Vantage point

Friday, April 23, 2010

VIACOM #FAIL Biggest Wuss-out in American History

*Here be spoilers about South Park 201*

Remember how excited I was during the South Park 200th episode? I was doubly excited when the continuing episode was about to start on Wednesday night. By the end of it, I was "conditionally enraged".

Why conditionally? Because I was not sure if what I saw was some really elaborate satirical meta-joke, or if it was the biggest ever wuss-out by an American company - the sort of censorship that would make even the most orthodox Indian Censor Board feel was excessive.

It was more or less expected that Comedy Central would censor Mohammad's image, like they did in the Cartoon Wars episode 4 years ago. Not only was Mohammad's image censored with a black rectangle, but every mention of the name 'Mohammad' was bleeped out. Since the episode revolved around him, you can imagine how many bleeps we heard. And since everyone knew the episode was about Mohammad, it seemed like a very very stupid thing to do to bleep them, unless it was a meta-joke.

Just like truth is stranger than fiction, I guess real people's real decisions are way stupider than anything Randy Marsh would ever do.

The worst part was, they bleeped out almost the entire last couple of minutes. The customary wrap-up of a South park episode with an "I learnt something today" speech by Kyle, which also had inputs from Santa and Jesus. Bleeped out!

So, was this a big joke or actual Goebbelian censorship?

Turns out it was the latter. Trey and Matt posted this statement on their website -

"In the 14 years we've been doing South Park we have never done a show that
we couldn't stand behind. We delivered our version of the show to Comedy
Central and they made a determination to alter the episode. It wasn't some
meta-joke on our part.
Comedy Central added the bleeps. In fact, Kyle's
customary final speech was about intimidation and fear. It didn't mention
Muhammad at all but it got bleeped too. We'll be back next week with a whole
new show about something completely different and we'll see what happens to
it. "

What makes Viacom's wussery even more wuss-ish, is that the so-called threats or "warnings" had been made by some random New-York-based group called Revolution Muslim. Yes, New York based, which means they probably can't even take a dump without federal agents knowing about it. And in the past, they have only gotten attention because the media showers them with it.

And of course, even after all this censorship, the group is not appeased, and is still making cleverly-worded non-indictable threats.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Madrasi_Amit

South Indians, sick of the the generic term 'Madrasi', which reflects a deep ignorance about the variations in South India, came up with the counter-pejorative Amit. Which is good and fine. There are indeed a large number of dumb-looking and dumb-sounding Northie types in the South who have the broadest of brushes at their disposal and hence deserve such pejoratives.

The Amit. What a lovely pejorative to indicate the Northies' ignorance and arrogance about the South! Although I must insist that everyone add one more related pejorative to their glossaries - The Madrasi_Amit. What is the Madrasi Amit? To explain, let me relate just one sample from several identical conversations "we" have had over "our" adult lives.

Madrasi_Amit: Damn, those North Indians are ignorant and arrogant. Calling us Madrasi, and insulting our food and our auto drivers!
Us: They sure can be arrogant sometimes.
M_A: Wait, aren't you offended?
Us: Why would I be offended?
M_A: You are an Amit... I mean a North Indian too!
Us: No I am not!
M_A: Yes, you are!
Us: Am not!
M_A: Are too!
Us: Am not!
M_A: Umm, which state are you from?
Us: Maharashtra (or Gujarat or Orissa or Bengal etc).
M_A: (in smug ignorance) Dude, everything North of Vindhyas is North India and everything South of Vindhyas is South India.
Us: Ok.... Maharashtra is South of the Vindhyas.
M_A: Maha...what? Sounds like an "Amit" state name to me.
Us: No, no, we are quite dickish on our own. Remember the Shiv Sena? Ambedkar? Tendulkar? Manjrekar? Bhandarkar? Pretty much any -kar except for the actual Amit - Manoj Prabhakar?
M_A: D'oh! Too complex. Cannotcompute!!! We insist that you Maharashtrians call yourself Amits or Northies. Tell the same to Bongs and Gujjus.
Us: But.....
M_A: Shhhhh..... do you want the the PMK/SRS to ruin your life? No? Then shut up!
Us: *sigh*

If I had a nickel for every time I met a Southie who was not only convinced, but arrogantly super-assertive that Maharashtra, or for that matter, Gujarat and West Bengal were North India, I'd be rolling in the dough. These specimens deserve to be christened Madrasi_Amit for their unique brand of arrogance and ignorance, combined with a victim mentality of being at the receiving end of arrogance and ignorance from actual Amits.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Politics in 2030 or 2040: Changed forever by Facebook and Twitter?

I have finally gotten around to reading Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime, which I recommend to all of you as a book you absolutely MUST own, not only for its rivetingly detailed narrative and inside info, but for the sheer historic value of the 2008 election. And the fact that the authors of this books had way way more access than anyone else to the behind the scenes happenings.

Anyway, the book got me thinking....

