Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Julia Gillard

now that is a woman of substance.what a  great lady.

Monday, October 29, 2012

regarding Swedish hasbeens

Let's talk shoes. I 've only just recently heard about hasbeens. Among shoes. Among people, oh yes, a lot. In fact, now I think that it would have been better for me to be one.  But then how can a would-have-been or never-have-been be ever be a hasbeen?

Anyway, needless to say, I fell in love with these clog-like shoes right away. The colors are mindblowing. Coupled with the natural toned soles, they look friendly and free and neutral. Apparently, they have been around for some time now. They are from Sweden, by the way. They look comfy, and you may know of my natural affinity for clogs, from my previous post. And these hasbeens look stylish old fuddyduddies, to me. I can imagine myself wearing them and walking around. A kind of ageless me. I like what they wrote about a hasbeen on their website too.

But I haven't tried them on yet, probably never will. Like many other things in my life. hehe. No, seriously, these are rather costly for me. Still I think I can find some in there that are affordable. We'll see. But just look at them -- aren't they adorable?

Swedish hasbeens

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

the trouble with umbrage

The recent riots in Libya by angry Muslims certainly had sad consequences. Many commentators here seemed to be puzzled by the extreme anger at such a little matter.  A perplexing conundrum. Why do these people get so exaggeratedly emotional  about their faith? What makes them go berserk at what they consider slights against their religion? Doesn't matter if the slight is imagined or not. It seems like they cannot take some constructive criticism calmly, let alone a joke. What is their problem?

Well, I have to point out that there could be any number of reasons for their taking umbrage so. For one, when the majority of a group has nothing much except their faith, when they consider it as part of their identity, their dignity, then it kind of becomes pretty important to them. And there is a long, complex history between the West and its religion, and Islam. Losses have been incurred , by one side more than the other-- of wealth, of land, of resources, and after all that, being left powerless. When insulted, they cannot wage "legitimate"wars, only self-destructive unreasonable riots that affect plenty of innocent bystanders too, fatally. But having said that, I am aware of those who exploit the faith of the faithful. Most often, the majority wouldn't even have noticed the slight, they have other things to do. But the dabblers in power will bring it to their notice, and whip them up to a frenzy, blowing things out of proportion. Another facet of that animal called "politics". So, while I can try to understand the reason for their anger, I do not condone their disproportionate reaction. After all, it was a movie, and destroying their own country for that wouldn't do anything, except get some attention, and reprisals. What I am amazed more is at the puzzlement of the  commentators at the very emotions of these people. Listening to them we would think that this was a phenomenon that is very rare, that nobody else gets riled ever, when they think that they have been subject to an indignity.

Actually,  this taking umbrage is not so unusual among cultures. The reactions vary in degree and in kind from nation to nation, community to community. Everyone has a sensitive  point which someone can poke at, knowingly or unknowingly. The use of the phrase " Third  World" by a Westerner puts my back up -- although I don't go bashing the person, I feel insulted.  But then I am always taking umbrage. (Like an umbrella?) I took umbrage at Bourdain's disdain  for my homeland's cuisine. More at the people who said mean things about India, than at him ,but it was there.  In America, try being pro-life or pro-choice. You will get a taste of that umbrage, from all sides! Why does anyone in the West try not to use the N word anymore? Because they know it is not politically correct. And if someone did, he will be made to apologize right away. But "Third World" still does not get any respect. Which is all right too, because sometimes I feel that my country doesn't deserve any respect, in spite of its ancient greatness, when I think of the way it treats its women. that goes for much of the Third World, by the way, not just India. But that doesn't mean anyone else can call my country names!

