Thursday, September 30, 2010

An homage to an Atari 2600 classic...

So I've wanted to write something about how the recent stories of tragic events involving young males and bullying and how it brought back painful memories of my youth in the rural wilds of Sussex County. But I just can't seem to.

So, instead, I'm gonna bring you these fun references to one of my earliest experiences with gaming:


Ever want to take out your aggression on ads? Or perhaps a certain winking political figure? Well, load up this bookmarklet while on any page and go to town.

I'm currently torn between two geeky options for sprucing up my decor: egocentrically geeky or nostalgically geeky.

A Thursday Morning Sing-a-long...

With the buckets that are falling from the sky... I just could not resist the temptation to post this...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Stripping the Polls Down's almost October!

The wind is picking up, leaves are swirling around, the rain is coming down, and a fresh batch of candidate polls are whipping around, creating a media feeding frenzy.

"He's up by 4, she's down by 6, they are in a statistical dead heat!"

I get all warm and tingly just thinking about it!

In 2008 I came across this GEM of a website that I want to share with all my polling junkies out there.

The FiveThirtyEight Blog, now on the New York Times website.

It use to be an independent blog that would do poll analysis by breaking down all the polls, weighing them based on their polling criteria (how many people did they talk to, who did they talk to, what questions did they ask, how did they ask them, etc), and then combine all those polls for one SUPER GIANT MEGA ZORD...err, result.

What do we end up with?

I like to refer to it as the Cassandra of the election predictions. Nate Silver, the author of the blog, has an uncanny ability to predict, based on polls, election turnouts.

See, there are people who don't believe him. They call him a liberal, a democrat, a sell out to the Times...yet the numbers don't lie. Of course, people could shout out "Fuzzy Math!" or "Data Manipulations!" but when you look at HOW he does his calculations, there is VERY little room for error. The only thing he controls is how each poll is weighted, based on strict criteria depending on the bias of the poll. It's a complicated political calculus that is like when a math nerd and a political geek get together in bed and have crazy dork loving. Except it's real and unlike my example because we all know, math nerds never get laid.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

But I warn you, math nerds and political nerds, to keep a box of kleenex nearby!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

"You've got to put me on a different scale"

"You've got to put me on a different scale than the little black preacher sitting over there that's supposed to be just getting by because the people are suffering," Long said, explaining the compensation he received from his charity.

Since no one has touched this subject (I've been following via CNN and other news outlets) I'd like to break it open. I've never been a major advocate of organized religion but this stems from having taken a part of my life to dedicate myself to a Pentacostal Church where I was 'cured' of being a homosexual (gay gasp) and part African American/Ethic I have a unique perspective when it comes to the charges that Bishop Long used his religious position to pressure young male members of his congregation to have sexual acts with him.

First, let me be clear: i neither agree with or discount these allegations. America is a land of selfish individuals who will do anything, even if it means destroying a fellow brother or sister, to get a few bucks or gain a few moments in the spotlight.

The lawsuits filed by Maurice Robinson and Anthony Flagg request punitive (money) damages so make no mistake that money, as it is with everything else in this country, lies some where near if not at the very heart of these lawsuits.

But, who cares? Long is a very wealthy man whose built an empire that includes a mega church in Atlanta with over 25,000 members, satellite churches all over the country, and is an extremely popular and public figure in the African American religious community.

Well, you should care because unlike movie stars and other celebrities didn't build their stardom and fortunes off of a position of religious power and through influencing thousands of people based on personal interpretations of the Bible.

My Bishop Longs OWN admitted above, "you've got to put me on a different scale than the little black preacher sitting over there that's supposed to be just getting by because the people are suffering" and with that being said these charges should ALSO put Bishop on a different level then just some random public person who denies charges of these against him when he has influenced thousands of people based on his position of religious power.

Homosexuality is and always will be a major taboo within the African American community. Street slang terms such as the DL (Downlow) were created based on the many African American men who lead 'public' heterosexual lives but 'private' homosexual ones.

African American men who come out of the closet are often ostracized by their families, friends, and religious institutions many of which they've been a part of since birth. This stems from the firm belief within the African American community that a gay Black male is worthless.

This belief propagates a major 'fear controlled' environment where it's better in the eyes of these mens to handle 'their business' behind closed doors rather then coming out because of the expected fallout.

Building an empire and publicly denouncing homosexuality time and time as part of ones livelihood, business and public image now puts Bishop Long on a 'different level' than others and damn well fucking should.

Men of the cloth are held to a higher standard because of their position of religious power which is a wave of influence over hundreds, and in this case, thousands of people. Even if these allegations prove to stem from these mens pursuit of a cash pay out (which many believe) let me remind you that just by filing these lawsuits these men have outed themselves and now have to deal with the already in full blown negative reaction from their families, friends, and community.

No one, and I mean NO ONE would willing do this unless at the core of it had damn good reason to.

And while I don't know everything involved with this case I do know the pressure of being a part of a religious community where people come to expect and in many instances demand of you to be who they want you to be and you become overwhelmed with so much pressure that you loose yourself in order to appease them.

If you don't you feel totally ashamed and as if you've failed not only them but yourself and God.

That kind of pressure is not to be taken lightly or shrugged off as unimportant. If Bishop Long is found guilty of using his position of religious power to get these young men to have sex with him he should face not only public outrage from every member of his congregation for deceiving them for years and instilling in them a groundless anti-homosexual belief but also demand for justice for being one of the biggest hypocrites of the African American community.

The phrase 'do as i say, not as i do' comes to mind and this more then anything is at the core of my angst when it comes to organized religion.

Men are not perfect, easily corruptible, lie and will use any means necessary to get what they want and maintain what they have.

Why should these universal truths be any different for Bishop Long?!


Friday, September 24, 2010

Say Cheese!

This parody is based on the this photograph.

The Future Looks Pretty Bright Folks

it's totally a concept mobile phone (thank you Billy May) via Mozilla Labs but i have one reaction to the remote possibility of a phone like this being a usable product before i'm in a senior citizens home




Thursday, September 23, 2010

Exhuming Malthus

Here we go again.

Slate has a good article on the forever-interest in the ideas of 18th century economist Thomas Malthus, particularly in the realm of fiction, specifically with regard to Jonathan Franzen's Freedom. To describe Malthus' central idea on one foot: human population grows exponentially, while natural resources grow arithmetically. The former will eventually outstrip the latter, leading to a population bomb that will detonate and obliterate us all.

No matter how many times Malthus is refuted, his ideas linger. Ultimately, Malthusians of all stripes are defined by their suspicion, if not hatred, for civilization. Malthus was in the news recently, thanks to the Neo-Malthusian nut who took hostages at the Discovery Channel earlier this month. His inspiration? A novel: My Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn.

It almost makes you miss the influence of Karl Marx.

(Mirrored on Cultural Minefield.)

A reckoning is coming.

So conventional wisdom is that the combination of history and pure legislative incompetence is going to doom the Democrats to losing the House in November. I'm a tad unconvinced that the so-called "tidal wave" will be as bad as it's being made out to be, but then I see genius strategic moves like this.

This is not what I voted for. I am an avowed liberal with a very strong backbone who is not reduced to a quivering mass of jelly whenever it's time to match wits with a "conservative." I want elected officials -- you know, REPRESENTATIVES -- who are of the same timbre. If a mass purge of all the lilly-livered pussies in the House and the Senate is what it takes to bring this about, so be it.

Captain Kirk put it eloquently.

I Never Claimed to be a Democrat...

But, this is why I won't vote for republicans... Their Fall Agenda sounds like a bunch of bull malarkey to me. On one hand we want to pay close attention to the rights of the individual. On the other hand, we want to take away the freedoms of some individuals, because we don't agree with who they choose to love.

The people who are out of touch with America are the Congresspeople of this great nation. All of them need to be put in check and remember the thing that makes this nation great: The fact that we were formed as a nation to protect the unalienable rights gauranteed by our Creator. If you can't remember what those are, they are Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness. (or better yet look for yourself: Declaration of Independence . So, get out of my way as I presue happiness.

And just in case you have actually forgotten what the Constitution looks like, I provided a link for that. And just a gentle reminder, the judiciary branch exists to keep you guys and gals from pissing off too many of the people, while you continue to right legislation that is not only unconstitutional, but also just mean. As Jon Stewert asked last night: "Are We Run By Assholes?" "Indeed."

The Evil Corporate Dystopia of every 80s Sci-Fi Movie is Nigh

So the past week's reading has made me even more resolute that their needs to be Federal intervention into the wireless marketplace.

First, we have Verizon "Choice is our middle name" Wireless trying to convince us that their VCast App store and their other efforts with Android are about providing customers "choice" and not about making money and locking people into their walled garden so they're less liable to leave.

Then, we have the AT&T Death Star basically celebrating the fact that 80% of their iPhone customers are locked into AT&T.

And, now, we have T-is-for-text-unless-we-say-otherwise-Mobile attempting to censor the text messages that it carries specifically because the government has made clear where wireless falls in the panoply of communications regulations.

So, all that's left is Sprint... then again, they sponsor NASCAR so they're evil enough already ;-)

Why So Sad, Panda?

I came across this little nugget of information thru (yes, I refuse to use "through") iGoogle today, as I was doing my daily walk thru of the "how to" section. I found it rather interesting and may give it a shot, people should laugh more often.
Even, if you don't get the joke laugh anyway.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Anti-war republicans

Do my eyes deceive me or did the republicans just vote to deprive our brave men and women in uniform of the crucial support they so desperately need to defend our freedoms? This is unamerican.

Summer R.I.P.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Let's Talk About *Freedom*

I've just started reading Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, a book I planned on hating but am actually kind of enjoying. I've disdained Franzen (yes, my negative opinion of him has been that intense) since the whole Oprah flap back at the beginning of the last decade. I wasn't put off by some great offense against Her Highness of Daytime, but by Franzen's apparent smugness and snobbishness toward the economic gift horse that is the Oprah Book Club, by his attitude that he and his work (The Corrections) were too good for the sudden popularity that followed from Oprah's stamp of approval, that the vulgar "O" printed on the book's cover immediately tarnished its contents by marking it as "female fiction." Didn't he want people to read his goddamn book?

Anyway, it wasn't just spite that motivated me to pick up Freedom. It's too long a book to be read for the sole (and self-indulgent) purpose of further stoking some anger within me. No, I wanted to understand and be part of a conversation about an "important" literary work within the culture. I place quotes around the word important not to be snarky or contrarian, but to underscore the fact that Freedom's import is that it has prompted discussion in the first place, without me having to evaluate how important a literary work it is. It's not often that a work of fiction is discussed so ubiquitously, with angles of debate so multifaceted.

First there's the issue of the book's literary merit. Freedom has been overwhelmingly embraced by critics, with a few poison pens written in gleeful dissent. Then there's the reaction to the book's critical reception, which has become a debate about the nature of literary criticism and what it means to be a Great American Novel. Add to the mix questions of what happened to the popular "middlebrow" novel, why most people no longer read fiction, and whether a woman writer of literary fiction could ever grace the cover of Time, as Franzen did a few weeks ago, and you've got yourself some robust cultural discourse.

The last bit, of the media's attitude toward women literary writers, immediately cuts off any mention of J.K. Rowling, she being the clichéd 800 pound, and multi-billion dollar, gorilla. Of course, the modifier "literary" in front of "fiction" is central to all of this. When in recent memory have people, like real reg'lar people, many of whom are also the erudite consumers of the NYT's Notable Books list, clamored about and discussed a work of fiction? In the last ten years, it's only been in the context of young adult and genre fiction: Harry Potter, Twilight, and Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy exhaust the list.

And so, we talk about Freedom. While that's a very good thing on the surface, what about Franzen has established him as the literary topic of discussion? It's not merit alone. There have been a number of great, and for the most part popular, contemporary works that did not make the same splash, books like The Road, The Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Netherland, Tree of Smoke, and Middlesex, among many others. Perhaps it's because few other authors mix Franzen's prodigious ambition and ability with broad social commentary. While I almost completely disagree with Franzen's evaluation of America and Americans, there's no doubt that Freedom is the work of a writer in full control of his powers, one who is emphatically Making a Statement. Freedom's sweeping 23-page first chapter is proof enough of this.

Whatever the answer, the great debate over Freedom shows the reports of the novel's death within American culture are at least slightly exaggerated. And the townsfolk rejoice, however halfheartedly.

(Mirrored on Cultural Minefield.)

Did Fidel Castro Trigger The US Gay Rights Movement?

via Andrew Sulivan

The dictator's belated acknowledgment and disavowal of his persecution of homosexuals prompted this fascinating email from Frank Kameny, the most important activist in the early gay rights movement:

While, Castro had no notion, of course, of what he was doing in this context at that time, in my view and in my interpretation of the dynamics of the 1960s Gay Movement, he triggered Stonewall and all that has followed.
News of Castro's incarceration of gays in detention camps in Cuba came out early in 1965 -- probably in March or very early April. At that time "the 60s" hadn't yet erupted in their full force, but the precursors were very well advanced. Picketing was considered the mode of expression of dissent, par excellence.

Jack Nichols approached me to suggest that we ("we"= The Matachine Society of Washngton, of which I was President) picket the White House to protest Cuba's action. I felt that it was rather pointless to picket the American President to protest what a Cuban dictator was doing. So I suggested that we broaden and Americanize the effort. One or more of our signs said (in gross paraphrase, here, from memory) "Cuba persecutes Gays; is America much better?", and others specifically addressed governmental and private anti-gay discrimination here, and other gay-related problems of the day.

And so, on April 17, 1965, ten of us gathered in Lagayette Square, marched across Pennsylvania Avenue to a site amongst the other demonstrators designated by the police officer on duty, and picketed. That was followed by another White House picket in late May; at the Civil Service Commission (now the OPM) in June; the Pentagon in July (and again in May, 1966); the State Department in August; and finally, a huge demonstration (55 people!!!) at the White House in October, with participants from New York and Chicago.

