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Midnight's Children: Did Salman Rushdie's Assailant Time His Attack for the 75th Anniversary of South Asia's Independence?
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The guy who carved up novelist Salman Rushdie on August 12, 2022 may have been trying to anticipate the 75th anniversary of the setting of Rushdie’s most prestigious novel, Midnight’s Children, August 15, 1947. The only thing I’ve read by Rushdie was an impressive New Yorker review about how Kipling, especially in Kim, had correctly portrayed how South Asia tends toward sensory overload.

But I wasn’t aware that 1981’s Midnight’s Children is Latin American style Magical Realism in the manner of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s 1967 novel One Hundred Years of Solitude. I was charmed by One Hundred Years, but I stopped reading it halfway through because there didn’t seem any motivation to find out what happens because it was obvious the author would just change the rules to let whatever he want happen. From Wikipedia

Midnight’s Children is a loose allegory for events in 1947 British Raj India and after the partition of India. The protagonist and narrator of the story is Saleem Sinai, born at the exact moment when India became an independent country. He was born with telepathic powers, as well as an enormous and constantly dripping nose with an extremely sensitive sense of smell. …

If I were born in Bombay like Rushdie in 1947, I’d want an extremely dull sense of smell.

The first book begins with the story of the Sinai family, particularly with events leading up to the fall of British Colonial India and the partition. Saleem is born precisely at midnight, 15 August 1947, therefore, exactly as old as independent India. He later discovers that all children born in India between 12 a.m. and 1 a.m. on that date are imbued with special powers. Saleem, using his telepathic powers, assembles a Midnight Children’s Conference, reflective of the issues India faced in its early statehood concerning the cultural, linguistic, religious, and political differences faced by a vastly diverse nation. Saleem acts as a telepathic conduit, bringing hundreds of geographically disparate children into contact while also attempting to discover the meaning of their gifts. In particular, those children born closest to the stroke of midnight wield more powerful gifts than the others. Shiva “of the Knees”, Saleem’s nemesis, and Parvati, called “Parvati-the-witch,” are two of these children with notable gifts and roles in Saleem’s story.

That sounds lamer than I expected.

But a lot of people like it, so it’s probably pretty good.

 
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  1. No intention of reading his stuff, but no excuse for anyone trying to off him.

    All the talk in UK media is ‘links to Iran’ on his social media, very little on free speech, I guess free speech is soooo 1989.

  2. In my view, all significant literary novelists who started writing novels in the 1960s to the 1980s are somewhat lacking (with just a few exceptions).

    Perhaps the audio-visual culture destroyed, definitely, a frame of mind favorable to great novel writing which we still can read in earlier authors like Faulkner or Broch.

    I enjoyed Garcia Marquez & consider his “100 years…” a great piece of writing, but I’m afraid that Harold Bloom was right in praising its gusto, but almost against his will relegating it to the unenviable category of period pieces.

    What remains the most impressive are realistic parts, for instance gunning the strikers.

    Rushdie was good in “Midnight’s Children”, but the entire novel is stylistic brilliance for the sake of stylistic brilliance. It has no memorable characters, as different from memorable scenes.

    In “The Satanic Verses” Rushdie went with his magical tricks way over the top. Novel, which should have been, as Rushdie had intended, depiction of identity crises of modern Indian Muslims in Britain-dissolves in an orgy of hallucinations & dream sequences tiring the mind & leading nowhere.

    For those curious about what those supposedly “Satanic verses” actually were, read this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satanic_Verses

  3. I actually read the entire thing.

    It’s bad.

    I cannot remember anything from the novel, except from the first couple of chapters.

    It’s not enjoyable at all.

    If there was a plot, I can’t remember what it was.

  4. I stopped reading it halfway through because there didn’t seem any motivation to find out what happens because it was obvious the author would just change the rules to let whatever he want happen.

    That’s why I stopped reading the mainstream news.
    (BTW, in a recent article on Monkeypox I learned that MSM means “men who have sex with men.” I always thought it meant “mainstream media,” but close enough.)

    • Replies: @Rob McX
    @Harry Baldwin

    The old MSM is becoming increasingly saturated with the new MSM.

