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Rape? Eh. Slavery? Oh, GOD!

October 9, 2009 Leave a comment

Apparently Michelle Obama’s great-great-mother was a slave whose child was born to her when she was 15.

In First Lady’s Roots, a Complex Path From Slavery

Melvinia Shields, the enslaved and illiterate young girl, and the unknown white man who impregnated her are the great-great-great-grandparents of Michelle Obama, the first lady.

Funny how they never note that Michelle Obama’s ancestors, like countless others, was the product of a rape. A forced sexual encounter, i.e. rape, of a 14-year old girl child. Who was also a slave – her body was bought and paid for. And then used.

It’s almost like that part doesn’t even count – oh, of course there was rape. What’s the big deal? Oh, but look, one side of her family was black.

Sheesh, maybe that’s why discrimination of one sort (e.g. rape) still happens today, and the other is a historical fact they needed to have experts dig for.

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Cool FAIL by Burger King – again

July 9, 2009 Leave a comment

Russ Klein evidently spent his childhood ringing the doorbells of neighbors and running away and got caught plenty. Or John Chidsey, CEO of Burger King, had friends who did that, and he never got the guts to do so himself, so he’s making up for it now (no surprises here, apparently: “We want to stay on the cutting edge of pop culture,” says CEO John Chidsey, 44, whose office is lined with photos of himself with celebrities from Sheryl Crow to Tiger Woods.).

First off, you can’t be entirely cool-based if you’re aiming to be a high market share brand selling at a low price point for your category. That’s way too many things at once for too many people.
And second, One can be ‘kewl’ or edgy without falling off the edge entirely, really. Someone please show this awesomely written article to Burger King, stat:

Burger King’s MO: Offend, Earn Media, Apologize, Repeat

CHICAGO (AdAge.com) — How’s this for a global marketing strategy? Each month target a different international market with an ad that offends some segment of the population, then, after earning a lot of media attention, apologize and pull the ad.

That’s the pattern of offense Burger King has established in the past few months. Most recently, the fast feeder had cultural and religious groups screaming today in the latest installment of what has become a series of monthly melees. A few hours after an ABC News reported that ads in Spain depicted the Hindu goddess Lakshmi atop a ham sandwich — with the caption “a snack that is sacred” — Burger King announced that it would pull the ads. Many Hindus are, of course, vegetarian.

According to the statement: “Burger King Corporation values and respects all of its guests as well as the communities we serve. This in-store advertisement was running to support a limited-time-only local promotion for three restaurants in Spain and was not intended to offend anyone. Out of respect for the Hindu community, the in-store advertisement has been removed from the restaurants.”

This has all become familiar. In April, Burger King pulled and said it would revise a European TV spot for its Texican Whopper that had proved offensive to Hispanics. In it a small, masked wrestler draped in a Mexican flag was carried around by a tall gent in jeans and a cowboy hat. Parents expressed dismay in the chain’s online promotion of “Star Trek” in May, in which the chain’s iconic King character kicked a succession of people in the crotch. Last month brought “The 7-incher,” a promotion in Singapore for a long, fat burger that was sure to “blow your mind away.” A woman’s head with an awed, open mouth accompanied the picture of the sandwich.

Emphasis mine above. So they did put out and them withdraw the ads that were offensive to Hindus and to Hispanics. Good for that. Of course, they never withdrew the advertisements that were offensive to women (Pshaw! Our ‘superfan’ is 18-34 MALE, y’know!) – e.g. the woman’s head ad (also called the ‘blow-up doll’ ad: here), or the pedophilic Spongebob Squarepants ad (here).

My issue here is not just that the advertising is provocative, or that it’s really insulting – my bigger problem here is that the advertising is SO pointless! It’s (A) bad, (B) ineffective advertising that is (C) NOT built around a solid insight and (D) does not communicate any real benefit. The (E) drama is all misplaced, and the (F) branding is really non-existent. Finally, (G) there’s really poor benefit vizualization – and the (H) execution is poor – the food looks unappetizing!

Any one of the eight strikes above, and at P&G – or where I work now – we’d’ve been forced back to the drawing board. I can just imagine the Burger King ads being shown at a advertising workshop as an example of ‘how to spend Millions of $$ and not communicate effectively’.