That July 4, we also staged the first of 5 annual "Reminder Day" pickets in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. The last of those was scheduled for July 4, 1969, a few days after Stonewall-to-be., and was widely publicized in New York (as the previous July 4 ones had been) in the preceding weeks. It was well attended by New Yorkers, indicating that it was well known there.

Ever since, it has been my view, and remains so, that those demonstrations created the protest-oriented mindset which made Stonewall possible, and that without it Stonewall just wouldn't have happened. Therefore, several steps removed, and obviously utterly unbeknownst to him. by his 1965 detentions of Cuban gays, Fidel Castro precipitated and triggered Stonewall and all that we have gained from it since. So, if you enter into a same-sex marriage, or are helped by a gay-protective anti-discrimination law, or run for elective office an an open gay, thank Fidel.

The iPad effect

Analyst Suggests 'Tablet Cannibalization' Responsible for Shrinking U.S. Notebook Retail Sales.

By "tablet," btw, the analyst means iPad.

Also this:

Best Buy CEO: iPad Is Cannibalizing Laptop Sales By As Much As A Shocking 50%

Not bad for a device that it took a month to get until a few weeks ago. And note that this isn't unprecedented. Apple has been reporting a 50% conversion from Windows rate among customers at its stores every quarter since 2001.

Taking a bite out of Apple?

I'm not sure how many of my fellow comments on here are major tech geeks as I am (DD, you're excluded from this statement) but I'm about as tech addicted as one can get.

Case in point: when friends have house sat for me they've complained of difficulty falling asleep in my living or my master bedroom because of all the 'stand by' lights from my electronics. I personally find them quite stars in the night sky

but different strokes for different folks i guess. @_@

Which brings me to this post, Apple and it's endless claim to fame new product superstar, the iPad. Now, I've been an advocate of Apple having used a Power Mac all through my first undergrad degree and loved it, but have since moved back over to the land of Microsoft and PCs with no major complaints.

Yet thanks to Apple's iPad I've been very fascinated with the increased consumer interest and applicability of tablet computers to my personal and work life and have delayed purchasing one for a few reasons.

My main reason being the release of Apple' brand new game changer, the iPhone. I was one of those crazies that after the first ones release June 29th 2007 (which I paid full retail for) no less than a year later Apple announced the pending release of the iPhone 3G July 11th 2008 at half the price and twice the tech!!

I know that technology refreshes at an alarming rate these days but I've never quite gotten over this painful stab in the back by Apple although I continued to buy replacement iPhone's and use this formate before switching to Verizon Wireless and the Motorola Droid 2 recently.

Based on the above I haven't purchased Apple's iPad because I'm waiting for them to release the bigger, better, newer iPad within the year at half the price and because of increased interest in what some of Apple's competitors are ranting about such as Samsung and how other products will compare.

Namely the Samsung Galaxy Tab which runs off Android 2.2 (Froyo) which is a totally open-sourse mobile phone OS backed by the Borg quality like tech giant, Google Inc.

There's also a nifty video below highlighting what this new toy of the gods can do, check it out!

So, what's your take on the whole tablet craze?

Will this become the new mobile computing standard or is it just another passing tech fad that will die a quick but glorious death similar to netbooks?

Will Apple remain king of this genera since it's the first to make tablets popular and relevant again with consumers as it was and is via the changes to the smartphone market with the release of the iPhone?


Karma Kameleon

Martena Clinton, mugging for the camera in this choreographed photo.

A few things jump out at me over this story:
  1. "Clinton has the handicapped tag because her husband suffered a stroke."
  2. "She displayed a handicapped tag prominently, locked her car and checked with a police officer who happened to be parked right behind her. He assured her the spot was legal."
  3. The "police had not kept track of where they had moved" her car.
  4. The car was a block and a half away.
It sucks to have your car towed. It gives you a lead-in-the-belly feeling that just makes you sick. People shouldn't have to go through that, especially after being assured by a police officer that you are legally parked.

That said, it serves her right. As commenters on the article have pointed out, while parking in a handicapped spot was legal because she had a handicap tag, the use of said tag is not legal because ... well ... she's not handicapped. If I had been the officer, I would have informed her of that little fact and had her move the car.

In which case, she most likely would have parked farther away and her car would have most likely not been moved.

Karma. She is a bitch.

(Cross-posted on The District Diaries)

Crab Mentality And The Potential Implosion Of The Republican Party

I was reminded of how easy it is to cook crabs after reading this news article at this morning.

It seems that the Republican Party is still embroiled in a "civil war" between the Republican Status Quo (RSO) and the Tea Party (about which, I'm sure, some of my fellow contributors are ecstatic but that's another post for another day) even though the Primary Election is over. In some cases, such as Delaware and Alaska, the RSO candidate lost. It's usually at this point that the party rallies 'round the Primary winner to help them secure whatever post it is to which they are aspiring. But not so this year.

Now, it's one thing to actively work to defeat someone if you are a member of the opposition, but it is quite another to actively work to defeat someone if you are a member of the same party after the Primary Election results are in. You idiot RSOs had nine months to do all of your sniping, mud-slinging, and character assassinations against these upstarts. And your candidate lost. Now is the time to rally behind the Primary winner. Now is the time to do all you can to ensure that you capture the majority seats in Congress. Now is the time to make your party relevant.

But no. RSOs can't seem to get past the insult of being rejected by the voting members of their own party and feel the upstarts still have a price to pay for their impertinence.

Sharpen those crabby claws, baby. It's almost supper time.

(Cross-posted on The District Diaries)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Prison costs money


ST. LOUIS — When judges here sentence convicted criminals, a new and unusual variable is available for them to consider: what a given punishment will cost the State of Missouri.

For someone convicted of endangering the welfare of a child, for instance, a judge might now learn that a three-year prison sentence would run more than $37,000 while probation would cost $6,770. A second-degree robber, a judge could be told, would carry a price tag of less than $9,000 for five years of intensive probation, but more than $50,000 for a comparable prison sentence and parole afterward. The bill for a murderer’s 30-year prison term: $504,690.

Some people deserve imprisonment, obviously, but does putting a price tag on a sentence make a judge less inclined to sentence someone to five years in jail for, say, possession when the sentence will cost a year's salary? Will be very interesting to look back in a few years and see how this information affects sentencing in Missoura.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Pirate of the day

I see your corgi and raise you this...

Corgi of the Day

Yes, I will be posting a corgi pic every Friday. Deal with it.

"We don't need the Senate. We need strong Conservatives and at least 40 of them. That's it."

The Broken Confirmation Process

Ezra Klein argues that Elizabeth Warren's presidential appointment to a special advisory position, tasked with heading the effort to start the new federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is part of a "terrifying precedent" in government.

