Saturday, July 29, 2006

Who Controls the American Media?

You know what? I’m really sick and tired of pundits from both sides firing off about how the media is controlled by the other side.

I realize that due to consolidation there are a few big companies that control a lot of the news agencies. Also, I do think there is a liberal bias in the mainstream media simply because being well-read and well-educated usually makes you more left leaning than not.

However, we know there are many well-educated folks on the right too as well as in between. I consider myself to be snugly situated somewhere in the middle as I have libertarian tendencies on some issues. I’ll also acknowledge that there is a conservative bias in certain other sections of society.

So what?

The fact is there are liberal media outlets like Mother Jones, and, I would even say, the New York Times, considering how much the Bush administration hates them. However, there are also conservative outlets like Fox News and the National Review.

In Paul Krugman’s most recent op-ed piece in the New York Times titled Reign of Error, he goes after what he claims is the Bush administration’s attempt to misinform the public. I agree with him, but I disagree with who is at fault. I’ve linked to the full text at Rozius’ blog, as again, this is a Times Select piece. (BTW, there is a funny cartoon starting off this post, so I suggest you look just to get a laugh).

Krugman starts off by saying this:

Amid everything else that's going wrong in the world, here's one more piece of depressing news: a few days ago the Harris Poll reported that 50 percent of Americans now believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when we invaded, up from 36 percent in February 2005. Meanwhile, 64 percent still believe that Saddam had strong links with Al Qaeda.

At one level, this shouldn't be all that surprising. The people now running America never accept inconvenient truths. Long after facts they don't like have been established, whether it's the absence of any wrongdoing by the Clintons in the Whitewater affair or the absence of W.M.D. in Iraq, the propaganda machine that supports the current administration is still at work, seeking to flush those facts down the memory hole.

I agree with him because I don’t believe there were ever security threatening WMDs in Iraq nor do I believe that Hussein had an alliance with Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. Of course, the conservative pundits have come out to chastise Krugman’s piece and also liberals have come out to support him. Just click on the link as I ran a search for “Reign of Error” on and found quite a few links.

However, I differ with him by assigning blame to the “propaganda machine”.

Read some treatises on democracy and you know the onus is on the electorate to stay informed, stay active and keep their politicians as honest as possible. As voters it’s our responsibility to realize that those in power and those who want to be in power just might massage a story so that it reads more in their favor than not. In fact, they might do more than massage a story they might lie outright. Should they be truthful at all times? Yes, but would they be successful in politics as they are now? Probably not.

As voters we need to make ourselves as informed as possible to actually elevate the level of discussion. Now all we get are soundbites, watered down statements, and smear TV ads during elections. We get that because, unfortunately, that’s what the ill-informed American voter responds to.

We’re responsible for this dismal situation.

I’m not sure exactly when it happened as it’s been gradual, but the current political climate is one where you’re left or right, liberal or conservative or red or blue. It’s just stupid and divisive.

People need to get smart and realize that slapping a label on themselves and every view out there throws a bias in the way of having reasoned and effective debates. Read the articles published by both sides, watch Fox News as well as listen to NPR radio. In this day and age we really must become and stay informed. The level of debate in most areas of the American electorate is rudimentary at best. However, these are the debates that rule our policies. We must seek out and demand accurate information in order to reverse the tide in our political system.

Who controls the media? Ultimately, we do, but we're doing a piss poor job of it.


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The Great Immigration Debate of 1621

I saw this cartoon spoof on YouTube, and I thought it was very funny.

I was really shocked at the vitriol spewed during the recent protests held by immigrants. What shocked me most was debating with people on the issue who felt that immigrants who risk life and limb to get to the US from their countries were taking something away from them.

Yes, they're taking jobs, but at the rate of pay that they're getting how many of us would want or take those jobs even if they were offered to us? That's what makes the issue complicated because it touches the world economy, the domestic legal system and globalization.

I’ll just say that I’m not to the level where I want to persecute the immigrant. I’d much rather go after the businesses and the system that creates the market, but we rarely go after them, do we?

With that said, this cartoon spoofs the extremes on both sides because those are the people that I really think derail the discussion. They essentially make it so emotional and full of anger and divisiveness that it’s next to impossible to find reasonable solutions to this issue. The ending is biting considering we know how it all turned out.


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Minorities, Hot Rod Racing and Firsts

I’m not into hot rod racing. In fact, I know nothing about it. The closest I’ve ever gotten to a love of cars was almost scaring my parents to death when I had a brief love of sniffing the gas fumes that would rise from the 57 Chevy my mother owned when they warmed the car up.

However, I saw a piece today on CNN World Sport about J.R. Todd who a couple of weeks ago became the first African-American man to win a major hot rod race. On top of being the first African-American to win a major hot rod race, he beat Tony Schumacher on July 16.

Rookie J.R. Todd upset Tony Schumacher Sunday afternoon at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals to score his first NHRA POWERade Series Top Fuel victory in just his ninth career start.

Todd, who with the victory becomes the first African-American to win an NHRA Top Fuel title, never trailed in the race at Bandimere Speedway, dismissing the three-time series champion with a performance of 4.906 at 291.63 mph in his Skull Shine/Torco Race Fuels dragster to Schumacher's 4.966 at 306.33 mph in the U.S. Army dragster.

"You never expect to get your first NHRA win by outrunning Tony Schumacher in the final," Todd said. "I didn't even know how to act down there. I was stunned. To beat that team straight up is almost unbelievable. They were talking about me being the first African-American to win in Top Fuel but out here it's all equal, especially when the helmet goes on." (from J.R. Todd Becomes First African-American to Win in Top Fuel)

The thing touched me about the story is he didn’t even realize he was the first. He was more focused on the fact that he'd own against Schumacher who is a distinguished racer who comes with a distinguished hot rod racing pedigree. Also, he says this is because the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) has a fair number of minority and female drivers already.

Black drivers have won NHRA events, but never in one of the top two nitro divisions, Top Fuel and Funny Car. Todd said he's glad he struck a blow for diversity, but he believes NHRA is already well ahead of the other motorsports in the country on the subject.

Todd is one of three Black drivers currently competing in the NHRA, including Antron Brown and Michael Phillips in Pro Stock Motorcycle. There are five women racers, including three-time motorcycle champion Angelle Sampey and Top Fuel star Melanie Troxel, and the Pedregon brothers, Tony, Cruz and Frank, were the first Latino racing team and have combined for 63 wins.

Todd's victory was saluted by his competitors, but not because of his ethnicity. (from NHRA racer Todd is making his move)

I really do admire any first time achievements by African-Americans in any field. I just think it’s nice that 40 years after the peak of the Civil Rights movement that when one of us is the first now, it’s not the first thing that we think about.


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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Chad Vader: Day Shift Manager, Episode 1

It's been a trying day for me, so after work I really needed to relax and have a laugh.

I found this link on YouTube. I'm a huge fan of the original Star Wars trilogy. So much so that I was a huge dork and brought a toy light saber to my law school graduation.

I kid you not. I have photo proof of my dorkiness.

Anyway, this video was the perfect end to a frustrating day at work.

