Friday, November 23, 2007

Where do turkeys come from?

The hapless bird whose least favorite celebration this must be has an identity crisis: is it from North America, Peru, India, Ethiopia, or Turkey?

As for Thanksgiving itself, it has developed an identity crisis of its own, in true American style: is it a religious festival or not?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Nicht löschbares Feuer (inextinguishable fire)

Oh, oh, oh, I found Harun Farocki's entire film "Inextinguishable Fire" online! It was not distributed in the US when it was made (1969), and apparently it's still very hard to borrow or steal a copy (didn't really try to buy one; couldn't afford it). I had a lot of trouble finding a preview copy in the US (I wanted to show it to my class when discussing the Vietnam war). I tracked down a VHS copy, don't remember how, but couldn't use it anyway, because it had no subtitles! I barely understood the commentary myself, and I daresay I have more German than most of my students.

Here's a link to watch it online, if you're curious about who created horrible weapons of mass destruction.

Here's a link to an interview with Farocki, in which he responds to questions about Jill Godmilow's remake of his film.

And here's another interview with Farocki and Godmilow.

What's wrong with American academia

Left: Jennifer Harris, who sued Penn State for racial and sexual discrimination in 2005. Image source and story: USA Today

Like corporations and families, universities can be pretty sick places. Not that everything is wrong, but I often think we're in the twilight of US academia. Perhaps the future will belong to the best universities and institutes of Australia, Canada, Europe, and elsewhere.
I'm just starting off a list here. Will add future posts as more reasons occur to me.
With regard to discrimination and intolerance, liberals need not feel smug. Many of them are equally culpable in the wholesale silencing and bullying of those whose views don't match their own. Others are too busy forwarding outraged emails against this, that, and the other to innumerable listserves to actually take a stand or lobby for anything on their own campus. Too many theoretical feminists, theoretical queers, and theoretical postcolonialists out there. Multiculturalism is greatly appreciated in American academia--but it's not recognized unless it's expressed in the American idiom, accompanied by the right amount of scripted enthusiastic interest in everyone you're introduced to. Obviously, it's harder to recognize what you're saying as multiculturalism if you wear a distracting headscarf or shalwar-kameez while doing it.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Haunted by Bhul Bhulaiya

absolutely no getting away from this damn song in Mumbai. It played at least a million times at Ra the one evening I was there, and it's on every FM station. I don't have a radio, but I hear it in cabs, autorickshaws, and the company cars that drop us home at night. The other day I was on the 1 Ltd. bus late at night, and there was a dude three seats behind me, playing it on his damn FM cellphone. Bet he thought he was doing a good deed by sharing it with the whole damn bus.

So... here it is. I'm no connoisseur, but I think it's a pretty poorly directed video, so don't be disappointed. The sound and image quality isn't so great either -- someone's pirating skills are obviously not up to scratch :) (the film is in the theaters still).

Update from the future: The above video has been removed due to some violation or other (What? Copyright violations on the internet?? Who'da thunk it!!), so here's a link to a fresh one, if you're reeeeeally interested.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Indian Chinesisms

A certain amount of fakery going on in these names:
Oh Ya - soya sauce brand (the manufacturer is Sil / Marico)
Ya Hoo - Chinese takeaway near Khar Subway
Ching Ki Shak - Chinese restaurant or takeaway, can't remember location
All of the above were seen around Mumbai.

For the record, I don't think Indian Chinese food is fakery in the sense of trying to pass off something as what it's not; it's just a creative adaptation to a different cultural context, like, er... like Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet :P

Americanisms that are just plain wrong English

Drive-thru lawyer, Oswego, Illinois.
Photo source:

These are things I've heard even educated people say, not just redneckspeak:
  • "Catch up to", instead of catch up with
  • "Waiting on", instead of waiting for. You wait on someone when you fetch them food, beverages, and dessert.
  • "Hat", even for a baseball cap
  • "Cup", even for a whacking great 16 oz mug
  • "That" instead of "who" -- people "that" use bad grammar really "tick me off"
  • "Tick someone off" for when you piss them off. In English English, you "tick someone off" by giving them a piece of your mind, putting them in their place, that sort of thing.
  • "Off of", as in "I copied this off of the innernet", when you really just copied it off the internet.
  • "Innernet", "twenny" and all those other slurs. The lives of millions of T's in the middle of words are in vain in America. They either get substituted by a slurry "d" sound, or vanish altogether. And the poor "d" in "wonderful" has no hope at all -- it is its fate to vanish.
  • "Transportation". Syllables added for no reason. "Transport" works just fine.
  • "Preventative". Another useless syllable. Should we prevent disaster, or preventate it?
  • "Good on you" instead of good for you, when you express approval or appreciation of someone's actions.
  • Dropping "to be", e.g. "My car needs fixed". I've known educated people to write like this. Seems to be a Pennsylvania thing, or maybe Ohio as well.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

America, America, American War Paar Da

Forwarded by a friend. Some images are disturbing, but the dance, the accent -- funnee! Yennjai:

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Really special

Damn, I can't embed the video for this song. Anyone wants to give me a reeeeeelly special present, I'd like tickets to a Neville Brothers concert sometime.

You can also hear "Yellow Moon" at the Neville Brothers' website, but personally I prefer the live version on YouTube, linked above.

Photo source: