Lets Go Everywhere

Gun Scare at Central Vietnam computer shop
August 27, 2007, 5:21 am
Filed under: consumerism, expat, media, Uncategorized, vietnam

Two men in central Vietnam Saturday pulled a gun on a computer technician in an incident that was likely related to a dispute over a USB flash drive.

At 1.20 pm, two men walked into the second floor of a computer repair shop in Danang city and one of them pointed a gun at Do Phu Thinh, 26.

The assailant shouted “Motherfu—thought I couldn’t do anything to you!”

Thinh’s girlfriend and sister were present and screamed just before shop owner and retired police officer Tran Van Tu sneak-attacked the gunman from behind. Tu pushed Thinh and himself into a nearby room and locked it from inside.

The other man wielded a sharp knife and banged on the door.

They only left after Thinh called the police from inside the room.

“I heard the gun cocking and knew it was an authentic one”, Thinh said after the quarrel.

He also said that some days earlier, a woman had asked him to repair a 1GB Sony USB but Thinh discovered it was only 128 MB and told the customer.

On Friday the woman’s husband, son and daughter came to claim that Thinh had swapped their USB, he said.

According to Thinh, the next day, two other men came and threateningly told Thinh to return the “true” USB, several hours before the gun incident occurred that afternoon.

Reported by Vu Phuong Thao – Thanh Nien – Translated by A.N.O.N

 By the way, the Vietnamese for “motherfucker” is dich me [deek-may]. Just in case anyone was wondering.

It’s funny, I’ve been in and out of this country for close to three years and this was the first gun story I ever read. Then again, there was that story about the samurai sword wielding policeman who stabbed a parking attendant. Oddly enough, that also took place in Da Nang.


Public Power In The Age Of Empire

As I reflect on the results of the US midterm elections I am reminded of a brilliant speech by Arundhati Roy called “Public Power In The Age Of Empire”.

Here you can listen to it in podcast format. An added bonus are folk songs by Utah Philips.


Real Women Have Curves
November 5, 2006, 4:54 pm
Filed under: consumerism, India, media, News and politics, sexuality, women

Anyone else see that movie?

Anyway, here’s an interesting and somewhat depressing article from the Guardian website about India. Are we exporting our social hang-ups right along with our call centres?

India grounds hostesses who are ‘too fat to fly’

National carrier faces legal backlash from cabin crew suspended for being overweight

Amelia Gentleman in Delhi
Sunday November 5, 2006
The Observer

How thin should you be to be a brand ambassador for modern India? This question will be addressed at Delhi’s Supreme Court this week, as lawyers argue over whether Indian Airlines, the state-owned carrier and a national symbol, can fire its air hostesses for being too fat.
Eleven employees, recently grounded for putting on too much weight, claim that the airline has changed its vision of the Indian feminine ideal – abandoning the more buxom prototype in favour of a more westernised, skinny model, which staff see as ‘unattainable’.

Indian Airlines will argue that this is a case of selecting the ‘best ambassadors’ to represent the national airline, and the country as a whole, and will also claim that thinner employees are more agile and better equipped to tackle terrorist incidents and other emergencies.

‘They want to discard the heavier women and bring in newer, thinner models,’ said Sheela Joshi, an air hostess who was grounded after a spot weigh-in found she was 1.9kg over the prescribed limit for her height.

Distressed at the prospect of losing her job after 25 years with the company, she went on a crash diet, and now eats only one meal a day to try to keep within the limit. She has been allowed to fly again, but describes the process as demeaning. ‘This is our national carrier and should represent the dignity of Indian culture. These new policies are humiliating to women.’

An internal memo earlier this year warned cabin staff they would be banned from flying if random weight checks found them to be over a fixed weight, set out in a company chart. Although weight guidelines have always been in place, previously they were not rigorously enforced. Lawyers for the cabin crew unions say that around 130 members of staff have been temporarily suspended without pay for putting on too much weight, although most are now back at work.

The court will rule this week on whether the airline is within its rights to stop paying staff, grounded because of their weight, and lawyers will decide whether it is a breach of constitutional rights to discriminate against overweight staff.

At the root of the dispute is a struggle by the government-run airline to survive in an increasingly competitive industry where new private companies are aggressively marketing their cheap tickets and short-skirted employees.

The advertising of air travel here has a pre-feminism 1950s feel to it, with companies like Kingfisher Airlines (run by beer baron Vijay Mallya) selling young, leggy hostesses in scarlet heels and skimpy red skirts as part of the brand. Mallya prides himself on personally selecting his air hostesses and refers to them as ‘walking models in the air’. Another new airline, SpiceJet, dresses its slim and fresh-faced ‘Spice Girls’ in tight skirts and heels.

‘If you look at the cinema, you can see how attitudes are changing. Twenty years ago the stars were bigger, rounder. Now all that matters is the slim figure,’ said Joshi, 48, who was grounded for weighing 64.9kg instead of the required 63kg.

‘After 25 years, the airline seems to be saying, “you are worn out, we want a younger face”. They want supermodels, not air hostesses, and they’re setting us unattainable goals. But actually passengers want a polite and caring service and most are more concerned about flight safety than looks. Experienced cabin crew are better in a crisis than new people recruited for their appearance.’