The other day I read about Romney's son being asked by a reporter about his feelings when his father was called a liar by the President, publicly. (By the way, the President didn't actually call him a liar, but said some not nice things) Anyway, the poor guy said what came to his mind , as a citizen of a free country. As a son, like any son or daughter who loved their father  would say, he said something not nice. And he also added that he wasn't going to do it, that he understood the nature of the whole process. We have to remember that he did not do anything. What did the reporter expect to hear when he or she asked that question? "Oh, yes. my dad is a liar. we all are. and we are proud of it!" ? Of course he could have walked away, saying "no comment", or better, retort " YOU are a liar!", like a teenager :) But he chose to vent his frustration, honestly. But then people took umbrage. again, understandably. This is the President of the USA that we are talking about.  We have a right to take umbrage.But we needn't have really, not very much anyway,  as he had apologized to the President.  I am relieved that the President accepted his apology. (So it seems there's some extra umbrage that was wasted there,  that can be kept on reserve when the next incident of insult occurs hehe) When someone here made fun of Gandhi, Indians took umbrage, and many here were surprised. Why are they being so sensitive? What's the big deal? Can't they take a joke? But isn't it all a bit confusing? when it comes to standards? It is as if some insults and some protests are more justifiable than others, some insults are more punishable than others. As if the self-respect of one group is more valuable than others'. "All are equal, some are more equal". Who is the arbiter of these? Respect, a little bit of that would go a long way in easing that "anxiety of influence" of civilizations, of cultures. And it goes both ways. Along with that, empathy, and moderation.

On the other hand, where do we draw the line with regards to the extent and nature of of these protests against slights, and fights for freedom and faith? For I sometimes feel that a sound thrashing by their sober fellow countrymen would be very effective against these 'fighters" who make their statements by attacking women and children, innocent people, and by destroying public property, and in its extreme, committing murders. The numerous Civil wars, the supposedly ideological political party members' fights, - all these turn so ugly and in the end, hurting and taking the lives of fellow  human beings.

The problem here is not that cozy Wodehousian umbrage-taking really. It is what these protesters do with it, and how they do it. The mad fury that is unleashed at such times. The violence, the bloodshed, most of which are on themselves. and we have to remember that sometimes it is this sensitivity and self-awareness, this taking umbrage, that leads to great revolutions and struggles for independence from oppressive regimes , be in the area of politics or of gender or of race. and sometimes issues that many of us dismiss as silly at the time, can at some point turn out to be dangerous ideas of supremacy which cause holocausts of massive proportions.In any case,there should be more peaceful ways. But then a Gandhi would have to be born. But even then in this century, will it make any change?

Let's just hope that at some point in the future, these old "macho" civilizations will reach a place where they can vent their frustrations in a well-orchestrated, well-rehearsed, well-mannered function where all are dressed in the latest designer wear, sipping champagne. They will watch comedians and talk-show hosts act out the matter and make fun of the insulter in a very funny, endearing and sometimes rebellious manner. They will laugh and roll their eyes and go watch some more Reality TV, look for sales on well-co-ordinated, or mix-and-match, seasonal room decor, and have breaded snacks. Instead of lashing out at everyone blindly, they would have learned to deal with insults,  in a very civilized manner.Oh, and apologize. just apologize -- both sides. And write in their blogs, talk to a reporter if one can, and post on facebook and tweet on twitter and so on - go viral, and go on with more important stuff. forget what that idiot of a cartoonist or movie maker did, with a religion, or what that politician said about women.

For a society to reach that level of disinterestedness, albeit not completely impartial -- which level once we all reach, the world would have truly evolved into a peaceful place, where all are equally equal -- that society has to be at a certain happy place.The larger the number of the  citizens of a nation enjoy a comparatively stress-free life, whose basic needs are met more or less, have a higher standard of living, the less trouble they get into -- usually. (curiously, and very sadly, the number of serial killers seem to increase then). As it is, only those cultures that have that sense of pride, that sense of self-confidence can be really disinterested. And that number now is very low, almost nil. (There are those that have an inflated sense of importance, their superiority -- that is troublesome. )The majority of nations do not enjoy such an elevated status in their own eyes, or in the roster of nations. This disparity appears in other areas too -- gender, class, race -- not just nations. So there will be conflict -- slights, imagined or otherwise. Another side of the Foucaultian power and resistance to power. What I called ' the anxiety of influence of civilizations". And if all the leaders can be bridgers of gaps, instead of touting the differences to feel superior, rather than as an example of complexity,  we wouldn't be talking about this.

