May 30, 2006

Back in Biz.

Well - finally. I called up Apple and got a tip on how to re-install iTunes. It's not an immediately obvious process. I actually think (and I may be wrong about this) that the new Plaxo for Mac app that I installed a while ago was getting in the way. I've disconnected that as well, and we'll see what happens. But at least now, my music is back online, and I'm all the happier for it!

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Americans are just that stupid.

This is depressing. [thanks s.plant]

And the thing of it that drives me even more crazy is that there is some kind of twisted pride in being so closed off from the rest of the world as not to know anything about it. This nation is filled with protectionists, isolationists, and ethnocentrists who aren't any of these things by conscious choice, but pretty much by default, either because their brains have been so addled by caffeine and mass media that they don't know any better (or can't see beyond the immediacy of the quick fix in entertainment or education) or because jingo-nationalism has wiped out any semblance of sentient thought and curiosity about this world around us.

As I've written before, it will be a rude awakening for Americans when our nation falls further from the luxury of its post-Cold War position in the world. The deterioration of sensible trade relationships, the decimation of light manufacturing, the politicization of scientific and engineering innovation, the war on the poor, the ongoing schism of immigration policy, the frenzied and slow-headed dependency on barreled oil, and the apathy concerning engagement with the world's states as equals through the U.N. are only some of the short-sighted mistakes of this and previous governments. The status quo is gone, but Americans are too fat and too slow to adapt. Europeans have adopted to an almost entirely new way of working together, in a short 15 years - who would have thought that there would be a unifying currency in much of Western Europe, or that the U.K. and the "real" chocolate makers would be able to get through their mutual disdain for one another? But it's happening. And America's dependence on foreign labor, fuel, ideas, credit and loans will make it more necessary than ever for the U.S. to continue playing this game of loud bull in the Mikasa store for the sake of its citizenry, while dealing away their rights and the nation's future behind closed doors and executive agreements with other heads of state.

How long before the truly powerful nations in the world stop allowing the U.S. to whine and bully its way through diplomatic relationships? What if they see the U.S. as a rogue nation, with just a little too much power to be stomped on like it stomps other nations? It's a sad joke, really, when Americans wave their flag (or disgrace it by wearing it as a bandana, a hat, or underwear) and boast that they don't need to know anything about the rest of the world. What happens when Americans have to go abroad for better jobs? Will they be able to adapt to new and hostile environments as well as the immigrants who come here? Will they throw fits the way they do as tourists with currently powerful dollars to wave in the face of protest? Will they be able to navigate systems and challenges in languages that they have scorned or forsworn because they pigheadedly refused to learn any of the other tongues of the world (but rather held onto a colonizer's language, regardless of their own Swedish, Italian, Irish, German, Welsh, Polish, Russian, or other roots).

Multilingualism is a rich possibility in the United States that is stopped at the gates by the culture police, so afraid - sensing that we are on some imagined razor's edge between an "American culture" and many pockets of disunity. We could know about the world than others in the world, simply because the U.S. has members of most of the world's community here, but rather than tap into that rich reserve for the sake of knowledge and wonder, the government taps "specialists" from these communities for C.I.A. and F.B.I. initiatives of spying and surveillance, and otherwise, the communities are expected to whitewash their culture and just disappear in this amorphous, boring, non-ethnic "American" identity that is manufactured and imagined. American culture of this kind is a giant, amorphous mass-delusion. New York and Little Rock, Arkansas are not geographically, culturally, economically, or even linguistically connected. It's just a matter of convenience that this thing called America is even 1 nation under anything at this point.

Anyway - enough of this rant.
May 4, 2006

Study: Geography Greek to young Americans

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- After more than three years of combat and nearly 2,400 U.S. military deaths in Iraq, nearly two-thirds of Americans aged 18 to 24 still cannot find Iraq on a map, a study released Tuesday showed.

The study found that less than six months after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, 33 percent could not point out Louisiana on a U.S. map.

The National Geographic-Roper Public Affairs 2006 Geographic Literacy Study paints a dismal picture of the geographic knowledge of the most recent graduates of the U.S. education system.

"Taken together, these results suggest that young people in the United States ... are unprepared for an increasingly global future," said the study's final report.

"Far too many lack even the most basic skills for navigating the international economy or understanding the relationships among people and places that provide critical context for world events."

The study, which surveyed 510 young Americans from December 17 to January 20, showed that 88 percent of those questioned could not find Afghanistan on a map of Asia despite widespread coverage of the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban in 2001 and the political rebirth of the country.

In the Middle East, 63 percent could not find Iraq or Saudi Arabia on a map, and 75 percent could not point out Iran or Israel. Forty-four percent couldn't find any one of those four countries.

Inside the United States, "half or fewer of young men and women 18-24 can identify the states of New York or Ohio on a map [50 percent and 43 percent, respectively]," the study said.

On the positive side, the study noted, seven in 10 young Americans correctly located China on a map, even though they had a number of misconceptions about that country. Forty-five percent said China's population is only twice that of the United States. It's actually four times larger than the U.S. population.

When the poll was conducted in 2002, "Americans scored second to last on overall geographic knowledge, trailing Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan and Sweden," the report said.

The release of the 2006 study coincides with the launch of the National Geographic-led campaign called "My Wonderful World." A statement on the program said it was designed to "inspire parents and educators to give their kids the power of global knowledge."

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May 29, 2006

Summer events...

Sweltering heat today, and in a flash, spring gives way to summer. I remain excited about getting my life on all fours, my camera and computer in working order, and my projects under way. Things are going well this summer, all things considered. But I still have to draw up my list of cool free concerts and happenings in the city that I don't want to miss. Last year, the concerts at Prospect Park Bandshell were awesome - we even saw Ozomatli there!

Let's see. The checklist begins with...

1) Check out the non-traditional concert spaces in Brooklyn where there are shows and screenings. Aside from the known concerts at the Bandshell, and the monthly open house/party at the Brooklyn museum, there are a lot of other venues off the beaten path. There's a show or two at the Coney Island Mets minor league park, there are waterfront performances and jazz in Red Hook, Williamsburg, and Brooklyn Heights, and if you're lucky, you may get to catch a

2) Outdoor festivals and spontaneous performances are all over the place. Really.

3) Jim Henson Puppetry Festival. I think that it's in Summer. I can't remember, but it's awesome.

4) New Works Now at the Public Theater. Readings, One Act Plays, and other performances, all free!

5) Avoid Times Square.

6) Check out all the concerts and performances in parks in Queens too! Don't forget Queens!

Okay - time to enjoy, rather than write.

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Life seemed a lot simpler when it wasn't so complicated.

