Wednesday, August 31, 2011

National Guard Airlifts Supplies to Vermont Towns Isolated by Irene's Flooding

I saw the above headline and couldn't help but remember Brian Williams's comment on The Daily Show after Katrina wondering how fast and how effective the response would have been if that kind of thing happened in New England in a mostly white town. "Where was the 101st Airborne?" he seemed to ask.

Check out this video on YouTube:

Dangerous Every Other Sunday

I wish the global media--even the "not corporate media" like The Guardian, Al Jazeera English, Democracy Now!, etc.--would have some sort of consistent engagement with "The most dangerous country in the world" rather than this bungee-when-someone-yanks-our-chain attitude. I checked yesterday and the latter two had NOthing about the political crisis in Pakistan. And as for The Guardian, check out and see if you find the biggest story in Pakistan right now on there.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

HP Revives TouchPad after people actually buy it—Duh!!

"The resurrection of the TouchPad follows a spike in demand after H-P, desperate to clear out unsold inventory that had piled up at retailers, slashed the price of the low-end model from $399 to $99."

That's what I have been friggin' saying for months now! The market is DESPERATE for a tablet that isn't just about making some spoilt IT brat his first billion.

Silicon Valley and American industry's gotten so Wall Street-fixated, even the Onion couldn't make this sh*** up!

There; I said it.

More here:

and more details without paying here:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Proletarian / "Awami" reaction to the Anna Hazare Movement

 A few things I have been following re: the Anna Hazare movement:

A Great Opportunity, A Serious Danger

Amongst the signatories here is Biju Matthew, who I know personally and greatly respect.

SaveConstitution dot IN

This was posted on Facebook by no less than Shabnam Hashmi, who a lot of us respect.

And a piece by a friend of mine:

And then there's the sound and fury within Indian Muslim leadership:

Top Indian cleric warns Muslims off Anna Hazare

on the one hand and the reaction of the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat on the other:

Voting Rights for Overseas Pakistanis

The PTI, in particular, has been making a lot of noise about voter registration and the integrity of voter rolls in Pakistan. And, of course, a lot of their enthusiastic support is amongst youth--not a few of them overseas. (See their web page in this regard here.)

So, to get the discussion going and help set the expectation of enthusiastic overseas supporters, here's what I know so far about their own voting rights and process:

There is no process for overseas pakistanis. What the party is recommending is the best they can do: to behave like other Pakistanis and make sure we're registered in our "home" constituencies and then try to vote there. There is not absentee ballot or overseas voting like we've seen for Iraqis, or Americans, or others.

The then Minister for Overseas Pakistanis (Farooq Sattar) and the Prime Minister have committed to/approved the latter in principle (with Dr. Sattar's own party having its own strong base amongst expatriate Karachiites), but it seems it hasn't been implemented in time for the upcoming elections. It is something that parties and activists need to push for. Here's my previous post from when they announced that they would enfranchise Overseas Pakistanis.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Can I get an "Allelujah" for the Heartsong Church of Cordova, Tenn. (via @npr @goatmilk)

I am not a fan of treacly interfaith pablum, but this red sign pictured in the story made my heart dance.

Read the full story on NPR here. I guess that's my take on interfaith stuff; I know it's useful and nice, but the triumphalist, happy-happy-joy-joy gatherings leave me cold. It's this kind of actual practical relationships that are the real way to live one's faith. [As the Cory Booker quote from last week pointed out:
"Don’t speak to me about your religion; first show it to me in how you treat other people. Don't tell me how much you love your god; show me in how much you love all his children. Don't preach to me your passion for your faith; teach me through your compassion for your neighbors. In the end, I'm not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as I am in how you choose to live and give. "
Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, NJ

Asma Jahangir is still my hero

Sunday, August 21, 2011

On Identity, Immigration, and being a "Muhajir"

I lived in Nigeria (14), Pakistan (10 yrs), and now the US (17 years as of this week). It has been an interesting journey. In fact, a lot of my life has been a journey of sorting out identity. I used the opportunity to spend the middle third of my life in Pakistan itself to ground myself in that culture—but even today, it's an evolving, changing thing. Today, I am the parent and uncle of people (one is officially an adult and in college as of this week) of Americans, but, and this is the one unmitigated joy of my life, rather well-rounded, well-grounded ones who know from whence they are their folks, as we say in America, are coming from.

When I was in my early/mid-teens I once asked my father about all the immigrating and migrating our family had been up to in the last 3/4 generations (from Bara Banki District to Lucknow District to Karachi to--for a while--West Africa and back to Karachi and later to the US). His response was one misra from an old sheyr:
hai tark-e-wathan sunnath-e-rasool-e-khudha

(forsaking [one's] homeland is a tradition of The Prophet of God)
Whether you want to take it in a religious direction or not, the lesson I took from it was that it's a prophetic thing; embrace it, own it, be it. Muhajir for Eva! [And that's not a political statement; remember, the MQM itself has moved on from Muhajir to Muttaheda] 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

On Corruption

 More later, but for now, allow me to quote a 1400-year old text:
"While selecting your officers ... Keep them also well-paid so that they may not be tempted to lower their standard of morality and may not misappropriate the cash of the State which they hold in their trust and if after being paid handsomely they prove dishonest, then you will be right to punish them."
In short, first fix the systemic causes/reasons for corruption that were part of the original, colonial, design of our systems. Low salaries for public servants; rules of engagement/procedure geared to control the public and not serve it and so on.

Then we will have the right to expect, much less demand, honesty. Before that, it is either naive, ill-advised, or disingenuous. And I am being polite there.

Extra points for folks that can tell me which text that quote is from--of course, other than followers of the Shia schools of Islam, since most of those brothers and sisters can quote this in their sleep.

Monday, August 15, 2011

On Anwar Al-Awlaki

I just had reason to observe, on Facebook, that a few years ago, I was the crazy radical that listened to the first few minutes of a CD by Anwar Al-Awlaki and said to my wife and the friend who bought it for us "This man is a fanatic." Everyone else was thinking of him as a the "moderate Islamist"--including the State Department, the Washington Post, and most of the people in my Muslim community. Here's a Salon article that details the transformation of Al-Awlaki

Friday, August 12, 2011

Addictions of Our Youth

Ghalib chhuti sharaab par abhi kabhi kabhi
Peetha hoon roz-e-abr-o-shab-e-mahtab mein

Ghalib, the bottle is in my past now, but yet, once in a while

I drink on days that are overcast, and on nights moonlit

[you have to remember that for people from desert climes, an overcast day isn't dreary, but full of the expectation of life-giving rain. see, for example,]

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The Spirit of Ramazan

I haven't written anything new, but previous comments on Ramazan, Eid (and the moonsighting issue) are here (also available on, here and here