Archive for the 'Media' Category

The Road to Multiculturalism

CBC Radio 2 Song Quest

Among Canada’s most famous treasures is its endless array of ever-astonishing natural landscapes. So, when CBC Radio 2 launched its second annual Great Canadian Song Quest – in which popular musicians from the 13 provinces and territories were commissioned to compose songs commemorating listener-selected roadways in those places – it was a fair bet that the subjects would largely favor broad vistas and open highways. But in Ontario, where the first Song Quest yielded a brilliant homage to Algonquin National Park by Hawksley Workman (“They Left It Wild”), CBC listeners went in another direction. The stretch of road they chose to celebrate was a street in Toronto called Roncesvalles Avenue.

Roncesvalles Avenue is a “Main Street” slice of urban landscape from a time gone by, characterized by small business and handsome single-family dwellings. The neighborhood became home to the wave of Polish immigrants who settled in Toronto after World War II and, though it shows signs of insurgent trendiness, retains its Polish immigrant character. This Song Quest selection eschews the natural beauty of the province in favor of one of Canada’s other great themes: its ongoing experiment in multiculturalism.

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A Warrior’s Salute to Young Peacemakers

Pakistan Defense Blog: Web's Authoritative Source on Pakistani Security & Strategic Affairs

In its brief, brilliant two years of merrymaking, Friends Without Borders attracted attention far and wide. Our projects were covered in every significant newspaper in India and Pakistan, on every major television network, in the major news magazines, on radio, and of course on the web. But, as the project fades into the past, ripples in the media have been fewer and fewer. Sure, we were proud when the Times of India and the Jang Newspaper Group adopted our ideas to form their new Aman ki Asha project; but, as with most ideas lifted by the every-slimy TOI, this sincere form of flattery proceeded without attribution or notice.

But recently FWB received a bit of retrospective acclaim – and from a very unlikely source. To celebrate the 1000th post on the Pakistan Defense blog, which describes itself as the “Web’s Authoritative Source on Pakistani Security & Strategic Affairs”, the site cribbed photos and a bit of explanatory text about our “Love Letter” friendship project. Check it out.

And, after a brief celebration of peace, the blog resumed its bellicose themes. Crazy. But we’ll take it.

Aman ki Asha: Now Why Didn’t We Think of That!

The Dil se Dil and Aman ki Asha Logos

Sometimes an idea just takes a while to germinate. Sometimes the big guys simply need to feel that the brainchild was all theirs before they’ll really run with it. Whatever the reason, it seems that the time has finally come for a serious effort at an Indo-Pak peace initiative based on simple people-to-people interactions and cultural exchange.

The proponents of this undertaking are two of South Asia’s largest media outlets, the Times of India and the Jang Group in Pakistan. In the garbled, half-literate language of the writers at the TOI: “Starting with a series of cross-border cultural interactions, business seminars, music & literary festivals and citizens meet that will give the bonds of humanity a chance to survive outside the battlefields of politics, terrorism and fundamentalism.”

The project is being called “Aman ki Asha”, Hope for Peace. Shiv Sena suck-up Amitabh Bachchan, no less, is promoting the as-yet vaguely defined bridge-building. The one program they have articulated is a concert (or series of concerts) featuring both Indian and Pakistani pop musicians.

If this sounds familiar, it is because it appears to be based on our lovely Friends Without Borders project and its not-quite-successful sequel, Dil se Dil, both the brainchildren of service wizard John Silliphant.

Continue reading ‘Aman ki Asha: Now Why Didn’t We Think of That!’

Haagen-Dazs, Mistaken Cause

The Offending Haagen-Dazs Banner.  Photo Credit: Times of India
Photo credit: Times of India

Indians have a strange love of parsing insults from the innocuous — or, as in this case, the poorly thought-through. Particularly when the phantom effrontery seems to come from foreigners.

The latest uproar involves a newly opened Haagen-Dazs ice cream store, which had the bad judgment to fly the banner depicted above to announce its store opening. It reads:

PARTIED AT THE FRENCH RIVIERA? WELCOME.