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May 26, 2006

May 26: Weekly Music (v1.n5)

Music this week has been limited:

Elephant - White Stripes. I copied this CD from a friend, as part of a large and diverse group of albums that I thought were even marginally interesting. Luckily, I’d burned this one as a regular CD before my iTunes went off the deep end. This week, I started spinning it. And I haven’t stopped since. The bare arrangements are garage-band, of course, but there’s something almost NWOBHM about a couple of the tracks – and Jack White’s delivery helps, especially in (track 2), which is reminiscent of Diamond Head’s Lightning to the Nations, of all things. There is a Beatle-esque moment, and even a fairly vivid early Smashing Pumpkins moment in there somewhere. Track 7 has an element of Led Zeppelin/Robert Plant in its acoustic phrasing and sweet melody. Track 8 is a blues track. And onwards.

The music is simple yet confident enough to come across and make its point strongly. Earlier in the school year, I heard a rocking cover of the Hardest Button to Button, before I knew that it was the WS. I listened to it afterwards, and liked the song that much more.

Stadium Arcadium - Red Hot Chili Peppers. So I got the discs, and I’m trying to digest the 28 tracks. I don’t think this is the best of their career - though I think that it’s really hard for a double album to fit that bill (many would argue that the Beatles together and independently break out of that over-generalization, but whatever). I think that there are a few really good songs on this thing, and a bunch of tracks that blend together. Still, it’s not as much of a disappointment as X-Men III, which was by far the worst sequel I’ve seen of anything since... Godfather III? Well, maybe not that far back, but it was pretty damn lousy. I’ll give more updates on the Stadium when I have a chance.

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May 23, 2006

Politically Conscious Hip-Hop from an Unlikely Source

I may be way behind the eight-ball on this one, but I didn't know that Amartya Sen, famed economist and Nobel Laureate had a son named Kabir who was about my age... who lived in the Boston/Cambridge area... who was a teacher in third grade... who is also known as MC Kabir and has put out three albums of politically conscious hip-hop... and teaches a class on hip-hop in a local middle school!

Big up to the brother. He name checks Blackalicious, Jurassic Five, Dilated Peoples, and Public Enemy in a short piece about him in this week's New Yorker. I haven't heard his stuff, but I'ma definitely gonna keep my eyes peeled for it. Not just because he's brown, mind you, but because politically conscious and positive hip-hop is awesome, no matter if you're Japanese, French, or whatever.

Yeah, and it does get on my nerves when folks jump on a musician's bandwagon just because they feel some kind of co-ethnic attraction, especially if it's particularly clear that they don't care about the music much. I'll have to come back to this one, because in one way, it's cool for folks to support the artists, and who knows, the avant-garde jazz musician who happens to be desi may get a few folks into a scene that they wouldn't have approached otherwise. But it just gets on my nerves when someone becomes the darling of the hipsters but the genre or tradition that the music belongs to isn't explored or even given much respect. M.I.A. is a good example - how many folks jumped onto her stuff without giving a rat's ass about where Diplo was coming up with the music, or how she herself was getting influenced?

Anyway, my fave quotes from the article:

“Hip-hop was not created based on hatred,” he said. “It was created at giant block parties in the Bronx and Harlem, based on a very innocent notion of urban creative expression.”

"Hip-hop has a great lesson to teach young people: it doesn’t matter if you’re a little bit nerdy, or if you’re not from an urban area—you can still speak, can’t you? You can be tone-deaf and you can do this—there’s a space for you here.”

And from a song off his first album...

"Brother please be careful what you write for public consumption
’Cause I personally work with little kids that be bumpin’
To the sounds of “gun clappin’,” “bitch slappin’.”
And money-having values
that to me bring shame to rappin’."

Check out the rest of the article here.

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May 21, 2006

laughing merrily
summer’s breeze caught us in love
despite storm warnings

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May 20, 2006

I feel adrift
still floating
after all these years
internal civil war
a rebellion quelled
another insurrection rising
a pregnant pause
before heart and mind tear
each other apart

I grieve my wasted youth
dreams became
ashen in my mouth

Without pretense
we take one another up again
after storm shadows pass
but is it that we fear
the unforgiving night

more than our own
biting doubts?

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May 19, 2006

Cool diaspora event in Toronto.

Ah, if only I could venture to our northern border next week to check out this event. It is quite nice to see a dialogue that includes members and viewpoints from a broader South Asian diaspora than the requisite line-of-control neighbors.

While I have not read the other two writers, Selvadurai's work is inspired, and I can only imagine that the discussion will be interesting. The further I move from the world of literature and the arts in which I once traveled, the harder it is to follow more ethereal and esoteric discussions of identity, (be)longing, and cultural hybrid-/fluid-ity. But darn it, I love that stuff!

Working on some interesting ideas in that vein that may find a little corner here this summer. But regardless, I've been pulling out books, opening to random pages, and taking deep breaths this week to celebrate freedom.

Noted Authors Discuss the Immigrant Experience

Enigmas of Departure event in celebration of Asian Heritage Month
May 19/06
by Michah Rynor

Three of the most recognizable literary names in Canada’s South Asian community will join forces at New College May 26 to discuss what it means to be an immigrant of Asian heritage in Canada.

In celebration of Asian Heritage Month, authors Shyam Selvadurai (Funny Boy), Nazneen Sheikh (Tea and Pomegranates: A Memoir of Family Food and Kashmir) and Cyril Dabydeen (Drums of My Flesh) will take part in a panel discussion at the William Doo Auditorium at 6:30 p.m. The event, entitled Enigmas of Departure: Rethinking South Asian Diaspora, will address topics such as gender, diaspora, settlement patterns, hybridity and identity. The authors have been asked to discuss how their writing relates to the notion of Asian heritage.

“Enigmas of Departure suggests ambiguities of enigmas of arrival and embraces notions of belonging/longing in a steadily changing Canada with demographic shifts occurring almost daily,” says Dabydeen who emigrated from Guyana and is of Indian ancestry. “The materiality of why people migrate will be discussed in context as well as place and identity and the spaces one occupies.”

click for more.

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May 19: Weekly Music (v1.n4)

Freedom never tasted so fresh and spendid. So let’s see - here’s what I’ve been spinning, in part.