    Replies: @AndrewR

    , @AnotherDad
    @Harry Baldwin


    (BTW, in a recent article on Monkeypox I learned that MSM means “men who have sex with men.” I always thought it meant “mainstream media,” but close enough.)
     
    Sometimes things, words ... just sorta line up!


    (Note: very different from "gay" which used to bring to mind images of happy little girls romping through a sunlit meadow laughing and smiling. And now means anything butt.)
  5. @Harry Baldwin
    I stopped reading it halfway through because there didn’t seem any motivation to find out what happens because it was obvious the author would just change the rules to let whatever he want happen.

    That's why I stopped reading the mainstream news.
    (BTW, in a recent article on Monkeypox I learned that MSM means "men who have sex with men." I always thought it meant "mainstream media," but close enough.)

    Replies: @Rob McX, @AnotherDad

    The old MSM is becoming increasingly saturated with the new MSM.

    • Agree: VivaLaMigra
    • Replies: @AndrewR
    @Rob McX

    And MSB

  6. @Rob McX
    @Harry Baldwin

    The old MSM is becoming increasingly saturated with the new MSM.

    Replies: @AndrewR

    And MSB

  7. I was willing accept “magical realism” from Marquez as a sort of secularized Spanish Catholic mysticism, but since then it has just become the lazy way to be an author.

  8. It always bothers me that so many movies depend on magical elements to make their plot work – super powers and so on.

    Somehow when Rushdie does it, it doesn’t seem so childish.

    Reality is tough to take. Sometimes you need a break. There is only so much Socialist Realism that a fellow can stand. Sometimes by lying you illuminate a greater truth.

    • Thanks: Johann Ricke
    • Replies: @Brás Cubas
    @Jack D

    I think "Socialist Realism" is an oxymoron. "Capitalist Realism", on the other hand, would be a tautology.

    , @J.Ross
    @Jack D

    This isn't opinion, Socialist Realism isn't the same thing as Magical Realism. In fact it's pretty much the opposite. MR is a Beatles album straddling a 19th-century British military uniform and a reading of Indian mysticism, or the focus jumps in A Day In The Life. SR is John the wifebeating wifeabandoning fat rich pseudo-prole pretending to understand working life by dropping one or two servings of quotidian detail. They can coexist in the same song the same way the electricity in the microphones and the (N?) wood in the instruments can coexist, because they're so separate. Most of SR is self-parodic Bad Writing (with CL) because it's supposed to be accessible (S'dOt) to dumb worker muzhiks. MR is just lazy sloppiness but it's supposed to be tolerated because it makes some larger point, like the resolving elegy at the end of the novel "Z" (which does not appear in the movie). To see what MR is actually trying to do without any sloppiness (or MR) read KV's short story (or see the short film) "DP." The climax of what MR wishes it was is a guy who does everything right but is defeated because the circumstances are such that only magic would defeat them.

    Replies: @Jack D

  9. @Jack D
    It always bothers me that so many movies depend on magical elements to make their plot work - super powers and so on.

    Somehow when Rushdie does it, it doesn't seem so childish.

    Reality is tough to take. Sometimes you need a break. There is only so much Socialist Realism that a fellow can stand. Sometimes by lying you illuminate a greater truth.

    Replies: @Brás Cubas, @J.Ross

    I think “Socialist Realism” is an oxymoron. “Capitalist Realism”, on the other hand, would be a tautology.

  10. Anon[351] • Disclaimer says:

    Magic realism is a type of fantasy fiction. But unlike, say epic fantasy, in magic realism the world is mostly like our own except for a little bit of fantasy. A group of kids connected to each other telepathically. Or a character who can levitate. Or the Iberian peninsula breaking off from Europe for no rational reason and floating around.
    I’m not really a fan of magic realism. I find it gratuitous and silly at times. That’s a matter of taste.

    • Replies: @Thelma Ringbaum
    @Anon

    Imagine your culture lacks a framework for understanding, lacks grassroots, lacks aristocacy, and your only knowledge to get by, you can get through a Masonic lodge, in a highly mystical format.

    This is the predicament of colonials. And this is the soil for their magical realism.