Haagen-Dazs

EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW FOR INTERNATIONAL TRAVELERS

Access restricted only to holders of international passports.

The reaction began with a sketchily described post by Times of India writer and Chief Editor of Times Internet, Rajesh Kalra, on his TOI blog, Random Access. According to Mr. Kalra, a pseudonymous “friend” of his was refused entry to this Haagen-Dazs store for failure to proffer an “international passport.”

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Advances in Clinical Chemistry

Carl Wittwer Profiled in Clinical Chemistry

My second-most-favorite magazine of all time is Clinical Chemistry. Like my first-most-favorite magazine, I pretend to read it for the excellent articles, but mostly only look at the pictures.

If that’s not entirely true, it’s only because the images in Playboy (do they still publish Playboy?) are considerably more interesting than those in Clinical Chemistry, which tend to run toward crazy-shit-complicated graphs and conceptual layouts of brain-melting science. So, alas, I do struggle through the articles — which take me several hours for six to eight hard-won pages — with a Googleload of reference help.

No one will ever adjudge the literary merits of Clinical Chemistry to be on a par with Granta or the quality and usefulness of the science it contains to rival that of Cooks Illustrated. Still, the rag has its own nerdy charm.

Imagine my delight, then, when Clinical Chemistry finally published something that not only covers my favorite subject in all of science, but does so in an article I could read without feeling like a third-grader: a profile of Carl Wittwer.

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I Love My Slumdog

Dharavi -- The slum of 'Slumdog Millionaire'

As Oscar night draws near, Indian furor over Danny Boyle’s acclaimed film, Slumdog Millionaire, reaches a fevered pitch. India is being shown in a bad light! cry Indians who have never set foot in Dharavi or any other slum.

Indeed, they need not be familiar with the slum environment to mount their charge. Their complaint is fundamentally divorced from the question of the accuracy or fairness of Mr. Boyles’s depictions of the lives of slum-dwellers; it is about whether a foreign filmmaker is entitled to tell any story other than “India Shining”. This is a fable last told by the BJP in the 2004 elections. The Indian public didn’t buy it for a minute and, as a result, the BJP was able to snatch a stunning defeat from the jaws of victory. Congress has been running the government ever since.

Continue reading ‘I Love My Slumdog’

Going with McCain?

John McCain

Is it just me, or does anyone else have the nagging feeling that the Republicans will somehow manage to dump John McCain this summer?

I’ll be the first to admit: I have no idea how they might do it at this point. I went so far as to leaf-through Republican National Committee Rule 15(e), which sets-out the various state committee rules on the extent to which delegates are bound to the candidate to which they are originally pledged. I don’t really see an out, given Mr. McCain’s overwhelming first-ballot majority at the nominating convention.

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Blasts from the Past

Man Up!
Man up you pussy!

... because the idiocy of manliness is an evergreen topic.

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Talking Turkey
how to cook a perfect turkey in half the time

... because Canada and the US will celebrate their Thanksgiving holidays and, regrettably and preventably, not 1-cook-in-10 will serve a decent turkey.

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Filial Piety Awareness Day
Kaki Tusler, Mother's Day Celebrant

... because everyday is Mother's Day.

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America Dreaming Small
American Dream

... because the American Dream seems but a distant memory, given the country's dominant ethos of small-mindedness.

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Serenity and Gratitude to Bring in the New Year
New Year's Eve at Tibetan Pavillion

... to remind us that not every mix of Tibetans and Western spiritual seekers has to be nauseating.

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Incredible Vision
Infinite Vision

... to celebrate the new edition of Infinite Vision published in India.

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Expelliarmus! Harry Potter and the Path to Gandhian Nonviolence
Expelliarmus, Potter, Gandhi, Nonviolence

... reprised because military strategy seems more cruel and less effective than ever -- and certainly there is a better way.

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India Going Nowhere Fast
Nano in Flames

... because cars are ruining Pondicherry, where I live. How badly are they fucking up your Indian town?

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Understanding the Gift Economy
Gift Economy Explained

... reprinted because more-and-more people seem want to understand the gift economy. (Yeah!)

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