1) Bon Voyage - United Future Organization. I first got hip to the groovy, upbeat acid/remix international jazz trio (1/3 or 2/3 french, and the other part japanese) when I picked up the Red Hot + Cool compilation many moons ago. The main impulse to pick up the Impulse! Records release (forgive me for plucking the lowest hanging fruit) was because I loved Red, Hot and Blue, the first collection in what would be a great series to raise money and consciousness about AIDS. Anyway, RH+C had a lot of great stuff on it, now that I think about it - it was my first contact with The Roots, Pharycyde, Michael Franti + Spearhead, “A Love Supreme” (through a Branford Marsalis interpretation on a bonus disk), Groove Collective, and U.F.O. The groups, for the most part, took jazz standards and other tracks and gave them an update or at least a modern spin. Groove Collective submitted a remix of one of their own tracks, “Rent Strike,” which struck a chord and I have 4 of their albums (another post). U.F.O. remixed and reimagined “Stolen Moments,“ which was the other name of the compilation. I liked their sensibility, and have since downloaded a few songs here and there, and really liked them. But I never got around to buying an album.

Until this week, in the throes of my newfound independence from books and the requisite cramming before exams, I visited Tower Records. Tower is much closer to the kind of record store I want to support - even though it’s a big chain, at least all it deals with is music (well, and movies, and books and magazines, but a lot of it is connected to music, okay?). The chains that only have music as a part of their bottom line, like Best Buy and Walmart, just don’t care about the obscure titles, and you can find 100 copies of the Mariah single, but forget an obscure or older disk from someone who’s not relevant to Billboard. And forget the staff knowing anything about it. I remember my ultimate frustration at the jazz section at a local Best Buy - it was all of 75 - 100 disks in total. I couldn’t even find a single disk by Sonny Rollins. PLEASE!

Anyway - so I went to Tower, and long story short, while perusing their clearance section, came across this disk, marked at $11.99, with a tan sticker. Which the handy chart told me meant 90% off. Wassup! That means I got this, plus an average State of Bengal single for ”Rama Communications” that was marked at $3.99 with my fave color of Tower sticker, for a whopping $1.66. Awwww yeah.

The disk is okay, but what the hell. It cost as much as one song on iTunes, which shut down on me somewhat permanently this week by the way. Anyways, so I’m playing this disk, as a tribute to good music shops, the freedom to closely inspect the clearance rack, and awesome deals. Guess this isn’t much of a music “review” but who cares. This is more interesting than anything else I have to say at this point. And the best part might be that I mentioned that I found a State of Bengal disk, in passing, rather than make that the point of the post, just because we all down on the brown side. Shiiit - we know that already, so why the hell we gotta beat the horse to the ground? You feel me?

Last week, I wrote in this section about a track by Dream Theater that pissed me off, so it made it to the “do not play” list. This week, it’s actually literally things that I cannot listen to.

A) Stadium Arcadium - Red Hot Chili Peppers - I ordered this jammy from the day before it was due to hit the shelves, expecting that I’d get it the day or so after finals were over. I have been excited to hear this follow-up to the outstanding By the Way, which was fabulous. But. It’s now more than 11 days, and nothing. No delivery, and it seems that the package is stuck in a USPS warehouse somewhere in a neighboring state. I called up customer service, and they could only confirm that it shipped out. But BB is now using some new UPS service that brings the package half-way, then slaps on bulk postage and puts it in the regular mail for the Post Office to bring to the point of destination. You’re killing me, USPS/UPS/BB. I can’t imagine what the incentive could be for the Postal Service to deliver the package in a timely fashion. delivers really fast. So do a lot of the other retailers. But BB sucks. I wouldn’t have ordered from them had it not been for a gift certificate, and a crazy low price. But I want my damn CD’s!!!

B) All my MP3’s. Yup. It finally happened. iTunes died on me. It stopped working altogether, and I couldn’t re-install because the installation program isn’t working either. I’m so pissed off about this because I had spent a long time creating playlists/ratings for tracks and songs. Now I have to go to the Apple Store, or somewhere else to solve this issue. Meanwhile, CD’s only, but that’s why my list is quite short this week. Wish me luck as I try to delve into the root of the problem...

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May 18, 2006

I remain annoyed at how the younger generation of "activists" assume that they know everything and are so awful at following up at things when you don't seem relevant/necessary to whatever consumes them at the moment. I'm all for young energy and power, but alienating allies, and taking a long time (if ever) to respond to things is just amateur. And it drives me up the wall.

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May 16, 2006

Internet Friends; Waving the Star-Spanglish Banner

I have an acquaintance who is an academic, we’ve never met face-to-face, and have emailed personal messages all of a half-dozen times, but he sends me about 5-10 emails a week as part of a distribution list of people interested in racial/social justice and South Asian/Asian American stuff. He’s about as effective as the Google Alerts and other news sources that I’ve set up for diasporic news - there are usually one or two of the dozen that I read and I’m glad to get, and because it’s not my primary email address, I don’t mind getting a lot of stuff from him.

It is just so fascinating how the internet allows us to form these odd and unique “relationships” with people that are based solely on information sharing in lieu of any other personal contact in the past, present, or as is likely in this case, the future. I’ve spoken with one friend and fellow blog-writer about “internet friends” and the danger of meeting some of these people in person. I don’t really have (m)any internet-only friends, although I do have one friend that I can think of that started as a “real” friend, and with whom I have had a strong correspondence friendship over the years through AIM, mostly. When I think about it - I guess in her case it’s the most natural thing, but it’s funny how such an ephemeral medium (who really reads chat transcripts from a couple of years ago anyway?) can take the place of something as terrestrial as pen-and-paper letters. Which I’m committed to getting back to this summer.

Anyway - so the person who sends out the forwards sent me the article below, which I’d missed along the way. I think the author make some good points, and I’m more interested in just the idea of a national anthem belonging in a “national language.” I think that it’s incredibly powerful that people are willing to sing the “Star-Spangled Banner,” a song that I feel is incredibly out-of-date, and as I’ve heard many people say, shouldn’t be the national anthem anyway. It’s about war, and though it’s true in a way that the red-blooded Amerikans may not want to admit that this country was founded and remains grounded on the battlefield, I don’t feel any connection to it. I’d rather that “America the Beautiful” or “This Land is Your Land,“ songs that celebrate the natural beauty of the land itself, or what’s left of it, as well as the spirit of America at its best - live and let live.

I wanted to write about how English is an ugly language, but it’s my true first language, and all that I really know, thanks to an American education system that values anything above understanding more of the world and America’s place as a peer among nations rather than a bully in a small playground. It is only because of economic strength that English continues to be important, and it may not fall from that position now, but what if China and other foreign investors decide to pull the plug on their financing of America’s stupid and irresponsible spend-now-save-never economy? If that happens, and America slides into a deeper recession, the successful erosion of New Deal era social net programs coupled with the inability of Americans to adjust to global change will make the population vulnerable and shit-out-of-luck if English falls as the business language of choice.

