Life, Culture and the Arts

Here is a touching story. The people of the Russian town of Beslan, where terrorists killed a bunch of kids, is giving US$36000 to tsunami relief, out of the funds the world sent them after their ordeal. That’s the kind of thing that gives me a little hope.

In fact, everyone’s response to the tsunami crisis –with the exception of George Bush and the Ayn Rand Institute– has been so passionate and genuine that I, ever the grey cynic, am actually moved. The response in Toronto and Ottawa to our call for help has been grand, with, for example, entertainers organizing themselves into fundraising events. There’s nothing wrong with feeling good about yourselves, people; you’ve earned it.

Meanwhile, the US military is looking for a way to legalize the lifetime incarceration of terror suspects without trial. An official policy of torture -in some cases to death- and now of lifetime imprisonment without due process: welcome to Orwell’s 1984 two decades too late.



On a completely unrelated note, a new movie called
Guiana 1838 finally tells the tale of the arrival of Indian indentured servants to Guyana. Those people were my direct ancestors, and I’m happy their story is finally being told.



And
this Guyanese fellow has some personal good news. For a while now, my work has been studied at Cornell and Columbia Universities in New York. Last year both, Ryerson University (in Toronto) and the University of New Brunswick (in Fredericton) added my bibliography to their English classes. And today I learned that my short story “Motherland” is being included as material for a new undergraduate course called “India, Life, Culture, and the Arts.” Whoohoo!

Don’t forget, if you live in Toronto, try to attend our fundraising event at Andy Pool Hall tonight!

Fundraising Events in Toronto

It’s unlike me to post twice on the same day, but this is important. Our tsunami relief group, the Canadian Committee for Relief to Eastern Province, has scored three exciting fundraising events in Toronto. The first one is tomorrow. Come if you can. If you can’t, please share this info with those who might:

1.Wednesday Jan 5th @ Andy Pool Hall (489 College St)

Better-times music provided by DJs:

Hatiras, Matt C, DJ Dayhota, Dino & Terry, DJ Krista, Denise Benson,

Charles Lewis, Dany V., Adam Nathan, Justin Medved, Amir Ebrahimnia,

Whitney Baker, Tee Loo’s Kitchen, Joel Smye, Simon Rojas, Andrew

Allsgood, DJ Zahra, and Marc de Breyne with many more supporters!

7pm-2:30 AM

Minimum donation: $5

All money raised at the door, a percentage of bar sales, and the proceedsof the auction (featuring products from Puma Clothing, Prize Records, Crash Records and Bustle Clothing) will be donated.

2. Thursday Jan 13th @ The Embassy (223 Augusta Ave)

Hosted by Nirmala from Controller Controller, with DJs

DJ Serious, Mike Tull, Denise Benson, Brenden Canning Broken Social

Scene, Abacus, DJ Nav, John Kong, Son of S.O.U.L., Dalia, Dj Nana,

Jocelyn D, DJ Nav, John Kong, Noel Nanton, Kola, Chocolate, Sonar, DJ Amita

9:pm-2:AM

$10 – $50 sliding scale

3. Friday Jan 21: The big one…. Legendary South Asian singer Shahid

Ali Khan will perform at the Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street W.)

7pm onward

$10 in advance (fally@pstgconsulting.com)

$15 at the door

Khan is a disciple of the late great Qawwali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali

Khan. This is a huge deal.

More seriousness

I’d forgotten that I’d sent my two tsunami articles to Rabble.ca, and apparently they’d forgotten to inform me that they’d published them! Both pieces appear here.

The horrors in post-tsunami SE Asia continue to mount. There are new reports of organized abuse of women and children in the refugee shelters, including the gang rape of children. As many have been saying for some time, the wave was only the beginning of the misery; this is a longterm tragedy.

Then there’s this doofus named David Holcberg who’s arguing that the USA and other rich nations should not be sending financial aid to SE Asia, pretty much because government money should be spent on domestic issues only. Unsurprisingly, he writes this for the Ayn Rand Institute. Interesting how conservative think tanks have no problem spending hundreds of billions bombing other countries, but balk at spending a few million to help them.

Let me spell it out for you, Holcberg: if you don’t want to give because it’s morally right, then do it for selfish reasons. SE Asia’s collapse means a greater probability of the collapse of the world banking system, a dramatic decline in the purchasing power of big markets for the USA and increased instability in places like Indonesia where anti-US rebels are already making headway. See? Keeping SE Asia safe and happy is best for everyone.

Lord Love A Geoduck

With all the seriousness about us these days, let’s dwell on some frivolity, shall we? The following is supposedly a photo of Rasputin’s penis, recently bought on auction by a curiosity collector:

 

geoduck

It does seem likely, though, that had the mad monk’s schlong been sliced off, it would have been at its base and not the navel, no? Besides, this looks more like a geoduck or a sea cucumber. Will wonders never cease?

Now, one of my favourite shows these days happens to be Stargate: Atlantis, which is a spin-off of Stargate SG-1. But here’s my problem with the new show. Why does the grand city of a 10,000 year old technologically-advanced space-faring civilization so resemble my highschool chemistry class? A failure of imagination, my friends. Same reason all aliens on American sci-fi shows happen to be white people with mid-Western accents.

And speaking of aliens on American sci-fi shows, how come none of them ever speaks with contractions? Something about advanced alien culture that is averse to the apostrophe? Just another mystery for our times, I guess.

PS. Both of my tsunami articles (here and here) have seen interest from India Currents Magazine; the first might see print in February.

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