October 31, 2004

Getting Inside My Boy's Head

I purchased a new Canon A75 digital camera the other day, and I've taught M10 and F9 how to operate it. It's a great camera by the way, better than the top of the line 3 year old $800 digital Nikon it replaces. My cost? 199 bucks.

So we ended up at the Fox Hills Mall and I decided on an experiment. I let the boy take any pictures about anything that caught his attention. He took about 30 and it gave me a very good (beginning) idea of what's on his mind these days. I'm going to let this experiment continue for a while. We'll review the pictures together and talk about the world as he sees it.

Posted by mbowen at 12:09 PM | TrackBack

Steve Butler, Dispersed

Yesterday I reconnected with Steve Butler. Steve is one of my oldest friends, one of those men on the periphery of my life who is yet instantly intimate. And then he's gone. The last time I saw him before yesterday was at the 20 year reunion in 1998.

I first met Steve back in the 7th grade. He was probably the first kid I met who was completely unleashed, but smart, funny and cool. Other kids I knew who did everything they wanted to were just badass knuckleheads - all dead or in jail now I'm sure. But Steve was a good kid, and yet transgressive. He always was a whirlwind of energy capable of busting out the kind of laugh that's immediately magnetic. I've never been the kind of person to look up to anyone but Steve was, well he was Steve. He was the kind of kid who could make teachers look at themselves and really wonder if they should be punishing him.

The only thing that could stop Steven Butler was himself. But he gave himself a very long rope. We took the entrance exam for Loyola and along with Alfred and Gary we made it. Unfortunately, Patrick and Vincent didn't make the cut, but still our little school, Holy Name, was well-represented. Steve played baseball and ran track, but like most kids from the hood, we were nowhere near good enough to complete against suburban Little Leaguers who never had to borrow other kids gloves to play pickle or pepper. Steve mastered the low hurdles and wore a white letterman's sweater from Albion Mills which was bedecked with medals. Steve had an uncanny ability to make everybody else look bad just by showing up.

We both applied to and were accepted to USC. Most people believed that Steve was destined to be an attorney who would smooth talk his way to fame and fortune. I, like most people, couldn't predict anything but that he'd make waves. In the short time that I was there, I know he tried to create the first multiracial, coed 'frasority' and that he had managed to become one of the most popular guys in the new Residence West. For some reason I always associate 'West with the Coed Naked Indoor Frisbee. But when I fell out with the bean counters at the California Student Aid Committee, I lost track of most of my collegiate friends.

I ran into Steve on several occasions in the years that followed. There was something about his ability to basically do whatever he wanted that made Steve the only person who could stop him. And so he wrecked himself a couple of times. I didn't know the details, but I could see the effects. He bounced in and out of several gigs and finally settled into the financial industry. Steve the stockbroker. That made perfect sense, but then again, so did Steve the used car dealer. Even in a degraded state, Steve had more raw potential than anyone I knew - and perhaps that was the problem.

In my way of seeing the world, there are several tests that determine whether you are going to beat the American middle class or whether it's going to beat you. The middle aged men who can laugh and joke about getting over these hurdles are the real winners. If you haven't smacked into them, you haven't lived. When I was riding high on the Internet Bubble, I used to say that I had survived a Child Custody Battle and an IRS Audit. All I had to do was beat a Felony Conviction and I'd have the triple crown.

Like me, Steve grew up scrappy in the 'hood. So I knew that if he got knocked down, he'd get up again. But if you break your legs enough times, you can't walk straight. When I saw him with orange hair back in 89 rollerskating with this silicone chick, I wondered if he'd ever be right again, although even in total debauchery, Steve had style. All doubts were erased yesterday. Now that Steve is chilling in the Marina and obviously plays a lot of golf, I know he has won. Mention taxes and he'll get apoplectic on you. I didn't know that Steve had been a Republican since 1980, but it didn't take me long to figure out. He's also a lot slimmer and healthier than most of the guys around, so he's obviously conquered other demons. He was clearly the Full Steve.

As we chatted, going back and forward in time, we talked about the Browns including Celeste. Whenever I think about Celeste, I think of the ideal 'Essence Woman'. Back in the days, we thought women like that grew on trees. I have learned the hard way how exceptionally rare gifted blackfolks are and that if you are fortunate enough to have one as a friend, you owe it to them and yourself to be the best friend you can be. You can't tell this to kids in highschool - it's all about competition. But as men, we understand the delicate balance, the preciousness of life.

I've lived all over the country and am now trying to keep my roots in California. Steve reminds me that I am home. We cannot afford not to stay in touch.

Posted by mbowen at 10:44 AM | TrackBack

Digital Me, Video Mods

It has been a while since I first created a digital self with the character creator in Tony Hawk Underground. Since then, I've been to Second Life and There to create online avatars. I've also built several for regular games including Morrowind, KOTOR and others. So far, it has been the Tony Hawk engine that has done the most accurate me.

I believe that this kind of thing could be standardized and that we should all have a library of digital avatars to represent us in different games. You could have a superhero you, an avarage you, an evil you, a sexy you, etc, all stored in your home digital library. You could have a skin and skeleton studio and build up multiple copies and save to a number of formats appopriate to the games you play until such time that there was one universal standard - like True Type fonts. Clearly the technology for avatar creation is in place. What's not is the home version, nor the cross platform standards.

What struck me the other day was this could be the entertainment that replaces a number of lower tech implementations. The spark for this was the MTV2 show 'Video Mods'. It's nice and primative at the moment - but I can see a commodity ready for desktop in a couple years. The concept? Amateur motion capture.

There are a number of ways this can be done. The simplest might be something along the lines of a pseudo-dynamic cel shading effect done with a filter of a digital video taken with a consumer DV camera. Think of the characters in the film 'Waking Life'. Another method might be to grab several seconds of cheaply done motion capture and insert your avatar into your favorite music video. But there are a lot of interesting kinds of things that might emerge from this direction.

Posted by mbowen at 10:23 AM | TrackBack

The Real Quad A

Derrick Bell proposed, back in the days when he was celebrated, an organization called the Quad A. I forget the particulars, but I remember the flavor, having read about it in his 'Faces At The Bottom of the Well'. The flavor was mighty, and I must confess to have wanted and wished there to be such an institution. There might be.
In this case my highschool's African American Alumni Association may end up filling the bill. It is basically a who's who of the brothers in LA who did well from our exclusive little prep school. I say it casually, but make no mistake, these men are an impressive bunch. They called a picnic and plenty of people came. I'm expecting good things.

Now this picture was taken back in 1977 when we first formed the Prospective Black Businessmen's Association. It was the first black organization on the Loyola Campus, and as you might expect, we took a lot of heat for starting it. I don't know how many years have gone by with kids finding that picture in the yearbook, but you can bet that it has been inspirational to another generation, afros and all. There are more PBBA pictures, I'll post them to the new Quad A website after that's set up.

There aren't many black kids in LA who went to Catholic School, but those of us who did were fairly well networked back in the day. Especially when I talk about the People of the Dons, a list of names comes up on the regular. These folks are two degrees of separation from everything that's happening of consequence in African American history being made today, and that's why a bunch of slightly overweight middled-aged black men eating hamburgers on a Saturday was pretty exciting. So today a few of us are taking the initiative to communicate and do what we ought to be doing for ourselves and the next generation.

The core of this is that at Loyola, the number of black kids had fallen to something like 18. Now I'm not sure if that was just within one class or the entire school of 1000 students. Probably the former, but that was still unacceptable. Furthermore, all of the weight had been born on the shoulders of a few usual suspects. So those few decided to turn things around. They plowed through a bunch of yearbooks, put together a mailing list and got the ball rolling. It's up to the rest of us to do our share.
1030_Lihi 035.jpg

The day was sweet. It was great to see Glenn, Marlon, Steve, Gabriel, Bruce, Craig, Jerome, Darryl and a gang of others show up with their families. I met a lot of old and new friends, we talked about the usual good old days, the prospects for this year's football squad and the state of our businesses and families. The jazz combo was tight and the brats were juicy. The bouncer was full of kids and the sun was shining. Somebody had the videocam and I snapped a few jpgs for posterity and the new website that I couldn't help but volunteer for.

The agenda is coming. Stay tuned.

Posted by mbowen at 12:49 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


Posted by mbowen at 12:24 AM | TrackBack

October 30, 2004


Here is a movie not to see. Why? Primarily because I'm a guy and guys are emotionally detached and guys don't want to other people to know what gives them watery eyes and an emotional kick in the balls.

Now I'll be the first to admit that I've become more sensitive and that there are a lot of flicks that can move me to tears. This is what I admitted about 'The Road To Perdition'. That movie hit me right in the Daddy Zone. But a horror flick?

Saw is more complicated and more horrible than one could reasonably expect from any movie released around halloween. There is only one reason that I went to see it anyway, which was that 'Ray' was sold out. But there was an off chance that I might, because I do remember choosing a while ago between this and 'The Grudge'. The problem with Saw is that there is very little disbelief one has to suspend in order to watch it. It makes it all the more horrifying that this could indeed happen - of course it could, if a screenwriter can imagine it.

The film opens up with dialog. It's almost a textbook acting school scene. Two men in a room with a dead body between them. They don't know how they got there. And it's off. That premise alone probably would have gotten me to voluntarily see the movie even though I don't do horror. The plot thickens like coagulating blood moving backwards and sideways in time with expertness.

The last horror film I watched was '28 Days After', and I thought it was pretty brilliant, but the conceit of that film is that if you were a fairly reasonable person, you might figure out how to survive. And indeed people do while becoming predictably barbaric. But by putting all the horror into one room, a new dimension of helplessness pervades. It's one thing to die in misery when there is no civilization around, it's completely different to die when it's going on without you.

There are elements of torture in this film that are utterly frightening, and one of the single most heartwrenching scenes I've ever put up with. In 'Passion of the Christ' (which was worse), I knew I was being manipulated for the sake of evangelism. The idea that this sick and twisted crap was on the screen for the sake of entertainment was really getting under my skin. It took me to the edge of coming to my senses and walking the hell out. The problem was, of course, that none of this was over the top. Very little of the live action in the movie was excruciating - instead there were several gruesome backstories that gave you an idea of what an evil genius the manipulator was.

Indeed the 'killer' in this film is not a killer at all per se. He is very much like what we imagine horror directors like to think of themselves. He is that person who controls your thoughts and puts you face to face with grisly circumstances and forces you to contemplate how lucky you are to be alive. Like the mastermind of 'Telephone Booth' the characters in Saw are under the control of an invisible hand. He puts them in a deathtrap and forces them to escape in the worst way.

Like the homicide detective who loves and hates his job, critiquing this film is a dirty chore. At once, I want to admire the handiwork of the artist who has put together this brilliant and horrifying puzzle, and at the same time I shake my head in amazement. How have we come to this? This is what entertains us. I have to tell you, I don't like being emotionally ripped the way this movie did, but if that's what the total movie experience is supposed to be, he did it to me. It hurts. It's truly scary. When I watch spy movies, which I love, I dig the elements of hyper-realism. I like to see the ex-CIA guy go to Mexico and torture the bad guys - because I know I'm never going to be anywhere near that kind of situation. But a man who might kidnap you and put you in a death chamber because he thinks you don't appreciate your life according to his twisted sense of justice? That's the kind of crime that happens all the time, except most of us poor victims don't have the luxury of being caught by a monsterous genius, just by evil idiots.

This film is intellectually satisfying on every level and emotionally distubing on several levels. It's real horror. I have been scared and I don't like it.

Posted by mbowen at 10:28 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Blue Moon

Posted by mbowen at 09:45 AM | TrackBack


There's nothing so delicious as being wrong and getting away with it. That's what I've been doing regarding Prop 66 the past few days. Fortunately, by leaguemates XLRQ and Patterico have done for me what I promise to do for my children - not allow failure. So I owe them, and Briget Johnson of the WSJ my debt of gratitude for giving me the slap I needed.

NO ON 66

Posted by mbowen at 09:24 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 29, 2004

Bush Wins the Hiphop Vote

The hiphop generation understands war. Bush wins the battle.

Posted by mbowen at 11:41 AM | TrackBack

Ca Ca

I remain astounded at how cockeyed are some of our observers. Krugman is literally freaking out when he's calling 380 tons 'real substance' in spite of the hundreds of kilotons our forces have alreade dispatched.

QaQaa was one of over 500 sites to be handled. By the terms of the Army itself, this was of 'Medium' importance. When the chorus was the more simplistic (and honest) chant of 'Bush Lied', we could be sure that nothing less than a bona fide weapon of mass destruction would matter. Instead, our forces found masses of destructive weapons and nobody cared. That is until Kerry discovered that a rounding error molehill could be blown up into a campaign altering mountain. That he has continued to sound this alarm is yet another indication to me that he dare not speak about the greater purposes and aims of the American mission in Iraq - only its mistakes. To give voice to the greater truth would be to endorse Bush's intent. He cannot afford that.

Posted by mbowen at 08:01 AM | TrackBack

On the Personal Front

Things have turned around extraordinarily over the past 9 months. A year ago this time I was thinking about driving a cement truck for a living. These days I am looking forward to making the deal of a lifetime. In fact, there are two of them in the making for me and I couldn't be more pleased.

I don't want to say too much about either deal, but they both put me deeply into the technology of entertainment. I had some vague idea that I wanted to do this when I left Hyperion, but I didn't think that it would go quite this way. I'm very pleased that it has come around in this direction. Basically one puts me fairly deep into the burgeoning world of digital arts in China, the other is a new innovative type of website stateside. As I move forward in these two ventures, I'll have less time for blogging, and when I'm in China, I probably will have no time at all.

Thinking about myself working and living in China is having a profound effect on the way I look at myself, the world and America. Interestingly enough, the more I consider all the probabilities of cultural dissonance, the more excited I get about it. Snychronicity becomes all the more sweet in such a context. Since I expect to be bringing some of our homegrown technological sensibilities to our China there are many cultural probabilities as well. I think of the parallels and divergences between the American and Soviet space programs. What we called Space, they called the Cosmos. Comparing philosophies about the role of information technology in the fabric of society will be a fascinating subject to explore. I can hardly wait.

Crossing this river will definitely put me on the other side of big balling. I've been waiting 4 years for this move. I'm more ready in several ways than I was before, but I can't say I didn't deserve it then. I just hope everything works out as planned. We shall see.

Posted by mbowen at 07:42 AM | TrackBack


I haven't flown anywhere in over a year. In fact, I can't remember the last time I boarded an airplane. This is strange for me, because not 3 years ago I racked up about 10k miles a month, and was at the top of the frequent flyer food chain on United.

Today several airlines stand on the brink of dissolution. Can we stand it? Yep. I am coming to believe that the industry is permanently shrinking. You would think that airports, in the new future might be less crowded. That would be a good thing for those passengers remaining - security will be a bit easier with fewer flights, but where will all the workers go?

Oil is starting to shock again. Time for new nukes.

Posted by mbowen at 06:13 AM | TrackBack

October 28, 2004

Blue Moon

I don't love baseball in particular so much as I love playoff sports in general. During the regular season, I almost never pay attention to any of the major league sports. The only exception is when I'm traveling and I'm stuck in a hotel somewhere. I'll go to bed with ESPN on. The rest of the time, it's always miraculous to me when I tune into the sports radio channels at the end of the season and these men just talk so intelligently about the character of what has transpired. I don't have a clue about what has been going on all year, and in two hours I know everything. I always wished politicians were as forthcoming as sports announcers and coaches.

The wonder of sports is that when you pay attention, you always know what's going on even though you never know what to expect. There's nothing quite like the spontanaity of a wining play and instantly millions of people know the exact same thing at the exact same time. Of course we all experienced that moment last night under an occluded moon.

What I like about baseball in particular is its precision and its ability to create drama. It's like no other sport in that regard, as the possibilities narrow, drama increases. Every moment you play the odds. I never understood that as a kid. I didn't play until I was 13 and really didn't understand any of the nuances. I was a football kid. Tactics, speed and power. I was also a basketball kid: style, interconnection, spontenaity. Baseball is strategy, probabilities, execution.