"The confirmation process is so desperately broken that top nominees who are already working in government prefer vague advisory positions. It's a pretty safe bet that potential nominees with good jobs in the private sector are declining consideration entirely. The number of people who want to give up their day jobs and spend a year in silent limbo when there's no promise of a position on the other side is not that large, and as word gets out that that's effectively what Senate confirmation means, the top talent that government will be able to attract for these positions will dwindle."

I love how "conservatives" claim they will die for the constitution (or at least they have no problem sending poor people off to sacrifice in their stead) but they have absolutely no problems destroying the still-ingenious system the founding fathers set up to protect the republic from, well, them.

"Well, they make musicals..."

What is it with London theatre producers and their sudden obsession with Whoopi Goldberg's back catalog?

Admittedly, Ms. Goldberg has a starry Broadway background having taken over the role of Pseudolus in the revival of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum from Nathan Lane, starring as the titular character in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, as well as subbing for Jackie Hoffman in Xanadu (the reason I saw that show for the third time ;-). And admittedly, past musicalizations of movies starring Whoopi have had some success: The Color Purple and the Disney behemoth, The Lion King. But still, I could take the announcement of the West End creation of a musical version of Sister Act, but now comes this:

Ghost the Musical to Open at London's Piccadilly in Summer 2011

What's next? Jumpin' Jack Flash: The Musical? 10 Forward: The Star Trek Cantina Musical? As Susan Powter once said: "Stop the insanity!"

I realize that big, splashy musicals are a risky endeavor. I also realize that I am something of a hypocrite as I:
  1. was one of the few people who saw the short-lived, Dolly Parton-penned musicalization of 9 to 5
  2. am anxiously awaiting the arrival of the musicalization of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (slated to take over the theatre once West Side Story closes, would have been ironic if it were to take over the Winter Garden from Mamma Mia!)
  3. am moderately interested in the idea of the musicalization of The First Wives Club.
  4. saw Xanadu 3 times.
Both 1 and 2 are resultant though from a casting choice driving me to see it: Allison Janney in 9 to 5, hottie Nick Adams in Priscilla in the Guy Pearce role. 3 is just a guilty pleasure of mine. 4 is a parody of the movie even though the movie is almost a parody of itself.

Off the top of my head I can name at least 2 dozen movie-based musicals in the past few years. I also would bet that many of y'all would be hard-pressed to name even half that many non-movie-based musicals of the past few years. We need our original musicals (watch for the post title reference), too!

The other thing I should note is that there's absolutely nothing wrong with derivative works. My personal theatre God, Stephen Sondheim, has worked on projects of a derivative nature: West Side Story, A Little Night Music (based on the Bergman film Smiles of a Summer Night), Passion (based on an Italian movie), etc. But the musicals I'm decrying aren't "derivative" they're reproductions. Rapidly, Broadway and the West End are becoming some sort of Madame Tussaud's for Hollywood where the medium isn't wax, it's song.

Muscular Liberalism.

Stewart, Colbert to Hold "Competing" Rallies

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert each appeared on each others' show last night to announce competing rallies in Washington, D.C. on October 30, just before the midterm elections.

Stewart's "Rally to Restore Sanity" and Colbert's "March to Keep Fear Alive" appear to be plays on Glenn Beck's recent "Restoring Honor" rally, which drew thousands of Tea Party supporters to the capital.

Marc Ambinder: "Stewart and Colbert have disclaimed any interest in participating in politics. But the timing, and message, are undeniably political -- and not helpful to conservatives. Audiences for both shows tend to be younger and more liberal than the older, conservative independents who watch Fox News... Depending on how the media covers the run-up to these rallies, Stewart and Colbert could generate interest and enthusiasm among the type of voters who have so far been turned off by the independent conservative resurgence."


This says more about St. Adrian than anything I could write.

Fenty Could Claim GOP Nomination

WTOP notes "a twist to the D.C. mayoral primary that you may not have expected. The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics says the top write-in candidate for the Republican Party was current Democratic Mayor Adrian M. Fenty."

Fenty lost the to D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray in this week's Democratic primary.

He has until 4:45 p.m. today to file an "Affirmation of Write-In Candidacy," essentially accepting the Republican nomination though he has previously said he would not change parties.


Naked Firefighters Serving Dinner?!

NBC News has reported that a number of local DC firefighters reportedly cooked and served dinner at a retirement celebration at a Columbia Heights fire station while both male and female firefighters were present and an investigation is underway to determine what happened (um, i think it's pretty obvious) and how these brazen individuals should be punished.

Um, I fail to see the issue here because even with the blurry photo (see above)that's been leaked and shown across major news networks and websites it doesn't look like at least one of these naked firefighters was out of shape so i say

serve on!!

but as a trained and degree carrying culinary professional i must point out the major health and risk factors for a naked male cooking in a production kitchen:

1. any kitchen is considered a dangerous place to be/work within and without proper clothing while cooking via gas ranges one greatly increases the chances of being burned including ones 'little solider' which is clearly undesirable on any level

2. the increased likelihood of unwanted body parts such as hair, nails and the like making it into cooked dishes, which is just gross and violates basic sanitation rules for any kitchen ... unless you're into that sorta thing (and if you are you have bigger things to worry about then this blog post)

3. and a higher level of 'distractions' (naked ding dogs flopping about) when chopping, cutting, and cooking which could lead to more mistakes such as the 'accidentally' chopping off of ones flopping ding dong, which is again undesirable on any level if one is not fully focused to the task(s) at hand

I strongly, STRONGLY, recommend that no amatures try this at home as these are trained professionals that deal with fire all the time, and from the looks of it, don't look half bad doing it!! ^_^


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Allow me to introduce myself ...

I was asked by a colleague what my nom de plume is. I said my name is appropriate. The colleague, in response, noted I could very easily be Big Daddy or The Madam. True. But that's now what I meant by appropriate.

In his autobiography, Malcolm X explained the "X": "The Muslim's 'X' symbolized the true African family name that he never could know. For me, my 'X' replaced the white slavemaster name of 'Little' which some blue-eyed devil named Little had imposed upon my paternal forebears."

That's what I meant by appropriate, and it should carry extra appropriate-sauce for those who know my last name.

I come from a very different background and view things with a perspective that is alien to most people you'll run across. I'm also blessed with the ability to turn a phrase effectively; a skill that's been honed over the years in ways that have left me with a reading and writing ability that has, in the past, rivaled tenured professors of the language, though I'm a lowly techie by day. The word is my weapon of choice, the page -- printed, digital -- my battlefield. I choose carefully, I use cautiously, and I read willfully.

Oh yes Dolores, I's edumacated.

There's no need for me to wax philosophique about my background and motivations, et al. All of that will become clear as our "canon" here evolves, but suffice it to say my interests are varied and my attention fleeting though there are subjects I will SQUIRREL and (more often than not) draw my ire: politics, technology, race ... and the weather.

On the political front, there's a lot of moaning going on about the defeat of Saint Adrian of Fenty among a certain cohort of Washingtonians that needs to be read from a different perspective. Happy to oblige. Race front? The dog. Think I'll whip something up about that as well. Who knows, maybe we'll get a nice hurricane through here before the season is over too.

