Archive for ‘carnage’

July 13, 2009

Creating the ideal marriage

1. Make sure the bride is a virgin:

“I’ve ordered an enquiry,” Neeraj Dubey, Shahdol district collector told HT. But his sympathies were clear. “The test was a precautionary measure,” he added. “Last year one of the brides delivered a baby even as the marriage ceremony was on. Since there is money involved, many women, try to take advantage.”

(The story claims that this scheme marries off women who are divorced or widowed as well. I’m not sure if they too are required to be virgins).

2. Marry a heterosexual to prevent low self-esteem:

Imagine your daughter is getting married to a nice young man who has homosexual feelings. Until a few weeks ago, he never told the world about it for fear of being branded a criminal.
Now, no thanks to the Baba, he feels he is mad. He does not think so. He does not feel so. But he is afraid to tell the world the truth of his desires. So he has firmly entrenched himself in the closet.
He will tell no one, certainly not his mother, or father, or brother, that he has had sex with men. Not one or two, but dozens, secretly, silently, furtive experiences, with men who like him are afraid to disclose their preferences in public lest they be labelled criminals or diseased.
He will marry your daughter. And your daughter will wonder why, in the privacy of the bedroom, this nice man shuns any attempt to be being intimate. Is she the problem? Her self worth will suffer. The marriage will suffer. Children will be conceived in loveless unions. The man will find it difficult to be faithful and seek comfort elsewhere. And your daughter will wonder what is wrong.

3. Watch T.V.

…people will watch TV till late at night and then fall asleep. They won’t get a chance to produce children,” Mr Azad said. “When there is no electricity there is nothing else to do but produce babies.”

May 16, 2009


I’ve been following the discussions around the new Patricia Wrede book (The Thirteenth Child) for some time now, and it’s probably obvious where I stand on the issue. But for now, I’m going to post this quote from Wrede, without comment.

I’m currently assuming there will be African slaves, possibly even more (since there won’t be any Native Americans to have already done a certain amount of prepping land for human occupation, nor to be exploited later).

Actually, no. Here’s a comment. WTF?

April 12, 2009


Dear Amazon dot com

You say,

In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude “adult” material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature. (link)

This is a Young Adult book. It is targeted at young adults. It is not “adult material”.

This is a guide to college campuses for lgbt students. Again, not “adult” material.

This is a collection of sexually explicit photographs of women from a magazine aimed at men.Most people might consider this adult material. Apparently you do not.

This is why Amazon sales rank is important.

As only an occasional user of your website, I actually did not know that you were protecting my innocence by excluding adult material from searches and sales ranks. I find this stupid and regressive for a number of reasons, but if it is your official policy I realise there’s little I can do to change it.

However, if homophobia is to continue to play a role in judging when a book is or is not adult, I’d be grateful if the wording of your terms of service was changed to reflect this.


Aishwarya Subramanian

(story via most of Twitter)

Also, Amazon Rank.
Edit: More links here.

February 9, 2009

See here for details. Since I’m too far away for them to reach in time, conveniently located friends in Delhi will be sending chaddis on my behalf.

Please donate generously.

October 6, 2008

So, you know I said I was going to rewatch Through The Dragon’s Eye?

This is priceless!

September 30, 2008

Contains Language

It is banned books week once more. And reading that link, it’s hard to forget that I live in a country where books actually are banned, and where people feel justified in committing acts of vandalism and violence if they aren’t. We need a banned books week a lot more than most countries.

September 13, 2008

In which terrorists attack my city

(Contains geography)

Yesterday in the afternoon I met Neha in Connaught Place*. Beverages were consumed and we phoned Jai, who had just returned from a trip to Palika Bazar. I then decided to stay in Connaught Place and look for new jeans (much required) instead of going to the M-block market (much closer to where I live) for them. I walked along Barakhamba Road for a bit, bought new jeans, walked the entire inner-circle of CP looking for autos, cursed lack of said autos, and finally got home just in time to look presentable before dinner guests arrived.

Today, bombs have gone off in multiple parts of Connaught Place (in the central park, a couple on Barakhamba Road, and I think one inside Palika Bazar? Not including the ones that were found and defused) and M-block market, as well as in Ghaffar Market in Karol Bagh.

I was lucky. Other people weren’t. And I’m angry, and not really ready to write in any sort of meaningful or intelligent way about this. And I hope everyone reading this is alright, and your families and everyone you know.

*Interesting how none of the news reports even mentions “Rajiv Chowk”

September 10, 2008

In which I support book burning

(More on Twilight. An edited version of this appeared in the NIE last week)

If you have been into a bookshop anywhere in the last month or so, you’ve probably noticed a pile of shiny black books with dramatic red and white cover art displayed prominently somewhere in the vicinity. These are Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight books, an enormously popular series of young adult fiction about the relationship between a young girl and a vampire.

Reading the first book in the series did not awaken in me any desire to read the rest. So I haven’t read Breaking Dawn, the fourth book in the series that was released at the beginning of August. All I know is that some fans, horrified at the sheer badness of the book, have reacted by burning it.