    Replies: @Reg Cæsar

    , @Twinkie
    @Anon

    I read “Midnight’s Children” in high school, not long after it was published. At first I didn’t realize it was of the “magical realism” genre* and thought it was a straight-up historical novel about India post-independence and was utterly confused. Eventually, I figured out that it was a fantastical story and enjoyed it, but it wasn’t all that memorable to me. I tried “The Satanic Verses” later and gave up quickly.

    I think Rushdie is quite overrated and only gained fame thanks to the brouhaha over the fatwa.

    *In general, I’m not a fan of the genre. I’m kinda purist about fiction and prefer either realistic and well-researched historical novels or actual fantasies with made-up worlds (even if they resemble our world). It bothers me when authors mix history with fantasy. For the same reason, I was offended by Tarantino’s “Inglorious Basterds” and that ilk. I haven’t seen his “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” yet, but I imagine I wouldn’t like it for the same reason.

    Replies: @Wokechoke

  11. When Steve says “a lot of people like it” he’s abandoning all of his math-literacy.
    Also second paragraph, fourth from end word should be pluralized (or brought into the present).

  12. I say the ending ought to have that special group with their magic powers and (maybe some) wisdom figure out that they’d be better off bringing the British colonizers back in. .. “And they all lived happily ever after…

    Where do you apply to be a Wikipedia editor?

    • Replies: @J.Ross
    @Achmed E. Newman

    I had just been thinking that the argument for a Flashman adaptation should be that the emerging Indian global polity would enjoy nothing so much as a Victorian Englishman caricature with which to do whatever it is you call hitting the ball in cricket. Imagine a fictitious Indian state, Suttar Kradesh, racked by institutional corruption, gripped by tribalism and caste conflict, beset by unemployment, and recently tickled by wife-immolation. In their desperation the Suttrees turn to the medieval practice of ceding power to a total outsider, and, after Chinese medical advances, that outsider is an [ghola of] Harry Paget Flashman. Chaos, violence, racism, sex, and completely unintended success ensues.

    Replies: @Wokechoke

  13. @Jack D
    It always bothers me that so many movies depend on magical elements to make their plot work - super powers and so on.

    Somehow when Rushdie does it, it doesn't seem so childish.

    Reality is tough to take. Sometimes you need a break. There is only so much Socialist Realism that a fellow can stand. Sometimes by lying you illuminate a greater truth.

    Replies: @Brás Cubas, @J.Ross

    This isn’t opinion, Socialist Realism isn’t the same thing as Magical Realism. In fact it’s pretty much the opposite. MR is a Beatles album straddling a 19th-century British military uniform and a reading of Indian mysticism, or the focus jumps in A Day In The Life. SR is John the wifebeating wifeabandoning fat rich pseudo-prole pretending to understand working life by dropping one or two servings of quotidian detail. They can coexist in the same song the same way the electricity in the microphones and the (N?) wood in the instruments can coexist, because they’re so separate. Most of SR is self-parodic Bad Writing (with CL) because it’s supposed to be accessible (S’dOt) to dumb worker muzhiks. MR is just lazy sloppiness but it’s supposed to be tolerated because it makes some larger point, like the resolving elegy at the end of the novel “Z” (which does not appear in the movie). To see what MR is actually trying to do without any sloppiness (or MR) read KV’s short story (or see the short film) “DP.” The climax of what MR wishes it was is a guy who does everything right but is defeated because the circumstances are such that only magic would defeat them.

    • Replies: @Jack D
    @J.Ross


    Socialist Realism isn’t the same thing as Magical Realism. In fact it’s pretty much the opposite.
     
    That's what I was saying. Read my comment.
  14. @Achmed E. Newman
    I say the ending ought to have that special group with their magic powers and (maybe some) wisdom figure out that they'd be better off bringing the British colonizers back in. .. "And they all lived happily ever after..."

    Where do you apply to be a Wikipedia editor?

    Replies: @J.Ross

    I had just been thinking that the argument for a Flashman adaptation should be that the emerging Indian global polity would enjoy nothing so much as a Victorian Englishman caricature with which to do whatever it is you call hitting the ball in cricket. Imagine a fictitious Indian state, Suttar Kradesh, racked by institutional corruption, gripped by tribalism and caste conflict, beset by unemployment, and recently tickled by wife-immolation. In their desperation the Suttrees turn to the medieval practice of ceding power to a total outsider, and, after Chinese medical advances, that outsider is an [ghola of] Harry Paget Flashman. Chaos, violence, racism, sex, and completely unintended success ensues.

