beautiful things

I went to China. It was a fantastic and eye opening trip. I took some photos and wrote a bit — will share that soon.

For now — I can’t help but echo the crowd about the Democratic National Convention. I had missed the Hillary Clinton who spoke on Tuesday, the woman who was a leader not because she’s a woman and certainly not in spite of being a woman. And Al Gore gave my second favorite speech I’ve heard him give — the first is on Ted.com. But I’m no political junkie, so I’ll comment more on what I know — online journalism.

I love good reporting, I love investigative journalism and I love moving images and well-placed quotes. But the meaning of news is changing and readers and consumers now demand many more options, including first-hand sources and searchability. Good journalism more and more often is a question of good design. My pick for best news coverage of the DNC (if there ever was such an award) goes to the designers of nytimes.com. If you haven’t yet, watch Obama’s speech on their website. It loads fast, the picture quality is fantastic, the transcript scrolls with the speech and you can jump to different sections easily. And they did the same for Al Gore.

It’s powerful. It cuts away the talking heads who recap and editorialize and speculate. It makes me more confident that 24-hour online news, with multimedia embedded, is infinitely superior to cable news alone.

nytimes-screenshot.jpg

the games

I’ve been thinking about the Olympics torch relay. It seems to be rousing deep emotions — perhaps some kind of opportunism, or maybe pent up frustrations. But one thing’s clear: Even before the Olympic Games begin, there are some serious political games going on here. Just look at the torch’s run through India and Pakistan (not to mention the way each country’s national press covered it).

My roommate, who is from Japan, told me a about a Japanese website that chronicles the extreme sport of Olympic torch relay races. (Japan will run the torch in Nagano “inside a security cordon of Japanese riot police.”) Then I found this little wiki. I don’t know who is running the page, but I hope it stays updated and gets more details going.

Update: I am told that the Japanese version of Uncyclopedia is much more comprehensive, and I’m guess by the images, much funnier.

food and floods

koch-jakarta.jpgA quick post — the story that came from my December trip to Jakarta with friend/colleague/photojournalist Jacqueline Koch was published a few weeks ago in the Singapore-based magazine Asian Geographic. I was pretty happy to see it actually run because, as a UCLA professor explained to me once, no seems to care much about floods in Asia anymore. The teaser on the magazine’s website is here.

<<UPDATE>> Here’s a link to a PDF of the article:Jakarta.pdf

fruit drinksBack in the U.S., the Princeton in Asia fellowship that got me out here to Southeast Asia in the first place has published an Asian food guide to New York that’s getting some nice reviews. I think they published one of my photos and perhaps a blurb basically drooling over the wonderful food I’ve had in Jakarta. You can buy a copy and tell me about it (I haven’t seen one yet!) from the PiA website.

sad posters in Kuala Lumpur

In yesterday’s general election, the ruling coalition party in Malaysia lost control of Kuala Lumpur. And Penang. And Selangor, Kedah and Perak.

kl-newspapers.jpgAnd I know it’s big news because I couldn’t find an English-language paper anywhere in Chinatown — all of the newstands were sold out. And last night, as election results began coming through at about 1 a.m., opposition and alternative media websites were near impossible to load. The main page of Malaysiakini and Jeff Ooi’s (now MP Jeff OOi of Penang) Screenshots blog were completely stalled, and Raja Petra Kamaruddin’s Malaysia Today was very slow. I found my hotel’s last remaining copies of today’s paper in the business center.

The Barisan Nasional has made its worst showing since Malaysia’s independence in 1957. Including Kelantan, which has been lead by the Islamic Party of Malaysia since the 90s, five states and one capital city are out of ruling coalition hands. This is the first time since 1969 that the coalition has not held a two-thirds majority in parliament. With only a simple majority, the party will no longer have as easy a time changing the constitution.

But why change now? Different media are giving a lot of reasons — the Asia Times ran a good pre-election article summarizing some of the major issues; long-time government leader Dr. Mahathir, according to Malaysiakini, can think of at least one reason for the turnaround.

There’s something thicker in the air though — the Malaysian Indian Congress, which is under the umbrella of Barisan Nasional, lost many seats in Parliament and state assemblies. It’s president, S. Samy Vellu (on his birthday), and major leaders were all dethroned. Meanwhile, a protest leader from the Hindu Rights Action Force who is currently detained under the Internal Security Act won a state assembly seat in Selangor.

Kuala Lumpur is still aflood with Barisan Nasional posters and flags and fliers —  I wonder how the city will (or won’t) change as the fliers come down and new leadership comes to town.