Now the season's over and I'm going to try and resist buying an $80 Red Sox jersey.

Posted by mbowen at 08:38 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 27, 2004

Colonel Robert B. Abrams

It has been difficult, but I finally got the name of one of the soldiers that so many Americans claim to support. The quick and dirty is that Robert Abrams is the man whose soldiers have taken the greatest beating at the hands of the Sadrist militia. But he's also the one who has been bringing the pain to the Mahdi Army and is now involved in disarmament and rebuilding. Hearing him speaking about the progress made in Sadr City is just the kind of news we don't often hear. Listen to the story. It's extraordinary.

This is the kind of guy I have been talking about who has been putting the Wanker down. I hope he writes a book, because you sure don't hear about it on the regular.

Posted by mbowen at 11:37 AM | TrackBack

Bosox Injection

I am really enjoying the World Series this year, and I hope the Red Sox sweep. I've had a number of life altering experiences in Boston, one of them being drunk in the bleachers at Fenway Park. OK I wasn't so drunk as the louts around me, but I did hit the beach ball with more enthusiasm than sobriety.

Go Sox!

Posted by mbowen at 11:08 AM | TrackBack

Yes On 66

Proposition 66 amends California's Three Strikes Law to reduce the number and types of felonies which count as strikes.

If 66 passes, as I hope it does, pproximately 4100 convicts will be eligible for resentencing. If they are accepted, they waive double jeopardy, which means prosecutors can bring up anything in their past. Although the opponents bring up egregious examples of convicts that 'would go free', it's clear that prosecutors and judges have plenty of latitude.

Latitude is the primary reason I support 66, and it's interesting now that Federal sentencing guidelines will be under review soon. I like my judges to be individuals, not hamstrung by rules that reduce the discretion of their judgement.

The second reason I vote for 66 is as old as the concept of justice itself. Our system presumes innocence until proven guilty because of the principle that it is better to let a guilty man go free than to imprison an innocent man. If we are imprisoning harshly those who are guilty of petty crimes, then we are violating that principle of liberty. California's three strikes law is the toughest in the nation. We alone imprison 4 times as many as 21 other states who have similar laws. Prop 66 will cut that rate in half.

That's good enough for me.

Posted by mbowen at 09:55 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Artists in Venice

There's a proposition on the ballot to initiate a one time $25 lifetime registration for all of the performers, hucksters, jugglers, mimes, soap box preachers, henna tatooers, sand scultors, massage therapists, buskers, breakdancers, glass walkers, fire eaters, freaks, wackos and assorted loonies that populate the boardwalk of Venice Beach. This will allow an organized lottery to regulate who gets which space on the overcrowded scene.

Do it.

The main complaint is that registration of artists leads to a police state, and this augers against free speech. Such arguements usually tug at my heartstrings, but as I thought about it, if Venice is already a 'free speech zone' as is its reputation, then what is so artistically creative about being at Venice Beach? Really creative people could make anyplace a haven for free expression.

Not really. Venice is Venice. People trade on its reputation to get their alternative alternatives on. A little organization never repressed a true spirit. This one allows the hacks to be Venice Beach Hacks. Sign 'em.

Posted by mbowen at 08:30 AM | TrackBack

Practical Zionism

A moment of clarity is upon us. Israel, The Battered Child Nation, has come to the realization that it has captured too much territory and made itself impure. Too many Palestinians.

Boy was I wrong. I had this notion that Israel was to be a multicultural pluralistic democracy, but that it was simply too besieged to think straight. And so I had the unmitigated gall to suggest that a one-nation solution would calm things down over in 'Judea' and 'Samaria'. People said I was nuts, but I was persistent. Persistent and wrong.

Sharon's abandonment of Gaza is perfectly clear now. There's no way to have a Jewish state if you include all them damned foreigners. So the settlers will be resettled closer to home base and behind the wall. As Jerusalem is the famous walled city, Israel will become the walled nation.

Serves it right.

Posted by mbowen at 08:20 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 26, 2004

No on Proposition 72

A simple cursory look at this one has me running to the hills. Shifting the burden of healthcare costs to families is the short-term solution. Until we get some fairly massive healthcare reform working, we shouldn't force businesses to accept the lousy current situation.

I'm betting that more comprehensive and sensible legislation and theory will come down the pike before long, and I'll have a better grasp. This is just stuffing some arbitary things down the throats of businesses. Plus, the pro side has played the Wal-Mart card. Game over.

As a regular old conservative, I have to have a damned good reason to approve any ballot initiative. This one doesn't meet the Cobb standard. Sorry.

Posted by mbowen at 03:14 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Intellectual Spuds

I am Frylock from Aqua Teen Hunger Force!!

Which Aqua Teen Hunger Force character are you??

As a consequence of submitting to the madness that was the dotcom revolutions and having been an original signer of the Cluetrain Manifesto I have adopted one or two strange habits. One of them is having a pop icon mascot.

My original one was Badtz Maru. I may have had another since, but I forget. Today, I revive the bizarre tradition and adopt Frylock as my new mascot.

Now you know.

Posted by mbowen at 02:29 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

65 and 1A

Cobb says vote no on Prop 65 and yes on Prop 1A.

I like this 1A. It is evidence that the Governor is undermining the initiative process because the compromise which saves the state 1.3 Billion is all about arm-twisting of the best type. It means legislators are making deals instead of hiding behind the unaccountability of the initiative process.

The guts of this is that it forces the State to live within the state budget rather than sucking up local taxes to cover shortfalls, which it had been doing with impunity for years. But because of the crisis, the difference between 65 and 1A is that 1A allows for the 2 year deal that Arnold made with the cities and counties to remain in place. 65 would undo the deal that took place after it made it to the ballot.

So there you have it. Thanks to Warren Olney.

Posted by mbowen at 08:15 AM | TrackBack

Leo Terrell

When I met Leo Terrell he was over at Lucy Florence for one of Ofari's meetings in the spring of this year. One of the subjects for discussion was the recent flap over the failed prosecution of an Inglewood police officer in a hood slamming incident. You may recall the collective gasp heard around the mediasphere when millions of mindless negroes didn't riot after the not guilty verdict.

Leo was nonplussed. He used to have a very large civil rights practice. Now he has scaled down and taken few cases. He told me that there are a lot of hacks in the civil rights game, it's more complicated than it ever was and there weren't very many attorneys who really knew what they were doing.

These are interesting comments in retrospect, having found this from the WSJ

The NAACP claims to be a champion of diversity, but its tolerance apparently doesn't extend to its own members who think for themselves. Attorney Leo Terrell learned that recently when he spoke out in support of Carolyn Kuhl, one of President Bush's beleaguered nominees for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The head of the NAACP's Washington office called and ordered him to cease and desist, so yesterday Mr. Terrell resigned from the "civil-rights" group rather than be muzzled.

Mr. Terrell is a California attorney who has donated many hours of work to the NAACP, representing litigants and participating in seminars on discrimination. Mr. Terrell, who is black, has been outspoken in his support of Judge Kuhl, who sits on the California Superior Court in Los Angeles and before whom he appeared in 1999.

"I found that Judge Kuhl was fair, impartial, competent and at all times extremely professional," he wrote in a May 23, 2001, letter to fellow Californian and fellow Democrat, Senator Barbara Boxer. Mr. Terrell repeated those points to us yesterday, adding that the NAACP is buying in to "phony allegations that she is hostile to civil rights."

We'd add that the once great civil-rights group is also playing political enforcer for a hyper-partisan Senate minority. Nominated two years ago, Judge Kuhl is widely expected to soon join Miguel Estrada, Priscilla Owen and William Pryor on the Democrats' filibuster list of judges denied a Senate vote

I never got into the battles over judgeships and I think the President and Republicans are over-reacting toward 'judicial activism' for the simple political expedient of placating the right to life right. But this is an interesting blip.

Posted by mbowen at 07:54 AM | TrackBack

October 25, 2004


You say that it's the institution, well
You know you better free your mind instead.
-- The Beatles

Spence is undertaking the decision to homeschool his kids. Aside from the drain on scheduling, I really can't see where he might go wrong - other than raising kids who might not excel at team sports and other sorts of collaborative endeavors. I'm sure he'll work it out.

His initiative is courageous and independent-minded. Why can't more people be like Spence? Such observations and questions, in a black vein bring to mind older more persistent questions about leadership and prospects for the future. Let's start, as usual, with King and X.

One of the first things I recall absorbing in regards to these towering figures of American history was that they left little in regards to institutions that would carry forward the work they were doing. Aside from this very dynamic nature of history, I was inclined to believe that if somebody did something excellent that everyone saw, we as a people ought to have learned the lesson and not made the same mistakes twice. And yet many of the same problems blacks had back in the day were resurfacing - every year someone was discovering the brilliance of King and X all over again.

Although we've had some reasons to lower the volume of our complaint of late, blackfolks have always argued that we could never progress as a nation unless the real stories behind these exceptional men was taught. Continuing in the tradition of Carter G. Woodson, we insist that black progress depends upon a sound understanding of black history. And in the early 70s much of the energy off the street was deflected towards the academy. With all the emphasis on the documentation of the black experience, it was inevitable that America would find some element of compromise by swallowing whole cloth every aspect of every complaint mau-mauing radicals could get across. The university was under assault, a non-violent intellectual radicalization whose effects remains staggeringly weighty now 30 years later. The revolution went to off the streets and onto the page.

We have also made, rightly I think, the unavoidable point that there is this thing called 'institutional racism' that persists beyond the bigotry of individuals. And so these opposing twins of institutionalized revolt and institutional racism have commanded the attention of people interested in the fate of blackfolks. It is an institutionalized battle.

We all remember the old joke that marriage is a great institution, but who wants to be committed into an institution. I oftimes wonder if our attention to institutions isn't buried a little to deeply into the psyche of black liberation. Surely any freebooting conservative will argue you into a corner about the liberating power of individualism. The traditional response to that has been that the success of any one or few blacks does nothing to raise the condition of the people. (One of the great ironies is that this very argument is a classic attack against affirmative action.) I dig affirmative action even when it's tokenism because of the freight that is handled by exceptional black individuals. For better or worse, we deal with the consequences of the acts and utterances of a few extraordinary blackfolks on the national scene. Whether it's Bill Cosby or OJ Simpson, some individual is always sucking up the oxygen. So sooner or later we ought to deal with individualism, keeping in mind the costs and benefits of institutional progress & battles.

On the leading edge of black society, those individuals show us things that we need to know - just as exceptional individuals like Angela Davis was showing us how universities could be transformed, pioneers like Earl Graves showed us how businesses could be transformed. These were new Americas to be exploited by masses of African Americans, and so in the 80s my generation did. For the first time, we started attending 'predominantly white' universities in numbers larger than HBCUs. For the first time, 'Corporate America' was under siege by massive numbers of black entry-level and mid-level employees. We changed the institutions forever.

In doing so we straddled individualism and collectivism. We advanced the race through mass integrative action. We institutionalized those initiatives that embedded us deeper in the institutional power structures of America. Affirmative Action was, by and large, the institutional engine of that initiative. But even without it, our cause was singularly focused on the establishment of a permanent black presence in instititutions that had previously barred us. It was our institutional integrations and revolutions against their institutional racisms.

Have I used the word enough times? Are you getting sick of hearing it? Me too.

Over the past 2 years or so, I've been focusing on class in the political context of Republicanism and the Old School. I see this now as part of gaining confidence of going down to the one. When I was growing up, everyone was a Negro. Then we split into Negroes and Blacks. We could handle that. As I started dealing with class (in college, big time and on the job with finality) it was mostly Buppies vs the rest of blackdom. Nelson George evolved us a good step with splitting up our generation, the post-soul generation, into B-Boys, Buppies, Bohos and Baps. In the early 90s I was a Bap/Boho. Having traveled to and lived in the 'Mecca' of Atlanta, I was able to see for myself how strongly class lines could be drawn between blacks, and as a family man I chose without hesitation. More recently I have colloquialized five classes of blackfolks - (Projects, Ghetto, Hood, Burbs, Hill). If my evolving consciousness signifies anything, I think it is the realization and reconciliation with that realization, that African Americans are all progressing and regressing at different rates, socioeconomically speaking. When America catches a cold, all Black America does *not* catch pneumonia. We're too diverse.

Whether or not the rest of America is ready, willing or able to deal with black America as something much more discrete than a monolith, we who see each other all the time, know it. The question is whether or not our politics is ready to deal with our socialization. But I don't want to frame this as a political question, so much as one that deals with the instrumentalities of our liberation and emergence. It's bigger than politics.

Just as I don't want anyone to glom on to the instrumentality or purported centrality of Affirmative Action policy in black progress, I want us to understand all of the different ways and means blackfolks have moved towards the mass institutions of power. Because now I see opportunities for smaller groups of blackfolks to cut paths into smaller institutions which are equally if not more empowering than those we changed over the past 20 years.

I'm talking Russell 2000 instead of Fortune 500. I'm talking Inc instead of Forbes. I'm talking charter schools instead of massive bussing. I'm talking Third World Kings and Second World Princes instead of First World Dukes. I'm talking about blacks taking advantage of the powers of decentralization and disintermediation heralded by virtual corporations, flat organizations and internet thinking.

There will be no institution, not even the United States Government its massive self, which will be able to provide the empowerment to masses of African American in our interminable quests for power and respect. There will be smaller ones giving a variety of powers to smaller groups of blackfolks heading in all sorts of different, and yes conflicting directions. This is what we should expect.

So when we begin to ask questions about education, our choices need to be more complex and diverse than those facing the black families of Little Rock 50 years ago. Don't be surprised if there is no one answer or that nobody institutionalizes the answer or result. We will be flexible and only that way will we persist and succeed.

Posted by mbowen at 08:22 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

380 Tons & What Do You Get?

Explosives are missing in Iraq!

Kerry goes for the jugular:

"one of the great blunders of Iraq, one of the great blunders of this administration."

He added that "the incredible incompetence of this president and this administration has put our troops at risk and put this country at greater risk than we all need."

The Independent takes off after the NYT:

According to The New York Times, which broke the story in a lengthy front-page story, the missing stockpiles - some 350 tons in all - are of HMX, RMX and PETN, extremely powerful, conventional explosives that are used to blow up buildings, fill missile warheads or detonate nuclear weapons. So devastating are they that just one pound of a similar explosive was enough to destroy Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie in December 1988. HMX, RMX, or explosives like them have been used in car and apartment bombings in Moscow and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in recent years.

This is horrifying, until you get perspective.


Now, if you go back and look at the Duelfer report that recently has come out, according to the Duelfer report, as of mid-September, more than 243,000 tons of munitions have been destroyed since Operation Iraqi Freedom. Coalition forces have cleared and reviewed a total of 10,033 caches of munitions; another nearly 163,000 tons of munitions have been secured and are on line to be destroyed. That puts this all -- that puts this all in context.

So let's do the math: 243kilotons already destroyed. 163kilotons accounted for and secure in line to be destroyed. 406 kilotons accounted for, 380 tons missing. Kerry's focus? .0197% of the WMDs.

Let me make that clear. That's less than 2 hundreths of one percent.

Jesus this man is shameless.

Posted by mbowen at 04:30 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

St. Ides

Does St. Ides still make money? I wonder because I just heard the Ice Cube song with it and even though it has been a while, the Pimpjuice controversy is still in mind. The other song was 'One Million Bottlebags' by PE.

Tempest in a toddy cup.

Posted by mbowen at 04:02 PM | TrackBack

Drezner Flips, I Freeze

Drezner has flipped in a convincing way. It sounds as if he's got the good behind Friedman's arguments weighed soundly.

I've understood these arguments and never really denied them, but they've never been quite as clear as they are. Thus far, I have decided to reward Bush for his initiative and his efficiency, but not for his results. In remaining with Bush I am being partisan.

