bonnie and Clyde, or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Roy cuts him short with "Desi bol!!"
4. The great music. I must say this soundtrack took some time to grow on me, especially the initially irritating "Say na, say na" but now I love it. Vishal-Shekar's idea to use international artistes like Trickbaby, Arash, etc. intermingled with classics like "Sabse bada rupaiya" (which sets a great tone for the film in the beginning) and "Tadbeer se bigdi hui" is a stroke of genius.
5. My favorite of course, is Abhishek's rap "Right here, right now" which has its own video at the end of the movie. Which, unfortunately, the theater folks cut short just when Abhishek says "Dayummnn"! Damn!
6. The categorization of baddies as different types of fish - right from Bangda/Pomfret to Shark and Whale! Tu kis type ki machli hai?

I'll close this post with my favorite lines from my favorite song on this album:
Waqt ka kya bharosa
Banke paani beh jaaye
Kal agar na mil paaye
Reh na jaaye baat baaki
Right here, right now...

Monday, January 02, 2006

So...what's new?!

A new year...A new hope...A new year resolution
A new war...A new death...A new way of dying
A new day...A new life...A newsworthy life
A new 'knew'...A new now...A new 'ewww'
A new designation...A new realization...A new resignation
A new time...A new feeling...A new dream
A new news...A new nose...A new muse
A new house...A new car...A new bill
A new bill...A new law...A new lawbreaker
A new love...A new lover...A new distinction
A new me...A new you...A new 'us'
A new time zone...A new apartment...A new blurring of identities
A new way...A new directionlessness...A new adventure
A new spirit...A new weakening of the spirit...A new awakening of the spirit

What does this new year hold for you????