Thursday, December 30, 2004

Who Owns Hip-Hop?

Farai forwarded me the following article:

"I went to an event in Philly on Friday, November 19 at the Asian Arts Initiative, an Asian American "community arts" space, entitled "Changing the Face of the Game: Asian Americans in Hip-Hop." I cannot pretend I didn’t already know what I was getting myself into. The title of the event itself expresses a level of hostility to Black people – Since Black people are the current face of the game, and for whatever reason, that needs to be changed. But anyhow, I went, ready to see what was gonna go down..."

In it, the author brings up the issue of cultural appropriation. I don't know... on some level, I agree that hip-hop is a black art form that has been appropriated by others, but at the same time, I do believe that Asian Americans and other races do have their place in hip-hop history (for example, DJ Q-Bert and all the Asian American skratch DJs in the Bay Area).

In either case, it's too late to really do anything about it. The doors have been thrown wide open and hip-hop has moved beyond the black community. Hip-hop -- while it does have primarily black roots -- is now being listened to and created by other races. It's something that speaks to most youth today. I used to work with youth in Oakland and I saw how important it was to everyone, no matter what race they were.

However, like anything else that comes from an outside culture, I do believe that people need to acknowledge and understand the roots of hip-hop and give credit where it is due. People need to listen and rap responsibly.

-Jean Chen

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Sheesh! What Next?

A woman paid $50,000 to have her cat cloned! Do people have nothing better to spend their money on?

The virtues of narcissism, at least for a president

On this fine day, Christmas Eve eve (one more shopping day left!), Timothy Noah, who writes "Chatterbox" for Slate, offers a good explanation for Bush's Bushisms and his inability to answer questions by the press. What I find most interesting is that Noah finally calls out what allows Bush to not only ignore questions about how realistic is his big reforms are(read: HOW ARE WE GOING TO PAY FOR ALL THIS?) but deflect the questions because he doesn't want to "debate" himself in public (how about in private then?)

Noah writes, assuming the role of Bush:

"What 'I' get to do, as president, is make promises that I know perfectly well can never be kept, and then to make Congress break those promises for me. I don't have to change 'the principles I believe in' because I know more responsible people in the government will violate them and take the blame.

"Those 'principles,' then, are really nothing more than the narcissism of a spoiled child. Why a Congress controlled by Bush's own party is willing to put up with this infantile buck-passing is anybody's guess. But it's time for the rest of us to recognize that when Bush says he can privatize Social Security cost-free, he's just putting his vanity on display. He only believes it because he can rely on his political allies not to."

You know who's really happy about all this smugness? The Chinese government because they own the American government's debt, all the billions and trillions dollars worth of it.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Fans, Stadiums and taxes

Haven't posted in a minute... just been swamped writing and working--like most of you to be sure. Anyway, here's my two cents before christmas:

In Washington DC all hell broke loose because the taxpayers of that town had the crazy idea that the Montreal Expos-turned-Washington Nationals should actually foot the bill for most, if not all of the new stadium they want.

What is it with sports franchises and paying for stadiums? Sports is a business and a stadium is what most businesses call "overhead"... Where do these fools get off demanding that taxpayers, particularly those who don't like sports should have to put in for a stadium? McDonalds doesn't make locals pay for building their restaurants... Hospitals don't make local communities pay for building a hospital. Why? Because they're private institutions and overhead is the cost of doing business.

or am I missing something?

I'm in Chicago where they built a new Soldier's Field a couple years back. the thing is big and ugly and expenseive--something like $300 Million... all taxpayer funded.

The way taxes work is if you put in for it, you get to use it for free. We don't have to pay a fee to drive down the street. Why? Because our taxes go to build and maintain the streets. We don't have to pay to attend public schools. Why? Because our property taxes pay to build the schools. We don't pay fees for a lot of services for one simple reason: our taxes already pay to build and/or maintain these things.

With that said....

Every taxpayer should be allowed to attend games for free. Otherwise, cut us a check and give us our money back!

now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go take out a loan so i can afford bears tickets for next season.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Bush to Reality?

