Monthly Archives: October 2015

Happy Halloween!

By two_kittehs

Happy Halloween! Other Halloween lols here. What is your favorite scary movie? For me it is a tossup between Exorcist and Psycho. Do you dress up your kittehs for Halloween? I am too scared of bosscat to be so impertinent.

David Brooks Pimps Rubio and Ryan

After his brief foray into the land of intellectual honesty, David Brooks, is back to pimping toxic Republican policies and politicians who espouse them.

Voters don’t have to know the details of their nominee’s agenda, but they have to know that the candidate is capable of having an agenda.

Don’t worry your pretty little head about Marco’s agenda just know that he has one and chose him, just like I have, says Brooks. He is pretty for a politician and has R after his what more can a columnist/ Republican shill want? Then he says this about Jeb:

He would probably be a very effective president. And he would have been a very effective candidate — but in 1956.

Is Brooks calling Jeb, Eisenhower? What is the evidence for this hyperbole. Apart from fixing the election in Florida in his brother’s favor what exactly are Jeb Bush’s accomplishments.

Ted Cruz looks likely to emerge as the candidate of the disaffected white working class — the noncollege-educated voters who are now registering their alienation and distrust with Trump.

A Harvard and Princeton alumnus is now the tribune for the disaffected according to Brooks. His own newspaper however says otherwise, far from being the voice of the working class, Cruz is the darling of hedge fund managers, who have donated generously to his campaign.

Coming back to Rubio, who has been hailed as the fresh face to look out for by the Beltway types for over year, has nothing to offer but stale ideas where policy is concerned.

His policy on taxes is the same as other Republicans.

He would simplify the tax code, reduce rates and move us toward a consumption-based system by reducing taxes on investment.

His bold new initiative according to Brooks

He adds a big $2,500 child tax credit that is controversial among conservative economists, but that would make life easier for working families.

In what world is $2500 tax credit, a big credit? That’s probably less than what Brooks gets paid per column. Also what if you don’t have any children?

Rubio is also trying to sell other warmed over stale Republican ideas like wage subsidies i.e. paying employers to hire people and flex funds that the states would administer instead of the Federal government. Giving power to the states may sound good on paper, but in reality, it has meant giving power to the states to screw over their most vulnerable members, usually minorities and women.  A look at the map of uninsured Americans is a telling example of what happens when the administration of social welfare policies are left up to the states

According Brooks, Rubio is an apostle of the new so called reform conservatism, which is nothing but old snake oil in new bottle. Reform conservative nostrums for the ailing economy are like telling a person who is a bleeding from a head wound, that it would be good if they also lost some weight. Yes, losing weight would be good in the long term, but you need to stanch the bleeding right now.

In economic terms, job losses and rising inequality are mainly the result of the demand shock following the financial crash, not some structural weakness In the economy. While fixing the structural problems is a good idea, a patient suffering from heavy blood loss needs a transfusion not lectures on how to improve his overall health by healthy eating and exercise. When the economy needed a stimulus, the equivalent of a blood transfusion, to make up for the private sector entrenchment, most Republican legislators voted against it.

If Ryan and Rubio do emerge as the party’s two leaders, it will be the wonkiest leadership team in our lifetime. That’s a good thing.

Rubio and Ryan are not wonks, they are smooth snake oil salesmen, of whom the beltway media approves, since they are easy on the eyes and better at peddling the economics that favors the media types and their friends than your average Republican legislator.

Election in Bihar

The third phase of voting in the  Bihar, the thirteenth largest state in India and a part of the Hindi heartland, is coming to a close.  Although, right nowit is known for its intractable corruption and sleaze, even by Indian political standards, it  was once the heart of the Indian civilization. Buddha preached here and Patliputra, now Patna, was the seat of  the  Maurya empire which reached its zenith in Ashoka’s time.

This race hasn’t received much coverage in the major media outlets over here but is being followed with bated breath in India. The incumbent chief minister is Nitish Kumar from Janata Dal, one of the many socialist parties of India.  Many see this as a referendum on the Modi government. Last year Narendra Modi ‘s Bharatiya Janata Party won the national elections decisively and was able to form a government without the help of any other parties.  This was the  first time ever, that  a party other than the Congress had been able to do so at the Center*. Another important figure in Bihar politics is Mr. Laloo Prasad Yadav of Rashtriya Janata Dal. Laloo was the chief minister of Bihar in the nineties and more recently India’s railway minister.

