Sunday, September 28, 2008

'No way, no how, no McCain'

November, 2004... The American people made a mistake, reelecting Bush to the second term by a popular vote. The politics of fear prevailed. I gasped for air and wanted to scream in pain. A dear friend said, 'Never lose hope.' But the 4 long years went by very slowly and in great agony... The 8 years left an irremediable mark on the American history and world politics. Things that the next generations will be paying a heavy price for years and decades to come.

Yet, now we have McCain as the messenger of Bush, propagating continuation of those same 8 years, same mentality, same policies and politics of fear. Watching the debate the other night, lost all and any respect for John McCain. Insulting Obama, came with an indolent and arrogant behavior. Constantly boasting about his record and looking at Obama as a 'child' who does not understand or know anything... So rude and disrespectful. Sounded and acted very much like Bush debating with Gore and Kerry. Most importantly, all his ideology and vision have been proven wrong, wrong, wrong all these 8 years and even before...

Meanwhile, Obama displayed great self-control, self-reserve and statesmanship. Displayed enormous hidden power with his calm behavior. We, Hillary supporters, were so reckless in 'attacking' him so much and finding 'perceived' weaknesses in him... He has got none. This is a man with great power and decency. First and foremost, he has got the answer for all troublesome questions besieging this country... Will people be able to set aside their racial prejudices and judge him by the content of his character, and not by the color of his skin? Can America stand by its liberal principles and give a chance to this man who deserves it all? That is the question.

Do you love your country? Set aside your fears, open your eyes, and see the reality... We cannot afford repeating the mistakes of the past! Simply cannot! 'No way, no how, no McCain!'

Friday, September 26, 2008

Cycles of history and historian's puzzles

I have posted on my blog about how history gets repeated with amazing regularity here.

March 5, 1946, Fulton, Missouri, Winston Churchill made his historic speech "Iron Curtain", a precursor of the ensuing Cold War. here

September 18, 2008, Washington DC, German Marshall Fund, Condoleezza Rice has made her speech on US-Russian Relations, a precursor of yet another open 'War' between the two countries. here

Puzzling and disconcerting...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

September 24

1996, the U.S., Russia and other nuclear powers signed a treaty to stop testing and development of nuclear weapons, including underground blasts. America had conducted 1,030 tests since 1945.

At the signing, then UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali said, "This treaty should reinforce international resolve to achieve a world free of the nuclear arms race, a world free of all nuclear weapons." here

Still an aspiration when those who have them are clinging to them even stronger and are improving their capabilities, and those who do not have them work hard to get them!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Time for change...

When you go to the polls this November, think not about yourself, but about all those others that your decision may affect today and tomorrow... Look at those at the bottom of the economic ladder and whose livelihood has sunk to the lowest. The vast numbers of the poor and homeless, destitute and desolate, those who have become beggars and are surviving on the margins... Forgotten and unheard of... Invisible and oppressed. Disadvantaged and in misery...

It reminds me of the Great Depression era. In his wonderful book that encapsulated that era, "Grapes of Wrath" John Steinbeck wrote:

In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.
Chapter 25

How can you frighten a man whose hunger is not only in his own cramped stomach but in the wretched bellies of his children? You can't scare him--he has known a fear beyond every other. Chapter 19

And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed.
Chapter 19

They's a time of change, an' when that comes, dyin' is a piece of all dyin', and bearin' is a piece of all bearin', an' bearin' an' dyin' is two pieces of the same thing. An' then things ain't so lonely anymore. An' then a hurt don't hurt so bad. Chapter 18

Time for change?!

How much more we do not know...

In the post below, referencing the BBC radio show, Professor Sunder has pointed her finger to the lack of attention to non-Western cultural and artistic heritage. Her criticism is really on point, because in the world-known famous art museums all we see is Western art... Many other problems flow from this, including lack of knowledge in the West as to how people in other parts of the world live and breathe. Then when it comes to analyzing the 'clash of civilizations' people in the West have a very limited and constricted empirical framework to begin with.

Here are some modern Indian art paintings by Archana Santra.