Watching BBC News, their top story was Bush conceding that the insurgency in Iraq is, well, affected things there. Holy Mother of God! Really? I thought the totally liberal media was just ignoring all the good stories in Iraq in favor of bloods and guts and things exploding. Stunned at Bush's admission, I figured I'd see if this "story" held up. And it did!

The Times lead online story started this way:

"'We're under no illusions,' Mr. Bush said at a White House news conference. Some individual Iraqi units are ready to provide security, he said, but there are not enough of them to make up a cohesive fighting force. Mr. Bush declined to speculate on how long United States troops will have to remain in Iraq."


"Responding to several questions on Iraq, Mr. Bush acknowledged that the country's emerging security forces had performed 'with mixed results' and that some had simply fled after encountering insurgents. 'That's unacceptable,' he said. But he added that some Iraqi security forces had fought well at Falluja and other battle sites.

A day after insurgent bombers killed more than 60 people in Iraq, the president said such killers are trying to shake America's collective will as well as the Iraqis' resolve.
'We must meet the objective,' Mr. Bush said, 'and I believe we will.'

His last (and maybe first?) press conference of the year, lasting a gut-wrenching 55 minutes, Bush said the elections in Iraq will definitely continue even though less than half of Iraqis will be able to make it to the polls. Hell, less than half of Americans make to the polls for anything. If we're going to fix a country, we definitely can't make it better than this one. Hopefully Bush's advisors will continue to clue him into reality and let him read the newspaper.


I just saw the new movie about Alfred Kinsey and I highly recommend seeing it. Heh heh, although it's not a good date movie (trust me, you won't want to get it on with your date aferwards), the film gives a great account of how in the dark the American public was about sex.

It's really sad how misinformed people were about sex (and sad to realize how even today, many folks are still misinformed), and the film does a great service in reminding us that one of Kinsey's findings was that there is a wide range of human sexual behavior. There problem is that institutions (the church, mainstream media, parents, magazines, etc) put out the notion that there is a certain standard or norm for sexual behavior and everyone should behave the same way, when in fact, humans are very diverse when it comes to sexual behavior.

-Jean Chen

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Sen. Lott: Rumsfeld Should Go 'at Some Point'

(From BILOXI, Miss. - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld should be replaced sometime in the next year, Sen. Trent Lott says.

"I'm not a fan of Secretary Rumsfeld," Lott told the Biloxi Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday. "I don't think he listens enough to his uniformed officers."

If I've learned one thing about what makes the sun come up in what Maureen Dowd calls "Bushworld" it's loyalty. If you are loyal to the Bush family the world is your oyster and the sky's the limit for how far you can go in this world. Competence appears to be the antithesis of what makes Bushworld tick.

Washington is very sick with the disease of "cronyism" and the Bush Administration is the outbreak monkey! I'm not saying other administrations on both sides of the fence weren't infected with the same disease but can you name any other administrator who has messed up like Rumsfeld has and still keep his job?

Is it too much to ask for the Republican Party to actually run a conservative in 2008 instead of a Bush family member doing his best impression of Marlon Brando's "Godfather"?

GW: Someday, and that day may never come, I'll call upon you to do a service for me. But uh, until that day - accept this justice as a gift on my daughter's wedding day.

Rumsfeld: Grazie, Godfather.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Intelligent Design (not so intelligent)

Alright, here's something that's a bit more relevant. Pennsylvania parents are suing local schools that have added "intelligent design" to the science curriculum.

What is happening to the state of education in this country?? I was a biology major in college and I'll be the first to admit that the theory of evolution is exactly that: just a theory. But it's the best explanation we have (based on physical evidence) as to where we came from and how species are related. It looks at fossils, bone structure, DNA, etc. and draws conclusions based on evidence. In addition to giving a reasonable explanation about our existence, it helps students understand the scientific process of making observations and coming up with theories.

It's wrong to not push our students to think and learn about the world. Intelligent design tells us nothing! To say, "We can't explain it, so it must be God" is such a lazy cop-out. It's like how in ancient times people thought that the gods were responsible for thunder and lightening, but now we know what causes it. How can we be teaching ignorance and laziness?

- Jean Chen

Ok, I'll mention the Peterson case!

