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telling it like I think it is: sunili’s blog

Posts Tagged ‘world

Excuse me, Esquire

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As well as their 75 Books thing, Esquire did a feature on the”The 75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century“.

Now, DAME Magazine pointed out, only 8.5 entries on the list were women, but aside from that lameness, I have a bone to pick with contributor David Chang (or the relevant editor) about a couple of things mentioned in the entry for M.I.A. —

The first and only major artist in world music, 33. Everywhere

Earlier this year, Sri Lankan-British rapper M.I.A. announced she was giving up music for clothing design. Maybe it was the exhaustion talking, but get to know her story and the first thing that becomes apparent is that she’s not one for staying in one place for very long. Here, a country-by-country guide to her transnational life, which directly informs her unclassifiable and revolutionary music.

ENGLAND: Born in London.

SRI LANKA: Her father, Arul, a Tamil revolutionary, cofounded a militant Tamil group. Her debut album is named Arular after him. Album art features images of tanks, bombs, and tigers.

INDIA: Childhood residence, age six to nine. The song “Jimmy” is based on an early-’80s Bollywood disco hit. “Bamboo Banga” samples Indian Tamil film composer Ilaiyaraaja. “Birdflu” features Indian dhol drums.

AUSTRALIA: Recording location for the album Kala. Features a didgeridoo and the Wilcannia Mob, a gang of aboriginal child beat-boxers, in “Mango Pickle Down River.”

LIBERIA:Kala location. “Do you know the cost of AK’s up in Africa / $20 ain’t shit to you but that’s how much they are” (“20 Dollar”).

JAMAICA:Kala location. Dance-hall rhythms, steel drums. “Boyz” video features Kingston “rudies.”

NEW YORK: Resident since 2005. In the video for “Paper Planes,” she sings from inside a New York lunch truck. Modeled for a Marc Jacobs spring/summer 2008 campaign. Announced that she will launch a clothing line.

I agree her work makes her pretty influential. (From what I can gather, the hipsters these days totes heart her.) I have no qualms about most of the things about her in that piece. But that one particular section about her time in Sri Lanka, and, more specifically, her father?

Um.

I could just say it was a Choice of Words FAIL, but, you know, I am not known for brevity, and as much as I may try, I need to say a bit more.

My letter to the Editors of Esquire was as follows:

I write to express some concern about David Chang’s choice of words in his piece on M.I.A. in the “The 75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century” feature.

I question the description of M.I.A’s father as “Tamil revolutionary, [who] cofounded a militant Tamil group”.

That Tamil group is not just a militant group, but has been listed as a banned terrorist organisation  under your country’s Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002.

That group pioneered the use of suicide bombing, has assassinated two heads of state, and has been linked to providing training and funding to Al Queda.

This information bulletin from the FBI provides even more details: http://www.fbi.gov/page2/jan08/tamil_tigers011008.html

M.I.A.’s father, the name sake of both her albums, is not a “revolutionary”, but a terrorist, and a lot of her lyrics have been suggested to support the work of the terrorist organisation he belongs to.

The cover-art for “Arular”, which, as noted in your publication, “features images of tanks, bombs, and tigers” links directly to that terrorist organisation.

I would suggest doing some research so as to make sure you call a spade a spade when writing about these people you describe as “influential”.

Sincerely
Sunili …

There are reports that a suicide bomber from the Tamil Tigers killed 22 people today.

When the FBI describes a group as “needless to say … among the most dangerous and deadly extremists in the world”, there is little room for the terrorist/freedom fighter debate.

By the way. M.I.A. has intrigued me for some time, and I have been planning to do a bit of research (you know, more than googling) to write a proper piece about her for a little while.  So watch this space.

(Pic via her MySpace page. Which makes my eyes bleed. Consider that a pre-click warning.)

Written by Sunili

6 October 2008 at 7:57 pm

Posted in media

Tagged with , , , , ,

when affirmative is a negative

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I alluded to Sarah Palin the other day, and despite the fact I’d kinda made a promise to myself to not *actually* blog about her, I don’t think I can contain it any more.