It's really funny if you're a Star Wars fan because it spoofs poor, misunderstood Lord Vader. I just hope none of these folks get fired seven years from now for being in a short video spoof!



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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Make Satirical Video, Get Fired Years Later? Melanie Martinez Fired by PBS

Okay, this one is just stupid.

The news is buzzing with a story about Melanie Martinez who was host of PBS Kid's Sprout network host for their The Good Night Show. She was fired for two short videos she was in seven years ago that spoof the teen abstinence themed videos we've all seen.

I've posted the two spoofs here. The first one is hosted by Google video and runs fine. The other is on YouTube. For some reason, the video and audio aren't synchronized. Should better versions appear, I'll post the new links.

I've seen worse than this on Saturday Night Live!

I understand the network's right to be sensitive to its audience, but your average parent wouldn't mind, and would probably get a laugh out of the short videos. As for the kids, well, that's just a non-issue at this point. It just seems to be extreme action for videos which have neither nudity nor lewdness, but are just satires on a easily spoofed genre.

In an article from the Philadelphia Daily News points out the hypocrisy inherent in firing Martinez over this:

As more than one parent pointed out, PBS is the network that hired George Carlin to narrate "Thomas the Tank Engine" and invited James Gandolfini (mob boss), Tom Green (sexually pleasured farm animals) and Robin Williams (stalked suburban family) - plus numerous other actors whose previous roles might confuse children - to appear on "Sesame Street"?


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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Left Behind Economics: I'm Glad Someone Else Has Noticed

A friend of mine sent me "Left Behind Economics" which is a commentary by Paul Krugman. It was published on June 14th in the New York Times, but you have to be a subscriber to access the article on the NYTimes website. Since I'm a student I can access it online through my university's library website. However, the one thing I'm good at is research. I can find just about anything quickly and, usually, for free. I found it for your reading pleasure on another blog called the Economist's View, so here it is.

The title is a play on the concept of trickle down economics which holds that " benefit the wealthy is to benefit the middle classes and even the poor."
Essentially, the rich folks and business owners will stimulate the economy and this would yield benefits that would trickle down to people with less money and assets.

First, let me say that I know Im not an economist. My insights are ancedotal at best. I'm essentially a fledgling political philosopher. My philosophy definitely has a basis in Thomas Hobbes belief that life is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short." However, there are many schools of thought that have progressed past Hobbes Leviathan. Currently, Im captivated by Hedley Bull and the English School but seem to be stepping tentatively into social constructivism. What that means is while I think humans are capable of looking out for their fellow man that, most of the time, theyre looking out for number one.

However, even those not as well trained in economic theory have an opinion or two on the economy. Now I agree that in an ideal world where the better off were actually putting trickle down economics into action that it very well might work. However, those of us who are in the middle or lower classes know that nothing much seems to be trickling down to us. That's exactly what is happening right now because the current US government could care less about passing laws to help start that trickle.

Krugman essentially says the same thing.

I'd like to say that there's a real dialogue taking place about the state of the U.S. economy, but the discussion leaves a lot to be desired. In general, the conversation sounds like this:

Bush supporter: ''Why doesn't President Bush get credit for a great economy? I blame liberal media bias.''

Informed economist: ''But it's not a great economy for most Americans. Many families are actually losing ground, and only a very few affluent people are doing really well.''

Bush supporter: ''Why doesn't President Bush get credit for a great economy? I blame liberal media bias.''

To a large extent, this dialogue of the deaf reflects Upton Sinclair's principle: it's difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it. But there's also an element of genuine incredulity. Many observers, even if they acknowledge the growing concentration of income in the hands of the few, find it hard to believe that this concentration could be proceeding so rapidly as to deny most Americans any gains from economic growth.

Yet newly available data show that that's exactly what happened in 2004.

Edward Lazear believes that economic inequities arise between those with a lot of education and those without it. I think I and a whole host of highly educated people would beg to differ. Good for us, statistics have just come out to back this up as census data shows that the earnings of college graduates actually fell in 2004.

Two economists, Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, have shown that in 2004 the richest 1 percent of Americans experienced an income increase of 12.5 percent. The other 99 percents average income rose only 1.5 percent. Now Im sure that those of us in that 99 already know this.

Most of the people I went to school with are in the middle to upper middle class; I'm not, but they are. Usually, thats not a bad place to be. However, the article points out that even the upper middle class or people richer than 19 out of 20 Americans gained only modestly. The fact is these economic benefits arent trickling down to anyone. Instead, theyre pooling around the feet of those who already have the most.

The next time a friend is going on and on about how there media isnt talking about this vibrant US economy, you might want to bring up that most you know havent seen much of that vibrancy in their own finances. I think Krugman sums it up well.

In short, its a great economy if youre a high-level corporate executive or someone who owns a lot of stock. For most other Americans, economic growth is a spectator sport.


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Enron witness found dead in park

"A body found in north-east London has been identified as a banker who was questioned by the FBI about the Enron fraud case."

First, Ken Lay dies. Now a banker is found dead in a park. Maybe it's just coincidence, but I truly doubt that. Whatever it is, it’s just disturbing.

Granted the person found today was just a witness, but must they die before their fortunes are taken away and put in trust for all of the people who lost their retirement money after Enron’s collapse?

That’s just idealistic thinking as that would never happen anyway.

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Samsung and Versace Pair Up: The Versus E500 Fashion Phone

I'm sorry. I'm really sorry, but it's time for me to indulge in and share my superficial side.

What’s my excuse? Well, I was born, raised and educated in L.A., so some superficiality did manage to stick. It could be worse. At least it's not a penchant for miniature dogs, plastic surgery, eating disorders, sycophancy, or gold digging.

Anyway, I found this news on the Luxist website. Samsung has partnered with Versace's youth focused line Versus to make the Versus E500 phone! The name of the phone is horribly boring, but the pink and white version is just so adorable.

According to, the phone

...totes a 1.3-megapixel camera, music player and Bluetooth, but of course tech specs have nothing to do with why fashionistas will want this handset peeking out of their handbags.

I'm offended because functions DO matter in addition to having a cute phone.

Anyway, why do I think this phone is so drool worthy? Well, here is a picture of my current cell phone:

Yes, it’s pink, flowered and glittery complete with a smiley face charm that I picked up when I was in Japan. A woman that carries a phone like that is probably exactly what the Versus E500 marketing team is shooting for.

I’ve had it just over one year, but I’ve been considering getting one of those new Motorola Razr phones. Of course, I want the pink one.

However, the cell phone market in Korea is completely weird. I'd have to change service providers to get the Motorola. Now that's an easy process, but I'm loyal to LG Telecom because they allowed me to open a personal account. Now the reason for that loyalty because cell phone companies in South Korea are weird about opening accounts for foreigners. They have valid reasons for their reluctance, but there are practical business measures they could take that would make it easier for foreigners to get phones and insure that telecom companies don't take a loss opening such accounts. However most, even LG, won't take the steps to make it happen, but that's a rant for another time.