I am so glad that freakin trial is over (for now)... can we stop wasting media real estate with coverage of Scott Peterson's murder trial?

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Judge Suspended For Wearing Blackface To Party

NEW ORLEANS -- The Louisiana Supreme Court has given a judge a six-month suspension for wearing blackface makeup, handcuffs and a jail jumpsuit to a Halloween party.

Judge Timothy Ellender will lose all of his pay during the suspension. That totals more than $50,000.

Ellender, who is white, said the costumes worn by him and his wife were meant as a joke. She dressed as a policewoman. And the party's host, Ellender's brother-in-law, was dressed as Buckwheat.

The justices agreed Ellender did not mean to insult blacks. Still, they ordered him to take a sociology course to get "a greater understanding of racial sensitivity."


It's rare when I do a full spit take while I'm working...I don't even have the words for this. Even as a joke, in our sue-happy day, you'd have to be daft to think you can do this sort of thing, public and not face consequences.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

U.S. reportedly held Iran war simulation

"WASHINGTON, Dec. 12 (UPI) --

The U.S. Defense Department reportedly held simulations to determine the effectiveness of an attack on Iran, the Middle East Newsline reported Sunday

The Atlantic Monthly revealed the Pentagon held simulations of a U.S. military strike on Iranian bases and nuclear facilities. The war games also included a ground invasion."

Well, practice makes perfect I suppose.

But seriously folks, just because we are war gaming an invasion of Iran, let's not get excited just yet. I think this administration has learned it takes too much effort to sell this country on a pre-emptive war against a seemingly innocuous enemy.

I mean you could but who has time to educate an entire country that is fed a steady diet of Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan, on the complex history of Iran-US relations?

I could be wrong but for now I think it's just mind games and saber rattling.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Is Bush the Antichrist?

Seattle Weekly: News: Is Bush the Antichrist? by Tim Appelo
Rich Lang, a local minister here in Seattle (right in my own neighborhood of Ballard, no less) is seriously making that very claim. He doesn't mean this in the literal End-Of-The-World fire and brimstone sense, but he makes a compelling case that George W. Bush "has the spirit of the Antichrist. Literally, break the word apart. It is a spirituality that is anti-Christ." Lang also indicts much of the fundamentalist movement that supported Bush. My favorite part is that he wants to revive the word heresy and apply it to end times theology and other elements of the religious right.

It is a profound relief to know that some spiritual leaders in this country see the same fundamental dishonesty and moral bankruptcy of the Bush administration that I see.

Lang's sermons are available in PDF format at his church's website:

You can buy justice in Italy!

I remember one person commenting on this blog that the Guardian was full of limp-wristed liberals (I chuckled at that one, too), but I figure it's worth another snarling comment to post this.

The number one man of Italy, Mr. Berlusconi himself, has been cleared of corruption charges today.

In the Guardian:

"A court in Milan today cleared the Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, of corruption charges, but dropped a key corruption charge against him because time had run out. The court fully acquitted the 68-year-old billionaire of a second charge of graft.

Mr Berlusconi, who owns a media empire in Italy, was the first serving Italian prime minister to stand trial on criminal charges. The case related to the sale of a state food conglomerate, SME, in the 80s - a decade before Mr Berlusconi entered politics."

There was much legal wrangling on the part of Mr. B. From today's article in the Independent:

"Mr Berlusconi's case has lasted a record 10 years from first investigation to final summing-up. Since becoming Prime Minister for a second term in 2001 he has done everything in his power to avoid the judgment of the court. He decriminalised the offence of false accounting (one of the offences on his charge sheet), forced through a law enabling cases to be moved to a different bench if judges were proved to be biased and introduced a new law giving him and Italy's other top office-holders immunity from prosecution.

"But in the long run none of these gambits did the trick. The last of them, the 'immunity' loophole, was sewn up by the Constitutional Court."

And the best part:
"Last year Mr Berlusconi managed to abstract himself from the case thanks to the immunity law he had introduced, but the case against the others went forward and last November Previti and Squillante were found guilty of corruption and given five and eight years in jail respectively."

I think that he and Tom DeLay should write about a book about ethics and public office.