I don't believe that my own view of the geopolitical situation is complete and so any candidate who says more about it gets more of my support. I've given Kerry every opportunity to do so and he has not. I understand his philosophy, I simply can't get behind it. That said what Drezner points out about the Bush decision making process is very accurate. It is something I have noted time and time again. In August, I was going to abstain.

What stands out most in my mind is that the lesson of GWBush is that at no time should one vote for a president someone you think would make a nice president if things go the way you think they ought. Events always overtake the presidency and one ought to always hedge the bet, because omissions of skills at the presidential level always come back to bite somebody. More specifically, I don't want my vote going to somebody who is not some kind of Washington insider - the Executive Branch is too serious and complicated for that. And it is in Bush's mismanagement of that which I feel bears the greatest weight in my argument. Here is a man who has failed not only to win the popular vote, but to keep public opinion with him during wartime. How do you do that when Lee Greenwood is on the charts? How do you get your personality outshone by your VP, your political strategist and your house majority leader? Anyway, I don't want to beat up on the president, I think it's enough to say that I don't think he deserves another go 'round. He can't even answer questions about what oil is doing at $45/bbl and he's supposed to be an oilman.

Being a Republican, my vote was the president's to lose, and he's lost it. There's no way possible that Kerry can earn it. But there are two things a Democratic president can do for me.

1. Is put the Republicans in congress back on their toes and halt spending.
2. Undo Ashcroft's overzealousness by guaranteeing sunset provisions in the Patriot Act.

Kerry has done nothing to substantiate the two mulligans I gave him, which I would still value if he manages to pull an upset. Bush still has my vote, but not all of my confidence. Kerry has none of my confidence and several negatives to overcome, but I don't think he's a total loser. In either case I am truly burned out, and don't want to see either candidate, nor do I look to hear new things about the campaigns. I want this noise to be over, and I want to hear a different kind of reporting from Iraq.

Ironically, I don't believe I'll hear anything different about Iraq unless and until Kerry is elected - because everyone, including me, is stuck in the past regarding what Bush decided way back when.

Posted by mbowen at 08:32 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 22, 2004

Iraqi Memos

I've never heard of CNS, but they seem to have found something interesting. Have I been that far out of the loop these past few weeks?

Posted by mbowen at 04:41 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


The Interociter is right. People for generations will remember where they were when the Sox blasted the grand slam homer in the top of the second inning that all but sealed the fate of the Yankees in this year's pennant race.

I was at work looking at the TV on the pillar over my shoulder. It was a rainy day. I had my headphones on and was listening to some rock & roll music - I didn't hear the play by play, but I watched the ball fly over the wall. I don't know how loudly I shouted...

Posted by mbowen at 01:51 PM | TrackBack

What's In Your Wallet?

A few weeks ago I bought some business card software. These days I'm brainstorming about a new website concept that I'm putting together. Part of the idea is that people need to moderate their social circles with a bit more sophistication than has previously been done. How do we help manage that? I'm spending more time around the Corante Crew to catch a clue or two. Greg has an interesting set of ideas.

I've cranked out 6 different business cards, and I keep at least 4 versions onhand at all times. The first is the Daddy Card. When I'm at a school function, or out with the kids on a day trip, I leave the business mind far behind. It's lavender with a Matisse kind of graphical sun in purple. It has my home address and phone number. I give this out to potential refrigerator pals - people I wouldn't mind dropping by to grab a snack out of the fridge.

I also have a blog card, the title of which has me listed as a 'Large Mammal'. It also has the Cobb icon on it. My generic business card is for employees of companies where I work strictly pointing them to my website. And the detailed business card is the one shown here, that I give to people I believe may actually give me some business. There are a few others that I rarely use, one with me as publisher of Vision Circle and an older version of the blog card. There's also one that has me listed as a technical specialist in my partner's business. There are two other jobs I do for which I have no cards, but that doesn't concern me much.

I have been multiple people online, and still have mail from at least 6 domains coming to me at gmail and on Outlook (I'm leaving Eudora and GMail for Outlook (and Lookout & Google Desktop Search) and GMail). So I am accustomed to juggling multiple identities. I'm also an online gamer and none of those people fraternize with any of the other people. I need to be different things at different times, and I need different ways of presenting myself on different occasions.

This basic concept, a kind of extended code-switching, is something I think lots of people do. So our identities online need that multiplicity. Speaking of which, I have registered at Multiply (and Friendster, and Linked-In, and Orkut) and none of them really works for me. The best thing that works for me is my blog within my large, constantly evolving website. This is key to the concepts that interest me vis a vis virtual and extended self-representation.

In some ways, I am concerned that the online gamers I play with don't discover that I'm over 40. In other ways I am concerned that potential employers don't discover that I'm a political cartoonist. Most of the time I'm concerned that my blog readers don't discover the names of my kids, but in all those ways I know I'm not truly secure. Still, the illusion that I can hide parts of my life is satisfying. So with that in mind I wonder if we don't work a bit too hard in ensuring a kind of privacy that, with certain selected people, we actually want breached.

It makes me think about reality television. We have, in many ways, become the defensive, cocooned, SUV driving, stay at home people we forswore two decades ago. To that extent reality TV is a way for us to see that other people are as weird as we are - to confirm that our foibles are common ones, given that we cannot communicate them publicly. We want to be accepted for who we are, warts and all, but only to a select few.

As Shrek said, we're like onions. Wouldn't it be nice if I could decide how many layes to peel, on demand, without making anyone cry?

Posted by mbowen at 12:53 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Magic Numbers

On the season finale of 'Rescue Me' the chief of the fire station which is the center of the drama said that they sent 343 men to their deaths in the WTC to save 10,000. It's a reactive number. Nobody could say ahead of time how many firefighters lives were expendable in saving the lives they could. They were predisposed to do their job, certainly no matter what the cost, but with the deadly danger in mind. It's what they do.

Today, many critics of the president say that Iraq is a burning building about to collapse, and that he was foolish not to send in more. It's difficult to reconcile this criticism with that of the 'backdoor draft', but that's not the case Tom Friedman makes:

Conservatives profess to care deeply about the outcome in Iraq, but they sat silently for the last year as the situation there steadily deteriorated. Then they participated in a shameful effort to refocus the country's attention on what John Kerry did on the rivers of Vietnam 30 years ago, not on what George Bush and his team are doing on the rivers of Babylon today, where some 140,000 American lives are on the line. Is this what it means to be a conservative today?

Had conservatives spoken up loudly a year ago and said what both of Mr. Bush's senior Iraq envoys, Jay Garner and Paul Bremer, have now said (and what many of us who believed in the importance of Iraq were saying) - that we never had enough troops to control Iraq's borders, keep the terrorists out, prevent looting and establish authority - the president might have changed course. Instead, they served as a Greek chorus, applauding Mr. Bush's missteps and mocking anyone who challenged them.

Conservatives have failed their own test of patriotism. In the end, it has been more important for them to defeat liberals than to get Iraq right. Had Democrats been running this war with the incompetence of Donald Rumsfeld & Friends, conservatives would have demanded their heads a year ago - and gotten them.

The fact of the matter is that this conservative had a number in mind at which point the war in Iraq had better be worth it. That number was roughly one 'Lynch Factor', which is about 3500. This magic number is about the number who died in the WTC and all those who had been lynched in this nation's darker days.

While I don't disagree that our nation's military might have been much better served with someone other than Rumsfeld in charge, I disagree that he has outspent his charge. As our military fatalities hover around 1200 at this moment in time in Iraq, I reckon we can double that before some parity is met. I know that it wasn't Saddam Hussein who flew the planes. I know that the theory of drawing terrorists into Iraq hasn't panned out. I know that Al Qaeda is still out there (although without 75% of its leadership, and OBL mysteriously quiet these days). And I know that there are two others remaining on the Axis of Evil who have yet to feel our swords.

But I also believe it's true that the 1200 American soldiers who died are part of the cost of 20 million appreciative Iraqi civilians who need their country rebuilt, even if the other 5 million are willing to muck up that process by any means necessary. I happen to believe in that equation with or without 9/11, and I always have. I'm one of the imperialists who would have liked to have seen us spend a little blood and treasure in Cote D'Ivoire when they were begging for it. That counts for Liberia on several occasions as well as many times for Sudan.

George W. Bush may be hunting the tiger with a blunderbuss, but it's easier to get new weapons to a man with a killer instinct, than it is to ge get the diplomat into the bush in the first place. America has blood and treasure to spare, quite frankly. And this is a just cause, as well as well-deserved payback. Call me back when we reach 2000.

Posted by mbowen at 11:01 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 21, 2004

Angela Winters

Angela Winters' new blog Politopics takes a centrist position and covers, well.. political topics. Check it out.

Posted by mbowen at 06:58 PM | TrackBack

After The Bubble

I've been thinking about extraordinary phenomenon of the American Middle Class vis a vis its ability to generate billions of dollars, millions of votes, and thousands of theories.

Most of those theories today, or at least half, are centered around a number of objections to our involvement in Iraq which are sustainable only in an atmosphere of domestic tranquility. It brings to mind the parallels between this time and that of the internet stock bubble.

In those days, a pearl of wisdom I kept in my shirt pocket was this: When even your shoeshine boy is telling you which stocks to pick, it's time to get out of the market. As a fairly newly minted member of the investor class, and a devotee to thestreet.com, I was one of the fortunate ones, for a time. I had the advantage of actually working in Silicon Valley and a career in the software business. So I knew a good product when I saw one, and in those days, that was enough. I made a fortune for my broker and many of his wealthy clients by famously picking Inktomi and Akamai. I also picked a smashingly great loser in General Magic, but on the whole I made a nice pile for myself.

At the time I was working for a solid software company that was not benefitting from the high falutin' language and hype. We actually made products that the Fortune 500 purchased, although not in multi-million dollar orders. There were several clues that we were in a period of irrational exuberance, among which was an unusual encounter I had with a cat named Bernstein who was in the investment biz. It turns out that he has a rather reputable firm named after him. We were on a small plane heading to Vail and he was deep inside of a thick history book. Everything about him spoke 'long view'. I mentioned that our company was traded on the NASDAQ. A shadow of disappointment crossed his face. Simply stated, there's business and then there's real business. Mr. Bernstein goosed me along the road to understanding why the NYSE is called the Big Board.

One of the most annoying things about working in Silicon Valley, indeed in the software industry, is that if you are a conservative as I am, you tire quickly of working for people who are only 4 or 5 years your senior. One of the most seasoned managers I ever worked for was probably 15 years older. Everyone seemed short-sighted; everyone seemed hell-bent on reinventing the wheel, but this time in java, or this time 'on-demand', or this time via 'n-tier architecture'. The software industry was like a pop music chart.

Today, people who continue to parse the daily pronouncements of the candidates appear to me to be the political equivalents of day traders. A motley bunch of foolish prognosticators if there ever was one. I would like to have the historical perspective of Mr. Bernstein these days. Indeed I am really not spending much time looking at the races. But it is not only this daily minutia that annoys, it is the blindness that attention implies, and I think that too many Americans are being blind to what our new reality will be, just as many day traders were blind to the inevitability of a bursting bubble.

Just like day traders, people who have decided to be bullish on Kerry have, like day traders, micromanaged every little small bit of bad news that comes through their televisions and sold the President short. It is a risk, as I said, that can be maintained only in these days of relative calm. One of these days, some terrorist is going to drop a bomb on this nice dream. On that day, the bubble will be burst.

I believe that like day traders, those who are now making so much political noise will leave the market as quickly as they came in. A quarter of the blogosphere will go dark, and the daily volume of piecemeal kibbitzing will die down. I wish there were some other way to accomplish that, but I don't believe there is. Whether it is Kerry or Bush in the White House on that fateful day, the yammering will cease, and the long term thinkers will once again have a say.

The death of Paul Nitze the other day reminds us of how difficult it is to actually accomplish great things in geopolitical terms, and what level of complexity the big boys play. While we amateurs in the blogosphere have our turn in the spotlight, our run on the political NASDAQ, surely our betters watch in astonishment at our irrational exuberence. The very idea that the blogosphere will replace CBS sounds exactly like those Silicon Valley predictions that Brick & Mortar was a thing of the past. And when every blogger is a political pundit, like every programmer was a stock picker, it's time to get out of the overheated market.

So I hope I don't disappoint too many folks as I shift focus in the blog to other matters than the daily political spin, but I've had enough of it, and I don't think it's helping anyone to parse this stuff too closely. Especially since:

  • Nobody is thinking about a solution to our southern immigration problem.
  • The War on Global Narcoterrorism has taken a back seat.
  • There is money to be made in China (for me).
I think it was finally the sexuality of Cheney's daughter and the lack of flu vaccine that convinced me that there is too much hot air in these balloons.
Posted by mbowen at 10:39 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


Posted by mbowen at 07:23 AM | TrackBack

October 20, 2004

Blue Eyed Soul

I have a DVD with about 3GB of music that I listen to. Everything I have rated 4 or 5 stars on my iTunes collection is on it. I've not heard anything from Suzanne Vega before nor since her hit 'Tom's Diner'. The significance of this is that Suzanne was the first white girl to put an unquestionably hiphop rhythm track on her pop song. Today it still sounds great. If the inscription on my MP3 is correct, this song broke in 1991. That's quite a gap after '79 when Debbie Harry did her 'Rapture' rap. Does this mean that rap is more fundamental than hiphop?

While I'm on the subject, I can't tell you how tickled I am whenever I hear The Gourds' version of Gin and Juice. It's a perfect cover. Also, if you haven't heard the Hallmark greeting cards version, you don't know what's up.

Posted by mbowen at 04:30 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Team America

Team America is the funniest film I've seen in a long time. It's one of those movies that I couldn't imagine enjoying, but did. Doc told me that it was the funniest thing since 'Airplane!', so we went together last night. TA's crude mockery works on multiple levels. As a musical, the songs are hilarious and strike just the right mood in all of the stock, hack scenes. I found myself singing the theme song over and over.

Yeah there's a lot of political subtext, but it's done evenhandedly and with a complete lack of seriousness, or at least it said enough of what I liked for me to not groan. Any film that blows up Michael Moore and the Garafolo chick is alright with me. It's worth seeing.

Posted by mbowen at 07:50 AM | TrackBack

October 19, 2004

The Hottest

Jet Noise asks an interesting question within an impossible question. The impossible one has to do with the ten best movies of all time. It's been tried. However he also asks about the hottest love scenes. Given that we're talking mainstream stuff, there's a bit we can say within 'reasonable' limits.

Without numbering them here's a sampling.

  • Nicolas Cage & Elizabeth Shue: Leaving Las Vegas
  • Al Pacino & Ellen Barkin: Sea of Love
  • Billy Bob Thornton & Halle Berry: Monster's Ball
  • Mickey Rourke & Kim Basinger: 9 1/2 Weeks
  • William Hurt & Kathleen Turner: Body Heat
  • Allen Payne & Jada Pinkett: Jason's Lyric

That's all I can think of. Not much really.

Posted by mbowen at 11:36 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

The World of Tomorrow

If ever there were a film that one could wait until television, it's 'Sky Captain & The World of Tomorrow'. Zero plot twists, incredibly wooden acting and stifling dumb dialog.

I have to say that the look and feel are quite interesting, if imbalanced at times. But whoever directed this stinker couldn't have possibly been awake at the retro flicks it evokes. The whole attraction of flicks it emulates is the snappy dialog. Drop the 'n' and that's the adjective here.

It's a great movie to play silently on a wall at a party, or on your desktop when your brain needs to be occupied elsewhere, but don't even bother trying to be entertained. If you like the retro concept, go see Hellboy. Ten times better.

Posted by mbowen at 08:10 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Jump Start International

There is good news, of course, out of Iraq. Ever since the beginning of the conflict, I have been stunned at the lack of coverage of American humanitarian efforts. I wonder if there was ever a mainstream media story on Chief Wiggles. I've just discovered via Bill, a new American organization dedicated to assistin the Iraqi people.

