Saturday, June 27, 2009

Deepak Chopra on Michael Jackson

I was always sympathetic and supportive of Michael Jackson, even through his court trials and "Wacko Jacko" labels used by the media while covering some of his later activities. Now that he's gone, it's good to see that in the broader populace positive memories and feelings for him far outweigh any negativity. He and Madonna have been my favorite pop icons and his untimely death ahead of his comeback concert is tragic.

Of all the interviews about Michael that I saw on TV the one I liked best is this one last night by Deepak Chopra with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC. It not only gives great insights into Michael's psyche, life and the trauma that he faced, but also shows Deepak to be forthcoming, as well as a true and caring friend.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Gay and Diverse Celebration

Anita's young female relative graduated from high school last week, and Anita and I had a great time attending the festivities. At a private dinner in a New Haven restaurant we met a nice young couple - one the step-sister of our graduate and the other her woman spouse, along with their two year old daughter.

The cute toddler ran around, being minded and doted upon by her two moms (one the biological mother through sperm donation) as well as her grandpa, a cheerful and mild-mannered cardiologist. He and his wife introduced the female couple as their daughter and daughter-in-law.

Considering that it was a family affair with everyone related by blood or marriage, our group of 10 was remarkably diverse. Five distinct mother tongues - English, Gujerati, Hindi, Malayalam and Panjabi. A mix of four Indian ethnic groups and one Caucasian. Four different religions - Christian, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh. In answer to Rodney King's question two decades ago, yes, we can all get along beautifully.

The female couple talked of their quest, hope and anxieties about getting recognized as spouses. They first got married in San Francisco, then last month in Massachusetts and are now looking forward to legalization of same sex marriage in New York where they live. They sought marriages in multiple states because of uneven laws recognizing these, and the validity being subject to referendums and court challenges. One of them talked about the hurt she felt when her uncle (the cardiologist's brother) whom she was very close to didn't attend their wedding.

I've supported gay marriage in a "why-not-if-it-makes-people-happy" sense, brushing aside those religious objections as meaningless. But I didn't consider it very different from civil unions and was hence not too invested in the issue. Now having seen it up close and personal, I am much more sympathetic to the cause and hope it gains universal acceptance.

Monday, June 8, 2009

More Ado About Nothing

I don't know what's more deplorable. The awful journalism or the misplaced outrage of the public that reacts to such stories. First there's this continuing fallout from the UK lawmaker's so-called expense scandal that has put the hapless British PM Gordon Brown's career in severe jeopardy. I've already expressed my disgust at this storm in a teacup and want lawmakers to be paid a lot more so they can do their job better, without falling victim to petty temptations or distractions.

Now across the pond a top paper like the WSJ began orchestrating a move to require all members of the US Congress to post their expenses online. The Congressmen's expenses are already available in hard copy for anyone who is interested, but this apparently isn't enough. In three front page articles (imagine, they thought THIS was the most important news to report) the WSJ had big scoops about some members using their allowances on certain items. These included a lease of Lexus or other cars costing an average of $640 a month, 7 HD screens costing $2K each, uniform shirts costing $12K (total, not each) and so on...

You call THIS in the WSJ articles sensational or top news? The WSJ and other media drumbeat ultimately succeeded on June 4 in getting the House to agree to post all expenses online. Whoopee. I'd have liked some prominent journalists or leaders to point out how misplaced and ridiculous this whole coverage is. There's some hope. Mayor Bloomberg opined that the US President is grossly underpaid. There were predictable howls of indignation but at least one journalist Dan Thomasson supported his views and also advocated much higher pay for other public servants.

I'd like such views to be the rule rather than the exception.