Look at the Spongebob ad, for instance – at the end of 30 seconds all you remember are square butts on little girls, and a sick Spongebob going around measuring the girls with a measuring tape. They’re not advertising a square burger, or a larger burger (to explain the tape) – they’re advertising their version of the Happy Meal. There’s no logical link (unless it was a convoluted pun on measuring tape = ruler = king = Burger King. Really?). I didn’t even recall that it was a Burger King ad until I went to register my outrage.

Or the Lakshmi ad mentioned above – how is a ‘sacred snack’ a meaningful consumer benefit or drawn on an insight? Do you eat more of a sacred snack than one that’s not? Do you plan for it and schedule your day around it, like you would for a religious event (uhm, isn’t it supposed to be fast food)? And if you HAD to go with that benefit, isn’t there a more effective, relatable way to depict ‘sacred’ to Spaniards than via Lakshmi? If you wanted to show a new Asian line, or spicy food, or new exotic items, I can imagine this kind of an image making some convoluted sense to a small-town, unsophisticated, untraveled creative director. But a Hindu goddess to sell a hamburger? Massive FAIL.

It’s gotten so bad I can’t be bothered to put out an action alert – I can just sit here and laugh my ass off at these idiots working in the ‘Miami-based Burger King’

General White Stupidity

June 3, 2009 Leave a comment

After having stayed here in Southern US, and having resigned once triggered by a racist, ignorant and offensive comment by my then-manager, I’m obviously seething at the Australian
attacks on Indian students.

These are on the heels of months of mounting tension here in the US, too: Over the last twelve months, ~10 students from Andhra Pradesh have been violently attacked and killed, most in seemly unrelated petty-crimes-gone-bad situations.

A 21-year-old Indian student has been attacked by a group of males in suburban Melbourne after they stopped him and demanded cigarettes and money. […]

Police said Mr Singh told the men he was a non-smoker. The men then demanded money and when the student refused, he was slashed across the chest.

Mr Singh made his way to a police station where he made a statement about the attack. […]

Today’s incident also comes after a vandalism spree at a Sikh temple in Shepparton, in central Victoria, yesterday.

Shepparton police tonight confirmed the attack but told The Age they had no further details.

But worried as I am, I had to laugh at this:

However, website India Today reported racist graffiti and a swastika were painted on the walls and a car driven into a fence around the temple, smashing it.

If that is true, then these attackers are fools indeed. Someone please, please let them know that painting a swastika on a Hindu or Sikh (or Buddhist or Jain) temple is actually auspicious.

Why did we have to go to Raging Burrito again?

And every single time for Mexican food here in the US?

Because most authentic Mexican refried beans have lard. And it’s hard to convince people that Taco Bell doesn’t. No, really.

But why does authentic (=traditional) Mexican food have lard, anyway? After all, pigs weren’t native to America anyway, right? [ Unless you’re talking about guinea pigs (I remember seeing a litter in Peru being kept for future food – urgh!)].

Pigs have been domesticated since ancient times in the Old World and are known for their exceptional intelligence. Domestic Pigs are found across Europe and the Middle East and extend into Asia as far as Indonesia and Japan. They were brought to southeastern North America from Europe by De Soto and other early Spanish explorers.

But this, as everything else, has to do with major patriarchial and religious wang-wagging. Read on:

With the culmination of the Reconquista and the rise of Catholic fundamentalism at the time of the Catholic Monarchs, pork came to be seen as a sure sign of faith in a land of half- and falsely-converted Moriscos and Jews, and so was the dominant use of lard {manteca} in detriment to olive oil, which began to be associated with plebes, peasants and people with suspicious blood lineages. As the Galician writer and gastronome, Julio Cambra put it, ‘Spanish cooking overflows with garlic and religious prejudices”.

Olive oil did not, however, lose its reputation as an efficacious health tonic. In the south and along the coast, olive oil continued as the dominant fat, yet it wasn’t until the late 19th century that Spanish cookery writers, notably Angel Muro in ‘El Practicón’, began to extol its virtues over lard.