This should be interesting.

It. Was. A. Dog.

This is why liberals are called weak and spineless. A pack of white people out on the curb in the middle of DC's drinking district crying. Over a dog. Give me a break. Normally I can see the point of such things, but this is beyond the pale. Pure melodrama.

I notice there was no vigil for this. Or this. But you'll cry over a dog. Post-racial America indeed.

You want to cry over something milquetoast liberals? How bout this?

For Parrot

Outside my window, half a block south, I can see candles flickering in the semi-darkness of the sidewalk. A small crowd stands in vigil. The occasional car honks in passing. There's a news van parked at the end of the block: a local television station has come to cover the event. All of this for Parrot. If you live in DC, you probably already know who that is.

Parrot was a pit bull who was shot and killed by a police officer last Sunday. There are conflicting accounts, but a few facts are agreed upon by the dog's owner, the MPD, and eyewitnesses. First, it happened in full view of a street festival that was in full swing in DC's Adams Morgan neighborhood. Second, Parrot and a poodle got into a sidewalk altercation -- both were leashed; the poodle may or may not have been bitten. Third, an MPD officer stepped in and subdued Parrot, before shooting the animal execution-style.

The crowd currently gathered in front of the Brass Knob, where Parrot was killed five days ago, and the presence of local media are a testament to how much this story has impacted locals, especially dog owners. I was shocked and sickened when I heard the news on Sunday. It didn't help that I own a dog that looks strikingly similar to Parrot, and that I live hundreds of feet from where it all happened.

A friend of mine knows the officer who shot the dog. Apparently, he is a dog lover (and owner) himself. Imagining the officer as a faceless cop, he's a monster who cares little for human rights (like property) and even less for animals. After hearing he may be a dog lover, he sounds like a human being who made a really, really bad snap decision.

To a certain extent I can understand. The officer was faced with a dog, a pit bull no less, who could have very well been dangerous, in the midst of a densely attended street festival. Allegedly, the owner's hand was bleeding. Maybe things looked worse than they were, and the officer did what he thought he had to do. Of course, this doesn't exonerate him. Disregarding the callousness of his public execution, he discharged his weapon in the midst of a densely attended street festival. At least Parrot was on a leash.

One good thing may come of this. The great public outcry, the disgust and anger that swelled with the news of Parrot's death, will, I hope, cause an officer to think twice before shooting a dog in the future, especially when no one is in immediate danger. Still, that's little salve for Parrot's owner.

I walked past the vigil on my way home earlier, before it got started. The crowd was solemn; a few eyes were red from crying. A woman handed me a leaflet with pictures of Parrot on it. Another handed me a dixie cup, to catch candle wax. And there stood Parrot's owner, wearing a white t-shirt, surrounded by strangers who were brought here on a rainy Thursday night to honor the life of a dog. Just somebody's pet. I still don't know if the feeling I had at that moment was profound hope, or sadness.

(Mirrored on Cultural Minefield.)

Android and the Myth of Openness

I realize I never did any sort of formal intro to my first post as I was a bit tipsy when I posted it, I figure I should do one now so y'all have an idea of things you're likely to see showing up under my name. As a tech professional for going on 2 decades now (god I'm old) you're likely to see commentary from me on various and sundry topics in the tech quarter, as well as voluble arguments with Admiral X as I wend my way through my neverending love-hate relationship with Steve Jobs. I'm also something of a theatre queen (understatement, I know) so interesting Broadway tidbits as well as my own reviews of the shows I've seen both in NYC and locally will be appearing. I'll try to eschew politics, though I can't guarantee it, as you'll see below.

“My own garden is my own garden,” said the Giant; “anyone can understand that, and I will allow nobody to play in it but myself.” So he built a high wall all around it, and put up a notice-board.
He was a very selfish Giant.
One of the main selling points of Android devices is that Google Android is an open platform compared to the walled garden owned by the Selfish Giant, I mean, Steve Jobs. A number of recent articles in the tech blogosphere (yes, I hate myself a little bit for using that term) have started to call into question this myth.
For better or for worse, Steve Jobs created his own walled garden by exerting his stronger influence over that of the carriers. There were the occasional times that Steve & Co bowed to the wishes of AT&T (barring Google Voice, disabling Tethering) but those were usually done over Jobs' voiced objections. The thing about the iPhone is that, yes, it's a walled garden, but you know that full well upon walking in.

Let's look at Android. It's open, it's free, it's extensible, it's upgradeable YAY! But, oh wait, my carrier or my manufacturer has put a skin on it so you can't upgrade when the new version comes out without breaking the UI you know and/or love. And my carrier changed and locked the default search provider. And they downplayed the open market in favor of their own closed markets. Oh no, looks like we've got a couple more Selfish Giants on the prowl. Regardless of which one wins, the average user is the loser. This is why I think it is high time for the FCC to step in and change the rules of the cellular marketplace. They need to:
  1. Ban carrier phone subsidies.
  2. Ban carrier software bundling.
  3. Ban hardware crippling.
The Carriers should be required to publish a technical specification for devices that they will allow to run on their networks and the services they can provide. The Device and OS makers would then build to that spec or not at their discretion. The end user would then be able to purchase the handset and know that all the features that the manufacturer says it has, it actually has. The end user would also know exactly the height and thickness of the walls around that particular garden. The end user would get more competitive and transparent pricing from the Carriers.

Has Anyone Ever Told You That You Look Like John Legend?

So, this past Saturday, I posed this question to a fellow 100MC:

If you were to hook up with someone that looked strikingly similar to a celebrity musician, would you play that musicians music in the background while you hooked up?

Now, this is assuming that you would hook up with someone more along this line:

And not someone along this line:

Besides the unattractive quality I can't imagine getting it on to "I Would Do Anything For Love," "Sailing," or "Me & Bobby McGee." (I am highly aware that it is rude to call the dead ugly...but *shrug*)

So, that all being said... I would love to hear your opinions and/or hilarities in regards to celebrity look-a-like sex. I would go as far as to say that if I were to hook up with someone that looked like Matt Damon, I would consider having Saving Private Ryan playing in the background, for my own amusement.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Adrian Fenty's Spectacular Defeat

Was it Michelle Rhee? Fenty's aloofness toward the black community? His hubris with regard to his reelection campaign? The heavy whiff of nepotism that accompanied his appointments?

Megan McArdle thinks gentrification was largely to blame for Fenty's loss:
When it became clear that Fenty was going to lose, there was a lot of shock going around in the circles I live and work in--which is to say, mostly white professionals who live in DC's gentrified, or gentrifying, precincts. After all, there's little question that things have gotten much better under Fenty, and not just for white people. The truly abysmal schools are being reformed, parks are being built, crime is slowly improving, the city is getting streetcars desired by almost everyone except the folks who live directly on the tracks . . . so why did voters just kick him out?

