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.


Under the 1930 pact, Iraq had to consult Britain on security issues and allow it the use of Iraqi airports, ports, railways and rivers. Two major military bases were leased to the British, who were empowered to station their forces throughout Iraq. British personnel were granted immunity from local prosecution.Almost 80 years later, the Bush administration seeks a startlingly similar arrangement. While not formally a treaty (having been carefully crafted to avoid the requirement of Senate ratification), the wide-ranging pact that the United States proposes nearly replicates the 1930 accord. According to press reports based on leaks from the Iraqi Parliament, the pact envisions giving the Americans rights to as many as 58 military bases and control of Iraqi airspace. It would grant immunity from Iraqi laws to American military personnel. And it would empower American officials to detain suspected terrorists without the approval of Iraqi authorities.

Op-Ed Contributor – The U.S. and Iraq Are Repeating the Errors of a Disastrous 1930 Treaty – Op-Ed – NYTimes.com

Seriously, I thought World War II heralded the end of colonialism. when the US invaded and occupied Iraq, I could not get most of my uncolonised friends to understand that the subjugation of Iraq by a bunch of white folk was never going to work out. We remember what it is to be colonised. While I was too young to watch the British rule India, most of us inherit those memories from our parents and history books. White men with guns and armoured trucks ordering people around, building giant fortresses with fancy restaurants while the people outside live in raw sewage, without electricity and in constant fear, good work colonial powers!

Now the US wants their puppet government to sign a treaty with them that will make their status as colonial overlords permanent masters, above the law and with almost unlimited power.

Iraq needs a referendum. If a majority of people need the US to leave, they should. Of course, as colonial overlords, they will ensure that such a referendum could never happen!

I am never surprised that the western media does not view the occupation of Iraq through this lens. After all, when were they colonised? The great US war of independence was fought by a bunch of rich white land and slave owners who wanted to not give their money to another bunch of rich land owners and slave runners.

Call them colonial occupiers, they’re not “coalition forces”.

| | |

White House edits CDC climate testimony – Yeah, again!


Turns out that the Emperor did not want anyone to know what the possible health effects of climate change were going to be.

White House edits CDC climate testimony – Yahoo! News:

It was eviscerated,’ said a CDC official, familiar with both versions, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the review process.

The official said that while it is customary for testimony to be changed in a White House review, these changes were particularly ‘heavy-handed,’ with the document cut from its original 14 pages to four. It was six pages as presented to the Senate committee.

So, is there any point in blogging about this story about the Emperor and his politburo wielding the censor pen on yet another government report? No, because like million other stories like the one above, nothing comes of it. Nobody loses anything, the press does not understand that this behavior is unprecedented and more representative of 1960s USSR than the so called leader of the free world. The people who read about it could not care less. This is small fry compared to the “enhanced interrogation techniques” (call it torture), “private military contractors” (call them mercenaries), “extraordinary rendition” (state sanctioned kidnapping, disappearing, whatever you call it), etc. This country has apparently been outraged to boredom. Where does the “editing” (censoring) of a government report even register on this list of outrages?

Seriously, the Democratic party has been the most undistinguished of opposition parties. Yes, they supposedly control the Senate and Congress, but they don’t. In this weird undemocratic and archaic presidential system, you can only succeed if you have 60% of the Senate, 67% of the Congress or the president on your side. So, functionally, the Democrats are still the opposition party and do not seem to understand that as the opposition party, they need to oppose, manufacture outrage (in this case, no manufacturing necessary), and keep yelling continuously. Some shrillness is indicated here. Yes, they have some power that comes from the majorities, but the power needs to be used. They have to keep sending bills that the president will veto, they have to keep subpoenaing the politburo members so they can refuse to testify, and they have to keep repeating that they’re outraged, I tell you, outraged!!

Oh well, I come from the famously fractious politics of India, so none of my rants are going to make sense. If you want outrage, here you go… Mind you, this is the member of the coalition that rules India exerting pressure on it’s ally, not even the real opposition who only yesterday called for the PM to resign because “a resurgent nation like India should not be led by a helpless and sad leader” – Ouch, take that!! All this over a nuclear deal with the US where India gained all kinds of concessions for essentially building a nuclear arsenal on the sly and against the wishes of the international community.

The democrats needs a master class on opposition politics from the BJP.

Picture Courtesy Ristocrats

| |

Diacetyl Media Coverage Rant

06Sep07Capture.jpgFeel free to disregard if you don’t like rants, but the NY Times story of one man’s at-home exposure to diacetyl and the resulting case of bronchiolitis obliterans has made the most emailed list as of 06-Sep-07, and propelled diacetyl into the big time. Now, anyone who keeps half an eye on occupational health issues (or reads the pump handle) would have known that at least 5 workers in the flavoring industry had died of this disease, and many many more were afflicted by bronchiolitis obliterans. Yet, the press completely ignored this issue. As soon as one person had the same problem at home, it suddenly became a frontpage issue, causing all kinds of backpedalling by Conagra and big popcorn (gotta love that phrase!!).

There is a casual and systemic disregard for blue collar worker’s rights in this country, starting from an institutional distaste for unions, lack of health coverage, job security, pensions, playing one set of workers against the other, using selectively and arbitrarily enforced immigration laws to keep workers pliant, putting industry executives and lobbyists in charge of agencies that are supposed to keep workers’ welfare in mind, stressing “voluntary” regulation. failing to react to new information, I could go on and on, but you know the deal.

Why is it that the US national press can identify so much easier with one isolated case of popcorn lung while having ignored all the other occupational exposure cases? I am just a scientist, no sociologist/economist/anthropologist, but it seems to me that the press here is way too white collar and just cannot relate to the average agricultural/industrial worker. The average journalist is a white man with a journalism major from a reputable school who cut his chops doing unpaid work for the school paper. These kinds of educational and apprenticeship requirements filter the journalist worker pool to a rather homogeneous white, middle class tepidity. Because the average journalist can’t identify with issues faced by blue collar America, there’s this unstated assumption that somehow, their lives are hard and fraught with danger and uncertainty, but they don’t really deserve much better, it’s their lot in life. It’s probably because they did not study hard enough or were smart enough.

As usual, there are no easy answers. I would say Agitate, Agitate, Agitate!! But what do I know about blue collar America? People are working so hard to make ends meet without a safety net or anyone looking out for them that they have just about enough energy to get through the day and face the next one.