Please Elect This Man

His name is Howard Dean, and he's running for Democratic National Committee Chairman.

Now when conservative like for example, Sean Hannity, says, "Please elect Howard Dean..." he's obviously being facetious. Hannity and many others believe that Dean is the kind of candidate that scares Middle America and thus will always lose elections. However, it's guys like Hannity whom can't see the forest for the trees. If the Democratic Party ever figures out that it is the party of progressive economic policies, that guy will be the last to figure out why the DNC is sweeping elections.

I've said many times before, for progressives, they lost the election in January of 2004. They lost when the pretender, John Kerry, beat the true progressive candidate. If you listened to people in Iowa and New Hampshire state why they voted for Kerry instead of Dean, they all pretty much said the same thing. "We like Dean but he can't win in a national election." They said the same thing about Nader. You know, if all of the people in this country actually voted for the candidate they liked instead of employing some weird marketing strategy, one party wouldn't have a monopoly over all the houses of government right now. There was a bumper sticker I saw which summed this all up and was once funny and sad: "Dated Dean, Married Kerry".

The rate of divorce is rather high in this country wouldn't you say?

The DNC has a chance to redefine itself in the eyes of America. They're not going to accomplish anything by putting forth mealy-mouthed centrists with no real agenda other than seeking Kerry. There are fine economic progressive policies out there that are just screaming for someone to champion them. I think Dean in the guy. At least you know where he stands.

Finally, the marriage between Move.Org and the DNC has become most interesting of late. I read this morning that, "Liberal powerhouse MoveOn has a message for the "professional election losers" who run the Democratic Party: "We bought it, we own it, we're going to take it back." Whether you're a staunch conservative or a bleeding heart liberal, I think we can all agree, for the sake of our democracy, there needs to be strong opposition party. If MoveOn is the catalyst for that change then God Bless.

Saving society from moral destruction

In the latest example of close-minded censorship disguised as "protection," Alabama State Representative Gerald Allen wants to bury books that include "positive depictions of homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle." Allen means books like Alice Walker's "The Color Purple" and Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."

Setting aside the obvious issue of censorship, let's examine the underlying belief in Allen's statement: homosexuality as a lifestyle, a choice. This is what gay rights activists need to address, and they need to do it convincingly. The question of sexuality as a choice has been missing from the discussion on gay marriage, except for a surprising moment in the third presidential debate, when President Bush and Senator Kerry were asked if they thought homosexuality is a choice. Neither of them answered it clearly, or with any sort of conviction, knowing the inherent hypocrisy in supporting the traditional definition of marriage while also supporting gay rights.

Back to Allen: his vision of America is also an apocalyptic one. He believes that "traditional family values are under attack" and we have to "save society from moral destruction." Referring to the famous (and widely disproved) post-election "moral values" meme, spurred by poorly worded and inaccurately explained exit polls, Allen thinks this Administration now has a mandate to act. It looks like President Bush agrees: he has agreed to meet Allen next week. For the fifth time.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

"You Go To War With The Army You Have!"

Rumsfeld gets defensive:

Disgruntled U.S. soldiers complained to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Wednesday about the lack of armor for their vehicles and long deployments, drawing a blunt retort from the Pentagon chief.

"You go to war with the Army you have," he said in a rare public airing of rank-and-file concerns among the troops.

In his prepared remarks earlier, Rumsfeld had urged the troops -- mostly National Guard and Reserve soldiers -- to discount critics of the war in Iraq and to help "win the test of wills" with the insurgents.

Some of soldiers, however, had criticisms of their own -- not of the war itself but of how it is being fought...

SF Chronicle Article


Tuesday, December 07, 2004

New Hope for AIDS Patients

I thought I would post this story in honor of my training today in AIDS Confidentiality.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, "French researchers reported Sunday that an AIDS vaccine designed to treat the disease, rather than prevent it, has scored an initial success by suppressing the virus for up to a year among a small group of patients who tried it."

The article goes on to say that this isn't exactly the dawn of a new day in curing AIDS. The treatment in question still has many issues, however, this does provide some hope that a cure could be on the horizon sooner than later.