I don't think you can quite explain it by saying that Fenty's modestly corrupt (too-expensive contracts have gone to friends, though those friends seem to have mostly done the work very well). Marion Barry has remained quite popular here through much more serious violations, and in general, the corruption now pales in comparison to the pervasive corruption that has been uncovered in multiple city agencies, which long predates Fenty's administration.

Most people agree that this is ultimately a proxy battle over gentrification. It's all rather nebulous, because of course Vincent Gray hasn't campaigned on rolling back gentrification. He seems to support all the services Fenty has expanded, with the possible exception of the school reforms. Instead, the theme of his campaign--and the more generalized opposition to Fenty--has centered around respect and process.
She continues:
Gentrification represents a real loss to people who can't afford to stay. They've lived in the city a long time; they have networks of friends and relatives, and institutions like churches, that are built around proximity. Why should they favor a city that provides more services--and then sees real estate prices spike, so that they can't afford to stay around to enjoy them? There are probably a number of voters for whom the status quo is vastly preferable to a situation where Fenty manages to improve the schools enough that middle class voters start a bidding war for homes in the district.

Certainly for the teachers and the taxi drivers--both groups huge opponents of Fenty--this is about real economic loss and changes to their jobs that make them less pleasant.

But no one comes right out and talks about the fact that they are now worse off; instead they talk about how Fenty has run roughshod over council process, or that he hasn't respected some group . . the teachers, the council members, "the community". So our mayoral election has become a debate over which groups in the city are worthy of respect, rather than what concrete improvements can be made in peoples' lives. Because in a city dysfunctional, there are no changes that make everyone better off.

I don't know whether the voters who selected Vincent Gray understand at some level that as long as the quality of life in the city continues to improve, gentrification will continue apace. Vincent Gray didn't force them to consciously make that choice; he made vague promises about things like inclusionary zoning which are supposed to keep more affordable housing in the district. These initiatives will not work, but at least they sound hopeful. And the people who voted for Gray are willing to hope because they think that he, unlike Fenty, respects their concerns.
The implications of her argument, if correct, are provocative. It only follows that a segment of D.C. believed things have been getting better, yet actively voted against progress. In fact, a recent poll showed that most Washingtonians thought the district was heading in the right direction. The same poll showed Fenty trailing behind Gray.

I think McArdle's argument is persuasive, but Fenty's bafflingly inept reelection campaign certainly played a large part in his loss. The Washington Post's surprisingly good analysis, published today, is the best argument for this view.

But I think McArdle nails it with her prediction of what to expect from Mayor Gray:
I don't know how good a mayor Gray will be--he seems like a nice guy, but nice guys often have a hard time getting things done in fractious cities, and his campaign platform is pretty empty of actual proposals. I think this is probably a tragedy for the utterly dysfunctional school system, but I doubt that Gray is going to do much to roll back the other changes, like the change in the taxi fare system, that have made the city a better place.

And for good or ill, I doubt he'll do anything about gentrification. Inclusionary zoning has, as far as I know, proven an excellent way to subsidize home building in poor neighborhoods, and to provide below-market housing for relatively middle class retirees, but it has not, as far as I am aware, ever succeeded in keeping a neighborhood's economic mix from changing. The forces altering DC right now are like a runaway freight train. In 2000, the population of DC was 30% white and 60% black; by 2006-2008, those numbers were 36% and 54%, respectively. Meanwhile, the percentage living below the poverty level dropped from over 20% to under 18%. On a demographic timescale, that is lightning fast. If gentrification keeps up at that pace, the lines are going to cross sometime in the next 10 to 15 years.

Vincent Gray could throw his body in front of the freight train and it wouldn't even slow down. The change in the city may stop on its own; no trend continues forever. But the city is now good enough that many affluent people who used to flee to the suburbs now want to live here--and their presence is attracting non-government services which make it attractive enough to lure still other people to follow them. Unless Gray starts an active campaign to make things worse, the core issue that seems to have animated this campaign is largely out of his hands.
Progress marches onward? Washingtonians can only hope.

(Mirrored on Cultural Minefield.)

Homoerotic Ad of the Day

Sure he's hot, but why does he only own one shirt?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Matter of Choice

This is a repost from my blog The Knowledgemonger Kronicles from about a year and a half ago, but thought that it would benefit being recast on 100MC.

Anyone who knows me knows a few central facts:

I believe that happiness is a choice we make.
I believe that love is something to give freely.
I believe that trust is huge.
And I believe that a good cup of coffee can cure many of life's issues.

But, in this segment I am hoping to tackle one of those points and maybe touch on the others.

Happiness: A Matter of Choice

One of my least favorite phrases that I hear people say is: "[This] makes me unhappy," closely followed by "[This] makes me happy." I think of these people as the same people who believe that luck plays a central role in their life. I don't know about you but, I don't flip a coin or role a die EVERY time that I need to make a decision. Nor do I wait for things to unfold to start my actions (granted this some times get me in to unanticipated trouble, but that is another post entirely).

If something truly made you happy, wouldn't you always be happy? You would find the stimulus that caused your involuntary happiness and harness it. No need for puppies, flowers, a song, a smile, a hug, a kiss, a laugh, or affection. All you would need is bottled "Happy" & I don't mean: Happy. The Clinique people would love if that was the case & honestly, I think that may be easier.

Happiness is so hard for some because it is a choice. Well, partly. Research has shown that happiness is 50% genetic, About 10% to 15% is a result of various measurable variables, such as socioeconomic status, marital status, health, income, and others. The remaining 40% results from actions that individuals deliberately engage in for the purpose of becoming happier. However, these actions may vary between persons ( So, some people are predisposed to being less happy than others. But, at that same time, they also have a choice in increasing their happiness based on the control they have from actions in which they "deliberately engage."

Leo Tolstoy said: "If you want to be happy. Be." This has been a main component of my life and my life choices for the last decade or so. I stumbled across this quote on a day back then that I just needed to see that and as I am prone to do, I thought about it. I said, "Lonnie (because that is what I call myself), why are you unhappy?" And I put together a list of things that were "making" me unhappy and realized that all them came down to choice. Examples:

Your boyfriend cheats on you. Do you choose to be unhappy & stay with said boyfriend? Or do you choose to cut your loses, realize that this person is toxic to your life and move on to better happiness?

You are greatly in debt. Do you choose to be unhappy, cry about the unfairness of Capitalism & hope that something will miraculously change to make this situation better. Or do you choose to change your spending habits, take on an additional job, and set goals to eliminate the debt and be more happy.

Notice that the subject of both examples are derived from choices that have already been made. You decided what person to date & you decided on what to spend your money and how much. You make tons of decisions everyday and to say that something that happened effects you in anyway without taking ownership of those feelings is not fair. Not fair to you and not fair to who or what you assign the blame.

Is being happy easy? No, it takes work. It takes recognition of how your react to situations. It takes courage to get rid of things that are causing you to react unhappily. It takes trust in your friends to not bring you situations that are not ones that you want. But, overall, it takes a decision making and analysis of your emotions.

