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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Radio and Rap?

This is a very interesting article that was posted in the New York Times three days ago, and as an avid listener of both political radio shows and rap music I’d have to agree with some of the parallels being made.

Check out the rest here!

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Here’s a good update on the struggles of the Slumdog Millionaire kid actors in Indian — scenes “that seemed straight out of the gritty film,” as the journalist wrote. I also like the antithesis of hope pitted against desapir in the following quote:

” ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ brought to light an equally true reality: the hardscrabble lives of many slum children of an India brimming with optimisim and eagerness to be the world’s next superpower.”

 

Boston Sunday Globe — August 23, 2009

“For Child Actors, Life After ‘Slumdog’ Full of Promise, Poverty”

by Emily Wax (Washington Post)

MUMBAI – Never again would Azhar Mohammed Ismaill, 11, sleep in the overcrowded warren of shanties and festering lean-tos known as Garib Nagar, literally “city of the poor.’’ Azhar, one of the child stars of the Oscar-winning film “Slumdog Millionaire,’’ recently moved with his family to a new home in Mumbai: a modest two-room apartment on the ground floor of a high-rise called Harmony.

The apartment was a gift from “Slumdog’’ director Danny Boyle, whose film grossed $300 million. On the rooftop of his new building, Azhar, 11, danced as he watched jetliners take off from the airport. He recognized the emotion as similar to what his character, Salim, must have felt as he looked out over the Mumbai skyline and said: “India is the center of the world now, brother. I am at the center of the center.’’

Azhar’s real-life journey – and those of the other child stars in “Slumdog,’’ including his elfin costar Rubina Ali, 9 – has been a roller coaster of personal tragedy and red-carpet glamour. In many ways, they are experiencing at warp speed the masala of euphoria and turmoil that India’s vast poor feel as they emerge from the iron bonds of caste …

article continued here

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Here’s a neat article about Internet freedom, its ability to foster political activism, and the governments who try to hold it down. It reminds me of Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother — how the protagonist uses the Internet as a tool to fight an Orwellian government which attempts to control the technology. In fact, the article even mentions the Tor software created by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (Doctorow’s main character used Tor in Little Brother, and Doctorow himself a former European director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation).

 

NewScientist — August 21, 2009

“Worldwide Battle for Control of the Internet: As dissidents exploit social networking sites to organise protests and get their messag eout, governments are searching for ways to clamp down”

by Jim Giles

WHEN thousands of protestors took to the streets in Iran following this year’s disputed presidential election, Twitter messages sent by activists let the world know about the brutal policing that followed. A few months earlier, campaigners in Moldova used Facebook to organise protests against the country’s communist government, and elsewhere too the internet is playing an increasing role in political dissent.

Now governments are trying to regain control. By reinforcing their efforts to monitor activity online, they hope to deprive dissenters of information and the ability to communicate.

The latest evidence of these clampdowns comes in a report on the Middle East and north Africa by the OpenNet Initiative (ONI), a collaboration of researchers based in the UK and North America. Among the restrictions it reports are clampdowns on Facebook in Syria and the use of hidden cameras in Saudi Arabia’s internet cafes.

Most of these actions are aimed at stifling political debate. “Political filtering is the common denominator,” says Helmi Noman of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society in Boston, who compiled the report. “It’s the main target.”

Noman asked volunteers to check whether roughly 2000 sites covering a range of subjects, including gambling, political news and humour …

article continued here.

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I think my brief grumbling in my post about Doctorow’s Little Brother not getting the Hugo needs a bit of beef, so to speak, so I’ll do some explaining. A little bit, at least. I don’t mean to prove that he should or should not have won the Hugo — but I do intend to discuss why he is “just the Man.”

While Little Brother might seem corny when you read the descriptions — and, while even the narrative kind of fumbles over the cliche a few times through the story — it’s just that … well — it’s hard to describe. There’s this feeling that I get sometimes, when I just can’t stop reading something because it’s so good. I don’t read like a writer or a literary critic or anything of the sort; I’m simply absorbed in the novel (or short story) to the point where I don’t think about letters or words or paragraphs or pages or chapters or parts.