    • LOL: YetAnotherAnon
    • Replies: @Wokechoke
    @J.Ross

    The English need to re-channel the inner Flashy.

  15. @Harry Baldwin
    I stopped reading it halfway through because there didn’t seem any motivation to find out what happens because it was obvious the author would just change the rules to let whatever he want happen.

    That's why I stopped reading the mainstream news.
    (BTW, in a recent article on Monkeypox I learned that MSM means "men who have sex with men." I always thought it meant "mainstream media," but close enough.)

    Replies: @Rob McX, @AnotherDad

    (BTW, in a recent article on Monkeypox I learned that MSM means “men who have sex with men.” I always thought it meant “mainstream media,” but close enough.)

    Sometimes things, words … just sorta line up!

    (Note: very different from “gay” which used to bring to mind images of happy little girls romping through a sunlit meadow laughing and smiling. And now means anything butt.)

  16. I just have TWO questions regarding the Third World Shit Hole known as “India” #1 How many people did they have, within the current national boundaries, on this date in 1947? Question 2: Why did they BREED LIKE RATS, acting as if modern medicine and the [increasingly strained] “Green Revolution” wouldn’t cut childhood mortality and lengthen life expectancy?

    Not far away on the island formerly called “Ceylon” the “Green Revolution” is grinding to a halt as the crashing economy has halted imports of fertilizer and fuel. Crop yields per acre are being cut in half. In the early 1960’s, India suffered from a “monsoon failure” that lead to a famine. They “only” had 350,000,000 people at the time, and US food exports minimized the death toll. I doubt if we ever got “repaid” for the food; at the time we probably had large surpluses in grain elevators and the food was sent to them as “humanitarian aid.” If Indians think we can now feed 1,500,000,000 people, well, they can dream on. The commie-leaning government was criticizing US policy in Southeast Asia, and LBJ was pissed about it. Told by advisors that “lots of nations are opposed to US involvement in Vietnam,” Johnson reportedly replied: “Yeah, but they’re not eating our wheat!”

    • Replies: @Art Deco
    @VivaLaMigra

    1. The total fertility rate in India is currently 2.2 children per woman per lifetime, near the replacement rate.

    2. Life expectancy at birth in India has increased by 20+ years since 1972, and is now 69.9 years.

    3. Food production in India has increased by 4.25 fold since 1972. Food accounts for 11% of merchandise exports and 5% of merchandise imports.

    4. The ratio of overseas development aid to gross national income was at its height in 1976, at 0.017. It is currently 0.001.

    5. The literacy rate of the population over 15 has increased from 41% (1981) to 74% (2018). That of the population between 15 and 25 has increased from 53% (1981) to 92% (2018).

    6. India's per capita product at purchasing power parity increased by 3.8 fold in real terms between 1990 and 2019. The ratio of India's per capita product (at purchasing power parity) to that of the United States increased from 0.05 in 1990 to 0.10 in 2019.

  17. My of my sons has unusually keen senses. He is the only one in the family who doesn’t need glasses. He has perfect pitch, which served him well playing cello and taking Chinese in high school. He also notices that milk is going bad a day or two before anyone else would. Having better-than-average eyesight or hearing has no downside, but a sensitive sense of smell is a mixed thing because there are a lot of things that do not smell good.

    • Replies: @Jack D
    @John Mansfield


    a sensitive sense of smell is a mixed thing
     
    Not really, if it keeps you from getting food poisoning.

    Replies: @Anonymous

    , @Twinkie
    @John Mansfield

    I have an average eyesight (well, it’s well below average now due to age), but an extremely sensitive hearing and a very keen sense of smell. They are definitely a mixed blessing. Loud restaurants are quite uncomfortable for me, as the ambient noise overwhelms my hearing. I can hear insects and tiny grinding noises from flaws (burrs) in machines (e.g. furnace). I can also smell gases of different kinds even in tiny quantities. I was able to locate precisely where a dead mouse was in the walls of one house where I lived just from the smell.

    Sometimes my excellent hearing and smell are a blessing, but other times they are a torture.