JumpStart International was founded in September 2003 as a public charity dedicated to helping people help themselves. Founded in response to the aftermath of the 2003 war in Iraq, JumpStart has been funded by charitable individuals and organizations in Europe, the Middle East, and the United States.

Jumpstart works on the principle that it is not possible nor desirable for charitable organizations to care for the world's poor and disadvantaged -- but it is possible and desirable for charitable organizations to help the world's poor and disadvantaged to rise up, take care and provide for themselves and other people throughout the world. Self-sufficiency is the only long-term answer.

JumpStart's efforts, then, are dedicated to these principles:

  • People are not interested in hand-outs. They want to earn a living and have the opportunity to advance on their own merits.
  • The path to peace is by ending oppression, repression, discrimination and racism. We support self-sufficiency and economic independence as a viable path out of many forms of oppression.
  • LWherever it occurs and whatever its rationale, military suppression is an economic disaster. It is much cheaper to give a man a hand up than to hold a man down.
  • The common purpose of life, of all religions and cultures, is in creating and building. We support projects which actively and concretely build or rebuild communities and peoples.
  • Planning is for patsies. Let's start yesterday.

Sean O'Sullivan is a man after my own heart. Tell everybody.

Posted by mbowen at 07:29 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

October 18, 2004

Pulling the Lever

There's a new play opening in NYC off Broadway by the Rising Circle Theatre Collective that's all about elections and how people come to think about the decisions they make about voting and democracy itself.

When talking to the cast in rehearsal, I frequently use the analogy of onions being peeled. The whole onions at the top of the show are the characters being seen as simply 'that guy in the coffee shop', 'that woman in the airport', 'that Republican', 'that liberal', etc. But as the play progresses, the layers of the onions are removed and the audience is exposed to the feelings and stories that inform, not only the characters' political perspectives, but also who they are as people. I hope that the audience will experience both recognition of the familiar and a better understanding of the unfamiliar. I hope the show reveals the personal side of political perspectives and highlights the importance of making a choice that will help shape how our country relates to itself and the world.

In an inteview with the principals of the company, NYTheatre.com looks at how the project came about and details about Rising Circle. It's not a coincidence that one of them is named Bowen. He's my cousin and he's really a sharp cat. Do check it out, and if you're in NYC, go see it!

Posted by mbowen at 08:51 AM | TrackBack

Call for Assistance

I'm throwing my hands in the air and waving them like I just don't care. I cannot get this idiotic version of MT to do what I want it to do, and I would appreciate (as well as pay) anyone who could align my templates and make these god forsaken comments work. I am going bonkers approving each and every comment, and now that MT-Blacklist doesn't work with the version, the spam is driving my nuts.

Just email me if you know your way through this thicket (or try to get a comment posted).

Posted by mbowen at 08:06 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Miramar Air Show: Part Two

Now it goes without saying that on base, you are likely to find a large number of military personnel. Although I'm sort in the mood for it now, at the time I didn't feel like walking up to any officers and asking them to tell me an Iraq story. As a matter of fact I wasn't in a particularly patriotic or political mood. I was just dad, there to take my niece and my three bad kids to see some kickass jets. But I wasn't so oblivious in Dad Mode to notice that I didn't see one, not one Kerry / Edwards sticker, t-shirt or henna tatoo. I did see a lot of Veterans for Bush stickers and a number of W 2004 caps. And that's about all I'm going to say about that.

Well, maybe not. Because this year people seemed rather defensive of what generally goes unsaid at these events. Like please rise and remove your hats when the national anthem is sung. It wasn't the usual thing done as a matter of course, it was a kind of don't you realize who the fuck we are, dammit? I know this is the kind of attitude that completely wigs some folks out. It gave me a little bit of the creeps myself, as this particular announcer went on to lecture us about it not being the poet but the soldier who give us the right to free speech, etc - you've heard that before at Freerepublic.com. I don't particularly like my intelligence insulted or my patriotism called into question. Such are the raw wounds of this political season. I'm fairly sure this particular announcer went on to say something about rather being subject to domestic surveillance than reporting to OBL, but I tuned out like most of the people around me. We just wanted to see the jets. Just announce the next flyer and get off the mic.

I took each of the three brats on their own personal tour of the facilities. In the middle of F9's turn, the mock invasion was in full force. There were three Hueys, a couple Chinooks and a pair of CH-53s circling on station when the booms came. I had previously seen the Howitzer and I know that one goes 4 rounds per minute (although the grunt at the display said their crew could do 9). But these booms were coming a bit faster and they were thumping me in the chest half a click away. So I couldn't figure out what dummy ammo was going off but it was fairly thrilling to get a taste of the psychological fear of being ambushed. Considering what a small force this is (the announcer kept say light armor this and auxiliary that) I could get a feel for shock and awe. Similarly, I can see how badass militias must feel when they get their hands on some elementary mortars. So we hurried back to our spot on the ramp just in time to see the patented 'Wall of Fire', which put a couple hundred yards of 50 foot fireballs in the air. Yes you could feel the heat from way back. I'll have more thoughts about military activity later.

As the afternoon drew on, the clouds began to break and sunlight was showing through. Just in time too, because now as we sat down after the guys in the tanks and APCs drove by we were just about ready for some real action. So they sent us an F16.

Finally, this is the moment we've been waiting for, clear skies, fast, loud jets and afterburner action. There was only one, but man did it raise a racket. I don't know, there's just something about the incredible noise and power of these aircraft that puts me in a whole 'nother place. And I was there with the hundreds of others around me. I spent a lot of time poking around the nacelles of the parked vehicles marvelling at the engineering, but there's nothing like the scream and thunder of that bad boy at full throttle - two magnitudes greater than anything we'd heard all day.

Now I remember the old days when the announcers had no problem saying, this jet pilot is going to execute a nuclear airburst manuever. They would do an inside loop at xhundred feet and then go into a full afterburner climb, twist out at the top and run like hell in the direction from which they came. These days there's a lot more pretty smoke and nice announcments, but an afterburning F-16 is what it is, and awesome fighting machine. And if you could possibly forget that, if you were so dense as to believe that the US military isn't serious business, a two minute demonstration would bring you back to reality, (as my mother would say) quick, fast and in a hurry.

Next up was the Harrier. I've been a big fan of the Harrier way before it was reality. I used to read the old books about the future of aviation and I really enjoyed the idea of V/STOL the most. I still get annoyed when I hear about problems with the Osprey which I remain convinced is far superior to all these old Chinooks and Sikorskys in every way. But the Harrier did all it needed to in the Faulklands, so why don't we have more of them? Well, it's a ground support aircraft, and we've been chickenshit of ground war for a couple decades. Understandable but shortsighted. Do we have anything to follow on after the Warthog? I'll leave that as an exercise - let me not get too editorial here. The Harrier took off in about 2000 yards for the first demo and then sped away. It's damned fast and pretty loud too, number two on the day after the F16 Fighting Falcon.

The crowning event, as is customary, is the flight of the Blue Angels. They didn't disappoint. It almost surprised me that they were the only demonstration team that performed the two plane head-on pass that flipped to knife edge at the last second. Then when I saw, it still took my breath away. They've still got the skill. Even so, there was something about the way that military pilot before flew that F-16 that let me know we have some serious skills in reserve. The precision formation flying, whether with four planes or all six, was flawless. Big cheers all around.

Well, by 4pm I was dog tired and ready to break out and drive about two hours home. But I had to take my niece back to Pasadena, make that 3 hours. I got back to the parking lot and soon discovered why so many people think military intelligence is oxymoronic. It took me sitting in the parking lot for 40 minutes without moving a whole car length for me to get up and start squawking. The grunts had no radios and no idea what was holding up traffic. Fine. I called 911 for the CHP. The dispatch officer informed me that on base, we were essentially prisoners of the MPs. There was nothing that could be done. I ended up forming an adhoc posse of people with walkies to communicate what was going on in the mile of road leading from the base.

This was one of those situations in which you realize that American freedom is really different from American initiative. If there had been an accident - if somebody had a stroke or needed emergency hospitalization, I know that several people, especially me, would have gotten things moving. But short of that, people honked horns, grumbled in the faces of the grunts and sat in their cars disgusted, but listening to their cd players. In otherwords, did nothing. One guy told me it took 4 hours last year to get out of the lot. The upside was that the sky was clear, the twilight show was on and the Patriots flight team was now more than making up for their earlier pathetic performance.

We finally got onto the main drag about 2 hours after first trying. I never really got a satisfactory answer, nor did the CHP follow up with me. The only traffic MP who knew anything blamed it on traffic off-base. But since I spent my time trying to solve the problem, I didn't feel like it was a total waste of time.

It was a very good day, and I'll be going back next time. I'll know to get reserved seats and especially to get preferred parking. On the other hand, if Edwards opens up then I'm definitely going there.

Posted by mbowen at 07:33 AM | TrackBack

October 17, 2004

Multidimensional Punishment

Last straw. Wit's end. Last nerve.

My kids have taken me to the brink of sanity, which is the same place as the brink of madness, which is three steps beyond thoughtcrime. It's a good thing Microsoft doesn't sell thought recognition software; Jr G-Men would have had a hell of an Exhibit A this afternoon.

I tend to forget how cool I am, going way back to high school. I get it from my father's stoicism. But I know how restrained I must be considering the fact that I already had a handful of 10 year old neck I was squeezing. Suffice it to say I finally figured out the tone of voice to express my disgust. I told them in the car on the way home that I would be thinking of ways to punish them for at least an hour. That shut them up.

I lined them up in the kitchen and explained that they had 4 punishments. And if they did enough right, maybe, just maybe they could work their way out of one. They don't choose.

Punishment One: Five dollar fine.
Simple, easy, final, outsized. Considering that most fines are a quarter, I'm pretty sure that hit home.

Punishment Two: No TV
Their favorite show is America's Funniest Videos. I'm going to erase it off the Tivo as well. A nice irrevocable one.

Punishment Three: No BBQ
I fixed myself a nice juicy steak with fresh mixed veggies. They will be eating Cheerios for dinner. Easy for me, humiliating for them. I think this one is pretty good. Anyone out there have a recipe for gruel?

Punishment Four: No Desert
This is the one they can work out of if the house is spotless by 7pm. I bought a cherry pie and a pan of double fudge brownies. So this will be extra sweet either way it turns out.

I thought of another punishment that I'll have to reserve for later, which is a daddy's dress day. That means that they'll have to wear clothes I pick out for a day at school.

Man I feel like Cypher in the Matrix, except this New York Strip is real.

These are all variations on the theme of food, clothing, shelter and privileges, pointing them towards the understanding that if they can't hold up their end of the deal as children, that I could very well be doing something else myself. I think it will help them to see how much above the minimum they are - I just have to stop trying for them to feel the pain. So far, it's working.

Posted by mbowen at 04:31 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

I Know Kung Fu

Every once in a while something becomes so clear, so devoid of artifice, so direct and elegant that it illuminates what has been fogged. Such reification is precious and we are all indebted to those who have that common touch. So thank your lucky stars for the author of this weblog, Cooking For Engineers.

It actually makes me want to go shopping for groceries.

Posted by mbowen at 09:30 AM | TrackBack

Miramar Air Show: Part One

miramar.jpgI'm into day three of running ther house without the spousal unit. It's too bad but she's out in NYC with her sisters having a good time. This weekend I wanted us all to be together. The reason? Air show.

The Miramar is the last big air show of the year in California. Edwards was cancelled because of Homeland Security concerns, and we completely missed Pt. Mugu. (We were at Cachuma) Vandenberg's show looked relatively pathetic and listed so many security restrictions it didn't seem worth it at all. So Miramar it was.

If you didn't know, Miramar Marine Corps Air Station is the scene for the actual Top Gun training for American fighter pilots. If memory serves me correctly, most start at Patuxent River in Florida and if they're really good, they come to Miramar. I could be wrong about all that, but I wouldn't be the first. My first ever fishing trip was to Lake Miramar and I really couldn't focus on the bass for all the F14s and A4s flying overhead. The place is fairly huge but not quite as far off the beaten path as one would expect. Just a few miles off the 805 split from the 5 north of San Diego, you quickly get into the bush. On the flightline you can see basically off into infinity to the south-southwest as if there were no such thing as San Diego within a thousand miles.

If you've never been to an airshow, it's kind of upscale tailgate party complete with corporate tents, military equipment displays, and of course aircraft doing all kinds of crazy things in the sky (and damned close to the ground). I haven't been to one since I was a kid, or so it seems. There were a lot of things I noticed.

First of all, the crowd was huge. We got there just as the place opened and we had to march a half mile from the parking lot in front of Hanger 6 over to the control tower a couple hangars and ramps east. There were at least a thousand people in front of us and behind us as we finally got down to waiting and talking speed. The kids and I went into our elaborate handgames routine as we do in such situations. We've gotten a little rusty since June at Sea World. But we managed to make enough fun for the 20 minute wait as MPs squeezed everyone through 2 metal detectors.

We set our folding chairs at the West Ramp freebie area three rows from the very front. Nice. The selection of foodstuffs was surprisingly limited considering that they didn't allow people to bring coolers or backpacks in. In fact, the amount of corporate marketing at this airshow was really rather astounding. Pepsi, Dove Bars and some San Diego radio stations dominated. Wells Fargo and KFC had huge custom shooting stages - you know the kind where they give away something free and you sign your life away for the opportunity to be caught in a 'candid' moment consuming their product. So it wasn't tailgate quality in terms of food.

The people were all very civil and orderly, as one would expect from a hundred thousand patriotic Americans of all stripes coming to check out the hardware. And boy was their plenty. As soon as you come through the gates, there's a B1-B sitting right in front of you. Then a C-5 Galaxy you could walk through. A B-52 Stratofortress to the left, and then a couple Air Force transport planes, a C-141 and another smaller one all in very cool grey with black insignia. F9 and I climbed into the cockpit of the 141 which was comfy and modern.

There were a half dozen F14 Tomcats of course, a Predator UAV and a new large stealthy one from Grumann got a lot of attention. A T-32 sat at the end of a row of fighters. Then there were whirlybirds. Probably the most impressive machine to me that sat on the ground, besides the new ATF was this huge ugly Sikorsky CH-53. It truly looks like it's both a huge Rube Goldberg contraption and yet completely designed for function. The rotor assembly is awe inspiring complexity - you keep wondering which parts of it are stressed and how. Well you do if you think like a pseudo-engineer as I often do.

One of the things that impresses me these days about these aircraft and their technology is how small they appear up close. As I crawled inside the bomb bay of a B-52 I kept thinking to myself - this is it? There doesn't seem to be enough space to unleash any destruction at all. These things are just big busses - the technology action is all in the payload. That the B1 has a bigger payload (if not double) just seems obvious. As much maligned as the B1 was, it's actually a gorgeous machine.

But none of that compared to the flyby of the B2 stealth bomber. The B2 is by far the most impressive piece of technology you can imagine. As it approached from the east, it looked simply like a thin black line, a crease in the sky. It couldn't be head until it was 3 seconds away and then as it passed it was thunderous - a whole lot louder than I or anyone expected. On the third or so pass, when it was directly above, its profile is simply menacing. This aircraft has a serious psychological effect. It looks almost unreal, like nothing like that should be in the air and now that you're seeing it for real, something very scary is about to happen. Speaking of scary, I should mention momentarily that on the first day of the show, there was a crash of one of the prop pilots. He later died of his injuries. And though there was plenty of dangerous stuff going on Saturday, there were no mishaps. Well one, but I'll talk about that later.

The sky was overcast with a cieling of about 1500 feet, so when the Patriot flying team sponsored by FRY'S ELECTRONICS came out to perform, it was something of a snoozer. In fact it was downright boring. Everybody has seen barrel rolls done at 300 feet off the deck at 400 knots. BFD. Evidently they had a low altitude show. And these jets weren't even that loud. Plus they blew the second formation flyby. It made Fry's look really stupid. I was beginning to think this whole day was a low-calorie event.