After a year the shine has worn off Modi and his government. Despite all the talk of economic development, wherever BJP was elected at the state level they pushed through their hobby horse of banning beef and other such reactionary measures, which most voters could care less about.  The polls indicate a tight race. Stay tuned for an update.

Narendra Modi, Nitish Kumar and Laloo Prasad Yadav (from left to right)

* Janata Party  defeated the Congress at the hustings in 1977. Technically it was a single party, in reality it was an uneasy coming together of various socialist parties and BJP’s precursor, Jan Sangh.  The party broke-up under the weight of its own contradictions before completing an entire term in office.

Next Speaker?

By two_kittehs

What do you think? I am leaning towards a no.

Indian Summers, Episode 2, Season 1, Its all A Mystery To Me

This review contains spoilers, consider yourself warned.

Indian Summers was back this Sunday night on Masterpiece Theatre. This installment was even worse than the last one. This show has become so mysterious that it is completely opaque now. In addition to the attempt murder of last week this week has an actual murder made to look like a suicide attempt. There is drama, there is sex, there is violence, there is too much going on to keep things straight.

Unfortunately, none of the characters are particularly interesting. I suppose we are meant to sympathize with the simpering Alice Whelan, because she has developed some sympathies towards Aafrin Dalal, the guy who got shot last week. She seems rather clueless. First she abandons her guests who are especially there to pay her a visit to burst unannounced into Dalal’s house.  She then blurts out about Aafrin’s injuries which the family had managed to keep a secret from their ailing father (Roshan Seth).

The other goody goody British character, missionary Doug is rather unsympathetic too, last week he was flirting with a co-worker and this week he was emotionally unavailable to his wife, a meddling busybody, who is a piece of work. Dougie’s unpleasant wife Sarah, is also a budding detective, who is trying to get to the bottom of the mystery of Alice’s missing husband. She wrote  a letter to her peeps in London asking them to investigate. Truth be told, I cannot muster an ounce of sympathy for any of the  British characters in this show.  It 1932 and way past the the time for British Crown to let go of India.  In fact it should have been done after the end of World War I, instead the British presence is becoming an increasingly desperate attempt to keep the restive Indians under the colonial heel.

Obviously, the series makers want us to root for Ralph Whelan  against our own better judgment, since he is so pretty. I couldn’t care less,  they all seem terribly pompous and even more unforgivable for a TV show, unbearably dull. Even the scheming Cynthia was torpid in this episode, perhaps she had a hangover from the party in episode 1. The Indian characters aren’t all that interesting either, so far I only like Dalal’s youngest sister, the one in the school uniform.

The focus of the action or rather inaction was the assassin who has been identified now as Chandru Mohan of the Madras Presidency, who seems to have known Whelan, who called him rakshas (demon). As an aside, Channel 4 better hire Hindi dialect coaches ASAP because their Indian characters cannot pronounce simple Hindi words like rakshas and zindabad correctly. Kaiser, the mustachioed main minion of Cynthia Coffin helped forge a fake Congress membership letter for Mr. Mohan, who was found dead at the end of the episode but not before he got to beat up Ralph Whelan into a bloody pulp. Why would an Indian have the name Kaiser, or has Cynthia renamed him? Equally mysterious, American houseguest throwing herself at Ralph Whelan again at the end of the episode. Why? Is this so called heiress without any prospects that she has to bait cold fish Whelan in sweltering India of all places. Why is she even there?

Then there was also an Indian journalist a certain Mr. Khan who was trying to figure out the reason behind the attempted murder. Despite the obvious photo-op at Aafrin’s bed, Mr. Khan’s seems to have figured out that the shooting was more a case of personal vendetta and not a political act.

In other happenings, Adam the Anglo-Indian child who was rescued by Dougie and Leena was trying to stab himself with a thin blade, what’s his sad story, I wonder. Why did  Aafrin’s girlfriend Sita and his sister Sooni had a rendezvous in the cemetery?  I have no idea. Its somewhat understandable that the two lovebirds of different religions have to meet under the cover of darkness and in secret, but why these women?

Anyway I am fast losing interest in this show and its convoluted happenings. I am going to give it one more chance, mainly because I am interested in the history of the time period and second  also because reviewers who have seen the entire season in the UK say that the show gets better. We shall see. 

