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Commercial Media Workers and the “War on Mumbai”

As much as the terrorist attack on Mumbai has exposed India’s unpreparedness to respond, it has exposed the Indian media’s lack of ethics and the death of journalism in Indian television.

The commercial media workers have been screaming at us continuously for about four days now, conveying opinions and impressions rather than facts and figures. Bringing us, and to the terrorists, minute-by-minute updates on what the over-burdened, blundering, ill-equipped “security” forces were up to. They did not leave anyone alone – not freed hostages, nor the families of those who were still trapped. They kept beating their breasts once in a while, proclaiming that they were “standing sentinel” and performing a yeomen service, even going so far as to call themselves heroes. Two channels were even going at each other, claiming how their live coverage was actually live and not five minutes delayed like the other channels.

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What Blocked Blogspot

A few days ago, there was a hue and cry raised in the blogosphere and in Indian media about the Government blocking access to blogspot, typepad and geocities. Slowly it was revealed that the Government had little to do with the blocking. They had merely passed on a list of 18 “web sites” to all ISPs, demanding that they be blocked with immediate effect. The ISPs, obviously manned by ill-informed and technically inept people, went ahead and blocked entire domains. Bloggers raved and ranted, the media picked up on the blockade, and the story came out. Now, a few sites remain blocked, but all the main blogging sites are back. read more

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Free Speech Bullshit

Here is Sevanti Ninan engaging in some jingoistic breast-beating of the worst kind.

She claims that Free Speech is protected and guaranteed more in India than in the US. What makes this assertion laughable is that no blogger can even take action against any ISP for so hamhandedly implementing a unilateral ban decision by the State. She goes on to state, at the end of her article that what she, along with some luddite bureaucrats (who had the temerity to ask how one’s quality of life was affected because of the ban on some blogs) calls “hate mongering” should not get the protection of free speech. read more

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Star Wars and Top Slip

Vibhu points to this piece on Slate, and calls it an interesting read.

If you are not overly fond of Star Wars, or do not want to take the time to read a long-winded treatment of the Star Wars sextet as “the greatest postmodern art film ever,” don’t bother reading the Slate article. It is Aidan Wasley spending about 1500 words of sentences like

the much-deplored dependence on computer animation in the prequels, which opened up spectacular vistas at the expense of feeling and characterization, can be seen as Lucas tilting dangerously toward the Dark Side. There’s no place for serendipity in a pixilated galaxy, since every digital detail must be planned and plotted and programmed. read more

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A Cruel Joke

The Hindu, normally a reliable-enough newspaper and not an institution given to playing practical jokes, seems to be breaking new ground. This morning’s paper contained an article that would not have been out of place in, say, Beeton’s Christmas Annual, alongside the first appearance of A Study in Scarlet. It would have been hopelessly anachronistic even at the turn of the last century. The views and the manner in which they were expressed competed with each other for being embarrassingly retrograde, and any editor in the 1900s or after would have told the writer to get a life and stop writing. read more

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For the first time since I have moved here, I feel ashamed of being a Chennaivaasi.

My city has disgraced itself, and I am outraged, hurt and ashamed.

I echo what Shobha Warrier says here and Nirupama Subramanian says here.

Being from small-town Tamilnadu, the Chennai cop has always been, to me at least, a comfortable-to-deal-with entity. There are rules and lines, which if broken or crossed, will get you into trouble with one of them. However, these are clear and well defined, and as long as you have not transgressed, the Chennai cop is a reasonable, and to an extent, even tolerant, person. Contrast this with a provincial cop, with whom you are always in trouble. The fact that he wears a uniform, and you do not, seems to give him the authority to behave badly with you and harrass you, which he does not hesitate to take advantage of. Compared to them, Chennai cops were a refreshing change. Not any longer, it seems. The Chennai police have proved themselves to be intolerant and retrograde, and have been backed up by a judge’s ruling that it is “indecent” for a man to kiss his wife. In jumped the so-called guardians of “Tamil culture” – none of whom has even an iota of knowledge about Tamil, culture, or the underpinning ethos of what they so flippantly call “thamizh panpaadu” – and cried themselves hoarse about the degradation of Tamil values and the Tamil way of life. read more

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Here Comes the Taliban

A few years ago, we were witness to the activities of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Some time later, they were kicked out. However, many of their leaders are still at large.

An article in today’s Hindu seems to throw some light on where some of them may be. Some of them seem to have established a training and indoctrination school, through which many Chennai college principals seem to have successfully passed.

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Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Finished reading Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince last night.

While the first five books are essentially school stories, which also stand well on their own as individual books, HBP makes a departure from this. HBP takes a leap from these – it is set in Hogwarts, but it is not a school story. It presupposes that you have read the other five (not that it should be otherwise!), and heavily depends on knowledge from them.

Another major departure from the earlier books is the unabashed importance given to the storyline and advancement of the plot. Detail is given the go-bye, and action is the key. By doing all this, JKR has set up a mega finale to happen in the seventh and final book. Rather like Kill Bill, HBP is the first in the series that has no resolution – only a lead in to the next book – and like the two Kill Bill films, books six and seven are part of a set – a set that is incomplete with just one of them. So begins another long wait till the next one comes along! read more

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Bashing Microsoft China

Microsoft censors Chinese blogs
Microsoft helps China to censor bloggers
Microsoft censors its blog tool

It’s as if Christmas, New Year and your birthday happened on the same day. The media have gone to town, crying foul because Microsoft China is not breaking the law.

I wonder what RSF would do if they had a lot of money – hire a mercenary army and try to ‘liberate’ China? Just because a country happens to have laws with which they do not agree, they express “disgust” when Microsoft or Yahoo abides by the laws of a land. What do they want – corporate giants to turn social activists? read more

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