Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Ringtone at the top of UK Charts

A ringtone is now #1 on the UK charts! What's going on???

Check out the article

-Jean Chen

World's Most Famous Anonymous Source Outed

"Deep Throat", at the ripe old age of 91, revealed his identity in Vanity Fair -- read NY Times. Let the movie deals begin!

Bono on politics

Check out this interview with Bono... very interesting. He has good things to say about Bush and Jesse Helms.

-Jean Chen

Warren Beatty rips on Arnold

Warren Beatty speaks at the graduation ceremony of UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy:

Click here for the transcript.

-Jean Chen

Friday, May 27, 2005

Tom DeLay detour

Tom DeLay is upset that an episode of "Law and Order" used his name. Hmm. Doesn't he have bigger problems to worry about?

My favorite quote from the news article: Creator/executive producer Dick Wolf added: "But I do congratulate Congressman DeLay for switching the spotlight from his own problems to an episode of a television show."

Click here for the full article.

-Jean Chen

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Sperm Donation Elitism

The Food and Drug Administration, recently criticized in myriad ways for running a ship with no captain, no stern, no stanchion, has decided to turn its attention on sperm donations. On May 5th, CNN reported that the FDA was “about to implement new rules recommending that any man who has engaged in homosexual sex in the previous five years be barred from serving as an anonymous sperm donor.” The inference is that gay men will be prohibited from donating sperm because they may be a high risk for diseases.

There are many advantages to allowing people of all backgrounds to donate sperm and keep the gene pool diversified. The FDA plan is a whole new spin on keeping the business of bringing new life to the world a political issue with a very clear reactionary bias. There is an uncomfortable comparison brewing; the specter of racial cleansing rears its ugly head.Or in this case it is purification based on sexual preference bias?

"Under these rules, a heterosexual man who had unprotected sex with HIV-positive prostitutes would be OK as a donor one year later, but a gay man in a monogamous, safe-sex relationship is not OK unless he's been celibate for five years," said Leland Traiman, director of a clinic in Alameda, California, that seeks gay sperm donors was quoted by CNN.

Indeed there is extensive testing for HIV/AIDS and communicable diseases before people are allowed to donate sperm. There is a thorough health questionnaire provided and room to describe mental health issues as well, even dental problems. So who is to say who may donate sperm? Being gay does not mean that you are in the habit of practicing unsafe sex. There is a plethora of advocacy for condom use fby people and agencies across the country or hasn't the FDA read their own inserts?

Although a bill approving stem cell research was approved today by appointed and elected officials, President Bush was not in agreement. It seems as though politicians are about to predicate who can receive improved treatment and who can offer their organs, tissue and cells to prolong and create life. In an environment that is humming with pro life sentiments, wouldn’t it make sense to allow those who want to donate sperm be thought of partaking in an act of generosity, and perhaps compensation (since donors are paid for their sperm). Apparently the limelight is focused on the more obscure arena where donating sperm can be thought of as an of predators intent of criminal activity or with an aim to transmit a specialized disease process.

Sperm donation is an enormous technological advancement. But in this era, it will become scrutinized and delivered like other products to the market place; for a high price and with the right pedigree. Does human life always come with a price tag and a written disclaimer?

Monday, May 23, 2005

Four-word Star Wars review

Less talk, more Wookie!

- Jean Chen

The new narco traffic

http://www.boingboing.net/2005/05/13/liveblogging_la_star.html

It's short, sweet and clever. Like Hunter S. Thompson's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" only it's Los Angeles, 2005, and the new narcotic is not acid but high-def filmmaking.

Sounds like cyberpunk, no?

Well, the funny thing is: it's fact, not fiction. In the above blog entry by Xeni Jardin, we are treated to an unabashedly consumerist directive (The movie was shot and projected in digital and the blogger swears this is now the only way to see movies) followed by, I shit you not, a bigwig from Lucas saying that they have installed monitors and spies throughout
the movie hall and will be going after anyone with any kind of recording device.

(Hence the "napkincam" title and motif which ties together the whole device. It's an _illicit_ recording device. Written in eyeliner, if I'm not mistaken.)

To me, this sounds like a new narco traffic.

So, here we have a highly addictive pleasure (well orchestrated hallucinations) mixed with a "black/white market" economy.

