June 27, 2006

I’ve Got Those Low Down Houseboy Blues Again

Filed under: India — Chris @ 6:15 pm

If your houseboy should spend the weekend watching your TV with his friends, or if he should take naps in your bed when you are not around, it is not worth your effort to complain about it. It is not worth it to explain the subtleties of your unease to the accomodations manager, who will ignore them anyway and scold the boy for some vaguely related misdeed. It is not worth it when the boy will act abashed for about five minutes and then continue to do exactly the same things over and over again. Not. Worth. It. At all.


Damn you Tabs to Hell

Filed under: Emacs, Tech — Chris @ 8:22 am

Every time I enter a new workplace, I find myself looking up this essay: “Tabs versus Spaces: An Eternal Holy War”. It fills me with a feeling of peace and serenity, and reminds me how to customize my .emacs file.

June 26, 2006

Hilleary Lied and My Beard Died

Filed under: India — Chris @ 1:23 pm

With all due respect to my blogging/life partner, this explanation is no more credible than if she claimed to be establishing a model democracy in the middle of my face. Whatever after-the-fact justifications H might provide in order to maintain public support for her bellicose position, it is clear to me—and, I think, to any reasonable observer—that the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy of removing my beard.

The problem with the beard

Filed under: India — Chris @ 11:00 am

Extrapolating from my first 24 hours in the presence of the beard, I calculate that some variant of the phrase “You have some Indian food in your beard” would be repeated approximately 125 times over the next six weeks. Which would be clearly unreasonable.

June 25, 2006

Welcome to India…

Filed under: India — Chris @ 5:55 pm

Hilleary, Cows, Rain

As some of you (if not most of you) (if not all of you) know, I have recently been joined in India by my wife, Hilleary. I’ve asked her to start blogging with me, adding another ignorant American’s perspective to the picture. My suggestion for her first post: “Why the Beard Had to Go”.

June 24, 2006

Political Morality

Filed under: India — Chris @ 10:37 am

Matthew Yglesias takes on Andrew Sullivan’s latest on Iraq. Sullivan is against “any timetable for withdrawal” from “a war conducted by an administration whose key players are manifestly incompetent and reckless.” He is for… prayer. Yglesias:

This gets us toward what is, I think, a fairly fundamental point of political morality — it’s wrong, seriously wrong and seriously irresponsible, to support military action that has no likely prospects of success. It’s one thing to ask young men and women to kill and die for a good cause. It’s another thing entirely to ask them to kill and die as a token of your support for a good cause.

Clearly, my first-choice scenario for the world would be one in which the nominal goals of American Iraq policy — killing terrorists, preventing a civil war, building a stable liberal democracy — are achieved. But I can’t support the war — can’t say it was a good idea to launch it, and can’t say I think it’s a good idea to continue it — precisely because I don’t think the war is accomplishing its goals, don’t think it stands a good chance of accomplishing them, and don’t think it ever did stand a good chance of accomplishing them.

Hot Red Paprika

Filed under: India — Chris @ 10:07 am

How hot can “hot red paprika” be? Very hot. “Crisp capsicum” can be pretty hot too, although I think “capsicum” sounds a little more suspicious than “paprika”, which is after all most commonly a fairly bland and inert spice. But I guess “paprika” is just a generic word for a pepper here and I suspect what I got is something along the lines of a red serrano.

Which is a long way around to discussing Pizza Hut’s Indian-themed pizza offerings. The best I’ve had so far was the Tandoori Murg, which has chunks of chicken and a non-standard, Indian-spiced sauce that I found very pleasing. The Tandoori Paneer pizza was disappointing, with bland chunks of paneer and the aforementioned chunks of hot, hot peppers. (I guess my paper menu is a misprint, because it didn’t even have a little red pepper next to it.) The other pizzas I’ve tried are more or less as you would expect: a little spicier than an American pie, but nothing too far out (unlike Pizza Corner, which packs a fairly strong punch).

And to those who wonder why I’m eating pizza at all: eat daal and chapati for 6 weeks straight and get back to me.

Coffee Maker, the Second

Filed under: India — Chris @ 8:11 am

Coffee Maker, the Second
Originally uploaded by C+H.

The Nova died. That was a bad Rs 1000 investment. I place my trust (and my Rs 1800) in the hands of the Philips Corporation of the Netherlands. Can you last two months, little helper?

June 23, 2006

Vaccine or Virginity?

Filed under: India — Chris @ 4:40 am

Don’t know how I’m getting stuck on women’s health issues. The following appalling item showed up in the Times of India today: “Is it Vaccine or Virginity Test? Ethical and Scientific Issues Raised in Cervical Cancer Trial”. I’ll try to post a link if one becomes available.

The US Food and Drug Administration has approve [a] vaccine, Gardasil, designed to prevent human papillomavirus (HPV) infection that causes cervical cancer, and it’s used on girls aged 9-26…. The company says the vaccine will not work for pre-existing infection, which is usually transmitted sexually. “How do we ensure the candidate is not infected? The only way is to do a cervical smear, where a spatula is inserted into the vagina to take a smear of the cervix. How ethical is it it conduct such a test on unmarried women? Or, on a nine-year-old? Isn’t it akin to a virginity test?” asks Dr M Radhakrishna Pillai, director, Rajiv Gandhi Centre For Biotechnology, Thiruvananthapuram.

Apparently, it’s never occurred to anyone to just give the girl the damn vaccine either way and let her virginity remain between her and her God (and, realistically, her husband and parents). The article goes on to more relevant points, like the cost of the vaccine (Rs 16,000) in comparison to basic PAP smears (Rs 100), which are not routinely performed in this country.

I think what’s going on here—beside a basic and unhealthy preoccupation with female virginity (which is not unknown, if different in form, in the US)—is a cost-benefit calculation that just doesn’t translate to my American mindset. From the Indian point of view, it is unthinkable to waste good medicine on someone who doesn’t need it, even if the net benefit (socially and medically) of this wastage is apparent.

June 22, 2006

Least surprising news of the day

Filed under: India — Chris @ 9:06 am

“Condoms Found to Block a Virus Harmful to Women”:

Women whose male partners used condoms every time they had sexual intercourse had less than half the rate of infection as did women whose partners used condoms less than 5 percent of the time…. Experts on infectious diseases say they believe that condoms, when properly used, are effective in preventing papillomavirus and virtually all other sexually transmitted infections.

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