This obsession I have with cutesy pink phones is why this Versus E500 is such a hot phone to me.
The pink and white one is just so cute! Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Now unfortunately, according to the press release, it’s going to be released in Italy at the end of August, but not here in South Korea. Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


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Not a Surprise: UN ready to help North Korean flood victims, but they're having problems

North Korean co-operative farm workers on a rice paddy in Unpha county, North Hwanghae province, July 19, 2005. The U.N. World Food Program said on Monday North Korea had yet to allow it to distribute food aid there after widespread flooding that some analysts have warned could trigger famine in the country. (Gerald Bourke/WFP/Handout/Reuters)

The Middle East crisis is dominating the news. Now there is good reason because it's a gripping story and horrible things are happening there and, in particular, to civilians in Lebanon.

However, there are issues going on in other parts of the world too.

As I mentioned in Rain, Mint, and Flooding, here in Korea, we were in the 장마 season. It was pretty much raining non-stop for more about two weeks. In South Korea there have been a few deaths with about 2,400 of people displaced from their homes.

However, in North Korea it is feared that many more people have suffered due to the high amount of rain that we experienced in the region. North Korea released an announcement on Friday saying hundreds were killed or are missing.

North Korea on Friday made its first official comment on deaths from the storms, saying hundreds were killed or went missng. The thing is they're only letting the World Food Program (WFP) into one county. As a result, the WFP can't assess what the damage was and what the need is, and it can't ensure that aid gets into the hands of those who need it most.

And you wonder why North Korea doesn't let its people have any interaction with the outside world? Outside of the probable reality that the people would wise up and rise up, the fact that the North Korean government has let its own people suffer and starve would surely anger quite a few people.

It's incredibly sad to put a priority on game playing in international politics and allow people to suffer this way.


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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Unbalanced Perspectives or Unsullied Opposition?

Although the CSMonitor published “In ‘docu-ganda’ films, balance is not the objective” on June 2nd, I just read it today, so this post is a bit behind the curve. The article discusses how there is a new type of film out there getting tons of press, viewers, influence, and generating heaps of discussion.

Those films, docu-gandas or op-ed documentaries, are a genus of films masquerading as documentaries when, in reality, “[t]hey fail to meet the Oxford Dictionary definition, in that they editorialize, and opine far too much.” These are films started with Michael Moore’s commercial success “Roger & Me” in 1989. Moore has followed with even more successful films of this nature as have others.

I think they’re good because they get people discussing the issues. However, when I watch them, I watch with a critical eye because I know that they’re presenting only one side of the issue. Also, while watching, I sit there and I poke hole after hole in their arguments or perspectives. I’d do the same for any op-ed documentary I see. I just don’t pay to see many of them because I know I’m going to sit there the whole time thinking of counterpoints and different perspectives to the story they're selling me.

That’s the thing that worries me. The anti-Bush sentiment here in South Korea is very high. When “Fahrenheit 9/11” was at the peak of its popularity I had tons of people asking me if I’d seen it, and then launching into a whole spiel about the war in Iraq. Eventually, I did get around to seeing it. While I agree that the Iraqi War is an embarrassment and a travesty, I didn’t really like the film or agree a lot of what the film had to say.

I had a similar feeling about “Super Size Me.” I liked it more, but Morgan Spurlock’s girlfriend is a vegan chef! If that doesn’t light up the neon “big bias” sign, I don’t know what does.

Doesn’t everyone know that if you eat McDonald’s food everyday for breakfast, lunch and dinner your health will take a serious nosedive? I do, and I doubt that knowing that fact requires a huge amount of intelligence. If at all, I’ll eat at McDonalds every once in awhile. Even then, I avoid most of what’s on the menu. I agree that McDonalds is a huge marketing machine. I also agree that making it a regular part of your diet is suicidal.

However, as the article points out, what about a reality check?

I’m from South Central L.A. which is known for being a mostly ethnic and low income neighborhood. I was lucky because my daddy worked and, because of that, my mom had the luxury of choosing to be a stay at home mom. We could afford and I came home to nutritious, home-cooked meals.

But what about those on a low or limited income who work and who don’t have time to cook? The reality is in South Central there are no vegan or vegetarian restaurants. There are no Italian restaurants. There are no neighborhood coffee houses. There are no malls with food courts. There are no take-out counters with fresh, homemade food. There are no delis where you can get a salad and fresh sandwich for cheap. In South Central L.A. there are only McDonalds, Burger Kings, KFCs or other fast food joints, fortified with bullet proof glass, where you can get a meal for under $5.00. Usually, you can get a special for much cheaper than that.

I notice that there is still a huge difference when I fly home and drive to my old neighborhood to visit. If you take the Harbor Freeway to Manchester Boulevard and head in the direction of Inglewood, there are tons of fast food restaurants all along that corridor. There was not much else in terms of food establishments. That’s the reality of where I grew up.

So tell me, how much harder is it going to be for someone in that neighborhood to wean themselves off of a fast food diet?

I’m not bashing Spurlock, as I understand and essentially agree with his message in “Super Size Me”. I am merely using his film as an example because these were some of the exact thoughts going through my head as I was watching his film.

There is great a need for films like this because, prior to their success, the only people who had the money and power to push films like this were a handful of people in Hollywood. Now Hollywood sees that it's in its interest to fund and promote these films. However, even if Hollywood doesn't support an op-ed documentary, it can be seen by many anyway via the Internet, private screenings, videos and DVDs. That's wonderful because the American electorate needs more debate. A lack of debate is the exact reason why, politically, we're in such a fix right now. So op-ed documentary film makers, keep bringing it on!

I just believe that, just as people are quick to be critical of the other side, you have to be critical when you watch op-ed documentaries. The purpose is not just to inform the audience. You have to realize that they are meant to influence the audience. These films aren’t made to be fair and balanced.

That’s not a problem if the people watching realize they’re only getting one side of the story. My problem is when I have discussions with people who are moved by these op-ed documentaries is they sound just like the film. That shows me they haven’t been critical of the information. Thus, they’re probably not going to go home, hop on the Internet and try to get more information on the issue. At most, they’ll go to the film’s website where they’re fed more one-sided information.

Again, I’m not bashing the filmmakers. I’m just pointing out that the onus is on us to know how to look past the spin to get as close as we can to the facts on both sides. That way we can form our own opinions.

The advent of such films does not mean that people shouldn’t see them, but rather that viewers should practice critical thinking…
That quote from the article, I think sums it up nicely. Thus, when you watch an op-ed documentary, be ready to question what you’re shown and told.


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Saturday, July 22, 2006

Reports of big fortune a "huge lie" star says

"Mexican big-screen siren Salma Hayek Friday dismissed as nonsense reports that she has a $100 million fortune, and said if she did she would retire and use the money to help the poor."


I thought this was an interesting story simply because I'm from L.A. where there are a lot of people with a lot of money. Unfortunately, I'm not one of them because I'd be putting that money and the power that comes with it to some good use.

I've always liked Hayek because in addition to being gorgeous, she's a stunning beauty that is humble about it. Because of that, she strikes you as someone you'd actually like if you met her. Even her post-Punkd banter with Ashton Kutcher and Penelope Cruz on MTV's Punkd was really funny, and indicative of someone who seems to be someone decent and not too taken with herself.

Considering what Hayek said she'd do if she did have a $100 million fortune, it sounds like she deserves much more than some selfish ones who do have it. What she said was wonderful.