So it’s all because of the sighing Moor that lost his kingdom that we keep going back to the one trustworthy Mexican restaurant with the moustached Mona Lisa.

Categories: culture, diary, food, health, race

Moody goes to economics class – and comes out unhurt

March 6, 2009 Leave a comment

India loses investor appeal: Moody’s

When you read a headline like the one above, you know (if you already don’t) that rating agencies are as ridiculous as, say, journalists. Rating agencies are supposed to predict future performance, based on data, intuition, industry knowledge. Given that India’s economy is still supposed to grow at a 5-7% this year (5% as per the Economist, 7% as per the Government) – in a year when most global economies are tanking heavily, contracting and barely standing still – I’d say Moody’s is as wrong as ever. In fact, they sound a little peeved that their recommendations on reducing interest rates were not heard by the government.

Of course they have so much credibility, since their – and everyone’s – excellent judgement in the 1980’s for Japan worked so fine, didn’t it. So what are Moody’s reasons for the outright downgrade?

Moody’s stated “big concern” is the government’s debt: “One of the core concerns is the unsustainable fiscal position. …,” says Sherman Chan, economist at Moody’s Economy.com.

How worrisome is this worry? Apparently, from here and here, quite:

…the budget deficit is expected to balloon to 6.1% of GDP in fiscal year
2008/09 (April-March) and remain at 6% in 2009/10, but it should then narrow
gradually, to reach 3.6% of GDP by the end of the forecast period.

Compare this to the US’s projected deficit of 12.3% of GDP:

An eye-popping $1.75 trillion deficit for the 2009 fiscal year underlined the
heavy blow the deep recession has dealt to the country’s finances as Obama
unveiled his first budget. That is the highest ever in dollar terms, and amounts
to a 12.3 percent share of the economy — the largest since 1945. In 2010, the
deficit would dip to a still-huge $1.17 trillion, Obama predicted.

So, 6% of GDP vs. 12.3% of GDP. Of course, the rating of the United States is correspondingly affected. Not!:

Still some analysts noted than an outright default was actually impossible,
since the United States only owes money in dollars and could therefore simply
print cash. In that case, inflation would be the more likely outcome.

“The U.S. is not going to default. It’s silly,” said Joseph LaVorgna,
chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank Securities. “The U.S. was, at its peak,
roughly almost 30 percent of world GDP. The U.S. may inflate its way out of its
debt obligations, but it will not default on its debt obligations.”

So easy, no? Not just do you print yourself out of your debt to your citizens, you print yourself out of debt to others, because YOU define the MONEY and YOU make the money. And therefore, you can never be downgraded, and Moody can never really be miffed with you and send out stupid reports.

Looks like it’s time to design a currency symbol for the Indian Rupee too. That’ll solve everything and make Moody change his mood to “happy”, no?

The blindness of race-love

January 9, 2008 Leave a comment

Of ALL the many articles, blogs, reports I’ve read these past few weeks, this has to be the one with the silliest logic.

First, “Iowa caucus-goers stood by Barack, in part, because when voting with their bodies, in front of their neighbors, Iowans are held accountable. In the quiet, solitary space of the voting booth, some New Hampshire voters abandoned Barack.” – is that the ONLY difference in the two? Isn’t a more fundamental, basic difference the factor of time? Isn’t there SOME element of stimulus-response based on what happened at Iowa and in those five days? That when Iowa was voting, Obama wasn’t looking solid, so his supporters came out, and when Clinton looked like she was about to not just lose NH but just completely wiped off the face of this election, her supporters came out to vote and give her a fighting chance?

Second, “But there is not a substantial gender gap in American politics. Historically, white women voters are as likely to be Democrats as Republicans; as likely to vote for male candidates as for female; and as likely to describe themselves as conservative or liberal.”. How many viable, electable female candidates has this country seen in the last two hundred years? If women voters (white, black, brown or yellow) were actually offered a chance that would bring them together, they would’ve voted as one a long time ago. Like the black voting bloc stays constant with Democrats because they speak to them, with them, for them – there has been NO party or person that would deign to work for women. And therefore, the loyalty of that group of people has depended on other factors. Which kind of shows that the problem of women haven’t been recognized, acknowledged or even ‘found a voice’ in the public sphere. And please don’t tell me that there are no common problems that all women face.

