The Iraqi prisoner abuse story is extremely significant. It is a devastating blow to any notion of winning the hearts and minds of Arabs in or outside of Iraq. Most newspapers are carrying stories on outrage in Cairo, UAE, Bahrain. The scandal has now spread to British soldiers as well.

What is the significance? In the Islamic world, home to dictatorships and police regimes, this is not newsworthy solely because it happened. Instead, it has immense symbolic power because the perpetrators are those that have had the rhetoric of “good” vs evil. Those that claimed that it is civilization they bring to the people. And freedom, of course. Even more than that, is the content of these pictures. If there is one thing valued higher than life, it is honor. The pictures of naked Iraqi prisoners in a pile or in sexual position, and being ridiculed by a white female soldier screams to the Arab and muslim public that their honor has been stripped bare. Shame is in the unveiling.
Continue reading “Shame”

Magnum Magnus Partei Heute Nacht

Heads up for those in Chicago: The up-and-coming soon-to-be-big-in-Europe (hey, it worked for BackStreet Boys) Chicago band magnus will be having their record release party tonight. I intend to go and anyone wanting to join in on the fun would be highly welcome.
Their sound is a combination of liverpool, chicago and norman, oklahoma.
they are good. read a blurb about them here (scroll down). come see them here.
In other news, I have a grant application due today so probably no post until the glorious weekend.

Legacy of Colonialism Includes Beer

Gerry wrote on my dry erase board: “The legacy of colonialism includes beer,” and left a huge bottle of Tiger Beer from Singapore. The statement has been staring me in the face and, today, I remembered that old can of Murree Beer that I had found in the Karachi house kitchen. No, not for drinking, people. My aunt used it to wash her hair. It supposedly is good for your hair. Now, that sounds like a waste of fine brew to me but … in any case, I decided to highlight at least the beers I know of colonial origins in hindoostan [and an extra]. Readers, please add to my knowledge.

  • Kingfisher Lager is United Breweries’ flagship brand and the largest selling Indian Beer. It all started with 5 breweries in South India the oldest of which, Castle Breweries dates back to the year 1857. This is not the India Pale Ale that was developed in Scotland to be shipped over to India. As the “first” beer brewed in India, it has held on to mass appeal. Although, I have seen recently a bit of snobbishness against it.
  • Murree Beer is/was brewed at the Murree Brewery in Ghora Gali since 1861. A hill resort, the area has long been a tourist attraction but in my many visits there, I have only seen a small sign that said Murree Brewery and no brewery [that is in Pindi]. Interesting factoid from their website: In 1893, it won first prize at the World Columbian Exhibition in Chicago.
  • On May 15, 1897, the Crown Brewery Company registered itself in the Kingdom of Belgium -≠home of the well known Stella Artois beer ≠ to start operations in Alexandria. Two years later, a different group of entrepreneurs from Brussels and Antwerp opened a brewery in Cairo, which came to be known as Pyramids Brewery. The new Cairo brewed beer was a hit, but competition with foreign imports was fierce. Despite the competition, by 1906 Pyramids Brewery was in the black, showing a profit of 16,032 French francs with a 30% increase in overall production. [their blurb]
  • Platitudes from the Olive Tree

    I thought that mcsweeney’ had jumped the shark but, i dare say, this is brilliant:
    Create Your Own Thomas Friedman Column .

    Speaking with a local farmer on the last day of my recent visit, I asked him if there was any message that he wanted me to carry back home with me. He pondered for a second, and then smiled and said, “[Short phrase in indigenous language],” which is a local saying that means roughly, “[Every branch of the tree casts its own shadow/That tea is sweetest whose herbs have dried longest/A child knows his parents before the parents know their child].