Jun 29, 2004


note: this was written last week, but haven't had the chance to finalize and post till now.

Digital Rotation
Megadeth: Rust in Peace

I've been getting into metal again, each day spiraling more tightly into the mind-obliterating abyss embodied by a rebirth in every heavy chord progression. I end up looking more deeply for the message between the lines, conscious of my perceived treading into the supposed last stronghold of the maladjusted white male in America. I hold that that's more the boardroom than the pit, and feel like I belong in this melee just as much as anyone else. The dark galloping powerchords of my youth - the one music that I truly grew with as it grew up and out of fashion in the early nineties.

I've been listening mainly to early nineties-era stuff - Testament, Megadeth, Exodus, Annihilator, Anthrax, etc. This revisiting of musical legacies past was launched off, in part, by lended music, from an old friend who I found out had his own windows into the metal world. It's interesting how many people have their own stories of how they have been part of this uneasy brotherhood. It's actually more interesting how in some strange way - it was more a brotherhood than a lot of people on the outside understand. I still feel like I was on the periphery of this outsider group in high school, but I guess at least with the music, I felt more at home within this group than the new wavers (ie: preps in our school system).

I remember that first period of true revelation as I fondly recall past music crazes. Nowadays, I don't usually consume music as soon as I have access to something new - but this habit was much more pronouced in the past, and came from the formative years of high school, when I went from Appetite for Destruction into Iron Maiden, Metallica, and everything else. The worlds of new music (most of which had been released years prior to my exposure to them) seemed the perfect escape to get away from everything around me and to finally delve deeply into something of my own. The intricacies of the music and lyrics, and the histories and pedigrees of players. The love of music is a wonderful thing - the immediacy of tracing rock and other geneologies only a tape or CD away. I've used my library memberships, close friendships, music television, odd college radio programs, and music journalism to fill out the different, distant corners of this personal sonic universe.

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Jun 23, 2004

Don't diss NYC or else, feisty Mike says

Go Mikey!!

Don't diss NYC or else, feisty Mike says

Staff Writer

June 23, 2004

Diss my city and there will be political ramifications, a tough-talking Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday.

The mayor was explaining why on Monday, he barred Ohio Rep. Bob Ney from a Republican congressional campaign committee get-together that had been scheduled at his Upper East Side townhouse.

"I think that the political ramifications are important and serious, that's exactly why I did it," Bloomberg told reporters at a news conference in Staten Island announcing the opening of the 2,800-acre Greenbelt Nature Center and Park.

"I want everybody to understand, I will encourage everyone in this city to help support those that help support us," Bloomberg said.

The timing of the mayor's tough talk just months before the Republican National Convention at Madison Square Garden raised eyebrows. But the mayor said the homeland security issue was too important a priority to New York City and the country to become another "pork barrel" bill.

"We are under a real threat," Bloomberg said. "We had 2,800 of our citizens killed on 9/11. The world is a dangerous place. You can see our men and woman overseas fighting and dying. ... To leave us unprotected here is just an outrage."

Bloomberg said he wanted to send the message to elected officials in Washington that New York City was more than just a stomping ground.

"Congress is always out trying to help their constituents. Well, we are their constituents, we are the country's constituents," Bloomberg said. "This is where they come for funds and this is where they come for exposure and publicity, and I think that the political ramifications are all positive for the city if we stand up."

Ney, who helped block $450 million in Homeland Security funding to New York last week, did not respond to Newsday's inquires yesterday.

The meeting, where President George W. Bush was scheduled to be the keynote speaker, has been postponed until a new location can be found, Republican sources told Newsday on Monday.

Elected officials in Washington apparently stiffing New York City has long been a sore point with the Democrat-turned-Republican mayor. He supported a well-publicized initiative with the Partnership for New York to document how much money was raised in the city and who actually supported legislation that benefited New Yorkers.

Copyright (c) 2004, Newsday, Inc.



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Jun 20, 2004

After Beheading, Rising Anger in New Jersey

This is only going to get worse...

New York Times
June 20, 2004

After Beheading, Rising Anger in New Jersey

LITTLE EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, N.J., June 19 - There are the flowers and the crosses, the notes and the photographs and all the other signs of sympathy and grieving that one would expect to find at an impromptu shrine devoted to someone murdered in a most cruel fashion.

