April 2008


The Indian Express reports that the Indian Railways will pilot voice and data connectivity in trains between Ahmedabad and Mumbai; liveblogging about the difficulty of managing one’s bodily functions on a squat toilet with a malfunctioning lock soon to follow.

Two cool projects: a pixellated gush of water from an old downspout and a plastic-bag Loch Ness Monster constructed over a subway vent so it “comes alive” every time a train rushes by underground.

The first, Gawker reports, was NYU student Kelly Goeller’s assignment for Intro to Sculpture. The other, which I found via Wooster Collective, is a piece by Joshua Allen Harris (who also did the plastic-bag polar bear) best understood by watching a YouTube clip:

These are the things that make me love NY….

“Sal’s Boots,” 1982, Barbara G. Mensch, via NYT slideshow, “New York’s Seaports.”

There’s (what sounds like) a cool photo exhibit down at South Street Seaport — Barbara G. Mensch’s images of the Fulton Fish Market, taken from 1979-1983. (Mensch’s work was also featured in South Street, a book put out by the Columbia University Press.)

My fascination with the Seaport, despite its disgustingly Abercrombie-fied current incarnation, stems from my being enamored with Joseph Mitchell, the New Yorker writer whose The Bottom of the Harbor is truly a gem of narrative nonfiction. Read Mitchell’s short stories, then go to the exhibit. And then, umm, get drunk on a dram of grog and see if you can dig some clams in Raritan Bay?

I kid, but it isn’t funny: women in India face significant challenges, and too often, it seems, issues like gender parity fall by the wayside as the country focuses on its spectacular economic growth, etc.

It’s probably just lip service, but it is heartening to hear the country’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh, thrusting the issue into the public eye. In a speech Monday, Singh said, “We are an ancient civilisation and we call ourselves a modern nation. And yet, we live with the ignominy of an adverse gender balance due to social discrimination against women built into our societal structures. … Our record in female literacy is far from satisfactory as the last Census recorded only 54% female literacy in the country. The last Census again showed a declining child sex ratio. This is a national shame and we must face this challenge squarely here and now. It indicates that growing economic prosperity and education levels have not led to a corresponding mitigation of the problem.”

For a good primer on the social status of women in India, I’d suggest the Bridge “India Gender Profile” (PDF). The Wikipedia page on women in India, though of debatable quality, also surfaces a number of issues and provides a bit of historical context.

None so tasty as my yum cha, but tasty nonetheless — if you’re in NYC, keep track of your favorite brewskis with Beer Menus. Looks like the most promising venue near my office (in Midtown East) is CB Six, with 16 varieties on tap and 106 different bottles. Cheers!

Really loved “Outdoor ‘Living Rooms’ Bring Touches of Cheer to Central Los Angeles” in Saturday’s Times.  I suspect that the story’s not so simple as they’ve presented it, but I’m all for easy, cost-effective solutions that make residents proud of the space they’re in.

(Image from the Tuol Sleng museum in Phnom Penh.)

And have lots to recommend from it, including Sichan Siv’sLast Breakfast in Cambodia,” a meditation on the future of the country only now beginning to recover from the implosion of the ’70s. An excerpt:

Cambodia today is not unlike the Cambodia of my youth — there is deep poverty and enormous wealth, side-by-side. There is unrest beneath the surface, the unrest that helped to make the horrors of the last century possible. And so, as I walk from one memory-filled place to another, I pray for a new year in which Cambodia’s leaders will find a way to bring about peace and stability.

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