Saturday, April 28, 2007

Sorry I was super busy friday

I meant to do some posting on Friday, but the next thing I know, I was driving with my mom to put dry cleaning in and buying shorts for an upcoming voyage to Jamaica. I'm not a huge vacationer. I have no problem with being a tourist, but I like to go to cities on vacation. The local culture and the ability to do stuff all night or stuff that personally interests me is always better than sitting around staring at an ocean. I don't know. I guess I find foreign chaos better than natural peace.

Yesterday, I got so busy, I didn't even have time to post the friday night jams. So, these are they, although they are a day late. The two videos are from Madvillain, the underground supergroup that made backpackers cream themselves when they found out about it. Honestly, I creamed myself when I heard about it. MF Doom, crazy rapper who wears a metal mask, teams up with Madlib, one of the hottest producers ever in hip-hop. As can be figured, this project created a classic album, one with songs drenched in humor and preposterous situations. The following videos are two examples of songs on the album.

All Caps

Rhinestone Cowboy

Friday, April 27, 2007

I'm not sure what I should be more mad about

So, while I was watching Miami Vice tonight (Don Johnson almost got blown up by his girlfriend/snitch/something) and this ad came up for a product called the Pancake Puff.

Since the difficulty of flipping pancakes is far too difficult for some people, some genius somewhere came up with the idea of creating the Pancake Puff. You can make all of the same pancakes that you can make with the normal product as well as fancier type pancakes or even pizza snack pies. I've always wanted pizza snack pies...made from pancake batter. Anyway, you can make seven at one time in the easy-to-clean non-stick surface. I don't actually know how much it costs, but if you want to look that up, the section in orange is for you!

While the program listed off the many possible combination of pancake puffs you can eat such as cinnamon roll pancake puffs and brownie pancake puffs, I began to ask myself an important question: am I more disappointed in the fact that such a device exists or that I was interrupted by such an asinine device?

Seriously. Making pancakes isn't difficult. It's possibly one of the easiest things that anyone can do. Hell, I've made them drunk. It's nowhere near challenging. The hardest part is getting the right consistency on the batter, but that doesn't come with cooking them; consistency is very different from cooking. But, I'll concede that some people could honestly hurt themselves trying to use a stove to make pancakes. That's very possible. Sad, but possible.*

With that said, do you really want seven small little pancake puffs? We're talking like doughnut holes from Dunkin' Donuts in this shit. If I'm going to eat a pancake, I want it to be a pancake and I also don't want to get a unsuspected prize from the inside. The front of my shirt covered in gunk because some person was too lazy to tell me that she had the spare time to, you know, pump some pancake puffs with filling. Additionally, why would I want to eat something like that after seeing the teenage girl in the ad be disappointed by the way that it tastes?

The following is a general attention and critical tip in watching late-night advertising, especially low budget ads and paid advertisements. In watching commercials, it is always good to watch the teenage girl in the advertisement. The boys tend to ham it up too much, show too much teeth in their feigned excitement for the product. The mom and dad have to like it because they are trying to sell the kids on it. Additionally, back to the kids, you have to avoid all kids under the age of like 10. Kids under the age of 10 are too willing to shill for the product. With all of this said, clearly the teenage girl is the most important person to look at in the ad. Because everyone expects them to be angsty, they usually are and that's perfect for measuring the quality of a product.

If she's too happy, it only means one of two things, both of which mean that the product sucks. Such a strong sense of glee means that she's depressed and dying inside or she's attempting bad sarcasm. You know when it's the depression. Her eyes cast away and she seems distant. The bad sarcasm ones are more physically distant by choice, set aside in the ad as if someone, in making these obscenely cheap ads, messed up their set-up. If she's sad, the product sucks. The hard one to read are the middle ones, they are hard to notice but totally worth it.

The girl in between might smirk, flash her eyes wide, or make some other subtle motion that suggests interest but says boredom. These are the ones to read. Sometimes it is difficult, but, at other times like with this ad for the Pancake Puff maker, the ambivalence of the girl was only a shield for her true distaste of the product. Like her face could not have said more how much she hated the product's taste. But, I didn't really blame her; it really did look terrible.

Additionally, the ad said it would be easier to flip the pancake puffs than it would be to flip a regular pancake. I'm going to yell Poppycock! on this one. You have to use this long, thin skewer-type thing to flip the puffs, spin them in their sections, and take them out. How is that easier than using a HUGE spatula and flipping them across the huge surface that is your griddle or skillet? It's totally not.

Nothing in this product's presentation, from the forced actions of the teenage girl to the supposed ease of working these puffs with a long metal skewer, made me want to buy it. Even its bargain basement price makes me not want to buy it. This is clearly a bad product that no one should buy or should have made. This commercial was so bad, I don't even remember what happened in the rest of the program I was originally watching.

*I'd feel bad for you because you hadn't master this most basic of life skills. I like to cook, but I can understand that some people can't do it. Even if you don't like to cook, you have to know how to do some basic things such as cooking eggs and making pancakes just to impress your other in the morning. People love people who can wake them up with breakfast. I know I do. Basic skills don't require you to do more than flip things, operate a butter knife, make measurements with cups that are set to a specific amount, and, at absolute most, read some basic instructions. This isn't challenging. Breakfast should be mandatory learning for all people. That and people learning how to appropriately wash their laundry. There's nothing I hate more than people who walk around in dingy socks. Sorry, neat freak comments. Carry on...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Learn your ABC's

Here are two reasons to do so. The Gift of Gab and Papoose. Gab's older and wrote the classic, to me at least, "rhyme like a nut." It was from back in his days as a member of the solesides collective started by DJ Shadow. I'm not a huge Blackalicious fan, but it doesn't work for me. It's too mellow, and I like my rap to be hyphy, but not hyphy. I'm not trying to ghostride the Camry any time soon.

Papoose is the real future, not the Rick Ross future meaning when he finally drops his album, it will be HAWT! He dropped a hot song following the death of Sean Bell at the vicious hands of the New York Police Department called "52 Shots." He's whip smart and a refreshing voice in the hip-hop game. People are calling him the revision of Nas or the real future king of New York. Regardless, neither of these cats could do this without their knowledge of the alphabet and the English language, putting them above 95% of the crap that flows across your radio now.

Gift of Gab


Prince in Paris.

Read the article. Honestly, did Prince ask that much of her? Honestly, this could have been less trying for the audience than having to listen to Stars are Blind with that shitty, shitty reggae upbeat.

International Intolerance

I will be the first person to say that I don't know a lot about places in Southeast Asia. It doesn't particularly interest me. I know of its culture and some of it is interesting, but it's not really my bag. I'm more of a Latin America and Africa person, but this is not a discussion for now.

I bring up Southeast Asia as Richard Gere was in the space recently, helping to educate people about HIV and safe sex. This is all fine, but Gere went too far kissing Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty in public. Now, Richard Gere is wanted in Jaipur for his actions.

According to the judge who issued the warrant for Gere's arrest:

Gere and actress Shilpa Shetty "transgressed all limits of vulgarity" during their appearance at an HIV/AIDS event
Additionally, the judge went on to say that Shetty should have resisted Gere's advances.

Now, I have two major problems with this situation. Gere, who according to the above-linked article, is familiar with India and should know of his customs. Regardless, to suggest that he go to jail for three months for something as trivial as kissing someone on the cheek. More importantly, I am offended that Ms. Shetty is being condemned by her community for being overtaken by Gere. She should not be held in blame for the indiscretions of Gere. This whole situation stinks for everyone, but it's to be expected in a place where a caste system still exists.

Best in Bathrooms, Worst in Arboretums

Cocaine, as Rick James proclaimed, is a hell of a drug. Unfortunately for some, its access is too great and its purity is too high. This makes the Drug Czar John Walters look bad.

Let me take this time to comment on how pointless the war on drugs is. Actually, I don't need to. I'll let the Associated Press do that for me:

And despite a record fumigation of almost 550 square miles (1,425 square kilometers) in 2005, there was 26 percent more land dedicated to production of the plant used to make cocaine. The 2006 estimates are to be released in May.

The fumigation was done as a part of Plan Columbia, a multi-billion dollar expenditure to eradicate the coca plant from Columbia, the source of cocaine in the country as well as being a cash crop in the region. As you can tell by the quote, this program has not worked in any other way than stripping locals of their funds, but I'm not arguing for them. I am arguing for the American.

Americans have been sponsoring this war against drugs since the Nixon administration when he closed down all of the nation's methadone clinics. Tax money has been poured into advertisements that have made teens do nothing more than want to try drugs (due to a previous post, I cannot explain my personal relationship to those ads for fear of being blackballed by the hater-ass American government). Additionally, Black communities are disproportionately targeted by the practices of the war on drugs. The CIA put crack into black communities but is dedicated to eradicating drug usage. The more depressing part is that all of the efforts made to stop drugs haven't worked. Drugs are easily accessible. The falling prices mean they are cheaper. And, to top off everything, the quality has gotten higher.

This all just goes to prove the following point: The whole war on drugs is a crock of shit and needs to be stopped. The money that is wasted every year on drug enforcement and imprisoning peaceful marijuana users could be used to solve many of the problems that exist in areas that have been rattled by drug use like the rural and inner city communities of America. I don't understand how they could ever think that it was a good idea, especially with regards to harmless drugs like marijuana.

Yet Another RIP

RIP Bobby "Boris" Pickett, writer of "Monster Mash." This blog has become a list of deaths for some reason. That's vaguely morbid, but seemingly appropriate. Anyway, I'm pouring out for him.

A Tragedy at Gitmo

The situation in Guantanamo Bay becomes more and more dire as it goes along. From the NY Times today:

The Justice Department has asked a federal appeals court to impose tighter restrictions on the hundreds of lawyers who represent detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and the request has become a central issue in a new legal battle over the administration’s detention policies.
This is ridiculous. So, not only do they not know why they are imprisoned, they are also not going to be allowed to have legal representation. The Justice Department needs to either try these "criminals" or at least express why they have them under the writ of habeas corpus because this is making us look worse than we already do.

Note: Mike Gravel is My Hero!

This dude from Alaska is AMAZING!!!! I love this dude, but he has no chance of winning. I also love him because he's batshit crazy. I won't forget his name anymore now.

Gun Support

Len Hart is making my argument better, if not slightly more repetitively, than I did. The militia component is really important, and, as jurisprudence has dictated, the government has a RESPONSIBILITY to be vigilant in considering who can own a gun. This is not racist, classist, any other ist you can think of. This is a common sense measure. Not everyone needs to hold a gun and if guns were more strictly regulated, there would be less crime. Crime wouldn't disappear, but there most certainly would be less.

South Carolina War of Words

There is a debate on MSNBC tonight with the Democratic candidates from the historically black South Carolina State University. Starts in half an hour. I'll watch, but I'm not liveblogging it. Other people get paid to do that like the folks over at MSNBC.

Posing on the Hill

John Winthrop, when starting the Massachusetts Bay Colony back in the 17th Century, proclaimed that Plymouth would be a model city, one upon which all other cities would attempt to follow after hearing about its great success. In exact language, Winthrop said:

For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken ... we shall be made a story and a by-word throughout the world. We shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God ... We shall shame the faces of many of God's worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us til we be consumed out of the good land whither we are going.
Unfortunately, the tales of morality and Christian extravagance preached by Winthrop are being undertaken by our current batch of political leaders. I commented on this standoff a while ago. Everyone was in their home districts talking to people and kissing ethnic babies, so they couldn't get any actual work done. Now, they have. The House and Senate have passed the new Iraq Funding Bill with the dreaded time lines. As we all well know, Bush is unwilling to actually accept the idea that this conflict in Iraq, which did not commit terror against us, must end at some point in the future as it devolves into a sandier Viet Nam.

So, now we are left at a new impasse. Bush got everything that he wanted, but it apparently wasn't what he wanted so he's going to veto it. The Congress gets it back, and they kick the bill around for another month or two until a vacation comes around (either Bush or Congress, doesn't matter). Then the troops will be stuck in an actual bad position because they have no funding. This should not be the situation at all.

And, I am holding both sides to account, but more Bush for him not recognizing the need to stop this occupation. Additionally, with stories like this coming out everyday, we need to do something to get our troops out of harm's way in a war they should not have been fighting in the first place. I hate to sound like one of those overzealous anti-war people, but reasonable is reasonable. No progress is being made in Iraq. We need to get our troops out of danger and working to actually protect America instead of making a liability. But, at the same time, the lives of young Americans are not pawns in a political chess match.

I thought this country was raised on the ideas of civility, discourse, and compromise? Why are none of these things being used? Everyday that passes where this problem does not get solved, Capitol Hill begins to look more like Tombstone while Reid, Pelosi, Bush, and Cheney prepare for the Bell to ring at High Noon.

Joe Lieberman is Post-Twilight Zone

The Twilight Zone is something more than a strange, nebulous place that Rod Serling developed with a long-running television show that airs for days at the (Gregorian) New Year on the Sci-Fi Channel. Joe Lieberman existed in this place for a while when he still supported the war following the upsurge in civil unrest in Iraq.

With his comments today on The Washington Post op-ed page (hey, I read the paper today instead of reading it online. If I hadn't, I wouldn't have found some creative applications for grits to spice up a brunch), I am now convinced that Joe Lieberman is living in an alternate universe. Firstly, this isn't about Al-Qaeda anymore; this is larger than them. This is about the seething hatred that exists between the Sunnis and the Shiites.

The paragraph that disturbs me the most in this whole commentary is this one:

Certainly al-Qaeda can be weakened by isolating it politically. But even after the overwhelming majority of Iraqis agree on a shared political vision, there will remain a hardened core of extremists who are dedicated to destroying that vision through horrific violence. These forces cannot be negotiated or reasoned out of existence. They must be defeated.
If you have ever watched The Battle of Algiers, you will understand the absurdity of the aforementioned paragraph. Al-Qaeda is a shadow organization. Cells are only aware of one person overhead. They know about the others like Osama bin Laden, but they do not report to him. The foot soldiers report to local heads. This makes the defeat of their structure considerably less likely. Additionally, the methods which the American military has used to prosecute this war are unsuitable for urban, guerrilla warfare. The U.S. military would be well served to read the book written on the subject by a master of the form, Chairman Mao Zedong. While he might have been a communist, he knew that he would have less resources like Al-Qaeda does now and would have to be resourceful. My larger point is that al-Qaeda is not an organization that will be defeated in the traditional military sense.

Even without contemplation of the military situation for a second, if Iraq has a shared vision and is moving towards the future, when has it become the need of the American people to play bodyguard for a country? When the young men and women of this country volunteered to risk their lives in defense of the United States, they did not believe that would include them playing police in a foreign country, helping them to eradicate an issue that should not be of their concern. Why is it of our concern? Why can't the Iraqi government, once being established and settle, take care of its own interior problems?

My disinterest in these problems has Lieberman calling people like myself a defeatist and a surrenderer. As if you couldn't tell what my response will be, Lieberman's logic is absolutely wrong. Because I am unwilling to keep my military in such a situation, this does not make me a defeatist and, if America was to redeploy troops, it does not mean that we have surrendered. It only means that we have come back to reality and realized that this war has been recognized for what it is: a expanded, deeply ingrained civil conflict.

Joe Lieberman fails to understand this oh-so-simple idea that much of America has grasped, but continues to opine in the Post and the NY Times about our need to stay in the country without making a rational argument, as fear is not reason. This is why Joe Lieberman lives past the Twilight Zone. He might be nearing into David Lynch territory; Rod Serling might not be spacey enough for Lieberman.

A Check-in From Reality

Today, Elder Statesman of The Washington Post David Broder argues that Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid is the Left's Gonzales, inept in his management of the party and in making public statements. The two things that Broder bases his argument on are Harry Reid's initial, eyebrow-raising comment that the war in Iraq is lost and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY)'s attempt to clarify what he said. Schumer, in fact, said on Fox News:

"What Harry Reid is saying is that this war is lost -- in other words, a war where we mainly spend our time policing a civil war between Shiites and Sunnis. We are not going to solve that problem. . . . The war is not lost. And Harry Reid believes this -- we Democrats believe it. . . . So the bottom line is if the war continues on this path, if we continue to try to police and settle a civil war that's been going on for hundreds of years in Iraq, we can't win. But on the other hand, if we change the mission and have that mission focus on the more narrow goal of counterterrorism, we sure can win."
David Broder says that this comment doesn't make any sense. It actually makes a lot of sense. As I see it now, the War in Iraq is a civil war with the American military stuck in the middle. The troops that we all love so much and have yellow ribbons affixed to the back of our SUV's for (not me. support's a new way of saying you care so little that all you are willing to do is make symbolic gestures like buying a livestrong bracelet or a breast cancer awareness magnet for a dollar.) are stuck in a war for their lives, fighting both sides and unaware of who is their enemy or friend. They are playing as peacemakers, which isn't their responsibility; that is a job for either the U.N. or NATO. The only way that this war can be won is if it is solved diplomatically, starting with the removal of a majority of the troops and a focus on the correct problem, as Schumer notes in his defense of Reid.

Do not take this as some ringing endorsement of Harry Reid. I believe that he has been timid in his position as Majority Leader, but he is more aggressive than Tom Daschle and has been generally effective. But, in this case, David Broder is mad because Reid has busted up the logic that has been rampant in Washington for so long, upsetting the old journalistic guard, a network of stodgy old minds set in their ways and unable to see the need for a new idea or approach to the problem. They all have bought into the persecution of this war so hard that they are willing to attack people who do not share their viewpoint.

American Gladiators

The title has nothing to do with this post as the Cure did not fight for anything nor are they American. I am watching American Gladiators, which is the best program ever made by anyone ever. Any show that can integrate shooting tennis balls at a 100 miles per hour, slapping people with huge q-tips, and making people roll around in oversized hamster balls into one hour-long program is genius. So, I'm going to go watch and leave you with Primary by the Cure.

Literary Hodgepodge

According to sources, Julia Stiles is planning on making a movie out of Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar, which is without question one of my absolute favorite books. I have a bias though because I read Sylvia Plath for years before I contemplated reading her novel. Anyway, the story also reports that she plans on starring in the movie. This scares the crap out of me for myriad reasons. The primary one being Julia Stiles can't undertake the role of Esther Greenwood, the same way that Halle Berry was a terrible Janie in Oprah's version of Their Eyes Were Watching God.

The fact that characters within novels have a very distinctive voice and characteristics, I always have a problem with translation of books to movies. I know, there are a lot of movies that are based on books. I tend to avoid movies on books that I've read. For example, if Sandra Cisneros decided to make a movie version of The House on Mango Street, I'll never watch it because I know the book and love it. Additionally, I know that they would mess the characters up. It's inevitable. Also, if I find out that a movie I have seen is a book, I won't read the book because I know the whole plot: rise, peak, denouement, and finish. What's the point of me reading the book at that point in time? Even with such absurd, self-imposed rules as that, I have to say that there are exceptions. I would watch Robert Redford as Bob Woodward in All The President's Men just to see how they work the relationship between Woodward, Deep Throat, and their sketchy late-night meeting spot. But, that's really one of the only true exceptions. Other ones will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

Free Katie Holmes

Everyday, I read a crazier story about her life. Today, Celebitchy posted on a request that Tom made towards Katie:

Katie Holmes has hardly left Tom Cruise’s side since they began dating in April 2005.

However, that support has caused her grief. According to one Hollywood insider, the actress, who gave birth to daughter Suri last year, has been told by her husband to attend “mommy classes” taught by Scientologists.

(”There are parenting classes,” a Scientology source confirms.)

“Katie was quite offended by that,” the source tells Us. “Can you imagine when you’re 28 and have your first child to be told you need to go to this church to become a better mom?

Now, I could easily bash Scientology for being the pointless non-religion that it is. Anything that is developed by a science fiction writer and talks about an alien coming to Earth and leaving souls trapped within volcanoes is clearly a lie. But, I won't go there now as I could go on for hours about that. The bigger shocker to me about this all is that Katie Holmes is actually a good parent. She takes care of her child and is only in the tabloids out of concern for both herself and her career, which has tanked since she got married and formed TomKat, defender of Xenu (sorry, I had to do it). I only have three words for this situation:

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Don't Do Meth!

I'm not anti-drugs, but I am anti-meth. This is why. That link is real raw. Don't visit if you've eaten in the last 45 minutes or catch the vapors quite easily. In regular talk: NSFW.

Mike Jones?!


At no time in my life has a sex tape been made on me. - Mike Jones

Now, I really don't want to see a Mike Jones sex tape. Mike Jones is frankly unattractive and I'd also be scared that he would bite me like a vampire with those fang-like grillz he's always wearing. But, I posted this to make a comment about the grammar of the above statement.

The last time that I checked, no one makes a sex tape on someone. They usually make it WITH someone. Better, you could have not been involved with a sex tape or been filmed having sex. But, Mike Jones, you would, of course, flatter yourself into thinking that people are planning logistics to make a porno about you and your sexual relations. Additionally, Mike Jones, don't claim that you are about the kids when your first album was covered in talking about materialism and drinking the lean. I thought we were supposed to keep our kids away from drugs and consumerism.

Faster than Lightning

I thought Captain America was a stand-up guy with an impenetrable shield. Apparently, the good Captain shoves burritos down his pants and forces women to touch it.

Do I really need to say anything more here? It's Captain America sexually harassing and assaulting women. I think that is more than enough.

Horse in a Box

Drunk Man Parks Horse in German Bank

From the Associated Press

BERLIN — An early-morning German bank customer had a bit of a shock when he found a horse already in line at the automatic teller machine in front of him. It seems the horse's owner, identified only as Wolfgang H., had a bit too much to drink the night before and decided to sleep it off inside the bank's heated foyer, police said Tuesday.

The 40-year-old machinist told Bild newspaper he had had "a few beers" with a friend in Wiesenburg, southwest of Berlin, and decided to hit the hay in the bank on his way home.

"It was late, it was already dark and cold," he was quoted as saying.

Confronted with the lack of a hitching-post, he brought the 6-year-old horse, named Sammy, in along with him.

When a customer came across the horse and sleeping rider in the bank at 4:15 a.m. Monday, he called police, who then came and woke the owner up and sent him on his way.

No charges were filed, but there might be some cleanup needed: Apparently Sammy made his own after-hours deposit on the carpet.

Presidential Political Strategy Session

Now, I'm just a guy. A guy with a keyboard and a solid knowledge of the American political system and its pointless nuances. With that said, I'm going to, from time to time, offer some strategic advice to political candidates. If you like what you read, send me a line. I'm easily findable.

Anyway, the first state to have a primary New Hampshire is having a debate in June. Everyone from both sides has decided to attend except for two people: Hilary Clinton and Barry Obama. Let's look at the numbers and the facts here. There are like, what, 30 people running for the presidency this year. I'm not going to acknowledge the republicans as Clinton and O to the Bama are not of that persuasion.

Now, I know that they are running against such political luminaries as Joseph Biden of Delaware, Dennis Kucinich of Cleveland, OH, and Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, but, seriously, what sort of message does it send when you miss a debate in a state that could essentially help you to shore up the party nomination. Everyone else is grinding away, talking to people, networking, and convincing people that they are qualified to be president. Why aren't you, Hilary? Barry?

To Hilary and Barry: Are you so confident in your electability that you are willing to miss a debate that could hand you the state and put you one step closer to the general election? New Hampshire is the pace setter for the country. I know that Super Tuesday is in February now, but it is always important to get on the good foot. And, as it still stands now, New Hampshire is not a throwaway state. It is one of the more moderate states in the country, and can serve as a good measurement on your candidacy.

Additionally, think about the present. Both of you are constantly being criticized on your records as well as your distaste for talking about issues of politics in public. I know both of you have, but you need to talk about it a little more and get the public aware of where you stand on things. This can serve as a good opportunity for both of you to do that. I cannot imagine why both of you would have a problem with attending, especially if both of you are serious about winning this election. Think about the supporters that you could be losing to Biden if you don't show up but he does. Don't forget about Edwards either! He's a first-tier candidate with a strong, tragic figure of a wife and better hair than anyone could ever imagine. He's progressive and has a growing base on the internet, and those internet folks have proven they love to vote and support democracy. These facts cannot be disregarded.

I know that I can't change your minds, but you should think about those things and how they could affect you in the long term. You just don't think that yet, but you will when you hit The Situation Room and the tenacious Wolf Blitzer*.

*strategist aside, how fucking awesome is the name Wolf Blitzer?

The Magic of a Hurricane

Two years ago, Hurricane Katrina changed the way that hundreds of thousands of people changed their lives. As the levees broke and the city flooded, it is shocking to learn that more than cars, trash, and personal knick-knacks have risen to the surface.

Today, The Los Angeles Times, a paper that has been brutalized by the savagely corporate practices of the Tribune Company, published an article about housing discrimination in New Orleans. Along with listing a lot of the more nefarious actions taken by parishes such as lowering the amount of low income housing available, the LA Times conducted an investigation and its results are quite shocking. These are a couple of stories that came from their investigation:

African American testers were offered fewer appointments to view units, according to housing advocates. In some instances, black testers were told applications were not being accepted, but hours later white testers were offered appointments to visit the same unit. In other cases, African American renters were told units would not be available anytime soon, but white testers were advised of immediate availability...

In one example, black and white testers responded to an advertisement for an apartment in Orleans Parish on Jan. 22. An agent told the black tester that only one unit was available, and not until the end of February. The black would-be renter was allowed to view the apartment only through a window.

Later that day, the same agent showed a white tester two units that would be available Feb. 1. That renter also was advised of another unit coming available March 1.
The tragedy of Hurricane Katrina has exposed us to a larger, less fleeting horror that pervades our country: the issue of racism. When I was in high school, my high school history teacher, or at least one of them, Mr. Glenn Whitman often used a quote from Studs Terkel: Race is America's Obsession. This is something that we have long known, but it always rattles around in my mind like the repetitive chanting of a parrot. Unfortunately, in New Orleans, this obsession became practice.

Black people, who were adversely affected by the hurricane, are struggling to get back on their feet. Not only are they not getting the assistance that they deserve from the federal government in terms of money to rebuild their homes or at least provide for themselves, Black people are also losing the right to get decent housing from landlords. If you are Black, this is not new as you have been discriminated against and are lying both to me and yourself if you think otherwise. But this is in a city that was "united" by a natural disaster. It is naive of me to think that a hurricane can wash away the racial issues of New Orleans. I hope that all of the people who travel to New Orleans to do humanitarian work really take stock in what's going on and help to do something about it because a situation like this should not stand.

I wanna see your grill.

You wanna see my what? Ya Grill, Ya Ya, Ya Grill!

Maybe I give the NRA too much grief?

Probably not, but this is a positive statement coming from Wayne LaPierre of the NRA. I know that he will not come to my side on many of the issues involved with regards to gun law, but this is a very good start.

This is what Homeland Security does besides aid the residents of New Orleans

This article just goes to show how George Bush hates America and its principles. From The Tyee in Canada:

He was told to sit down on a folding chair and for hours he wondered where this was going. He checked his watch and thought hopelessly of his friend who was about to land at the Seattle airport. Three hours later, the official motioned him into a small, barren room with an American flag. He was sitting on one side and Feldmar was on the other. The official said that under the Homeland Security Act, Feldmar was being denied entry due to "narcotics" use. LSD is not a narcotic substance, Feldmar tried to explain, but an entheogen. The guard wasn't interested in technicalities. He asked for a statement from Feldmar admitting to having used LSD and he fingerprinted Feldmar for an FBI file.

Then Feldmar disbelievingly listened as he learned that he was being barred from ever entering the United States again. The officer told him he could apply to the Department of Homeland Security for a waiver, if he wished, and gave him a package, with the forms.

The border guard then escorted him to his car and made sure he did a U-turn and went back to Canada.

This is such a sad case of what the war on terrorism has done to our country: forced us into a lockdown and deprived high-standing members of society entrance to our country. This is one of those stories that makes me sad to be an American.

Does this not ring true.

Through the beautiful people at Crooks and Liars, I was pointed to an article on the Guardian (UK) written by well-known journalist and author Naomi Wolf (she wrote one of my favorite books: No Logo). Anyway, she has written about how America, the land of the free, is slowly turning into a fascist state. I don't have anything to add except for the fact that it is all pretty much true. Enjoy!

Fascist America in 10 easy steps

NOTE: This is a rant!

I try to stay on some general point because it helps me from going into a stream-of-consciousness rant, which I have a propensity for doing since I rarely think in straight lines (all of my mental lines are gay). Anyway, I have a large bone to pick, one that will come far too close to my own position. I have a huge problem with "social critics," which starts from reading other blogs on this service. I will refuse to name names because it is only symptomatic of a larger problem that I have with the group.

Let's address the ambiguity of such an absurd title for the time being. What is your stance as a social critic? What do you want to do with that position? If you cannot answer these questions in an effective, positivist manner (read: more than "just because" or it sounds cool. You know, a real answer) regardless of philosophical orientation (e.g. nihilist, existentialist, optimist, Lacanian, Hegelian), you cannot give yourself such a title.

Additionally, the social critic, once one believes that they are fully qualified to maintain such a title, must understand the necessity and the inherent difficulties in their position. Being a social critic does not mean taking blatant stabs at other groups of people. For example, this is a post that I came across about the author's working at a record store. In the post, the author talks about how when he played a lot of difficult, esoteric post-hop in his record store (If you know about hip-hop, those aren't artists you are going to drop on people without solid knowledge) and gets mad when people get freaked out by it. This, somehow, launches into a larger argument using classical Marxist and Gramscian language about how Gangsta Rap is corrupting the larger society and implying, logically, that if you listen to Gangsta rap, you are somehow a coward, moron, or closet racist (that's for whitey, there). Here is a part of the argument:

Gangster rap is for cowards and morons. It's for people who have been stripped of their culture by this horrific bourgeois-capitalist system. Mainstream rappers are the generally-speaking, the biggest Uncle Toms ever. Suck-up to master for the money, while dissing him behind-his-back, with that wink that it's all an act anyway. Pathetic.They are sucking the Man's cock, frankly, so you know what they are. Their rabid-fans aren't any different, and they're swallowing the hype put out there by corporations controlled primarily by rich White people. This is more-pathetic than being a slave on a plantation, and can be viewed as wallowing in one's own misery and exploitation. For that reason alone, I'd love to see all of this shit die forever, just leave us all the underground, it's worth saving.
The first sentence alone implies that I, a college educated Black male who graduated with honors and loves gangsta rap, am a moron. Additionally, this says that I don't know anything about my own background or the history of the Black struggle as it dates back to the shores of Virginia in 1619 when a Dutch ship brought the first of my people to this country to be held and forced to work against our wills by greedy white men, the same white men who would later go on to strip us of the rights that we were granted in 1865 following the Civil War with the use of scare tactics and physical intimidation and circumvention of the law. Oh no, I don't know anything about my own culture! I must have lost my culture by listening to N.W.A. and Ice Cube!

Additionally, this guy knows very little about hip-hop as a form. There are very few artists who have promoted their way to the top within the true community, the community that makes decisions. Everyone has to get the come-up through the mixtape circuit, doing freestyles, getting on other peoples' tracks, etc. The content has changed, the game hasn't. Artists who are not good perish. The good ones survive, and that applies to the mainstream as well. Also, as someone who listens to underground hip-hop, there is a reason that some of them are underground. It's not because they are dropping science that the white man doesn't want people to hear; it's because they suck. Weak flows, weak beats, weak techniques lead to weak albums. Dudes are too focused on trying to be innovative instead of trying to be solid with their verbal work and beat production.

And, at last, I, as Black person, do not appreciate the analogy being made to being a slave on a plantation. Firstly, it's not true for most mainstream rappers as they control their own firms, their own images, their own releases, etc. Secondly, this makes the assumption that it is not appropriate for Black people to have societal success. Hip-hop is built around rapping about what you know. Since most of these dudes are drug dealers (something that was not true with the older rappers), they rap about selling drugs and gun fights because that's what they did. Most of them are not glorifying their lives; they are telling a story, something that is frequently lost on so many of hip-hop's detractors. Notice, I didn't say everyone wasn't glorifying their lives.

If this all has been making you wonder what this has to do with social critics, this is what: social criticism has a larger responsibility than being a title for people who like to bitch about stuff. A good social critic has to be articulate, factual, driven by something less passionate than personal opinion especially when critiquing. Additionally, a good critic should ensure that along with being necessarily critical, they do work introspectively and recognize the need for being fair towards the object/subject being critiqued. Clear and dispassionate arguments are what should be expected of the social critic. One of the most infamous social critics is Theodor Adorno. He wrote a hotly contested argument against jazz. While I do not agree with his assessment, Adorno refrained from petty name-calling and race baiting to present a compelling, if not wrong, argument.

It is OK if you choose to be against something. That is what this country is built on. That is what effective discourse is built on. But, effective discourse is not a name-calling competition either. It is a give and take, with both sides respectful of their opposition and their viewpoint regardless of how wrong you see it being. This is something that has not happened with the example. It is a general problem throughout the blogosphere. I feel kind of bad for taking this guy out behind the woodshed, but it was really necessary as his criticism, as he wishes to call it, is anything but critical.

So, if you hope to be a social critic in your life, hopefully this will serve as a note to say that criticism is more than being judgmental and standoffish. It does require fairness and an attempt to understand the subject being critiqued.

It Never Flew

I watched this season of Dancing With The Stars for its regular displays of C-List talent dancing about and the budding romances that occur between the single stars and their dancers (Lopez, you're on notice). This season has an additional benefit because it featured recent Paul McCartney divorcée and "celebrity campaigner" Heather Mills (McCartney). This is important because she only has one leg. Week to week, I watched with the sick interest of seeing her leg fly off and hit someone in the front row. I'd thought it be hilarious, slightly fitting, and amazing all the while. Unfortunately for me, I will never see this happen as Ms. Mills has been eliminated from the show. It's alright. I was more torn when Shandi was eliminated.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Streams on Kiddie Beauty Queens*

*Yes, that should sound dirty.

I'm going stream-of-consciousness on Little Beauties: Ultimate Kiddie Queen Showdown. I have an important question to ask you: If someone told you that Justin Timberlake was a beauty pageant king, would you be impressed at all? Would you care?

As far as I've gained, the show is following four kids as they prepare for the biggest kiddie pageant in America. The first kid is Joanna, the reigning queen. She seems interested, but her mom looks more interested in her winning than she does, even as she criticizes her at every juncture. Aleena is the second girl who already has a sense of sex appeal, which is slightly disturbing. Kynnedy is a Black pageant queen who just wants to have her father see her at a pageant. Jordan is the long shot in this set. Her mom called her clumsy and described the losing streak that Jordan has been on. As it is, she hasn't been in a pageant for 9 months.

Jordan is staying home while the rest of the girls are going to a pageant called "International Total Miss," a virtual semi-final for the bigger pageant. We are introduced to the people who have made their careers on the exploitation of young children. A particularly interesting figure is the host Mr. Tim, who is also the narrator. Colorful guy there.

The three girls are getting ready for the pageant tomorrow. Aleena has to take a bath, then TAN, and go to sleep by 11. Kynnedy is practicing her smiling while her father complains about being tricked into coming to the event. Joanna is thinking ahead of herself about winning the prize money and getting a pony. Apparently, she was upsetting her mother, but they both upset me more than they could ever imagine. Also, who tells their six-year-old to stick their chest out more as they are walking along? That's kind of wrong, but we're on commercials now.

With commercials over, Mr. Tim brings us back to Gatlinburg, TN [sic] and the International Total Miss Pageant. The pageant is three parts: casual wear, swim wear, and formal wear (beauty). Joanna is irritating her mom, Aleena is using her sex appeal, and Kynnedy's pops is hella disappointed about having to be there. While not there, but somewhere else, Jordan is just a hot mess. The pageant coach is complaining about her not having any actual rhythm. They note that their is a swim wear component of the competition. Does anyone else find it wrong that little girls are being judged on swim wear? That seems sort of horribly wrong and exploitative.

So, we get some hot runway action with the 3-4 years old. We are transferred to the 6 years old who are getting fake tans, fake eyelashes, and their hair curled. Apparently, Aleena's mom is the queen of the spray tan. There is also a family called the Welches who sell "flippers," false teeth for beauty queens who are LOSING THEIR ACTUAL TEETH. Are you fucking serious? Are you fucking serious? Anyway, you have to have the flippers, which will set you back 250 because you are six and in a natural biological development period where you lose your teeth.

Kynnedy's dad is still pissed that her daughter wants to be a beauty queen because it is expensive such as the 2 Grand glamour dress. We are currently in a scene with Joanna reminding us that they are only 6, as she complains about getting her hair done. They are using more hairspray than Divine in Female Trouble. Aleena's hair is falling down because the humidity is too high! The humidity is just awful in this building!

So, the girls finally go into their beauty pageant and the older people try to explain that this is not exploitation of children, as it clearly appears. There is some interesting video of the girls on the runway with them thinking about "money" while they walk. I won't get into how this portrays a negative female image. I'll defer that commentary to your local (radical) Feminist.

After commercials, we are caught up with Jordan, who is still at home trying to step her game up. Apparently, the beauty pageants are very, very long. Kynnedy's pops is still not feeling this competition. Apparently, swim wear allows for the young girls to be like the big girls. That's so wrong on so many levels, especially since they are all of six years old. I'm also going to disregard the fact that Kynnedy, the Black girl, is the queen of the swim suit. I can't keep up and go down that road.

The swim wear competition is way more disturbing than I thought it would be. The girls are walking around like they are at Carnivale, swinging their hips and doing a walking samba. They have moved onto the next level with girls going "freestyle." The girls are allowed to dress how they please and dance to the music. They call it pro-am, but I don't really know what that means. All during this situation, the parents are coaching the kids and guiding the kids through this situation.

We are now in the outfit of choice, and I have to say that so many of these outfits are atrociously awful. Also, Aleena failed on an important component of her dance: the jacket twirl. Also, the girls are now being awarded. Essentially everyone gets an award, except for Aleena. It's clearly because she dropped her jacket during the outfit of choice round. Joanna won the whole competition although I feel like I've lost far more than she's won. Kynnedy won something else, but I'm not really clear what is what. We get the inevitable disappointment of Aleena having explained to her that she sucks and her mom's tactless explanation of it all. With International Total Miss now finished, after the break, we will be whisked away to the majesty that is the Fabulous Faces competition in FLO'DA (that's Florida for all of those of the more sane persuasion)!

I have to say that this show is starting to make me want to smoke crack. Not yet, but if some crackhead walked up to me and said hey, you wanna smoke some rock, I would actually contemplate taking them up on the offer.

Kynnedy's pops is proud, but he's never going to another pageant again while the other parents are in various states. Jordan's mom is actually concerned for her child and her well-being, especially if she doesn't win. This is the first time that this has happened during the show. I'm actually amazed that it hasn't happened more often, but it is fitting that it hasn't.

The work required to organize a pageant is immense, and they are rotting the kids' teeth with tons of candy due to candy sponsorships. Just, no. Just say no.

The girls are getting done up. Jordan is not a fan of the beauty pageant culture, which is actually refreshing because she's acting like a *gasp* normal six year old. There's some faux tension being built up right now as the parents get concerned for their kids even though the kids aren't that concerned. There is a dance sequence that has pushed me over the edge. I want to smoke crack now.

The pageant has started. Joanna's mom talks about how she can control her child by sticking her tongue out and flipping her hand about. Yet again, another sane comment from Jordan's mom. This competition is really disturbing. The girls' walks are all really unnatural and really disturbing me. Like, I'm really creeped out. It's like watching mod girls dancing, but with way, way less rhythm and the awesome 60's soundtrack. Anyway, I can regain some senblance of my decency with this coming advertising block.

We are in Daytona Beach with gratuitous shots of the female bosom. Rapid switch back to the girls getting done up for the swimsuit competition. The judges get some late advice on what to look at in the girls. The parents are freaking out over their daughters. There's some faux drama, but nothing too serious. Aleena might be out, but that's her mom's fault not hers because she forgt the number. Joanna's glue doesn't work or something. I don't really know what's going on there. Mr. Tim has made a costume change, looking sketch as usual.

The competition is now over. Some trash talking between Aleena and Joanna. No games. Some girls won some bootleg, lower prizes, but that's not important. We're America and no one cares about the small things. Who's number 1? Kynnedy won the swimsuit award. I'm not touching that one. But her mom rolls on the ground. She just set back Black people a decade. Joanna repeated as top champion. Mom's jazzed. Joanna's kind of jazzed, but not too jazzed. Aleena's just hating and mad because she didn't win. Aleena's explanation also doesn't make a lot of sense, but I shouldn't expect more as she's six and all.

On the whole, this was possibly one of the most painful things that I've ever sat through. I'm going to go watch the Colbert Report and try to wash this atrocity from my mind, or at least replace it with dreams about Lindsay Lohan. COUNT IT!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Early Send Off

It's not really late, but I also don't want to be up all night attempting to post on things. So, I will stop for today here. I will leave you with a video for a group that I love a lot and have watched since their first album came out back in the mid-1990's: Gus Gus. This is believe:

I'll pick this up back in the morning with that commentary about the kiddie beauty queens. It will be an liveblogging experience. The last time I did anything stream of conscious, I ended up with a 1500 word commentary on Squarepusher's Ultravisitor, a fantastic album by the way. Here's a video from Squarepusher as well, as a bonus:

It's not the most compelling thing, but it's one of his best songs without question.

Dancing with The Stars

Television viewers are locked in life and death struggle with regards to their reality programming. Large sections of America take time out on their Tuesday nights to park it on the couch and watch American Idol, where relative unknowns sing covers of songs that some might know, but this observer does not always know (To my credit, I knew when Blake was singing 311. Me:1, Judges: 10). Anyway, this singing all ends up with a slightly incoherent comment, a underhandedly positive comment, and a very snarky, critical comment. But it does require you to call up and vote. There is another show that has the same voting method, but it is far different and speaks to something stranger.

Dancing with the Stars has the same voting method with the calling in, but its values are different. The public does not solely determine the eliminated person because both the public and the judges have a voice. Regardless, the people on this show are attempting, like the folks on American Idol, to get their breakthrough into the mainstream of American culture. The primary difference is the people on Dancing... have already had their opportunity to shine in the light. The dancers, not the professionals mind you, are B- and C-list celebrities. They are famous from other periods of time. For example, Billy Ray Cyrus is on this current season due to his hit song "Achy Breaky Heart"....from the early 1990's. There's also the guy from Cheers and the former Mrs. Paul McCartney, Heather Mills. For the record, I don't know WHAT Heather Mills actually does.

There has always been this split within me as I watch such situations. Do I want to feel sympathy towards these celebrities who have allowed themselves to be exploited in the search of cheap ratings for a network pandering to a 18-49 Female demographic (what did you think I was going to say? ABC puts on Desperate Housewives, Brothers and Sisters & Grey's Anatomy for the lads?) and in an attempt to salvage their careers? Better yet, do I want to watch people sell their images and selves out in search of momentary popularity and idol worship while being used to shill products by their corporate sponsor? Neither of these options is particularly alluring, but this is the state of reality television as an unnecessary blight upon the American landscape. It has pervaded the minds of many people, giving them the belief that if they come on television, they are instantaneously famous and important. While they are selling themselves out in search of this fleeting flame of success, the contestants/subjects on these programs are subjected to a different form of humiliation.

In many of these shows, the participants are unwilling shill artists, hawking a new product at every bat of the eyelash. I fail to see how telling me that they are cooking in the Kenmore Pro kitchen is supposed to impress me, Top Chef. But, I guess I would rather have to sell an object subliminally instead of openly like they do on American Idol or Project Runway (Don't think Tim Gunn distracted me from those plugs for Banana Republic). I can, at least, take solace in the fact that these programs are based on talent more than one's ability to bullshit and play politics (Survivor, you're on notice) even though they are shameless product pushers all the while. At least they are not America's Next Top Model, which is a constant advertisement for a product such as Vitamin Water. On some of these shows, the ratio between contest and product placement gets so high, it makes you wonder whether you are watching a television show or an hour long infomercial. I thought I was supposed to be forewarned before those. But since they are the channel's actual message, there is no need to alert the viewer that these shows are chocked with product placement. While I have great problems with the advertising and the faux attempts at celebrity, there is a reasonable question that I have to respond to.

That question is why don't you just stop watching? The short answer is that I can't. But, this inability is not due to my interest in reality programming.* On the contrary, I find most reality programming to be offensive to the people that participate in it, as it turns into the contestants' last ditch attempts to gain their 15 minutes of fame. Do I laugh at the people? Of course. They do stupid things. It's my American right to laugh at someone who does something wrong. But, the humor that I derive from their plight is something that has to be noticed and deconstructed.

The images from shows such as the Flavor of Love series are ones that have to be dissected and fully considered in opposition to those groups' regular representations (blacks, women, hip-hop in this situation) to ensure that there is a fair picture of those groups in the public's mind. While I might not necessarily like them, I have to watch reality programming because it helps me to fully understand the nature of American culture and the images that pervade it. Culture is an influence upon our politics and purview as Americans. It is important to understand all of its components, so as to understand what is relevant to the country and its different groups. Television is not the passive medium that everyone believes that it is. TV is a discursive form, one that requires our viewing of it as well as our critique of the images that come across it. I do not believe in television as a bankrupting form. Quite the contrary, I think that it can be an enlightening format, allowing people a view of the world they may never be able to have. But, with its possibilities also come risks. There is a need for us to recognize that television is something that tries to mislead us, disenfranchise us, stereotype us, and that has to always be considered in watching in TV. Reality programming is always considered to be a reflection upon our own lives. Therefore, it is necessary that its images, messages, and content be analyzed more thoroughly than other shows, which might be more based in fantasy or unrealistic situations (not to suggest that reality programming is truly real or practical) as its ramifications can be more immediate on society.

*In all fairness, the only reality shows that leave me in pain are those on MTV. In particular, the continual Real World/Road Rules challenges need to stop and now. They are very tragic to watch. They start off as no ones. They morph into no ones who were on a television show, so they are now required to appear on these aimless, shapeless, pointless reality competition shows that prove nothing to anyone except for how desperate they are. Even the C-Listers on VH1 aren't as desperate as the continually returning Real Worlders and Road Rulers, and VH1 loves to scrap the bottom of the barrel. I also have a problem with Top Design, but that show is just awful and Todd Oldham is not a very good host, no matter how hipster dreamy he truly is. Don't misconstrue this, most reality programming is insufferable when not amusing (the only exceptions being Project Runway and Top Chef), but I can't tolerate the MTV reality shows at all.

Pour Another One

David Halberstam. Fantastic Writer. Pulitzer Prize Winner. VIPs always die in 3s.

Chuck Norris is not a Political Commentator

Chuck Norris, while being a Total Gym pitchman and starring in Sidekicks featuring Seaquest DSV child star Jonathan Brandis, has decided to enter the realm of political commentary. For the record, and before I link you to him, Chuck Norris is a conservative. This comment is about how the VT massacre is due to the present of the Liberal progressive agenda. I'm not going to begin to deal with all the problems I have with this, so I will just link to it and you can measure your own rage.

Celebrity Overreach

I'm not sure what it is. For some people, the appearance of the camera creates false delusions of grandeur, inflated egos, and other negative signs of self-absorption. With this in mind, Travis Barker, more popularly known as that guy with all the tattoos from Blink 182, is married to Shanna Moakler, star of the infinitely entertaining Pacific Blue with the enchantingly twinkle-toed Mario Lopez. Moakler, information aside, leaked information on Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, in particular how to get in contact with them.

As the original poster noted, there's something to be said for 14 and 15 year-olds to do this, but they are all grown women worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions each. I expect them to have better conduct than to air their dirty business all out in public like unclassy individuals. I know there are classy celebrites; maybe this crew should aspire to such an ideal.

Pouring a Little Out

Boris Yeltsin. Kicked the Bucket. He was the first Russian President following the Fall of the Soviet Union. He did a lot of funny things, and I have no real idea about what he did as I'm not an international relations person. I studied Black people in college; Russians are a bit out of my range. An example of one funny thing that he did:

I'm pouring a little out for you, Boris.

Yet Again, The Military Is Right

This was originally posted at ThinkProgress. This is a comment from Army Sgt. Jim Wilt. I have printed the entirety of the comments below:

Why don’t we honor our fallen servicemembers?

By Army Sgt. Jim Wilt
Combined Joint Task Force-82 Public Affairs Office

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - Following the deaths of 32 Virginia Tech students, the President of the United States ordered that all American flags be flown at half-staff for one week.

In accordance with the president’s order, the U.S. flag at Bagram Airfield was raised to half-staff.
The deaths of the 32 students are a tragedy that was felt throughout the world. Even Afghan President Hamid Karazi gave his condolences to the U.S. on the loss of so many young lives. The president of a country, which has seen more than its fair share of young deaths, tipped his proverbial hat to these young people.

But I find it ironic that the flags were flown at half-staff for the young men and women who were killed at VT yet it is never lowered for the death of a U.S. servicemember.

Is the life of Sgt. Alexander Van Aalten, a member of our very own task force, killed April 20 in Helmand province not valued the same as these 32 students? Surely his death was as violent as the students.

Aalten’s death lacked the shock factor of the Virginia massacre. It is a daily occurrence these days to see X number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq or Afghanistan scrolling across the ticker at the bottom of the TV screen. People have come to expect casualty counts in the nightly news; they don’t expect to see 32 students killed.

Also, more parents have children in school than children in the military. This makes the deaths hit closer to home for a lot people.

The deaths of our friends and family members in the military are not forgotten by the citizens of our great country. We see this as people line the streets to honor those who lost their lives fighting for the freedom of our country and the freedom of other countries.

Individual states have taken it upon themselves to raise their flags to half-mast when one of their children dies.
I think it is sad that we do not raise the bases’ flag to half-staff when a member of our own task force dies.
Department of Defense directives mandate we honor our fallen leaders from former presidents to the state governors, but there is no provision for the men and women who die preserving our way of life.

I can understand not lowering flags across the country for the death of a single servicemember. But shouldn’t the servicemember’s state lower the flag to show their respect to the fallen trooper, if only for one day? Some states do, but not all of them.

At the very minimum, the servicemember’s forward operating base and the installation of his or her parent unit should show their respect by lowering the flag for one day.

We line the sides of Disney Drive here when one of our brothers or sisters in the service dies, but we don’t lower the flag they fight under. A person can argue that we have Memorial Day for this but tell that to the people who knew the person.

We walk down Disney Drive everyday and salute the ranks above us, and those above us salute back. This is a sign of respect.

The U.S. flag is more than a piece of cloth. It is a symbol, a symbol which represents the people of America.
Hundreds of thousands of men and women have died under our flag, preserving its people.
When we honor the flag by saluting it, we are honoring what it stands for. We honor freedom, the people it represents and a way of life.

Isn’t it time our flag saluted back when a person makes the ultimate sacrifice? Shouldn’t the flag, which represents our society, tip its hat when someone dies to ensure it will fly another day?

If the flags on our FOBs were lowered for just one day after the death of a servicemember, it would show the people who knew the person that society cared, the American people care.

A poignant reminder of how we forget about our military and the struggles that they undergo. More tragic than their struggle is the struggle of Iraqis in Baghdad, which was profiled in a fantastic piece in this past week's 60 Minutes. I didn't catch the reporter, but she was not of the regular stable of 60 Minutes reporters.

While the deaths of those students in Blacksburg was tragic, it was a one-time occurrence. Young Americans, the same age as those killed in Blacksburg, are dying in Iraq for just as senseless reasons everyday. Young Iraqis are also dying in Iraq everyday, Iraqis with just as much promise as those who were slain in Virginia. I don't want to change your mind; I just want you to think about the 800-lb gorilla in the room.

This is What An Asshole Does

Lifetime TV Becomes Mouthpiece For Radical Feminist Lobbying Machine
Whether or not David R. Usher is correct (I think he's absolutely wrong, which I will explain later), how fucking nuts is that argument? I didn't know that the reruns of Frasier and Will and Grace during the day were causing seditious thought to rise within the housewife, young business executives, and other women in America. But, seriously, this guy is an asshole. It's Lifetime, television for women. What women only have three channels on television and one of them (WE: Women's Entertainment) is as irrelevant as BET. So, two channels they have. Is it really the end of the world if women make movies about other women that women may actually want to watch? Is that a crime? Do I need to write a letter to Ralph Nader telling him, hey, you need to tell Lifetime to stop being so friendly towards the female persuasion. They are making us men look bad? Usher really needs to fry some of the larger fish in his argument such as his suggestion that women have the right to be beaten as he suggests. This is ridiculous, and I'm slightly upset by the fact that I have acknowledged his argument by actually reading it.

What the Young Kids Like Now

As I was reading my rss feeds, I came across this article about a survey of Gen Y 'ers, the marketing-friendly stereotype that people my age have lived in (I am 22). According to the 100 person survey, the following fifteen brands are preferred:

  1. Apple
  2. Trader Joe's
  3. Jet Blue
  4. In-N-Out Burger
  5. Ben & Jerry's
  6. Whole Foods
  7. Adidas
  8. American Apparel
  9. Target
  10. H & M clothing stores
  11. Levi's
  12. Volkswagen
  13. Converse
  14. Vitamin Water
  15. Red Stripe Jamaican beer
As someone who has spent a large section of their life actively fighting off the messages that come across through advertising, I am upset that I like all but two things on this list and that's because I have never used either of their services, as I have never eaten at In-n-Out Burger after getting off of my cross-country on JetBlue. I'm torn as to whether this is a good thing or not anymore. It's clearly not, since I now fit into the dreaded "gen y" marketing typecast. They are going to start tracking me down and asking me how I feel about different labels and brands. And inviting me to important parties at clubs. As long as those bottles of booze keep coming and are free, they can get my presence.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Just a reminder

James Brown, although dead and maintaining an anti-woman agenda during his lifetime as proven by his domestic violence record, is still one of the best artists ever. His music was dynamic, creative, innovative, and spoke to a generation of young Black people in the inner city. And to add to this, he had one of the best bands of all time supporting him in the JB's. Listen to most of his popular songs, it's his band and him just flowing off one another. That is a talent based out of great skill, talent, and sheer playing time together.

In the previous post, Chance is playing a cover of James Brown, only adding to my point. As well, much of hip-hop is based on James Brown. If you listen to enough, you can hear James Brown breaks everywhere. As well, how many artists can say that they stopped Boston from rioting in 1968 following the political assassination of MLK, Jr.? Only James Brown can. In short, and in truly American language, if you hate James Brown, you hate Black people and America.

Random 15

The Funkiest White Boy Ever- James Chance. No Wave Kingpin, Jazz Butcher, So Funky

Random 15:

Herpes Simplex- Lizzy Mercier Descloux
Walk to Camp Hall- Howlin' Wolf
Sucka Nigga- A Tribe Called Quest
Into Dust- Mazzy Star
Secret- OMD
Voodoo- Chris Isaak
Sarah and Sarah- Boyracer
Festival- Dungen
Not What You Want- Sleater-Kinney
Section IIIA- Steve Reich
Look for Me- Neko Case (this song is beautiful. love it immensely)
Sundial- The Field Mice
Late Nineties Bedroom Rock for the Missionaries- Broken Social Scene
More News at 11- Public Enemy
In Between- Beat Happening

CSS Suxxx- CSS
Tico Tico- Xavier Cugat

Sunday Night is Always Right

If you haven't discovered by now, I'm really into music. These are videos from the two genres I have yet to post anything about yet mean a lot to me: post-punk and noise. Noise music is argued by some not to be actual music. I wholly disagree. A lot of people think of music in such concrete terms with regards to verse-chorus-verse and hooks and melodies. Noise is just as musical as traditional pop songs. The main difference is its inversion of the traditional paradigm.

Instead of suggesting that music has to be palatable, saccharine, and easily digestible, noise has decided to test the format of music by doing everything in the opposite by making itself a very aggressive, grating, and heavily inaccessible form. The instrumentation changed as well. No longer was it purely guitars and drum kits. Those instruments are still used, but their fundamental cores are so drastically changed, they essentially serve as vessels for extracting different sonic waves and frequencies for processing. But, even within the cacophony and abrasiveness, there is a true musiciality as all noise artists, when not trying to maim their audience, want to evoke a feeling around their music, which is what music on all levels does. Some bands decide to use an intense backbeat as their structure; others wander through the sonic jungle. Regardless, each of these bands brings their own perspective and wishes through noise to the masses. Whether you choose to accept or not is your own choice.

It might not be your style. You could conceivably might not want to be scared shitless every time you turn on a particular record, but you must consider it as music. The artists are just as creative, work just as hard, and think just as much about their sound as the next artist. Yea, this was just my opinion, but I don't appreciate people calling things not music just because it doesn't please them. I don't like folk music, but I'll still call it music because it is. Noise is Music too! Don't hate.

That said, these are No Way Out- Love of Diagrams (AMAZING!)

and Hair Police live in London