  18. @J.Ross
    @Jack D

    This isn't opinion, Socialist Realism isn't the same thing as Magical Realism. In fact it's pretty much the opposite. MR is a Beatles album straddling a 19th-century British military uniform and a reading of Indian mysticism, or the focus jumps in A Day In The Life. SR is John the wifebeating wifeabandoning fat rich pseudo-prole pretending to understand working life by dropping one or two servings of quotidian detail. They can coexist in the same song the same way the electricity in the microphones and the (N?) wood in the instruments can coexist, because they're so separate. Most of SR is self-parodic Bad Writing (with CL) because it's supposed to be accessible (S'dOt) to dumb worker muzhiks. MR is just lazy sloppiness but it's supposed to be tolerated because it makes some larger point, like the resolving elegy at the end of the novel "Z" (which does not appear in the movie). To see what MR is actually trying to do without any sloppiness (or MR) read KV's short story (or see the short film) "DP." The climax of what MR wishes it was is a guy who does everything right but is defeated because the circumstances are such that only magic would defeat them.

    Replies: @Jack D

    Socialist Realism isn’t the same thing as Magical Realism. In fact it’s pretty much the opposite.

    That’s what I was saying. Read my comment.

  19. @John Mansfield
    My of my sons has unusually keen senses. He is the only one in the family who doesn't need glasses. He has perfect pitch, which served him well playing cello and taking Chinese in high school. He also notices that milk is going bad a day or two before anyone else would. Having better-than-average eyesight or hearing has no downside, but a sensitive sense of smell is a mixed thing because there are a lot of things that do not smell good.

    Replies: @Jack D, @Twinkie

    a sensitive sense of smell is a mixed thing

    Not really, if it keeps you from getting food poisoning.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @Jack D


    He also notices that milk is going bad a day or two before anyone else would.
     
    That milk is perfectly fine to drink.

    Replies: @Jack D

  20. @Jack D
    @John Mansfield


    a sensitive sense of smell is a mixed thing
     
    Not really, if it keeps you from getting food poisoning.

    Replies: @Anonymous

    He also notices that milk is going bad a day or two before anyone else would.

    That milk is perfectly fine to drink.

    • Replies: @Jack D
    @Anonymous

    Then you drink it.

  21. “The guy who carved up novelist Salman Rushdie on August 12, 2022 may have been trying to anticipate the 75th anniversary of the setting of Rushdie’s most prestigious novel, Midnight’s Children, August 15, 1947”

    So the son of a Lebanese goat herder was read up on Rushdie?

  22. I think Salmons opus magnum was infact some other book, something about a family of incestous East Indians magicians discovering America to get out from Florence of Machiavellian times , back to happy pre-Raj India. Like, the Angelica of Florence was an Indian belly dancer.

    A funny and brave attempt to weave his people into Worlds history. In that desire he is similar to VS Naipaul (whos a much better writer).

  23. @Anon
    Magic realism is a type of fantasy fiction. But unlike, say epic fantasy, in magic realism the world is mostly like our own except for a little bit of fantasy. A group of kids connected to each other telepathically. Or a character who can levitate. Or the Iberian peninsula breaking off from Europe for no rational reason and floating around.
    I’m not really a fan of magic realism. I find it gratuitous and silly at times. That’s a matter of taste.

    Replies: @Thelma Ringbaum, @Twinkie

    Imagine your culture lacks a framework for understanding, lacks grassroots, lacks aristocacy, and your only knowledge to get by, you can get through a Masonic lodge, in a highly mystical format.

    This is the predicament of colonials. And this is the soil for their magical realism.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
    @Thelma Ringbaum


    Imagine your culture lacks a framework for understanding, lacks grassroots, lacks aristocacy, and your only knowledge to get by, you can get through a Masonic lodge, in a highly mystical format.

    This is the predicament of colonials.
     
    This is also the predicament of Gravity Falls. And that's set in Oregon.


    https://i.etsystatic.com/11973104/r/il/335d68/864762910/il_570xN.864762910_gjoh.jpg
  24. @Anonymous
    @Jack D


    He also notices that milk is going bad a day or two before anyone else would.
     
    That milk is perfectly fine to drink.

