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Watch this video of Sarah Palin supporters who turned up in large numbers at her book launch. The money quote is at 5:09, when a supporter justifies her experience with international issues :
I’m sure she’s had boundary issues to deal with [Russia].
It is easy to sit back and mock Palin’s supporters, but they are just as delusional as those who passionately and unconditionally support a political party. These people, I find, often justify the wrongdoings and come up with explanations, at best laughable. Not just the U.S., the same applies to supporters of parties such as Congress, B.J.P., M.N.S., Shiv Sena, etc. I don’t anymore see the sense in supporting a party in every election — each election needs to be studied on a per case basis before deciding who your vote goes to.
For example, in the Indian general elections of 2009 (if I could vote), the B.J.P. would’ve lost my vote the minute Varun Gandhi’s speech became public and reactions from senior leaders followed. Perhaps at the core, I prefer a socially stable society more than anything else.
As for Republicans and Palin supporters, the hypocrisy in their ideology is so obviously visible when they bat for liberty and oppose same-sex marriage in the same sentence. Enough said.
In what was a full episode devoted to Sarah Palin’s resignation (or quitting, as you prefer), Jon Stewart quotes (on The Daily Show) :
Look at it this way. She completed a governorship in 2 and a half years.
She loves Alaska so much that she had to set it free.
If only Sarah Palin charged a royalty each time a joke was made about her, she’d have so much money that she could easily buy out the liberal media and force all of us to pronounce it Alyeskya.
After news reports that the Sri Lankan army was within 8 sq. km., 4 sq. km., 3.8 sq. km. and 800 metres of Prabhakaran, an elated Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa today announced that the army was just 1 sq. metre away from Prabhakaran. When reporters pointed out that it did not make sense and wondered why he still wasn’t captured, he replied, “We are very concerned about civilians and want to clear the area before capturing him”.
He ended the press conference with “We are very close to winning the war“, and is now just 3 statements away from the world record for this line. The record is currently held by George W. Bush; who is still confused why it doesn’t play on his gramophone.
In India, this news has enraged a helpless DMK which has threatened to pull out of the government, strange since they are no longer a part of the government. When this was brought to his notice, Karunanidhi snapped back with, “Then I’ll pull out support from my government in Tamil Nadu”. In a show of immediate solidarity, he also joined the LTTE Fan Club on Facebook and poked Manmohan Singh for not interfering in the war.
J. Jayalalitha was unavailable for comment; she had food in her mouth.
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, who was contacted for no apparent reason as it does not concern him, reacted quickly at this latest development and immediately called Obama to convey that Prabhakaran was in fact in Swat Valley and that he would need some more pocket money, drones and a date with Sarah Palin pronto.
Meanwhile, in an unrelated news, fans of Lost, who have pretty much lost it with all the time-travels and paradoxes, are quite convinced that Prabhakaran is Jacob after all. They are hoping Prabhakaran will be caught in the season finale coming up in two weeks.
Disclaimer : None of this stuff has happened, atleast until now.
This post was written after returning, but the thoughts were during my recent Alaska trip (to Alaska obviously). Snaps at the end.
It all started with a Seattle trip that I had planned in the last week of December. Out of nowhere, a friend had a random brainstorm that we should go to Alaska for new years’, and a few people agreed, including me. I didn’t even know if this was the best season to visit Alaska (answer : no) but since I wasn’t planning the trip, I just decided to go along with their plans and activities. Since we would be spending 5 days there without too many activities, I suggested including skiing in the itinerary (fresh from my recent ski trip to Lake Tahoe where I learnt to ski pretty well), a suggestion that was readily included. So the list of activities we had on the table were snowmobiling, dog sledging, skiing, ice skating, ice fishing (just watching; I am vegetarian so doesn’t make sense to fish), seeing some museums, zoos, art galaries; leaving the snowmobiling it was pretty much stuffed with all the things I could do elsewhere or things I didn’t really like to do. As a side note, I do not really enjoy site seeing. The ideal activities for me are the ones which do not seem wise on retrospection.
Thankfully, the trip did not go as planned. Not even close.
Let’s get started with the most obvious and the most asked question : Did I see Russia ?
The answer would be no. As my friends in Pakistan would say, just the fact that Sarah Palin said she could see Russia from Alaska is like Kasab saying he is a Pakistani. It does not stand trial in any court and so is obviously not true. Of course, I am not counting seeing Russia on Google earth.
The first couple of days in Seattle were spent in some marathon movie watching. Considering the snowfall outside was the worst in some 15 years, it was a wise and the only available move. I revised all the good movies that released this year (details here). Then it was time for Alaska.