When Desireless went to India, her impressions lead her to the hit 'Voyage Voyage'.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Internet, globalization and harmonization

How has the world Internet changed the power dynamics between the state and the society? How did the traditional control of the state over the communication slowly give in? What does this mean? Is the ever-expanding global communication system threatening to take over the traditional knowledge and mode of thinking? Relatedly, is the globalization and ensuing clash of civilizations, necessarily washing away the traditional cultural footprints? Is modernity diametrically opposed to culture and tradition?

This process is affecting how people think, interact with the world and build their pathways of survival... The information flow is however faster than people can absorb or reflect over. Does that make us as humans of 'shallow' and 'superficial' thinking... Time-management is a major problem in light of competitive demands and obligations. How can we manage our time in light of this information blast? For example, as an average American citizen can you keep up with everything that is happening in the presidential elections every day? Don't you feel overwhelmed? Don't you sometimes want to shut off the TV? I have decided to minimize my use of TV as much as possible. I can't promise the same about the Internet though.

In answer to some of these questions, I highly recommend to listen to the recent program Forum of BBC World Service with my own Professor Madhavi Sunder here. Professor Sunder is my favorite professor who influenced me to a great degree as a law student. Her scholarship crisscrosses many subjects, including Law and Modernity, Intellectual Property, International Human Rights, Women and culture...

Text-message for peace...

In 1981 the UN General Assembly declared, in a resolution sponsored by Costa Rica, the third Tuesday of September (the opening day of regular sessions of the General Assembly) as the International Day of Peace devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace. Later September 21 became to be known as the day for global cease-fire and peace.

The Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called to text-message for peace around the globe. "I use electronic communications all the time, but honestly – this is a little embarrassing – I have zero friends online. But you – collectively – can reach tens of thousands of people in an instant. You can mobilize way beyond your clique, beyond your community, even beyond the borders of your own country. That is the power you have and I count on it – your power to make this world different when you become leaders, and even before.” (here)

If our technological sophistication has allowed us to destroy the world by one push of a button, we should also be able to ensure for long-lasting peace...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

In Memoriam of 9/11

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.

[Martin Luther King Jr.]

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

September 10

1797, Mary Wollstonecraft, an eighteenth-century British writer, philosopher, and feminist died (1759-1797). During her brief career, she wrote novels, treatises, a travel narrative, a history of the French Revolution, a conduct book, and a children's book. Her best known book is "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman" (1792), in which she argues that women are not naturally inferior to men, but appear to be only because they lack education. She reportedly said, "Strengthen the female mind by enlarging it, and there will be an end to blind obedience." At that time her thoughts seemed revolutionary...

Well, today in the 21st century women are still treated as inferior to men. Still there is great amount of bitter, subtle and disgusting sexism creeping into the atmosphere, political or social... Is it just a problem of lack of englightenment in the public or is it just a means of oppressing a potential group and beating them up to the corner, 'out of the game.' The glass ceiling is still there and women still are viewed as 'liabilities' in terms of maternity leave, family obligations, etc. Even the most educated women are treated with ridicule and sarcasm, and not only by men, but also by women... Look at the attacks mounted towards Hillary Clinton not while ago, and currently at Palin... It makes me feel like throwing up!

Unfortunately, feminist critique of this is not very effective either... The code 'pink' and all the associated entourage does little to diminish this unhealthy and quite dangerous situation... Plus, there is a problem with code designation 'pink' sometimes. If you constantly say, 'I am a woman', aren't you inviting different treatment? But I thought, we want equal treatment... Can we ask for special treatment as women, and yet also demand equality? Am I just walking a fine line here?

Monday, September 8, 2008

September 8

1504, Michelangelo's sculpture David was unveiled in Florence. Among his famous works are Pieta (below) and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo along with Leonardo da Vinci are among the most crucial torch-bearers of the Renaissance... Rejecting the tenets of the Medieval Ages (Dark Ages), they postulated that earthly life and dignity of the human being take priority over the heavenly life and God. Pico della Mirandola has expressed it well in his "Oration on the Dignity of Man,"
"We have placed you at the world's center so that you may survey everything else in the world. We have made you neither of heavenly nor of earthly stuff, neither mortal nor immortal, so that with free choice and dignity, you may fashion yourself into whatever form you choose. To you is granted the power of degrading yourself into the lower forms of life, the beasts, and to you is granted the power, contained in your intellect and judgment, to be reborn into the higher forms, the divine."