Regardless, it’s just stupid - people want to sing a song about the nation, and celebrate the hope and promise of America, and all the idiots can focus on is that they choose Spanish. The song could use a more fluid language to iron out its own spikiness anyway, but that’s not the final point in this mess, is it? Can we just say ”it sounds *better* in Spanish!“

Would that work?

Sunday, May 7, 2006

Waving the Star-Spanglish Banner
By Ariel Dorfman

The airing last week on Hispanic radio stations of "Nuestro Himno," a Spanish-language adaptation of the American national anthem, has been greeted with an unprecedented and, indeed, astonishing wave of denunciations all over the United States.

Talk show hosts and academics have indignantly called this loving rendition by a group of Latino artists a desecration of a national symbol. Senators -- both the conservative Lamar Alexander and the liberal Edward M. Kennedy -- have declared that "The Star-Spangled Banner" should be sung exclusively in English. And they have been joined by President Bush, who has used the occasion to remind the citizenry that "one of the important things here is, when we debate this issue, that we not lose our national soul."

The national soul? In danger of being lost? Because Haitian American singer Wyclef Jean and Cuban American rapper Pitbull are crooning " a la luz de la aurora" instead of "by the dawn's early light"? Would such an outcry have erupted over a Navajo version of the national anthem? Or if the words had been rendered into Basque or Farsi or Inuit? Would anybody have cared if some nostalgic band had decided to recover and record the legendary 1860s translations of the song into Yiddish or Latin?

Of course not.

There's a reason for the current uproar. The streets of America are not filled with marching Eskimos or Basque patriots, and certainly not with scholars ardently shouting against discrimination in the lost language of Virgil. What resonated in Los Angeles and Atlanta, Chicago and New York, as recently as last Monday were the voices of hundreds of thousands of protesters demanding that the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States be granted amnesty. And the language in which they were chanting was the same sacrilegious Spanish of "Nuestro Himno."

No wonder the Spanish version of the national anthem caused such alarm: It was a reminder that, along with their swarthy and laboring bodies, those immigrants had smuggled into El Norte the extremely vivacious language of Miguel de Cervantes and Octavio Paz. They weren't coming here merely to work, bake bread, lay bricks, change diapers, wash dishes, pick strawberries, work, work, work; Dios mío , they might decide to speak! And not necessarily in English.

Although English is what most immigrant parents have always wanted for their children, what distinguishes these recent arrivals from earlier huddled masses is that they're not prepared to abandon la lengua materna, the mother tongue. Spanish is not going to fade away like Norwegian or Italian or German did during previous assimilative waves. It is not only whispered by the largest minority group in the United States, but is also being spoken and written and dreamed, right now, at this very moment, by hundreds of millions of men and women in the immense neighboring Latino South. Spanish is a language that has come to stay.

I believe this is why "Nuestro Himno" has been received with such trepidation. By infiltrating one of the safest symbols of U.S. national identity with Spanish syllables, this version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" has crossed a line. It has inadvertently announced something many Americans have dreaded for years: that their country is on its way to becoming a bilingual nation.

If I'm right about this, and America will sometime soon be articulating its identity in two languages, then the question looms: How will the citizens of the United States react to this monumental challenge?

One possibility, of course, is a nativist backlash, with more vigilante Minutemen swilling beer in the Arizona sun, more calls for deporting all illegal workers, more demands that an impenetrable wall be built against the foreign hordes, more attempts to dismantle bilingual education in U.S. schools.

But others may tell themselves that the United States has been built on diversity and tolerance and that, at a time when the national soul is indeed being tested, at a time when the democratic ideals at the heart of American identity are truly in danger of being sacrificed on the altar of false security, our better angels should welcome the wonders of Spanish to the struggle and the debate.

For those who are afraid and claim it can't be done and believe that the United States can only endure if it is monolingual, there's a simple answer. It comes in words that have been heard on the streets of America in recent days, sung and imagined by men and women who crossed deserts and risked everything to live the American dream. In words that the nation's founders and pioneers might have embraced, and that have now become part of the national vocabulary:

Sí, se puede.

Yes, it can be done.

Ariel Dorfman, a Chilean American playwright, is a professor of literature at Duke University. His latest books are Other Septembers, Many Americas and Burning City, a novel written with his youngest son Joaquín.

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May 12, 2006

Bounce: Weekly Music v1.n3

Week has been crazier than crazy. But the tracks have kept me bouncing.

1) Diplo’s Mad Decent World Wide Radio/Mixtapes: Check it: Diplo, the producer who blew M.I.A. up with his crazy beats has been releasing mixtapes that are about 20-30 minutes long, show off his dj skills and also constitute pretty interesting commentaries about the place where he’s at and places that he’s been (I guess he must be on tour/performing throughout Latin America, and his latest reflects a trip to New Orleans). The beats are infectious, and the cool thing is that he’s mixing in interviews with people that are relevant to the particular podcast. So the New Orleans segment (#5) actually gets some of the history of krunk originating from the Big Easy, as well as the storm aftermath. If anything, this particular podcast reaffirmed a personal euphoria that I feel when I hear New Orleans jazz (Diplo lets the last track of the mix just flow on for about 7 minutes, Rebirth Brass Band ft. Soulja Slim, singing You Don’t Want to Go to War). The horns, the groove just make me feel like if ever there were another city that we must preserve besides New York, and perhaps even more crucially than New York, it’s gotta be New Orleans. It’s been said so many times before by folks much more eloquent than I, but there really isn’t anywhere else in the U.S. like it, and for the rich history of music alone, Diplo’s non-political or didactic mix emphasizes the loss that much more.

Anyway, the description section of each podcast describes what the theme is + the track list. It’s a good listen all around. And the short intro written by Diplo is really fascinating, about culture and diaspora in unlikely places. Take this one, from Argentina (#3):

In buenos aires, theres a strong but small dominican and cuban immigrant community.... sometime they get some tapes and music sent to them from back home on the islands.... i was like huh.... what the f#*@ is this.. anyway... check out the underground santo domingo via argentina (next week we interview mc gringo, and got some special guest djs)

[To get the podcast directly, click here.]

2) The Real Thing - Redemption. I’ve been listening to the Redemption cover of the Faith no More epic, which is offered as a bonus track on their second album overseas, and is also currently available on their MySpace site. I’ll write a little more about this below, but Ray Alder is quickly becoming one of my favorite vocalists. He sounds different in each of the bands that he’s now leading, and his interpretation of this song, which I have loved for more than 15 years now, is both spot on and faithful to the original. Alder is the real thing.

3) A Love Supreme (live) - John Coltrane. I’m not as familiar with this version of Coltrane’s odyssey, but at 48:12, it’s mammoth, and just what I needed to get over the last hump.