OK, OK, then the guy from fucking Lucas, at a fucking South African AIDS Relief benefit screening of the third Star Wars movie, says -- with very ineffective irony, I should add:

"We have monitors everywhere inside the theater tonight, looking for prohibited recording devices, and when I say we have monitors everywhere, I want you to remember, we are the people who invented the Evil Empire."

What?! Even if we're laughing at the hyperbole, we should be taking quite seriously what this exec would do if he _did_ have the legal wherewithall to do as his directors and big stakeholders have requested.

Jokes don't come out of thin air any more than special effects come out of computers. Bad jokes, like bad movies, tend to come from sloppy thinking. I can live with bad Star Wars movies. Bad intellectual copyright laws, on the other hand...

Oh, and a final aside for those of you who have seen the movie version of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" or read the book (highly recommended!). I wonder what the sherrif's convention would look like if it were actually an intellectual copyright enforcement convention. Is Bush an interesting version of Nixon? Iraq anything like Vietnam?

OK, well, that's all.

Bye!

José Marquez

Friday, May 20, 2005

“To Be” or “Happens to be…” ?

"If someone said he was the best African-American CEO, he would be miserable. He wants to be the best CEO."
—Geoffrey Canada, on college friend
and American Express CEO Ken Chenault USA Today, April 25, 2005

When I first read that quote I was happy for Mr. Chenault, proud even. I’ve been a big fan of execs like Ken Chenault, Stanley O’Neal (CEO Merrell Lynch) Dick Parsons (CEO AOL), etc. It’s still important for young blacks to see people of color to climbing the corporate ladder and setting their sights as high as possible. But the more I thought about it, something bothered me about that quote; I had to reread it and the article a few times before I figured out exactly what it was.There’s something kinda creepy about the idea that simply pointing out or highlighting a person’s ethnicity is somehow an insult. I mean, ‘What’s wrong with being the best “African-American CEO”? What’s wrong with being the best Black CEO’? What’s wrong with being the best ‘black athlete’ or ‘black’ [insert occupation/achievement]? It’s as if being an African-American is somehow less American and being an African American CEO is somehow less than a CEO. Why do we have to strive to be greater than what we are, unless of course, what we are somehow makes us inherently inferior?

To be fair, I don’t know Ken Chenault or anyone who’s ever met him. But I’m pretty sure that no matter how hard Chenault tries to be the “best CEO” there will be people—plenty of people—who will only see him as a black CEO or a Black man. And some of those people will equate that with being ‘less than,’ others will see Chenault’s ethnicity as a source of pride and achievement and progress, and others still won’t care to judge him on his skin color or assign a value to it one way or the other. Either way, I’d be surprised if anyone is truly “blind” to it.

Personally, I’ve always found the basic idea of “colorblindness" to be amusing. The notion that you simply “can’t see” or “don’t notice” something as obvious as someone’s skin color or race or ethnicity is a little ridiculous. Last I checked, only dogs were colorblind and I’d like to think we’re smarter than dogs. Aren’t we? Then again, I was one of the few blacks at my college and for a good portion of my adult life has been spent in the corporate world. In both instances, people swore they didn't care what I was, yet somehow the slurs, ignorance assumptions, stereotypes, etc. persisted at the expense of anyone darker than a suntan. And whenever I or others challenged folks to act and behanve as enlightened and as inclusive as they said they were, we were usually told to shut up, stop being so sensitve or "get over it."

As a corporate cat, i've spent years trying not to be “the black copywriter” or “the African-American copywriter.” Yet despite my accomplishments, I’ve always been “the black copywriter: in the eyes of most of my white colleagues. I know this because way too many of them have used jokes, slurs, stupid questions or smartass comments to remind of the fact.But now, at my advancing age, I’m actually starting to enjoy it. I’m a black copywriter, a black author and a black man. And I like that. My skin color and ethnicity doesn’t make me better than anyone else or inferior or more entitled to anything. It’s just one of the many traits that makes me human.

And in no way shape or form do I “happen to be” anything; I just am.

Can't we all just be what we are?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Keep kids games secure online

There are some fabulous things about the internet; you can look up any part of history you forgot, discover virtual images of the stars, talk to people on the other side of the world (or fence) about a range of topics, access music and art, be au current or de rigueur.

