Wednesday, November 30, 2005

here's a picture of neha and i with the nepali coast in the background. we took this at a restaurant at the princeville hotel. the food was great, the view spectacular Posted by Picasa

kauai timeshare: neha and i almost bought a timeshare on kauai... well, not really. but in order to get excellent discounts on various island events, we sat through a 2 hour pitch by randy, who was trying to sell us a week or two of time on the island. Posted by Picasa

wild chickens: the loudest and most prolific bird on kauai, the unofficial state bird. the roosters made sooo much noise! they would crow at any time of day, not just at sunrise. the most amusing part of the trip is when we were driving and a bunch of the chickens crossed the road in front of us :) Posted by Picasa

kauai: a view from a helicopter Posted by Picasa

beautiful kauai, hills and all Posted by Picasa

activist video game

while flying to hawaii, and between islands, i had a chance to listen to many podcasts. one that particularly interested me was the On The Media podcast from November 25th. at the end of their show, they talked to Ivan Marovic, an activist who helped topple Milosevic, and is now helping activists around the world build more effective movements.

the interesting part of the podcast came when Ivan started talking about a video game he was helping build that was targetted at people interested in activism. Ivan said:
This game, I think the working title is "A Force More Powerful," is a game where a player will be able to organize a mass movement against a dictatorship. It's going to be violent game with prosecutions, with arrests, with kidnapping. The only person that will not be allowed to be violent is the player. (link)
Here's some more links:
a windows media video demoing the game
the game company producing the game, BreakAway Games
Fortune article about Ivan

Monday, November 14, 2005

i need a karaoke song

... and now for something a little more cheerful ...

on saturday i did karaoke with a bunch of people in a private karaoke room. we were singing in celebration of vijay's birthday. it was lots of fun. belting out eighties songs (well, there were other options, but i got into the 80s), realizing that the words to many songs make no sense, and watching random images associated with the songs was all quite amusing.

however, i realize i don't really have a *song* of my own. something that at the drop of a hat i could sing loudly and confidently. i need one. i need to take my karaoke to the next level!

what's your karaoke song?

photo courtesy of misha

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

wikipedia entry on riots in france

the wikipedia now has a constantly changing entry on the riots. this is a great place to gather links that provide statistics about the number of uprisings, and what's going down, day to day.

a readable entry taking bea's view?
google ads and the riots

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

france state of emergency

the guardian has an article outlining the state of emergeny instituted by villepin (link)

the article touches on an idea raised by one of my berkeley friends:
The Egyptian daily Al-Massaie referred to the riots as ``the intefadeh of the poor.'' Arabic satellite networks have given lead coverage to the mayhem, with regular live reports. Newspapers have followed the story on inside pages, calling it a ``nightmare'' and a ``war of the suburbs.''
the idea is that while the riots might seem to have nothing to do with radical islam, and perhaps islam itself in general, muslim groups across europe and elsewhere have latched onto this outburst and used it as an illustration of the western world's poor treatment of muslims. this can be a vehicle for their ideas.

-- now i'm going to get in my soapbox and post some thoughts that i haven't given enough thought to, but want out there --

i think the reality is that questions around islam in france are certainly worth considering in light of this uprising, however to focus on that might be to neglect more important concerns about race, political access, and workplace access for minorities in france.

my friend also wished that there was some way someone could interview all the people arrested in this uprising: why did you do it? did you have goals? were there leaders? how do you feel about... etc..

i think doing that is extremely important, and one dimension of its importance that particularly fascinates me is how the sum might be very different than the individual parts... things have emerged from these actions that might have nothing to do with any of the goals of the involved individuals. how does that happen? how does the meaning change and evolve as it moves through the network of public thought and opinion?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

let's not forget about pakistan

the earthquake in pakistan had devastating consequences, and more people will die this winter if remote mountain towns can't be reached in time. see this article.

see the international red cross site.
give here.

paris riots

for the past 11 days, some people in france, mostly youth, have been up-in-arms, torching cars, holding flash-riots, organizing flash-mobs via text msgs, and generally protesting, or acting out. but to what end? how organized is it? are there unified goals?

i can't hope to have authoritative answers on any of these questions. instead, i plead with you to hit the mainstream media, read one of their accounts, and then dive into an exploration of what the blogosphere is saying. try some blogsearching (sort by time is also interesting).

then read and think. you will be bombarded by a huge array of opinions, some left, some right, some center, some odd. each has their own hypothesis. it's far too early for any of the hypotheses to be fully developed, or really testable. here are some major terms and phrases i've come across in just an hour of reading (note i'm going to try and avoid giving my opinion as much as possible here, and just lay out some ideas. i'll develop my train of thought in later posts)

criminal economy: i start with this one because it's so fascinating, and not what you hear about at all in the mainstream media. this blog states that these actions got out of hand because the French Interior Minister (Sarkozy) is trying "to eliminate the parallel criminal economy that provides the main means of economic advancement and status in many of these immigrant communities."

radical islam:
there are blogs that say these riots are either fostered by those on the side of radical islam, or in any case are helping radical islam. this blog is a good read on these points. there are other blogs that come right out and say that this problem is obviously an illustration of the clash of civilizations (link).

rebellion against injustice: this is another popular take. the immigrants of france have been locked out of the economy for too long, and there was a natural anger brewing, and it took this form. (link)

politics, politics, power politics: there's a lot of disillusionment online that this whole disaster is a mess caused by, and handled poorly by, the french political elite. from the construction of these neighborhoods, to the ignoring of the disenfranchised youth, to umemployment and funding cuts, and finally to the lame-duck responses of chirac, villepin, and sarkozy, the french political establishment is just a big mess (link)

flashmobs, decentralized organization: there is a lot of talk about how these acts have been organized with cell phones and text messaging and over the internet. a good place to read about this idea is howard rheingold's smartmobs site. there's a short quote about the riots on the site here

odd: this somewhat odd post talks about the auto-insurance implications of all the burned-out cars. (link)

please comment and send me links and ideas. my main point is that there are so many opinions swirling right now (and these aren't even first-hand french opinions i've examined!) that it's worth taking some time to do lots of reading and information gathering.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

british history, how interesting!

i was browsing around the bbc when i came upon this retrospective on The Gunpowder Plot. The plot wan attempt by English Catholics to overturn the popular religious and political establishment. The interesting thing about this retrospective is they examine the always fun "what if" .. what if the plot had succeeded?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

this one is also blurry, but do you see the man and the word? Posted by Picasa

my hands shake so much, but i nevertheless wanted to post this: it's a blurry photo of a wallace and gromit pumpkin! isn't it fantastic? Posted by Picasa

leslie and i went out to a concert in the park. it was the day before hallowe'en, so we dressed up. i'm supposed to be some sort of 80s character. mainly i just had a tight unitard on.  Posted by Picasa

i wish i could go around with raja like this man goes around with whitey here Posted by Picasa