If I had $100 million I would have retired and would be doing more things on an altruistic level than I can now. I would have opened centers in Mexico for violence against women and many other things.
Too bad that most who do have it spend their time, it seems, doing much more for themselves than for others.

read more digg story


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Puppets for Business Meetings?

Add punch to your company meeting, sales event, trade show, business conference, corporate event, theme event, industrial training video or other presentation. If you're planning a meeting, the Punch & Brodie puppet company delivers fresh, effective, and creative humor that caters to the business audience.

It's time for something funny. I got to this link from the File it Under v2.0 website's "Carnival of Crazy" section which has funny links to some strange stuff.

It's free advertising, so I'm sure the company doesn't mind.This is from a company called Punch and Brodie Puppet Productions. This is a quote from their website, "Punch & Brodie was founded in 1990 to provide quality puppetry to corporate environments." Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Now I thought that was completely weird, but then I clicked around. It turns out that they've used the puppets in some unique ways.

I'm thinking that if a company is dealing with a serious issue, wants to make an information or instructional video, but also doesn't want to make the work environment excessively stressful or tense, this could work.

Still, initially, it's just the funniest thing.


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Friday, July 21, 2006

Professor Kim's News Notes: Should racially-motivated violent rapes be national news?

Professor Kim's News Notes: Should racially-motivated violent rapes be national news?

This is a troubling blog entry that I just found out about today. It was posted on the news forum at Basically, two men brutally stabbed, raped and thought they'd murdered a 15 year old black girl. She laid still; they thought she was dead, so they went to get something to dispose of her body. That is when she was able to run to a house next door and someone there called the authorities.

I truly don't understand minds that work like this. What's worse is I don't understand a media which doesn't aggressively cover this sort of story and runs the same stories over and over all day long.

It's something that I think needs to get more attention. That's the main reason I'm posting it here on my blog, and that's why I put it up on

Being sad or upset is fine, but we have to do more than feel emotions. We need to mobilize to make sure people hear about the story. Head over to via the link below and "digg" the story so more folks will read about it.

read more digg story


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If You Build It, They Will Come. Are You Sure About That?

Does that also mean if you blog it, they will come?

How do you know you have a successful blog?

When is a blog successful?

I’ve been thinking about those questions because I've been in the "blogosphere" for about two weeks. I’ve used the Internet for a lot longer, but this is the first time I've created content meant for others to read. I think it's a natural question when you call yourself writing for an audience. I wonder when or if my blog will ever be "successful". Of course, success is subjective on some levels and objective on others.

Subjective success could mean anything. For someone unfamiliar with the Internet, armed with their AOL CD that comes free with their new computer and gung-ho to learn about this not so new way of communicating, just figuring out what a weblog is might be success. For a young mother success might mean putting up a blog that her family and friends read so that everyone can keep in touch. For someone into a certain team or celebrity, establishing a fan blog where others who share the same love as you might mean success.

As I've been on the net for over a decade now with various ISPs and various handles, my idea of success is a blog where not only friends and family read and participate, but it's a place where I can interact with both old and new Internet friends.

Of course, I want people to read and like what I write. Now they might not agree with my point of view or perspective, but I hope that they'll conclude that my writing style is pretty good and appreciate that I can organize my thoughts and express them pretty well.

From my perspective, as my blog has been up for only a couple of weeks, I’m happy with it. I get a couple of comments on my more interesting posts, and my NeoCounter on the right tells me that folks from all over have popped by. Sometimes when I’m on I notice I have a repeat visitor from time to time.

So whoever you all are, thanks a bunch. BTW, leave a comment as I approve all of them and I’ve only 86ed one so far.

However, objective success is a totally different ballgame. I discovered this the first day I started working on my blog. I knew that just writing it, but not letting people know I had started blogging would mean that I’d pretty much be the only person reading it. I jumped right in and started looking at ways to virtually say “hey, I’m here” without being a pest. Of course, I selectively sent an email announcing my beloved blog to family, friends and acquaintances. However, most people I know could give two cents about diplomacy and most want me to leave Korea and come home, so that’s not much of an audience.

However, there are sites like Technorati, Blogpulse and Feedburner which perform a variety of services for bloggers. The one thing that they have in common is that they literally measure how your blog measures up to all the other ones. This seems to be done based on a couple of criteria: how much traffic you have on your blog and how many other sites link to your blog.

When you’re new to this, like I am, it can be a bit disconcerting to find out that because no one has linked to your blog that it is pretty much worthless. What’s even worse is when you go to some blogs that are linked to everyone, are highly ranked but they really suck. Some just leave me scratching my head as to how they have such notoriety. However, there are some popular ones that are really good. Also, there are many blogs I’ve discovered that don’t have a lot of traffic yet are really quite good.

These rankings or data analyzers can be particularly crushing when you're feeling quite proud of yourself for getting ideas, having enough inspiration and making the time to write, revise, edit and then publish them on your blog. Then you do the obligatory ping and go to Technorati to see if they’ve picked your new post up. Usually when I’m there I click around a bit.

The day that North Korea fired off all of those missiles I wrote something on it right away as I was up in the early morning hours watching the Germany vs. Italy World Cup match. I was pleasantly surprised to see that a blog post on had linked to what I wrote. What I realized then is because I’m in Seoul, most news stories break when I’m asleep. It seems that timing plays a very big role in whether certain blog sites will find what you write and then link to you. Considering the time difference, I'm usually a few hours behind. I haven’t been deemed worthy from since then. Beyond that, as I type this, the only links to my blog are me linking folks from my other tiny blogs to here. What's funny is, according to Technorati, my blog just isn't worth very much.

But the thing is that's really not all that important. This blog is a way in which I can opine, crack jokes, share music, gossip and do whatever else is special to me and, so far, I think it’s successful considering I really had not much of a clue what blogging was prior it this. The rankings let me know that the objective way of ranking, while valuable for commerce, doesn’t really measure success. They’re just measuring commercial appeal. That’s good if you’re a blogger in it to make money, to market a service or product or if you're in public relations, but that’s not why I'm here. I mean I won't deny that if my blog had the pull of Michelle Mankin's or Arianna Huffington's I wouldn't mind, but they had notoreity before they were bloggers and their blogs are also meant to promote their careers as public figures which means a lot of professionals working behind the scenes.

It’s just funny as I’m new to the blogging world, so I still have oodles to learn. I also know because I’m usually opining about international politics that I’m writing for a niche audience. They may or may not show up as time goes on.

I guess in a few months we’ll see if that quote from Field of Dreams is true.


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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Presidential Popularity at an All Time Low? Okay, Go Hang Out With The Black People

You know, I knew this would happen. I'd start discussing international politics and then I'd end up being yet another web logger on an anti-Bush roll. I promise this will be the last for awhile, unless it's something so over the top that I can't ignore it.

Bush is now courting the black vote. This is a farce at its finest.

With Bush’s satisfaction poll numbers still very low and the November elections swiftly approaching, Bush finally decides to attend a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) function.

Here is a video clip from ABC News.