But there is a questionable side effect of access, beyond the obvious addiction element to the bright lights and fast response time. For children, seemingly innocent chat rooms and thinly veiled game clubs bring them in close proximity with virtual folks you hope they never meet in person. This afternoon my son wanted to travel to a land of penguins, snowballs and furnaces and meet his “real time” friend, codename Peppy. Peppy had too much screen time, so he had signed off. My kid was approached by a girl whose feelings got hurt from someone swearing at her, another person asked where they could “get some.” But the thing that made my son really angry was that instead of “playing”, he was was being asked out by another player. He responded that he was too young; they replied they were his age. They continued by asking if he’d ever tried a blind date. He confronted them with the phrase, “ I know you are an adult, leave me alone!” And as they persisted, he attempted to report their behavior using the help button on the site.

Suddenly the “adult” was gone with no trace and no way to report the mis-use of the site. Okay, granted we could use an exclusively child -friendly search engine, but shouldn’t he be allowed to play mini clips or on nick.com without being bugged for a date in elementary school? I am not insinuating that all people with bad manners are predators, but why should he be bothered worrying if a participant in a kid’s site is really a kid or not? Can’t childhood remain fun filled and a bit less worrisome, at least virtually?

Pretenders on Hold

Spoiler alert: This is about pop, not politics. It’s too exhausting to continually plant sunflower seedlings one morning and then go out the next morning to see how many have been eaten by snails.

I heard a Pretenders song last week called Back on the Chain Gang. It’s not particularly catchy an up-tempo sad/romantic/angry song that makes you grateful for rock, and I love the lines, “I found a picture of you/Those were the happiest days of my life/Like a break in the battle was your part/In the wretched life of a lonely heart.” You simply don’t hear “wretched” nicely nestled in a rock song. I listened and I re-discovered another song in that messy music knot that is in each of our brains, every song with a little thread exposed that you can pull, untangle, and wind up for another performance.

The down side here is that Chrissie Hynde was keeping me company while I was on hold for American Express customer service. This morning, while I was waiting for a human at the Kaiser pharmacy, my accompaniment was an instrumental version of a 1980’s song, Saved by Zero (a song with an amusing title to hear while on hold with a health care organization). The instrumental was sick-making and this blip of modern rock was sounding an awful lot like Muzac. Sometime in the early ‘90’s or so this elevator music service died, and the relentlessly skipping instrumentals of Pat Boone’s indigestible Hot Diggity Dog Diggity (a favorite of my orthodontist) was replaced by Duran-Duran singing Rio.

Be it an original song or a cover, the gap in our public time that might otherwise be occupied by—holy moly!--silence has been filled in with music from the ‘70’s and ‘80’s that is an emotional thwack for those of us in early middle age. Worse, the songs now being used in commercials for products marketed by big corporations are seriously evocative songs that use your emotional history for a sales pitch, so that the company doesn’t have to do expressive heavy lifting. It’s a nifty back door to hook me and wheedle me, to take a little of my soul away like those fish that don’t kill things but simply take a bite and run away.

I noticed this trend when that cruise line used Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life, with well-timed voice-overs and editing to take out rough lyrics like “With the liquor and drugs/And the sex machine” and references to torture films and having it in your ear. So now Led Zeppelin sells Cadillacs, The Who sells Humvees, and for a while Devo sold Target (okay, so Devo isn’t a big deal). I wonder if the bigger the song’s “Whoa is that great” is in direct proportion to how expensive is the product being pushed.

I’ve been wrestling with “I’m getting old” versus “Those weaseley cynical bastards have stolen my music.” Using popular music to sell stuff isn’t news, but the choices are now harder for me to take, and in the past advertising avoided certain songs. When Nike used the Beatles’ Revolution to sell shoes it was pulled pretty fast. No one used We’ll Meet Again or I’ll Be Seeing You to sell our parents Fords. Don’t these companies know that there are some songs that truly mean something? They are youth, passion, dancing until you are drenched with sweat, pissing your parents off, screwing up your hearing. Of course they know that it means something; that’s the entire point.

The idea of listening to Billy Idol sing Rebel Yell while I shop for groceries creeps me out; it must encourage me to hang around, cruise Safeway’s isles and buy more expensive frozen pizzas or spend those extra cents for organic bananas. Maybe it simply does have a good beat and you can dance to it, but it also has to do with your heart, and they are quite willing to take a bit of it.

I’ll tell you, though, if they steal Peter Gabriel’s magic, lyrical Salisbury Hill from me, I’m taking physical action.