But then they brought out the MiG-17. Now it's no secret that this machine beat the pants off some of our flyers in Vietnam, but I kept it a secret that I loved this plane more than the F-111 and the Starfighter. Mostly because of what even a kid like me was able to hear about their maneuverability. The MiG flew circles around American planes back in the day, and it did a few circles today. Still under a low cieling it made some awesome turns. Still, I was missing the power climbs...

Two highlights of the early show were the jet truck and Sean Tucker's Oracle Challenger. Firstly, the jet truck is so typically American, you'd think OK I get it, three jet engines on a truck, big whoop. Then you see these hundred foot flames shooting out the back and huge clouds of steam he creates, then he pops the afterburner and you get this visceral throbbing. The damned thing does better than 350 mph on the ground. Awesome. It's one of those things that just has to be seen, and yes he raced the MiG down the runway.

I've seen pictures of this red biplane before. My first thought is, 'crass commercialism' - Larry Ellison is at it again. Then Tucker flies the thing, which was apparently built from scratch to be the highest performance biplane ever. Just words, until you see it. OK, I had seen aerobatics before - on many occasions I had watched the legendary Art Scholl do a hammerhead in his Super Chipmunk back in the day, and I never thought I'd see his equal. Sean Tucker is like the Tony Hawk of the sky. He does stuff that just defies the imagination, let alone sensible aerodynamics. 'Pushing the envelope' doesn't describe what he does. He rips the envelope to shreds and burns the pieces with a blowtorch.

He doesn't do a hammerhead, he does a double hammerhead at the end of an outside loop and then does two full barrel rolls coming out of the stall pointing straight at the ground at something like 900 feet and then pulls 9Gs to avoid splatting on the runway. He has a move that he calls Holy Hellfire which is all but impossible to describe. Suffice it to say that he leaves corkscrew smoke trails and the move includes a flat spin somewhere in the middle. He also has a stunt in which he keeps the plane pointing straight in the air without moving for 5 seconds, then he starts going backwards, straight down. The way he tumbles this plane is astounding. I can see why you probably won't be able to find any videos of it online, not that it would do the performance any justice. It's simply mind boggling.

Posted by mbowen at 07:53 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 15, 2004

Dymally + Waters vs Garthwaite over King

The battle of MLK Hospital in the Watts / Willowbrook area of deepest darkest LA County has taken another interesting, if incomprehensible turn. This time Maxine Waters and Mervyn Dymally have called for the resignation of the head of the County Health Department. This as a background for the latest scandal to hit the papers which was that a heart patient died because a nurse muted the volume on the (apparently annoying) life support system, so that when he crashed, nobody knew.

Pops used to be deep into those politics during the 70s and 80s when he was a Special Assistant to the Chief. That's how we met Maxine and a host of other influentials back in the day. I haven't heard him weigh in on the trauma facing King, but the more people talk about it the more confused I get.

Connie Rice, who is often the most sensible black voice in LA County seems to see this from the money angle and says that there is nothing to be gained from fingerpointing. Somebody needs to find a lot of money and quick. I had no idea that this might have been a money problem, but evidently the Trauma Unit (separate from the ER) burns through many millions and is probably the most expensive part of the hospital. Keeping it running sucks up precious resources.

Joe Hicks on the other hand accuses (unnamed politicians) of racial grandstanding and misleading the community into purposeless protests.

Dymally, who must be 170 years old, and was Lt. Governor when I was in high school, protests that the King Drew Medical school followed all the recommendations made when people were working through the reform process and was able to pass muster. But the appointment of this cat Garthwaite has only made the situation go from bad to worse.

The tone of the discussion is tense and in order to make concessions that the County Board of Supervisors is partly to blame, the narrative heads in the direction that says King's adminstration was always insular and racially chauvinistic 'for 30 years'.

This is going to get uglier before it gets any clearer, but I do see Rice's point.

Posted by mbowen at 04:28 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

In The Can

Halo2 has gone gold. This is the software industry term for the Hollywood term 'in the can'. Which means the master is complete and off to manufacture. Which means somewhere on the planet, there is already a bootleg version. It doesn't matter because the game is priced right and the consumer feels adequately served by a $50 videogame that will play for months. I've already pre-ordered my copy. The countdown continues.

This is a much better deal than a first run movie for example. If I pay 8 bucks for 90 minutes, that's about a buck for every 10 minutes. If the original Halo cost that much, it would have cost someone like me hundreds of dollars considering the time I spent in that game. I know that I've played PGR2 at least 150 hours the last time I checked, which was several months ago.

I've been playing Burnout3 for a little while and I'm already burned out on it. It's a lot of fun but lacks the control I prefer. The crashes are perfect and so are the games, although I'd rather have a first person view I could switch to (I always drive first person). Nascar is in the mail. It should be good.

25 days to zero.

Posted by mbowen at 03:52 PM | TrackBack

In Case You Haven't Heard

This is coming around in email so you may have seen it before. I just wanted to get it up on the blog.

"One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to
develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them.
That is our bottom line."
- President Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998

"If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is
clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons
of mass destruction program."
- President Clinton, Feb. 17, 1998

"Iraq is a long way from [here], but what happens there matters a great
deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use
nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the
greatest security threat we face."
- Madeline Albright, Feb 18, 1998

"He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten
times since 1983."
- Sandy Berger, Clinton National Security Adviser, Feb, 18, 1998

"We urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the
U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if
appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond
effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of
mass destruction programs."
- Letter to President Clinton, signed by Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI), Tom
Daschle (D-SD), John Kerry ( D - MA), and others Oct. 9, 1998

"Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass
destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and
he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process."
- Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D, CA), Dec. 16, 1998

"Hussein has ... chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass
destruction and palaces for his cronies."
- Madeline Albright, Clinton Secretary of State, Nov. 10, 1999

"There is no doubt that ... Saddam Hussein has invigorated his weapons
programs. Reports indicate that biological, chemical and nuclear
programs continue apace and may be back to pre-Gulf War status. In
addition, Saddam continues to redefine delivery systems and is doubtless
using the cover of an illicit missile program to develop longer-range
missiles that will threaten the United States and our allies."
- Letter to President Bush, Signed by Sen. Bob Graham (D, FL,) and
others, December 5, 2001

"We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and
threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the
mandate of the United Nations and is building weapons of mass
destruction and the means of delivering them."
- Sen. Carl Levin (D, MI), Sept. 19, 2002

"We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical
weapons throughout his country."
- Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002

"Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to
deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam
is in power."
- Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002

"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and
developing weapons of mass destruction."
- Sen. Ted Kennedy (D, MA), Sept. 27, 2002

"The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998. We are
confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and
biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to
build up his chemical and biological warfare capabilities. Intelligence
reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons..."
- Sen. Robert Byrd (D, WV), Oct. 3, 2002

"I will be voting to give the President of the United States the
authority to use force-- if necessary-- to disarm Saddam Hussein because
I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his
hands is a real and grave threat to our security."
- Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Oct. 9, 2002

"There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working
aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear
weapons within the next five years .... We also should remember we have
always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of
weapons of mass destruction."
- Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D, WV), Oct 10, 2002

"He has systematically violated, over the course of the past 11 years,
every significant UN resolution that has demanded that he disarm and
destroy his chemical and biological weapons, and any nuclear capacity.
This he has refused to do."
- Rep. Henry Waxman (D, CA), Oct. 10, 2002

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show
that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological
weapon stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program.
He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including
al Qaeda members. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked Saddam
Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and
chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons."
- Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, NY), Oct 10, 2002

"We are in possession of what I think to be compelling evidence that
Saddam Hussein has, and has had for a number of years, a developing
capacity for the production and storage of weapons of mass destruction."

- Sen. Bob Graham (D, FL), Dec. 8, 2002

"Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal,
murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime ... He presents a
particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to
miscalculation .. And now he is miscalculating America's response to his
continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass
destruction... So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass
destruction is real."
- Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Jan. 23. 2003

Posted by mbowen at 11:50 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Just Makes You Wince

I've been introducing the little Bs to the lighthearted morality of Slick Rick's rap, specifically 'Children's Story' and 'Hey Young World'. There's nothing like some good old school rap to make you feel good. But as usual, just when you find some peace with your affection for the fickle woman that is hiphop, she reminds you why she redefined the pronounciation of 'bitch'.

Intemoleckshual rapper KRS-One recently confirmed his solidarity with the imaginary class of the permanently oppressed American - the All-Purpose Nigger. The APN cannot overcome, cannot rise, cannot succeed and is permamently under the thumb of 'history' and is incapable of any emotions other than alienation, paranoia and fantasies of revenge.

The atrocity of 9-11 "doesn't affect us the hip-hop community," he said. "9-11 happened to them, not us," he added, explaining that by "them" he meant "the rich ... those who are oppressing us. RCA or BMG, Universal, the radio stations."

Parker also sneered at efforts by other rappers to get young people to vote.

"Voting in a corrupt society adds more corruption," he added. "America has to commit suicide if the world is to be a better place."

But I see what the problem is here. We're taking entertainers a little bit too seriously, and so they take themselves a little bit too seriously. This is to be expected in a nation of millions. If there are 365 million Americans, there has got to be at least one with a million who watch who is wrong, stupid and popular.

It's not so important that KRS isn't thinking outside of his box. I understand him to be a good-hearted fellow. And I'm really not concerned that young kids may be listening and get the wrong perspective, because attitudes such as that are self-destructive. Nobody with any real stake in America is going to give him props, so America is not at risk. There is a certain level of power you simply can't get thinking like that.

A man who is oppressed by a radio station needs several books, quick.

Posted by mbowen at 11:42 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Daddy Duty

The spousal unit is on vacay. That means I am responsible for the care and feeding of several younguns. Yeah they all belong to me. I'm sorta proud ot them too, except at 7 in the morning when they are walking around like zombies completely out of their senses. Where are your socks? Socks?

Clearly this is going to affect the quality of my blogging. You have been warned.

Posted by mbowen at 07:06 AM | TrackBack

October 14, 2004

Keep Kerry Away From My Daughter

I'd heard quite enough from Kerry the other evening, but when he started mumbling about Cheney's daughter, it was really the last straw. I'm embarrassed for the people who support him, that was really a disaster.

Candidate Kerry jumped deep into the negative frame with this last performance. It's really a shame. Bush had lost my confidence several weeks ago, but now ironically enough I think that Kerry has an issue of character, and quite frankly I think he's intellectually dishonest. I don't know how else to put it, he's a real disappointment as a contender. The way I see it, this is no longer a fair fight. People who support Kerry have their choices, but I think they are being decieved. What he is asserting is no longer credible, and I agree with Dick Cheney, that his perceptions are not only flawed, his strategy not only weak, but the man is dangerous. He's living in his own universe and trying to suck everyone else in.

It's sad, really. We'll all see why by next summer.

Posted by mbowen at 02:43 PM | TrackBack

October 13, 2004

Who's Your Daddy?

Whenever I hear the word 'patriarchy', I curl into a fetal position and whimper. It has the effect of freaking out the feminist who utters it, and sometimes of wrinkling my pants. But it's better than the alternative which is to wash out her mouth with soap. That'll get you shackled in a dungeon.

I could probably think of a better and more intellectual reaction, such as this, but I'd rather just roll my eyes and make the universal sign for 'puke'.

By the way, what do you call a feminist with three children? An Afghan voter. As for the rest of them, I'll just turn the subject to baseball - something else I vaguely understand. I raise my glass to all the Dads in the world. You know who you are.

Posted by mbowen at 09:38 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

How to Bury Kerry

How many times have I written in these pages 'Swift Boat Veterans for Truth'? None. I've paid little attention. But I am paying attention to this interview over at Dean's World.

Sure I've known that Kerry has made some considerably dodgy left turns in contradistinction to his service in Vietnam, but I've also been very hesitant to judge homey for what happened 30 plus years ago. I'm tired of the Vietnam war in particular standing in as litmus for the suitability for holding down the Oval Office. But when the man's CO says he's unsuitable, I've got to take that seriously. And it's true that good Senators (if he's that) don't necessarily make good presidents.

This is not the final nail in Kerry's coffin for me. This is six feet of dirt and a concrete slab on top.

I think George Elliott makes a good point about the mainstream media. They've really injured themselves in all this. It seems like every journalist wants to write a book and report on the 'trial of the century' or some such - and all that happens in the world isn't like that. Sooner or later folks are going to realize that it's not a good idea to be Sean Hannity (to name one particularly egregious and unlettered celebrity newsie). We're going to turn to peer networks on the ground and disembowel the entire process unless news organizations do a better job in several dimensions.

Posted by mbowen at 09:19 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Weapons of Ass Destruction

A fight between Eminem and Michael Jackson is all over the news. Jacko can't handle being dissed on video and is bleating about being 'demeaned'. Such matters are of such consequence that we must rise to our duty to speak out.

It just so happens, that having loaded up on some old school rap, that I've been thinking about how the rivalry between Kool Moe Dee and LL Cool J amounted to nothing more that pretty good raps. In retrospect, 'Momma Said Knock You Out' is lyrically juvenile and so minimalist that it's hard to remember what was so good about it - ahh, the video. Tupac and Biggie's deuling was more serious, of course, and I am more of the opinion, fwiw, that Snoop or Suge should have taken the bullet instead of Shakur, considering the net loss to the business.

So what can we expect in this battle?

Well obviously Em has taken the initiative and Jacko the offense. But was Eminem morally justified in this unilateral action? After all, there is no smoking gun in Jacko's bedroom, perhaps Em should have given the investigators more time. On the other hand, it's hard to argue that the world won't be better off without Michael Jackson. It's true that he was once our ally, but times change. He got away the first time he crossed standards of decency, this time Em is out to finish the job.

You could have expected the liberals at BET to go invertabrate and pull support from Eminem. So there's clearly not an international mandate here. Eminem is probably not the most intelligent or well-spoken man for the task, and he is a white guy dropping bombs on somebody who ain't. But in these post Amber Alert days, there are new rules in operation.

The argument is made that if Eminem should have gone after somebody, it should have been R. Kelley. After all, we have evidence of his abuses, and he's getting away with it. Which rather brings us to the ugly and nauseating center of this controversy. Is Michael Jackson really a man capable of raping children? Does he possess, or could he construct a WAD?

We know he has the technology to add or subtract parts of his body. And he demonstrated his willingness and ability to do so in the past. But the documented existence of the crucial components is in doubt. Certainly people who are paid by Jackson have told us, but how reliable are they? He makes big entrances with his entourage of shills, flacks, and flunkies, but then he hides away in his palaces and travels with doubles so that his whereabouts are always unknown. It's impossible to get close enough to verify.

Many people are very loyal to this icon but we know those weasels are only in it for the money or they just hate Eminem. But I'm sick of the pretense that he is King, and I am hoping the Eminem takes him down. Heal the world! Do it for the children!

Posted by mbowen at 08:22 AM | TrackBack

Black California

I overheard some interesting conversation about Blacks in Western history the other evening. Among these vaguely heard items was that there was a black trader who helped Washington become a state and not be annexed by Canada. Another was that one of the tallest trees in California is named the Booker T. Washington Tree. Another tidbit was that gold was discovered on black property but something happened. I also have reason to believe that the Buffalo soldiers were Republican by and large. The last thing I remember was that ronin who escaped death after the demise of the Japanese emperor chose to hide in Sacramento in the middle of a black community.

Cool stuff. More later.

Posted by mbowen at 07:08 AM | TrackBack

October 12, 2004

The Buzz on Abuzz

Abuzz was one of the most innovative and useful websites I've ever used. It had everything necessary to generate interesting semi-expert information on every subject imaginable. I've been thinking about ways to incorporate such tech into a new site, and I found that it went belly up, sorta. It's hard to know how many users it was supporting and how much money they burned through, but it was very reliable and had some damned good stuff.

I'll be looking around for fragments of that code & staff. About.com is a little too commercial.