In case you missed it, review for the first episode is here.

Grade: C

https://i2.wp.com/www.victorianweb.org/art/architecture/irwin/1.jpg

This used to be the Viceroy’s Lodge in Shimla (From Victorian Web)

I Can Has First Page!

One of my captioned kitteh photos made it to the first page of I Can Has A Cheezburger’s Lolcat section, after a long time. Other FPs here.

kitten,caption,cute

By two_kittehs

Sunday Kitteh Has Been Up To No Good

I has Meowranda rights, please call my catterny

By two_kittehs

Indian Summers, Episode 1, Authenticity, You are Doing It Wrong

Indian Summers, currently airing on Masterpiece Theater is more sudsy than substantial. The show is set in the waning days of the British Empire in the town of Simla, the summer capital of British India. Its more Downton Abbey than Wolf Hall, with the Indians playing the part of the downstairs crew.  If like Downton, this show turns out to be a love letter to the days of yore, extolling the virtues of the Empire, when the  benevolent British brought civilization to the heathens  and  the coolies knew their place, I am going to barf.

The show’s  acquaintance with reality is passing at best, in just the first episode we saw banana trees in Simla.   Even more egregious; someone who is barely thirty and looks like he is just out of college is supposedly under serious consideration for being India’s next Viceroy.  All he needs is a wife. Not bloody likely, as a Brit might say.  Being the Viceroy of India was a plum assignment and usually went to  someone with either a distinguished military and/or diplomatic career and the right pedigree. Linlithgow who became the Viceroy in 1935 was in his late 40s when appointed and had served in the army as a Colonel during the First World War. Even the train that takes the sahibs up the hills was all wrong. The train to Simla is a narrow gauge train, and looks nothing like the spacious broad gauge train in the show.

Much of the action takes place at the Royal Simla club, where no dogs or Indians are allowed. Nothing much happens except an attempted assassination that goes awry, we are also introduced to the cast of characters. There is Ralph Whelan, the above mentioned private secretary in running for the Viceroy and his pretty sister, Missionary Dougie and his catty  wife, a rich American and his sister (Mathers) who is trying to snag a  husband and Cynthia Coffin, an army widow and the scheming hostess of the Royal Simla Club, who is a cross between Downton’s O’Brien and the Dowager Countess, round out the main British characters.  Aafrin Dalal, a Parsi clerk who takes the bullet meant for Whelan, his family, including a freedom fighting sister and worry wart parents, Dalal’s crazy Hindu love interest, Sita,  and Dougie’s pretty assistant Leena round out the non-servant contingent of the Indian cast.

Dalals are supposed to be Parsis, problem is that neither of the younger Dalals makes for a convincing Parsi, nor are the  Mathers believable as Americans. In fact most of the younger cast simply seem to be twenty first century Brits playing dress-up. BTW  Dalal being  a member of the Indian Civil Service or ICS seems far fetched too. Before he got himself shot, Afrin Dalal was treated like an errant school boy by Whelan.  The Indian Civil Service practically ran India during the British days just like its successor, the Indian Administrative Service does right now. Selection process was and is extremely competitive. There were about a thousand ICS officers at the time of Indian Independence and only about a third were Indian. ICS officers and their current counterparts, IAS officers also get perks such as government paid accommodation and domestic help. I very much doubt that an ICS officer, even an Indian one would be treated like a peon.The pooja that the would be assassin performs was very Indiana Jones and the Temple Doom like, complete with an idol of Kali. No monkey brains were eaten though.

The part about British only clubs where no Indians are allowed as guests or members, was spot on. There were many such clubs where the colonial masters liked to retreat far from the riff raff they had to rule. Some of these exclusive clubs exist even to this date, as if frozen in time. Although, instead of expat British you will find rich and famous Indians there instead. The British disdain for Indian life and dignity is pretty much on the money too, as their genocide by starvation policies attest.

What intrigued me was Ralph Whelan’s divided loyalties, his Indian ways when he thinks no one is watching, he likes to eat with his fingers sitting cross-legged on the floor. He mentioned to his sister that the only way they could get him to leave India was by killing him. Apart from Ralph Whelan all the other characters seemed like cardboard cut outs. I will probably give the show one more chance and watch the next episode, what about you?

Simla (now known as Shimla) in winter

Grade :  B-