Now maybe it's the skeptic in me but I'm glad forward progressing AIDS research is happening in country's other than America. Don't get me wrong, we're the best country in the world and all that but competition from other industrialized nations is one of the only things that keeps us relatively honest. More to the point, American scientific institutes and pharmaceutical agencies are more likely to produce a cure instead of costly maintenance drugs if...and only if...there's the legitimate threat of being beaten to the punch by another rival France.

With Black and Latino women as the fastest rising group of new infections in this country, as well as skyrocketing new infections in former Soviet Republics, Russia, South East Asia, China and goodwill Africa, a cure for this dreaded disease can't come soon enough.

Fox News and Clear Channel Makin' Love

I wonder what kind of creature will spring from the union of these two giants?

The nation's largest radio, according to the Los Angeles Times, "Clear Channel, which last year [2003] reaped $8.9 billion in sales and $1.1 billion in profit, owns nearly 1,200 radio stations in the United States and almost 800,000 outdoor advertising signs worldwide. It controls about 100 U.S. venues for pop concerts and other entertainment."

AP reported yesterday, via NY Times, "Clear Channel Communications Inc., the nation's largest radio station operator, has selected Fox News Radio to provide national news for most of its news and talk stations in deal expected to nearly double Fox's radio presence."

So I guess this means that Rupert Murdoch's conquest of the American media market is complete by having it's "Fair and Balanced" news broadcast through Clear Channel. Now, we all have our opinions of Fox News and Clear Channel. Before you start condemning Clear Channel for being evil and another step in the ever continuing march of corporate media consolidation, you should check out its Web site or more importantly, it's Know The Facts page.

Here are some facts Clear Channels wants you to know:

"MYTH: Clear Channel Radio stations are used as a platform for senior management’s political agendas and ideologies.

"FACT: Clear Channel Radio is not operated according to any political agenda or ideology. Local managers make their own decisions about programming and community events. Clear Channel Radio employs approximately 250 local General Managers, 750 local Sales Managers, and 900 local Program Directors. Managers are measured on their ability to drive listenership by intimately understanding what audiences want to hear and delivering that."

How do myths like that get started in the first place? You can also read Clear Channel's letter to Rolling Stone Magazine for its "serious lack of journalistic responsibility" in its Sept. 2004 story on Clear Channel, also available on CC's Web site.

News woman goes naked!

Yes, it's true, a news anchor woman in Cleveland bared all for her viewers. The reason? Art. She fell for that old trick.

It was Sharon Reed's editors who made the smooth suggestions she show some skin, just in time for November sweeps. "There is no one else I would have done this for," she told Connie Schultz, a Plain Dealer Columnist. "I love Steve, I adore Steve, I truly trust him with my life and my career. You ask anyone who worked with him before he came here. They will tell you Steve is a god." Steve was the man who told her to get naked. Schultz made the prescient observation that Reed, a black woman, was convinced of the virtues of her on-air nakedness by her two, white, middle-aged news editor, who, of course, are amateur art historians and are only interested in furthering her career.

But the Medill School graduate's story gets more interesting. She was on Letterman recently and, apparently, she's been connected to Robert De Niro, among others, and not because she interviewed them.

Oh, yeah. You can read for yourself how her station promoted her story.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Watch the cost spiral out of control

Some people, who are much smarter than me, figured out a way to show the cost of the war in Iraq.

Here's how they did it:

"Currently, the Cost of War calculator is set to reach $152 billion at the end of 2004. This amount is based on the National Priorities Project analysis of the three requests made by the Bush Administration for funding for the war on Iraq, and what Congress actually allocated. The most recent request passed by Congress was for an additional $25 billion which was intended to pay for the costs through the end of the calendar year. For more information, please see the NPP publication, 'Cost to taxpayers of new $25 billion war request.'"

If you go and look, just be careful. It has the same hypnotizing effect as watching clothes tumble in a dryer.

Oh, the power of Google!

Boing Boing, a directory of wonderful things, offers a story of how AP, by using Google, found more photos of prisoner abuse in Iraq.

"An Associated Press reporter found more than 40 of the pictures among hundreds in an album posted on a commercial photo-sharing Web site by a woman who said her husband brought them from Iraq after his tour of duty. It is unclear who took the pictures, which the Navy said it was investigating after the AP furnished copies to get comment for this story."

