Thursday, October 19, 2006

pushing the envelope

Sacha Baron Cohen, the guy who does Ali G and Borat, is selling out.

First, he has started to appear on talk shows to promote his show, when earlier he would refuse to be seen in public out of character. When this first started to happen, I thought, well, enough people are in on the joke now that it's okay. But I still feel he could have kept his integrity by staying out of the public eye.

Second, he is taking this whole Borat thing a bit too far. Basically his Borat act involves saying horrible things, racist and otherwise, while pretending to be a Kazakhi television reporter. When it started, it was a nuanced and deftly constructed act, in which he would use people's ignorance against them by pretending to be completely out of sync with civil society, and in doing so bring out their own lack of civility. Kazakhstan at the time was just a symbol, representing a place about which most Westerners are completely ignorant, to the point where they could expect anything from someone who was from such a place.

This involved him making fun of many races, but also of Kazakhstan itself. Needless to say, everyone got offended, but none moreso than the Kazakhs themselves, who started having to defend their own traditions and decrying what was being said about them. At this point, Cohen had two options: 1. to ignore the Kazakh response, and 2. to retatliate. Unfortunately, he chose the second. So instead of being a nuanced attack on people's ignorance, it became an all out schoolyard brawl with the Kazakh authorities.

The latest episode in the saga involves him parading outside the Kazakh embassy maintaing that despite what the Kazakh embassy might try to tell you, rape and ping pong ARE in fact the two favorite pastimes of Kazakhstan.

It is childish and mean. It is irresponsible, and it is unnecessary. Media is powerful, and he should know how badly his words can hurt the image of a country. If his idea is to manufacture high-brow comedy then he shouldn't assume everyone will get it. And if they don't he shouldn' lash out at them.

Needless to say, I still think he is a genius, and the new Borat movie will definitely be worth a watch. But the joke is starting to go sour now. Let's hope it doesn't start to stink anytime soon.

ma homeys

So apparently up until 1975, the country we now know as Benin was known as the Kingdom of "DaHomey"! How brilliant is that! I wonder if that's where the word comes from...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


So according to Cricinfo, one (admittedly weak) defense for Shoaib failing the drugs test is that he was taking Ventolin inhalers. Apparently Ventolin inhalers contain steroids.


I better not take any drug tests anytime soon.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

spelling bee minus

Here's an excerpt of an email I received from Columbia, that they sent out to all prospective students. Basically they are showing off about how hot their visiting speakers are, and how so many of their faculty have recently won big prizes etc. So they say:

Next, two Columbia University Scholars were recently awarded a Nobel Prize. Orphan Pamuk, a Scholar in Middle Eastern and Asian Languages and Cultures and a Fellow with the University's Committee on Global Thought, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

"Orphan Pamuk" indeed. I almost want to rescind my application immediately...

Friday, October 13, 2006

it'd be so empty without me

Dear readers,

My heartfelt apologies for leaving you postless for so many days. Things are heating up with applications et al. Here, however, is a little article I just came across that I had to post about. So here ends my hiatus..

Apparently Canadian troops in Afghanistan are having a hard time getting through "almost impenetrable forests of 10-feet-high marijuana plants."

So they are wondering how to get rid of them.

"We tried burning them with white phosphorous -- it didn't work. We tried burning them with diesel -- it didn't work. The plants are so full of water right now ... that we simply couldn't burn them," he said.

Hmm.. I wonder what else they tried.

"A couple of brown plants on the edges of some of those (forests) did catch on fire. But a section of soldiers that was downwind from that had some ill effects and decided that was probably not the right course of action," Hillier said dryly.

Hahahaha.. downwind indeed. I'll bet they sucked that shit up as far into their lungs as possible.

One soldier told him later: "Sir, three years ago before I joined the army, I never thought I'd say 'That damn marijuana'."

What a wonderful story.