New brief section of this weekly post in which I’ll just mention songs/bands who are on the do not play list.

A) “Sacrificed Sons” - Dream Theater. I’ve been digging deeply into the back-catalog and more recent releases by Fates Warning, as mentioned here and the week before. Inevitably, when folks mention Progressive Metal, the big three that come up are FW, Queensryche, and Dream Theater. I’ll admit, I’m not a big fan of Queensryche, though there are a few songs that I liked a lot from Empire, and Operation MIndcrime was pretty cool as a concept (the original one, not the time-made-it-irrelevant sequel, which I haven’t heard). And Dream Theater was a revelation when I heard the second album, Images and Words many years ago. But they have grown predictable in their long, long songs and instrumental wanderings. And Kevin Moore was an amazing keyboardist who really added a lot to the band when he was with them - and kept the long instrumental breaks interesting.

Anyway - while researching into something Fates Warning-related, I found out that Ray Alder, singer and person of color (though I’m trying to figure out exactly what color), is now the lead vocalist for a third band (after FW and his solo project/band, straightforward power band Engine), called Redemption. Reading about their last album, I found out that they have a song about September 11th, which a reviewer compared to a song off the last DT album, “Octavarium.” Anyway, so I dig out my copy of Octavarium, which I actually hadn’t even listened to fully, because I got tired of it after the first 2 tracks, and listened to the track.

Awful. Not only was it musically sub-par, but the lyrics rehashed the same fairly stupid faith-based rhetorical statements concerning the people responsible for the hijackings, etc. It blew me away that they start this thing with audio clips that are fairly incendiary to begin with proclaiming the response, news anchors trying to figure out what to say, and even a clip that said people were dancing in the streets in Palestine. Come on, DT, this shit was resolved at least 2 years ago - what’s with cutting a track so much later that doesn’t show any ability to process information beyond emotion? Bruce Springsteen did it in less than a year - you guys are 4 years out.

Then we get to the lyrics of the thing, which were fairly simplistic to begin with, were so blatantly wrong in their meandering (with a weird piano line underneath):

“Burning City
Smoke and fire
Planes we're certain
Faith inspired
Who would wish this on our people
And proclaim that His will be done
Scriptures they heed have misled them
All praise their Sacrificed Sons
All praise their Sacrificed Sons

Teach them
What to think and feel
Your ways
So enlightening

Words they preach
I can't relate
If God's true Love
Are acts of Hate”

Okay. Now you’ve lost me completely. Islamophobia runs deeply in this one, and I’ve heard much better work that looks at the human loss, or even damns the individuals and the group they were part of, but don’t assign blame to a faith for people who just claim the faith. Please - shouldn’t we blame the Church for all the KKK lynchings under the cross then? This is foolish, irresponsible, and lazy. And this isn’t about political correctness (a term that drives me crazy, but that’s a different post). This is about bringing some nuance to your game. Anyway, “progressive” metal does not mean Progressive politics, and hell, even Dubya is better at making some kind of distinction between adherents of a faith and political extremists who use religion as a cover, and a recruitment tool. So mega-mega thumbs down to this song, and though I haven’t really listened to DT much over the years, and I really enjoyed the one time I saw them live, I’m knocking them off my list of faves. Now, about that Redemption song...

Yeah. Listened to it a couple of times - “Parker’s Eyes” by Redemption (weird name for the band, by the way). Anyway, it was okay - at least the lyrics weren’t as blatantly hateful, and a little more open to interpretation. I definitely don’t rate this one as a favorite, but at least it doesn’t wholly suck like the DT song.

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I know the feeling
It is the real thing
The essence of the truth
The perfect moment
That golden moment
I know you feel it too
I know the feeling
It is the real thing
You can't refuse the embrace...


Like the echoes of your childhood laughter, ever after
Like the first time love urged you to take it's guidance, in silence
Like your heartbeat when you realize you're dying, but you're trying
Like the way you cry for a happy ending, ending...
I know...

Faith No More - The Real Thing

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May 11, 2006

Just great.

Okay. I don't know exactly what happened, but my entire template got wiped out. I guess that's what you get for a free site. I was planning to do some remodelling anyway, but this just bites. Won't have time to do anything with it until next week, so enjoy this crappy version for now, until I figure out... "should I stay or should I go..."

Thunderstorms tonight, though. At least that's something.

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May 9, 2006

Another step closer: Freedom.

That finish line metaphor from last night is becoming ever more relevant. I am anxious. And I am tired. But I’m almost there.

Anyway, I heard Dubya on the radio today in a rebroadcast of some public thing he was doing with seniors in Florida. It’s just so funny to hear him get really huffy, but the best is when he goes off script. Someone questioned him about the ramped up rhetoric against Iran, and he began with his furrowed brow (or at least so I imagine) and talked deeply about freedom and that the Iranians (pronounced like “uraniums”) want to be free. He wanted to tell the people of Iran one day, “you’re free!” How touching.

But then he went on in some bizarro tangent about how he spoke with the Prime Minister of Japan, and how, believe it or not, they’re friends. He simplified the incredibly complicated relationship between Japan and the United States both immediately after WWII and in the decades that followed, didn’t seem to recognize that hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians were killed, and tried to make it seem that War was a good way to make friends, and spread “a Japanese kind of freedom” to Japan. Truly bizarre.

Whatever. HIs soliloquies about freedom are incredibly frustrating, too. I’ll have to find the piece I read somewhere that spoke of the difference between “freedom” in the American/Dubya formation, and “liberty.” The freedom that everyone supposedly hates us for, and that we want to spread like some kind of Johnny Appleseed of good fortune and feelings around the globe, is not necessarily the liberation of spirits, peoples, and cultures that some of us are working towards.

Anymatter, flygirl turned me onto this remarkable pho-log about Kashmir with a floating entry of her own. Check out both sites when you get a chance.

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As life moves ever forward, I’m passing milestones in my life more quickly than I can process, but the view in my rear-view seems more blurry all the time. If anything, I’m bleeding acquaintances at this point, because the friends I was going to lose are long gone. But it’s still difficult to look back at photos and memories of 5, 10, 15 years and remember some moments so well, but it’s like a phone conversation with a dial tone on the other end. Memories are fond when they are shareable, and I find myself sometimes at the unfortunate crossroad between burning the old albums while uncapping a pen to write a next chapter in bold strokes, or sitting at the intersection with my cell phone and the long list of irrelevant numbers that continue to clutter my address book.