But one day after graphic photographs of the body of Paul M. Johnson Jr., beheaded by Islamic extremists, were beamed around the world, a new sign appeared in the yard next to the house of Mr. Johnson's sister in Little Egg Harbor Township.

"Last night my heart was filled with love and prayers, but today it is filled with hatred. Last night I was not a racist, but today I feel racism toward Islamic beliefs," the sign said. "Last night Islamics had a chance to speak up for Paul Johnson, but today it was too late," it also said. "Today Islamics better wake up and start thinking about tomorrow."

The sentiment reflected in the sign was not shared by everyone in the southern New Jersey community where Mr. Johnson had grown up, but it was shared by several people interviewed over the past few days.

Muslim officials around the state, and the world, were quick to condemn the killing and offer their sympathy to Mr. Johnson's family.

A week ago, when Mr. Johnson was kidnapped in Saudi Arabia, where he worked as an engineer for Lockheed Martin, there was a great deal of hope among friends that everything would work out.

On Tuesday, when the terrorists put out a video saying they would execute Mr.. Johnson in 72 hours if their demands were not met, the situation took on added urgency and people turned to prayer.

About 100 friends gathered Thursday night for a candlelight vigil. Friday they found out that their prayers had not been answered.

"A lot of people are angry, a lot of people are sad and a lot of people are hurt," said Dennis C. Seeley Jr., a chaplain for the Eagleswood Fire Company.. Mr. Seeley, who helped organize the vigil, had the same exhausted look as others in the town.

John Hayes, a childhood friend of Mr. Johnson's, said: "I just can't believe it. I didn't think it was going to come to this." Mr. Hayes said he was sad for Mr. Johnson's son, Paul III, and his grandson, Paul IV, who live in Florida.

Mr. Johnson's family spent most of their time in private, grieving.

Joseph Billy Jr., an F.B.I. agent who spoke on the family's behalf, said, "They knew that the odds were not in the favor of law enforcement." He thanked the Saudi and American governments and said, "Paul considered Saudi Arabia his home."

Some neighbors did not hide their anger, saying privately that blood should be met with blood.

Khalid Masood Butt, 51, president of the Pakistani American Muslim Organization of South Jersey, said, "This is understandable as the people react and they are under the influence of emotions." He said he wanted to offer the family support. "But I wondered about how I would be received. Now I feel I should have done it. As an American, as a Muslim, it is my duty to give them the concepts of being a Muslim."

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Jun 17, 2004

Times.com Article: Maids vs. Occupiers

interesting spin on domestic workers in the Arab nations... I don't like the tone of this piece. The last thing that we need is more discriminatory and unequal treatment of the South Asian and other workers in the Middle East.

Maids vs. Occupiers

June 17, 2004

BEIJING - Visiting India and now China in the past few months tells me how much we Americans need to finish our business in Iraq and lower our profile there - not so we can wash our hands of the idea, and necessity, of promoting reform in the Arab world, but so we can advance that effort.

We can't dictate reform to the Arabs. Look at how even a watered-down reform proposal from the G-8 summit meeting - the Broader Middle East Initiative - was received in the Arab-Muslim world. No one paid any attention to it. The whole concept was dead on arrival because it was made in America, which is now radioactive in the Arab world.

The pressure for change has to come from within, and I think it can - if we lower our profile. Then the Arab world will have to look clearly at the fact that China, India,
Sri Lanka and the Philippines - all the countries that provide maid service for the Saudi and other Arab ruling elites and manual labor for their construction - have leapt so far ahead with their own development that they are now taking good jobs away from America.

To put it another way, there are two ways for the U.S. to promote reform in the Arab world - where there is an ocean of untapped brainpower, particularly among women. One way is to try to dictate it, which is not working. American policy has become so unpopular in the Arab world that anti-reformers can easily delegitimize the reform process by labeling it a "U.S. plot to destroy Islam," and
reformers are silenced because they don't want to be seen as promoting a made-in-America agenda.

The other way for us to promote reform is to get out of the way so people in the Middle East can see clearly that many of their maids' children - from India, China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines - are excelling at math, science and engineering, leaving Arab children, not to mention many American children, in the dust. (Over one million Indians work in Saudi Arabia alone.)

