Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Why the First Bailout failed

As you all know, the recent 233 billion gyro-on-pita bailout (note to the the financially-challenged: the dollar is pegged to the gyro-on-pita at the current Sammy's Rate of GOP 1 = $3) of Wall Street is supported wholeheartedly by every single Libertarian, Free-Marketeer, Conservative, Neoconservative, Evangelical and General-Purpose Nutjob*. This might cause confusion as to why the bailout was opposed in the US Congress by the Republican Party, the legislative voice for all the above groups.

After careful review of the evidence, I believe I have the answer. Take a look at Nancy Pelosi's speech before the vote:

Observe closely her right hand. Its all over the place! It twirls! It swirls! It waves and it weaves! Now Nancy Pelosi apart from being a suspected Bene Gesserit, is from San Francisco, home of all manner of deviants, including Wiccans. It is obvious to me that she was casting a spell on the Congressional Republicans, inducing them to defeat the vote that Democrats (the party opposed to the extreme free market ideology) opposed all along.

Pelosi's brazenness in working her spells on the floor of Congress, in full public view came back to haunt her though. Senate Republicans, working quickly to save the free market, passed a new bill that was the same as the old bill except for the addition of 50 billion gyros-on-pita worth of tax exemptions to wooden-arrow-manufacturers (who are of course, vital to the future of the global economy). Pelosi tried to defeat this bill too, but as we all know, spells dissolve in the presence of legislative pork. Enough Republicans freed themselves from the foul magic to switch their votes, and Capitalism was saved!

*All these terms mean the same thing.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Amit Varma, Ottoman

Between 1915 and 1919, the Ottoman Empire killed between 1 and 1.5 million ethnic Armenians as part of a campaign to wipe out their Armenian population. This group of events is generally accepted by historians to be a genocide. Many international organisation, most religious groups, and many governments accept this categorisation of the killings as a genocide.

The government of Turkey, however, refuses to accept that there was a genocide. They protest recognition of the genocide by other nations, and acknowledging the genocide is a crime in Turkey.

Do you know who else denies the Armenian genocide? Amit Varma. Yes, that Amit Varma. Since he began blogging in the December of 2004, Amit Varma has not published a single article accepting the commission of a genocide of Armenians by Ottoman Turkish forces. Nor has he condemned the conduct of Ottoman forces towards Armenian civilians during and after the First World War. Clearly, this is because he denies that the genocide ever occurred, out of sympathy for the Ottoman cause.

This whole sordid affair also raises questions about Libertarianism in general. Why do libertarians accept such an odious Armenian-genocide denier into their ranks? Why has Amit Varma not been expelled from the Libertarian Cartel for his gratuitously pro-Ottoman views?

This is a serious issue, and one that all libertarians should think about.


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Monday, October 06, 2008

On the need to separate "Marathi" from "Maharashtrian"

Years ago, I had a conversation with Yazad Jal about who could call himself a Maharashtrian. A Maharashtrian, I said, is someone who speaks Marathi. A Maharashtrian is someone who knows how to pronounce पूरण पोळी properly. A Maharashtrian is someone who thinks Shrikhand is haute cuisine. No doubt this rankled Yazad, who is presumably a Mumbaikar born and bred (we shall not discuss, for reasons of decency, the heretical notion that Mumbai should not be a part of Maharashtra).

Although I now realise I was wrong then, it seems many people share this misapprehension. Ajit Pawar, for one:
ASSERTING that the next Lok Sabha MP from Pune would be a 'Maharashtrian', the district guardian minister Ajit Pawar on Saturday said that it is time for the present Congress MP Suresh Kalmadi to shift to Rajya Sabha
Now Suresh Kalmadi, being as he is a cad and a bounder, was born and brought up in Pune. His family owns half of the city. He even went to St. Vincent's School (proving, if any proof was needed that Vincentians are never under any circumstances to be trusted). He might be a shady bugger, but Suresh Kalmadi is as Maharashtrian as they come.

Raj Thackeray, that champion of the Marathi Manoos, seems to think on similar lines. In this interview, he speaks of Ratan Tata as a non-Maharashtrian who has contributed much to the state. Now this is highly irregular. Ratan Tata, as far as I know, was born and brought up in Mumbai. He has lived there most of his adult life. It could be said, without exaggerating, that Ratan Tata is more Maharashtrian than Raj Thackeray. Ratan Tata's family has been in Mumbai longer that Raj T's has. Ratan Tata's grandfather, unlike Raj Thackeray's, actually went to college in Maharashtra. If Ratan Tata is not Maharashtrian, I'd like to know who is.

The problem here, then, is that all these people are confusing "Maharashtrian" for "Marathi". The problem is, ever since the peasant/warrior caste in Maharashtra appropriated the word "Maratha" for themselves, Marathi-speakers have lacked an acceptable ethnonym. We may call ourselves the Marathi people, but that just doesn't cut it, somehow. So people started using the word "Maharashtrian" as an ethnonym to describe Marathi speakers and followers of the Marathi way of life (in other words, the Chosen People). But this is imprecise. Some people are Marathi but not Maharashtrians. Some people are Maharashtrians but not Marathi. Shivajirao Gaekwad and Madhavrao Scindia fall in the former category, while Ratan Tata, Yazad Jal and Suresh Kalmadi fall in the latter. The people living in the Occupied Territories are Marathi, but are denied the status of Maharashtrians by the evil Kannadiga Occupation Government and their nefarious northern allies. In fact, everybody who lives between Attock and Cuttack can be considered Maharashtrians regardless of language and culture, living as they do in Greater Maharashtra.

The way is clear. "Maharashtrian" must never be used as an ethnonym. That word should only be Marathi, as in the Marathi people, or that Marathi person. Any and all residents of the Great State of Maharashtra in good standing may be called Maharashtrians. I encourage you to adopt this usage, and educate others about the difference.

Because together, we can, and we will.

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