Old habits die hard, enit? And the internet is not a bridge between those who once were, but have long since grown apart. This is not a plea for pity... I’m in a Mountain Dew-enhanced state (thanks A), and just remembering a bit while staying up to study. It will pass, of course, and while I’ve been so lucky to continue some amazing friendships over the years, the lesson in all of this is for me not to lay my head upon my computer as some kind of substitute, even if it is a portal to an outside world, it is only a tool - and only a means to an end. Summer lays out refreshingly before me now, the finish line so present that I can dream of it in fits of comfortable sleep, and I almost taste the sunlight (and gatorade) waiting for me on the other side.

To gather my strength, push aside the doubts, and spend the last of the reserves I’ve built up for these particular moments... that is what lies immediately ahead. And then, perhaps a book of fiction would be nice. Outside, en el al aire libre...

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May 6, 2006

MF Husain: "Here nudity is not nakedness"

I learned about the latest controversy surrounding master artist MF Husain’s painting ‘Bharat Mata’ from Amitava Kumar’s commentary here.

I don’t know most of Husain’s work, but some of it has been quite striking, and I really like many of the themes that he explores, though I am, of course, not schooled in any way regarding visual art. But his bold figures and colors speak to me, and I know I’ve seen some pieces that I’ve really liked. Of course, folks in India were up in arms a number of times, especially when he portrayed a number of female Hindu deities in the nude. That he’s still painting and creating controversy at this age is a testament to his tenacity and commitment as an artist. Or maybe he’s a fire sign and likes the attention.

Husain’s work often stares into the cold eyes of militant nationalism and militant religious fundamentalism. It’s funny, I guess one could say that if he were trying to make a statement beyond that of an artist sharing a piece of the fragmented world he perceives, Husain masterfully shows that in the end, the different strands of radicalism are all linked in a single matrix that isn’t as variegated as proponents of singular ideologies pretend. Fervent dogmatism is like a bag of M & M’s - they may look different, but underneath the rainbow of candy shells, they’re all the same flavor of crazy.

From my quick read of the current situation, the confluence of radical Hinduism, radical Islam, and self-proclaimed “secular“ nationalist fervor in india as all camps issue death threats, bans, and incendiary statements against the artist, is both striking and ironic. After all, his portrayal of ‘Mother India’ as a nude woman seems to have united some disparate camps in the nation in at least one cause - the call for his head. Even as communal violence tears yet again at Gujarat - now in Baroda - Husain has managed to get Hindus and Muslims, albeit the farthest outliers of the faith, unified, and it is supposedly in defense of the nation state. Or maybe it is in opposition to a perceived pervasive perversity that represents all that is terrible about ”Western influence.“

It’s interesting that if the outcry is indeed about Western influence and bastardization of things Indian and sacred, India’s radical sectarians are in effect embracing the semblance of Indian autonomy and isolationism (self-reliance?) that the majority political parties have long foregone.

The bitterness concerning any vestiges of socialism (or disengagement from the corrupting forces of coca-colonization and globalization (the West)) that are linked to Nehru’s ”socialist“ policy of nation-building from within is still very palpable in the with many middle-class Indians (who don’t hail from old-school Kerala or Bengal, I guess). The perception is that India should get her due, I guess, because we have the best and the brightest (and have invented so much over the thousands of years), and therefore, the neo-nationalists want India to be at the Security Council table, at the commercial development table, at every table of perceived importance (of course, I’m sure the non-aligned movement table would be the one closest to the latrine at this point, and therefore not desirable to India). Anyway, so they prefer that the nation state be in bed with whomever is necessary to get to those tables - from pimping ”democratic values” to wheel and deal with the United States on nuclear energy, to making new overtures to Israel about a shared plight as unique, ancient states besieged by Others (read: Islamic states, though India has a far more diverse neighborhood).

Anyway, I don’t think the religious zealots are happy about the opening of the nation to the West at all, because it means outside influence, and the potential weakening of their grasp on the masses to follow them, elect their representatives, and wage war upon their neighbors rather than the true oppressors within the country. Maybe this is a liberal reading that’s way out there, but I feel like they are using Husain as the poster-“child“ of a modernity that they want nothing to do with, and that they will successfully convince their flocks to decry as well, appealing to the base moralities to rally the troops much like what the radical Christians were given credit for during the last election around the issue of ”gay marriage” (was it really only 16 months ago?).

The artist issued an apology after the hullabaloo broke out, but as Amitava Kumar writes, “the government has issued a ’red alert.’“

Husain published a reply of sorts today, which you can read here. Though I don’t know what it will do to quell the call for blood (and his head) I particularly liked his reference to the history of the nude form in Indian classical art, and the effort of a group of modern Indian artists to reclaim another - lost - heritage of spirituality and communion with the infinite, while implying to cut out the middlemen who are so vocally against his work. Of course, his words are better than mine:

”We Indians are proud to create a civilisation of art and culture, enshrined in the sanctity of the Ajanta and Ellora caves and temples for the last 5,000 years. Here the goddesses are pure and uncovered. Here the nudity is not nakedness, it’s a form of innocence and maturity. Take the monumental form of Mahaveera and the carvings of Khajuraho. They evoke spirituality.

We, the Indian painters of significance, are the direct descendants of that golden era of great vision which transcends mundane reality into eternity....

“For the last 50 years, an enlightened body of Indian painters has been engaged in reconnecting the reality of the ancient cultural heritage to our time. As in every human endeavour, Faith is at the core of it all. With great care and reverence for all faiths, the Indian sub-continent has evolved a unique secular culture.

I am a humble contributor towards the creation of a great Indian composite culture. I would like to pinpoint certain factors of my 70-year-long journey as a painter....

29 works on the Mahabharat exhibited along with Picasso in Brazil in 1971. Painted Teorema, nine panels depicting various faiths including Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Jainism,  Christianity and Zoroastrianism. These panels were exhibited at the UN in New York.”

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KCRW: Free Song a Day podcast

Check this out. First of all, I have heard a lot of cool things about KCRW radio, from sunny LA, which has a very strong commitment to original programming and music playlists that aren’t driven by payola and top-forty pressure. NYC doesn’t really have anything comparable, at least for music. WBAI is good for talk and some music, but it’s all about the right timing to catch a music program. I guess when everyone is in their car so much (like in LA), strong and interesting radio is critical.

Anyway, KCRW has a whole range of podcasts, some of which I’d been listening to before I got turned onto this new one when I was prompted to visit their website by an ad on The World: Global Hits. First of all, they have just launched a free online streaming version of the radio station, which is really cool. Checked that out, and will use it next time I’m tired of my music.

But then I checked out another feature through their podcasts, and discovered KCRW’s Today’s Top Tune, which is a podcast you can subscribe to that basically gives away one song a weekday to subscribers, available for 24 hours, from their Morning Becomes Eclectic radio show. What a wonderful and legal way to get folks to listen to and enjoy new music! I’m all for it, and I strongly recommend it, even though I’ve only gotten two songs so far, but hey, I’m excited!