    Replies: @Jack D

    Then you drink it.

  25. If I were born in Bombay like Rushdie in 1947, I’d want an extremely dull sense of smell.

    The visiting dot Indians I’ve met often had a pleasant powdery smell. Once, one forgot a (clean) towel which I took home. It took months for the spicy aroma to wear off. I loved it. Reminded me of the McCormick warehouse in Baltimore which made the Inner Harbor smell so good.

    So the question comes to mind, are Bombay and Calcutta the worst-smelling cities on the planet, or the best? Enquiring nostrils want to know.

  26. @Thelma Ringbaum
    @Anon

    Imagine your culture lacks a framework for understanding, lacks grassroots, lacks aristocacy, and your only knowledge to get by, you can get through a Masonic lodge, in a highly mystical format.

    This is the predicament of colonials. And this is the soil for their magical realism.

    Replies: @Reg Cæsar

    Imagine your culture lacks a framework for understanding, lacks grassroots, lacks aristocacy, and your only knowledge to get by, you can get through a Masonic lodge, in a highly mystical format.

    This is the predicament of colonials.

    This is also the predicament of Gravity Falls. And that’s set in Oregon.

  27. I got halfway through Midnight’s Children many years ago. Rushdie’s magical realism struck me as a long-winded display of cleverness for cleverness’s sake-but I’m not particularly fond of the style, or of virtually any modern “literary” novelists.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @Charlotte

    I was much charmed by the first half of "100 Years of Solitude" but didn't see any point in finishing the book because there didn't appear to be any rules governing the plot so I wasn't interested in the outcome.

  28. @Charlotte
    I got halfway through Midnight’s Children many years ago. Rushdie’s magical realism struck me as a long-winded display of cleverness for cleverness’s sake-but I’m not particularly fond of the style, or of virtually any modern “literary” novelists.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

    I was much charmed by the first half of “100 Years of Solitude” but didn’t see any point in finishing the book because there didn’t appear to be any rules governing the plot so I wasn’t interested in the outcome.

  29. @Anon
    Magic realism is a type of fantasy fiction. But unlike, say epic fantasy, in magic realism the world is mostly like our own except for a little bit of fantasy. A group of kids connected to each other telepathically. Or a character who can levitate. Or the Iberian peninsula breaking off from Europe for no rational reason and floating around.
    I’m not really a fan of magic realism. I find it gratuitous and silly at times. That’s a matter of taste.

    Replies: @Thelma Ringbaum, @Twinkie

    I read “Midnight’s Children” in high school, not long after it was published. At first I didn’t realize it was of the “magical realism” genre* and thought it was a straight-up historical novel about India post-independence and was utterly confused. Eventually, I figured out that it was a fantastical story and enjoyed it, but it wasn’t all that memorable to me. I tried “The Satanic Verses” later and gave up quickly.

    I think Rushdie is quite overrated and only gained fame thanks to the brouhaha over the fatwa.

    *In general, I’m not a fan of the genre. I’m kinda purist about fiction and prefer either realistic and well-researched historical novels or actual fantasies with made-up worlds (even if they resemble our world). It bothers me when authors mix history with fantasy. For the same reason, I was offended by Tarantino’s “Inglorious Basterds” and that ilk. I haven’t seen his “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” yet, but I imagine I wouldn’t like it for the same reason.

    • Agree: Occasional lurker
    • Replies: @Wokechoke
    @Twinkie

    Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a good film. Maybe his best. He's just making films with this one.

  30. @John Mansfield
    My of my sons has unusually keen senses. He is the only one in the family who doesn't need glasses. He has perfect pitch, which served him well playing cello and taking Chinese in high school. He also notices that milk is going bad a day or two before anyone else would. Having better-than-average eyesight or hearing has no downside, but a sensitive sense of smell is a mixed thing because there are a lot of things that do not smell good.

    Replies: @Jack D, @Twinkie

    I have an average eyesight (well, it’s well below average now due to age), but an extremely sensitive hearing and a very keen sense of smell. They are definitely a mixed blessing. Loud restaurants are quite uncomfortable for me, as the ambient noise overwhelms my hearing. I can hear insects and tiny grinding noises from flaws (burrs) in machines (e.g. furnace). I can also smell gases of different kinds even in tiny quantities. I was able to locate precisely where a dead mouse was in the walls of one house where I lived just from the smell.