Think about it sometime when you are unhappy. Think about what is at the root of your unhappiness. Is it something that you can: 1) Eliminate, 2) Get over, 3) Unnecessary or 4) None of the above. Yes, there are circumstances that are not pleasant that happen to us all that we cannot eliminate or get over and are quite necessary. These are the times that we must focus on the necessity and there you will find something to be happy about. If you are suffering for a purpose, typically that pursuit will be for something that ultimately yields something that is positive.

Okay, now I am starting to get distracted, damn coffee shops. :-p But, remember, your life is under your control and happiness is a choice.

Pertinent to the Contempt of Cop post ...

I’m not going to be interrogated as a pre-condition of re-entering my own country

“Why were you in China?” asked the passport control officer, a woman with the appearance and disposition of a prison matron.

“None of your business,” I said.

Her eyes widened in disbelief.

“Excuse me?” she asked.

“I’m not going to be interrogated as a pre-condition of re-entering my own country,” I said.

This did not go over well.

Start kowtowing to authority in whatever form it may present itself, and you end up with a police state.

Tale as old as time...

My gram loves telling us (i.e. the grandchildren) how she and my grandfather were "third wheels" here in DC on a picnic date (both were in the Navy). Their roommates' date did not work out but my grandfather soon knocked on my grandmother's apartment door with flowers, asking for a real date. My gram still recalls with a twinkle in her eye about how hot that summer was and how sweat beads rolled down my grandfather's forehead and he nervously tried to hold her hand on the Mall.

My dad, after being rejected by mom and was told, "You're crazy!", followed my mom to Israel and wouldn't take no for an answer. Their first kiss was next to the Dead Sea after my mom pushed my dad in.

Now...THOSE are stories you can tell the grand kids about!

But will I get to have one of those stories? Whatever happened to the fairytale beginning that so many of the older generation seems to have?

Let's take the gay community and my circle here in the District. The "usual" methods include:

1) online - aka, goodbtmnDC messages hngtopShaw and poof, romance blooms;
2) at the bar - aka, 3 am, the dance floor is sparse, you look to your left, see someone cute and decide to grind for 30 minutes before telling them that your place is 3 blocks away;
3) Through friends - aka, "This is my friend John - we only slept together three times." "Only three times? do you do?"

Now some of you cynics might be saying, "Hey - this is how you hook up with guys for non relationship relations, not start relationships!"

Look to your left...look to your many of you in relationships started with casual sex?

There is nothing wrong with casual sex. This blogger's opinion is that if you want to have casual sex with a random person, go at it! Just use protection to make sure that no gifts are left behind (for those that can't read through the subtext, STI's and unwanted pregnancies).

What is wrong, however, is the old myth of how relationships begin. I've been told so many times, "You'll never meet a boyfriend there!" or "If you really wanted a serious boyfriend, you would stop going out all the time!" (thank you, mother).

Sometimes, however, a one night stand turns into something. You wake up in the morning, look over to your left (or right, depending on which side of the bed you sleep on) and don't think, "Damn, still here...." but think, "Hey...he's still here!". And you don't mind.

In modern times, this is the fairytale. This is what so many of us single boys crave when we hit the clubs in a frenzied dance number. While sex may be on the forefront of our minds, we can't deny that little bit of ourselves that ask, "Could this be more than just sex?"

I'm not saying that all boys at the clubs and online and whatnot are trying for relationships or anything long term. I have plenty of friends who are plenty happy being single and out there and they are just looking for casual one nighters.

But for those that are (and you know who you are)...we have a new modern fairytale.

The DJ is your fairy godmother, waving her wand over the music, entrancing the crowd. The evil stepsisters trying to foil your every move is your ex-boyfriend who scowls at you in the corner, waiting for his opportunity to ruin your evening. The bartender is the neutral witch who provides you with enough potions to either gain courage or make a complete ass out of yourself. Your friends become the talking animals who encourage you, guide you, rescue you (sometimes the prince from afar is the wicked witch in disguise), and console you. And in the crowd is the one prince - the one guy who will sweep you off your feet.

Sure, we can also read that as Katy Perry's "California Gurls" starts blaring, you want to make your ex jealous, so you do two shots of Jameson and start making out with the first boy who grinds upon you before your friends drag you out of the situation.

Look at Disney - Cinderella had one dance before running out, getting the prince to call the kingdom guard to find her (guess the kingdom's department of defense had some men to spare). Snow White spoke to Charming once before getting exiled with 7 old men. Ariel rescued her man from an exploding ship and the next morning, totally in love with him AND MOVED to be with him. Aurora met her prince in the woods and fell in love, then ruined it by having a trippy experience involving needles. And Jasmine got weak kneed after one magic carpet ride. All one night stands with a little bit of magic thrown in.

So my fellow single boys - keep hope alive! As we go through life kissing a lot of frogs, don't give up! Don't let the cynics tell you that love can't be found at the bar. Sometimes, a once night stand is more than a one night stand and that is OK! Like those Disney princesses, we sluts too can live happily ever after.

Musical Distractions: Phoenix

So, as per the recent trend, I am somewhat behind the curve on the band Phoenix not to be confused with Phoenix, Phoenix, or Phoenix. But, I would understand if you confused them with Jean Grey as they are both amazing. But, I digress... The band's grammy-winning forth album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix is simple and short at a little over 36 minutes from beginning to end. The only complaint that I could give for about it is you want to hear more when it is done. So, give it a listen if you get the chance or just watch the attached video to hear a song live:

Would Fenty Run as a Write-in?

If today's primary election goes as predicted, D.C. Democrats will select current Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray as their candidate for the upcoming mayoral election. And, as we all know, in the heavily-Democratic District of Columbia, the candidate who wins the primary election is essentially guaranteed an electoral victory in November. But is this still the case?

Two weeks ago, the campaign of Mayor Adrian Fenty lost a challenge that would have allowed independent voters (those with no party affiliation) to vote in the upcoming primary election. The campaign's reasoning was as follows: if D.C.'s new elections law allows first-time voters to register as Democrats at the polls, then non-affiliated voters should have the same opportunity. However, the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics disagreed with that interpretation, which means that over 70,000 independent voters (nearly 17% of the electorate) will be left out of the September 14 primary. Unsurprisingly, Republicans and other minority-party voters that represent an additional 8% of the electorate will similarly be left out of the decisive vote.

It's easy to glean why Fenty was so concerned with getting independent voters out to the polls for the primary. The highest numbers of registered independents are located in Wards 1, 2, and 3; the Mayor's main base of support in the city. The lowest numbers of independent voters are in Wards 5, 7, and 8; where support for the Chairman is strongest. In the last 2006 mayoral primary, 106,000 Democratic voters came out to the polls. The possibility of permitting as many as 70,000 additional voters to come to the polls would have been a game-changing move so late in the primary season.