Only when the Arabs focus on how their maids' children are doing in the world, not what the Americans are doing in their region, will they revisit one of the most famous sayings of the Prophet Muhammad: "Seek knowledge, even unto China. That is the duty for every Muslim."

I hadn't been to China since 2001, and one of the first new things I noticed here was the number of women selling phone cards for cellphone minutes. While Islamist terrorists in Iraq and Saudi Arabia are using cellphone technology and cars to create bombs, China and India are making themselves the world's new-car manufacturing centers and are inventing new profit-making uses for Internet-enabled cellphones - none of which involve blowing anything or anyone up.

An Arab journalist friend living in London told me that there is today - sadly - an all too pervasive sense in too many quarters of the Arab world of a once-great civilization having been left behind, not unlike Weimar Germany. Because Germany was already a modern state, it created a massive military response to its humiliation: the Third Reich. "The Arabs can't," he said. "So they create bin Ladenism instead, which can't build a state, only demolish one."

So how does one get a healthy reform debate started? "You need a courageous intelligentsia," he said. "You can't have that as long as people feel besieged. The new historians in Israel only emerged during Oslo. When you feel besieged, you will never start a debate with your brother and sister. Now it is the battle against the enemy, be it real or imaginary."

All the more reason why we - the perceived enemy - need to hand over power to an elected Iraqi government, and move our troops into the background. If we can do that, I would suggest that next year the G-8 invite both India and China to join, and hold the next G-10 summit either at one of the manicured campuses of Indian outsourcing companies or in Shanghai's manufacturing hub. Then invite Arab leaders to attend. India and China were once seen as their equals.

Real change happens when people see something in those they compare themselves to, and draw their own conclusions - not when it's imposed on them. Our job was to smash Iraq's old order and lay the foundations for a new one. Now we need to lower our profile so people in that Arab-Muslim world can
see clearly something we've been obstructing and they've been deliberately ignoring: that the world today wants to invest more in their maids' children than in their own children. Once that reality sinks in, so, too, will reform.

link to article (for the next 2 weeks)

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Jun 15, 2004

Rolling Stone.com

I get this daily email from Rolling Stone.com that's actually pretty amusing. Some news rehashed from the print magazine, but there are two features that I really like. First, they list the daily ROCK ON TV (a good way to see who's playing the late shows and other TV events or even guesting in a sit-com). Second, they always start the email with a quote, and they've had some pretty funny ones lately. I use them as my away message on AIM sometimes, but sometimes I want to share even more widely. Here are some my faves of late:

"People saying I can't sing, but I have no problem with that, because I know that I can. People saying that I can't write, which pisses the fuck out of me, because I'm a writer. Don't you fucking dare try to take that from me.." -- AVRIL LAVIGNE

"How much money does Led f---ing Zeppelin need? Do they realize that when you hear their song now, you visualize a shitty car driving by?" -- TRENT REZNOR

"He was only relevant by accident." -- MORRISSEY on David Bowie

"I'm a very deep person. My husband, who is one of the smartest men in the world, never would have married a floozy." -- JESSICA SIMPSON

"I ask a lot of questions that most people would not ask. They would figure it out in their head before they ask it." -- JESSICA SIMPSON

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Jun 14, 2004

NYC Celebrity Sightings Vol. 1

Didn't remember to post this last week, but on the evening of Monday 6/07, D. and I were with a couple of friends at Teany in the Lower East Side, having some tea and sandwiches, when my eyes focused on the back of this bald guy's head, and I realized that I was staring at the dome of the proprietor, Mr. Moby. Or just plain Moby. I commenced to whisper this to my conspirators in consumption, and was met with fairly blank stares. In a small cafe, I wouldn't doubt it if even SeƱor Moby noticed that he was going unnoticed. It was pretty cool, though - it just felt like he was coming down from his crib (also in the 'hood, and i was told that it's quite a simple abode) to grab a bite in the local joint, which he happened to own. We left him alone. I have since checked his online journal, and have not yet seen any reference to the incident. Perhaps he's still trying to put words to his feelings about the near-encounter.