A word about Alaska. It has all the things I would ever want : Mountains, rivers, national parks, the highest peak of North America (Mt. Mckinley), peaks to hike, wildlife, isolation from friends and people and of course, wireless internet. I could not ask for anything more.
We, a group of 5, left Seattle on the 28th and landed in Anchorage at night, just in time to go to bed; with the terrible news that the WiFi wasn’t going to be available at the hotel all through our stay (this was the critical trigger that forced me to rethink plans).
The first day started off with a visit to a zoo. Now anyone who has gone on a safari or driven around at night in national parks hoping to catch a glimpse of some animal (that happened once at Nagarhole, where we ran into a wild tusker) would never get excited at a zoo, unless you are a zoology student or get excited seeing animals in captivity. It just doesn’t campare.
The only exciting thing in the zoo was all of us getting frozen in the cold ! I forgot to mention, the temperature was only about -2 deg. Farenheit (approx. -18 deg. Celsius). The *only* is not meant to evoke laughter or sound sarcastic; it is just a sign of things to come. Twice during the hour long visit in the zoo we had to get back inside a coffee shop to bring our toes and fingers back to life. Not a good sign. Next thing we did was rushing to a nearby store to get all the warm clothing and dozens of warmers, which helped us throughout the trip.
By then I gathered some information about the Aurora Borealis, which was being spotted consistently at Fairbanks since a few days and I was really eager to experience them. Fairbanks is an 8-9 hour night drive from Anchorage with stops and safe driving. Considering the roads, weather and the temperature at Fairbanks, the group wasn’t too keen on it (I was very much). That night we decided to try our luck at a place called Artic Valley outside Anchorage to spot the Northern Lights. There was once we got excited about some formations in the sky which turned out to be the smoke from a factory. That was when I posted this.
Since the Aurora is something that can only be seen from Alaska and since Mt. Mckinley too was on the way to Fairbanks, the others agreed to give it a try the next day, after getting the confidence that they could sleep in the car and I would drive. The next day started with a visit to a frozen lake to see people ice fishing and a snowmobile tour.
I really enjoyed the 3-hour snowmobiling session where we took the machines to a glacier and returned back. One particularly speedy stretch where I touched speeds of over 60 mph in the extreme cold gave me red rashes on the nose, something I still carry around.
The snowmobiling session got over at 5 p.m. and we had to rush to Fairbanks since the Aurora activity peaked between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. A quick dinner (where I am sure I got on everyone’s nerves asking them to rush) and an auxiliary cable for the car stereo later, we set off. The aux cable is always critical when I drive because now I know the exact songs to play to get rid of my sleep.
The drive was largely uneventful apart from one bad skid on an ice patch and half a dozen moose in the middle of the road in Denali National Park. It was around 1.30 a.m. and we were still about 70 miles from Fairbanks when we saw something that initially looked like clouds but kept changing shapes. That was when we pulled over and saw the spectacle for the first time. The Aurora Borealis ! I failed miserably at taking snaps since I did not carry a tripod and wasn’t sure what the best settings were. It was breathtaking and I had goosebumps as I was watching with awe completely surrendering all rational thought to nature. To be fair, the goosebumps could also be due to the lonely spot, dark sky and the fact that the lights do look like dancing spirits. It was spooky and beautiful. Weird combination.
I did not feel bad at all for driving over 8 hours to get there ! After the spectacle was over, we proceeded to Fairbanks and checked into a hotel, which by the way had WiFi. Fairbanks is surrounded by hills and there you get a sudden drop in temperature when you enter the valley, to the point where the car temperature display went off. Seriously. The temperature at Fairbanks was -45 deg F (approx. -42 deg Celsius), which is fine if you stay indoors but it hurts to even breathe once you get out. The only good thing is that you cannot have a running nose there. A good guide for low temperatures can be found here.
While on wikipedia, I also discovered that Fairbanks and Pune were sister cities, which absolutely made no sense to me. There isn’t even anything in common to talk about !!
The next morning was the 31st. We drove to the downtown where the group was getting harassed by the extreme cold. That was when the group decided to back out of the plan to drive outside the city later that night to see the Aurora; something that I gladly welcomed for 2 reasons – I wasn’t sure it was safe for everyone to be out for so long in the extreme cold since they were already having problems and of course, I was getting to be alone.
After the New Years’ eve dinner, the group was suddenly infused with a renewed spirit to come along. We decided to drive to a resort about 30 miles outside Fairbanks where quite a few Aurora watchers gather daily. It has a lodge and a room for people to watch the lights comfortably. The lodge was completely filled with Japanese tourists (all of them wearing the exact same clothing for unknown reasons).