    Sometimes my excellent hearing and smell are a blessing, but other times they are a torture.

  31. @J.Ross
    @Achmed E. Newman

    I had just been thinking that the argument for a Flashman adaptation should be that the emerging Indian global polity would enjoy nothing so much as a Victorian Englishman caricature with which to do whatever it is you call hitting the ball in cricket. Imagine a fictitious Indian state, Suttar Kradesh, racked by institutional corruption, gripped by tribalism and caste conflict, beset by unemployment, and recently tickled by wife-immolation. In their desperation the Suttrees turn to the medieval practice of ceding power to a total outsider, and, after Chinese medical advances, that outsider is an [ghola of] Harry Paget Flashman. Chaos, violence, racism, sex, and completely unintended success ensues.

    Replies: @Wokechoke

    The English need to re-channel the inner Flashy.

  32. @Twinkie
    @Anon

    I read “Midnight’s Children” in high school, not long after it was published. At first I didn’t realize it was of the “magical realism” genre* and thought it was a straight-up historical novel about India post-independence and was utterly confused. Eventually, I figured out that it was a fantastical story and enjoyed it, but it wasn’t all that memorable to me. I tried “The Satanic Verses” later and gave up quickly.

    I think Rushdie is quite overrated and only gained fame thanks to the brouhaha over the fatwa.

    *In general, I’m not a fan of the genre. I’m kinda purist about fiction and prefer either realistic and well-researched historical novels or actual fantasies with made-up worlds (even if they resemble our world). It bothers me when authors mix history with fantasy. For the same reason, I was offended by Tarantino’s “Inglorious Basterds” and that ilk. I haven’t seen his “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” yet, but I imagine I wouldn’t like it for the same reason.

    Replies: @Wokechoke

    Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a good film. Maybe his best. He’s just making films with this one.

  33. @VivaLaMigra
    I just have TWO questions regarding the Third World Shit Hole known as "India" #1 How many people did they have, within the current national boundaries, on this date in 1947? Question 2: Why did they BREED LIKE RATS, acting as if modern medicine and the [increasingly strained] "Green Revolution" wouldn't cut childhood mortality and lengthen life expectancy?

    Not far away on the island formerly called "Ceylon" the "Green Revolution" is grinding to a halt as the crashing economy has halted imports of fertilizer and fuel. Crop yields per acre are being cut in half. In the early 1960's, India suffered from a "monsoon failure" that lead to a famine. They "only" had 350,000,000 people at the time, and US food exports minimized the death toll. I doubt if we ever got "repaid" for the food; at the time we probably had large surpluses in grain elevators and the food was sent to them as "humanitarian aid." If Indians think we can now feed 1,500,000,000 people, well, they can dream on. The commie-leaning government was criticizing US policy in Southeast Asia, and LBJ was pissed about it. Told by advisors that "lots of nations are opposed to US involvement in Vietnam," Johnson reportedly replied: "Yeah, but they're not eating our wheat!"

    Replies: @Art Deco

    1. The total fertility rate in India is currently 2.2 children per woman per lifetime, near the replacement rate.

    2. Life expectancy at birth in India has increased by 20+ years since 1972, and is now 69.9 years.

    3. Food production in India has increased by 4.25 fold since 1972. Food accounts for 11% of merchandise exports and 5% of merchandise imports.

    4. The ratio of overseas development aid to gross national income was at its height in 1976, at 0.017. It is currently 0.001.

    5. The literacy rate of the population over 15 has increased from 41% (1981) to 74% (2018). That of the population between 15 and 25 has increased from 53% (1981) to 92% (2018).

    6. India’s per capita product at purchasing power parity increased by 3.8 fold in real terms between 1990 and 2019. The ratio of India’s per capita product (at purchasing power parity) to that of the United States increased from 0.05 in 1990 to 0.10 in 2019.

  34. I read “Midnight’s Children” years ago and thought it was an excellent book.

    What I most remember is the British officials preparing to leave India (one of the characters would use the refrain “tick tock” constantly to emphasise that the pullout would happen regardless of whether the Indians were ready and regardless of any disastrous consequences).

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