Tonight, we were supposed to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge together - actually the first time in my 9 years of living in NYC that I was going to do that. I found a listing in the Village Voice for the Poets House 9th Annual Poetry Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, and decided that I wouldn't tell D. about that particular part of the evening, and see what would happen. She got there a little late, but in time to see Bill Murray, who was to read a poem sometime on the bridge. That was neat. Of course, as with a week ago, we didn't have our camera on us, so no pix. Jim Jarmusch was also there, and a few poets, though their celebrity is only recognized by the literati, and I don't recognize that many of the mainstream poets. Poets House is a remarkable organization, but I have to say - we stood out like two raisins in a bowl of oatmeal. Their support base, at least for this benefit was quite monochromatic.

We cruised ahead of the crowd after hearing a couple of poems in front of the Municipal Building, ended up at Grimaldi's for pizza, and had ice cream at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. What a wonderful evening, and I got to do 3 things that I've been meaning to do for years. Oh yeah, and we got to see Bill Murray and Jim Jarmusch, too.

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three sisters in the distance, off the coast of castara, tobago.
another brownout production, ©2004.

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I am a new convert to Bloggerbot.

Wow. I wanted to post pictures on this site to jazz it up a bit. Didn't realize that it would be a lot easier than I was expecting - using the new Bloggerbot mini-app within Hello. The latter is a picture sharing instant messaging program that now interfaces with Blogger sites quite well. I think the whole point of this is to sell their photo management software, Picasa (the self-proclaimed "iPhoto for Windows users"). But this little application is awesome - so expect more photos now. I think photoblogging is so much cooler than what I can write anyway. Who wants to wade through pages and pages of my internal noodlings and doodlings anyway.

So let's see how this goes...

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Jun 11, 2004

In Memoriam... Ronald Reagan

I know that I've been putting up links/random BS lately - but it's all in the interest of posting more regularly (I heard, and it stuck to me like most random things do for future use in my bag of parlor tricks, if you do something 29 times in a row, it becomes a habit). Also, knowing that all of 3 people KNOW about this endeavor, I can putz around a bit before I get my blog on, as it were.

So - I'm not going to overdo it on the news of the moment - Prez Reagan's recent passing at the age of 93, because I think that there are a lot of other things going on, the passing of Ray Charles yesterday not being the least of these. At the end of the day, Alzheimer's is a terrible disease to be afflicted with, and the toll that it takes on your family and loved ones is far more than I'd want to wish upon anyone. However, I do think that it's important for us to have a quick list of things to remember about his presidency.

But on the question of his presidency, the following is excerpted from an Organization of Chinese Americans statement c. 6/11/04:

Two of President Reagan's most notable achievements for Asian Americans were signing the Amerasian Immigration Act of 1982, and the Civil Liberties Act of 1988.

The Amerasian Immigration Act is also known as the Amerasian Homecoming Act of 1982 and sought to admit children born in five Asian countries between 1962 and 1976 to Vietnamese mothers and American fathers, together with their immediate relatives to the United States. The 1982 act offered permanent residency to Amerasians coming from South Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. This law stopped short of bestowing full U.S. citizenship. Full U.S. citizenship for Vietnamese Amerasians born between 1962 and 1976 and their families was later added in an amendment to the act in 1988.

The Civil Liberties Act of 1988 was the culmination of studies conducted by the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians created by President Jimmy Carter in 1980. Under Reagan's watch in 1983, the Commission concluded that the World War II incarceration of Japanese-Americans had not been justified by military necessity. Reagan famously called the Japanese American internment "a grave injustice." President Reagan signed the bill providing $1.25 billion in reparations and a formal apology from the government for the forcible relocation of 120,000 Japanese-Americans. The U.S. government authorized the payment of $20,000 to each of the estimated 60,000 surviving former internees.

That's a nice statement - two semi-long paragraphs encompassing the total advancement of the Asian Pacific American community during this heralded presidency of 8 years. Lest we forget, the 80s saw the death of much of the movement activism of the previous decade, as well as the new anti-Asian sentiment embodied by the hatred that killed Vincent Chin in 1982.

But back to the point - there's an important side to remember when thinking about all of the commentary about Reagan the Great Communicator, Reagan the Optimist, etc. etc. I like this list format below more than a long, arduous rant... maybe it'll make more folks do some research (use the Google tips that I posted in the past!).

66 Things to Think About When Flying Into Reagan National Airport
by David Corn

The firing of the air traffic controllers, winnable nuclear war, recallable nuclear missiles, trees that cause pollution, Elliott Abrams lying to Congress, ketchup as a vegetable, colluding with Guatemalan thugs, pardons for F.B.I. lawbreakers, voodoo economics, budget deficits, toasts to Ferdinand Marcos, public housing cutbacks, redbaiting the nuclear freeze movement, James Watt.