ps: are politicians saints? do they all speak the truth all the time? do we? but we don't count. let's talk of politicians. Do they all lie? Can they afford not to? Can they afford to be saints? I think it would be kind of like the great Ashoka's embrace of Buddhism -- which is not conducive to empire-building or maintaining. If all nations were to be saintly, then maybe the saintly politician can exist. Even then there is that fascination with power. How many can resist it? With education in the right manner things can change. But won't that be indoctrination? Looking at our current political atmosphere here, it was only recently that I heard about a candidate who stood for all the right issues . The ideal candidate. But how practical would his ideals be in the real America, in the real world? How would one pigeon fare among all the cats? I have seen how hard it has been for the current President to be the "bridger of gaps" among the people of his country, among nations etc. that he promised he would be. I do not see that humility, the humaneness, and the understanding that shone like a bright hopeful beacon after a dark period of arrogant jingoism, anymore. That is  probably not because he is not idealistic or humane anymore -- but that  he cannot afford to be, if he is to survive and succeed. Priorities changed.(Aside: Are saints politicians? oh well. we all die anyway.) But I do believe that if politicians are saints, then saints are politicians. They are all saints in the strength of their convictions, in their visions, and in  their willingness to work with determination towards their goals. They are all politicians, again, for the same reasons.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

run for your life

health- posts two days in a row -- am i some kind of a health nut? I know I am not, but do I get to pretend or what? it seems doing all those crossword puzzles or sweating your brain with sudoku ,or reading tons of books is not going to help prevent brain shrinkage when you get older. Instead, they advice walking.(BBC news). Or running, I guess if you can. Which I heard many can -- I don't know how I am going to be. Not that there's too long to go to get there. I read somewhere that people in Colorado, esp Denver, are very healthy, they are always riding bikes, and climbing mountains, and trekking and whatnot. They are ageless, they say. So that is one place I should never go to. Why go buy depression?

But if I can run when I hit 70, I wish I could do it like Phoebe and Rachel. Now that is running. Sometimes I try that on the treadmill  (to "I'm going nowhere... somebody help me!" ):) Actually, that is friendship too. Which I think is more important. When you have someone to talk to, not just once a day, or once a week, but someone, or people around you, that makes a difference. That is one of the reasons why the older cultures have lesser number of patients with Alzheimers. Or, it could be that they aren't diagnosed as much, but I believe there are studies that indicate that some Asian and European communities have lesser incidence of this sad, dignity-robbing disease.

Monday, October 22, 2012

to supplement, or not to?

This is for the ladies -- especially of a certain age. When we get to that age, there is apparently the problem of thyroid disorder, and it is pretty serious, broken bones, kidney stones -- there's a rhyme to this. Now they say that it is connected to a deficiency in Calcium. The good old Calcium -- the proverbial case of water, water everywhere -- not a drop to drink! I mean, they ask you to take supplements because it is hard to get everything from one's food. Then they say supplements are no good, because our body can't process it. And milk is a great source of Calcium. So we drink lots of milk -- and then we hear milk is for calves, not for humans. Human body cannot process milk. So what does a body do? oh, and you need Vitamin D to help process good old Cal, and again the same deal with Vitamin D -- to supplement or not to? that is the question.

Anyway this is what Iam doing for now.

I take a multivitamin 5 days a week. There is some Cal in it. With my oatmeal I use a cup of fat free milk, and I add a few almonds and raisins and craisins. All those are said to have Cal. And I eat fish, especially sardines now and then, and I have lots of veggies in my sambar. Hope this will help with  my Cal needs, and thereby, my thyroid. And I will live happily everafter.

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