But Indian Airlines officials stress that the appearance of their staff is a matter of commercial survival. ‘Air hostesses are the airline’s brand ambassadors. Passengers are held captive inside the aeroplane staring at the flight crew for hours; you form an opinion of the airline from them. It’s a cosmetic issue, but it’s crucial,’ said a company lawyer.

‘Indian Airlines used to have a monopoly, but now the skies are open and the business is very competitive. Why would you fly Indian Airlines when staff at other companies are so very tall and attractive?’ [emphasis mine]

The question of weight was also vital in helping to prevent terrorist attacks, he claimed. ‘Staff need to be fit enough to control crazy guys who are trying to take over the flight. Weight is an indication of fitness.’

Listen up Indian Airlines. Your women are gorgeous just the way they are — no skin whiteners or weight loss needed. I know trends come late to your part of the world but the walking skeleton thing is out and healthy and voluptuous is in. Beside, the people who tell you that you need to be paler, taller, thinner or whatever else are just trying to sell you something.

Work It

Kentucky Fried Communism
November 1, 2006, 9:08 am
Filed under: capitalism/socialism, consumerism, expat, freedom, Hanoi, politics, vietnam

The news in Hanoi has gone from bad to worse.
The place we all escape to in order to detox ourselves of fast food, Starbucks coffee and 7/11 slurpees is building a 2ND KFC outlet, this one in the much more central location of Ba Trieu, or steps away from the Vincom Tower mall.
While exiting the nearby Asahi Shushi restaurant Scott and I witnessed the raising of the signboard. A dubious moment in Hanoi history.

Do the Vietnamese really need a fried trans fat outlet, or does KFC Co. really need a piece of the lucrative and as of yet uneducated Asian market?
Yeah, there’s not much talk about the dangers of trans fats here. A GREAT place for a artery-clogging grease factory.

Like cigarette companies who came before them, fast food outlets, strip malls, social isolation, home invasions and perhaps eventually sidewalk crack dealers are on the horizon for an increasingly rich Vietnam.
Mo’ money mo’ problems, everyone knows that.
Quite an irony for a supposedly socialist country.


Sound advice from the Guardian
November 1, 2006, 7:33 am
Filed under: consumerism, freedom, Guardian, politics, protests

Buy baby buy

Life getting you down? You can always distract yourself by buying some swanky material goods

Charlie Brooker
Monday October 30, 2006
The Guardian

Damn the news, damn it to hell and back. It used to be so exciting: sieges and streakers and balaclavas and Fred West and all that. There were good guys and bad guys. It was cute. And quite funny. Not any more. Now no one’s in the right and we’re all going to die. It’s so depressing, the only sane course is to ignore it completely until it goes away.
That’s why we’re so hooked on distraction, which is available in more forms than you can shake a stick at (stick-shaking being just one example). TV provides distraction, as do sport, fashion, and coloured lists of Chantelle’s top 10 favourite cuddles.

The internet is an incredible distraction; the equivalent of one of those Pavlovian training machines that dispenses pine nuts to lab rats when they nudge the correct lever – except instead of nuts, the internet dispenses porn, chit-chat, 9/11 conspiracy theories, and YouTube footage of kittens falling over.

The greatest form of distraction, however, has to be the pursuit of swanky material goods. Nothing staves off that gnawing sense of dread quite like a spending spree. Maybe I won’t get my legs blown off by terrorists if I buy enough aspirational bullshit? That’s the spirit.

This being space year 2006, you no longer need to visit Harrods to experience the kind of opulent extravagance usually associated with billionaires and sultan’s daughters. A trip to Asda will suffice. Almost every product you can think of is available in a toffee-nosed aristocratic version, all the better to mesmerise yourself with.

Fancy some crisps? Don’t scoff bog-standard Walkers; indulge in some hand-cooked balsamic and sea salt Kettle Chips instead. You’ll still end up fat as a whale, but at least you’ll have taken the posh route.

Clothes a bit mucky? Forget ordinary washing powder. Use new “Crushed Silk and Jasmine” Bold 2-in-1. That’s right: crushed silk and jasmine. Make sure your butler programmes the spin cycle correctly when he’s using it.

Need a shave? Toss out your Bics and grab the Gillette Fusion, which single-handedly represents Consumer Product Event Horizon by combining “the comfort of five blades” (on the front) with “the precision of one” (on the back). The main cutting surface is about the size of a sheet of A4; so large you can’t get it under your nose without shearing off your top lip, which is why you need the blade on the back – it’s the only bit you can enjoy a reasonable shave with.

There’s also a battery-operated “Power Handle” option that makes the whole thing buzz like a wasp in an envelope – not to help you shave, but to offer yet more fleeting distraction from the UNREMITTING MISERY OF LIFE.

The Fusion Mk2, out next year, features 190 blades, a 30GB hard drive, a pine nut dispenser and a synthesized voice telling you everything’s OK, even though the mere existence of such a razor proves otherwise. I’ve pre-ordered mine already.