Posted by mbowen at 03:25 PM | TrackBack

Halo2 Making Epic Strides

OK I have to admit that I'm a sucker for a new sense of things right about now. I'm dropping the sensitivity screens in order to develop a vocabulary for things hot. In my new role as CTO for a very, very cool web venture coming up I'm courting an interesting audience not too far off from where I was 10 - 15 years ago.

What has this got to do with Halo2? Well it turns out that Bungie has hooked up with Nile Rodgers (yes that Nile Rodgers) to produce the music for the Halo2 soundtrack. The first single is by a group called 'Breaking Benjamin' which sounds like a grown-up Blink 182 Linkin Park with a touch of Korn. It's called 'Blow Me Away' and it is slammin'. It's... (hmm how do the young people say it these days?) The lead singer has a touch of that Matchbox 20 guy and the guitars have a touch of the STP when they go epic. This is damned good music for a video game. It's actually damned good music, period.

I am starting to get the feeling that what we're going to be hearing a lot after the release of H2, is that video games are turning the corner into real cross-media starmakers. I've been playing Burnout 3 so I know how EA has been dropping little rock tracks into their cut screens, but that's kind of disposable stuff. As anyone who has played Halo knows, O'Donnell and Salvatori's music is outstanding. Now it rocks and a lot of people are going to be paying attention.

I'm just listening to the streaming version available here, and I've played it 8 times just writing this piece. It's that good.

Posted by mbowen at 02:40 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Posted by mbowen at 08:35 AM | TrackBack

The Right Framework

David Brooks nails it again:

Seen in these terms, this election is not just a conflict of two men, but is a comprehensive conflict of visions. Both these visions have been bloodied of late. Still, they do address the central issue confronting us: How do we conceive of an international order in the post-9/11 world? Bush, the conservative, conceives of a flexible, organic, spontaneous order. Kerry, the liberal, conceives of a more rationalist, planned and managed order.

Read the whole thing.

Posted by mbowen at 08:19 AM | TrackBack

October 11, 2004

The Thumbchip Dream

I've had the same bad dream for almost 15 years now. I'm stepping off a Lear Jet, somewhere in the future, and the scanner in the doorway erases the chip in my thumb. I suddenly realize that everything I've ever created, other than my children, is contained on that chip and I didn't have a backup. Yike.

I've dismissed the dream many times, primarily because it is my experience that a great number of gigabytes of data I have already lost over the years mean very little to me. Even when the thing lost has been a favorite cassette recording of Jeff Beck, I've been able to recover it in a different way. Other things were only sort of valuable because of their format. I backed up a PC onto an Overland Data tape drive over a IBM data channel. That was cool back in 1987, but nothing then, including the font I designed myself using some old Xerox tools, is useful now for anything but nostalgia. What I continue to miss are the medals, ribbons and trophies I won in high school, and pictures of me when I had a jheri curl. Nevertheless, I do have a continual problem taking my data with me which continues to give the dream longevity.

Two summers ago, I purchased a 40GB external USB drive from Maxtor for about 300 bucks. It allowed me, for the first time, to retrieve Eudora mail when I was on the road and then use that same set of files when I got home. In those pre-GMail days, I never had much use for webmail precisely because of my inability to depend on it for long periods. Today, whether or not it's security wise, I route all of my mail through GMail as well as download it through Eudora to my hard drive. So I don't have to take my USB drive on the road. The other thing I was able to do with the external drive was keep my very large set of customer data, and trickbag. So I have about 2GB of files that I could reuse. I also have a goodly set of music on the USB drive. All that kept me happy when my laptop only had 8GB of disk, but there were always problems with synch, not to mention headache inducing problems between Palm and Outlook.

I've been sitting out the past few years on new hardware and portable devices precisely because of these problems. In the meantime I've been making a lot of use of FTP and my DVD burner. It's nice to have a couple GB of mp3s easily playable through my laptop and Winamp contained on a couple of burned DVDs, but I still wish there were a better solution overall. I almost bought Groove, but I was never able to get it to synch on demand, and I simply don't think it's worth $250 per seat. But I have been very happy with my USB key with 256MB. I keep all of my passwords and valuable volatile files there. It solves a number of problems, but not quite enough.

The other day I saw a woman pay for her lunch with money she took out of her iPod wallet. Cool. Wouldn't it be great if the iPod could be used for more than just music? I've also been following Oqo, hoping they get their stuff on the street, and of course I'm struggling with the pathetic internet access of my Sprint PCS phone (two years old) and my black & white Palm Vx. Still nothing quite does it for me, not a Treo 600, nor any of the other PDAs.

Just yesterday, the wife found a 7 year old removeable hard drive from an old Compaq laptop. 2GB, pocket sized. Wouldn't it be nice if... Hmmm. Now I've also heard rumors that the XBox 2 is not going to have a hard drive. You'd buy an iPod-like device for your game storage and probably everything else storage. But what's cooler still is this long post by Mark Cuban including this delicious bite:

I had a couple DVDs that I had PURCHASED, that I hadn’t had the chance to watch. I had a couple 512mb Flash Drives that I had bought specifically to test them out for video. I took the first movie, and using an encoder with compression (not going to tell you which one, don’t want to play favorites), I encoded the movies at DVD quality and saved the output onto each of the 512mb Flash Drives. I popped those tiny little puppies into my pockets and off I went to the plane. Keys, some money and my keychain flash drives in one pocket, phone in the other. No hassle, no fuss no muss.

On the plane, I popped the first keychain drive into the USB Port. Got the ready signal, got prompted to open my video player, and watched a nice movie right from the keychain drive. On the way home, did the same thing with the other movie. I loved it. Far less space than DVDs. Could put them in my pocket instead of filling up my briefcase. I immediately went out and bought a 1gb keychain drive so I could hold 2 movies on 1 drive, in addition to my first 2 drives.

So there could be a lot of convergence around the thing that we all want, which is massive portable read/write storage. It's clearer and clearer that DVD is not the way to go and that USB or Firewire based disk storage is. The trick is synching, but what incentive does MS have to make anything faster or smarter than those idiotic briefcases, or refrain from DRM shackles? Hard to say.

I want to add that wireless broadband is just a year or two away, but it won't solve the bigger problem which Cuban sees. It's got to be disk. So I'm going to learn CVS and see what happens if a generic iPod comes out.

Posted by mbowen at 04:44 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

CRP Urban Project Reception: Part Two

As I was meeting people like David and Bobby, Marvin and Tyrone, Kwame and Rev Amos (and his young son), Walter and Clarence, I found out that Bobby was counting Alphas in the room. There turned out to be six, and there was a Que sporting some USC paraphenalia. Although I didn't get a chance to meet Roxanne Petteway, I know that there will be plenty opportunities, because she's a mover and a shaker. I met the singer Phil Perry and his wife Lillian who raise funds out in the Inland Empire. So it was very good for me a sample of the blackfolks who are making a difference in the California Republican Party.

The first thing I noticed about Michael Steele was how much like his headshot he looks, except that the headhsot gives you no idea that he's something like six foot five with enormous hands. The next thing I noticed was how much he reminds me of Dr. J. I don't know why exactly, but whenever I see Dr. J. hosting or commentating at a basketball game, he's got this ultimate insiders knowledge and a kind of refinement that makes you scratch your head and wonder if this is the same guy who was so aggressive and dominating on the court. They both have a kind of quiet power.

Steele has what seems to be a rather standard yet still impressive story about his election, and the way it winds up, you cannot be anything but convinced that this is a working man. Some politicians try to convince you that they're on a mission from God, Steele doesn't have those kinds of pretensions. He's a very intelligent man with an important job. As he puts it, he's a public servant. The difference between a politician and a public servant is that the politician makes promises, the public servant makes progress.

Steele, like my best friend Lee, is a mama's boy in the best sense. His mother sacrificed, he took up the challenge and excelled. I know such men to be inherently trustworthy, who make no assumptions about instant fraternity, who understand very well where they come from and the value of achievement against all odds. These are qualities you cannot assess when reading biographies, but you can hear it in a voice.

Although he spent a fair amount of time reminding us what Bush has done for us lately, consciously paraphrasing Janet Jackson he also reminded us how we have failed for the sake of political strategies and in pursuit of demographics. Specifically, he spoke about how we dropped the ball after 1965. We? He means the Republican Party doesn't he? Yes he does, and he means that 'we' seriously. He reminded us of the work of Nixon and Arthur Fletcher to make Affirmative Action real and how that was not about political promise but public action, rooted in the values of liberty and ownership. But for the sake of some clever political strategies, the party sacrificed its committment to its core values and this cost us three generations of African Americans.

Steele often spoke about the difference between promises and action, and his insight into this matter was the most surprising, for me anyway, point of the night. He jumped right to a core issue. So what if Republicans invite you to a big dinner and introduce you around? So what if you get to speak at a big convention? Politicians do that all the time, what about the action? Where does the rubber meet the road? Steele says it's all about parity. He wants results.

In support of the concepts of the Ownership Society, Steele was pointed as he referred to 'legacy wealth'. I managed to contain myself as he spoke, as this is something I've been talking about since day one. He spoke about 50.8% home ownership for African Americans and referred to how his own mother's house increased in value from 12k to something north of 450k.

All in all, Steele impresses me as a good guy fighting the good fight. This impression may be coming to me late, as I didn't see him speak at the Convention. He's less of an ideologue than I am, rather he is all about the core values which serve blackfolks and keeping the party straight on them. As he said, it's not about putting a label on it - sure you can if you like, but the people know when you are doing right by them. It's all about public action, not political promises.

He makes an example of himself as proof that one individual can make the difference. The Segregationists eliminated the office of Lt. Governor in Maryland in response to the fact that the first one was an African American during reconstruction. Now his team is the first Republican team in the 20th century. He was inaugurated on MLK's birthday. Steele has a sense of destiny fulfilled and work to do. It's a balance that will not only take him far, but continue to inspire us people who are shorter than six foot five.

Posted by mbowen at 10:44 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Conservatives Worry About the Police State Too

Of course you wouldn't think so listening to some. Here's a useful and informative site. Overcriminalized.

The origin of modern criminal law can be traced to early feudal times. From its inception, the criminal law expressed both a moral and a practical judgment about the societal consequences of certain activity: to be a crime, the law required that an individual must both cause (or attempt to cause) a wrongful injury and do so with some form of malicious intent. Classically, lawyers capture this insight in two principles: in order to be a crime there must be both an actus reus (a bad act) and a culpable mens rea (a guilty mind). At its roots, the criminal law did not punish merely bad thoughts (intentions to act without any evil deed) or acts that achieved unwittingly wrongful ends but without the intent to do so. The former were for resolution by ecclesiastical authorities and the latter were for amelioration in the tort system. In America today, this classical understanding of criminal law no longer holds.

The requirement of an actual act of some form is fundamental. As an initial premise, Anglo-American criminal law does not punish thought. For a crime to have been committed there must, typically, be some act done in furtherance of the criminal purpose. The law has now gone far from that model of liability for an act and, in effect, begun to impose criminal liability for the acts of another based upon failures of supervision that are far different from the common law's historical understanding.

Similarly, the law historically has required that before an individual is deemed a criminal he must have acted with an intent to do wrong. Accidents and mistakes are not considered crimes. Yet contemporary criminal law punishes acts of negligence and even acts which are accidental. In the regulatory context, as Justice Potter Stewart has noted, there is, in effect, a standard of near-absolute liability.

Liberty is freedom under the law. The bigger the law, the smaller the liberty. Something has got to change. I would hope that this has more than trickle-down thinking at its root. Surely this idea can be narrowly applied to strictly limit business liability with no other consequences for the common man. But given that the Supreme Court is very likely to review the Constitutionality of the Three Strikes and like Federal Sentencing Guidelines, we may be in for some interesting confluences of opinions.

As for myself, I think that for the most serious crimes, sentencing guidelines make practical sense. But I also believe that Three Strikes is just too radical, and I really cannot stand the politicization of the courts by the executive branch. Taking away the prerogatives of judges to assay the weight of a crime and apply sentences within broad boundaries is just highhanded, if not shady. If you can't trust judges, we're in a world of trouble. I think we should give judges the benefit of the doubt and not hamstring them to the political ambitions of prosecutors. When American justice ceases to be subtle, it ceases to be justice.

All that said, we should protect whistleblowers and get more people into courts. Accellerate jury duty I say. We should have more contact with the judicial branch as citizens. I think we'll all agree in the end that we have more than enough laws to keep our society stable, but that civil litigation is a bit out of control. It seems more like a lottery to me - a way to clog... but I digress.

Posted by mbowen at 08:07 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Posted by mbowen at 08:03 AM | TrackBack

All Your Mullahs Are Belong To Us

Here is an interesting analogy between GWBush and FDR as regards their similar decisions to expend US military resources in a global war.

[D]estroy Japan, and Germany is unaffected. Destroy Germany, and the world is free to obliterate Japan.
destroy Al Queda, and Islamofascism is unaffected. Destroy Islamofascism , and the world is free to obliterate Al Queda.

There is something that annoys me about those opposed to the conduct, but not the aims of the war. They suggest that because they were not consulted about the military strategy, that they have the right to question the intent of the President. This flawed logic is perfectly clear to me. What is not clear to me is how much of the support for Kerry is actually logically pacifist, how much is simply anti-Bush and how much is genuinely convinced that we are fighting losing battles. In either case, I believe them all to be wrong, but at least I can respect the pacifists.

Posted by mbowen at 07:45 AM | TrackBack

October 10, 2004

There's Hope For M10 After All

My boy is a junkie. But I don't despair. There's hope.

Video game skills and a good poker face online are becoming essential job qualifications in the financial markets, with recruitment drives assessing potential star traders in online gaming exams.

Geneva Trading recruits need to be quick on the mouse. This is especially true where electronic trading arcades have replaced traditional trading pits.

On the noisy floor of London's International Petroleum Exchange, boisterous pit traders strike deals for Brent crude futures under the time-honoured "open outcry" system.

"You've obviously got to be cool under pressure" said one trader, "and mentally alert. But I wouldn't have thought training people on GameBoys would help you down there."

But those game skills, developed despite parental fears for their offspring's social development, are exactly what is required for a lucrative future on the digital trading floor.


Posted by mbowen at 04:12 PM | TrackBack

How Not To Answer A Question

I think I understand why Stanley Crouch punches people in the mouth. Self-importance can really be a pain in the ass. Having never been copyedited myself, I shudder to think if someone like Mark Twain had an editor, that said editor considered his tweaking a mark of superiority. I find the prospect of suffering such chiggers completely loathesome, especially if they were 'colleagues'.

When I spoke to Star Parker last night, she mentioned something that sounds a bit familiar. When she writes for Scripps-Howard, her words must be repurposed if they are to be used outside of their control. There's a good chance that I'll never get to write for a nice fancy publishing house, which I could die happy knowing. But what a burden it must be to be the bearer of contemptuous eyes. Vetted though one may be by guardians of formalism, one still suffers the stinging little bites. And such words are to be more powerful than the sword?

Ahh what the heck. We all relish a little verbal combat, I suppose. But the fact that some have decided to restrict the diversity of their activity as humans strictly to verbal combat ought to recognize, intellects they must be, that unilateral disarmament carries with it certain risks. And in a world where maintaining one's reputation in itty bitty literary circles of New York hangs on words, it must be awfully tempting to quote the Notorious BIG. Touch my chedda feel my Baretta.

It's a wonder that being well-read in and of itself seems to be a pre-requisite for being considered sufficiently knowledgeable to be held as relatively serious. And yet if there is no universal standard (which I'm sure none would assert) what is the point? A writer writes, and sometimes a writer fights. But what's the point of writing if your audience is to be so steeply stewed in literature that everything merits criticism? Why not just quote the Bible and leave it at that? Well, because experience counts. Writers have to live and then spew, and so what if that spew stinks? Does everything invite comparison? This is a question I needn't have answered, because I don't care. Much.

