The whole "liquids on planes" scam

I had very much hoped that by the time I was on a plane again, the international airline industry would have backed off from this "no liquids or gels on planes" bullshit.

I mean, wasn't the whole thing disproven as being hysteria stirred to a fever-pitch by those clowns on Fleet Street, and aided and abetted by toffee-nosed war criminal Tony Blair (and his ilk) because such hysteria serves their own purposes?

I can accept, maybe, having to down nearly a litre of water before being allowed into the secure zone at Pearson international airport. What I can't accept is being forced to dump my water bottle AGAIN after disembarking at Malpensa ("Bad Thinking" in Italian?) airport in Milan even though I was still in transit!

The upshot? There I was, no water, no Euros and about to take off for Mumbai international airport, arriving at 1h30 on a Sunday morning, a place and time where I was really, really afraid of being without water.

What does a rational person do in an irrational situation like this? I am, after all, a "perspirer". (I burst into a sweat if I turn the pages of a book too quickly! And being hung-over definitely doesn't help matters.)

I did the only thing I could think of: engage in the act of shoplifting.

I nonchalantly grabbed a couple of 7.5 cl bottled waters off the shelf in a self-serve cafeteria, jammed them in my carry-on bag, and strolled over to my departure gate.

Some people might blame my behaviour on my lack of morals, but I know better. I blame the Man.


The Kerala Model

In anticipation of my upcoming vacation, I have been doing a lot of reading about India's history, politics, cultures, and the like.
One of the more interesting items I have come across is a continuing debate over the so-called "Kerala Model".

What is the Kerala Model? According to the most important information source in the universe, it is:

a set of economic practices developed in India's state of Kerala. These practices have resulted in the state attaining a high level of standards in human development, while compromising on its industrial development. This anomaly of high social development despite economic backwardness, is variously known as the Kerala model, or the Kerala phenomenon.

I think we all can agree that this description is dry, to say the least. What it all boils down to is, why does the most literate, healthy, and egalitarian state in India also have the lowest per capita income?

The modern theory is that investing in health and education for all citizens will result in a growth in production, yet Kerala is not following this pattern.

(Personally, I suspect that if the people that measure this sort of thing used the 'median', rather than the 'mean' average, Kerala would be rated substantially higher.)

Putting Economics aside for now, I intent to start my vacation in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala, for two reasons:

1. There is a well known university there, and I hope to plunder their bookshop for books on pre-Raj Indian history. (Weirdly enough, all the Indian histories I have read, inevitably written by Britons, seem to devote approx. 6 pages to India before the Europeans, and the rest of the book to the Raj.)

2. 'Thiruvananthapuram'. This city used to be called Trivandrum, but relatively recently they changed it to Thiruvananthapuram which translates as, more or less, 'City of the Sacred Serpent' (whose name is Anantha, BTW).

I don't know how you, gentle reader, make your vacation choices, but for me this makes Thiruvananthapuram a must-visit place on my 'adventure holiday' itinerary, just because of the cool name.

(Addendum: For some reason 'City of the Sacred Serpent' reminds me of the "Conan the Barbarian" movie. I can't explain why this would be. Inquiring minds need to know!)


Reviewing Left Behind

While on the subject of Christianity, I thought I would muse aloud on the block-buster phenomenon of Left Behind.

The series, which runs 12 books, concerns the trials and tribulations of those "left behind" after all the Christians are raptured and the Book of Revelation stuff kicks in, Schwarzeneggerian Final Days-style.

First off, I should mention that I only read the first book in the series, and by 'read', I mean that I read the first twenty or so pages, mulled things over, and decided that cleaning the tub might not be such a chore after all.

I didn't need to read any more to know how much it sucked. (I didn't bother to analyze why I thought it sucked until I read Blogging Left Behind, but more on that later.)

When I was in grade 8, I thought The Shining was a great novel, and Stephen King worthy of his garlands.

A couple of years ago, I saw a paperback Stephen King novel that I hadn't read. I took it home, started reading, and was appalled at how bad a writer he is! Yet as a fourteen year-old I had found The Shining and Salem's Lot captivating!

Compared to the writers of Left Behind, Stephen King is Marcel Proust.

If you go to slacktavist's Blogging Left Behind, you can read the page by page analysis of the first novel (along with a lot of great links to other sources for Christian criticism, theological analysis, etc.) faithfully posted over a period of some time (his first post was in Sep 24, 2003, right now, Jan 7 2007, he is on page 241).

I guess slacktavist is savouring every drop!

A quote from his entry of Oct 18, 2003 (fourth up from the bottom of the page, the entries are in reverse chronological order):

The first words of Left Behind are "Rayford Steele," the protagonist's name.

It sounds like a porn star's name -- and in a sense it is. The Left Behind series is dispensational porno, but it's more than that. One of the most disturbing things about this book is the way LaHaye and Jenkins portray men, women and the relationships between them.


The character Rayford Steele is, like the authors, no longer a young man. Younger authors might not have been compelled to give their protagonists names -- "Steele" and "Buck" -- that seem such a blatant assertion of male virility. Bev is apparently not the only LaHaye who seems oblivious to phallic imagery.

I like this blogger (he is slowly working his thoughtful, sardonic way through the book) because he is a Christian and has a sense of humour. I know some Christians have a lively sense of humour, I am related to a good few of them.

Christians with a Sense of Humour should get some exposure too!