Third “Clinton cried about being attacked in the debates, but there are no public tears shed for the strain Obama must feel as a result of death threats, which caused the doubling of his Secret Service detail”. This is the worst form of begging for sympathy – ‘he’s going to be killed so vote for him’? Is Obama the only public figure ever, to get death threats? We can be pretty certain that Hillary Clinton has received her fair/unfair share of death threats. I don’t recall, say, Benazir Bhutto or any one of the zillion leaders/politicians/movie stars who get death calls crying on TV – so death calls make you scared, angry, and the only viable solution then is to get out of the public glare.

Hillary has been dragged through pretty much every kind of humiliation a human being can face in the public eye. And no, she hasn’t cried – yet. Not about being attacked in the debates – she can give back as good as she’s ever got. No, she didn’t spill tears – not even on the ‘most viewed video’ on Monday.

Barack Obama is an inspirational leader, but his strategy is neither new nor difficult. He not just models himself on other young leaders talking about hope – JFK, MLK Jr, even Jesus, and yes, Bill Clinton; he literally invokes them, quotes them: he’s idiot-proofed it so each one of us can NOT miss that connection. At best, this is borrowed shine – at worst, this is plagiarism.

Ok, so your 5-year old asked you a question. She asked you that after you’d fed it into her that those two girls were going somewhere – all she did was mirror your disappointment. You’d said “Look at the beautiful black girls who might get to live in the White House,”. Like it’s a great thing for beautiful black girls to get to live in the White House and not an equally great thing for a woman to run the country from the Oval Office?

By saying “What I know for sure is that if black Americans are going to be relevant to American elections, they must rally behind Obama now”, you’re basically implying that we’re not ever going to remain relevant to American elections if we don’t. Frankly, ‘Pshaw’ to that – we’ve been pretty much the single most important, large and influential voting group apart from evangelicals in the last few years.

And each extra time he plays the MLK card or the civil rights movement card even if they may not be anywhere relevant to what he’s talking about, Obama is ‘playing’ the race card.

I don’t think that is bad, after all he is mixed race and that he’s reached where he has despite his race, is an achievement. So he should be proud of that. Let’s just not assume that all that name-dropping is naively done – because if it is, then we have an ignoramous on our hands (which is terrifying). Seems unlikely from all that Obama’s put out so far that he’s not smart enough to understand people or the influence of words.

As a brown woman, I was proud of Obama until he started playing dirty politics (“triangulation” is merely bipartisanship in different clothing, so dragging down someone else while patting yourself on the back for doing the same thing yourself is dirty), being petty and cocky at the same time, and setting himself up as a modern day Prophet descended onto the planet to save all of us from hell (‘you’ll see a ray of light hit you”?? – I mean seriously, next you know he’ll start referring to himself in the third person). I’ve seen men do that enough all my life, and unapologetically, and unashamedly. I’m tired of it, and I’m tired of him. I’m thrilled to see a woman beat, fight her way back amidst oceans of tears spilled by Obama-mesmerized crowds.

Crash!

April 13, 2006 Leave a comment

My sister’s friend from dental College, is S, a Mallu Catholic girl. S’s sister recently got married to an NRI based in Texas. Her family had gone there the day before the wedding S’s brother and father had gone to the nearby medical/convenience store to buy something, and there was two white men waiting at the counter also. The counter boy first served the white guys, even though S’s brother and father had come there first and were waiting.

They finished their purchase, went out, and outside the same white guy accosted them with a “hey man, whatcha starin’ at” and started beating them up. they were surprised, and kept asking “what, what” until they got fed up and started beating him back….meanwhile, some four-five random passers by stopped with their cars, and started helping the white guy in beating S’s brother & father. Needless to say, all the passers-by were white.

So the brother and father went to their sister/daughter’s wedding the next day with BIG black eyes and fractures.

And yes, this is a true story. And we’re going to go live in this country some three weeks from now. Remind me why, please?