So what now? If Gray goes on to win the primary as predicted, would Fenty seriously consider mounting a general election challenge as a write-in candidate? Polls show that D.C. residents already perceive Fenty as being arrogant and aloof, so any backlash that might come from mounting a write-in campaign may be somewhat blunted, especially if the primary election is close. Further, while there really isn't any available polling data on the preferences of D.C.'s registered independents, the ward breakdown suggests that Fenty likely has a significant level of support among those voters. In addition, despite over $1.3 million in expenses in the last month, the Fenty campaign still had $809,000 in cash on hand as of September 7. Interestingly, Fenty had a similar amount of cash on hand at this point in his 2006 campaign when he was running well ahead of his challenger, then-Council Chair Linda Cropp. Still, the cash advantage is sizable compared to the Gray campaign's $443,000 in reserves.

The "just results" theme of the Fenty's campaign has been highly successful in heightening the public's perception of city services and quality of life, but gains in those areas have not necessarily translated into support for the Mayor himself. Instead, Fenty has focused going back to his original grassroots campaign, knocking on doors, and speaking with voters to get people out to the polls. Apparently, some in the Gray campaign are worried about just such a plan. But if Gray prevails in the primary as expected, Fenty is basically left to either support his challenger or mount write-in campaign.

Write-in campaigns are a mixed bag in D.C. since they require a huge amount of campaign resources to educate voters and a high level of intensity among supporters. Former Mayor Anthony Williams ran a successful write-in campaign in the 2002 Democratic primary, but that move followed problems getting enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot and not his underlying level of support. Last election, Republican Carol Schwartz's write-in campaign to retain her at-large council seat was moderately successful but still failed in a three-way vote between GOP candidate Patrick Mara and independent Michael A. Brown, who ended up winning the seat. In this year's mayoral race, the D.C. Republican Party is not fielding a candidate and has lined up solidly in support of the incumbent Mayor. If a groundswell of GOP voters, Fenty Democrats, and independent supporters are willing to come out in November to support a write-in candidacy, the Mayor might actually have a shot at retaining his job. It's a big "if", but we'll find out tonight.

Image provided by: Wayan Vota with Creative Commons License 2.0

Housewives Totally Losing Their Shit

Courtesy of Oprah and the continent of Australia.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The DC Gestapo

So while this is a day old, I thought it a topic ripe for discussion and blogging. I would also like to toss in that the people involved I know personally.

A quick overview of the story: Adams Morgan, Sunday afternoon, Festival. Aaron Block was walking Parrot, his shar-pei mix that he is fostering. Parrot snapped at a poodle. Aaron was getting the dog under control when the DC Gestapo arrived, unneeded as per their usual MO. I'm not sure what it is about the Metro SS, but they are never there when they are needed, but there when they aren't. I mean for God's Sakes, how many presidents have been shot in DC? LOL. (I know they are CIA/FBI issues but MPD is the general law enforcement for the city and I choose to blame them) Back to the story, so the Gestapo arrive, puts the dog on the ground, brutally restraining it with a knee in the between its shoulder blades, pressing the 300 lbs of raw policeman into it. (Keep in mind a shar-pei mix probably weighs about 40lbs)

The police officer then throws the dog over a railing down into a staircase, and fires and kills it. Now the police officer is trying to claim that the dog, after being brutally restrained, then THROWN down a staircase, got up and was charging at him, so he had to shoot it..... Seriously..... I say we reenact this scene, but we restrain him, then throw him down the stairs and see if he jumps up and is able to charge at you. Ridiculous... And of course the District Polizei are on record of saying that they believe the killing was justified. Now, out of curiosity *looks around* (I hope that my curiosity isn't going to incite the Officer Fike to shoot my cat), where is PETA. I have a feeling instead of douchebaggers (teabaggers) storming the capitol, you will be seeing Lady Gaga in some hideous outfit, PETA sign in hand picketing the 3rd District station.

A Lady Gaga Takedown

The Sunday Times (UK) published a devastating piece on Lady Gaga by the always wonderful Camille Paglia. Paglia, an iconoclastic cultural critic, is well known for her analyses of Madonna through the years, and for her controversial views on feminism and sexuality. Here's an excerpt from Paglia's criticism of Gaga:
Gaga has borrowed so heavily from Madonna (as in her latest video-Alejandro) that it must be asked, at what point does homage become theft? However, the main point is that the young Madonna was on fire. She was indeed the imperious Marlene Dietrich’s true heir. For Gaga, sex is mainly decor and surface; she’s like a laminated piece of ersatz rococo furniture. Alarmingly, Generation Gaga can’t tell the difference. Is it the death of sex? Perhaps the symbolic status that sex had for a century has gone kaput; that blazing trajectory is over…

Gaga seems comet-like, a stimulating burst of novelty, even though she is a ruthless recycler of other people’s work. She is the diva of déjà vu. Gaga has glibly appropriated from performers like Cher, Jane Fonda as Barbarella, Gwen Stefani and Pink, as well as from fashion muses like Isabella Blow and Daphne Guinness. Drag queens, whom Gaga professes to admire, are usually far sexier in many of her over-the-top outfits than she is.

Peeping dourly through all that tat is Gaga’s limited range of facial expressions. Her videos repeatedly thrust that blank, lugubrious face at the camera and us; it’s creepy and coercive. Marlene and Madonna gave the impression, true or false, of being pansexual. Gaga, for all her writhing and posturing, is asexual. Going off to the gym in broad daylight, as Gaga recently did, dressed in a black bustier, fishnet stockings and stiletto heels isn’t sexy – it’s sexually dysfunctional.

Compare Gaga’s insipid songs, with their nursery-rhyme nonsense syllables, to the title and hypnotic refrain of the first Madonna song and video to bring her attention on MTV, Burning Up, with its elemental fire imagery and its then-shocking offer of fellatio. In place of Madonna’s valiant life force, what we find in Gaga is a disturbing trend towards mutilation and death…
I wholly agree. In fact I wrote this about Gaga last year:
I've been listening to the deluxe edition of her Grammy-nominated The Fame, and I just can't understand why Lady Gaga has broken out of the club scene to become a genuine pop phenom. Yes, her singles are decent, and she knows how to market herself (and endear herself to the gay community). In that latter sense, she invites comparisons to a young Madonna. But the comparison ends there. Go back and listen to Madonna's first few records. Those songs were some of the best pop of the eighties. Other than the incredible, aforementioned "Bad Romance" (which is as close as she gets to Madge's early brilliance), her material is pretty middling.

So what explains it? Perhaps it's because she's an amalgamation of what people like about other pop stars. She embraces style and fashion (like Gwen Stefani), she's a little outre (like Bjork and Kelis), and she flirts with prurience (like a lite version of Peaches). But is she really greater than the sum of her parts?

I don't think so. I'm reminded of Gertrude Stein's description of Oakland, California: When you listen to Lady Gaga, you find there is no there there.
Apparently many find plenty of there there: she won eight VMAs last night, including the top prize for video of the year. So it goes.

(Mirrored on Cultural Minefield.)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

When She Does It, It's Called Art

Yoko Ono, doing what she does best, at MoMA.

Every artist needs her inspiration.

UPDATE: Bonus! Play both videos together (wait for the 0:20 mark to begin the below video.) They even sync up a couple of times. Amazing.