While Bush was at this function, instead of talking about issues that impact the majority of African-Americans, he discussed his plans to repeal the estate tax and mentioned his friend Bob Johnson, who is the founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET). According to Think Progress this tax only affects 59, yes that’s 5 – 9 or 50 plus 9, African-Americans.

I know it didn’t affect me when my parents passed away because the estate has to be in excess of $2 million for it to be assessed. So why doesn’t Bush make it a priority to make sure that African-Americans have less barriers and more means to acquire estates valued at $2 million or more because then it would be an issue for us.

This is a clear case of putting the cart before the horse. There is good reason that only 11% of African-Americans voted for him, he just doesn’t seem to get it.

I’ve lost faith in the American voter, but I really hope that the African-Americans who do get off their butts and vote will not be taken in by these “too little, too late” overtures.

Okay, I'll try to make that my last Bush skewering for awhile.


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Zidane given ban and fine by Fifa

It's finally over.

FIFA has laid down punishment for both Zizou and Materazzi.

Because Zizou retired after his last game, he's volunteered to work for three days with FIFA doing, "... community service work with children and youngsters."


Zinedine Zidane has been banned for three games and fined £3,260 for head-butting Italy's Marco Materazzi during the World Cup final.

Following an investigation by world governing body Fifa, Materazzi was suspended for two games and fined £2,170 for provoking Zidane.

read more digg story


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Boomers: Worst Generation Ever

I just joined and what a site it is. There are tons of new stories cycling around that you can read and rate. You can, and should, also add stories that you "digg".

I found this opinion piece about the baby boomer generation. I have to say I agree with it.

You boomers, as a group have mucked things up big time.

Whatever we Boomers may have been or done in our individual capacities, on the big matters that legacies are made of we have been outclassed, out of our depth, unable to offer the strategic leadership that would leave something of value to posterity. Most importantly, we have shown ourselves singularly incapable of greatness.
read more digg story


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Gollum Rap: Preciousssss isss my Bling Bling II

I was cleaning up my bookmarks and tripped over this link which I got from a student of mine when I taught at Korea University (thanks Sang-june).

I still laugh everytime I see it.

It's an animated video that spoofs the Gollum character from the Lord of the Rings movies.

It's just silly, although now definitely a couple of years outdated. I just still laugh when I see it.

Here is the link: Gollum Rap - preciousssss isss my bling bling


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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Dumb and Dumber: Stem Cells and Congress vs. Bush and a Veto

This one is personal.

저가 이 전체 지독한 줄기 세포 토론에 의하여 가버리 소변을 보고 있다!

I wrote that in English, put it into a translating program and there you go. I did that because most of it is me swearing, and swearing is bad form when you’re engaging in political commentary.

But…조지 W. 부시는 지독한 백치 및 바보이다! If you’re Korean you can point and laugh at my bad translations because I know it has been translated literally, so it's just comical. However, I really needed to express that, and it's probably best that when it's translated back that it's nonsense.

Why am I so upset? Well, if you’ve been reading this blog you know that I have insulin dependent diabetes, and I wear an insulin pump.

Congress passed a bill approving more federal funds for stem cell research, but George is slated to veto it.

Now this is a report and video of what he said:

Moments ago, Bush made a statement at the White House discussing why he vetoed a bill expanding funding for embryonic stem cell research. (The media was barred from covering the veto itself.) Bush explained, “these boys and girls are not spare parts.”

Now, there is stem cell research going on based on private funding, but federal approval would mean more money but also regulation. Even some conservatives like Senator Orin Hatch and former First Lady Nancy Reagan are for stem cell research.

An embryo is not a boy or a girl. It’s a cluster of about 150 cells smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. The embryos funded by the bill Bush vetoed were “created for the purposes of in vitro fertilization…which are spare or in excess of clinical need and in every single case are slated for medical waste.”

Only about 10 percent of embryos are adopted — the rest are disposed of. Had Bush signed the bill into law, they could instead be used to develop potentially live-saving cures for millions of people. (quote taken from the same source I cited above).

It’s just insulting and stupid that people can’t be as critical about their moral convictions as they are about the actions of other world leaders and allow themselves to be critical of themselves and their own leader.

He and his supporters on the stem cell research issue are first-class dunces…enuf said.

I hope that Congress has the two-thirds majority to override this veto. However, it's not looking good according to most sources. To be honest, I haven’t been following the numbers, but it will be a shame if it doesn’t pass.

My life and the lives of others suffering from disease are less important than an embryo that will be tossed in the waste.

That is absolutely asinine.

It's official. Congress couldn't rally up the two-thirds votes needed to override Bush's veto.


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Tony Snow and the UN: Get Your Facts Straight. You Are the Press Secretary, Right?

Tony Snow, left, pictured with President George W. Bush and former Press Secretary Scott McClellan

You know I thought Tony Snow was a fairly smart guy. At least, that's what the reports implied when he was appointed Bush's new Press Secretary. He came on touted as an experienced journalist who was an “insider” in press circles.

However, this report from Think Progress makes me wonder about that. Basically, Snow said "thank you for the Hezbollah view" to Helen Thomas when she was asking him questions about the US policy regarding the current crisis in the Middle East.

When I read it my mind was screaming “noooooooooooooo, not another "looks good on paper" dimwit in the White House!”

It seems that Ms. Thomas asked Snow to discuss the United States’s veto of a UN Security Council resolution that would have called for a cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah in the conflict which is wreaking havoc in Israel and Lebanon.

Snow simply did not have his facts straight as he denied that the US had vetoed this resolution in the Security Council. BTW, it was the US’s first veto of a Security Council resolution in almost two years.

What’s funny about this story is I’ve been tuned into CNN International for hours. They’ve been running the same tired pieces over and over (I have the TV on mute). They haven’t mentioned this incident once.

Is there a bias in the US owned media? Nah….couldn’t be.

Here is the transcript:

QUESTION: The United States is not that helpless. It could have stopped the bombardments of Lebanon. We have that much control with the Israelis.

SNOW: I don’t think so.

QUESTION: We have gone for collective punishment against all of Lebanon and Palestine. And what’s happening — and that’s the perception of the United States.

SNOW: Well, thank you for the Hezbollah view, but I would encourage you…

QUESTION: Nobody’s accepting your explanation. What is it say, to call for…

SNOW: I’ll tell you, what’s interesting is people have. The G-8 was completely united on this. And as you know when it comes to issues of…

QUESTION: Stop the cease-fire? Why?

SNOW: We didn’t stop a cease-fire. Let me continue — I’ll tell you what. We didn’t even veto — please get your facts right. What happened was that the G-8 countries made a pretty clear determination that the guilty party here was Hezbollah. You cannot have a cease- fire when you’ve got the leader of Hezbollah going on his television saying that he perceives total war, he’s declaring total war, when they are firing rockets indiscriminately…(CROSSTALK)

SNOW: Please let me finish. I know this is great entertainment, but I want to finish the answer. The point here is, they’re firing rockets indiscriminately into civilian areas. The Israelis are responding, as they see fit. You will note, the countries that disagree with the government of Israel in terms of its general approach on Palestine — many of our European allies agree that Israel has the right to defend itself, that the government of Lebanon has the right to control all its territory, that Hezbollah is responsible, and that those who support it also bear responsibility.