What's better? A thick skin, a plastic ego or a quick left? Don't ask me, I make my money in a far less subjective world. Thank God.

Anyway I suppose all that is an object lesson in why academics and other writers-for-a-living probably stay away from this raucous and wild place known as the blogosphere. It can get ugly, even among the refined.

It certainly would be a shame if the blogosphere would degenerate into incestuous slapboxing. It's part of the risk of being connected. But it's rather annoying to see that we often opine without being connected - I mean what's the point of having the technology if it's not exploited for what it does best which is transcending time and space while still leaving enough distance to be brutally honest and otherwise transparent? Of course doing so makes people realize how insignificant they are, which can be disconcerting. Enough.

Speaking of all that, Derrida is dead. Long live Ernest Gaines.

Posted by mbowen at 01:48 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

CRP Urban Project Reception: Part One

It was good. It was better than good; it was surprising. Here's the ten-cent story. At the home of Archbishop Adler in San Juan Capistrano, a kickoff reception was held for the California Republican Party's Urban Project. The keynote speaker was Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele. Steele was awesome, as was the company in attendance.

The aim of the Urban Project is simple. Turn around the weakness of Republican representation in African American and urban communities. It cost me a couple Franklins to get in, but I met some extraordinary folks.

As usual, my boy Joe Phillips was in attendance. He has been touring aournd the country a little bit with Steele whose message last night was that one person can make a difference. The two of them are quite a combination, and I expect that dynamic duo to make some enormous contributions.

The Chair of the CRP, Duff Sundheim was there. I'll be posting my picture soon. I picked Duff out the minute I got there. That's somebody, methinks. He's this big redheaded guy in a pale blue blazer who offered a strong paw saying he was glad to see me again. I never saw him before in my life, and I knew I was being handled, but that's the way I like to be handled. This guy has got energy coming out of his ears. I believe that I am coming to understand a lot about this level of the playing field - it helps when you have stars to watch.

The evening kicked off at about 6. The first thing I noticed about this lovely house in the hills of San Juan Capistrano, was how many tall people were in attendance. That and the clearly Catholic theme in the decor. Steele was already there having his picture taken with donors in the salon, his security guys had checked someone's camera bag just as I approached the guest list table. My name wasn't on the guest list. Horrors. I just about lost it. So I told them that I was a guest of Shirley, and since everybody knows Shirley, I was cool. It was true, but damn Shirl, she said I was on the list. It was bad enough that I forgot to bring my checkbook, andI washed the car and everything. I would be mortified to turn back now and head out of the gated community in ignomy. Still, it was cool. Shirley always has my back, even when I sometimes don't deserve it.

While there were still fewer than 30 folks there (I was right on time), it took me a while to get myself acclimated to the rarified atmosphere. The day before, I picked out my new Republican Suit from one of those little Italian pimp suit joints at the local mall. I was headed to Macy's but this branch turned out to only have furniture and housewares. The thought of getting a suit from Robinson's May wasn't attractive; I tend to think it's more May than Robinsons. Anyway, I know I pulled the most conservative charcoal grey with muted red stripes from the joint. The saleswoman almost couldn't believe it when I modeled. "Very conservative", she said. I discovered the hard way, having worked in the software trenches for the past 3 years, that I am no longer a 16 1/2 neck. The only shirts I have that fit are bizdev blue. Not gonna happen. So I'm in the black Kenneth Cole sweater under the Italian jacket thinking, man do I need an American flag pin. These are my thoughts having passed the winding staircase and heading to the wine.

Soon enough, I see Joe. And then James Spencer, who is running for the Assembly seat for southwest LA. Instantly, I'm comfortable. What a difference a familiar face makes. Spencer was to reveal to me some fascinating machinations of fundraising later that evening.

When I need to break the ice in a crowd of strangers, I have a strange but simple rule. First, find the man in the room who has a bigger beard than me, and start talking like we're old friends. Second, find the most meticulously clean shaven man in the room and start talking like he's somebody very important. It never fails. First, I met Paul who was a friend of Star Parker, whose beard was actually a touch smaller than my own. Real charming guy. Then I met Mary Young and her husband. Mary is a fabulously energetic and warm woman who heads the registration campaign for Orange County. She and her impeccably dressed husband are in the Real Estate business and are long time Republican fundraisers. I'd seen them several times before this evening and the way they walk together, you can tell they've been in love for at least 30 years.

They informed me, contrary to my theory, that there is a significant boost one can get from voter registration and bring out the vote drives. The newly registered Republican is only a slightly less reliable vote than the diehards. Furthermore if you put up a sign that says 'Republicans Register Here' there's about a 73% chance they will vote Republicans. Of course you can't refuse anyone else, but Democrats self-select out. Still, you get people who have just moved who need to reregister, and you get new voters. Mary also griped that Arnold is not stumping for the President. Hey! That's right. What's up with that Arnie? But also that San Bernardino and Riverside Counties are going gangbusters for new registrations, up something like 25%. A very informative chat. I asked Mary for a flag or elephant pin, but they had to leave early. They're crazy busy these days.

Star Parker was there and had many good things to say about my blogmate LaShawn Barber. I must say this of Star, I had no idea about her story and when she finally spoke I was quite surprised to hear that she had escaped from the black hole of indigence. The way people talk about her, I had the idea that she was always wealthy and successful, and seeing her in person betrayed no downscale secrets. She worked the room like a pro. So when she said she had no TV show, I was surprised. Her CURE program is humming along. I'm going to look closer. Someday I expect to be able to raise funds for good stuff like that. Do you see how this makes me giggly?

What continually surprises me about my meetings with California Republicans is how simple and straightforward everyone is. In my own personal quest to be an insider, I'm always going to trip on strategies and tactics, demographic trends and such matters. That's the geek in me - it's why companies pay me the big bucks to straighten out their financial reporting systems. But consistently, I have found a disarming warmth and earnest simplicity in the aims and demeanor of my Republican colleagues. And it only seems appropriate that when the evening kicked off with the Pledge of Allegiance and a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner... Wait a minute. Who is this guy Robbie? I didn't find out his last name, but let me tell you. Somebody must have snatched Paul Robeson's voice from the grave, because this boy can blow! The sooner the country hears this voice.. hmm. Bush's inauguration in January. This man must be on the platform. It's that deep and that simple.

Posted by mbowen at 09:34 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

VH1 Don't Stop

I kept finding myself saying "I didn't know that". Considering what I think I know about the Old School of hiphop, I am very pleasantly surprised by how informative VH1's documentary 'And You Don't Stop' has been.

I was up and energized until 0230 hours this morning checking out 4 out of the 5 Tivofied episodes of the series. It took me back. Even after having seen 'Style Wars' within recent enough memory to recognize scenes bitten from that documentary, there was more than enough new material here to clarify. A couple of journalists, one of whose middle name is Hodari, had some precision heretofore unexpected. I've been hearing Nelson George completely dominate hiphop history for too long, and here his interpretations were leavend by interviews with Ice T, Flash, and some of the originals.

I think the biggest surprise of the series was that Sylvia Robinson has written 'The Message' for Melle Mel and his gang two years before they decided to record it. What? I must confess that I had yet another Tupac Epiphany. He is suddenly comprehensible on the other side. Surely here is a young man who should have lived longer. It makes me even more angry at Suge Knight for the seedy life and Dick Griffey for his apparent ignorance.

The first episode 'Back in the Day' is definitive. It sticks tight to the core of hiphop and documents the transition from street phenom to record industry in a way never before done. It becomes even more clear how seminal Russell Simmons is to the commercial development of hiphop. It can be said to be a purist's view of hiphop.

I expect that in the missing episode will cover Biggie and De La Soul. (But it didn't). It's interesting that there was a whole section of hiphop that was left out which left me a little bit frustrated. To look at the entire series, you wouldn't know about a dozen hiphop artists who really held together the highbrow. As late as 1995, I believed hiphop could be saved, needing a renaissance that never really came other than with the Roots (not that I believed in them so much) and the Fugees. Common on the Stakes Is High album was a wowser, and the rumors that Dallas Austin was producing the new Fishbone album (which had Busta Rhymes on it but never went commercially big) kept hope alive for a while, but not long enough. By the time Lil Kim and Bonethugs were on the scene I was audi.

So completely left out was what I suppose one ought to call 'alternative hiphop'. Just as you could talk about Metallica, Aerosmith and Led Zep for years in rock and never mention Frank Zappa, Rush or King Crimson, I think there is always going to be a hiphop which deserves its own thread which simply is not pop hiphop.

In the alternative hiphop world, MC Solaar looms large. You really, truly cannot just get into this silly East Coast West Coast thing and leave France out of the picture, as VH1 did. Rappers like Menelik and all those produced by Jimmy Jay, the group Raggasonic took hiphop to new levels 10 years ago. Lucien was a member of the Native Tongues. You can't talk strictly about the commercial influence of hiphop without dealing with the artistic influence of hiphop. If you look at the tremendous difference between the relatively music of Quincy Jones' 'Back on the Block' in the late 80s and the work done on Buckshot LaFonque in the mid 90s, you know that jazz itself was undergoing a change. A far cry from Prince's Madhouse project. If you listen to smooth jazz today, half of it has a hiphop bassline. Artists like Ron Carter and Lenny White (if you don't have Lenny White's 'Edge', run don't walk.) have taken hiphop places that define the vacuum between the commercial actuality and the artistic potential of the form. Thirdly, although VH1 hit on it briefly, it's possible to consider all female rappers as alternative as well. Monie Love was a phenomenon no less extraordinary than Craig Mack.

And what about Kwame?

AT speaks of hiphop like a member of the family. I think of her as a beautiful woman gone bad, or more accurately a beautiful mistress gone behind your back with lowlife. But there are too many threads to look at her as just one woman or even as a multiheaded or schitzophrenic woman. It's time to give the alternatives their due. I think that this way I can be a purist, a snob and still enjoy the music and rhymes I know to be influential.

I listened to Slick Rick a lot today, and it's fascinating how many of the lyrics in just two of his songs 'Children's Story' and 'Ladi Dadi' have resurfaced. (or maybe I've just been listening to too much Black Sheep).

I wanted to say something else about Public Enemy while I'm thinking about the existentials of living hiphop. Nothing annoyed me so much as PE's insistance on permanent radicalism. It did PE in, just as it has claimed Spearhead. By the time they did 'Fight The Power' I was reversing the lyrics. I was the one rapping "Be the power that fights". But maybe that's why I'm a Republican and Chuck D is not.

Posted by mbowen at 07:18 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 09, 2004

Fess Up

Posted by mbowen at 02:13 PM | TrackBack

West Coast Fundraiser

I'll be heading down to San Juan Capistrano this evening for a big fundraiser. I hear that Michael Steele is going to be there. Many details to come..

Posted by mbowen at 10:05 AM | TrackBack

Move On

I didn't watch the debate. I'm getting sick of the monotony.

The blogworld seems to be full of 'our guy won' this morning. It's rather annoying, if not pathetic, that the opposition just keeps insisting that Bush is so wrong on the question of war. And now folks are harping on the fact that Bush himself doesn't bolster their arguments. What I'm hearing rhetorically is, why don't you just admit to the American people and the world that you were wrong, that you made a huge mistake? At this point more discussion is only ridiculous.

If I were Rove, I'd start talking about everything else. People who are against Bush's decision are hardheaded and wrong. Dismiss them and their smallmindedness and move on.

Posted by mbowen at 09:35 AM | TrackBack

October 08, 2004

The Perversity of Democratic Opposition

But if I don't have enemies I'm not doing my job.
I might throw out a curveball but I'll never throw a lob.
And people criticize me but I know it's not the end.
I try to kick truth not just to make friends.

-- Michael Franti

One of the reasons that Democrats annoy me to death is because a goodly number of them are oppositionalists. They feel that it's their patriotic duty to 'comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable'. In other words, to be a constant pain in the ass to successful people. Such creatures can only exist within a particular realm of comfort themselves, but they will buy stressed clothing and affect a certain studied shabby chic and bohemian mannerisms to cloak that comfort. And most of all they will distrust shiny, happy people. It's an interesting perversion that is often useful when done by people who are actually brilliant scholars, but most of the time it makes otherwise reasonable people look like complete idiots. At least it does to me. They're not making friends, nor are they speaking the truth.

So this 'Fight the Power' attitude has manifest itself in most of the partisan attacks on GWBush's initiative in Iraq. As usual, the perversion against a good idea has rejected every rationale for armed conflict. Isn't it interesting that such oppositionists were silent in regard to their president's ideas.

One thing that you can say about Bill Clinton was that he was never at a loss for words. So just in case people have been baffled by Bush's speech impediments, here's what he means, courtesy of Bill Clinton (and Q&O)

  • ...we will pursue a long-term strategy to contain Iraq and its weapons of mass destruction

  • Other countries possess weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. With Saddam, there is one big difference: He has used them. Not once, but repeatedly.

  • I have no doubt today, that left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will use these terrible weapons again.

  • Eight Arab nations -- Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Oman -- warned that Iraq alone would bear responsibility for the consequences of defying the UN.

  • ...without a strong inspection system, Iraq would be free to retain and begin to rebuild its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs in months, not years.
  • ...if Saddam can crippled the weapons inspection system and get away with it, he would conclude that the international community -- led by the United States -- has simply lost its will. He will surmise that he has free rein to rebuild his arsenal of destruction, and someday -- make no mistake -- he will use it again as he has in the past.

  • They are designed to degrade Saddam’s capacity to develop and deliver weapons of mass destruction, and to degrade his ability to threaten his neighbors.

  • If we had delayed for even a matter of days from Chairman Butler’s report, we would have given Saddam more time to disperse his forces and protect his weapons. [...] That is something we wanted very much to avoid without giving Iraq a month’s head start to prepare for potential action against it.

  • The credible threat to use force, and when necessary, the actual use of force, is the surest way to contain Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction program, curtail his aggression and prevent another Gulf War.

  • ...without the sanctions, we would see the oil-for-food program become oil-for-tanks, resulting in a greater threat to Iraq’s neighbors and less food for its people.

  • The best way to end that threat once and for all is with a new Iraqi government -- a government ready to live in peace with its neighbors, a government that respects the rights of its people.

  • Heavy as they are, the costs of action must be weighed against the price of inaction. If Saddam defies the world and we fail to respond, we will face a far greater threat in the future. Saddam will strike again at his neighbors. He will make war on his own people.

    And mark my words, he will develop weapons of mass destruction. He will deploy them, and he will use them.

Now add AQ on top of that assessment and what do you get? According to the perverse, you get just another reason to delay and hope the Axis of Weasels helps out. That's perverse.

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October 07, 2004

The Partition Scenario

I want to toss out an idea that I haven't heard anyone talk about at length: the partitioning of Iraq. It seems that rumors are in the air. It's a radical plan which essentially concedes that civil war is inevitable. It's hard to imagine a Bush White House hedging their own bet, but if GW wins, I suspect there will be some pressure from the descendants of Gore voters trying to make their mark on American geopolitics.
So basically I'm saying that partition is a concession that democracy across the 25 million is impossible or impractical and that Kerry fairies might raise that idea as a refutation of the entire PNAC theory.

I'm not so sure that a partition is such a bad idea, so long as we get military bases in one or two. But some of the characters who think it may be unavoidable are real stomach churners in my neighborhood. Leslie Gelb says there should be three big chunks. Unsavory folks who believe that ethnic antagonism is a permanent and insuprable feature of humanity are betting on partition. Even the immigration bears at VDare are in on the action.

From Slate's Kurd Sellout Watch:

Peters and Gelb seem to believe that the Bush administration's attempt to maintain postwar Iraq under a centralized government was doomed from the start. Galbraith, a liberal Democrat who opposed Saddam's regime well before the GOP did, thinks a unified Iraq may once have been achievable. But the failure of the United States to maintain order after the fall of Baghdad—most especially, to stop the looting of all the country's major institutions save the oil ministry—caused Iraq's professional class, "the very people the US looks to in rebuilding the country," to lose "confidence in, and respect for, the US occupation authorities." Now, Galbraith says, Humpty Dumpty can't be put together gain.