Getting cozy with Argentine fascist generals, tax credits for segregated schools, disinformation campaigns, "homeless by choice," Manuel Noriega, falling wages, the HUD scandal, air raids on Libya, "constructive engagement" with apartheid South Africa, United States Information Agency blacklists of liberal speakers, attacks on OSHA and workplace safety, the invasion of Grenada, assassination manuals, Nancy's astrologer.

Drug tests, lie detector tests, Fawn Hall, female appointees (8 percent), mining harbors, the S&L scandal, 239 dead U.S. troops in Beirut, Al Haig "in control," silence on AIDS, food-stamp reductions, Debategate, White House shredding, Jonas Savimbi, tax cuts for the rich, "mistakes were made."

Michael Deaver's conviction for influence peddling, Lyn Nofziger's conviction for influence peddling, Caspar Weinberger's five-count indictment, Ed Meese ("You don't have many suspects who are innocent of a crime"), Donald Regan (women don't "understand throw-weights"), education cuts, massacres in El Salvador.

"The bombing begins in five minutes," $640 Pentagon toilet seats, African- American judicial appointees (1.9 percent), Reader's Digest, C.I.A.-sponsored car-bombing in Lebanon (more than eighty civilians killed), 200 officials accused of wrongdoing, William Casey, Iran/contra.

"Facts are stupid things," three-by-five cards, the MX missile, Bitburg, S.D.I., Robert Bork, naps, Teflon.

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Jun 10, 2004

Random Sites that I've found...

Honestly, I was trying to do some real research, but you never do know what you're gonnna find...

Did you know that God Hates Shrimp?

On a less whimsical, and somewhat intense diversion... are you interested in seeing what the political leanings of your neighbors are (at least as far as you can tell by their donations)? Check out Fundrace.org out.

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Jun 9, 2004

Revelations for the Tooth Fairy

I had a really deep thought in the middle of a conversation with D. a couple of nights ago. She was not adequately impressed, but maybe you, my faithful reader(s?), will be.

Brace yourself: Goobers are actually the same thing as Peanut M&M's, without the candy shell.


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Jun 5, 2004

Coming back to Homebase

In an effort to write more regularly to this site, and more importantly, use and celebrate the research properties of the web and internet, I'm going to try to post questions that tickle my fancy, for which I pursue easy and sometimes obscure answers. In the very least, it would be interesting to look some of this stuff up. And at best, perhaps it will help to convince me that spending all the time I do in front of my awfully heavy work computer isn't killing me with radiation, bad websites about poor William Hung, or just plain lame news sites and endless blogs that rant about the same old thing, over and over and over.

But before that... I thought it only fitting to keep the good Bushisms coming. I'm not really thinking about actively supporting his opponent in the elections yet, but I definitely think that it's time for a regime change. I definitely feel like Prince George has got to go. The selected Prez must be deselected. Hit eject. Go to Texas. Go directly to Texas. Do not pass GO, Do not collect billions of Halliburton dollars.

So Prince George, in response to the outrage about the outing of a CIA operative last year, which many believe was a show of power by those in power to dissenters within the ranks, had the following to say last October:

I'd like to know who leaked," Bush said in October. "And if anybody's got information inside our government or outside our government who leaked, you ought to take it to the Justice Department, so we can find the leaker.

Friends - we can't make stuff this good up. It's just too rich. Here's the full article, for anyone interested: Bush consults private attorney over CIA leak probe

You know - I think that I'm going to be moving this blog very soon - have to identify a good spot for a strong foundation, build up a nice looking site, and then paint flowers and mathematical symbols on all the doors while I invite y'all in for some lemonade and chocolate... It only makes sense, looking at some of the great blogs out there, to have something a little more jazzy and functional than this particular blog, where it seems that even getting occasional comments from that one faithful reader out there won't work anymore, as it reads "system closed" for the service that I was using.

Stay Tuned, and for your sake, Stay Awake!!

Coming soon!! "Killing Me Softly With His Psalms: Prince Dubya and the Rising Tsunami of Faith-Based Initiatives" (or: "A Matter of Faith - Do You Know Where all the Non-Profit Funding Has Gone?"

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