There is no daylight between the United States and all the allies on this. They all agree on it. This was not difficult…

QUESTION: That’s not the point. Why did we veto a cease-fire?

SNOW: We didn’t veto a cease-fire.

QUESTION: Yes, we did.

SNOW: No, we didn’t. There was no cease-fire.

QUESTION: But wasn’t there a resolution?


QUESTION: At the U.N.?

SNOW: No. You know what you’ve done — I see — what happened was that there was conversation about, quote, a cease-fire that was picked up on some of the microphone when some colorful language made its way into the airwaves yesterday.(LAUGHTER)

And the president was continuing a conversation he had had earlier with Prime Minister Tony Blair about staging. Would we like a cease-fire? You bet. Absolutely. We would love to see a cease-fire. But the way you stage it is that you make sure that the people who started this fight, Hezbollah, take their responsibility.

QUESTION: There was no veto at the U.N.?

SNOW: No. There hasn’t been a resolution at the V.N. — the U.N., whatever it is.
There haven’t been any…(LAUGHTER)

There hasn’t been.(LAUGHTER) I’ve been at (inaudible) in Germany too long. There has been no resolution at the U.N.

Good grief!!!


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Idealistic Certainty: Waging War to Promote Democracy

Update: February 28, 2008 @ 6:26am

I made this initial post back in 2006. Today I was reading the Fishbowl NY blog. They announced that Buckley passed away.



I never thought I’d quote William F. Buckley, Jr. However, he has a newly released editorial named One Flag Too High that, in some parts, says exactly what needs to be said. I think that’s noteworthy because it’s coming from an old boy conservative and not from a left wing liberal.

President Bush is a victim of his idealistic certitudes. These have their place. It is hard to imagine how Great Britain would have survived the year 1942 without Churchill's apocalyptic reassurances, never mind that when they were spoken, they must have been the cause of laughter in the Nazi high command, which brought them in via radio antennas sitting on top of the Eiffel Tower. The problem has been that without Bush's high calls for global political reform, the American public would have gone along only reluctantly with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. And enthusiasm for these wars is now flagging because we have assured ourselves that we aren't there to choke off nuclear arms development. We are there to save the locals from the kind of government they would have if left to their own resources.

We are struggling hard, but not hard enough, to reanimate our far-flung missions abroad. The distortions are by no means exclusively the result of Republican shortsightedness. We are acting out, in Iraq and Afghanistan, ideologies that trace back to the universalization of the American creed. We pronounced, in the Declaration of Independence, ideals we conceived of as universally appealing, but which no one had the least intention of exporting beyond the boundaries of the newly independent country.

Buckley goes on to discuss many issues connected to this from Woodrow Wilson's idealistic goals of spreading the idea of liberal democracy worldwide through the League of Nations, which is the predecessor of the United Nations, to the steady rise of Islamic fundamentalism in spite of the US’s deep and expensive involvement in both Israel and Egypt.

I don’t agree with everything Buckley has to say. In particular, the comment at the end, which I didn't quote, about religion strikes me as inherently polarizing and divisive because the US is not just a Christian nation. The US is a nation built on Christian ideas as the settlers from England were Christian. However, the pull of America is freedom. Freedom is a universal idea and no group or religion has a monopoly on it. Furthermore, for a very long time America has absorbed citizens from every corner of the globe and, therefore, it has citizens culled from various cultures and religions. We are nation with not only Christians but also Catholics, Jews, Muslims, pagans, agnostics, atheists, etc. Therefore, I’m not sure how many of us would line up for a 21st century version of the Crusades.

In spite of that weak point, his initial point of Bush's steadfast crusade to export democracy is dead on. It's one thing to be an American child who is taught in an American classroom about the virtues of American-style democracy. It's another thing to be an American adult trying to force that on citizens of other nation-states. This has been one of my biggest objections to the Bush administration’s approach to international conflict. You can’t export democracy by force.

Democracy develops when people think. When you’re facing down a platoon coming into your neighborhood you’re not thinking about the democratic freedom that might follow. You’re thinking about making sure you don’t get killed or otherwise humiliated by your invader. Democracy comes and has staying power when the people themselves fight for it. From those upstart settlers in the new land rebelling against a tyrannical English king to the protesters in countries all over the world calling for democracy, the people have to want a democratic society.

I’m not saying people don’t want democracy in Iraq or Afghanistan. Only the people of those countries can show the world that democracy is what they want. It just seems that their want for democracy is lukewarm at best which leaves the US waving the flag when others want to burn it.


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Monday, July 17, 2006

Rain, Mint and Flooding

Now it's time for me to talk about what is going on locally. I know that the G8 and the crisis in the Middle East are dominating the news. This is so much so that the UN Security Council’s unanimous vote on a referendum regarding North Korea and North Korea’s resulting blabber has also been virtually ignored by the press. BTW, let’s hope this sends a strong message to North Korea.

To me, having two or three news stories dominate the news is interestingly disturbing. It’s one big reason why the general public is so uninformed about most current events. You have each and every news agency reporting the same damn stories. How informative can that be? Thank God for blogs!

With that in mind, it’s time for some local flavor.

In Korea right now it’s the 장마 season, jangma season, which translates to monsoon season. What that means is from July to August there is a lot of rain here. I don’t mind it as it cools the air down and zaps away the humidity. However, it’s been raining pretty much non-stop since late last week and today is Tuesday. It’s been great for me because I live up on a hill, so the water just flows downward. What that means unfortunately is in Seoul the Han River has flowed over onto some streets. I’ve had no reason to go out since Saturday, so I’ve chosen to avoid any bad results of all this rain by just enjoying my time at home.

Just a few days ago it was hot, hot, hot. I was being a minimalist and trying to conserve which means I didn’t turn on my air conditioner. Instead, I relied on my fan and a small air cooler I bought a couple of years ago. You just freeze the ice packs that come with the cooler, fill it with water and let it rip. It’s not as effective as an air conditioner, but I really don’t need to cool down my two bedroom place as it’s just me and my cat. I just need to cool the part of the apartment that I’m in.

All that just goes to say I’ve been ecstatic with the rain and the clouds. I miss the sun, but when the sun comes up the humidity goes up. If I must choose, I’ll choose clouds because as a born and raised Californian because I like dry heat. Living in Korea during the summer is like living in a sauna at times. I’ve discovered great things like mint and mentholated body washes and other mint products. Mint cools you down in the summer and it’s like good sex to hop into the shower and slather that stuff on.

I went mad last year when the Body Shop stopped carrying their Cooling Shower Gel last year. I just about died because I discovered it the summer before. When you rinse after using a product like that the mint is still tingling and cool. I found that Missha, a Korean beauty chain, were much smarter and had a product called Missha Ice Cream Body Wash in a Mint N’ Chocochips scent. Paydirt baby!

Missha saved my summer last year and for this I’m very loyal to them now. Screw the Body Shop! Who needs them? Now I roll into Missha every few months to make sure they still have it and they’re not phasing it out. Last time I went there, I bought three bottles just to make sure that if someone in marketing did decide to phase it out, I’d have my stash for the summer. So, seriously, try it if you’re in a hot climate try a mint or menthol based body product. They’re wonderful ways to cool down.