Well, it looks like Google may be the deciding factor in winning the hearts and minds of the American people.

Madam President?

After a weekend watching "Project Runway", and taking a break from whacking the ol' political horse, it's time to get back to the business of the nation, riding crop in hand.

In the NY Times this weekend, an interesting story about Hillary Clinton and her propsects for capturing the Democratic nomination. Now, I'm not one to run from an engaging debate on gender theory and the article engaged the opinions of three men, all seasoned in presidential campaigns and the guts of politics.

Their advice for Ms. Clinton: Move to the middle (because she's perceived too liberal, and being a woman won't help) and "If you’re trying to be the first female president, a premium will be attached to proving yourself as thoughtful as anyone on this issue", the issue being terrorism, because as a woman she may not know Rambo-speak very well.

I think what the article should have talked about what is getting presidential candidates some new advisors. Good luck with that, Hillary.

Friday, December 03, 2004

I'll Show You Mine If You Show Me Yours

This in the Times yesterday:

"President Bush called for a 'full and open'' accounting of Iraq's now-defunct oil-for-food program following accusations Iraqi President Saddam Hussein illegally reaped billions of dollars from it because of Annan's lack of oversight."

Okay, so a couple of billion dollars found its way into Saddam's coffers because Kofi wasn't paying attention, but it was the Security Council that was supposed to be overlooking this program. But if the Bush administration is calling for full disclosure, I think it's only fair that Bush reveal his oil profits and its sources. And Iraq isn't under Saddam's control and the reason for that is because he had weapons of mass destruction, yet unfound. Plus there is the issue of defense contracts awarded on a non-competitive basis to companies that are now overcharging the government under those same contracts. If we're going to talk about a lack of oversight, what about the post-war planning in Iraq?

Now if you think the two are seemingly unrelated, here is the connection:

Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota is qouted in the article as saying, "In order for the taxpayers of the United States to feel comfortable about supporting the United Nations, there has to be an open accounting,'' he said.

Yikes! If Bush isn't willing to speak, who will set the record straight?

I don't think that's ever been a concern of this president, especially after revelations of psy-ops, or in layman terms, psyching CNN out with misinformation from the Pentagon about Falluja. But of course the government's lying to the journalists has always been in the public interest.

But in today's Salon, writer Dan Froomkin wonders if Bush will answer all those unanswered questions, or just answer questions from journalists.

"It seems unlikely that Bush, in his second term, will adopt John Kerry's pledge to hold one press conference a month if elected. In fact, it's entirely possible that Bush will try to hold even fewer than he did during his first term. It's not as if there was a voter backlash for avoiding the media's questions -- so why should he subject himself to more than he absolutely has to? There was a hint of this in Bush's obligatory post-election news conference on Nov. 4, when he only half-jokingly suggested that the "will of the people" now entitled him to establish more restrictive rules with the press corps. And you'll note that since then, he's only been seen in short, carefully controlled photo ops and joint sessions with other world leaders, who serve as unwitting foils."

Washington press corps take note! Sam Donaldson offers some advice in the article:

"...become more assertive..."

I admit that phrase has been plucked mid-sentence. Here is some more advice, intact:

"And they should ask better questions."

Network new's biggest news is departing anchors

Tim Goodman's article in the SF Chronicle on Wednesday about Tom Brokaw's departure from NBC was absolutely right:

"With no disrespect to either man, their departures mean nothing. Brokaw will undoubtedly still pop up on NBC -- the lure of a big event will prove too enticing -- and Rather will still work for CBS. Yes, two men with 21 and 24 years in their respective anchor seats will be gone from our living rooms, but the reality is they've been departing for years now. Viewer erosion in the modern world of instant news. This is an old story. I think I've written it a couple of times myself: Network news is a dinosaur. Period."

Who watches network nightly news anyway? And why is this being treated like a venerable changing of the guard? Broadcast news, destroyed by 5 minute commercial breaks and the persistent teasing out of stories, needs to completely reinvent itself before any news of anchors leaving is even worth reading about.