As most of you must have read, the Library of Congress is going to archive every public tweet ever made. That got me thinking. Public tweets will be a matter of public record. Blogs are available publicly, or through web-based archives even if deleted. And, anything anyone ever posts on Facebook or MySpace or Orkut or whatever, while still protected by privacy terms and conditions, is still stored somewhere out there. Accessible to resourceful folks at any time.

So anything we ever post online, is recorded somewhere. Can you imagine how radically and drastically this is going to change the mechanics of politics a couple of decades from now? Imagine some carefree high school or college kid of today running for political office in 2030 or 2040. A guy/girl who posted about his/her drinking binges, sexual escapades, experimentation with drugs? It'll all be there! Unlike Bill Clinton, who got queried on whether or not he inhaled, the candidates of the future will have their past thrown at them. In ways that cannot be disproved!

Forget the personal stuff....the booze, sex, drugs and all that. Let's assume that society 2-3 decades from now is totally cool and doesn't give a crap about those things in a politician's life. What about other stuff? Like political views? Other views or arguments? Won't politicians have to defend them too, no matter how far back they were made?

You folks know me. For almost 8 years now, I have been spewing opinions that have ranged from the reasonable to the extreme, and may well have contradicted each other. Suppose I run for political office in 2025, and someone throws in my face some post I made in 2004, asking me to either defend or disown it. Stuff I won't even remember writing, and certainly will not remember my state of mind.

Here's an example. I still occasionally get stinker emails and recently even stinker tweets about calling Ernesto Guevera a terrorist and equating him to Bin Laden in a post five years ago. I still believe in what I wrote then, but it clearly is not a popular point of view. If I am asked to defend that post in a political debate 15 years from now, instead of whatever I stand for then, I will be quite befuddled! And every post I ever made can be pulled up and thrown in my face!

Seems far-fetched? People dug up the candidates college and even middle school essays in 2008! With digging in the past so easy, it will definitely happen in the future.

So how will politics change? Thinking from a rudimentary game theory perspective, maybe it will be a good thing and lead to an equilibrium that is more honest and reflective of reality. Everyone will leave a paper trail, or should I say "electron trail" of their past. So if my opponent rakes up my blog posts, I can rake up his/her tweets or facebook updates too, right? Everyone will be forced to be more "honest". Will they? Will it make politicians espouse values and principles they actually believe in, as opposed to the ones they officially mouth in public? We should certainly hope so!

Hmm....politicians who stand for what they actually believe in. Should be an interesting experiment. Think our species can survive that?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

South Park 200 FTW!

Liveblogging this a third of the way into the South Park 200th episode premiere. Already, lovinggggg it! In my all time top 5 South Park episodes already! :D With the potential to be the best South Park episode ever. If...well....Muhammad does appear.
Update: 2/3rds of the way in, it got even better. The Gingers made their appearance. Okay, back on. Later.
What the fuck just happened? No courtesy of even a TBC?

Macnoxious? Appholes? iDicks?

...or TechJoeys? Why Joey?


Joey: You want my advice?

Ross: Yes! Please!

Joey: You're not gonna like it.

Ross: That's okay.

Joey: You got married too fast.

Ross: That's not advice!

Joey: I told ya.

Someone needs to come up with a catchy pejorative for smell-their-own-fart heads-up-their-ass Mac fanboys who respond to plaintive cries of "Anyone got any advice for the best way to remove a potential Trojan or worm?" with "You should get a Mac".

Yes, thank you, bungplug! That is exactly the sort of suggestion Marie Antoinette would give - "Let them get Macs". It is the tech equivalent of the NRA's annoying habit of having "guns don't kill, people do" rallies in towns right after the towns have been the site of a deadly school shooting.

I am talking to you, Patrix! Why Patrix? Firstly, because that's how he responded on twitter (where I am @gauravsabnis BTW in case you didn't know) to my question about the best way to disinfect my wife's possibly Trojan-ridden laptop. Secondly, his URL is "i", so he is just asking for it. And thirdly, I haven't flamed anyone on my blog in ages, and Patrix is as good a target as any!

Friday, April 09, 2010


Obama cannot have it easier. If he nominates another minority woman to the Supreme Court in Aug-Sept, then with 2-3 months to go for the midterm elections, Republicans won't have the balls to filibuster.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Wikileaks Baghdad Shooting

When I first saw this video and heard the soldiers saying things like "Oh, yeah, look at those dead bastards" or "Come on, let us shoot!", it made me sick too. Treating war like something on Playstation.

But when I thought a bit more about it, what else should we expect? We can't really expect soldiers to talk and act like those from JP Dutta or Steven Spielberg, being all serious, noble, and earnest. These are people who are expected, as a part of their job, to kill strangers for a living. For protecting their country. Some element of the blase is bound to creep in, or they wouldn't be able to sleep at night. So I find this outrage in the leftie blogosphere over their tone to be extremely churlish and propagandist.

This guy says it best (link via email courtesy Quizfan).