To make this work: if you have iTunes, just click here and it should take you into iTunes where you can find the Today’s Top Tune podcast subscribe link (you can check out the available songs before subscribing). If you don’t have iTunes, go here and do your thang.

This is far superior to the other “music-oriented” links I’ve seen. These are actually songs without commentary or additional b.s. Give it a whirl!

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May 5, 2006

Top Five Reasons Why I Hate the Bluebook

Top Five Reasons Why I Hate the Bluebook:

5) It’s not even really a book, but more a spiral-bound manual that sits awkwardly on a shelf because it is spineless and prone to slumping (kind of like law students, sometimes). When shelved horizontally, it is hard to distinguish from the instruction manual that came with your facsimile machine in the mid-80s.

4) The Bluebook is most closely associated with Law Reviews and Journals, a fundamental central column of the traditional (read: white and privileged) law school path. While I have respect for writers, the straight line drawn from having Law Review on your resume and a so-called prestigious job upon graduation is problematic (more below).

3) The Bluebook is the formal codification of rules maintained, updated, deliberated, and propagated by privileged law students at four of the “elite” law schools (Harvard, Yale, UPenn, and Columbia Law Review staff). I have a visceral revulsion towards these schools, the privilege and entitlement inherent in the old guard and the old ways of doing things. Why? Because people of color weren’t allowed into these institutions, they represent an old order hat doesn’t acknowledge my equal standing, looks down upon my public school upbringing, and feels entitled to leadership. I, and the many practitioners who are tired of standards driven by elite students, will take AWLD any day, even through it’s not likely to become the standard for quite some time, if at all. Then again, when I look at the detailed description of the AWLD manual, it’s also not really very different, save in the way that court document citations differ from academic articles. Oh well. Forget the endorsement herein included.

2) I’m a bit of a grammar nut in civilian writing (though you may not be able to glean that from these pages), but I have had the hardest time with the counter-intuitive rules of the Bluebook, and I find myself caring less and less about the placement of commas, the minutiae of where one must underline and what order and in which short configuration one must cite to case law and other references, not to mention signal hell (e.g., like, see, but, see also, as if, whateva!). Frankly, the Blue Book has gotten me to pay more attention to the citation sentence than the actual textual sentence. Oh yeah, and perhaps my biggest pet peeve is that an ellipse in legal writing has to have a space between the periods, or in other words: “ . . . ” instead of “...” Let writers write, damn it!

1) It is embraced by the cream of the nerd crowd as the standard by which to distinguish different legal writing, regardless of the actual content of the work. Whether I underline/italicize the right way is not going to increase access to justice. It will be the structure of my argument, and the content of my discussion. At least, that’s what I have to hope, because if I believe our writing department, it’s not just suspicion of sloppiness that will raise eyebrows, but even the errant ellipse or e.g. will get my case thrown off a court’s docket. If that’s the truth, then forget the fair adjudication of issues of critical concern. I’m throwing in the towel and finding myself a small bar to run on a beach somewhere.

As you can tell, especially the lawyers and law students out there, this list is more about law journals/law reviews and the importance given to them in the hierarchy of law school activities than it is about the Bluebook itself (though I definitely have issues with it on its own). Maybe this is just bitterness because it’s that lovely finals time of the year again.

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A New Vision for Audio: v1.n2

This week has been all about studying and trying to get through to the other side. Musical choices have paralleled that sentiment in some cases, but more often than not, it was just “comfort music.” That and exploring the ways I can make auto-updating playlists that are based on number of plays and ratings... anyway, the playlist.

Living With War - Neil Young. A friend of mine turned me onto the free feed of this album at the following web site. I don’t know much about Neil Young except that he’s another iconoclast that’s done a lot of things, some more successful than others. And that Pearl Jam loves to cover him, act as his backing band, and just talk about him. This album is angry, melodic, chorus-driven (with an unclear number of people singing behind him). I like this disk. There’s something comforting about outsiders singing about the system and keeping it simple. Some tracks:

• Restless Consumer sounds like he either has the dude from Love Shack singing “Don’t need no more lies!” or he’s doing a spot on emulation.

• Let’s Impeach the President just says enough with its title, doesn’t it? Who’s the man who hired all the criminals?

• Roger and Out
seems like it’s built on the same chord progression as Knocking on Heaven’s Door so it’s got an instant recognition factor, but it’s not particularly noteworthy on its own.

Perfect Symmetry/Parallels - Fates Warning. I’ll write more, but I’ve really gotten back into progressive metal, from the old(er) school. I’m much more of a Fates Warning guy than Queensryche or Dream Theater. Maybe that’s more info than the average reader needs, but I think that FW isn’t afraid of reducing a song to its basic elements to get an emotion across - which reminds me more of Rush, the Prog Rock kings of Canada. It’s nice to have a 20-minute opus every once in a while, but I can’t listen to those songs all the time, and I can’t really identify with them. So these quieter releases from FW, between the outstanding No Exit and the less memorable Inside Out are standout albums that I can even read to. Zonder’s drums, Alder’s vocals, and Matheos’ clean guitar are clear highlights in the albums. Maybe the gloom of it is very appealing at this juncture. Who knows.

3) “One” - Mary J. Blige. I’ll admit that I was skeptical when I heard that Mary was doing a cover of this song. I love her stuff, but I just thought that there was a delicate quality to the song that I associated so wholly to Bono’s interpretation. But I’ve also heard a great version with R.E.M. singing alongside Bono, and the Johnny Cash version of the song was okay, but didn’t feel like it actually reached the peak of the original. Mary’s version doesn’t elicit the same goosebumps, but she really finds something inside of the song and takes it somewhere different, and beautiful. I guess it helps that Bono is along for some of the ride, but this is Mary’s show.

4) Ghost Reveries - Opeth. I’ve had tracks from this album for a while, but I just listened to the whole thing in sequence this week, and it’sdefinitely as powerful an album as they’ve put together. I am intrigued by this group that can alternate such beautiful passages with such brutal vocals and aggressive metal. Their last album, Damnation, companion to the much heavier Deliverance, was almost wholly acoustic/melodic, which showed off their ability to do it consistently, but Ghost Reveries has a lot of similar, though more richly textured, passages. The soft/hard combination reminds me of the Smashing Pumpkins when they were good. It’s not easy to pull it off, and Opeth does it better than well, at an extreme level for which I can’t really think of a parallel. I think some of the screamcore/nu metal groups have been trying to do similar, like Killswitch Engage and Atreyu, but they seem whiny in comparison. This album is alternatively beautiful and brutal, but this time more than any of the previous disks, I’m really compelled to listen straight through. Opeth is the real thing.