Sometimes she’ll make me laugh, which is nice, but then I’ll realise the possibility of her being the next Dick Cheney, heck, the next Dubya, and I get freaked out.

Gah.  Do people not remember that Geena Davis show where the VP, who just so happens to be female, has to be the President because the actual president carked it?

You guys, that show GOT CANCELLED!!!!

And that was EVEN WHEN the VP/Prez was Geena Davis. WHO IS AWESOME.  But now, it could all happen IN REAL LIFE, but not with someone cool like Geena Davis, who was even in the Olympics, but with THIS PERSON:

ZOMFG!!!

We can’t just expect the programming executives to JUST CANCEL REALITY IF IT SUCKS and replace it with a better show!! If that was possible, it would have already happened, like 7.6 years ago!!!!

[break for Sunili to go and get a drink and maybe slam the door to the cabinet where all the tea is.]

Ok you guys.

I am going to try to not get angry.  This post is gonna be hard, but I just HAVE to say some stuff about affirmative action, and I know I could wait ’til I can blog about it without reference to her, but this is the perfect effing example of What Not To Do when you’re trying to do affirmative action.

“Affirmative action” is generally about positive steps taken to increase the representation of women or minorities to increase that particular group’s opportunities in employment, education, business or politics — you know, areas from which they have been historically excluded.

Stanford Uni’s Encyclopedia of Philosphy says, however, that:

When those steps involve preferential selection—selection on the basis of race, gender, or ethnicity—affirmative action generates intense controversy. …

The affirmative action debate throws up many ironies but one in particular should be noted. From the time in 1973 when Judith Jarvis Thomson conjectured that it was “not entirely inappropriate” that white males bear the costs of the community’s “making amends” to blacks and women through preferential affirmative action, the affirmative action debate has been distracted by intense quarrels over who deserves what. Do the beneficiaries of affirmative action deserve their benefits. Do the losers deserve their loss?

I want to leave those debates out of this for now.  I want to talk about just one practical thing that has been bugging me.

First of all, in case you don’t know me, let me say this: I am a brown woman.  Theoretically, I should join the Affirmative Action Fan Club. Because — again, theoretically — it should help me cruise through life.  If I (heaven forbid) one day end up in a wheelchair, I would be a DIVERSITY GOLD MINE.

But I just do not like the idea of getting picked for something simply because I am a women, or because I am an immigrant.

I would MUCH RATHER get the position because I was the best PERSON to fill that role. I would not want to be chosen to work as a Whatever Officer for Whatever Corp Pty Ltd simply because I was a brown woman, when there was a white guy, or a white woman who would be a much better Whatever Officer.

Similarly, if I was applying for a job where like, because of some special, inherent genetic trait, the person had to be a brown woman, I would apply knowing that in the selection process, they were looking for the best brown woman, who had the best genetic qualities and skills required to operate the XX-Melanin Machine owhatever.  If I didn’t have those skills or capabilities, but I got selected because I have the longest eyelashes, and that was important to diversity or some shit, I would totally be putting myself in a bad position.  What if I blew the XX-Melanin Machine??

Anyway. That was probably a shit analogy, but I hope you still get my point.

So let’s talk about Sarah Effing Palin, shall we?

We ALL KNOW she was only picked because she was a woman. There must be THOUSANDS of people better qualified to be the Vice President of the United States than she is.  The only thing she has going for her? She’s a woman.

Now, I know people will say that oh, if McCain wanted a women, there are heaps of other women he could have picked, so clearly she had something else going for her.

To those people I ask, honestly, truly, because I want to know: Like WHAT?

What, other than the twinkle in her eye and tattooed lipliner and that folksy accent, does she have that qualifies her for that job? “Executive experience”? Give me an effing break.

Someone in the Grand Old Party (thanks Loobie!) had the BRILLIANT idea that if they picked a woman, the could get all the Hillaryites to vote for a woman.

Do you know what Sarah Palin represents? She epitomizes everything that goes wrong when you pick someone for a role because you need to tick a box. For whatever reason, be it for legal requirements, to feel self-indulgently good about supporting minorities, or for a callous marketing decision, when you just pick a person because they are the Right Type of Person, but not the Right Person For The Role, you totally fuck it up.