Some of Michelangelo's quotes deserve to be placed here:

I am a poor man and of little worth, who is laboring in that art that God has given me in order to extend my life as long as possible.

I hope that I may always desire more than I can accomplish.

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.

There is no greater harm than that of time wasted.

Genius is eternal patience

Reading Michelangelo's biography is very instructive, especially with regard to what gigantic, almost inhuman efforts he put into painting the Sistine Chapel. That is not just hard work. It is a level of physical and mental exertion that is reached only through unimaginable passion and sacrifice...

Click here for Vivaldi 'Four Seasons'

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Why you and I should vote for Barack Obama!

I am a loyal Hillary supporter and I am still in great sorrow that she did not get the nomination she deserved the most! The race was all about dice-rolling, hair-splitting (and a great degree of sexism), and Obama got lucky... I have been angry and critical of him trying to support Hillary in the heated race... But now looking forward, we have to-- absolutely have to-- vote for Barack Obama! Why?

He does not have whole lot of experience, but he has what many American Presidents did not have: intelligence, great power to inspire, energy, optimism, ability to dream big... Most of all, he has the rare ability to think 'new', defy settled conventions, and take a whole fresh look at things... That is what I like in him the most... Most of the time, success depends not on gray hair or experience, but on vision and ideology... He does have the ideals, the vision and power, power to implement it... In specific policies, his entire platform is 'centrist.' In his quest to unify this divided country he has come to the 'vital center' (like Bill Clinton) and has tapped into the feelings of most Americans, liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat... I have seen stickers on cars 'Republicans for Obama'-- that is a wonderful sign... In foreign policy, he will be the smartest President we have not seen for a long time. The very fact that he was against the war in Iraq tells me how smart he is and how well he can assess the interests of our country... Is use of force always in the interests of this country?! I think, by now most should know the answer... The anti-Americanism is at its highest in the world... This is exactly the type of a President we need...

While I respect John McCain and do not really want to attack him like many Democrats, he has got the experience, but no vision in how to take our country out of the present crisis! He also does not have the right way of thinking and settles for the conventional ways... It is time for us to look forward and approach new horizons with someone like Obama and not to look back, feel sorry for ourselves and settle for little-- with John McCain...

Vote for Barack Obama! We would be fortunate to have him as our leader for the next 8 years...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

September 4

1781, the city of Los Angeles-- my favorite-- is founded as El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora La Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula-- the City of Our Lady, the Queen of the Angels of the Little Portion-- by a group of 44 Spanish settlers. Having lived in Los Angeles most of my adult life, I have to say, despite its horrendous traffic, smog and overcrowded/dirty streets, it has an irresistible charm and appeal to it, and partly because of its enormous cosmopolitanism. You will meet the world right here... When I set my foot on this land as an 18 year old, I had very far-fetched dreams that came true in this very city. One of these dreams materialized at UCLA, which has been engrafted in my heart with golden letters since then... That dream was made possible by a Democratic President then in power who ensured that people of minorities could attend a public University and get affordable education to enrich this nation for forthcoming generations... And that dream has become impossible for many other kids recently. Can we reverse the trend in this election by choosing a Democrat?! Yes, we can! Vote for Barack Obama!

1907, Edvard Grieg, one of the greatest composers of all times died. Click here for his famous Piano Concerto.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

September 3

2004, the Beslan school massacre in Russia came to an end after a terrifying two-day siege, when Chechen militants took more than 1,100 people hostage. Most of the victims were children, many of whom died after long torture... Bodies were found burnt beyond recognition... and many more were missing... It was just one more reminder that the war on terror is everyone's war and terrorism cannot disappear without consolidated efforts. [Of course, how you fight that war is a subject for another day and another post]

1783, the American War of Independence ended after eight years of fighting with the signing of the Treaty of Paris by the U.S., Spain, France, and Great Britain. The British recognized the independence of the U.S.

"Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person." [Mother Theresa]