Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Gari Has Real World Friends, Will Pimp Them

Hello there, I'm back from a vacation and a moderately traumatic office move. The good news: I am exposed to natural light at work for the first time since 2001. The bad: I have so little privacy that blogging at work will be suicidal. I'll give it a go and all that, but not with too much enthusiasm. Maybe, like phone calls to my parents, I will try and migrate it to home.

Two bits of ephemera, with a longer piece to follow.

The first is that Virgin America just launched, and while its cabins may be very spiffy, its web site is very awful.

The second is that Vladimir Putin thinks his current heated rhetoric with respect to the KGB assassination squads affair is not crazy enough. His thinking is, as far as I can tell, that maybe that other noted authoritarian nutbar, Robert Mugabe, is on to something in appealing to post-colonial guilt in the United Kingdom.

He assumes possibly, that the teaching of history in the UK is in any way less slanted than it is in Russia. How adorable! Either that, or possibly he thinks that the G8 and the African Union share the same mindset. Peculiar.

The proper way to address post-colonial guilt is to read a fine new book on the inept partition of India by a viceroy whose main qualification for the job was crashing battleships and pimping his nephew to the Queen. It's called Indian Summer, I've read it, and it's the best history book named after a Beat Happening song ever.

The author, one Alex Von Tunzelmann, is indeed known to me (does a pseudonymous author need to provide such a disclosure?), and yes, the Daily Mail does not dislike it quite enough for my tastes ("Breathtaking....Von Tunzelmann handles her material with remarkable verve and an old-fashioned authority.").

But one can't help but hope that Putin, or Mugabe for that matter, could provide such a lucid and frank perspective on the colonial legacy. Hang on, did you just say that a man that dedicated the early part of his life to throwing of the racist legacy regime of colonial rule needs to match up to the historical perspective of a debut author?

Um whoops, yes I pretty much did. Let's back up. What I probably should have said is that the book is one indication that the UK is much better at confronting its colonial past than our two dictators would have you believe. And it's a ripping good yarn.


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