Now the bad part about all of this rain is that if you’re downstream and in low laying areas, you will be inundated with tons of water. Unfortunately, that’s what is happening here in Korea right now. According to reports 20 people have died and quite a few are missing. Here is a link to the latest story on the rain here: Rain Kills at Least 20 in South Korea

When I ran a search to get updated information I noticed that the news sources were coming from Korea, India, China, and other sources in Asia and the Pacific Rim. Now this isn’t a surprise, but no matter where I am I want to know what’s going on in other parts of the world. It would be nice to see international news agencies pick up stories like this. It was somewhat frustrating to go to CNN looking for news on this and being able to only find stories on North Korea. In fact, in the sidebar I had the choice of World stories from only Africa, the Americas and the Middle East. That jus blantantly leaves out other regions and there is newsworthy stuff happening all over the world. It's just so short-sighted, but I know it's profit driven.

I think this apathy to global current events is bad because if you only hear about stories that affect you you’re not likely to understand or reach out to other people.


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Live from Saint Petersburg. The G8 Comedy Show!

You know certain things depress me, and I've been avoiding writing about them as school will be here before I know it. I'll just save all depressing writing until then.

The G8 Summit is one of those things. I'm jaded because I see it as the heads of the richest countries in the world sitting around having really good catered meals, posing for photo ops, and generally playing nice. They can't and don't seem to make any real world changes at these events. Even if they do agree to something then they've got to take it back home and hope it gets approval from their respective legislatures. Basically, it's a fun conference where they get to relax, sip Mai-tais and hang out with their peers.

Big yawn...

However, as Bush's microphone faux pas shows, there are some things to snicker about.

Here is another one:

A reporter had asked President Bush how his conversation with Putin on "concerns about Russian democracy" had gone.

"I have shared with him my desires for our country, and he shared with me his desires for his," said Bush. "And I talked about my desire to promote institutional change in parts of the world like Iraq where there's a free press and free religion, and I told him that a lot of people in our country would hope that Russia would do the same thing."

"We certainly would not want to have the same kind of democracy as they have in Iraq, I will tell you quite honestly," Putin joked.

"Just wait," Bush responded

Putin: Russia doesn't want 'kind of democracy' US has in Iraq

Here is a link to video of this exchange.


This is the thing. From my understanding, a liberal democracy is something a people must want to achieve in order for it to happen. This is why I still don't understand how anyone who wasn't a grade schooler believed that waging war in Iraq would be successful.

You can't blast into a country, topple its leadership and then say "now have democratic elections." The people have to want this process or else you're going to have dudes with guns hanging out by the roadsides on election day aiming at voters. That's exactly what we have in Iraq right now.

Democracy is one thing but before democracy can take hold and work you have to have a population that understands how democracy works and is willing to take the steps needed to put it into action. Even in my own country, the USA, 230 years into democracy we're still having debates and disagreements about how democracy should work.

I think it's grand that Bush was put in check for trying to again tell other countries how their societies must work.

Now carry-on with the show!


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When Will George Learn? Thanks For Turning Off the Mic Tony

The interesting thing about living in Korea is we're a day ahead which, most of the time, is cool. When the rest of the world is getting up I'm winding down.

I got up around 5am this morning so that's exactly what I was doing when I heard this report. I'm tucked in bed watching CNN before I go sleep, and they run a recording of Bush speaking with Tony Blair on the Israel - Hezbollah conflict.

The recording caught Bush speaking frankly about the crisis. Now this is one of my biggest personal fears as I'm known for being quite animated and expressive when I speak with close friends. I know how to hold my tongue and be presentable in formal or business situations, but I'm not like that in my private life. I also tend to pepper casual speech with close friends with choice swear words. It's very funny, and it's very American.

So, knowing this is a cultural fixture among Americans, I was braced and sure enough Bush let it rip. Eventually, Blair leaned forward and switched off the microphone, so either Blair figured out that what they were saying was being overheard or someone tipped him off because the CNN clip seems to be around a minute.

SAINT PETERSBURG (AFX) - US President George W. Bush, caught on an open microphone, said that a key to defusing the Middle East crisis was for 'Hezbollah to stop doing this shit'.

Talking to British Prime Minister Tony Blair at a working lunch at the G8 summit, Bush also hinted that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would take a bigger role in the crisis, and appeared to express frustration about UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

'I think Condi's going to go pretty soon,' the US president said, leaving Rice's destination unclear, though she is widely expected to travel to the region after a UN fact-finding team returns.

Later, Bush added that 'the irony is, what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit, and it's over,' though he does not specify who 'they' are.

And he appeared to express frustration about Annan, saying 'I felt like telling Kofi to get on the phone with Assad, make something happen.'

The recording picked up as Bush, apparently expected to make remarks, declared: 'I'm just going to make it up. I'm not going to talk too damn long like the rest of them. Some of these guys talk too long.'

Here is the full transcript of the conversation from Adam Boulton's weblog: Bush & Blair Raw & Uncut

Now, in a way, this is good because Bush has basically laid out what everyone knows is the U.S. perspective on this conflict. He also did well by saying that the U.S. wasn't blaming Lebanon for this conflict. It's clear my government is laying responsibility squarely on the shoulders of Hezbollah.

However, the problem is Bush took a very disrespectful tone and approach to the whole process of diplomacy. If you read my other posts on international politics, you already know that I have a big problem with the lack of diplomacy the Bush administration engages in. I don't think diplomacy is calling nation-states you don't like names and telling sovereign countries what they "must" do. Granted, I have very strong opinions on what certain nation-states should or must do, but I've learned by living in a foreign culture that you can't talk to people from different cultures the way you talk to your friends or family.

Also, it's very important to take the time to talk to your counterparts because it is key to fostering understanding and agreements. That's not to say that sitting around in "getting to know you" sessions always saves the day, but it seems that not one person in Bush's cabinet has taken a basic negotiations and strategy course. Clearly, all of them need a crash course ASAP because having such a cavalier attitude and saying people "talk too much" when many think we could be on the brink of World War III is short-sighted.

After all of the mishaps in international diplomacy since Bush has taken office you'd think that they would finally get that maybe their approach to diplomacy has been wrong.


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Hezbollah, Lebanon, Israel and a Clear Failure of International Society

Yes, I know that I’ve been avoiding commenting on the fire being exchanged in the Middle East between Israel and Hezbollah. I know I haven’t commented on Hezbollah forces in Lebanon attacking Israel and kidnapping two Israeli soldiers along with the inevitability that Israel would answer back by lobbing artillery and air strikes into Lebanon.

Yes, I’m studying international studies, particularly diplomacy and security. However, what a fine mess this is. I think I’ve chosen not to address it thus far simply because as soon as I heard the news, I knew which way this was going to go. I silently hoped that the big powers like the U.S. would immediately urge Israel to show some restraint lest this spiral out of control. Initially, that didn’t happen.

“Diplomats”! That term is in quotes because, outside of the diplomats themselves, does anyone truly see them as diplomats?