My new years was spent outside in the cold trying to get some good snaps of the Aurora, which I think I finally did (snaps link below). Special thanks to Varun C for helping me out with the settings of the camera.
We returned at 4 a.m. and crashed into bed. This was when I finally remembered to wish everyone.
The next morning, we discovered the car brakes had deteriorated badly, probably due to the cold, and the car rental at Fairbanks was closed for new years. So I took the opportunity to trick everyone into letting me drive back till Anchorage [;)].
It was just before dark when we reached the mountain range of Mt. Mckinley. We couldn’t get a clear view due to the overcast weather. That was the only disappointment of the trip. You have to be a hiker to know the excitement of seeing the highest peak of a continent. I hope to be back attempting Mt. Mckinley someday, but that day is not even close.
On the last leg of the drive, we saw an amazing sunset which was a fitting ending to the trip and the beauty of Alaska.
The best part of the trip apart from the Aurora was snowmobiling and of course, the 8 1/2 hour long drives to and from Fairbanks. You have to be really passionate about driving to enjoy such long drives on icy roads.
At the end, one thing was for sure. This wasn’t my last trip to Alaska.
(Snaps here. All of the Aurora snaps are as is from the camera, partly because I didn’t know how to process them !)
The first candidate is Shri. L.K. Advani (I went through his entire website and I am pretty sure Shri is his first name). Firstly, his personal portal lkadvani.in that was inaugurated a week after Obama’s win (and if McCain would have won, he already had speeches with मावेरिक ready). Just search for the number of times ‘change’ appears in his recent speech (Link). Plus a lot looks familiar with an exception that the ‘Donations’ option is missing. Public funding is something that cannot be done so blatantly according to the Election Commission. In their laws, they clearly mention that “Funding for campaigns is strictly to be obtained by unfair means when in power whatsoever”.
Another candidate is Pramod Mahajan’s daughter, Poonam Mahajan contesting from Mumbai. Her campaign slogan is “You deserve better. You deserve a change.“
With the state elections approaching, and the general elections next year, I am sure many more politicians are going to jump in with their local variants of ‘change’ and ‘बदलाव’.
But somehow I have this feeling that Mr. L.K. Advani is the Barack Obama of India. And no, it is not just instinct. Lalu Prasad Yadav (the only Indian politician who bears some similarity to Sarah Palin) just called Advani a ‘terrorist’.
On a more serious note, L.K. Advani’s portal is actually good with transcripts and videos of all his speeches, his campaign trail, his stand on issues, etc. We deserve to know everything about our Prime Ministerial candidates.
Meanwhile, the Congress is working hard to get their portal http://www.manmohansingh.in running. Apparently they are having some issues with the proxy server. Citation needed.
The long wait is over. Sen. Barack Obama is the President elect of the USA. Not just another victory, but a victory where he rethought and thereby redefined everything on the way : the groundwork, campaigning, fund raising, speaking, planning. Politics in America can no longer be the same.
As a side note, the campaign also taught us plenty :
As Son of Bosey states, millions of people all over the world and thousands of clueless Indians are delighted with Obama’s win (true for many in the USA too).
Indians expect more from the President of USA than we do from our own Prime Minister.
In India, we will be have to put up with hundred articles on every remote association that Barack Obama has with India/Indians.
Oxford has decided to retire the word ‘maverick’ from English forever.
Plumbers have gone underground out of shame.
Ditto for Joe’s.
Miss South Carolina is glad she is smarter than someone.
Russia has gone back to its original lcoation, and can no longer be seen from Alaska. And Africa is back to being a continent.
Tina Fey, late night comedians and Fox news are looking out for alternate occupations.
Written in a previous post here,
I think a basic statistical (and geeky) analysis on commissions in India would reveal that the mean of all reports in an issue is exactly zero, and further analysis might prove them to be either uncorrelated or correlated with the coefficient -1. The truth, we may sadly never know.
Looks like zero isn’t our only contribution to the world :
There are some very famous quotes in the US presidential elections (similar to the “Maut ka Saudagar” line in Gujarat elections) :
The last minute question by Ronald Reagan in the final presidential debate during the 1980 elections : “Are you better off now than you were four years ago ?”, which went on to become a game changer that year.
The question thrown around often this time is : “Whom would you rather have dinner with ? McCain or Obama ?”
Since the answer to that was certainly not going in favor of Sen. John McCain, giving a new twist to the above question was Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (campaigning for Sen. McCain) :
Now why the #@@#@$@ would I be in a POW cell !!!!
John McCain, in all his political speeches, mentions that if he is elected President, he will nab Osama Bin Laden, because he KNOWS how to get him (Link).
An honest wondering I had :
If you knew it all along, what the @*#@#@#$%@%$ were you waiting for !!!!