Confession time: At the end of one school year, I came home and gathered all my textbooks for a particularly hated subject that could be dropped next year. I then burnt them. And it was a wonderful feeling.

I like books. I buy them all the time, refuse to let go of them and despair of ever finding storage space. I don’t look like a book harmer. When I browse, I’m not secretly imagining myself mutilating the magazines, breaking the spines of hardcover editions or even burning the paperbacks alive. But I certainly don’t treat books with the kind of reverence that is often expected of me. I cannot, in a room full of books, throw a fit if some are on the floor. Sometimes I accidentally sit on them, or touch them with my feet. I have occasionally fallen asleep on one and woken up to find it bent into terrible shapes. My liberal views on the subject of dog-earing shock and horrify many of my more religious-minded friends.

In school sometimes, if my foot happened to touch my bag, there was none of the horrified hand-touching-bag-touching-forehead gesturing that seemed to come automatically to so many of my friends. Yet the basic idea behind the action makes me happy. I love living in a culture where books are revered in that way, even if only a few of the people doing it are actually reading. Books do have a strong symbolic value.

And because books themselves have that symbolic meaning, so do censoring, banning, and yes, burning them. Throughout history, the people who have burnt books have been exactly the sort of people one doesn’t want to associate with – people who simply cannot accept perspectives or thoughts other then their own. I cringe automatically at the thought of books being destroyed on a large scale; stories like that of the destruction of the library of Alexandria are liable to give me nightmares.

Then again, once you’ve bought a book and read it (historically, most book burners omit this step) it’s yours to do with as you please. And as someone who has bought much-anticipated books in the past, and stroked their covers (eyewitnesses claim that crooning and baby talk were also used) all the way home, I can’t demand that our reactions to books we care about not be physical, even when those reactions are destructive ones. I understand where those Twilight fans are coming from, and I sympathize.

August 23, 2008

Mary-Sue and the incandescent vampires

I’ve been aware of the existence of Twilight for a while now. First as a vampire book with shiny fruit on the cover, then as the Cedric Diggory movie, mostly (I suspect I am now middle-aged) as Something Teenagers Did. As a result I’ve been feeling rather guilty about not having read it, even after well wishers such as Roswitha (who described it as “a world of pain”) warned me against it. I read it anyway. There are many things I could say about this book; some of them are even vaguely complimentary. But then:

He lay perfectly still in the grass, his shirt open over his sculpted, incandescent chest, his scintillating arms bare.

Anyway. Some thoughts.

  • Good things first, since I’m nice. It was somewhat refreshing to know (in great detail) what the male protagonist of this book looked like and only have the haziest idea of what the female protagonist was like. I suppose not hearing too much about her looks was expected, since she was the narrator (and since Twilight is better than a lot of bad fanfiction, I’ll give it that) , but it’s just nice to have the girl being the one doing the looking and wanting. And having the uncontrollable sexual urges (though at some point in history this was the idea, right? Women couldn’t control their insane sexual desire?) and having the responsibility for stopping sex be on the man. Though I’m not sure how valid this is as praise for the book, since the negative consequences of sex (were it to happen) would be almost entirely to Bella.
  • Bint Alshamsha said over Twitter a few days ago that her daughter really loved seeing Native Americans portrayed as something other than drunks, killers, and the like. I am horrendously ignorant about most non-fantasy American YA literature, so she’s far more likely to be right about this. But while I haven’t read Meyer’s other books, plot summaries I have read have the NA characters doing some things that do cause a bit of a squick reaction. This whole “imprinting” thing, for those of you who have read the books. Still, I’m really pleased that in the movies these roles are going to be played by actual NA actors. Movies are sometimes awful about that sort of thing.
  • And on to less good things. For starters, this is an entire book about people not having sex. I’m not suggesting that not having sex is a bad thing. I myself often indulge in not having sex. But it really doesn’t make for a great plot. Scene One: Bella and Sparkles Edward are not having sex at school. Scene Two: Bella and Edward are not having sex in her house. Scene Three: Bella and Edward are not having sex in a forest. And so on. Around scene twelve another, less attractive vampire wants to kill Bella, but by scene fourteen everything is resolved and Bella and Edward are not having sex at the prom.
  • Edward the vampire cannot go out in bright daylight because he sparkles. When I first saw people talking about this book, I thought talking about Edward’s sparkliness was a mere metaphor for how fanficcish the characters in this book are. Nope, he actually sparkles.
  • Everyone is beautiful. Our narrator Bella thinks she’s unattractive, but she isn’t. She doesn’t even have a subtle, special beauty that only the hero can see. The minute she arrives at her new school, every male in sight asks her out. The vampire family all seem to have unearthly beauty as well, though we’re never told whether this is something they developed at birth or at conversion to vampiredom. The mere mortals at Bella’s school have bad hair (two of them, I think) or have pimples (geeky Asian boy who asks Bella out). One character pleased me by not caring if her boyfriend was shorter than her (and choosing to wear high heels anyway), and that was a positive moment. But obviously Edward had to be tall, or what would be the point?
  • Twilight has the most obvious Mary Sue I have ever read in a published work of fiction.
  • Actually, Niall at the Vector Editors blog pretty much sums up what I dislike most about Meyer’s writing in his review of The Host:
    The Host, you see, is a novel in which everything is special. It is not enough, for example, that humans be sufficiently willful that they are hard to subdue, and sufficiently emotionally intense that occupation be disorientating for the souls; they must be the most willful species the souls have ever encountered, and their emotional reactions must be the most emotionally intense the souls have ever encountered, such that Wanderer (the narrator) is driven to wonder how any soul could survive in a human host. (And this is not to mention humanity’s “physical drives”, the like of which the souls have never seen, although in fact Meyer does a very good job of not mentioning them for most of her book’s six hundred-plus pages.) Nor can the narrative simply be the story of a soul and a host wrestling for control of a body: it must be the story of an extraordinary soul, who has lived many lives on many worlds, and an equally extraordinary host, so secure in her identity that, one soul asserts, she would have “crushed” any soul other than Wanderer in days.