5) Eddie’s Archive - Iron Maiden. I’ve gotten back into Maiden in a major way. Not really sure of why, but I think the prospect of another album this year, and finding this extremely detailed fansite definitely helped. I’ve been giving the Blaze albums a little more of a chance, though I haven’t really thought about X-Factor since I sold my first copy years ago. Ahhh, memories. I must say, some of the nuggets in the archive are outstanding - to have seen the band in their heyday would have been awesome - but whatever. It probably would have been a bunch of loony white men and me. Sorta like high school, I guess. But I’d have free license to hurt them without consequences here. Who am I kidding - a Maiden show is not violent. It’s just a bunch of folks singing along and screaming for Bruce when he asks for it. The last tour was outstanding because they focused on the first 4 albums, but their live shows don’t really vary, and after listening to Live After Death, what’s the point of going? They won’t re-capture the magic of 20 years ago, so just spin that disk again and fade on 5...4...3...2...1.

The Dirtchamber Sessions, Pt. 1 - The Prodigy.
If you're a beat-head, a hip-hop head, a breakbeat-head, whatever, you have to check this out. I haven't seen it on disk, but got it from iTunes about a year ago, and it's infectious. The Prodigy have never been consistent, but Liam Howlett really knows his shit when it comes to music, and it's amazing that he can squeeze in Jane's Addition with the Ultramagnetic MC's and it still sounds tight. I've been spinning this a lot lately. Click
here to get to the page on iTunes.

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Jupiter No Longer a Cyclops

Witness the birth of Red Spot Jr. on Jupiter (left of picture).

NY Times
May 5, 2006
Jupiter's Great Red Spot Has Companion

For the past few months, astronomers have tracked an emerging second red spot on Jupiter, at left, a growing rival about one-half the diameter of the planet's trademark Great Red Spot. The Hubble Space Telescope has now snapped the first detailed pictures of what some observers are calling Red Spot Jr.

Astronomers at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore said this was the first time scientists had witnessed the birth of one of these huge oval spots, presumably a convective phenomenon like a powerful thunderstorm. The Great Red Spot was already present when observers first looked with telescopes at the planet some 400 years ago.

Though Red Spot Jr. is half the size, the astronomers said it appeared in near-infrared images to be as bright in Jupiter's cloudy atmosphere as its large companion. They suggested that the new storm might rise higher above the main cloud deck than the older spot.

The pictures made public yesterday by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration do not represent the planet's true colors. Their contrast has been enhanced. But the red spots, new and old, really are red.

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May 2, 2006

Say Thank You to Stephen Colbert

First check out Stephen Colbert's gutsy comments about President Bush and his minions at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner. Note that he was about 10 feet away from the President when giving his speech.

Part 1

Part 2

(Part 3 is just a spoof reel that isn't as funny).

Then thank him for being the member of the media with the most "guts" for saying what needed to be said.

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May 1, 2006

May 1 and the Long Path Ahead

Absolutely no time to post, but I'm so annoyed at what has become a tired retread of the same neo-protectionist sentiment of privileged South Asians and others (NPR has been playing a bunch of interviews/speeches by Latinos on the others side of the debate who keep talking about how "uncivilized" protesters are). I'm just so tired of this conversation and feel like it's not worth the time to try to convince people I don't know - so I'm not going to try anymore.

I am very proud that things continue to move forward, and I'm stunned at the level of support that actions are getting. I think that the messaging around the different strategies about the May 1 Boycott/Day Without Immigrants has been good too - as long as we're not working at cross-purposes, it's all good to have different people doing different things.

One of the strands of the "why should desis get involved in a Latino issue" has focused on "what have Latinos done for us?" Without confronting that question head on, all that I can think of is the upcoming reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act in which Section 203 provides for the provision of ballot and other information in specific languages based on recent Census data, as well as language access provisions in places like NYC, DC, and other parts of the country. Latinos have lead the language access movement, and rightly so, given the sheer numbers of the community. But they haven't forgotten about other languages, and I've worked alongside a good number of Latino community advocates who speak eloquently about the need for languages other than English and Spanish, citing the staggering language gap between some recent immigrant communities like the Fukienese, Vietnamese speakers, and Bengali, Urdu, and Punjabi speakers in parts of the Northeast, the South, the West coast, and even places like Michigan.

I don't think that folks with English-language privilege appreciate the significant hurdles that non-English speakers, whatever their immigration status, have to overcome in the United States - and while I'm not going to engage the whole stupid English as the only language "debate" (how insecure can a place be!), I definitely feel that Latino advocates "get it" in a way that other allies do not. And I definitely think that this is a critical issue that crosses status issues, and which has shown me, at least, that the possibility of multi-ethnic/multiracial coalitions that address common axes of oppression are possible and have happened before.

I remember seeing signs from the Chicano liberation movement in the 70s that clearly identified the link between the American oppression at home of communities of color and the American oppression of the Vietnamese people trying to find their own path towards self-determination. It's a shame that people still haven't learned to step outside of their own extremely narrow personal stories to imagine a world that isn't so cynical, nor so bound by the rules made to keep us fighting one another.

I am proud of the calls for solidarity that I hear, and I'm definitely looking forward to a real conversation with people who don't just flush opinions because they don't gel with their own thinking. I want real dialogue - not sound bites. I don't need to hear regurgitation of quips from CNN, FOX, or other media outlets. Sad, tired, and stupid iterations of "my tax dollars are paying for them!" drive me crazy.

Your tax dollars pay more for bombs and weapons of mass destruction, not to mention the thick bankrolls of many companies that have been getting fat on the privatization of Federal services and functions (can anyone say prison-industrial complex?).

It drives me crazy that people even bring up taxes - I have to find the links for it, but many undocumented immigrants *do* pay some Federal taxes, and even more pay into FICA. The dollar total of undocumented contribution to Social Security is in the hundreds of millions annually - they are helping to pay the retirement costs of the baby-boomers who are retiring. Pull that money and see where we are. Their sales taxes and tolls pay for the roads and many of the other services provided by the state that people keep complaining about. And their payment of the significant state and local taxes on fuel (as evidenced by the fuel price differential on this map). Federal income taxes contribute to many things, but this war is one of the big ticket items. Regardless, the argument that "they don't pay taxes" drives me up the wall.

When it boils down to it - I don't buy that people are so pissed off because of the "breaking the law" issue. I think there's more behind it for a large number of people - I have a hard time believing that the masses are as gung-ho about law enforcement as they play themselves out to be. More on that later.

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