Stories published in December, 2010

Bye bye Walkman?

Leading British newspapers have announced the death of cultural symbols born of technology, that signal values of an era obsolete as if saying goodbye to dear friends. Nostalgia plays a huge part in this, for both the British and American cultures often find themselves mourning for times bygone. The current obsession with the show Mad Men in every sphere including fashion has, for example, been described in this way. One such an announcement was made on the front pages of almost all the major publications recently, one variation read: “Walkman RIP, farewell to a cultural icon.” Sony, a Japanese company, has made the ...

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The wicked women of Bigg Boss IV

It started for me three weeks ago – while channel hopping looking for something entertaining to watch on television at home, I came across an Indian channel showing an intensely heated argument between some celebrities hailing from popular Star Plus soaps. Hoping for something interesting, I got comfortable on my couch and was drawn into the fourth season of Big Boss. Whilst undoubtedly slapstick lowbrow entertainment, this show still tends to keep people glued to the screen as it unravels the domestic affairs, romantic flings, feuds and rivalries of the various housemates. It is a real-life soap opera, currently filled ...

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What Liverpool needs

After Liverpool’s dramatic takeover by New England Sports Ventures’ John W Henry, the off the field issues and controversies at Anfield were finally put to rest, but a lot needs to be done still to return the club to the dizzying heights that were once familiar territory for it. The club’s dismal showing in what is their worst start to a season for quite a long time, suggests that all is not well on the pitch. Lately the plot again seems to have gone awry with defeats against Stoke and Tottenham after a period of revival that had seen the ...

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Before we turn into WikiFreaks…

Excuse me, while I jump on the bandwagon and hail the unprecedented revelation of global espionage. The revelation of a quarter of a million classified diplomatic cables of the United States is no mean feat. Ordinarily, a quarter of a million journalists would have made their careers if they were fortunate enough to gain access to each of those documents individually. But must we be blinded by the incredulity of such an event to the point that we forget to question what the revelations really are? For all their juicy and gripping disclosures, the leaked ...

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What’s wrong with ajraks on a national symbol?

The Teen Talwar roundabout in the Clifton area of Karachi looks different. The swords are clad in ajraks, a block-printed cloth with deep crimson red and indigo blue background, bearing symmetrical patterns with interspersed sparkling white motifs, mostly stars and trefoil flowers. Why? The reason is that Sindh celebrates its culture and ‘Ekta’ on December 4-5, respectively. Preparations to celebrate the cultural days are in full swing throughout Sindh as well as abroad where the Sindhi diaspora is living in scores. A cultural celebration It was last year, on December 6 to be specific, that Sindhis celebrated this day. Last year, it had a special ...

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On blasphemy, clerics and intolerance

Intolerance is making headlines again. One can elucidate that local cleric Qari Salam’s decision to facilitate an FIR against Aasia Bibi or the appointment of JUI-F cleric Maulana Mohammad Khan Sherani as the 12th chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) show that we are victims of our own social confusion. I couldn’t help but notice that the history of intolerance and ignorance has always been battling against humanity. One of my colleague who visited Aasia Bibi’s village in Nankana to interview Qari Salam was astonished by the lack of remorse he felt regarding the decision to facilitate the ...

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Fashion industry: The ugly world of pretty people

The fashion industry may look glamorous from the outside but it has some serious loopholes. It’s refreshing to see superstars air kissing at award shows and interviewing each other on morning TV shows and it may lead someone to think that this is the only industry in Pakistan where people actually get along. But this friendliness can turn pretty ugly if one knows the right amount of dirty secrets that surround this industry. What are some of these dirty secrets of the fashion industry? Primarily, there is a lot of nepotism and corruption in showbiz. I scratch your back In the Pakistani ...

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It’s the education, economy and environment, stupid!

The dominant national narrative encourages the diversion of resources to meet the needs of our nation’s military. The budget statement is incomplete without statements that go something like: the government is more than willing to offer whatever resources the military demands to meet the nation’s defence. Whether we should sign a blank cheque and then allow the audacity to dare to question where the money is spent is an argument that creates much passion; however, as time passes by, it is becoming increasingly clear that the perpetuation of such policies is making our nation both internally and externally insecure. The shrinking ...

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Profiling Muslim men is unjust, unworkable

It is commonly understood that mainstream media creates, processes and disseminates information which determine our beliefs and attitudes and, ultimately, our behaviour.  Consistently displayed messages create a false sense of reality and produce a consciousness that cannot comprehend or even worst, willfully rejects the actual conditions of everyday life. Many have argued that these manipulative messages become the ‘instrument of conquest’, by which the ruling elite tries to make the masses conform to their objectives. By using ‘talking heads’ that explain, justify, and sometimes even glamorise the prevailing conditions of existence, mainstream media secures popular support for a social order that ...

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WikiLeaks 2.0: Full marks for Gilani, Shahbaz strikes out

So far a few hundred cables have been released – this is out of approximately 250,000 that WikiLeaks say will be eventually released. Newspapers, television channels, blog sites and other sources of information and media dissemination are having a field day, both in Pakistan as well as overseas with the wealth of information that has come out. The head of Russia’s intelligence service has said that the cables provide a “treasure trove” of information and that his analysts will go through them in detail. Meanwhile Israel is gloating that its stance on many things is the same, both in public ...

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