October 21, 2008

News from Here and There

Blogging will be slow for the remainder of the month. Couple deadlines for projects I had agreed to earlier this year loom.

In the meantime, here are a few news items from the US (here) and India (there) that I ran into in the last few days:
  • I am sure this kind of thing has been happening in Bombay, Delhi, etc. for decades now.. but amazing that Wired magazine has done a detailed report about how thugs that have taken over Bangalore's real estate. The author, Scott Carney, is a Chennai (India) based journalist, who I bet has had some interesting times in India! (As his website says: He drove a 1964 Royal Enfield Bulletacross India --twice. Scott once had to transport a body out of the lawless state of Bihar, India. To do so he had to construct a makeshift refrigerator out of plywood, blocks of ice and an air conditioner." Enuf said!) (Hat tip to Neelakantan for pointing me to the Wired piece.)
  • Extremism at McCain Rallies Comes Naturally: The post posits an argument (a social psychologist/scientist's viewpoint) that "Like-minded people in a group grow more extreme in the way they are like-minded." Many quotable quotes in the post but my favorite: "Homogeneity creates extremity -- or, in the news of the day, a McCain rally."
  • This NYT magazine article last Sunday takes a detailed look at the class-divide and the working class vote, a subject that has been brought to the fore ever since Palin landed on the national stage and started calling Obama elitist and out of touch with America's small town values. Also, hear, in Obama's own words, how media outlets like Fox News are perpetuating this schism. (Oh..he said schism. He must be elitist. Who talks like that! :))

"I am convinced that if there were no Fox News, I might be two or three points higher in the polls," Obama told me. "If I were watching Fox News, I wouldn't vote for me, right? Because the way I'm portrayed 24/7 is as a freak! I am the latte-sipping, New York Times-reading, Volvo-driving, no-gun-owning, effete, politically correct, arrogant liberal. Who wants somebody like that?

"I guess the point I'm making," he went on, "is that there is an entire industry now, an entire apparatus, designed to perpetuate this cultural schism, and it's powerful. People want to know that you're fighting for them, that you get them. And I actually think I do. But you know, if people are just seeing me in sound bites, they're not going to discover that. That's why I say that some of that may have to happen after the election, when they get to know you."
  • Richard Russo writes that Sarah Palin is no Main Streeter: “”Her view doesn’t work in either small-town world, the nostalgic one or the more realistic one. She just misses both points.”
  • The height of political opportunism and ridiculousness!
..as soon as Tata left, Ms Banerjee dropped her demand that the land (and only that land, no other!) be returned to the farmers. Admitting at long last that the land is no longer cultivable since what was to have been a factory stands on it, she now wants the state government to bring another car project to Singur!

(Hat tip, Nitin Pai, who is editor of the zine, Pragati. Through his blog and the zine, Nitin and his colleagues hope to provide opinions in the Indian context that are "committed to economic freedom, realism in international relations, an open society, a culture of tolerance and good governance. Its efforts are directed towards increasing public awareness and education on strategic affairs and public policy."
And so it goes...

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