  • An observation: As I write this, a facebook group titled “Because I read Twilight I have unrealisteic expectations in men” (sic) has 59, 358 members. I’m sure some of the people on it do not in fact have unrealistic expectations in men (or possibly do expect men to behave in this way, see that it is horrific and are now celibate*. or have embraced political lesbianism.), but there’s still the possibility that 59,358 young women are currently fantasising about meeting a moody, obsessive stalker who is cold and clammy and intrusive, and who refuses to have sex with them. I find this alarming.
  • But seriously. What passes for a romantic relationship in Twilight is really very unpleasant. I suspect I was exactly the sort of kid who would have been receptive to some of the more warped ideas.
  • Bella’s clumsiness. I suspect this is meant to be endearing in the aww, look at Bella! She’s so smart and everyone loves her so much, but she can’t do anything without falling over! way. How it actually plays out is to make her too useless to rescue herself from any situation. (She cannot run away from men who plan to rape her because she will fall over). She is constantly being rescued. Edward’s scintillating arms lift her out of danger; his incandescent chest is hers to lean against. Plus (SPOILER, do not read if you care!) she ends the series a married teenage mother who has given her baby to her best friend. Said best friend has chosen this baby as his future mate. Charming.

For more (if you haven’t had enough or are actually interested), Cleolinda’s Twilight page is a morass of sparkly hilarity. Elizabeth Hand‘s WaPo review is also excellent.

* You’ve ruined sex for me!

June 20, 2008

In which the state inspects my trousers, sees what size they are and shakes its head.

Japan has passed a law that requires companies to measure the waistlines of their employees (aged 40-75) during health checkups. Government limits (based on International Diabetes Forum guidelines) have been established for acceptable waist sizes, and people whose waistlines do not fall within this range will be given thre months to lose the weight. If they have failed to do so they will receive “dieting guidance”. “If necessary, those people will be steered toward further re-education after six more months.”
his is stupid. Here’s why:

  • Fat people are not stupid. These are adults (and have been adults for quite a while) – even the most paternalistic of governments must believe them to be capable of making informed choices about their bodies. People who are fat are generally aware of the fact. They are bombarded with reasons not to be fat (eg. Being able to find nice clothes that fit) constantly. If people do wish to lose weight (and why assume that they do?) they will presumably find their own motivations to do so. But while a government can certainly make diet counseling available to its citizens, there’s something very creepy about forcing them to avail of it.
  • International Diabetes Federation guidelines are just that: guidelines. I’m not going to deny any connection between weight and health, but it is perfectly possible for people who are overweight to be healthy. To demand that people (who may or may not be perfectly well, and who may have far healthier eating habits than some of the thinner people) lose weight for the sake of their health is ridiculous. (To *demand* that even people who are unhealthy lose the weight is also ridiculous, but I’ve already made that point. People’s bodies are their own.)
  • The assumption that people are fat only because they don’t eat or exercise right? I’m sure there are people who are fat for those reasons and who could, if they chose to (and if time and economics and all sorts of other factors allowed it of course) lose weight. I know very well that I could lose weight myself if I made the effort to. There are also people whose weight is related to other, non-diet-related reasons. What possible positive effects could ‘re-educating’ them (and how creepy is that word?) have? I mean, it’s not like fat people aren’t told constantly that their weight is completely within their control and that if they are overweight it’s their fault for not making the effort.
  • Fat people aren’t treated particularly well by the medical industry to begin with. My own experiences with doctors haven’t been too awful (but there’s a matter for another post) but most other fat people I know have horror stories to tell; things like symptoms that would otherwise be taken seriously being dismissed as due to weight and the like. This is not going to help.

(Comments abusing fat people for being fat will not be published. Because I’m just tyrannical and oppressive like that.)