It just is.

For me, that’s what it was like with Little Brother.

And it tells more about a writer when his readers (yes, I know that I’m just one unreliable single sample, but what can I do?) stop thinking about the book as a book, and start thinking about it in some other kind of way, if you get what I’m saying. This might be related to the writer’s ability in creating a fast-paced story, but I know that’s not the only thing that gives me that feeling. I’ve felt it before, multiple times — with Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon, Octavia Butler’s Kindred, and Isaac Asimov’s The End of Eternity. You’ll notice that all of those — including Little Brother — are in the blog’s list of favorite sf/f/h stories. Even Doctorow’s Locus Award-winning novelette, “When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth” (which is also on the favorite list), kept me flying across the pages when I first read it in John J. Adams‘ superb post-apocalyptic anthology, Wastelands.

Little Brother also hit home for me — on a lot of points. I tend to be a bit paranoid myself, and the main character’s insights on a host of math, science, and security issues were just great. And, of course, there were some awesome lines and plenty of laughs to go around.

By the way, my high school has put up a bunch of cameras to prevent a rise in theft. It’s a just cause, I guess — they’re not going to spy on us like Big Brother or anything — but it does seem to echo the school cameras prevalent in Little Brother.

Although I don’t read every single one, I find Cory Doctorow’s Guardian columns extremely interesting as well. In “When I’m dead, how will my loved ones break my password?” Doctorow writes about how he dealt with his data, passwords, and so on in his will. In “Search is too important to leave to one company – even Google” he wrote that the act of categorization, while it may seem otherwise, can actually turn out biased at times. This reminds me now of something that Edward Said mentions throughout his book Orientalism: that bias is, in essence, inescapable because people always have, at the least, subconcious ties to some class, race, ideology, etc. Even scholarly academics can never be truly separated from opinion.

I wrote a near future short story sophomore year for my English class, and based it on the idea of the changing mediums of reading, and how that would impact literature. I looked back at “When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth” and used that as a sort of inspiration for the style I would use in my short story — “After the Age of Giant Sundials.” You can read it in the previous post.

Doctorow is also pretty big on Creative Commons and such, and I love the way his ideas often use the Internet as a tool to achieve freedom and democracy.

In Edward Said’s Introduction to Orientalism, Said mentioned the harmful results of emerging technology and media (i.e. more, faster, and flashier “what bleeds leads” coverage, the bearded Muslim guy is always the bad guy, etc). At the same time, I think that same technology is a method for positive change. Later in his book, Said talked about the idea of “imaginative geography” and how the West has almost involuntarily drawn a philosophical, mental, political, social, and — most of all — moral divide between East and West due in part to the physical distances.

To me, technology, communication, and the Internet can let people create a “wrinkle in time” kind of thing — eliminating the blockage created by those physical separations. That thought gave me an inspirational boost for this blog. And Doctorow, obviously, remains an influence as well.

So, yes. Cory Doctorow is just the man.

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Newscientist — July 7, 2009 by John Horgan

OPTIMISTS called the first world war “the war to end all wars”. Philosopher George Santayana demurred. In its aftermath he declared: “Only the dead have seen the end of war”. History has proved him right, of course. What’s more, today virtually nobody believes that humankind will ever transcend the violence and bloodshed of warfare. I know this because for years I have conducted numerous surveys asking people if they think war is inevitable. Whether male or female, liberal or conservative, old or young, most people believe it is. For example, when I asked students at my university “Will humans ever stop fighting wars?” more than 90 per cent answered “No”. Many justified their assertion by adding that war is “part of human nature” or “in our genes”. But is it really?

Such views certainly seem to chime with recent research on the roots of warfare. Just a few decades ago, many scholars believed that prior to civilisation, humans were “noble savages” living in harmony with each other and with nature. Not any more. Ethnographic studies, together with some archaeological evidence, suggest that tribal societies engaged in lethal group conflict, at least occasionally, long before the emergence of states with professional….

article continued here

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