You get someone totally effing horrible for the role.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I do think there is a place for affirmative action.  You simply cannot deny the sociological truth that there are groups of peoples in communities and countries all over the world who have historically been marginalised, and that there needs to be measures put in place to redress that marginalisation.

But it does NOT improve the status of women to put a completely unqualified person in a position like candidate for Vice President of the United States of America.  For heavens.  If she gets it, they’re not going to let a woman run for an office like that FOR YEARS.  It’s going to take us like 50 years BACKWARDS!!

Or, for a more serious explanation than a LOLcat photo, from The Guardian:

At least three times last night, Sarah Palin, the adorable, preposterous vice-presidential candidate, winked at the audience. Had a male candidate with a similar reputation for attractive vapidity made such a brazen attempt to flirt his way into the good graces of the voting public, it would have universally noted, discussed and mocked. Palin, however, has single-handedly so lowered the standards both for female candidates and American political discourse that, with her newfound ability to speak in more-or-less full sentences, she is now deemed to have performed acceptably last night. (via karion)

Sure, get girls or and Indigenous kids or heck, little white boys who grew up in a trailer park into targeted educational programs and whatnot to give them the OPPORTUNITY TO GOOD ENOUGH TO BE PRESIDENT.  That, my friends, is what affirmative action is SUPPOSED TO DO.

But no sane person would just stick some random African American there to prove that the country isn’t racist anymore.

Obama? Yeah, he’s black. But did he just get the Democratic Party’s nomination for Presidential candidate because he’s black? NO. He proved, through that gruelling and heart-wrenching primary process, that he was the BEST PERSON TO GO FOR THE JOB out of everyone that was running.

I supported Hillary Clinton in the primaries.  At that time, I thought that she was the best person running.  I totes respected Obama and thought he was great, but I was of the opinion that Hillary could continue the work she started while First Lady.  She didn’t get it and that’s fine.  I was disappointed but that’s the way it works.  Now I think Barack Obama is the best person to be President of the United States. Because, John McCain?

Do people in America want this guy to be around the Big Red Button for the next four years?

Really?

Oh gods.  Should I just start learning Chinese and Russian now?

Beijingo: logic not essential

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Apparently, it’s just who you are and where you’re from that determines what you know.

Everybody in China knows that Tibet is an inalienable part of the territory of China. I see actually most of the people in these demonstrations are non-Chinese. So I would conclude they don’t really know very much about the situation.” — Olympic organisers condemning pro-Tibet activists (via ABC)

Uhhhhhhh. They clearly have lots of people enrolled in reasoning courses over there.

I am happy to accept the fact that the five activists detained for hanging up a pro-Tibet poster today are not Chinese. (They were Americans, Britons and Australia-Canadians, if anyone was wondering.) But can someone please explain this to me: how exactly does that alone lead to the conclusion that they don’t know much about the situation?

Um… Has anyone asked a Tibetan person about how they feel?

I encourage you all to check out the beijingwideopen blog, where Lhadon Thethong, Exec Director of Students for A Free Tibet talks about the issue:

I’ve traveled to the heart of the nation that has brutally occupied my homeland for over 50 years. Follow this blog, as I share what I see, feel, and experience… leaving Beijing wide open.

Written by Sunili

15 August 2008 at 7:36 pm

Posted in politics, social justice

Tagged with , , ,

blogging war

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Sure, this isn’t quite Anne Frank, but it is rather interesting:

Screen cap from Georgia Ministry of Foreign Affairs blog, taken 12 August 2008 12:37pm (GMT +8). Click through for the post.

http://georgiamfa.blogspot.com/ just contains press-releases from the government spokesministry, but it’s still cool that online public platforms like Blogger and gmail are being used by a government involved in an armed conflict.

Quick warning, though, there are pics too; those are rather confronting.

War in the cyberage could, on one hand, result in increased proliferation of propaganda, but blogging also provides another (quicker, direct) way of analysing and commenting on said propaganda.