John Bolton was a swinger

Gross!! I really hope this isn't true! Larry Flynt is accusing UN ambassador nominee John Bolton of being a swinger! Eww. Can you imagine going to a party or club and having to see a naked John Bolton??!!

-----------------

Click here for the source

Publisher Larry Flynt's Questions Posed to State Department Regarding Corroborated Allegations that First Wife was Forced into Group Sex go Unanswered

May 11-LOS ANGELES-Court records concerning the divorce of John R. Bolton, the Bush administration's nominee to become the next ambassador to the United Nations, show his first wife fled the couple's marital home when he was traveling abroad in mid-August 1982. The records further show that she took most of the couple's furniture.

Corroborated allegations that Mr. Bolton's first wife, Christina Bolton, was forced to engage in group sex have not been refuted by the State Department despite inquires posed by Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt concerning the allegations. Mr. Flynt has obtained information from numerous sources that Mr. Bolton participated in paid visits to Plato's Retreat, the popular swingers club that operated in New York City in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

"The first Mrs. Bolton's conduct raises the presumption that she fled out of fear for her safety or, at a minimum, it demonstrates that Mr. Bolton's established inability to communicate or work respectfully with others extended to his intimate family relations," said Mr. Flynt. "The court records alone provide sufficient basis for further investigation of nominee Bolton by the Senate." (Click here for court records). Mr. Flynt continued, "The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations must be free of any potential source of disrepute or blackmail."

Mr. Flynt has contacted the State Department asking that they confirm or deny the allegations of Mr. Bolton's prior conduct concerning his wife and the alleged paid visits to Plato's Retreat. He has also called upon the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to conduct an inquiry into the very serious evidence concerning his first wife's fear of him.

Neither the State Department nor the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has yet responded to Mr. Flynt's inquiries.

The Hustler magazine publisher demanded an immediate response from Mr. Bolton. Mr. Flynt has personal knowledge about sources corroborating the allegations of nominee Bolton's misconduct, and he has called upon these persons to publicly come forward with their information.

"First wife Christina Bolton has understandably remained silent on what led her to flee her husband of 10 years and to take the family belonging with hers. A full inquiry would necessarily involve meetings with Mrs. Bolton to uncover the circumstances of her flight and the Committee should subpoena her in private session," Mr. Flynt said.

Mr. Flynt has no further comment at this time, except to ask that the press examine the attached court document pertaining to Mrs. Bolton flight from her home.

Mr. Flynt is awaiting further leads regarding Mr. Bolton's private behavior, at which point he will have more information to convey.

Newsweek backs down

I know the article incited a riot which killed 17 people, but I think it's disappointing that Newsweek retracted their piece which mentioned American interrogators flushing a Koran down the toilet. Since when did journalists cave in to political pressure?

- Jean Chen

Monday, May 16, 2005

Evolution vs Intelligent Design

There is some serious trouble happening in Kansas... for the past few years there has been a battle in the school board over whether or not evolution should be taught. And now, they are trying to redefine what science is.

Click here for the article.

Intelligent design is just another strategy from conservative Christians to ban evolution. Our country is heading backwards. Remember the Scopes Monkey Trial? It's like 1925 all over again!

- Jean Chen

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Filibusters and you / alive man walking...

salon offers up a primer on the whole filibuster debate going on lately that helps explain the importance of a complicated-seeming process in easy-to-understand terms.

on an unrelated note, there's also an interesting article in the environmental news mag grist about the african american activist who shunned cars and walked everywhere, *and* didn't speak for 22 years as a form of protest/enlightenment -- he just recently started talking again and shares his experiences and what drove him to such drastic actions. also briefly addresses the chasm between white and non-white environmentalists -- good stuff.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

