Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Indians Did it!

A friend forwarded the following story from The Economist:

The piece is rather well-written, isn't it? Mazaaq-hee-mazaaq-main (In jest) it actually lays out the political topography of Pakistan right now rather well: We have two flawed "democrats" and a military strongman hogging the democratic aspirations of the 2nd largest Muslim country in the world (and the 2nd largest South Asian/6th largest over-all), while the people grasp at straws and the "Great Powers" play their games, while the neo-purist revolutionaries gain ground...

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Who's Editing the Wikipedia?

There's been quite some discussion about the Wikipedia, triggered by the recent report from a Caltech grad student analysing the anonymous edits to the encyclopedia. See for example:


A few points from a recovering Wikipedaholic:

The whole situation does not "prove" that that Wikipedia is useless or open to manipulation (at least not as easily as most press reports are implying). Note the following para:

"The text, deleted in November 2005, was quickly restored by another Wikipedia contributor, who advised the anonymous editor, "Please stop removing content from Wikipedia. It is considered vandalism."

Secondly, journalists are doing such a hack-job of this. The para I quoted above seems to imply that this was something unusual and the message from the editor was spontaneous--it's not; the message is now an everyday--or several times every second (and I am not exaggerating)--occurrence. The report on the BBC's site was even worse.

What all this does do is help us see what unethical behaviour folks are up to--Diebold, and everyone else.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Ignatieff's Mea Culpa

Bouncing off something a friend posted on Facebook. I read Michael Ignatieff's NY Times piece. Notes:
  • Is he always this long-winded? Or is it just becuase he's having to say sorry that it is difficult?
  • That's the longest I have seen any one take to call someone a rich brat who's caused a mess.
  • I like the fact that he only blames the troubles of Iraq on the last 35 years and doesn't go for the Western Establishment's usual "hundreds/thousands of years" that X non-white population has been dysfunctional.
  • I agree with the Achilles Heel theory that some folks mentions--that this is basically a way of neutralizing something that could hurt him politically. But he is, in effect, saying "It's not my fault; Harvard made me do it." Which only confirms that he's now all politician--and not the kind of politician folks love, neither.
The other issue a friend raised was why he said all that in the NY Times and not a Canadian magazine. My reaction is that I think that is but appropriate. His support for the Iraq War was as an academic/pundit at an American institution--you could say as an American pundit, in a manner of thinking. Or you could say that he work in support of the War was done while at the center/capital/seat of the empire, and it is only fair that he make his mea culpa's in the same forum--The Forum in Rome itself, if I may use the metaphor. In fact, the fact that he did in that forum might actually mean that it is a real conversion/Road to Damascus moment or what-have-you.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Pakistan and the US; Not Just An Open Letter to the Obama Campaign

I just sent this to the Obama campaign--the point raised goes way beyond the Senator's presidential fortunes:

Re: The war we need to win

You know, the funny thing is, a major presidential candidate recently said:

"And Pakistan needs more than F-16s to combat extremism. As the Pakistani government increases investment in secular education to counter radical madrasas, my Administration will increase America's commitment. We must help Pakistan invest in the provinces along the Afghan border, so that the extremists' program of hate is met with one of hope. And we must not turn a blind eye to elections that are neither free nor fair --our goal is not simply an ally in Pakistan, it is a democratic ally."

And no one noticed.

I don't need to tell y'all that the excerpt above is from the same Obama speech that is being quoted and re-quoted today.

If one steps back a bit, it really is very, very symptomatic of the underlying disconnect between the American establishment, in particular, and the Muslim world that in the same speech, the same gentleman that said the above and also says, describes the the Iraq War as:

"a misguided invasion of a Muslim country that sparks new insurgencies, ties down our military, busts our budgets, increases the pool of terrorist recruits, alienates America, gives democracy a bad name, and prompts the American people to question our engagement in the world..."

then advocates unilateral military action within the sovereign territory of the second largest Muslim nation in the world--five or six times as populous as Iraq. If George W. Bush is not the only one who can't formulate any polcy beyond alternating between supporting dictators with military aid on the one hand and the unilateral use of military force on the other--notwithstanding what I quote Barack Obama as having said in words that sound like wonderful music to the ears of this Pakistani resident of the US--then what hope do we have for world peace?

As a flashback, please do check out this picture of better days:

and the following blog post by Prof. Adil Najam up at Tufts:

I am copying this mail to the editors at the South Asian Journalists' Association Blog and, probably the most popular blog in the Pakistani American community. Hopefully they will consider it or inclusion/posting.

If anyone wants to discuss these issues further, do drop me a line.

Warm regards, and good luck with the campaign,


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Marxism in the 21st Century...

Folks will know I follow Marxism. As I have said elsewhere, "on the theoretical side, Marxism (not Lenin's version, and not Mao's version...) has very important tools, analyses, and insights to offer. It's very important to say that one should constantly be looking at different ways to analyse an issue (social, political, business-related, "professional", ... every type)--it's the only way to come to a more complete picture. The real world is most often a many-splendoured thing, with multiple layers, dimensions and dynamics at play. And in this regard, a Marxist analysis is a very important tool for looking at things from the view point of, specifically, what class dynamics are at play, and what economic dynamics are at play." Folks of faith are free to tune out when them commies get to opinion and matters of religion ;).

This is why the following caught my eye:
Communist Party of Cuba Approves
Investigation into Socialism of the 21st Century

Heinz Dieterich

July 7, 2007


Recently, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) decided that among its research priorities in the social sciences and humanities for the period 2007-2010 would be included “Socialism of the 21st Century.” This is good news – since its becoming a reality would reinsert the Cuban Revolution into one of the most important theoretical debates concerning humanity’s future.

More at
It will be interesting to see what thoughts, conclusions, insights, etc. they come up with. If you get any news of this or other such developments, please do drop me a line, or leave a comment on this site.

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