We looked at the influence of bloggers and “new media” on political developments when I did a unit on Politics & the Media back in 2004 (that study was actually the impetus for me to start blogging).  The US election was the main case study back then, and four years later we can repeat that analysis, but the Georgia/South Ossetia conflict adds a whole new dimension to it.

I should probably dig around in my own Motherland‘s cyber backyard before I say this is groundbreaking (I know there’s a lot of pro Tamil Tigers stuff on the interwebs already), but, hey, it’s more the case of this being so fresh (and they’re white? Oh SNAP!) that it’s hot.

Written by Sunili

12 August 2008 at 1:09 pm

Counting Blessings

with one comment

I spoke to my Mum in Sri Lanka this morning, and she is safe-safe-safe. Everyone in my family is safe, and there’s just property damage to deal with. I cannot believe our luck…

My Mum and my Aunt from the US had wanted to drive down the South Coast (the worst affected areas) on a pilgrimge to a temple of Hindu god (Kataragama) (in whom Buddhists believe in/pray to too) this weekend, but all the holtels were booked so they went to another Aunt’s house in Awissawella, which is inland. They didn’t actually hear anything ’til after it had all happened.

Yesterday morning they had planned to drive down to visit my Grandma, who lives in Morragulla, Beruwalla–on the West Coast of Sri Lanka. The planned early-morning journey was interrupted when a water main burst in the street near my Aunt’s place and my Uncle had to get in touch with the authorities to sort that out. It was a Sunday and a public holiday (Sri Lanka observes Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Christian holidays–another excellent reason as to why we should embrace true multiculturalism) so it took ages to organise maintenance… while they were waiting they got call from a relative of a relative asking if they had any news. It was apparently a “what news?” moment. The TV went on and they weren’t going anywhere.

The first wave had come up to my Grandma’s front fence. She spoke to my Mum and said everything was fine, the water’s receded quickly. Silly old lady! The second wave was worse, and her place, which is actually raised about a metre off the ground, was flooded up to her chest. Her neighbours carried her to the second storey of the house across the street. My Uncle who lives nearby (the one with the new bub) owns a restaurant and a small guesthouse which did not get touched.

My second Uncle’s house in the South was destroyed, but the family is safe, and a second cousin was playing cricket on the beach on the East Coast and he got sucked out to sea twice, but he’s a national junior swimmer or something and he is ok.

Again, thank you everyone who called/messaged/got in touch with me, it means so much to know that you guys care, and thank you thank you thank you for your prayers/good karma… if you can, please keep it coming; my family is ok but thousands, maybe millions, more aren’t doing so well.

If anyone is able to, the Red Cross/Red Crescent is taking donations…

P.S: My brother’s in the US at the moment and he and my cousin drove to Canada this weekend… apparently there’s a bitch of a blizzard out there right now. Is this a test, Mother Nature? I promise I will recycle even more…

Written by Sunili

27 December 2004 at 11:04 am

Posted in me stuff

Tagged with , ,

A Declaration of Dependence

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To the citizens of the United States of America

In the light of your failure to elect a proper President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective today. Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchial duties over all states, commonwealths and other territories. Except Utah, which she does not fancy. Your new Prime Minister (The Right Honorable Tony Blair, MP for the 97.85% of you who have until now been unaware that there is a world outside your borders) will appoint a Minister for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded.