stem cell research hitting San Francisco

California, always at the forefront of political, social and cultural issues in America, will have one of the United State’s most forward thinking and potentially life-changing buildings in the heart of the progressive north. The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine will station its command center for stem cell research in San Francisco, and there is a very real possibility that the biotechnology field will finally start to realize its potential. The controversial debate over stem cell research has paralyzed the federal government. In 2001, President bush issued a directive that restricted research and development of stem cell technology to existing stem cell lines, of which there are a little over a dozen here, and about 65 worldwide. Bush consulted priests, scientists, pro-life activists and doctors, and came to the conclusion that stifling the field would serve his constituents best. Thankfully, in California there is no debate. The stem cell initiative proposition 71 passed in November, and now the state has the opportunity to be on the ground floor of innovation and medicine, and San Francisco is where it will all begin. The contest pit San Diego, Sacramento, Emeryville and San Francisco in the final round of potential host cities, but San Francisco edged out Sacramento in the final vote. Political watchers in San Francisco agree that this is a big boost for mayor Gavin Newsom and his push to revitalize the mission bay district with major industry. Coupled with the new university of California San Francisco campus and housing developments, the center will put an international spotlight on the area. Although no one is sure where stem cell research will lead, all eyes will be on San Francisco with hope for the future. The potential benefits of this kind of research are enormous and well-known, with the possibility of slowing down or stopping degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and helping to treat or even cure diabetes, arthritis and cancer, among others. This is an exiting time for the biotechnology field, and lucky for the federal government, California is not letting the United State’s fall behind in the race to cultivate this new technology. Like non-petroleum energy sources, biotechnology is the only way to prepare for the future of human civilization. As the United States gets mired in holding onto the past while ignoring the future, it is this kind of forward thinking that gives hope to those of us that want to thrive during the next global revolution.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Linkin Park vs Warner

Warner asks Linkin Park to play at the NY Stock Exchange to celebrate going public, but the band is refusing to do so and now wants to end their contract.

"The request, members of the band say, galvanized their anger at the corporation, which has cut roughly $250 million in costs as part of a reorganization before its offering, mainly with layoffs and consolidation. The group says concerns that the public offering would reward investors while shortchanging the company and its artists led the band to ask to be released from its record contract last week."

Click here for the whole article

-Jean Chen

Friday, May 06, 2005

Audioslave in Cuba

I guess it's cool that Audioslave is playing in Cuba, but c'mon! Audioslave?? Couldn't they get someone better?

Heh heh, and two weeks ago, the former keyboardist for Yes played in Cuba. I wonder if anyone went to see him.

Click here for the article

-Jean Chen

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

No exchange for these students abroad

This is hilarious. I have friends who say this is true.

It's from The Onion. Check it out.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Freecyclin is the future

Freecycle in your neighborhood

If you want mulch, an Epson printer, a slightly used Graco high chair, an executive desk chair, Cytomax energy drinks, an oak cabinet or tons of wire and cable, you should check out www.freecycle.org.

I have been offered these items this week, no they are not black market nor am I an admin at a homeless shelter but this is a great online opportunity. It's a way to recycle items that either people don't want to sell via classified ads or can't get rid of, but they're good and usable, though they may need an extra part, batteries or a small repair. I highly recommend you go to the website and sign up. The messages come to you and it's alot less wasteful than the free dryers, TVs, printers and playpens I see on street corners late Sunday nights waiting for a ride to the outreaches of trashland.

If you don't want it, can't use it, can't stand it; pass it on. This is not the credo of a 60's film; it's what freecycling is all about. I've read that people in 700 cities in the U.S. and even folks in my little Podunk- by- the- sea are participating. In a moment of Tucson- based genius, freecycling came about to reduce waste and preserve land prior to turning it into landfill. It also short circuits some of our conspicuous consumption and the burning need to drive over to Target late at night. (Our dump is unbelievable; yards of keyboards, monitors, a few mainframes, exercise equipment, rugs sliced and slivered and metal.) Until the artists arrive, freecycling can help!

Here's the local SF link and description:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FreecycleEastSFBayArea/

Description
Welcome to the San Francisco Bay Area East Freecycle Network™! This network covers the East Bay region, mainly Alameda and Contra Costa counties. But you are welcome to join this Freecycle group wherever in the Bay Area you are from!

The Freecycle Network is made up of many individual groups across the globe. It's a grassroots movement of people who are giving and getting stuff for free in their own towns. Each local group is run by a local volunteer moderator. Membership is free. For more information visit www.freecycle.org.

One rule: everything posted must be free. Whether it's a chair, a fax machine, piano, or an old door to be given away, it can be posted on the network. Or, maybe you're looking to acquire something yourself? Respond to the posting directly and you just might get it. After that it is up to the giver to set up a pickup time for passing on the treasure.

By joining this group, you agree to the terms and conditions of The Freecycle Network. Please read the rules under the Files section before posting to the group. Please contact the list owner if you have any questions.