Month: July 2008

Obama interview in Indian magazine

In an exclusive interview, the US presidential hopeful speaks on a range of subjects: the nuclear deal, Mahatma Gandhi, his ability to reconcile Islam with modernity, and how he wouldn’t have put all eggs in the Musharraf basket

‘I Am Reluctant To Seek Changes In The N-Deal’ : outlookindia.com

Interesting interview. Obama says the right things most of the time, so no surprises here. The interviewer also helpfully provides a summary at the top of the interview where he tells us what Obama said and what it means, a little bit of contextualization that goes a long way in helping the reader get perspective on the issues. Western journalists should try this sometime…

On the nuclear deal

“I continue to hope this process can be concluded before the end of the year…. I am reluctant to seek changes.”

His remarks suggest he is opposed to renegotiating the deal, as the BJP has demanded. Should the deal not be sealed this year, Obama as president isn’t likely to impose new conditions, a fear the UPA has constantly stoked to compel its critics to fall in line.

Now that’s an interesting observation because the proposed India-US nuclear deal will formalize India’s standing as a nuclear weapons power while providing the country with access to reactor fuel and technology. The deal will also mean that India will have to come under the purview of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to ensure that certain nuclear safeguards can be agreed upon and met. The so called communist parties of India are protesting this as an affront to the sovreignity of the Indian State and have withdrawn support to the Indian government, who faces a very delicately balanced vote of confidence next week.

Both the US and Indian governments are currently in agreement that the deal needs to be done before Bush leaves or else… Obama’s thrown a little bit of cold water over this idea, which will weaken the ruling party’s hand a little. The deal has been ratified by the US, so the only thing standing in the way is the continued stability of the current Indian government.

What do I think? Nothing much other than it appears that India is getting most of what it wants from this deal, a formalization of its nuclear weapons status, access to more civilian technology and legitimization of its nuclear programme in return for some safeguards (which are good for safety and non-proliferation anyway). It’s just that the opposition BJP cannot possibly support the deal because they are the opposition and recent election results in various states have them reasonably confident of getting back in power in New Delhi if the government were to fall and elections were to be called. The left is trying to remain relevant and is usually reflexively anti-US. So dealing with the US government is like dealing with Satan for the “communist” parties (right, call yourselves communists, insult to the word).

In other, more personal parts, we find out that Obama was in Pakistan for a few weeks when he was 19, which I did not know, but is apparently common news knowledge.

Interesting times, he’s not even president yet and still has great influence on happenings far away.

An Ode to the Hummer? – Worst Column Ever

GM desperately needs an obnoxious, attention-grabbing brand to keep from turning into a dreary shadow of its former self. And America needs the Hummer to remind us of what has always made our automobiles stand out, from the tailfin 1950s to the muscle car 1960s and ’70s: swagger. Americans don’t just drive their cars — they proclaim something about themselves by driving them.It takes a certain kind of man — it’s almost always the owner of a Y chromosome — to take a gander at the Hummer, in all its broad, burly, paramilitary gas-guzzling glory, and see himself behind the wheel, striking fear and loathing in the hearts of ecologically sensitive motorists

Matthew DeBord – Hummer, How We Need Thee – washingtonpost.com

Yes, and we men need to beat our women and keep them pregnant all the time to avoid turning us men into dreary shadows of our former self.

Seriously, this is the Washington Post, the newspaper of record of the capital city of the great United States, and this is not a satire. Way to paint the entire American male population as masculinity obsessed rageholics whose only aim is to strike fear in the heart of others while dressed in military fatigues. This man must possess an unhealthy degree of self-hatred to conclude  that disdain of a poorly designed, horrendously inefficient vehicle is somehow hippie and communist.This man is a disgrace to all mankind.

This, on the other hand is satire

Ever since we changed our name from British Petroleum to BP (Beyond Petroleum) in 2000, we’ve led the way in developing progressive, environmentally friendly alternatives to gasoline. These last few years of pouring money into biofuels and renewable energy sources have been so great that I can’t for the life of me remember why we used to drill for dirty old oil in the first place! What’s that? You mean we’re still pumping that stuff from hundreds of refineries all over the world?

Yes, when the Onion is better than the Washington Post, you know your country’s going to the dogs.

The G8: How to write about pointless international organisations

“We are seriously concerned about this most serious outbreak of seriousness,” said the head of the institution, either a former minister from a developing country or a mid-level European or American bureaucrat. “This is a wake-up call to the world. They must take on board the vital message that my organisation exists.”The director of the body, based in one of New York, Washington or an agreeable Western European city, was speaking at its annual conference, at which ministers from around the world gather to wring their hands impotently about the most fashionable issue of the day. The organisation has sought to justify its almost completely fruitless existence by joining its many fellow talking-shops in highlighting whatever crisis has recently gained most coverage in the global media.

FT.com | Gideon Rachman’s Blog | The G8: How to write about pointless international organisations

Just about sums up the recent G8 conference where a “commitment” to cut emissions by 50% by 2050 was touted. Of course, the baseline year this “cut” was not mentioned, so nobody knows what this number means or what its significance is.

Was not even worth blogging about except for the boilerplate article above which could apply to just about any international organisation.

Note that it is not the fault of the people who work there. It’s the political leadership, people blame the U.N when they really should be pointing fingers at the Bushes and Harpers of the world. So, while the above article makes a little sense, it still falls into the same trap of missing the forest for the trees, blaming the process rather than the people who keep it going…

Home at Last

Wow, I woke up at 4 AM Eastern, caught a 6:50 flight out of RDU to Seattle, then drove 3 hours to the ferry, through the most peaceful immigration and customs ever where I forgot to mention my cat and somehow, it was okay! Being a Canadian is just so much nicer than living in the US of A. I got various questions barked at me by US immigration on the way to the states. The person at Canadian was calm, polite and took 30 seconds to clear me, though I guess she missed the pet.

A 1:40 ferry ride + 1/2 hour drive home later, it’s past 10 Eastern Time and I’ve been traveling for 16 hours. Did I mention I did all this with a cat? But, my beastie was the least of my troubles, he was very sweet! The Sherpa Delta carrier we got (on sale!) worked like a charm, very few people knew I had a pet with me at all times, and I was able to actually even smuggle him into the passenger deck of the Tsawwassen-Schwartz Bay ferry! Highly recommended. It fits very nicely under the seat, I was very apprehensive about carrying this supposedly “high maintenance” cat on plane, airport shuttle, car and boat, but he was such a trooper, very proud.

He’s still a little weirded out by the new place, no idea where he is and most definitely does not feel like he’s home. It’s gotten suspiciously quiet all of a sudden, wonder what he’s doing, napping, hopefully.

All right, no more traveling. I was supposed to blog some when I was in North Carolina, somehow, never happened. I don’t blog well when I’m relaxed, apparently. But, I want to snk my teeth into all this carbon tax brouhaha, and I finally found some time to read the definitive guide to Canadian environmental policy, Unnatural Law, so at least I am now not completely ignorant about Canada.

Update:

Found the cat, clearly he has a bath tub thing, he’s done this in Chapel Hill too.

Update!!!!

Open my mail to see an envelope from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, pick it up and instantly feel that tell tale card, yes, my PR card is finally here, and I guess the photograph I sent them in February from NC finally got to them, hooray, I am now mostly Canadian! If they’d sent it a little earlier, could have avoided this whole Seattle driving brouhaha, but who cares! Man, what a day!!

Pardon all the exclamation points, this card’s given me all kinds of grief, and it’s frigging crazy for it to show up just like that…