So. This seems to be the only strategic alternative to the GWBush plan, which Kerry is attempting to micromanage and hair-split in such a way that boosts his credibility. As his global testers continue to slam his trial balloons, perhaps he might try this angle. I mean, nobody will fault him for changing his mind - at least this is something original and very different from the Bush idea. I wonder if he'll make this speech.

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When I made my predictions for this year I didn't think Tiger's grand slam would be marriage, but I was pretty sure Microsoft would do more hardware. The XBox is a big success but Scaled Composites was a total surprise. It seems that Paul Allen is getting pretty shrewd with his investments, and as the wags say - finally Microsoft has something that doesn't crash.

Rutan and McCready have always been heroes for me, to the extent that I engage in fandom. I should add Dan Bricklin in there as well. But this is Rutan's finest hour. WTG!

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Confessions of Saddam Hussein

Somewhere in Iraq, other than Abu Ghraib, Saddam Hussein has given interrogators the inside scoop on his weapons programs. This is a source of great satisfaction to pacifists and other anti-war protesters around the world. Apparently, we've been shown to be aggressive jerks of the greatest magnitude.

In other news Chiron, the drug manufacturer, has been injoined from distributing its flu vaccines around the world. Although this is flu season, and intelligence services around the world are suggesting that the flu virus harbors ill will and a threat to people. We really have no hard evidence of where this flu bug might be hiding. Intelligence services have been wrong before, and key figures are telling us that there is no real danger and no connection between the flu virus and Osama bin Laden.

So, here's to hope.

Posted by mbowen at 09:14 AM | TrackBack

Tears of the Sun

The Tivo served up a selection of Bruce Willis movies based on the preferences I ascribe. Works for me. And so over the past couple nights, I've been allowing my emotions to be manipulated by a heart-wrenching story of a prototypical hardball American Special Forces Lieutenant with a soft creamy center. He goes off mission to rescue two dozen refugees from a village caught in the middle of a savage civil war. It has a happy ending.

Watching this film goes a long way in describing what I believe about the character of Americans and American soldiers, and the principles behind the story are those I support for our can-do troops.

There is a tangible tension I am constantly feeling in this film between the priorities of following orders in the context of what keeps soldiers alive and implementing a military strategy, and using those skills to do right in the context of what's in front of your face. It's the most basic of human dilemmas. Can one afford to step out from the safety of society to do a good deed? Surely soldiers must feel as Willis' character did - he hardly knows if what he's doing is good any longer. He simply bears heavy witness to the cruelty of combat and does everything possible to keep his men alive and well.

No matter what American soldiers are ordered or allowed to do, I think we all understand that they are basically good people doing dangerous and necessary work. Yet that sentiment tends to disappear as rank increases. No character is so routinely villified as the General. The General is a stock villain in just about every movie I can think of since 'Patton'. It's a contradiction which is apparent in our politics, but since we have an even higher figure, the President, behind all of this we have shifted the fault up the chain.

It was true of the reports about Abu Ghraib. It was true about the 'failure' to secure the Turkish incursion route. It was true about the interpretation of intelligence reports. Americans all want to blame the big guy at the top. I think that's the reason Kerry felt confident that he could suggest that we led a 'Coalition of the Bribed'. Yike.

But aside from the capture of Saddam himself we have had almost no news whatsoever about the actions of Majors, Lieutenants, Captains or Generals. What are they doing out there? To hear the news, they are standing around misunderstanding and insulting Iraqis or just dying senselessly. I can't say that I've been watching television news which may have captured some of this mid-level action and decision-making, but all the debate these days is centered on Presidents lying and grunts dying. This elementary school picture of war leaves us all at a serious disadvantage.

For people like me who support the entire theoretical thrust of the PNAC vision of international intervention, I am left with simply that: theory. I have no way of knowing how troops are working in the field, what objectives they are pursuing and how well the execution of those actions are going. I've complained about this before. For people like (oh I don't know whom, stand up and identify yourself), this same absence of coverage requires them to judge the entire context of the war based on the inconsistencies of the promises going in and the bad news coming out. It completely ignores the dynamic of war itself and leaves all of us with no real accurate way of determining whether or not soldiers are actually doing a good job. For all of us it's a slam dunk based upon an outcome we predict - which will never come in time for a realistic political decision.

In the meantime, things like movies about soldiers substitute for live coverage on the ground that our current class of journalists are completely unprepared for. Please remember that note as well - everyone in all the media outlets will tell you that they are doing the best job humanly possible, but there is a reason that Al Jazeera has made a name for itself in this conflict. It has to do with real American chickenheart reporters who don't have enough first hand material to do much more than use theories like the rest of us.

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October 06, 2004

Stupid TEst

blah blah

Posted by mbowen at 11:05 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Comment Moderation

This crap doesn't seem to be performing the way I want it to, so please be patient while I figure out what I'm doing stupid. Comments look like they are disappearing, but they're just being cached for me to moderate.

I thought that once I approved a comment, then that commenter would be approved for life, but it doesn't even take my comments. So I'm going to be flipping a lot of switches until I get it right. MT documentation could use a bit of work. But I'm short on time to get all this right... It won't be wrong long, just keep posting.

Posted by mbowen at 10:13 AM | TrackBack

AQ Talking Point

Cheney, as expected, was pointed and sharp. This was actually an interesting debate, mostly focused on the past. I think Kerry's 'international credibility' position took another lump. But here's the point I think that Kerry Edwards keeps denying really makes them look stupid. Here's the way I think Cheney should have handled it.

Edwards: There is no link between AQ and Saddam.

Cheney: We have killed & captured AQ fighters globally. We knew then that AQ was in 60 countries. We knew then that Iraq was a sponsor of terrorists. Given those two simple facts would you have taken the chance that there was simply no Al Qaeda in Iraq?

Edwards: If we let the inpsectors do their jobs we could have avoided war.

Cheney: The inspectors were unable to do their jobs for 12 years. It wasn't until they had the assistance of American forces on the ground that they were able to uncover every rock. What we know today could not have been known without American troops on the ground. The inspectors and everyone in the UN was. Saddam was in material breach of his obligation to disarm and he had been warned over and over. We weren't going to delay, and we were right not to delay.

Posted by mbowen at 07:40 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 05, 2004


Cobb and VisionCircle are being upgraded. We're going to make a few changes around here. Please bear with us as we move to the newest version of Movable Type.

Posted by mbowen at 08:46 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 03, 2004

Obligatory Seriousness About Shark Tale

If I were over 25 and in the hiphop business, I would be embarassed by Shark Tale. In fact, there's a fish in there that I know is Missy Elliot and I know she's going to go uncredited. Quite frankly, I think Osmosis Jones will stand the test of time a little bit better.

This is not a classy flick. It's a silly flick, but it does have enough genuine emotion to make you care a little, enough comic timing to make you laugh a little and enough stereotypes and product placements to make you puke a little. Is it worth the money? Yeah sorta. It doesn't stink.

It starts out of the blocks entirely too predictably and feels like its about to self-destruct within 10 minutes, and then it saves itself. On the other hand, if you're the kind of person who thinks Will Smith is a complete punk, then you really don't want to face this movie. It thankfully doesn't try to double-entendre its way into parents hearts. On the other hand, boy does the music suck.

OK here's the analogy. A duplicate of a ripoff of a cover of a print of a sample of a song that's been done to death. It's like somebody trying to funkify a New Kids on the Block ripoff of a Motown song - without having ever heard the Motown song. It's really a twilight zone. Or better yet why don't I just give you a real example: Will Smith doing MC Hammer. Nuff said. Kids under 15 won't know the difference. You will and you will wince your eyes out of your socket. Then again, your kid is having a ball. So get over yourself.

Since I did a fair share of wincing, I can see how folks from the uplifting black images school are going to have a handwringing time over this film, which is why this one goes into the obligatory seriousness column. It's no Soul Plane, but it aint Sounder either. And since I'm 43 years old, it feels completely like a black and Italian movie straight outta Brooklyn. Everybody can say it's just fish, but it aint. So half the time I'm thinking about people who complain about the Sopranos and I wonder if they are as embarrassed about the Italian types as my father would be about the black types. I don't know the answer to that question, but since everybody (I predict) is going to go apeshit over the black thing, we'll never find out.

I don't know if being thick skinned is a blessing or a curse, especially since I am sensitively observant and I see these things. But I'll give a big whatever to that, and suggest as I usually do that there are a hundred worse movie (many of whom star Humphrey Bogart as my Tivo showed me last night "All Through The Night") and a hundred better books.

I'm sure I could have spent my 42 bucks more wisely, but it would have required me to spend more mental and physical energy this weekend, and I simply don't have it. Besides, the kids enjoyed themselves.

Posted by mbowen at 06:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


"You can't rise as a class. You have to rise individually. It's what
many of the civil rights-era people don't understand," he said.
"They want us to rise together, they keep telling us that we are
victims. If they keep telling us they are victims, then there is a role
for them to play."

-- Alphonso Jackson, HUD Sec'y

Posted by mbowen at 11:03 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Expensive Hats

I just read that Ret Hat just acquired some $23 million worth of security parts for their enterpirse operating system. Not long ago I seem to recall being told that Fedora is the way to go for the most serious applications. Now correct me if I'm wrong but isn't Fedora not free software? A cursory look at the Red Hat site, and of their comments to spite Sun Microsystems shows me that Red Hat is a bit less Linuxy than other Linuxes, in that almost nothing is free about it.

Sure there are other distros out there, but I think this is a significant departure from the philosophy of open-source & free software. I don't have a problem with that and in fact I predicted that it would happen or Linux would fail. This is a different licensing scheme, ie different business model. But Red Hat is no longer free software.

Posted by mbowen at 10:23 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 02, 2004

Saturday Mosh

Oakley's Mad Scientists Do It Again
MP3 Eyewear. It doesn't get more radical than this. I like it.

A Few Measly Hundred Bucks
They Rule is a fairly interesting website, all nicey with flash animations, that searches various databases to tell us things about the boards of directors of various American corporations. I've spent quite a lot of time observing the political donations of various individuals before, and it's surprising how far a little bit goes.

Tivo is Cool
I know I'm about 3 years late to the Tivo party, but I've got to say in true fact that it does change the way you watch television. It also give truth to the old saw about 300 channels and nothing on. But in fact there are a lot of real interesting things on television that you're probably never going to find unless you have Tivo mining the data. Best of all, it saves you time. I will never again feel stupid for falling asleep on a good program or staying up to some ungodly hour just to see that one piece of something I missed.

On the Rip
Going through some CDs: No Sell Out:I found the Keith LeBlanc CD on Tommy Boy from 1983. Branford Marsalis - Random Abstract. Chick Corea - Piano Improvisations #2. Toto - Best of. Wynton Marsalis - Marsalis Standard Time Vol. 1. Kenny G - Best of. Tschaikowsky - Romeo Und Julia.

And a real classic from my days of obsession with the ON-U sound: Pay It All Back Vol. 2 with Prince Far I, Eskimo Fox, Mark Stewart, Singers & Players, Lee Perry & Dub Syndicate, Barmy Army and of course African Head Charge. Man those were the days.

Panopticon Update
I swear, that if I don't get live video of Mt St Helens' big explosion I'm really going to freak. Right now the USGS has ordered the evacuation of everybody within a 5 mile radius of the mountain. There's supposed to be fresh magma under there, and so it's going to be more than steam. Oh yeah - here's the liveblog.

Gale Snore-tin
Gale Norton is such a monotonous speaker, she can even make talk about potential volcano eruptions boring.

Posted by mbowen at 11:58 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

The Speech John Kerry Will Never Make

There is a clear choice for Americans in November. War or Peace. President Bush is the choice for War and I am the choice for Peace.

It is a rare occasion when the American people have an opportunity to, with one vote, decide the fate of millions who are currently suffering the ravages of war. But now is that opportunity. This conflict in Iraq is the wrong war at the wrong time. We made a mistake going there and I am the man to correct that mistake. All the possible good that could possibly come from this war has already been accomplished and every minute we remain, we lose the advantage of those gains. There is nothing left to win in Iraq that America is capable of winning. Therefore, I pledge that if I am elected President, I will order the immediate and unconditional withdrawl of all American troops in Iraq.

My fellow Americans there can be no clearer choice before you. There may be a million reasons for going to war and we can debate those forever. There are equally a million reasons for ending war and those too can be debated forever. But when it comes down to it, for you the American voter, you only have one choice - War or Peace. I am here to make that choice crystal clear. Whatever your reasons, if you believe that we belong in Iraq, then cast your vote this election for George W. Bush. But, if you believe as I do that it is time for peace, then your choice is clear.

Vote for me. I will end the war.

Kerry cannot and will never make this speech, because he'd seal his fate as a loser. Americans feel that we belong in Iraq, that we have a right and proper mission, and that is the mission of liberation. This is the strategy of George W. Bush and it is why he has my vote, along with the majority of right thinking Americans.


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October 01, 2004


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The Debate

I bought a Tivo yesterday but it was still talking to Tivo Central when the debate aired, so I didn't get a chance to record it or watch, pause and analyze. Instead, when I got bored, which was a number of times, I went into the other room to watch the spinning dials on the Tivo download screen.

So this morning I am checking out other blogs in search of the kind of rapt fascination and borderline obsession required to pull significant rabbits of analysis out of the empty hat of this particular debate. So far, there doesn't seem to be anyone who says that victory was decisive.

From my perspective it seemed to go well. Bush made a number of faces as Kerry droned on, but never seemed to be able to zing Kerry except on the North Korea bilateralism thing. Kerry brought up a lot of nice geopolitical points that the President had adequate responses to and kept Bush on the defensive. Bush beat his drum on Kerry's flipflopiness and putative inability to stay on message, as if the Bully Pulpit had telekinetic powers. Hmm, perhaps a little Karl Rove speaking through his puppet? Kerry gave a 7 year old 'Am not!' with his "I've never wavered in my life" response. Today he'll regret that one.

I can say that I've heard more about Sudan from this debate than in all the news. I can say with some certainty that we know where that's going. As for Iraq, it remains as muddy as ever.

Kerry began to remind me of the Kerry he started out to be a long time ago. A reasonably smart guy who has a shot. What I saw him do last night was behave like somebody who is not winning and smiling and taking photographs. In other words, he was a grownup for once. I think he's completely out to lunch in his desire to placate every possible ally and stretch diplomacy beyond its capacity, which is especially damning considering his gaffe on kicking China to the curb in dealing with the DPRK, but at least he appears to give everything considerable thought. He still smells like a Senator but he could step up.

The President seemed very much to be his same old self. But unlike many presidents at the four year mark, the gravitas grey hair just doesn't seem to be working for him. It's true that by the end, he gave me the impression of a man solidly and confidently in control. But he also gave me the impression that he just wishes he could curse Kerry out and show him what for. Part of this impression comes from a debating style analysis I heard the other night from James Fallows and I think it's quite accurate now. Bush bites his tongue and that's why he mangles, and he does it because he is somewhat overawed by the power of his words. So he has a trunk of stock phrases that he uses consistently lest he be misinterpreted. He can't be glib around the edges.

That doesn't change the fact that he has lousy rejoinders, and his inability to verbally pimpslap his challenger works against him. By being graceful GWBush has elevated his opponent slightly. Kerry is no upstart to be put in his place and he is the best hope the Democrats have. Still Kerry cannot outrun his rhetorical excess and record. There is little in the unknown quantity box for either of them.

By the way, Bush's story about telling the wife of the downed soldier that it was worth it, just grabbed all the emotion in the room. There was nothing else even close, and despite the fact that Kerry scored a cookie for suggesting that the reason wasn't as noble as the act, it was too little too late, and actually felt like a cheap shot.

So I'll continue my reading, and get back to this.

Posted by mbowen at 08:47 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack