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February 27, 2004

show and tell

The kid with the four foot plastic doll with eyes that closed and the pink pinafore was afforded status because of what her parents could afford, not because of who she was, what she did, how she understood the world, how she treated people, how she thought, or basically anything else, for that brief moment in time. There's a poignancy there, both because I was jealous and also scornful. Because the kid was cool and yet deeply lame, even then. And the coolness came from money, and the lameness did too.

Abada Abada: Jessamyn on show-and-tell and its legacy.

when I get back my chair will be all warm from someone else’s ass

Many are stunned by Matt Damon's tearful, hysterical display in 1997, when he admits that Ben Affleck single-handedly penned the entire script for Good Will Hunting, and only credited Damon with co-authorship because 'he printed it out on my fucking computer.'

The Morning News: Great Oscar Gaffes

February 26, 2004

let's roll?

Michael Waltrip hosts Ask the White House

Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

My eyes keep going back to the URL - can this possibly be real? And what has to happen for John Kerry to interview Rasheed Wallace?

nellie mckay

Singer-songerwriter Nellie McKay, who is 19, was on NPR's Morning Edition today. Original.

February 25, 2004

dirty tricks, pt. 2

As reported on randomwalks almost a year ago, Katherine Gun, a translator at General Communications Headquarters (GCHQ, the centre of "signals intelligence" and "information assurance" of British intelligence) leaked a confidential e-mail to the Observer from US agencies asking British officers to tap phones of nations voting on war against Iraq. She was sacked in June and charged in November of last year with breaking the Official Secrets Act. Her trial, which was due to begin today, has collapsed, after the prosecution offered no evidence against her. Gun said she had no regrets and would do it again: "I was pretty horrified and I felt that the British intelligence services were being asked to do something that would undermine the whole UN democratic processes." No official explanation as to why the case was dropped has been made.

gay marriage

From "Bush Backs Amendment Banning Gay Marriage", in The Washington Post:

Opponents pointed out that this would be the only time a constitutional amendment had restricted rather than expanded liberties besides the since-repealed prohibition on the sale of intoxicating liquor in 1919.

February 23, 2004

Schooling Class and Race

The Black Commentator - Selective Outrage and Hidden Injuries of Class and Race - Issue 76

Is it any wonder that the predominantly Republican residents of Illinois' most affluent school districts show relatively slight enthusiasm for voucher-based school privatization, the heart of the national Republican Party's long-term education agenda? The well-off districts are getting their aristocratic needs met within the existing not-so "public" school system, whose funding structure neatly reproduces private class privilege without provocative resort to literal privatization. Under the existing funding regime, the wealthiest communities enjoy de facto elite private schools within the public sector. Accordingly, the false voucher "solution" to the crisis of public education is reserved for predominantly black and Hispanic inner-city schools, where public funding levels are nowhere near sufficient to meet the real costs of educating children who grow up in and around severe socioeconomic disadvantage and related racial and ethnic hyper-segregation.

February 21, 2004

That's Angelica's Kitchen

About New York: Vote Vegan? Well, He Isn't Chopped Liver

On those rare occasions when Mr. Kucinich is in New York, the staff makes sure that he is fed with food from a shop whose walnut-and-lentil paté is so good, Mr. Cosman confides, "you'd swear it was liver paté."

February 20, 2004

Op-Ed Contributor: The Athlete on

Op-Ed Contributor: The Athlete on the Sidelines

It's midseason in cheer nation. This winter, thousands of girls will travel on college all-star teams to take part in competitions across the country. Practicing more than 20 hours a week, they will refine a routine of back flips, handsprings, round-offs and splits - all perfectly synchronized and timed to an Olympic second. Their goal: first place. Their game: competitive cheerleading, one of the fastest-growing sports for women in America.

Just when you thought the season was over...

Ah, the Aroma of a Warm Presidential Primary in New York

William T. Cunningham, who usually works for Democrats but these days spends his workday as the communications director for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a Republican of short standing, put it this way: "The New York Democrats are like the Knicks. Just when you thought the season was over, they come back to life and make it interesting."

It's kind of fun to have a choice, even though our choices have been limited (zagg is right about this, at least).

Taking Down Dean

Again, I say: These are the dots. Connect them as you will. But consider that McAwful knew his days were numbered as long as Dean was ascendent in the party. Nor could he have been too pleased at the thought of big donors being made obsolete. It would ruin his way of life. And we know that the Clintons were none too pleased with the thought of the Dean campaign taking the party away from their control.

Nor do I make any claims about how important the role of the ads in knocking Dean out in Iowa.

I do know that I find it offensive that a dozen people can put together over a half a million dollars with the goal of derailing the hope and dreams of millions of Democrats with a campaign of smears and innuendo.

Most likely we can't prove in a legal sense that there was coordination between American's for Jobs, Etc and the Gephardt or Kerry campaigns. And we can't prove that McAwful raised funds for them. But those assholes can't prove that they didn't either.

This is just one piece. But the more people dig, the more I think they'll find that Dean's undoing wasn't entirely from a self-inflicted wound.

originally posted by zagg

February 19, 2004

ambivalence, in the face of local power

Aktion Reinhard Camps.

originally posted by daiichi

like father like son.

Mel Gibson's father says Holocaust exaggerated:

"It's all -- maybe not all fiction -- but most of it is," he said, adding that the gas chambers and crematoria at camps like Auschwitz would not have been capable of exterminating so many people.

"Do you know what it takes to get rid of a dead body? To cremate it?" he said. "It takes a litre of petrol and 20 minutes. Now, six million of them? They (the Germans) did not have the gas to do it. That's why they lost the war."

February 18, 2004

The reality is the circumstances

The reality is the circumstances are not as bleak as they appear. There are significant numbers of black youth working to better their communities across the country, but these are not the images we see on TV. The solutions and those working on them do not seem to be as interesting as the problems.

The black community is faced with serious issues. 10.4 percent of the country's entire black male population between the ages of 25 and 29 are in prison (1), and discriminatory judicial practices stemming from the government's war on drugs are to blame (2). In addition, racial profiling and other tactics scrutinize black people more than other groups. The disenfranchisement of felons has a very real effect on the strength of the black vote. 1.4 million, or 13% of all black men are unable to vote despite having completed sentences, but their right to vote is not restored because they have been convicted of a felony (3).

WIRETAP - A Call to Black Youth

February 17, 2004

blog posts by politico

Rick Heller at The Blogging of the President is keeping track of the mentions each Democratic presidential candidate scores in blog posts. Kerry dominates the talk after a big uptick Jan. 18.

"bonfire of the inanities"

Denton has mapped out a route for monetizing the blog world in short order. It is a strategy to provoke outrage and publicity by taking the piss out of celebrities and luminaries of New York and DC. And I don't have any problem with that. It's just that these sites have decided that one way to telegraph their supreme coolness is to continually joke about non-whites as marginalized second-class citizens. It's this casual, damaging disregard that is hard to quantify, and yet, Gawker and Wonkette exemplify the growing phenomenon of white hipsters adopting a casual racism. Is it any wonder so many still feel blogging's a white man's sport?

Africana.com's John Lee: "Blogging While (Anti)Black". Via Romenesko.

February 16, 2004

there's a tube of spearmint in my bathroom right now

Finding the all-natural toothpaste can be, depending on your own worldview, a satisfying discovery: Ah, I'm in the home of a good and gentle center-lefty or lefty-lefty, a thinker about issues, a possessor of good books and record albums, an opposer of most wars, a composter perhaps, or at least a saver of natural resources, etc.

Or it feels somehow suspicious: Et tooth, Brute? We used to be Crest people, you and I. We liked bad television and shopping malls and staying out all night. Now I'm getting a "Kill Your Television" vibe from you. You're opposed to crass commercialism now? You're worked up. You're lecturing the rest of us. Your breath isn't quite so minty. Finding Tom's in this person's bathroom is like finding Dr. Judith Steinberg Dean -- she who is "not a 'thing' person" -- hiding behind the shower curtain, enjoying a smooshed cupcake.

The Washington Post's Hank Stuever, in top form, on Tom's of Maine toothpaste.

abbas kiarostami

This idea of leaving a great deal of open space for the spectator is not limited to the end of the film. I have always had the desire to have the kind of film where I have created a great deal of spaces inside the film, where, like a puzzle, the spectator has to fill in the spaces -- I like to create those kinds of spaces where the personalities in the film begin to engage with one another and at the same time leave room for their spectator to connect them in a way in which they would like to see them connected. Some people like their movies to be perfect as they describe it, but I don't seek that kind of perfection. To me perfection is defined by how much the spectator can engage in the movie, and so a good movie is one that involves the spectator as a part of it and not as a captive person.

From a 1998 interview with Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami.

without even a hint of personal shame

The picture of him playing soldier suit on an aircraft carrier, the helmet under his arm like he just got back from a run over Baghdad, marks him as exceedingly dangerous. He believes he is a warrior president. He is not. He is a war dodger. Therefore, it is preposterous for George Bush to be a commander of anything. He doesn't have the right to send people to war.

Jimmy Breslin, Bush Goal Was Dodging War.

originally posted by xowie

February 15, 2004

dead poets society

Beat waves by Lisa Bornstein, Rocky Mountain News:

6,000 hours of lectures, performances and classes featuring some of the greats of American arts and literature, particularly the beat poets, have been recorded at Naropa over the past 30 years.

Those voices include writers Gregory Corso, William S. Burroughs, Amiri Baraka, Michael Ondaatje, Andrei Codrescu and Ken Kesey; cultural agitator Timothy Leary; musicians John Cage and Philip Glass; and spiritual leaders Ram Dass and Chogyum Trunpa Rinpoche.

Already, Naropa is setting up a listening station in its library, and by summer plans to have part of the collection available to the public on the Web. It is also producing a boxed set of four CDs - Taylor calls it a "virtual workshop" - with poets Diane DiPrima, Ginsberg, Burroughs and Waldman.

February 14, 2004

tormented to the point of agony


Since McKinley returned to the United States in April, the vision of the dead marine's face has sat in her mind like an elephant blocking the road. ''When I first got home, the nightmares were him basically calling me selfish, asking why didn't I help save him,'' she said, her voice so grave and quiet that it was nearly inaudible. ''And now it's changed to he's asking me why I didn't go with him.''

NYTM: The Permanent Scars of Iraq.

originally posted by xowie

why does a "yes" or "no" elude you on this?

Did the President have to take time off from National Guard duty to do community service as a sentence for a crime?

originally posted by xowie

February 12, 2004

americana in black


32. Which of these figures are of African-American descent:

a) George Herriman, creator of the Krazy Kat cartoon strip. b) Best-selling novelist Frank Yerby. c) Carol Channing, actress and stage performer. d) Johnny Otis, 1950s rhythm and blues star.

Metro Times: a quiz to make you go hmmmm.

originally posted by xowie

February 11, 2004

mighty mounds of power


We wonder why, four days after, a glimpse of a hood-ornamented nipple warrants in-depth coverage in every section of the Los Angeles Times; why the FCC will spend tax dollars investigating so-called ‘indecency’ and not the free-speech-chilling effects of media consolidation; why it was Janet’s breast, and not general depravity, that persuaded parents in Laguna Beach that MTV should no longer infiltrate their high schools. Rarely does it occur to any of us that this outrage might be a healthy reaction to the systematic depreciation of an enchanting aesthetic feature peculiar to human females.

Judith Lewis says the bosom is back.

originally posted by xowie

"Democracy" in action

Cumulative delegate count (including 'Superdelegates') after last night's primaries: Kerry 310, Dean 161, Edwards 94, Clark 88.

(* Delegates for all states except New Hampshire may change).

Delegates needed to win nomination: 2161.

Percentage of 2161 currently committed, according to the Times: Kerry 14%, Dean 7.4%, Edwards 4.3%, Clark 4.1%.

Number of news stories that points this out: 0

Number of news stories that point out the pledged delegate count: 0

First sentence in Reuters story (emphasis mine): Democratic presidential front-runner John Kerry rolled to dominating wins in Virginia and Tennessee on Tuesday, scoring a Southern sweep that knocked rival Wesley Clark out of the race and put the nomination within reach.

Does this bother anybody but me?

I don't particularly care who wins the nomination, but the fact that the media is pimping so hard for Kerry just reeks.

William Saletan at Slate has noticed this too:

By media consensus, the race for the Democratic presidential nomination is over. Why? Because John Kerry has won 12 of the 14 primaries and caucuses held so far. And why has Kerry won these contests? Not because voters agree with him on the issues. The reason, according to exit polls, is that voters think he's the candidate most likely to beat President Bush. There's just one problem: The same polls suggest this may not be true.

Two weeks ago, Kerry beat Howard Dean by 12 percentage points in the New Hampshire primary, convincing Democrats around the country that Kerry was their most electable candidate. How did Kerry win? By racking up a 4-to-1 advantage over Dean among voters who chose their candidate because "he can defeat George W. Bush in November." Among voters who chose their candidate because "he agrees with you on the major issues," Dean and Kerry were tied.

Let me say that again: Among voters who picked the candidate they wanted based on the issues, not the candidate they thought somebody else wanted, Kerry did not win the New Hampshire primary.

OK, maybe Dean wasn't the most electable guy. But in the states that followed, voters applied the same theory to other candidates, padding Kerry's delegate count and aura of inevitability. They figured the guy who had won Iowa and New Hampshire was a winner. So, they voted for him, proving themselves right. The biggest delegate prize on Feb. 3 was Missouri, where Kerry beat John Edwards 2 to 1, filling the airwaves with talk of a juggernaut. How did Kerry thrash Edwards so badly? He won "agrees with you" voters by 10 points—a healthy but not awesome margin, largely attributable to the fact that Kerry was the candidate the media were talking about, since he had just won New Hampshire. No, the people who gave Kerry his enormous vote tally in Missouri—and nearly two-thirds of the state's delegates—were the "can defeat Bush" voters, who went for Kerry over Edwards by a ratio of more than 3 to 1.


originally posted by zagg

February 10, 2004

God Bless Graffiti

God Bless Graffiti

February 9, 2004

Reagan's Bind

Is the President dangerously incompetent or just totally ignorant? Which is worse?

If no commentators have noted, or perhaps even noticed, this new spin on American military policy, it may be because they don't take Bush's unscripted remarks seriously. (It's just Bush, talking off the top of his head. No sense parsing the implications.) That in itself is quite a commentary on this president. But it's not clear that these particular remarks were unscripted. Bush used the same phrase—"a capacity to make a weapon"—three times; it was almost certainly a part of his brief. Either the statement means something—that we now reserve the right to wage pre-emptive war on a hostile power that has the mere capacity to make weapons of mass destruction—or it's empty blather. It's unclear which would be more unsettling.

Fred Kaplan picks through his Meet the Press interview.

originally posted by daveadams

Dirty Infidels

Al Qaeda Sympathizers Turn to Rap to Battle 'Infidels'

Al Qaeda's newest weapon against the West is a violent English-language rap tune urging young Muslims to wage holy war.

The song is being broadcast on the Internet in an attempt to lure music-loving youth into the terror network, which is blamed for the September 11, 2001 attacks on U.S. cities and other bombings around the world.

Please tell me if you find an MP3 of this.

February 8, 2004

The Winner: Hypocrisy

CBS and Viacom said an ad featuring children to make a political statement was over the top. Yet a male entertainer stalking his female prey was not. The president was spared by the media moguls. Not so lucky were America's girls as CBS and Viacom told them it was just fine for boys to sing, "I'm gonna have you naked at the end of this song."

I am hoping to hear bell hooks on the story of the Super Bowl, but until such time I am hearing a lot of sense in Derrick Jackson's words.

February 7, 2004

I would like to see them take up a case involving bias against Asian-Americans pro bono

Making fun of Asians and Asian-Americans is still perceived as socially acceptable in a lot of places.

labor dumps dean

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) is withdrawing its previously announced support of Howard Dean's presidential bid.

AFSCME's brilliant associate general counsel, Robert D. Lenhard, was nominated to the Federal Election Commission last summer.

originally posted by xowie

February 6, 2004

I am [hip-hop]

I've learned recently that some folks in the hip-hop community respect what I'm doing, and it's such a thrill. [One hip-hop guy's compliment] is like five pop guys telling you that your music's doing it for them. I like being myself and kinda sticking to that. Maybe that's kind of the part to be respected. I think also I'm a 'beat' guy. I'm a rhythm guy.

John Mayer plays electric guitar.

My Big Fat Greek Albert

For Albert, the film's casting directors are seeking a 17 to 18-year-old African-American male who is "stout-hearted as well as stout ...exuberant, funny and sweet." The actor should also be able to rap, sing and dance. For Old Weird Harold, the directors are seeking a 17-year-old African-American male who is very tall (around 6'5) and somewhat awkward.

Fat Albert Casting Call :washingtonpost.com

February 5, 2004

10 Quick Ways to Analyze Children's Books for Racism and Sexism

10 Quick Ways to Analyze Children's Books
Both in school and out children are exposed to racist and sexist attitudes. These attitudes - expressed over and over in books and other media - gradually distort their perceptions until stereotypes and myths about minorities and women are accepted as reality. It is difficult for a librarian or teacher to convince children to question society's attitudes. But if a child can be shown how to detect racism and sexism in a book, the child can proceed to transfer the perception to wider areas. The following ten guidelines are offered as a starting point in evaluation children's books from this perspective.

all families are and should be about is love, love, love

From Terence Neilan's NYT article, "Gays Have Full Marriage Rights, Massachusetts Court Says":

Asked if Vermont-style civil unions would be sufficient, the opinion stated: "The answer is `No.' "

Referring to legislation being considered by the state Senate, Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall and three other judges of the state's Supreme Judicial Court said, "The bill's absolute prohibition of the word `marriage' by `spouses' who are the same sex is more than semantic.

"The dissimilitude between the terms `civil marriage' and `civil union' is not innocuous; it is a considered choice of language that reflects a demonstrable assigning of same-sex, largely homosexual, couples to second-class status."

The opinion added: "For no rational reason the marriage laws of the Commonwealth discriminate against a defined class; no amount of tinkering with language will eradicate that stain."

It also said: "Barred access to the protections, benefits and obligations of civil marriage, a person who enters into an intimate, exclusive union with another of the same sex is arbitrarily deprived of membership in one of our community's most rewarding and cherished institutions."

February 4, 2004

pod heads

Many references to the iPod in this week's SF Bay Guardian.

originally posted by xowie

Should Ralph Run?

Nader 2004 Exploratory Committee

"Anybody But Bushites" can rip away at will.

Given the overall political climate and dominance of Lesser Evilism this year combined with the fact that a Nader run this cycle will likely not generate the same grassroots campaign that 2000 did, I'm not sure if Ralph running would be the greatest idea--especially if it were done outside the Green Party as has been suggested.

One aside: My stance is that the failure of Nader's 2000 campaign was not that it led to Bush's election (I'll argue with people on that forever), but that Nader disappeared after the election and the network of activists that supported his campaign fell apart rather than becoming a sustained movement for change.

originally posted by zagg

standing there with a stopwatch grilling ice cubes

Oh, there were plenty of times where at 2am I'd be sweeping a floor on a Friday night and wonder, "What the hell did I do?! Dear God!" 'Cause I was an old guy! I was 34 when I went to culinary school and it nearly broke me. The internships that I did -- going from being a commercial director where, you know, you were The Guy, to being nobody -- "Here's the broom; sweep the walk-in" -- was extremely humbling. It was a very humbling experience. But I'm sure glad I did it. Learned a lot about myself.

Channel Guide Magazine interviews Alton Brown, via Julia.

February 3, 2004

"Senator, I am the mayor of Watonga, Okla., and I endorse you!"

"I think we have somebody who's fainted there," Mr. Kerry said, hopping off the stage to check on the man as the murmuring crowd made way for him. Moments later, he reclaimed the stage and said calmly: "Ladies and gentleman, he's all right. He's all right. He's a World War II vet, and he's been standing for a while on his legs and he needs a little air and a little water."

"You should be president!" a woman in the crowd called out.

NYT: A Winning Kerry Loosens Up, and Crowds React.

originally posted by xowie

February 2, 2004

you can't give a shout out to Hitler, you just can't.

I don't think about race that much. I forget that I'm Asian. I don't know why. Maybe it's because my eyes are in my head. (laughter) But when I'm reminded that I'm 'different' it shocks me. I was on a plane and the steward was coming down the aisle, serving lunch to everyone, and he's coming down the aisle: "Asian Chicken Salad…Asian Chicken Salad…Asian Chicken Salad…" and he gets to me and he's like, "…Chicken Salad?" What does he think I'm gonna do?..... "This is not…the salad of my people!"

Margaret Cho at MoveOn last month. Here's some of her hate mail.

originally posted by xowie

I bought the New York Post today

New York Post Online Edition, living:

Some bloggers run into difficulties from seemingly mundane reports about their daily thoughts and activities. "As an Asian girl, I get weird Asian-fetish e-mails from people who read [my] site," says Lia Bulaong, the twentysomething Manhattan author of Cheesedip (she includes tame photographs of herself in everyday clothes). "Also, stalkers I had in college that I didn't know about have come out of the woodwork."

Lia, randomWalks.com, and Cho Guevera in the New York Post.

February 1, 2004

#1 Dad, in this tiny Virginia burg

Looking for the roots of bluegrass? Think Floyd, says The Washington Post.

Fragments From Floyd.

Defense of marriage acts

The AJC turns the conservative argument against gay marriage back around:

The very idea that gay people are trying to tear down marriage is nonsense; heterosexual people are doing quite fine on their own in that regard and hardly need the assistance of others. Gay people have not caused the divorce rate to soar. Gay people haven't caused the rise in single-parent families. To make gay people the scapegoat for the problems that plague modern marriage is absurd on its face.

In fact, to the degree that gay Americans wish to join in marriage, it ought to be seen as an endorsement of the institution, as a recognition that the civilizing merits and rich emotional rewards of marriage appeal not just to people of all cultures, races and ages, but to people of all sexual preference as well.

My state legislature is currently trying to amend the state consitution to ban same-sex marriage. The hypocrisy of it all makes me sick. But it's nice when someone comes along and says what you're thinking much better than you can.

originally posted by daveadams