Friday, March 10, 2006

v for vanity

Alan Moore has severed ties with everybody who has tried to make money out of his various comic books, as those in the loop must know from way back. Somehow his childish petulance strikes a chord. Read on in the New York Times Magazine.

dull dystopia

Dystopia can be so boring.

This weekend, intrigued by the pre-release hype for the movie version of V for Vendetta, I got ahold of the comic book series. My expectations were high, I suppose. But after the first volume, I have to say I'm not impressed, and I can't imagine why anyone would choose this particular series to make into a movie. Alan Moore's Watchmen was much, much better.

What's wrong with it? Nothing really. It just seems so tired. The whole dystopia England thing might as well have been written by a drugged up adolescent with an anachronistic love for Pink Floyd. England is the only country left after some intercontinental ballistic missile farce, all the world's arts and culture has been suppressed, the people of color and the homosexuals have been put into concentration camps and exterminated and the people in charge bear a distinct resemblance to a retread version of Orwell's 1984.... (You can just hear the lines "put 'em up against the wall" ringing). Throw in a dash of Batman (this time the Joker is the star), a little bit of Brazil, and mix well.


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

killing a chicken to scare the monkeys

There's something particularly apt about the Chinese saying about making an example, "killing a chicken to scare the monkeys." On the one hand, the saying suggests that it just might be a useful strategy. After all, you can catch the chicken and the monkeys are sitting safe in their trees. On the other hand, it suggests that the person who gets made an example and the audience that is meant to take the lesson to heart often have little or nothing in common.

So, I believe, is the case with Zahira Sheikh. Today India's newspapers cheered the Supreme Court's imposition of a one year jail sentence and Rs. 50,000 fine on Zahira Sheikh for reversing her testimony in the Best Bakery case (related to the Gujarat pogrom). But what did this punishment really accomplish? To be sure, India has a huge problem with perjury, and the judicial and law enforcement authorities need to take action to solve it. Yet I have a sinking feeling. One prosecution is not an example. It's an exception. And, in this case, a rather obvious one. How easy is it to prosecute a woman without resources? Surely she cannot expect loyalty from the thugs she sought to exonnerate now they've been convicted. And how much freedom of choice did she really have in the matter to begin with? Will the forces of law succeed, too, in ferreting out and punishing the people who sought to pay or threaten Zahira to change her testimony? Will the Supreme Court now be issuign similar rulings against the witnesses in the Jessica Lal murder case--who have highly placed friends and belong to the elite class? Sadly, I doubt it very much.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

pakistan is nucular, too!

I remember a buddy of mine returned from Pakistan with a t-shirt that read, "Pakistan is NUCLEAR!" Good stuff.

On to my point: Why is it that nobody in the press will ever admit that every country, especially those who imagine their interests may one day conflict with those of the US or another major power, wants to get nuclear weapons? Of course every country wants nuclear weapons. That's the only way anybody will listen to you. Do you think the US would have invaded Iraq instead of Pakistan if Iraq had nuclear weapons and Pakistan did not? I'm guessing the route would have started from Kabul and worked its way to Islamabad, a hellova lot more convenient than running two camps, one in South Asia and another in the Middle East.

That's why I think that Bush's policy on India's nuclear program is an intelligent, englightened, and realistic one. Yes, India's weapons may proliferate--they seemed to do a pretty good job of that without any help from America. But denying reality wasn't going to change anything. And by putting real effort behind his words about India's and America's common aims and values, Bush has accomplished much more towards ensuring that those bombs never go off--not to mention showing the rest of the world that America just *might* be a country that will listen to you if you don't have a thermonuclear device pointed in its direction.

Now let's see what happens with Iran.