My definition of a diplomat is someone who is educated and armed with the skill and determination to resolve disagreements and conflict before rounds are fired and people start evacuating. Also, diplomats snap into place if, like in this current crisis, they aren’t called upon initially to work things out. I don’t see that happening at all. This is all political where you have the people on the international scene giving not two cents about resolving conflict and caring more about keeping the masses happy thereby keeping themselves in power. No one wants to be the first to slash his or her political wrists.

When I tune into CNN International I turn the sound off until the World Sport segment comes on. It’s so incredibly depressing and both sides are acting, unfortunately, in such a knee jerk and predictable fashion that I really don’t see this resolving itself anytime soon or in an amicable manner. When I do ante up and turn the sound on it’s rant after rant from the various sides which is then juxtaposed with the heart wrenching stories of weepy to livid civilians caught in the middle fleeing to Syria.

One theory as to why the Palestinians in Gaza as well as Hezbollah in Lebanon are much feistier is because of Israel’s new leader Ehud Olmert. Olmert, unlike his predecessor Ariel Sharon, doesn’t have a military background. Maybe this is the reason for Olmert’s baptism by fire, but that means Olmert has an interest in being a hard-liner in this crisis. That gives him very little room to move. Hezbollah believes they’re fighting a great enemy, and we all know it’s near impossible to argue with someone tied deeply into their faith and their religion.

Various organizations and governments from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to the G8 are calling for Israel to exercise restraint. Israel, of course, is saying the attack and subsequent kidnappings were an act of war which technically they are. But if politicians conducted all foreign policy based on the rules of engagement we would have had a war during the Cuban Missile Crisis as well as war a few times over here in Korea. It just seems that if your solution is being a hardliner then war is your only option because answering back with air assaults and artillery you know it’s going to escalate.

Again, it seems hopeless, unless someone who is a visionary can step in and try to get both sides to calm down and come to the table. This has all the markings of getting worse before it gets better.

I guess that’s why I haven’t said anything about it until now. It’s pretty much a done deal unless something astounding happens.


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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Angelina Jolie, playing Mariane Pearl...huh?

Update: June 22, 2007 @ 7:24am

Well, I'm out of the hell that is finals, so I can dust off my blogger's hat.

A Mighty Heart is set to open this weekend and most of the reviews have been quite good. Not that there was any doubt that Jolie could pull off the role or that she has the star pull to make people talk about the movie.

Here are a few links:

I still think it's funny seeing the pictures though. It just rubs me the wrong way when there are so many excellent actresses who you'd not have to look at twice to see the resemblance.

But I get it. This is about exposure and with Jolie, that's what you get. Plus, Jolie and Pearl are friends and Jolie is a marvelous actress who can bring the needed publicity to this flick just due to who she is.

So, to that I say, may this movie make tons of money and while it's at it, hopefully, some will pay attention to the story and not just the center of the vortex that caught their attention.


Update: May 7, 2007 @ 3:13pm

It's time for A Mighty Heart: The Daniel Pearl Story to be released soon.

How do I know this? I know this because "news" articles, which are actually free publicity, are starting to come out. Soon we'll see Angelina and crew in interviews and that will be tied to the movie's release.

Anyway, since I was on the "what the hell?" side of the discussion last year when it was announced that Angelina Jolie was set to play Mariane Pearl in A Mighty Heart: The Daniel Pearl Story, I figure I can be someone to help them with more free news buzz now that the movie is set to come out soon.

Here are some fresh news links:

Entertainment Weekly: Angelina Jolie's 'Mighty Heart'
Glamour Magazine: Angelina & Mariane’s Powerful Bond


I totally admire Angelina Jolie's humanitarian work. However, I'm really not understanding the reasoning behind the news that Jolie will play Mariane Pearl in an upcoming movie adaptation of Pearl's book A Mighty Heart: The Daniel Pearl Story. *Yes, I know it's being produced by Brad Pitt's production company. It comes in handy to be a top tier actor in a serious relationship another top tier actor who also owns a production company, no doubt. However, Jolie isn't hurting for work if she seeks it.

Yes, I know she's been roughing it in both Africa and Asia doing good things for people and children who need it. I really admire her for the work she's been doing because her fame and notoriety bring press to issues that people would otherwise ignore. I've volunteered my time for a long time for special causes, and it burns me up to see the privileged and wealthy care more about being seen in the right light in Page Six than giving back. Jolie shows all of us that we must never loose sight of those less well off and we must give back.

With that said, I get the "we are the world" sentiment, but last I checked Angelina Jolie was not a black woman with a biracial heritage nor does she bear even the slightest resemblance to Mariane Pearl.

Is that racist of me to react this way? I don't think so because I'm such a liberal that I would let it go if there was the slightest physical resemblance.

I think it's entirely pragmatic of me to react this way. It's no more racist than the excuse that tons of black actors have heard in the past regarding roles. I mean there always seems to be a priority placed on casting the right "type", and many a black actor has been passed over for someone who is a closer physical "fit". I will even acknowledge that black actors have been breaking down barriers and getting cast as superheroes and love interests in movies in which maybe twenty years ago they would have never been considered much less cast.

However, I see that as a leveling of the playing field that has always been skewed against blacks. It feels like we're going back to a time where white actors were cast in roles portraying the tragic mulatta. There are tons of examples, but one is Ava Gardner who played the bi-racial, half black and half white, character Julie LaVerne in Showboat.

Is this casting decision a backlash? As stated, the playing field is more even than ever. Is it even enough that a plum role such as this, which would have been a coup for any actor to land, is cast with a white woman? I don't think it's THAT even yet. Just look at pictures of Angelina Jolie, Mariane Pearl and Thandie Newton side by side and you tell me who looks more like whom? Forgive me, as my photo and graphic skills clearly need some work, but it works out nicely with Thandie, then Mariane, then Angelina. It's just a bit crude.

Why is it that talented and well known black actresses like Thandie Netwon, Rosario Dawson, and Halle Berry got skipped for this role?

I really do think this is a case of altruism, optimism and just plain ol' love gone mad. Essentially, it's a bad case of groupthink where no one in the room even realized there was this big pink elephant in the corner. I also think that anyone who did notice probably realized it would be best not to point out that there was a casting incongruity out of fear they'd loose their job.

I'll point it out for them as I don't have to worry about Brad Pitt firing me. There are better suited actors to play this role.

Yes, yes...I bloody well know it's Brad Pitt's production company and that, as a film producer, what he says goes, but come on. We know this is all about box office draw and profit, but there are other ways to get similar results.

What's next? Brad Pitt will skip over tons of talented racially mixed actors such as Daniel Henney (a personal favorite) to cast himself as bi-racial, Chinese and white, Brandon Lee in a movie depicting his life too?

This is as stupid as it is insulting.
*BTW, it would be nice if all these people writing about this story would spell Mariane Pearl's name correctly. I too was unsure if it was Marianne Pearl or Mariane Pearl. However, I took myself to to see how the publisher spelt her name on her book. I figured that was pretty certain authority.

You'd think that the press would do a fact check on this. Now, I make mistakes too (just read a few other posts), but I think I'm good with accurately spelling someone's name. To the news rooms and magazines out there, clearly you folks need some competent help. I’m available, so just send me an email.


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