A questionnaire will be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

  1. You should look up “revocation” in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then look up “aluminum.” Check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it. The letter ‘U’ will be reinstated in words such as ‘favor’ and ‘neighbor,’ skipping the letter ‘U’ is nothing more than laziness on your part. Likewise, you will learn to spell ‘doughnut’ without skipping half the letters. You will end your love affair with the letter ‘Z’ (pronounced ‘zed’ not ‘zee’) and the suffix “is” will be replaced by the suffix “ise”. You will learn that the suffix ‘burgh’ is pronounced ‘burra’ e.g. Edinburgh. You are welcome to respell Pittsburgh as ‘Pittsberg’ if you can’t cope with correct pronunciation. Generally, you should raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. Look up “vocabulary”. Using the same twenty seven words interspersed with filler noises such as “like” and “you know” is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. Look up “interspersed”. There will be no more ‘bleeps’ in the Jerry Springer show. If you’re not old enough to cope with bad language then you shouldn’t have chat shows. When you learn to develop your vocabulary then you won’t have to use bad language as often.
  • On your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter ‘u’ and the elimination of “-ize”.
  • You should learn to distinguish the English and Australian accents. It really isn’t that hard. English accents are not limited to Cockney, upper-class twit or Mancunian (Daphne in Frasier). You will also have to learn how to understand regional accents – Scottish dramas such as “Taggart” will no longer be broadcast with subtitles. While we’re talking about regions, you must learn that there is no such place as Devonshire in England. The name of the county is “Devon”. If you persist in calling it Devonshire, all American States will become “shires” >e.g. Texasshire, Floridashire, Louisianashire.
  • Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as the good guys. Hollywood will be required to cast English actors to play English characters. British sit-coms such as “Men Behaving Badly” or “Red Dwarf” will not be re-cast and watered down for a wishy-washy American audience who can’t cope with the humour of occasional political incorrectness.
  • You should relearn your original national anthem, “God Save The Queen”, but only after fully carrying out task 1. We would not want you to get confused and give up half way through.
  • You should stop playing American “football”. There is only one kind of football. What you refer to as American “football” is not a very good game. The 2.15% of you who are aware that there is a world outside your borders may have noticed that no one else plays “American” football. You will no longer be allowed to play it, and should instead play proper football. Initially, it would be best if you played with the girls. It is a difficult game. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which is similar to American “football”, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like nancies). We are hoping to get together at least a US rugby sevens side by 2005. You should stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the ‘World Series’ for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.15% of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. Instead of baseball, you will be allowed to play a girls’ game called “rounders” which is baseball without fancy team strip, oversized gloves, collector cards or hotdogs.
  • You should declare war on Quebec and France, using nuclear weapons if they give you any merde. “Merde” is French for “Shit”. The 97.85% of you who were not aware that there is a world outside your borders should count yourselves lucky. The Russians have never been the bad guys. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry guns. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous in public than a vegetable peeler. Because we don’t believe you are sensible enough to handle potentially dangerous items, you will require a permit if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.
  • July 4th is no longer a public holiday. November 2th will be a new national holiday, but only in England. It will be called “Indecisive Day”.
  • All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and it is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean. All road intersections will be replaced with roundabouts. You will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.
  • You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips. Fries aren’t even French, they are Belgian though 97.85% of you (including the guy who discovered fries while in Europe) are not aware of a country called Belgium. Those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called “crisps”. Real chips are thick cut and fried in animal fat. The traditional accompaniment to chips is beer which should be served warm and flat. Waitresses will be trained to be more aggressive with customers.
  • As a sign of penance, 5 grams of sea salt per cup will be added to all tea made within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, this quantity to be doubled for tea made within the city of Boston itself.
  • The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all, it is lager. From November 1st only proper British Bitter will be referred to as “beer”, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as “Lager”. The substances formerly known as “American Beer” will henceforth be referred to as “Near-Frozen Knat’s Urine”, with the exception of the product of the American Budweiser company whose product will be referred to as “Weak Near-Frozen Knat’s Urine”. This will allow true Budweiser (as manufactured for the last 1000 years in Pilsen, Czech Republic) to be sold without risk of confusion.
  • From December 1st the UK will harmonise petrol (or “Gasoline” as you will be permitted to keep calling it until April 1st 2005) prices with the former USA. The UK will harmonise its prices to those of the former USA and the Former USA will, in return, adopt UK petrol prices (roughly $6/US gallon – get used to it).
  • You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you’re not adult enough to be independent. Guns should only be handled by adults. If you’re not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then you’re not grown up enough to handle a gun.
  • Please tell us who killed JFK. It’s been driving us crazy.
  • Tax collectors from Her Majesty’s Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all revenues due (backdated to 1776).

    Thank you for your cooperation.

    ___

    email forward via Annabel; thanks bubs!

    Written by Sunili

    21 November 2004 at 11:04 am

    Posted in humour

    Tagged with , ,