Friday, February 23, 2007

All you want's one more Saturday...

I am predicting that I will listen to the song "Australia" by The Shins until I'm absolutely sick of it, if that will ever be possible.

This encapsules as much fun and unfettered joy as I've gotten from a pop song in a long, long time. Perfect for the waxing days of late winter...

Will you be pulled from the ocean
But just a minute too late
Or changed by a potion
We’ll find a handsome young mate for you to love.

You'll be damned to pining through the windowpanes
You know you'd trade your life for any ordinary Joe's
Well do it now or grow old
Cause your nightmares only need a year or two to unfold

Award for Most Horrific Headline in Quite Some Time

For some, Beverly Hills ballots went too Farsi

Apparently, several overly "pulled" white ladies of a certain age down in 90210 were miffed to receive their election materials with — are you ready for this? — Arabic-Persian script all over them!!!!!!!

People, don't you need to go to some kind of expensive philanthropic luncheon or find some similar better use of your time than giving interviews to the press about this crap?

Apparently, Persians (please do not call them Iranians down in Los Angeles) now make up a good 20% of the population of Beverly Hills. Three of six city council candidates are of Iranian descent, and an Iranian-born councilman is poised to become the city's next mayor. The takeover has begun, folks! Bwahahhahahahha!

I love this bit:
"It was a design error," suggested voter Rose Norton. "It really looked like a menu from a Farsi restaurant with a translation in English." Norton said she found it "offensive" and threw the sample ballot away immediately after she cast her absentee vote.
Please, bitch. You know you've never even eaten fesenjan. And WTF is a "Farsi restaurant"? Is that like an Urdu restaurant or a Bahasa restaurant?

At least I could count on the Times to do its homework and provide some context:

Beverly Hills is not the only city to have more than one language on its standard ballot.

In neighboring West Hollywood, where Russian speakers make up about 12%
of the population, the default ballot is also bilingual, including phonetic
English alongside Cyrillic Russian, said City Clerk Tom West. The federal Voting
Rights Act requires counties only to make election materials available in other
languages, not to send the full translations to all voters.

Some cities have chosen to provide full translations, such as Armenian in Glendale, or Khmer, the Cambodian language, in Long Beach. "It's not a legal requirement, but they do it simply to serve people who speak limited English," said Deborah Wright, executive liaison for the Los Angeles County registrar-recorder. "It's
in the spirit of the law."

This is your typical neighborhood politics tempest in a doogh cup.

Now about that headline writer....

UPDATE: I forgot about this particularly silly bit of the commentary: '"I believe the cover is what shocked the community," said [City Clerk] Pope, ... "I believe it was the Farsi script, with the war going on and all," he said.'

Oh, brother. I can practically hear the gasps up and down Beverly Glen: "When we start putting a modified Arabic alphabet on our election ballots, the terrorists have won!"

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Murderous Autocracies and Other Delights

I've been told by someone that the Finno-Puertorriqueño Conundrum is getting stale. Thus, consider this throwing some crumbs to my four three loyal readers.

Finally saw The Last King of Scotland last night. Though I'm glad I did, it was really harrowing. I guess that's part of the point when your subject is one of the major bloodthirsty despots of the latter half of the Twentieth Century. However, I could have done without the meathook bit. Goodness gracious.

Forest Whitaker did an amazing job, and in my opinion he definitely deserves the Oscar. I'll be really happy if he wins.

This movie, and other recent events (such as a post on JoeMyGod about serious antigay measures being undertaken in Nigeria) have made me start wondering again about how Africa is viewed by the "average person"... or even by the relatively educated one. Of course, there are entire university courses taught on this dilemma ("Africa in Film and the Media", etc.). Mostly though, I guess I'm of the opinion that the more information out there, the better. I can't worry about whether people have a well-rounded view of the continent, and the idea that if they see a brutal fictionalized biography of Idi Amin (or hear about how terribly Nigeria treats its gays) it may just further cement their conviction that Africa is nothing but barbaric, backward, uncivilized, impoverished, and bereft of whatever.

I guess I know that images, stories, and films about the beauty of Africa are out there too, if people really want to find them. Is Africa a fucking mess? Yes. Is it amazingly wonderful? Yes. Is the same true for practically every other corner of the world? Most likely, yes!

And at times like this, I really, really want to go back.